Race Inquiry Digest (February 11) – Important Current Stories On Race In America

Featured – How Trump Continues to Use Race as a Prop. By Jamil Smith / Rolling Stone

President Trump usually insults people of color in one of two ways, and I’m never sure which I prefer. He either ignores us, or he scapegoats us. In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Trump and his speechwriters managed to do both successfully. The president omitted any mention of many issues directly or disproportionately affecting black, Hispanic and Indigenous communities. Sometimes, as Trump demonstrated during a key moment in Tuesday’s address, he doesn’t disregard us or make us the patsy for America’s ills. He simply finds a way to make us useful. Read more

Yes, politicians wore blackface. It used to be all-American ‘fun.’ By Rhae Lynn Barnes / Wash Post

Blackface is as American as the ruling class. Throughout the 20th century, all-male fraternal orders, schools, federal agencies and the U.S. military collectively institutionalized the practice. Watching blackface performances was a common pastime for U.S. presidents from both parties. “Blacking up” was seen as an expression of cultural heritage and patriotism throughout Jim Crow America — an era named after a famous blackface stock character — and up until the civil rights movement. Read more

A Virginia Historian Talks About Why White Supremacy “Must Die and Yet Will Not Die.” By Jacob Rosenberg / Mother Jones

In Virginia, racism can now endanger political power. Peter Wallenstein, a history professor at Virginia Tech and longtime civil rights scholar, says that’s new. “Any and all who take exception to the world of white supremacy…take exception to blackface as the image du jour of a world that must die and yet will not die,” he noted. “That yearbook page has been there for the longest time,” Wallenstein points out, but only now is it being called into question. Read more

Inside the Radical, Uncomfortable Movement to Reform White Supremacists. By Alyssa Schykar / Mother Jones

Johnson was experiencing a reckoning that’s common for many white supremacists, a sort of ideological hangover after waking up from years of hate. Since Donald Trump rode a wave of racial resentment to the White House in 2016, America’s white supremacists have been emboldened. Yet as the movement’s visibility has increased, so has the number of extremists trying to escape it. Efforts to understand the minds of violent racists like Shane Johnson have gained newfound urgency as the country struggles to defeat the next generation of extremists. Read more

Spike Lee: Racism in the DNA of USA. By Christiane Amanpour / CNN World

Prolific director Spike Lee talks to Christiane Amanpour about the six Oscar nominations for his film “BlackKKlansman,” Virginia’s Black face scandal and Liam Neeson’s admission. Watch here  

James Comey: Take down the Confederate statues now. By James Comey / Wash Post

The turmoil in Virginia — where I have lived most of my adult life, including nine years in Richmond — may do some good if it reminds white people that a river of oppression runs through U.S. history, deep and wide, down to today. But the reporters hurrying to the state capital to cover this important story about a poorly understood tool of white oppression are literally rushing past much larger and more powerful symbols of that oppression — symbols born of a similar desire to keep black people down. Read more

The House Takes on America’s Voting-Rights Problem. By Jelani Cobb / The New Yorker

H.R. 1 is an ambitious set of responses to the most pressing challenges facing American democracy, almost all of which were brought into sharper focus by the 2016 election. Read more

Democrats court rural Southern voters with Stacey Abrams’ State of the Union response. By  Sharon Austin / The Conversation   

Democrats can and should court these rural southern communities if they want to win in the South. Stacy Abrams knows that. She even opened her speech wishing viewers a “happy Lunar New Year,” a nod to Chinese-Americans. The overwhelming majority of black rural Southern residents are Democrats. Asian-American and Latino voters across the nation lean Democratic. Abrams won big in rural northern Georgia, in places like Calhoun County, which in addition to being heavily African-American has one of the highest Latino populations in the state outside Atlanta. Read more

How Should Americans Tackle Anti-Semitism? By Emma Green / The Atlantic Video

“Our country and many others around the world have entered a dark period when virulent nationalism and bigotry are on the rise,” says Atlantic staff writer Emma Green. In a new Atlantic Argument, Green explains how the recent uptick in anti-Semitism is particularly alarming in Europe; a recent CNN poll revealed that a quarter of Europeans believe Jews have too much influence in business, finance, and wars across the world. Watch here

‘Sir, I Never Thought I’d See the Day I’d Be Working for a Colored Officer.’ By Christopher Paul Wolfe / NYT 

“Sir, I never thought I’d see the day I’d be working for a colored officer.” These were not words I expected to hear, in 2003, from a senior enlisted soldier. It was winter in Iraq’s Anbar Province, and we were standing in the bay of an abandoned train station, where our unit now lived. The sergeant was white, and probably in his late 30s, with a tan face darkened by red sandstorms. He possessed a level of discipline and diligence that was forged in years of service. Read more

A Letter to My Niece. By Ariel Felton / The Progressive

As a baby, you knew nothing of the definitions the world was going to press onto you later in life—black, female, Southern. The world had not yet told you who you were, who you could or should be. You just were. Read more

How Frank Robinson’s baseball contributions went from underrated to historic. By Claire Smith / The Undefeated

On Thursday, Brooks Robinson was among the many Hall of Famers who recalled the special player whose plaque hangs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, after Frank Robinson died at age 83. Read more

What if the NBA were player-owned? ‘High Flying Bird’ imagines the ultimate disruption. By Kelley L. Carter / The Undefeated

How he’s hoping to do that is with his new High Flying Bird, directed by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh and written by Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney. The two men brought his nugget to life. The film is about a sports agent who, during a lockout, pitches his rookie basketball client an intriguing and controversial business opportunity: taking the power out of NBA owners’ hands by selling a one-on-one game to a streaming outlet — rather like what we see in the boxing world. Watch the trailer 

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