Race Inquiry Digest (Jul 22) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


Our ‘Racial Reckoning’ Is Turning Out to Be a White Lie. By Kali Holloway / The Nation

With inevitable regularity, racial injustice and violence lead to moments of national conflict when even white Americans can no longer ignore the issue. And just as inevitably, instead of addressing this country’s pervasive racism and anti-Blackness, white Americans locate the problem somewhere within Black people themselves. We’re in yet another of those moments, as last summer’s promised “racial reckoning” turns out to be a white lie. Black demands for full citizenship and equality are being treated as entitlement, calls for white racial accountability redefined as white persecution, and anti-racism falsely construed as anti-whiteness. Read more  

Related: Today It’s Critical Race Theory. 200 Years Ago It Was Abolitionist Literature. By Anthony Conwright / Mother Jones

Related: Lawsuits over bans on teaching critical race theory are coming – here’s what won’t work, and what might. By Frank LoMonte / The Conversation

Related: “Critical Race Theory” Delusions and Angry White Parents Will Remake Our Schools. By Esther Wang / TNR

Related: Texan Republican Cancel Culture Targets the Teachings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. By John Nichols / The Nation

Political / Social

Why Illinois’s new law requiring Asian American history in schools is so significant. By Li Zhou / Vox

This month, Illinois became the first state in the country to require the inclusion of Asian American history in public school curriculums. While the actual impact of this law will depend a lot on implementation, its passage alone sends a significant message: that Asian American history is American history and is integral to understanding the country’s past and present. For years, Asian American history has been virtually nonexistent in textbooks or cordoned off to a narrow section at best. Much of the framing has also sought to paint the US as a savior for Asian immigrants, glossing over people’s agency and the government’s role in imperialism and exclusion. Read more 

Eric Adams Is Going to Save New York. By Brett Stephens / NYT

For some progressives, the prospect of Adams as mayor (he still has to defeat Republican opponent Curtis Sliwa in November) is a nightmare. He’s been a thorn in the side of every institution he’s ever been part of. He’s a former cop who crusaded against police brutality, a leading Democrat who was once a registered Republican, a machine politician who casts himself as a foe of city bureaucracy, a self-described progressive who’s friendly to charter schools and real estate developers and, most recently, a champion of law-and-order who refutes the idea that a Black leader must also be on the left. Read more 

The right to vote is in jeopardy in the battleground state of Michigan. By Ian Millhiser / Vox

Michigan Republicans want to pass a blitz of legislation that restricts the right to vote in the key battleground state — and they have an audacious plan to get their ideas enacted, even though they have to contend with a Democratic governor who could ordinarily veto their bills. State lawmakers proposed 39 different bills targeting elections, including ones that restrict absentee voting, a bill that could prevent the state from certifying elections, and a pair of bills that would give ordinary poll workers a simply extraordinary amount of power to restrict voting. Read more 

Why Christians Must Fight Systemic Racism. By Esau McCaulley / NYT

I wake up to messages on social media from other Christians calling me a racist, communist, false teacher. Such messages have become as ordinary as my cup of coffee before morning prayer. I receive them because part of my work as a Christian theologian addresses issues of systemic injustice. I never imagined such work would be controversial. Racism­ — personal and societal — still affects the lives of people of color in the United States. Part of the Christian witness involves addressing this among a host of other maladies. Read more

‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’: Doctor describes young COVID-19 patients begging for vaccine. By Lauren Floyd / Daily Kos

An Alabama doctor gave the kind of account of her job during the COVID-19 pandemic that nearly brought me to tears in one paragraph. “I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections,” Dr. Brytney Cobia wrote in a gut-wrenching Facebook post on Sunday. “One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late. Read more 

Related: Republicans freak out because the delta variant they fostered is killing … Republicans.  By Dartagnan / Daily Kos

Why tenure is so important — yet rare — for Black professors. By Curtis Bunn / NBC News

In the three years between leaving NASA as a research meteorologist and landing at the University of Georgia’s atmospheric sciences program, James Marshall Shepherd ascended the academic ladder there, further solidifying his authority in the field of weather and climate change. In that short period of time he was even granted tenure. This quick ascension is unique among academics at any college, but particularly rare for a Black professor at a predominately white institution. But the depth of Shepherd’s accomplishments made his ascension to the professorial pinnacle undeniable. Read more

Jimmy Dennis Survived Death Row, Only to Enter a New Kind of Lockdown. By Queen Muse / Phily Mag

The Philadelphia musician spent the prime of his life in prison for murder, until the courts said he should never have been convicted. Now he’s trying to recover what he lost — time, relationships, his sense of self — while living through a new kind of lockdown. Read more 

Related: New evidence shows Rodney Reed innocent of 1996 murder, lawyers say. By Erin Donaghue / CBS News

Historical / Cultural

National Trust for Historic Preservation sends grants to 40 African American landmarks.  By Cayla Sweazie / The Undefeated

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Thursday that it is distributing $3 million in grants to 40 different African American landmarks across the country. The grants are designed “to help expand the American story and to honor the full contribution of African Americans in American history,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the trust program responsible for the grants. Read more

Lost Lives, Lost Culture: The Forgotten History of Indigenous Boarding Schools.

