Race Inquiry Digest (May 6) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


How civil rights attorney Ben Crump forged his own path. By AP and NBC News

Ben Crump, the Rev. Al Sharpton says, is “Black America’s attorney general.” In less than a decade, the Florida-based attorney has become the voice for the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd — Black people whose deaths at the hands of police and vigilantes sparked a movement. He has won multimillion-dollar settlements in police brutality cases. He’s pushed cities to ban no-knock warrants. He has told a congressional committee that reform is needed because “it’s become painfully obvious we have two systems of justice; one for white Americans and one for Black Americans.” Read more 

Related: Inside Ben Crump’s Fight to Make America Value Black Life. By Janell Ross / Time 

Political / Social

The space filled by Al Sharpton’s prayers and politics. By Robin Givhan / Wash Post

The Rev. Al Sharpton began his remarks the way that so many ministers do. For the first few minutes that he stood at the lectern in his dark suit with a handkerchief billowing from his breast pocket like a cumulus cloud, he cleared his throat. He did so by first acknowledging the other clergy who were present at the Monday afternoon funeral of Andrew Brown Jr. Then he expressed his condolences to Brown’s family and other mourners who had experienced similar losses. Read more

Related: Andrew Brown Jr. funeral: Family remembers his life and calls for justice in his death. By Dakin Andone, Gregory Lemos and Eric Levenson / CNN

Trump’s Big Lie Devoured the G.O.P. and Now Eyes Our Democracy. By Thomas L. Friedman / NYT

President Biden’s early success in getting Americans vaccinated, pushing out stimulus checks and generally calming the surface of American life has been a blessing for the country. But it’s also lulled many into thinking that Donald Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen, which propelled the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, would surely fade away and everything would return to normal. It hasn’t. Read more

Related: The GOP’s devotion to Trump threatens to destroy American democracy. By Stephen Collinson / CNN

Related: Latino Republican support for Trump is still going strong in Florida. By Carmen Sesin / NBC News 

Related: Why Rising Diversity Might Not Help Democrats as Much as They Hope. By Nate Cohn / NYT

Despite business warnings, GOP moves ahead with voting bills.

Related: How two Black CEOs got corporate America to pay attention to voting rights. By Todd C. Frankel / Wash Post 

Attorney General Merrick Garland cites domestic terrorism and civil rights in defending budget to House lawmakers. By Christina Carrega, Chandelis Duster and Jessica Schneider / CNN

Merrick Garland stepped into his first congressional hot seat as attorney general Tuesday morning, testifying before the House Appropriations Committee to propose a multibillion-dollar budget increase for the Justice Department. Part of the funding boost is needed to combat domestic terrorism, which Garland said keeps him up at night. “We have a growing fear of domestic violent extremism, and domestic terrorism. Both of those keep me up at night every morning, virtually every morning I get a briefing from the FBI and both one or the other or both areas,” the attorney general said. Read more 

Asian-American Business Leaders Fund Effort to Fight Discrimination. Andrew Ross Sorkin and  / NYT

Some of the wealthiest and most influential Asian-American business leaders are mounting an ambitious plan to challenge anti-Asian discrimination, rewrite school curriculums to reflect the role of Asian-Americans in history and collect data to guide policymakers. The group has pledged $125 million to a new initiative, the Asian American Foundation. The foundation has raised another $125 million from organizations like Walmart, Bank of America, the Ford Foundation and the National Basketball Association. Shown is Jerry Yang, a Yahoo co-founder, is among the backers of the newly formed Asian American Foundation. Read more 

Justice Clarence Thomas, Long Silent, Has Turned Talkative. By Adam Liptak / NYT

Justice Clarence Thomas, who once went a decade without asking a question from the Supreme Court bench, is about to complete a term in which he was an active participant in every single argument. Justice Thomas’s switch from monkish silence to gregarious engagement is a byproduct of the pandemic, during which the court has heard arguments by telephone. The justices now ask questions one at a time, in order of seniority. Read more 

Help, We Can’t Stop Writing About Andrew Yang. By Ben Smith / NYT

In January of last year, as the Iowa caucuses neared and before I’d heard of Covid-19, I asked Andrew Yang if running for mayor of New York wouldn’t make more sense than his improbable presidential campaign. “After eight years as president, we’ll see if I have an appetite for mayor,” he replied. But Mr. Yang’s surprising popularity may also reflect how the city’s establishment left, and its echo chamber on Twitter, are pulling the campaign away from the concerns of some voters, leaving Mr. Yang as the sole candidate speaking to them. Read more 

