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Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog) RSS feed

Trump Stinks. Let me count the ways.

assembled by Pat McNe

What have I missed?

The Inside Story of Michigan’s Fake Voter Fraud Scandal (Tim Alberta, Politico, 11-24-2020) How a state that was never in doubt became a "national embarrassment" and a symbol of the Republican Party’s fealty to Donald Trump...the death knell of Trump's presidency was sounded by a baby-faced lawyer, looking over his glasses on a grainy Zoom feed on a gloomy Monday afternoon, reading from a statement that reflected a courage and moral clarity that has gone AWOL from his party, pleading with the tens of thousands of people watching online to understand that some lines can never be uncrossed.... Why were Republicans who privately admitted Trump's legitimate defeat publicly alleging massive fraud? Why did it fall to a little-known figure like Van Langevelde to buffer the country from an unprecedented layer of turmoil? Why did the battleground state that dealt Trump his most decisive defeat—by a wide margin—become the epicenter of America's electoral crisis?" As Anita Bartholomew observed on Facebook, "the underlying question about *who* gets to decide (the state legislators or the PA Supreme Court) could also cut out state courts and other officials from any decisions in any prez election from now on." 

How Reality-TV Fame Handed Trump a $427 Million Lifeline (Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig, The President's Taxes, NY Times, 9-28-2020) Tax records show that “The Apprentice” rescued Donald J. Trump, bringing him new sources of cash and a myth that would propel him to the White House. "Mr. Trump’s genius, it turned out, wasn’t running a company. It was making himself famous — Trump-scale famous — and monetizing that fame."
In 1,316 days, President Trump has made 22,247 false or misleading claims (Washington Post Fact Checker) The Fact Checker’s ongoing database of the false or misleading claims made by President Trump since assuming office. A timeline of untruths, along with the facts. See also Trump is averaging more than 50 false or misleading claims a day (Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, The Fact Checker, 10-22-2020)
All the President’s Lies About the Coronavirus (Christian Paz, The Atlantic, 11-2-2020) An unfinished compendium of Trump’s overwhelming dishonesty during a national emergency
Trump Administration’s Mishandling of the Coronavirus Response Congresswoman Jackie Speier's timeline. See also AP News Fact Check: Trump's alternate reality on COVID-19 threat
A detailed timeline of all the ways Trump failed to respond to the coronavirus ( Cameron Peters, Vox, 6-8-2020) Shows a president dead set on avoiding responsibility for the pandemic.
How Golf Explains President Trump (YouTube video, Sportswriter Rick Reilly, author of Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump with Bay Area sportswriter Joan Ryan, for Commonwealth Club of California, 6-19-19). Based on his personal experiences and interviews with dozens of golf pros, amateurs, developers, partners, opponents and even caddies who have firsthand experience with Trump on the course, Reilly takes a deep and often hilarious look at how Trump shamelessly cheats at golf, lies about it, sues over it, bullies with it and profits off of it.
An Oral History of Trump’s Bigotry (David A. Graham, Adrienne Green, Cullen Murphy, and Parker Richards, The Atlantic, June 2019) His racism and intolerance have always been in evidence; only slowly did he begin to understand how to use them to his advantage. "One of the things Trump learned when he injected himself into the Central Park Five case was that he could get attention for himself because he was a spokesman for a certain type of Archie Bunker New Yorker. I think that’s one of the bonds that he shares with [Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor] Rudy Giuliani: They’re both profoundly guys from that moment in New York when a lot of racial boundaries got drawn."
Trump the Truth: A Timeline of Assaults on Free Expression (Pen America) The Trump the Truth timeline, maintained and updated by PEN America during the first year of the Trump Administration, was used to track important developments during the Trump Administration that posed a threat to undermine free expression and press freedoms (or, from another viewpoint, express his opinion). See also PEN America's Trump the Truth report and timeline (PDF in standard prose format).
PolitiFact's Truth-o-Meter report on Trump. See especially All statements by Trump, rated as true or false or somewhere in between. (36 pages as of 7-25-19)

The President's Taxes: Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance ( Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire, NY Times, 9-27-2020--part of a series) The Times obtained Donald Trump’s tax information extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due. "Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made." The returns "reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire image — honed through his star turn on “The Apprentice” — that helped propel him to the White House and that still undergirds the loyalty of many in his base....Indeed, his financial condition when he announced his run for president in 2015 lends some credence to the notion that his long-shot campaign was at least in part a gambit to reanimate the marketability of his name."

18 Revelations From a Trove of Trump Tax Records (NY Times, 9-27-2020) Times reporters have obtained decades of tax information the president has hidden from public view. Among the key findings of The Times’s investigation: "Mr. Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years that The Times examined. In 2017, after he became president, his tax bill was only $750. He has reduced his tax bill with questionable measures, including a $72.9 million tax refund that is the subject of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. Many of his signature businesses, including his golf courses, report losing large amounts of money — losses that have helped him to lower his taxes."Read on.
Trump Engineered a Sudden Windfall in 2016 as Campaign Funds Dwindled (Susanne Craig, Mike McIntire and Russ Buettner, NY Times, 10-9-2020) Tax records expose more than $21 million in highly unusual payments from the Las Vegas hotel Donald Trump owns with Phil Ruffin, routed through other Trump companies and paid out in cash. His tax records show that "his 'self-funded' presidential campaign was short on funds, and he was struggling to win over leery Republican donors. His golf courses and the hotel he would soon open in the Old Post Office in Washington were eating away at what cash he had left on hand....And in early 2016, Deutsche Bank, the last big lender still doing business with him, unexpectedly turned down his request for a loan. The funds, Mr. Trump had told his bankers, would help shore up his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland. Some bankers feared the money would instead be diverted to his campaign."
The Swamp That Trump Built (Nicholas Confessore, Karen Yourish, Steve Eder, Ben Protess, Maggie Haberman, Grace Ashford, Michael LaForgia, Kenneth P. Vogel, Michael Rothfeld and Larry Buchanan, NY Times, 10-10-2020) A businessman-president transplanted favor-seeking in Washington to his family’s hotels and resorts — and earned millions as a gatekeeper to his own administration.
Making Sense (Sam Harris's podcast, 10-30-2020). This link takes you to Harris's fascinating discussion with Andrew Sullivan about why Trump has been so successful despite being a horrible person.
How Trump Became the Pro-Infection Candidate (Dhruv Khullar, New Yorker, 10-23-2020)
The Coup Stage of Donald Trump’s Presidency (Masha Gessen, New Yorker, 11-20-2020) Is it a coup or a con? Trump’s bad con continues to show how easy it would be to stage a good one. Then we would call it a coup.
Trump's Clown Coup(Susan B. Glasser, New Yorker, 11-20-2020) We’ve been getting used to painful truths for so long that the awful enormity of the current situation doesn’t hit us in the way it should. The G.O.P. leadership, which has tolerated so many abuses by Trump, is now openly complicit in his worst one yet.

