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

Featured – Conservatives’ reaction to the ‘1619 Project’ is disappointing — and instructive. By Michael Gerson / Wash Post 

In making their case, some conservatives have offered excuses — or at least mitigations — for the moral failures of the Founders on matters of race. The institution of slavery, we are assured, was historically ubiquitous. The global slave trade, we are reminded, involved not just Americans but Arabs and black Africans. Other countries, we are told, took more slaves than America, treated them worse and liberated them later. But to deny the uniqueness of American guilt on slavery is also to deny the uniqueness of its aspirations. Americans are required to have ambiguous feelings about many of the country’s Founders precisely because of the moral ideals the Founders engraved in American life. The height of their ambitions is also the measure of their hypocrisy. It should unsettle us that the author of the Declaration of Independence built a way of life entirely dependent on human bondage. Read more

As plantations talk more honestly about slavery, some visitors are pushing back. By Hannah Knowles / Wash Post

A Monticello tour guide was explaining earlier this summer how enslaved people built, planted and tended a terrace of vegetables at Thomas Jefferson’s estate when a woman interrupted to share her annoyance. “Why are you talking about that?” she demanded, according to Gary Sandling, vice president of Monticello’s visitor programs and services. “You should be talking about the plants.” Read more

Can the Right Escape Racism? By Ross Douthat / NYT

Without arguing that racism is going to disappear outright from conservative politics after this presidency, the recent historical record at least suggests that another muting could happen, another substantial diminishment of racial polarization, at some point in the post-Trump future. Read more

Clarence Thomas’s Radical Vision of Race. By Corey Robin / The New Yorker

The story of Clarence Thomas is the story of the last half-century of American politics. It is a story of defeat, not only of the civil-rights movement and the promise of black freedom but of a larger vision of democratic transformation, in which men and women act collectively to alter their estate. The citizens of the freedom struggle believed that society was made, and could be remade, through politics. Many of their successors, including Thomas, no longer believe that kind of change is possible. Read more

Virginia seminary sets aside $1.7 million to pay reparations to descendants of slaves. By Daniel Burke / CNN

An Episcopal seminary in Virginia says it has set aside $1.7 million to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves who worked on its campus, putting the small school at the vanguard of colleges and universities who have been grappling with their roles in slavery and ways of making amends. Several scholars of reparations said Virginia Theological Seminary is the first institution of its kind to set up a reparations fund, even while other colleges and seminaries have issued reports on their role in slavery or offered scholarships to slave descendants. Read more

White nationalism: How terrorism has changed since 9/11 — and why America won’t unite. By Mike Kelly / USA Today

The numbers of incidents of Islamic terrorism are far outnumbered now by another sort of terror in the form of mass shootings by right-wing nationalists. Eighteen years after America was mobilized to face a new and creepy terrorist threat from Islamist militants from overseas, we are paralyzed in the face of another form of terrorism within our own borders. Read more

Banking while black: Minority business owners with better credit scores than white counterparts face worse treatment and more scrutiny. By Tracy Jan / Wash Post

Black and Hispanic men seeking small business loans faced more scrutiny and worse treatment from bank officers than less qualified white men, according to a study released this week by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. Read more

Trump’s housing finance plan will make mortgages more expensive, especially for black borrowers, housing groups say. By Tracy Jan and Renae Merle / Wash Post

The Trump administration’s plan to overhaul the country’s housing finance system would make mortgages more expensive for minority borrowers and aspiring homeowners in the South, the Midwest and rural communities, according to fair housing and lending groups. Read more

No One Should Take Black Voters for Granted. By Thomas B. Edsall / NYT

The African-American electorate has been undergoing a quiet, long-term transformation, moving from the left toward the center on several social and cultural issues, while remaining decisively liberal, even radical, on economic issues, according to a series of studies by prominent African-American scholars. Read more

What College Admissions Offices Really Want. By Paul Tough / NYT

The colleges with high average SAT scores — which are also the highest-ranked colleges and the ones with the lowest acceptance rates and the largest endowments — admit very few low-income students and very few black and Latino students.  Elite schools say they’re looking for academic excellence and diversity. But their thirst for tuition revenue means that wealth trumps all.  Read more

Historically black colleges give graduates a wage boost. By Gregory N. Price / The Conversation

Our study included 1,364 nonprofit colleges and universities, both public and private, that award at least a baccalaureate degree. Increased wages were strongest for the elite HBCUs: Hampton, Howard, Morehouse, Spelman and Xavier. But the effect persisted 10 years after graduation for graduates of all 59 HBCUs – more than half of the 100 or so HBCUs in the nation – that were included in the sample. Other HBCUs were not included because of lack of data. And it wasn’t a small amount of money, either. In our study, we found that HBCU students from the elite universities earn 32% more six years after attendance than students with similar characteristics who attended other colleges and universities. Read more

Why black parents of Arlington are joining forces. By Amina Luqman-Dawson, Adora Williams and Whytni Kernodle / Wash Post

We seek to project a unified voice about shared concerns and have come together to form Black Parents of Arlington. BPA seeks to organize, galvanize and empower black parents for the purpose of improving the lives and education of black children in Arlington. We seek the elimination of race-based discrimination, implicit and explicit bias and to ensure the health and well-being of our children and of all children in our community, regardless of race or ethnicity. Read more

Curious Kids: Who was the first black child to go to an integrated school? By  Russell Wllsworth Lovell II / The Conversation 

When people think about the time when black people first began to integrate America’s public schools, often they think back to the 1960s. But history shows the first court-ordered school integration case took place a hundred years earlier, in the 1860s. In April of 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, Susan Clark – a 12-year-old girl from Muscatine, Iowa – became the first black child to attend an integrated school because of a court order. Read more

Tina Turner Is Having the Time of Her Life. By Amanda Hess / NYT

A Swiss chateau. A Broadway musical all about her. And absolutely nothing she has to do. Turner is 79 years old. She has been retired for 10 years, and she is still basking in all of the nothing she has to do. “I don’t sing. I don’t dance. I don’t dress up,” she told me. Even her wig — “a critical part of the Tina Turner look,” as she wrote in her recent memoir — has relaxed from its formerly perpendicular posture into a saucy shag. Her voice is as beguiling as ever, though it is now employed for different means. She slips into a rich continental accent when she calls for her husband, and she dives into her low, trembling rasp — “not the voice of a woman,” as she has put it — when she teases him. Read more

Where are the black men in tennis? By William C. Rhoden / The Undefeated

We ask this question every year during the US Open. For the casual U.S. tennis fan, this is when tennis comes on our radar screen — before the NFL season kicks in and the NBA gears up. In fact, that’s the answer to the question, where are black male tennis players? The great young black athlete is playing college football on Saturdays, NFL football on Sundays and basketball during the winter. The rest are being snatched up by soccer or by baseball. Read more

Visit our home page for more articles. 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 you can post to your Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter accounts.