Heidi Klum’s redface photo shoot is a massive insult to Native Americans

Back in January, designer Walter Van Beirendonck sent a model down the runway wearing a comically large headdress with the words “stop racism” scrawled across it. It was a potent and powerful message, a message that apparently Heidi Klum didn’t get. In a continuation of fashion’s backward practice of cultural appropriation, Klum had contestants on Germany’s Next Top Model travel to Utah and pose as sexy indigenous people. What?

In this latest iteration of fashion’s ongoing cultural faux pas, the models posed in headdresses, blankets and face paint, some holding peace pipes and spears. The photos were later shared in a photo set on Facebook and described, in a supreme case of tone-deafness, as “Endlose Weite und einsame Wildnis – meine Girls beim Shooting in Utah” (“Endless length and lonely wilderness – my girls during the shoot in Utah”). Think Progress deservedly put the media microscope on the images yesterday.

Unfortunately, the sight of models in “red face” is a frequent occurrence. From headdresses on Victoria’s Secret runways to the recalled “hipster headdresses” at H&M, the fashion industry somehow hasn’t caught on to the fact that this is downright offensive cultural appropriation, no matter how often and how impassioned the online masses call them on it.

Indigenous people have long been stereotyped as serene and romantic token images, a practice obviously still perpetuated in fashion and pop culture and brought frequently to dreamy photo shoots. Even as Native, activist and feminist voices consistently explain why it’s wrong the internet continues to be forced into a position of ethical counterweight as big fashion business repeatedly opts for appropriation.

The outcry against Klum’s latest has been uniform and entirely legitimate. Writing at Last Real Indians, Ruth Hopkins, a self-proclaimed fan of Heidi Klum’s show Project Runway since episode one, summed up the both the broad Native response to the shoot:

“As a Native woman, I’m tired of being bombarded with negative, false imagery of who society thinks I am. For once I’d like to enjoy a fashion show, a music video, a football game or a photo spread without being singled out because of my race. It’s not just offensive, it’s discriminatory and just plain rude.”

So far, two weeks since sharing these photos, Klum has not issued any apology or statement.

It’s high time the fashion world opened their eyes, put away the offensive regalia and listened to the masses. We’re right.


[Op-ed] I Don’t Want Children

I will not succumb to the expectations of society. If I ever choose to be a mother, it will be because I truly, profoundly and without a doubt want to be a mother. 

“That will change,” I’ve heard throughout the years. A week ago, my mother’s friend uttered those very words when somehow, we landed on the topic and I told her I don’t want children.

“You really don’t want children? You’re going to be lonely!” My little sister, who’s not so little anymore, warned me just days prior.

“No, I won’t be. I’ll have you guys, and in time, my nieces and nephews. I’ll be the cool aunt. Your children will jump for joy upon my arrival: “Mommy, mommy, it’s Titi Gera! I wonder what she brought us from South America,” I said with enthusiasm. “They’ll ask where I’m off to next.” She giggled. I couldn’t help but wonder how many people have kids in an attempt to prevent loneliness.

There have been times when I’ve wished I fit the mold: the woman who dreams of starting a family. That would’ve made things easier growing up and while I was in a long-term relationship. I wouldn’t have had to dodge the topic of motherhood when it arose or explain my desire to experience fulfillment in other ways, ways that are more in tune with my personality. I would’ve averted quite a few arguments with my then-boyfriend, who insisted on having children immediately after graduation, as though I’d worked hard at my studies to settle down straight out of college.

“You’re thinking like that now because you’re young and want to travel. You’ll change your mind when you meet the right guy. Children are a blessing,” my mother’s friend continued, looking at my mother and asking if she’d heard me when I said I don’t want children. This wasn’t something my mother hadn’t heard before.

What I didn’t bother to tell my mother’s friend is that I’ve already been with someone I perceived to be the right guy, and even then, I didn’t want children.

Children are a blessing. Motherhood is a miracle, to say the least. I believe having a child shouldn’t be a decision made on a whim, or even worse, by mistake. Though for some, that’s the case and it turns out to be the most unexpected, frightening and yet amazing experience.
I love children. They can fill a room with happiness, even on the darkest of days. But I’ve never felt the soul-clenching desire to become a mother. I don’t want the physical changes it entails, the career and physical break it requires or the great deal of responsibility that soon follows. I’m too much of a free spirit.

