Race Inquiry Digest (Sept 2) – Important Current Stories On Race In America

Featured – A fight over gifted education in New York is escalating a national debate over segregated schools. By Erin Einhorn / NBC News

When a school diversity task force in New York this week issued a stunning report recommending the elimination of the city’s popular gifted and talented programs, the shock waves rippled far beyond the nation’s largest school district. The proposal calls for the city to gut most selective programs that use test scores and other screening criteria to determine admission, and to replace them with programs that would instead attract and serve a broader range of students. The goal is to reduce inequities that have persisted as white and Asian students have largely dominated selective programs, leaving black and Hispanic students in highly segregated schools that face additional challenges without sufficient resources. Read more

Black kids in Missouri are being shot down in unspeakable numbers. By kay Wicker / ThinkProgress

Last year, the city of St. Louis saw four killings involving children 16 years or younger, a fraction of this year’s horrific tally. June was a particularly deadly month for children in St. Louis: Gunfire claimed the lives of three-year-old Kennedi Powell, shot on the sidewalk in front of her home. Deadly shootings also took the lives of 16-year-old Jashon Johnson, 11-year-old Charnija Keys, 16-year-old Myiesha Cannon, and 15-year-old Derrel Williams. Read more

Who is Clarence Thomas. By Michael O’Donnell / The Atlantic

The first thing to know about Clarence Thomas is that everybody at the Supreme Court loves him. Thomas is by far the most conservative justice on a very conservative Court. He advances a reactionary legal philosophy that would take America back to the 1930s. He is a baffling figure. The nation’s second African-American Supreme Court justice and the successor to Thurgood Marshall, Thomas opposes most policies that seek to combat discrimination or help minorities. Read more

Jim Crow Returns to the Supreme Court. By Matt Ford / The New Republic

It’s not often that the Supreme Court gets the chance to strike down a Jim Crow law these days, but one such opportunity is fast approaching. This fall, the justices will hear Ramos v. Louisiana, a case involving the Sixth Amendment right to a trial by a jury of one’s peers. In almost every state in the Union, those peers must unanimously agree to convict someone of a serious crime. But two states have bent this rule, enabling juries to convict a defendant even if one or two jurors thinks they aren’t guilty. Read more

Slavery and the Holocaust: How Americans and Germans Cope With Past Evils. By Susan Neiman / NYT

What can be compared to the Holocaust? Into this discussion comes Susan Neiman’s “Learning From the Germans.” Neiman, who has lived in Germany for much of her adult life, and who directs Berlin’s Einstein Forum, contrasts Germany’s response to the Holocaust with America’s response to slavery and centuries of racial discrimination. Her concern is not “comparative evil” — which event is worse — but “comparative redemption,” how each community has responded to and reframed the memory of its unsavory past. Read more

Congress must officially apologize for slavery before America can think about reparations. By Mark Medish and Daniel Lucich / NBC News

The 400th anniversary of the introduction of slavery to the Jamestown Colony, coupled with a tremendous endeavor from The New York Times called the “1619 Project,” has fueled the ongoing national debate over reparations. It is proof of William Faulkner’s insight: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” As the 2020 Democratic primary heats up, the legacy of slavery has also been a hot topic among 2020 presidential candidates. Read more

Dismantling the Myth of the “Black Confederate.” By Rebecca Onion / Slate.

Spend any amount of time talking about slavery on the internet, and you’ll eventually encounter the claim that there were “black Confederates” that fought for the South. “Over the past few decades, claims to the existence of anywhere between 500 and 100,000 black Confederate soldiers, fighting in racially integrated units, have become increasingly common,” writes historian Kevin Levin in his new book, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth. Read more

Donald Trump: Full up to the eyeballs with hate. He won on that once, and hopes to do it again. By Lucian K. Truscott IV / Salon

It wasn’t just the racism. It was the hate, his raw expression of hate. It was right there on his face when he denounced McCain as a “loser.” You could see the delight he took in it. You could see his hatred of all that was “other” on his face every time he railed on and on about the wall, promising that he would make Mexico pay for it. That’s what you do to people you hate. Youmake them pay. And you make them pay for something they don’t want. You belittle them. You treat them as other than human. You call them names. You refer to them as “insects” and “vermin.” You push their faces in it, and then you make them pay. Read more

Stacey Abrams’s fight for voting rights matters more than her political future. By P.R. Lockhart / Vox

On Wednesday, Sen. Johnny Isakson, a three-term incumbent from Georgia, announced that he would retire from office at the end of 2019. For a brief moment, the Republican’s announcement reignited a question that has been lingering for months: Will this push Stacey Abrams, one of the highest-profile figures to emerge from the 2018 midterm elections, to run for national office? It didn’t take long for Abrams, a former minority leader in the Georgia House and the first black woman to be a gubernatorial nominee for a major political party, to offer her answer — the same one she’s given at various points in recent months: Thanks, but I’m good. Read more

Probe of missing Georgia votes finds “extreme” irregularities in black districts. By Andrew O’Hehir / Salon

The Georgia election as a whole was marred by Republican voter suppression efforts and aging, vulnerable voting machines. The Coalition for Good Governance, an election security group that sued to contest the lieutenant governor race, issued a report alleging that the extreme drop-off in black districts suggests the undervote could not be explained by voters simply skipping that race on their ballots. Read more

He Spent Years Infiltrating White Supremacist Groups. Here’s What He Has to Say About What’s Going on Now. By Joe Sexton / Propublica

Michael German, a former federal agent who spent years infiltrating white supremacist groups, said the work of the groups constituted “organized criminal activity,” and he asked, in so many words, “Where is the FBI?” Read more

The Petrochemical Industry Is Killing Another Black Community in ‘Cancer Alley.’ By Mara Kardas-Nelson / The Nation

St. James sits smack in the middle of Cancer Alley, a series of communities, mostly majority African American, that line the banks of the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. For decades, oil, gas, chemicals, and plastics have been produced here, and for an equally long time, residents have said they’ve faced significant health issues because of the plants. Read more  

Mary Frances Whitfield Bears Witness. By Alexandra Marvar / The Nation

When Mary Frances Whitfield began showing her lynching paintings on Long Island in the early 1990s, they were met with a mixed reception and some amount of discomfort. Likewise, for years, collectors of this Alabama-born, New York–based painter have been more interested in her warm portrayals of black Southern home life. To date, the canvases that channel her ancestors’ memories of racial violence have been rarely exhibited and long overlooked. Read more

Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On Live’ Set for Reissue. By Daniel Kreps / Rolling Stone

Marvin Gaye’s legendary May 1972 concert in Washington D.C., featuring the singer’s only full album performance of his classic What’s Going On, will be reissued as a standalone live album for the first time this October. Read more

How Black Suffragettes Subverted the Domestic Sphere. By Hannah Giorgis / The Atlantic

Sometimes referred to as the mother of black feminism, Cooper was born into slavery around 1858 in Raleigh, North Carolina. She would go on to spend most of her long academic and community–oriented career living in Washington, D.C., where she helped establish the Colored Women’s League (which later became part of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, led by the likes of Mary Church Terrell, the organization’s first president). Read more

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