URL Media Weekly
Friday, December 10, 2021
(Above) Claudia Iron Hawk is one of several Native students who launched a petition requesting that University of Minnesota Morris search the ground for lost burial sites. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle -Sahan Journal 

"At the Morris Industrial School for Indians, Native American children from tribal nations in and around Minnesota were banned from speaking their home language or practicing their cultural traditions. The boarding school remained in operation for over 20 years before converting into an agricultural high school and then, in 1960, a public university."  Tiffany Bui reports for The Sahan Journal 

 What We're Talking About 

In 2019, WURD Radio in Philadelphia launched the Lively-HOOD initiative. And this year with support from the Knight Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund we’ve expanded Lively-HOOD to connect into the URL Media NetworkURL Media, in collaboration with our partners, is committed to deep-dive reporting about work and wealth in BIPOC communities. And we are really excited about our accountability journalism series tracking the pledges made by corporate giants in the aftermath of the racial justice protests in 2020. Our first report followed the money – and the promise made by corporate America to increase funding for Black and Brown organizations. 
Now, in our second installment in the series, journalist Madhu Bora shines a spotlight on the pledge corporations made to increase racial diversity in their boardrooms. Some of the questions Bora tackles in this latest piece include; Are Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts making boards more nonwhite? Does having representation at the top move the needle for employees, businesses, homeowners and communities of color? How much influence can an individual or a small group assert on behalf of a community when they are compensated as part of their representation?

URL Media: How long did it take you to report on this story? And what were some of the challenges?
Madhu Bora: The initial reporting took about three weeks. I did have a jumpstart, because I was able to incorporate some materials from my earlier interviews for A Racial Reckoning at Big Banks. Once we were in the editing process, I ended up conducting additional interviews and follow ups. There have been so many stories on board diversity or the lack thereof so figuring how to make this not just another same old story was a big challenge. 

URL Media: What is the biggest takeaway for readers?
Madhu Bora: There is no boardroom diversity. There are structural, tangible barriers to getting a seat in the boardroom, especially for Black people. Corporate America is still a long way from making any meaningful, intentional systemic changes at the leadership level. Like one of the sources said "Diversity in the corporate sector is dying in the middle of the organization". The silver lining: People are exhausted and speaking up, and public and private entities are being forced to listen. I think we are in a crucial moment, where people are done being polite and ready to hold organizations and corporations accountable.


 Uplifting our Communities 

Health Equity: The University of St. Thomas Morrison in Minnesota created a new nursing program aimed at increasing the number of Black, Indigenous, people of color, immigrants, and students from rural populations in the field of nursing. A hallmark of the new program is a module on social justice advocacy including a requirement that students work on the streets treating and caring for homeless people. The Sahan Journal reports that the program is part of a larger vision laid out by a committee from the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine titled "Future of Nursing." 

Improving Quality of Life: Hurricane Ida ripped through New Orleans in September, leaving many residents to contend with a massive clean-up that lasted for weeks. To add insult to injury, garbage collection stopped which meant that trash piled up. Scalawag details how residents grappled with a pile-up of waste that attracted vermin, clouds of flies, and swarms of insects. It may surprise you to learn that the sanitation issues pre-date Ida and the pandemic and are linked to climate change.
Investigating Exploitative Employers: For years, labor unions in New York's car wash industry have combated exploitative owners who have a track record of treating their employees unfairly—including gross underpayment and wage theft. Flushing, Queens’ Jomar Car Wash is one exampleDocumented shows how a foundation with deep connections to the Koch Brothers and the ultra-right John Birch Society worked with a Jomar Car Wash employee— to decertify the business’ 8-year union. The unionization of Jomar Car Wash workers was part of a campaign led by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Unionthey unionized nine car wash shops, starting in 2012. Today, just three of those shops remain unionized.
Debating the Culpability of a Shooting Suspect's Parents: WURD Radio's Solomon Jones, host of Wake Up With WURD,  examines the legal case against James and Jennifer Crumbley, who are accused of involuntary manslaughter after their son allegedly killed four people at a Michigan high school. Jones was joined by Dr. Timothy Golden, professor of Philosophy and founder of the Donald Blake Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Culture at Walla Walla University in Washington.
West Side Story Reimagined: Patricia Guadalupe, for palabra., reviews the reboot of the classic movie, set in the late 1950s, centered around the culture clash between Puerto Ricans, new to New York City, and native-born white New Yorkers. Guadalupe has some gripes about accurate ethnic and gender representation but overall says it's worth watching, at least so you can decide for yourself if the filmmakers got it right.

 Respecting & Honoring Arts & Culture 

The (Cuban) American Pastime: Latin American baseball players make up the majority of American sports teams, and dominate the ranks of elite players. Rich Tenorio reports for palabra. that Latin America's deep connection with the sport dates back to the 19th century; "Latin American players have had a longstanding presence on rosters in the United States, including the majors, the minor leagues, and the historically significant Negro leagues," Tenorio writes.

