Race Inquiry Digest (Dec 7) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


Ijeoma Oluo’s ” Mediocre: The Dangerous legacy of White Male America.”

“Nuanced, uncomfortable, and illuminating.” ―Washington Post 

“Ijeoma Oluo’s sharp yet accessible writing about the American racial landscape made her 2018 book, So You Want to Talk About Race, an invaluable resource for anyone looking to understand and dismantle racist structures. Her new book, Mediocre, builds on this exemplary work, homing in on the role of white patriarchy in creating and upholding a system built to disenfranchise anyone who isn’t a white male.”―TIME 

“[Oluo has written] a bold, incisive book on heavy topics with a call to action for a more equitable future that doesn’t center White men.” ―Kirkus 

“Erudite yet accessible, grounded in careful research as well as Oluo’s personal experiences of racism and misogyny, this is an essential reckoning.” ―Publishers Weekly

Related: Ijeoma Oluo’s ‘Mediocre’ dissects white supremacy in America. She’d rather be writing about something else. By Nneka McGuire / Wash Post

Political / Social

Why the Trumpists’ Calls for Dictatorship Should Worry Us. By Sasha Abramsky / The Nation

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, coming off a recent presidential pardon from Trump, urged his erstwhile boss to declare martial law, suspend the Constitution, and order new presidential elections under the supervision of the military. What horrifies me isn’t simply that the cranks and sycophants surrounding Trump have dived into this moral cesspit. Rather, it’s that much of the broader GOP, especially at the federal level, has remained silent in the face of this escalating assault on the democracy. It is the reductio ad absurdum, the inane and insane end point of four years of the GOP’s collusion with Trump’s full-frontal assault on the institutions and culture of democracy. Read more 

Georgia Senate runoff: The GOP is the party of civil war. By William Saletan / Slate

As President Donald Trump heads to Georgia for a campaign rally on Saturday, a menace is spreading across the country: a right-wing insurrection, led by the president and his supporters, to overthrow the 2020 election by intimidation or force. That threat is becoming a central issue in the Jan. 5 Georgia runoffs that will decide control of the U.S. Senate. Shown is Vice President Mike Pence, right, at a rally with Sen. David Perdue on Friday in Savannah, Georgia. Read more

Related: How Georgia’s Senate race pits the Old South against the New South. By Maya King / Politico

Related: Georgia Senate runoff: Asian Americans are key part in runoff strategy. By Caroline Kenny, Kyung Lah and Kim Berryman / CNN

Obama’s Curious Cautiousness. By Charles M. Blow / NYT

He is a great politician, but he is not an activist. Wednesday morning on Peter Hamby’s Snapchat show, “Good Luck America,” Obama said this: “If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it’s not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan like ‘Defund the police,’ but, you know, you lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done.” Read more 

Biden’s New Top Economist Has a Longtime Focus on Workers. By Jim Tankersley and 

Related: Clyburn flexes muscle on DNC pick. House Majority Whip James Clyburn has spent the last few weeks publicly and privately advocating for Jaime Harrison to be the next chairman of the DNC. By Holly Otterbein / Politico

“Whatever the most urgent need is that I’m not able to attend to, I have confidence in … turning to her,” Biden said in a joint CNN interview with Harris on Thursday. “There’s not a single decision I have made yet about personnel or about how to proceed that I haven’t discussed it with Kamala first.” Yet all that opportunity carries risk for Harris. Appear too ambitious or gain too much attention, and Biden’s inner circle begins worrying about her political motives, and knives come out among other Democrats who covet the White House. Step off message and she could get frozen out. Read more 

Bryan Stevenson Wins “Alternative Nobel”: We Must Overturn This Horrific Era of Mass Incarceration. By Amy Goodman / Democracy Now 

The ceremony for the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” was held Thursday. Bryan Stevenson was presented his award by Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit and now works alongside Stevenson at the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama. This is Stevenson speaking at the ceremony. Read more

Wisconsin’s not so white anymore – and in some rapidly diversifying cities like Kenosha there’s fear and unrest. By John M. Eason et al. / The Conversation

Kenosha, Wisconsin, became a national byword for racial unrest when protests in August erupted in violence. After local police shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, seven times in the back, leaving him paralyzed, furious residents took to the streets expressing years of pent-up angerDuring nighttime hours, fires were set. Law enforcement’s response only escalated the situation. One night an armed white militia showed up, and Kenosha officers thanked them. Then, at 11:45 p.m. on Aug. 25, a white teenager allegedly fired an assault rifle during a confrontation, killing two protesters and wounding one. Our research on Wisconsin’s changing demographics suggests racial integration and political polarization are a combustible combination in Kenosha. Read more 

