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Race-Baiter update: What I've learned after a spring of talking race and media everywhere from CSPAN to CSUN



As I write this, I’m in Los Angeles finishing up an amazing spring spent talking about my book Race-Baiter to audiences ranging from George Washington University in Washington D.C. to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at the campus of the University of Southern California.

Along the way, I’ve faced audiences in college classrooms, bookstores, auditoriums, TV call-in shows and radio programs to talk about everything from the travesty of CNN’s reporting on a bombing suspect as a “dark-skinned male” to Brad Paisley’s massive fail of a racial reconciliation song, “Accidental Racist.”

What I’ve found: The general principles in my book of talking across race, recognizing prejudice and stereotypes in media, pushing back against harmful images in media and understanding the history of such images in our culture tend to surface on a regular basis. Every week or two, a new crisis arises in which race, gender or cultural issues in media play a prominent role.



There are those who want to tune out these discussions, of course. They say such talk is mostly about giving people of color unfair advantage in an evenhanded society, and accuse those of us pressing for these discussions of looking to profit by sowing seeds of division in an already fractured society.

But, too often, that feels to me like a particularly pernicious form of denial. Pointing out a ditch in the road doesn’t mean I created the hole; I’m just trying to keep too many people from stepping in it.

Indeed, I’ve felt a particular honor in spreading word about this book and hearing the stories of others navigating America’s perilous cross-cultural waters. There was the Latina student, brought to this country as an illegal immigrant, making a documentary film on the arduous process of achieving citizenship; the Puerto Rican girl who looks African American and must deal with the way people from different groups talk and act when they are not aware of her true heritage; the white family raising an African American adopted child, wondering how to keep him from internalizing the worst images in media while connecting him with his heritage.

I write this just to note here what an amazing cultural conversation is already going on in our schools, our churches, our neighborhoods and our workplaces. These past few months, I’ve been privileged to lead a few of these conversations and provide context and tips for others to continue the discussion.

Below is a grab bag of videos below from some of my appearances, including a Q&A appearance for the LATimes book festival on C-SPAN and an interview conducted by students as California State University, Northridge. Click here to see a panel from the LATimes festival on the Front Lines of the Culture Wars.

Check out some of the discussions. If you want to learn more click here to buy a copy of my book and feel free to email if you’d like me to bring one of these discussions to your area.

Click here for more on the book, including purchase info:

[Last modified: Monday, April 22, 2013 1:23pm]


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