June 18, 2011

A beautiful story for all of us

I could not believe my eyes when a recent online Psychology Today blog post made claims about beauty and Black women.  As I moved through the article, the charts and read on, skewed “data” to malign in the name of science and research was clear.  I could not bear the sight of this without reaching out to a few friends and colleagues.  We agreed that this was egregious and something had to me done.  A few hours after the actual blog post there was so much internet traffic the article web page was shut down due to technical difficulties, then it was removed completely. Outrage and responses continued on other blogs, FB and Twitter. 

The story grew beyond the article into a pursuit of justice as young black women scholars organized with thecolorofchange.org petition to challenge the racist and sexist assertions regarding Black women. Over 100,000 people responded from across around the globe. The result: Professor Satoshi Kanazawa of The London School of Economics is no longer a contributing blogger for Psychology Today! Furthermore, the publication is revising their editorial process for reviewing blog posts.  The Color of Change group also urges editors "to take more proactive and transparent steps in exploring the role of racism and sexism in scientific research and analysis."  

Dr. Thema Bryant, psychologist, professor and President of the Society for the Psychology of Women states, “the media and television in particular has the ability to promote stereotypes or shatter them.  Negative stereotypes are often used to justify discrimination.  Stereotypes of African American women are rooted in the intersection of racial and gender oppression." 

Notes to consider
  • The leadership of a few can galvanize the support of many others who see injustice
  • Web 2.0 and social media empower “the people formerly known as the audience” to read and respond 
  • Moves against wrong can be swift because of the work already done and the progress made, this effort has been just a few weeks in the making
  • Research and data offer powerful tools for storytelling
Together, we can make a difference.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."   Martin Luther King, Jr.

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