We have BP Managing Director Bob Dudley tonight and Anderson will be keeping him honest on the Gulf oil spill. Plus Sean Penn will talking about life in Haiti and testifying before the Senate today. And we'll investigate what influences children's perceptions of race.
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Tonight we’re Keeping Them Honest on the oil leak in the Gulf. After weeks of telling us no thanks, BP today agreed to make its managing director, Bob Dudley, available to answer Anderson’s questions. You’ll hear what he has to say about why BP is sticking to what many experts call an unreasonably low estimate of the size of the oil leak; why it took BP 23 days to release a 30-second video clip of the oil plume spewing from the blown-out well; and whether he thinks it’s important to allow Americans access to a live video feed of the leak. You can decide for yourself what to believe.
Also tonight, actor and activist Sean Penn joins us with the latest in his fight to save Haiti. He testified before the Senate Finance Committee today, urging lawmakers to act quickly to get more aid to Haiti before the hurricane season begins. The relief organization that he heads up is working around the clock to help Haiti’s earthquake victims. He’ll report on the latest from the frontlines.
We’ll also dig deeper on a bizarre legal case that’s raising thorny questions about free speech on the Internet. A Minnesota man is charged with two counts of aiding suicide. Here’s the surprising part: The people he allegedly assisted lived in Britain and Canada and the accused man never met them face-to-face. Authorities say the former nurse advised them online, giving advice on how to kill themselves and even entering into suicide pacts with them. His alleged crimes were uncovered by an amateur internet sleuth – a 65-year-old woman who lives in Britain. Can a person be convicted of assisted suicide if they weren’t with the person when they died? And when, if ever, does deadly advice cross the line of protected free speech? We’ll look at all of these issues.
We’ll also bring you more of the pilot study on kids and race that was conducted on our behalf by a team of renowned child psychologists. The children they tested were painfully honest about how they see skin color in 2010. What they said may change everything you thought you knew about racial bias, where it begins, and the role parents play in shaping it.
See you at 10 p.m. eastern.
William F. Melchert-Dinkel, a 47-year-old husband from Minnesota, allegedly posed as a woman in internet chatrooms to “encourage” depressed and suicidal women to take their lives in false suicide pacts. He is now charged with two counts of aiding suicide. Melchert-Dinkel’s attorney tells CNN that his client has no plans to plead guilty.
In this clip, Celia Blay, the woman who helped uncover this suicide scam, explains how she and another friend gathered enough evidence to prove that Melchert-Dinkel was urging some people to kill themselves.
Watch the full story from Randi Kaye tonight on AC360 at 10pm ET.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
NEW YORK – MAY 19: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (L), and rapper and New Jersey Nets basketball team co-owner Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter (R), attend a breakfast meeting at Gracie Mansion May 19, 2010 in New York City. The rapper has been involved with business man Mikhail Prokhorov, developer Bruce Ratner and Bloomberg recently in the Atlantic Yards stadium development project, which will eventually produce an arena for the Nets basketball team. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Editor's note: Imani Perry is a Professor in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. This article was originally published on HuffingtonPost.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Imani Perry. Watch our continuing series on the doll study tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.
This week Anderson Cooper 360 is airing a four-part series on a CNN commissioned study that examines how children view skin color. The results of the study, led by University of Chicago professor Margaret Beale Spencer, show that white children show a high bias towards white skin, and black children show a less, but still significant bias toward white skin as well. The children who were subjects of the research were in two age groups, 4-5 and 9-10.
I must say that the study, while heartbreaking, is not surprising. I am the mother of two African American boys, ages 4 and 6. In our household we talk about race frequently, we celebrate African American literature, music, and art. We teach appreciation for our culture and other cultures. We immerse them in the beauty of our ethnic tradition. However, even with all of this deliberate effort, it is a serious uphill battle to work against the image of race they are exposed to on a daily basis.
My elder son repeatedly comments on the marginality or complete absence of Black characters in virtually all children's television programming except what he, of his own accord, calls "black shows." He already knows that he is designated as the sidekick in this society. So do his classmates.
But more than that, he knows that for Black characters, lighter skin is valued, particularly on programming for tweens. It is even more dramatic for girls. I cannot recall the last time I saw a brown or dark skinned black girl on a mainstream children's television show besides that lone wolf of racial inclusion Sesame Street. Even when the parents are dark skinned, the girls are significantly lighter. The same issue exists in advertising in children's magazines and catalogs.
When Harry Reid's comment about Obama's light skin and absence of "Negro dialect" hit the media, my first thought was of children and how they probably also knew that Obama's lighter skin made a difference to many of the adults around them. After all, it clearly matters when it comes to the celebrities we teach them to admire, and even for the cartoon characters we entertain them with.
What happens on television and in print media gets repeated out in the world. I recently took my boys to the beauty supply store one day because I needed to buy some barrettes. They marveled at the rows and rows of long flowing wigs and weaves in this store catering to Black women. In that moment they learned that for many Black women hair that looks and feels like something completely different from what grows out of their heads is vastly preferred. And they were being taught something about what the world considers beautiful. How much will it matter, I wondered, that I model a celebration of our hair and skin, with a world speaking against me?
There are times when, at the bookstore, we have opened children's books dedicated to some hero in African American history, and found the troubling phrase "a good slave master" as in "Henry Box Brown had a good master" as though there wasn't a fundamental evil to holding people in life long inherited bondage. What does it mean to a Black child when we soft pedal the most inhumane feature of the Black experience in the United States?
My children are often witnesses when we (parents, grandparents, other adult caretakers) experience racist micro-aggressions: the change that is dropped on the counter instead of returned to the hand, the failure of retail sales people to make eye contact, the clutched purses, the rude responses, the greetings that we offer that are not returned, the clerks who follow us in stores. They see the adults who love and care for them, who diligently teach them to be kind and respectful and hard working, treated unfairly on the basis of race. This experience is normal for children of color in the United States.
All of our children see race. They see the differences in the way we are depicted and treated. They see the gaps in our socioeconomic conditions that are so highly influenced by race. When we don't talk to them about race and inequality, the only way they have to make sense of it all is to assume that there is a greater human value for those who by accident of birth are white.
I am a professor in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. By the time I get to talk to young people about race they are on the brink of adulthood. They are formed in many ways. But each day in the classroom with them yields so much. My students are bubbling over with the desire to learn, understand and make sense of race: this taboo subject that has been around then every single day. I immerse them in a great deal of scholarly research and analysis of race, to allow them to develop deep understandings of how it has operated and how it continues to matter. I am appreciative that these conversations are a central part of my life's work. However, I hope that this CNN series will encourage parents, schools and community organizations to begin these conversations with young people sooner, to demand better from our media and our communities, and to continue to educate ourselves along with our children, about race.
After weeks of requests, BP has agreed to come on AC360° tonight at 10pm ET to answer questions about the Gulf oil disaster. BP managing director Bob Dudley will talk to Anderson about the latest in the cleanup efforts.
We know what we want to ask him, but what about you? Send in your questions.