Skip to Content Apologizes for Slavery-Themed Ad

Here’s your week in review, in haiku



Lift ev’ry voice and

sing, Beyoncé is ev’ry

thing. Rejoice and rise.



Zoom zooms, Pinterest

pops, Enquirer exits,

Galaxy glitches.



When <REDACTED> said


Sadly, <REDACTED>.



Derry tonight, and

in the light of day: Madness.

Absolute Lyra.



Both unleavened and

risen, together in faith.

Go down Moses, go.



Happy and joyous weekend to all who celebrate.

On Point forced to apologize for an ad whitewashing slaveryThe ad, which ran on television and online, depicted a black woman and white man dressed in period garb running through an alley. The man, holding a ring, says they “can escape to the North,” suggesting they were in love. The online outcry was immediate. Clint Smith, a PhD candidate at Harvard, tweeted that the ad is “an irresponsible, ahistorical depiction of the relationship between white men & black women during the period of chattel slavery that completely disregards its power dynamics & the trauma of sexual exploitation.” The DNA testing company pulled the ad. “Ancestry is committed to telling important stories from history. This ad was intended to represent one of those stories. We very much appreciate the feedback we have received and apologize for any offense that the ad may have caused.”CNN

Venture capital firms ranked by diversity
According to this report from the subscription-based technology publication The Information, the number of black and Latinx professionals in venture capital ticked lower last year, reversing a three-year upward trend. This is one of the findings of their fourth The Information’s VC Diversity Index, a now annual ranking by gender and race of the 102 biggest venture capital firms in the U.S. Black and Latinx women are woefully underrepresented. The 2018 survey found that only 7, or 1%, of the decision makers in the survey are black, and 11, or 1.5%, are Hispanic. Unlike members of other races, the number of Asian professionals increased year over year, from 170, or 23.8%, up from 140, or 22.4% in 2017. (E-mail registration required.) The firms surveyed had more than $250 million in assets under management.
The Information

Serena Williams announces her new venture fund
While its not enough to reverse the trend, it’s still very good news. Serena Ventures has been around since 2014, actually. The tennis star went public with her work on Instagram and invited her followers to come visit her site. “Serena Ventures invests in companies that embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity and opportunity,” she wrote. Among the brands she’s invested in include a frozen smoothie and healthy food delivery service; the Wing, a company that designs co-working spaces for women; a financial software product for low-income customers; and the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase.

Maya Angelou gets the star treatment she deserves
The work of the award-winning poet and writer is set to be turned into a one-woman show in 2021. Phenomenal Woman: An Evening With Maya Angelou, will be “drawing from the late Angelou’s many writings, along with some private musings that have never before been made public,“ the producers said in a statement. Angelou’s son, Guy Johnson, is also involved in the project. “We hope to capture her joie de vivre. We’re going to include some private anecdotes that will be a revelation to audiences. I’m pleased to be working with this team in bringing her story to life and can’t wait for the public to experience it,” he said.


On Background

Speaking of Maya Angelou anecdotes you’ve not heard before…
“The only way you can be a mark is if you want something for nothing.” So begins this marvelous interview from the Studs Terkel audio archive, now beautifully animated by the team at PBS’s Blank on Blank. Angelou’s stepfather owned pool halls and gambling houses and taught his young step-daughter how to identify marked cards and such. He also introduced her to a lively array of professional con men who gave her the skinny on how the world really worked. You want to make a big score? Their tip: “Use the white man’s bigotry against him.”
Blank on Blank

Losing your language
Growing up in the 1950s in Marfa, Tex. meant segregated schools for Latinx kids. Spanish was their first language. But Maggie Marquez and Jessi Silva remember the day when their language was banned for good. In this poignant StoryCorps audio account, the two recalled when their teacher asked them to write down on a piece of paper, ‘I will not speak Spanish in school.’ The papers were put into a box and buried in a ceremony the teacher called the “burial of Mr. Spanish.” When Marquez protested, she was hit with a paddle. For their families, however, things weren’t so simple.
Washington Post

Talking about transgender people
GLAAD has an excellent media guide that can help anyone learn how to better refer to or communicate about transgender people. The glossary is a gift, but reading through their reference materials is a great way to better understand what it means to be transgender and how to respect the boundaries of people who are living lives that are unfamiliar to many. According to a GLAAD/Harris Interactive poll, only 16% of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender, which can lead to some profound misunderstanding. “[W]hen a stereotypical or defamatory image of a transgender person appears in the media, the viewer may assume that all transgender people are actually like that; they have no real-life experience with which to compare it,” they say. Since everyone is a publisher now, we all have a lot to learn.



I grew up just off Belfast’s Murder Mile, a stretch so called because of the number of casualties there during the Troubles, the decades-long conflict over the status of Northern Ireland. The wider area around the Mile was known as the Murder Triangle for the same reason. Just streets away from my family’s house, it wasn’t uncommon for loyalist paramilitaries to drive around, single out a target, and pull the trigger…But even the bloodshed of my childhood hadn’t left me prepared for the news, a decade after peace began, that my friend Jonny had killed himself at age 17…We were the Good Friday Agreement generation, spared from the horrors of war. But still, the aftereffects of those horrors seemed to follow us.
—Lyra McKee