Race, Violence, and Resistance in Puerto Rico. By Don S. Polite Jr. / AAIHS

In Policing Life and Death: Race, Violence, and Resistance in Puerto RicoMarisol LeBrón explores a troubling notion that seems to undergird police work—that harm and death, though unfortunate, are always expected outcomes of police work. The book explores the ways that this belief that policing, by necessity, is accompanied by death, has only grown within Puerto Rico since the 1990s. While this is a Puerto Rican narrative, it fits within a larger question of race and policing. Read more 

The Voice of Black America? By Rachelle Hampton / Slate

In October, Colbert wrote in Interview magazine that Charlamagne had “remade The Breakfast Club, a longtime weather vane of the hip-hop world, into a destination for progressive politicians looking to amplify their message.” Since then, Charlamagne’s evolution from shock jock to political pundit has accelerated, and his profile has only risen. Barack Obama did an in-person interview on the show last week to promote his presidential memoir, despite never having appeared during his time in office. The Breakfast Club was in 90 national markets at the end of 2019, and now airs on more than 100 stations nationwide. Read more

Grand Master Jay, founder of all-Black armed activist group, faces federal charge after FBI says he aimed a rifle at officers. By Amir Vera and Rebekah Riess / CNN

The founder of an all-Black armed activist group is facing a federal charge after the FBI alleges he aimed a rifle at federally deputized task force officers during a September rally in Louisville, Kentucky. FBI agents arrested John Fitzgerald Johnson, the founder of the Not F**king Around Coalition who is also known as Grand Master Jay, Thursday at his home. Read more 

Racial disparities create obstacles for Covid-19 vaccine rollout. By Alicia Victoria Lozano / NBC News

Despite the potential for a vaccine within weeks, distrust of the medical community by Black and Latino people, who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, remains high as elected leaders and public health professionals work to prioritize its distribution. Read more 

Brandon Bernard Is Scheduled To Be Executed. 5 Jurors Who Sentenced Him Don’t Think He Should Die. By Jessica Schulberg / HuffPost

On Dec. 10, Brandon Bernard is scheduled to be executed. If the execution goes forward, he will die for acting as an accomplice in a crime that happened when he was 18. Five of the nine surviving jurors who voted 20 years ago to condemn Bernard to death now support sparing his life. So does a former federal prosecutor who defended Bernard’s death sentence on appeal. The scheduled execution is part of a wave of rushed executions by the Trump administration during its final weeks in power. Read more 

Facebook to start policing anti-Black hate speech more aggressively than anti-White comments, documents show. By Elizabeth Dwoskin, Nitasha Tiku and Heather Kelly / Wash Post 

Facebook is embarking on a major overhaul of its algorithms that detect hate speech, according to internal documents, reversing years of so-called “race-blind” practices. Those practices resulted in the company being more vigilant about removing slurs lobbed against White users while flagging and deleting innocuous posts by people of color on the platform. Read more 

Related: Google Researcher Timnit Gebru Says She Was Fired For Paper on AI Bias. By Cade Metz and  

Democrats Push ‘Abolition Amendment’ To Fully Erase Slavery From U.S. Constitution. By Brakkton Booker / NPR

As the nation grapples with issues of racial injustice and social inequality, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pushing to remove the so-called slavery loophole from the United States Constitution. With the adoption and ratification of the 13th Amendment 155 years ago, the practice of slavery formally ended in this country, but it did not strip away all aspects of involuntary servitude. A joint resolution dubbed the Abolition Amendment, introduced by Democrats in the House and Senate Wednesday, seeks to correct that. It would remove the “punishment” clause from the amendment, which effectively allows members of prison populations to be used as cheap and free labor. Read more 

Indian Country Has Entered a Devastating New Phase of the Pandemic. By Delilah Friedler / Mother Jones

When the first wave of COVID-19 hit the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in spring, Brian Mask would awaken nightly to the sound of helicopters airlifting patients from the under-resourced local health center to hospitals as far as 80 miles away. “You could see the fear in people when they came outside, asking, ‘Who is it this time?’” he said. “We couldn’t even mourn the first person, because then it was the next one, and the next one, and the next one.” Read more 

History / Culture

Montgomery Bus Boycott: The WPC and Black women’s leadership today. By Safiya Charles / Montogomery Advertiser

It was Dec. 1, 1955. Rosa Parks had been arrested for her defiance of Montgomery’s segregated bus seating law, and Jo Ann Robinson sat at home lost in thought. Could the Black women of the Women’s Political Council, for which she now served as president, convince 50,000 Black people to stay off the city buses that so many depended on as their only means of transportation? She couldn’t be sure. Read more

Four police officers shot Amadou Diallo 19 times. A new photography project names them. By Geoff Edgers / Wash Post

Diallo, 23, was shot 19 times in the doorway of his Bronx apartment on the morning of Feb. 4, 1999, after four plain-clothed New York City police officers — Boss, Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy and Edward McMellon — mistook him for a rape suspect. That’s the reality at the center of “41 to ’99: A Photo Essay,” by photographer Steven Irby. It’s the first work to emerge from Ava DuVernay’s Law Enforcement Accountability Project (LEAP), which the director started in June, weeks after seeing the video of George Floyd’s death. Read more

