IT jobs bound for extinction

Remember CD-ROMs?

Rob Terry does. For a few years in the mid-1990s, he helped develop interactive discs for several companies, including InfoWorld’s sister publication PC World. Terry’s job was to create electronic versions of the magazine that connected with this new thing everyone was talking about called the internet.

It didn’t last long.

“CD-ROMs were promised as this magical optical drive that would solve all our storage problems,” he says. “Back then, authoring expensive glass masters was a mysterious black art. For web/hybrid CDs we had to tag all the hyperlinks by hand inside Word, then ship the documents off to a company in Seattle that would parse them to display inside a browser.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

‘Broad Strokes’ Beautifully Illuminates Often Overlooked Women Artists

(Chronicle)
US: Mar 2017

Americans love to believe that life is a meritocracy because it simplifies things: If you’re a winner in the game of life, it’s because you deserve to be, and the same holds if you’re a loser. This applies not only to individuals, but also to creative works: The canon consists of the best works, and if something isn’t in the canon, it’s because it is not among the best.

So, if you walk through an art museum and don’t see a single work created by a woman, that must be due to the fact that no female-created art is worthy of inclusion. Of course, this line of reasoning quickly falls apart once you start to consider the conditions under which art is created, exhibited, and evaluated, but those facts haven’t kept this attitude from becoming common.

The Guerrilla Girls began challenging the art world’s lack of inclusiveness in the ‘80s with provocative posters and protests (members wore gorilla masks), highlighting the whiteness and maleness of the establishment art world. Their protests were serious but also fun. Bridget Quinn, an art history scholar, offers something in a similar spirit in book form with Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (In That Order).

Quinn begins with the Italian baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, whose father, Orazio Gentileschi, was also a painter. That’s a background she shared with most women painters before the 20th century because while boys could learn their craft through apprenticeship or enrollment in an art school, a girl who hoped to develop her artistic talent needed to be literally born to the trade. If a girl’s father was an artist and was willing to teach her and nurture her talents (rather than, say, demanding that she be doing the housework or marrying her off at a young age) she had a chance to acquire the kind of skills required to be a professional artist.

Gentileschi may have won the female artist lottery by being born to a painter father, but she was the loser in a different scenario all too common among women. At age 17, she was raped by a colleague of her father, Agostino Tassi, after which she was married off to a minor Florentine painter named Pierantonio Stiattesi. She continued to paint, however, and in 1616 became the first woman elected to membership in the Accademia del Disegno. Her best-known work, Judith Slaying Holofernes, is a violent, bloody interpretation of the Biblical event, which some scholars trace back to her experience as a rape victim.

Judith Slaying Holofernes (1620)

Judith Slaying Holofernes (1620)

Gentileschi didn’t discuss her artistic choices, so we’ll never know, but it is worth noting that in her rendering of this scene, Judith and her servant Abra both have their clothes on, while Holofernes is naked, the opposite of what one often sees in paintings by her male contemporaries. (As one Guerilla Girls poster pointed out, most nudes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art portray females, the chief exception being depictions of the Baby Jesus).

The life and work of Kara Walker, a contemporary African-American artist, are about as different from those of Gentileschi as they could be. Walker studied at the Atlanta College of Art and the Rhode Island School of Design and is currently a professor at Rutgers University. She works in a variety of media, but is best known for her silhouettes, which use an art form popular in the 18th and 19th centuries to comment on America’s racial history, gender violence, and other weighty topics. Her silhouettes perform a kind of sneak attack on the viewer, as their style suggests the Victorian sentimentality associated with the art form, and it takes a moment to notice that they portray scenes of rape, lynching, and other violence.

Kara Walker,

Kara Walker, “Untitled” (Scene #18 from Emancipation Approximation portfolio), 1999–2000

The other 13 artists included span several centuries and work in a variety of styles and media. Judith Leyster painted during the 17th century Dutch Golden Age, and you can judge the quality of her work by the fact that all her paintings were once attributed to men, either to her husband, Jan Miense Molenaer, or to the well-known artist Frans Hals.

Self-Portrait by Judith Leyster, c. 1630.

Self-Portrait by Judith Leyster, c. 1630.

Adelaide Labille-Guiard was a portraitist and miniaturist working in 18th century France, who became a court painter to Louis VI before the French Revolution, and after it painted portraits of members of the National Assembly, including Maximilien Robespierre. Marie Denise Villers also worked as a portrait painter in France; her most famous work, Portrait of Charlotte du Val d’Ognes was long attributed to Jacques-Louis David. The other artists included are Rosa Bonheur, Edmonia Lewis, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Vanessa Bell, Alice Neel, Lee Krasner, Louise Bourgeois, Ruth Asawa, Ana Mendieta, and Susan O’Malley.

Marie Denise Villers's Portrait of Charlotte du Val d’Ognes (1801)

Marie Denise Villers’ Portrait of Charlotte du Val d’Ognes (1801)

Quinn follows a similar pattern for each artist covered, mixing biographical details with analysis of their work, and including her own connections with the artist’s works when relevant. Each artist is represented by at least one large and several smaller color reproductions of her work, and each chapter includes a portrait of the artist, by contemporary artist Lisa Congdon.

Broad Strokes is written for a general audience (Quinn’s commentary style reminds me a bit of Sister Wendy), although scholars of art history and feminism might learn a few things from it as well. Quinn is an engaging writer with a knack for choosing the telling anecdote, and the result is a fun book, full of beautiful illustrations, that will appeal even to people who haven’t thought much about art before, but should.

Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (In That Order)

Rating:

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

5 ways to help bright low-income students excel

LAST OF THREE PARTS

Damian Ochoa Obregon and his math teacher at Southern High School in Durham discuss his mistaken exclusion from a more advanced math class.

For the first three weeks of this semester, ninth-grader Damian Ochoa Obregon sat in a math class he had passed last year.

He didn’t understand why – he’s a gifted student who earned a C in Math 1, a high-school level course, at Durham County’s Neal Middle School. But he figured Southern High School in Durham must have had some reason for putting him in the same class again.

It turns out his counselor had simply scheduled Damian for the math class most students take during their freshman year at this high-poverty school. It was only when his mother, who struggles with English, met with teachers to review his progress that the mistake was revealed. Damian, 14, was moved to Math 2, but he had already missed an opportunity.

