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Local Chicago news paints four year-old black boy as gun-lover

h/t to the Maynard Institute for bringing this to light.

A Chicago television station story about the shooting of two teenagers that used video of a 4-year old boy saying he did not fear violence and wanted his own gun, has raised concerns with journalism educators and others. “We have long been worried about the ways in which the media helps perpetuate negative stereotypes of boys and men of color, but this appears to be overtly criminalizing a preschooler,” said Dori J. Maynard, President of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

The kid responded to the question of what he was going to do in light of this gun violence by saying he wanted a gun. The station cut the clip there, but moments later the boy explained it was because he wanted to be a cop. I guess that didn't fit the gangbanger-in-training stereotype they were going for. Oops. The station has since apologized.

I wonder how many lives will be endangered because of that clip as aired, with the image of a little black boy planning to add to the cycle of violence with his own gun. And while the idea that he wants to fight gun violence with the badge of law enforcement on his side makes it better, the little kid has still learned the broader lesson from society that you fight guns with guns.

I kind of wish the little dude had a crazier imagination. Instead of wanting a badge and a gun, why couldn't he have wished for the power to turn all guns into donuts? That would have been a disarmingly delicious and creative desire.


Bryant Park. A Nice Place To Chill After Having $3500 Of Your Stuff Stolen

Just chillin.

For those out of the loop, last night I did a standup show for the cellege democrats of new york state. It was at a midtown nyc club called rush. While performing my mc duties, some asshole stole my bag. Inside: new macbook pro, house and work keys, wallet with all the important stuff a wallet usually has, klean kanteen, probably my digital cam.

It occurred sometime between 950pm and 1018pm. The club has been swept, college dems asked, police report filed. The bad news (besides the obvious) is my lack of rental insurance to cover the loss. I couldn't go home last night (keys) cause wife was out of town

The good news: I crashed with my friend justin krebs who was a real trooper, waiting with me for hours until the police showed and searching the club himself several times. After filing the police report other friends joined, and we had a pretty good time at the club (what else could I do?).

As for losses, my laptop was backed up by time machine a week ago. I still had my cell phone and changed my gmail password immediately. I have an older less reliable (but also less stolen) macbook at home.

Called my bank and froze/ordered new cards. Still have my passport so ID, necessary for my flight to chicago this week, is in order.

What I could have done: left my bag w friends or coat check (which I did not know existed), had a password or encryption on my mac to prevent file access, had some kind of lojack or remote detonator service on the laptop, had renter's insurance. I'm not in a position to pay to replace all that very important stuff right now.

So its bad but could be worse.

Posted via email from baratunde's posterous

My Evening In The Biljmer, Amsterdam's Hood

This evening, one of the Amsterdam members of our Pioneers group a brother -- who goes by "Philly" and could easily pass for Dominican in my NYC neighborhood -- invited me to "Get Known" a stand-up comedy open mic in Biljmerdreef in the Southeast section of Amsterdam. It's one of the creative outlets produced by his "Get Entertained" company which seeks to offer artistic outlets for the largely black, Surinam-descended inhabitants of this often-neglected part of the city.

I jumped at the opportunity and found what you can find in hoods everywhere across the world, whether a favela in Rio or Chicago's South Side. On the drive over, Philly described the shoot-first attitude of the cops toward these communities, the hustle engaged in by so many young people with no job prospects, the avoidance of conversation about Holland's slavery-based economy. I saw with my own eyes the same prison-esque project towers that dot so many urban landscapes across the globe.

But Phil also showed me what Get Entertained ( is doing, and it's inspiring to see. I'll post video later, but for now, trust me when I say they have an impressive, grassroots-directed program. You can tune in to their top-rated radio program via and watch black DJs spitting Dutch and mixing live on the air.

Also, I got to do stand-up comedy, and it went really, really well. There really is a universal black (and actually human) experience that can transcend cultures and languages. Here are some pictures from my trek to The Biljmer.


Posted via web from baratunde's posterous

On Politicians, Social Media And Obama (with diagrams!)

