Race Inquiry Digest (Sept 19) – Important Current Stories On Race In America

Featured – Hollow boom: why black Americans feel left out of US’s robust economy. By Lauren Aratani / The Guardian 

What I’ve done for African Americans in two and a half years, no president has been able to do anything like it,” Donald Trump boasted in August, the latest in a series of statements in which he has claimed to be the best president for black Americans in history. Bahiyyah Dixon, 36, of Newark, New Jersey, isn’t feeling it. Even during a period of historic economic growth, the numbers are stacked most heavily against black Americans, like Dixon. Back in April when the US unemployment rate fell to 3.6% – the lowest it has been since 1969 – Trump wasted no time celebrating. Dixon meanwhile was reeling from losing her job. Read more

He was a Yale graduate, Wall Street banker and entrepreneur. Today he’s homeless in Los Angeles. By Dan Simon / CNN

Shawn Pleasants has the kind of resume that would attract the attention of any job recruiter: high school valedictorian, economics major from Yale University, Wall Street banking jobs, small business entrepreneur. But a few wrong turns in life 10 years ago left him homeless, and today he’s living underneath a tarp in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles. Read more

Revisiting the Poor People’s Campaign and Its Legacy. By Bobby Cervantes / AAIHS

Universal health care, a public-job guarantee, and massive wealth redistribution are not just buzzwords in cable news interviews as myriad politicians vie for the Democratic presidential nomination. As cultural historian Sylvie Laurent’s new book shows, these ideas were the ideological foundations of the nation’s most daring, dramatic, and largely overlooked moral crusade. In King and the Other America: The Poor People’s Campaign and the Quest for Economic Equality, Laurent reckons with the intellectual traditions that led Martin Luther King, Jr. to organize a multiracial coalition of poor folks who demanded sweeping changes to America’s political economy. Read more

Reparations are essential to eliminating the substantial wealth gap between black and white Americans. By Christian Weller / The Conversation

As a scholar of wealth inequality and its causes, I believe the promise of equal opportunity for all remains unfulfilled as long as this massive gulf persists. A variety of proposals have been suggested by Democratic candidates for president and others to close this gap, such as eliminating housing discrimination and making college free for all. Two colleagues and I created an economic simulator to model the impact of five of the most ambitious proposals. Our results show why reparations that directly target African Americans are likely the only way to eliminate it. Read more

Donald Trump, king of chaos: New research on right-wing psychology points toward big trouble ahead. By Chauncey DeVega / Salon

Trump is unapologetic and unabashed in his contempt for American democracy and the rule of law. Many mental health professionals have concluded he is unwell. He lacks impulse control and evidences sociopathic behavior. Trump acts like a self-styled mob boss — a corrupt bully who forces his subordinates to “kick up” to him.  Read more

Republicans Don’t Believe in Democracy. By Paul Krugman / NYT

Elections are supposed to have consequences, conveying power to the winners. But when Democrats win an election, the modern G.O.P. does its best to negate the results, flouting norms and, if necessary, the law to carry on as if the voters hadn’t spoken. Read more
The Most Important Question Facing Americans Today. Who Counts? By Dahlia Lithwick / Slate

Far too often, voting rights are a dormant topic up until the week before a general election, when we suddenly start to worry about shuttered polling places, long lines, and glitchy voting machines. But the unglamorous issue of voting is more important than any one candidate or any one issue. Because no matter who our next president is, and what they do or don’t plan to accomplish, if your vote doesn’t count, nothing else really does, either. Read more

A central 2020 question for Democrats: How critical are working-class white voters? By Phillip Bump / Wash Post

Analysis completed by a team of researchers last year found that about 7 percent of 2012 Obama voters didn’t vote in 2016 and 9 percent voted for Trump. Nearly all those who went from Obama to Trump were white; the research suggests that 12 percent of white Obama 2012 voters supported the Republican four years later. Addressing the first problem means trying to win votes back. Addressing the second problem means trying to reinvigorate voters who skipped the election three years ago. Read more

