01-26-2022  4:23 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Report: Oregon Has Too Few Public Defenders

Oregon has only roughly one-third of the public defense attorneys it needs to provide reasonably effective assistance to low-income defendants

Blumenauer Boosts Efforts to Put Three Black History Landmarks on National List

Congressman makes case for Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop, and the Golden West Hotel’s importance to city history and heritage.

Lawsuit Says New Majority Latino District in WA a 'Facade'

A Latino civil rights organization and others filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday that says new political maps in Washington state approved by a bipartisan redistricting panel intentionally dilute Hispanic voters' influence.

Washington Students' Test Scores Drop Significantly

Reports show that between 2019 and 2021, the overall percentage of students who met state standards on the math portion of the exam fell by 20 percentage points.

NEWS BRIEFS

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU to Present 'To Survive on This Shore

Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults' ...

Final Week for 'Mending The Social Fabric' Interactive Exhibit

A parachute with rips and tears encourages community over the course of the exhibition as visitors sit and mend. The piece will be...

Nearly 35,000 Oregon Households Have Received More Than $243 Million in Rental Assistance Relief During Pandemic

OHCS will again begin accepting new applications for OERAP starting on Wed., Jan. 26, 2022. ...

Five Schools Return to In-person Instruction on Jan. 24

Alliance, Faubion, Franklin, Ockley Green, and Roosevelt return to in-person instruction; George, Harriet Tubman and Kellogg...

COVID cases decline in Seattle area, surge moves east

SEATTLE (AP) — Cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 are decreasing in the Seattle metro area, but hospital leaders are warning that the variant is gaining steam in eastern Washington and could further stress health care facilities. In King County, data shows the rise in omicron...

Oregon Legislature: Will Dems, GOP be able to get along?

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As Oregon lawmakers prepare to return to the state Capitol next week for the 35-day legislative session, Republicans and Democrats have differing opinions on what that time should be used for. While Republicans say traditionally the short legislative session...

UNLV promotes interim AD Harper to full-time job

LAS VEGAS (AP) — UNLV has promoted interim athletic director Erick Harper to serve in the job full time. Harper's hiring, announced on Monday, was effective Jan. 1. He had served as interim athletic director since Desiree Reed-Francois left UNLV for Missouri in August. ...

Army stuns Missouri in Armed Forces Bowl on last-second FG

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Cole Talley kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired and Army rallied to beat Missouri 24-22 in the Armed Forces Bowl on Wednesday night. After the Tigers took a 22-21 lead on a touchdown with 1:11 to play, third-string quarterback Jabari Laws led Army...

OPINION

OP-ED: A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

January 6th, Voting Rights and the Tyranny Threatening America ...

Support Nikole Hannah-Jones and The 1619 Project

This important and ambitious project pulled back the curtain of euphemistic rhetoric composing American historiography that points only to the good in our history and sweeps under the rug the evil deeds perpetrated against people of color ...

In 2021, Organized Labor is Again Flexing its Muscles

We have seen dramatic change in the makeup of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) under President Biden. ...

Study Reveals Racial Pay Gap for Social Media Influencers

The racial pay gap has long presented issues for African Americans in Corporate America and other industries. It’s now filtered to social media. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Biden nominating 6 lawyers for federal prosecutor posts

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is nominating six lawyers to run U.S. attorney’s offices across the country, a diverse group of candidates in the latest picks for the top law enforcement positions. The nominees, being announced by the White House on Wednesday, would run the...

India's Republic Day parade curtailed amid COVID-19

NEW DELHI (AP) — Thousands of people braved a morning chill Wednesday on a ceremonial boulevard in India's capital to watch a display of the country’s military power and cultural diversity, but the colorful annual Republic Day spectacle was curtailed amid COVID-19. Nearly 500...

Prosecution witnesses say they feared for Floyd's life

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Prosecutors at the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights are trying to show that even bystanders knew the Black man needed help, while the officers failed to act as former Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on...

ENTERTAINMENT

At Sundance, documentaries resurrect lost eras of music

NEW YORK (AP) — Can a music scene still develop the way grunge did in 1990's Seattle or hip-hop did in the Bronx in the 1970s? Or has the digital makeover of music made such geographical-based explosions obsolete? It's a question that hovers over the Sundance Film Festival...

