- New Spike Lee Joint Gets Standing Ovation
- Israeli Drone With Tear Gas Targets Journalists
- Chinita Anderson, Playwright, NPR Staffer, Dies
- Hundreds Arrested in New Poor People’s Campaign
- Baquet to Be Honored by Press Freedom Group
- Pot Arrest Rate Higher for Blacks, Latinos
- Offensive Mascots a Disqualifier, Foundation Says
- Ex-Radio Manager at Morgan State Alleges Fraud
- After Human Slavery, Reporter Turns to Child Labor
What might be the biggest hit of the Cannes Film Festival started with a classified ad in a Colorado Springs, Colo., newspaper. It was 1972, and Ron Stallworth, who was 19 and becoming the first African American police officer in that city, responded to the ad and infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan.
First the story was a news article, then, in 2006, a book, and today it is a film by Spike Lee.
“Director Spike Lee received a six-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival after the Monday night premiere of his new drama ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ ” Ramin Setoodeh and Brent Lang reported for Variety.
“The movie, which tells the true story of an undercover African-American detective (John David Washington) and his Jewish partner (Adam Driver) who team up to infiltrate Klu Klux Klan in 1979, is incredibly timely. It even ends with footage of Donald Trump refusing to condemn the actions of white nationalists during the deadly 2017 Charlottesville riot. There are a lot of digs at the current president throughout ‘BlacKkKlansman’ — one KKK member talks about embracing an ‘America first’ policy and the film makes parallels between the rise of Trump and the political ambitions of former Grand Wizard David Duke. . . .”
Yohana Desta channeled the standing ovation Monday in Vanity Fair, writing, “With its hyper stylized aesthetic, perfectly assembled cast, and wild source material, BlacKkKlansman looks like it could be one of Lee’s best films in years. . . .”
In 2006, Stallworth went public with his story. Dan Abrams of MSNBC interviewed Stallworth, then recently retired, for “The Abrams Report.” So did Deborah Bulkeley of the Deseret News in Stallworth’s then-home state, Utah.
“He says he’s amazed that no one ever caught on to the investigation he led starting in 1979. After he was offered Klan leadership, he quietly disappeared,” Bulkeley wrote. Stallworth became an expert on gangs.
Bill Vogrin of the Colorado Springs Gazette caught up with the story in 2014, when Stallworth’s book, “Black Klansman,” was a newly released 180-page paperback, published by Police and Fire Publishing of Santa Ana, Calif.
“In January, I stumbled upon a display at a small museum honoring Ron Stallworth, who became the Colorado Springs Police Department’s first black detective in August 1975 and three years later infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan as a card-carrying member,” Vogrin wrote.
“Did I mention Stallworth, today retired in Salt Lake City, is black? . . .”
Matt Taylor of Vice also saw the story potential. “I figured now was as good a time as any to talk about how he pulled off a trick straight out of Blazing Saddles (and one that made for the first great skit on Dave Chappelle’s short-lived TV show),” Taylor wrote.
Still, it took a few more years for Hollywood to take note. Tatiana Siegel wrote May 2 in the Hollywood Reporter, “In February 2017, Get Out producer Sean McKittrick brought Jordan Peele a copy of Stallworth’s book, first published in 2014, along with a script by David Rabinowitz and Charlie Wachtel.
“Universal had just released Get Out, Peele’s directorial debut, and the $4.5 million film was burning up the box office, where it would eventually gross $255 million worldwide. The pair, looking to collaborate again, enlisted fellow Get Out producer Jason Blum and put the project on a fast track.
“ ‘I was just blown away,’ Peele says. ‘I couldn’t believe I had never heard about it. It’s one of these pieces of reality that almost plays like social satire. So, I was immediately obsessed with this story.’
“Peele briefly considered directing it himself but decided early on that it needed a filmmaker with a different skill set, and Lee topped his list. . . .”