Babies are adorable, but babies grow up. A child is a blessing, but a child is also the biggest responsibility. Do my thoughts make me selfish? Perhaps. But there is also selfishness in wanting a child to avoid loneliness.

Experiences have shaped me and continue to shape me. I think differently now than I did in the past. Who’s to say I won’t change my mind in a few years? I may. But like I told my mother’s friend, I may not. Maybe I’ll never feel the desire to be a mother; maybe I will. Maybe I’ll want to have my own children; maybe I’ll want to adopt. There’s no telling what the future holds. I’m open to possibilities, even the ones I can’t visualize right now, but I won’t mute my feelings or decisions simply because they’re so rare, so “unwomanly-like,” they make others uncomfortable.

I spent about five years with a man I thought I loved, or maybe did love. I battled with the notion that because I’m a woman I should want to be a mother. I thought that if I spent enough time with other people’s children — and believe me I did — the feeling would come. At times, I hoped for simplicity reasons that it would… but it didn’t. And it hasn’t.

I will not succumb to the expectations of society. If I ever choose to be a mother, it will be because I truly, profoundly and without a doubt want to be a mother. Society can call me selfish and criticize me for being different, but I prefer that a million times over than to have my child look me in the eyes and sense even the slightest hint of resentment.

[written by Geraldine Estevez on Huffington Post]

16 Children And Their Bedrooms From Across The World

Some kids grow up in poverty, lacking food and sanitation, while others are born in countries where basic necessities are taken for granted.  Photographer James Mollison came up with the project when he thought about his own childhood bedroom and how it reflected who he was. Where Children Sleep – a collection of stories about children from around the world told through portraits of their bedrooms – stemmed from his ideas.

Alex, 9, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Indira, 7, Kathmandu, Nepal

Anonymous, 9, Ivory Coast

View the entire photo collection here.

How American Films Use Black Cops for Comic Relief

If you’re a black cop in an American movie, you’re a lot more likely to end upsquatting on a toilet with a bomb in it than sharing scars with the hottie from Internal Affairs. This isn’t anecdote; it’s research. A recent study from two criminal justice experts shows that for 40 years black police officers have most often been the punchlines of the American cop movie genre.

The researchers found that only 21 out of 112 police movies released from 1971 to 2011 had a black cop in a heroic role. And, in over half of those, black officers were there to give the audience laughs, rather than significantly advance the plot. Outside the movies, around one in five officers is black, say the authors.


The researchers took every film classified as a “cop movie” since the Clint Eastwood vehicle Dirty Harry (which they say defined the genre as we know it today), and culled all those that were specifically comedies, science-fiction, or anything that featured cops acting outside their jurisdictions. Then they sat down and watched over 240 hours of cinema, looking to see how the black and white main characters were portrayed, and using 40 criteria to classify on-screen actions into types.

Franklin Wilson, of Indiana State University, was one of the paper’s authors. He told Quartz: “Quite honestly, it’s eye-opening. You can watch a film and see one thing here or there, but when you watch 40 years’ worth of films, you can start seeing a pattern develop.”

In addition to the comic-relief stereotype, black cops were often portrayed as being caught between the black community and the police, Wilson said. There is a longstanding lack of trust between police and African Americans, stretching from colonial laws that allowed police to arrest blacks for being out after dark (ebook, pg. 22), to modern stop-and-frisk practices.

There’s lopsided justice inside the police force, as well: There have been black officers in America since 1802, but even up until 1962 many police departments required them to get a white officer’s permission before arresting a white suspect. In his book Policing America (pg. 364), author Ken Peak said this results in a so-called “double marginality”, where black officers feel ostracized both by the African-American community, and their fellow police.

The researchers say their next project is to see if the movie-world portrayal of black cops has any relationship to the way they’re perceived in the real world. If past efforts to connect media portrayals to society are any indication, they are up against a steep wall.

And if you’re wondering whether being a “hottie from Internal Affairs” is the typical fate of a female co-star, you won’t have to wonder for long: Wilson and his co-author’s next paper will give the same treatment to women in American cop movies.

What to Watch: BUSK [documentary]

BUSK is a short, social issues and subcultural music documentary, following five musicians as they busk in the arteries of the NYC subway system––Persevering to display their talent for income, sustenance, and a means to work, the busker’s experiences are portrayed through interviews, and live performances on the subway platforms. By exploring the city’s music programs, laws, and the musicians’ passion to perform, BUSK, takes the audience below into the heart of New York to hear the real sounds of the subway system.

