by Teresa Chin
How should schools address privilege in the classroom? Join the discussion #donowprivilege on Twitter and tag @youthradio in your response.
Privilege is a big topic. You could hold an entire conference, write a whole book, or watch a Netflix series about it. But for this “Do Now,” we’re going to stick to some basics.
When you hear the word “privilege,” you might picture a super rich person wearing a tuxedo and eating caviar for breakfast. But it’s not just the “one percenters” who have privilege. Privilege is tied to your race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, immigration or health status, to name just a handful. You don’t necessarily have control over these factors, and yet they can influence the way people treat you and how you move through the world.
One of the most difficult things that comes up when talking about privilege is that it can seem invisible to those who possess it. But when you don’t have privilege, the rules are stacked against you, or at least made without taking your needs and realities into consideration.
Although there are many types of privilege, one phrase you may have heard a lot lately is “white privilege.” It wasn’t that long ago that outright racist U.S. laws were on the books that treated white people as a higher social class than people of color. Many of those laws no longer exist stereotypes, implicit and explicit biases, and structural inequalities remain. As then-KQED host Joshua Johnson described in the series So Well Spoken, “[White privilege] is the social perks many whites enjoy today through no fault or effort of their own, including insulation from subtle acts of racism.”
That’s not to say all [insert a type of privileged class] people have it easy. A 2014 study from Johns Hopkins found when looking at children who grew up in poor neighborhoods, hardly any individuals, white or black, successfully obtained a college degree. However, “even without the benefit of a college degree, “whites, and white men especially, had vastly better employment outcomes. At every age, the white men experienced shorter spells of unemployment, were more likely to be working full-time and earned more.”
There’s no doubt privilege is an important concept to discuss. But how should teachers teach or address privilege in the classroom?
Recently, Youth Radio reporter Sierra Fang-Horvath and her high school classmates participated in a survey calculating their privilege, answering questions, “Do bandaids match your skin color?” For Sierra, the answer was no. She was one of the few students of color in her predominantly white class.
“At the end of the quiz, my white classmates had racked up scores suggesting they have three times as much privilege as I do,” Sierra said. “Now, I no longer think of myself as Sierra. I’m brown Sierra.”
The sensitivity (and potential controversy) surrounding topics like race, class and privilege can make them difficult to teach in a classroom setting. Some teachers avoid talking about them altogether. However for students like Sierra, the risk is worth it.
“I think it’s important to acknowledge that privilege exists,” Sierra said. “We don’t have to become defensive, and we don’t have to feel guilty for it, but we do have to know when it’s there.”
Featured Resource AUDIO: Mixed Race Privilege?(Youth Radio/KQED)
Photo: Brett Myers/Youth Radio
As a mixed race teen, Sierra Fang-Horvath knew on some level she was different than her white classmates. But she didn’t realize how different until her class took a quiz about privilege. Once she recognized the kind of privilege she did — and didn’t — have, she started thinking about her identity in a whole new way.
AUDIO: Mixed, Passing For White (KQED/Youth Radio)
As part of KQED’s “So Well Spoken” Series, Youth Radio’s Maya Cueva reflects on her mixed race (but white passing) privilege: “Ever since I can remember, my mom has always searched for things that connect our Jewish and Latino identities. But out in the world, I often face identity policing. Because I pass as white, people ask if I’m actually a person of color or not. So I’m constantly having to prove my Peruvian heritage. Like having to tell my dad’s immigration story soon after I meet people. I call it ‘coming out as mixed.’”
AUDIO: Whispers of Racism (KQED/Youth Radio)
When Youth Radio reporter Isabella Ordaz and her family moved from a diverse but higher-crime neighborhood in Antioch, California to a more affluent, gang-free community in Danville, she felt like they had won “the Mexican immigrant lottery.” But the move also came with a new form of culture shock. As one of the only brown kids in her class, Isabella soon found herself missing the acceptance she had in her old neighborhood.
AUDIO: Feeling Like A Foreigner In Class (KCBS/Youth Radio)
Youth Radio’s Darelle Brown shares his perspective as one of the only black students in his college classes. “We have a lot of international students, but sometimes I feel like the one that’s foreign,” he says. “I’m a real outgoing person with my friends, but at school I’m anti-social. I’m afraid to talk to people because I don’t want to get stereotyped.’”
03/28/2017 - 9:56am Read more
Announcing Transforming Hollywood 8: “The Work of Art in the Age of Algorithmic Culture,” UCLA May 5, 2017.
by Henry Jenkins
The following is a hold the date announcement for the next Transforming Hollywood conference. Some speakers are still being confirmed as we post this. I will add their details as they get resolved.
Transforming Hollywood 8: “The Work of Art in the Age of Algorithmic Culture,” UCLA May 5, 2017.
Co-directors, Denise Mann, UCLA and Henry Jenkins, USC
Overview: Transforming Hollywood 8: “The Work of Art in the Age of Algorithmic Culture,” reframes Walter Benjamin’s oft-quoted essay about technology’s double-edged sword: mechanical reproduction fundamentally alters the original artwork’s unique auratic properties but makes it accessible to the masses. According to Ted Striphas, “…the growing prevalence of recommendation features such as those you find on Amazon.com [signals the] displacement of human judgment into algorithmic form [which] raises all sorts of questions about taste aggregation — questions with which scholars in the humanities …have only begun to grapple.” Streaming on-demand services grant consumers greater choice and democratic access to media content (letting us choose what to watch and when to watch it); however, the terms of this exchange is unfettered access to our consumer impulses via sophisticated surveillance tactics that track our online activities 24-7.
