Race Inquiry Digest (Nov 12) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


America’s Two Souls. Ibram X. Kendi / The Atlantic

There is a divide in America between the souls of injustice and justice: souls in opposition like fire and ice, like voters and voter subtraction, like Trump and truth. The soul of injustice breathes genocide, enslavement, inequality, voter suppression, bigotry, cheating, lies, individualism, exploitation, denial, and indifference to it all. The soul of justice breathes life, freedom, equality, democracy, human rights, fairness, science, community, opportunity, and empathy for all. Obama and Trump did not poison the American soul any more than Biden can heal it. Trump battled for the soul of injustice, and the voters sent him home. Soon, President Biden can battle for the soul of justice. Read more

Related: Leading Civil Rights Lawyer Shows 20 Ways Trump Is Copying Hitler’s Early Rhetoric and Policies / Common Dream Views

Political / Social

Trump Never Saw Voters of Color as Americans. We Set Him Straight. By Jamil Smith / Rolling Stone  

During the campaign, Trump was never subtle about his preference: he’d rather lose as the president of white people than even attempt to be the president of the United States. So those of us whom he erased, along with our allies, were fine with that. In this election, by a considerable margin, we got him squared away. Read more 

Related: Racial Tolerance Was on the Ballot—and Won. By Matt Ford / The New Republic 

Related: Trump Became President Because of Racism. The Next Trump Could Too. By Nathalie Baptiste / Mother Jones 

Black voters drove Joe Biden’s victory – and have offered this country a reboot. By Cliff Albright / The Guardian

For hundreds of years, Black folks have shown love and dedication to a country that has not reciprocated; still we show up for ourselves and our allies. We are responsible for saving this democracy from chaos and ruin. But, as we celebrate, I’d like to offer five thoughts for consideration. Read more 

Related: Joe Biden’s Debt to Black Voters Comes Due. By Adam Harris / The Atlantic

Related: Black Voters Helped Deliver Biden a Presidential Victory. Now What?  By John Eligon and  

Joe Biden gave a great speech — but we’re not ready to make peace with fascists. By Chauncey DeVega / Salon

Joe Biden wants forgiveness, comity, and a type of civic reunion and healing. But such things cannot properly occur without a true accounting, which includes sincere contrition, punishment for crimes, and ownership of what deeds have been done by the victimizers to the victims, the abuser to the abused. Letting “bygones be bygones” and bland words about unity and healing are not a sufficient remedy for a society where some 71 million people who voted for Donald Trump apparently reject the premise that the United States is a multiracial democracy where nonwhite people are full and equal members. By doing so, they embrace fascism, whether they see it that way or not. Read more 

Related: Democrats won the battle against Donald Trump — but not the war against Trumpism. By Chauncey DeVega

Related: Reversing the Southern Strategy: Even small victories are a sign of huge progress. Paul Rosenberg / Salon

Everything You Need To Know About The Georgia Runoff Elections. By

Two runoff elections in Georgia taking place in January will ultimately determine which party controls the U.S. Senate for at least the next two years, after no candidate secured a majority of the vote for either Senate seat on Nov. 3. These two elections will decide whether the Republicans will maintain control of the U.S. Senate, giving them the power to obstruct legislation under a Joe Biden administration, or whether the chamber will swing to the Democrats. Read more 

Related: Georgia Dems clamor for Obama — not Biden — to help win Senate seats.  By Marc Caputo and James Arkin / Politico 

Related: Raphael Warnock believes he’ll win in Georgia. He tells us why. Cape Up with Jonathan Cape Up / Wash Post Podcast

Stacey Abrams Has Priceless Reaction To Republican Claims They Won Georgia. By Ed Mazza / HuffPost

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic superstar from Georgia considered the architect of President-elect Joe Biden’s surprising lead in her state, has a blunt message for Republicans who think President Donald Trump really won there. “We really won,” she told “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert. “There’s an orange menace of putrescence who will no longer be able to occupy the White House. That’s a big deal.” Read more 

Asian Americans voted for Biden 63% to 31%, but the reality is more complex. By Kimmy Yam / NBC News

“Asian Americans have been distinct from the general U.S. public when it comes to progressive views on health care, the environment, gun control and a social safety net provided by the government,” Wong said. “These issue positions have propelled Asian Americans toward the Democratic presidential candidate for the past seven election cycles.” Read more 

Related: Kamala Harris’ Historic Candidacy Helped Asian American Turnout Soar. By Marina Fang / HuffPost

Beyond the Ivy Leagues: How HBCUs have groomed prominent politicians like the vice president-elect. By Randi Richardson / NBC News

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris went to Howard University. Stacey Abrams is a graduate of Spelman College. Raphael Warnock attended nearby Morehouse College. These three politicians and a handful of others who grew in prominence during this election cycle hold degrees from historically Black colleges or universities, or HBCUs, which has prompted loud cheers among alumni and students. Read more