How Trump and His Enablers Are Laying the Groundwork For a Coup d'état (A Pointed View, 11-10-2020) There's an interesting discussion of this on Facebook (launched by Anita Bartholomew's post).
Disappearing Data (HuffPost Report, 10-28-2020) Data is the lifeblood of a functioning government. Over the past four years, the Trump administration has destroyed, disappeared or distorted vast swathes of the information the state needs to protect the vulnerable, safeguard our health, and alert us to emerging crises. This is an accounting of the damage in several areas where data is crucial: The Pandemic, Climate Change, The Vulnerable, Pollution, Science, Food, Conservation, and the Census.
Misinformation about Biden’s health spreads after debate (Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post, 9-30-2020) TikTok videos and Trump ads with false information got more than 700,000 views and clicks. See also Right-wing voices are dominating Facebook after the first presidential debate (WaPo, 9-30-2020) Many Americans who primarily get news from Facebook are living in a media ecosystem where the winner of the debate is clear: President Trump crushed Joe Biden. But Facebook and Twitter take unusual steps to limit spread of New York Post story (Dwoskin, WaPo, 10-15-2020) "Four years after Russian operatives exploited tech giants’ services during a presidential contest, the companies’ swift and aggressive steps in responding to the unverified story, and their divergent responses, are a real-time case study in their ability to protect the integrity of an election that has been marred by domestic disinformation and misleading accounts. That activity has included misinformation about Biden’s health, the dying wish of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the validity of mail-in ballots — much of it spread by Trump and his supporters."
Trump got a $21 million tax break for saving the forest outside his N.Y. mansion. Now the deal is under investigation. (Joshua Partlow, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 10-9-2020) Five years ago, Donald Trump promised to preserve more than 150 acres of rolling woodlands in an exclusive swath of New York suburbia prized for its luxury homes and rural tranquility. He wrote off the cost as a business expense and the family calls it "a retreat for the Trump family."
Trump says he's leaving hospital for White House, feels good (Zeke Miller, Jill Colvin, and Aamer Madhani, AP, 10-5-2020) "For more than eight months, Trump's efforts to play down the threat of the virus in hopes of propping up the economy ahead of the election have drawn bipartisan criticism....According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms can be contagious for as many — and should isolate for at least — 10 day. On Sunday afternoon, Trump briefly ventured out of the hospital while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade — an outing that disregarded precautions meant to contain the virus....Less than one month before Election Day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness. The still-infectious president surprised supporters who had gathered outside the hospital, riding by Sunday in a black SUV with the windows rolled up. Secret Service agents inside the vehicle could be seen in masks and other protective gear....[Sunday] was the second straight day of obfuscation from a White House already suffering from a credibility crisis. And it raised more doubts about whether the doctors treating the president were sharing accurate, timely information with the American public about the severity of his condition."
‘It’s like every red flag’: Trump-ordered HHS ad blitz raises alarms (Dan Diamond, Politico, 9-25-2020) "The health department is moving quickly on a highly unusual advertising campaign to "defeat despair" about the coronavirus, a $300 million-plus effort that was shaped by a political appointee close to President Donald Trump and executed in part by close allies of the official, using taxpayer funds....[Michael] Caputo, who has no medical or scientific background, claimed in a Facebook video on Sept. 13 that the campaign was "demanded of me by the president of the United States. Personally."...But 10 current and former health officials told POLITICO that they have concerns about the campaign's scope, goals and even how it has been funded — by pulling money out of health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control that are in the midst of fighting the pandemic, rather than working with lawmakers to set up a brand-new advertising effort with congressional oversight, or drawing on substantial internal resources and expertise in running health-related public service campaigns....But 10 current and former health officials told POLITICO that they have concerns about the campaign's scope, goals and even how it has been funded — by pulling money out of health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control that are in the midst of fighting the pandemic, rather than working with lawmakers to set up a brand-new advertising effort with congressional oversight, or drawing on substantial internal resources and expertise in running health-related public service campaigns."
The Coronavirus and the Threat Within the White House ( David Remnick, New Yorker, 10-3-2020) "The best security system and the most solicitous medical officers in the world could not protect Donald Trump from a danger that he insisted on belittling and ignoring....The Centers for Disease Control and other public-health institutions have long said that wearing masks is essential to minimizing the spread of the coronavirus. Trump has been of another opinion, a delusional one."
The Battle Over “The Room Where It Happened” Continues (Authors Guild, 9-24-2020) "On September 15, the Trump Administration continued its campaign against John Bolton and his book The Room Where It Happened by opening a criminal inquiry into whether Bolton had unlawfully disclosed classified information in his bestselling memoir. Ellen Knight, formerly of the National Security Council, expressed concern 'about the politicization -- or even the perceived politicization -- of the prepublication review process. Once authors start perceiving that manuscripts are being reviewed for political considerations, they will lose confidence in the integrity of the process and find ways to publish or release their works without submitting them for review. This could result in unchecked disclosures of sensitive information and the potential for serious damage to our national security.' Ms. Knight’s letter states that the Bolton prepublication review process “entailed an unprecedented amount of interaction between the political appointees in the NSC Legal staff and the career prepublication review staff.”
Twitter’s Trump Fact Check Won’t Solve Much, but at Least It’s Something (Dahlia Lithwick, Future Tense, Slate, 5-27-2020) Twitter took the unprecedented step of attaching warning labels accompanied by links to fact checks to two of the president’s false tweets. The president then went on to threaten that Twitter was “completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!” although anyone with a brain quickly pointed out that private companies are not state actors and Trump has no First Amendment claims here.
The First Amendment: what it really means for free speech and why Donald Trump is trampling on it (Eliza Bechtold, The Conversation, 8-5-19) "...there is no First Amendment right to use Twitter or have a Facebook page. As private entities, social media companies are free to adopt policies relating to user content and to remove users who violate such policies without implicating the First Amendment. Moreover, the First Amendment protects the expression of corporations and other associations, as well as individuals. This means that Facebook, Twitter, and others have free speech rights."
Judges toss lawsuit alleging anti-conservative bias on social media (Marc DeAngelis, Engadget, 5-28-2020) In 2018, the nonprofit organization Freedom Watch and a conservative YouTuber named Laura Loomer tried to sue social media companies. They alleged that Twitter, Facebook and Google -- which owns YouTube -- broke antitrust laws and violated their First Amendment rights by conspiring to suppress conservative viewpoints. Their case was dropped last year, but they appealed the decision. According to Bloomberg, a federal appeals court today affirmed the decision to drop the suit, leaving the tech companies in the clear.The plaintiffs say that tech companies conspired to suppress conservative views. See also Freedom Watch and Laura Loomer Lose Lawsuit Against Social Media Platforms (Eugene Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy, 5-27-2020) No, said the Court. The plaintiffs' First Amendment claim failed because "the First Amendment 'prohibits only governmental abridgment of speech," because there was no evidence of an anticompetitive behavior by platforms, and because D.C.'s public accommodation statute doesn't apply to online service providers.
The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President (McKay Coppins, The Atlantic, 2-10-2020) How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election. After the 2016 election, much was made of the threats posed to American democracy by foreign disinformation. Stories of Russian troll farms and Macedonian fake-news mills loomed in the national imagination. But while these shadowy outside forces preoccupied politicians and journalists, Trump and his domestic allies were beginning to adopt the same tactics of information warfare that have kept the world's demagogues and strongmen in power.
Literary Group Goes to Court to Stop Donald Trump From Violating the First Amendment (Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter, 10-16-18) The Pen America Center says Trump is using his power to unconstitutionally punish and intimidate The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, the White House press corps and others who cover his administration.
Almost 2,000 former Justice officials condemn department for dropping Flynn case (Rebecca Klar, The Hill, 5-11-2020) 'Nearly 2,000 former Department of Justice (DOJ) officials who served under Republican and Democratic administrations condemned the DOJ and Attorney General William Barr on Monday for moving to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The former officials said Barr “once again assaulted the rule of law” and accused the attorney general of using the department “as a tool to further President Trump’s personal and political interests.” ' See also ‘A constant battle of you against the leadership of your country’: Justice Dept. rattled as Flynn fallout reaches FBI (Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, 5-8-2020) 'While the president continued to criticize the FBI’s conduct, multiple federal law enforcement officials interviewed Friday expressed varying degrees of anger, resignation and alarm over the decision by Attorney General William P. Barr to abandon the prosecution of Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States before Trump took office. “The attorney general is supposed to be above reproach and apolitical in terms of how the department operates and how he or she as an individual operates, and he’s just completely lost that,” said one veteran Justice Department lawyer who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. “He’s Trump’s attorney. He’s not the country’s attorney.” '
Kelly and Pompeo: How A Journalist Masterfully Combated Gaslighting (Stephanie Sarkis, Forbes, 1-25-2020) A brief demo on how to address gaslighters talking over you, spouting misinformation, acting as if they're being bullied, lying to make you look unreasonable, etc.
Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All (Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, 7-18-16) “The Art of the Deal” made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business. Tony Schwartz helped create that myth—and regrets it. Over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.” “He has no attention span.” “. . .it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” He said, “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” Edward Kosner, the former editor and publisher of New York, where Schwartz worked as a writer at the time, says, “Tony created Trump. He’s Dr. Frankenstein.”
Defending Rights & Dissent Opposes Trump Executive Order Equating Support for Palestinian Rights with Anti-Semitic Discrimination (Defending Rights & Dissent, 12-11-19) Anti-Semitism is a real threat, but it is a distortion of civil rights to use federal civil rights law to suppress speech in support of Palestinian rights.
Judgment days (Stephanie McCrummen, Washington Post, 7-21-18) In a small Alabama town, an evangelical congregation reckons with God, President Trump and the meaning of morality. How can people who purport to disapprove of sinfulness of all kinds vote for a twice-divorced alleged adulterer who has boasted of sexual assault? What was important was not the character of the president but his positions, they said, and one mattered more than all the others. “Abortion,” said Linda, whose eyes teared up when she talked about it. Read that and then read this: Avoiding false judgments in journalism about Trump’s evangelical supporters (Brook Wilensky-Lanford, Nieman Storyboard, 4-11-19) A religion scholar assesses how the Washington Post's Stephanie McCrummen avoids predictable pitfalls in "Judgment Days."
ICE Has Kept Tabs on ‘Anti-Trump’ Protesters in New York City (Jimmy Tobias, The Nation, 3-6-19) Documents reveal that the immigration enforcement agency has been keenly attuned to left-leaning protests in the city. “If [the Department of Homeland Security] is specifically focusing on those who are against the current president, it gets into the realm of what fascist regimes do,” says Jody Kuh, a volunteer organizer with Rise and Resist. “If they are watching us because we are against the current president’s policies, it is more than a little disturbing.”
Inside the Steele Dossier & The Fusion GPS Investigation Of Trump (listen to Terry Gross, Fresh Air, 11-26-19) During the 2016 campaign, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch hired former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to investigate Donald Trump's involvement with Russia. Their book about this topic is Crime in Progress (the inside story of the high-stakes, four-year-long investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia ties—culminating in the Steele dossier, and sparking the Mueller report—from the founders of political opposition research company Fusion GPS) This Washington Post review of the book may help you decide whether to read further.
The Summer of Chaos and God (Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, 9-5-19) 'A preference for chaos on the far right is connected to God in ways Democrats can barely talk about, much less comprehend, whether it’s the fundamental disconnect around evangelical support for unfettered gun rights or the right’s rejection of environmental protection or immigrants’ rights. But the more morally discordant Trump’s policies and politics are, the more he is seen as fighting for religious rights. This is not a claim that all or even most religious belief is nihilist—it is just a recognition that there is a deeply nihilist strain in some religious quarters, one that dovetails perfectly with the impulse to “blow it all up.”'
Trump Can’t Block Critics From His Twitter Account, Appeals Court Rules (Charlie Savage, NY Times, 7-9-19) "Because Mr. Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts — and engaging in conversations in the replies to them — because he does not like their views, a three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, ruled unanimously." "The decision may have broader implications for how the First Amendment applies to officials’ accounts in the social-media era."
The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine (Jane Mayer, New Yorker, 10-4-19) How a conservative dark-money group that targeted Hillary Clinton in 2016 spread the discredited story that may lead to Donald Trump’s impeachment. See also the book Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green, as well as the article “Stupid Watergate” Is Worse Than the Original (David Remnick, New Yorker, 10-4-19) "...his corruption is totally as we see it, out front. He doesn’t try to hide it. He doesn’t try to hide the conflicts of interest or the lying. He is not a secretive conspirator. Donald Trump’s behavior echoes Nixon’s in one sense: he and his confederates appear to have been engaged in an effort to undermine the integrity of a Presidential election."
The Difference Between Leaking and Whistle-Blowing in the Trump White House (Masha Gessen, New Yorker, 10-4-19) 'A whistle-blower often speaks out with the aim of halting some wrongdoing, but a leaker’s motives are generally self-serving....We have normalized Trumpism to such an extent that journalists and politicians didn’t know how to think about the Ukraine story until the whistle-blower framed it as an egregious abuse of power....Yet it took two and a half years for someone with significant access to the Administration to go through the process of systematically collecting information and transmitting it through the institutional channels created specifically for the purpose of saying, “This is not normal.”'
What is Trumpcare? (Larry Levitt, news@JAMA, 9-25-19)
Who Are Donald Trump's Supporters? Trump Nation (USA Today Interactives) They’re not clichés. The USA TODAY NETWORK interviewed voters in every state to find out. Read their comments.
Under Trump, LGBTQ Progress Is Being Reversed in Plain Sight (Kirsten Berg and Moiz Syed, ProPublica, 11-22-19) Donald Trump promised he would fight for LGBTQ people. Instead, his administration has systematically undone recent gains in their rights and protections. Since taking office, Trump’s administration has acted to dismantle federal protections and resources for LGBTQ Americans, particularly those gained under President Barack Obama. Here are 31 examples.
'Times' Journalists Puncture Myth Of Trump As Self-Made Billionaire (Terry Gross interviews investigative reporters Susanne Craig and David Barstow, who say the president received today's equivalent of $413 million from his father's real estate empire, through what appears to be tax fraud. See also Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father (Susanne Craig and David Barstow and Russ Buettner, NY Times, 10-2-18) The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through schemes to avoid paying taxes on multimillion dollar gifts in the family.
Mueller report suggests the ‘fake news’ came from Trump, not the news media (Paul Farhi, WaPo, 4-18-19) Mueller's report cites multiple instances in which Trump and White House aides misled or lied to journalists or in public statements as the investigation was unfolding....In fact, according to Mueller’s report, Trump’s first reaction [to news of Mueller's appointment] was anything but calm. According to notes taken by an aide, Trump responded by saying, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f-cked. . . . This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Donald Trump Fact Check (Toronto Star)
When Donald met Scott: a reporter's view of Trump and his White House wonderland (Katharine Murphy, The Guardian, 9-27-19) Australian PM Scott Morrison received a full-blown welcome from the US president. " If he doesn’t understand, the president will say: “Say it.” This means ask the question again, she says."
Why PEN America Is Suing Donald Trump (Jennifer Egan, LitHub, 10-18-18) "Trump's vitriol against reporters has made political journalism a more dangerous practice....President Trump’s frank admiration for authoritarian rulers makes his efforts to hobble a free press here in America all the more alarming. His actions conform to what some call an 'authoritarian playbook' for modern tyrants, in which the curtailing of free speech occurs subtly and gradually through a system of governmental rewards and punishments that encourage cooperation and gradually chill opposing voices."
Hundreds of Newspapers Denounce Trump's Attacks on Media in Coordinated Editorials(James Doubek, NPR, 8-16-18) NPR does not have an editorial board, and did not take part in Thursday's coordinated effort. The project was spearheaded by staff members of the editorial page at the Globe. See
---A Free Press Needs You (Editorial, NY Times, 8-15-18)
--- "Americans may not like the news they see or hear but they should not hold that against those who report it. In short, don’t shoot the messenger." --TriCorner News, LakeVille Journal, 8-15-18)
---Journalists are not the enemy (Boston Globe editorial board, 8-15-18)
---"Self-governance demands that our citizens need to be well-informed and that's what we're here to do. ... Some think we're rude to question and challenge. We know it's our obligation."--The Times of North Little Rock
---"Journalists are used to being insulted. It comes with the job ... But being called an enemy — and not of a politician or cause, but of the whole people of a nation — that's something else entirely."-- Topeka Capital-Journal
EPA Lets AP Reporter Back Into Summit After She Was Shoved Out Of Building (DAvid Bauder, Talking Points Memo, 5-22-18) AP journalist Ellen Knickmeyer and reporters from CNN and E&E News were told they could not attend an invitation-only event, a summit on a class of chemicals present in dangerous amounts in many water systems around the country. Knickmeyer "was earlier barred and shoved out of the building by a security guard." “We understand the importance of an open and free press and we hope the EPA does, too,” CNN said. Scott Pruitt apparently does not.
Trump admin tightens media access for federal scientists: report (Ali Breland, The Hill, 6-21-18) The Trump administration is directing federal scientists in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to get approval from the Department of the Interior, its parent agency, before speaking to reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The employees said that they believe the new policies were established to control the voices of Interior employees. They believe the move is a part of larger efforts to quell discourse about climate change, which the agency has produced research on."
"It's the law, stupid," and seven other lessons from the EPA's botched media blackout. (Indira Lakshmanan, Poynter, 5-24-18) The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that any advisory group making recommendations to the federal government “shall be open to the public.” Journalists protect their interests if they’re versed in open records and open meetings laws.
Board objects to EPA press office action (National Association of Science Writers, 3-26-18) Inpart: "With the March 20 “press release,” EPA effectively limited its discussion of a major science policy story to a handpicked, partisan outlet. It also encouraged journalists to learn details about this story from a published article, which can never be a basis of responsible news reporting.
"When reporters contact the EPA Press Office asking for information regarding the activities of a taxpayer-funded organization, those queries should be answered swiftly by knowledgeable staff. The same holds when journalists request public documents from an agency."
Judge: Trump Can’t Block Twitter Users(Mark Joseph Stern, Slate, 5-13-18).S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking Twitter users who criticized him and his policies. Her ruling is an extraordinary victory for free speech on the internet and a harsh rebuke to Trump’s effort to prevent his critics from engaging with him online.
The White House's attack on scientists could manipulate public opinion (Lauren Kurtz and Romany Webb, Opinion, The Hill, 2-28-18) "The Trump administration’s FY2019 budget, unveiled last Monday, proposes cuts in essential funding for scientific research and education. Unfortunately, this attack on science is not an isolated incident. Barely a year into President Trump’s term, there have already been 111 attempts by the federal government to censor, misrepresent, or stifle science. Many appear intended to gain support for the administration’s efforts to prop up the fossil fuel industry... At the Department of the Interior (DOI), a website discussing the environmental and other risks of fossil fuel development was changed to emphasize economic benefits [and to argue against human causes of climate change]. A few months later, large swaths of land previously protected from coal mining and oil and gas drilling were opened to development. Shortly after this, DOI’s Bureau of Land Management changed the image on its homepage from a scenic park vista to a pile of coal, presumably to reinforce the message that public lands are for mining."
Words banned at multiple HHS agencies include ‘diversity’ and ‘vulnerable’ (Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin, WashPost, 12-10-17) "The Trump administration has informed multiple divisions within the Department of Health and Human Services that they should avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget. The words to avoid: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” Participants at HHS were also told to use “Obamacare” instead of ACA, or the Affordable Care Act, and to use “exchanges” instead of “marketplaces” to describe the venues where people can purchase health insurance. At the CDC, budget analysts were told they could use an alternative phrase instead of “evidence-based” or “science-based” in budget documents. That phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”
The CDC analyst said it was clear to participants that they were to avoid those seven words but only in drafting budget documents.
Homeland Security Used a Private Intelligence Firm to Monitor Family Separation Protests (Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept, 4-19-19) In the last two years, law enforcement agencies executing the Trump administration’s immigration agenda have cracked down on critics of the president’s policies. Among the targeted: humanitarian volunteers providing food, water, and medical aid to migrants trekking through the desert, and immigration attorneys, journalists, and activists working with, and around, migrant caravans.“This is a chilling revelation, but follows an even scarier trend of constant government surveillance and policing of immigrant communities, and targeting of activists and journalists,” Jesse Franzblau, a senior policy analyst with the National Immigrant Justice Center.
The police threw the book at Trump Protesters in DC but sat and watched White Supremacists terrorize Charlottesville (Sandra Fulton, HuffPost, 8-29-17) "Last week, the Department of Justice altered a sweeping warrant, which sought to collect personal information on every visitor to an anti-Trump website that organized protests on Inauguration Day....The demand seems to be in line with a broader trend within the Trump Administration—a harsh crackdown against any group that disagrees with President Trump. For his part, Trump has categorized these protesters as the “Alt-Left,” a term that doesn’t seem to apply to any easily-defined entity beyond the paranoid imaginings of Trump and his allies." "The administration and law enforcement are using a range of tactics — from electronic surveillance to a growing number of anti-protest laws — to criminalize anyone that organizes in the streets to protest the president and his policies. But how are law enforcement and the administration responding to the very real threats coming from white supremacists like those who marched earlier this month on Charlottesville?'
Leaked FBI Documents Reveal Bureau’s Priorities Under Trump (Ken Klippenstein, The Young Turks, 8-8-19) Under President Trump, the FBI’s official counterterrorism priorities have included “Black Identity Extremists,” “anti-authority” extremists, and “animal rights/environmental extremists,” according to leaked Bureau documents.... When an August 2017 internal FBI report referencing the counterterrorism threat posed by “Black Identity Extremists” was published by Foreign Policy, the FBI became the subject of intense criticism for adopting what critics alleged was a racially loaded term....While the documents depict concerns about violent black extremist attacks, they do not cite a single specific attack — unlike white supremacist attacks, of which several prominent examples are provided....So grave did the Bureau consider the threat of black extremists that from 2019 to 2020, using new designations, it listed the threat at the very top of its counterterrorism priorities — above even terror groups like Al Qaeda."
Justice demands 1.3M IP addresses related to Trump resistance site (Morgan Chalfant, The Hill, 8-14-17) "DreamHost claimed that the complying with the request from the Justice Department would amount to handing over roughly 1.3 million visitor IP addresses to the government, in addition to contact information, email content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website, which was involved in organizing protests against Trump on Inauguration Day. “That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” DreamHost wrote in the blog post on Monday. “That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”
Trump Administration Starts Returning Copies of C.I.A. Torture Report to Congress (Mark Mazzetti and Mathew Rosenberg, NY Times, 6-2-17) "The Trump administration has begun returning copies of a voluminous 2014 Senate report about the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program to Congress, complying with the demand of a top Republican senator who has criticized the report for being shoddy and excessively critical of the C.I.A....The committee, which was then run by Democrats, also sent copies of the entire classified report to at least eight federal agencies, asking that they incorporate the report into their records — a move that would have made it subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. That law, which allows citizens, the media and other groups to request access to information held by the federal government, does not apply to congressional records...The full report is not expected to offer evidence of previously undisclosed interrogation techniques, but the interrogation sessions are said to be described in great detail. The report explains the origins of the program and identifies the officials involved, and also offers details on the role of each agency in the secret prison program."
How Can Journalists Protect Themselves During a Trump Administration? (Kaveh Waddell, The Atlantic, 11-10-16) The president-elect’s attacks on the press hint at an unfriendly atmosphere for reporters.
Trump Hates the Press? Take a Number. (Jack Shafer, Politico, 2-17-17) "No matter how grievous the sins of the press may be—and as a press critic, let me tell you, they are grievous—a president can’t forever blame everything on “dishonest reporters,” the “mess” the previous president left behind or the dug-in elites. Reckonings tend to take a while to form, as Nixon and Agnew learned. Trump’s will come."
Journalists around the country are joining a Slack channel devoted to FOIA and Trump (Krysten Hare, Poynter, 1-25-17) A few days before President Trump's inauguration, MuckRock opened up a Slack channel to help journalists better cover him and his administration. Sign up here:
How far will President Trump’s media blackout spread? The Sunlight Foundation is trying to find out (Kelly Hinchcliffe, Poynter, 1-25-17)
Hundreds of Newspapers Denounce Trump’s Attacks on Media in Coordinated Editorials (James Doubek, NPR, 8-16-18) Over 300 newspapers published editorials against Trump’s attack on the press. The President responded by calling the media “the opposition party,” and many believe this will only bolster his current platform. Will a united media be enough to reaffirm the First Amendment?
Trump tried to ban top aides from penning tell-all books (Nancy Cook and Andrew Restuccia, Politico, 8-13-18) After the controversy surrounding the Omarosa Manigault Newman tell-all, the President’s use of non-disclosure/disparagement agreements is facing public criticism. The idea that top government officials could be censored from speaking out against abuse of power is frightening. What happens in a world where important political stories cannot be told?
The Memory Hole 2, run by Russ Kick, and The Internet Archive (The Wayback Machine) save pages that disappear from the Web. Kick's site has been good about saving items deleted by the Trump Administration (including Trump's error-filled Tweets).
Trump shares Twitter accounts linked to conspiracy theory QAnon (Tony Romm and Colby Itkowitz, WaPo, 7-30-19) How QAnon, the bizarre pro-Trump conspiracy theory, took hold in right-wing circles online. (And how Trump tweets its latest claim.
Unsolicited Advice for the White House Press Corps (Jack Shafer, Fourth Estate, Politico, 2-6-17) And keep up to date on Shafer's Twitter feed.
Poll: Trump More Trusted Than The Media (by Republicans) (Curt Mills, US News, 2-9-17) Views on the press and the administration break down along clear party lines. ""The partisan split on this topic is clear – 89 percent of Republicans find the Trump administration truthful, versus 77 percent of Democrats who find the administration untruthful. Conversely, 69 percent of Democrats find the news media truthful, while a whopping 91 percent of Republicans consider them untruthful. Independents consider both untruthful," according to a poll conducted by Emerson College.
The Private Trump Angst of a Republican Icon (Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker, New Yorker, 9-27-2020) James Baker thinks Trump is “nuts,” but he voted for him once—and may soon do so again?
The Invention of Thanksgiving (Philip Deloria, The New Yorker, 11-18-19) Massacres, myths, and the making of the great November holiday--in which white Americans have from the start tended to play a villainous role. 'Today, Wampanoag people debate whether Thanksgiving should be a day of mourning or a chance to contemplate reconciliation. It’s mighty generous of them....“American Indian” is a political identity, not a racial one, constituted by formal, still living treaties with the United States government and a long series of legal decisions. Today, the Trump Administration would like to deny this history, wrongly categorize Indians as a racial group, and disavow ongoing treaty relationships.'
With New Trump Policy, Is the Moon for the Taking? (Ramin Skibba, Undark, 5-30-19) The Trump administration has been vague about what it hopes to accomplish on the moon, but mining may be on the agenda. "Worse yet, the 2024 target date suggests a selfish motive — an attempt by Trump to conjure a dramatic legacy before he leaves office, assuming he is reelected next year. Indeed, recent comments by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine suggest the deadline was chosen with little, if any, consideration of the scientific and engineering challenges."