‘Aftershock’ puts human face to maternal health crisis in US

It was 2017 when filmmaker Paula Eiselt started seeing articles about rising maternal mortality rates in the United States. She’d had traumatic experiences giving birth to her four children, but didn’t realize that the problems were widespread and disproportionately affecting Black women. ...

Howie Mandel urges pal Jay Leno to air 'Late Night' laundry

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Howie Mandel has a bone to pick with his longtime friend Jay Leno. On the podcast “Howie Mandel Does Stuff,” he tells Leno he should have publicly defended himself in the “Tonight Show" rivalries of decades past, when Leno and David Letterman and then Leno...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Picasso heirs launch digital art piece to ride 'crypto' wave

GENEVA (AP) — Pablo, meet Crypto. Heirs of Pablo Picasso, the famed 20th-century Spanish artist,...

Meet Methuselah, the oldest living aquarium fish

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Meet Methuselah, the fish that likes to eat fresh figs, get belly rubs and is believed to...

Indigenous town in Mexico survives on remittances from US

COMACHUEN, Mexico (AP) — In Comachuen, a Purepecha Indigenous community of about 10,000 inhabitants nestled high...

Picasso heirs launch digital art piece to ride 'crypto' wave

GENEVA (AP) — Pablo, meet Crypto. Heirs of Pablo Picasso, the famed 20th-century Spanish artist,...

Pope's right knee ligament inflamed, curbing mobility

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis said Wednesday he is suffering from an inflamed ligament in his right knee that makes...

Australia navy ship with infected crew offloads aid to Tonga

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian navy's largest ship docked at disaster-stricken Tonga on Wednesday and...

