Lifeline, Schools

CNN Journalist Soledad O’Brien Hosts the Black in America Tour at Towson University

0 Written by: | Monday, Feb 17, 2014 2:00pm


Towson University’s Center for Student Diversity and the Student Government Association present the Black in America Tour 2014, a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Join a community dialogue moderated by Soledad O’Brien, award-winning journalist, documentarian and producer, featuring a panel of national and local leaders on Wednesday, February 19 at 7:00 p.m. at the SECU Arena.

Tickets are free and currently available at the University Union Ticket Office, located on Osler Drive, Towson, MD.

Soledad O’Brien was the originator of Black in America and Latino in America. She conducted a series of interviews in 2008 which later became the first of the Black in America documentaries, which features critical and strikingly honest panel discussions and commentary from leading African American celebrities and politicians in observation of the issues affecting the black community. In June 2013 she launched Starfish Media Group, a multiplatform media production and distribution company, dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories that take a challenging look at the often divisive issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity, through personal stories.
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Featured, Lifeline

Mapping Segregation in Baltimore — Beautifully

1 Written by: | Thursday, Aug 15, 2013 10:39am

Screen shot 2013-08-15 at 10.06.13 AM

We’ve featured other data visualization maps on Baltimore Fishbowl, and even other data visualization maps that depict segregation. But none have been quite so, well, beautiful as the racial dot map put together by demographer Dustin Cable.

In Cable’s map, each point represents an individual person. Yes, that means that there’s a tiny dot somewhere on this map that stands for you. Of course, the overall picture is more like a impressionist painting, fuzzy around the edges and distinct only when you look up close. Zooming in allows an increasingly precise look at where people live in and around the city:  from a distance, Baltimore clearly reveals itself as a majority-black city, with majority-white outposts extending to the north. But a closer look complicates things:

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NY Times Features CenterStage Director Kwame Kwei-Armah

0 Written by: | Friday, May 03, 2013 12:56pm

Kwame Kwei-Armah. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Kwame Kwei-Armah. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The New York Times ran yesterday an interview with Kwame Kwei-Armah, the dynamic artistic director at CenterStage and learned more about his much anticipated play, “Beneatha’s Place.” Kwei-Armah wrote the play in response to Bruce Norris’s 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning controversial play about class and race, “Clybourne Park,” running at CenterStage now through June 16. (Norris wrote his play in response to Lorraine Hanberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.” “Beneatha’s Place” will begin its run on May 8. The two plays, Kwei-Armah’s and Norris’s, will run in rotating repertory under the name The Raisin Cycle.

The article points out the risks Kwei-Armah is taking with “Beneatha’s Place,” which the AD acknowledges, too.

“In short, while some artistic directors might put a controversial play into context for their audiences with a program note or a post-show talkback, Mr. Kwei-Armah has put his reputation on the line with an ambitious new work that, although it doesn’t take on “Clybourne” directly, will invite inevitable comparisons.

‘It’s madness,’ he confessed. ‘I’m getting in there with this Goliath, and I set up the ring —I put the ropes in. What was I thinking?’”

Read For Sons of “Raisin,” a Back to Back Duel at


Featured, Schools

Towson Student Advocates Racial Segregation; Verbal Brawl Ensues

0 Written by: | Monday, Mar 18, 2013 9:42am

Usually when the subject is “Towson University students causing a ruckus by being provocatively hateful about race (or sexual orientation!), our old pal Matthew Heimbach has been the culprit. (If you don’t remember, he’s the college student who started a White Student Union, hosted a Straight Pride day, and chalked “WHITE PRIDE” messages all over Towson’s campus — right before a bunch of tour groups came through.) So we were surprised to learn that the Towson student who caused a “verbal brawl” at the prominent conservative CPAC conference by advocating segregation — yes, you heard me right, he is pro-segregation — I was surprised to hear that the culprit wasn’t Heimbach. But, of course, there’s more to the story than that.
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Culture, Lifeline

Pulitzer Prize Winner Taylor Branch Talks About Race at the Pratt, Tuesday, Jan. 29

0 Written by: | Friday, Jan 25, 2013 1:00pm


As part of Open Society Institute-Baltimore’s “Talking About Race” series, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch will discuss his upcoming new book, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement, and the importance of making history accessible for today’s youth at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Tuesday, January 29 at 7 p.m.