As Supreme Court reconsiders Jim Crow-era split juries, past cases could earn new trials. By Erik Ortiz / NBC News

On Wednesday, the high court heard arguments related to a previous case it ruled on earlier this year forbidding nonunanimous juries and whether its decision should be applied retroactively to defendants who had exhausted their appeals. In April, the justices in a 6-3 ruling found that the Constitution guarantees those accused of serious crimes a unanimous jury verdict, siding with a Louisiana man, Evangelisto Ramos, convicted in the 2014 killing of a woman in New Orleans. The jury in his case was split 10-2. Read more

How Selena’s glorious legacy shows off the vast complexity of Latinos. By Brandon Tensley / CNN

More than 25 years after her murder at the age of 23, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, or just Selena, endures as a music icon. Her fan base spans oceans and generations. Her records have sold millions of copies. Her sartorial taste — the bedazzled bustiers — is best described as one of a kind. This month, she also receives the Netflix treatment. The glossy “Selena: The Series” charts the Texas-born singer’s rise and reign as the Queen of Tejano music. But Selena remains as much more than music royalty. What makes her stand out even today is the fact that her status as an icon is in large part because of, not despite, the richness of her identity as a Latina. Read more

MSNBC gives weekend shows to Tiffany Cross and Jonathan Capehart. By Jeremy Barr / Wash Post

With former weekend host Joy Reid now entrenched as MSNBC’s anchor at 7 p.m. each weekday night, the network has picked political analyst Tiffany Cross and journalist Jonathan Capehart to take her place on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Cross, 41, will host a two-hour show at 10 a.m. Saturdays, starting Dec. 12, while Capehart, 53, takes over the same time slot on Sundays, starting Dec. 13. Neither show has a name yet. Read more 


Appreciation: Rafer Johnson was more than a great athlete; he was a great man. By Helene Elliott / LA Times and Yahoo News

Rafer Johnson’s body had grown weak but his spirit was undimmed the last time he attended a Special Olympics breakfast at Long Beach State. That was a year ago — or maybe two years, Tai Babilonia guessed, since she had seen him at a meeting of the organization that gripped his heart since he founded its Southern California chapter in 1969. The precise date escaped her after she learned of Johnson’s death Wednesday, lost in her grief but comforted by memories of his selflessness and humility. His Olympic decathlon medals — silver in 1956 and gold in 1960 — were testament to his extraordinary athletic talent. His work with Special Olympics and other advocates for the sick and unfortunate testified to his extraordinary generosity. Read more 

The lack of Black college football coaches is still glaring, and so are the excuses behind it. By Ivan Maisel / ESPN

This year, there are 14 Black head coaches among 130 FBS programs. Oops, Vanderbilt just fired Derek Mason this past weekend; make it 13. While that’s 13 more than there were in 1992, it also means that only 10% of the programs have Black head coaches in a sport in which nearly half the players are Black, according to the NCAA Race and Gender Demographics Database. In the SEC, 61% of players are Black, and now that Vanderbilt has fired Mason, two of the Power 5 conferences — the SEC and the Big 12 — do not have a Black head coach. In the year 2020. And with hiring season about to begin anew, there’s no expectation of much changing. Read more

Talking About Race Made Falcons Teammates Matt Ryan and Ricardo Allen Partners in Activism. By Ken Belson / NYT

As two of the longest tenured Falcons, team captains and leaders of the offense and defense, players who study the game obsessively and share notes, they have leaned on each other as the team, and its social justice committee that they lead, sought ways to respond to the social upheaval roiling the country, a journey The New York Times is following this season. Read more

How athletes built a voter-turnout machine for 2020 and beyond. By Michael Lee / Wash Post

As their playoff-pausing wildcat strike ended in August, NBA players returned to the court with a vow from team owners to offer their arenas and practice facilities as polling places. The stadiums lent credibility and safety to the voting process. They also helped avoid the long lines that discourage otherwise willing participants with limited time, especially in a pandemic. Plus there was the element of charm that comes from casting your ballot at Fenway Park, Madison Square Garden or Dodger Stadium. Read more 

This Time, a Cartoon Depiction of Naomi Osaka Is More True to Life By Tiffany May / NYT

he last time an illustration of the tennis star Naomi Osaka made headlines, it was for all the wrong reasons. In an advertisement for an instant noodle brand, Ms. Osaka, the daughter of a Japanese mother and a Haitian-American father, was shown with light skin in an anime-style depiction. Her fans called it whitewashing. “I’m tan,” Ms. Osaka said at the time. “It’s pretty obvious.” So this year, as a manga magazine in Japan worked on an issue that will portray Ms. Osaka as an alien-vanquishing intergalactic tennis champion, it insisted on getting major details right. This time, Ms. Osaka will, indeed, be tan. Read more 

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