Public schools are now mostly minorities

Diverse human pile.For years, we have known that the United States will become a country in which no racial or ethnic group is in the majority. The Pew Research Center reports why, when schools open, non-Hispanic white students will no longer be the majority.

Using U.S. Department of Education projections and Census data, Pew attributes the tipping point to the birth rate of Hispanic and Asian children. Birth rate was one subject covered in “100 Questions and Answers About Hispanics and Latinos.” Thoughts:

* The no-majority prediction has been out there for a long time. It makes sense that it will begin with young people and ripple as they grow up.
* How tolerant will the first no-majority generation be?
* Will pundits give this generation a name?
* Will we finally dump the term “minority?”
* For years I have felt that to see a community’s future, you should watch kids being dropped off or picked up at school.
—Joe Grimm

Test your diversity IQ with Bias Busters quiz

PushpinMSU Today tells the Bias Busters story by inviting you to take a diversity quiz.

It’s an effective way to show what cultural competence project does.

We look for the simple, everyday questions people have when they just want to know about each other and then we find the answers. We hope the Bias Buster guides turn out to be just your first step.

‘White is the new black’ trips over culture, context

A “White is the new Black” T-shirt is being denounced in the United States as racist. The objections come during violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police killing of an unarmed black teenager. The shirt was made by Zara, a Spanish clothing retailer.

Missing from the debate is that this expression has been used before, including with a drawing of actress Betty White. Zara has been silent about the backlash, but people speculate it is a play on “Orange is the New Black” that just doesn’t play well in the United States and especially not with racial tensions in Ferguson as a backdrop. There is no doubt the shirt was created before the Aug. 9 Ferguson killing, but people are saying that the shirt reflects a racist mindset.

The expression is not new. Previous uses, including on T-shirts, did not produce the same reaction.

Until Zara fills in some blanks, we won’t know what the thinking was or when the shirt came out. But we already have at least two lessons:
* Phrases, gestures and other signs mean different things in different cultures
* People will interpret them not just through their culture, but through their personal lenses.
Both can change the meanings.

Muslims guide will focus on cold end of thermometer

Chart courtesy the Pew Research Center
Chart courtesy the Pew Research Center
In the fall of 2014, a journalism class at Michigan State University will produce “100 Questions and Answers About Muslim Americans.” This is part of the school’s series of guides in cultural competence.

This will be the seventh guide in the series and the first to focus on one religion. We expect to do more interfaith guides like this in subsequent semesters.

We will come up with questions by asking a diverse group of Muslims what they wish other people knew about them and where they encounter knowledge gaps.

We intend to use journalism to fill some of those gaps to make it easy for people to get answers to their first, most basic questions. Then, we hope they will continue the dialogue by having more conversations on their own.

This temperature chart, from a June study by the Pew Research Center, shows that Americans on average are cooler toward Muslims than toward other groups. To us, this illustrates the need for some answers.

MSU Bias Busters crowdsource interfaith questions

Participants at the North American Interfaith Network conference in Detroit help out on the upcoming Bias Busters project in Muslim Americans.
Participants at the North American Interfaith Network conference in Detroit help out on the upcoming Bias Busters project in Muslim Americans.
Course graduates attended the North American Interfaith Network conference Tuesday in Detroit to seek help on the next Bias Busters guide. The graduates were Dmitri Barvinok, a Michigan State journalism alum, and Merinda Valley, now a journalism senior at MSU.

They explained how the classes produce the guides and asked participants for questions that should be included in this fall’s guide about Muslims. The group also suggested several topics for future guides as well experts that could be consulted on guides.

This is the first guide for which a group of subject-matter experts have been consulted in advance of the start of the course.

The Muslims guide, which will be out in December will be the first in the series to deal exclusively with religion.

North American Interfaith Network meets in Detroit

‎Myeengun Henry, manager of Aboriginal Services at Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Kitchener, Ontario, shows a wampum treaty belt that pledge non-interference among settlers and indigenous people.
‎Myeengun Henry, manager of Aboriginal Services at Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Kitchener, Ontario, shows a wampum treaty belt that pledge non-interference among settlers and indigenous people.

Hundreds of interfaith advocates from across the United States and Canada are meeting this week in Detroit for the annual conference of the North American Interfaith Network.

One of the few North American cities with an international connection, the conference was called Bridging Borders and Boundaries.

The Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit hoped to show off the Detroit area as one with a diverse and collaborative community.

