Race Inquiry Digest (Nov 26) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


“Trump is Gone.” By The Comedy Quartet / YouTube

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Related: Trump Push To Invalidate Votes In Heavily Black Cities Alarms Civil Rights Groups. By Juana Summers / NPR

Related: Trump’s on his way out, but leaves a lasting legacy: The right’s open embrace of terrorism. By Amanda Marcotte / Salon

Related: Trump set on veto of defense bill over renaming bases honoring Confederates. By Carol E. Lee, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Courtney Kube / NBC News

Political / Social

In Georgia Senate runoffs, the focus — and the fire — is on Raphael Warnock. By Cleve R. Wootson Jr. / Wash Post

Two weeks into the extraordinary runoff races that will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate, Warnock and Ossoff have combined their efforts to try to win Georgia’s pair of Senate seats. Their names are stacked together on yard signs; they’ve called each other “brother” at joint campaign appearances. But it is Warnock who is animating the Democratic base — and the Republican opposition. That’s because both sides are treating Warnock, the fiery 51-year-old preacher who leads the legendary Atlanta church associated with King, as the key factor in determining who wins the Jan. 5 races. Read more 

Related: Georgia Senate race reminds Republicans they don’t have a lock on ‘God talk.’ By  Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons / CNN

Related: How Genuine the Right-Wing Threat to Boycott Georgia Runoffs? By George Chidi / The Intercept

Related: A brief history of Georgia’s runoff voting – and its racist roots. By Joshua Holzer / The Conversation

David N. Dinkins, New York’s First Black Mayor, Dies at 93. By Robert D. McFadden / NYT

Mr. Dinkins liked to call New York’s diverse population a “gorgeous mosaic,” and in a city where the ideals of the melting pot had often been at odds with the realities of racial, ethnic and religious conflicts, he saw himself as a conciliator who, with patience and dignity, might subdue the passions of multicultural neighborhoods. Read more

At New York’s Nadir, Dinkins Gave the City the ‘Freedom to Imagine.’ By Michael Powell / NYT

Jaime Harrison’s Vision for Democrats. By Edward-Isaac Dovere / The Atlantic

Harrison has formed what he’s calling the Dirt Road PAC, inspired by a man he met early on in his campaign whom he later immortalized in a viral ad. In the spot, Harrison tells voters that the man told him he wasn’t engaged in politics, because politics had never done as much as gotten him a paved road to his house. The PAC is also an opportunity to prove that he can do more beyond his own campaign, especially with Senate runoffs in neighboring Georgia coming up in January. Read more 

The Fight to Win Latino Voters for the G.O.P. By Marcela Valdes / NYT Magazine

This month, less than two weeks after it became clear that control of the U.S. Senate would be decided by two runoff elections in Georgia, Daniel Garza flew to Atlanta. “Georgia right now stands at that intersection that it can decide the future of this country,” Garza said. According to the political-research firm Latino Decisions, 160,000 Hispanics cast votes in the presidential election in Georgia. While most of those votes went to the Democratic candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, 28 percent went to President Trump, two percentage points higher than Senator David Perdue’s share in the election. Read more

Related: Latinos were going to college more than ever but Covid-19 is forcing many to drop out. By Nicole Chavez / CNN 

Coronavirus vaccines face trust gap in Black and Latino communities, study finds. By William Wan / Wash Post

If offered a coronavirus vaccine free of charge, fewer than half of Black people and 66 percent of Latino people said they would definitely or probably take it, according to a survey-based study that underscores the challenge of getting vaccines to communities hit hard by the pandemic. The survey released Monday is one of the largest and most rigorous to date. Other recent studies have also pointed to vaccine hesitancy in communities of color, but Monday’s survey delved deeper into the reasons, polling respondents on a spectrum of questions to get at the roots of their distrust. Read more

Related: Race Gap in Life Expectancy Widens as Covid-19 Toll Grows. By Sharon Lerner / The Intercept

