Race Inquiry Digest (Mar 8) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin brings experience dealing with racism, extremism to Pentagon. By Lisa Martinez / ABC News

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s extensive military career has not only prepared him for the roles diplomacy and deterrence play in American foreign policy, but for how to tackle head-on the issues of race and extremism in the military he said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday. “We want to lead with diplomacy in every case,” Austin told “This Week” Co-anchor Martha Raddatz. “But if deterrence fails, then you must fight. You fight to win.””You want to make sure that that your troops are properly resourced, properly trained and focused the right way so that they can not only win, but win decisively,” he said. Read more 

Related: The Military’s Failure to Reckon With White Supremacy. By Melissa del Bosque / The Intercept 

Political / Social

Biden to sign order expanding voting rights on Bloody Sunday anniversary.  By Sam Levine / The Guardian

Joe Biden will sign an executive order expanding voting rights on Sunday, the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police brutally attacked a voting rights march in Selma, Alabama. Republicans have advanced more than 250 measures in state legislatures which aim to restrict voting, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Biden referenced those measures in remarks delivered remotely to a unity breakfast in Selma on Sunday, saying: “We cannot let them succeed.” “If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide,” he said. “Let more people vote.” Read more 

Related: Time for some more ‘good trouble’ on voting rights, 56 years after ‘Bloody Sunday.’ By Jonathan Capehart / Wash Post 

Related: The Supreme Court Is Poised to Find New Ways to Disenfranchise Black Voters. By Elie Mystal / The Nation

Related: In Georgia, Republicans Take Aim at Role of Black Churches in Elections. Nick Corasaniti and 

Related: Kentucky May Soon Restore Voting Rights To 200,000 People With Felony Convictions. By Travis Waldron / HuffPost

Selma on My Mind. By Nicolaus Mills / Dissent

This year’s commemoration of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March will be taking place not in Selma but online, as a result of COVID-19. While it is unfortunate that the event will be virtual, what saddens me most is that the commemoration will be missing John Lewis. But the story of the march is not just about the past. As Lewis made clear in comments before his death last year, we should see Selma as part of an ongoing voting-rights struggle. Read more

Related: Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee To Honor 4 Civil Rights Icons. By Taryn Finley / HuffPost

Will Democrats scrap the filibuster to pass big election package? By Dan Balz / Wash Post

President Biden and Democratic lawmakers will face many challenges this year as they attempt to dramatically redirect policy after four years of Donald Trump’s presidency. None will be as consequential for the future of elections and the shape of democracy as the coming battle in the Senate over a comprehensive election revision bill. In its simplest description, the legislation is designed to make it easier for people to vote, make elections more transparent and shore up some of the infrastructure of election operations. Read more 

Related: Clyburn: Allowing filibuster to be used to deny voting rights would be ‘catastrophic.’ By Aris Folley / The Hill

Campaigns for Reparations Are Gaining Steam Across the Country. By David lamb / The Progressive

A groundswell that began in Evanston, Illinois, in 2019 with a “commitment to end structural racism and achieve racial equity” gathered momentum last year, with similar resolutions passing in Asheville, North Carolina; Providence, Rhode Island; Chicago, Illinois; and the state of California. Now, as local governments look to turn ambition into action, disconnected groups of professionals—many frustrated by the glacial movement of the H.R. 40 bill to examine reparations that was first introduced into Congress more than thirty years ago—are channeling their expertise to help cities rise to meet the challenge. Read more 

Related: Revisiting reparations: Is it time for the US to pay its debt for the legacy of slavery? Anne C. Bailey / The Conversation

Related: Stockton, California, gave people a basic income. It boosted employment. By Sigal Samuel / Vox

The COVID-19 Stimulus Bill Can Help Biden Transform Politics. By Ed Kilgore / NY Magazine

“Trump voters, a large portion of them, want a welfare state that is dependable for working people,” says Greenberg. And Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion Covid relief package could make a tangible difference in their lives. Do the Reagan Democrats stick with non-Trump Republicans if Biden’s Democrats deliver reopened schools, a strong economy, a huge investment in infrastructure and a $3,600-per-child benefit to families on top of a $1,400 stimulus check? Read more 

Related: How racism harms White people, too. By John Blake / CNN

How the Pandemic Economy Could Wipe Out a Generation of Black-Owned Businesses. By Lydia DePillis / ProPublica

Those years of compounding disadvantage have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Minority-owned businesses overall have also been at the back of the line for relief programs, which were initially designed without factoring in the unique challenges of small businesses owned by people of color. As a result, federal Paycheck Protection Program loans to businesses in areas with a higher percentage of minority residents came in later and in lesser amounts per employee. Shown is an employee at Sealing Life Technology who uses a laser measure on a rubber part at the company’s plant in Lexington, Kentucky. Read more 

Related: Black Farmers May Finally Get the Help They Deserve. By Mark Bittman / NYT

Why violence against the Asian American community is on the rise during the Covid-19 pandemic. By Li Zhou / Vox

Harassment toward Asian Americans has spiked in the last year: According to Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that’s been tracking these reports, over 2,800 incidents were documented in 2020. And more recently, a wave of violent attacks against elderly people has renewed focus on this issue. These incidents — which include everything from getting shunned at work to physical assaults — have been wide-ranging. Read more 

Related: Asian Americans have often needed to ‘prove’ racism. Then social media video came along. By Claire Wang / NBC News 

 Related: Anti-Asian Harassment’s Long History in America. By Elaine Godfrey / The Atlantic 

White People Got COVID-19 Vaccines Meant for Others. By Janell Ross / Time

In Dallas County, and almost every other part of the nation, those gaps emerged in a vaccine rollout that aggravated rather than addressed inequities that have made the pandemic so much deadlier for some populations. In February, as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showed that Black, Latino and Native Americans were at least twice as likely as white people to die of COVID-19, it was white Americans who secured most vaccine doses. In the 23 states that try to track the race or ethnicity of those vaccinated, most reported white people were getting vaccinated at disproportionately high rates, according to a February analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Read more 

Related: Black People Need Better Vaccine Access, Not Better Vaccine Attitudes. By Rhea Boyd / NYT