WXXI AM News

Racism

A photo of the dress code posted at the bar Murphy’s Law on East Avenue has gone viral. While the owners say the policy was put in place nine years ago and reflects other dress codes in the area, many community members say it’s discriminatory.

The policy states that after 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays anyone wearing a number of items – including bandannas or do-rags, camo, or Timberland work boots – is not allowed in the bar.

When someone posted a photo of the policy on Facebook, it led to a debate over whether the policy has racist overtones. Our guests weigh in:

Local activist Miriam Zinter recently posted a Twitter thread about her family's personal struggle with institutional racism. The thread went viral.

Zinter joins us to share the challenges her father faced in the fields of education, the military, employment, housing, and more. We also discuss how and why recognizing and understanding institutional racism can lead to policy change.

When tennis superstar Serena Williams was penalized multiple times during the U.S. Open final on Saturday, her reaction led to controversy. Williams told the chair umpire at the match that a man would not be criticized for the comments and behavior that she displayed. Many people agreed; others said even if that is the case, it doesn’t excuse her behavior.

In the midst of this conversation, an Australian political cartoonist created an image of Williams stomping on her racket; her features were exaggerated and a pacifier was at her feet. Cartoonist Mark Knight and his defenders called it satire; others called it racist and sexist.

This hour, we discuss the role of satire in the current climate, and the controversy surrounding the image and the issues at the match itself. Our guests:

  • Amanda Chestnut, artist and communications coordinator at Flower City Arts Center
  • Dick Roberts, artist and former political cartoonist for the Democrat and Chronicle
  • Mara Ahmed, activist, artist, and filmmaker at Neelum Films

A group pushing for anti-racism training in the Rochester City School District says one of the big problems with American public schools is a Euro-centric approach to teaching history. They say it’s racist and that there’s much more beyond the borders of Europe to teach.

So what do they think a non-racist approach to teaching history looks like? We discuss it with our guests:

Last month, while on a tour for prospective students at Colorado State University, a woman called police, saying she was concerned that two young men in the group were not meant to be part of the tour. She said they stood out and were wearing clothing with "weird symbolism." The two young men are Native American and had driven seven hours from New Mexico to take part in the tour. Police patted them down and eventually allowed them to rejoin the tour, but by that time, the group was long gone. The story has caused outrage, with many people comparing it to the racial profiling incident at a Starbucks, where two black men were arrested while waiting for a friend. 

Two local groups say communities need to better understand indigenous rights and history; they are partnering to combat racism against Native Americans. We discuss their efforts. In studio:

On Wednesday, NFL owners voted in a new national anthem policy. The policy states that if players kneel on the field or sidelines, their teams will be fined, but players are allowed to remain in the locker room while the anthem is played.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is pleased with the decision, saying the protests created a “false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic.” President Trump is also applauding the policy, but says it doesn’t go far enough. He says he doesn’t think players should be staying in locker rooms to protest, and if a player is not standing for the anthem, “Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

This hour, our guests discuss the new policy and what it means in the context of free speech. Our guests:

  • Simeon Banister, interim vice president of community programs at the Community Foundation
  • Chris Thomas, partner with Nixon Peabody
  • Matthew McGee, U.S. Coast Guard (retired), and marketing, events, and development manager for the Veterans Outreach Center
  • Paul Vosburgh, head coach of the St. John Fisher Football team

The ROC2Change Student Summit on Race is among the most recent examples of youth activism in our community. The summit at Churchville-Chili High School brought together hundreds of students from across Monroe County to address racial disparities and racism in schools.

We talk to students who participated in the event about what they learned about implicit bias, and how they plan to address discrimination in their daily lives. We also discuss what it means to be a youth activist in this current political climate. In studio:

  • Jocelyn Hernandez, senior at Churchville-Chili High School
  • Asha Charles, junior at Churchville-Chili High School
  • Amari Conyers, senior at Churchville-Chili High School
  • Jason Cline, assistant principal and facilitator of the ROC2Change Student Summit on Race at Churchville-Chili High School

After being on display for more than 100 years, a panel featuring racial “pickaninny” artwork was removed from the Dentzel Carousel in Charlotte, and now leaders of the campaign behind the removal of that panel are asking members of the community to help design a permanent replacement.

The “Take it Down” campaign is calling on local artists to submit designs of a black panther — a symbol of elegance and strength in the black community. Campaign leaders are also sponsoring a series of discussions on racial justice, using the artwork as a way to generate conversations about structural racism.

Our guests discuss their mission, what we can learn from the panel, and how local artists can get involved with the new project. In studio:

  • Minister Clifford Florence, president of Faith Community Alliance
  • Kathryn Murano-Santos, senior director for collections and exhibits and the Rochester Museum & Science Center
  • Howard Eagle, member of the Take It Down Planning Committee and Movement for Anti-Racist Ministry & Action

When police arrested two black men for not ordering a drink at Starbucks, it sparked discussions across the country about bias and discrimination. At Connections, we've heard from many people of color who explain that the Starbucks arrests are not new or unusual.

This hour, we have a discussion about how common this type of incident is, and the damage it does. Our guests:

Brinton Lykes is a psychologist who has spent her career living and working with people in Central America who have survived war and genocidal violence. In her work, she uses the creative arts and local cultural traditions to understand and document the effects of trauma on communities.

Lykes is in Rochester as guest of the Rochester Committee on Latin America to receive the International White Dove Award. She joins us in studio to discuss her work, and the United States' role in Latin American affairs.

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