Recap: “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices” – U.N. Panel

We held an interesting panel discussion called, “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices,” last week at the United Nations to commemorate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and brought together Indigenous journalists who share news for, by and about their communities from their corner of the world.

In case you missed the interactive panel discussion,  here’s the video:

Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices

Screenshot of of the LIVE webcast of “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices” organized by the United Nations Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The panelists were: Nils Johan Heatta, Chairman of the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network; J. Kehaulani Kauanui, a professor at Wesleyan University and radio producer; and Angel Tibán Guala, Director of the television of Movimiento Indígena Campesino de Cotopaxi (TV MICC).

Our expert discussants were: Monika Ille – Director of Programming, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Canada; Keoni Lee – General Manager, ‘Ōiwi TV, Hawai’i; Emil Her Many Horses (Ogala Lakota, United States), National Museum of the American Indian, “Our voices on the Air : Reaching new audiences through indigenous radio”

And, we screened videos from: Komi Television (Russian Federation); TV MICC (Ecuador); Indigenous Information Network (Kenya); DJ Atama Katama (Malaysia)

I was thrilled that there was tons of buzz on Twitter and Facebook about the day and the panel itself, especially given the significance social media has in enabling every day people to share news that is important to them without the costs required for a broadcast TV studio or radio station.

I really thought I’d be nervous moderating the panel (which lasted nearly 4 1/2hours!), but I wasn’t.  I felt really comfortable sitting on stage, leading the conversation and soliciting questions from the audience.

The highlight of the day was getting to meet U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon!  Aside from providing a poignant address, he took a great photo!

Amy Stretten with United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

Another fun moment was the interview I did before the panel with a Slovenian radio station:

Radio Student FM 98.3 “Staroselci Na Twitterju”

While I have no idea what is being said (aside from my interspersed sound bites), it’s a pretty interesting listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you happen to catch the panel discussion?  If so, please let me know what you thought about it in the comments section below!

Let’s keep the conversation surrounding Indigenous media going!  Feel free to tweet me @AmyStretten.

Have a great day!

-NativeJournalist

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Just Announced: “A Tribe Called Red” Summer Tour Dates!

Ottawa-based Aboriginal DJ group, A Tribe Called Red, has just announced their upcoming Summer ’12 tour dates!  I am thrilled that they will be returning to New York City on May 31st for a performance at SOBs!  (I will definitely be there…let me know if you will, too!)

Here are the dates the group has scheduled so far.  I highly recommend you check them out!  An “Electric Pow Wow” is something everyone should experience at least once…if not regularly! 😉

May 3: Toronto – Drake Underground
May 4: Vancouver – W2 Café
May 12: Ottawa – Electric PowWow @ Babylon
May 26: Montreal – Festival Sight&Sounds @ Eastern Bloc
May 31: NY – SOBs
June 19: Winnipeg – Winnipeg Jazz Fest

Sign up for tour updates and newly scheduled shows on their Facebook events page.  I suggest you post a comment there and request a tour date for your city…people are already starting to do so!  Maybe ATCR will be able to stop by a venue near you!

Check out the profile piece I shot/produced/edited about A Tribe Called Red (featuring commentary from Native American arts + culture journalist, Vincent Schilling) and the growing “traditional Native culture remix” movement – I think I may coin this term 🙂 – after meeting up with the group during ImagineNative in Toronto last fall!

-NativeJournalist

Stopped, Frisked and Speaking Out

I was recently given the opportunity to lend my voice to a news piece about a New York Police Department policy that many in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Fort Greene are upset about.  The video was published this week on “The Local,” a New York Times/CUNY Graduate School of Journalism blog.

The NYPD stopped and frisked more than 684.000 people in 2011. The NYPD set a new record with this number, almost 90 percent of these people are black or latino. Four victims in Fort Greene, (Brooklyn) tell their story about being stopped for no reason.

