Striving for #BalanceForBetter in Publishing and Beyond

Forty-four years ago, the United Nations proclaimed March 8th as International Women’s Day (IWD) in an effort to recognize women’s rights and celebrate the many amazing things that women all over the world have contributed to the global community. In this past year alone, we have seen an unprecedented amount of women in congressional office, female entrepreneurship rates climb higher than before in sub-Saharan Africa, the #MeToo conversation grow to a global scale, and, in Ireland, a repeal of the eighth amendment of their constitution, paving the way for legalized abortion.

This year’s campaign theme for IWD is #BalanceForBetter—a call to action to strive for gender balance in every facet of society, across national lines and cultural boundaries. While we recognize that women have come a long way, we must also acknowledge that there is still more work to be done to to achieve true gender balance, whether in the workplace, at home, or on a greater societal scale. It is also not just about meeting a diversity quota; it is also about creating a culture of belonging, inclusion, acceptance, and acknowledgment for all women of all races, ages, nationalities, and creeds. Continue reading “Striving for #BalanceForBetter in Publishing and Beyond”

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Striving for #BalanceForBetter in Publishing and Beyond

Oswald, before Mickey

An archival footage of Oswald, precursor of Mickey Mouse, was found in Japan recently. It is not unusual that a film is discovered outside the country of its origin. For example, a wartime Japanese dramatic film was once discovered in the Russian film archive.

The discovered footage of Oswald was preserved in the form of toy film (omocha eiga). Cinephiles purchased a small projector and toy films which they enjoyed at home with their friends and families. Many films were cut into pieces and sold as toy films after they were screened in theater. Each toy film’s running time is approximately 20 seconds to 3 minutes and the content varies from popular Japanese dramatic films, to European films, to news reels and to American cartoons, as one can see the samples at the website of the Toy Film Museum. Continue reading “Oswald, before Mickey”

Oswald, before Mickey

Reflections on America Fifty Years After Guns at Cornell

I was part of the 1960s generation that fought for civil rights, and we attacked rigid social mores regarding personal choices such as hair length and sexual abstinence before marriage. “Do your own thing” was the mantra of the 1960s. But while we rightly wanted freedom for personal lifestyle choices, did the “Me Generation” really intend to abdicate responsibility for defining and teaching basic moral standards of right and wrong essential for both the individual and society? Did we really intend to abdicate our responsibility to teach the eternal, enduring significance of values that celebrate personal responsibility, personal discipline, personal accountability, hard work, moderation, courage, and cooperativeness? Continue reading “Reflections on America Fifty Years After Guns at Cornell”

Reflections on America Fifty Years After Guns at Cornell

Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr.

As we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr., recently, my mind went back to where I was fifty years ago. An angry young man in my senior year at Cornell University. There was no King holiday then, as King had been assassinated just the previous year. Mentally and emotionally I was prepared to be one of those African Americans who would meet my destiny in a struggle against oppression and injustice that was much bigger than any one of us, and even much bigger than all of us. I thought we were the generation fingered by history to draw the line on America’s ill treatment of African Americans. It had to stop with us, in our time.

Fifty years ago, America was still in the midst of a battle to secure equal treatment for African Americans in public accommodations, employment, housing, voting, and other civil rights. I remember as a child traveling with my family through southern states like Virginia and North Carolina, and my father stopping at gas stations where, before purchasing gas, he asked if we would be allowed to use the restrooms. Many Americans today forget that this country practiced that kind of segregation. Similarly, at that time African Americans were routinely denied employment opportunities simply because of race. Qualifications did not matter. Many Americans today forget that this country practiced that kind of discrimination. De jure segregation was enshrined in the law, and de facto institutional discrimination was the social norm in America.

The petty discrimination of being denied access to public facilities was intended to dehumanize African Americans, and to proclaim every day that we were different and inferior. And the systemic institutional denial of economic opportunities was intended to ensure that African Americans remained poor and powerless. And each previous decade as you step back through American history was typically more brutal towards African Americans.

But the purpose of reciting this history is not just to remind us of where we have been, but also to focus on how far we have come. It is important to know history, and to understand how the world we live in has been shaped by the past, but it is equally important not to be a prisoner of history. By that I mean there is no point in suffocating our potential for today and tomorrow with ongoing animosity over the grievances of the past. The burden is too heavy. Many racial, ethnic or religious groups have some plausible basis for resentment and animosity about some historical injustice. The historical injustices are not all morally equivalent, but it’s unlikely that we will ever achieve societal consensus on their relative hierarchy. So just as a family cannot heal unless it lets go of yesterday’s anger, so all Americans of every race and creed and ethnicity must be open to reconciliation and healing. If we don’t let go of our racial and social resentments, America will not achieve its potential as a multiracial, multiethnic, and religiously diverse democracy wherein all citizens live in freedom and civic equality.

It seems to me undeniable that African Americans, other minorities, women, and the LGBT community have educational, economic, and social opportunities available today which are unprecedented in American history. Does this mean that our country has overcome all its problems? Of course not! The legacy of hundreds of years of slavery, and physical as well as psychological abuse and neglect, created a scale of human misery and dysfunctionality which cannot be reversed in just fifty years. But is America moving in the direction of becoming the country envisioned in its noble founding documents – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights – unequivocally yes!

