Race Inquiry Digest (Oct 25) – Important Current Stories On Race In America


‘Well, What Do You Mean, We Can’t Join the Klan?’ Inside the bizarre, secret meeting between Malcolm X and the Ku Klux Klan. By Les Payne and Tamara Payne / Politico

On the afternoon of January 28, 1961, at the home of Minister Jeremiah X, the Atlanta minister of the Nation of Islam (NOI), Malcolm X sprang to the living room window and peered through the venetian blinds. Some three dozen white men in civilian clothes sat bolt upright in a 10-car motorcade parking out front of Jeremiah’s house. Each car held three or four men. Neighbors on adjacent porches and other Black people strolling along the paved street scampered out of sight, some glancing back over their shoulders at the long column of four-door sedans. Read more 

Political / Social

How Donald Trump Talks About Black People. By Jamil Smith / Rolling Stone 

The first question in Thursday night’s discussion about American racism is about “The Talk.” As moderator Kristen Welker tells both the 63 million viewers nationwide and the two white men running for president of the United States, this is the training black parents put their children through for survival. I use this space to describe it not because Welker did a poor job. (Quite the opposite, and I say that for the entire evening.) No, it’s because white parents may be wholly unfamiliar with “The Talk.” This is why, when Welker asks Joe Biden and Donald Trump to speak to black families who have to deliver this kind of instruction to their children, the answer does not demand their eloquence or expertise. Read more 

Related: Psychologist Kevin Washington: Trump is waging “psychic terrorism” against Black Americans. By Igor Derysh / Salon 

Related: Trump’s Crackdown On Diversity Training Is Fascist. And Terrifying. By Emilt Peck / HuffPost

The Trump presidency has brought American democracy to the breaking point. The president has encouraged violent extremists; deployed law enforcement and other public institutions as weapons against rivals; and undermined the integrity of elections through false claims of fraud, attacks on mail-in voting and an apparent unwillingness to accept defeat. Yet if American democracy is nearing a breaking point, the crisis generated by the Trump presidency could also be a prelude to a democratic breakthrough. Opposition to Trumpism has engendered a growing multiracial majority that could lay a foundation for a more democratic future. Public opinion has shifted in important ways, especially among white Americans. Read more

Related: Angela Davis Still Believes America Can Change. By Nelson George / NYT

When We Talk About Fox News, We Need to Talk About the Murdoch Family Too.  By Peter Mass / The Intercept

If the family’s last name became as toxic as the Fox name is, would they bring themselves to make changes, such as enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for racist and hateful content at their news outlets? The answer is probably no; Rupert Murdoch, an obdurate conservative, is famously unmoved by criticism and seems to enjoy being despised in Australia and Britain, where the media outlets that he doesn’t control are unsparing toward him. Read more 

Voter Suppression Efforts Could Be Backfiring on Republicans. By Ari Berman / Mother Jones

When early voting began in Texas on October 13, Abbott’s plan to limit Democratic participation appeared to backfire, as voters in Harris County, where voters of color make up a majority and where Hillary Clinton won by 12 points in 2016, surged to the polls. The numbers in Harris County have been astonishing. A record 128,000 people voted on the first day of early voting, up from 68,000 in 2016 and a higher turnout than the entire state of Georgia on the same day. Read more

Related: How the Biden Campaign Hopes to Win Black Men. By Adam Harris / The Atlantic 

Related: LeBron James on Black Voter Participation, Misinformation and Trump. By Astead W. Herndon 

Senate: Mike Espy gains new attention in race against Cindy Hyde-Smith. Phillip M. Bailey and Luke Ramseth / USA Today

Mike Espy vented frustration a few weeks ago that national Democrats appeared to be writing off his chances of toppling Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in deeply red Mississippi. “They don’t think a Black man in Mississippi can win,” the former agriculture secretary wrote on Twitter. They’re not ignoring Espy now. Read more 

Related: Long after murders, Black voting is still troubled in Miss. By Tim Sullivan / ABC News 

The Woman Who Led Kamala Harris to This Moment. By Rika Sharma Rani / The Atlantic

Gopalan spent much of her life fitting in where she wasn’t supposed to. When she left India in 1958 to pursue a graduate degree at UC Berkeley, she was one of the few Indian women enrolled at the university. In fact, the 19-year-old was one of the few Indian women in the entire country. Five years later, she bucked the Indian tradition of an arranged marriage and fell for a budding economist named Donald Harris. They named their first daughter after the Sanskrit word for “lotus”: Kamala. Read more