Stallworth has kept his social media friends up to date with occasional postings. When the Klan planned to march in 2015, for example, he wrote, “The Klan no longer strikes fear in the Black race, but rather laughter and derision. It is THEY who should be terrified of US for we have found our voice, strength, and purpose.”
“We will be having a premiere here,” Candice K. McKnight, president and CEO of the African American Historical and Genealogical Society of Colorado Springs — the “small museum” the Colorado Springs reporter mentioned — wrote Journal-isms by email. “It will be shown here in the early summer,” she said, in advance of its general release on Aug. 10.
In his interview with Vice in 2014, Stallworth reminded listeners and readers that he was surprised by reaction to his Klan experience long before Hollywood discovered it.
“I know the story fascinates a lot of people when they hear me, a black man conning a grand wizard of the KKK and his followers the way I did,” Stallworth said.
“When I hear that it’s spreading around the world... I was interviewed this morning by a radio station in Dublin, Ireland, I have a great niece who’s a teacher in Japan and she says it’s in magazines and newspapers over there in foreign languages she can’t understand. That’s where it’s kind of overwhelming.”
“An Israeli drone with a tear gas canister has targeted a group of journalists in Gaza, including an Al Jazeera TV crew,” (scroll down) Al Jazeera reported on Monday.
“Al Jazeera correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid was standing in a media row with several other reporters when she was hit by the tear gas canister.
“Abdel-Hamid has been sent to hospital to be treated for the after effects of the tear gas.”
Overall, “More than 50 Palestinians were killed and thousands wounded as Gazans clashed with IDF [Israeli Defense Force] forces all along the Gaza-Israel border fence on Monday,” Anna Ahronheim reported Monday for the Jerusalem Post.
“It was the highest Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip by Israeli fire since Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
“The Hamas-run Health Ministry said 58 Palestinians were killed by IDF fire, including several teenagers, and 2,771 others were wounded, many by tear gas, with 116 in serious or critical condition.
“Gazans have been protesting along the border with Israel for the past six weeks as part of what organizers have called the ‘Great March of Return.’ But the mass protests on Monday were ‘unprecedented,’ according to IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis. . . .”
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Friday, “Motasem Ahmed Dalloul, a reporter for the pro-Palestinian Middle East Monitor and manager of the news website Days of Palestine, was hit by a live round fired by the Israel Defense Forces while covering a protest east of Gaza City today, according to his employer and to reports shared by journalists and news outlets on social media. . . .”
Chris Ariens, TV Newser: Harris Faulkner Brings Fox News Show to Jerusalem
Leila Fadel, National Geographic: How Muslims, Often Misunderstood, Are Thriving in America (May 2018 issue)
“For 10 years, Chinita Anderson was a regular on the show’s overnight shift. She battled cancer, and on Sunday she died at the age of 46,” NPR’s “Morning Edition” announced on Monday.
David Greene, a co-host, added, “Now, here’s one thing we know about the royal wedding — Chinita Anderson would have been all over it. For a decade, Chinita was part of the MORNING EDITION overnight team. She was direct, witty, curious. She grew up in a tough part of Cincinnati, graduated from Sarah Lawrence, taught in Japan and loved traveling the world.”
Co-host Rachel Martin added, “Her interests were as wide as that world — European royalty, hip hop, Bollywood culture and politics. Chinita was also a playwright and tried her hand at podcasting.”
Greene continued, “After being diagnosed with cancer in 2015, Chinita worked for two more years, then moved back to Cincinnati to be with family. And they were with her when she died this weekend at 46. And her family here at NPR really misses her.”
“Callie Greer, a community organizer from Selma, Ala., on Monday stepped on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, a strip of sackcloth fastened around her upper left arm to signal she was willing to go to jail,” Jenny Jarvie reported Monday for the Los Angeles Times.
“Greer lost her daughter Venus, who could not afford health insurance, to breast cancer in 2013. For that reason, she was one of hundreds of protesters who had traveled to Washington to focus attention on the plight of poor people in America.
