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'Girls' Race Problem: Why Lena Dunham Isn't Out of the Woods in Season Two

The race problem on her show is not fixed by including a black character, or strategically placing a “random” black guest at a party.


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I know, Lena, I know. Everyone was all up in arms over the fact that there were no black people on Girls last season (or more specifically, in the Brooklyn where the show’s four white main characters live), and now that you’ve written a black character into the show for season two, people are still complaining. You can’t win for losing. But here’s the thing—dealing with racial inclusion is not like wearing press-on nails. You can’t just put a black person in a scene, or in your vagina, and call it racial awareness.
To be sure, the shock factor of introducing the show’s first black character with a speaking part in a fairly graphic, if entirely unsexy, sex scene is in keeping with the general vibe of Girls. And we all know by now that Lena Dunham likes to be naked. But it struck me as not only contrived, but slightly offensive. With his dark dark skin and her alabaster flesh mashing together, and their overeager dirty talk, it seemed more like some cross between a pretentious student art project and a white-girls-do-black-bucks porn flick, rather than a fun and carefree sex scene. There is zero chemistry between Hannah and her new boyfriend, Sandy—not in the bedroom, and not when he’s chasing her around the coffee shop and tells her, “I love how weird you are,” although I’m open to this changing as his character is further developed.
As one among the many media writers who openly criticized the first season’s lack of racial inclusiveness, I did then also contend that what offended me the most was feeling like I could identify with the girls on the show but they couldn’t (or didn’t want to) identify with me. I felt left out and invisible, which in a day-to-day context, is largely what nonviolent, subtle and systemic racism feels like to a black person. With season two, that Dunham chose to respond to race-based criticism by casting a really good looking black guy as her boyfriend seems especially self-serving, and oddly dismissive of the fact that a good deal of the more pointed critical commentary came from black women who felt excluded. So, I still don’t see you, black women, but I do enjoy fucking your men?
Particularly in light of the continuous (and in my opinion, egregious) onslaught of studies that indicate over 70 percent of black women are currently single and are going to die that way—many of whom, if heterosexual, would prefer to marry a black man—it feels almost covetous. That said, I am quite certain this did not occur to Lena Dunham, which presents its own set of problems. And while I do admire Dunham’s balls-to-the-wall approach to creating the show, putting her work out there, taking great pleasure in her independence and agency as a woman, the race problem on her show is not fixed by including a black character, or strategically placing a “random” black guest at a party. It will be fixed by bringing in black writers, consultants, production assistants, asking lots of questions, and evolving the mindsets of both Hannah Horvath and Lena Dunham so that the worlds in which they live are more a matter of course than of calculation.
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Articles

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Politics

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health