Lindsey Groot and Robin Antonisse are two Dutch filmmakers who joined the Hyperlocal Blog (New York Times) in February 2012 as part of a journalistic exchange program.

Have you heard of this policy? What are your thoughts? Is there a similar policy where you live? How does your community feel about it?

-NativeJournalist

219 West – May Episode is Up!

I woke up early this morning (before 6AM) and couldn’t sleep.  So, I thought I’d check to see when the July episode of “219 West” will air since I’m in Canada and can’t see it on TV here.  (I will have two packages air in July, so I will let you know when it’s up so you can check it out!)  I was excited to see that CUNY-TV got a facelift and the new and improved site now shows entire episodes instead of just packages.  So, check out the May episode that I hosted and learn something new about health!

-NativeJournalist

Columbia University Paves the Way for West Harlem Expansion

A sign on the side of the Tuck-It-Away self storage facility in West Harlem reads in both English and Spanish, "Stop Columbia! We won't be pushed out!"

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by West Harlem business owners of Columbia University’s use of eminent domain on Monday. This paves the way for Columbia to expand their campus into the manufacturing zone of Manhattanville and means local business owners and residents must move.

In June, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that Columbia could begin condemning private properties in the area using eminent domain—the process by which the government seizes private property for the “public good,” in exchange for payment of fair market value—as justification. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the appeal this week means there is nothing standing in Columbia University’s way.

After a four-year battle, building owners and tenants will have to vacate the properties in the area to allow for the university to proceed with their $6.3 billion development project of the 17-acre site that sits just north of Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus. According to the Columbia University Campus Planning Task Force, the area “consists primarily of the four large blocks from 129th to 133rd Streets between Broadway and Twelfth Avenue, including the north side of 125th Street, as well as three properties on the east side of Broadway from 131st to 134th Streets.”

The university will build mixed-use spaces as well as research facilities and classrooms for their business, arts, science and math and engineering schools. Those in support of the project maintain that this will improve the blighted neighborhood and create thousands of jobs.

“An institution like Columbia, committed to research and teaching, in addition to public service, has enormous value to the surrounding city,” University President Lee Bollinger told the Columbia Spectator earlier this year.

However, Nick Sprayregen, owner of Manhattanville storage company Tuck-It-Away, which will be forced to vacate does not agree. Though calls to Sprayregen were not immediately returned, in a series of YouTube videos about his uphill battle with Columbia University, he says, this condemnation is being used “in an abusive way and in a way that I think is unconstitutional in that the beneficiary is a private school.”

In addition to Tuck-It-Away, a handful of low-rise commercial buildings as well as two gas stations and a McDonald’s will be forced to move.

Tachira Tavarez, a neighborhood resident, agrees with Sprayregen. “I don’t think it’s fair. Where does the school expect us to go? They keep pushing us out,” she said.

This newest development project is not the first time Columbia has come after land in the West Harlem area.

Background:

According to the Coalition to Preserve Community (CPC), Columbia University has “actively pursued a policy of privatizing community facilities and displacing low-income residents in the surrounding communities.” On their website, stopcolumbia.org, they outline what they consider “decades of assaults which lave laid the groundwork for [Columbia University’s] current efforts.”

CPC says they can trace the “assaults” as far back as 1947 when Morningside Heights Inc. (of which Columbia University is a member), initially led and funded by David Rockefeller, sought out to stop “white-flight” and the growth of the Hispanic and Black communities in Harlem.

From 1954-1957, the university demolished 10-acres of land closest to the campus. The residents who were forced to vacate, according to CPC, were almost all low-income families.

The university purchased more than one hundred buildings in the area during the 1960s, in an effort to save the university. Then, according to CPC, as the new landlords, the university raised the rent again, displacing hundreds more minority and low-income residents from the area.

