Race Inquiry Digest (Dec 14) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


The Spiritual Tradition of Black Folk Finds Expression in the Candidacy of Raphael Warnock. By Otis Moss III / Wash Post

Warnock’s approach to the social gospel grew out of a question asked by enslaved Blacks: How could a person be a Christian, love Jesus and argue for the sale of other human beings? In the cities and towns where Georgia Senate candidates are now campaigning, Black men and women kept pressing this question. It led them to form early independent churches, such as the First African Baptist Church of Savannah, and embrace new denominations, such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church, that placed at the center of their worship public rebukes of the hypocritical Christianity practiced by enslavers. Read more 

Related: Georgia Senate runoffs: Republican attacks on Raphael Warnock’s preaching are part of an old American tradition. By Julia Craven / Slate

Related: The High Stakes of Georgia’s Loeffler-Warnock Senate Race. By Jelani Cobb / The New Yorker

Related: Rising Latino voters could be force in Georgia Senate races. By Jeff Amy / Associated Press and ABC News 

Political / Social

 ‘We can’t engage in the intellectual justification of discrimination,’ says lawyer representing George Floyd’s family. By KK Ottesen / Wash Post

Well, we can’t engage in the intellectual justification of discrimination. Wrong is wrong. You can’t condone it. You can’t try to sweep it under the rug. We have to say what the great civil rights icon Ella Baker said: Until White mothers cry just as hard for little Black boys who are killed by the police as they would their own children, then nothing will change in America. Read more 

Republicans want more than a coup: Trump’s loyalty test exposes their hatred for democracy. By Amanda Marcotte / Salon

As confusing as this may appear, it’s ultimately about the Republican belief that elections should be democratic in name only, and the only real choice available to voters should be to vote Republican. If the voters are foolish enough choose otherwise, their right to vote should be stripped away. Read more 

Related: Supreme Court shuts down election challenge: Every Trump-picked justice votes to reject Texas case. By Cody Fenwick / Salon 

Related: Psycho secession: Texas’ lost-cause lawsuit was the first shot in a new Civil War. By Lucian K. Truscott Iv / Salon

Related: Lawsuit ‘Smacks Of Racism’: Wisconsin Judge Shreds Trump Lawyer Over Vote Challenge. By Mary Papenfuss / HuffPost

Covid Meds Are Scarce, but Not for Trump Cronies. By Michelle Goldberg / NYT

According to a document from the Department of Health and Human Services, a total of 108 doses of Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody cocktail have been allocated to Washington, which had 265 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday alone. Somehow Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s lawyer, got one of those doses. Read more

Related: Giuliani says he didn’t know most Americans can’t access his VIP coronavirus treatment regimen. By Matthew Rozsa / Salon

Experts warn of low Covid vaccine trust among Black Americans. By P.R. Lockhart / NBC News

The patients who stream into her clinic in a low-income and predominantly Black section of Chicago’s South Side have been terrified by the coronavirus pandemic, said Dr. Brittani James, stressed out by its harmful effects on the community and frustrated by mixed messages from government officials. But now, just as possible solution to the virus’s spread is on the horizon, she is particularly worried about what she is hearing from her patients. Many of them fear that the vaccines aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19 will be harmful to Black Americans. Read more

Related: Black And Brown Doctors (Like Me) Are Not OK Right Now. By Susan Lopez / HuffPost

What Biden’s cabinet picks really say about diversity. By Paul Begala / CNN

Here’s what some of my right-wing friends don’t get about Democrats’ commitment to diversity. They think people like Biden insist on diversity because of some politically correct white liberal guilt. That may be true for some, but for those of us with actual experience in the real world, the commitment to diversity is far more practical, besides being fundamentally just. When you broaden the pool of talent, you get more talented people. Biden nominates Gen. Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense.   Read more 

Related: Joe Biden picks Susan Rice as head of Domestic Policy Council. By Deidre Shesgreen and Jeanine Santucci / USA Today

Related: Inside Biden’s Meeting With Civil Rights Leaders. By Ryan Grim / The Intercept

More US churches commit to racism-linked reparations. By David Crary / ABC News

The Episcopal Diocese of Texas acknowledges that its first bishop in 1859 was a slaveholder. An Episcopal church erects a plaque noting the building’s creation in New York City in 1810 was made possible by wealth resulting from slavery. And the Minnesota Council of Churches cites a host of injustices, from mid-19th century atrocities against Native Americans to police killings of Black people, in launching a first-of-its kind “truth and reparations” initiative engaging its 25 member denominations. These efforts reflect a widespread surge of interest among many U.S. religious groups in the area of reparations, particularly among long-established Protestant churches that were active in the era of slavery. Many are weighing how to make amends through financial investments and long-term programs benefiting African Americans. Read more 