Related: The Biden adviser focused on the pandemic’s stark racial disparities. Joanne Kenen / Politico

Related: For families of color, the pandemic brings an outsized financial hit. By Michelle Fox / CNBC

Biden searches for attorney general to restore Justice Dept.’s independence, refocus on civil rights. By Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky / Wash Post

After years seemingly at the center of every major political fight in Washington, the Justice Department is about to get new leadership, and President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for attorney general will have to balance competing demands within his party on thorny issues of civil rights, the environment and the department’s traditional independence from politicians. Read more

History / Culture

Is America Trapped in a Caste System?  By Gaiutra Bahadur / The New Republic

Isabel Wilkerson compares American racism to structures of oppression in India and Nazi Germany. In an evocative style, with a keen eye for metaphor, Wilkerson is popularizing an idea first put forward almost a century ago and reasserted every generation since by some scholars. The notion that race is a form of caste has always been met with resistance from varied quarters, including from African American critics who found the comparison too bleak to bear, because they conceived of caste as too rigid to be overthrown. The hope of caste analysis is in making visible the invisible structures of oppression; the anxiety is that those structures, once recognized, will appear immovable. Read more 

America, You Owe Me. By Camonghne Felix / New York

Removing Trump was the right and necessary thing to do, but to blame all of this supremacist violence on a man with the sense of a small animal is nonsensical. There are many people responsible for this. Any person who has upheld a system or protected an institution that has perpetuated or benefited from this violence is responsible for years of trauma and the heavy threats that follow us around like a reaper. With an understanding of complete immunity, ten thousand of the “million” MAGA white supremacists that the Trump administration promised us descended on D.C’s streets, blocking traffic, blasting Aerosmith, waving their flags, honking their horns, giving us the finger, goading people on the street, attempting to antagonizing counter protestors. Read more  

What you learned about the first Thanksgiving isn’t true. Here’s the real story. By Eryn Dion / USA Today

The traditional story of Thanksgiving, and by extension the Pilgrims  — the one repeated in school history books and given the Peanuts treatment in “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” — doesn’t start in 1620, with the cold and seasick Pilgrims stepping off the Mayflower onto Plymouth Rock. It also doesn’t start a year later, with the Pilgrims and the native Wampanoag all sitting together to “break bread” and celebrate their first successful harvest and a long, harmonious relationship to come. It doesn’t start there because those things never happened, despite being immortalized in American mythos for generations. Read more 

Graves found at site of historic Virginia Black church. By Michael E. Ruane / Wash Post

Archaeologists have found evidence of at least two graves, along with artifacts such as a fragment of an ink bottle, a porcelain piece of doll’s foot, and building foundations, during a dig at the site of a historic African American church in Colonial Williamsburg, officials said Monday. The discoveries were made in late summer and early fall beneath a parking lot on Nassau Street at the former location of the old First Baptist Church. One of the oldest Black churches in the country, it had buildings on the spot in 1856, and perhaps as early as 1818. It was organized in 1776. Read more 

Amiri Baraka, Black Music, and Black Modernity. By Wilton Schereka / AAIHS

We are gifted with this book by James Smethurst: Brick City Vanguard: Amiri Baraka, Black Music, Black Modernity. It would be a mistake, though, to assume that this book is solely about the life of Baraka, rather, this book is also a biography of a place: Brick City. Amiri Baraka is undoubtedly one of the most central figures of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s in the U.S as well as a key literary and cultural figure post World War II. Baraka’s politics and aesthetics, though ever evolving over his career, have solid consistencies throughout. These come in the form of his deep engagement with Black musical practices and formations. Read more 

Reggaeton needed a racial reckoning. Afro-Latinos are leading it. By Bethonie Butler / Wash Post

Reggaeton and its offshoots — including Latin trap — grew out of Black music genres including reggae, dancehall and rap. Reggaeton is inherently Black and inherently political: poverty, racism, police violence and the genre’s own criminalization were persistent themes in the genre’s early days, anchored by Afro-Latino pioneers including Tego Calderón, Ivy Queen and reggae en Español legend El General. Shown is Gloria “Goyo” Martínez, of the genre-bending hip-hop trio ChocQuibTown.  Read more 

