Race Inquiry Digest (May 3) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


The ‘Mississippi Plan’ to keep Blacks from voting in 1890: ‘We came here to exclude the Negro.’ By Ronald G. Shafer / Wash Post 

On a hot August day in 1890, delegates gathered at Mississippi’s Capitol Building in Jackson to begin work on a new state constitution. The overriding topic was the “suffrage question.” The convention’s president, Solomon Saladin Calhoon, a White county judge, put the voting issue bluntly. “Let’s tell the truth if it bursts the bottom of the universe,” he said. “We came here to exclude the Negro. Nothing short of this will answer.” Delegates eventually adopted a literacy test and a poll tax geared to suppress the Black vote in a state with a Black majority. The “Mississippi Plan” became the model throughout the South, part of a raft of racially oppressive Jim Crow laws that ended Reconstruction. Read more 

Related: The GOP’s 2022 Strategy: Voter Suppression or Bust. By Elie Mystal / The Nation

Related: G.O.P. Seeks to Empower Poll Watchers, Raising Intimidation Worries. /NYT 

Related:  Voting: Florida House passes controversial bill that would add restrictions.  By Dianne Gallagher, Wesley Bruer, Jade Gordon and Kelly Mena / CNN

Political / Social

The GOP’s Black Friend Says America Is Not a Racist Country. By Nathalie Baptiste / Mother Jones

“America is not a racist country,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C) boldly declared in his response to President Joe Biden’s Joint Address to Congress on Wednesday evening. If Biden jam packed lofty policy goals with proposals for ambitious government initiatives into his one-hour speech, Sen. Scott’s rebuttal offered a safe space for white conservatives who live in constant fear as they face the menacing specter of incremental progress in racial and social justice. Read more

Related: Vice President Kamala Harris: We must ‘speak truth’ about history of racism in America. /ABC News

Related: Joe Biden Calls For U.S. To ‘Root Out Systemic Racism’ In Speech To Congress. / HuffPost

Related: Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves Says ‘There Is Not Systemic Racism in America’, but He Also Declared April ‘Confederate Heritage Month,’ SoBy Zack Linly / The Root

Is Racism a Mental Illness? Shayla Love / Vice News

On The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1992, Jane Elliott, the educator known for teaching students about prejudice by biasing them against blue or brown eyes, came to an incisive conclusion about racism. “What we’re dealing with here is mental illness,” she said. Members of the audience started clapping. “Racism is a mental illness. If you judge other people by the color of their skin, by the amount of a chemical in their skin, you have a mental problem. You are not dealing well with reality.” Read more 

Related: Psychiatry Confronts Its Racist Past, and Tries to Make Amends.   

To Protect the Next George Floyd, We Must Remove the Threat of Police Violence from Everyday Life.  By Phillip Atiba Goff / Time and Yahoo News

The accountability provided by the conviction of Derek Chauvin is both necessary and insufficient. Necessary because public systems worthy of trust can never take root without accountability.  We are required to accept neither the status quo of armed police as our only public safety tool nor the list of names that won’t stop growing. Developing the right responses will require determined imagination. We have never done it right before in our nation’s history. Read more 

Related: Chauvin’s prosecutors reflect on the lessons from the trial.  By Judy Woodruff and Courtney Norris / PBS

Andrew Brown Jr. shooting exposes disconnect between majority rural Black city and the county. By Nicquel Terry Ellis / CNN

For more than a week, protesters have marched in the streets of a small, quaint, North Carolina city that has been rocked by the police killing of Andrew Brown Jr.Civil rights leaders and attorneys have converged on Elizabeth City demanding answers and justice after Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office deputies fatally shot Brown and the department said it could not release body camera footage to the public for legal reasons. With police releasing few details about what led to Brown’s death, many community members say it raises questions about transparency and accountability in a sheriff’s office that has long failed to engage with the Black community. Read more 

 In police shootings, race might not be part of the set of facts. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. By Colbert I. King / Wash Post

Accounts of the fatal shooting in Columbus, Ohio, of Black 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant by White police officer Nicholas Reardon on April 20 focused on the action. But  Suppose Reardon had rolled up on a suburban scene of bickering white girls, with one wielding a knife? Would an armed 16-year-old White girl have ended up dead at the hands of a police officer who hit the ground with gun blazing? Or would he have tried to first distract and talk her out of it? Read more

Related: Ma’Khia Bryant didn’t have to die. Deescalation could have saved her. By  /Vox 

The most important trial of police officers for killing a Black man has not yet happened. By Paul Butler / Wash Post

