Prejudice

All posts tagged Prejudice

Sad and Glad – Reblog

Published July 19, 2021 by Nan Mykel

A heartwarmer by dianeravitch from the Washington Post

dianeravitchThe Teen Who Inspired Zaila Avant-Garde to Win the National Spelling Bee

The Washington Post wrote about the teen who inspired Zaila Avant-Garde, the first African American to win the national spelling bee. A 13-year-old girl from Akron, MacNolia Cox, was among the first Black Americans to make it to the national spelling bee, 85 years ago. Her story says a lot about her determination, but also about the racism and segregation that she had to endure when she went to the championship bee in Washington, D.C. (Zaila is not only a spelling champion; she holds three Guinness World Records for her basketball skills. Watch the video. She’s amazing.) I had never heard of MacNolia Cox, but Zaila had, and she knew anything was possible.

About 3,000 people jammed into Union Station in Akron, Ohio, on the evening of Sunday, May 24, 1936. A military band played. A young man led some of the crowd in cheers; others burst into song. They were all awaiting the arrival of an unlikely hero: a tall and slender 13-year-old Black girl named MacNolia Cox. The shy eighth grader was Akron’s spelling bee champion.

A month earlier, MacNolia had stood on the stage at the city’s armory with 50 other children — the top scorers on a written spelling test. After 24 rounds, there were two spellers remaining. After 37 rounds, there were still two. Finally, MacNolia emerged victorious. With the proper spelling of “sciatica” and “voluble,” MacNolia became one of the first two Black children to qualify for the National Spelling Bee, held annually in the nation’s capital. The other was 15-year-old Elizabeth Kenney of New Jersey, who was also bound for Washington.

John S. Knight, the publisher of the Akron Beacon Journal, which sponsored the regional competition, fretted over MacNolia’s win.
“Washington is a segregated city,” he told Mabel Norris, the 21-year-old White reporter assigned to accompany MacNolia, her mother Ladybird and MacNolia’s White teacher, Cordelia Greve, to the competition. “You will have all kinds of difficulties,” he said.

But MacNolia wasn’t thinking about any of that when she boarded the Capitol Limited with a new suitcase filled with new clothes, all gifts from the city’s Black community to a family that could not afford such indulgences. For 30 days, while she diligently studied, MacNolia had been celebrated by Black communities across the country, by churches, social clubs, academics and politicians, even by vaudeville celebrities. Band maestro “Fats” Waller and tap dancer Bill Robinson brought her onstage at the RKO Palace in Cleveland. Her name was mentioned in the same breath as Marian Anderson and Jesse Owens — and now, this send off.

“This is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,” MacNolia declared with a wide grin.

“Bring back the championship,” hollered one person in the crowd.
“I’m going to try,” MacNolia promised as she settled in for her first train ride.

Hours later, near the Maryland border, MacNolia and her mother were ushered from their berths into the Jim Crow car.

The stories Mabel Norris wrote for the Akron Beacon Journal from Washington in May 1936 describe a fairy tale. Young MacNolia was whisked around the capital, seeing all the sights and even meeting President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Beacon Journal did not seem to think its readers wanted to hear the rest of the story.

Norris did not mention the segregated train cars, and she described MacNolia’s accommodations in the city as “one of the finest tributes to the Akron district champion.” MacNolia and her mother were staying in great comfort, as the guests of a prominent Black surgeon, T. Edward Jones, who lived near U Street, the city’s “Black Broadway.” But they were doing so only because they were not welcome at the Willard Hotel where the other White competitors stayed. MacNolia could not understand why, and her mother was at a loss to explain.

On the night before the competition, the 17 finalists were invited to a banquet at the Hamilton Hotel. Mabel Norris waited by the elevator for the pair to arrive, until she felt a tap on her shoulder. The spelling bee champion, in a white frock, stood behind her. Mother and daughter had not been allowed to use the front entrance to the hotel. Instead, they were directed through the kitchen and up the backstairs. In the banquet room, a two-seat table had been set apart from the head table where the White children sat.

