Race Inquiry Digest (Feb 15) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


The Way Out of America’s Zero-Sum Thinking on Race and Wealth. By Heather C. McGee / NYT

On a call with a group of all-white economist colleagues, we discussed how to advise leaders in Washington against disastrous retrenchment. I cleared my throat and asked: “So where should we make the point that all these programs were created without concern for their cost when the goal was to build a white middle class, and they paid for themselves in economic growth?

The evidence shows we all lose when society’s overwhelmed by white resentment and win when we organize across our differences. The task ahead, then, is to unwind this idea of a fixed quantity of prosperity and replace it with what I’ve come to call Solidarity Dividends: gains available to everyone when they unite across racial lines, in the form of higher wages, cleaner air and better-funded schools. Read more 

Political / Social

A Broken Party Acquitted Donald Trump In His Second Impeachment. By Paul Blumenthal / HuffPost

Back in January 2016, before Donald Trump won his first presidential primary, before he secured his position atop the Republican Party and before he won the White House, he mused about the unbreakable bond between himself and his supporters with a joke about murder. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said, to a laughing audience, while pointing his finger at them like a gun. “OK? It’s, like, incredible.” What was once true of his supporters is now true of nearly the entire Republican Party. The Senate voted 57 to 43 on Saturday to convict Trump, now an ex-president, of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as part of his plan to overturn an election he lost. Read more 

Related: What Do ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ Mean to the G.O.P.? By Charles M. Blow / NYT

Related: Senate Unanimously Votes To Award Officer Eugene Goodman A Congressional Gold Medal. By Alana Wise / NPR

Related: History Will Find Trump Guilty. By David Remnick / The New Yorker

In Georgia, a New District Attorney Starts Circling Trump and His Allies. Danny Hakim and 

After six weeks as a district attorney, Fani T. Willis is taking on a former president. And not just that. In an interview about her newly announced criminal investigation into election interference in Georgia, Ms. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, made it clear that the scope of her inquiry would encompass the pressure campaign on state officials by former President Donald J. Trump as well as the activities of his allies. Read more 

The “For the People Act” Would Make America a Democracy. By Jon Schwartz / The Intercept

The very first legislation proposed by the Democratic Party majorities in both chambers — making it both H.R.1 and S.1 — is the “For the People Act” of 2021. The bill’s provisions largely fall into three categories: First, it makes it far easier to vote, both by eliminating barriers and enhancing basic outreach to citizens. Second, it makes everyone’s vote count more equally, especially by reducing gerrymandering. Third, it hugely amplifies the power of small political donors, allowing them to match and possibly swamp the power of big money. Read more 

Related: Community Development Funds get more support to relieve minority businesses. By Michela Moscufo and Adiel Kaplan / NBC News 

Pentagon appoints adviser for Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on diversity. By Alex Ward / Vox

The Pentagon is about to get its first aide to directly advise the defense secretary on issues of diversity in the military — including excising the scourge of white supremacy from the ranks. According to two sources familiar with the appointment, Bishop Garrison will start next week as the senior adviser to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for human capital, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Both sources said Garrison will report solely to the Pentagon chief. Read more

Related: Diversity in law enforcement may improve policing, study shows. By The AP and NBC News

Latino Republican Senators Cruz, Rubio and the backing of Trump’s caudillo playbook. By Suzanne Gamboa / NBC News

As was true throughout his presidency Donald Trump could count on the Senate’s two Latino Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz, to back him up. In his four years in office, they had rarely opposed him and often enabled him. Cruz of Texas was one of the leaders of the group of Republicans who followed Trump on questioning fair election results and voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s win even after the violent attack on the Capitol. Although Rubio didn’t join Cruz in voting to dispute the election results and criticized the Capitol attack, he did not condemn Trump by name or tie the violence to him. Read more

GOP freshmen of color eyeing Dem-dominated minority caucuses. By Melanie Zanona and Sarah Ferris / Politico

Freshman Rep. Byron Donalds wants to pull off something Washington has never seen: Membership in both the liberal Congressional Black Caucus and the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus. Donalds — a Black Tea Party Republican who represents Naples, Fla. — said both groups are a natural fit for someone like himself, who believes conservative policies best improve the lives of the Black community. And he isn’t afraid to defy norms in a Congress where being a lawmaker of color has historically meant belonging to the Democratic Party. Read more 

As attacks against Asian Americans spike, advocates call for action to protect communities from hate. By Harmeet Kaur / CNN

