Race Inquiry Digest (December 17) – Important Current Stories On Race In America

Featured – The Best Black History Books of 2018 by AAAIHS Editors.

Check out this extraordinary list of great books from 2018 that offer varied historical perspectives on the Black experience in the United States and across the globe. From books on slavery in the Atlantic and the Haitian Revolution to works on the Harlem Renaissance, urban planning in Canada, and independence movements in Colombia, the diverse selections included in this list will enhance your reading list for the new year, and deepen your understanding of Black people’s ideas and experiences in every part of the globe. Read more

Overlooked No More: Elizabeth Keckly, Dressmaker and Confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln. By Nancy Wartik / NYT

Elizabeth Keckly in an undated photo. After working as Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress, she wrote a memoir that is now considered one of the most important narratives of the Lincoln’s domestic life. She was the daughter not of the black slave whom she believed was her father but — as her mother, Agnes, disclosed in her last days — of Armistead Burwell, the white planter who owned their family. Read more

What Makes Jeremy O. Harris’ ‘Slave Play’ Such a Powerful Play About Racism. By Tim Teeman / The Daily Beast

Jeremy O. Harris’ stunning work produces gasps of both recognition and revelation in its story of the insidious effects of racism in a series of interracial relationships. It is so powerfully written, and wittily, intelligently damning of white privilege and supremacy that it will reverberate with you long after you have left New York Theatre Workshop.  Read more

The Politics of Memory in Barry Jenkins’s “If Beale Street Could Talk.” By Richard Brody / The New Yorker

“If Beale Street Could Talk,” an adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, by the same name. The movie is current, infuriatingly current, in its clear and direct exposure of the system of white supremacy that’s enshrined and perpetuated in the workings of law—from the laws themselves to their street-level abuse by police officers, their backroom abuse by police officials, the chicanery of prosecutors, the pressures and prejudices of judges, the crushing brutality of incarceration, and the over-all pressure of money and burden of poverty that renders the entire objective, arm’s-length, formally coherent system of oppression circular and self-perpetuating. Read more

Remembering Rosanell Eaton, An Outspoken Advocate for Voting Rights. By Leslie Ovalle / NPR

Eaton was the granddaughter of enslaved people who grew up under Jim Crow in Louisburg, N.C., and had been fighting against rules meant to keep black people from voting for nearly as long as she was legally eligible to cast a ballot. Read more

Writing ‘BlacKkKlansman’ was an exploration of ‘twoness.’ By Kevin Willmott / LA Times

When Jordan Peele hired Spike Lee and me for this project, the only note he gave us was “make it funny.” We knew exactly what Jordan meant. He wasn’t speaking about broad comedy or jokes; he was instructing us to reveal the irrationality of racism. However, we did need one governing idea, a hook, to make the story cohesive. We found that hook in a quote from W.E.B. Du Bois: “One ever feels his twoness — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength keeps it from being torn asunder.”Read more

The Rise of Right-Wing Extremism and How U.S. Law Enforcement Ignored it. By Michael Barbaro, Ike Sriskandarajah, and Larissa Anderson / NYT

Despite repeated warnings over the past two decades, federal law enforcement officials in the United States have ignored the threat of violence from far-right extremists. Now, they have no idea how to stop it. Listen to the podcast here

Oldest Institution of Southern Baptist Convention Reveals Past Ties to Slavery. By Adeel Hassan / NYT

The 71-page report released by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is a recitation of decades of bigotry, directed first at African slaves and later at African-Americans. Beginning with the founding of the seminary in Greenville, S.C., in 1859, the report found that the school, with few exceptions, backed a white supremacist ideology. Read more

After the DNA debacle, Elizabeth Warren’s outreach to minority communities makes a pivot. By Eugene Scott

After releasing a DNA report that she hoped would prove she wasn’t lying about her Native American ancestry, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) found herself on the receiving end of criticism from those who questioned whether the lawmaker understood minority communities well enough to win their support in her quest for the presidency. Read more

Congress will have more Latino members than ever before. By Luis Alonso Lugo / Associated Press

More Latinos will serve in Congress next year than ever before — at least 42, with one House race to be decided. Read more

HBCU Bennett College Could Close If It Can’t Raise $5 Million By February. By Ashleigh Atwell / Blavity

Bennett College, a historically Black women’s college, could lose its accreditation if it doesn’t fix its finances.  The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has given Bennett until February 1 to prove it is financially stable. If the school isn’t able to do this, it could be removed from the organization and could even be forced to close, according to the Greensboro News & Record. Read more

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