“He could have handled a more rigorous course, an honors class, but we caught him too late,” said Raymond Robinson, his Math 2 teacher.

It would be easy to blame Damian’s counselor, but that counselor is responsible for 415 freshmen, well above the national recommendation of no more than 250.

Huge caseloads for counselors are one of the reasons high-achieving students from low-income households get overlooked in North Carolina’s schools. An investigation by The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer reveals that thousands of low-income children who score at the highest level in end-of-grade tests aren’t getting picked for advanced classes – and that they are excluded at a far higher rate than their more affluent classmates who earn the same scores.

Damian Ochoa Obregon, a ninth-grader at Southern High School in Durham, studies for an environmental science test. He says he does better when teachers push him to do harder work.

The trend is consistent but defies simple explanation. Experts, educators and parents cite a range of causes: Educators can unwittingly stereotype low-income and minority students as low achievers. School assignments can leave high achievers with few academic peers or advanced classes. Testing and screening consistently favors higher-income, white and Asian students. Overworked faculty must sometimes fill gaps for families that lack ability to advocate for their children. And a range of costly private help is available to affluent families whose children compete for recognition and opportunities.

Opening doors to opportunity will likely require a mix of public spending, private investment and policy change. Here are five possibilities:

#1: Hire more school counselors

Counselors play a critical role for students, mapping their route through school. This guidance is especially important for students who come from homes where English is not spoken or those whose parents’ education ended with high school.

Teens, regardless of their family background, can’t always be relied on to push for classes that may bring harder work and more risk. Damian Ochoa, for instance, describes himself as lazy but says his favorite teachers have been those who make him work hard.

“If I do too good, they’ll put me in hard classes with more homework,” he said. “But I think I can do more.”

Tracking high achievers in middle and high school requires a juggling act. Schedules are set in spring, before students have taken year-end exams. Ideally, educators say, someone checks again over the summer to see if a top score in the previous grade merits a more advanced course in August.

The counselor caseload at Southern Durham High isn’t a fluke. In North Carolina, public schools average almost 400 students per counselor, and the load is much higher at many schools.

More stories

The state pays for counselors based on a district’s enrollment. When the American School Counselor Association tracked state ratios in 2013-14, North Carolina’s level of 391 students per counselor was below the national average of 491 and comparable to the neighboring states of South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. Only three states fell below the recommended 250, and 11 averaged more than 500 students per counselor.

Wake County has one counselor for every 393 high-school students, one counselor for every 372 middle-schoolers and one for every 630 in elementary school.

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, elementary schools don’t get a second counselor until enrollment tops 725 students. The district has 38 elementary schools, many with very high poverty levels, that have between 500 and 724 students, which means each counselor serves more than 500 students.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Wake schools have both turned to county commissioners to reduce caseloads further.

Wake is seeking nearly $10 million this year to start a three-year plan to bring the number of counselors and social workers up to recommended levels. It is part of a larger budget request that appears likely to be reduced substantially by county commissioners.

#2: Fill gifted classes with high achievers

Many school districts have strict cutoffs for entrance into gifted classes, where veteran teachers challenge high-performing students with advanced material. Typically, this requires top-level scores on aptitude and achievement tests and sometimes includes teacher recommendations.

In some schools, there may be a small number of students who meet those requirements. Why not fill empty seats in the classes with high-achieving students who fell just short of the gifted cutoff?

A study of gifted programs in Florida found that this approach delivered big benefits.

Laura Giuliano and David Card studied the Broward County school system to determine who was placed in gifted classes and how. Their most powerful finding was a coattail effect.

To report this series, The News & Observer acquired seven years of student-level data for the state’s 115 school districts and charter schools from the state Department of Public Instruction. Each year, it includes the end-of-grade scores for nearly 700,000 North Carolina elementary and middle-school students and similar data for roughly 455,000 high school students.

This is the same data used by DPI to produce its annual report cards – snapshots about the performance of schools. Our analysis went deeper to compare the experiences of high-scoring students from low-income households with those of their higher-income classmates.

We don’t know who the students are. But unique ID numbers allowed us to track the students from year to year and to follow how schools assign those students from class to class.

We found racial disparities among high-scoring students: Among more affluent students, Asians are more likely to be placed in rigorous classes, while black and Hispanic students are less likely. Whites are placed at a rate equal to the state average.

We focused on low-income students, measured by those who receive free or reduced-price lunches. Year in and year out, a smaller proportion of low-income third graders who score at the highest level on end-of-grade tests get on the track of advanced courses compared to their more affluent classmates. And more of these students slip through the cracks as the years go by.

We focused on math for several reasons: it is sequential, so students who fall behind find it difficult to catch up; measuring math skills is less subjective than areas such as reading and social sciences; and as a student progresses, math scores help determine enrollment in high school classes such as chemistry, biology and physics.

These end-of-grade tests measure achievement and start in the third grade, when students take their first state reading and math exams. Many school districts use other measures, such as aptitude tests and teacher screenings, to decide admission to gifted programs. Some also consider the end-of-grade scores.

The end-of-grade tests aren’t a perfect measure, but they’re important enough that North Carolina lawmakers and education officials have long used them to shape public policy and spending decisions. We were not able to obtain the results of aptitude tests.

309 Higher-income fourth-graders labeled gifted in Wake County in 2015 with average end-of-grade math scores
263 Lower-income fourth graders left out of gifted classes in Wake County in 2015 with superior end-of-grade math scores
$675 to $1,200 Cost of a private evaluation that can be used to admit a child to gifted classes
26 Percentage of Wake’s higher-income fourth graders labeled gifted in 2015
3 Percentage of Wake’s lower-income fourth graders labeled gifted in 2015
351 Number of low-income 2015 Guilford graduates who were labeled gifted in middle school
179 Number of low-income 2015 Wake graduates who were labeled gifted in middle school

North Carolina’s education system has many independent pieces, and often it’s not clear just who’s in charge.

The General Assembly allocates the money for local schools and writes education law. The State Board of Education sets policy. The N.C. Department of Public Instruction implements these laws and policies. And each of the state’s 115 school districts has an elected board, which hires a superintendent to run the schools.

In fact, the state Board of Education and the state Superintendent of Public Instruction are squaring off in court to determine just who is in control of the state’s education department. This action comes after legislators passed a new law giving more hiring clout to new Superintendent Mark Johnson.

