George Lucas, digitize this! Alex Golub’s “My Weekend with Leuschke.org,” Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4 and (finally!) 5.

N.Y. Times, Guy Trebay, “Bring On the Clowns: Goofy Today, In Stores Tomorrow”

[…] the distinction between clothes produced for the runways and those designed for the tanbark is no longer sharp. It is not merely a matter of fashion don’ts becoming must-haves, of consumers being encouraged to flout the conventions that once forbade wearing plaids with stripes. Rather it is that markers of minority, and often outsider, cultures (drag queens, performance artists, clowns) have been taken up by fashion, which has carried them to the mainstream. A half-century ago dreadlocks would never have been encountered outside a sideshow tent or the hills of Jamaica. These days you would be hard pressed to avoid them on a college campus or, for that matter, on catwalks in New York and Milan. […]

Note to Trebay: Go buy a copy of Outkast’s “The Whole World” and Common’s “Electric Circus,” and don’t mock the ‘locks.

L.A. Times, Tina Daunt and Jill Leovy, “LAPD Offers 1st Data on Traffic Stops”

The Los Angeles Police Department stops members of different racial groups in numbers roughly proportional to their share of the population, but blacks and Latinos are far more likely than whites to be removed from their cars, patted down or searched, according to a study released Monday.

The data, from July through November of last year, were the first statistics publicly released as part of a federal consent decree that requires the department to collect information to determine whether officers engage in racial discrimination.

Among the findings: Thirty-eight percent of drivers stopped by police were recorded as Latino, 33% were white and 18% black. According to the 2000 Census, the city’s population is 46.5% Latino, 29.7% white and 10.9% African American.

Of those pulled over, 7% of whites were asked to step out of their cars, compared with 22% of Latinos and 22% of blacks. Once out of their cars, 67% of the blacks were patted down and 85% were subjected to a search of their person, car, residence or belongings, while 55% of Latinos were frisked and 84% were searched. Meanwhile, 50% of whites were frisked and 71% were searched.

Information on pedestrian stops revealed a similar pattern of blacks and Latinos being patted down and subjected to searches more often than whites. […]

[…] Jack Riley, director of the Rand Institute’s public safety and justice program, concurred.

“It’s easy to measure the number of people who have been stopped and ticketed,” Riley said. “But what’s harder … is then drawing conclusions about when police behavior is disproportionate.”

Researchers have struggled to determine the baseline against which to compare data on traffic stops, Riley said. Population statistics are not enough, he said. Researchers must consider not just how many motorists live in an area, but also when and where they drive.

“It is very hard to get good information on people’s driving habits and patterns without enormous investment in measuring,” Riley said. “There are literally tens of thousands of intersections in L.A., not to mention miles of streets. All those people driving on them are potentially committing driving violations. You have to got to understand what they are doing.”

In addition, he said, analyzing the data properly requires adjusting for factors such as the level of crime in a given area and the number of calls for service, which may affect how many officers are deployed there.

The racial makeup of people on parole and probation also matters, Riley said, because “if you are on probation or parole, police have a presumptive right to stop and search you and question you. That’s part of appropriate, proactive policing.” Given the difficulties, said Riley, who is helping to analyze data for the Oakland Police Department, “I’m not convinced that looking at this kind of stuff is very useful. I don’t think it gives a police department a strong tool for understanding how to do their job better.” […]

Bonus round: The study (PDF; 3.2 MB)

Funny where you find a birthday girl when you bother to look for her — even right down the street from our apartment, according to Carolyn Jones’ “Putting the art in BART”

The metal panel, which was installed two weeks ago in front of De Lauer’s news stand on Broadway, is called “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” from the Zora Neale Hurston novel. It features a central area adorned with eyes glancing expectantly in different directions, surrounded by a representation of the Oakland hills.

Bates said: “It’s supposed to suggest that something is about to happen, something is about to be born, and you never know what you’re going to get.” […]

And then there’s the play, the stamps (coming Jan. 24) and those new biographies.

Bit of a contrary spirit, though, eh?

NOLA.com, Susan Larson, “Wrapped in Rainbows”

[…] And there is the complete text of her letter to the Orlando Sentinel decrying the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. “How much satisfaction can I get from a court order for somebody to associate with me who does not wish me near them? . . . I can see no tragedy in being too dark to be invited to a white school social affair.” […]

San Francisco Chronicle, Nia-Malika Henderson, “Her own muse”

In the fall of 1939, when noted folklorist and writer Zora Neale Hurston began her tenure at the North Carolina College for Negroes in Durham, an all-white theater group from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill invited her to present her plans for creating a Negro folk theater and a drama department. And, as was often the case, Hurston began her talk with a colorful story: While she was driving to the segregated campus in her convertible, a university student yelled out to Hurston, “Hi, nigger.” Not content to have anything other than the last word, she replied, “Hi, freshman!”

