“A tree is best measured when it is down,” the poet Carl Sandburg once observed, “and so it is with people.” The recent death of Harry Belafonte at the age of 96 has prompted many assessments of what this pioneering singer-actor-activist accomplished in a long and fruitful life.
Belafonte’s career as a ground-breaking entertainer brought him substantial wealth and fame; according to Playbill magazine, “By 1959, he was the highest paid Black entertainer in the industry, appearing in raucously successful engagements in Las Vegas, New York, and Los Angeles.” He scored on Broadway, winning a 1954 Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical – John Murray Anderson's Almanac. Belafonte was the first Black person to win the prestigious award. A 1960 television special, “Tonight with Belafonte,” brought him an Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series, making him the first Black person to win that award. He found equal success in the recording studio, bringing Calypso music to the masses via such hits as “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell.”
Harry Belafonte - Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) (Live)www.youtube.com
Belafonte’s blockbuster stardom is all the more remarkable for happening in a world plagued by virulent systemic racism. Though he never stopped performing, by the early 1960s he’d shifted his energies to the nascent Civil Right movement. He was a friend and adviser to the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and, as the New York Times stated, Belafonte “put up much of the seed money to help start the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was one of the principal fund-raisers for that organization and Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that “he helped launch one of Mississippi’s first voter registration drives and provided funding for the Freedom Riders. His activism extended beyond the U.S. as he fought against apartheid alongside Nelson Mandela and Miriam Makeba, campaigned for Mandela’s release from prison, and advocated for famine relief in Africa.” And in 1987, he received an appointment to UNICEF as a goodwill ambassador.
Over a career spanning more than seventy years, Belafonte brought joy to millions of people. He also did something that is, perhaps, even greater: he fostered the hope that a better world for all could be created. And, by his example, demonstrated how we might go about bringing that world into existence.
Media Musings: Supreme Court and covering court cases
Court cases you should know about
The Supreme Court's term ended with several huge decisions in cases dealing with abortion, affirmative action and immigration. With several hot-button issues being examined, the Supreme Court has been front page news for several days.
Two colleagues discuss mistakes made in reporting on court cases and how to avoid them.
L: The Supreme Court just ended its term for the year and handed down some pretty big decisions on abortion, affirmative action and immigration.
J: Covering Supreme Court cases along with other federal cases tends to be the bread and butter for a lot of newspapers and media organizations because that can affect the way people live their lives. However, sometimes cases get misreported on. Either because a journalist doesn't have the knowledge to cover a case correctly or people just simply re-report what other media organizations report on.
L: And one of the most common areas that mistakes are made is in misinterpreting what the Court is actually doing. So the Supreme Court either decides to hear a case or it doesn't decide to hear a case. And if it doesn't hear a case, the lower court decision just stands for that Circuit — for that part of the country. It doesn't apply to the rest of the country.
J: Another way journalists can mishandle the reporting of court cases is in the verbiage they use. Legal jargon can tend to be high brow and sometimes in attempts to simplify the language, they can end up using the wrong words.
J: Another trap that news organizations and reporters can fall into is not reading through, or far enough into the opinion. There was two parts to that decision, in one part they struck down the health care mandate based on the commerce clause, but they also upheld it under the taxing powers of the government. So, the individual healthcare mandate is legal and constitutional. And in not reading through that whole opinion, people ended up misreporting what the Supreme Court actually decided.
J: Journalists can end up paying way too much attention to the drama and the hype that surrounds the case and use that as filler in the reporting, rather than referring to the facts.
L: That's a good point especially because the Supreme Court often consolidates cases that have a similar Constitutional question or concern. So like the contraceptive mandate part of Obamacare was under review this term and they consolidated eight cases that dealt with the same issue. So it's important to realize that even though somebody's name is in the case title, they might not be the best person to put a face on the story.
J: Some tips for court reporting would definitely be: know the case and all of the facts of the case, understand legal jargon, understand how the court handles specific types of cases. A grand jury is very different from a regular trial. Where it is in the Supreme Court process can significantly differ.
Google's $2.7 Billion Fine, Antitrust, and Tech's Ever-Changing Landscape
Musings: From two perspectives of tech conglomerate fines, antitrust laws, and the tech world as a whole
Lauren: The EU has given Google a $2.7 billion fine due to alleged antitrust violations. According to EU antitrust regulators, the internet giant is a monopoly. And so Google now has to prove that it has rivals that had made substantial inroads to its businesses, including specialized search categories, mobile phones, and online ad buying. This fine and punishment could also set a precedent for other tech giants. Seems like they're not as unstoppable as many have believed.