“There’s something going on across the nation that really sadly reminds us of some of our past experiences as a community,” said Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and a co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate. Kulkarni likened the rise of hate against Asian Americans since the pandemic began to the 19th century era of “yellow peril,” during which racist laws as well as stereotypes of East Asian immigrants as a threat to society proliferated in the US. “It’s really the newest version of anti-Asian hate and racism,” she said. Read more

Trump’s COVID response was deadly — but decades of dreadful, racist policy set up the catastrophe.  By Igor Derysh 

About 40% of coronavirus deaths under President Donald Trump were avoidable — but even the total number of U.S. pandemic deaths last year is dwarfed by the annual number of preventable deaths caused by four decades of racist and pro-corporate policies, according to a new Lancet Commission report. A commission set out to study Trump’s policies. Their report ended up as an indictment of the entire U.S. system. Read more

Biden’s vaccine push runs into distrust in the Black community. By Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Frances Stead Sellers / Wash Post

Cameron Webb, Biden’s senior policy adviser for covid-19 equity, acknowledged the administration is “swimming upstream” when it comes to vaccine hesitancy. He said it is working to get information into the hands of influencers and community leaders who can spread the word and dispel rumors. Hesitancy among African Americans is a particular source of concern to a government that’s become more sensitive to the inequities imposed on Black communities for centuries. The pandemic has had an outsized effect on people of color — killing Black Americans at nearly three times the rate of White Americans — and the White House wants to use the unprecedented national vaccination drive to help address that disparity. Read more 

Related: Lack of health services and transportation impede access to vaccine in communities of color.  By Akilah Johnson / Wash Post 

Related: Whites are 4 times more likely to get the COVID vaccine than Black people in Palm Beach County, Florida. By Stephen Gandel / CBS News

This Organization Fights For Black Girls Targeted By Overpolicing And School Pushout. By Kimberley Richards / HuffPost

In 2016, Vivian Anderson (shown) launched EveryBlackGirl, Inc., a national campaign and program that centers and supports Black girls. The disproportionate discipline used against Black boys often dominates mainstream conversations surrounding racial biases and school discipline. EveryBlackGirl emphasizes to Black girls that they are loved and supported by Black women everywhere. “Our mission often is to create a world where every Black girl thrives and it’s our belief until the world around her thrives, she’s not going to be safe,” Anderson said. Read more 

How Parents Can Help Their Kids Make Lasting Interracial Friendships. By Kelsey Borresen / HuffPost

Having quality friendships with people of different races is associated with less biased racial attitudesbetter social skillsincreased empathy and decreased anxiety in racially mixed settings. Yet despite the many benefits, cross-racial friendships are still relatively uncommon. First, take a look at your own friends, particularly the people your child sees you interact with. Who do you invite to the house for dinner or parties? Which families do you go on vacation with? “Parents who have racially diverse social networks support children to perceive it as natural and commonplace,” Plummer said. On the flip side, if your own friend group consists only of people who look like you, consider the example you’re setting for your child. Read more 

Historical / Cultural

Dion Diamond, 79, participated in the Freedom Rides of 1961, when activists rode buses from Washington, D.C., to Jackson, Miss., to challenge segregation. Diamond took time off as a student at Howard University to devote his full attention to the movement, through voter registrations and sit-ins throughout the country. He later transferred to the University of Wisconsin, where he studied history and sociology. After graduate school at Harvard, he went on to work for the federal and D.C. governments before eventually becoming an independent consultant. He’s now retired, and living in Washington. Diamond shared his thoughts on Black Lives Matter, which he sees as a continuation of the work of activists in the ’60s. Read more 

Under the cover of night on June 1, 1863, Harriet Tubman led Union troops from the Sea Islands up the black waters of South Carolina’s Combahee River, with a plan to destroy bridges, raid Confederate outposts and rice plantations, cutting off supply lines to Confederate troops. While working as a spy for the Union Army, Tubman had slipped behind Confederate lines, gathering intelligence from enslaved Black people to obtain the coordinates of torpedoes planted along the river by Confederates. Read more 

Motherhood is said to be its own reward. You learn to give of yourself, and this will stretch you, as a person. But you may also learn to put yourself in the background, which will shrink you — and even make you disappear. History does this to us anyway, argues scholar Anna Malaika Tubbs. Black women in particular are largely erased from the American historical trajectory — marginalized, at best. Tubbs tries to remedy this with a new book about women who gave birth to extraordinary men, women who “have been hidden not only behind their sons but also behind their husbands . . . presented as footnotes that are out of context.” In “The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation,” Tubbs resurrects these women and shows them to be players with agency and influence. Read more