By The Skanner News | The Skanner News

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Good thing Octavia Spencer is an actress. She needed all her stagecraft to hide a horrified look when her friend, Kathryn Stockett, asked her to read her new novel, "The Help.''
Stockett told Spencer she based a character on her.
"My face just got hot,'' Spencer says, "and I thought, 'What are you talking about?'''
It got worse. The character was a short, loud Black maid who spoke in a Southern dialect and never seemed able to keep a job because of her big mouth, which didn't go over well in the White neighborhoods of Jackson in the early 1960s.
"And I thought to myself, 'If this is Mammy from 'Gone With the Wind,' I am just going to call her and tell her,''' she recalls. "I think by Page 3, I realized what she was doing and I realized how intelligent these women were.
"Oh, honey, to me it's an amazing journey.''
Reactions such as Spencer's are becoming common as "The Help,'' Stockett's debut novel, creeps up the best-seller lists after an early February debut. The premise of the book usually causes an immediate visceral reaction, especially if readers know Stockett is White. After a few pages, though, most readers are hooked.
Entertainment Weekly reviewer Karen Valby called the book's backstory potentially "cringeworthy'' before giving it high praise and an A-minus. Industry standard Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and in The New York Times, Janet Maslin called "The Help'' a "button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel.'' Positive vibes are viral on the Web.
"It's exciting to see someone get this kind of attention for a first novel,'' Stockett's agent, Susan Ramer, says. "This is very rare.''
Not bad for a manuscript that was shunned as Stockett shopped it to agents. She stopped counting at 45 rejection letters, but kept at it until Ramer snapped it up after reading a few pages. What others didn't see -- or care to read -- was immediately evident to Ramer.
"Reading it, you say, 'I've got to have this,''' Ramer says.
She was able to sell the book in a matter of days. Publisher Amy Einhorn chose it to launch her own imprint at G.P. Putnam's Sons.
"We editors like to say that the books we publish are wonderful,'' Einhorn says. "If we're being truthful, the fact is books of this level don't come along often. Everything I keep hearing from people is, 'I can't believe that's the first book you launched your imprint with because it's so amazing.' It was kind of a no-brainer.''
"The Help'' tells the story of three women during the formative years of the civil rights movement in Mississippi, where it was dangerous to push the boundaries of segregation for both Blacks and Whites -- though for very different reasons.
So when Black maids Aibileen and Minny begin to work with a White woman named Skeeter on a book about their experiences as domestic help, they fear retribution ranging from firings to beatings. For Skeeter, an awkward, hairdo-challenged University of Mississippi grad who has never had a boyfriend until midway through the novel, the penalty is ostracization from normal White Jackson society; she is branded as one of those "integrationists.''
In a sense, it's a story of the movement behind the civil rights movement. But it is much more. At turns hilarious and heart-wrenching, the story feels like a pitch-perfect rendering of a time when Black people weren't even second-class citizens in a state where anti-integration forces fought back with both restrictive laws and violence.
The 39-year-old Stockett was born in 1969, a few years after the novel's events. Her family had a maid named Demetrie, who helped raise Stockett before Demetrie died in the mid-1980s. It wasn't until much later that the author got a better understanding of the climate in which she grew up.
"I was young and dumb,'' she said in a recent interview from Los Angeles where she was on book tour.
"I'm so embarrassed to admit this ... it took me 20 years to really realize the irony of the situation that we would tell anybody, 'Oh, she's just like a part of our family,' and that we loved the domestics that worked for our family so dearly, and yet they had to use the bathroom on the outside of the house.
"And you know what's amazing? My grandfather's still alive, the house is still there. Demetrie died when I was 16, and I don't know that anyone else has been in that bathroom since then.''
It is the issue of separate bathrooms that spurs Aibileen to help Skeeter with her book. She wants to keep her job and her reputation as a skilled surrogate mother but she can no longer live with the idea that the woman whose children she raises thinks she carries diseases that White people don't.
The stories that Aibileen and her friends tell Skeeter are funny, sad, poignant and terrifying, and are filled with consternation at the contradictory ways -- and prejudices -- of White people.
Mary Coleman, a political science professor at Jackson State University who grew up in the rural Mississippi town of Forest, found the author's portrayal of the relationships between White families and their Black help authentic.
"I grew up in a community where tons of mothers provided domestic help to White families and the twists and turns of life in a largely segregated town could be learned sooner rather than later if there was a relative who worked in a White home,'' Coleman says. "We grew up understanding that the world looks very segregated physically speaking, but the lines or walls weren't as high as people imagined because of these whispered conversations in White homes that were, in fact, later heard in Black homes.''
The book also rang true to Vickie Greenlee, a 66-year-old travel agency owner, who has been a member of the Junior League for decades. Stockett skewers the Junior League of Jackson in "The Help.'' Its president, Miss Hilly, serves as the book's antagonist and its members, though genteel, steadfastly reinforce segregation _ she starts a project that all good White Jackson families have separate bathrooms for Blacks, for example.
Greenlee says the Junior League is very different today, but that Stockett captured the times well -- well enough to raise a few eyebrows when Greenlee suggested they choose "The Help'' for their book club.
"In describing the book to them, a couple of them said, 'Oooh, I don't know,''' Greenlee says. "But when they read it, they thought she did an excellent job. A lot of that was very relevant. And the relationships with our maids, we felt like they were part of our families. Then again they didn't take issue with us or didn't question what we did.''
Stockett had no idea anyone would ever read the book when she started. She began writing it while taking a break from her job as a magazine consultant in New York City shortly after the terror attacks destroyed her hard drive and her previous attempts at fiction, which began when she majored in creative writing and English at the University of Alabama.
"We couldn't e-mail, we couldn't even make a telephone call, a land line or cell phone, for about two days, so I just got really homesick and really it had been a lot of years since I had spoken to Demetrie,'' Stockett recalls. "I remember wishing that I could just talk to Demetrie and hear her voice again. So I started working on this story ... trying to escape the media and all the mess on TV. It started as a short story and just continued on and on from there.''
Stockett is continually surprised at the reaction to the book. It's one of those rare books that gets pushed by both small booksellers and the big chains. It's No. 1 on the Southern Independent Booksellers Association list and edged onto The New York Times and Publishers Weekly lists two weeks ago.
"I think it's because of this word-of-mouth phenomenon because people begin engaging one another in discussions about how they grew up, what their feelings were about race differences in the '60s and whether or not they relate to this kind of story,'' she says. "I've gotten so many e-mails from readers who are sharing their stories.''

The Skanner Foundation's Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast

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