Courtney Martin

Courtney E. Martin is a Prospect senior correspondent. She is the author of Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists (Beacon Press). You can read more about her work at

Recent Articles

Oprah's Stale Definition of Charity

Her new show may promote creative philanthropy, but in the end "Oprah's Big Give" only underscores the dated view that everyone is either a giver or a receiver, a have or a have-not.

As the Oprah empire started rolling out advertisements for her latest adventure -- a reality television show called "Oprah's Big Give" -- my inbox and voicemail were flooded by friends and family claiming indignantly, "Oprah stole your idea!" They were referring to Oprah's new show, in which participants compete every week to give away large amounts of her money in a short amount of time -- and in a way that will please a team of judges.

I wasn't that mad. After all, it's not the worst thing to be ripped off by the most successful communicator in the universe and, let's face it, Oprah's "idea people" probably weren't lurking at KGB Bar listening to my friends and I tell stories about slipping $20 bills in young adult fiction books at the Brooklyn Public Library.

A Real Dialogue on Race

Obama's speech rose above the rush to label anyone and everyone a racist, and instilled hope for a more productive national conversation about race, gender, and class.

As the Democratic primary drags on, the media has increasingly made a habit of taking misguided one-liners from campaign advisers and turning those molehills into mountains. I have a feeling I'm not the only one tempted to mute the television and crank that brilliant Avenue Q song, "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist." The song goes, "If we all could just admit that we are racist a little bit even though we all know that it's wrong, maybe it would help us get along."

Taping Over Old Ideas of Community

Michel Gondry's Be Kind, Rewind celebrates ordinary people and the extraordinary power of creativity and community.

Jack Black and Mos Def star in Be Kind, Rewind

"It comes from a utopia I had -- do you say 'having a utopia?' -- a belief I have that people can create their own entertainment. I always wanted to create this community that would come and tell their own story, shoot it -- and watch them. The idea is to not have one entity who creates the work, the project, and another entity who consumes it; the idea is people create their own work, like somebody cultivating his garden."

--Michel Gondry

Toward a More Enlightened Security Policy

If he's so concerned about terrorism, why has Bush shown so little compassion toward the meek in the most dangerous parts of the world? A prestigious group of female national-security experts wants to know.

The presidential primaries have made for great sound bites and controversies; no doubt, the mainstream media are like pigs in mud. But let's not lose sight of the golden opportunity for all of us. This election presents an opportunity to rethink some of our stale approaches to governance and invigorate the national discourse on evergreen issues.

Misunderstanding "Generation Me"

Research on whether young people today are more self-involved than previous generations confuses narcissism with disillusionment.

A new study out this month in the journal Psychological Science aims to debunk the popular opinion that our generation -- those of us born in the 80s -- is narcissistic. The study, authored by Kali H. Trzesniewski, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario and colleagues at the University of California, Davis, and Michigan State University, finds that youth haven't changed their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors drastically over the last 30 years.