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Cancel Culture

The Harper's Letter on Cancel Culture
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate (Harper's Magazine, 7-7-2020) This letter, signed by many authors, appeared in the Letters section of the magazine, and provoked a big response.

A More Specific Letter on Justice and Open Debate (The Objective, 7-10-2020) If you read the first letter, you should also read this response to it, which also has a long list of signatories. This letter was a group effort, started by journalists of color with contributions from the larger journalism, academic, and publishing community. "On Tuesday, 153 of the most prominent journalists, authors, and writers, including J. K. Rowling, Malcolm Gladwell, and David Brooks, published an open call for civility in Harper’s Magazine....The signatories, many of them white, wealthy, and endowed with massive platforms, argue that they are afraid of being silenced, that so-called cancel culture is out of control, and that they fear for their jobs and free exchange of ideas, even as they speak from one of the most prestigious magazines in the country." It addresses these examples from the Harper's letter.

1. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces?

2. Books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity?

3. Journalists are barred from writing on certain topics?

4. Professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class?

5. A researcher fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study?

6. The heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes?


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Verizon, You're driving me crazy!

Updated 10-28-2020


Open letter to Verizon:


I have begun to hate you, for several reasons, my biggest complaint being with your super-flawed billing system, although for months I have also had no messages on my cellphone, to the frustration of friends trying to reach me. My complaints: 


(1)  Your billing system is clearly flawed. When I tried using Virtual Agent Assistance to respond to your "overdue payment" notice, this is what I got


"Your chat with a virtual agent has connected.

     Hi! Welcome to Verizon. I am here to help with your billing needs!
     You currently don't have a bank account on file with us. In order to do the payment you will need to add a new bank account."


(2) I most certainly do have a bank account on file with you: I have paid my bills for several years via Presidential Bank's Billpayer system.  My Bank history shows regular monthly payments of $182 this year, and they do show up on my bank statement. I have a list of regular monthly payments of $182 (twice $186) showing as  paid to Verizon. (Miss Lisa, who I spoke with 10-27-2020, says that she is not showing a payment for July and August and it is clearly a problem with Presidential Bank, not them. But Presidential Bank is showing payments to Verizon for July and August. Miss Lisa says that it is the bank that initiates the payments, so the error has to be on their part, as my Verizon and Verizon Wireless accounts, both of which she could see, are entirely separate--and she also sees a large overpayment in Verizon Wireless.)  When this problem came up earlier, a Supervisor at Verizon transferred money from the Verizon Wireless account to the Verizon account. 


For several years there was no problem with the Billpayer system. The Verizon Wireless bill was roughly $35 and the Verizon bill was roughly $180. The number was so consistent that I put it on automatic payment initiated by Verizon.  At one point, there was a problem so I cancelled automatic payments initiated by Verizon and started paying each bill myself, online, within a day or two of getting it through Billpayer. My  record for both phones shows consistently right-on-time payment for both lines.  Mind you, the bills from both companies look exactly the same and say the same thing at the top:  Verizon (not Verizon Wireless)


(3) Your billing is a mess.  Verizon and Verizon Wireless make a big show of being entirely separate companies, but their bills look exactly alike and their finances are clearly intermingled. The last time I had a bill overdue I got through to a Verizon supervisor who looked through both accounts and found that the payment I had sent to Verizon went to the Verizon Wireless account, so he moved it.  This has clearly happened other times because I have a $600+ balance in my Verizon Wireless account, the balance for which remains a big credit. (10-28-2020: I got this message by email: "On 10/28/2020 8:45:29 AM, we spoke to you about a payment transfer of $182.00, $186.00 for your account ending in xxxx. This request has been processed and the payment has been transferred. Your payment will post to the account within three business days and your transfer request will be closed."  In other words, the two "missing payments have been transferred over from the Verizon Wireless account. The Verizon person I spoke to  says the error has to be Presidential Bank's fault; I don't believe that to be true, as Verizon has got so many other things wrong and so far I am unaware of any problems with how Presidential processes Billpaper payments. Not to mention that Verizon and Verison Wireless are only very loosely two separate companies.


As for who was responsible for the $ going to Verizon Wireless instead of Verizon, even if it were because of my error, this is an error that is inevitable,  because the bills from both places look identical.  It seems pretty clear from my Presidential bank statements that the payments are  going to Verizon (which, if true, gives me a considerable overpayment).


4) Moreover, and far more serious a problem, for several months now anybody who tries to leave a message on my cellphone  gets a "message box  full" response.  Yet I have ZERO messages and have not had for months now. When I try to leave a message for myself I cannot do so—though I see no (zero) messages on my cellphone. I have blocked some of the most annoying spam callers, and friend suggested that "blocking" might count as a message, but SURELY that should have no connection to the mailbox. I have asked to be on the Do Not Call Registry on both phones; why do so many spam calls come through? I have had no luck getting this problem resolved through Verizon. This is the main reason I am looking for another telephone company.  Luckily, I saw AT&T installing phone lines on my block last month.


5)  For some reason when I call my cell phone from my landline, the phone doesn't ring but vibrates, though it rings when others call me. One day recently my phone table overturned and my cellphone disappeared.  I tried calling my cellphone from my landline several times so I could locate the cellphone, but got no ringtone to help me locate the phone—only vibration (which I feel only when the phone is physically on me).  Hours later, I found the cell phone because someone else called me on it and on their call there was a ringtone.  Why on earth would you have a system where I couldn't hear a ringtone for my calls to myself, since this is a primary way for people to find their misplaced cellphones. (As it happened, the cellphone had landed behind a book, and was more or less where I thought it should be, but not visible.)  I NEVER intentionally silenced my phone myself. I have a LONG apartment and I often need to hear it ring to find it.  As an elder I consider this a major safety issue.


6)  Another day I tried to call my landline from my cellphone to leave a message, at which point a "Verizon assistant" came on the line and asked if it could be of help. "I want to call my other phone!" I shouted. The Assistant said Okay it would put the call through and it did.  Why on earth would the Assistant intervene in a call from my cell phone to my landline? The Assistant showed up for a couple other phone calls, too. It has NEVER assisted me when I needed  assisting. Mind you, the Verizon Assistant and the Google Assistant look virtually alike, so for all I know this is a Google Assistant.  I do have a Google pixel.


7) I have both a landline and a cell phone because I wanted, when there is a power outage, to be able to use my landline to make emergency calls. I was alarmed to learn during our last outage that our landlines are no longer hard-wired; for an outage that lasts longer than a day I lose both telephones. I don't think Verizon is upfront with this information.


I have been getting calls from Verizon to bring my payments up to date, or my service may be turned off. I can assure you, if it does get turned off I will take you to court.


                       -- With great frustration,

                              Pat McNees


P.S. Have others had similar problems with Verizon?   Is it true, as one friend advised, that I should never have both my landline and my cell phone with the same company? I see that AT&T has been installing lines in our neighborhood, and their ratings for service quality are similar to Verizon's.

What cell phone company do you recommend for DC's Maryland suburbs--specifically Bethesda?


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The Business of Personal History

by Pat McNees


Memoirs are no longer the province of the rich and celebrated. Noncelebrities are getting into the act, they often need help, and writing or editing their personal histories can be a deeply satisfying new source of potential income for journalists.


      I stumbled across life story writing in 1990, when Kitty Kelley recommended that Jim Dicke II, president of a lift truck firm in Ohio (Crown Equipment), use ASJA's Dial-a-Writer service to find someone to help tell his 90-year-old grandfather's story. At the time I supported my journalism habit by editing reports and writing summaries for the World Bank. Soon after a friend from Texas said I had "too much steak and not enough sizzle," Dorothy Beach, who ran DAW, sent several of us to Ohio for an interview. I landed the gig, interviewed Warren Webster, wrote his life story, and upped my sizzle factor.


      Projects like these are often part therapy, so I took a few years to write An American Biography: An Industrialist Remembers the Twentieth Century, the life and times of Warren Webster, an unknown industrialist. With a guaranteed sale of 5,000 copies, a DC publisher issued the biography in 2004, printing 10,000 copies altogether. Many copies were given away, but the book was also picked up by a couple of book clubs. Social and business history wrapped around a Horatio Alger story (and with a foreword by Rob Kanigel), the book paid me well enough to take out a mortgage on a three-bedroom condo, which I paid off with what I made writing personal and corporate histories:


     More important, and I can't overstate this, I had a sample. This got me many more projects, including the memoirs of a pediatrician (a friend's father) and a nuclear engineer (a friend's husband), and several histories of organizations (similar genre, but more complex). 


      Once I started doing personal and organizational histories, my income soared and became steadier.


A wide-open field


There are many ways to do personal histories. There's the plain old oral history, edited for narrative flow, often with photos. This involves interviews, transcribing (which I farm out), editing, and packaging (sometimes simple, and sometimes fancy -- for example, a fancy cloth binding with a photo insert on the cover to make it special, or with the family tree in endcovers). It's the least time-consuming of the print products.


     Then there's the as-told-to-memoir, in Uncle Vern's own voice, ghostwritten by you, based on interviews, journals, letters, the memoirist's own drafts—whatever it takes. There's the biography or history, written in third person, by the hired writer about the person, couple, family, or organization. I tend to interview everyone in the family or, for an organizational history, a range of participants, from the janitor to the CEO.


     Technologies have changed, making it easier to "self-publish" a printed book or mount a story on a website. On one end of the personal history spectrum are scrapbooking and quilting; on the other, many organizations and communities are commissioning personal and group oral histories (both recorded and in edited transcripts) or professionally written histories (my specialty), often with a shorter history via video.


     I love the video tribute or history—a Ken-Burns-like narration illustrated with photos and sounds, including recordings of people telling stories, sometimes captured in video, often as a montage of stills with narration and reminiscence in one or more voices.  Music is tricky because of copyright issues, but there are sources for commissioned, inexpensive, or royalty-free music. And music makes a difference.


Finding the market


Creating a personal history may be easier than finding clients willing to spend the amount you want to be paid. Many beginners spin their wheels marketing to senior citizens and old people's homes. I suspect residents of most senior homes are pinching pennies and don't think their stories are worth telling—not in a form that costs money. Market instead to their children, grandchildren, spouses, or well-to-do fans who have heard the stories so many times that they don't necessarily want to sit through them again, but want them preserved—or want the subject engaged in a project. (The "client" is often not the narrator, or storyteller, in other words.)


      Even a modest personal or family story can seem a huge, undoable task to most people, yet fairly easy to a writer-editor. What pleases my clients is that I come in from outside, establish rapport, and get a different (fuller, often franker) story than the family might get, though I get the story they know, too. What I do—what you can probably do, too—is help people find the patterns in their lives, the obstacles overcome, the lessons learned. This plus storytelling can make writing a personal history a transformative experience, helping people see that their life meant something.


How to get started


For a sample, do the life story of someone in your family, and package it handsomely enough that simply seeing it shows potential clients the possibilities for their own family or company. Start with something as simple as a photo tribute (with well-written captions) to a person, a place, an animal, a period in your life, or a period in someone else's or an organization's history.


      My brother and I, for example, began doing a photohistory of our family's migration from Kansas to hot Western deserts in Arizona and California during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Aunts, uncles, and cousins have turned out their photo collections and this is one story even my non-reading cousins are going to love.


     And that's the point. To the people for whom these personal histories are created, the story is fascinating, because it memorializes their roots. And for a major occasion—a 70th birthday, a 50th anniversary, retirement, or any hint that a person you love or admire is not going to live forever—some people will part with a fair sum if they think you can collect and organize all the information, stories, and photos they don't have time to deal with and create a product important as family legacy. If nothing else, this is a good way to share and thereby preserve those important family photos that might otherwise be lost to house fire or other disasters.


     Showing the right package to a receptive person—just showing what a personal history might look like—can land a client, sometimes instantly, sometimes months or years later.


      For the more lucrative and difficult task of landing an organizational history, again—a sample is your best calling card. I watched a businesswoman decide to commission a project based totally on looking through a photo history a personal historian casually handed her.


How do I become a personal historian?


In a sense a "personal historian" is anyone who helps others record the stories of their lives, families, or organizations. Few of the personal historians I've met were freelance writers making a living as writers. Those who belong to the Association of Personal Historians (APH, of which I was president for two years) typically had earlier careers as teachers, counselors, hospice workers, social workers, journalists, oral historians, historians, news broadcasters, gerontologists, businessmen or women, videographers, photographers, transcribers, archivists, nurses.


      Journalists and book authors have a leg up in terms of skills, knowledge of publishing, and natural nosiness, but one of my favorite firms (My Special Book) was launched during a building slump by two architects in Buenos Aires, Eduardo Zemborain and Vicky Randle, who see PH work as a design and management process. Check out their website ( and those of other personal history firms.


     APH (in the twenty years it existed) embraced print, audio- and videobiographers at varying levels of skill and experience. Many members were 50 and older. (It helped to have been around a while – or to have read widely enough to know what questions to ask when a woman says her family migrated from Lithuania in 1945.) I joined APH out of curiosity and to get my name listed on their website, but value their fall conference, where I can see the kinds of work I don't do myself. I have helped with two video tributes for print clients—and it helps to know what's involved and who's good at putting them together. It's also interesting to learn what people charge: from a few hundred dollars (many projects are $10,000 and under) to $30,000, generally, and much more for longer stories or more complex projects, including organizational histories. (That doesn't include production costs.)


       The most popular event at the APH conference (before it folded) was the Media Share, where people showed their audio-visual products. One of my favorites was the Breakstones' video tribute to a dog, with narration clipped from interviews with the dog's elderly owner. Video captured the affection, joy, and nostalgia on the man's face and in his voice, which, combined with shots of the man and his dog over the years made for a three-hankie experience.  It was a priceless form of personal history. If your friends are as nuts about their animals as my friends are, I think you could make a living just doing animal tributes.


This piece was originally published in December 2008, in ASJA Confidential, the Members Only section of the American Society of Journalists & Authors monthly publication.   Copyright (c) 2008 by Pat McNees.


You can find local personal historian groups here:
---Life Story Professionals of the Greater Washington Area (DC, Maryland, and Virginia).
---Personal Historians (a Facebook group)
---Personal Historians Northeast Network (in the Boston area)
---Personal Historians NW (in the Pacific Northwest)
---Life Stories Australia (personal historians, biographers, editors, etc.)
---NYC Personal Historians (a Meetup group).



P.S. Teaching Life Story Writing


I teach a class I call “My Life, One Story at a Time”at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. It’s one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done. My pitch is that participants are writing not for publication but for their friends and heirs; the students tell me “not writing for publication” both draws and liberates them. You’d think with that title I would get only senior citizens but I have had students in their 20s and 30s, as well as 60 and above, including several lively, loveable 80-year-olds. Every week students write something that takes 5 minutes to read aloud. Listening to each other, they learn what good storytelling is and are inspired to keep writing. I provide little instruction except to praise a good story or vivid scene and help them find their voice, but they are becoming better writers. We don’t worry about grammar and spelling. “Get the story,” I say. “Go deep. Get it down. You can go back later and rewrite and edit.”