Related: Black Americans donate a higher share of their wealth than Whites. By Michelle Singletary / Wash Post

Related: Group of 37 CEOS says it will hire 1M Black Americans over 10 years. By Brett Molina / USA Today 

The Retirement Crisis Facing Black Americans. By Rodney Brooks / US News

LONG-STANDING INCOME and wealth disparities along with low savings rates have endangered retirement readiness for millions of elderly Black Americans, who still haven’t recovered from the devastating impact of the 2008 housing crash. The coronavirus pandemic has worsened an already bleak outlook. “We are using all of our money to maintain life,” says Rene Nourse, vice chair of the Association of African American Financial Advisors in Washington, D.C. “Some of us don’t have extra money to build up worth.” Read more  

For Air Force Leader, Making Video On Racism He’s Faced Was ‘The Right Thing To Do.’ By Rachel Martin / NPR

Just before Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. was confirmed as Air Force chief of staff in June, he issued an emotional and personal video message about racism in the military. At the time, the country was roiling in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, and Brown, who is Black, felt compelled to speak out. On NPR’s Morning Edition, he explains why. “It was my own personal experiences but thinking about our two sons and their experiences, [is] actually what got me to do it,” Brown says. He was the commander of Pacific Air Forces at the time and was awaiting confirmation as the Air Force’s chief of staff. Read more 

The Senseless Killing of Brandon Bernard. Bridget Read / MSN News

Brandon Bernard was declared dead at 9:27 p.m. last night. He was killed just as planned, despite a national outcry to spare his life, making him the ninth person since July to be executed by the Trump administration. Before then, the federal government had not killed a death row inmate in 17 years, but Donald Trump has rushed ahead in an unprecedented, ghastly spree: He has four more executions planned before Joe Biden takes office. Bernard was 40 years old. Read more 

Minneapolis Shifts $8 Million In Police Funding, Keeps Force At Current Level. By Avie Schneider / NPR

The Minneapolis City Council has voted to shift almost $8 million in police funding to expand other services, including violence prevention and mental health crisis response teams. But, in the face of a veto threat from the mayor, the council also voted to keep its police staffed at current levels, reversing earlier plans to cut officers from the force. The vote on Thursday emerged from the national debate over police funding that was sparked in May by the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis officers as well as numerous similar incidents around the country. The incidents were followed by massive protests about racial injustice. Read more

Historical / Cultural

Descendants of enslaved Blacks explore Virginia history. By Susan Svrluga / Wash Post

Growing up, George Monroe Jr. avoided the historical site that was just a few miles from his family’s property in Virginia, James Monroe’s Highland. “To be honest with you, the old folks, the family back in the day, they frowned on it,” he said. “Who really wants to go visit a plantation, knowing your family members were enslaved there?” But when an archaeological discovery there a few years ago made headlines, he was drawn to the Virginia property once owned by the fifth president in Charlottesville. Read more 

The Elusive Promise of the Underground Railroad. By Eric Herschthal / The New Republic 

For enslaved Black Americans contemplating escape before the Civil War, the North increasingly looked like a bad option. Though Northern states had abolished slavery by the early nineteenth century, free Blacks were denied the right to vote, had limited employment options, and endured legal segregation. Much of the Midwest restricted free Blacks from even entering. Three new books show how Northern states betrayed Black people, and why many found Mexico a safer destination. Read more 

The founder of Johns Hopkins owned enslaved people. Our university must face a reckoning. By Martha S. Jones / Wash Post

To some, it is an all-too-familiar story and perhaps not a significant one in a year of racial reckoning: Another elite college discovers ties to slavery. But for many of us who work at Johns Hopkins University, the shattered myth of our university founder, long admired as a Quaker and abolitionist, rattles our school community as well. Johns Hopkins University confirmed Wednesday that its namesake benefactor owned enslaved people. Hopkins, the descendant of Maryland planters, largely derived his wealth from real estate, railroads, banking — and by being party to slavery’s crime against humanity. Read more

In viral anti-racism PSA, “Steven Universe” character Pearl challenges our whitewashed history. By Ashlie Stevens / Salon

Pearl (Deedee Mango) of the animated series “Steven Universe” has a message for Cartoon Network viewers: Tell the whole story. In a new public service announcement that began running on the network beginning Dec. 3, the character asks a classroom of students who invented the lightbulb. “Thomas Edison,” they brightly respond. That’s not entirely true. Pearl reveals that the invention could be more rightly attributed to Lewis Howard Latimer, the Black inventor responsible for creating the filament inside the bulb. “We’re not going to mention why he invented the filament? To create a better standard of living for people who had just been freed from slavery?” she says. “Are we going to ask about why kids are learning about Thomas Edison and not learning about Lewis Latimer?” Read more 