BUSK – film from Ramon Nyitrai on Vimeo.

Street performance or busking is the practice of performing in public places, for gratuities.[1] In many countries the rewards are generally in the form of money but other gratuities such as food, drink or gifts may be given. Street performance is practiced all over the world by men, women and children and dates back to antiquity. In English speaking countries people engaging in this practice are called street performers or buskers.

Harvey Milk Will Be First Openly Gay Elected Official on a Stamp

The U.S. Postal Service released the design of a new stamp commemorating the gay rights activist and American politician Harvey Milk on Monday. It will be the first to feature an openly gay politician.

Milk made history when he won a spot on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, becoming the first elected official to openly identify as gay. He was assassinated the following year by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently stepped down but wanted his job back. He was also the subject of the 2008 biographical film Milk, starring Sean Penn.

The stamp, which was first revealed in Linn’s Stamp News, will feature a black-and-white photo of the politician along with his name and the rainbow colors which represent the LGBT pride flag.

It will first be issued on May 22, which is also Harvey Milk Day.

Mozilla CEO Steps Down After Anti-Gay Marriage Controversy

Brendan Eich has stepped down as CEO of Mozilla, a company he cofounded, following significant criticism for his earlier support of a legal measure banning gay marriage.

“Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO,” Mitchell Baker, executive chairwoman of Mozilla, wrote in a blog post. “He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

Eich, a prominent programmer who previously created Javascript, took over as the non-profit company’s CEO on March 24. Shortly after, a number of Mozilla employees publicly urged Eich to step down from the role, in reaction to a donation he made to the Proposition 8 effort, which sought to ban same-sex marriage in California in 2008. (Half the company’s board also resigned after his appointment, though Prop 8 was not cited as the reason.)

The tipping point, however, appeared to come on Monday when OkCupid posted a notice to anyone using Firefox, a Mozilla product, urging them to switch browsers. “Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples,” OkCupid wrote in the notice. “We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.”

In interviews with multiple publications this week, Eich emphasized that his personal beliefs outside the office are not relevant inside the office.

“It may be challenging for a CEO, but everyone in our community can have different beliefs about all sorts of things that may be in conflict,” Eich said in an interview with CNET published on Tuesday. “They leave them at the door when they come to work on the Mozilla mission.”

Just two days later, however, Eich and Mozilla decided otherwise.

“We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act,” Mozilla’s Baker wrote in the blog post. “We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”

The full statement from Mozilla is below:

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.

Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.

We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.

While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better.

We need to put our focus back on protecting that Web. And doing so in a way that will make you proud to support Mozilla.

What’s next for Mozilla’s leadership is still being discussed. We want to be open about where we are in deciding the future of the organization and will have more information next week. However, our mission will always be to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just: that’s what it means to protect the open Web.

We will emerge from this with a renewed understanding and humility — our large, global, and diverse community is what makes Mozilla special, and what will help us fulfill our mission. We are stronger with you involved.

Thank you for sticking with us.


Diplo, Haim and Spike Lee Reveal Nike’s U.S. Soccer Kit For 2014 FIFA World Cup

Earlier today Nike unveiled its national soccer team uniform for the coming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and assisting in the reveal of the red, white and blue uniform is DiploSpike Lee, and sister trioHAIM. Creating a bridge between fans and soccer players, the musical figures were pictured alongside the likes of players Andrew Luck and Ndamukong Suh, as well as other notable soccer fans such as skateboarder Erik Koston and track and field gold medalist Allyson Felix. Check out the kit above and head here for information on how to purchase.


Here Are All The Quantifiable Reasons You Should Hire More Women

If “the right thing to do” wasn’t a compelling enough reason, now there are numbers.

It’s not just about providing equal opportunity: over the past decade, a number of research papers have shown how hiring women is linked to better corporate financial results. But CEOs and other executives rarely have the time or inclination to pore over lengthy papers, and as a result, much of this research remains known only to the academic world. In a new paper, The Case for Investing in Women, The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) succinctly lays out the most compelling recent research findings on women in business, from organizations like McKinsey & Company, Catalyst, Columbia University, and the London School of business.

ABI has long promoted the role of women in technology and tech-oriented companies, but not all business leaders are receptive to their ideas. “If you look at the kind of work we do, there’s no more common question we get than ‘Why do we care if we have more women?” explains Telle Whitney, CEO and president of ABI.

