Race Inquiry Digest (Jan 25) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


What is Reconstruction? The era offers lessons on white nationalism, Trump, and the Capitol riot. By Fabiola Cineas / Vox

The push and pull between Black advancement and white supremacy mirrors the forces at play today. To put this in context, I talked to one of the world’s foremost experts on Reconstruction, historian Eric Foner, emeritus professor of history at Columbia University, about why America must continue to look back at the Capitol riot on January 6, and to the lessons of the Reconstruction era, to understand how these events speak to a long and ongoing racial friction and hostility.

“What you saw [on January 6] was the clash of two kinds of traditions in this country: The white nationalist tradition and the tradition of interracial democracy. Those are both parts of the American way. The clash between them has gone on for a long time and apparently will continue,” Foner told me. Must read

Related: We’ve Had a White Supremacist Coup Before. History Buried It. By Edwin Rios / Mother Jones

Related: A New Era of Far-Right Violence. By Colin P. Clarke / NYT

Related: Global Right-Wing Extremism Networks Are Growing. The U.S. Is Just Now Catching Up. By Sebastian Rotella / ProPublica

Political / Social

Finally, a President Acknowledges White Supremacy. By Farhad Manjoo / NYT

One of the most striking passages in President Biden’s Inaugural Address on Wednesday was also one of the most straightforward: He named the enemy. “Political extremism, white supremacy” and “domestic terrorism,” he said, are dangers “that we must confront and we will defeat.” It was a quick line delivered without much flourish, and it may sound overgenerous to congratulate Biden simply for speaking plainly. Yet it is a sign of how reluctant American officials have been to take on right-wing violence that his line made history. He may be the first president to directly address white supremacy — a stain on the United States since before its founding — in an Inaugural Address. Read more

Related: Why Are Conservatives Angry Biden Denounced White Supremacy? By Jonathan Chait / New York Magazine

Related: Biden orders review of domestic violent extremism threat. By Eric Tucker / ABC News

The Insurrection Was Put Down. The GOP Plan for Minority Rule Marches On. By Ari Berman / Mother Jones

In 2018, Democrats swept every statewide race in Wisconsin, ending nearly a decade of Republican rule. “The voters spoke,” Democrat Tony Evers said after defeating incumbent Gov. Scott Walker. “A change is coming, Wisconsin!” Not so fast. A month later, the GOP-controlled legislature convened an unprecedented lame-duck session to strip the incoming governor of key administrative and appointment powers and shorten the early voting period to dampen future Democratic turnout. Though their opponents had won more votes, Republicans believed only they were entitled to exercise power. Read more 

Related: State Republicans push new voting restrictions after Trump’s loss. By Zach Montellaro / Politico 

Georgia Democrats Win: South Deserves New Political Story. By Brittney Cooper / Time

Since 1968, American political fortunes have turned on the status of Southern politics. When Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, racially aggrieved white Southern Democrats defected to the Republican Party, a move that Richard Nixon exploited as part of his infamous “Southern Strategy.” This week, when Georgia voters cemented the turning of Georgia back to blue with election wins for two new Democratic senators, Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, plus Joe Biden’s win there in November, they set a new course for Southern politics in the 21st century. Read more

White voters can help Democrats win as Republicans become more diverse. By Jeff Le and Jessica Taylor / USA Today

 Fast forward to a few years. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are finishing a successful first term. Even though Democrats lose control of the House in 2022, the economy hums along, having made up the pandemic’s economic losses. Every American who wanted to be vaccinated has been vaccinated. America’s children are back in school. We’ve rejoined the Paris Climate Accords. And young DACA dreamers are here to stay. At 81, Biden decides not to run again and passes the torch to Harris, who becomes the party’s nominee. The Republican primary is a mess, like it was in 2016, but a Donald Trump-like figure doesn’t emerge victorious. This time, it’s South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. In turn, Tim Scott, let’s say, chooses South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem as his running mate. She brings Trumpian balance to the ticket, which the base will demand. Now what, Democrats? Read more

Dear Mr. President: You inspired us — but “unity” with Republicans and Trumpists is a trap. By Chauncey Devega / Salon 

