U.S. Research | Race Sentiment

Black Attitudes on U.S. Race Relations

The New York Times released the results of a recent New York Times/CBS News poll surveying individuals’ attitudes on white-black relations in the U.S.. Here are highlights of the level of security expressed by black respondents only:

Belief in real progress made in eliminating racial discrimination
56% believe vs. 41% do not believe

Who has the better chance of getting ahead in today’s society?
Whites do: 60% (2015) vs. 46% (2014)
Blacks do: 1% (2015) vs. 4% (2014)
Both do equally: 35% (2015) vs. 46% (2014)

Feelings about personal interactions with the police
58% mostly safe vs. 37% mostly anxious

Belief that race has ever caused police to stop him/her
41% race-motivated experience vs. 57% no race-motivated experience

Further Reading
“A Growing Divide on Race” (NYT: full results)

“Poll Finds Most in U.S. Hold Dim View of Race Relations” (NYT: analysis)
“How the Poll Was Conducted” (NYT: methodology)

U.S. News | Transgender Jews

Ritual baths pose difficult obstacle for trans individuals converting to Judaism in the U.S.
  • The last step in the conversion process, the mikvah requires submersion in water in the nude, which can be a source of anxiety for transgender converts.
  • Transgender and ally rabbis have been working together to compile a running list of transgender Jews willing to serve as witnesses for those undergoing mikvah.
  • The number of gender minorities seeking to convert has surprised some community members, but theologians note that Judaism has recognized individuals falling outside of the gender binary since its earliest times.

“The body is an area of particular vulnerability for transgender people, because so much of our identities is inextricably intertwined with the nuances of our physical appearance.”

Read the full Religious News Service story at The Huffington Post.

(Image Credit: Mayyim Hayyim, via The Huffington Post)

Afghanistan Feature | Women

Making Bricks of Molehills

An estimated 2 million widows in Afghanistan struggle to hold together their families and forge a future for themselves following the death of their husbands. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty profiles a group of un-remarried women who, living independently, have built a community from the ground up with the few resources they have.

View the full feature at Radio Free Liberty/Radio Europe.

Sweden News | Gender Identity

Sweden’s new gender-neutral pronoun makes its way to Facebook
  • “Hen,” the relatively new alternative to “hon” (she) and “han” (he) in Swedish, has been gaining steady momentum in the last decade as an alternative to explicit gender identification in speech and writing.
  • The Facebook inclusion comes as a part of Facebook’s push to include more identification options for those with non-binary gender identities.
  • The word appeared in the Swedish dictionary for the first time earlier in the year as evidence of common usage and official acceptance.

“Facebook is a hub for other social media which use your Facebook profile. The hope is that they will realize that they have to adapt. Facebook is such a central online space and we hope this will have a ripple effect.”

Read the full story at The Local.se.

U.S. News | Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual

Boy Scouts of America ends ban on gay adult leaders
  • The executive board’s vote culminates a 15-year evolution that began with the Supreme Court’s 2000 affirmation of the right of the organization to ban gay individuals from participating as scoutmasters.
  • In 2013, the organization ended its ban on gay youth participation while upholding the exclusion of openly gay adult leadership.
  • The Mormon church responded that it would have to reevaluate its relationship with the organization, although individually chartered groups will still be able to enforce the ban should they so choose.

“We so much closer to getting back to being about what scouting is all about, going on camping trips and teaching how to build fires and tie knots and lash poles together and build stuff … and learning to be a good leader and good friend and good citizen in the midst of all that.”

Read the full story at BuzzFeed News.

(Image Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/AP, via BuzzFeed News)

U.S. Feature | Muslim Americans

Reclaiming Faith

Western Muslims are in the throes of a two-front battle against ignorance, forced to counter both religious reactionaries’ and Islamophobia’s reduction of the complexity of contemporary Islam to its most extreme, fundamentalist interpretations. NPR spotlights Not in His Name, an education campaign launched by Reclamation Studios that uses the tools of Islam to demonstrate why most Muslims reject Islamic State theology and action.

Read the full feature at NPR.

China News | Hong Kong Women

Government and communities push to equalize gender representation in Hong Kong’s tech industry
  • Despite equal early interest in tech education, the proportion of girls in computer science courses drops to a third by the start of college.
  • In Hong Kong, where social pressure and negative images of tech culture push many into business, software development faces an uphill battle in capturing the career interests of young women.
  • Programs and organizations such as W Hub, Women Who Code, and First Code Academy are working to open opportunities to girls and young women in the tech field.

“Encouragement and support to study STEM needs to begin early both in school and at home. … Girls who show an early interest in the field often lose interest because of pervasive but underrecognised biases in the learning environment.”

Read the full story at the South China Morning Post.

(Image Credit: Jonathan Wong/South China Morning Post)

U.A.E. Feature | Jewish Israeli

Eli Beer: Diplomatic Daredevil

Middle East Eye interviews Eli Beer, an Israeli citizen who traveled to Dubai and recorded a video greeting despite the U.A.E.’s lack of diplomatic recognition of Israel. Raising money on a dare for the volunteer ambulance service he founded in Israel, Beer speaks about his perception of Dubai, his home country’s place in the Middle East, and the future of the Arab world’s relations with Israel.

Read the full interview at Middle East Eye.

Turkey News | Left-wing Kurds

Turkey blocks pro-Kurdish and left-wing websites as military action ramps up
  • The Telecommunications Directorate, Turkey’s official Internet-monitoring organization, targeted websites from Turkey and Iraq in the shutdown following the murder of two police officers by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
  • Although officials denied involvement, Internet users also reported a slowdown in access to Facebook and Twitter, the latter of which was last blocked for two hours on July 22 after an Islamic State attack on the southern town of Suruc.
  • To date, more than 81,000 websites have been blocked in Turkey following the March passage of a law enabling removal or blockage of an online publication for national security.

Read the full story at the Hurriyet Daily News.

(Image Credit: via Hurriyet Daily News)

China News | Christians

Chinese officials target church crosses in demolition campaign throughout Zhejiang province
  • Locals described ongoing campaigns in which authorities allegedly sent in Buddhist monks to agitate Christian congregants, removed crosses from atop churches, and surveilled and intimidated social media protesters.
  • The demolitions come as part of the government’s “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign targeting structures it has deemed illegal around the country.
  • President Xi Jinping has targeted churches as potential threats to national security, claiming their growth could be driven by foreign influence.

“As well as the cross demolitions, the government is carrying out ideological work with all parties,” Zhang said. “It’s not just the crosses that they’re targeting. The government wants to turn the Protestant church into a truly Chinese institution, which is to say that it wants it to become a tool of the party.”

Read the full story at Radio Free Asia.

(Image Credit: via Radio Free Asia)

U.S. News | Immigrant Women & Children

U.S. federal judge rules mothers and children held in immigration detention centers must be released
  • The judge cited poor detention conditions and failure to comply with a 1997 ruling on the detention of migrant children as grounds for release.
  • Border officials resorted to the detention centers during the surge of undocumented migrant arrivals in 2014, many of whom were unaccompanied children.
  • The Department of Homeland Security will have to develop a release strategy by August 3, according to the ruling.

“It is astonishing that Defendants have enacted a policy requiring such expensive infrastructure without more evidence to show that it would be compliant with an Agreement that has been in effect for nearly 20 years. … It is even more shocking that after nearly two decades Defendants have not implemented appropriate regulations to deal with this complicated area of immigration law.”

Read the full story at BuzzFeed News.