Here are some of the data points highlighted in ABI’s report (specifics on each of these studies can be found within the report itself):

  • Fortune 500 companies with at least three female directors have seen their return on invested capital increase by at least 66%, return on sales increase by 42%, and return on equity increase by at least 53%.
  • In a study by Dezsö and Ross of 1,500 U.S. firms in the S&P, female representation in top management improved financial performance for organizations where innovation is a key piece of the business strategy.
  • In 2012, a NCWIT analysis of women’s participation in IT patents found that U.S. patents produced by mixed-gender teams were cited 30% to 40% more than other similar patents. 
  • A study from Professor Anita Woolley, an economist at Carnegie Mellon, revealed that teams with at least one female member have a higher collective IQ than all-male teams. 


  • Gallup has found that companies with more diverse teams (including more women) have a 22% lower turnover rate. Organizations with more inclusive cultures also have an easier time with recruiting.


Here’s the bottom line: more diverse teams breed more innovative outcomes. “When you form a team tasked with a problem to solve or an opportunity to capitalize on, if you have half a dozen people with the same background in terms of life experience, education, where they grew up–you’ll get a consensus around relatively homogenous solutions,” says Jeanne Hultquist, director of strategic corporate programs and the author of the report. “[With] more diverse team chemistry, you get more perspectives with a larger variety of options to consider, and more chances of having innovative solutions proposed.”

Not every study on women in business has yielded definitively positive outcomes. As the New Yorker points out, it’s possible that studies showing stronger performance for companies with more women on their boards could be the result of financially strong companies being more inclusive (as opposed to more inclusiveness leading to better finances. In one study cited by the New Yorker, researchers found no connection between female board membership and performance in the stock market.

Hultquist believes there’s more research that needs to be done, especially around startups. “I think it would be great if more research was done around entrepreneurial teams–startup organizations that really have the best shot at product innovation,” she says. “I do think there is a dearth of women in startup teams and even fewer in venture-funded startups.”

Nonetheless, the evidence of positive outcomes from having more women represented in companies is already strong enough to take seriously. Check out the full ABI report here.


What a White Father Learned About Stop-and-Frisk From Watching His Black Son

The “special tax” on men of color is more than an inconvenience. A father shares his firsthand observations and fears. This post is part of a debate series on “Is Stop and Frisk Worth It?,” an article featured in the current issue of The Atlantic magazine.

Stop-and-frisk searches force African-American males into an East Berlin-esque sense of oppression—while the rest of us go our merry ways without noticing.

When I heard that my 21-year-old son, a student at Harvard, had been stopped by New York City police on more than one occasion during the brief summer he spent as a Wall Street intern, I was angry. On one occasion, while wearing his best business suit, he was forced to lie face-down on a filthy sidewalk because—well, let’s be honest about it, because of the color of his skin. As an attorney and a college professor who teaches criminal justice classes, I knew that his constitutional rights had been violated. As a parent, I feared for his safety at the hands of the police—a fear that I feel every single day, whether he is in New York or elsewhere.

Moreover, as the white father of an African-American son, I am keenly aware that I never face the suspicion and indignities that my son continuously confronts. In fact, all of the men among my African-American in-laws—and I literally mean every single one of them—can tell multiple stories of unjustified investigatory police stops of the sort that not a single one of my white male relatives has ever experienced.

In The Atlantic’s April feature story “Is Stop-and-Frisk Worth It?” author Daniel Bergner cited Professor Frank Zimring’s notion that stop-and-frisk is “a special tax on minority males.” I cannot endorse the conclusion that this “special tax” actually helps make communities safer. As indicated by the competing perspectives inAtlantic essays by Donald Braman and Paul Larkin, scholars disagree on whether crime rate data actually substantiate the claims of stop-and-frisk advocates. Either way, I do believe that the concept of a “special tax” deserves closer examination.

Proponents of stop-and-frisk often suggest that the hardships suffered by young men of color might be tolerable if officers were trained to be polite rather than aggressive and authoritarian. We need to remember, however, that we are talking about imposing an additional burden on a demographic that alreadyexperiences a set of alienating “taxes” not shared by the rest of society.

