Race Inquiry Digest (May 13) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


Race and White Supremacy in American Policing: An Investigation. By Steve Volk / Rolling Stone

Racist strands in policing run deep in American history. “From the beginning there’s been negative relations between police and communities of color,” says Lorenzo Boyd, a police consultant and trainer, and vice president of diversity and inclusion at the University of New Haven. “From slave patrols through the Civil War, Jim Crow period, the civil rights movement, racial profiling, stop-and-frisk, and on through the current Black Lives Matter protests.”

An investigation by Rolling Stone, however, revealed a more pervasive danger: the frequent failure of police chiefs and unions to address racism in the ranks at all, let alone the threat of white supremacists covertly penetrating police departments. The lack of action from law enforcement, extremism researchers say, has created a frightening dynamic: White supremacists have been largely free to infiltrate the police force for years, potentially growing their number and infecting departments with hate. Read more 

Related: Arrested, then traumatized: Black people on what comes after police encounters. By Curtis Bunn / NBC News 

Related: Andrew Brown Jr.’s lawyers say new video shows deadly shooting was an ‘ambush.’ By Antonio Planas / NBC News 

Related: Prosecutor: No legal basis for Virginia state trooper to stop Black woman who was pulled from car. By Deon J. Hampton and Janelle Griffith / NBC News

Political / Social

Former RNC Chair Agrees GOP Is One Of The World’s Largest Anti-Democracy Forces. By Mary Papenfuss / HuffPost

Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele agreed Monday with MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace that the GOP has morphed into “one of the largest anti-Democratic movements in the world.” Wallace and Steele were discussing Republican leaders’ repeated attacks on the presidential election and on party dissenters like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) who support the choice of American voters and justice against Capitol rioters. You can watch their exchange at 1:20 in the clip above. Read more 

Related: Cheney booted from Republican leadership spot. By Melanie Zanona and Olivia Beavers / Politico

Related: Liz Cheney, in House floor speech, rips Trump’s election fraud claims. Phillip M. Bailey and Ledyard King / USA Today 

Related: Analysis: Cheney shames colleagues who will purge her for disloyalty to Trump. By Stephen Collinson/CNN

Voting Rights Bill Creeps Closer To The Senate Floor, But Now Comes The Hard Part For Dems. By Tierney Sneed / TPM

Tuesday’s Senate committee mark-up of Democrats’ sprawling democracy overhaul lasted more than eight hours, included dozens of amendment votes and featured plenty of sharp partisan barbs about a Democratic “takeover” of elections and Republicans’ willingness to double down on President Trump’s “big lie.” The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration deadlocked on partisan lines on whether to approve the bill — meaning that Democrats will have to use a complicated parliamentary maneuver to get the so-called For the People Act on the Senate floor. Read more 

Related: What Florida’s attack on voting rights is really about. By Chris King / CNN

Texas GOP Passes Bill To Stop Teachers From Talking About Racism. By Jennifer Bendery / HuffPost

Republicans in the Texas House passed a bill Tuesday that effectively bans public school teachers from talking about racism, white supremacy or current news events. The bill, which is being fast-tracked to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to sign into law, states that social studies and civics teachers aren’t allowed to discuss the concept that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” or the idea that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.” Read more

Related: How Trump ignited the fight over critical race theory in schools. By Char Adams / NBC News 

Prosecutor to seek hate-crime charges against White man accused in Atlanta-area spa killings. By Hannah Knowles and Haisten Willis / Wash Post

Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty and hate-crime charges against the White man accused of fatally shooting eight people — mostly Asian women — in a March rampage across Atlanta-area spas that authorities are calling domestic terrorism. Read more 

Rush of Arkansas executions that included Ledell Lee’s comes under renewed scrutiny. By Erik Ortiz / NBC News

In 2017, the state of Arkansas announced a frenzied pace of executions — planning eight in 11 days — beginning with Ledell Lee, who insisted until his death by lethal injection that “I am an innocent man” in the 1993 murder of his neighbor. The unprecedented rush to execute so many death row inmates was necessary, the state said, because its supply of midazolam was set to expire that month. But four years later, Lee’s case and the circumstances that led to his execution face new scrutiny after lawyers working on behalf of his family said last week that DNA testing of the murder weapon showed another man’s genetic material. Read more

CIA critics are creating a false choice between diversity and excellence. By Susan M. Gordon / Wash Post