Alabama Voters To Decide On Scrubbing Racist Language From State Constitution. By Jay Reeves / AP / HuffPost

Alabama voters once again have the chance to remove the racist language of Jim Crow from the state’s constitution, which was approved in 1901 to enshrine white supremacy as state law. A measure on the Nov. 3 ballot would allow the state to recompile its 119-year-old constitution in a process supporters say would remove a lingering stain from the state’s era of racial segregation and the legalized oppression of Black people. Read more

Being Black lowers the value of my home: The legacy of redlining. By Michelle Singletary / Wash Post

My “hood” is idyllic, except for one thing. The value of my home in Prince George’s County, Md., would be significantly higher if my husband and I weren’t Black — and if all our neighbors weren’t Black. Pick up and move our Black neighborhood of doctors, teachers, police officers and small-business owners just 20 miles west to a White subdivision with a similar economic makeup, and our homes would easily be worth 40 percent more. This is true for other Black communities across the country, where homes can be undervalued by as much as 65 percent. Read more

Related: New federal rule will make it harder to challenge discrimination in the housing industry, lawsuits allege. By Tracy Jan / Wash Post

In Mississippi, more White people now have gotten Covid-19 than African Americans. Attitudes about masks might help explain why, official says. By Jason Hanna / CNN

For the longest time in this pandemic, coronavirus had infected and killed more African Americans in Mississippi than White people, which experts explained in part by pointing to racial health disparities in one of the most impoverished states. Early on, Black Mississippians accounted for roughly 60% of the state’s cases and deaths, the state health department says. But the tide has turned in the Magnolia State. Just as the country is seeing a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, Mississippi is, too — but now with cases among White people leading the way. Read more 

Related: Doubts About COVID-19 Vaccine Among People Of Color. By Laurel Wamsley / NPR

Related: 1 in 6 women of color are facing food insecurity because of the pandemic, study finds. By Kate Smith / CBS News 

Related: Honoring Black lives lost to COVID-19.  By The Undefeated 

Racism’s hidden toll. In Minneapolis, the physical and mental strain of a lifetime confronting racism surfaced in George Floyd’s final years. By Robert Samuels / Wash Post

George Floyd came to this city with a broken body and wilted dreams, his many attempts at a better life out of his grasp. He was left with no college degree, no sports contract, no rap career, not even a steady job. At 43, what he had was an arrest record and a drug problem, his hopes hinging on one last shot at healing. Finding a way to live has never been a sure thing for Black men in America, who are taught from an early age that any misstep could lead to a prison cell or a coffin. Read more  

Related: Yes, I’m nervous’: Mayor urges calm as outrage grows over police shooting of unarmed Black couple in Illinois. By Bill Hutchinson / ABC News 

Alicia Garza Was Potential Target of Armed White Supremacist. By Ishena Robinson / The Root

As we get closer to Election Day, more reports of planned, executed, and nearly-executed violence at the hands of white supremacists keep barrelling in. Deeply insecure white people with weapons have been targeting everyone from Black church-goers and the governor of Michigan, to even their police enablers in Minneapolis. Now news has come that these thugs may have set their sights on Alicia Garza, one of the three Black women who founded the Black Lives Matter hashtag and corresponding movement. Read more

‘Protect Breonna, protect myself’: Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend recounts night she was killed. By Emily Shapiro / ABC News

When Breonna Taylor’s door flew open in the middle of the night, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said what was going through his head was, “Protect Breonna, protect myself.” In an interview with ABC News and Louisville’s Courier Journal Wednesday, Walker recounted the night he witnessed 26-year-old Taylor get shot dead by police in her Louisville home. Read more 

Related: ‘A flat-out lie’: Breonna Taylor attorneys seek new prosecutor after jurors speak out. By Crystal Hill / Yahoo News

Gap widens between unemployment aid for Blacks, whites. By Jessica Menton / USA Today

As millions of people have lost jobs in the coronavirus-induced recession, the extra $600 in aid from the federal government began chipping away at a long-standing gap between the unemployment benefits received by Black Americans and white Americans. But with Congress at a months-long impasse over a new relief package that would renew the $600, which expired in late July, that gap is widening again just as household financial distress, particularly for Black workers, is increasing. Read more 