When it comes to programs to push and support gifted students, state law lets local school boards set policy on how to choose children for the programs.

The General Assembly gives each district a gifted supplement tied to the district’s enrollment. Many districts supplement that money with local contributions.

There are 115 school districts in North Carolina and 115 different policies on gifted programs, known in academic jargon as AIG, for Academically and Intellectually Gifted.

The policies differ on how students are identified, what services are offered, and how much money each district spends in addition to a contribution from the state based on the district’s enrollment.

Most districts administer national tests for aptitude (the most common is called CogAT) and achievement (a common one is the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.) Here’s how local districts make their decisions:

Wake County
  • All third graders take the CogAT aptitude test. The district has a complicated chart showing five paths into the gifted program, but in essence it requires students need to score 95% or higher on both aptitude and achievement tests. Unlike other districts, the policy does not contain teacher evaluations or other subjective judgments.
Durham
  • All second graders take the CogAT. Students are automatically identified as gifted with a score of 97% or higher.
  • Students can enter if they fit two of the following three criteria: an aptitude test of 90% or higher; an achievement test of 90% or higher; a 90 average in the classroom or the highest score on an end-of-grade test.
  • State funding: $1.8 million District: $4.3 million
Chapel Hill-Carrboro
  • All third graders take the CogAT.
  • To be labeled gifted, students must score 90 percent or higher on an aptitude test; score 95 percent or higher on an achievement test, which includes the state end-of-grade test; and have a successful interview, teacher evaluation, or portfolio of qualifying supporting evidence. Chapel Hill also accepts evaluations from private psychologists.
  • State funding: $630,000 District: $1.1 million
Orange County
  • All third graders take the CogAT. Students scoring 95 percent or higher on an aptitude test qualify.
  • Students scoring 95 percent or higher on an achievement test qualify if they also perform well on a teacher-administered screening.
  • State funding: $650,000 District: $250,000
Johnston County
  • All third graders take the CogAT unless parents opt out.
  • A panel of school and central office representatives choose students based on some, but not necessarily all, of the following factors: 90 percent or higher on CogAT; 90 percent or higher on an achievement test, including the state end-of-grade tests; teacher or parent observations; the student’s overall performance.
  • State funding: $1.8 million District: $161,000

Decision-makers

State Superintendent Mark Johnson is North Carolina’s top education official. Reach him at mark.johnson@dpi.nc.gov or 919-807-3430.

The state Senate’s education committee and its education appropriations committee are chaired by Chad Barefoot, R-Wake/Franklin; David Curtis, R-Gaston/Iredell/Lincoln; and Michael Lee, R-New Hanover.

The House K-12 education committee is chaired by Craig Horn, R-Union; Linda Johnson, R-Cabarrus; Debra Conrad, R-Forsyth; and Jeffrey Elmore, R-Alleghany/Wilkes.

The House education appropriations committee is chaired by John Fraley, R-Iredell; Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; Pat Hurley, R-Randolph; Elmore and Horn.

Find contact information and look up your representatives at http://ncga.state.nc.us/

Advocacy and information

The North Carolina Association for the Gifted and Talented, www.ncagt.org or 910-326-8463, offers information about services for gifted students. The national conference will be in Charlotte in November and will include discussion of how to better serve low-income and other underrepresented students.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina, www.ncforum.org or 919-781-6833, monitors statewide issues and recently released a report on expanding opportunities for low-income and minority students.

Direct support

Young Eisner Scholars, or YES, provides intensive support for high-potential students of poverty, from middle school through college graduation. The group is active in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Watauga County, N.C. www.yesscholars.org or in Watauga County, Jhicks@yesscholars.org.

The Wake Ed Partnership supports Wake County teachers with innovation grants, training in science and math instruction and tutors for young students struggling to learn to read. http://www.wakeed.org or 919-821-7609

Gen-One Charlotte is a nonprofit created by two CMS teachers to provide college-prep support for high-scoring students from low-income homes. It is active only at Eastway Middle School but hopes to serve as a pilot for expansion. www.genonecharlotte.org, genoneclt@gmail.com or 980-263-9043.

The Daniel Center for Math and Science is a Raleigh nonprofit center that provides summer programs and after-school tutoring for low-income elementary and middle school students. www.danielcenter.org, info@danielcenter.org or 919-828-6443.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Foundation is raising money to provide cultural proficiency training for all CMS teachers: https://cms-foundation.org/, 980-343-0399 or info@cms-foundation.org.

  Ann Doss Helms has been The Charlotte Observer’s education reporter since 2002. She won first place in the North Carolina Press Association’s education reporting category in 2017, 2016, 2014 and 2013. In 2015, she won the Associated Press Senator Sam Open Government Award for reporting on charter school salaries. She worked for the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph & News before coming to the Observer in 1987.
  Joseph Neff, who joined The News & Observer in 1992, has written extensively about criminal justice and health care. He was part of a team whose reporting on nonprofit hospitals won the ASNE, Loeb, Sigma Delta Chi and Robert F. Kennedy awards and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Neff exposed the misconduct of former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong in the Duke lacrosse case and won the Sigma Delta Chi award for his reporting on Blackwater, the former military contractor based in northeastern North Carolina. Before his journalism career, Neff taught beekeeping as a Peace Corps volunteer in west Africa.
  David Raynor also joined The N&O in 1992. As the newsroom’s database editor, he is responsible for acquiring, analyzing and maintaining public records. He has worked on many award-winning projects, including stories about the construction industry cheating on taxes by misclassifying workers, huge profits at North Carolina’s nonprofit hospitals, courts’ lenient treatment of serial and serious speeders, hundreds of millions of dollars wasted in the state’s mental health system, and deaths in day cares.

Gifted students were selected through IQ tests. The school system required a full classroom even if there was only one child labeled gifted in the grade. Teachers used end-of-grade scores to fill the remaining slots. Those high-achieving students who filled the empty seats benefited greatly from learning among smart students from a highly qualified teacher. Poor and minority students posted the biggest gains in math and reading.

“Their performance went way, way up,” said Giuliano, an economist at the University of Miami. “If there were 20 students in the class, we found huge effects for the kids ranked 15 to 20.”

This could be most useful in high-poverty schools with few students at the gifted threshold and many who fall just short, said Linda Robinson, a gifted teacher in Wake County and past president of the N.C. Association for the Gifted and Talented.

