#ThrowbackThursday: Lauryn Hill Wins Album of the Year Grammy Award, 1999

Lauryn Hill, Grammys 1999 (The Drop FM)

Lauryn Hill, Grammys 1999 (The Drop FM)

When Lauryn Hill’s album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” was released in 1998, it instantly became #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, and set a record for “first-week sales by a female artist.”

Hill won Album of the Year for “Miseducation” at the 1999 Grammy Awards. The album also won four other awards; it had been nominated for 10 Grammys. Hill set another record that night both with her number of wins and nominations.

Hill was the last black woman to win the Grammy for Album of the Year.

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Meghan Markle is Engaged to Prince Harry

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (E! Online)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (E! Online)

It’s finally happening! Former “Suits” actress Meghan Markle got engaged to her boyfriend Price Harry (heard of him?), and they announced their engagement a week ago. The two attended a photocall in the morning at Kensington Palance’s Sunken Garden, and sat down for an televised interview revealing more details with the BBC later that day.

This engagement is big for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it’s breaking barriers: Markle will be the first biracial person (and first biracial woman) to join the royal family. (Markle’s mother is Doria Ragland, an African-American woman, and her father is Thomas Markle, who is Caucasian. Markle self-identifies as a “strong, confident mixed-race woman.”) Many are excited because Markle will be the first “Black Princess” (though technically she’s more likely to end up with a Duchess title), but there are more nuances to the situation. “Elle” has a a great piece where 16 Black women aired their reactions to the engagement news; it’s well worth reading in full, so go check it out!

The engagement is also a powerful step towards revolutionizing the British monarchy and the public’s perception thereof. Princes Harry and William have spoken out about their mental health and its importance, and seem to want to make the monarchy more progressive. Along with the fact that Prince Harry will be marrying a biracial woman, he’ll also be marrying a divorcee: Markle was previously married to film producer Trevor Engelson from 2011 to 2013. The last time a British royal married a divorced woman, he had to abdicate the throne. This happened in 1937 when the Duke of Windsor married Wallis Simpson, which caused quite a scandal.

One thing is for sure: this engagement is hurtling the British royal family into the 21st century. As “The New York Times” puts it:

With one heady announcement, it seems, Harry and Ms. Markle have thrown out generations’ worth of quietly repressed tradition and presented a new royal model to a country that will have to adjust to it, whether it wants to or not.

 

The Academy’s New Class is 39% Female and 30% POC

Priyanka Chopra, Donald Glover, Naomie Harris, and John Cho (The Hollywood Reporter)

Priyanka Chopra, Donald Glover, Naomie Harris, and John Cho (The Hollywood Reporter)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently announced its new class of members. The 2017 class numbers 744, which is a new record. This breaks the 2016 number of invitees at 683, which had previously held the record.

This new class might also hold the distinction of being the most diverse (so far). Of the 744 members, 39% are women and 30% are people of color (POC).

Here’s how the new class will influence the gender makeup of the Academy:

Overall Female Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

Overall Female Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

Notable women invited include “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot, comedian Amy Poehler, and French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

POC comprise 39% of this year’s class. Here’s what that looks like with respect to the Academy’s full voting body:

People of Color in Overall Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

People of Color in Overall Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

Notable POC invitees include Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key of “Key & Peele,” Indian actor Salman Khan, and Hong Kong actor Tony Leung.

Of course, there’s a lot of intersectionality happening for women of color (WOC). Prominent WOC in this year’s Academy class include Priyanka Chopra, Sanaa Lathan, and Nazanin Boniadi.

The Academy’s new class is part of an effort to increase the numbers of women and POC members by 2020.

Hopefully the new influx of fresh faces and perspectives will allow more diverse and inclusive narratives to come to the forefront, and prevent another #OscarsSoWhite fiasco.

 

By The Numbers: Interracial Marriage Data

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West arrive at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York (The Huffington Post)

FILE PHOTO – Kim Kardashian and Kanye West arrive at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York, U.S., August 28, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

The 50th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia case is soon approaching. The case struck down bans on interracial marriage, and continues to resonate today. With that in mind, I was curious to see any data on interracial marriages: Has the number gone up? Has societal disapproval gone down?

Let’s take a look:

Who’s Marrying Out?