While it is impossible to know whether or not the audience understood that Hurston’s joke was on their closely held Southern mores, many were undoubtedly taken aback by the thought of a colored woman driving a car, and a convertible no less. And surely in recounting an ordinary racist exchange, and recasting it as a joke, Hurston was again setting herself up as a fiercely independent thinker on matters of race. At a time when black artists like Richard Wright and Billie Holiday were concerned with lynchings, Zora Neale Hurston was making a race joke in the hotbed of the South. For anyone who had read her 1928 essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” where Hurston insisted that she wanted no part of “the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it,” her flippancy was no surprise. […]

Bonus round: “Mules and Men” and Village Voice, A.J. Verdelle, “The Largesse of Zora Neale Hurston”

Los Angeles Times, Tim Rutten, “African-Americans at the top: Where is coverage and context?” (via Romenesko’s Media News)

[…] Maybe these individual achievements don’t add up to what one would hope. When you connect the dots, you don’t get a picture that signifies the end of social discrimination in these strikingly individual successes. Maybe the dots are still too widely separated by the divisions of class and race that continue to exist.”

Republicans need to take this to heart. I’m hopeful, but I don’t expect context on prominent blacks; one of the reasons I blog the way I do is to take that on. I haven’t been all that disappointed. There’s little context in stories about Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. They’re George W. Bush’s living proof that his administration is inclusive; they come off like “air quotes.” Their presence lets people stop thinking about issues of race and class, but it doesn’t stop those issues from being germane. They’ll still be the elephants in the room, even (and especially) if William Rehnquist’s retirement should elevate Justice Clarence Thomas (or White House counsel Alberto Gonzales) to the Supreme Court’s top spot, or if a path is somehow cleared for Rice to become (notice how I don’t say which) Bush’s vice president. It’s trompe l’oeuil “affirmative access.” It’s power, not representation (skim Gary Younge’s “Always in the shadows”).

[…] Notwithstanding the casual, culturally ingrained bigotry that emanates from Conservative party associations, the right embraces equality to the extent that it believes everyone should have the right to exploit anyone else. It seeks neither to redress the imbalances of the past, nor to address the lack of opportunities of the present. So when it promotes minorities and women it promotes only individuals. Those who emerge under its banner do so free from the baggage of history and community. And since they are travelling light they can also, when the opportunity arises, travel fast. […]

You could argue that this is less of a factor for Chennault, O’Neal, Raines and Parsons (at least two of whom I’ve seen lauded this year, even if Rutten hasn’t, on the cover of Black Enterprise as recently as this year).

African American Publications, “Richard Dean Parsons”

[…] “There are a number of other black executives who have elevated positions in corporate America,” said Parsons in Black Enterprise. “The process is rolling forward, even if it isn’t moving as fast as some of us would like.” Despite his distinction as a high-ranking black in business, Parsons downplays the racial aspects of his success. He has claimed that race was never a “defining character” in his life. “I don’t do anything differently than I would otherwise because I have that responsibility to my family,” he told the New York Times in 1994. “Whether I was an African-American, an Arab- American, a Jewish-American, or some other American, there are a lot of people who I cannot let down, so you have to live your life a certain way to be a role model to the people who are important to you.”

You could argue it. For now, I won’t.

Bonus round: Billy Cheng (with “In the Black” author Gregory S. Bell), BW Online, “A Slow Walk Up Wall Street for Blacks”

[…] I don’t think any community looks down on an African American for simply for choosing to work on Wall Street. I think they only look down on successful African Americans if they have made it on Wall Street but fail to use that knowledge and other power to give back to the community. So I think that today, it is not the act of going to Wall Street that people examine, but rather what one does after achieving success in the business, and if that success is used to help others. […]

Ack. What did I learn at work today? I drop handled compliments like they’re hot. To top it off, I’ve become The Guy Who Overtalks at Meetings. (Stop me before I cut in again! My specialties, you ask? Going that extra mile for the only-funny-to-myself pun, and the reanimation of disputes both Minor and Previously, inna von Franken-schteen stylee.) And the day’s not even over yet. So glad it’s Friday. Never needed a weekend more.

‘So What,’ by John Szwed

Sometime in late 1947, Miles was stopped one evening on 52nd Street by a thin white man in a cap and workers’ clothes. Miles had seen him in the clubs, munching salted radishes from a paper bag. What he wanted from Miles was permission to make a big band arrangement of “Donna Lee.” He was Gil Evans, an arranger for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra. […]

Associated Press, Jets 41, Colts 0

[…] This was the first NFL playoff game featuring two black head coaches. The Colts’ Tony Dungy and the Jets’ Edwards, longtime friends, are the only black head coaches in the league. Edwards spent five seasons as Dungy’s top assistant in Tampa before becoming the Jets’ coach in 2001.

The student came out on top of the mentor because his offense was unstoppable, his defense stingy and his special teams dominant.

“I’m just thankful for our friendship and the chance he gave me to stand here and be a head coach,” Edwards said.

Dungy said he’ll be rooting for Edwards’ team the rest of the way.

“They played awfully well and made us look awfully bad,” said Dungy, who took Indianapolis from 6-10 to 10-6 in his first season after being fired by the Bucs.