“There are students who need something above the standard instruction in our school,” Robinson said. “They need to be pushed by others.”

Wake officials repeatedly have noted that the state doesn’t provide enough funding for teachers to cover the gifted students already identified. But Wake matches only a quarter of the state’s contribution to gifted programs; Durham puts in more than twice what it gets from the state, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro roughly doubles the state money.

#3: Hire more teachers of color

When James Ford was a history teacher at Charlotte’s Garinger High, he started by telling his students the game was rigged against them. While some of them were brilliant, almost all were black, brown and poor.

Their families’ poverty was shaped by a history of systemic racism, he told them. And their skin color meant even the best-intentioned educators and employers might overlook their potential.

James Ford, a former Garinger High teacher and North Carolina teacher of the year, now works for the Public School Forum of North Carolina.

Now Ford is program director for the Public School Forum of North Carolina, which has identified unconscious bias and lack of advanced opportunities for minority and low-income students as some of the biggest challenges facing public education. The forum is pushing for better recruitment of teachers of color, more culturally sensitive lessons and efforts to counteract biases that result in academic and disciplinary disparities.

This year 80 percent of North Carolina’s public school teachers are white, compared with only 49 percent of students. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, where white enrollment is only 29 percent, 66 percent of teachers are white. Wake County’s teaching force is 82 percent white, compared with a student body that is 48 percent white.

The N&O/Observer investigation focused on low-income students, rather than race. But some of the same trends show up for black and Hispanic students – and African American parents say their children face stereotypes even if they’re from higher-income homes.

In Charlotte, a group of leaders that spent the last two years studying opportunity and upward mobility has tapped Ford to lead the next step, which includes confronting the role of race in education.

Shelagh Gallagher, a Charlotte-based expert in gifted education, says recruiting more teachers of color to teach the brightest students would open doors to students who are currently overlooked or not being challenged.

Wake County schools have provided “cultural proficiency” training to help the system’s predominantly white work force to understand the experiences of an increasingly diverse student population, and how race and racism operate in society and education.

The training is supposed to help ensure that teachers have high expectations for all students while making them aware of how students’ culture may influence behavior.

#4: Pay for extra opportunities when parents can’t

For middle-class and wealthy students, learning doesn’t stop when school is out. For kids whose parents can’t afford summer camps and after-school programs, philanthropists, businesses and nonprofit groups often step in.

For instance, the Charlotte-based nonprofit Digi-Bridge uses corporate donations to provide Saturday science, math and technology sessions at no cost to students in two high-poverty CMS schools and one community center. Those sessions, which cost $25 for paying students, provide extra enrichment for high-scoring students at schools such as Ashley Park, which has to focus most of its efforts on helping low-scoring students catch up.

In Raleigh, the nonprofit Daniel Center provides summer and after-school math, science and technology enrichment for low-income students.

High-priced summer programs often offer financial aid. Duke University’s Talent Identification Program, for instance, offers income-based aid for three-week camps that cost more than $4,000. But financial aid alone isn’t sufficient, said Matthew Makel, TIP’s research director. The program has been evaluating the effectiveness of supporting students by email, online mentoring or face-to-face contact.

“Providing opportunities is not enough,” Makel said. “We need to establish a relationship and trust with the families so they can make the most opportunity out of this.”

#5: Make better use of student data

For 25 years, Janet Johnson has dissected educational data in North Carolina. An analyst at Edstar Analytics, a Durham consulting firm, she has been hired by school districts, the state and private foundations to analyze and interpret education data.

She’s not getting close to working herself out of a job.

That’s because, for the most part, educators can’t access data to make their own decisions: “The data is not available in a way to make it easy for people to use,” Johnson said.

Janet Johnson is chief executive officer of Edstar Analytics in Research Triangle Park.

Data is collected at the local level and flows up, from the school to the district headquarters, from there to state offices in Raleigh. For the most part, the data does not flow back down to teachers and administrators at the local level, Johnson said.

There are exceptions, such as the state’s annual report cards, Johnson said, but those provide only basic statistics. The state’s PowerSchool program allows parents, teachers and principals to track an individual student’s progress.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Ann Clark says the key is individual tracking. In high schools, for instance, Charlotte-Mecklenburg now has counselors reviewing each student’s transcript every year to make sure the student is getting appropriate classes to meet his or her goals, whether that’s earning a diploma or building up advanced credits to be competitive for a top university.

Johnson said the most useful data tool available to teachers is the assessment system EVAAS, a computer program owned by SAS, the Cary-based software and analytic giant. For 10 years, the state has hired SAS to provide EVAAS to every teacher and principal.

Principals and administrators can use EVAAS to measure the effect of a new program or invention on groups of students, she said.

Teachers can use EVAAS to help decide when a student is ready to take a Math 1, the first high school math class, and whether a student needs extra support to succeed. Johnson believes EVAAS is underused: she said she has conducted several training sessions in the past two years where she found administrators and teachers who had never logged into the program.

There is a hunger for more data-based analysis.

When the N&O and the Observer showed the results of their data analysis to teachers, principals, elected officials and administrators around the state, a common question popped up: Where did you get this data and who did the analysis?

The Department of Public Instruction gave the data to The N&O, where database editor David Raynor performed the analysis.

Meet the reporters

Ann Doss Helms has been The Charlotte Observer’s education reporter since 2002. She won first place in the North Carolina Press Association’s education reporting category in 2017, 2016, 2014 and 2013. In 2015, she won the Associated Press Senator Sam Open Government Award for reporting on charter school salaries. She worked for the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph & News before coming to the Observer in 1987.

Joseph Neff, who joined The News & Observer in 1992, has written extensively about criminal justice and health care. He was part of a team whose reporting on nonprofit hospitals won the ASNE, Loeb, Sigma Delta Chi and Robert F. Kennedy awards and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Neff exposed the misconduct of former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong in the Duke lacrosse case and won the Sigma Delta Chi award for his reporting on Blackwater, the former military contractor based in northeastern North Carolina. Before his journalism career, Neff taught beekeeping as a Peace Corps volunteer in west Africa.

David Raynor also joined The N&O in 1992. As the newsroom’s database editor, he is responsible for acquiring, analyzing and maintaining public records. He has worked on many award-winning projects, including stories about the construction industry cheating on taxes by misclassifying workers, huge profits at North Carolina’s nonprofit hospitals, courts’ lenient treatment of serial and serious speeders, hundreds of millions of dollars wasted in the state’s mental health system, and deaths in day cares.