Mike Pompeo — a former CIA director, no less — tweeted this spectacular non sequitur: “The collection of incredibly talented patriots serving at the CIA is what makes it the best spy agency in the world — and we must continue to recruit the best and brightest. We can’t afford to risk our national security to appease some liberal, woke agenda.” His implication, of course, was that women such as the one in the video do not represent the best and brightest.  This is what systemic bias sounds like, for all those who don’t know or question its existence. Read more 

America is having a Black Renaissance. We should learn from it. By Perry Bacon Jr. / Wash Post

We are in the midst of a “Black Renaissance,” to use author Ibram X. Kendi’s term, and it is good for America and long overdue. But just as important is how it happened — and how it can be a model for a more equitable and inclusive America. Read more 

Bloomberg Gives $150 Million to Help Universities Diversify STEM Doctorates. By Azi Paybarah / NYT

Michael Bloomberg is donating a total of $150 million to Johns Hopkins University and six other institutions of higher learning to increase racial diversity among students seeking Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math. Funding will also go to a handful of historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions: Howard University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, Prairie View A&M University, Spelman College and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Read more 

Related: Education Department Directs $36 Billion in Relief to Colleges and Universities. By Lauren Camera / US News

Related: See the Most Diverse National Universities. By Josh Moody / US News 

Suicide Among Black Girls Is a Hidden Mental Health Crisis.  By Kyra Aurelia Alessandrini / Time

According to one 2019 Pediatrics study, the number of white children attempting suicide in the U.S. decreased from 1991 to 2017, while the number of Black children attempting suicide went up. All told, about 15% of Black female high school students attempted suicide in the year leading up to the CDC’s 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, compared to about 9% of white female students and about 12% of Hispanic female students. Actual suicide death rates for Black American girls ages 13 to 19 increased by 182% from 2001 to 2017, according to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Community Health. Read more

This New Coalition Wants To Close The Opportunity Gap For Black-Owned Startups. By Brianne Garrett / Forbes

In an effort to pay it forward, Ross has teamed up with R/GA to lead its newest initiative: Coalition Venture Studio, a collaborative designed to create equitable opportunities for Black-owned startups that have been historically underfunded and undersupported. Once registered, founders are granted access to three types of support: creative capital (in the form of design, copywriting and other services), relationship capital (by way of introductions to R/GA’s network of professionals) and financial capital (from backers that include Harlem Capital, Collab Capital, Ohub, Mac Venture Capital and Gingerbread Capital). Read more 

We saddled up to make sure Native Americans got to vote. By Allie Young / CNN

Last fall, in anticipation of a monumental presidential election, I organized the Ride to the Polls campaign, which led Diné voters on horseback to polling places to cast their votes in Arizona. We rode over 20 miles on horseback to honor our ancestors who did not have cars but still rode for miles and hours just to vote. By communicating this history and reminding our young people of these stories, we hoped they’d be motivated to protect the sacred — our languages, cultures and lands that are impacted by policies and federal resources — with their votes. Read more 

Historical / Cultural

You Must Work or Die: The Long History of “Worker Shortages.” By Jan Schwarz / The Intercept

The current blizzard of stories about a “worker shortage” across the U.S. may seem as though it’s about this peculiar moment, as the pandemic fades. Restaurants in Washington, D.C., contend that they’re suffering from a staffing “crisis.” The hospitality industry in Massachusetts says it’s experiencing the same disaster. The governor of Montana plans to cancel coronavirus-related additional unemployment benefits funded by the federal government, and the cries of business owners are being heard in the White House. In reality, though, this should be understood as the latest iteration of a question that’s plagued the owning class for centuries: How can they get everyone to do awful jobs for them for awful pay? Read more 

The Fight to Preserve Greenwood. By Caleb Gayle / The Atlantic

Nails-Alford’s efforts sit at the center of a larger problem: Decades of racial violence and gentrification have transformed Black neighborhoods across the country. But in many cases, these areas have been transformed so completely that the record of that struggle has been erased—and that makes it harder to preserve what’s still standing. In Greenwood, the physical proof necessary to qualify for the National Register was largely destroyed in the massacre and the decades of urban renewal that followed. Without that recognition, the neighborhood’s history is at risk of being distorted, or lost entirely. Read more 

Why Does the Myth of the Confederate Lost Cause Persist? By Clint Smith / The Atlantic

Almost all of the people who come to Blandford Cemetery are white. “It’s not that a Black population doesn’t appreciate the windows,” Ken, who is white, told me. “But sometimes in the context of what it represents, they’re not as comfortable.” He went on: “In most cases we try and fall back on the beauty of the windows, the Tiffany-glass kind of thing.” But I couldn’t revel in the windows’ beauty without reckoning with what those windows represented. I looked around the church again. How many of the visitors to the cemetery today, I asked Ken, are Confederate sympathizers? Read more 

