Race Inquiry Digest (Jun 1) – Important Current Stories On Race In America

Featured – Letter from a Region in My Mind. By James Baldwin / The New Yorker

From 1962: “Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves. Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands; we have no right to assume otherwise. If we—and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others—do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world. If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time! “   Read more

Minneapolis, the Coronavirus, and Trump’s Failure to See a Crisis Coming. By Jelani Cobb / The New Yorker

There, yet again, were the flames. Before the furious conflagrations erupted in Minneapolis, the final weeks of May had already seemed like the answer to a grim math problem: What is the product of a crisis multiplied by a crisis? The official mortality count of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States swept toward a hundred thousand, while the economic toll had left forty million people out of work. It was difficult to countenance how so much misery could come about so quickly. But on Memorial Day we became video witnesses to the horrific death of George Floyd, at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. By Friday, the looted shops, the charred buildings and cars, the smoldering Third Precinct—these were evidence of what the world looks like when a crisis is cubed. Read more 

Related: The Racist History Behind Trump’s Threat to Shoot Protesters. By Robert Mackey / The Intercept

Related: This is the presidency George Wallace never had. By Max Boot / Wash Post

Related: Police violence, like in George Floyd’s killing, has been made worse under Trump. By Sean Collins / Vox

Like Trump, JFK faced riots. Here’s what he did to stop the violence in Birmingham in 1963. By Steven levingston / Wash Post

The violence erupted in Birmingham, Ala., on May 11, 1963, just before Mother’s Day. Just a day earlier, the city’s business leaders had reached an agreement with its black residents, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, on wide-ranging desegregation and the hiring of African Americans for jobs long denied them. Read more 

James Clyburn on the Floyd Killing and The Role of Race In The Coming Election. By Chris Smith / Vanity Fair

James Clyburn grew up in a segregated South Carolina. He is now the longest-serving member of the state’s congressional delegation and the highest-ranking black Democrat in the House. In February, Clyburn basically saved Joe Biden’s presidential bid, endorsing Biden three days before South Carolina’s pivotal primary and helping deliver the decisive black vote. On Thursday evening, just after landing in his home state for a weekend visit, the 79-year-old Clyburn talked about holding on to his optimism in the wake of yet another brutal killing of a black man by police. Read more 

Related: Barack Obama’s Statement On George Floyd’s Death And The ‘Maddening’ Normalcy Of Racism. By Dana Farrington / NPR

What Top Conservatives Are Saying About George Floyd and Police Brutality. By Michael M. Grynbaum and Jeremy W. Peters / NYT

For those on the right whose usual instinct is to stand up for law enforcement, the stark video showing Mr. Floyd being fatally pinned by a police officer raises conflicting feelings about the incident.  Read more  

Related: Minneapolis Police Union President Allegedly Wore a “White Power Patch” and Made Racist Remarks. By Samantha Michaels / Mother Jones 

Related: The problem with the Minneapolis police has decades-deep roots. By Samuel G. Freeman / Wash Post 

Related: George Floyd’s Death Resurfaces Amy Klobuchar’s Tough-On-Crime, Easy-On-Cops Record. By Amanda Terkel and Daniel Marans / HuffPost

Why white silence is deafening — and deadly. By Sirry Lang / Salon

Most white people I know believe that black lives matter. They will tell you they voted for Obama twice. They cannot stand Donald Trump. They are enraged by police brutality. These are the white people I want to speak to: Your anger and sadness about the big things are meaningless if you choose to do nothing about the small things you have control over. Read more

A Decade Of Watching Black People Die. Code Switch / NPR

Since it’s hard to come up with fresh insights about this phenomenon over and over and over, we thought we’d look back to another time, back in 2015, when the nation turned its collective attention to this perpetual problem. We invited Jamil Smith, a senior writer at Rolling Stone, to read from an essay that he wrote at The New Republic more than five years ago titled “What Does Seeing Black Men Die Do for You?”  Listen here 

Legal immunity for police misconduct, under attack from left and right, may get Supreme Court review. By Richard Wolf / USA Today

The brutal death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police has re-energized a national debate over misconduct by law enforcement officials that the Supreme Court may be poised to enter. The justices could announce as early as Monday that they will consider whether law enforcement and other officials continue to deserve “qualified immunity” that protects them from being sued for official actions. Read more 

Congress Plans Hearings on Racial Violence and Use of Force by the Police. By Nicholas Fandos / NYT

Top lawmakers in both parties, spurred to action by the death of a black Minnesota man in the custody of white police officers, said on Friday that they would hold hearings in the coming weeks on the use of excessive force by law enforcement and on racial violence. Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview that he would convene a hearing in June to consider new federal actions that could help stem racial violence, especially acts of brutality by law enforcement against black and brown Americans. Read more 

Related: Policing in the US is not about enforcing law. It’s about enforcing white supremacy. By Paul Butler / The Guardian 

Anti-lockdown protesters show how the idea of “freedom” has degenerated. By Michael J. Thompson, Gregory R. Smulewicz-Zucker / Salon

As Republican lawmakers assert that the “cure can’t be worse than the disease” and the need to reopen the economy, they extol a neo–Social Darwinist worldview that privileges a survival of the fittest – or, at least, those who are wealthy enough and have the health insurance to cloister themselves for the duration. To some, this problem may seem to pose a genuine paradox: on the one hand, the rights of the individual and individual choice (liberty) and the restriction of that liberty in the face of government actions to protect public health. But this is no paradox at all – in fact, it reflects a deeper degeneracy of the concept of freedom in contemporary American politics and culture. Read more

Trump loyalist Lindsey Graham locked in dead heat with Democratic challenger in red South Carolina. By Roger Sollenberger / Salon

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is locked in a dead heat in his bid to win re-election, a new online poll finds. Graham, who has represented South Carolina in Congress since 1995 and held his Senate seat since 2003, has in recent months faced mounting pressure from Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. A new Civiqs poll released this week finds the two rivals tied at 42%. Read more 

My Vanishing Country: A Memoir. By Bakari Sellers / Amazon.com

What J. D. Vance did for Appalachia with Hillbilly Elegy, CNN analyst  and one of the youngest state representatives in South Carolina history Bakari Sellers does for the rural South, in this important book that illuminates the lives of America’s forgotten black working-class men and women. Part memoir, part historical and cultural analysis, My Vanishing Country is an eye-opening journey through the South’s past, present, and future. Read more  

Colin Kaepernick tried to tell white America. By Martenzie Johnson / The Undefeated

With the recent events taking place in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, and in Louisville, Kentucky, following the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, both at the hands of police officers, it’s important to go back to Kaepernick’s words and actions from 2016 especially as uprisings have taken part in multiple cities since Monday. Read more 

Michael Jordan ‘Angry’ over George Floyd’s Death: ‘We Have Had Enough.’ By Rob Goldberg / Bleacherreport

NBA legend Michael Jordan provided a statement regarding the ongoing protests following George Floyd’s death. “I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country,” he wrote. “We have had enough.” Read more

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