Returning Oct. 31

‘I Don’t See Color,’ Says Mattress Creator

Conservative Says Fox News Mainstreams Racism

For Blacks, Trumps Have ‘Existed for a Long Time’

Commissioner, Owner to Meet Over Chief Wahoo

Ex-CNN Employee Claims Racial, Religious Bias

‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’: Fox Meets Asian Americans

Standing Rock Dog Handlers Not Properly Licensed

Sheela Allen-Stephens, Philly TV Veteran, Dies at 73

Short Takes

This ad for the Sapira Mattress ran in Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

This ad for the Sapira Mattress ran in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. (Credit: Leesa Sleep)

‘I Don’t See Color,’ Says Mattress Creator

In 1955, Emmett Till, a black 15-year-old, was abducted and beaten to death, his body mutilated, after he allegedly whistled at a white woman.

Until the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Loving v. Virginia case in 1967, it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry in Virginia and several other states. Both cases are mentioned in the new National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall.

On Sunday in the New York Times Magazine, a black man and a white woman, both only partially clothed, sat in bed together to advertise a mattress, and there was barely a ripple.

“The secret is in the springs,” the ad confided.

David Wolfe

David Wolfe

David Wolfe, co-founder and CEO of Leesa Sleep, LLC, which makes the mattress and placed the ad in the Times and in online outlets, told Journal-isms by telephone Wednesday that he wasn’t thinking of sociology or history when he put the black and white models together in bed.

“I don’t see color,” said Wolfe, 54, who was raised in England and whose company is based in Virginia Beach, Va. “I chose the couple [because] I thought they were great together. . . . It wasn’t a conscious decision that I put a black guy and a white woman on a mattress.”

The ad did hold significance for Martha Hodes, a professor of history at New York University.

“This ad immediately stopped me,” Hodes responded by email to an inquiry from Journal-isms. “Ever since I wrote White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South, almost twenty years ago, I’ve informally noted or collected images of white women and black men in present-day popular culture.

“It didn’t take me but a moment to interpret the ad. The copy refers to ‘your home,’ indicating that the couple has set up a household together, including purchasing a mattress. They’re both lightly clothed and drinking wine, making sex the underlying — if not the completely obvious — message.

Martha Hodes

Martha Hodes

“The white woman is looking provocatively at the camera, though admittedly many advertising directors position models this way (just look at any catalogue that sells lingerie). Marriage might legitimize the couple, but the fingers of their left hands aren’t visible enough to tell if they’re wearing wedding rings, no doubt on purpose.

“When I first saw the ad, my immediate thought was that the mattress company and the New York Times are going to get nasty reactions from some white readers.

“Such racism is far from passé, and it was only in 1967 that the United States Supreme Court ruled laws against marriage between people of different racial classifications to be unconstitutional. At the time, sixteen states had such laws on the books.”

For most of this country’s history, media organizations dared not step too far ahead of their customers on racial matters.

Perhaps that’s still the case. The ad was not an issue for the Times, according to spokeswoman Eileen Murphy.

“We believe that diverse representation of races, genders, etc. in advertising is a good thing, but we don’t get involved in the creative campaigns of our advertisers,” Murphy said by email.

This Fox News Channel exchange Tuesday between Megyn Kelly and Newt Gingrich, which went viral, overshadowed Sean Hannity’s birther dog-whistle, Jennifer Rubin wrote. (Credit: Fox News Channel)

Conservative Says Fox News Mainstreams Racism

The degree to which Fox fake-news programming (e.g. Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, ‘Fox and Friends’) has mainstreamed and defended blatant racism is shocking,” Jennifer Rubin, who writes a conservative column for the Washington Post dubbed “Right Turn,” wrote Wednesday under the headline, “The mainstreaming of racism on Fox News.”

“Overshadowed by Newt Gingrich’s outburst on Megyn Kelly’s show last night was Sean Hannity’s birther dog-whistle. He directed his rant to President Obama:

” ‘You want to go to Canada? I’ll pay for you to go to Canada. You want to go to Kenya? I’ll pay for you to go to Kenya. Jakarta, where you went to school back in the day, you can go back there. Anywhere you want to go. I’ll put the finest food — caviar, champagne, you name it. I have one stipulation: You can’t come back.’

‘Now, do we think it’s coincidental that he picked Kenya, folks? Do we think Hannity is not ringing the birther bell, suggesting (affirming, actually) for the benefit of his alt-right audience that, in his mind, Obama is a foreigner, probably Muslim and definitely not ‘one of us’?