     “It’s really a therapy group,” I heard one student tell another. I don’t present it that way, but it’s clearly therapeutic, for all of us. And it has me writing, too.

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How about writing letters to (stories about) your kids?

Pandemic is a wake-up call for me to jot down keepsake ‘letters’ for my kids (Bob Brody, Washington Post, 8-16-2020) And I quote:  "Back in January 2008, when our two children were young adults, I started to keep a handwritten journal, one for our son, Michael, and the other for our daughter, Caroline. Every weekend, I jotted down a few hundred words based on a specific memory about our lives together and mine before they were born." And so it began. "I took these actions, mind you, even though in perfect health. I had asked myself the questions so many parents might now be asking themselves amid the coronavirus outbreak. What should I tell my children about the lives we’ve all lived? What do they need to know about me and themselves and our wider family? The journals would ultimately serve as a keepsake, an inheritance that could be read in decades to come."


      For years I've (Pat) given a workshop at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland (and in local libraries), called My Life, One Story at a Time. It's a fairly popular workshop, one that some people repeat -- probably because it motivates them to write the stories for their kids and family and friends that somehow they just can't bring themselves to do on their own. Partly it's because they're writing and sharing their stories in a small group (which they tend almost instantly to bond with, however briefly, sometimes forming long-term relationships). More than once participants have said they are sharing stories with this group that they haven't told their friends.


     I don't know what the secret is, but one thing has disappointed me: I have a heck of a time getting any of my students (all adults, mind you) to write stories about their children!  "When you die," I tell them, "and you have written all these stories about your life, don't you think your kids are going to wonder why there aren't any stories about them?"  And they agree, but they still have trouble taking the bait (with a few exceptions--lately, especially--is the pandemic a sign that all could be over without even a chance to say goodbye?). I suspect they are afraid they will seem to favor one child over another. Maybe, like me, you've wondered if it isn't up to our children to write their own stories--why would they want us to write stories about them?  Or maybe you've thought, as I have, that would be invading their space. But what if they would love it? What if they would love it especially long after we are gone--but maybe even now?


       I hope this gets you all writing about your kids (or your nieces and nephews, or your grandkids, your friends --whatever, whoever):  Memories and stories about your kids that you can write now now and they can enjoy forever.  As inspiration, here are links to a series of wonderful posts from and about Bob Brody's letters-to-his-kids project.

Letters to My Kids (Bob Brody's blog, with links to all the posts)
To Michael: Labor Trouble (Bob Brody, 6-24-10) "You took your time coming out. I think Mom was in labor for 36 hours."
To Caroline: Your Opening Act (Bob Brody, 6-24-10) "You I worried about from the start, even before you were born. The doctor told us you were in there in an unusual position. Transverse breach, she called it."
Archives: Letters to My Kids by Bob Brody
Letters to My Kids 101: Invest In Your Past Bob Brody, on the process.
Letters to My Kids (Lisa Belkin, Motherlode column, NY Times, 6-23-2010) On Father’s Day, he took the journals virtual. He is transferring all 60,000 words onto a Web site, Letters to My Kids, one entry per week. That wasn’t his plan when he started the journals of letters, he says.
Spending Thanksgiving thanking our kids (Janice D'Arcy, WaPo, 11-23-11) The man behind the Letters to My Kids Web site is urging parents and grandparents to use Thanksgiving as an excuse to write a letter — long or short, simple or complex — to our children.
• You can find photos, etc., on Bob's Facebook page. Thanks, Bob. I'll let you know if this inspires my writing groups!

Feel free to post reactions here (or go to Bob's site and post them there!).

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Police, federal agents, protests, and racial justice

Police, federal agents, protests, and racial justice


After a short section on clashes between police, federal agents, and protesters in Portland and other cities, you will find more general links about police, protests, and racial justice. This post has been moved over from my site as more appropriate here.

Feds Ordered Not to Assault, Arrest Journalists in Portland (Karina Brown, Courthouse News Service, 7-23-2020) PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) "Federal police are now under a court order not to arrest or assault journalists and legal observers for doing their jobs, after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Thursday that the government said it would appeal.
      “An open government has been a hallmark of our democracy since our nation’s founding,” U.S. District Judge Michael Simon wrote Thursday, citing precedent from the Ninth Circuit case Leigh v. Salazar. “When wrongdoing is under way, officials have great incentive to blindfold the watchful eyes of the fourth estate. The free press is the guardian of the public’s interests and the independent judiciary is the guardian of the free press.”
     To that hallmark, he added:“This lawsuit tests whether these principles are merely hollow words.” '
Police Are Cutting Ties With Domestic Violence Programs That Support Black Lives Matter (Melissa Jeltsen, HuffPost, 10-16-2020) "Eight days after Embrace’s statement was posted online, Barron County voted to strip the organization of $25,000 in funding for 2021. The county’s director of health and human services resigned from Embrace’s board of directors. Since then, a majority of the 17 law enforcement agencies that work with Embrace have indicated that they will no longer partner with the domestic violence organization, including all law enforcement in Washburn County. That means women who call the police for help, for instance, may not be referred to Embrace for help with safety planning, counseling and support." Law enforcement groups in multiple states have put pressure on domestic violence organizations for standing against racism.
“Defendant Shall Not Attend Protests”: In Portland, Getting Out of Jail Requires Relinquishing Constitutional Rights (Dara Lind, ProPublica, 7-28-2020) A dozen protesters facing federal charges are barred from going to “public gatherings” as a condition of release from jail — a tactic one expert described as “sort of hilariously unconstitutional.”
Trump's Portland crackdown is controversial. The man spearheading it might be doing so illegally. (Aaron Blake, Washington Post, 7-22-2020) Experts say acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf can't legally serve in that role, compounding issues raised by the crackdown.
Trump’s Effort to Provoke Violence Is Working (David A. Graham, The Atlantic, 7-28-2020) The president sent federal agents into Portland with the apparent aim of inciting a confrontation.
Federal Officers Deployed in Portland Didn’t Have Proper Training, D.H.S. Memo Said (New York Times, 7-18-2020) The tactical agents deployed by homeland security include officials from a group known as BORTAC, the Border Patrol’s equivalent of a SWAT team, a highly trained group that normally is tasked with investigating drug smuggling organizations, as opposed to protesters in cities. The agents lacked sufficient training in riot control or mass demonstrations. Rather than tamping down persistent protests in Portland, Ore., a militarized presence from federal officers seems to have re-energized them.
What to Know About Portland's Crackdown on Protesters and How You Can Help (Chelsea Sanchez, Harpers Bazaar, 7-21-2020) The Trump administration is trying to make an example out of Portland. But protesters and supporters are refusing to let him. 'Trump has since defended his decision to deploy armed units to confront Portland protesters, tweeting on Sunday, "We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!" '
Federal Officers Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab People In Portland, DHS Confirms (Jonathan Levinson, Conrad Wilson, James Doubek, and Suzanne Nuyen, NPR, 7-17-2020) NPR reported that the federal officers deployed come from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol Tactical Unit, and are intended to protect federal property. They have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least Tuesday. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation about why they are being arrested, and driving off. The New York Times additionally found that the units deployed are not specialized in nor have they been trained in riot control or mass demonstrations.
Cities in Bind as Turmoil Spreads Far Beyond Portland (Mike Baker, Thomas Fuller and Shane Goldmacher, NY Times, 7-26-2020) Galvanized in part by the deployment of federal agents in Portland, Ore., protesters have returned to the streets in Oakland, Seattle and elsewhere.
Police and protesters clash in violent weekend across the US (Jeff Martin, AP, 6-27-2020) Protests took a violent turn in several U.S. cities over the weekend with demonstrators squaring off against federal agents outside a courthouse in Portland, Oregon, forcing police in Seattle to retreat into a station house and setting fire to vehicles in California and Virginia.
N.Y.P.D. Says It Used Restraint During Protests. Here’s What the Videos Show. (video, NY Times, 7-14-2020) The New York Times found more than 60 videos that show the police using force on protesters during the first 10 days of demonstrations in the city after the death of George Floyd. A review of the videos, shot by protesters and journalists, suggests that many of the police attacks, often led by high-ranking officers, were not warranted
Trump Has Brought America's Dirty Wars Home (Stuart Schrader, New Republic, 7-21-1010) The authoritarian tactics we've exported around the world in the name of national security are now being deployed in Portland.
'Wall of Moms' joins Portland's anti-racism protests (BBC, 7-22-2020) Anti-racism protests have been taking place in Portland, Oregon, for almost two months - but in recent days they have been joined by a growing number of "moms." The "Wall of Moms" - as they have been dubbed - have been acting as a human shield between the protesters and the federal officers sent in to disperse them.
Conservative media helps Trump perform 'law and order' in Portland, with risks for November (Isaac Stanley-Becker, Washington Post, 7-22-2020) The strategy, resembling the focus on the migrant caravans in 2018, left some Republicans in bellwether counties uneasy.
Elected leaders need to take action to stop the rioting (Jeff Barker, Opinion, Oregon Live, 7-8-2020) "Oregon supports free speech. Go through the normal channels, obtain a permit and then follow the rules in the permit. You can march, you can gather to listen to speeches, you can hold up any sign you'd like even if it makes the rest of the world uncomfortable. But what you can't do is break the law." Barker was a law enforcement officer for 31 years and has represented House District 28 in the Oregon Legislature since 2003.

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Problems with policing generally

The Rape Kit’s Secret History (Pagan Kennedy, New York Times, 6-17-2020) This is the story of Marty Goddard, the woman who forced the police to start treating sexual assault like a crime. “She began to formulate questions that almost no one was asking back in the early ‘70s: Why were so many predators getting away with it? And what would it take to stop them?”
Criminal justice reform in the United States (Wikipedia)
What should be done about America's policing problem? (The Stream, Al Jazeera, 6-15-2020) Driven by nationwide protests, calls are growing to boost accountability and oversight of US law enforcement.
Terror Lynching in America (Equal Justice Initiative, video, 10-11-16)
Trump Sidesteps Mentions of Systemic Racism as He Signs Police-Friendly Executive Order (KHN Morning Briefing, 6-17-2020) Advocates and Democrats say President Donald Trump's executive order on police violence falls far short of what's needed to make actual changes to the system. The White House focused on police-backed ideas, such as a national misconduct database, and continued to insist the problems lie with a few officers rather than deeper issues. Congress is also taking steps to address reform, but the parties are on a collision course with their bills.
In wake of protests, New York lawmakers repeal law used to keep police misconduct records secret (Anjali Berdia, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 6-10-2020) In the wake of widespread protests against police violence and racial injustice, New York lawmakers voted on Tuesday to repeal Section 50-a of the state’s Civil Rights Law, a provision used to keep police disciplinary records secret.
Why Policing Is Broken (Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, 6-17-2020) Years of research on brutality cases shows that bad incentives in politics and city bureaucracies are major drivers of police violence. In wake of protests, New York lawmakers repeal law used to keep police misconduct records secret.
How Police Unions Fight Reform (William Finnegan, New Yorker, 8-3-2020) Police unions enjoy a political paradox. Conservatives traditionally abhor labor unions but support the police. The left is critical of aggressive policing, yet has often muted its criticism of police unions—which are, after all, public-sector unions, an endangered and mostly progressive species. Police unions have spent decades amassing influence. They have often used it to combat what Patrick Lynch, the head of New York City's P.B.A., calls "pro-criminal advocates."
The '3.5% rule': How a small minority can change the world (David Robson, BBC, 5-13-19) Nonviolent protests are twice as likely to succeed as armed conflicts – and those engaging a threshold of 3.5% of the population have never failed to bring about change.
The Defunding Debate ((Jack Herrera, Columbia Journalism Review, Summer 2020) Suddenly, defunding the police had exploded as a central campaign plot point. Look at the issue in historical context.
'Defund the police' calls grow amid protests. Reallocations could fund minority entrepreneurship instead (Steve Strauss, USA Today, 6-10-2020) Defunding the police certainly does not mean not having any police. But it does mean that some of the money used to fund police forces can likely be better spent if the goal is long-term safety, and to begin to eradicate the poverty gap and racial disparity between white and black America that fosters crime.
Teaching About Race, Racism and Police Violence (Teaching Tolerance)
Leo Tolstoy vs. the Police (Jennifer Wilson, NY Times, 6-25-2020) Why the great Russian novelist's critique of state-sponsored violence bears thinking about now. Tolstoy's views, particularly his strong invective against state-sponsored violence, riled authorities who consequently placed the writer under near-constant police surveillance.
Screening police officers before they kill (Jack El-Hai, Medium, 1-4-16) Psychiatrist Douglas M. Kelley found that one-third to one-half of America's police officers during the 1950s were psychologically unqualified to protect citizens or enforce laws. Kelley was uniquely qualified to investigate the psychological traits of people in positions of authority. During the months immediately after World War II, Kelley, then a U.S. Army captain, was sent to the jail in Nuremberg, Germany, to evaluate the sanity of the top 22 captured Nazi leaders awaiting trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The History of Policing in the United States, Part 1 of 6 parts. (Gary Potter, Eastern Kentucky University Police Studies Online) The development of policing in the United States closely followed the development of policing in England. In the early colonies policing took two forms. It was both informal and communal, which is referred to as the "Watch," or private-for-profit policing, which is called "The Big Stick" (Spitzer, 1979).
Violence Interrupter The Interrupters is a 2011 documentary film, produced by Kartemquin Films, that tells the story of three violence interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. ... The film features the work of CeaseFire, an initiative of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention.
He used to sell drugs on D.C. streets. Now he's paid to make them safer. (Peter Hermann, Washington Post, 12-13-18) Duane Cunningham is a member of the District's Violence Interrupters, a group that works in troubled neighborhoods to try to stop violence before it happens.
Defund police? Some cities have already started by investing in mental health instead (Lindsay Schnell, MSN, USA Today, 6-20-2020) As calls to "defund the police" echo around the country at Black Lives Matter protests, a handful of communities already know what that looks like as they invest millions of dollars into mental health resources and response teams instead of just traditional policing. These crisis intervention teams typically do not include an armed, uniformed officer but do feature counselors, social workers and paramedics. And Eugene's 30-year-old program CAHOOTS, or Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets, is the model other cities are looking to as they form their own programs. (Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick, Oregon Register/Guard, 10-20-19)
These Cities Are Stopping Police From Responding to Homelessness, Drug Use, and Mental Health Issues (Emma Ockerman, Vice, 6-17-2020) Los Angeles proposed the change Tuesday. San Francisco and Albuquerque have already made it.
What does 'defund the police' mean and why some say 'reform' is not enough (Ryan W. Miller, USA Today, 6-8-2020)
Most Americans do not want to “defund” the police (The Economist, 6-18-2020) But they support other reforms.
Defunding Everything But the Police Short, effective video with a message
How ‘Defund the Police’ went from moonshot to mainstream (Maya King, Politico, 6-17-2020) To many watching the historic protests against racism and police brutality unfold across the country, it was a call that came out of nowhere: Defund the Police. Yet hours after the first videos of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer went viral online, those three words became the rallying cry of a movement that had suddenly won America’s undivided attention. See more stories on the topic here: The Deep Roots Behind Seemingly Sudden Rise of 'Defund the Police' (KHN Morning Briefing, 6-17-2020)
Protests focus on over-policing. But under-policing is also deadly. (Rod K. Brunson, WaPo, 6-12-2020) People in high-crime neighborhoods already don’t trust law enforcement to protect them.
Violence Interrupter (The Marshall Project) The best criminal justice reporting tagged with "Violence Interrupter," curated by The Marshall Project. The Interrupters is a 2011 documentary film, produced by Kartemquin Films, that tells the story of three violence interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. ... The film features the work of CeaseFire, an initiative of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention.

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Books for and about children of color

assembled by Pat McNees.  Updated 9-23-2020.