So my social media homeysita Teresa Valdez Klein blogged over at Web Community Forum the following
In their new book, Groundswell, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff outline five major objectives in online community building: listening, talking, energizing, supporting, embracing
    If I had to wager, I’d say that the candidates’ efforts on Linkedin fall neatly into the second category. It’s unlikely that the candidates are actually paying attention to the thousands of responses pouring in, but that’s a smaller part of the political equation. The important thing from where the campaigns stand is that these outreach strategies make people feel heard. But, as we online community geeks all know, there’s a big difference between making people feel heard and actually hearing them.
    Good point, but I'd like to extend it. I haven't read Li's book yet (though I have it thanks to you, Teresa), but I have been working on a response to BL Ochman who thinks Obama's not using the Internet well at all in terms of empowering people. I'm not lumping Teresa and BL into the same boat, but I'll respond to both with a part of my view on political campaigns and social media. Let's start with Talking 2.0

    Politicians and Social Media 1: Talking 2.0

    In this part, politicians with their big heads and big mouths sit on the top, get on TwitterSpaceBookTube, collect a bunch of friends and broadcast their message in a very direct mail sort of way. It's just like direct mail, except the people build their lists on their own. It's advertising beyond 30-seconds and much better targeted. Now, Fundraising 2.0

    Politicians and Social Media 2: Fundraising 2.0

    Again, politicians are at the top of the heap, this time tapping into millions of small donors. Obama is the king of this right now. At this phase, politicians enable donors to solicit from other donors with their own mini-campaigns and donation widgets. This is significant, as it threatens the big time financial interests who've long held the ear (and balls) of our elected officials. Listening 2.0 I don't have a picture here, but just invert the talking image: lots of voices and ideas from the people slapping the politician upside the head. Teresa's LinkedIn post is taking a look at this. Everyone using the web for this purpose has a ways to go. The wiki model has proven most effective at integrating contributions from the multitudes into a coherent work. Will we ever have a wikitician? a wikiacracy? I know Obama has a form on his site to collect ideas and feedback on his various posted policies. I have no idea what happens to that. Do they go to advisors, interns, /dev/null? Not sure. What I do know is that the next layer is essential to reaching a point where campaigns and politicians can meaningfully integrate all that they are hearing from voters and supporters.. Community-Building 2.0

    Politicians and Social Media 1.0 - Community Building

    This is a very different picture. The politician isn't necessarily at the top. They are at the center, because it is around them that civic activity is happening, but people's attention isn't solely focused on listening to the politician, giving money to the politician or even talking to the politician. To extend Tereas's line, "as we online community geeks all know, there’s a big difference between making people feel heard and actually hearing them" and enabling them to hear each other. People are talking to other people. The politician/campaign/organization is the hub of this activity but not necessarily the top. They provide tools, however, which allow people to identify and find each other. They provide materials. On Obama's site, this is the social network tool. I've seen volunteers from NYC take this tool and use it to organize dinner parties, trips to Virginia and Pennsylvania and more. Folks looking to help out turn here to find activity in or near their zipcode. The politician, in this case Obama, has inspired or enabled communities to form and to take action. Today that action is focused on getting this candidate elected, but what I'm really excited about is how this carries on into the actual governing. There are promising signs from the Obama campaign that they will do more than any president in history or any candidate running to bring active citizens and community into our government. I've written on that here:
    if Obama's campaign is successful, it will be because we are successful, and if that happens, I envision a country in which people are more engaged in their government and society and thus check the power of those who already have unfettered access. I know the power of this inspiration because it has touched me and made me committed to seeing it happen in my small sphere of influence. If his revolutionary open government and technology plan and government ethics plan (for the love of god, read it!) comes to pass, we will have more visibility and input into the (corrupt) workings of our government than ever before, and it will be up to us to act on that new information. (BTW, compare that to this assessment of Hillary's tech/communications plan. It pales). With the searchable government spending database he spearheaded (use it!), we may find that the obscenity of our budgetary priorities is so readily available, we have no choice but to protest it. Obama's platform is not just about his positions. It's about the tools and infrastructure he's offering directly to the citizens of this country. Forget for a moment who speaks in a most commanding fashion about the particulars of health care legislation. Forget about beautiful language or alleged experience. Look at what President Obama offers all of us: empowerment. Empowerment like we've never seen. Power we forgot we had. Power that a community organizer trained on the streets of Chicago would recognize in a heartbeat. We may not get an opportunity like this for several decades! Look, I am under no illusions about the forces that wield the true power in this country, but what has been restored by Obama's campaign is my faith (and go ahead, say it, "hope") and knowledge that true power is still held by the people, and that we the people can use more of that power under President Obama than under any other. By far.
    These Obama proposals offer unprecedented access to the workings of government for the common citizen. Searchable databases of federal department documents and activities and data, comment periods on non-emergency legislation, streaming video of important meetings. It's hard for citizens to act intelligently without information, and I'm impressed that Obama sees the value in opening the doors. That's the exciting thing for me. Not so much knowing that a candidate actually reads my posts on twitter, but knowing that I can collaborate with my fellow citizens in keeping an eye on government and in building solutions to some of the pressing problems we face. As always, Fired Up!

