Race Inquiry Digest (January 21) – Important Current Stories On Race In America

Featured – A new Supreme Court is poised to take a chunk out of MLK’s legacy. By John Blake / CNN

One is called the “child of the storm.” Another is “the crown jewel.” The third was dubbed “the voice of justice.” They are the three great laws of the civil rights movement: the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. A new conservative bloc on the Supreme Court though may soon treat them as something else: outdated “racial entitlements” that need to be put back in their place. Read more

Martin Luther King Jr. would be outraged. By Colbert King / Wash Post

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, observed Monday, is as good a time as any to take stock of progress made toward establishing “a reign of freedom and a rule of justice” that King called for in his Dec. 10, 1964, acceptance address for the Nobel Peace Prize. Read more

A Reminder That Two Southern States Still Celebrate Robert E. Lee’s Birthday on MLK Day. By Molly Olmstead / Slate

On Monday, when the rest of the country is taking the day off in commemoration of one of America’s civil rights heroes, the denizens of two states will get a remarkable choice: You can celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., or you can celebrate that of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. In Mississippi and Alabama, those days are officially the same.  Read more

The Disturbing, Surprisingly Complex Relationship Between White Identity Politics and Racism. By Isaac Chotiner / The New Yorker

In her new book, “White Identity Politics,” the Duke political scientist Ashley Jardina examines the increasing relevance of white identity in America. Drawing on data from American National Election Studies surveys and her own research, Jardina finds that about thirty to forty per cent of white Americans say that white identity is important to them, and she adds an interesting twist—that this group only partly overlaps with the group of white Americans who hold racist views. Read more

Bryan Stevenson Wants the U.S. to Face Its History. Interview by Jamie Lowe / NYT

Last month, Congress passed the First Step Act, a prison reform bill intended to reduce recidivism. Do you think the bill will actually change the realities of mass incarceration? You said we live in a society that hasn’t dealt with its past. What do you mean by that? Do you think the rhetoric espoused by President Trump and his supporters is just a continuation of what America was founded on? Read more

A New Film Offers a Multitude of Answers to the Question “What Is Democracy?” By Marsha Green ? The New Yorker

In its first five minutes, “What Is Democracy?,” a new documentary by the writer, organizer, and filmmaker Astra Taylor, provides more possible answers to her titular question than most English-language media does in a year. Democracy is never actualized, always an ideal. Democracy is the power of the people. The measure of a successful society is the happiness of its people. Happiness is a function of justice. Read more

Steve King rallies with support from the far-right. By Luke Barnes / ThinkProgress

In the past week, it appeared the long overdue backlash to Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and his white nationalism had finally arrived. After ignoring King’s racism for years, congressional Republicans struck a different tone, admonishing King and stripping him of committee assignments. But now, that backlash has prompted its own backlash. Members of the Religious Right, white supremacists, and others on the far-right have joined forces to rally around the racist congressman. Read more

The GOP distanced itself from Steve King. Is it signaling a shift on Trump? By Geoffrey Kabaservice / Wash Post

The deeper significance of the turn against King lies in Republican worries about the damage that his fellow nationalist, President Trump, is doing to the party brand. As Michael Steel, an aide to former speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), told the Times, “Whatever we do on Steve King is on the margins compared to what the president says and does.” Read more

Abrams and Gillum are likely 2020 kingmakers. By Marc Caputo and Daniel Strauss / Politico 

Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum — two of the Democratic Party’s breakout candidates of 2018, despite losing their elections for governor of Georgia and Florida, respectively — are looking to parlay their near success into the defeat of Donald Trump in 2020. Read more

The MAGA Teenager Who Harassed a Native American Veteran Is Still Unnamed, but We’ve Seen His Face Before. By Ruth Graham / Slate

I think the real reason the clip has spread is simple: It’s the kid’s face. The face of self-satisfaction and certitude, of edginess expressed as cruelty. The face remains almost completely still as his peers hoot in awed delight at his bravado. The face is both punchable and untouchable. Many observers recognized it right away. Read more

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