You can buy many of the following books from Bookshop or Indie Bound (paths to independent bookstores) or from any of these (AALBC) or these  black-owned bookstores (LitHub, 6-3-2020). Click the links to learn more about each book. I've provided Amazon links because they are helpful and easy to get to. (I get a small commission for Amazon sales from these links.) Many if not most of these books have received book awards, which Amazon lists in its book descriptions (and see awards lists below).
A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Haunting tale of two boys' lives changed by police assault. Age 12+
As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds. Poignant summer adventure brims with family love and hope.

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Lively profile of a brave man living in a dangerous time. Age 9+
Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes. When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires—literally. Ages pre-school to 3.
Black Women in Science: A Black History Book for Kids by Kimberly Brown Pellum. Age 9+
The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem's Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illust. R. Gregory Christie. Lively tale of store that aided civil rights struggle. Age 7+
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds. Soul-gripping story of teen's grief and hope. Age 12+
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Captivating poems depict coming-of-age in tumultuous 1960s. Age 10+

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Civil Rights Then and Now: A Timeline of the Fight for Equality in America by Kristina Brooke Daniele, illus. by Lindsey Bailey. Ages 12+
Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Grades K-Gr3. Ada Ruth's mama must go away to Chicago to work, leaving Ada Ruth and Grandma behind. It's wartime, and women are needed to fill the men's jobs.
Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe. From a 'fro-hawk to mini-twists and crisp cornrows, adorable illustrations of boys with cool curls, waves, and afros grace each page, accompanied by a positive message that will make kids cheer. Ages 3+
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Soaring, poignant novel in verse centered on basketball hits all the right spots. Age 9+
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes. Joyful, foot-tapping celebration of fresh haircut, culture. Age 5+
Darius & Twig by Walter Dean Myers, Two boys, a writer and a runner, are drawn together in the struggle to overcome the obstacles that life in Harlem throws at them. Age 13+
Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill, illust. by Bryan Collier. Amazing award-winning historical story told in free verse. Age 6+

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis. A surprising novel of reluctant heroism on the part of eleven-year-old Elijah, the first child born free in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves near the American border. Age 9+
Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome. When eleven-year-old Langston's father moves them from their home in Alabama to Chicago's Bronzeville district, it feels like he's giving up everything he loves. First in a trilogy. Age 8+
Firebird by Misty Copeland, illust. by Christopher Myers. Soaring, rhythmic story for dancers with big dreams. Age 5+
Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illust. by R. Gregory Christie. Slaves' lives, jazz roots shown in stunning nonfiction book that exposes young readers to realities of slavery in an age-appropriate way. Age 5+
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan. Moving portraits of slaves’ lives, drawing on historical slave documents. Age 6+

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams. a thirteen-year-old who must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself. Age 11+
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes.A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history. Age: 10+
Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons, illust. by Daniel Minter. Joyful story of a deeply loving multigenerational family.
Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia. The story of the Gaither sisters as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime. Book 3 of 3. Age 8+
Grandma's Gift (Age 4+, winner of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award) and Grandma's Records (Age 5+) by Eric Velasquez

Hammering for Freedom by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illust. by John Holyfield. Born a slave, William ""Bill"" Lewis spent the majority of his life 'renting himself' as a blacksmith in order to purchase his family's freedom. Age 7+
Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Pinkney, illust. by Brian Pinkney. Ten influential black men-including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King Jr.-are profiled in this husband-and-wife team's vibrant collaboration. Captivating storytelling makes these heroes relatable. Age 9+
Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, illust. by Shane W. Evans. "A clever, celebratory book that affirms all the positive, joyful ways kids can put their hands up."
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Powerful story of police shooting of unarmed Black teen. Age 13+
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson. Beautifully illustrated account of African-American history. Nelson knits together the nation’s proudest moments with its most shameful, taking on the whole of African-American history. Age 9+
A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich by Alice Childress. The story of Benji's addiction to heroine is told from several perspectives. Published in the '70s, this book is still relevant for many young readers.
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman. An inspirational story. Age 4+
Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith. Chills galore in Southern supernatural thriller. Age 10+
How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson. Poet's moving civil rights memoir in free verse charts her '50s childhood. Age 12+
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon. Haunting look at killing of unarmed African American teen. Age 14+

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I Can Do Hard Things: Mindful Affirmations for Kids by Gabi Garcia, illustr. by Charity Russell
If You Were a Kid During the Civil Rights Movement by Gwendolyn Hooks. Age 7+
I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr., illust. by Kadir Nelson. Stunning art amplifies meaning of King's words for kids. Age 6+

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. Tender story of Nana showing grandson city beauty via bus. Age 3+
Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Age 6+
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. Gripping, unnerving story of teen boy contemplating revenge. Age 12+
Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds, illustr. Alexander Nabaum. Age 10+

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz, illustr. by AG Ford
A Map into the World by Kao Kalia Yang (a Hmong American writer), illustr. by illust. by Seo KimYang. Age 5+. Yang, author of the adult memoir The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, has two more picture books featuring Hmong families coming out in 2020.
March: Book One by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustr. by Nate Powell. This triloly documents the struggle for equal rights and civil liberties in the early 1960s. Powerful graphic novels capture the spirit of desegregation. Before he became a respected Congressman, Rep. Lewis was clubbed, gassed, arrested over 40 times, and nearly killed by angry mobs and state police, all while nonviolently protesting racial discrimination. Book One spans his youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Dr. King, the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall. Age 12+
---March: Book Two details the real-life heroes of the 1960s, covers the lunch counter sitdowns in Nashville, and continues with events that took place in the South between 1960 -1963, culminating with the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. Age 12+ 

---March: Book Three From the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church's Youth Day celebration through fractious struggles within the SNCC that threaten to derail the march from Selma to Montgomery. Age 12+ Uplifting finale to terrific series reveals tragic violence. Age 12+

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Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. A gripping novel about the mystery of one teenage girl’s disappearance and the traumatic effects of the truth. Age 14+
My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isable Quintero, illust. by Zeke Peña. A celebration of the love between a father and daughter, and of a vibrant immigrant neighborhood, by an award-winning author and illustrator duo. Age 4+
My People by Langston Hughes. Photos bring sparkling tone to simple poem of celebration. Age 5+

The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes, illustr. by Charles R. Smith Jr. Words and watercolors sing in a voice as deep as the river. Age 6+
Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson. Stellar art portrays key aspects of Mandela's life for kids. Age 6+
New Kid by Jerry Craft. Funny, heartfelt middle school tale explores race, class. Age 8+
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Gripping story of a girl's bravery during Hurricane Katrina, one of several excellent novels by the author. Age 10+
Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes. His semi-autobiographical tale of an African-American family in rural Kansas--a powerful and moving portrait of race and poverty in America, as well as hope and perseverance.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. The story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. A gem, with strong girl characters, part 1 of a trilogy. Each humorous, unforgettable story in this trilogy follows the sisters as they grow up during one of the most tumultuous eras in recent American history. Age 11+
Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry, illus. by Brittany Jackson. A visit to Washington, DC’s National Portrait Gallery forever alters Parker Curry’s young life when she views First Lady Michelle Obama’s portrait. Age 4+
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. Kids investigate past racist incident in gripping mystery. Age 8+
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson. Powerful, insightful tale of self-awareness, power of art. Age 13+
P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia. Tween coming-of-age set amid shifting family, '60s dynamics. Age 9+

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The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld. When Taylor is sad, his animal friends suggest remedies, but the rabbit just listens. Sometimes empathy is all we need. Age: 3+
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe. Exuberant, visually stunning biography celebrates artist who had success when young. Age 6+
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this story of one family's struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice is also Cassie's story—Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family. Age 11+
Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue and Corinne Naden, illust. by Don Tate. A story based on an incident from the life of astronaut Ron McNair. When nine-year-old Ron tries to take library books home instead of just looking at them, he knowingly challenges the rule that "only white people can check out books." Ages 6+

Saturday by Oge Mora. An up-and-down journey reminds a mother and daughter that what's best about Saturdays is precious time together. Age 4+
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford, illust. by Eric Velasquez. “Carole Boston Weatherford’s descriptions and Eric Velasquez’s illustrations make clear how tirelessly Schomburg searched for books, pamphlets and art that could ‘tell our stories, proclaim our glories’…Although he died about 80 years ago, his library in New York City is a national historic landmark, as big and bustling as ever.”~ Washington Post. Age 8+
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon. Heartwarming story of friendship and adventure. Age 8+
Seeing into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright, illust.and with biography by Nina Crews. Age 5+
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh. Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court.
Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez (Lado a Lado: La Historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez) by Monica Brown, illust. by Joe Cepeda. Excellent bilingual story about farm workers in the USA--great for civil rights and LatinX empowerment. Age 4+
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats captures the magic and sense of possibility of the first snowfall. Winner of the 1963 Caldecott Medal.
Sometimes People March by Tessa Allen. No matter how or why people march, they are powerful because they march together.
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus. Teen girls fall in love, face death in breathtaking tale. Age 14+
The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustr. by Ekua Holmes. Poetic and imaginatively illustrated book introduces big cosmic concepts to little humans--from the beginning of our universe to life itself, starting with a small floating speck that suddenly explodes. "Bauer suggests that, just possibly, the power of creation and the power of love are not so different." Age 4+
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o and Vashti Harrison. Girl learns to embrace her dark skin in magical tale. Age 4+

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Tobe by Stella Sharpe. A critical edition of a children's book published in 1939. "In the story, Tobe and his siblings are shown working on a family farm. The text is written for beginning readers. It is the photos [by Charles Anderson Farrell] that really make this is a book worth having. They are well done with a good eye to composition and capture well a moment in time; a look at North Carolina at the end of The Great Depression."
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky: Tristan Strong, Book 1 of 2 by Kwame Mbalia. "Mbalia expertly weaves a meaningful portrayal of family and community with folklore, myth, and history--including the legacy of the slave trade--creating a fast-paced, heroic series starter." Age 8+
Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews. Fun, upbeat story of a boy, a trombone, and jazz. Age 4+
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander. Poetic tribute to African American heroes and struggles. Age 6+
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustr. by Ekua Holmes. A welcome addition to civil rights literature for children. Age 10+
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, illust. by Frané Lessac. "Cheerful, richly detailed folk art-style illustrations in bright, saturated colors show contemporary Cherokee life as one family participates in cermonies and festivals through each season of the year." Age 3+
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson. Amazing paintings + compelling history = a grand slam. Age 9+
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illust. by Michaela Goade. "In this tribute to Native resilience, Indigenous author-and-illustrator team Lindstrom and Goade invite readers to stand up for environmental justice." Age 3+
We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands/Tenemos El Mundo Entero en las Manos by Rafael López. "A beloved spiritual gets an imaginative and anthropocentric rendering in this vibrant picture book celebrating unity." Age 3+

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What Is Given from the Heart by Patricia C. McKissack, illust. by April Harrison. "A loving tribute to collective work, responsibility and the joy that comes from giving freely from the heart." Age 4+
When Aidan Becomes a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illust. by Kaylani Juanita. This sweet and groundbreaking #ownvoices picture book celebrates the changes in a transgender boy's life, from his initial coming-out to becoming a big brother. Age 4+
When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill. Kid-friendly intro to the history of hip-hop. Age 6+
You Hold Me Up/Ki Kîhcêyimin Mâna by Monique Gray-Smith, illust. by Danielle Daniel (some editions include text in Plains Cree and English) Age 3+
Young Water Protectors...A Story about Standing Rock by Aslan Tudor, Kelly Tudor, and Jason Eaglespeaker. Beautiful art. Age 9+
Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thomkins-Bigelow, illust. by Luisa Uribe. Age 5+


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Anti-racist resources for children, including children's books

You'll find even more titles recommended in these articles:

Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati on the African American Children’s Book Fair African American Literature Book Club (AALBC)
A Children's Booklist for Anti-racist Activism (Embrace Race) 31 Children's books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance
Anti-Racist Resources for Children, Families, and Educators (Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, KidLit Rally 4 Black Lives, Brownbookshelf, 6-4-2020)
Teacher’s Reading List of Antiracist Books for Kids Goes Viral (Melissa Locker, Time, 6-5-2020)

Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners (recommendations by age group)
8 tips for choosing “good” picture books featuring diverse, BIPOC characters (Dr. Krista Aronson, Anne Sibley O'Brien and Dr. Andrea Breau of Diverse BookFinder, Embrace Race)
Top 154 Recommended African-American Children’s Books (African American Literature Book Club)
Black Books Matter: Children's Books Celebrating Black Boys (the conscious kid)
Black Boy Joy: 30 Picture Books Featuring Black Male Protagonists (Read Brightly)
Depictions of Race in Children's Literature (YouTube video, 80 minutes, an installment of Silver Spring Village's Racial Justice Series) Dr. Margaret Musgrove and Dr. Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo share perspectives on depictions of race in children's picture books. Why is it that so many decisions about whether to publish or present an award for books true to life as experienced by children of color are decided by white people, who often go for a white person's perspective, or a safe alternative like choosing a book featuring animals.
Young, Black and Lit
Here Are the 50 Must-Read Black Children’s and Young Adult Books of the Past 50 Years (Keyaira Boone, Essence, 4-30-2020) A roundup of titles over the years, including classic kids' favorites.
Black Voices: Pushing for Change in Children’s Book Publishing (Vimeo webinar, 75 minutes, Authors Guild, 6-22-2020) Available only to AG members. From agenting to editing, from sales to marketing, less than five percent of publishing professionals are Black, according to the results of the most recent Lee & Low diversity graphic on Black representation in the publishing industry. How does institutional exclusion and racism impact the success of books by Black authors and the trajectory of Black creators? In this panel, industry experts offer insights, share experiences and concerns, and suggest ways to create change. Participants: Cheryl Davis (AG), Kelly Starling Lyons, Judy Allen Dodson, Vanessa Lloyd-Sgambati, Christopher Myers, Cheryl Wills Hudson, Wade Hudson, Queressa Robinson, Jalissa Marcelle Corrie. Worth a listen for the big picture.
Centering Black Creators (Authors Guild, vimeo--available only to Authors Guild members). The second part of the series Black Voices: Pushing for Change in Children’s Book Publishing, explores the journeys of Black authors and illustrators. What are institutional barriers to success? How can the industry disrupt racism and support Black creators? How can Black creators advocate and advance?


SEE ALSO An anti-racism reading and resource list (Writers and Editors)

       For a recommended-reading list for adults -- both books and articles.


"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor"

~ Desmond Tutu


"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have."

~ James Baldwin

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All-star pages

This is for me. These are website pages that I and others refer to often (especially during the pandemic)
Addictive and wonderful TV and cable shows
An anti-racism reading and resource list
Awards, grants, fellowships and competitions
Books to help you get started writing your own (or someone else's) life story)
The boy in the plastic bubble
Central issues of our time
Cool science sites for kids
Coping with chronic, rare, and invisible diseases and disorders
Copyright, work for hire, and other rights issues
Coronavirus: The good, the bad, and the practical
Covering the COVID-19 pandemic: Resources for journalists
Conferences, workshops, and other learning places
The difference between a preface, a foreword, and an introduction
Fair use: A primer
Family history, family trees, genealogy, timelines, archives, and other historical resources
Fiction writing and editing
• ***Great and unusual online shopping
Great interview questions and guides
Great memoirs
Great search links
Helping a dying friend (what to say and not say to someone who is dying)
How to do a virtual book launch
Hospice care and palliative care
Investigative reporting
Memoirs, memoir writing, and autobiography
Music for funerals, wakes, and memorial services ( site)
Narrative nonfiction
Prayers, poems, and meditations (on the site)
Self-publishing and print on demand (POD)
Social media superpowers under the microscope
• ***Telling your story
The differences between mysteries, cozies, suspense novels, and thrillers
Timelines, genealogy, archives, family history, and other historical resources
21 frequently asked questions about personal histories and personal historians
What is an ethical will? (Pat McNees site)
Where journalists get their medical news and information
Zooming through the pandemic: How to and why

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An anti-racism reading and resource list

by Pat McNees. Updated 8-30-2020.

Hit the "refresh" buttom (on my computer a backward-circling arrow symbol) to get updated page.

There has not been a better time for book clubs and classes and families to read books about racism and anti-racism.  One book club notice came to me with the headline "Donald Trump brandishes a Bible, and 10 books about race see a surge in sales." (*** below indicates one of the titles that saw the surge.)  Maybe this time there will be real change.