“ ‘My baby didn’t have to die,’ said Greer, 58, whose state legislators refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. ‘I’m going to jail today for a good reason.’”Hundreds of poor and low-wage workers, clergy and activists were arrested Monday outside the U.S. Capitol and at statehouses across the country as they kick-started a revival of the Poor People’s Campaign — the civil disobedience movement founded 50 years ago by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. . . .”
Leonard Pitts Jr., syndicated columnist for the Miami Herald, wrote Friday of the Revs. Dr. William Barber and Dr. Liz Theoharis, the organizers. “Against the shriveled morality of the age, they issue a moral appeal that calls us to do better, to be better, all of us, together. It reminds you what it was once like to think you could grab the Zeitgeist by the throat and force it to change. . . .”
Jon Allsop, Columbia Journalism Review: Voices on the left are rising in the US. Why aren’t they in mainstream media? (May 8)
Jelani Cobb, New Yorker: William Barber Takes on Poverty and Race in the Age of Trump
“Be calm. Be fair. Be accurate. This is how you do this,” Amelia Nitz wrote Thursday for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
“That’s the advice that journalist Emily Steel said she received from The New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet before a tough interview with a source while she was reporting on sexual harassment and misconduct allegations against a well-known television commentator.
“It’s also advice that exemplifies Dean’s own approach to journalism in the last four decades of his career, for which the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will honor him this month with a Freedom of the Press Award. . . .”
Nitz noted that Baquet is the publication’s first African American executive editor. “Under Dean’s leadership, one of the nation’s largest newsrooms has produced award-winning reporting in just the last year on, among other issues, Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and sexual harassment and misconduct allegations against Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, and other public figures.
“ ‘His demands are high, and his standards are exacting, but it was through that process that we were really able to deliver a solid, fair, and accurate story,’ Steel said of Dean’s role in The Times’ reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues, which played a role in sparking the national #MeToo movement.
“Dean has also guided The Times through a range of new challenges facing news media, such as heightened verbal attacks on the press — including pointed attacks on The Times from the president — and changes in how news is delivered and consumed.
“ ‘Dean Baquet is the editor who transformed The New York Times, who took a very traditional print newspaper and turned it into a real digital powerhouse,’ said A.G. Sulzberger, the newspaper’s publisher. ‘And he did this, ever more astonishingly, without diminishing the quality of the reporting in any way.’ . . .”
Michael Calderone, Politico: Showtime series captures NYT grappling with press-bashing and erratic presidency
“They sit in courtroom pews, almost all of them young black men, waiting their turn before a New York City judge to face a charge that no longer exists in some states: possessing marijuana,” Benjamin Mueller, Robert Gebeloff and Sahil Chinoy reported Sunday for the New York Times. “They tell of smoking in a housing project hallway, or of being in a car with a friend who was smoking, or of lighting up a Black & Mild cigar the police mistake for a blunt.
“There are many ways to be arrested on marijuana charges, but one pattern has remained true through years of piecemeal policy changes in New York: The primary targets are black and Hispanic people.
“Across the city, black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white, non-Hispanic people over the past three years, The New York Times found.
“Hispanic people were arrested at five times the rate of white people. In Manhattan, the gap is even starker: Black people there were arrested at 15 times the rate of white people.
“With crime dropping and the Police Department under pressure to justify the number of low-level arrests it makes, a senior police official recently testified to lawmakers that there was a simple reason for the racial imbalance: More residents in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods were calling to complain about marijuana.
“An analysis by The Times found that fact did not fully explain the racial disparity. Instead, among neighborhoods where people called about marijuana at the same rate, the police almost always made arrests at a higher rate in the area with more black residents, The Times found. . . .”
“There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,” Richard E. Besser, a physician and president and CEO of the foundation, wrote May 7 for USA Today. “There’s an even better chance you’ve never heard of the RWJF Sports Award, which we bestow each year on organizations that contribute to health by strengthening and serving communities through sport.
