A survey of who works in the book industry gives us a clue about why it’s not diverse

Progress is often incremental, says publisher Jason Low, and the book publishing industry moves slowly. The week’s news bears out the thesis.

Last week, author Matt de la Peña became the first Latino author in almost 100 years of the award to win the Newbery Medal in children’s literature for “Last Stop On Market Street.”

It’s good news for those who are looking for more diversity in the media. But one award does not a trend make. Less than 10 percent of books for children in the US are by people of color and about the same percentage are about people of color, according to statistics from the library collection at the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin.

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So who works in the book industry? Learn more about a new survey at PRI.org.

A network of churches are among those trying to reach undocumented immigrants with water in Flint

“You know what? This is terrible. I’m going to do something about it.”

It’s not an uncommon feeling for people learning about what’s happening in Flint, Michigan, these days. It was Aida Cuadrado’s reaction last week. She’s the director of Action of Greater Lansing, a network of churches that do faith-based community organizing.

Over the weekend, they took a large truck plus three SUVs full of bottled water to a member church in Flint, specifically to reach some 1,000 undocumented immigrants who have been affected by the high levels of lead in the city’s water.

Read more about her organization’s efforts at PRI.org.

Fighting a terror attack with photographs of joy

It’s not uncommon for images of carnage to dominate international news coverage of Mogadishu, Somalia. But Hana Abukar wants to show that it is so much more.

Read more about Lido Beach and what makes it so special for people in Mogadishu, on PRI.org.

Pressure points and identity in America

Last week, I reported on the protest and shootings in Minneapolis. I focused on the ways that Somali immigrants have coped and joined the protest. It’s really made me think about this moment in America: Being an immigrant, Muslim and black—what does it do to someone’s psyche to see so much bad news?

Mohamed Samatar, 23, speaks to a police officer at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis. He wrote on his Instagram account: “What am I supposed to do when you rage war against the lives you’re supposed to protect and serve?” Credit: Thaiphy Phan-Quang

Mohamed Samatar, a 23-year-old artist and activist in Minneapolis, has decided it’s time to take a break. Last week, a group of white men shot into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters, wounding five people. Protesters are calling it a hate crime; police and prosecutors not yet said whether they agree.

Read more about Samatar at PRI.org.

I also joined Jon Wiener on KPFK in Los Angeles to explain what’s happening in Minneapolis.

I spent time trailing Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Minnesota. The day after shootings at the protest, he was calling for an end to discrimination on two fronts; he joined Black Lives Matter protests and spoke at a university about the pressures faced by Muslims in the state.

Read more about Hussein at PRI.org.

Hard — really hard — choices for an Iraqi refugee in Turkey

Amer Mohammad has a decision to make.

While refugees are camped out, protesting and demanding safe passage from Turkey to Europe, Amer must decide if he will wait and how long he will wait for an answer about his future. The United Nations and the German embassy, he says, have said it could take years for him to get paperwork to move, and there’s no guarantee he will actually be allowed to go anywhere — let alone where he wants. In the meantime, he is not allowed to legally work in Turkey.

So he’s joined a camp of refugees outside Istanbul’s main bus terminal.

Read more at PRI.org.

On Google’s new CEO

Sundar Pichai will become the CEO of Google, as a parent company, Alphabet Inc., is created by Google’s founders.

“I think the fact that we have Indians now at the helm of Google and Microsoft is a statement of how Indians have become part of the fabric of tech in the US,” AnnaLee Saxenian says. Through the 80s and 90s, Indians would be involved in startups but would not get promotions or, worse, would be replaced at the point of new companies receiving major funding. In 1999, less than 10 percent of Silicon Valley startups were created by foreign-born entrepreneurs. Ten years later, more than a quarter have foreign-born founders, she says.

But it would be a mistake to focus on this narrative as proof that immigrants in America have “made it,” says sociologist Pawan Dhingra of Tufts University.

“We should find a way as a community, as a nation, to celebrate the achievements of a group in a complicated way. Not a simplistic way,” Dhingra says. “Celebrate when someone does really well, but recognize that it’s the systems and the histories that enable these things.”

Read more at PRI.org.

Good for NYC, Bad for Beijing

Filmmaker Zhu Rikun is homeless.

Not literally, but in a philosophical way.

“I still continue my job as a filmmaker,” he says. “I just feel homeless. I don’t feel any home anywhere, in China or the United States.”

Zhu was the artistic director of the Beijing Independent Film Festival from 2006 to 2011 and is an acclaimed producer and director of independent film in China. In the years before he left Beijing, he was monitored, placed under house arrest and detained by authorities. The festival was shut down last summer. Zhu moved to the Hudson Valley, New York in the fall under a visa program for artists of extraordinary ability.

In a sense, both Zhu and the Beijing Independent Film Festival have become homeless, squeezed out of China’s increasingly tight space for artists and activists.

Next month, his film “The Dossier” will be screened in New York City as part of a special series of independent films from China. A sort of stand-in for what was blocked Beijing, Cinema on the Edge is an almost month-long event of 27 films curated from the Beijing festival that never took place.

Read on a PRI.org.

Minneapolis event: Film and discussion of adoption, migration, identity

I’m on my first panel in Minnesota and looking forward to it!

Panelists at the Nokomis Library screening of the documentary "You Follow"
Panelists at the Nokomis Library screening of the documentary “You Follow”

It’s a screening of a documentary called “You Follow,” a documentary about adoption and identity. It will be followed by a panel discussion of the film as well as migration and culture. I’m looking forward to getting to know this very dynamic group of people. Come join the event at Nokomis Library on August 22. More information here.


David Favela loves Comic-Con. One catch: He’s never actually attended.

#Repost @loudenlo ・・・ Wonder Woman #borderX #ChicanoCon #XhicanoArt #sdcc2015 #legítimo #lyndacarter

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“I’ve never been able to get tickets,” says this San Diego native. “I’m what you would call a frustrated Comic-Con fan. For many of us out there, it’s very hard to get in. And it’s pretty expensive if you want to take the family.”

Badges go for $50 for each full day, and $35 for the first and last partial days of events — that’s $220 for an adult to attend the whole convention — and this year they sold out within hours of becoming available. The event takes over San Diego. More than 130,000 people are expected to attend and the official shuttles have 60 stops around the city.

But none of those stops are in Barrio Logan, a neighborhood that’s a stone’s throw from the San Diego Convention Center, where Comic-Con’s main events take place. That’s why Favela, owner of Border X Brewery, started Chicano-Con.

Read on at PRI.org.

Personalities in the #IranDeal

The historic agreement with Iran announced Tuesday took 20 months of talks and involved many players. Sure, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif played a central role, but there were many others who really made the deal come together.

Iran agreed to reduce its nuclear capability for the next 10 years in exchange for lifting sanctions. The deal was struck between Iran and P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both celebrated the deal in separate statements. Direct contact between the two in September 2013 was a crucial step in getting the talks moving, but the deal came together at much lower levels.

Here are some of the players who helped make the deal happen, including the Silver Fox.

Find out who she is and read on at PRI.org.