But MacNolia seemed undaunted as she crossed the stage at the National Museum auditorium in her blue organdy dress and blue socks just before 10 a.m. on the morning of May 26, 1936. “As cool as a cucumber,” Norris wrote. “The least excited and nervous of the group.” Spelling, certainly, was the same no matter if you were Black or White…

There were 10 spellers left when the competition began airing live on the radio over the Columbia Broadcast System; Elizabeth Kenney had been the 11th. “P-R-O-M-E-N-A-D-E,” MacNolia spelled.
There were just five left when MacNolia got the word “Nemesis.” “Oh, no!” Cornelia Greve exclaimed. She flipped through MacNolia’s dictionary, filled with red check marks for the words the girl had studied, but there was no mark next to “Nemesis.” She had believed proper nouns would be excluded from the word list.

MacNolia looked up at the ceiling again and started to spell “N-E-M- … ” she began.

Mable Norris jumped up in protest as MacNolia finished the word, spelling it incorrectly. Norris, too, believed the word violated the contest rules. “No capitalized words shall be given,” she reminded the judges. Nemesis is a Greek goddess who exacts retribution against those who show hubris.

After a long, heated argument, the judges huddled to consider Norris’s objection. Norris walked over to the CBS announcer and made her case on the air: It was discrimination, she told the national audience. The judges were uncomfortable with the idea of a Black winner, she said, a charge the judges would deny.

MacNolia’s retelling of the next moment, published in “Whatever Happened to MacNolia Cox?,” a biography written by her niece Georgia Lee Gay, is unemotional: “It was supposed to be spelled with a capital letter and was not part of the official list, so the judges ruled me out of the contest.” MacNolia did not shed a tear when she was eliminated, but Norris remembered crying for her.

A Black girl’s triumph

MacNolia Cox returned to Akron to a welcome as grand as her send-off. She was feted with armfuls of roses and chauffeured in a car parade in her honor. The procession ended at her school, where MacNolia was introduced to hundreds of cheering classmates. The city’s former mayor wrote a poem that underlined her achievements: “A child whose forebears sold for gold / On slavery’s auction blocks / Has brought renown to our old town. / All hail, MacNolia Cox.”

But the attention soon faded. Gay wrote that the opportunities and college scholarships that were promised in the months after the bee never materialized and MacNolia was left scarred by the prejudice she experienced. “In some ways, she felt she would have been better off to have never won the Beacon Journal bee,” she wrote.

MacNolia Cox — then MacNolia Montiere — died in 1976 at the age of 53. Her obituary mentioned the Beacon Journal bee, but her story has now faded for most but her family — and one 14-year-old Black girl from Louisiana.

As she stood on the National Bee Stage on Thursday night, Zaila Avant-garde told reporters, she thought of MacNolia and what she had endured 85 years earlier. Then Avant-garde looked down and calmly spelled the winning word — M-U-R-R-A-Y-A — becoming the first African American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

I’VE NEVER – a reblog

Published March 30, 2021 by Nan Mykel

I’ve Never

I have never encountered racial and ethnic insensitivity in my graduate program. . .

. . . except when a professor talked about how Asian students are not fit for philosophy.
. . . except when students have asked me (more than once) to please tell them where I am from, because they “just cannot figure it out.”
. . . except when a student joked in the middle of class about me not having immigration papers.
. . . except when I had faculty member in a private meeting bluntly say that if I want to get a job I needed to specialize in Latin American philosophy. I do nothing of the sort. I work within M&E.

I love philosophy, but sometimes these little things are really, really annoying.PHILSTRUGGLEASIAN AMERICANGRAD SCHOOLLATINA/O AMERICAN

Sorry- Having great difficulty traversing the two editors. The above originally appeared in the 2015 beingaphilosopherofcolor@wordpress,com

I want to ask a question: While eating at a church free luncheon on a university campus I found myself sharing a table with two black men who were presumably students. I did not want to insult them but I was curious what country they were from. Now, that could have been taken as rude and prejudiced, whereas I just hoped for a little friendly dialogue. They told the country and we ended up by them proudly showing a smart phone photo collection of their family back home. What should I say or not have said to start the conversation?