“But as readers of USA TODAY, you’re no doubt familiar with the controversies and divisions surrounding sports teams that use Native American symbols — whether as mascots, in chants or in memorabilia — for their own purposes. The pro football teams in Washington and Kansas City instantly come to mind.
“Our foundation, tucked away in the outskirts of Princeton, N.J., has over the past year unwittingly become part of the problem by using the RWJF Sports Award to honor teams that denigrate American Indian people. We didn’t consider the fact that the team names, mascots and misappropriation and mocking of sacred symbols like headdresses do real damage to the health of people across the country. . . .”
Besser also wrote, “Today, and moving forward, RWJF will not consider an application to our Sports Award if it is submitted by an entity whose name, brand or practices denigrates, harms or discriminates against any racial or ethnic group. We recognize that organizations as large and influential as ours must own our mistakes and vow to do better. . . .”
National Congress of American Indians: Reclaiming Native Truth: Why we cannot support racist mascots and images
Native Sun News Today: Mount Trumpmore and the Nobel Peace Prize (May 2)
“A former manager at Morgan State University’s WEAA radio is alleging fraud and political favoritism at the station in a lawsuit filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court,” David Zurawik reported Friday for the Baltimore Sun.
“Michele Williams, who was fired in August as director of broadcast operations at the school, is seeking $2 million for what her suit calls wrongful termination by the university and defamation on the part of a Morgan State dean.
“In the suit, first reported by Courthouse News Service, Williams alleges she was fired for not signing off on fraudulent reports to the Corporation for Public [Broadcasting] intended to inflate funding for the station. . . .”
Zurawick also reported that DeWayne Wickham, dean of the School of Global Journalism and Communication, referred the Sun to a university spokesman for comment Friday.
“Morgan State spokesman Larry Jones said in an email it was school policy to ‘not provide comment on any current or pending litigation involving the university.’ . . .”
“As CNN finds itself, again and again, the target of President Trump, the network’s senior international correspondent, Nima Elbagir, continues to produce reporting that gives life to the president’s ‘fake news’ attacks,” Pete Vernon reported Friday for Columbia Journalism Review.
“Last fall, her investigation into human slavery in Libya produced international outrage, and her recent report from the Democratic Republic of Congo exposed child labor violations in the mining of cobalt, a mineral widely used in green energy products.
“The Sudanese-born Elbagir won a Polk Award for the Libyan slave-trade story, and says she’s aware of her responsibility as a role model for both women journalists and reporters from the African continent. She sees her work as a threat to those in the US and abroad who embrace ‘fake news’ attacks to discredit the media, telling CJR that those in power fear journalism because it is ‘capable of changing the climate and the culture, and opening people’s eyes in really powerful ways.’ . . .”
As part of the Q-and-A, Vernon noted that Elbagir had just returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Yes, we have a piece on the use of child labor in cobalt mining,” Elbagir replied. “This is with regards to this extraordinary green-power revolution, and electric car batteries specifically. There seems to be a sense that we all kind of rocked ahead without thinking about the actual impact of where these resources are coming from. Where is the cobalt coming from? Who is mining your cobalt? The resources curse is something we talk about so often that it almost becomes a truism.
“In the Congo, the wealth and the riches there have become this extraordinary curse. The Economist memorably described the government there as being seven years into a five-year term. You have a government that is refusing the very basics of democracy; every single corner of the Congo is inflamed in some form of conflict. And yet this is the place that is completely integral to what should be an ethical green revolution. So where is our complicity in that as consumers? What are the questions we should be asking? . . .
Richard Prince’s Journal-isms originates from Washington. It began in print before most of us knew what the internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a “column.” Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
Send tips, comments and concerns to Richard Prince at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Journal-isms is originally published on journal-isms.com. Reprinted on The Root by permission.