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raceAhead: A Final Word from Stan Lee

November 13, 2018, 6:32 PM UTC

It felt like Stan Lee would always be here.

The legendary writer, editor, and parent of Marvel Comics died yesterday at age 95. He created or co-created some of comicdom’s most enduring characters: Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Daredevil and Ant-Man, among others.

Yes, he was complicated, particularly at the end. But he was an enduring true believer, who never shied away from addressing politics, civil rights, and other progressive issues in his work.

Lee transformed the lives of millions of fans and helped them believe that they didn’t have to be a billionaire playboy to be the hero. Instead, he understood that everyone—including nerds, outcasts, and everyday schlubs, not only had a place in society but could enjoy a starring role in making the world a better place.

It’s hard to see him go. We could sure use a superhero right about now.

Instead, we seem surrounded by villains.

Hate crimes ticked up 17 percent last year, according to the FBI, the third increase in as many years. About three out of every five of these crimes targeted a person’s race or ethnicity, and about one out of five focused on their religion. And these numbers are likely too low.

Then there’s the low-key violence, like the MAGA building blocks we can look forward to this holiday season, a LEGO knockoff that implores children to “build the wall.” It comes complete with President Trump in MAGA hard hat, and lots of scary rhetoric. “The wall must be built. The wall will keep America safe” from “gangs, criminals and terrorists.” Immigration policy in toy form.

And I don’t know how many Spiderman fans were standing in a group photo of high school juniors on their way to the prom last spring in Baraboo, Wisc. When asked to throw up a Nazi salute by the photographer, there was only one kid who could make the cut in the Marvel Universe. (More on that mess below.)

Iowa voters have decided to hold on to Congressman Steve King for now, a man who, among other things, believes in the “great replacement” theory, which typically blames Jews for leading a global conspiracy to replace white Christian Americans with immigrants. (Do you remember the “Jews will not replace us” chant from the Charlottesville white supremacist rally? That.)

And Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith is in all sorts of trouble for publicly praising a donor with this odd turn of phrase: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row!”

Hyde-Smith, who is white, is facing a tough run-off election later this month. Her opponent is former U.S. agriculture secretary Mike Espy. He is black, as are 37% of Mississippians. Mississippi had 581 lynchings between 1882 and 1968, more than any other state, the NAACP would like you to know.

She was met with chuckles and polite applause.

I could go on and on. Instead, let’s give Stan Lee the last word.

Last year, Lee tweeted a column he’d originally published in 1968 after the deadly incident in Charlottesville.

From the column:

“Let’s lay it right on the line. Racism and bigotry are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed supervillains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them, is to expose them — to reveal then for the insidious evils they really are.

“Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if a man is to ever be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God — a God who calls us ALL — his children.”

He ended his Twitter commentary with this simple sign-off. “As true today as it was in 1968. Pax et Justitia – Stan @therealstanlee”

Rest in pax, Stan. More justitia to come.

On Point

Michelle Obama’s new book ‘Becoming’ drops todayAnd yes, it’s getting the attention of a major album release. The former FLOTUS launches her arena-style book tour today, and the tidbits that have already leaked out sound worth the hype. She takes then-candidate Trump to task for endangering her family with his birth certificate nonsense and shares her struggles with infertility. But it sounds like the real strength of the book is how she explores what it meant to be the first black first lady in a country deeply scarred by racism. “I carried a history with me, and it wasn’t that of presidents or first ladies. I’d never related to the story of John Quincy Adams the way I did to that of Sojourner Truth.”Washington Post

Here are NPR’s diversity numbers
As always, it’s a mixed bag. There has been a bit of progress: There are more people of color in leadership roles, and their news and information division is now 27% people of color, up 2% from a year ago. Some 57% of the newsroom are women, and white women make up the single largest demographic. Keith Woods, NPR's vice president of newsroom training and diversity says, "The overall numbers for newsroom leaders are really good unless you're a Native American, an Asian man or a Latino man and then you see how hard it is to declare victory just because we have a higher percentage of people of color in the newsroom." If you want to more context, Pew Research Center has a new study of newsroom diversity which finds that 77% of all newsrooms are white, 61% are men.

Henry Golding becomes first Asian GQ Man of The Year
It’s a big deal to land the cover of the annual issue, even though there are technically four “men of the year” one of whom is a woman. But the “Crazy Rich Asians” star is the first Asian man, and “[t]he achievement isn’t lost on the online Asian community ― especially since Western mainstream media has historically emasculated Asian men,” writes Kimberly Yam for The Huffington Post. Says GQ: “Beyond [the film’s] success — and what a success it was — it minted Henry Golding as one of the industry’s must-hire new actors, and for good reason: He’s handsome, he’s suave, and that accent. A nation swooned, and GQ did too.” Other swoonable cover stars are Michael B. Jordan, Serena Williams and Jonah Hill.
Huffington Post

A bunch of junior high school boys gave a Nazi salute for a prom photo
Baraboo High School in Wisconsin was on the hot seat yesterday, after a group photo of boys on their way to their junior prom began circulating online. The students had been asked to raise a “Sieg Heil” salute, and nearly 50 gleefully complied. The photo, which was posted Sunday by a now-private Twitter account called @GoBaraboo was captioned: “We even got the black kid to throw it up #BarabooProud.” Journalist Jules Suzdaltsev asked about the photo on Twitter and immediately began receiving validating stories from students about the culture within the school. (He also spoke to the one boy who seemed visibly uncomfortable with the salute, and who provided a complete statement.) The police and the school are investigating.
Washington Post


The Woke Leader

November 12-19 is transgender awareness week
Keep an eye out from November 12-19 for digital and real-world events and other happenings. GLAAD has a complete guide if you want to help your organization raise awareness and support for the many issues of discrimination and violence that transgender and gender non-conforming people face. Also, November 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), an annual observance that honors the memory of the people who were lost to anti-trans hate crimes. Click through for more, or to find a vigil near you.

Fat and lazy? Lean and mean? Why we just can’t shake body-based stereotypes
The associations have been around since the 1940s when psychologist William Sheldon established “somatypes,” three body types that he believed could be linked to personality traits. While these theories have been completely debunked, their impacts have not. A recent study by researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas finds that people continued to make consistent moral judgments based on people’s body types. The fatter the body, the more negative the traits. Since obesity is more likely to be found in low-income communities, where access to good food and the time to prepare it is scarce, these negative first impressions are particularly dangerous.
The Atlantic

A Tiny Desk concert like no other
I like to imagine the first time someone pitched the Tiny Desk series during an NPR edit meeting: “It’s like a concert in our office, plus an interview. No, we won’t tidy up or anything. We’ll just put the band in a corner or something.” The unusual venue has led to some extraordinarily intimate moments over the years. But this one, from a band called Bernie and the Believers, is more intimate than most. It’s the story of an aspiring singer named Bernie Dalton, a father, musician, and songwriter in his 40s with a day job as a pool cleaner. He had one dream: To make an album. His teacher and collaborator managed to help him achieve his goal, just as his diagnosis of bulbar-onset ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, threatened to overtake him. Bring tissues.


This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We’re determined to take our country back we’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump, that’s what we believed in and that’s why we voted for Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do.
David Duke