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Friday, March 21, 2008



Color and the US view of Iraq (4:30)

Mike Prysner was 21 when he was deployed to northern Iraq in 2003. Prysner said just about every day, for the entire year he was in Iraq, he heard derogatory language being used to describe the Iraqi people; Phrases like……:

" …..Towel head and camel jockey and most disturbing of all, sand nigger. And these words did not initially come from my fellow soldiers but from my platoon leader, my sergeant, my company first sergeant."

An added barrier is Americans’ wholesale ignorance of Islam, says Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban. She teaches the anthropology of race and racism at Rhode Island College and is an advisor to the US military:

"Right after Baghdad had been secured one of my students says they heard in the early morning hours the dawn call to prayer and they thought it was a call to arms and they were at the battle ready –ready to shoot anything that moved. He came back and said how awful he had felt—because he is an African American man—He had stereo-typed people the way that he had been stereo-typed at home."


The Color Initiative is funded by the Ford Foundation, with additional resources provided by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the Funding Exchange (Paul Robeson Fund).

Saturday, March 8, 2008

COLOR INITIATIVE REPORT 4: Malaysia's Ethnic Indians


COLOR REPORT FOUR:Malaysia's ethnic Indians protest (5:00)

Ethnic Indians in Malaysia have long supported that country's ruling party. But not this time around. On the eve of Malaysian elections, ethnic Indians are taking to the streets to protest discrimination. I report from Kuala Lumpur as part of my series on the role of color and culture in shaping national identities.

The Color Initiative is funded by the Ford Foundation, with additional resources provided by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the Funding Exchange (Paul Robeson Fund).

Friday, March 7, 2008

COLOR INITIATIVE REPORT 3: European Immigrants, Whiteness and Why it Matters Today, Part I

COLOR REPORT THREE: My third report in the COLOR INITIATIVE series on The World (BBC/WGBH/PRI) looks at how some European immigrant groups to this country--many whom were originally regarded as NON-white--became white, and the relevance to current immigration concerns. This is part one of two reports on this issue.

(Listen to report on The World by clicking on the link below and scroll down to January 21st story)

I traveled to Chicago's Greektown and also spoke with Iranian, Italian and Brazilian immigrants in putting together these two stories. A key resource for understanding the role of color in America's hierarchical construction is the book:
Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White: the Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs by David R. Roediger, who was also interviewed for this story.

The Color Initiative is funded by the Ford Foundation, with additional resources provided by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the Funding Exchange.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

COLOR INITIATIVE REPORT 2: US Race Relations and American Film


For many people outside the U.S, race is an essential part of what defines America. And it is Hollywood that is helping to supply many of the images. That's the subject of the second in our on-going series on Color around the world-- TODAY on The World.

The Color Initiative is funded by the Ford Foundation, with additional resources provided by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the Funding Exchange.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

COLOR INITIATIVE REPORT 1: "Race as a marketing tool"

Listen Race as a marketing tool (6:00)
November 8, 2007 | permalink | email | Yahoo! Buzz
Tune into the BBC program The World to listen to the first color report in my year-long Color Initiative series. It's about BENETTON, a European company that champions racial diversity (even as racism escalates across the continent). Learn how Benetton built a global brand on skin color. 

The World - a joint production of WGBH, BBC and PRI - is a daily news program heard on 236 public radio stations across the United States. Check local listings for broadcast times.

WGBH , PRI and BBC Announce a World-Wide Reporting Initiative Focused on Color

WGBH Radio, Public Radio International and the BBC have announced the launch of “The Color Initiative”, a landmark journalism project that will examine complex global issues of politics, culture, history and society through the framework of human perceptions and experiences related to color. Once complete, this on-going project will air on The World, broadcasting on WGBH 89.7, Mon-Fri at 4pm and 7pm. Feature Color Initiative stories reported from around the globe will be produced by Lifted Veils Productions, a Boston-based non-profit radio journalism organization dedicated to exploring issues that divide society. Former NPR supervising senior editor and NPR’s former Race Relations Correspondent, Phillip Martin, will serve as lead correspondent. He is also the Executive Producer of Lifted Veils Productions. Anthony Brooks, The World’s former senior producer and former national correspondent for NPR, is the Color Initiative series editor. The World’s Executive Producer is Bob Ferrante. The project is made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. “The establishment of an international editorial beat dedicated to covering color worldwide is the first of its kind, and places The World in a unique position in public radio in the United States and Britain,” says Marita Rivero, General Manager for WGBH Radio and Television. Among the topics that will be explored by the Color Initiative are: • COLOR AND IMMIGRATION: A FOUR PART SERIES • IRAQ’S WAR DEAD, AMERICA’S RESPONSE AND THE ROLE OF COLOR • CASTE, COLOR AND EDUCATION IN INDIA The first report in the year-long project looks at the on-going marketing campaign by Benetton, which mixes business with socially conscious messages focusing on diversity of all sorts, including color. Those messages are now coming up against growing anti-immigrant realities in Europe, including the dominant presence of the Northern League in the very Italian city where Benetton is headquartered: Treviso. That report airs in early November. About The World Winner of the 2006 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for Broadcast News, The World with anchor Lisa Mullins has been bringing daily international news to local audiences for the past 10 years. Monday through Friday at 4pm on WGBH 89.7, the international staff of The World presents a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. The World is the first international radio news program developed specifically for an American audience, giving listeners an upbeat and informed take on the day's events. Co-produced by WGBH, the BBC World Service, and Public Radio International, The World is heard on more than 200 public radio stations across the country. About WGBH Listener-supported WGBH 89.7 is Boston's NPR® arts and culture station. Bringing you the best for more than 50 years, 89.7 serves its wide-ranging audience with a menu of classical music, NPR news, jazz, blues, folk, and spoken-word programs. The station is an active participant in New England's vibrant music community, presenting more than 300 performances every year, including live broadcasts and remote recordings from such diverse venues as Tanglewood, the Lowell Folk Festival, the Newport Jazz Festival, and WGBH's own studios. WGBH 89.7 can be heard online anywhere in the world at, and can be heard on Nantucket at WNCK 89.5.