Following is a list of recommended books for adults, followed by links to booklists for children and by articles, video, and websites about racism and anti-racism. Asterisks indicate books that had a recent surge in sales (indeed, often made the New York Times bestseller). Let me know if important items are missing or if you disagree with anything listed--and if so, tell me why.  ~ Pat McNees


Important books about racism and anti-racism

You can buy books from Bookshop or Indie Bound (paths to independent bookstores) or from any of these (AALBC) or these  black-owned bookstores (LitHub, 6-3-2020). I've provided Amazon links because they are so helpful and because I get a small commission for Amazon sales from these links. In June 2020 there's a delay in shipping books because this topic has become so hot!
Black bookstores are overwhelmed by orders for anti-racism titles (Karen Ho, Quartz, 6-23-2020)
Reading as resistance? The rise of the anti-racist book list (NBC News) Ibram X. Kendi's "How to Be An Antiracist," Ijeoma Oluo's "So You Want to Talk About Race" and other anti-racist texts are selling out at major bookstores.
People Are Marching Against Racism. They’re Also Reading About It. (Elizabeth A. Harris, NY Times, 6-5-2020) Books on the subject have soared up best-seller lists as protests continue across the country.


Recommended reading:
An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Indigenous peoples from the North Pole to the South, have been here since before the world was known as round. Our past of colonialism and genocide stripped them of natural rights.
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. "Howard Zinn's work literally changed the conscience of a generation." ~Noam Chomsky
• ***Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (a long letter to his son)
Black Boy by Richard Wright. Wright's account of growing up black in the South in the 1910s and 1920s is as compelling today as it was when it came out.
Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins
Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-first Century by Monique W. Morris
Chokehold: Policing Black Men by Paul Butler
Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King
Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland by Jonathan M. Metzl
Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision by Barbara Ransby
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. “Thanks to Ms. Gyasi’s instinctive storytelling gifts, the book leaves the reader with a visceral understanding of both the savage realities of slavery and the emotional damage that is handed down, over the centuries. . ." ~ NY Times
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall. Calls out privilege.
How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America by Moustafa Bayoum
• ***How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. "As a society, we need to start treating antiracism as action, not emotion—and Kendi is helping us do that.”—Ijeoma Olu
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea Ritchie
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin (2003) by John D'Emilio. An outwardly gay black man before that was common, he helped organize the first Freedom Rides, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and a boycott of segregated New York City public schools, and he introduced Gandhian tactics of nonviolent protest to Dr. King, says novelist Gabriel Bump.
• ***Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad
No Ashes in the Fire by Darnell L. Moore
Overturning Brown: The Segregationist Legacy of the Modern School Choice Movement by Steve Suitts. See Jo Freeman's review.
Please Stop Helping Us by Jason L. Riley. Subtitled "How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed."
Raising Our Hands: How White Women Can Stop Avoiding Hard Conversations, Start Accepting Responsibility, and Find Our Place on the New Frontlines by Jenna Arnold
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon. A Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the “Age of Neoslavery,” the American period following the Emancipation Proclamation in which convicts, mostly black men, were “leased” through forced labor camps operated by state and federal governments.
• ***So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
• ***Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi. A National Book Award winner.
• ***Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. "More than merely a young reader's adaptation of Kendi's landmark work, Stamped does a remarkable job of tying together disparate threads while briskly moving through its historical narrative."―Bookpage
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson, author of Death in Black and White (NY Times, 7-7-16)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X As Told to Alex Haley
The Blacker the Berry by Wallace Thurman
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. How segregated public housing, racial zoning, the destruction of integrated neighborhoods became the foundation of the racial unrest facing black neighborhoods.
The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother ***
The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale. The problem is not overpolicing, it is policing itself.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (an award-winning novel). “Though Thomas’s story is heartbreakingly topical, its greatest strength is in its authentic depiction of a teenage girl, her loving family, and her attempts to reconcile what she knows to be true about their lives with the way those lives are depicted—and completely undervalued—by society at large.”~ Publishers Weekly. You can also watch the film on Amazon Prime.
The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter. Explores the social construct of whiteness as a sign of power, control, wealth, beauty, and dominance.
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano
The Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control (vol. 1 of 2) by Theodore W. Allen and The Invention of the White Race: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America (vol. 2) Allen’s provocative thesis: that the ‘white race’ was a category constructed to suppress class conflict.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. "Among today’s born-again bestsellers, at least one is universally acknowledged to have had profound influence." ~ Mark Whitaker
The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee Boggs
The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics***
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery
They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa
To Be a Slave by Julius Lester. The cruelty of slavery, as told by the slaves themselves.
Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring by Richard Gerg. "A revealing window into both the hideous racial violence and humiliation of segregation . . . and the heroic origin of the legal crusade to destroy Jim Crow....Would that Chief Justice John Roberts and his fellow conservative justices might read this riveting legal history and rethink the decision in Shelby v. Holder of 2013, which eviscerated federal oversight of voting rights in the Deep South. But while we wait for that unlikelihood, we should remember that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed because of the history Gergel recounts."
When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America by Ira Katznelson. How New Deal legislation in the 1930s created programs that became economic bedrock for millions of White Americans but excluded maids or farmworkers, including millions of Black Americans, from having access to social programs that set the minimum wage, regulated work hours, and created labor unions and Social Security, says poet Clint Smith.
Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude M. Steele
• ***White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. "Whiteness rests upon a foundational premise: The definition of whites as the norm or standard for human, and people of color as a deviation from that norm." "It is white people's responsibility to be less fragile; people of color don't need to twist themselves into knots trying to navigate us as painlessly as possible." It's the fastest-selling book in Beacon's 166-year history. But see What’s Missing from “White Fragility” (Lauren Michele Jackson, Slate, 9-4-19) "Robin DiAngelo’s idea changed how white progressives talk about themselves—and little else." And, writes Carlos Lozada (Washington Post, 6-18-2020), "Even as it introduces a memorable concept, 'White Fragility' presents oversimplified arguments that are self-fulfilling, even self-serving. The book flattens people of any ancestry into two-dimensional beings fitting predetermined narratives. And reading DiAngelo offers little insight into how a national reckoning such as the one we’re experiencing today could have come about." Or as Cedrick-Michael Simmons puts it (The Bellows, 6-22-2020), DiAngelo, a diversity trainer, "views racism as a problem to be combated with sensitivity training," adding "If I were an employer, why wouldn’t I want to hire a specialist to train workers to believe that their own identities and unconscious biases are the main sources of inequality, instead of exploitative workplace practices?" The book "offers nothing to address the structures undergirding systemic racism within political and economic institutions or the dramatic decline in state funding for social programs in recent decades."
The city of Seattle is making white employees do insane "internalized racial superiority" training (YouTube)
How White Women Can Be Better Black Lives Matter Allies (Jennifer Palmieri, Vanity Fair, 6-16-2020) Forget posting a black square to Instagram—white women must acknowledge that they, too, have benefited from the white male patriarchy, and that racism is entwined in their historic push for equal rights.
White Rage by Carol Anderson. "An unflinching look at America's long history of structural and institutionalized racism."
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum (get updated edition)


A few books on big tech's role in perpetuating systems of oppression (H/T Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein, whose "Save the Tears" reading list listed below contains a sidebar on three of these books)
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Noble
Rage Inside the Machine: The Prejudice of Algorithms, and How to Stop the Internet Making Bigots of Us All by Robert Elliott Smith. "Incomprehensibly complex data driven systems are not easily corrected, and can make major mistakes.”
• Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech by Sara Wachter-Boettcher. “Recommended for all readers interested in the intersection of technology and social justice.” ~ Library Journal
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O'Neil
• You can order books through any of these black-owned independent bookstores.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." ~ George Santayana


Recommended reading lists on anti-racism:
The black women who launched the original anti-racist reading list (Ashley Dennis, Washington Post, 6-18-2020) In the 1940s, Charlemae Rollins, the children's librarian at the George Cleveland Hall Branch of the Chicago Public Library, and Augusta Baker, the children's librarian at the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library, began recommending books that presented "an unbiased, accurate, well-rounded picture of Negro life in all parts of the world." Rollins encouraged Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks to write poetry for children and advised Langston Hughes on "The First Book of Negroes." Rollins said "the crowning delight of [her] whole career" was Ezra Jack Keats's "The Snowy Day." Rollins and Baker also discredited classics such as "The Story of Little Black Sambo" and "persuaded at least one publishing company to cease its publication. books that depicted black life truthfully, called out books that contained stereotypes and established criteria for evaluating children's books about black people."
Amplifying Black Writers: Our reading list (Sharmaine Lovegrove, @dialoguebooks, May 2020)
Antiracism Resources (GoodGoodGood, "Not all news is cynicism and flames.") Adapted from the antiracism resources Google Doc compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker & Alyssa Klein.
Antiracism resources (The Septima Project)
An Antiracist Reading List (New York Times, 5-29-19) Ibram X. Kendi on books to help America transcend its racist heritage.
Anti-Racist Resource Guide (Victoria Alexander, Google doc.) Includes articles and books to read; TV shows and movies to watch; videos to watch; podcasts to listen to; children's books to read; resources on various aspects of policing; organizations to connect with and stay informed; black businesses to support; how to find protests and rallies; where to donate, sign petitions, contact reps; black trans lives matter; prepare for election day this November.
Black Lives Matter! A Reading List for Change (Papercuts, Bookshop,
• *** Books about race and racism are dominating bestseller lists (Stephanie Merry and Ron Charles, Washington Post, 6-4-2020) The books asterisked above were on a list of audiobook bestsellers from, an audiobook seller many indie bookstores use. "On the biggest sales day in the company's history...every title on its top 10 list addressed race and racism."
‘Every Work of American Literature Is About Race’: Writers on How We Got Here (NY Times, 6-30-2020) Amid the most profound social upheaval since the 1960s, several novelists, historians, poets, comedians and activists recommend books that illuminate a long struggle for social justice.
For publishers, books on race and racism have been a surprising success (Mark Whitaker, WashingtonPost, 6-12-2020)
Save the Tears: White Woman's Guide compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein.
17 Books On Race Every White Person Needs To Read (Sadie Trombetta and K.W. Colyard, Bustle, 5-29-2020)
Several Antiracist Books Are Selling Out. Here's What Else Black Booksellers and Publishers Say You Should Read (Suyin Haynes, Time, 6-2-2020)
This List of Books, Films and Podcasts About Racism Is a Start, Not a Panacea (Isabella Rosario, Code Switch, NPR, 6-6-2020)
21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge (syllabus of the American Bar Association)
What to read, listen to and watch to learn about institutional racism (Isabella Isaacs-Thomas, Nation, PBS News Hour, 6-5-2020)


"Prejudice, not being founded on reason, cannot be removed by argument." ~ Samuel Johnson


Anti-racist resources for children, including children's books

Books for and about children of color (Writers and Editors round-up of recommendations)
Black Voices: Pushing for Change in Children’s Book Publishing (Vimeo webinar, 75 minutes, Authors Guild, 6-22-2020) From agenting to editing, from sales to marketing, less than five percent of publishing professionals are Black, according to the results of the most recent Lee & Low diversity graphic on Black representation in the publishing industry. How does institutional exclusion and racism impact the success of books by Black authors and the trajectory of Black creators? In this panel, industry experts offer insights, share experiences and concerns, and suggest ways to create change. Participants: Cheryl Davis (AG), Kelly Starling Lyons, Judy Allen Dodson, Vanessa Lloyd-Sgambati, Christopher Myers, Cheryl Wills Hudson, Wade Hudson, Queressa Robinson, Jalissa Marcelle Corrie. Worth a listen for the big picture.
Centering Black Authors, Part 2 (7-20-2020) Video accessible to AG members only explores the journeys of Black authors and illustrators. What are institutional barriers to success? How can the industry disrupt racism and support Black creators? How can Black creators advocate and advance? Followed by part 3.
Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati on the African American Children’s Book Fair African American Literature Book Club (AALBC)
A Children's Booklist for Anti-racist Activism (Embrace Race) 31 Children's books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance
Anti-Racist Resources for Children, Families, and Educators (Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, KidLit Rally 4 Black Lives, Brownbookshelf, 6-4-2020)
Teacher’s Reading List of Antiracist Books for Kids Goes Viral (Melissa Locker, Time, 6-5-2020)

Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners (recommendations by age group)
8 tips for choosing “good” picture books featuring diverse, BIPOC characters (Dr. Krista Aronson, Anne Sibley O'Brien and Dr. Andrea Breau of Diverse BookFinder, Embrace Race)
Top 154 Recommended African-American Children’s Books (African American Literature Book Club)
Black Books Matter: Children's Books Celebrating Black Boys (the conscious kid)
Black Boy Joy: 30 Picture Books Featuring Black Male Protagonists (Read Brightly)
Young, Black and Lit
The Brown Bookshelf is designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers. Our flagship initiative is 28 Days Later, a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by Black creators. See also Generations Book Club: Life Lessons


"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor" ~ Desmond Tutu


"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have."

~ James Baldwin


Articles, video, speeches, and websites about racism and anti-racism

Talking Race With Young Children (20-minutes, National Public Radio, 4-26-19) Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president for Social Impact at Sesame Workshop, and Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race.
Your Kids Aren't Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup (Katrina Michie, Pretty Good Design) Excellent links to resources for parents.
•; Talking About Race (National Museum of African American History & Culture) Wonderful exhibits; helpful website. "The first step they suggest is to consider personal reflections on race."
The '3.5% rule': How a small minority can change the world (David Robson, BBC, 5-13-19) "Nonviolent protests are twice as likely to succeed as armed conflicts – and those engaging a threshold of 3.5% of the population have never failed to bring about change."
Toni Morrison’s 1993 interview about Jazz with Charlie Rose (YouTube video, and it's about more than that novel).
Showing Up for Social Justice (Political education toolkits and other resources)

Social Justice Resources: “They’re Not Too Young to Talk about Race” (Children's Community School) Resources from around the Internet. ) "They're not too young to talk about race."
Becoming a Parent in the Age of Black Lives Matter by Clint Smith (The Atlantic, 6-1-2020) Listen also to The Fragility of Progress: Clint Smith and Robert Reich Beyond Silence and Inaction. (YouTube video, 6-16-2020) Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich sits down with writer, author, and poet Clint Smith, who puts the ongoing protests against centuries of systemic racism and police killings into historical context. They discuss America's failure to reckon with our history of slavery and how this movement for Black lives — and the emergent demands — must finally force it to do so. They also explore how racism continues to permeate our rigged system, from the modern segregation of housing and education to the institutions of prisons and police that have always existed to terrorize Black people.
Black Life Matters: Anti-Racism Resources for Social Workers and Therapists (Social Work. Career, June 2020) Interesting graphic, with arrow moving from Fear Zone, through Learning Zone, to Growth Zone.