Is America a Racist Country. By Charles M. Blow / NYT

Last Sunday, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina added himself to the long list of Republicans who have denied the existence of systemic racism in this country. Graham said on “Fox News Sunday” that “our systems are not racist. America’s not a racist country.” Graham argued that the country can’t be racist because both Barack Obama and Kamala Harris had been elected and somehow, their overcoming racial hurdles proves the absence of racial hurdles. His view seems to be that the exceptions somehow negated the rule. Read more 

Joy Reid Takes Tucker Carlson’s ‘Race Lady’ Dog Whistle, Throws It Back At ‘Tuckums.’ By Lee Moran / HuffPost

MSNBC anchor Joy Reid on Tuesday ridiculed Fox News personality Tucker Carlson’s repeated derogatory description of her as “the race lady.” “The ReidOut” host noted she spends little time watching the conservative network. “Personally, I prefer my news and information to be grounded in reality, rather than monetizing my amygdala to keep me on edge and buying MyPillows and gold,” she explained. Read more 

Related: Staffers beg Fox News to fire Tucker Carlson — but there’s a ‘dirty little secret’ that makes him ‘untouchable.’ By Travis Gettys / Raw Story

As schools expand racial equity work, conservatives see a new threat in critical race theory. By Laura Meckler and Hannah Natanson / Wash Post

The nation’s reckoning over race has reached thousands of U.S. schools, and so, too, has a conservative backlash. Schools across the country are working to address systemic racism and inject an anti-racist mind-set into campus life. But where advocates see racial progress, opponents see an effort to shame White teachers and sometimes students for being part of an oppressive system. In particular, conservatives have seized on the idea that schools are promoting critical race theory, a decades-old academic framework that examines how policies and the law perpetuate systemic racism. It holds in part that racism is woven into the fabric of the nation’s history and life — a product of the system and not just individual bad actors. Read more 

Related: In bitterly divided election in Southlake, Texas, opponents of anti-racism education win big. By Mike Hixenbaugh and Antonia Hylton / NBC News

Related: Ibram X. Kendi Launches ‘Be Antiracist’ Podcast Series –  By Peter White / Deadline 

Some Black parents say remote learning gives racism reprieve.  By Christine Fernando / AP and ABC News

Before schools shuttered during the pandemic, Ayaana Johnson worried every time she dropped her daughters off at school. Johnson, a Black woman, says racism is rampant in her predominantly white Georgia town. At her daughters’ school, a student once used racial slurs and told another child he doesn’t play with “brown people.” She says teachers are quick to punish or reprimand Black children and Ku Klux Klan flyers can be found in mailboxes. Black parents are finding another benefit to remote learning: being better able to shield their children from racism in classrooms. “Now that they’re home, we feel safer,” said Johnson, who was keeping her two young daughters home despite options being made available for in-person learning. Read more 

Child Protective Services Investigates Half of all Black Children in California. By Julia Lurie / Mother Jones

For decades, researchers have pointed out that the child welfare system is riddled with inequities. Black children are far more likely than their white counterparts to be investigated as victims of abuse and neglect, to be placed in foster care, and to be permanently separated from their biological parents. “Spend a day at dependency court in any major city and you will see the unmistakable color of the child welfare system,” wrote Dorothy Roberts, a University of Pennsylvania law professor, in her 2001 book, Shattered Bonds. “The disproportionate number of Black children in America’s child welfare system is staggering.” Read more 

White Covid vaccine rejectors threaten herd immunity. Can we change their minds in time? By Dr. Rob Davidson / NBC News

Vaccine refusal — not reluctance, not “maybe later,” but flat-out rejection — could prevent us from reaching the threshold when epidemiologists say we can safely and responsibly fully reopen all aspects of society. Recent surveys like this one from CNN put that number at around one in four people. In rural, overwhelmingly white places like rural western Michigan, these are the folks who stagger into the Emergency Room, sick and struggling to breathe, yet still tell nurses and doctors that neither Covid-19, masks and vaccines are real. Read more 

Erica Chidi Is Helping Black Women Understand Their Bodies In A Broken Health Care System. By Clare Fallon / HuffPost

In the course of a career largely devoted to women’s sexual and reproductive health care, Chidi has been a health educator, a doula, an advocate for reproductive justice for Black and incarcerated women and a startup founder. One thing has been consistent, through a litany of roles: She wants women — especially Black women — to understand their bodies, and to be understood. Read more 

Historical / Cultural

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