Race Inquiry Digest (Mar 4) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


Democrats Need H.R. 1 and the New VRA to Protect Voting Rights. By Ronald Brownstein / The Atlantic

The most explosive battle in decades over access to the voting booth will reach a new crescendo this week, as Republican-controlled states advance an array of measures to restrict the ballot, and the U.S. House of Representatives votes on the federal legislation that represents Democrats’ best chance to stop them.

It’s no exaggeration to say that future Americans could view the resolution of this struggle as a turning point in the history of U.S. democracy. The outcome could not only shape the balance of power between the parties, but determine whether that democracy grows more inclusive or exclusionary. To many civil-rights advocates and democracy scholars I’ve spoken with, this new wave of state-level bills constitutes the greatest assault on Americans’ right to vote since the Jim Crow era’s barriers to the ballot. Read more 

Related: Targeting State Restrictions, House Passes Landmark Voting Rights Expansion. By Nicholas Fandos / NYT

Related: Supreme Court: Two cases could destroy the Voting Rights Act. By Ian Millhiser / Vox 

Political / Social

The Senate filibuster has a racist past and present. End it so America can move forward. By Rashad Robinson / USA Today

Once again, we have a Democratic president trying to urgently solve a crisis in America. Once again, Americans are demanding action on racial injustice because they have come to see it as a barrier for everyone’s progress. And once again, even though Democrats control the Senate agenda with a bare majority, Republicans have more than enough senators to block bills with a filibuster. Read more

Mike Pence’s Blueprint for Permanent Authoritarian Rule. New York Magazine

After a long period of silence on the subject of the 2020 election, some of which he spent hiding from an insurrectionist mob that was attempting to lynch him, Mike Pence has reemerged. The former vice-president has written an op-ed for the Heritage Foundation laying out the next steps in the Republican Party’s campaign to curtail democracy.

Pence’s analysis is worth considering in some detail. As both a faithful servant to Donald Trump and a respected member of the Republican Party’s most ideologically orthodox wing, Pence holds a position that represents a synthesis of Trump’s idiosyncratic personal authoritarianism and his party’s longstanding anti-democratic trend. Read more 

Related: 2021 Freedom in the World report: 2020 was the worst year for democracy in recent history. Zck Beauchamp / Vox

Voter Suppression Is Grand Larceny. By Charles M. Blow / NYT

In 1890, Mississippi became one of the first states in the country to call a constitutional convention for the express purpose of writing white supremacy into the DNA of the state. At the time, a majority of the registered voters in the state were Black men. Read more 

Related: Why the Georgia G.O.P.’s Voting Rollbacks Would Hit Black People Hard. Richard Fausset, Nick Corasaniti and 

Trump CPAC comeback speech showed a sad little man angry at the world. By David Mastio and Jill Lawrence / USA Today

Donald Trump emerged from his luxurious Palm Beach exile to wallow in the warmth of devotees at the Conservative Political Action Conference 170 miles away in Orlando. Is he a spent supernova, or a giant barely submerged land mine that could obliterate the landscape at any time? Either way, we’ve seen our future. There will be no avoiding him. Deputy Editorial Page Editor David Mastio and Commentary Editor Jill Lawrence consider his Sunday speech, all 90-plus minutes: Read more 

Related: The Useful Idiot: Why We’re Not Done With Trump Yet. By S.V. Date / HuffPost

White women and the racist right: Marjorie Taylor Greene is not an aberration. By Chauncey Devega / Salon

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the infamous Georgia Republican, has shown herself to be an anti-Semite and a white supremacist. She is also a bigot who last week posted a sign outside her congressional office that reads, “There are two genders: Male and Female. Trust the Science.” This was a direct attack on Rep. Marie Newman, an Illinois Democrat whose office is directly across the hall, and who has a trans daughter. Read more  

FBI Director Says Domestic Extremism ‘Metastasizing’ Around The Country. By Nick Visser / HuffPost

FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers Tuesday that domestic extremism has been “metastasizing” around the country, saying the number of domestic terrorism investigations has grown “significantly” since he took over the agency three years ago. Wray testified before lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, his first appearance before senators since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in January. Wray said he believed the Jan. 6 attack was “not an isolated event” but rather part of a troubling and growing trend across the nation. Read more 

Related: The Military’s Extremism Problem Is Our Problem. Michael Robinson and 

Stockton’s Basic Income Experiment Has Spectacular Outcome for Progressivism, Covid Relief Package. By Mrmuni 12 / Daily Kos