    Dear Bill and Hillary, Please Stop Yer Bitchin

    cross-posted to jack & jill politics I'm neither happy about nor proud of my newly-distasteful opinion of former President Bill Clinton. I've written previously about this sad transition, so I won't repeat all that. What I will say is that, like Hillary, Bill had other choices available to him during this campaign, and he has chosen the low road all too often. He's also getting caught more easily in 2008 than ever was possible 10 years ago. Let's look at these two different Bill Clintons revealed within four days of each other. March 26th, Bill Clinton says:
    “If a politician doesn’t wanna get beat up, he shouldn’t run for office,” he said. “If a politician doesn’t wanna get beat up, he shouldn’t run for office. If a football player doesn’t want to get tackled or want the risk of an a occasional clip he shouldn’t put the pads on.”
    Tell that to your wife, dude! She's done nothing but whine and complain throughout this entire season since her dominating lead started to slip. She talks about how hard it is and tears up. She complains about the boys club, about how guys are piling on. She moans about how this state and that state don't count, about how caucuses are unfair. She rips the media at every opportunity, complaining of sexism and unfair coverage. She had the nerve to argue that getting to speak first in a debate is somehow a problem! Just stop yer bitchin! Saddle up, and fight, but stop bitchin about every little thing all the damn time. As an Obama supporter, I've done my fair share of complaining (especially about racial issues), but my candidate has not. He doesn't threaten press people and dismiss contests he's lost and rally black people the way she relies on women to rescue her. He just keeps on campaigning. This past weekend, another Bill Clinton emerged in California:
    The Bill Clinton who met privately with California's superdelegates at last weekend's state convention was a far cry from the congenial former president who afterward publicly urged fellow Democrats to "chill out" over the race between his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Barack Obama. In fact, before his speech Clinton had one of his famous meltdowns Sunday, blasting away at former presidential contender Bill Richardson for having endorsed Obama, the media and the entire nomination process. "It was one of the worst political meetings I have ever attended," one superdelegate said. According to those at the meeting, Clinton - who flew in from Chicago with bags under his eyes - was classic old Bill at first, charming and making small talk with the 15 or so delegates who gathered in a room behind the convention stage. But as the group moved together for the perfunctory photo, Rachel Binah, a former Richardson delegate who now supports Hillary Clinton, told Bill how "sorry" she was to have heard former Clinton campaign manager James Carville call Richardson a "Judas" for backing Obama. It was as if someone pulled the pin from a grenade. "Five times to my face (Richardson) said that he would never do that," a red-faced, finger-pointing Clinton erupted. The former president then went on a tirade that ran from the media's unfair treatment of Hillary to questions about the fairness of the votes in state caucuses that voted for Obama. It ended with him asking delegates to imagine what the reaction would be if Obama was trailing by just 1 percent and people were telling him to drop out. "It was very, very intense," said one attendee. "Not at all like the Bill of earlier campaigns." When he finally wound down, Bill was asked what message he wanted the delegates to take away from the meeting. At that point, a much calmer Clinton outlined his message of party unity. "It was kind of strange later when he took the stage and told everyone to 'chill out,' " one delegate told us. "We couldn't help but think he was also talking to himself." When delegate Binah - still stunned from her encounter with Clinton - got home to Little River (Mendocino County) later in the day - there was a phone message waiting for her from State Party Chairman Art Torres, telling her the former president wanted him to apologize to her on his behalf for what happened. Still, word of Clinton's blast shot all the way back to the New Mexico state Capitol, where Richardson spokesman Pahl Shipley reiterated Tuesday that his boss had never "promised or guaranteed" Bill and Hillary his endorsement.
    I hate to see the Clintons self-destruct like this, but I'm glad it's happening now, before they end up in the White House again. Can you imagine, I mean really imagine what four years of these people will be like? They will accept no responsibility for any wrongdoing, for any mistakes. It's always, always someone else's fault. Ready on Day One, to pass the buck. Obama will bring scandal and disappointment to be sure, but it will be different scandal and new disappointments. I prefer that over the sniveling Clintons any day.