Get involved

Decision-makers

State Superintendent Mark Johnson is North Carolina’s top education official. Reach him at mark.johnson@dpi.nc.gov or 919-807-3430.

The state Senate’s education committee and its education appropriations committee are chaired by Chad Barefoot, R-Wake/Franklin; David Curtis, R-Gaston/Iredell/Lincoln; and Michael Lee, R-New Hanover.

The House K-12 education committee is chaired by Craig Horn, R-Union; Linda Johnson, R-Cabarrus; Debra Conrad, R-Forsyth; and Jeffrey Elmore, R-Alleghany/Wilkes.

The House education appropriations committee is chaired by John Fraley, R-Iredell; Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke; Pat Hurley, R-Randolph; Elmore and Horn.

Find contact information and look up your representatives at http://ncga.state.nc.us/

Advocacy and information

The North Carolina Association for the Gifted and Talented, www.ncagt.org or 910-326-8463, offers information about services for gifted students. The national conference will be in Charlotte in November and will include discussion of how to better serve low-income and other underrepresented students.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina, www.ncforum.org or 919-781-6833, monitors statewide issues and recently released a report on expanding opportunities for low-income and minority students.

Direct support

Young Eisner Scholars, or YES, provides intensive support for high-potential students of poverty, from middle school through college graduation. The group is active in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Watauga County, N.C. www.yesscholars.org or in Watauga County, Jhicks@yesscholars.org.

The Wake Ed Partnership supports Wake County teachers with innovation grants, training in science and math instruction and tutors for young students struggling to learn to read. http://www.wakeed.org or 919-821-7609

Gen-One Charlotte is a nonprofit created by two CMS teachers to provide college-prep support for high-scoring students from low-income homes. It is active only at Eastway Middle School but hopes to serve as a pilot for expansion. www.genonecharlotte.org, genoneclt@gmail.com or 980-263-9043.

The Daniel Center for Math and Science is a Raleigh nonprofit center that provides summer programs and after-school tutoring for low-income elementary and middle school students. www.danielcenter.org, info@danielcenter.org or 919-828-6443.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Foundation is raising money to provide cultural proficiency training for all CMS teachers: https://cms-foundation.org/, 980-343-0399 or info@cms-foundation.org.

Roberta Flack’s Lehman Concert

(Roberta—Killing Us Softly, with her song…)

Grammy Award winner Roberta Flack will be appearing on the Lehman College stage located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West in the Bronx, on Saturday, October 21, 2006, at 8:00 pm, where she will slay the hearts of her fans by killing them softly with her songs.

Most people are well aware of the talented divas music, so it won’t be the first time ever they saw her face or heard her beautiful and romantic assortment of love songs because Roberta Flack is one of the most recognizable voices of our generation.

Born in Asheville, North Carolina, Ms. Flack grew up in Arlington, Virginia. As many African American artists do, she developed her musical chops in church.  Learning to play the piano early, Roberta divided her attention between gospel, pop, soul, jazz, and blues.  So musically talented and academically brilliant was Roberta, she skipped several grades. 

In fact, she was proficient enough to secure enrollment in Howard University at the age of 15 on a full music scholarship.  Eventually Roberta changed her music major from voice (initially piano) to music education where at 19 she became a student teacher in an all white school in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Unfortunately, her father’s death prompted her to leave Chevy Chase. 

Struggling for money, Flack took a $2,800 a year teaching job in Farmville, North Carolina where she taught impoverished children. She eventually left that school only to go to other schools where the children were poor and barely literate.  It became frustrating for Roberta to try to teach English and Music to high school children that couldn’t even read.  Roberta comforted herself by playing background to other artists and eventually singing on her own in various clubs.  Eventually she was heard by Les McCann who got her an audition with Atlantic Records.  Roberta never looked back.

Atlantic Records recognized Flack’s talent and put her in the studio where she recorded “First Take.� Her single “Compared to What,� followed next.  A year later came “Do What You Gotta Do,� “Reverend Lee,� and “Just Like A Woman.�

By 1971, Roberta found herself collaborating with Donny Hathaway in “You Got A Friend.�  She ended that year with her third album “Quiet Fire� which featured the song “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.�  She once again reunited with Hathaway to produce “Where Is The Love.�

In 1972, Clint Eastwood, chose her song “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,� for his movie “Play Misty For Me.�  That year, Roberta was named Top Female Vocalist by Down Beat magazine. Then the Grammy Awards came.  She won for “Killing Me Softly With His Love,� “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,� and “Where Is The Love.�  Song after song topped the charts, turning gold.  1999 found Flack wining the coveted “Star� on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Roberta has performed before domestic and international audiences.  She has worked and appeared with artists such as Donny Hathaway, Peabo Bryson, Miles Davis, Alicia Keys and India.Arie, and many others.

A proponent of artist’ rights, Roberta is involved with the Artist Empowerment Coalition that advocates for the rights of artists to control their own creative properties.  Roberta’s long and powerful musical odyssey has currently led her into the studio where she is hard at work putting the finishing touches on her most recent CD. 

Tickets are presently on sale at the Lehman College Performing Arts Center box office for $30.00, $35.00, $40.00, and $45.00.  Fans can call 718-960-8833 (Monday –Friday, 10AM – 5PM).  Hurry!  Tickets are going fast for Ms. Flack’s upcoming show on Saturday, October 21st at 8:00 p.m.

To subscribe or advertise call (212) 481-7745 or reach advertise@blackstarnews.com “Speaking Truth To Empower,� is our motto.

 

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Michael Kiwanuka Sings His Heart Out

MICHAEL KIWANUKA Finding his place in the world. PHIL SHARP

A few years ago, Michael Kiwanuka was in crisis mode. His debut album, Home Again, had sold more than 70,000 copies, won the BBC’s Sound of 2012, and was nominated for the UK’s prestigious Mercury Prize. The press was comparing him to Bill Withers and Otis Redding. He was invited to tour with Adele. Kanye West flew him out to studios in Hawaii and Paris for the Yeezus sessions. Despite all of this success, Kiwanuka was struggling creatively, and went home to London to do some soul-searching.