Teaching Your Child About Black History (PBS for Parents)
• ***The 1619 Project (an important New York Times series by Nikole Hannah-Jones, 8-14-19) In August of 1619, a ship carrying more than 20 enslaved Africans landed in the English colony of Virginia, where the Africans were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. On the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is time to tell our story truthfully. This series aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative. Important for classrooms and as background for any discussions of race in America. Follow-up story by the author: What Is Owed (New York Times Magazine, 6-24-2020). She won the Pulitzer on commentary for her Times essay about black Americans and democracy (8-14-19).
Why We Need an Antiracist Education System ( Rachael Rifkin, The Progressive, 9-18-2020) In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests this summer, there’s a growing movement for antiracist education across all subjects—especially history.“Activism and advocacy can look so many different ways, the issue is that people are not doing it as much as they could. They’re just accepting any old curriculum from publishing companies,” says Muhammad. “The goal is to interrupt these things so they’re more excellent.”
Descendants (WashPost series, 2-25-2020) For Americans descended from enslaved Africans, the roots of their ancestry are often a mystery. Family trees go dark after five or six generations, a reminder that 150 years ago, black people weren’t considered people. Genealogists refer to this as “the brick wall,” an obstruction in African American lineage that dates to 1870 when the federal Census began recording African descendants — 250 years after they were first hauled in chains to what would become the United States.
GirlTrek's Black History Boot Camp Get outside and walk 30 minutes, listening to this podcast--here: Audre Lord, "who argued that our very survival is political - that we were never meant to survive." As you walk, meditate on her idea of "radical self-care."
Understanding racism and inequality in America (excellent Washington Post series, 6-8-2020) Stories, videos, photo essays, audio and graphics on black history, progress, inequality and injustice.
‘What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?’: Descendants Read Frederick Douglass' 'Fourth Of July' Speech (video, NPR, 7-3-2020)
History of Juneteenth (National Registry of Juneteenth Organizations and Supporters)
The Truth About the Confederacy in the United States (video of one of the best speeches ever) Jeffery Robinson, the ACLU’s top racial justice expert, discusses the dark history of Confederate symbols across the country and outlines what we can do to learn from our past and combat systemic racism.
The Flag and the Fury (Shima Oliaee, RadioLab, 7-12-2020) For 126 years, Mississippi has had the Confederate battle flag on their state flag, and they were the last state in the nation where that emblem remained “officially” flying. Listen to this story about how that flag came down--a story involving a clash of histories, designs, families, and even cheerleading.
Human Zoos: America's Forgotten History of Scientific Racism (YouTube video, Discovery Science) Human Zoos tells the shocking story of how thousands of indigenous peoples were put on public display in America in the early decades of the twentieth century. Darwin was worried by the misuse of his theories of evolution for racism.
The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: Research reveals long-term financial fallout (Clark Merrefield, Journalist’s Resource, 6-18-2020) In 1921 a white mob destroyed an affluent Black community known as Black Wall Street. "They estimate direct property damage from the massacre north of $200 million in today’s dollars; they associate the massacre with stifling black innovation; and they show that challenges persist when it comes to reconciling the past with the economic imperatives of today," he writes. Merrefield highlights three peer-reviewed studies on the long-term economic effects of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
A life stolen: The Joseph Hardy story (Allison Peacock , Family Scrybe, 7-2-2020) John Hardy was seven years old when he witnessed his uncle kill a prominent white plantation owner in self-defense in 1925 Louisiana. This is a chilling story about the kind of radical bigotry black families in Louisiana still endured every day in the 1920s, more than 50 years after the end of slavery. Decades later, as the last family member with firsthand knowledge, he was interviewed to memorialize his account.
Unequal Impact: The Deep Links Between Racism and Climate Change (Beth Gardiner interview with activist Elizabeth Yeampierre, co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance, on Yale Environment 360, 6-9-2020) "Climate change is the result of a legacy of extraction, of colonialism, of slavery....I think about people who got the worst food, the worst health care, the worst treatment, and then when freed, were given lands that were eventually surrounded by things like petrochemical industries. The idea of killing black people or indigenous people, all of that has a long, long history that is centered on capitalism and the extraction of our land and our labor in this country."
A Time for Burning (1966 documentary, YouTube, 56 minutes. Read the Revisiting “A Time for Burning” and the Spiritual Crisis of Racism (Richard Brody, New Yorker, 7-15-2020) In William Jersey’s 1966 documentary about the efforts of a Lutheran minister to break the racial barrier, church is “a hospital for sinners,” a place where the scourge of white supremacism must be addressed.
‘The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning’ (Claudia Rankine, On Racial Violence, NY Times Magazine, 6-22-15) "In 1955, when Emmett Till’s mutilated and bloated body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River and placed for burial in a nailed-shut pine box, his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, demanded his body be transported from Mississippi, where Till had been visiting relatives, to his home in Chicago. Once the Chicago funeral home received the body, she made a decision that would create a new pathway for how to think about a lynched body. She requested an open coffin and allowed photographs to be taken and published of her dead son’s disfigured body. Mobley’s refusal to keep private grief private allowed a body that meant nothing to the criminal-justice system to stand as evidence." Rankine wrote this essay after the Charleston church massacre.
Know your history: Understanding racism in the US (A'Lelia Bundles, AlJazeera, 8-15-15) "And then you might understand how the death of Michael Brown became a tipping point in the US."
Why we need Black filmmakers to tell the story of 2020 (Stanley Nelson, Los Angeles Times, 7-12-2020) Nelson is the founder of the Firelight Media Documentary Lab, which mentors and supports filmmakers of color. Racism isn't getting worse, it's just getting filmed"~ Will Smith
See America’s First Memorial to its 4,400 Lynching Victims (Becky Little,, 4-20-18) A new memorial and museum in Montgomery, Alabama, challenges the nation to acknowledge its crimes. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is an outdoor structure that includes 800 monuments, each representing a U.S. county where lynchings occurred and listing the names of people killed in that county.
An open letter from American military veterans in support of Colin Kaepernick (Rhiannon Walker, The Undefeated, 9-2-16) There are veterans who not only agree with Kaepernick’s right to protest, but also with how he did it (taking a knee). "Kaepernick has been sitting during the singing of The Star Spangled Banner the entire preseason, although it was only noticed last Friday when he was dressed to play. What he said: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” Trump criticized him for taking the knee and Kaepernick was frozen out of football by NFL teams. U.S. Army veteran Richard Allen Smith says "politicians and corporations often use the military and its servicemen and women for promotion. That leaves some veterans, like Smith, feeling like props for people who haven’t made the sacrifice, but want to cloak themselves in their credibility." Scroll forward to June 1, 2020: What Do You Think of Colin Kaepernick Now? (Sports Illustrated, 6-1-2020) "It shouldn't have taken this, but a weekend of violence has forced a new perspective on his peaceful protest of four years ago. Now: Imagine if he first knelt today, after George Floyd's killing by a police officer. And try to imagine what happens next."
'I Can Breathe Now': After Days of Nationwide Protests, George Floyd Is Eulogized (Listen to Al Sharpton's powerful eulogy, NPR, WAMU-FM, 6-4-2020). Here's transcript (Thanks,
Aviation history is full of black pilot heroes, if only we would tell their stories (Craig Marckwardt, Dallas News, 6-13-2020) No need to rewrite history, we only need to bring more stories to light.


#BlackLivesMatter Want to do something about it? See Current protests in your area, Petitions that need signatures (Disclaimer: Do not donate after signing a petition. It doesn't go to the creator of the petition, only the website itself.")
Call It What It Is: Anti-Blackness (kihana miraya ross, NY Times, 6-4-2020)
Silence Is Not an Option (Jack Lemon, CNN) CNN's new podcast is "going to dig deep into the reality of being Black and Brown in America, and explore what you can do to help find a path forward. We’ll have tough conversations with activists, artists, and thinkers about our nation’s deep racial divide."
Call It What It Is: Anti-Blackness (kihana miraya ross, NY Times, 6-4-2020)
Washington's new Black Lives Matter street mural is captured in satellite image (CNN, 6-6-2020) A wonderful in-your-face image leading up to the White House. H/T DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
A Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Explains Why This Time Is Different (Isaac Chotiner, New Yorker, 6-3-2020) "People are absolutely lifting up names like Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, but I think they are very clearly in the streets for themselves and their family members because they don’t know who is next, and they are also concerned about the economic realities that they are faced with....And people understand that this system is filled with all sorts of inequality and injustice, and that implicit bias and just outright racism is embedded in the way that policing is done in this nation—and when you think about it historically, it was founded as a slave patrol."
An interview with the Founders of Black Lives Matter (TEDWomen 2016) Mia Birdsong interviews founders of the Black Lives Matter movement Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi.
#PublishingPaidMe and a Day of Action Reveal an Industry Reckoning (Concepción de León and Elizabeth A. Harris, NY Times, 6-8-2020) A viral hashtag encouraged black and nonblack book authors to compare their pay. Publishers pledged to improve their diversity efforts. Here's Grace Fong’s Google spread sheet listing advances of 1200 authors. See also Black authors knew they were being paid less. This hashtag revealed how large the gap really is (Joshua Barajas and Jeffrey Brown, Arts blog, PBS News Hour, 6-11-2020) A thoughtful follow-up column in response to the #PublishingPaidMe conversation.
Angela Davis on Abolition, Calls to Defund Police, Toppled Racist Statues & Voting in 2020 Election (Democracy Now, 6-12-2020)
A Guide to Allyship: Black Lives Matter & Why “All Cops are Bastards” (Grassroots Law Project: Justice for George Floyd) H/T Kim Mee Joo
Why ‘All Lives Matter’ Is Such a Perilous Phrase (Daniel Victor, NY Times, 7-16-16) and Why You Need to Stop Saying "All Lives Matter" (Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, Harper's Bazaar, 4-16-19) Stating that black lives matter doesn’t insinuate that other lives don’t.
Where is the outrage for Breonna Taylor? (Renee Nishawn Scott, Medium, 5-30-2020)
Is This the Beginning of the End of American Racism? (Ibram X. Kendi, The Atlantic, Sept 2020) Donald Trump has revealed the depths of the country’s prejudice—and has inadvertently forced a reckoning. "The United States has often been called a land of contradictions, and to be sure, its failings sit alongside some notable achievements—a New Deal for many Americans in the 1930s, the defeat of fascism abroad in the 1940s. But on racial matters, the U.S. could just as accurately be described as a land in denial. It has been a massacring nation that said it cherished life, a slaveholding nation that claimed it valued liberty, a hierarchal nation that declared it valued equality, a disenfranchising nation that branded itself a democracy, a segregated nation that styled itself separate but equal, an excluding nation that boasted of opportunity for all. A nation is what it does, not what it originally claimed it would be. Often, a nation is precisely what it denies itself to be."
Spell Black with a Capital “B” (Ann Price, Insight Center for Community Economic Development, on Medium, 10-1-19) Perhaps the most controversial writing practice is capitalizing Black and leaving white lowercase, a practice that the Insight Center also embraces. Capitalizing Black is about claiming power.

Anti-Racism Resources (Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein in May 2020). Excellent links to resources, including books and articles, podcasts, films and TV series, and organizations to follow on social media. H/T Cheryl Svensson's son.
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free (Cameron Awkward-Rich, Paris Review, 6-11-2020) "Whether a stretched-out moment of insisting that black trans life matters will, in the end, matter....In the meanwhile, the Okra Project has begun and funded an enormously ambitious project to connect struggling black trans people with life-sustaining care."
A Class Divided (YouTube, video, a 1985 episode of the PBS series Frontline). Directed by William Peters, the episode profiles the Iowa schoolteacher Jane Elliott and her class of third graders, who took part in a class exercise about discrimination and prejudice in 1970 and reunited in the present day to recall the experience. (H/T Cheryl Svensson)
PEN America’s Guide for Combating Protest Disinformation (PEN America Tip Sheet, 6-5-2020)
Black Scientists Face a Big Disadvantage in Winning NIH Grants, Study Finds (Nell Gluckman, Chronicle of Higher Education, 6-3-2020) "When the NIH receives grant applications, they’re read and scored by reviewers on five criteria: significance, innovation, approach, environment, and how well suited the investigators are to the project.... black applicants are more likely to propose studying health disparities, which are less likely to be funded by the agency....often propose topics such as how environmental factors contribute to health risks in black communities...Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic." These problems don't score highly, aren't funded, and the problems persist.
Finding diverse sources for science stories (Christina Selby, The Open Notebook) Recognizing biases and tracking source diversity. Includes a case study from one newsroom already tracking sources, databases to find diverse sources, a host of Twitter accounts and lists to help get you acquainted, affinity groups and field-specific resources, and much more.
Diverse voices in science writing Includes resources for finding experts in underrepresented and minority groups.
The Black American Amputation Epidemic (Lizzie Presser, ProPublica, 5-19-2020) By one measure, diabetic amputations are the most preventable surgery in the country. "But black patients were losing limbs at triple the rate of others. The doctor put up billboards in the Mississippi Delta. Amputation Prevention Institute, they read. He could save their limbs, if it wasn’t too late." Underlying message of this investigative story: the importance of policies to support access to clinically appropriate PAD screening and treatment for America’s most at-risk patient populations. < br />• The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying (Adam Serwer, The Atlantic, 5-8-2020) "America's Racial Contract Is Killing Us." The pandemic has exposed the bitter terms of our racial contract, which deems certain lives of greater value than others.
Black Lives Matter: A playlist of powerful StoryCorps interviews (Dave Isay, TED blog, 8-26-15)


What the George Floyd Protests Reveal About Policing in the U.S. (Brittany Knotts, Adam Waller, and Meghna Chakrabarti, On Point, WBUR, 6-2-2020) With excellent links to related news stories and opinion pieces, including these:
---There’s One Big Reason Why Police Brutality Is So Common in the US. And That’s The Police Unions. (Melissa Segura, Buzzfeed, 6-1-2020) Police unions have become increasingly rightwing as a backlash to the Obama administration and Black Lives Matter — and that’s bad news for the cities they police.
---Before George Floyd’s Death, Minneapolis Police Failed to Adopt Reforms, Remove Bad Officers (Jamiles Lartey and Simone Weichselbaum, The Marshall Project, 6-1-2020) The department allows officers to use choke holds barred in other cities.
---The sisters had always been inseparable. Then, in a matter of minutes, Breonna Taylor was gone. (Caitlin Gibson. WaPo, 8-8-2020) For Ju’Niyah Palmer, the police killing of Breonna Taylor in their shared apartment was not only a public outrage but a personal tragedy.
---Protesters Dispersed With Tear Gas So Trump Could Pose at Church (Katie Rogers, NY Times, 6-1-2020) “He did not pray,” said Mariann E. Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington. “He did not mention George Floyd, he did not mention the agony of people who have been subjected to this kind of horrific expression of racism and white supremacy for hundreds of years.”
--- As rage over killings of black Americans sweeps nation, DOJ has all but abandoned broad police investigations" (Casey Tolan and Ashley Fantz, CNN, 6-1-2020)— "During the Obama administration, high-profile police shootings of black men like Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Laquan McDonald in Chicago helped spark sweeping federal investigations and reforms of biased policing practices."
---Mapping US police killings of Black Americans (Mohammed Haddad, Al Jazeera, 5-31-2020) "Between 2013 and 2019, police in the United States killed 7,666 people, according to data compiled by Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy group. On May 25, 2020 at 9:25pm (02:25 GMT, May 26), George Floyd, a 46-year-old resident of Minnesota, became yet another victim of police brutality as he was killed in police custody while unarmed."
How to Actually Fix America’s Police (Seth W. Stoughton, Jeffrey J. Noble, and Geoffrey P. Alpert, The Atlantic, 6-3-2020) Elected officials need to do more than throw good reform dollars at bad agencies. At the federal level, Congress should focus on three objectives: Modify or eliminate qualified immunity, pass legislation to further encourage better data collection about what police do and how they do it, and dedicate significantly more resources to supporting police training, local policy initiatives, and administrative reviews. See also:The Police Can Still Choose Nonviolence (David A. Graham, The Atlantic, 5-31-2020) The use of force by police can’t pacify protests responding to the use of force by police.
Racial Justice, Policing, and Protest (Annual Reviews) Serious discussions of topics such as How Subtle Bias Infects the Law and Police Are Our Government: Politics, Political Science, and the Policing of Race–Class Subjugated Communities.
A Moral Blind Spot (PDF, Phi Kappa Phi) Nature essayist Kathleen Dean Moore reflects on our frequent refusal to see what’s ethically inconvenient.