Ted Hope, the newly appointed head of Amazon Studios’ film division, lays out the implicit pact we’ve forged with the major tech platforms: “Amazon Studios’ flood of investment in the movie business is designed to revive a market for independent films….” However, at the same time, he observes wryly: “At Amazon, to quote Jeff Bezos, we make movies to sell shoes. The movies are essentially advertising for the (e-commerce) platform.” Welcome to the future of art (as advertising) in the age of algorithmic culture.
While Netflix has received the lions’ share of press and notoriety for disrupting traditional Hollywood given its $6 billion investment in original content and its global expansion to 190 territories, the “big four” tech platforms—Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon (GAFA)—have infinitely more capital (and data) to spare when it comes to the risky business of growing a media and entertainment industry. Each has its own core business to fall back on: Google has search and advertising; Apple has its hardware-software business; Facebook has social and advertising; and Amazon has its ecommerce business. Media, it turns out, is the ideal lure to keep users inside of their powerful digital ecosystems as long as consumers accept datavaillance as the price of admission.
As Hollywood and Silicon Valley battle for supremacy, the current crisis in media stems from an unmanageable sea of online content made available by competing subscription-based (SVOD) and advertising-supported (AVOD) streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube Red, Vimeo, Seeso, Crackle, CBS Everywhere, HBO Go, CW Seed, Verizon Go90, and so forth. The streaming music services, such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Tidal, have also joined the original content derby, with Apple’s repurposing of James Cordon’s Carpool Karaoke and Tidal’s exclusive streaming of Beyonce’s Lemonade being prime examples. Compounding the surplus of data-driven content churn are the millennial-facing online news formats, such as Vice, Buzzfeed, and Mic; each is disrupting legacy news organizations, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, once revered for their veteran editors who curate the news and seasoned reporters who research all sides of complex issues. The backlash that followed the recent election cycle prompted Wired to report: “There’s a very dark mood in Silicon Valley right now…. Google and Facebook also seem to be feeling a need to grapple with the role they have played. Both have undertaken highly visible initiatives to curb fake news….” While the platforms were able to scale rapidly by giving unfettered access to all forms of third-party-generated content, in their new role as original content producers, the tech founders are starting to reflect on their social responsibility to curate culture.
This year’s conference examines the legacy of Netflix and YouTube as influencers, creator-entrepreneurs, and engineers all contribute to the seemingly endless flood of scripted series and short-form, snackable content that vies for our attention. One question looms large—will flesh and blood experts or data-driven algorithms ultimately control the production, delivery, and reception of our shared cultural knowledge going forward? Welcome to the age of algorithmic culture.
9:00-9:15AM: Introduction: The Work of Art in the Age of Algorithmic Culture.
Welcome by Transforming Hollywood by co-directors Denise Mann (UCLA) and Henry Jenkins (USC).
9:15-10:20 AM: Keynote Presentation by Ted Striphas, “Algorithmic Culture.”
10:30-12:00: Panel One: Playing with Snackable Content in Virtual Marketplaces
moderated by Denise Mann, Professor, School of Theater, Film, Television, UCLA.
Description: Peak TV’s premium quality TV series may be grabbing headlines, but new, addictive forms of “snackable” content have become one of the preferred ways for brands to access millennials and Gen-Z’ers—digital natives whose facility with multitasking across mobile screens means they prefer images, short videos, and emojis over lengthy (con)textual exchanges. Charles Eckert’s essay, “The Carole Lombard in Macy’s Window,” reminds us that Hollywood was always inextricably linked to consumer culture since the first cameraman pointed his camera at actors standing in front of a shop-window in the 1910s; however, it is important to recognize the massive shift underway as the new “social media logic” associated with the 21st century effaces the “mass media logic” that dominated in the 20th century.
The corporate gatekeepers of the tech economy are engineering innovative user experiences (UX) and user interface (UI) features, such as touch, liveness, and VR/AR, to keep us happily engaged on their platforms for extended periods of time. Hence, we are encouraged to click, like, share, and comment on an arsenal of new, addictive, forms of online entertainment, which include: Pokemon Go, Snapchat filters, Amazon Twitch, Facebook Live, Instagram Shop Now Buttons, and Pinterest Pins. Today’s panelists represent key stakeholders whose in-depth understanding of UX/UI design elements is facilitating new forms of algorithmic culture designed to enhance our sense of play inside 24-7 digital ecosystems.
Rob Kramer, Founder/CEO, Purpose Labs
Ted Striphas, Professor, Colorado University
12:15-1:45 PM Panel Two: “Fake News and Struggles Over Circulation”
Moderated by Henry Jenkins, Provost Professor, Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism; School of Cinematic Arts, USC.
Description: Sensationalism is scarcely new in the history of American journalism, and the circulation wars of the early 20th century contributed to the rise of “yellow journalism,” as William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitizer and the other media tycoons of the era fought for the eyeballs of an expanding American readership. Today’s “fake news” also has its roots in new struggles over circulation, though in this case, the circulation of news through social networking sites. The role of “fake news” in the past presidential campaign has been hotly contested, with the current administration accusing CNN and the New York Times as publishers of “fake news,” while others point to the role which Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms played in blurring the line between reliable and questionable media sources.
