People of Color

The Editors 09-15-2015

Woodcut illustration of Ida B. Wells, lifelong fighter for justice, anti-lynching laws, and women's right to vote. Image via /Shutterstock

In the spirit of Aug. 26's Women’s Equality Day, we took to social media and the blogosphere to celebrate the ratification of the 19th Amendment and 95 years of women voting in the U.S. However, as some of our supporters rightly pointed out, that landmark constitutional victory did not guarantee all women the right to vote. Our efforts should have acknowledged that painful reality.

As we look back at the suffrage movement, it’s important to acknowledge how racism tainted this historic fight for the vote. Many black women activists — such as Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, and Anna Julia Cooper — were staunch supporters of women’s rights, yet experienced discrimination from fellow suffragists and white supremacists. These divisions, along with conflicting political interests, caused immense friction within the suffrage movement, thus revealing the challenges of fighting sexism in a deeply racist society.

Image via "Wildest Dreams"/YouTube

Taylor Swift’s controversial new music video, “Wildest Dreams,” is intended to evoke awe of the “wildest” of African landscapes: pure natural beauty, “undiscovered” and “untarnished” — and entirely without Africans.

Perhaps because this video launched soon after Ms. Swift’s recent race- and privilege-related feud with Nicki Minaj, or because at the time of writing, the video has reached nearly 25 million views since its release on Aug. 30, response to the video has been intense. Reading articles on both sides was a conflicting experience, as a young white woman raised on fashion magazines, classic cinema, and the idealization of “old Hollywood.” Can we love and appreciate those films without endorsing that oppression? Is it possible to create an homage to them without endorsing them entirely? In short — how can we free ourselves from the cognitive dissonance of outwardly condemning racism, misogyny, and colonialism while still internally glorifying images and ideals that are built upon them?

The answer to this question may lie in other, more nuanced, portrayals of midcentury American culture. 

Abby Olcese 07-09-2015
Screenshot via 'Moonrise Kingdom' trailer/YouTube

Screenshot via 'Moonrise Kingdom' trailer/YouTube

Actor and writer Dylan Marron is the creator of Every Single Word, a popular tumblr and video series dedicated to exposing the lack of racial diversity in mainstream Hollywood films.

For the series, Marron, a biracial native of Venezuela best known for his work on the cult-favorite podcast Welcome to Night Vale, chooses a well-known, recent film and edits it down to only the lines spoken by people of color. The results are damning. None of the videos in Marron’s series last over a minute. Some, like Noahand Into the Woods, which feature no actors of color at all, simply cut directly to black.

Marron spoke with Sojourners about the origins of the project, the long-term effects of poor diversity representation onscreen, and systemic struggles facing people of color in the entertainment industry.

Mary Elizabeth King 08-29-2011

The forthcoming dedication of the national memorial monument honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., affords an opening for considering the complexity and meaning of his leadership. He was not the tamed and desiccated civil hero as often portrayed in the United States around the time of his birthday, celebrated as a national holiday. He was until the moment of his death raising issues that challenged the conventional wisdom on poverty and racism, but also concerning war and peace.

King was in St. Joseph's Infirmary, Atlanta, for exhaustion and a viral infection when it was reported that he would receive the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. As Gary M. Pomerantz writes in Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn, this was the apparent cost exacted by intelligence surveillance efforts and the pressures of learning that Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy had formally approved wiretaps by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His evolving strength as a leader is revealed in his remarks in Norway that December, which linked the nonviolent struggle of the U.S. civil rights movement to the entire planet's need for disarmament.

Melvin Bray 05-24-2011
This June, I plan to attend the Wild Goose Festival, an arts, music, justice, and spirituality festival in Shakori Hills, North Carolina. My appeal to you is simple.
Peggy Flanagan 03-11-2011

During my Lenten journey this year, I will be looking to my Muslim brother, Congressman Keith Ellison, to understand what it truly means to live a life grounded in love, respect, inclusivity, and justice. Yesterday, I watched Rep.

Jennifer Kottler 12-08-2010
We've been asked by more than one of our readers and supporters about how we can support the DREAM Act and hold that in tension wit
Randall Amster 08-16-2010
The clock nudged toward midnight on a cool Arizona summer evening.
Edward Gilbreath 07-30-2010
The Shirley Sherrod incident, the latest stumble in our nation's clumsy dance with
Ruth Hawley-Lowry 07-27-2010
I am grieved and angry that Glenn Beck is going to be on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28 (the anniversary of the historic civil rights March on Washington on August 28, 1963) -- and
Once again, Glenn Beck has waded into theological waters beyond his depth.
Edith Rasell 05-04-2010
As someone who lives in Cleveland -- which in some years is identified as the poorest city in the U.S.
Onleilove Alston 04-23-2010

[Read more of this blog conversation in response to the Sojourners magazine article "

More Than Equals, co-authored by Chris Rice and the late Spencer Perkins, is considered one of the pivotal books in the Christian racial reconciliation movement that found its greatest momentum in the early and mid-1990s.

Ruth Hawley-Lowry 12-01-2009
December 1 is World AIDS Day. December 1 is also the day that Rosa Parks refused to yield her seat on a bus in Montgomery.
Leroy Barber 12-01-2009
So there is something on my mind, and I'm not quite sure how to approach the subject.
Soong-Chan Rah 11-06-2009
Without trying to be too presumptuous about the resolution of an ongoing story, I'm doing some personal reflection on the last few days.
Beverly Pratt 09-08-2009
I am a Latina sociologist and an activist-in-training who has spent substantial time with scholars and activists studying U.S. Latina/o communities from both professional and personal viewpoints.