The most important trial of police officers charged in the killing of a Black man has not yet happened. That is set take place in August, when three former Minneapolis police officers will be tried on charges of aiding and abetting Derek Chauvin, convicted last week of murdering George Floyd. A guilty verdict against these three would be even more significant than the jury’s conviction of Chauvin, because it would punish a far more routine form of police misconduct: active support for, or pretending not to see, another officer abusing his or her badge. Read more 

Should Biden Emphasize Race or Class or Both or None of the Above? By Thomas B. Edsall / NYT

Should the Democratic Party focus on race or class when trying to build support for new initiatives and — perhaps equally important — when seeking to achieve a durable Election Day majority? The publication on April 26 of a scholarly paper, “Racial Equality Frames and Public Policy Support,” has stirred up a hornet’s nest among Democratic strategists and analysts. The authors, Micah English and Joshua L. Kalla, who are both political scientists at Yale, warned proponents of liberal legislative proposals that : Despite increasing awareness of racial inequities and a greater use of progressive race framing by Democratic elites, linking public policies to race is detrimental for support of those policies. Read more 

Related: Senate Holds Hearing On Biden’s First Batch Of Judicial Nominees. All five of the president’s court picks were people of color and three were women — a sharp contrast to Trump’s legacy.

‘Radicalized’ GOP And ‘Twisted People’ On Fox News Called Out In Damning New Ad.

Progressive PAC MeidasTouch is calling on people to reject the “radicalized” GOP ― and spotlights the harmful influence that personalities on right-wing media such as Fox News can have on Republicans ― with its latest viral ad. The narrator in the 90-second spot released online Saturday notes how alienated people worldwide “are drawn to extremist leaders promising to take on the enemies of their people.” “In America, some of our lost souls respond in a similar way to the call of influential voices,” he continues. “But instead of militant preachers or radical clerics, every single night in America they can listen to our own angry advocates of division and conspiracy” on right-wing media. Watch here 

The Fortune 500 now has two Black women CEOs. That’s actually an improvement.  By Chauncey Alcorn /CNN

Thasunda Brown Duckett officially took the helm as the new CEO of TIAA on Saturday, becoming the fourth Black woman ever to head a Fortune 500 company. Her new position is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Duckett and Walgreens’ new CEO Rosalind Brewer, who left Starbucks in March, are the only two Black women currently heading major US corporations. Read more 

Related: Woman makes history as 9th Black female pediatric surgeon in US. By Katie Kindelan / GMA

A ‘Record-Breaking Year’ For Gifts To HBCUs. By Liz Schlemmer / NPR

The nation’s largest HBCU is having a blockbuster year for fundraising. North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro has raised $88 million since its fiscal year began last summer. That’s almost six times what the university typically fundraises annually — and the fiscal year isn’t even over yet. “There has not been a year like that ever in our history,” says Todd Simmons, N.C. A&T’s associate vice chancellor for university relations. “Nor has there been a year like that in the history of nearly any other public HBCU in America.” Read more 

Deadly air pollutant ‘disproportionately and systematically’ harms Americans of color, study finds. By Juliet Eilperin and Darryl Fears / Wash Post

Nearly every source of the nation’s most pervasive and deadly air pollutant disproportionately affects Americans of color, regardless of their state or income level, according to a study published Wednesday. The analysis of fine-particle matter, which includes soot, shows how decisions made decades ago about where to build highways and industrial plants continue to harm the health of Black, Latino and Asian Americans today. Read more 

Historical / Cultural

Town’s Statue Of Colonial Woman Who Killed Natives Sparks Debate. By Amelia Mason / NPR

A statue of a woman towers over a patch of daffodils in a city park in Haverhill, Mass. Scowling ferociously, she leans forward, gripping a hatchet. The statue honors Hannah Duston, a 17th-century English colonist who is believed to have killed 10 Native Americans in order to escape captivity during King William’s War. It has become a flashpoint in the country’s ongoing debate about racist monuments, as locals reevaluate the Duston legend. Read more 

Mitch McConnell sends letter to Education secretary demanding removal of the 1619 Project from federal grant programs. By Ryan Nobles / CNN

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is wading into the culture wars Friday morning. In a letter obtained by CNN, the Republican leader asks Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to abandon curriculum in American schools that McConnell argues tells a revisionist history of America’s founding. McConnell claims these programs such as The New York Times 1619 Project “re-orient” the view of American History “away from their intended purposes toward a politicized and divisive agenda.” Politico was the first to report on the letter. The 1619 project has become a hot button issue for conservatives across America and politicians have fought efforts by school districts to make it a part of history curriculum in public school districts. Read more 

Some Statues Tell Lies. This One Tells the Truth. By Timothy Egan / NYT

Washington State has chosen to immortalize Billy Frank Jr., a Native American truth-teller, genuine hero and role model, who died in 2014, at the U.S. Capitol in the National Statuary Hall Collection. Replacing the statue of Marcus Whitman, an inept Protestant missionary who tried to Christianize the natives (as Whitman might have put it), with a Native American who was arrested more than 50 times for practicing his treaty rights to fish for salmon is a karmic boomerang. Statues, especially those in the sacred space holding the Capitol’s collection, where each state is given only two, are national narratives set in stone. Read more

How the N-Word Became Unsayable.