Fake news thrives because it is often more emotionally targeted than traditional journalism: because it is designed to shock and outrage its readers, because it often conveys what people living in filter bubbles already believe to be true about the world. Fake news is news which has been manufactured to spread like wildfire without regard to its accuracy or its consequences.
What do we know about fake news and the people who produce and consume it? What does it tell us about the place of journalism in the era of algorithmic culture and social media? What efforts are being made by the social media companies to take responsibility over their role in the spread of misinformation? What alternative models for journalism are emerging within the same environment to insure more trusted curatorship over news and information? How are the struggles over what constitutes “fake news” shaping our current political realities?
Mark Andrejevic, Associate Professor of Media Studies, Pomona College
Brooke Borel, a science writer and journalist; contributing editor to Popular Science.
Hannah Cranston, guest host & producer, The Young Turks; host of FoxTV’s Top30TV; host and EP of ThinktankFeed.
Jon Passantino, deputy news director for BuzzFeed News, Los Angeles.
Laura Sydell, Correspondent, Arts Desk, NPR.
Ramesh Srinivasan, Associate Professor, Department of Information Studies and Design/Media Arts.
2:45-4:15 PM: Panel Three: “Music Streaming & The Splinternets: The New, Competing, Cultural Curators”
moderated by Gigi Johnson, Founding Director, The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.
Description: Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and Google Play Music are the current leaders in the subscription-based and advertising supported music streaming derby—having locked down the majority of artists through massive licensing deals with the major music labels. The current crisis facing the streaming tech giants is the glut of choice available to consumers, who are drowning in an endless supply of things to watch, read, or listen to online. As a result, the streaming giants have enlisted “an elite class of veteran music nerds — fewer than 100 working full-time at either Apple, Google, or Spotify — who are responsible for assembling, naming, and updating nearly every commute, dinner party, or TGIF playlist on your phone,” according to Buzzfeed‘s “Inside the Playlist Factory.”
Apple Music started the trend in 2014 when it acquired Beats’ along with co-heads Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre, and Trent Reznor, as their ultimate marketing weapon to challenge Spotify’s lead. Iovine insists that the tech corporations use the human music experts to guide tech engineers, and not vice versa, stating:“fans can smell the difference between a service where much of the product is dictated by algorithms or charts and one that is guided by more knowledgeable but equally passionate versions of themselves.”
This panel focuses on the growing industry of cultural curators who organize playlists “by reading endless music blogs, tracking artists before they have been discovered, and by maintaining contact with artists’ managers, producers, and label representatives.” Needless to say, the economic driver of this on-demand streaming culture is consumer data analytics targeting advertising brands. Feeling lonely after a particularly bad break up? Try listening to Adele while stuffing your emotions with a quart of Ben & Jerry’s and a diet Pepsi.
Rocío Guerrero Colomo, Head of Content Programming/Curation & Editorial, Latin Global, Head of Latin Culture, Shows & Editorial-Content Programming, Spotify
Alex White, Head of Next Big Sound at Pandora
4:30-6:00: Panel Four: Creating Binge-worthy “Streaming Web TV.”
moderated by Neil Landau, author of TV Outside the Box and The Showrunner’s Roadmap.
Description: Most credit Netflix with launching the 21st century “web TV” revolution and with it “peak TV” by introducing the phrase “binge-watching” into the lexicon and by fundamentally altering the way we watch and access television online. Everything changed, according to Thomas Schatz, when Netflix “…barged into the high-stakes original series programming derby in 2013 with House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black.” Never have so many buyers prompted so many creators to step up and pitch original concepts. FX conducted a study and determined that in the years 2009 to 2015, the number of scripted series went from 200 to 400+.
In 2016, Netflix produced 600 hours of scripted TV and in 2017 it said it would spend $6 billion on both scripted and acquired series. The good news is the excitement associated with this ramp up of creative opportunity; the bad news is that in the current world of overabundant online content, consumers are swimming in series they’ll never see once, let alone watch in their entirety. As in previous eras, writers, actors, and showrunners with credits under their belt are in high demand and earning large salaries to attach their names to lesser known creators. At the same time, untried writers, actors, and comedians are staking their futures on self-financed webseries productions using personal funding from part-time jobs, crowdsourcing, and by promoting themselves on social media—all in the hopes of catching the lightning in a bottle success associated with Broad City, Insecure, and High Maintenance. Streaming TV is grabbing lots of attention (and subscribers), but the question remains: “Will the current boom cycle continue indefinitely or has ‘peak TV’ peaked?
Jessie Kahnweiler, creator, The Skinny (Hulu)
Zander Lehmann, creator, Casual (Hulu)
Dawn Prestwich, co-executive producer, Z: The Beginning of Everything (Amazon)
Nicole Yorkin, co-executive producer, Z: The Beginning of Everything (Amazon)
You can register here for the event.
03/27/2017 - 8:49am Read more
by Jenny Bolario
Photo Credit: Brett Myers/Youth Radio
I came out as transgender at 14. And, until very recently, I’ve been terrified of not passing as male.
I believed that being totally stealth and assimilating into masculinity would allow me to lead a normal and happy life. Makeup usually made me feel uncomfortable. But the morning after Donald Trump won the election, I stared at the black war paint around my eyes and I felt strong, defiant and free.
I don’t care if my non-binary identity isn’t “normal” enough for people to easily understand. “Normal” in our society is misogyny and queerphobia; the election just made the more apparent than ever.