Sunday’s keynote was the Rev. Daniel L. Buttry, a global peacemaker with roots in the Detroit area. The undercard was a concert by the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace, a Franciscan monk and a Jewish inspirational speaker.

Monday’s event was a panel of representatives of major faith groups at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. That is where Myeengun Henry (left) spoke.

Tuesday was at St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church and featured a panel of clerics from various faiths.

Hawaii’s diversity made election hard to call

Nate Silver’s elevated his reputation as a rock star statistician in the 2008 presidential electinby predicting the winner in 48 of 50 states. That brand helped him create the the website FiveThirtyEight.com, where he works with other numbers-minded writers. But Saturday’s Democratic primary in Hawaii threw them for a loop, in large part because of demographics.

Hawaii gubernatorial primary winner David Ige
Hawaii gubernatorial primary winner David Ige
FiveThirtyEight.com’s Harry Enten wrote, “Hawaii’s diversity has troubled pollsters in the past and looks to wreak havoc in 2014. Unlike in most states in the continental U.S., the majority of Hawaiians are non-white. Native Hawaiians, people of Asian descent and those of mixed origin make up about 70 percent of the state’s residents. People of Chinese, Filipino and Japanese descent make up the vast majority of Hawaiians.”

Later in his report, Enten wrote, “I’m not aware of any reliable statistics on the racial makeup of Hawaii’s Democratic primary voters. The state and outside groups have done a terrible job at keeping records on who votes and who doesn’t …”

Incumbent Gov. Neil Abercrombie lost to state Sen. David Ige in the primary, but the winner of the Democratic spot on the ticket for the U.S. Senate was still unresolved Monday.

Low turnout caused by storms did not help and the Senate race could turn on absentee ballots in the Puna District of Hawaii’s Big Island, where the primary was postponed.

Ted Nugent’s race remarks cost him concerts

Rocker Ted Nugent has had a controversial concert tour, having venues canceled or protested coast to coast over his remarks about Hispanics, Asians, American Indians and Trayvon Martin.

Ted Nugent protested/Licensed under Creative Commons
Ted Nugent protested/Licensed under Creative Commons
* The City of Longview, Texas, paid Nugent to not perform at its Fourth of July festival.
* More than 100 protested his concert in Montclair, New Jersey, July 22.
* An online petition was started and then removed over his July 26 concert in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
* The Puyallup Tribe canceled Aug. 2 and 3 shows at its Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington.
* The Coeur d’Alene Tribe canceled his Aug. 4 concert at its casino in Worley, Idaho.
* Protestors petitioned and then clashed with Nugent fans in an Aug. 5 concert in New Haven, Connecticut.
* People protested his Aug. 6 gig in Sturgis, South Dakota.
* A Native American group protested his Aug. 8 concert in Maumee, Ohio, and the owner of the Toledo Blade said he regretted sponsoring it.

Many protesters were American Indians objecting to remarks and his wearing of a feathered headdress as part of his act.

Nugent told Radio.com, “These sick, sick, stoned, hygiene-challenged Michael Moore fans, they call in and complain that I’m a racist, they claim I’m a pedophile, that I dodged the draft. They call all the promoters, the call all the venues, they call all my sponsors, every day.”

Arab publisher challenges ‘city of terrorists’ label

The Arab American News, published in Dearborn, Michigan, has challenged the city’s prominence of the U.S. watch list of terrorists and suspected terrorists. The list says Dearborn is second only to New York City for the number of people on the list.

Muslim woman holds American flag
Muslim and American/Photo from The Arab American News
Rankings were reported by The Intercept and picked up by other media.

Published and edited by Osama Siblani, The Arab American News writes:

“Dearborn is not a nest for terrorists; and if there are suspected terrorists in the city, let the government investigate them and then clear them or try them. But it is unacceptable to suspect that an entire community is terrorist because of the faith and/or ethnicity of its citizens.

“Dearborn is a harbor for innovation, diversity and tolerance.

“We are not terrorists. We are productive Americans—doctors, lawyers, artists and students.

“While being on the classified watch list carries no legal ramifications—for now—the news that Dearborn is second on the list is disastrous for the city and the community.”

Siblani consulted on “100 Questions and Answers About Arab Americans,” which addresses the issue of terrorism. A similar guide about Muslim Americans is in the works for this fall at the Michigan State University School of Journalism.