While he was there laboring over the follow-up to Home Again, Kiwanuka received a fortuitous phone call from Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton, the famed producer and multi-instrumentalist best known for his collaborations with CeeLo Green (Gnarls Barkley), James Mercer (Broken Bells), the Black Keys, and Gorillaz.

“He reached out just to write some music and meet and hang out,” Kiwanuka says. “He asked what I was up to and how the album was going, and I said I was kind of stuck.”

Burton invited him to his studio in Los Angeles in early 2015. With the help of Paul Butler and British hip-hop producer Inflo, they began working on the songs that would become 2016’s Love & Hate. Kiwanuka wrote and composed many of the tracks inside the studio, collaborating directly with Burton. And unlike his ill-fated Yeezus sessions, this collaboration paid off.

“Up until that point, I was used to writing songs on my acoustic guitar and then bringing them into the studio,” Kiwanuka says. “This showed me another approach to coming up with melodies and songs. It was a freeing experience for me, creatively.”

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Within the opening seconds of Love & Hate, Burton’s influence is already evident. Gone are the neo-retro and folk-soul sincerity of Home Again. Multi-voice choirs, rich string sections, and fuzzed-out electric guitars pile on top of each other, creating lush, challenging, and often foreboding arrangements—more Dark Side of the Moon than Otis Blue. The opening track, “Cold Little Heart,” clocks in at 10 minutes. Kiwanuka’s voice doesn’t even enter until the song’s halfway through, sounding like he didn’t escape isolation without a few scratches and scars.

The first single from the album, “Black Man in a White World,” begins as a hand-clapping field holler, before building into syncopated, ’70s-style funk. Kiwanuka voices his misgivings about his place in the world, as a child of Ugandan refugees and as a young, gifted, Black artist who faces a largely white audience wherever he performs.

“I’m in love, but I’m still sad/I’ve found peace, but I’m not glad,” he sings. “All my nights and all my days/I’ve been trying the wrong way.”

For years Kiwanuka has struggled to figure out his place in the world, both as an artist and an individual. But after being compared to so many other legendary singers, he’s finally finding his own voice.

“[Love & Hate] is a response to my search for identity and who I am. Who I am as a human being,” he says. “Because when you know that, or are at peace or content with who you are, you can really begin to enjoy life. You can enjoy the art you make, if you’re an artist; you can enjoy the job you have, or the relationship you’re in. I feel like a lot of the time when people are unhappy or struggling, a lot of it has to do with who you are and how you see yourself. All the songs on this album deal with that. Sometimes that could be a relationship, or the color of your skin, or the culture you’re in. But they’re all part of being a human being and becoming comfortable with who you are.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Nicki Minaj teams up with Katy Perry for Calvin Harris song

Nicki Minaj has recorded a song called ‘Soft Lips’ for Calvin Harris‘ album with Katy Perry.

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj

The three of them are linked by Taylor Swift, although the track isn’t said to be about the ‘Blank Space’ hitmaker.

Calvin dated Taylor for 15 months until June last year, Katy famously fell out with her in 2012 after the blonde beauty claimed she pinched her backing dancers and Nicki had Twitter beef with her over the lack of black artists nominated for MTV Video Music Awards in 2015.

On the song, which will no doubt be a big hit, an insider told the Daily Star newspaper: “Nicki and Katy Perry have already been teasing ‘Soft Lips’ on social media. Although lyrically the song is not obviously about Taylor, it’s no coincidence that these three artists all have come together.

“They have all had high-profile run-ins with Taylor and it won’t have gone unnoticed by her.”

According to website Genius Lyrics, ‘Soft Lips’ Katy sings: “Those boys, they gotta know. Those boys, they wanna know. Those boys, ain’t gonna know.

The taste of these soft lips (sic)”

And Nicki raps: “Beat, beat, beat, beat, put the herd on me … Let them follow me (sic)”

The website has a note informing people that the lyrics have been “certified”.

It reads: “LYRICS HAVE BEEN CERTIFIED BY GENIUS. EDITS OF FAKE LYRICS REMOVED (sic)”

Despite their disagreements, and after Taylor allegedly wrote her 2015 song ‘Bad Blood’ about Katy, the ‘Bon Appetite’ singer has said she won’t be addressing their feud on her own record.

She said recently: “I think [my new album is] a very empowered record. There is no one thing that’s calling out any one person. One thing to note is: You can’t mistake kindness for weakness and don’t come for me. Anyone. Anyone. Anyone. Anyone. And that’s not to any one person, and don’t quote me that it is, because it’s not. It’s not about that.”

However, that doesn’t mean that the trio won’t mention something on their song, which will more than likely appear on Calvin’s star-studded forthcoming record ‘Funk Wave Bounces Vol 1’.

The record also features the likes of Ariana Grande, John Legend, Pharrell Williams, Snoop Dogg and Frank Ocean.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

African American Museum announces temporary closure

The Evansville African American Museum is closed for a few days because of some flooring work.

The museum at 579 S. Garvin St. will reopen on its regular schedule at 10 a.m. May 23.

Museum Director Lu Porter said the renovations involve refinishing flooring throughout the facility. The hardwood floors are original to the building, which was built in 1938 and is the lone remaining structure of what once was Lincoln Gardens, an apartment complex where generations of local African American families lived.

The work is being funded from a $30,000 grant awarded to the African American museum from the City of Evansville Endowment Fund, administered by the Community Foundation Alliance.

The closure is for the museum’s main building only. Programs and events at off-site locations will take place as scheduled.

The museum’s normal hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. It is at the northwest corner of Lincoln Avenue and Garvin Street across from Lincoln School. Visit www.evansvilleaamuseum.org for more information.

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Trump defends sharing info with Russians


Updated 11:22 am, Tuesday, May 16, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the report that President Donald Trump shared classified information with Russian officials (all times EDT):

10:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser plans to brief reporters at the White House.

The White House says H.R. McMaster will hold an on-camera briefing before noon. He was originally scheduled to appear with press secretary Sean Spicer, but Spicer plans to hold a separate, off-camera session with reporters later in the day, after McMaster’s appearance.


Reporters had been promised a briefing from McMaster about Trump’s first overseas trip, which opens Friday. But McMaster is likely to face questions about reports that Trump shared classified intelligence information with Russian officials when they met in the Oval Office last week.

McMaster has denied the reports, telling reporters Monday after the story broke: “I was in the room. It didn’t happen.”