“40 Years a Prisoner” confronts the police we’re supposed to trust “telling bold-faced lies.” By D. Watkins / Salon

Africa Jr.’s journey is brilliantly related in the new HBO documentary film, “40 Years a Prisoner,” directed by Tommy Oliver and available now on HBO Max. Featuring an all-star ensemble of producers including The Roots, Common and John Legend, “40 Years A Prisoner” is a compelling film about the horrors of America’s criminal justice system. The story begins in 1978 when Philadelphia police raided MOVE, a back to nature organization based on love, among other peaceful principles. Africa’s parents, two MOVE members, were arrested during that raid on trumped up charges and convicted before he was born. In the film, Oliver documents Africa Jr.’s life pursuit of freeing his parents, along with other MOVE members, and a decades-long battle with the Philadelphia police department. I recently got a chance to talk with Africa Jr. and Oliver about the film on an episode of “Salon Talks.” Read more 

In a year of Black Death, the movies showed us Black Life. By Ann Hornaday / Wash Post

From a literal plague that took the lives of a disproportionate number of people of color to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubury and, most recently, Casey Goodson, 2020 has threatened to become the Year of Black Death. When “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer in August, it felt like an especially cruel blow — one that shattered not just the life of a brilliant young artist but the dreams of a community for whom he symbolized Blackness at its most historically regal and cosmically aspirational. But while anguish and outrage mounted, something else was happening on our screens. When the theaters closed and American audiences encountered endless streaming choices, what they found were films that, in a variety of ways and through disparate forms, presented Black stories as quintessentially American and, ultimately, universal. Read more 

Related: Atlanta Is the New Influencer Capital of America. By Taylor Lorenz / NYT

Why Is Publishing So White? By Richard Jean So / NYT

We guessed that most of the authors would be white, but we were shocked by the extent of the inequality once we analyzed the data. Of the 7,124 books for which we identified the author’s race, 95 percent were written by white people. Author diversity at major publishing houses has increased in recent years, but white writers still dominate. Non-Hispanic white people account for 60 percent of the U.S. population; in 2018, they wrote 89 percent of the books in our sample. “Many white editors are not exposed to Black life beyond the headlines,” said Ms. Brown, pictured here at her desk at Doubleday in 1976.  Read more 

Charley Pride, Trailblazing Country Music Star, Dies At 86. By Mark Kennedy / HuffPost

Charley Pride, country music’s first Black star whose rich baritone on such hits as “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” helped sell millions of records and helped make him the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, has died. He was 86. Pride died Saturday in Dallas of complications from Covid-19, according to Jeremy Westby of the public relations firm 2911 Media. Pride released dozens of albums and sold more than 25 million records during a career that began in the mid-1960s. Hits besides “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” in 1971 included “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” “Burgers and Fries,” “Mountain of Love,” and “Someone Loves You Honey.” Read more 


Deion Sanders is inspiring hope at Jackson State. But what happened at Prime Prep? By Candace Buckner / Wash Post

On Sept. 21, Mississippi’s Jackson State University announced Sanders as its next football coach. Though Sanders had never coached in college, his supporters praised the hire as a coup for the public historically Black college, which has a rich legacy but few resources to compete for talent with the South’s football powers. During his official introduction, he suggested his presence will be good not just for Black college athletes but Black college students, too. “We’re raising professionals,” he said. But it wasn’t that long ago when Sanders was making a similar pledge to young Black men at Prime Prep. A few of them remember those promises. Years later, they say the hype did not live up to their hopes. Read more 

How will fans feel years after dropping the Redskins nickname? Miami (Ohio) provides a clue. By Chuck Culpepper / Wash Post

Twenty-four years since Miami University ditched the nickname “Redskins,” the word has faded all the way through obsolescence to the exurbs of extinction. It turns up only on the odd ragtag vintage sweatshirt or on a trash can on a bookstore shelf or in a plaintive wail from the vast deserts of Twitter or in a lonely voice cawing from the stands. One 21-year-old senior reckons maybe half the 19,934 students would even know the school ever used any name other than “RedHawks,” which began in the prehistoric wilds of 1997. Read more 

Rams players donate $750,000 to 25 nonprofits focused on social justice. By Gary Klein / LA Times

In the aftermath of incidents across the country that spurred calls for social-justice initiativesRams players and coaches spoke during the summer and fall of mobilizing for change. On Tuesday, the team announced that players had contributed $750,000 to 25 Southern California nonprofits focused on social justice. Defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day said the aim was to “make impactful change in the L.A. community” with the hope that other teams in the NFL and other pro sports would do the same. Read more 

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