‘Mom, Why Don’t You Have Any Black Friends?’ (Michelle Silverthorn, Forge/Medium, 6-1-2020) Before you talk to your kids about race, answer this question.
Nice White Parents (NY Times, 7-30-2020) This new podcast from Serial Productions, a New York Times Company, is about the 60-year relationship between white parents and the public school down the block. Read the comments. See The Reading List Behind ‘Nice White Parents’.See also “Nice White Parents,” “Fiasco,” and America’s Public-School Problem (Sarah Larson, New Yorker, 8-31-2020) Two new podcasts aim to upend listeners’ understanding of school reform and desegregation. ' At one point, Joffe-Walt notes that her goal is to forge a “shared sense of reality” to counterbalance the innocence, or the naïveté, among white parents that she believes stands in the way of progress. Together, these two podcasts offer ample evidence of that reality, for those who choose to listen.'
Answering White People’s Most Commonly Asked Questions about the Black Lives Matter Movement (Courtney Martin, The Bold Italic, 6-1-2020)
75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice (Corinne Shutack, Medium, 8-13-17)
Writing with an anti-racist lens (Lila Tublin, Big Duck, 7-7-2020)
Ways to Take Action: Reading Lists, Articles, and Online Content (Portland Institute for Contemporary Art)
Truth and Reconciliation (Liz Cox, 5-minute YouTube video, 9-11-2020) Clips from the last 4 years of her many protest videos. The fast paced interview ties her filming to growing up in Birmingham, becoming an activist, and wanting a just and safe planet for the next generations.
Five Racist Anti-Racism Responses “Good” White Women Give to Viral Posts (KatyKatiKate, 5-26-2020)
Do You Know About Your Hidden Bias? The IAT Can Help. (Quality Interactions, Conversations in Cultural Competency, 2-21-18)
Seeing White (Scene On Radio, a 14-part documentary series, released in February-August 2017) Just what is going on with white people? Police shootings of unarmed African Americans. Acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists. The renewed embrace of raw, undisguised white-identity politics. Unending racial inequity in schools, housing, criminal justice, and hiring. Some of this feels new, but in truth it’s an old story. Why? Where did the notion of “whiteness” come from? What does it mean? What is whiteness for? Host/producer John Biewen took a deep dive into these questions, along with an array of leading scholars and regular guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika.
Black Man Gets KKK Members To Disavow By Befriending Them (Elyse Wanshel, Black Voices, Huffpost, 12-22-16) “How can you hate me if you don’t even know me?” Daryl Davis asks in the new documentary Accidental Courtesy.
Resources for White People to Learn and Talk About Race and Racism (Nicola Carpenter, Fractured Atlas, 5-17-18) See also Working Apart So We Can Work Together (Courtney Harge, Fractured Atlas, 10-27-17) As part of their commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression, Fractured Atlas has been hosting race-based caucuses since late 2016.
• Listen to Eula Biss,Talking About Whiteness (On Being with Krista Tippett, 6-11-2020) 'You can’t think about something if you can’t talk about it, says Eula Biss. The writer helpfully opens up lived words and ideas like complacence, guilt, and opportunity hoarding for an urgent reckoning with whiteness. This conversation was inspired by her 2015 essay in The New York Times, White Debt (12-2-15)"Reckoning with what is owed — and what can never be repaid — for racial privilege."
21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge (Food Solutions New England) and 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge (Michigan League for Public Policy) adapted from Food Solutions version to highlight racial inequity and Michigan policy priorities.
The Privilege of Rage (Tangerine Jones, Rage Baking, 2-14-2020) She started posting publicly on her Facebook page about her Rage baking (#ragebaking) and encouraged others to join her in rage baking as a way to cope, connect and channel their fury into meaningful connection and community. Then two white women began marketing a cookbook that “encourages women to use sugar and sass as a way to defend, resist, and protest.”


The Police Are Killing One Group at a Staggering Rate, and Nobody Is Talking About It (Zak Cheney Rice,, 2-5-15) From 1999 to 2013, Native Americans were killed by law enforcement at nearly identical rates as black Americans.
The Private Georgia Immigration-Detention Facility at the Center of a Whistle-Blower’s Complaint (Jonathan Blitzer, New Yorker, 9-19-2020) "Roughly seventy per cent of all immigration jails in this country are run by private corporations. In these instances, ICE contracts with an individual county to house detainees, and hires a private company to run the facility.... Not only are these private facilities much harder to regulate or monitor than government-run facilities but the principle of their operation calls on them to maximize profits, usually at the expense of the people they’re detaining....Of all the immigrants who pass through the facility, seventy-five per cent are deported upon release. So the incentives to provide good medical care are virtually nonexistent."
The Importance of Asian Americans? It’s Not What You Think: Future Directions in the Racial Justice Movement (ChangeLab. Download the PDF) "And they call this a riot? Nah, I call it a uprising."
Deep Water: An Encounter with Whiteness (Deepa Iyer, Medium, 10-30-18) See also her Solidarity Is This podcast, about different aspects of the effects of white supremacist culture (brief descriptions of all podcasts and links to a relevant syllabus). See also From Silos to Solidarity: Learning from 2017’s Resistance Movements (Deepa Iyer, Medium, 12-31-17)
Seeing White podcast sesries (Scene on Radio, host John Biewen) Just what is going on with white people? Police shootings of unarmed African Americans. Acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists. The renewed embrace of raw, undisguised white-identity politics. Unending racial inequity in schools, housing, criminal justice, and hiring. Some of this feels new, but in truth it’s an old story.
Tribal Equity Toolkit 2.0: Tribal Resolutions and Codes to Support Two-Spirit and LGBT Justice in Indian Country (2013)
My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant (Jose Antonio Vargas, NY Times Magazine, 6-22-2011)
The danger of a single story (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TED Talk, YouTube video, 10-7-09) The novelist tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
The BIPOC Project A Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Movement. “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”~ Audre Lorde
Where Did BIPOC Come From? (Sandra E. Garcia, NY Times, 6-17-2020) The acronym, which stands for "black, indigenous and people of color", is suddenly everywhere. Is it doing its job? (But the Times capitalized "indigenous"while lower-casing "black". These decisions sometimes seem capricious.)
Drop the Hyphen in Asian American (Conscious Style Guide) On the historical divisiveness of an unnecessary punctuation mark.
Young Asians and Latinos push their parents to acknowledge racism amid protests (Sydney Trent, Washington Post, 6-22-2020) The children and grandchildren of immigrants have joined the Black Lives Matter movement, but they often have to explain to their parents why change is necessary. “I think what you are seeing is a decades-long transformation....We have arrived at a real cultural shift,” said Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of Define American, an immigration advocacy organization, and a former Washington Post reporter. While the dynamics between black and white Americans get most of the media attention, Vargas said, the makeup of this


Thanks to Betsy Hague, Cheryl Svensson, Kim Mee Joo, Jack El-Hai, Abigail Rasminsky, Kristie Miller, Guided Autobiography Group, Lynne Lamberg,  Flora Morris Brown, and many others for suggestions.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." ~ Margaret Mead


"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

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Zooming Through the Pandemic (How to and Why)

Updated 11-18-2020



assembled by Pat McNees
A free Zoom webinar. See also Zoom's security tips (bottom right) and their live training webinars (get your questions answered).
How Do I Join a Zoom Meeting? (YouTube, Geeks on Tour)
How to Join a Zoom Video Conference Using Your Phone (YouTube, Evgenii Permiakov)
Live Zoom training webinars (Zoom support)
Remote Interviewing Resources (Oral History Association, 8-27-2020) Many many useful pages. Remarkable and very helpful. See, for example, among many pages: Advice on oral history interviewing during the Covid-19 pandemic , or this decision tree or Considerations for Choosing an In-Person vs. Remote Interview. With useful sections on equipment, such as Recording platforms.
The Big Advantage of a Zoom Thanksgiving (Debbie Brodsky, 11-2020, of DMB Pictures) DMB "works with families to capture the stories of their loved ones on video so they will be remembered for generations to come." Here are her Zoom Tips and Best Practices
My video camera is not working (Zoom support)
My audio is not working on iOS or Android (Zoom)
Remote Interviewing for Zoom (Oral History Center, University of California at Berkeley)
Best practices for securing your virtual classroom (Ryan Gallagher, Zoom, 3-27-2020)
How to keep uninvited guests out of your Zoom event (Zoom, 3-20-2020)
Zoom Security (PDF, a Zoom white paper)
Zoom Encryption (PDF, a Zoom white paper)
How to Look Better on Zoom (YouTube, Goa Goodrich, 4-30-2020). How to light and angle your screen to look your best. (It's hard to hear at first, then suddenly gets more audible. Click on "skip ads" if ad persists.) See also How to light for glasses and How to Pose in Pictures (how to look taller and leaner), among other how-to-zoom videos.
Zoom Support How-to instructions during the coronavirus: video tutorials, on-demand training sessions, live daily demos, etc.)
Using Zoom? Take these steps to protect your privacy.(Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac, 3-31-2020)
Resources and Tips for Creating Virtual Events: Video Conferencing, Virtual Meeting, and Video Sharing Applications (American Booksellers Association, 3-25-2020) Invaluable, partly for links to downloadable PDFs for Virtual Story Time Guidelines from various publishing houses.
Zoom Help Center
Claude Kerno's excellent instructions for using Zoom: Installing it, Using it
Best Practices for Hosting a Digital Event (Zoom)
How to Be an Inclusive Leader (Ruchika Tulshyan, Harvard Business Review, 4-10-2020) "Begin meetings with acknowledging everyone in the room, not just those with high status or privilege....When I do these check-ins, I notice that more students speak up during the rest of the class, whether it’s virtual or in person."
How we organized one of the largest virtual U.S. journalism events to date(Stefanie Murray and Joe Amditis, Center for Cooperative Media, Medium, 5-20-2020) We wanted to make sure we kept some of the Collaborative Journalism Summit’s personal hallmarks without turning it into a one-way broadcast. We alerted our sponsors, speakers and participants as soon as we could — then we made registration free. And once we announced we would host in place instead of in person, registrations shot through the roof; we ended up with just under 750 registrations by the time the conference began. (Typically, the Summit attracts 150–175 people.) Zoom was the leading early contender for a platform choice, because it was the program most people were using for video conferencing and because it was the one the Center used. But we also explored other options, including Twitch, Google Hangouts, and YouTube Live. We didn’t look too closely at Blue Jeans, GoToMeeting, Livestream, or Microsoft Teams, which are a few of the more popular options out there.
Virtual Book Launch Events: 8 Ideas from Authors (Diana Urban, BookBub, 4-30-2020) Here are 8 popular platforms (mostly social media sites: Instagram Live, YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Zoom Webinar, Twitch Livestream, Prerecorded Videos, Twitter Chat, Reddit AMA) where you can host a virtual book event, with examples.
New to Working from Home? Here Are Some Tips to Help You Meet Like a Pro (Esther Yoon, Zoom, 3-9-2020)
Embracing and Securing a Remote Workforce (CrowdStrike) Cybersecurity resources.
Every Type of Zoom Call Participant, Illustrated by Cats (Jack Shepherd, Tenderly/Medium, 5-18-2020) Which one are you? The one who's too close to the camera? The one who refuses to use video but has the most glamorous headshot? The one with the wacky background? The one who's busy with something else? The one who can't get the camera placement right?
An Introduction to Zoom for Teachers (Nicole Rose Whitaker and Susan Shapiro, New Yorker, 4-10-2020) Hosting it, and so on.
Zoom: Live Stream to YouTube or a Custom Streaming Service
Getting Started on Windows and Mac (Zoom Help Center)
Now that everyone's using Zoom, here are some privacy risks you need to watch out for (Rae Hodge, CNet, 1-1-2020)

We live in Zoom now. Zoom is where we go to school, party, and socialize (Taylor Lorenz, Erin Griffith and Mike Isaac, NY Times, 3-17-2020)
A virtual funeral changes perspective (Jack ElHai, Medium, 4-13-2020) "I recently attended a virtual funeral broadcast with Zoom, and the result was that I felt distant from the deceased but close to my fellow mourners."
The Great Zoom-School Experiment (Lizzie Widdicombe, New Yorker, 4-2-2020) With schools closed, some students are transitioning to remote learning, and some parents to home-school instruction and technical assistance. “The teachers were afraid that the kids were not going to coöperate, and they wouldn’t be able to manage a virtual classroom.” But Micaela Bracamonte, the founder and head of the Lang School, insisted that they try it. All across the world, students and parents are involved in a vast cyber-education experiment.


Why Zoom became so popular (Ashley Carman, The Verge, 4-3-2020) Its selling points also introduce privacy and security risks
Forget Facebook: Zoom is the tech industry’s newest problem child (Ainsley Harris, Fast Company, 3-31-20) " But there is a dark underside to this company. It has a child abuse problem. And a porn problem. And a privacy problem. Does anyone care? Federal prosecutor Austin Berry referred to Zoom as “the Netflix of child pornography” in his closing remarks, according to The New York Times....“Zoom really has no serious value if it doesn’t protect personal privacy,” Doc Searls, an author and research director at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, wrote in a blog post. “That’s why they need to fix this.”
New York Attorney General Looks Into Zoom’s Privacy Practices (Danny Hakim and Natasha Singer, NY Times, 3-30-2020) As the videoconferencing platform’s popularity has surged, Zoom has scrambled to address a series of data privacy and security problems.
‘Zoom is malware’: why experts worry about the video conferencing platform (Kari Paul, The Guardian, 4-2-2020) The company has seen a 535% rise in daily traffic in the past month, but security researchers say the app is a ‘privacy disaster’


Check out

---Blue Jeans Host and manage live interactive events, town halls and webcasts for large audiences around the world.
---Cisco Webex Meetings
---Duo (Google's consumer version of video calling)
---Facebook Live
---GlobalMeet Collaboration (1-866-755-4878)
---GoToMeeting (LogMeIn)
---Hangouts Meet (aka Google Meet, geared toward business use)
---Houseparty (a face to face social network: “Where being together is as easy as showing up” — a cross-platform video chat app)
---LifeSize (high definition videoconferencing)
---Livestream Deliver unforgettable virtual events and conferences. Securely engage your workforce remotely. Monetize your global audience.
---Microsoft Teams
---Skype (Microsoft) Host a video meeting in one click. Video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, the Xbox One console, and smartwatches over the Internet. Requires third party recording software to stream.
---Twitch Not just for gamers.
---WhatsApp (Facebook, the default messaging service in Europe for small groups--four people max)
---YouTube Live (Google owns YouTube)
---Zoho Meeting
Zoom: Live Stream to YouTube or a Custom Streaming Service (IT, University of Minnesota)


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How to Keep Your Zoom Chats Private and Secure (David Nield, Wired, 4-5-2020) Trolls. Prying bosses. Zoom's a great video chat platform, but a few simple steps also make it a safe one. Nield also explains pros and cons of alternative video chat platforms Google Duo, Facetime (for Apple devices only), Webex (Cisco), GoToMeeting, plus software without full end-to-end encryption. Skype, Slack, and Facebook Messenger. These instructions may help us relax about Zoom's insecurities. (H/T Jeanne Bohlen)
Youtube Live vs Facebook Live Compared to Online Video Platforms How do the various systems compare?
Not sold on Zoom? Here are the 8 best Zoom alternatives to consider.. (Mitja Rutnik @MRutnik, The Best, Android Authority, 3-26-2020)
5 Zoom alternatives to keep you connected during COVID-19 crisis (Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac, 4-2-2020)
Video Conferencing Software Showdown: Zoom vs. GoToMeeting.(Heather Mandel, Zapier, 2-01-19) "If you're just starting out or are a small-to-medium-sized business that only needs to accommodate up to 100 participants, Zoom can provide you with a fully-featured video conferencing solution for a lower price—or even no price depending on your needs. But if you're a larger organization that regularly needs to accommodate 150 to 250 attendees and can benefit from unlimited cloud storage and a no-minimum-host requirement, GoToMeeting may end up being a better value for you."
Microsoft Teams vs Zoom: Which Platform is Better for Your Organization.(Unify Square)
Zoom vs. Microsoft Teams vs. Google Meet: Which Top Videoconferencing App Is Best? (Gadjo Sevilla, PC Mag, 4-15-2020) How three of the top contenders stack up.
Google Puts Zoom in Its Crosshairs (Michael Figueroa, Marker/Medium, 4-30-2020) As security issues plague Zoom, Google’s rapid response threatens to topple Zoom’s position as the king of videoconferencing apps. Zoom’s popularity exploded as people around the world were forced to shelter in place and sought solutions to virtually engage with co-workers, classrooms, families, and friends. By offering a free plan that anyone can sign up for and a group-friendly, high-definition interface that has proven resilient despite its sudden growth in usage, daily active users on Zoom leaped from 10 million to over 300 million in just five months. But Google is now hot on its heels. See


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Social Distancing Is Helping This Billionaire Ride Out the Market Rout (Devon Pendleton, Bloomberg, 3-16-2020) Eric Yuan, the founder of Zoom Video Communications Inc., added $20 million to his net worth Monday while the S&P 500 plunged 12% -- worst day for stocks since 1987. See also Zoom, Zoom, Zoom! The Exclusive Inside Story off the New Billionaire Behind Tech’s Hottest IPO (Alex Konrad, Forbes, 4-19-19)
Zoom’s Fatal Flaw (Sameer Singh, Marker/Medium, 4-20-2020) In exchange for viral growth, the video conferencing startup left itself open to copycat competitors. Zoom’s business model is often conflated with Slack even though they are distinct products.

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