Connecting with Nature: First-generation Iranian-American artist, Stacy Mehrfar, draws from personal history, photographs, video installations and photobooks to raise questions about how we build and sustain community. Central to her practice is an examination of the interdependent relationship between the individual and the group and how landscape shapes identity. In her latest work, she explores the connection between nature's ecosystems and humankind. Epicenter NYC shares this profile

West Side Story: The Reboot: Saida Pagán, writes for palabra., that the remake of the classic film is "A compelling new version by Steven Speilberg that breaks new ground on the big-screen inclusion of Latinos - and reignites debate over its portrayal of Puerto Ricans in New York City." Pagán looks behind the scenes of the production, speaking with cast members including actress Rita Moreno who played the female lead, Maria, in the 1961 version. 
July 1, Acrylic on yupo paper, 9×12 inches, 2021

The Space Between: Carpenter, painter and photographer Ed Grant's current work is an exploration of liminality, or the space between things. The Tibetan Buddhist concept of the Bardo is a liminal space — or the space and time between death and rebirth. This state of in-between allows for reflection or insight, or simply a moment of reprieve. Learn more about Epicenter NYC's artist of the week Ed Grant and experience his work. 

 Centering Love 

Diversifying the Stage: Broadway actor Reza Salazar is using his star power to push for representation in the entertainment industry. Salazar is one of the lead characters in “Clyde’s,” a new play centered around formerly incarcerated kitchen staff. palabra. shares this profile 

Fighting Food Insecurity: Jean-Martin Bauer, a Senior Advisor at the United Nations World Food Programme, is on a mission to make sure no one goes hungry; “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if it weren’t for my background as a Haitian-American,” she explains. The Haitian Times reports how Haitian American community leaders are teaming up with food pantries to combat food insecurity. 

 What We're Loving This Week From Our Partners 

Sourcing Reliable Information: The Sahan Journal's profile on the Bayan Research Center based in Minnesota offers a closer look at a center whose principal purpose is to support Somali Americans by providing data, and recommending solutions to societal issues facing Somalis in the U.S.. Since the pandemic, the center has become a primary source for reliable, trustworthy information about COVID19. Over the last two years, in fact, most of the center's callers have wanted answers to questions not really considered before the pandemic. For example, "How can Muslims stay safe from COVID-19 without compromising their religious duties?" And especially concerning to many callers has been whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which many suspect contains pork gelatin—as is the case with other vaccines, including the flu, shingles, measles, mumps, and rubella.

A Reality Check on the Omicron Variant: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to President Biden joined WURD Radio's Reality Check host Charles Ellison to talk about the importance of boosters, vaccine equity, demystifying the children's vaccine and how to gather safely during the holidays. Listen here.

 The URLs on URL 

The latest edition of the Columbia Journalism Review features a Tow Center Report, "A Twitter tightrope without a net: Journalists’ reactions to newsroom social media policies" centered on how journalists feel about their news organizations’ social media policies. The report, written by Arizona State University's Jacob Nelson, finds that many journalists, in particular journalists of color, don't feel supported by newsroom managers. Our co-founder S. Mitra Kalita, told Nelson, “The tension in some ways is the fundamental tension, not just of social media policies, but of, ‘What is journalism in the 21st century?" The report was published along with five response essays including one written by URL Media's Leonor Ayala Polley in which she argues that diversity is not enough; management needs to empower diverse voices and give them the agency to author and amend social media policy. 

And you don't want to miss our co-founder S. Mitra Kalita's 2022 predictions for journalism in the latest Nieman Lab Reports. Mitra's predictions are already reverberating across journalism and media circles—and well beyond. Here is a tiny spoiler, "The silver lining of COVID-19: Everyone's a change agent now, whether they like it or not." 

 Join URL Media Events 

WURD Radio's Empowerment Experience: Mark your calendars for Friday, Dec. 17, when WURD will host its 2021 Empowerment Experience! This year's theme is "The Power, Purpose and Possibility of Black Women: Conversations on Healing and Wholeness." Stay tuned for more details on this all-virtual event.

The Laura Flanders Show: Once a month, you can catch URL Media on The Laura Flanders Show on select PBS stations for a conversation that centers the stories, issues and concerns that our BIPOC media partners are following. Click here to check your local TV listing.  Here’s how you can watch our latest.

 Our Founders & Partners 

Sara Lomax-Reese, CEO of WURD Radio, Media entrepreneur of almost 30 years, served as Program Lead for the inaugural Facebook BIPOC Sustainability Accelerator and currently JSK Fellow.
S. Mitra Kalita, former SVP at CNN Digital, current CEO & Publisher at Kalita Mukul Creative Inc., has worked at Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, and has launched brands like Mint and Quartz.
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