This year the Republican Party’s official platform took some of the most anti-LGBT positions in its history. Being stealth kept me safe. But now I want my queerness to be seen, or else discrimination will go unseen. And eyeliner is just the beginning.
03/26/2017 - 8:00am Read more
by Katie Arthur
Boston Civic Media Consortium: Teaching Climate, Inspiring Action
Friday 24th March 2017
Organized by the Boston Civic Media Consortium with Sara Wylie and Sharon Harlan of Northeastern University's Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute (SSEHRI), the event on Teaching Climate, Inspiring Action bought together academics, students, community groups, journalists, artists, members of government, and many more, to discuss how we can partner effectively across the Greater Boston area to mobilise climate action.
David Abel, Environmental Reporter, The Boston Globe
David begins with quotes from emails he has received over the past few weeks in response to stories he has written for the Globe on the environment. Some are from climate denier companies, others from readers. As a journalist contesting such deliberately misleading assertions can be challenging. David argues that as the science of global warming has become more definitive, we now have to ask what constitutes fair balance in the journalism industry.
When faced with mounting evidence that smoking causes cancer, journalists moved away from quoting scientists arguing the opposite and creating false equivalences. Speaking to the EPA, David has heard that the science of climate change is more robust than the science correlating smoking with cancer. As such, journalism needs to move away from making false equivalences with climate change.
As such, David tries to respond to denialism with facts. He recently responded to prominent climate change denier, Robert Lindzen. Where Lindzen argued that the melting ice is just natural variation, David used recent figures that show the depletion of arctic sea ice has peaked in recent years. David also noted that Linzen has received money from fossil fuel companies.
Today David is off to D.C. to screen one of his films. David has begun making films to document the real effects of climate change that are already happening. He shows us the trailer to Sacred Cod, which documents the effects of climate change on the gulf of Maine, which has warmed faster than nearly any other body of water on the planet.
As Environmental Reporter at The Boston Globe, David is constantly writing about climate change. He states that his films also attempt to lay out the facts and invite the audience to make decisions.
Roseann Bongiovanni, Associate Executive Director, Chelsea Collaborative
Roseann begins by telling us about Chelsea, MA, which often gets overlooked when we think about the Greater Boston area. Chelsea has over 40,000 residents within 1.4 sq miles due to city zoning limits. Roseann explains the aerial photo she is displaying shows lots of grey infrastructure, surrounded by water on three sides. 100% of Logan Airport’s jet-fuel is stored in Chelsea with road salt for 350 towns stored on the banks of the creek. 24% of Chelsea’s population lives under poverty level and 72% identify as an ethnic minority.
The most densely populated, most ethnically diverse neighbourhoods are surrounded by industry due to the entirety of Chelsea being designated as a port area, which means industry has city planning permissions to property along the waterfront. Chelsea experiences high rates of cancer and cardiovascular conditions. Not only are there issues with industry but predictions of flooding in 2070 show much of the city submerged underwater, rendering much of the population homeless.
Roseann works with Green Roots Chelsea, ensuring that the residents of Chelsea, including those who are the hardest to reach, are heard. The group speaks on a neighbourhood level to strive for environmental justice. Green Roots Chelsea works with businesses to ensure industry is working for climate protections in the interest of the residents, as well as taking action to sue companies like Exxon who are denying climate change. Environmental Chelsea Organisers is a youth led organisation that works on environmental justice.
Roseann finished by inviting us to the clean-up run by ECO on Earth Day, April 22nd. She provided the groups website, greenrootschelsea.org, and said that if people want to take action right now they should donate, because money is not coming from the federal government any more and that impact is real.
James DeCunzo, Organizer, All Campus Divestment Collaborative
James introduces himself as a member of DivestNU. James tells us that the divestment campaign at Northeastern begun in 2014, when 75% of the student body voted in favour of divestment. A recent Social Impact Council Report released by the DivestNU group in Spring 2016 recommended full divestment, however Northeastern did not divest and created a sustainability fund, which although a success for the group is still a half-measure on the road to divestment.
James explains that the creation of a Faculty Working group saw a power dynamic shift within DivestNU and helped the group accumulate important gains in staff support by overriding different concerns including those surrounding nontenured positions.
The All Campus Divestment Collaboration (ACDC) was an effort to share resources and show solidarity across the Greater Boston area. One of the key tools was a shared calendar along with other tools which enabled the different divestment groups to expand their network.
James recalls some of the challenges DivestNU have faced. The issue of reliable communication with professors as well as within the group is central, as well as redundancy issues across different groups trying to share work and find new strategies.
To conclude James points to some of the actions the ACDC has taken including teach-ins, direct support of campaigns, and reaching out to work with community organisations. He mentions that Professor Jennie Stephen’s teamed with ACDC to increase collaborative skill-sharing and transfer experience from older members to newer students. Following this, James leaves us with the question of how we can affect change by promoting allyship and skill-sharing.
Paula Garcia, Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists
Paula explains that the Union of Concerned Scientists was formed in 1969 by scientists and students from MIT. The groups focuses on a range of issues including nuclear weapons and power; climate and energy; and science and democracy.
Paula says that one of the solutions to climate change we have is reducing emissions and as the US is one of the countries that pollutes most in the world it has a particularly important role in this. Renewable energy is a viable alternative for the US and the Union of Concerned Scientists helps create models to inform policy decision-making in this area.
