Maryland Launches an Investigation on Racial Terror Lynchings: raceAhead

Maryland has started a commission to seek justice for victims of racial terror.

Here’s your week in review, in haiku.

Teach the parents well,

with record-players and health

care. What’s to debate

besides death threats for

Beto and whether Castro

is really that mean?

As Epstein dollars

keep popping up in high tone

places, the world keeps

making tragedies

to memorialize. Kids

shot, evacuees

turned away, as the

kindness of celebrity

chefs now feed us all.


On Point

Maryland seeks justice for victims of racial terror A new commission in Maryland launched last night, empaneled to investigate some 40 racial terror lynchings that are believed to have occurred between 1854 and 1933. “We’re losing the last physical eyewitnesses to some of these events,” says the great Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “But it’s not too late.” The commission was created by a bill passed unanimously by the state’s house and senate. Part of the commission’s work will be to show how previous government efforts to identify the perpetrators actually worked to conceal the crimes.


SNL welcomes the first Asian American cast member…but Remember yesterday when we were happy? In a historic first, Bowen Yang has joined as the series as a staff writer for season 44, now in season 45, he’ll be in regular rotation on set. While Leslie Jones will be sorely missed, at least Yang will be ready to go for all the Kim Jong Un sketches that feel inevitable this season. Also joining the cast are Groundlings performer Chloe Fineman and comedian Shane Gillis, who… wait for it… turns out to have enjoyed lots of homophobic and racist comedic bits in his past! So, mixed feelings. Click through for the ugly laugh lines.


‘I think diversity is great… for you’ Problem: A new study published by a team of researchers in the psychology department at the University of Basel found that people were totally excited about choosing diverse teams for other people, but when given the opportunity to construct their own teams, tended to choose people who were like themselves to a “significant” degree. “This leads to the conclusion that organizations could become more diverse if hiring and team decisions were not (only) made by those directly affected, but (also) by other people who are not directly involved in the group’s daily work later,” they say. Solution: Let raceAhead choose your teams.

Science Daily

Joan Johnson, co-founder of the first black-owned company traded on the American Stock Exchange, has died Johnson, along with her husband George, founded Johnson Products in 1954, and became the major player in the black hair marketplace, with famous brands like Afro Sheen and Ultra Sheen. They started with a $250 investment and a small facility on Chicago’s South Side, and turned it into a $40 million business by 1976. They were also the first company to sponsor the weekly dance and music show, Soul Train, and helped take the Chicago-based show and the artists they promoted to a national audience. She was also a trustee of Spelman College, an historically black women’s college in Atlanta. “For having such a string of ‘firsts’ and being comfortable in that environment, I look at my mother as a pioneer,” Eric Johnson tells the Chicago Sun-Times. “She and my father had no provided path. They created a path where there was none.”

Chicago Sun-Times

On Background

Behold: An Afro Sheen commercial starring Frederick Douglass In honor of the passing of the great Joan Johnson, I present to you this classic example of the kind of marketing that made black-owned businesses so important back in the day; it was really an op-ed and history lesson in disguise. It was featured on Soul Train, back in the 1970s. While Douglass’s tribute to the dignity of natural black hair may not rank among his most powerful speeches, he made his point and stayed firmly on message. Even then, he was doing an amazing job. The commercial is also a poignant look back at a time of tremendous cultural transformation. It’s a hair product! It’s a revolution! It’s a hair product and a revolution!


How to hire neurodiverse talent Companies looking to welcome autistic people into their ranks need to look beyond the now growing body of accommodation strategies. You’ll need to think more carefully about how you get them in the door in the first place, says Katherine Breward, an associate professor of business and administration at University of Winnipeg. Begin by re-thinking the interview process. “People with autism often have sensory processing issues as well as difficulties understanding body language, facial expressions, vocal tone and social norms,” she says. Pick quiet spaces with low lighting, and avoid meeting over lunch to minimize distractions. And don’t use interview panels. “During sequential interviews, candidates see multiple interviewers, but not all at the same time,” says Breward. “Candidates with autism can be more fairly assessed using this method, although caution needs to be taken not to schedule too many interviews too closely together.”

The Conversation

In Search of the Latin American Literary Canon Writer Alejandra Oliva notes with displeasure the white, Western authors who are permanent fixtures on “essential reading lists.” “A Shakespeare play or two, some Hemingway or Faulkner, To Kill a Mockingbird so you can talk about how white people were nice enough to end racism,” she says. While these books offer valuable insights into white, Western culture, they’re not enough to understand the world. She offers nine books you may not be familiar that she says are among the foundational texts of Latinidad, framed as alternatives. Loved Catcher in the Rye? Try, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez. Are you being forced to read Ulysses by James Joyce? Try, Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar. Enjoy.


Tamara El-Waylly helps write and produce raceAhead.

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“The problem is so to adjust the relations between two races of different ethnic type that the rights of neither be abridged nor jeoparded; that the backward race be trained so that it may enter into the possession of true freedom while the forward race is enabled to preserve unharmed the high civilization wrought out by its forefathers. The working out of this problem must necessarily be slow; it is not possible in offhand fashion to obtain or to confer the priceless boons of freedom, industrial efficiency, political capacity, and domestic morality. Nor is it only necessary to train the colored man; it is quite as necessary to train the white man, for on his shoulders rests a well-nigh unparalleled sociological responsibility. It is a problem demanding the best thought, the utmost patience, the most earnest effort, the broadest charity, of the statesman, the student, the philanthropist; of the leaders of thought in every department of our national life.”

—Theodore Roosevelt

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