The last day Dzabahe remembers praying in the way of her ancestors was on the morning in the 1950s when she was taken to the boarding school. At first light, she grabbed a small pouch and ran out into the desert to a spot facing the rising sun to sprinkle the taa dih’deen — or corn pollen — to the four directions, offering honor for the new day. Within hours of arriving at the school, she was told not to speak her own Navajo language. The leather skirt her mother had sewn for her and the beaded moccasins were taken away and bundled in plastic, like garbage. She was given a dress to wear and her long hair was cut — something that is taboo in Navajo culture. Before she was sent to the dormitory, one more thing was taken: her name. Read more 

Black Mothers and the Lingering Wounds of Racial Violence. By Gloria Ashalou / AAIHS

The resulting grief and trauma that follows Black mothers whose children are victims of terrorizing acts of racial violence persist far beyond a moment, a photo, a video, or a scene. The impact of racial violence also permeates the lives of these mothers long after public interest dwindles. Properly accounting for the unbearable violence requires that we move away from the moment, toward the operative and compounding terrains that the terror inflicts on the psyches and lives of the surviving families of the victims. Shown is Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton and father Tracy Martin at the Million Hoodies Union Square protest in New York, March 2012.   Read more 

Black Women, the Civil War, and United States Colored Troops. By Holly A.  Pinheiro jr. / AAIHS

In 1887, William J. Simmons, a United States Colored Troops (USCT) veteran turned historian, expressed his gratitude to Black women in the dedication of his book, Men of Mark.  “This volume is respectfully dedicated to the women of our race,” he wrote, “and especially to the devoted, self-sacrificing mothers who moulded the lives of the subjects of the sketches, laboring and praying for their success.” Simmons’ words reveal the important role that Black women had in the lives of USCT soldiers. Shown is a  Portrait of two young African American women, one standing, one seated, sometime between 1870 and 1900.  Read more 

Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen Announce ‘Renegades: Born in the USA.’ By Emily Zemler / Rolling Stone

President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen will release a joint book, Renegades: Born in the U.S.A., on October 26th globally via Higher Ground/Penguin Random House. The tome is described as “a collection of candid, intimate, and entertaining conversations,” which began in Spotify’s co-produced podcast of the same name. Published in an oversized, fully illustrated format, the book will also feature rare and exclusive photographs from the authors’ personal collections and never-before-seen archival material, including Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics and Obama’s annotated speeches. Read more 

Kiese Laymon on why America’s story requires revision.  By Jamil Smith / Vox

In a May essay for Vox’s The Highlight, Laymon wrote that the “metastasized, excused unwellness in white families, monied and poor, is responsible for anti-Black terror happening in this nation’s schools, prisons, hospitals, neighborhoods, and banks.” This, he offered, “is the work of folks who despise revision nearly as much as they despise themselves.” You can hear our entire conversation (and there’s much more to it) in this week’s episode of Vox Conversations. A partial transcript, edited for length and clarity, follows. (Some of what you read below may not appear in the published podcast episode.) Read more 

Why Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘Whitey on the Moon’ still feels relevant today. A. D. Carson / The Conversation

Not long after the July 20, 1969, Moon landingGil Scott-Heron – a poet hailed as the “Godfather of Rap” – released a scathingly critical song called “Whitey on the Moon.”While others lauded the lunar landing as a “giant leap for mankind,” Scott-Heron lamented the Moon trip in his lyrical litany. He felt the trip consumed resources that could have been better put to use helping people confront the everyday costs of living on Earth. Read more 

Kanye West Returns to Instagram With a Fit Pic. By Emily Kirkpatrick / Vanity Fair

Kanye West made his grand return to Instagram on Tuesday night ahead of the release of his new album, DONDA, leaning into his identity as a fashion influencer by posting a fit pic. Read more 


Formula 1’s Highest-Paid Drivers: Clash Between Hamilton And Verstappen Extends To Their Bank Accounts. By Brett Knight / Forbes

Lewis Hamilton remains in pole position in the earnings race, heading up a group projected to pull in a combined $211 million on the track in 2021. Leading the pack is Mercedes superstar Lewis Hamilton, who is on pace to earn $62 million on the track in 2021. That figure includes a $55 million base salary—more than double what his closest competitor is guaranteed—as well as a projected $7 million in bonuses for race wins. Read more  

‘We’re moving in the right direction’: Black coaching hires in NBA bring excitement. By Marc J. Spears / The Undefeated

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams momentarily took his focus away from the NBA Finals at the end of practice on Friday. In front of all his players, he wanted to take the time to congratulate assistant coach Willie Green, who is expected to be named head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans after the Finals. This will be Green’s first head coaching job after five years as an assistant. And on a larger scale, Green is among seven Black coaches who will fill the eight available head coach openings in the NBA this offseason, representing long-awaited progress for African American coaches in a league predominantly made up of Black players. Heading into next season, 13 of the league’s 30 coaches will be Black, one will be Latino and one Asian American. Read more 

Tommie Smith protested on the podium in 1968. He expects to see similar acts in Tokyo. By Michael Lee / Wash Post

Track and field star Gwen Berry turned her back to the flag on the medal podium at last month’s U.S. Olympic trials and then became the latest athlete to be vilified by right-wing politicians for staging a protest during the national anthem. In a few weeks, Berry will represent the United States in the hammer throw at the Tokyo Olympics and may do something similar. “They said that about us back in 1968,” Smith, a legendary half of the most iconic athlete protest in Olympic history, said during a recent telephone interview. “I wish more athletes would be like her, to stand up and make a movement toward the excitement of freedom.” Read more 

NBA Finals Host Maria Taylor Leaves ESPN After Rachel Nichols Drama. By Stephen A. Crockett Jr. / The Root

Like Hannah Nikole-Jones before her, NBA Countdown and NBA Finals host Maria Taylor will not be where she is not wanted.On Wednesday, ESPN announced that it is parting ways with the host after failing to come to terms on a contract extension, and I can think of one mediocre white woman whose name rhymes with Bachel Bickels who is happy that she can now steal her slot. According to Deadline, the sports network waited until Taylor’s final assignment, “covering the deciding Game 6 of the NBA Finals won by the Milwaukee Bucks” to make the announcement. Read more 

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