  • In 1970, less than 1% of all married couples were interracial.
  • In 1980, 6%+ of newlyweds were interracial, and only 3% of all marriages were interracial.
  • In 2013, 12% of newlyweds (a record high) married someone of a different race, and 6.3% of all marriages were interracial.
The Absolute Rise of Intermarriage (Priceonomics)

The Absolute Rise of Intermarriage (Priceonomics)

Who’s Down with Marrying Out?

  • In 1986, only 30% of survey respondents felt interracial marriage is acceptable for everyone. But that same percentage of respondents did not feel interracial marriage was acceptable for anyone.
  • In 2009, 83% of survey respondents were accepting of interracial marriage.
  • In 2012, 93% of people approve of interracial marriage.

And let’s end on one more noteworthy statistic that warms my heart and gives me hope for the future:

“More than four-in-ten Americans (43%) say that more people of different races marrying each other has been a change for the better in our society.”

 

 

NPR Releases 2016 Staff Diversity Numbers

National Public Radio (NPR) Logo (NPR)

National Public Radio (NPR) Logo (NPR)

In April, National Public Radio (known colloquially as NPR) released its staff diversity data for 2016. Here were the main findings for that year:

According to NPR’s human resources department, of the 350 employees in the news division as of Oct. 31, 2016, 75.4 percent were white. Asians made up 8.3 percent of the staff, followed by blacks or African-Americans (8.0 percent), Hispanics or Latinos (5.4 percent), those who identified as two or more races or ethnic identities (2.6 percent) and American Indian (0.3 percent).

NPR has been tracking this data since 2012, and it’s interesting to see how the numbers fare on a long-term basis. Spoiler alert: they pretty much flatlined. This falls in line with long-term newsroom diversity trends. Per the American Society of News Editors (ASNE): “In 2016, minorities comprised about 17 percent of employees at daily newspapers and 23 percent at online-only sites.” Pretty bad.

Here’s where NPR falls in comparison to other media:

NPR is behind The Washington Post (31 percent diverse) and The Los Angeles Times (34 percent). At 25 percent diverse, NPR is just above The New York Times newsroom, which is about 22 percent diverse.

Newsroom diversity has become part of a larger conversation regarding workplace, and companies publicly releasing they diversity data. But some newsrooms are refusing to disclose their data. The ASNE reported that 737 newsrooms responded with data for the 2016 survey. That’s out of 1.7K+ newsrooms contacted, making a 42%+ response rate.

 

Going Dark for “A Day Without A Woman”

A Day Without A Woman (Women's March on Washington)

A Day Without A Woman (Women’s March on Washington)

Today, I’m going dark for a cause: A Day Without A Woman.

Guidelines for the day via A Day Without A Woman:

Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, in one or all of the following ways:

  1. Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
  2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
  3. Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman

This day coincides with International Women’s Day (IWD) and the International Women’s Strike (IWS). The day will also spotlight all the financial power women possess:

The idea behind a women’s general strike is that if women refuse to do all of their typical work for a day, it will force people to notice how important and under-appreciated that work is.

And that economic impact will be felt:

Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and influence about 73% of all household spending.

Though I’ll be working today at my office job, I plan to show my support by wearing red, reading feminist literature (currently deciding between “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie and “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay), and masturbating.

See you on March 9th!

School Districts Shutting Down For “A Day Without A Woman”

1950s female teacher (Masterfile)

1950s female teacher (Masterfile)

Tomorrow is A Day Without A Woman, a day to call attention to women’s economic power and labor (including the unpaid and emotional kind). Because women do have economic power: Studies show that “women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and influence about 73% of all household spending.”

One profession that is traditionally female-dominant is teaching. The National Center for Education Statistics found that for the 2011-2012 school year, female teachers comprised 76% of all public school teachers. (This gap is especially prominent in elementary schools.) These so-called “pink collar” jobs are ones where women dominate, but can be considered to be “lower” in status because of the feminine association (which is wrong, wrong, WRONG!!).

Naturally, the public school system might be hit hard tomorrow. Some school districts have already cancelled classes as a result of teachers taking the day off to strike. The Alexandria, Virginia public school system reported receiving over 300 requests for the day off. Brooklyn preschool The Maple Street School and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro public school system in North Carolina (where 75% of employees are women) will also be closed. All schools in Prince George’s County, Maryland, will also be closed, after 1.7K teachers and 30% of transportation staff requested the day off.