“We’ve noted before that Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric is an extension of the crackpot right-wing media, his appearance paved by years of conspiracy theories, dog-whistles, paranoia and, yes, appeals to racism and ridicule of women. In the final days of the Trump campaign, we are reminded where the toxic brew that Trump spouts originated.

“This is certainly not an isolated incident. Who can forget O’Reilly telling us ‘slaves that worked there [building the White House] were well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government’? Most Republicans acknowledged that Trump’s accusation that Judge Gonzalo Curiel was biased against Trump because the judge was a ‘Mexican’ was racism, plain and simple. Yet Fox allowed O’Reilly to cheerlead for Trump’s racist demand that Curiel recuse himself. . . .”

For Blacks, Trumps Have ‘Existed for a Long Time’

When Tunette Powell, a black Ph.D. student in Los Angeles, hears Donald J. Trump speaking about African-Americans living in ‘war zones,’ she thinks back to a high school math teacher who used to tell her to ‘go back to the ghetto, ” Yamiche Alcidor wrote Tuesday for the New York Times, infusing the voices of everyday black voters into the presidential campaign coverage.

“Mr. Trump has called for the return of stop-and-frisk, the police practice that critics and a New York federal judge likened to racial profiling. Ms. Powell remembered how police officers once searched a car she and her cousin were riding in, joking that the vehicle resembled one used in a robbery.

“Mr. Trump has frequently retweeted messages from white supremacists. Ms. Powell recalled how a white college classmate informed her that his family got together at barbecues to ridicule black people.

“With his years of questioning President Obama’s birthplace, his insinuation of voting fraud in black neighborhoods and his refusal to absolve the Central Park Five, Mr. Trump has riled up and shocked voters not used to hearing black Americans’ sensibilities handled so dismissively on a public stage.

“But when Ms. Powell and other black Americans were interviewed recently about Mr. Trump’s candidacy, shock was rarely a word that came to mind.

“More often, they said, what they felt was a numbing familiarity: What the rest of America was now being exposed to are words and thoughts they have heard their whole lives.

“ ‘We talk a lot about Donald Trump because he is the person in front of us, but start looking at all the people who believe in these ideas and they are sitting in our classrooms, they are in our courtrooms, and they are pastors of our churches,’ Ms. Powell, 30, said. ‘I feel like Donald Trump is not a big bad wolf. He’s existed for a long time.’ . . .”

Commissioner, Owner to Meet Over Chief Wahoo

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN’s Mike & Mike sports show Tuesday that he plans to meet with Cleveland Indians owner Larry Dolan after the season to discuss the team’s controversial team logo, Chief Wahoo, which some people say demeans Native Americans,” Mark Naymik reported Wednesday for

Meanwhile, the Native American Journalists Association called on media professionals “and others in the sports industry to eliminate the use of Native American-themed mascots and imagery.

Chief Wahoo

Chief Wahoo

“We believe that the Cleveland team’s ‘Chief Wahoo’ logo, in conjunction with its name, perpetuates a stereotype based on the race and ethnic identity of Native people,” the NAJA statement continued. “It is dehumanizing imagery that leads to dehumanizing actions against Native people, and its continued use by mainstream and sports media is wholly unethical. . . .”

Chief Wahoo has been relegated to a supporting role for the Cleveland Indians this season, another step in the team’s de-emphasis of the logo, Cindy Boren reported in April for the Washington Post.

“ ‘We have gone to the Block C as our primary mark,’ owner Paul Dolan said (via ‘Clearly, we are using it more heavily than we are the Chief Wahoo logo.’ . . .”

The Chicago Cubs beat the Indians, 5-1, at Progressive Field on a cold Wednesday night in Game 2 of the World Series, Paul Hoynes reported for “The series moves to Wrigley Field on Friday for Game 3 with the series tied, 1-1. . . .”

Ex-CNN Employee Claims Racial, Religious Bias

Another CNN employee has accused the Atlanta-based network of racial and religious discrimination in a lawsuit filed earlier this month,” Rodney Ho reported Wednesday for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Omar Butcher

Omar Butcher (Credit: Twitter)

Omar Butcher, who worked at CNN from 2010 to 2015, filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court Northern District of Georgia.

“This is at least the third lawsuit filed by employees at CNN against the company over discrimination over the past year. The others were filed by Ricky Blalock and DeWayne Walker.

“According to the lawsuit, Butcher joined the network as an associate producer and tried to get a writing position but said he was passed over multiple times and discouraged from training.

“A devout Christian, he said in the lawsuit he was offended by the use of profanity by other staffers, including terms regarding God and Jesus Christ. He asked that they stop doing so but was ignored.

“He said he was also unfairly called out for not attending a meeting that white colleagues had missed. . . .”