Can Democrats attract enough Latinos to change politics as we know it? By Eugene Daniels / Politico

32 million Latinos could vote in 2020 & the majority could pick the Dem if the left can convince them to vote.  So we went to Houston to talk to first-time voters and an activist to see what gives. Watch video here

Kamala Harris grew up in a mostly white world. Then she went to a black university in a black city. By Robin Givhan / Wash Post

Kamala Harris wanted to go to a black school. That’s what black folks called Howard University in the early 1980s when Harris was a teenager considering her future. Harris, she would say later, was seeking an experience wholly different from what she had long known. She’d attended majority-white schools her entire life — from elementary school in Berkeley, Calif., to high school in Montreal. Harris wanted to be surrounded by black students, black culture and black traditions at the crown jewel of historically black colleges and universities. Read more

The Untold Story: Joe Biden Pushed Ronald Reagan to Ramp Up Incarceration — Not the Other Way Around. By David Stein / The Intercept

The politics of race relations have been a central part of Biden’s career, from his high-profile opposition to busing to his authoring of the 1994 Biden Crime Bill. When he talks about his criminal justice record on the campaign trail, he argues today that the focus on the ’94 bill is unfair, because the real rise in mass incarceration happened at the state level and was long underway by then. Biden is correct that the surge began in the 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s, but a closer look at his role reveals that it was Biden who was among the principal and earliest movers of the policy agenda that would become the war on drugs and mass incarceration, and he did so in the face of initial reluctance from none other than President Ronald Reagan. Read more

The Joe Biden wokeness paradox: Can black voters support him and also hold him accountable? By D. Watkins / Salon

On Sunday, former Vice President and current Democratic presidential primary frontrunner Joe Biden delivered a speech to commemorate the 56th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Perhaps somebody working on his campaign figured that Biden wasn’t connecting with black voters as well as he could be. Read more

The parking garage beating lasted 10 seconds. DeAndre Harris still lives with the damage. By Ian Shapira / Wash Post

DeAndre Harris, one of hundreds of counterprotesters at the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally, ran straight into a trap: The African American special-education aide scrambled into a downtown Charlottesville parking garage, where six men linked to militia or white-supremacist groups pummeled his 5-foot-10, 135-pound frame, all of it captured on video seen hundreds of thousands of times. Read more

How Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Novel Reckons With the Past. By Eric Herschthal / The New Republic

This was the “terrible burden” that America’s mythologized past placed on black people: the burden of not just protesting a false history, but of recovering a truthful one—“the burden of summoning our own departed hands, so that they, too, may leave a mark.” Coates’s debut novel, The Water Dancer, is his attempt to summon those hands. On its surface, it is a traditional resistance narrative, a book whose central character, Hiram Walker, is an enslaved man in antebellum Virginia who ends up working for the Underground Railroad. But its most enduring concern is remembrance, or rather, recovery: the need for black people to recover a part of their history that conjures so much pain, and for white people to recover their own debt to that history. Read more

William F. Buckley Jr. vs. James Baldwin: A racial showdown on the American dream. By Gillian Brockell / Wash Post

The debate is the subject of a new book by political scientist Nicholas Buccola, “The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America.” Buccola takes a different view of why Buckley lost that night in February 1965. Buckley “never really took Baldwin seriously as an intellectual adversary,” Buccola said in an interview with The Washington Post. “He just sort of treated him as a threat to what he believed in, and he distorted Baldwin’s views to try to advance his agenda.” The debate was recorded and broadcast repeatedly in the United Kingdom and the United States in 1965, and now has an everlasting life on YouTube, where it has received more than a million views. Read more

Exploring the intersection of sports and criminal justice reform. By Sean Hurd / The Undefeated

From left to right: Maya Moore, Michael G. Rubin and Clinton Yates sit on a panel discussing the intersection of criminal justice and sports on Sept. 17 at The Google Space in Washington, D.C.  The time for national criminal justice reform is now and the opportunity for athletes to effect that change has never been greater. That was the primary takeaway from a discussion Tuesday centered on criminal justice reform and sports. Read more

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