Short up top today! But I'm still doing the work.
If culture change has been on your mind, and I know it has, then meet me on Twitter later today. I’m dashing to the Javitz Center in NYC to check out the Salesforce World Tour, but I’ll also be moderating a panel on how companies can foster an inclusive culture.
Leading the way will be a diverse panel starring Ron Guerrier, CIO, Farmers Insurance; Liza Landsman, President Jet.com; Katie Bisbee CMO, Donors Choose and Barry F.X. Smith, State Street Global Advisors.
The panel is at noon Eastern. You can follow along under the hashtags #SalesforceTour #Equalityforall. Either way, I'll update you on what I've learned.
A fatal police shooting of a Texas 15-year-old raises questions
According to local police, Jordan Edwards, a freshman at Mesquite High School in Balch Springs, Tex., was riding in a car that was backing up aggressively toward them when they fired, killing Edwards with a gunshot wound to the head. But yesterday, the Balch Springs police chief told reporters that the video showed a different story – the vehicle had been driving normally at the time. The revelation has put the town on edge. “There were no weapons involved; there was no aggressive behavior; these were not suspects,” said a lawyer for the Edwards family. Edwards was a popular kid and his death has unnerved the small community.
An investment group would like more "urban" on the Urban Outfitters board
Their homogeneous board is being blamed by an investment group for the retailer’s recent subpar performance. Yesterday, the CtW Investment Group sent a letter to Urban Outfitter shareholders criticizing the “extreme insularity” of the board of directors. "For a company that is so reliant on global sourcing and focused on women," the CtW executive director wrote, "it is surprising that the board consists of largely Caucasian males with law and finance backgrounds." Two of nine Urban Outfitters board members are women, one is the wife of the CEO. The company responded in an emailed statement to Fortune, saying that they have “been demonstrably responsive to shareholders' input regarding Board composition and governance."
What are we to make of the outsized success of Get Out?
Mark Harris ticks through the reasons that Get Out should not have been a Hollywood smash: It was cheap, had a first time director, no bankable stars (to speak of), it was based on no other work and it wasn’t sequel-ready. Miss anything? Oh yes, it was a long form horror-comedy about race. “It was an accident, although it now feels like an inevitability, that Get Out arrived in movie theaters the very weekend that Moonlight not only won the Best Picture Academy Award but, thanks to the Oscar telecast’s twist ending, appeared to win only by withstanding a hurricane, gently but determinedly wresting its moment from a stage full of churning, baffled white people,” he writes. So, will this original work give future greenlighters the courage they need to keep making real movies? Or will the search for the next Get Out become the quest to get Jordan Peele to direct the next Marvel movie?
Hate speech spurs a college campus into action
Classes were canceled Monday at St. Olaf’s college in Northfield, Minnesota, after an escalation of hate speech fueled the campus into a weekend of peaceful protests. After a note left on a student’s car calling her a nigger and threatening, “You have spoken up too much. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up,” students shut down the cafeteria during dinner, among other actions. The administration suspended classes on Monday ahead of a student boycott; they plan to hold meetings this week to discuss diversity. Said one student on her Instagram: “The St. Olaf students of color are some of the most courageous, powerful, and incredible people I've ever experienced. Think racists can get away with hate crime and any slurs here? Ask the students: think again.” Of the nearly 3,000 full-time students at St. Olaf College 2,214 of the students are white and 63 are black.
A new writer's retreat for women of color
Check out this new two-week, residential writing retreat at SMU-in-Taos in Taos, New Mexico hosted by Jack Jones Literary Arts. It’s open exclusively to women of color, and eleven fully-funded scholarships - one offered by Roxane Gay - are available to help defray costs. National Book Award finalist, Angela Flournoy, author of The Turner House, will be joining as Writer-in-Residence for week one, and Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow and NEA award winner, Angel Nafis, author of BlackGirl Mansion, will join as Writer-in-Residence for week two. Professional and emerging women writers of color at work on book projects are eligible. Share with the women you know who could use some space to create. Hurry! Deadline to apply is May 5.
The Woke Leader
Ads for runaway slaves offer an extraordinary glimpse into history
Former U.S. president Andrew Jackson has been back in the news lately, as current President Trump has raised interesting questions about why the Civil War was fought, and more importantly, whether or not the slaveholding Jackson would have prevented its occurrence. While we may never know the answer, we do know that Jackson sounded pretty peeved when he placed an ad for a runaway slave in the Tennessee Gazette in October 1804. A “Mulatto Man Slave, about thirty years old, six feet and an inch high, stout made and active, talks sensible, stoops in his walk,” he wrote, noting that the escaped Mulatto “will pass for a free man.…” The reward was $50 plus expenses, with an unusually cruel twist: “ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of three hundred.” This ad is one of thousands being preserved by the history department at Cornell University. Jackson owned about 150 enslaved persons when he died in 1845. Click through for more. Really, do.
A North Korean defector draws the horror of life under Kim Jong Un
In 2014, the United Nations' Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea published a report that described the gross human rights violations that have been perpetrated by North Korea and Kim Jong Un. The panel’s chairman called them “strikingly similar” to the crimes committed by the Nazi regime in World War II. One of the people who testified was a 48-year-old man named Kim Kwang-Il, who had been imprisoned for smuggling pine nuts over the border. After he escaped, he wrote and illustrated a book about the atrocities he experienced. It was one of the rare glimpses into the widespread system of prisons, concentration camps and torture facilities where upwards of 200,000 North Koreans are said to languish. Click through for links to full archives of Kim’s photos and his two-hour public testimony.
Six-year-old girl creates a coloring book series on black indigenous cultures
The 20-page book aims to teach kids about black indigenous cultures around the world. Vanae James-Bey, is a home-schooled Floridian now living in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; the book was born of a desire to learn more about the real roots of cultures around the world. “Being home-schooled, we tend to stick to a more Afrocentric curriculum, and noticed how hard it was to find specific materials for lessons,” says her mother, Veronica Bey. The Indigenous Adventures of Princess Vanae helps show that black history is more than just slavery, says Bey. More volumes are planned.