5 of the worst whitesplaining excuses for racism | In The News: Harvard, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Top Photo: 2016 found a number of white folks giving half-assed apologies for racist behavior.

READ: 5 of the worst whitesplaining excuses for racism | Fusion

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In the News

In Covering Civil Rights, Reporter Enhanced His Words With Film

Rachel L. Swarns and Darcy Eveleigh, Feb. 4, 2017, The New York Times

The copper-jacketed bullet tore through a civil rights worker’s shoulder, stopping within an inch of his spine. The shotgun blast shattered the car windows of four voting rights activists and gouged the wall of a nearby home.

And a fire destroyed voter registration equipment and materials outside the city’s Voter Registration Headquarters, leaving the street strewn with rubble.

It was 1963 in Greenwood, Miss., a major battleground in the fight for civil rights, and white officials were playing down and ignoring a series of attacks intended to discourage thousands of African-Americans from registering to vote.

Claude Sitton, the renowned New York Times correspondent, shot photos and took meticulous notes, exposing the racial violence with his pen and with his lens.

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Of all the stats about US prisons, Louisiana’s incarceration rate is among the most shocking. For every 100,000 residents, 868 are in state prison. That’s 0.86% of Louisiana’s population, or nearly 1 in 100 (the worst among all states).

This is what people must mean by mass incarceration.

Instead of debating drug reform or systemic police discrimination, we want to understand prison rates historically. Inspired by Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th, we began with the idea that the South’s approach to incarceration has its roots in slavery. Or more specifically, in the Jim Crow laws that targeted former slaves after the Civil War. These laws were eventually abolished, but we know that their legacy continues to the present day. Louisiana’s tragic incarceration rate is just one example among many.

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Harriet Tubman fled a life of slavery in Maryland. Now a new visitor center opens on the land she escaped.
By Michael E. Ruane, March 4, 2017, The Washington Post

CHURCH CREEK, MD. — She preferred moving in the darkness of long winter nights.  She didn’t wait for late passengers: The “train” for Zion always left on time.  And she carried a pistol, in case of trouble or flagging hearts.

Her branch of the line began here, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, near places like Tobacco Stick, Kentuck Swamp, and Skeleton Creek, off the Choptank River, to the north.

She was small and the color of a chestnut, as her owner described her when she first ran away. But she was hardened by whippings and work on the timber gangs, and she knew the wilderness as well as a hunter.

On March 11, the National Park Service and the Maryland State Park Service plan to unveil a new visitor center here dedicated to the life and mission of abolitionist and legendary Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman.

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By Jennifer Schuessler, March 5, 2017, The New York TimesCAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In 1976, archivists at Harvard’s natural history museum opened a drawer and discovered a haunting portrait of a shirtless enslaved man named Renty, gazing sorrowfully but steadily at the camera.  Taken on a South Carolina plantation in 1850, it had been used by the Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz to formulate his now-discredited ideas about racial difference.

On Friday, Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, stood at a lectern under a projection of Renty’s face and began a rather different enterprise: a major public conference exploring the long-neglected connections between universities and slavery.

Harvard had been “directly complicit” in slavery, Ms. Faust acknowledged, before moving to a more present-minded statement of purpose.

“Only by coming to terms with history,” she said, “can we free ourselves to create a more just world.”

FOOTNOTE:

The gathering, which featured a keynote address by the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, (above) drew an overflow crowd of about 500, including researchers from more than 30 campuses.  Between sessions, there was plenty of chatter about grants and administration politics, as well as some wry amazement, as one scholar was overheard saying that “something we’ve been talking about for 200 years has suddenly become urgent.”

//embed.wbur.org/player/hereandnow/2015/12/04/harvard-law-royall-family

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