Michael Tow, a financial planner who moonlights as an actor, posted this parody response to the Bill O’Reilly and Jesse Watters “Watters’ World” segment in Chinatown last week. “This is my imagined version of what really happened,” he wrote. (Credit:

‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’: Fox Meets Asian Americans

Representatives of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations met with Fox News executives today to present a community letter signed by 134 national, state and local AAPI organizations and allies, as well as a petition with nearly 24,000 signatures, in response to the racist ‘Watters World: Chinatown Edition segment that aired on The O’Reilly Factor earlier this month,” the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, a coalition of 35 groups, said in a statement Tuesday.

Mary Tablante, a spokeswoman for the group, which met privately with Fox News in New York, told Journal-isms by telephone Wednesday, “We’re still trying to figure out a specific follow-up.”

Ron Kim, a New York state assemblyman in attendance, told the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple Blog “that a representative from ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ and a senior representative from the news side of the channel attended the meeting,” Wemple reported on Tuesday.

“Together they played a ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine, said Kim. ‘The gentleman from O’Reilly’s show was defending what they were doing and trying to explain that this is a part of the opinion section of Fox News and sometimes edgy humor can go too far,’ said Kim. . . .”

On Sept. 3, the Dakota Access pipeline company attacked Native Americans with dogs and pepper spray as they protested against the $3.8 billion pipeline’s construction. (Credit; Democracy Now!)

On Sept. 3, the Dakota Access pipeline company attacked Native Americans with dogs and pepper spray as they protested against the $3.8 billion pipeline’s construction. (Credit: Democracy Now!)

Standing Rock Dog Handlers Not Properly Licensed

The dog handlers who provided security for Dakota Access LLC during a Sept. 3 clash with protesters were not properly licensed to provide security in North Dakota, a Morton County investigation found,” Amy Dalrymple reported Tuesday for Forum News Service.

“Names of the unlicensed security officers have been forwarded to prosecutors for possible charges, but investigators were only able to identify two of the seven dog handlers, said Capt. Jay Gruebele of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.

“Providing private security services without a license is a Class B misdemeanor in North Dakota.

“Six pipeline opponents were bitten by the guard dogs and a dozen or more people were pepper-sprayed when the group clashed with security officers in a pipeline construction zone on Sept. 3, according to a protest organizer with the Red Warrior Camp. . . .”

Dalrymple also reported, “The two dog handlers’ names that have been forwarded to prosecutors include Ashley Welch, who appears in video captured by reporters with the independent news program ‘Democracy Now[!]’ with a dog that has blood on its mouth and nose.

“Prosecutors attempted to charge ‘Democracy Now[!]’ journalist Amy Goodman with rioting, in part basing their affidavit on statements from Welch that said Goodman was actively protesting and ‘trying to get the protesters riled.’ A judge refused to sign the complaint. . . .”

Sheela Allen-Stephens, left, and Betsy Hoffman (Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Archives)

Sheela Allen-Stephens, left, and Betsy Hoffman (Credit: Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Archives)

Sheela Allen-Stephens, Philly TV Veteran, Dies at 73

Steela Allen-Stephens, a longtime entertainment and features reporter and anchor at Philadelphia’s WCAU-TV, died of cancer Oct. 21 at suburban Bryn Mawr Hospital, her daughter, Desiree Murray, told Journal-isms on Wednesday. She turned 73 on Sept. 10.

“Sheela Allen-Stephens worked at NBC10 / WCAU for nearly 30 years as a news anchor, news and features reporter and infotainment co-host reporter, alongside Matt Lauer, before she retired in 2005,” a WCAU-TV spokesperson told Journal-isms by email.

“She covered a wide array of issues and topics, and was as comfortable interviewing superstars as she was reporting a story about a local seamstress. Sheela was a one-woman people magnet.

“Our viewers have not forgotten her since she signed off 10 years ago. Since her passing, we have been flooded with messages of condolence and funny memories. We were fortunate to have had Sheela on our NBC10 team.”

Murray said her mother, who grew up in New York, worked in Buffalo television before her arrival in Philadelphia. She loved to write and “had an uncanny way of lighting up a room,” she said.

In a tribute, WCAU chief meteorologist Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz, a good friend, began, ‘She survived breast cancer, three heart attacks, brain surgery, and diabetes. She told people that she had more than 25 surgeries in her life. She was as happily married as any person I ever saw. . . .”

Services are public and scheduled Saturday at 1 p.m. at Sharon Baptist Church, 3955 Conshohocken Ave., Philadelphia 19131. She leaves a sister, two children and three grandchildren.

Short Takes

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