Biden’s inauguration speech was Lincoln-esque. It was a kind of sermon reflecting on American democracy in the aftermath of the coup attempt by Trump’s supporters — a democracy that needs to be healed, renewed and energized. Biden deftly took Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and rejected the ugly energy and intent of that language while reworking it into something aspirational, inspirational and inclusive. Jazz is one of America’s gifts to the world. In that moment and others during his inauguration speech, Joe Biden was improvising, playing around the melody. But Biden’s humanity and fundamental decency and generosity of spirit could also prove to be his greatest weakness. Read more 

With a new administration, activists hope for a focus on environmental racism. By Rachel Hatzipanagos / Wash Post

On his first day in office, President Biden signed executive orders that reversed much of the Trump administration’s environmental policies, including blocking the Keystone XL pipeline that had been opposed by many Indigenous leaders. That, along with his nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) as interior secretary, the first Native American in that role, has given environmental justice activists hope that the new administration will focus on an often overlooked issue: environmental racism. Read more 

Related: The Unfinished Business of Flint’s Water Crisis. By Anna Clark / ProPublica 

DNC’s Jaime Harrison Wants To Build ‘Next Generation’ Of Democratic Leaders. By Avie Schneider / NPR

“Well, 2022 is extremely important for us. And listen, history is not on our side. But this is the thing that I’ve learned just this past election cycle: You can make your own history,” Harrison told NPR’s Steve Inskeep in an interview Friday on Morning Edition. And with Biden and other Democratic leaders in their 70s and 80s, Harrison says recruiting younger candidates “and building the next generation of leadership is something that I’m really passionate about.” Following are highlights of the interview, edited for length and clarity. Read more

State Department Resumes Diversity Trainings Suspended Under Trump.

The State Department is restarting employee training programs focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, ending a months-long pause instituted under former President Donald Trump. “Restoring and strengthening American diplomatic leadership globally requires leveraging the full talent and richness of American diversity,” Ned Price, the new State Department spokesman, said in a statement announcing the move on Friday afternoon. “To achieve a diplomatic corps truly representative of America, more progress is needed to recruit and retain a more diverse department workforce and embrace a culture of inclusion and accountability, free of bias.” Read more 

Lloyd Austin Confirmed As Defense Secretary, Becomes 1st Black Pentagon Chief.  By Brakkton Booker / NPR

The Senate approved President Biden’s nomination for Pentagon chief in a near-unanimous 93-2 vote Friday.”It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as our country’s 28th Secretary of Defense, and I’m especially proud to be the first African American to hold the position,” Austin tweeted Friday. “Let’s get to work,” he added. Read more 

The Trump economy left Black Americans behind. Here’s how they want Biden to narrow the gaps. By Tracy Jan / Wash Post

Black Americans want President Biden to narrow systemic racial inequalities that have left them trailing Whites on every economic measure, gaps that are worsening amid the coronavirus recession. Black earnings for low-income households are predicted to fall by at least 35 percent compared with 2018, reversing gains since the last economic recovery, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank, and the Groundwork Collaborative, an activist group focused on economic issues. Read more 

Breonna Taylor grand jurors among petitioners seeking to impeach Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. By Alec Snyder and Rebekah Riess / CNN

Three former grand jurors are among the “concerned Kentucky citizens” petitioning the Kentucky Legislature to impeach state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, according to Kevin Glogower, one of the attorneys representing the petitioners. The citizens filed a petition Friday seeking the impeachment of Cameron on charges of “breach of public trust and failure to comply with duties for misrepresenting to the nation the findings of the Grand Jury” and “abuse of office and breach of duties of professional responsibility and ethics,” both of which are connected to the lack of charges filed against the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department officers implicated in the death of Breonna Taylor in September. Read more 

A viral video forced a wealthy Texas suburb to confront racism. A ‘silent majority’ fought back. By  Mike Hixenbaugh / NBC News

A video of Carroll high schoolers shouting the N-word was about to expose another side of the fast-growing and quickly diversifying community, one that Cornish and other Black parents quietly referred to as Southlake’s “dirty secret.” Ever since Cornish moved to Southlake more than two decades earlier, these were the types of stories that were discussed among a small group of Black parents and otherwise swept under the rug. But the 2018 video couldn’t be ignored. Within days, it attracted millions of views on social media and seemed to trigger genuine soul-searching by school leaders. Read more 

Historical / Cultural

Trump’s ‘1776 Commission’ tried to rewrite U.S. history. Biden had other ideas. By Robyn Autry/ NBC News