For Massachusetts, the Union found that the state could produce electricity in a sustainable way without building any more pipelines. Instead, deploying offshore wind energy could decrease bills and reduce emissions, as well as the state's reliance on natural gas. After a recent intervention the group helped achieve a state commitment to renewable energy.
Paula invites the audience to join the Union of Concerned Scientists, saying the group provides training and development opportunities. She also invites everyone to join the Union for the People’s Climate March in D.C. April 29th, urging people to RSVP at: wwww.ucsusa.org/pcm
Jane Marsching, Artist, Professor and Sustainability Fellow at Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Jane talks about embedding sustainability in art and design practices in higher education institutions, from class curriculums, to student clubs, to the financial structuring of educational institutions. Jane talks about the incubation package she has been working on at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Some of the big aims of the project included:
-Creating interdisciplinary opportunities for a school where departments are often defined by mediums
-Identifying deep themes to introduce sustainability as “everything”
-Unpacking the college’s aims to make practitioners “citizens”
The incubation program begun with the UN definition of sustainable practice as “that which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” However a year into the incubator program the group decided that the UN definition of sustainability was not working for what they were trying to achieve. Jane tells us that The Sustainable MassArt Initiative defines “MassArt as an ecosystem in which everything we do is part of an interconnected web of economic, environmental, and human resources. The Sustainable MassArt Initiative works to define, develop, support, and communicate visionary work in the field of sustainable art and design by students, faculty, and staff. The primary goal of the Sustainable MassArt Initiative is to foster and support sustainable curriculum throughout the college.”
Jane tells us that she strove to make the classroom or laboratory the teacher with DIY products, tea stations, and other aspects which morphed over the course of the semester to allow anyone who entered the room to reorient themselves. She poses the question of how to create a strategy of knowledge and focus when many are uninterested to the group, and cites one-off classes by professors on an aspect of sustainability in their subject which were free and open to the public as a way to engage a broader range of people beyond the student body.
This year Jane tells us that the program is focusing on not creating a top-down series of events. Instead they have asked faculty to design from the ground up. She reminds us how important and necessary this type of work is when so much is judged on profits and quantitative metrics these days.To end, Jane urges us to work together to create systemic discontinuity with business as usual across all institutions of higher education.
Dr. Atiya Martin, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Boston
Atiya introduces us to Boston’s Resilience Strategy, providing a brief overview of the cities approach to resilience and the links between racial equity and social justice.
The Resilient City project was funded by the 100 Resilient Cities scheme by the Rockefeller Foundation. The project defines resilience as the ability of cities and individuals within cities to survive, adapt, and grow after emergencies. Atiya explains that anything from high unemployment to environmental justice issues can be considered emergencies, and that it includes racism as well as acute shocks like terrorism and natural disasters. The concept of resilience has helped the emergency management world to re-assess the impacts of issues like climate change within the different problems localities face every day.
Atiya tells us that the Mayor’s Office of Resilience had over 100 folks from different sectors attend two events to help us frame resilience in the City of Boston. The events asks what the vision for resilience in Boston is, what goals we need to achieve to get there, and what initiatives will help that happen. The two collaborative sessions created a Boston’s Blueprint for Resilience Strategy which includes the group's focus on racial equity. Overview of vision areas includes: Reflective city, stronger people; collaborative, proactive governance; equitable economic development; and connected adaptive city.
Atiya says that we should conceive of the event or experience as the tip of the iceberg, whilst beneath there are patterns of behaviour and thought that derive from the historical and social context we are in which themselves are part of ingrained cultural and institutional values. Atiya reminds us we all embody these values, sometimes in ways that we cannot recognise any more.
To prove this Atiya concludes with a demonstration of unconscious bias, having us read the colour of the word on the screen. Our unconscious brain wanted to read the word instead of looking at the colour of the word. Atiya says that we all have blind spots and we need to address them by expanding our networks, learning social and historical context, creating space in our personal and professional lives, and taking responsibility within our practices and policies.
Q&A with Dr. Atiya Martin, Jane Marsching, Paula Garcia, James DeCunzo, Roseann Bongiovanni.
Q: Can we work with fossil fuel companies from the inside?
JDC: Looking at the history of companies where that has happened I would say no. EXXON mobil has had shareholders and legal fights pushing for its transition to renewable energy from the inside. How can you work through those institutions when they are so resistant? As opposed to trying to work with these unjust companies we should depower them, and try to limit the power they hold in our institutions.
Q: Boston has the most poorly grounded racial justice lens of any group in the 100 Resilient Cities?
AM: All the Chief Resilience Officers meet, and each equity issue is different across cities. Initiatives tended to fall short of addressing the equity statement identified at the beginning. We are in close contact with Melbourne, who also have a large immigrant population and are seeing rising discrimination, particularly against muslims. We aim to share what we’re learning and what it means for government to address inequity.
Q: What are the primary obstacles for building a broader climate justice movement, and what are the important lessons we can build on?
AM: Climate justice has been predominantly white, where people of colour have been in the grassroots but separated from these movements. We can join the intersections around race by asking who disproportionately gets the burden of climate justice issues?
Communities Labour United joined communities and unions to develop a report on climate justice and how we can work together. It is important to ask how to connect the grassroots to broader movements, bringing climate justice into social justice beyond our comfort zones.
PG: Solar equity is a big movement across states like California and New York, where the benefits of solar reach lower income communities. It is important to invite lower-income communities to the table where these decisions are being made.