When I left Cornell in 1972 after completing a graduate degree, I committed to living in accordance with Dr. King’s creed – I would choose my friends and associates based on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. That’s a decision I’ve never regretted.

Thomas W. Jones is author of the forthcoming, From Willard Straight to Wall Street: A Memoir. He is the founder and senior partner of venture capital investment firm TWJ Capital. He previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Global Investment Management at Citigroup; Vice Chairman, President, and COO at TIAA-CREF; ad Senior Vice-President and Treasurer at John Hancock Insurance Company.

Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr.

$1,205,000 Mellon grant to expand the University Press Diversity Fellowship Program

Cornell University Press, University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, the Ohio State University Press, University of Chicago Press, Northwestern University Press, and the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) join forces to expand the University Press Diversity Fellowship Program.

A four-year, $1,205,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been awarded to the University of Washington Press to support the continued development and expansion of the pipeline program designed to diversify academic publishing by offering apprenticeships in acquisitions departments. This new grant will provide for three annual cycles of editorial fellows at six university presses: Cornell University Press, University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, the Ohio State University Press, University of Chicago Press, and Northwestern University Press.

This new grant builds on the success of the initial 2016 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which funded the first cross-press initiative of its kind in the United States to address the marked lack of diversity in the academic publishing industry. Graduates of the first fellowship program hold professional positions at university presses across the country, including at Columbia University Press, the MIT Press, University of Virginia Press, the Ohio State University Press, and the University of Washington Press. Additionally, for the four participating presses, the initial grant expanded applicant pools, improved outreach to underrepresented communities, created more equitable preliminary screening practices in hiring, and enabled dedicated attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion overall.

The 2016 grant also served as a catalyst for broader changes at the partner presses and within the AUPresses as a larger organization. “Diversity is one of AUPresses’ core values. As such, we are proud to partner in the expansion of this significant program,” says AUPresses Executive Director Peter Berkery. “Our participation in the original initiative over the last three years has led, not only to more inclusive programming choices at our annual conferences and webinars, but also to the formation of a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which will evolve into a Standing Committee to help us sustain momentum in this area of vital importance to our community, higher education, and the entire publishing industry.”

This new grant offers opportunities for more sustained engagement with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion among the new partner presses and the university press community more broadly. “Continuing the fellowship program will enable us to focus on longer-term issues of retention and leadership development among the program’s participants,” says Larin McLaughlin, Editor in Chief of the University of Washington Press and principal investigator on the grant. “With this new grant, we want to provide the opportunity for new presses to participate in the program while benefitting from the experience of the original partner presses.”

Gita Manaktala, Editorial Director of the MIT Press, commented, “The fellows have inspired a strong sense of responsibility among partner presses, which have demonstrated this in several ways: by developing more inclusive press environments, by opening processes to welcome the fellows’ perspectives and input into the daily work of acquisitions, and by providing fellows with focused career advice for job placement and professional development.”

The first and second grants combined provide for a total of thirty fellows in six years, which will generate marked shifts in acquisitions staff across university presses not possible without this kind of dedicated funding.

Gerald R. Beasley, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell University said, “I am very grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for giving Cornell this opportunity to add a Diversity Fellow to the outstanding team at Cornell University Press. The Cornell University Library currently has three Diversity Fellows in its professional ranks; I am excited to know that we will now be adding a fourth in the Press’s acquisitions department.”

Dean Smith, Director of Cornell University Press said, “We are delighted to be included in this grant and to address the issue of diversity in academic publishing. This aligns us with efforts already underway in the Cornell Library and with Cornell University’s campus-wide diversity initiatives.”

$1,205,000 Mellon grant to expand the University Press Diversity Fellowship Program

The Workers’ President Unmasked

In the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump ran and posed as a populist, inveighing against Wall Street, Washington swamp creatures, and the corruption of the elites. He championed and rode the wave of angst experienced by ordinary working Americans, while also feeding their darkest recesses of fear. As a majority of Americans continue to bemoan and mourn the Trump presidency on its third anniversary, it is a good time to take stock of how American workers have fared under its strain. Continue reading “The Workers’ President Unmasked”

The Workers’ President Unmasked

Left vs. Liberal: How Intellectual History Can Help Make Sense of the Divide

2020

Most Democrats want their party to emerge from the impending primaries united in its effort to defeat President Trump in the 2020 presidential election. This is certainly understandable, especially since many of them assume that Trump’s unexpected Electoral College victory in 2016 partly owes to the divisions sowed by the race for the Democratic nomination, when Hillary Clinton’s path to nomination was slowed by the surprising socialist sensation Bernie Sanders. Another bruising primary season, so the wisdom goes, will doom Democratic solidarity, making it easier for Trump to win reelection.

Dreams of unity notwithstanding, it seems likely that the Democratic primaries will be yet another bitter slog.

Dreams of unity notwithstanding, it seems likely that the Democratic primaries will be yet another bitter slog. This is especially true if Sanders chooses to run again, since many of those who opposed his bid for the nomination remain angry about the role he played in 2016. But it’s likely the forthcoming primaries will be nasty even if Sanders decides not to run, and instead hands the socialist mantle off to another candidate. Continue reading “Left vs. Liberal: How Intellectual History Can Help Make Sense of the Divide”

Left vs. Liberal: How Intellectual History Can Help Make Sense of the Divide