Jay- Z launches Monogram, his own cannabis line. By Chevaz Clarke / CBS

Jay-Z is growing his empire. The 50-year-old rapper and music mogul announced Friday that he is launching his first line of cannabis in a joint venture with Caliva, a California-based weed company. The rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter, teamed up with Caliva last year when he became the brand’s chief brand strategist. Since then, he’s been working on developing his own line of marijuana, named Monogram. Read more 

History / Culture

He fought for Black voting rights after the Civil War. He was almost killed for it. By Jess McHugh / Wash Post

From the floor of the Georgia Senate, Tunis G. Campbell could see the glint of firearms. As he spoke, his fellow senators moved their hands to the butts of their guns, gesturing ever more threateningly the longer Campbell held the floor. Undeterred, he went on. The state senator continued to speak for seven consecutive days, arguing for a simple right: to stand exactly where he was. Campbell was Black. It was 1868, and after only a few months in office, his opponents had voted that his skin color alone disqualified him from holding political office. Read more 

How Saidiya Hartman Retells the History of Black Life. By Alexia Okeowo / The New Yorker 

On a clear night earlier this year, the writer and scholar Saidiya Hartman was fidgeting in a cab on the way to moma PS1, the contemporary-art center in Queens. The museum was holding an event to celebrate Hartman’s latest book, “Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments,” an account, set in New York and Philadelphia at the turn of the twentieth century, that blends history and fiction to chronicle the sexual and gender rebellions of young Black women. Read more

New film spotlights shifting politics of Asian American voters, the fastest growing voter bloc. By Claire Wang / NBC News 

Leading up to the 2018 midterms, a podcast host rallied conservative Mandarin speakers to unseat a Democratic senator in Ohio. A veteran journalist who just returned to North Carolina after two decades in China became alarmed by the rise in conservative Asian voters. A professor of race theory tried to make sense of racial violence in the South. And a gun-toting tea partier contemplated another bid for a House seat. These are four of the main characters in director Yi Chen’s debut feature documentary, “First Vote,” which follows a quartet of middle-age Chinese American voters in two swing states. Read more 

Recording Academy announces Black Music Collective leadership. By Jennifer McClellan / USA Today

The Recording Academy has taken the next step in building the Black Music Collective, a group composed of Black leaders in the music business. When the collective launched in September, the academy announced Jimmy Jam, Quincy Jones, John Legend, Jeffrey Harleston, Debra Lee and Sylvia Rhone as honorary chairs. Today, members of the leadership committee were announced. They’ll helm the group that’s intended as a “space for members to speak openly about new and emerging opportunities in Black music across all genres and identify ways to drive more representation,” according to the academy. Read more 


Noose comment by Penn State basketball coach points to larger NCAA problem. By Jesse Washington / The Undefeated

The day after the Wisconsin game,  Pat Chambers told Rasisr Bolton he knew the freshman was under a lot of pressure and wanted to help him. Bolton recalls Chambers, who was on the hot seat due to the suspension and a 7-8 record at that point in the season, saying, “I want to be a stress reliever for you. You can talk to me about anything. I need to get some of this pressure off you. “I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck.” The Bolton family believed his comment was ignorant at best and a form of institutional racism at worst. Read more 

Race in America: Athletes & Activism.  By Jonathan Capehart / Wash Post

On Thursday, Oct. 22, Jonathan Capehart sat down with Renee Montgomery, point guard for the Atlanta Dream and 11-year WNBA veteran. Earlier this year, Montgomery became the first in her league to declare she had opted out of the WNBA’s season. Instead, she has spent the year working to fight racism, social injustice and voter suppression. Montgomery will discuss her work in Atlanta, and how she’s connecting with players across the country to help create systemic change. Watch here

Simone Manuel on Olympic gold, being first and finding joy amid a pandemic and social reckoning.  By Ericka N. Goodman-Hughley / ESPN

Being first often carries a sense of responsibility. You are the standard, the game-changer. You’re expected to create a path for those who follow. Olympic swimmer Simone Manuel manages to do so on her terms. Manuel made history at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro when she became the first African American woman to win an individual gold in Olympic swimming. The 24-year-old Stanford alum, who graduated in 2018 with a communications degree, won four medals in Rio: gold in the 100-meter freestyle and the 4×100-meter medley and silver in the 50-meter freestyle and the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. Read more 

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