Q: How do we do better at reaching people who are not currently “in the choir”?
RB: We need to bring them into the choir - these people benefit from the exploitation of others and people need to be made aware of their benefits being a burden on other people. Racism is still a prominent issue, where people believe it is out of sight and out of mind, but we need to readdress the distribution of benefits and burdens.
AM: We need to focus on the larger group through “like me” mentality.
JM: It is important to have the opportunity to re-create our formulaic responses to an issue like climate change.
Brookline Interactive are organising a 3 day hackathon. For more information visit: http://vrecohack.com/ Groups are welcomed to submit events to http://bit.ly/EWB2017-event or contact email@example.com to join a coalition of groups in Greater Boston for Earth Day 2017.ACDC highlight events for divestment at Harvard and Tufts over the coming weeks.Physicians for Social Responsibility offer their partnership to interested parties.Quincy Climate Action Network share their South Shore Science Festival event on Earth Day.And Emerson’s Engagement Lab advise applications to their MA in Civic Media: Art and Practice are still open.
Moderated Small Group Discussions:
How do we teach climate change through action? and How do we take action on climate change through teaching?
Small break-out groups discussed the two questions above thinking of creative responses and case-studies that illuminate potential outcomes.
Group 1: It is important to finding scaleable projects and embed students within the community
Group 2: The group came up with several ideas to teach climate and take action through action. Use local library as resource to showcase climate change media; visit state or federal legislature to teach students how to lobby; map knowledge of what people do and don’t know about climate change, and be able to sum up basic climate change science in an accessible way; have ways for people to get involved in smaller ways; document history of work within movements; link student organisations to staff or national organisations
Group 3: This group discussed that it is important to not adding to people’s workloads, and promoted the idea of dovetailing rather than adding, i.e. partnering with urban farming groups where there is common interest. Useful examples for teaching climate include heatmapping local areas and using comic book to share information. The group recommended Public Lab for tools for teachers to download
Group 4: The group asked the question “where does teaching happen?” The focus of the group was on tone, as they said it was important with an issue like climate change to open opportunities for discourses of hope and imagination. The group noted that values matter and we should find the spaces of common values are and teach towards those. Network building (Climate College, BCM) and finding points of commonality and common language are especially important, particularly building them locally
Group 5: The group looked at moving the learning experiences outside the classroom, from collaborative class projects to teachers from different departments providing expertise within a class for a richer learning experience. Getting students out of school to do work in the world was seen as a good way to drive engagement, including using initiatives like The Beautiful Stuff Project and other recycling centers that have free materials for students to work with
Group 6: Meeting people where they’re at and understanding that people have different experiences of the environment and what climate change means to them was the key takeaway from Group 6. Enabling community partners with mutually beneficial research was central to teaching action and learning from action. The group pointed to ISeeChange.org and other uses of data which increases community investment and the quality of academic data. The group's closing through was that outside of the classroom we are all experts and we are all students.
climate change; action; activism; teaching; pedagogy; global warming; journalism; art; government; Boston; youth; environmental justice; racial equity'Civic media
03/24/2017 - 5:30pm Read more
by Howard Gardner
“What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known?”
This was the question asked of a number of experts by Edge.org, a website published and edited by author John Brockman, at the start of 2017.
Howard Gardner answered that historiometrics, the field of study that explores human progress and the differences in individual and societal characteristics, should be more widely known. He gives an overview of the history of this realm and questions, “Has the moment for historiometry finally arrived?”
Click here to read Gardner’s response and those of the other contributors.
03/23/2017 - 1:36pm Read more
by Amber Ly
March is Women’s History Month, and we’re looking at women’s rights and reproductive healthcare. Abortion continues to be one of the most highly debated issues of our time. President Trump’s administration has stated it hopes to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that made abortion legal across the country. On the Texas/Mexico border, in the Rio Grande Valley, there is only one abortion clinic in the entire 1800 square mile region.
In this week’s podcast, Maya Cueva travels to McAllen, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, to learn about what this clinic means for the community and activists on both sides of the abortion debate.
03/22/2017 - 1:12pm Read more
by Henry Jenkins
You and your interview subjects have a lot to say about genre across the book. Is genre still important as a means of marketing specific programs and targeting specific audiences? Are new genre categories emerging in this era of experimentation and differentiation? What genres do you see as most characteristic of the current television environment?
Marketing executives like to classify and categorize shows in order to package and sell them. It’s often an easy “pass” (rejection) when a series doesn’t fit into one genre. The network execs usually say: It’s too all over the place.
But now we have some phenomenal half hour dramedies that defy classification — and that happens to excite me: Atlanta, Baskets, Better Things, Louie, Insecure, Orange Is the New Black, Casual, Derek, Master of None, Transparent, Fleabag, Better Call Saul. Even M*A*S*H blurred the line between comedy and tragedy, but was always known as a comedy series (with accompanying laugh track).
Are they comedies or dramas? I say: who cares. Just watch and have your mind blown. They don’t always go for the joke. They push their characters to the edge. They make us cringe and/or recoil. But I, for one, can’t look away.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt broke the traditional sitcom mold, in my humble opinion; it’s created a new genre unto itself. Ditto: Baskets. Ditto: Atlanta which features, in random measure, dark and light, funny and serious, and magical realism. It’s winning accolades and praise and deserves them all.
I don’t watch TV to see the same old, same old. I want to be surprised! I don’t want to fall asleep to my TV. I want it to wake me up.