A photograph taken a few years after the 1910 founding of the Commission of Fine Arts shows its seven members and the commission secretary at a moment when the capital of the United States was being radically redesigned as a grand, monumental city. All of the members are White men, and all are dressed in suits and ties. Look at the commission today and you see some similarities. After Donald Trump made a flurry of hasty, last-minute appointments to the board that oversees the design of much of what is built in the capital, the CFA is once again all White and all male after decades of more diverse membership. Read more

“The Black Panthers are the single greatest threat to our national security. Our counterintelligence program must prevent the rise of a Black messiah from among their midst.” And so begins Judas and the Black Messiah, with an ominous speech from the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover (played by Martin Sheen) in 1968. The film, which debuted yesterday in theaters and on HBO Max, is part crime thriller, part civil-rights historical drama. It tells the story of the rise of the Black Panther Party’s deputy chairman, Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), and the informant who helped the FBI orchestrate his assassination, Bill O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield). Read more

Related: The Black Panther Party’s Impact on Modern Day Activism. By Andrew R. Chow / Time

“Look at the color,” he says. “This is why I picked this place. This is the best dirt in America.” 

A Black ballerina at one of Europe’s premier ballet companies has called out racism in the elite dance world. French national Chloé Lopes Gomes, 29, said she was mocked for her skin color and at times pressured to wear white skin makeup, leaving her feeling unsupported and humiliated. Describing the ballet world as “closed and elitist,” she criticized the lack of access racial minorities have to the classical art form. Other dancers, including in the United States, have voiced their support for Lopes Gomes, saying that it is high time for the ballet world to address racism and bigotry. Read more 

As parents, Haynes and his wife found books with diverse characters for their kids to read, “but it had to be intentional,” Tierra said. “It wasn’t typically something that you would just stumble upon.” In the room where they now attend virtual school, she hung posters of Thurgood Marshall and Bessie Coleman. It’s all part of the effort to reinforce that they can do anything. That’s the purpose of the book, which Haynes hopes is the first in a series. Read more 


For many Americans, Robinson’s words and his presence on the field were a source of strength. As a teenager, Hank Aaron saw Robinson give a speech and play an exhibition game in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. “I was allowed to dream after that,” Aaron once wrote. But others, especially white Southerners, saw Robinson as a threat. One of them was Bill Keefe, the sports editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. In a July 1956 column, Keefe assailed Robinson as a “persistently insolent and antagonistic trouble-making Negro” and an “enemy of his race.” Robinson responded to Keefe with a letter that did more than just put a racist in his place. It also exposed the emptiness and idiocy of segregationist thought. “I am happy for you, that you were born white,” Robinson wrote. “It would have been extremely difficult for you had it been otherwise.” Read more 

In the pantheon of great Black tennis players — Serena and Venus WilliamsArthur AsheAlthea Gibson and so many others — Jimmie McDaniel undoubtedly has a place, having preceded the others in breaking the sport’s color barrier. Yet mention of his name would undoubtedly elicit blank stares from tennis cognoscenti worldwide — the curse of a man ignored in the history of a sport that was, during his time, overwhelmingly rich and white. Read more

Many of us have long wondered about or championed, quite selfishly, the idea of the best young Black athletic talent migrating back to the HBCUs where their predecessors once starred, turning them into nationally relevant programs that could compete with large state and powerful private athletic programs for prestige and gobs of money. I said selfishly because many of us who advocate for such a radical change didn’t ourselves choose HBCUs for college. Read more 

Denny Hamlin, who won the Daytona 500 the past two years, asked Jordan to form a team with him, 23XI Racing. They are rallying behind Wallace, the only Black full-time driver at NASCAR’s top level. Michael Jordan started receiving text messages from friends who had never before shown interest in NASCAR after Darrell Wallace Jr. made an impression this week in the run-up to Sunday’s Daytona 500. Wallace, who is known as Bubba, is making his debut with 23XI Racing, the team owned by Jordan and the driver Denny Hamlin. Read more    

What was once expected to be a record crowd for the induction of Derek Jeter, the longtime Yankees captain, will now be no crowd at all. Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller — the 2020 class — will be honored on July 25, with only friends and invited guests allowed to watch in person. Read more 

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