As a species, we've got a long history of being shitty to one another for no other reason than skin color. White folks, myself included, have arguably earned the right to drop the mic on bigotry. Over the centuries, we honed systemic racism to such a razor edge that the cuts our ugly worldview made are still being suffered today. As our world's recent politics have illustrated, a lot of people still buy into this superiority-of-the-white-man bullshit. But it's getting better. Views are changing, albeit slowly, and we're crawling on our knees towards equality.
I think that one of the reasons that it's taking us so long to get there is that no one likes to admit that they're wrong. Doing so puts you in a perceived position of weakness, which is ironic given that owning one's faults can be so powerful. Believing this as I do, I was really surprised to read this morning that National Geographic decided to call itself to account for the racist reporting that its correspondents have written and they've published over the decades:
Instead of wasting their time on naval gazing, the magazine's editorial team asked an outsider, historian John Edward Mason, to hunt down all of the ugly, racist writing he could find from National Geographic's archives. As National Geographic's current Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg explains, examining the publication's past was both painful and necessary:
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I’m the tenth editor of National Geographic since its founding in 1888. I’m the first woman and the first Jewish person—a member of two groups that also once faced discrimination here.
Gavin Grimm is the transgender teen bringing the fight to use a campus bathroom that corresponds to his gender identity, to the Supreme Court. Arguments will begin in March.
The National Geographic magazine has been a nonprofit publication since inception in 1888, but that ends today. The long-running American publication becomes very much for-profit under a $725 million dollar deal announced today with 21st Century Fox, the entertainment company controlled by the family of Rupert Murdoch.
Murdoch is a notorious climate change denier, and his family's Fox media empire is the world's primary source of global warming misinformation. Which would be no big deal here, I guess, were it not for the fact that the National Geographic Society's mission includes giving grants to scientists.
The $750m deal places the legendary nonprofit under 21st Century Fox's control.
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The first edition of National Geographic was published in 1888, the same year that the National Geographic Society was founded. An note in the first issue said the publication would help spread the research of others, “so that we may all know more of the world upon which we live.”
But things have changed since 1888, and the Society said Wednesday that selling its publications to 21st Century Fox, which has partnered with the non-profit in owning and operating its television channels for almost 20 years, was the best bet for survival in the modern media market.
She's approximately 12,000 years old now, but when she died in the Yucatan Peninsula she was only a teen. Read the rest