I can tell myriad stories about the ways my son is treated with suspicion and negative presumptions in nearly every arena of his life. I can describe the terrorized look on his face when, as a 7-year-old trying to learn how to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in front of our suburban house, he was followed at 2-miles-per-hour from a few feet away by a police patrol car—a car that sped away when I came out of the front door to see what was going on. I can tell stories of teachers, coaches, and employers who have forced my son to overcome a presumption that he will cause behavior problems or that he lacks intellectual capability. I can tell you about U.S. Customs officials inexplicably ordering both of us to exit our vehicle and enter a building at the Canadian border crossing so that a team of officers could search our car without our watching—an event that never occurs when I am driving back from Canada by myself.

If I hadn’t witnessed all this so closely, I never would have fully recognized the extent of the indignities African-American boys and men face. Moreover, as indicated by research recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the cumulative physical toll this treatment takes on African-American men can accelerate the aging process and cause early death. Thus, no “special tax” on this population can be understood without recognizing that it does not exist as a small, isolated element in people’s lives.

It’s equally important to recognize the more acute dangers posed by these encounters. When my son was walking home one night during his summer in New York City, two men jumped out of the shadows and grabbed him. Any reasonable person would instantly have been jolted into wondering, “Am I being robbed?” That question demands quick decision-making: “Do I defend myself? Do I break free and try to run away?”

However, because cautious African-American men know that they are frequent targets of sudden and unexplained police stops, they must suppress their rational defensive reactions with self-imposed docility. What if these were plainclothes police officers? Any resistance could have led to my son’s being tasered or even shot. And if the police were to shoot him in this context—all alone in the shadows on an empty street late at night—that act would likely have been judged as a justifiable homicide. In my son’s case, it turned out that they were plainclothes police officers who failed to identify themselves until the encounter was well underway.

This example is by no means unique. My African-American brother-in-law, a white-collar professional, was driving to my house on Thanksgiving Day with his 20-something son when their car was stopped and surrounded by multiple police vehicles. The police officers immediately pointed guns at my relatives’ heads. If my brother-in-law or nephew—or one of the officers—had sneezed, there could have been a terribly tragic police shooting. After the officers looked them over and told them they could go, my relatives asked why they had been stopped. The officers hemmed and hawed for a moment before saying, “You fit the description of some robbery suspects—one was wearing a Houston Astros jersey just like the one your son is wearing.”

In reality, if my in-laws had fit the description of the robbery suspects so well, there is no way the police could have ruled them out as the robbers without searching their car. Sadly, it seems likely that the police were stopping—and presumably pointing guns at—every African-American male driver who happened by. I have heard similar stories from other African-American friends—and never from any white friend or relative.

Many have noted that stop-and-frisk practices hinder important constitutional values: the liberty to walk freely down the street; the reasonable expectation of privacy against unjustified invasion of one’s person by government officials; and the equal protection of the laws. But even the best-intentioned white writers often gloss over the actual human impacts of these encounters. Now and again, an individual white elite will have an experience that personalizes this principle of individualized suspicion.

For example, Linda Greenhouse, the Yale Law School Research Scholar andNew York Times columnist, once wrote about the “unnerving” experience of being “unaccountably pulled over by a police officer” in a quiet, residential neighborhood in Washington, D.C. at night. As Greenhouse wrote, “My blood pressure goes up as I recall it years later.” Michael Powell, another New York Times columnist, learned from his two 20-something sons that they had never been stopped by police despite traveling regularly all over New York City, while eight male African-American college students told him they’d cumulatively been stopped a total of 92 times—in encounters that included rough physical treatment. Neither of these writers lacked knowledge about these issues, but their experiences obviously humanized and heightened their awareness.

My son’s experiences aside, I can only call on one personal reference when the issue of stop-and-frisk is raised. As a graduate student in April 1981, I spent a spring break traveling around Europe. When I visited Germany, I decided to spend one afternoon walking around Communist East Berlin. I quickly found myself being stopped at every single street corner by police officers whose suspicions were undoubtedly raised by my American clothing. Because of my limited knowledge of German, every encounter involved emphatic demands and raised voices, accompanied by threatening hand-slapping gestures. While Linda Greenhouse described her one-time experience with a police officer as “unnerving,” my encounter with a Communist police state would be better described as “suffocating.” I had the sense of being helplessly trapped, aware that no matter which direction I chose to walk, I would find more police waiting for me on the next block. I often wonder whether suspicionless stop-and-frisk searches regularly force African-American males into an East Berlin-esque sense of oppression—while the rest of us go our merry ways without noticing.

Read the full op-ed on the Atlantic