Race Inquiry Digest (August 19) – Important Current Stories On Race In America

Featured – The 1619 Project – American slavery began 400 years ago this month. This is referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the country’s true origin. / NYT

This week, The New York Times launched its ‘1619’ Project to observe the 400th anniversary of slavery’s beginnings in America. The series includes reported essays and other pieces that demonstrate how slavery — and the racial discrimination that followed — has shaped every aspect of modern life, from health care to public transportation.  Must read

How slavery became America’s first big business. By P.R. Lockhart / Vox

Historian and author Edward E. Baptist explains how slavery helped the US go from a “colonial economy to the second biggest industrial power in the world.” Of the many myths told about American slavery, one of the biggest is that it was an archaic practice that only enriched a small number of men. Must read

The Great Land Robbery: How Federal Policies Dispossessed Black Americans of Millions of Acres. By Amy Goodman / Democracy Now

Over the 20th century, black people in the U.S. were dispossessed of 12 million acres of land. Half of that loss — 6 million acres — occurred over just two decades, from 1950 to 1969, a period largely associated with the civil rights struggle. This mass land dispossession, which affected 98% of black agricultural land owners, is part of the pattern of institutional racism and discrimination that has contributed to the racial wealth gap in the United States. Many of the driving forces behind this land theft were legal and originated in federal policies, as documented by Vann Newkirk, staff writer at The Atlantic. His latest piece for the magazine is the September cover story: “The Great Land Robbery: The shameful story of how 1 million black families have been ripped from their farms.” Watch here

A rural town confronts its buried history of mass killings of black Americans. By Teresa King / The Guardian 

100 years after hundreds of African Americans were reportedly killed in Elaine, Arkansas, a memorial is set to bring details of the tragedy to light. Read more

Mass Incarceration. Throughline an NPR Podcast

The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world, and a disproportionate number of those prisoners are Black. What are the origins of the U.S. criminal justice system and how did racism shape it? From the creation of the first penitentiaries in the 1800s, to the “tough-on-crime” prosecutors of the 1990s, how America created a culture of mass incarceration. Listen here

They Got Their Voting Rights Back, But Will They Go to the Polls? By Nicole Lewis / Mother Jones

Thousands of Louisianans on probation and parole face numerous obstacles to casting a ballot: including the idea that their votes don’t matter. Read more

Push for Ethnic Studies in Schools Faces a Dilemma: Whose Stories to Tell. By Dana Goldstein / NYT

Discuss a recent instance of police brutality in your community. Read op-eds arguing for and against legal status for unauthorized immigrants. Compare and contrast border conditions in the Palestinian territories and Mexico. Those are some of the lesson plans suggested in a draft of California’s newly proposed ethnic studies curriculum for K-12 public schools. Read more

America’s Exclusionary Past and Present and the Judgment of History. By Michael Luo / The New Yorker

On February 28, 1882, Senator John Franklin Miller, a Republican from California, introduced a bill to bar Chinese laborers from entering the United States. Miller had been a brigadier general in the Union Army. After the Civil War, he moved his family to San Francisco and later made his fortune as the president of a seal-hunting company. By the time he was elected to the Senate, in 1881, Chinese migrants in the U.S., who had mostly settled in California and other Western states, numbered over a hundred thousand. Read more

Beto O’Rourke Unveils Plan To Fight Gun Violence And White Nationalism. By Sanjana Karanth / HuffPost

O’Rourke’s plan calls for “connecting the dots” between President Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies; online radicalization and propaganda; and how that rhetoric and radicalization manifest into real acts of violence against marginalized groups, including Black, Latinx and LGBTQ communities. Read more

Democrats and the FBI say white extremism is a huge problem. Trump disagrees. By Zachary B. Wolf / CNN

The issue of white extremism is taking on a new and important role in the American political conversation, and it is separate from the problem of guns and the people who will use them to mow down their fellow citizens. The two issues mix together after mass shootings carried out by racially motivated killers. But they are often distinct. Read more

2020 Democrats Court Once Overlooked Native American Voters. By Kali Robinson / HuffPost

Democratic presidential candidates will descend on Iowa next week to do something that Native Americans say doesn’t happen enough: court their vote. At least seven White House hopefuls have said they’ll attend a forum in Sioux City on Monday and Tuesday named for longtime Native American activist Frank LaMere, who died in June. Tribal leaders and citizens will talk with candidates about issues including health care, education and violence against National American women. Read more

My Childhood Rape and My Life That Might Have Been. By Goldie Taylor / Daily Beast

I sometimes wonder what I might have been, but for the pus and scarring of sexual violence, how it formed and defined and confined me. Read more

‘Luce’ Review: Race, Privilege and Every Parent’s Nightmare. By Peter Travers / Rolling Stone

In the middle of a summer of dumb fun and comic-book escapism, it’s some kind of miracle to find a film as seriously ambitious, scrappy and suspenseful as Luce. A provocation about race, privilege and the expectations that come with both, the movie follows the title character, played by star-in-the-making Kelvin Harrison Jr. He’s an African-American student and academic all-star at the Arlington, Virginia high school he attends. His white parents, a doctor named Amy (Naomi Watts) and a financier named Peter (Tim Roth), couldn’t be prouder; they adopted Luce at age seven from war-torn Eritrea, where he was trained to kill as part of a gun-toting army of children. Read more

Ice Cube ready for BIG3 story to shift to players. By Maya A. Jones / The Undefeated

The BIG3 would be a half-court, 3-on-3 league featuring retired NBA players who wanted to have one final go-round on the hardwood. First, there would be the scouting of players who were willing to contribute their best one last time. Next would be former players turned coaches who would help keep games and players competitive. And, last but not least, the league would be family-friendly and affordable. Three seasons later, what Ice Cube and business partner Jeff Kwatinetz envisioned is still going strong, but they want even more. Read more

The Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2019: Serena and Osaka Dominate. By Kurt Badenhausen / Forbes

Including prize money, Osaka’s total earnings over the last 12 months were $24.3 million, by Forbes’ count. That makes her just the fourth female athlete to earn $20 million in a year, joining three fellow tennis aces: Williams, Maria Sharapova and Li Na. Osaka’s big payday still trails that of Williams, who is the world’s highest-paid female athlete for the fourth year in a row. She earned $29.2 million, including $4.2 million in prize money, after returning to the WTA Tour following the birth of her daughter, Olympia, in September 2017. Read more

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