George Floyd memorials today as police ethics face growing local, national questions

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IOWA AND ILLINOIS — As the nation and several groups throughout Iowa and Illinois honor the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s videotaped murder at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers, police ethics are under the spotlight anew both locally and nationally. And while Officer Derek Chauvin will serve life in prison for the murder of Floyd, more devastating videos of other Black men mistreated at the hands of police are joining with local police-related controversies to increase tension — all under the shadow of a federal partisan stand-off over…

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High school writers connect across chasms with Page Poetry Contest

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IOWA CITY — With the 2020 murder of George Floyd, and the trial of the officer who killed him, a program I started as a high school writing program has become an escape, an outlet, and a way to deal for the young writers who are participating. Page Poetry Contest Winners from IC Speaks Over the past year, IC Speaks and our members have dealt with a pandemic, and an explosion of political conversation happening worldwide. In some cases, I had BIPOC students writing pieces about the anger and pain…

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Warhol numbs, Dylan Kelly makes us care: two Scholastic Art Award winners then, now

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This is a case of a lesson learned, and then unlearned. Some years ago, as a high school art teacher, I learned to withhold praise for personal styles in student work. Teens, not fully formed in mind or body, will stay with the praised style, hesitant to explore other ways of working. Andy Warhol embodied this behavior. TEEN WARHOL Hyperallergic Magazine reported on teen art at NY’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, a display of students who had won this year’s 90-year-old Scholastic Art Awards. The magazine mentioned that Warhol won the same award…

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White Male Fear: Problem & Solutions (Letter to the Editor)

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To the Editor: Our country and our community has a White Male Fear Problem. Not all, but too many, white males think this country belongs to them: it doesn’t. They think men are superior to women: they aren’t. They think the problems in our communities are due to minorities: the problems in our communities are due to systemic racism and oppression of the poor (which includes, ironically, poor white males). They think – no, the problem really is that they don’t think: they merely judge from a position in our…

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Lies, melodrama, and the hunger to control guns and drugs: roots of police brutality (TRM Blog)

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Days after Derek Chauvin’s trial resulted in full convictions last week for George Floyd’s murder, we’re in the thick, realizing things haven’t changed much in the past year. Since Tuesday alone, victims of known videotaped police shootings are a 40-year-old unarmed Black father of 10 wanted on drug charges, shot in the back; a 21-year-old unarmed Black father of one wanted for missing a Zoom hearing on gun charges; another 21-year-old unarmed Black man who sought help from police; a 16-year-old Black girl shot from behind while rushing another girl…

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TRM Blog: Race, gender and religion? Or ego, pride and control? Real-life intersectionality in Grinnell

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GRINNELL, IA — The straight white male history teacher could not have been more repentant. “I drew incorrect conclusions …. I misinterpreted … I did not paint an accurate picture,” he said of an attack letter he wrote about efforts to make Grinnell-Newburg’s public school curriculum more diverse and welcoming. “I failed to reach out… failed to take the time …. misinterpreted… had preconceived notions,” said Kent Kastendick. On he went, in at least 17 different ways, trying to pull back the wave of anger, suspicion and fear he inspired…

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Front-lines teacher raised in Iowa remembers few childhood chances to meet, know People of Color

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At a time when straight white men are leading so many fights against diversity, some straight white men are fighting the good fight. They include Kent Mick, a Grinnell High School history teacher who grew up in Humboldt, Ia., and has taught public schools in Iowa for most of his life. Mick knows from personal experience that being a native Iowan can mean little to no experience interacting with People of Color, even today. He recalls “barely being exposed to People of Color” as a child and teen, and said…

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Misguided anti-meth bill has regressive, anti-art, anti-business impacts

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Add yet another Republican-driven, over-reaching, and misinformed piece of legislation to the Iowa Legislature’s list of bad ideas this year: a 40 percent tax on glass pipes, plus several more increased costs and licensures. Proposed under the guise of slowing the damage of highly addictive methamphetamine, the bill if passed would instead hurt hundreds of small businesses across the state, opponents say. They predict it would drive out the glass art industry altogether, and further marginalize Iowa in the budding cannabis industry as states around Iowa move toward embracing the…

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Burst of events provides intersectional end to Black History Month

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St. Louis is filled with nationally significant Black History: it’s where Dred Scott and his wife Harriet began their fight against slavery in 1847, where Josephine Baker kicked off her amazing blues career, and where tennis great Arthur Ashe grew up. It’s also within miles of where, in 2014, the late Michael Brown unwillingly kicked off the current Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality, when an officer shot him in Ferguson, to the east of St. Louis. This city near the border of Illinois is pioneering the mapping of…

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