THE SAN DIEGO PARTICIPANT OBSERVER Participant Observation is the Process of Learning by Observing and Participating in Cultural Life
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October, 2020 - (Click Here for Previous Issues)
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June 5, 2020

(View Social Justice Resources by Category)

In response to recent events that remind us that we have lots of unfinished work as responsible citizens, we are offering a special edition of the Participant Observer newsletter.

By now everyone knows about the murder of an African American, George Floyd, at the hands of the Minneapolis police and the subsequent protest rallies being held throughout America (and in many other places around the world). The use of lethal force and brutality against unarmed Black people has a very long history in America. Perhaps no other subject generates so much passion, anger, confrontation and confusion as topics related to race do. But there is also rather widespread and substantial ignorance on the subject, and many people are uncomfortable even discussing racism.

We will try to help. . .

According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, "Research shows that many people feel they do not have the information needed to discuss race in a way that is candid, safe and respectful of other viewpoints and experiences." The Worldview Project's mission is to promote greater cross-cultural awareness, understanding and engagement. First and foremost, the Worldview Project is an educational nonprofit organization, and for us, responsible social action begins with becoming informed. Ours is an anthropologically influenced endeavor, and all good anthropology begins with listening. Below are numerous resources to help you better understand the tragic contours of the social disease we call racism and how it has become institutionalized into the normal practices of social behavior and power structures of American society.

But education alone is insufficient. Several years ago we added the word "engagement" to our mission statement, reflecting that our view that to be a responsible citizen it is insufficient to just know; it is important to act. They say knowledge is power, but that is only true if armed with knowledge gained you choose to act. All of us, which includes everyone here at the Worldview Project, need to become better informed and learn how we can make a difference in combating racism and unequal justice in all their forms and how each of us can do our part in building a more just society. We all have a constructive and important part to play; these issues are everybody's issues. One of the things we are most proud of at the Worldview Project is not how "enlightened" we are, but how we have for nearly 2 decades now provided useful resources to San Diegans to expand their own cross-cultural awareness and understanding and provide ways in which people can cross barriers and get involved. Recent events have once again underlined the importance of these efforts. With that in mind, we have collected the following resources to aid and empower this ongoing journey:

Helpful Guides, Resources and Links:
Talking About Race Portal hosted by the National Museum of African History and Culture. A site that "provide tools and guidance to empower your journey and inspire conversation."
How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change by Barack Obama. The former president ends his article with "Let's get to work".
Black Lives Matter this is the website for the BLM movement, including information on what they stand for, what they do and how you can get involved or avail yourself of resources (including resources related to COVID-19).
Corporate Voices Get Behind ‘Black Lives Matter’ Cause A New York Times article on how some major corporations are backing the Black Lives Matter cause.
2020 Bipartisan Justice Center, a bipartisan group dedicated to criminal justice reform and enacting laws that combat social injustice. Importantly they operate at a national and local level.
Walk With Us if you think trying to eradicate police brutality is "anti-police", Sheriff Chris Swanson as well as women and men in blue from Flint, MI; Coral Gables, FL; Santa Cruz, CA; Miami, FL; Denver CO; Camden, NJ; and Fargo, ND would disagree. Many of them "took a knee" to express support for the rallies.
A New Era of Public Safety An Advocacy Toolkit for Fair, Safe, and Effective Community Policing. From the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Understanding Race and Privilege from the National Association of School Psychologists. Most everything, good or bad, has its roots in childhood. Build a better society one kid at a time.
Ted Talks on Understanding Racism in America, it all starts with listening.
International Students and Experiences with Race in the United States an illuminating article from World Education News & Reviews
For a More Equitable America, Understand Race and Racism as Actions We Do and Can Undo from the Stanford Social Innovation Review
75 Things that White People Can Do for Racial Justice by Corinne Shutack
What Do Coronavirus Racial Disparities Look Like State By State? by NPR.

Books That Inform and Empower Anti-Racism
Do the Work: An Anti-racist Reading List from the Guardian
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. A hard-hitting but user-friendly examination of race in America
How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide by Crystal M. Fleming. "Fleming unveils how systemic racism exposes us all to racial ignorance'"and provides a road map for transforming our knowledge into concrete social change."
The Hidden Rules of Race: Barrier to an Inclusive Economy by Andrea Flynn, Susuan R. Holmberg, Dorian T. Warren, and Felicia J. Wong.
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum. A psychologist looks at the psychology of Racism
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
An Antiracist Reading List by Ibram X. Kendi, who also wrote the best-selling book How to Be an Anti-racist and several other books.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. Policing is just one aspect of an entire system of racial justice.
Let's Fight Racism courtesy of the United Nations. Helpful and informative resources for fighting racism.
De-escalation Keeps Protesters And Police Safer. Departments Respond With Force Anyway. from Five Thirty Eight and the Marshal Project. What 50 years of research and 3 Federal commissions say . . .
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Noble. It is often the most taken-for-granted things that are most worrisome.
Racism Without Racists by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. A now classic text on race and racism both diagnoses and offer solutions for structural inequities. 5th Edition with new material.

