Race Inquiry Digest (December 24) – Important Current Stories On Race In America

Featured – The Enduring Russian Propaganda Interests in Targeting African-Americans. By Jelani Cobb / The New Yorker

During the Cold War, Soviet school curricula highlighted the exploitation of black people as a prime example of both American hypocrisy and of the rapacious nature of the capitalist system. During the Great Depression, African-Americans were invited to live and work in the Soviet Union, as a means of escaping the privations of Jim Crow. A few hundred accepted the offer, and some of their descendants still live in Russia. Russian manipulation of racism in 2016 aimed to benefit Trump to the detriment of African-Americans and, ultimately, of the American Republic—a phenomenon entirely consistent with the Trump Presidency itself. Read more

Were black voters bamboozled by Russia? It’s nowhere near that simple. By Chauncey DeVega / Salon

Were black Americans hoodwinked, bamboozled and tricked by the Russians during the 2016 presidential election into not supporting Hillary Clinton? The New York Times appears to believe the answer is yes. On Monday it published an extensive report on Russia’s “2016 influence operation,” describing it as “an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans” with “an array of tactics to try to suppress turnout among Democratic voters” and “a blizzard of activity on Instagram” that may have exceeded the better-known Russian posts on Facebook. Read more

Democrats Plan Separate Fix For Voting Rights Act To Make Chief Justice Roberts Happy. By Paul Blumenthal / HuffPost

The big reform package on voting rights, campaign finance and ethics that House Democrats plan to pass in January will not include a reauthorization and fix to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, along with outside voting rights litigators, will support moving the Voting Rights Act measure separately to ensure they build a legislative record that will show why the law is still necessary when it faces court challenges. Read more

FIRST STEP Act must be a stepping stone to much more aggressive reform. By Inimai Chettiar and Ames Grawert / USA Today

FIRST STEP Act is just that: a first step that will, among other things, give judges more leeway at sentencing and adjust mandatory minimums for some crack cocaine charges. This effort, while worth celebrating, will be incomplete without more aggressive (and progressive) reforms. Read more

After more than 200 attempts, the Senate has finally passed anti-lynching legislation. By P.R. Lockhart / Vox

For more than seven decades, lynchings in the United States unleashed a wave of racial terrorism intended to frighten and control African Americans after the collapse of slavery. This week, federal legislators made an important step in acknowledging the harms of that decades-long campaign and the federal government’s failure to intervene. Read more 

Lebron Concludes NFL Owners Have a ‘Slave Mentality’, NFL Owners Dispute This Notion By Demonstrating Exactly That. By Jay Connor / The Root

If you haven’t been watching HBO’s “The Shop” you’re missing out. Not only does it provide us with some tremendous insight into the minds of some of our favorite athletes and entertainers in a casual barbershop setting, but the candid nature of their conversations means we get sound bites we otherwise would never hear. Read more

The policing of black hair in sports. By Martenzie Johnson / The Undefeated

High School wrestler Andrew Johnson getting his hair cut before his match in order to compete.  Black hair has always been a lightning rod issue that’s forced African-Americans to have to defend both their hairstyles and humanity. Whether in school, the military, police departments, award shows or the U.S. House of Representatives, black hairstyles — be it braids, twists, dreadlocks or fades — have been deemed unacceptable (or illegal) in society simply for being different. Read more

Trump Administration Scraps Guidance That Protects Students From Racist Discipline. By Rebecca Klein / HuffPost

The Department of Education and the Department of Justice officially rescinded a piece of Obama-era guidance designed to protect students from racist school discipline on Friday. The repeal comes after the Trump administration’s Federal Commission on School Safety, chaired by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, released a report earlier in the week recommending the withdrawal of this guidance. Read more

Fighting Rent-to-Own Racism This Christmas. By Aaron Ross Coleman / NYT

In a current California class-action lawsuit against Rent-A-Center, lawyers argue that the company’s customers, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, are charged prices that violate the state’s rent-to-own pricing laws. The legal documents say that a Rent-A-Center in Northern California ultimately charged, after installments, $1,379.54 for an Xbox that normally retails at $299. Read more

White Identity Politics Aren’t Going Anywhere. By Thomas B Edsall / NYT

For Democrats to counter Trump effectively, a number of scholars believe it is essential to understand the motivations — the needs, beliefs and agendas — of those whites who have moved into the Trump camp. In her forthcoming book, “White Identity Politics,” Ashley Jardina, a political scientist at Duke, describes three groups of whites who generally fall on the right side of the political spectrum. Read more

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