What slavery reparations from the federal government could look like. By P.R. Lockhart / NBC News

Discussion of how to best conceptualize reparations has spilled over into debates over H.R. 40, which languished in a House subcommittee for more than three decades before being voted out of committee this year. While supporters of the legislation argue it is the best vehicle for better understanding the need for and possible avenues of providing reparations, Darity and Mullen say in its current form, the measure could ultimately do more harm than good. “One of the problems with H.R. 40 is that it is not at all clear that it provides us with a direction towards eliminating the racial wealth gap,” Darity said. He added that the bill’s impacts are limited because it creates a commission rather than directly approving a reparations program. Read more 

‘The Underground Railroad’ stars hope series sparks conversation. By AP and USA Today

William Jackson Harper and Joel Edgerton, who star in Barry Jenkins’ upcoming project “The Underground Railroad,” say the slave-era epic should spark tough conversations in households everywhere. Watch here 

What We Want from Richard Wright. / The New Yorker

Richard Wright and James Baldwin were drawn together as satellites of an American literary world contracted by prejudice. But besides differences of heritage and age—one a son of Mississippi, then Chicago; the other of Harlem, a generation behind—they were separated by a formal disagreement about life on the page. Read more

Netflix’s ‘The Upshaws’ rejects the outdated respectability politics of modern Black sitcoms. By Aramide A. Tinubu / NBC News

In the years since “The Cosby Show” went off the air — and its creator’s deep hypocrisy and misogyny were exposed — it served, for better and for worse, as a blueprint for most mainstream Black sitcoms. From “Family Matters” to “Black-ish,” the majority-Black shows that got greenlighted at the majority-white broadcast networks generally featured two-parent families, middle- or upper-middle-class households and a lot of whitewashing. All of this history, then, possibly makes Netflix’s “The Upshaws” one of the more authentic portrayals of a modern Black experience ever made. Read more 

NBC Won’t Air 2022 Golden Globes Amid HFPA Controversy. /HuffPost

NBC on Monday said it will not air the 2022 Golden Globe Awards due to ongoing controversy with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization responsible for the award show. Ahead of the awards’ 78th annual ceremony, which aired in February, the Los Angeles Times published multiple controversial reports about the HFPA, outlining ethical lapses and a lack of diverse representation within the group, including zero Black members. Read more 

Bob Marley: Reggae icon, ‘One Love’ singer 40 years after his death. By USA Today

The legendary and award-winning Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley died May 11, 1981. In honor of the 40th anniversary of his death, take a look at images from his award-winning career, including this photo of him making an appearance at Tower Records store in 1979. 15 photos. Read more 

Related: 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees. By Devon Ivie / New York Mag 

Colin Kaepernick’s Publishing Company Announces Release Date For Its First Book. /HuffPost

Colin Kaepernick’s publishing company, Kaepernick Publishing, will release its first title this fall. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback edited a book of over 30 essays titled “Abolition for the People: The Movement for a Future Without Policing & Prisons.” The anthology, which calls for a future “without and beyond policing and prisons,” will be released on Oct. 12. Read more


The NBA has 75 years of history now. Stop judging, and start marveling. By Jerry Brewer / Wash Post

The NBA is officially old, 75 now, still a spry and maturing league but one with a history deep enough that you can’t see down to the bottom with ease anymore. It is vast — not baseball vast but full of eras and dramatic changes. This arena requires navigation. Longevity should alter the discourse. It hasn’t, however, not when it involves the fundamental manner in which the all-time great players, teams and influencers of the sport are debated. Read more 

Related: How Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and Chris Paul are walking the path of giants. By Andre Snellings / The Undefeated 

Jonathan Allen’s work with Washington’s homeless youth is inspired by his own experience. By Nicki Jhabvala / Wash Post

The day after the Washington Football Team pulled off a stunning victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive tackle Jonathan Allen joined a virtual conference to speak with 15 students who lost parents serving in the military. Allen, whose brother is an Army sergeant first class and whose father is a 23-year retired Army sergeant first class, understands the challenges and commitments that military life requires of a family. Read more 

Site Information

Visit our home page for more articles, book/podcast and video favorites. And at the top of this page register your email to receive notification of new editions of Race Inquiry Digest. Click here for earlier Digests.

About Race Inquiry and Race Inquiry DigestThe Digest is published on Mondays and Thursdays. 

Use the buttons below to share the Digest in an email, or post to your Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter accounts.