He will be joined by educators Traci L. Wright, upper school dean of students at The Park School of Baltimore, and Karen Webber-Ndour, executive director of student support services for Baltimore City Public Schools. Read More →


Race: The Power of an Illusion

0 Written by: | Tuesday, Oct 23, 2012 4:00pm

Join WYPR’s Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, October 29 for a screening of Race: The Power of an Illusion. This free event will be in the Wheeler Auditorium at the Pratt Central Library. It’s part of WYPR’s “The Lines Between Us” series about inequality in the Baltimore region. Read More →

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Preferential Treatment in College Admissions — There’s More Than Just Affirmative Action

0 Written by: | Friday, Oct 19, 2012 10:05am

Discussion of the fairness of affirmative action in college admissions has resurfaced now that arguments over the practice are being heard by the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas. Now, if you’re a white college applicant — or the parent of one — it’s hard not to bristle at the possibility, however unlikely, that your application would be rejected on the basis of race. But it may interest you to learn that affirmative action is only one of several paths to preferential treatment in the admissions process. And all others tend to favor whites. Read More →


Wednesday Links: Proposed Gas Station Symbol of Neighborhood’s Struggle for Identity, Casino Would Generate $347M in Yearly Revenue, and More

0 Written by: | Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012 7:18am

Gas station plan a flashpoint for a neighborhood with aspirations – Baltimore Brew
National Harbor casino would give Md. $347M annually, MGM study says  - Baltimore Business Journal
Funeral planned for teen who died after fight with officer – Baltimore Sun
Fact-Checking Obama and Romney – New York Times
Slaves to fashion: Jeremy Scott, Adidas and fashion’s race problem – Washington Post

Featured, Schools

This Week in Research: Children and Race; Your “Seizure” is Actually Just Stress

0 Written by: | Friday, Apr 13, 2012 12:33pm

The Trayvon Martin shooting has led to a lot of soul-searching about how Americans approach race. And it turns out that our understanding of racial dynamics begin to take shape early in life — and not always in a good way, according to research that Anderson Cooper and CNN commissioned from the University of Maryland.  Child psychologist Melanie Killen showed groups of six year-olds images that were designed to be ambiguous:  one child is on the ground looking sad, but it’s impossible to tell if he fell or he was pushed. Then Killen and her team asked the children questions like “What’s happening in this picture?”, “Are these two children friends?” and “Would their parents like it if they were friends?”

Researchers found that the black first-graders tended to see the images in a positive, helpful light; only 38 percent offered a negative interpretations (ie, “Chris pushed Alex off the swing.”) In contrast, 70 percent of white children gave a negative interpretation of the scene.

One explanation for the divergent views of the same image is that black parents might have more open and overt discussions about race with their children. “African American parents … are very early on preparing their children for the world of diversity and also for the world of potential discrimination,” said Killen, adding, “they’re certainly talking about issues of race and what it means to be a different race and when it matters and when it doesn’t matter.” In contrast, white parents might believe that there’s no need to address race because children are colorblind:  “They sort of have this view that if you talk about race, you are creating a problem.”

But the research clearly shows that children are aware of racial differences from an early age. And if discussions about race don’t happen at home, the kids will absorb messages from the culture at large — which can be problematic.

Oh, and that optimism about interracial friendships that black six year-olds have? It fades by the time they’re thirteen. At that age, both black and white children have equally pessimistic views. The one upside of the study? Children at racially diverse and majority black schools were less negative than those at majority-white schools. Read More →

Culture, Featured

Baltimore’s Black Sons: Trayvon Martin’s Legacy of Hope

0 Written by: | Monday, Apr 02, 2012 8:01am

According to Jordan Miles, on January 12, 2010, three white, plainclothes Pittsburgh police officers jumped out of an unmarked car, ran him down, and beat him. The high school student said he had no idea the men chasing him were law enforcement officers, and the police, who thought Miles was carrying a concealed weapon, later cited nothing more dangerous than a bottle of Mountain Dew at the scene. In a photo taken the next day, the bloodied, swollen right side of the teen’s face bears little resemblance to the left.

On February 2, 2012, members of a New York Police Department narcotics unit observed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham walking out of a Bronx bodega. Suspicious of the way he moved his hand near his waist, officers entered the apartment building where Graham lived, kicked down his front door, chased him into the bathroom, and killed him. In the toilet lay a bag of marijuana but no gun.

Three-and-a-half weeks later, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida told police he shot an unarmed 17-year-old in self defense.

Race, many fear, was the leading factor in all three incidents, and today each victim awaits justice. But you’ve probably only heard of one of them. As outrage over what happened to Trayvon Martin one awful Sunday night spreads around the country, it’s worth considering why this case is drawing attention to the dangers of being young, black, and male and giving some thought to what should happen next.

Here’s what we know.

During halftime of the NBA All-Star Game, Martin walked to a 7-Eleven. As he made his way back through a gated community, George Zimmerman, a resident in a neighborhood concerned about a rash of burglaries, trailed Martin, called 911, then approached the boy against the admonishment of the emergency dispatcher. Zimmerman, 12 years older and, by many accounts, heavier than Martin, had a gun. Martin did not. Many people remain incredulous that an arrest has not been made. 

It took weeks of stories, but local reporters and black journalists elsewhere spurred national interest in the case before social media helped turn the demand for justice into what could now be called a movement. In rallies around the country, people have donned hoodies, much like the one Martin wore when he was killed, as a sign of support. The U.S Department of Justice is reviewing the case, President Obama expressed his concerns about the shooting, and as of this writing more than two million people have signed an online petition demanding Zimmerman’s prosecution.

In 2009 alone, more than 1,200 black teenagers died of gun violence. This is not the typical response.

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