In the News #BigIsms | Daring To Speak Up | Captive Labor | White Scholars | Cherokee Freedman | Black Flight
Daring to Speak Up About Race in a Divided School District
Daniel Bergner, September 6, 2022, The New York Times Magazine
The Leelanau Peninsula looks, on a map of Michigan, like a thick pinky with a gnarled tip. In the northern reaches of the state, it lies between Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. It’s a place of cherry and plum orchards, long stretches of road bordered by forests and fields and monumental, surreal sand dunes.
Demographically, the peninsula and adjacent mainland could hardly be more homogeneous; the population is over 90 percent white. But politically, the area is starkly divided. Conservatives worry that their territory is turning “as blue as Ann Arbor,” as one centrist Republican put it, and liberals see Trump 2024 banners draped over the fronts of neighbors’ houses and, on a few houses and trucks, Confederate flags. The peninsula — whose economy spans agriculture, tourism and, lately, an influx of people with the luxury of remote work, and where houses range from grand domains by the water to mobile homes just inland — voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and, by a slight margin, for Joe Biden in 2020, while the surrounding counties went overwhelmingly to Trump in 2016 and a bit less so in the last election. Some members of the Wolverine Watchmen militia will soon stand trial in Traverse City, at the peninsula’s base, on state charges of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic governor from her summer cottage close by.
Captive Labor: Exploitation of Incarcerated Workers
American Civil Liberties Union
Captive Labor: Exploitation of Incarcerated Workers, an ACLU research report produced in collaboration with the Global Human Rights Clinic of the University of Chicago Law School, examines the use of prison labor throughout state and federal prisons in the U.S. Bringing together interviews and surveys of incarcerated workers, analysis of government data, desk research, and policy review, this comprehensive report documents the harsh conditions and unfair practices, highlighting how incarcerated workers’ labor helps maintain prisons and provides vital public services. The report also includes a focus on prison labor during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report calls for far-reaching reforms to ensure prison labor is truly voluntary and that incarcerated workers are paid fairly, properly trained, and able to gain transferable skills. These calls are accompanied by concrete recommendations for federal, state, and local stakeholders to improve these conditions and ensure that prison systems treat incarcerated workers with dignity and respect.
Sisters of the revolution: the women of the Black Panther party
Sean O’Hagan, 4 September 2022, The Guardian
Stephen Shames had just turned 20 when he visited the headquarters of the Black Panther party in Oakland, California, and showed some of his recent photographs to Bobby Seale, co-founder and main spokesman for the organisation. Though Shames was still finding his way as a photographer, Seale liked what he saw and decided to use some of the pictures in the Black Panther newspaper. So it was that a young white guy from Cambridge, Massachusetts became the official chronicler of the Black Panthers from 1967 to 1973, documenting their community programmes, protests, rallies, arrests and funerals at close hand.
“The Panthers were never a black nationalist organisation,” says Shames, now 74. “They formed alliances with many black writers and activists and their whole legal team was white. They were not out to get white people, as the American government insisted. They were a revolutionary organisation who worked with anybody they felt was sincerely trying to change the system to benefit poor people and create a more just society.”
Historians advise the president. The problem? The scholars were all white.
Sandhya Dirks, September 4, 2022, National Public Radio
When President Biden spoke on Sept. 1st, to tell the nation that democracy is in danger, his warnings echoed the words of many who have been paying attention. Especially those who study the past.
Not a month earlier, the president met with a group of handpicked historians who told him that democracy was teetering, hanging on by a thread.
After The Washington Post reported on the historians meeting, it didn't take long for some to raise questions, not about the fact that democracy is in peril, but about the monochromatic makeup of those delivering that message.
It seemed the Biden administration had only invited white experts to advise the president — four historians and one journalist: Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, University of Virginia historian Allida Black, presidential historians Michael Beschloss and Jon Meacham, who is also an occasional speechwriter for Biden, and journalist and Atlantic staff writer Anne Applebaum.
But it wasn't only the lack of diversity in that group, it was where that lack of diversity seemed to lead.
The Cherokee Nation reckons with its history of slavery in a new exhibit
Harmeet Kaur, September 7, 2022, CNN
From life before European contact to the Trail of Tears to the modern-day tribal government, the Cherokee National History Museum tells the long, rich story of the Cherokee people.
But one of the darkest chapters of Cherokee history remained absent from its walls, until recently.
The Cherokee National History Museum in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, opened a new exhibit last month about the Cherokee Freedmen, or the Black people once enslaved by the tribe. The exhibit, titled “We Are Cherokee: Cherokee Freedmen and the Right to Citizenship,” details the decades-long fight by Freedmen and their descendants to be recognized as citizens of the tribe, illuminating it through art, family photos, enrollment applications and other records.
The display, which greets museum visitors as they first walk in, is one of several recent steps taken by the Cherokee Nation to reckon with its history of slavery.
What’s Causing Black Flight?
Jerusalem Demsas, September 6, 2022, The Atlantic
Where did all the Black people go? If you live in an urban neighborhood and don’t spend your free time looking at the U.S. census, you might ask yourself this question, puzzled by the dissonance between the evidence of your eyes and your vague sense that most Black people live in cities, right?
In the U.S., the terms inner city and urban have long been code words for Black areas. They are used to evoke the stereotype of a Black underclass, confined to public-housing units or low-income housing, entrenching the belief that this population is somehow inherently meant for city life while also denigrating city life as dirty, crowded, and utterly undesirable. During the 2016 presidential debates, for instance, then-candidate Donald Trump repeatedly referred to African Americans living in “the inner cities.” When asked about the nation’s racial divide or being a president to “all the people in the United States,” he repeatedly evoked the stereotype that Black people largely live in inner cities wracked by crime.