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NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has announced on June 24 that the agency’s headquarters buildings in Washington DC will be named after its first African American female engineer, Mary W. Jackson.

He said Hidden Figure Mary Jackson had helped to break down barriers for African Americans and women in engineering and technology.

The story of Mary W. Jackson was told in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. Born in Hampton, Virginia, she died in 2005.

In 2019, NASA renamed the street outside its headquarters as Hidden Figures Way.

“Hidden no more, we will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made NASA’s successful history of exploration possible,” Jim Bridestine said in a statement.

“Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space,” he added.

“Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology.”

Image source: Wikipedia

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The move comes at a time of introspection across the US about historical injustices suffered by African Americans.

The recent death in police custody of George Floyd triggered protests around the world and renewed demands for an end to institutional racism.

NASA began recruiting some college-educated African American women in the 1940s as “human computers”, but they experienced both racial and gender discrimination at work.

Mary W. Jackson was recruited in 1951 by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics which was succeeded by NASA in 1958. She worked under Dorothy Vaughan – whose story was also told in Hidden Figures – in the segregated West Area Computing Unit at Langley, Virginia.

Mary Jackson died in 2005 and in 2019 she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Her daughter, Carolyn Lewis, said the family was honored that NASA was continuing to celebrate Mary Jackson’s legacy.

Carolyn Lewis said: “She was a scientist, humanitarian, wife, mother, and trailblazer who paved the way for thousands of others to succeed, not only at NASA, but throughout this nation.”

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Ben & Jerry’s has joined a growing list of companies pulling advertising from Facebook platforms throughout July.

The move is part of the Stop Hate For Profit campaign, which calls on Facebook to have stricter measures against racist and hateful content.

Ben and Jerry’s tweeted: “We will pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the US in support of the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Facebook, Inc. must take the clear and unequivocal actions to stop its platform from being used to spread and amplify racism and hate. >>>https://benjerrys.co/2CtB2WE

Earlier this week outdoor brands The North Face, Patagonia and REI joined the campaign.

Ben & Jerry’s said it is standing with the campaign and “all those calling for Facebook to take stronger action to stop its platforms from being used to divide our nation, suppress voters, foment and fan the flames of racism and violence, and undermine our democracy.”

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After the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody, Ben & Jerry’s chief executive Matthew McCarthy said “business should be held accountable” as he set out plans to increase diversity.

Earlier this week the freelance job listing platform Upwork and the open-source software developer Mozilla also joined the campaign.

Facebook has said it was committed to “advancing equity and racial justice”.

The social network said in a statement on June 21: “We’re taking steps to review our policies, ensure diversity and transparency when making decisions on how we apply our policies, and advance racial justice and voter engagement on our platform.”

Ben & Jerry’s statement also pointed to the company’s Community Standards, which include the recognition of the platform’s importance as a “place where people feel empowered to communicate, and we take seriously our role in keeping abuse off our service”.

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign was launched last week by advocacy groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Color Of Change.

The movement has said it is a “response to Facebook’s long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform”.

Stop Hate for Profit has called on advertisers to pressure Facebook to adopt stricter measures against racist and hateful content on its platforms by stopping all spending on advertising with it throughout July.

In 2019, Facebook attracted advertising revenue of almost $70 billion.

The company and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg have often been criticized for the handling of controversial subjects.

This month Facebook’s staff spoke out against the tech giant’s decision not to remove or flag a post by President Donald Trump.

The same message was shared on Twitter, where it was hidden behind a warning label on the grounds that it “glorified violence”.

Quaker Oats has announced it will rename its brand Aunt Jemima (a line of syrups and foods), acknowledging it was based on a racial stereotype.

For over 130 years, Aunt Jemima’s logo has featured a black woman named after a character from minstrel shows in the 1800s that mocked African-Americans.

The company said past branding updates to address these issues were “not enough”.

Criticism against the brand has renewed amid the national debate over racism sparked by George Floyd’s death.

Image source: AuntJemima.com

Kristin Kroepfl, Quaker Foods North America’s chief marketing officer, said the company is working “to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives”.

She said: “We also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations.

“We are starting by removing the image and changing the name.”

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Quaker has not offered further details on the coming changes, which were first reported by NBC News.

In addition, Aunt Jemima is to donate at least $5 million over the next five years to support the African American community, according to parent company PepsiCo.

The branding on Aunt Jemima’s syrups, mixes and other food products features an image of a black woman that has often been linked to stereotypes around slavery.

In a 2015 opinion piece for the New York Times, Cornell University African-American literature professor Riché Richardson described Aunt Jemima as “an outgrowth of Old South plantation nostalgia and romance”.

He said the brand perpetuated the idea of a “mammy” character – a submissive black woman who nurtured her white master’s children.

Founded in 1889, the Aunt Jemima logo was based on storyteller, cook and missionary Nancy Green, Quaker’s site says.

According to the African American Registry non-profit database, Nancy Green was born into slavery in Kentucky in 1834.

Aunt Jemima joins a number of companies offering change in light of the global protests and renewed debate over racism in America, sparked by the recent police killings of George Floyd and other African Americans.