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  1. Black mathematicians: the kind of problems they wish didn’t need solving

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    Check out Jonathan Farley – a professor of mathematics who has received death threats from the KKK and was once wrongly detained on suspicion of being a bank robber – writing on racism in academia.

    John Derbyshire, a columnist for the National Review, wrote an essay last week implying that black people were intellectually inferior to white people: “Only one out of six blacks is smarter than the average white.” Derbyshire pulled these figures from a region near his large intestine.

    One of Derbyshire’s claims, however, is true: that there are no black winners of the Fields medal, the “Nobel prize of mathematics”. According to Derbyshire, this is “civilisationally consequential”. Derbyshire implies that the absence of a black winner means that black people are incapable of genius. In reality, black mathematicians face career-retarding racism that white Fields medallists never encounter. Three stories will suffice to make this point.

    Let us know what you think.

  2. Quote

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    Let us take a moment to grieve for Trayvon Martin, whose life was so brutally taken. Then let us move from moment to movement, and revive the struggle for a more perfect union. That would be a fitting legacy for Trayvon. Read Jesse Jackson’s powerful words on why we must do more and seek answers in the aftermath of Trayvon’s death to make sure his death was not in vain.
  3. I’m not racist, some of my colleagues are white

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    What’s more, definitions of diversity tend to be skin-deep, about differences you can see – and stick on the cover of your corporate brochure (“black man to the left please, and we’ll have the hijabi in the middle”). Further, because diversity credentials are something companies like to show off, it tends to help to focus on the more marketable minorities.

    There is a wealth of evidence, for example, that “ugly” people are frequently underpaid and might benefit from legal protection. But, really, who wants to put a minger front and centre of the company website? And, God/Allah, don’t even get me started on the fat. Women: when it comes to earning potential it seems you can never be too thin.

    Arwa Mahdawi writes about diversity - and how in her opinion the Harvard Business Review is right: diversity schemes can be dangerous if they ignore socioeconomic divisions

  4. Gallery

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    Our columnist Hadley Freeman looks at how the Jeremy Lin row reveals deep-seated racism against Asian-Americans:

    "Chink in the armor" was ESPN’s take not once but twice when the Knicks lost a game last week, both as a headline added by ESPN writer Anthony Federico and then as a phrase used by the anchor Max Bretos (Federico has since been fired and Bretos received a 30-day suspension.) Those two muppets look the height of sophisticated decorum compared with writer Jason Whitlock, whose response to Lin’s triumph over the Lakers on Friday night was to tweet "Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight", a comment notable for being almost more misogynistic than racist. When the Madison Square Garden Network flashed up a photo of Lin, it superimposed it with a fortune cookie, presumably refraining from adding some chopsticks purely because it didn’t have the graphics.

    Welterweight Floyd Mayweather has never been a modern-day Emily Post but his tweeted thought on Lin last week – “Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the praise” – was impressive even by his standards. Also, “don’t get the praise”? Come on, Floyd, you came ninth in Dancing with the Stars! How much more praise do you want?

    Nor does one need to look to the morons for examples. The chinstroking journal The Atlantic put forward the charming theory that Lin’s success is due to his “philosophical heritage” – ah, so! And so inscrutable, too!

    • Photograph: Adam Hunger/Reuters

    • Photograph: Mike Cassese/Reuters

    • Spike Lee, a big Lin fan, at Madison Square Garden. Photograph: Andrew Gombert/EPA

    • Lin supporters Photograph: Mike Cassese/Reuters

  5. Quote

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    Growing up in the north of England in the 80s, I had few role models. Popular culture was dominated by white faces and occasionally black and south Asian, but never east Asian. I’m not sure that much has changed since.

    Shouts of “Jackie Chan!” and kung-fu noises from random strangers continue to greet me in the street, perhaps followed by a “konichiwa!” Just a few days ago, a friend was having a post-hangover drink in a trendy east London pub, only to be accused by the manager of being a DVD peddler hassling his clients.

    - Elizabeth Chan, on why Chinese Britons have put up with racism for too long


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