News Highlights: Week of October 30

The Chinese-Canadian urban immigrant experience, narrated by a clever pre-teen, from Aeon

My Name is Susan Yee is a short documentary by award-winning documentarian Beverly Shaffer, in which a charming and intelligent pre-teen girl walks us through a day in her life. She is a Chinese-Canadian immigrant living in Montreal in the 1970s, and though her day-to-day activities are straightforward, they also reveal her family and community’s economic and social reality. Susan talks about the gentrification near her home, how her mother shops at the speciality grocery store in Chinatown, the diversity of languages spoken in her class, and how after school, her entire family makes jewelry boxes to supplement her father’s income from his restaurant. Thanks to Susan’s youthful and unfiltered perspective, the film reveals small but potent details about the urban immigrant experience.

UC, roiled by 1st Amendment controversies, to launch national free speech center, by Teresa Watanabe of the Los Angeles Times

In light of anti-right-wing protests held at UC Davis and UC Berkeley earlier this year and the dialogue that ensued surrounding freedom of speech, the University of California plans to open the National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, dedicated to 1st Amendment research and education. UC President Janet Napolitano expressed a need to address student concerns about whether free speech protects homophobia and racism, as well as the limits of the 1st Amendment and salient topics like “who should pay security costs when controversial speakers visit campuses.” The center will sponsor eight fellows a year to research shifts in public perception of free speech and “what role social media and political polarization play in shaping perspectives on the 1st Amendment.”

White Perceptions of Affirmative Action, by Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed

A recent NPR study found that 55% of white Americans believe white people are discriminated against in the U.S., and 11% believe “that they have been personally discriminated against in applying to or while at college.” Additional studies show that those who supported President Trump during the election overwhelmingly believe that “preferences for Black and Latino people [are] hurting white people.” The researchers of the NPR study found that people’s perceptions of affirmative action policies shift “depending on one’s race and politics.” For example, white participants were in favor of merit-based admissions until they were reminded that “Asian-Americans make up more than twice as many undergraduates proportionally in the UC system as they do in the population of the state.” The NPR study echoes other research that shows that support for affirmative action shifts along similar lines.

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DiversityEdu Team

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