We’re also seeing more historical series (from long ago to the more recent past) and science-fiction series that defy our expectations: The Crown, The People vs. OJ, Stranger Things, Westworld. Game of Thrones is such a game changer because it demands viewer engagement in a multi verse, and viewers of all ages are addicted to its story lines and cast of thousands.
There’s an interactive component to these out of the box genre-bending or genre-transcending series; we don;t just watch them, we discuss them. They’re in the zeitgeist. They’re part of the national and global conversation. It used to be that I’d ride the subway and everyone was reading a book or newspaper; now everyone is watching TV content on their smart phones, headphones on, fragmented attention spans processing.
Multitasking has become like breathing. We can consume content faster than ever and store that data for our social interactions; maybe it’s because we’ve freed up our memory by not needing to memorize so many facts and figures anymore; it’s all stored on our iPhones and available in a matter of seconds via google. We’re distracted, addicted, restless, and need constant stimulation or else we’re bored.
Familiar genres tend to increase boredom, but familiar genres with a fresh spin can engage us in new and exciting ways. True Detective (season one) was a tried and true detective series (the most prevalent genre), but it was an existential detective series. Bloodline (on Netflix) isn’t just a family ensemble drama/soap opera; it’s a new genre: family noir. Mr. Robot provides us with an unreliable narrator and revels in destabilizing its viewers; the show dares us to guess what’s going to happen next. The Leftovers (on HBO) is also it’s own genre: the rapture drama, inviting us into a world that defies explanation. The season two opener offers a teaser that’s astonishing and rapturous. Damon Lindelof knows what he’s doing, even though it’s not a show for everyone.
Alongside genre there is the question of format. At places, you and your subjects suggest that the procedural will die out with the generation which grew up on the broadcast networks. Why has serial television become so central to the new media economy and ecology you are documenting here? And what do we make of the return of anthology series, such as Black Mirror, or of series with short story arcs, such as American Crime Story and American Horror Story?
I covered this one above, too. I should have read all the questions in advance, but I enjoy the spontaneity. Sorry! Suffice it to say, that audience engagement is stoked by the audience’s relationship with the characters. If it’s a limited series, that relationship needs to grip us right out of the gate (such as with the exceptionally engaging The Night of on HBO).
Longer serialized shows translate to long term relationships, involving shifting allegiances, and often a love-hate dynamic. Sometimes we root for Frank Underwood, sometimes we root for Claire.
The same applies to unscripted documentary series. Making a Murderer was a limited series but I kept changing my mind as to Steven Avery’s guilt. Ditto: The Jinx. And this also applies to scripted series like The Night Of. Give me a complicated mystery that’s smart and airtight and I’ll follow you anywhere.
The Affair on Showtime destabilizes us with multiple perspectives of the same event, Rashomon style. Sure, it’s a narrative trick, a device, but it works beautifully and pulls you in. UnREAL also provokes and destabilizes. It’s pitch black comedy and satire and soap opera and reality TV all rolled into one. Black Mirror (which I refer to in my book as “The Twilight Zone on digital crack”) is just so damn disturbing because it’s not wholly science-fiction; it’s already happening, or will possibly happen soon. It’s both prescient and portentous. I can’t get enough.
Yes, it’s problematic that we have to wait so long for new episodes of some of our favorite series. Between seasons of ambitious, expensive shows like Game of Thrones, Westworld, and House of Cards can take more than a year. Due to Donald Glover’s busy acting schedule (hello: Star Wars), we won’t be getting new episodes of Atlanta until 2018; it’s a disruptive show that’s being disrupted.
One of the bigger surprises in recent years has been a resurgence of radio formats and genres through podcasts. Can we see the success of Serial and its successors as a byproduct of the same sea changes in production, distribution, and consumption you discuss here primarily in terms of television?
I can certainly foresee a TV version of Serial and other podcasts. These radio programs are now valuable IP with built in audiences, and they’re also based on the irresistible allure of a great central mystery with twists and turns. They’re both interactive (whodunit?) and voyeuristic, like the best of so-called “unscripted” TV. It takes us inside the world of the crime and behind the scenes of the painstaking investigation. BUT ALL WITH A SLOW BURN.
Broadcast network procedurals tend to offer crime and punishment in one closed-ended episode, fast resolution, easy justice. These serialized podcasts engage us and keep us on the edge of our seats but don’t offer black and white resolution. The investigation usually just leads to more questions. Justice is elusive. These podcasts and true crime stories are grounded in realism, and hook us in based upon the vicarious thrill of both being there and re-experiencing the crime, or even by putting us in the position as viewers/listeners and thinking: What if this happened to me?
Critics describe these breakthrough programs as possessing distinctive voices or perspectives, a shift that we can see as closely associated with the rise of the Showrunner as a kind of television auteur. Many of the folks you interview are showrunners, so what insights might we get from reading the book about the emergence of author-based television production?
Great showrunners have all the power in the TV business — whether they originally created the show or have been brought in to run the operation. Their sensibilities, leadership skills, and vision have brought them hard-earned reputations that they can and will deliver a high quality TV show on time and within a prescribed budget. A fresh, original idea is good. Being able to execute that idea in an exciting, authentic, visionary, accessible way is invaluable.
And several of our more famous show runners choose to run several shows at the same time: Chuck Lorre, Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes, Greg Berlanti. I don’t know what drives them, but running one show is arduous and requires incredible stamina. Delegation is key.