“Nigger” began as a neutral descriptor, although it was quickly freighted with the casual contempt that Europeans had for African and, later, African-descended people. Its evolution from slur to unspeakable obscenity was part of a gradual prohibition on avowed racism and the slurring of groups. It is also part of a larger cultural shift: Time was that it was body parts and what they do that Americans were taught not to mention by name — do you actually do much resting in a restroom? Read more 

The first images of “The Last Battle” seem designed to rile people on the conservative side of the culture wars: public nudity, strippers, children dressed in drag — symbols of a society supposedly in a moral free fall. Then the online video pivots to more extreme material: quick-cut scenes of attacks on White people, bogus allegations of election fraud and a parade of pictures purporting to show “the Jewish Communist takeover.” The six-minute video, distributed on gaming platforms and social media, rapidly reveals itself as a visually arresting propaganda piece. Read more 

Hollywood sees gold in political figures like Stacey Abrams. By Variety

In addition to launching the organization Fair Fight — shifting the nationwide narrative around voting rights — Stacey Abrams  starred in the documentary “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” has written numerous books and is endlessly featured as a panelist or keynote speaker. She is also part of United Talent Agency’s roster of premiere clientele. And while Hollywood’s talent agencies have always repped political figures, they are all taking their clients to a new level. Read more 

From coal mines to chain gangs and more: Black music tells the tales of Black workers. By Denise Oliver Velez / Daily Kos

When I was growing up we always celebrated the first of May as “May Day” in my home, not as some kind of spring ritual but in honor of International Workers Day, often referred to as Labour Day. Though here in the United States, Labor Day on the first Monday in September became “the official holiday” to avoid the taint of anything that reeked of global leftism, my very left-of-center, union-raised dad made sure we honored both days. So on this #BlackMusicSunday, the day after May Day, I’m exploring songs and tunes from multiple genres of Black music that feature work, workers, and jobs. Shown is Gil Scott-Heron.  Read more

The Face of Solo Guitar Is Changing. It’s About Time.

Yasuke” creator LeSean Thomas leaves everything on the field with his new Netflix anime series. That’s blatantly obvious the moment we drop into the center of a battle where armored warriors clash against socerers and giant mechs raining fire down on troops. The year is 1582, but Thomas mashes up classic images of feudal Japan with anime robots, shamans, demons and mutants because he can. This is his legendary world to build about a Black samurai, a character based on an actual historical figure, and thus far no other artist has built any mythmaking around him. Read more


Black football agents face another hurdle: Convincing White players to sign with them. By Candace Buckner / Wash Post

Before Internet searches were the norm, Black NFL agent Roosevelt Barnes remembers trying to recruit a high-profile draft pick. He sent a brochure to the future first-rounder that listed the names and photos of clients that he and his partner, Eugene Parker, represented: Deion Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Rod Woodson, to name a few. The player called the number on the pamphlet, and Barnes answered. Early into the call, Barnes could sense the player’s excitement. But as the conversation continued, the player’s enthusiasm dulled. The prospective client, who was White, said he was going in a different direction and ended the call. Read more 

Kyrie Irving’s conversion to Islam shows his commitment to life beyond basketball. By Khaled A. Beydoun / The Undefeated

During Ramadan, Islam’s holy month when nearly 2 billion adherents observe the daily fast from sunup to sundown, Irving has embraced a new cause that encompasses the pillars of social justice, anti-racism and humanitarianism that have come to define the 29-year-old superstar’s walk, on and off the court. Read more

After Jackie: Players who followed Robinson to MLB also faced ongoing racism. By Andrew B Distler / The Undefeated

The story of Jackie Robinson facing racist crowds in Philadelphia is well known. But this isn’t the story of Robinson, and the year isn’t 1947. It’s the story of Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Dick Allen, and the year is 1965 — almost two decades after Robinson broke the color barrier to become the first black MLB player in the 20th century. Allen is among the scores of black baseball players, many of them largely forgotten, who followed in Robinson’s footsteps in the 1950s and ’60s. Fans attacked their homes, teammates shunned them, owners abused them. Yet there are no biopics about them, few schoolchildren learn their stories and, unlike Robinson, there is no day on the baseball calendar to celebrate and appreciate them as the trailblazers they are. Read more 

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