As many here know, two years ago the city of Stockton, Cal. launched the first comprehensive experiment in the use of universal basic income (UBI). For 125 individuals in lower-income parts of the City, using contributed funds, the city provided $500/month. As noted in the Atlantic, www.theatlantic.com/…The recipients were allowed to spend the money however they saw fit, and they were not obligated to complete any drug tests, interviews, means or asset tests, or work requirements. Shown is Stockton’s mayor.  Read more 

Related: It could take 100 years for Black employees to catch up in corporate America, study finds. By Khristopher J. Brooks / CBS News   

The White Fear That Drove the College Cheating Scandal. By Nicole Laporte / Time

Images of Full House actress Lori Loughlin and Gordon Caplan, the former co-chairman of the white-shoe law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, making the perp walk to the Boston courthouse where they were charged—along with nearly 40 other parents—with paying an independent counselor slash conman named Rick Singer vast sums of money in order to get their children into colleges such as Yale and Georgetown, epitomized the gross inequities of the American class system: White, rich people, yet again, were paying to play. Since that moment it’s a theme that has played out in American culture, especially in the midst of the pandemic. Read more 

Losing generation of activists who fought racism proves need for Asian American studies. By Claire Wang  / NBC News

Yung, Lee and Ibata belonged to a generation of activists who cemented the Asian American movement in the late 1960s and, over the next half-century, ushered in an unprecedented level of representation in politics, scholarship and culture. In the past decade, many leaders of that seminal era — from the civil rights icon Yuri Kochiyama to the actor Rodney Kageyama — have died. Read more 

Mississippi Must Pay $500,000 To Man Wrongfully Imprisoned 23 Years. By Sara Boboltz / HuffPost

The state of Mississippi has been ordered to pay $500,000 to a man wrongfully imprisoned for nearly 23 years ― the maximum amount state law allows. Curtis Flowers was incarcerated continuously from his January 1997 arrest until his release in December 2019. He has always maintained his innocence and had no prior criminal record. “I feel good,” Flowers, who was 26 at the time of his arrest, told American Public Media Reports on Tuesday after Circuit Judge George Mitchell ordered the state to pay $50,000 each year for 10 years, with an additional $50,000 for  attorneys’ fees. Read more

Smith College controversy highlights struggles colleges face in making racially equitable campuses. By Taylor Romine / CNN

In the summer of 2018, Oumou Kanoute read a book and ate her lunch in a common room area of a Smith College residence hall that required keycard access. Since she was in a program teaching high school students over the summer, she was able to access it. That simple moment became a national story when campus police arrived a short while later, and the officer told her that an employee reported a Black person “demonstrating suspicious behavior.” Read more 

Related: Cornel West Is in a Fight With Harvard, Again. By Anemona Hartocollis / NYT

Colleges confront their links to slavery and wrestle with how to atone for past sins. Calvin Schermerhorn / The Conversation
Colleges and universities across the U.S. have been taking a hard look at their ties to slavery. This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon. Back in 2006, Brown University published a report showing that the university – from its construction to its endowment – participated in and benefited from the slave trade and slavery. And since then, several other colleges and universities have disclosed their ties to the use of slave labor. For instance, Johns Hopkins University – whose namesake and founder has historically been portrayed as an abolitionist – reported in December 2020 that its founder actually employed four enslaved individuals in his Baltimore household. Read more 

Johnson & Johnson vaccine deepens concerns over racial and geographic inequities. By Isaac Stanley-Becker / Wash Post

The nation has a third weapon to wield against the coronavirus, and this one doesn’t need to be kept frozen or followed by a booster shot. Those attributes of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine, which gained regulatory clearance on Saturday, promise to help state and local officials quell the pandemic. First, however, they will need to determine its place in an expanding anti-virus arsenal, where it joins vaccines with sky-high efficacy rates that are still in short supply. Decisions to send it to harder-to-reach communities make practical sense, but could drive perceptions of a two-tiered system. Read more 

What ‘Defund the Police’ Really Means. By Simon Balto / AAIHS

In late 1969, Fred Hampton issued a call to defund the police, if in different terms than those currently in use. Speaking at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, 60 miles west of Chicago, Hampton, the leader of the Illinois branch of the Black Panther Party, called for the police to be “decentralized” — shorthand for what was elsewhere known as “community control of the police.” Read more

Historical / Cultural

Vernon Jordan, civil rights leader and presidential confidant, dies at 85. By Judy Woodruff / PBS

American civil rights activist, presidential confidant and corporate pioneer Vernon Jordan has died at the age of 85. A family statement said he passed Monday in Atlanta. Jordan was a leading advocate for Black Americans and a mentor to those who came after him. Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Ursula Burns join Judy Woodruff to discuss his legacy, from civil rights to politics to business. Read more

