Kickstarting a diverse anthology of middle-grades science fiction

Corie J Weaver writes to tell us that Dreaming Robot (previously is kickstarting its latest science fiction anthology for kids, The Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, "the fourth collection of science fiction stories for middle grade readers, with a focus on diversity and representation." Read the rest

Six essays on media, technology and politics from Data & Society

danah boyd writes, "Yesterday, a group of us at Data & Society put out six essays on 'media, technology, politics.' Taken together, these pieces address different facets of the current public conversation surrounding propaganda, hate speech, and the US election. Although we only allude to specifics, we have been witnessing mis/disinformation campaigns for quite some time as different networks seek to manipulate both old and new media, shape political discourse, and undermine trust in institutions and information intermediaries. In short, we are concerned about the rise of a new form of propaganda that is networked, decentralized, and internet-savvy. We are also concerned about the ongoing development of harassment techniques and gaslighting, the vulnerability of old and new media to propagate fear and disinformation, and the various ways in which well-intended interventions get misappropriated. We believe that we're watching a systematic attack on democracy, equality, and freedom. There is no silver bullet to address the issues we're seeing. Instead, a healthy response is going to require engagement by many different constituencies. We see our role in this as to help inform and ground the conversation. These essays are our first attempt to address the interwoven issues we're seeing. Read the rest

Watch Viola Davis’ moving Critics’ Choice acceptance speech for #SeeHer Award

Accepting the #SeeHer award at the Critics’ Choice Awards earlier this week, Viola Davis emphasized the importance of seeing diverse types of women onscreen.

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Disney’s "Doc McStuffins" renewed after Twitter campaign: female African-American is its rare protagonist

Disney just announced that Doc McStuffins, an animated show starring an African-American girl who fixes broken toys and wants to be a doctor, is renewed for its fifth season. Described as “Cheers for preschoolers,” its fans took to Twitter this summer wanting to know the show’s fate. The social media campaign was led by W. Kamau Bell, a self-described socio-political comedian and dad who hosts CNN’s United Shades of America. Bell tweeted today, "Doc McStuffins is one of the most important shows in the history of television.” Reports Variety:

Since the series debuted in 2012, it has won much admiration, particularly because it is difficult to find a female African-American protagonist who aspires to be a doctor in many mainstream cartoons.  A group of African-American female physicians, inspired by the program, formed the Artemis Medical Society, an organization which has a membership of over 4700 women physicians of color from around the world. First Lady Michelle Obama guest-starred as herself in an episode.

“Doc McStuffins” won a Peabody Award in 2015 and NAACP Image Awards in 2015 and 2016 in the  “Outstanding Children’s Program” category. Disney says the series averages 16 million views on the Disney Junior app, VOD and Hulu, and reaches 150 million viewers worldwide each quarter, and in the past year was ordered over 20 million times via set-top-box VOD.
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Chicago has about 40% fewer African-American teachers than in 2001

This month's Mother Jones examines a shocking statistic: "According to the Albert Shanker Institute, which is funded in part by the American Federation of Teachers, the number of black educators has declined sharply in some of the largest urban school districts in the nation. In Philadelphia, the number of black teachers declined by 18.5 percent between 2001 and 2012. In Chicago, the black teacher population dropped by nearly 40 percent. And in New Orleans, there was a 62 percent drop in the number of black teachers." Read the rest

Project Include cuts off Y Combinator because Peter Thiel is a part-time investor there

Project Include -- a "group effort to accelerate diversity and inclusion solutions in the tech industry" -- has announced that it will no longer work with the Y Combinator accelerator because of its ties to Peter Thiel, the billionaire Facebook investor who has backed Donald Trump and donated $1.25M to his campaign. Read the rest

Kickstarting a steampunk anthology focused on "characters that are disabled or aneurotypical"

Steven writes, "The team (full disclosure: that includes me) that created the award-winning multicultural steampunk anthology 'Steampunk World' are now crowdfunding another steampunk anthology - this time with a focus on characters that are disabled or aneurotypical." Read the rest

7 great anecdotes from a photographer of vanishing cultures

Jimmy Nelson is a legendary photographer of humanity. He shares seven insights gleaned from his 48-year career, each one backed up with an interesting anecdote about how he got better at his craft. Read the rest

Portrait of Democratic Party's congressional interns

A different look to Speaker Ryan's gang. [via]

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Steeplejack: diverse YA fantasy driven by expert plotting

AJ Hartley's new YA series opens with Steeplejack, a whodunnit whose unlikely and welcome hard-boiled detective is a young woman who has to beat class and race discrimination as well as the bad guys.

How gentrification really changed an Atlanta neighborhood

Kirkwood, Atlanta, looks like a standard-issue gentrified urban neighborhood, a mix of yuppies and old-timers. Josh Green moved there and found a community ambivalent about the changes in its fortunes. But the story of his neighbor's family illustrates it better than house prices or property tax records ever could.

Last autumn I saw Anita helping her brother and went across the street. She could barely look at the massive two-story Craftsman, purchased by a young surgeon and her husband, that had replaced her childhood home, though Al had tried to console her: It’s just like the grave site, he said. Something died; we buried it. And something new is coming up. Complicating matters, a couple of Anita’s older siblings were so incensed that she didn’t renovate the property and keep it in the family, she told me, they hadn’t spoken to her since Anna’s funeral. But renovations would have been too expensive, and Anna had given her blessing to have the home sold, encouraging Anita to take the proceeds and move back to some quieter place.

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People of Colour Destroy Science Fiction: a podcast with Nalo Hopkinson and friends

Science fiction titan Nalo Hopkinson appears in this week's Geek Guide to the Galaxy podcast, talking about race, diversity, and sf. Read the rest

Concrete Park: apocalyptic, afrofuturistic graphic novel of greatness

I learned about Concrete Park from Calvin Reid, the pioneering comics critic/reviewer who chaired a panel with Scott McCloud and me at the Miami Book Fair last month; Calvin called it the best new afrofuturistic comic he'd read, and I rushed out to get my own copy.

Can diverse character art invite you into a game genre you normally avoid?

Strategy games can be forbidding, but these striking character designs send a considered message of welcome.

'Dracula fish' and snub-nosed monkeys among 200+ new species discovered in Himalayas

“A sneezing monkey, a walking fish and a jewel-like snake are just some of a biological treasure trove of over 200 new species discovered in the Eastern Himalayas in recent years,” reports the World Wildlife Foundation today.

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Zeroes: it sucks to be a teen, even with powers

Scott Westerfeld's YA canon is huge and varied, from the Uglies books to the excellent vampire parasitology book Peeps to the dieselpunk Clankers trilogy, and the new one, Zeroes, breaks new ground still: it's a collaboration with Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti about teens with powers.

Fury Road cosplay: wheelchair and amputated arm edition

When Fury Road came out, Laura Vaughn made an iconic post about how her left-arm transradial amputation gave her the potential to be the world's greatest Imperator Furiosa cosplayer -- and now she's done it, homebrew prosthetic and all. Read the rest

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