Diversity & Race

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week, reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Americans who live in high-crime neighborhoods often get portrayed as anti-police, but an Urban Institute study released in February shows something different: strong respect for the law and a willingness to help with public safety.

United Artists / Library of Congress

If you’re a registered voter or have a driver’s license, odds are, you’re eligible for jury duty. But just because you’re called, doesn’t mean you’ll serve.

Research from the Jury Sunshine Project in North Carolina shows that some people get dismissed from the jury pool a lot more often than others.

On this week’s episode of 90.5 WESA’s Criminal Injustice podcast, University of Pittsburgh law professor and show host David Harris talked to Wake Forest School of Law professor Ron Wright, who’s finding those exclusions make a big difference in the outcome of some cases.

  The district attorney was reviewing allegations that a police officer assigned to a suburban Pittsburgh school knocked out the tooth of a 14-year-old student accused of stealing another student's cell phone.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

In March 2015, then-Police Chief Cameron McLay committed to working with the U.S. Department of Justice as part of a six-city pilot project to help heal cities’ fractured relationships with communities of color.

Part of that agreement is set to include racial reconciliation training, which asks police and citizens to speak plainly about their issues.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Many American cities are struggling with police-community relations, and racial divisions are often the heart of the problem.

On this week's episode of 90.5 WESA's Criminal Injustice, Pitt law professor David Harris talks to David Kennedy of the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Gerry Bloome / AP

Facial recognition systems look fast and effective in the movies and on television crime shows, but a new report shows that these identification tools suffer from some of the same biases that we’ve heard about when humans try to identify an alleged criminal.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

It's possible that Bret Grote gets more mail from state prison inmates than anyone else in Pittsburgh.

As the co-founder and legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center, he says he is “dedicated to the abolition of race- and class-based mass incarceration.”

The non-profit law firm provides legal services for people who are incarcerated.

The streets of Washington looked vastly different the day after Donald J. Trump's inauguration than they did the day-of. Instead of the largely white crowds that lined Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day, people of all colors, classes and ages filled the streets for what's being called the most diverse march for women's rights ever.

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In activist Sueño Del Mar's mind, Pittsburgh is always moving forward.

“We don’t sit by silently,” she said.

But even in a city with a rich history of social movements and organizing, corralling the events scheduled the week Donald Trump takes office has been tough. It certainly was not a unified front.

Sarah E Schneider / WESA

The Confluence – where the news comes together is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin. They go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region. 

Kristi Jan Hoover / City Theatre

For Pittsburgh’s theater community, national headlines like “Oscars So White” feel just as relevant to local stage productions. 

City Theatre Company artistic producer Reginald L. Douglas said playwrights often write with certain types of actors in mind to speak about themes of race, class or gender. A play about the immigrant experience could be cast with white actors, he said, but that might not tell the same story.

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Two York County School of Technology High School students face disciplinary action after they carried a Donald Trump campaign sign while “white power” was chanted as they walked through the school’s halls Wednesday. 

Renie Mezzanotti, the school's communications and outreach coordinator, said the incident happened while students were walking into the school at the beginning of the day and administrators were quick to squash the issue.

Marvel Comics

 

Crafting a longer narrative voice for comics wasn't a huge stretch for Pittsburgh artist Yona Harvey.

“I feel like by nature I’m already a visual thinker,” said Harvey, “so that was already alive as a poet.”

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay announced his resignation from the Pittsburgh Police Department on Friday. 

Mayor Bill Peduto called a news conference to address escalating rumors.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Black Pittsburgh Public students are far behind their white counterparts regardless of economic status, according to a report from Greenways Strategy Management.

Lead consultant Martha Greenway told school board members this week that the disparity was the most critical issue the district faces.

Nationally, there isn’t often a gap in achievement between black and white students who are economically disadvantaged, she said.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Sage Arnold, 13, is not a big fan of this year’s election.

“When I was little I watched one of the debates between Obama and Mitt Romney,” he said. “I couldn’t really understand a lot of it, but it sounded really civilized and mature.”

Gwen's Girls / Facebook

In Pittsburgh, African American girls are three times more likely to be suspended than white girls and 11 times more likely to be referred the juvenile justice system.  The statistics come from a new "State of the Girls" report by the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work in partnership with Gwen's Girls, a nonprofit that helps young disadvantaged girls throughout the city. 

Elvert Barnes / Flickr

Black health experts want to leverage growing awareness of racial inequality into a fight against cigarettes.

