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raceAhead: Understanding World AIDS Day, Yellowface Your Way To The Top At Marvel, More Trouble for Uber

December 1, 2017, 5:17 PM UTC

Your week in review, in haiku



Patent pending: Desk-

button that releases the

hounds of hell. In pink.



Rexit imminent?

Well, tea for the Tillerson,

but no sympathy.



A war criminal

drinks poison at trial. Drops dead.

Barely a headline.



#MeToo, speaking truth

to power. Call me when they

speak to R. Kelly?



Gawlee! Goodbye: Stan’s

sweet husband, Mayberry’s son,

adopted Marine.



<phone rings> “Sally Yates.”

She nods. “Linney’s great! Call me

when Ava’s attached.”


Have a victorious weekend.

On Point

On World AIDS Day, an urgent look at what we stand to loseConservative columnist Michael Gerson highlights the alarming fact that the Trump Administration aims to gut funding for and attention to the fight against AIDS worldwide. It “would increase infections, cost lives and threaten the extraordinary progress of the past 15 years,” he says. Gerson was one of the architects of President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), President George W. Bush’s much-lauded initiative to combat the spread of AIDS, passed with bipartisan support in 2003. The program currently offers 13 million people lifesaving treatment, but does so much more: It helps to slow the rate of infection. The situation is particularly dire in Africa, which is expecting a population of 800 million young people by 2050.Washington Post

Uber investor Shervin Pishevar accused of sexual harassment
Pishevar is the co-founder and managing director of Sherpa Capital, and a powerful figure in Silicon Valley. But according to the reporting in this Bloomberg piece, he is also a serial harasser, who typically exploited his power and privilege to make unwanted advances toward women seeking mentorship or investment. Five women spoke with Bloomberg on the condition of anonymity, detailing incidences going back to 2013. In 2017, Pishevar was arrested in London after being accused of rape, but he was never charged.

Why Marvel’s new editor-in-chief is a problem
This week came the shocking news that Marvel’s new editor-in-chief, C.B. Cebulski, had written for the company under a fictional persona and pseudonym from 2004-2005, in violation of company policy. To make matters worse, the “character,” named Akira Yoshida, came with an elaborate backstory of growing up in Japan, and focused his writing on celebrating white foreigners in Japan, known as “gaijin.” Cebulski is white. Writer Clara Mae digs into the specific details of why the deception was so problematic, while making this case: “In an industry that still skews overwhelmingly white and male, it was yet another frustratingly indicative example that white male privilege — that a white man can make mistakes, be dishonest, and/or be unqualified for a position and yet still ‘fail up’ — is all too real.”
The Daily Beast

Black vegans are here with a tasty message of empowerment
The black vegan movement is having a moment, complete with a hashtag (#blackvegansrock) a “100 black vegans list,” a t-shirt business and the support of the hip-hop community. But it also has a distinct philosophy: Health, animal welfare, social justice and racial equality are intertwined and essential issues. “I no longer feel like an endangered species out here,” PETA columnist Zachary Toliver told The New York Times. While black veganism has historical and spiritual roots, it’s also got a modern spin. “For a lot of black people, it’s also the social justice and food access. The food we have been eating for decades and decades and has been killing us,” says personal chef Jenné Claiborne.
New York Times

The Woke Leader

How it came to be that Google's bias rules the world
Anil Dash, the CEO of Fog Creek Software and advocate for more humane tech, has posted a must-read treatise on the current state of online content, specifically the quest for better search results and what it’s done to publishing. It begins with his brief history of content management systems (Wordpress, etc.,) and then explores the surprising ways that, in his view, the quest to appeal to Google became the need to appease them. “[W]hat if, due to the market pressure of the increasing value of ranking in Google’s search results, websites were incentivized to change their content to appeal to Google’s algorithm?” he asks. “Or, more accurately, to appeal to the values of the people who coded Google’s algorithm?” Herein lies the rub: Biased algorithms may be utterly remaking the world.

A new, interactive tool that can help you craft a better apology and be a better person
Game designer and activist Elizabeth Sampat has created an elegant, interactive tool that can help anyone understand when, why and how to apologize, and in the process, become a more emotionally aware person. Called, “Am I Part Of The Problem?” it takes you through a step-by-step process of introspection, helping you understand what you did, the difference between intent and impact, and ultimately how to apologize and make amends. It’s a very good tool.  Start with this excellent review from Lifehacker, then get to setting your relationships right.

An essay on slavery gone badly wrong, and a teacher’s lament
Michelle R. Smith, a writer and adjunct English professor, posted an excerpt of a painful essay written by a student trying to find the silver lining in the whole slavery thing. Sure it was damaging mentally and physically, “But in the end, slavery was actually a positive thing for the world because people learned to fight for who they are.” Smith, shaking her damn head the entire time, responds with a call for White History Month, in order to flip the education narrative from victimhood to perpetrator. “[M]aybe if we taught the history of slavery and Emancipation and Reconstruction and Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement in terms of what white people were doing during these periods rather than what black people were experiencing,” then kids would know what actually happened.
The Bluest i Blog


I don’t think the American people understand how many lives they’ve saved. If you’re a taxpayer, you’re an AIDS activist.