Jane: It would set a precedent in Europe. Google has been doing that here forever. But the application of antitrust laws to tech companies interesting. Amazon, Google, Apple, and etc. easily outpace other smaller companies and since they dominate the newer, harder to regulate marketplaces, there is a lack of checks and balances in place
L: The law is definitely slow to catch up in this area. It feels like the second a new law addressing internet companies or online privacy passes, things are updated into something new that needs a whole new framework of regulations. The pace of advancement in technology and regulations just don't match up. Because of this, so much of what is done online is in a legal gray area. That's why it's interesting that Europe is attacking the problem using antitrust law. Those laws are pretty old, but are working in the context of the 21st century.
It feels like the second a new law addressing internet companies or online privacy passes, things are updated into something new that needs a whole new framework of regulations
J: The concept is still the same. Make sure the market is in favor of the consumer. Limiting competition does the exact opposite. Manipulating search results when Google is the primary search engine is shady.
L: This also shows how much the digital world can affect the real one. If you can't Google a business, it might as well not exist. When you think about it, Google has immense power over our lives. So does Facebook or Amazon. These websites and companies are deeply ingrained in our daily lives and our economy.
J: Amazon is trying to be the one-stop shop for everything. They've been trying to get into the grocery business for a long time and buying Whole Foods would cement them in the industry. It could be very successful or they can run the grocery story to the ground since Amazon's model is vastly different from Whole Foods.
L: I think Amazon might use Whole Foods as a testing ground for their new grocery shopping concept Amazon Go. That will be a huge change for the industry.
J: It would definitely blur industry lines even more but Amazon has a history of doing that anyway. Bezos purchased the Washington Post a few years ago. In Whole Foods case, prices might possibly go down. But you never know. There's a lot of unknown as tech companies melded and absorb other traditional companies.
10 Best Songs About Trust and Distrust
The universal struggle to build trusting relationships is best reflected in music.
After love, trust is next on the list of the most sung-about topics in music. It plays a crucial role in all types of relationships.
Here are 10 of the most memorable songs about trust (or a lack thereof).
1. "Trust in Me" by Etta James
Etta James' 1937 classic "Trust in Me" is about more than just having faith in your partner, it's a plea for trust. James captures the strife of a relationship in which one partner seems to be more invested and trustful.
2. "The Times They Are A Changin'" by Bob Dylan
Between the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, the '60s were clearly a time of social unrest and mistrust. Bob Dylan's song is a call for change and an affirmation that change is possible.
3. "A Matter of Trust" by Billy Joel
Once you get past the butterflies, there's the challenge of keeping the relationship alive. Billy Joel sings about what it takes to make a relationship last: Trust in each other.
4. "That’s What Friends Are For" by Dionne Warwick
"That's What Friends Are For" was out three years before Dionne Warwick recorded this version featuring Gladys Knight, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder. Their version became a hit: a worthy success for four friends singing about dependable companionship.
5. "Let Me Leave" by Marc Broussard
Sometimes trusting someone is a bad idea, especially when they haven't given you a good reason. If you're fortunate enough to get a heads up like Marc Broussard's "Let Me Leave," then you'd better take it.
6. "Lean On" by Major Lazer & DJ Snake Ft. MO
Named the 2015 song of the year, with more than 540 million streaming listens, "Lean On" is a mashup of EDM and indie vocals from music collective Major Lazer, DJ Snake and Swedish singer MO. Arguably the song of the summer, "Lean On" makes the point that all we need is someone to lean on.
7. "Fortress" by Coleman Hell
Toronto-based artist Coleman Hell recently split from his duo for a solo music career. "Fortress" features the same folktronica and EDM elements as the rest of his EP. With its catchy, upbeat sound, it's easy to forget the song is about how hard it is to get someone to trust you enough to let you in.
8. "Take Care" by Drake ft. Rihanna
Whenever trust is broken, there's always someone else to pick up the pieces. Drake's 2012 hit "Take Care" explores the aftermath of trying to take care of someone whose heart has been broken. The song approaches trust from all angles: giving it, gaining it and losing it.
9. "Trust Nobody" by D4
Backstabbing, faking, lying—there's a point where the only person you can trust is yourself. D4, the New Zealand rock band from the late '90s, figures that getting what you need might be a one-man effort.
10. "Trust" by Justin Bieber
Talk about a redemption tour. Justin Bieber's entire album Purpose is centered around the pop star's journey to redemption and regaining the trust he lost. "Trust" is about a couple renewing lost trust, but it really could be about any relationship.