Category Archives: Magazines

National Geographic Examines Its Own Racism and Adds to Discussion

National Geographic Examines Its Own Racism in April 2018 Issue

You could spend a lifetime finding ways to improve yourself and the lives of your fellow humans. You can do it all by yourself, without the help of workshops or committees. But, when it comes to institutions (government, media, assorted nonprofits and such) it can end up being all the more challenging, and rather clumsy. So, now we have the venerable publication which has presided over countless households and subsequently found in countless yard sales, National Geographic, founded way back in 1888. No surprise here that something going that far back would have some skeletons in its closet–the number one of which is rampant racism.

Today, in some of the what would seem to be the most progressive of neighborhoods, the racism has been dialed down to the most discrete of passive-aggressive levels. Oh, it’s there alright but it’s not talked about unless in some very pretentious public forum where everyone rolls up their sleeves to seriously tackle a subject they would rather not discuss. That said, the latest issue of National Geographic, with its biracial fraternal twins on the cover “daring” you to revisit the issue of race, is the perfect conversation starter for one of these particularly dowdy gatherings which all too often consists of white people who are at a loss as to how to engage with people outside their own race. These sort of gatherings take place all over the country. I’ve end up seeing for myself what they’re like in Seattle. They are well-intentioned, I guess. I came away with an overall feeling that people want to be heard and they want to come across as positive, intelligent, and “progressive.” But they are also prone to rationalizing their behavior as beyond their control, or even blaming The Other, that other group of races that seem beyond reach.

Race and Racism in Seattle

Just consider the above remarks from one of these community outreach gatherings. Feedback, like these typical remarks, was documented onto Post-It notes: “When I see black people walking towards me on the street, I’m not afraid but I also don’t think they like me.” And this one: “I know it’s not right, but every time I see a black person in my neighborhood (Fremont) I ask myself why they’re here.” Everyone earnestly discusses these sort of comments while also discussing an appropriate prop for the evening, in this case, “What Does It Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy” by Robin DiAngelo, an expert on, get this, Whiteness Studies. You can’t make this stuff up.

National Geographic is world-famous for presenting The Other: decade upon decade of presenting people from other places, from other races, as exotic creatures. The cover of the April 2018 issue of National Geographic attempts to do good but, in fact, is right back to playing with The Other dynamic. Maybe this time any perceived bad is outweighed by any perceived good. In fact, there is a whole issue here devoted to confronting the issue of race and how the magazine has dealt with it over its long history. That is worth a lot of credit. Maybe I’ll check it out at my public library. Yeah, the library is another place I remember National Geographic from. I don’t know that this publication is truly resonating with Millennials or if it even matters. The magazine will know, I presume, when it’s time to just wrap it all up. For now, it is wrestling with its legacy–and that’s nice to see. National Geographic has a few irons in the fire. It’s on cable, right? I guess it’s one step forward and one step back–but they seem to be making an effort.

Visit National Geographic right here.

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Filed under Magazines, National Geographic, Race, Race Relations, Racism

UNCLE JAM #103, Volume 40, Winter 2013

Uncle-Jam-Winged-Tiger-Phil-Yeh

UNCLE JAM is a magazine showcasing the visual and literary arts. It’s been around since 1973 and can always be relied upon to entertain and inform. Phil Yeh started up this magazine when he was still just a kid with a dream. He’s seen his magazine evolve into a sophisticated publication both in print and on the web. You can view it by visiting the Winged Tiger website here.

I am honored to do whatever I can to lend a hand in broadening UNCLE JAM’s reach in my area and beyond. As its Seattle Bureau Chief, I’ll oversee distribution and content related to the Pacific Northwest. UNCLE JAM, as always, remains a beautiful work-in-progress and I look forward to lending a hand in the years to come. I will see what I can do to give UNCLE JAM, a California-based magazine, a bit of that Seattle, and Portland, cool. It is, after all, already very cool! UNCLE JAM is a jewel among the many good works that Phil Yeh does to support the arts and literacy around the world. Learn more about Phil Yeh, and Cartoonists Across America and The World, here.

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Filed under Activism, Art, Books, Comics, Literacy, Magazines, Phil Yeh, Uncle Jam

FAMOUS MONSTERS #272: RICHARD MATHESON & THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION

FAMOUS MONSTERS #272 RICHARD MATHESON (DIAMOND/SUBSCRIBER)

FAMOUS MONSTERS #272 RICHARD MATHESON (DIAMOND/SUBSCRIBER)

The upcoming issue of Famous Monsters will be a tribute to a giant in science
fiction, Richard Matheson. Yes, he’s the guy who wrote that famous episode of The Twilight Zone with William Shatner freaking out at seeing a gremlin on the wing of the plane he’s on, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” He was a prolific writer and wrote one of my favorites, BID TIME RETURN, which became the movie, SOMEWHERE IN TIME, starring Christopher Reeve.

Visit our friends at Famous Monsters here.

FAMOUS MONSTERS #272 HISTORY OF SCI-FI (NEWSSTAND)

FAMOUS MONSTERS #272 HISTORY OF SCI-FI (NEWSSTAND)

More details from FAMOUS MONSTERS follow:

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The Return of AMAZING STORIES

First Issue of "Amazing Stories," April 1926

First Issue of “Amazing Stories,” April 1926

In some respects, the idea of “Amazing Stories” is more engaging than the actual publication. But that would be just looking at things too harshly, wouldn’t it? We are talking about science fiction and that requires a special sort of suspension of disbelief. It can be of the most sophisticated kind, mind you, since quality science fiction can hold its own with any literary form.

“Amazing Stories,” with its strange cover art, was fated to be a strange creature. While the publication had a history of uneven and inconsistent quality, such is human nature. It was a grand experiment and, through the years, it would reach its potential splendidly. Launched in April of 1926 by Hugo Gernsback’s Experimenter Publishing, it sought to combine entertainment with education. Sales fell short of expectations, and within a couple of years, the magazine was set on its checkered path going from one publisher to another. But it would see the greats of science fiction grace its pages, it had the distinction of being the first magazine of its kind, and it helped pave the way for what was to come in the brave new world of sci-fi. As a lasting testament to its pioneer publisher, the prestigous Hugo Awards carry his name and carry on the promise of a unique literary genre.

The new "Amazing Stories"

The new “Amazing Stories”

Comics Grinder salutes the return of “Amazing Stories” after an uncertain future. Steve Davidson has stepped in as the new publisher after the last publisher, Hasbro, allowed the trademarks to lapse. You can keep up with “Amazing Stories” at its blog. You will find there a most beautiful cover for the new issue by Frank Wu. This is his homage to the magazine’s original artist, Frank R. Paul.

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