In 1968, Columbia attempted to take part of Morningside Park, in order to construct a private gymnasium for its students and faculty, according to CPC.
The local community as well as Columbia University students, who supported them, started one of the most effective uprisings on any U.S. college campus, taking over campus buildings, forcing the university to shut down for the rest of the term. The protesters sought to stop the project because it would have “privatized parkland that was once open to the public” and had “overtly racist overtones.”

According to CPC, in only eight years, Columbia University displaced over 3,000 Manhattanville residents by purchasing, and in most cases demolishing, the apartment buildings in which they lived.

As a mostly white university at its inception, to this day many see Columbia as a colonist and Harlem residents (the minority and low-income tenants in particular), as the Native Americans it keeps displacing to make room for their expansion.

“Columbia’s presence seems really oppressive,” Tavarez said. “I know it’s a prestigious university, but most people in this community won’t ever even have a chance of going there. It just doesn’t seem fair.”

The present issue:

According to Community Board 9 District Manager, Eutha Prince, who oversees Manhattanville, the issue of gentrification has been a problem for years.

“I have seen countless businesses close and many people leave the area,” she said. “They either can no longer afford to rent or they are forced to move by [Columbia University] expansion efforts. Gentrification is a big problem here in West Harlem.”

Despite the objections, according to the university’s Planning Task Force, the university is committed to creating “a new kind of urban academic environment that will be woven into the fabric of the surrounding community.”

The plan features “new facilities for civic, cultural, recreational, and commercial activity,” according to a statement on their website. “And its improved, pedestrian-friendly streets and new publicly accessible open spaces will reconnect West Harlem to the new Hudson River waterfront park,” the statement said.

While some feel that these improvements are at a great cost, others are looking forward to the changes.

“I actually think [the project] is a great idea,” Anne, an undergrad at Columbia, said. Anne declined to provide her last name, saying her opinion conflicts greatly with the majority of her classmates.

According to the task force, this kind of growth will generate thousands of new local jobs and ensure “Upper Manhattan remains a world center for knowledge, creativity, and solutions for society’s challenges.”

Despite some objections from the community, Columbia University’s 25-year expansion plan is expected to improve the appearance and overall property value of Manhattanville. The plans include major infrastructure improvements, including a renovated 125th Street subway station. In addition, the university plans to build a school for the community (which might be a charter).

These expensive changes are expected to improve the overall “curbside” appeal of the area. Many, however, wonder at whose expense.

Happy Halloween: A Superhero (Not an Ethnic Minority) is a Halloween Costume

I love Halloween…but I don’t love racist Halloween costumes. And, sadly, it seems like the “go to” Halloween costume is often an “Indian Chief” or a scantily clad “Indian Princess.” When in doubt, wear something brown, cut some fringe, put a headband around your head and attach a feather. Now, you’re an Indian!…??!!

image credit: jenmust.blogspot.com
Click the photo to read a great article at Colorlines.com

What kind of statement are we making when we dress up as a marginalized people? What makes us think we own their culture in this way?

I thought I was the only one who felt sick to my stomach seeing someone dressed up in costume as an “Indian Chief” or “Muslim,” but to my surprise, I’m not! There is quite a bit of buzz online about racist Halloween costumes and how to avoid being racially/ethnically offensive, while still having fun.

As ClayCane.net explained,

I saw people dressed as Mexicans, Asians and sporting the ever popular Afro wig. Putting on an Afro wig or a sombrero is not a costume. Batman or Superman is a costume, being ethnic for a night isn’t—it’s offensive.

"Native American boy" costume

Check out Gawker’s list of offensive Halloween costumes including the “Geisha girl,” “Samurai Warrior” and “Alaskan ‘Eskimo.'” TheRoot.com also has a great slideshow of wigs and masks (and glasses like the pair below) that made my jaw drop.

This is not okay.

Please think critically when you pick your Halloween costume. Just because your friend who is Native American/Black/Asian/Latino/whatever is not offended, does not mean the costume is not offensive to others! Halloween is about fun…not disrespect.

-NativeJournalist