___

(Story continues below … )

10:45 a.m.

The Senate’s top Democrat says Congress needs to have immediate access to a transcript of President Donald Trump’s meeting at the White House last week with senior Russian officials.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York says that if Trump has “nothing to hide,” he’ll turn over unedited transcripts to the House and Senate intelligence committees. If Trump refuses, Schumer says Americans will doubt that their president is capable of safeguarding critical secrets.

The request came in response to published reports that the president revealed classified information about the Islamic State group in the meeting with Russian officials.

Congress is investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including hacking Democratic emails.

___

10:40 a.m.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain says reports that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to senior Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week are “deeply disturbing.”

The Arizona Republican said Tuesday that it sends a troubling signal to U.S. allies and partners around the world. McCain also said in a statement that reports that the information was provided by a U.S. ally and shared without the country’s knowledge could mean that other countries won’t share intelligence with Americans in the future.

He said the time Trump spent sharing sensitive information was time he did not spend focused on Russia’s aggressive behavior, including interference in elections, and its illegal invasion of Ukraine.

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9:35 a.m.

The Senate’s top Republican says “we can do with a little less drama from the White House” so the GOP can focus on advancing the party’s legislative agenda.

Appearing Tuesday morning on Bloomberg Business, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was responding to reports that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information about the Islamic State group to Russian officials.

McConnell says, “I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda.” He said the agenda is deregulation, tax reform and repealing and replacing the health care law.

McConnell also says he recommended to Trump that he nominate Merrick Garland to replace fired FBI Director James Comey. Garland, the federal judge nominated to the Supreme Court last year by President Barack Obama, was denied a Senate hearing by McConnell.

___

9:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump says more attention should be paid to find who is leaking information to the media.

The Washington Post first reported that Trump’s closed-door remarks with the Russians jeopardize a valuable intelligence source on the Islamic State group.

Trump defended himself in a tweet Tuesday by saying he had an “absolute right” to share what he wanted.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump said he had asked ousted FBI Director James Comey and others “from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community.”

___

9:25 a.m.

A senior European intelligence official tells The Associated Press that his country might stop sharing information with the United States if it confirms President Donald Trump shared classified details with Russian officials.

The official said Tuesday that doing so “could be a risk for our sources.”

The official spoke only on condition that neither he nor his country be identified, because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

-By Jan M. Olsen

___

8:25 a.m.

A senior German lawmaker has expressed concern about reports that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information about the Islamic State group to Russian officials.

Burkhard Lischka said in a statement to The Associated Press that “if it proves to be true that the American president passed on internal intelligence matters that would be highly worrying.”

Lischka, who sits on the German parliament’s intelligence oversight committee, noted that Trump has access to “exclusive and highly sensitive information including in the area of combating terrorism.”

The Social Democratic Party lawmaker said that if the U.S. president “passes this information to other governments at will, then Trump becomes a security risk for the entire western world.”

Germany is heavily dependent on U.S. intelligence.

___

8:25 a.m.

The Kremlin has dismissed reports that Donald Trump shared classified information with Russian officials last week as “complete nonsense.”

The Washington Post’s report on Monday claimed that the revelation made by Trump during his meeting with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov put a source of intelligence on the Islamic State at risk.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday dismissed the reports as “yet more nonsense” and said that Moscow doesn’t “want to have to do anything with it,” adding that “there is nothing to confirm or deny.”

___

7:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump is using Twitter to defend his sharing of information with the Russians.

Trump says he wanted to share with Russia “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety.” He notes that as president, he has an “absolute right” to do this.

The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump divulged highly classified “code-word” information that could enable the Russians to trace the source of the intelligence.

Trump added a line in his tweet suggesting why he did it: “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

___

6:40 a.m.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesman has denied reports that President Donald Trump revealed classified information to senior officials during the Russian minister’s visit to the Oval Office last week.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that the revelation put a source of intelligence on the Islamic State at risk.

Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, on Facebook on Tuesday described the reports as “yet another fake.”

The reports came several days after the White House faced criticism for a possible security breach after it allowed a Russian news service photographer into the Oval Office to snap photos of Trump with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last week.

—Associated Press reporter Paisley Dodds in London.

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4:30 a.m.

Jordan says King Abdullah II is to speak by phone Tuesday with President Donald Trump.

The Royal Court says arrangements for the call were made last week.

The conversation will take place amid a report by The Washington Post that Trump revealed highly classified information to senior Russian officials at a meeting last week, putting a source of intelligence about the Islamic State extremist group at risk.

Jordan is a key ally in the U.S.-led international military coalition against Islamic State, which controls territory in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

The Post, citing current and former U.S. officials, says Trump shared details about an Islamic State terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.

___

3:30 a.m.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull won’t comment on a Washington Post report that President Donald Trump revealed classified information to Russian officials, or say whether the report will affect Australia’s intelligence-sharing agreement with the U.S.

Australia is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing program with the U.S., Canada, Britain and New Zealand.

Turnbull declined to comment specifically on the report, but said during an interview Tuesday with Adelaide radio station 5AA that he is confident in the Australia-U.S. alliance. Turnbull called it “the bedrock of our national security.”

New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee said in a statement that the report was rejected by senior U.S. officials. Brownlee said a resolution to the situation in Syria requires a concerted effort from the U.S. and Russia. Brownlee said he hopes the meeting between Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov “is a step towards that.”

___

3:13 a.m.

President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to senior Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week, putting a source of intelligence on the Islamic State at risk, The Washington Post reported.

The disclosure late Monday drew strong condemnation from Democrats and a rare rebuke of Trump from some Republican lawmakers. White House officials denounced the report, saying the president did not disclose intelligence sources or methods to the Russians, though officials did not deny that classified information was disclosed in the May 10 meeting.

H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, said: “The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries including threats to civil aviation. At no time, at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.”

Axe believes its new ad will make you rethink macho stereotypes

Is it OK to be a virgin? Is it OK to experiment with other guys? Is it OK to be the little spoon in bed?

These are just some of the questions that men ask themselves — and Google — when no one is looking, according to a new ad from Axe that aims to help “break the cycle of toxic masculinity.” 

Don’t spit out your coffee just yet. Yes, this is the same Axe that once relished running ads portraying adult women as slaves to their senses and casting men as lonely losers — until, that is, they doused themselves in Axe body spray, at which point the ladies came running. 