Disinvested: How Government and Private Industry Let the Main Street of a Black Neighborhood Crumble. By Tony Briscoe, Haru Coryne and Mick Dumke / Propublica

Back then, stores, often with apartments above them, lined Madison Street from downtown west to the city limits. The east-west axis of Chicago’s grid system, the street once thrived as a commercial beltway known as the “Equator of Chicago” and the “Heart of the West Side.” But when Britton drives along Madison Street now, she sees vacant lots. Britton moved back to her childhood home about 10 years ago, and the places she once visited, along with scores of others, are gone. These days, she has to leave the neighborhood to get groceries, buy tools at a hardware store or eat at a sit-down restaurant. Read more 

Related: A Crenshaw, Los Angeles Redevelopment Plan That Supports Black Wealth. By Erin Aubry Kaplan / NYT

Minneapolis Clinic Narrows Racial Gaps In Health With Community Engagement. By Yuki Noguchi / NPR

NorthPoint also has a five-decade history of addressing public health through the lens of race. It was founded with a mission to increase access to health care and social services in a community that today is 90% Black, Latino or Asian. Central to its approach is tackling the social problems that contribute to illness — in order to better prevent and treat disease. Over the years, the center has made strides in public health: increasing the rates for child vaccinations and screenings for things like cancer, depression and dental care needs. Read more 

Republicans and Democrats Agree: End the War on Drugs. By Nicholas Kristof / NYT

One of America’s greatest mistakes over the last century was the war on drugs, so it’s thrilling to see voters in red and blue states alike moving to unwind it. The most important step is coming in Oregon, where voters easily passed a referendum that will decriminalize possession of even hard drugs like cocaine and heroin, while helping users get treatment for addiction. The idea is to address drug use as a public health crisis more than as a criminal justice issue. In Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota, voters decisively passed measures liberalizing marijuana laws. Marijuana will now be legal for medical use in about 35 states and for recreational use in 15 states. Read more 

Related: Oregon’s drug decriminalization measure shows how to end the war on drugs. By German Lopez / Vox

Naval Academy names its first Black female brigade commander. By Lauren Lumpkin / Wash Post

A Black woman will lead 4,400 of her peers at the U.S. Naval Academy for the first time in the institution’s 175-year history, officials said Monday. As brigade commander, Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber will assume the highest leadership position within the student body, overseeing the day-to-day activities and professional training of her fellow midshipmen. Read more 

A dodgy deal helped make him a billionaire. It worked, until now. By Peter Worriskey, Yeganeh Torbati and Keith L. Alexander / Wash Post 

Over the past five years, Robert F. Smith became one of the nation’s most prominent billionaire philanthropists. Throughout this munificence, though, Smith had a secret: He’d played a role in what federal prosecutors allege was the biggest tax evasion scheme in U.S. history, an effort by his longtime associate, Texas billionaire Robert Brockman, to hide $2 billion from tax authorities in an offshore scheme featuring a computer program called Evidence Eliminator and code names such as “Redfish” and “Snapper.” Read more 

History / Culture

GI Bill opened doors to college for many vets, but politicians created a separate one for Blacks. Joseph Thompson / The Conversation

When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the GI Bill into law on June 22, 1944, it laid the foundation for benefits that would help generations of veterans achieve social mobility.More than 2 million veterans flocked to college campuses throughout the country. But even as former service members entered college, not all of them accessed the bill’s benefits in the same way. That’s because white southern politicians designed the distribution of benefits under the GI Bill to uphold their segregationist beliefs. So, while white veterans got into college with relative ease, Black service members faced limited options and outright denial in their pursuit for educational advancement. This resulted in uneven outcomes of the GI Bill’s impact. Read more 

Alexander Hamilton, Enslaver? New Research Says Yes. By Jennifer Schuessler / NYT

The question has lingered around the edges of the pop-culture ascendancy of Alexander Hamilton: Did the 10-dollar founding father, celebrated in the musical “Hamilton” as a “revolutionary manumission abolitionist,” actually own slaves? Some biographers have gingerly addressed the matter over the years, often in footnotes or passing references. But a new research paper released by the Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site in Albany, N.Y., offers the most ringing case yet. Read more 

Virginia attorney general asks court to let Northam remove Lee statue in Richmond. By Patricia Sullivan / Wash Post

A legal battle over the removal of the towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue continued Tuesday, as the Virginia attorney general asked the state’s Supreme Court to dissolve an injunction that is preventing the governor from taking down the statue. Read more

National Native American Veterans Memorial: New Monument Opens On National Mall. By Quil Lawrence / NPR

Twenty-five years in the making, a new monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., opens on Veterans Day — the National Native American Veterans Memorial. “It’s an article of faith in Indian country that Native Americans serve at a greater rate than basically any other group,” said Kevin Gover, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and a citizen of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. He said the steel ring sculpture over a carved stone drum, in a wooded area near the museum’s entrance, will become hallowed ground. Read more 