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris made history Wednesday. They also took remarkably swift steps to reject a dangerous alternative history. The “1776 Report” — a hastily developed account of the nation’s founding — was archived from the White House website just days after President Donald Trump released it as one of his final acts in office. Read more 

Ladee Hubbard’s ‘The Rib King’ is a fascinating look at ambition, race and revenge. By Naomi Jackson / Wash Post

Ladee Hubbard’s sophomore novel, “The Rib King,” is a fascinating story about the intersection of ambition, race and revenge. The book opens in 1914 in a mythic Northern city reminiscent of Chicago and follows the fortunes of the Black servants for the White Barclay family. “The Rib King’’ upends the racial calculus that amplifies the stories of the privileged few, offering rich, lovingly rendered portraits of working-class Black people. Hubbard’s work underscores the legendary Toni Morrison’s words in The New Yorker: “You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.” Read more 

The White Tiger on Netflix review: The anti-Slumdog Millionaire. By Alissa Wilkinson / Vox

Adapted from the Booker Prize-winning 2008 novel by Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger is a funny and ferocious dip into India’s caste system and, more broadly, the cultural mechanisms that keep the poor in their place. Inequality and class conflicts are themes that have always echoed across world cinema. Read more 

Junior Mance, jazz pianist whose chords were built on the blues, dies at 92. By Matt Schudel / Wash Post

Junior Mance, a jazz pianist who worked alongside countless musical trailblazers during his 75 years on the bandstand and whose style was anchored in a deep understanding of the blues. Mr. Mance, who was a professional musician at the age of 10, had one of the longest and most varied careers in jazz, beginning in the 1930s and lasting well into the 21st century. He appeared on hundreds of albums and had fruitful musical partnerships in the 1950s with singer Dinah Washington, saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.erstanding of the blues, died Jan. 17 at his home in New York City. He was 92. Read more 

For the Culture magazine celebrates Black women in food. Finally. By Aaron Hutcherson / Wash Post

When Klancy Miller launched her fundraising campaign for For the Culture in December 2019, the food media world took notice. With the mission of “A magazine celebrating Black women and femmes in food and wine,” it is believed to be the first of its kind dedicated to the task. Now, more than a year later, the inaugural issue has been printed and shipped to supporters — and is available for purchase online. Read more


Hank Aaron, Baseball’s Legendary Slugger, Dies At 86. By Bill Chappell / NPR

Hank Aaron, seen as a hero for shattering Babe Ruth’s home run record and also for his longtime advocacy for civil rights, has died. “Hammerin’ Hank” was 86. The Atlanta Braves confirmed his death on Friday. “We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank. He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts,” Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said. Because of his skill and power at the plate — Aaron batted in more than 100 runs in a season in three decades — Major League Baseball named its award for the best offensive player after him. Read more 

Related: Racism carved away a piece of Hank Aaron’s heart. What remained was still a gift. By Jerry Brewer / Wash Post 

Related: Babe Ruth’s record was a mythical monument of white superiority. Hank Aaron tore it down. By Kevin B. Blackistone / Wash Post

Related: There Are Hall of Famers, and Then There’s Hank Aaron. By Tyler Kepner / NYT

Related: Hank Aaron and his eternal connection to Black baseball. By Claire Smith / The Undefeated

Washington’s Jennifer King to become NFL’s first Black woman named full-time assistant coach. By Nicki Jhabvala / Wash Post

The Washington Football Team is poised to make Jennifer King the NFL’s first Black woman to be named a full-time assistant coach. A contract has not yet been signed, but the deal is expected to be completed in the coming days, according to two people familiar with the situation. King joined Washington’s staff in February as a full-time intern, becoming the first woman in franchise history to be hired in any capacity as a coach. She worked primarily with the running backs and earned the praise of Coach Ron Rivera and running backs coach Randy Jordan. Read more 

Washington Football Team names Martin Mayhew as GM, will hire Marty Hurney as high-level executive. By Nicki Jhabvala / Wash Post

When Ron Rivera was hired as the Washington Football Team’s head coach, he vowed to build a collaborative brain trust that would make the franchise’s football decisions together. That vision came into clearer focus Friday when the team announced the hiring of Martin Mayhew (shown) as general manager and Marty Hurney as executive vice president of football/player personnel, new roles that essentially give Rivera his top two executives overseeing Washington’s football operations. Read more 

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