Not anymore. The new “Is It OK for Guys?” spot is the latest installment of Axe’s “Find Your Magic” campaign, which launched last year by urging men to ditch macho stereotypes and embrace a more enlightened version of masculinity instead.

Now, Axe wants its customers to know they’re not alone in questioning the emotional straightjacket that is traditional manhood. 

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“What we wanted to do is show … that there is this habit of guys going online in the privacy of their own home asking all these questions,” says Rik Strubel, global vice president for Axe.

Axe is probably the last brand you’d expect to make this pivot. Yet, its unlikely trajectory from peddling sexist messages for profit to becoming a woke critic of machismo — also for profit — holds valuable lessons for the rest of us struggling to prevent, contain, and reverse the damage of toxic masculinity. 

If Axe can take a hard look in the mirror and decide to change its retrograde ways, perhaps that unlikely transformation will inspire men skeptical of overhauling their own concept of what it means to be a man. Still, a woke advertising campaign is just that — a glossy vision of social change that might give you the feels, but ultimately can’t destroy thousand-year-old ideas that are enjoying a resurgence in the form of Donald Trump’s strongman act.

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Toxic masculinity is a popular phrase in academic and activist circles, but it’s not that hard to spot in pop culture if you know the signs. Consider Trump its prideful mascot: a man who can’t stand that one of his top surrogates is mocked by a woman on Saturday Night Live, tosses off suggestions about killing the families of terrorists, says nothing when crowds of people chant “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton, and bullies anyone who questions his authority, even a Gold Star dad. 

Toxic masculinity is what happens when traits traditionally associated with male identity — strength, stoicism, aggression — are put into overdrive, often in pursuit of personal or professional power. While it might be appealing to Trump and some of his supporters, hyper-masculine doesn’t sell like it once did in the consumer marketplace, and Axe knows that. 

“What we’re seeing now is that society has changed and marketing has to change,” says Strubel. “It was time for the brand to move on.” 

“What we’re seeing now is that society has changed and marketing has to change. It was time for the brand to move on.” 

Indeed. Axe’s parent company Unilever, which also owns the body positivity-obsessed brand Dove, announced last year that it would root out sexist stereotypes from all of its campaigns. Axe is also building partnerships with three different nonprofit organizations — Promundo, The Representation Project, and Ditch the Label — that fight harmful gender stereotypes. 

Later this year, those groups will coordinate to seed the internet with content optimized to reach men with resources when they Google questions about concerns like mental health issues or bullying. Axe will do something similar for men who turn to the internet with shame-filled questions about grooming. It’s a savvy play to win new customers, but also speaks to the homophobia men can experience when they start using grooming products.

Axe won’t stand for that anymore, and it’s telling customers they shouldn’t either. 

That’s a great start to dismantling macho attitudes, but last year’s presidential campaign proved that toxic masculinity is still alive, well, and even wins at the voting booth.  

“It’s very, very difficult for any sort of campaign to overtake and overpower the ideological force of toxic masculinity, which is coming from the most powerful pulpit in this country,” says Ibram Kendi, an assistant professor of African American history at the University of Florida and author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

And then there’s Axe’s rallying cry: Damn the critics and be yourself. That’s an effective line for personal empowerment, but it also gives consumers the warm glow of feeling like they’re champions of equality without having to do much work understanding the many ways in which society condones or rejects a man’s expression of masculinity based on his race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and gender identity. 

What we need to understand, says Kendi, is the way bigotries intersect to create a “massive hierarchy” among men. So Axe can successfully raise awareness about toxic masculinity, but sympathetic consumers still might not insist on every man’s liberation from damaging stereotypes if it means they can keep their place in the pecking order.

Getting to the heart of that struggle is much harder than producing a provocative 30-second or minute-long commercial that goes viral.  

Over the past year, however, not every battle was lost. Public pressure on Fox News to fire accused sexual harasser Bill O’Reilly — another epitome of toxic masculinity with his violent, racist on-air outbursts and father-knows-best politics — led to his dismissal last month. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is finally being forced to account and atone for a hostile management style that contributed to internal sexual harassment claims and potentially illegal business tactics.  

Meanwhile, there are promising examples of what masculinity can be when not constrained by antiquated ideas. When a crying Jimmy Kimmel devoted a recent monologue to the diagnosis and treatment of his newborn son’s unexpected congenital heart defect, he acted like a normal human being with perfectly reasonable emotions — and drew awareness to both a life-threatening medical condition and the political battle over health care reform. 

“It’s not our dad’s manhood anymore. There’s a lot more acceptance.” 

The second season of Aziz Ansari‘s Netflix series Master of None is a revelation of masculine vulnerability. Ansari’s character Dev may be heartbroken and lonely, but he doesn’t need to conquer other women to feel better about himself. Instead, he seeks connection with someone he can call his equal. Dev’s friendship with a character named Arnold is an exploration of male affection; they tend to each other’s feelings without a second thought. 

Examples like these, contrasted with daily exercises in toxic masculinity from Trump and his enablers, hint at a culture wrestling with its own identity. 

“It’s not our dad’s manhood anymore,” says Gary Barker, president and CEO of Promundo, a nonprofit organization that engages men and boys in gender equality. “There’s a lot more acceptance … but the other side of that, that tough guy manhood, that is frighteningly alive as well.”  

That split is clear in research recently published by Promundo and Axe. Roughly a quarter of male American survey respondents said men shouldn’t have to do household chores and should, if necessary, use violence to get respect. Those ratios are still too high, but feel less apocalyptic than the percentage of American men who believed, for example, that guys should be breadwinners and should know where his wife or girlfriend is at all times (44 and 46 percent, respectively).  

Barker and Strubel know a lot of hard work remains to shift the way men think about their masculinity, and that’s why they’re continuing to track their evolving views through research. But Barker is optimistic about Axe’s unexpected contribution to these efforts. As just one front in the sprawling fight to break down toxic masculinity, an advertising campaign that has the potential to reach millions isn’t a small thing. 

Plus, Barker believes the fact that Axe sought redemption for its past sins is actually a selling point. 

“I think they’ve got a dramatic story,” he says of the brand. “If they can do it … man in the White House, here’s your chance, too. Look, you can turn the page, and it’s a happy place to be.” 

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