Race Inquiry Digest (June 24) – Important Current Stories On Race In America

Featured – Richard Wright discovers Joe Louis’ dynamite. By Randy Roberts / The Undefeated

In 1941, three giants of African American culture came together to celebrate a king. The tribute, fittingly enough, was a song entitled “King Joe,” sung by Paul Robeson to music composed and performed by Count Basie and his Orchestra. Richard Wright had written the lyrics. Basie, Robeson, and Wright — their names conjure images of foxtrots at the Roseland Ballroom, triumphant performances of Showboat, and the explosive prose of Native Son. The king they lionized was Joe Louis, boxing’s heavyweight champion of the world. Must Read

Reparations: Reasonable and Right. By Charles Blow / NYT

It is America’s responsibility to undo the trauma it has inflicted upon black people for hundreds of years. Carolyn Smith, a descendant of a slave, gestures toward gravestones of other descendants of enslaved people in Houma, La. Read more

Here’s What Ta-Nehisi Coates Told Congress About Reparations. By The New York Times

Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose 2014 article “The Case for Reparations” in The Atlantic rekindled the debate over reparations for slavery and its legacy, testified on Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee. Mr. Coates took direct aim at Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, for remarks Mr. McConnell made opposing the reparations idea. Here is a transcript of Mr. Coates’s testimony. Must Read  

How reparations for American descendants of slavery could narrow the racial wealth divide. By William Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen / NBC News

On June 19, activists and lawmakers gathered for a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the topic of reparations — whether the United States government should provide compensation to the descendants of slaves. The issue, which remains controversial, has recently gathered momentum thanks to the attention given to the proposal in a House bill (H.R. 40) that would establish a congressional commission to study and develop reparations proposals. H.R. 40 has received support from several Democratic presidential candidates including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Cory Booker, Julian Castro, Marianne Williamson. Read more

Juneteenth: Freedom’s promise is still denied to thousands of blacks unable to make bail. By Matthew Larson / The Conversation

For hundreds of thousands of African-Americans stuck in pretrial detention – accused but not convicted of a crime, and unable to leave because of bail – that promise remains unfulfilled. And coming immediately after Father’s Day, it’s also a reminder of the loss associated with the forced separation of families. Read more

This Death Row Lawyer Says Americans Won’t Be Free Until We Face Our Racist History. By Sarah Ruiz-Grossman / HuffPost

An HBO documentary about Bryan Stevenson sounds an urgent call to examine the nation’s past, from slavery to lynching. Must Read  Also see, Lester Holt in conversation with criminal justice reformer Bryan Stevenson

Black People’s Land Was Stolen. By Andrew W. Kahri / NYT

The aftermath of the Tulsa Race Riot in Oklahoma in 1921, when whites burned down “Black Wall Street.” Any discussion of reparations must include how this happened, who did it, and the laws, policies and practices that allowed it. Read more

Reparations economics 101. By Bob Hennelly / Salon

What’s most potentially transformative about Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s proposed bill H.R. 40 to establish a commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans is the no-holds-barred inquiry it promises. The bill empowers the Commission “to request the attendance for testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers and documents that the Commission considers appropriate” and permits the panel to turn to the “appropriate U.S. District Court to require, by subpoena” compliance with its requests. Read more

Mitch McConnell is the second worst human being on the planet. By Lucian K. Truscott IV / Salon

What is it about these racist southern goofs in the Senate, huh? McConnell is just like his racist twin from Alabama, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, and the Prince of Race-Baiting, Jesse Helms of North Carolina, and the King of Inadvertent Racist Idiocy Trent Lott of Mississippi, and the High Priest of Racist Hypocrisy Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. All of them somehow managed to get themselves elected to the powerful position of senator, and yet not one of them found it within himself to climb out the gutter of racism that put them there. Read more

Psychologist John Gartner: “Two years ago I compared Trump to Hitler. People didn’t believe me.” By Chauncey DeVega / Salon

I recently spoke with Dr. John Gartner, a former professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School. Gartner is also the founder of the Duty to Warn PAC, an organization working to raise awareness about the danger to the United States and the world posed by Donald Trump. Gartner was a contributor to the 2017 bestseller book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” Along with two other expert mental health professionals, he wrote the recent USA Today op-ed “President Donald Trump’s poor mental health is grounds for impeachment.” Read more

Clarence Thomas’s Astonishing Opinion on a Racist Mississippi Prosecutor. By Jeffrey Toobin / The New Yorker

Mississippi prosecutor went on a racist crusade to have a black man executed. Clarence Thomas thinks that was just fine. Read more  Also see, Brett Kavanaugh’s Latest Opinion Protects Black Defendants Against Racist Prosecutors

Joe Biden’s Racial Dog Whistle. By Matt Ford / The New Republic

Why does he think Republicans will work with him after they obstructed Obama for eight years? His praise of a segregationist offers a clue. Read more

Politics Shape The Debate Over What To Call Far-Right Extremism. By Hannah Allam / NPR

A group from the Proud Boys confronts anti-Trump protesters outside Trump’s 2020 campaign kickoff rally Tuesday in Orlando, Fla. The Proud Boys group is known for white nationalist and other extremist rhetoric. While academic researchers are pushing for more precision in describing white nationalism and other far-right extremism, the Trump administration seems to be moving in the opposite direction, with some officials adopting more generic terms such as “ethno-violence” or “racially motivated extremism.” Read more

72 Philadelphia Police Officers Placed On Desk Duty Over Offensive Social Media Posts. By Bobby Allyn / NPR

The Philadelphia Police Department has pulled 72 officers off their regular duties as authorities investigate inflammatory social media posts revealed in a database that found thousands of offensive postings by current and former officers, the city’s police commissioner said Wednesday. Read more

Joy Harjo named first Native American poet laureate. By Alex Johnson / NBC News

The Library of Congress appointed the award-winning poet and musician Joy Harjo, whose verse invokes tradition, politics and personal memoir to celebrate the quest for freedom, as the first Native American poet laureate of the United States on Wednesday. Harjo, 68, succeeds Tracy K. Smith as the library’s 23rd poet laureate consultant in poetry. Read more

Review: The Wrenching ‘Fire Shut Up in My Bones’ Becomes an Opera. By Anthony Tommasini / NYT

This new work, with music by Terence Blanchard and a libretto by Kasi Lemmons, is a bold and affecting adaptation of Charles Blow’s memoir. Shown is the bass-baritone Davone Tines who stars in “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.” Read more  Also see, Fire Shut Up in My Bones A Review by BookPage

Toni Morrison doc filmmaker on her banned books: “People are afraid … of powerful black women” By Gary M. Kramer / Salon

Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning writer, editor, and educator, is as formidable as any of the steely characters in her books. In the stirring new documentary, “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders has Morrison talk about her life, her childhood — there is a terrific story about how she learned about the power of words — as well as her work as a writer and editor. Morrison discusses her experiences demanding equal pay for her work, creating her complex novels, and challenging white male society with her thoughts about race. Read more

The N.B.A.’s Draft Show Goes On, With Style — Even if It Shouldn’t. By Wesley Morris / NYT

How many more NBA drafts will the cable networks be able to put on? This is a moral quandary over equitable employment practices, mental health and, frankly, racial optics. You’re watching mostly black men enjoy a night off from being called “beast,” “freak,” “monster,” “a big” and “specimen.” You’re seeing them consider their bodies in another way and, on one of the biggest occasions of their lives, express what they think of themselves and who, maybe, they think they could be. Read more

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