Miss USA 2020 is the first Black woman to represent Mississippi. By Scottie Andrew / CNN

The first Black woman to be crowned Miss Mississippi USA is now the reigning Miss USA. Asya Branch, a student at the University of Mississippi and Booneville native, was crowned Miss USA on Monday, after the coronavirus pandemic delayed the event by several months. She’ll go on to represent the US in the Miss Universe pageant. Read more

Related: Miss USA said she was under contract to sing at Donald Trump’s rally. By Anneta Konstantinides / Insider

Ta-Nehisi Coates The Water Dancer to Be Adapted to Film. By Tonja Renee Stidhum / The Root

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films, Brad Pitt’s Plan B (which has also produced notable works such as Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk) and MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) are joining forces to produce an adaptation of Coates’ debut novel, The Water Dancer. Read more 

Laughter wasn’t the point of Dave Chappelle’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ performance. By Justin Tinsley / The Undefeated

Call it coincidence, irony, fate or destiny. But Dave Chappelle hosting Saturday Night Live just hours after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris claimed victory in a historic election was fitting. Chappelle kick-started the Donald Trump era four years ago from the same stage where he helped read its last rites Saturday night. Yet, despite a lack of outward aggression, the Mark Twain Prize winner shared his truth: The most important lessons this country has taught have always been a mandatory curriculum for Black folks and electives for white people. Read more

Sarah Cooper Shares The Big Fear About Her Lip-Syncing Videos Had Donald Trump Won.

“I want and I expect to get the same filet mignon that white actresses get, cooked at the exact temperature,” Davis told InStyle magazine. “You cannot throw me a bone with a really nice little piece of meat still on it and expect that’s good enough for me.””I love my collard greens and all of that, and I know we were given the leftovers,” she added. “I know how to cook that, but I want a filet mignon.” Read more 

Ariana Grande’s Dirty Mind Takes Center Stage on ‘Positions.’  By Brittany Spanos / Rolling Stone

The pop superstar’s latest is full of horny R&B slow jams rooted in a desire to express real intimacy. She has the two most popular songs in the country this week. Positions is not the Ariana Grande Wheel reinvented. Its biggest risk is that in a sea of constant pop reinvention, Grande has hunkered down more confidently and astutely on her core musical identity, one that she has very rarely swayed from. Read more


Tony Dungy’s life lesson about the Tuskegee Airmen and the meaning of humility. By William C. Rhoden / The Undefeated

For the last two weeks, I have been collaborating on a Veterans Day video tribute with Tony Dungy and Jonathan Scott. Dungy is a Hall of Fame and Super Bowl-winning head coach and Scott is a senior at Hampton University, a Rhoden Fellow with The Undefeated and an Navy veteran. During one conversation with Dungy, I discussed the discovery of my grandfather’s papers. Dungy said he had a similar eye-opening surprise about his father, Wilbur Dungy. Dungy’s dad received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan, and his doctorate in zoology from Michigan State University. But it wasn’t until his father’s funeral service in 2004 that Dungy learned that Wilbur Dungy had also been a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first Black fighter pilots. Read more 

Related: Veterans Day — Tuskegee Airmen broke barriers in the military and sports. By ESPN

By opposing Trump, activist athletes helped America rediscover its conscience. By Jerry Brewer / Wash Post

Is it the athletes’ call for racial justice and human decency? Or is it Trump’s unfounded claims that he was robbed?  Who actually got fired for wanting the nation to be different? Rather than remain docile and delight in unconditional diversion, sports intensified a desire to choose a different aim over the past four years. They decided to help hold together the conscience of America. They don’t deserve an inordinate amount of credit, but their contributions were meaningful and noticeable, right down to Atlanta voters flocking to State Farm Arena to help decide the election. Read more 

Baseball’s Black managers are celebrating Dave Roberts’ win and calling for change. By Michael Lee / Wash Post

In the week since he guided the Los Angeles Dodgers to a World Series title — after a bizarre, pandemic-shortened, partially bubbled season — Dave Roberts received more than 800 congratulatory phone calls and texts from friends and distant admirers. As he basks in this moment, Roberts, a history buff, recalls Jackie Robinson’s dying wish to “look at that third base coaching line one day and see a Black face managing in baseball.” Those were Robinson’s words as he addressed a crowd at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium before Game 2 of the 1972 World Series, nine days before he died of a heart attack. Read more 

At Augusta National, Not Talking About Race Is Tradition. By Karen Crouse / NYT

The Masters, first played in 1934, didn’t extend an invitation to a Black competitor until 1975. The club didn’t admit its first Black member until 1990 and didn’t offer membership to women until 2012. After a year characterized by widespread protests over racial inequality and amid an ongoing reckoning in America over race, Augusta National on Monday at last joined the conversation. The club announced plans to honor Lee Elder, who in 1975 became the first Black man to play in the Masters. Read more

Related: Don’t Count Tiger Woods Out at the Masters. By Bill Pennington / NYT

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. 

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