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: Chadwick Boseman’s last movie shows he was just getting started. By Karen Han / Slate

The Netflix adaptation of August Wilson’s play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom begins with an image that’s common in any movie dealing with race in America’s past: two Black men dashing through the woods, as fast as their legs will carry them. But they’re not running from anything, as the film initially suggests. Rather, they’re running to something: to see the blues singer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis). Boseman plays Levee, a trumpeter who aspires to one day lead his own band. His ambitions, however, make him a thorn in Ma’s side as he sneaks in solos during her shows, flirts with Ma’s girlfriend Dussie Mae (Taylour Paige), and, as the band settles in for a day of recording, tries to change the musical arrangements to fit what he considers to be a more modern and hip sound. Read more  

“Between the World and Me” transforms a father’s letter to his son into a chorus for a people. By Melanie McFarland / Salon

Topping the end credits for “Between the World and Me” are three pillars of names scrolling heavenward, a gutting in memoriam dedicated to Black men and women murdered in acts of state sanctioned violence or white fear. They are meant to be noticed, and they slip by too quickly. Yet what stands out is how many there are and how relatively few most of the public will recognize. “Between the World and Me” premieres Saturday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. on HBO and streams on HBO Max. Read more 

Latinos, Long Dismissed in Hollywood, Push to Make Voices Heard. By Nicole Sperling / NYT

According to a Writers Guild of America West study issued in June, while Hispanic-Latinos account for 18.3 percent of the population, they represent only 4.7 percent of feature film writers and 8.7 percent of television writers. The University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative called Hollywood’s treatment of Latinos both behind and in front of the camera “an erasure” in a 2019 study. The grim stats, coupled with personal experiences, prompted Ms. Saracho, Gloria Calderón Kellett (“One Day at a Time”) and the 16 other Latina showrunners who make up the Untitled Latinx Project group to start promoting their own cause. Read more


‘I Told You So!’: Lonzo and LaMelo Ball Have Made NBA Draft history, and Some Say It’s Time to Give Dad LaVar His Due Credit. By Isheka N. Harrison / Atlanta Black Star

Lonzo and LaMelo Ball have made history by becoming the first sibling duo to be selected in the top three of the NBA draft. Lonzo was selected as the No. 2 overall pick in 2017 by the Los Angeles Lakers, and LaMelo was selected No. 3 overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 2020 draft on Wednesday, Nov. 18. There are three Ball brothers in total. Lonzo is the oldest, LaMelo is the youngest and there is a middle brother, LiAngelo Ball. Their father, LaVar Ball, is a polarizing figure who’s often been criticized for his outspoken demeanor, “meddlesome ways” and business propositions. Read more 

Pope Francis hosts NBA players after season defined by social justice activism. By Chico Harlan / Wash Post

In a meeting initiated by the Vatican, Pope Francis on Monday hosted a group of NBA players to hear about their social justice activism at a time of deep polarization in the United States. The meeting, with five players who have been vocal on such matters as White privilege and police violence, offers a glimpse into what aspects of U.S. society the pontiff thinks are most important. The meeting also shows the reach of sports activism in the United States, where athletes, many of them Black, have become some of the highest-profile proponents for social change. Read more

A Quarterback With N.F.L. Potential Pledges to an H.B.C.U., Joining a Trend. By David Waldstein / NYT

In a surprising move, Bodden, one of the most promising high school quarterbacks in the country spurned them all. He pledged to go to Grambling State University, a historically Black college in rural Louisiana. Grambling has a rich football history, but like all H.B.C.U.s, it struggles to compete with the cachet and the financial advantages of major football powerhouses. “I want to be a trendsetter,” Bodden said last month while sitting on a stoop across the street from his home. “I want to be like LeBron James and bring everybody with me.” Read more

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