Lung cancer kills black men at higher rates than any other group nationwide, and last week a group of health experts and activists called for President Barack Obama to ban menthol cigarettes, making a direct link between health and social justice.

Trigger warnings, the heads-up that college professors give to students to let them know disturbing content is coming, have gotten a lot of attention as the school year has unfolded. When a University of Chicago dean wrote a letter to incoming freshmen this fall rejecting the idea of those warnings, it sparked a nationwide debate on the use of advisories in the classroom.

The police shooting of a man in Charlotte, N.C., sparked overnight protests and unrest. Protesters threw rocks at police, injuring 16 officers, while police wearing riot gear fired tear gas into the crowds. At one point, a major interstate was shut down as protesters set a fire and vandalized police cars.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

It took some wrangling to fit nearly 30 Catholic school eighth-graders into the basement space of Most Wanted Fine Art gallery in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood where St. Bede English teacher Becky Baverso took her comic book club to see artist Marcel Walker’s exhibit.

“So this show here, ‘To Tell The Troof,’ this is my first solo gallery show,” Walker told the class, pointing. “I’ve had work in gallery shows before, but this is the first time it’s all mine.”  

Want To Address Teachers' Biases? First, Talk About Race

Aug 12, 2016

As Ayana Coles gazes at the 20 teachers gathered in her classroom, she knows the conversation could get uncomfortable. And she's prepared.

"We are going to experience discomfort — well, we may or may not experience it — but if we have it that's OK," says Coles, a third-grade teacher at Eagle Creek Elementary School in Indianapolis.

Coles is black, one of just four teachers of color among Eagle Creek Elementary's 37 staff. Throughout last year she gathered co-workers in her classroom for after-school discussions about race.

FAME Fund Provides Resources And Support For Minority Students

May 10, 2016
FAME Academy / Facebook

Providing scholarships to minority students will help create a stronger, more diverse future for the city of Pittsburgh, says Darryl Wiley, CEO of the Fund for Advancement of Minorities through Education, or FAME.

F. Carter Smith / AP Images

A contemporary art series called "By Any Means," founded by Kilolo Luckett, is bringing nationally recognized artists and art leaders of color to Pittsburgh for a two-part panel discussion on the influence of black culture in contemporary art. Kilolo Luckett joins us in studio to preview the symposium.  She also shares her memories of seeing Prince in concert and remembers his legacy.

 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Black girls in the United States make up 16 percent of female students, but make up almost half of girls facing school-related arrests. They are more likely to face harsh disciplinary action and drop out of school. In some instances their behavior can be seen as violent and aggressive on the surface, while deeper issues of trauma trigger these reactions.

Monique Morris, author of  “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School,”, said perceptions of black girls in school leads to increased surveillance of behavior and harsher discipline, a trend which Dr. Morris stated, the girls do notice.

Starting Point For A Conversation About Race

Feb 25, 2016
Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

Race remains one of the most difficult topics to address in our society. From the Black Lives Matter movement to current presidential election discussions on race inevitably come up. Where should a conversation on race begin? Our guest, Larry Davis, dean and founding director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center of Race and Social Problems, addresses this issue in his new book Why Are They Angry With Us? Essays on Race.

David Kleinschmidt / flickr

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to gain traction, activists have begun to explore other facets of the African American experience.  This weekend, the mini audio documentary #BlackGirlsMatter, which chronicles the challenges young women of color face in schools, will premiere on nearly fifty public radio stations across the country. 

Co-producers Amma Ababio, a Harvard student, and Marna Owens, a Penn State student, came up with the idea for the piece when working on a team project when they were youth philanthropy interns for the Heinz Endowments last summer.  As one of their final projects, teams were challenged to produce a radio piece.

Pgh Murals / Twitter

After viewing the results of the workplace diversity survey, what can employers and employees do to make Pittsburgh a more inclusive and diverse region both in the workplace and in the community? Dignity and Respect, Inc. founder and CEO Candi Castleberry Singleton says the conversation in Pittsburgh echoes much of what her organization stands for: action and commitment. 

Pittsburgh Today

People of color who live in the city are significantly less likely to recommend Pittsburgh and say race plays a more significant role in their jobs than their white counterparts. 

That was the finding of a survey done by the University Center for Social and Urban Research at the University of Pittsburgh. It’s called the Pittsburgh Regional Diversity Survey.

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