But these show runners have stories to tell and characters to birth. They are their own brands. We trust them to deliver on the promise of the premise. I asked Norman Lear how he’d managed to run multiple shows. How did he handle all the stress? He wisely replied: “Yes, it was incredibly stressful. But there’s such a thing as good stress.” Those were the days….
Several of the new players you discuss in this book are moving away from the pilot process that shaped old television production. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Why?
I’ve covered the wisdom behind this above. Ted Sarandos has condemned what he calls the idiotic, fiscally irresponsible, wasteful, inefficient pilot process. I tend to agree with Ted (hey, you can’t argue with success). One hour drama pilots can cost upwards of $5 million — and never air. That’s unsustainable and nutty.
But there is value in looking before you leap. But in today’s on-demand, binge-viewing TV landscape, the demand for fresh new content exceeds the supply. If you’re a TV network or platform, better to be first with a new series than a day late and a dollar short. In other words, everything is moving much too fast to calculate catching lightning in a bottle.
There is no magic formula to a hit series, no matter how much a network retools an ostensibly “broken pilot.” Mr. Robot got on the air because the assistants at USA Network and NBCU rallied for it; at first, their bosses just didn’t get it. But the inner-office fandom was overwhelming. Most groundbreaking shows had and have a rough road making it on the air. But shows from All in the Family and Breaking Bad to Black Mirror and Atlanta beat the odds and entered the zeitgeist. The rest is history.
Neil Landau (’85), teaches in the M.F.A. screenwriting and producing programs and serves as the associate director of screenwriting for television at UCLA TFT.
His writing credits include the 1991 teen comedy feature Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, starring Christina Applegate; the Pax TV series Twice in a Lifetime; MTV’s Undressed; CBS’ The Magnificent Seven; Fox’s Melrose Place; Nickelodeon’s The Secret World of Alex Mack; ABC’s Doogie Howser, M.D.; and one-hour drama pilots for CBS, ABC, Warner Bros., Disney, Lifetime and Freemantle.
Landau’s 2012 3D animated feature Tad: The Lost Explorer (Las aventuras de Tadeo Jones) earned him a Spanish Academy Goya Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. He is currently working on its sequel, as well as the screenplay for Paramount’s upcoming 3D animated feature Capture the Flag. He is also working on a new animated film, Sheep & Wolves, for Wizart Animation (The Snow Queen), slated for a 2016 release.
In 2013, Landau’s original screenplay, Flinch, was optioned by Avenue Pictures’ multi-award-winning producer Cary Brokaw (Closer, The Player, Angels in America, Shortcuts, Drugstore Cowboy).
From 2004-2007, Landau worked as a script consultant for Sony Pictures Television International (2004-2007). In 2010, he consulted on the Goya-award-winning Lope (for Warner Bros. and El Toro Pictures, Spain) and Bruc (El Toro/Universal Pictures). He has also worked extensively with screenwriter/director David Koepp (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Angels & Demons.)
Landau is the author of the bestselling book 101 Things I Learned in Film School (Grand Central Publishing, 2010). Focal Press has published his new books, The Screenwriter’s Roadmap (2012) and The TV Showrunner’s Roadmap (2014).
03/22/2017 - 10:05am Read more
by Youth Radio Raw
This story is a part of Lit Mag: The Untold Issue.
Some teens tell their parents everything. Maybe they don’t care about their parent’s reaction. Somedon’t tell their parents things because they may feel that they are too old to run to their parents, or they just simply don’t care. I don’t tell my mom things because of her temper and her overreactions to things. Whatever the case may be, these stories go untold.
In the studio with me, I have Aayala, Ben, and Dakota who shared with me who shared with me some personal experiences they may or may not have told their parents. We definitely shared the experience of stealing and hiding that from our parents as kids. What parent wouldn’t be upset about that? But as some of us have gotten older, relationships changed.
Tavonne Larkin is 18 years old and goes to San Lorenzo High. She is a Core Journalism Peer teacher at Youth Radio. Tavonne really loves writing on her free time and she has the skill for it. She writes poetry about life and its struggling and she enjoys it. Tavonne graduates from high school this year and will be attending San Francisco State University in the fall to become a teacher.
03/21/2017 - 3:47pm Read more
by Youth Radio Raw
This visual piece is a part of Lit Mag: The Untold Issue.
Austin Lai is a freshmen currently attending Oakland Technical High School in Oakland, California. He have lived in Oakland all his life and has found a passion for biking in the Redwoods parks back in the hills. He has found a love for nature and hopes that everyone can enjoy it like he has and hopes that it can be shared with everyone. He has also found a place for himself at Youth Radio. He participates in Bridge and is part of the Multimedia track. You can usually find him doing something on Photoshop which he learned at Youth Radio.
03/21/2017 - 11:40am Read more
by Youth Radio Raw
This visual piece is a part of Lit Mag: The Untold Issue.
Taijon Spain is an 10th grader at Kipp King Collegiate High School in San Lorenzo. He enjoys playing video games and hanging out with friends. Taijon found his love for photography when he first came to Youth Radio. When he first got the camera in his hands he took pictures of everything. Then in his multimedia class they showed him how to properly take photos and he started to take more professional photos. Taijon loves taking pictures of his friends and family members. He says “When he takes pictures he wants the viewers to feel like they are there.”
03/21/2017 - 11:39am Read more