Related: Before He Was a Washington Institution, I Knew Vernon Jordan as a Civil Rights Pioneer. By Charlyne Hunter-Gault / Politico 

Sacred Apache land ‘on death row’ in standoff with foreign mining titans. By Christine Romo, Cynthia McFadden, Kit Ramgopal and Rich Schapiro / NBC News

The rugged patch of land known as Oak Flat sits in the Tonto National Forest. To the San Carlos Apache Tribe, the 740-acre swath of oak groves and sheer cliffs is sacred ground, a place where they have gone for centuries to hold religious ceremonies and communicate with the Creator. “No different than Mount Sinai,” said Wendsler Nosie Sr., former chairman of the San Carlos Apache. But Oak Flat is on a path to destruction. Read more 

Passed Over 3 Times by the Marines, a Black Colonel Is Being Promoted to General. By Helene Cooper / NYT

The Marine Corps is promoting Col. Anthony Henderson, a combat-tested Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, to brigadier general, a move that cracks the doorway for the service to potentially promote an African-American to its most senior ranks. The Marine Corps, which had passed over Colonel Henderson for four years, has placed him on a highly selective list of nine colonels to be granted a coveted one star that denotes general rank status — brigadier general. The list, which was signed by President Biden, arrived Wednesday evening at the Senate Armed Services Committee, to start the required confirmation process, according to the committee’s website. Read more 

No wedge issue too stupid or racist for Republicans, as Dr. Seuss flap shows. By Laura Clawson / Daily Kos

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that manages the legacy of the late children’s book author, decided of its own accord to stop publishing six Seuss books that, according to a statement, “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” The books being withdrawn from publication are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry StreetIf I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer. Republicans are up in arms in defense of these books that are deemed hurtful and wrong by the company that publishes and licenses them. According to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, as he objected to an expansion of voting rights, “First, they outlaw Dr. Seuss and now they want to tell us what to say.” Read more

Netflix’s ‘I Got a Story to Tell’ documents the story of Biggie Smalls’ most tragic friendship. By Justin Tinsley / The Undefeated 

The Lost Boyz had “Renee.” Nipsey Hussle had Fatts. Tupac Shakur had Latasha Harlins. Hip-hop’s propensity to immortalize its own is a long-standing trait. So the Netflix documentary Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell is working in a long tradition as it tells the story of The Notorious B.I.G. and one of his closest friends, Roland “Olie” Young. Read more 

Reckonings, pain and joy: ABC’s ambitious “Soul of a Nation” explores all of it for all Americans. By Melanie McFarland / Salon

Given its statement of purpose ABC News’ six-episode series “Soul of a Nation” would have been a relevant, necessary undertaking at any time in our recent history. Surely the audience is aware of why we need it now, in a time when needed conversations about racial inequality have been derailed. Read more

Chloe Zhao Makes History As First Asian Woman To Win Best Director Golden Globe. By Cole Delbyck / HuffPost

Nomadland” director Chloe Zhao took home the trophy for Best Director ― Motion Picture at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to ever win the award. Appearing virtually at the ceremony, Zhao, who also wrote and edited the film,  thanked fellow nominees for making “beautiful, beautiful movies” before giving shoutouts to her “Nomadland” team. Read more 

Related: Chadwick Boseman’s Widow Tearfully Accepts Actor’s Posthumous Golden Globe. By Bill Bradley / HuffPost


Nice assist – NBA All-Star events to help HBCUs. By Eric Woodyard / ESPN

Those behind this weekend’s All-Star Game in Atlanta view the event as something bigger than just basketball. To that end, as part of this year’s festivities, the NBA will provide more than $3 million in support to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity. Read more 

Bill Wright, Who Broke a Color Barrier in Golf, Dies at 84. By Richard Sandomir / NYT

Bill Wright, the first Black competitor to win a United States Golf Association event in an era when African-Americans were not welcome either in segregated country clubs or in the top amateur and professional ranks, died on Feb. 19 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 84. His wife and only immediate survivor, Ceta (Smith) Wright, confirmed the death. She said he had a stroke in 2017 and had Alzheimer’s disease. Read more 

Atlanta Dream Are Sold After Players’ Revolt Against Kelly Loeffler. Sopan Deb and  /NYT

The Atlanta Dream, the W.N.B.A. team whose players revolted against a co-owner, Kelly Loeffler, and campaigned against her in a Georgia Senate race she lost, are being sold to an ownership group led by two real estate executives and a former star player for the team. Read more 

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