No Re-Blog

Published March 21, 2021 by Nan Mykel

Sorry, I referred a friend to this spot for a reblog of Jerry Coyne’s post about Amanda Gorman’s poetic work but there wasn’t a reblog button, only a confusing warning about copyright, so you’ll have to find it yourself. It seems there’s some prejudice against non-black translators of her work.

RACISM part three – polygamy, anyone?

Published March 21, 2021 by Nan Mykel

I don’t know what to make of this,  so I’d like to hear from you.  I know the topic is not literally about racism, but it could be about prejudice.  How do prejudice and discrimination interface?  I’m referring to the topic introduced in the newyorker.com, “How polyamorous and polygamists Are Challenging Family Norms.”

Whew!  If it’s not one thing it’s another.  I know I have a teeny bit of prejudice against exclusive hedonists and criminals and prejudiced people,,  but the idea of welcoming multi-wife enclaves into our neighborhoods makes me almost blow my cool.  Why?  And would that make my feelings into prejudice, if it isn’t already?  Is my tensed  stomach at the idea a sign of prejudice?

True I can support gays and transgenders and almost drag queens  and maybe careful and strong self-disciplined drug users,  and am not too judgmental about the polyamorous, but something about polygamy feels like it’s stirring my prejudice.  —I guess that means I…what?  I don’t know what.  There is a difference between what could be changed and what cannot.  I understand that sexual gender and orientation cannot basically be changed (after the change).  Race cannot normally be changed (although I want to read that novel where two twins of color decide differently–one to pass, the other not.)

Although they (we) would protest, political partisans could theoretically change, as possibly misogynists could.   Is it still prejudice even if one can choose the category?.  If I turned away a neighbor polygamous wife who asks for a cup of flour at my door, I guess that would be prejudice.  But if I turned away a similar request from a wife and child beater, then what?  And does it make any difference what I call my attitude and behavior towards different groups of different folks?

Fear’s ghost wanders through some of these topics.  I know my deeply held longing for one on one bonding with another is threatened by the idea of polygamy,  as unconscious fear underlies my feelings toward black men.  But I don’t encounter many if any situations where prejudice is elicited.  I vote right and act right, even if my fears are not completely eradicated.

 

 

NYT Editorial: Puerto Rica’s Second-Class Treatment on Food Aid

Published November 11, 2017 by Nan Mykel

Making yet another neighboring enemy.

Repeating Islands

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An editorial from the New York Times.

Of all Puerto Rico’s continuing miseries seven weeks after Hurricane Maria’s devastation, the most blatantly unjust is that islanders have been denied the more generous and swifter food relief distributed to storm victims this year in Texas and Florida under the emergency food stamp program.

Yes, both the island and mainland victims are United States citizens. But not all citizens are created equal: A 35-year-old congressional budget cap on Puerto Rico’s food stamp program has limited the amount of disaster aid immediately available. Texas and Florida have no such federal restraints and were able to quickly increase food stamp help in the face of the hurricane damage last summer.

It is hard to argue with Puerto Rican officials pointing to the disparity as painful evidence of a colonial second-class status suffered by citizens of this American territory, citizens who lack political clout…

View original post 475 more words

Wow, I didn’t know this

Published November 10, 2017 by Nan Mykel

From Daily Kos 11/10/17:   A second-degree intimidation based on bigotry or bias, is a class D felony that carries a potential sentence of 1 to 5 years in prison. The intimidation law states:

A person is guilty of intimidation based on bigotry or bias in the second degree when such person maliciously, and with specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of the actual or perceived race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression of such other person, does any of the following: (1) Causes physical contact with such other person, (2) damages, destroys or defaces any real or personal property of such other person, or (3) threatens, by word or act, to do an act described in subdivision (1) or (2) of this subsection, if there is reasonable cause to believe that an act described in subdivision (1) or (2) of this subsection will occur.

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