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African Americans Focus of New ‘Bias Busters’ Guide

book cover for "100 Questions and Answers about African Americans”

While protests over racial inequity continue on city streets and college campuses, a Michigan State University journalism class has developed a new guide that is written to help bash myths and stereotypes about the nearly 40 million African Americans living in the United States.

“100 Questions and Answers about African Americans” is the latest in a series of guides researched and written by students taking part in a special “bias busters” journalism seminar.

Joe Grimm, editor-in-residence in the School of Journalism and class instructor, said he and the students were compelled to do the guide by the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the events related to it.

“The week after our first meeting to start the guide, protests about the treatment of black students occurred at the University of Missouri-Columbia,” Grimm said. “This gave the students’ work an incredible urgency and importance.

“They were thorough and thoughtful. They discussed and researched everything from the composition of the overall guide to the wording of questions to the meaning of individual words.”

Professors, journalists and activists advised the students, first on the questions and then on the answers. The guide includes graphics, videos about black sororities and fraternities and black hair, audio and a motion graphic.

The 100 questions cover a wide range of issues, including:

    • Which is preferable, African American or black? (Either can be correct.)
    • Where do African Americans stand politically? (Since 1964, about 88 percent of African American voters have voted Democratic. In 2012, that number was 95 percent.)
    • Where do African Americans live? (Cities with the largest black populations are New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit.)

The guide is one of several researched and written by Grimm’s Seminar in Journalism class. Others in the “Bias Busters: Guides to Cultural Competence” series include questions and answers pertaining to Native Americans, East Asian cultures, Hispanics and Latinos, U.S. veterans, Americans in general and other cultures.

For more information visit the Bias Busters website at http://news.jrn.msu.edu/culturalcompetence/.

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