A Few Local Organizations that Promote Social Justice
Justice Overcoming Boundaries a San Diego nonprofit that organizes and advocates for social justice.
Center on Policy Initiatives is a nonprofit research and action institute dedicated to creating economic prosperity, sustainable communities, and a healthy environment for all.
Alliance San Diego is a robust community empowerment organization working to ensure that all people can achieve their full potential in an environment of harmony, safety, equality, and justice.
Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego
Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans Immigrants and refugees have shockingly few rights and resources. This San Diego based nonprofit has many ongoing practical initiatives to assist immigrants and refugees. Learn how you can get involved in their work.

Television and Film
Another avenue to learn more about social justice affecting communities of color is to watch TV series and Movies directed by, written by and starring people of color.

Atlanta (United States) Hulu, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime

In 2018 Rolling Stone and the Guardian both declared that Atlanta was "the best show on TV". The brainchild of actor/musician/dj/producer/writer Donald Glover, Atlanta is a comedy/drama that revolves around two cousins (one, Earn, is played by Glover himself) trying to make it big in rap music in Atlanta Georgia. The creator, directors, writers and most of the cast are people of color. Whatever your views or interests in rap and hip-hop, this audacious and wonderfully unpredictable series is brilliant show that "contains multitudes". As the NY Times observed, Atlanta is a "a comedy in which anything could happen without warning." The cinematography is masterful; absolutely nothing looks like it takes place on a Hollywood set. Wickedly funny at times, it nevertheless pulls no punches and it is subversive and unsettling. The show embraces many critical issues in America today, but Glover's acute sense of irony and skill at looking at situations with subtle nuance defies expectations at every turn. Donald Glover said he wanted to show people "what it feels like to be black". If you are worried that the show is only for young people who love hip-hop and rap, prepared to be surprised.

Black-ish (United States) ABC, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube TV

Black-ish is an ensemble comedy about a upper-middle class family that lives in the upscale LA neighborhood of Sherman Oaks in Los Angeles. Last month it was renewed for a 7th season. The father, "Dre", is an advertising executive and his bi-racial wife, "Rainbow" is an anesthesiologist. The Johnson family has "made it": the kids go to private schools, live in a big house, drive fancy cars and confront many issues that any family at the socio-economic level might. But because they are Black, that requires them to deal with a wide range of issues their neighbors, their co-workers, and classmates don't. Each episode revolves around one or more of these issues. The general style of the series, its cinematography, pace and humor are rather conventional and undoubtedly this is intentional. It has absolutely none of the cinematic grit of the aforementioned show Atlanta. But underneath the gentle comedy are real social issues that have a much wider relevance to Black experience in American society. Two episodes'""Hope" which centers around an instance of police brutality and "Juneteenth" which dramatizes the lack of general appreciation for the end of slavery were re-aired by ABC on "Blackout Tuesday". The show's creator, Kenya Barris, wrote on Instagram, "Black Rights are Human Rights, and this continued injustice impacts all of us. So while we hope these episodes can bring your families together in watching and learning, the real hope is that it inspires you to join us in demanding Liberty and Justice for All - Once and for All."

Other shows to watch: Insecure, Empire, Dear White People, Power, Queen Sugar, Greenleaf, Snowfall, Grown-ish, Black Lightening, The Haves and Have Nots.


Do the Right Thing (United States) Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play iTunes, Vudu

It is a sad commentary that Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing is as important today as it was when it was released in 1989. We seem to have made little real progress on the socio-cultural and institutional conditions that the film addresses; indeed it seems in many ways society has actually regressed in terms of social, economic and racial justice. Last year was the film's 30th anniversary. Near the end of the film, a protest erupts which results in one of the characters dying from a policeman choking him. Lee does not attempt to pass judgement on the ensuing "riot"; instead he attempts to show how in bold relief how such things come to be. Lee wanted to provoke thought, reflection, and a greater understanding, not provide easy solutions. The movie ends with two quotes about violence, one by Martin Luther King and another by Malcolm X. Spike Lee has written, directed and starred in a large number of entertaining and important films, the most recent being the critically acclaimed BlacKkKlansman

13th (United States) Netflix

The 13th Amendment brought formal end to slavery and involuntary servitude with one big caveat: "except as a punishment for a crime". This heartbreaking documentary by Ava DuVernay uses historical footage, statistics and commentary by scholars, commentators, activists and politicians (including conservatives) to document the long and terrible history of political leaders, governments and corporations working together to create the current system of mass incarceration that has led the United States to be the country with the largest prison population in the world. The United States has only 4% of the worlds population but a full quarter of number of people in the world in jail. The film documents how this massive system is particularly harmful to people of color. Sadly it is a history of the present. DuVernay has written and directed a number of documentaries, shorts, dramas, television episodes including the acclaimed documentary Selma and the current TV drama Queen Sugar.

You can find a huge Pinterest page of movies and TV series featuring African-American actors, casts, directors and stories here.
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