Here is your week in review, in haiku.
The skies over Sweet
Home Alabama stayed blue
but the government
did not stay true. There
will be many songs written
about this era
of Brexits delayed,
and wars about trade, memes filled
with nothing but shade,
chefs offer much-needed aid.
Songs about sharpies,
hustlers and boosters
and us, during these endless
and slow-moving storms.
Rest and rebuild over the weekend, if you can.
What about Muslim voters? And what do Muslim voters want? It turns out to be a complicated question, at least as it is framed in this piece from The New Republic. It’s not just the obvious connection to Middle East politics, particularly as it relates to Israel. But as Nick Martin points out, in 2016, the Muslim-American vote in Dearborn, Mich., delivered the primary to Bernie Sanders and contributed to Hillary Clinton’s narrow defeat in the state. But understanding the Muslim vote will be necessary for any serious Democratic contender to succeed. “Between the first two Democratic debates this summer, just two minutes were allotted to discussing the Trump Administration’s travel ban on five Muslim-majority countries,” he points out. And what about the President’s repeated attacks on Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib? “Democratic leadership’s defense of their fellow party members has been tepid, at best, considering the severity of the threats.” The New Republic
The workaround that’s contributing to the re-segregation of the nation’s schools It’s called, of course, secession, and it’s a tactic being adopted by wealthier and whiter school districts across the nation to “exit” existing districts, often with the stated goal of maintaining control of local education. A new study focusing on seven counties in Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee says the impacts are “profound” and finds that the schemes benefit white communities at the expense of black ones. A federal appeals court ruling in February addressed Gardendale, Alabama’s plan to create a new school district, declaring “that the Gardendale Board acted with a discriminatory purpose to exclude black children from the proposed school system.” CBS News
The NFL, Jay Z, and Roc Nation taking heat for contribution to controversial Chicago-based organization The organization is called Crusher’s Club, and it runs a boxing/leadership development program for kids living in Chicago’s low-income areas. They are the recipients of a $200,000 grant from Inspire Change, the do-gooding collaboration between the NFL and Jay Z’s Roc Nation company. But the organization is under fire for earlier social media posts using the term “All Lives Matter” and truly appalling photos of their white founder, Sally Hazelgrove, looming over the dreadlocked head of a black teen boy with a pair of scissors, implying that cutting his hair was a “symbolic of change and their desire for a better life.” The Daily Beast
Stumbling toward thought leadership Maybe you, like me, have stood on a stage in front of a live audience of your peers, your deck of slides at the ready, and suddenly had that stupid hater voice pop into your head to set you back on your imposter heels: “Wow, you are about to be so full of shit.” Let the nightmare come to life! In a truly hilarious presentation (and commentary on the modern age), improv master Anthony Veneziale stepped on the TED stage, was given a lofty persona (he leads an imaginary team at MIT!!!), a Quixotic and compelling theme, and a set of slides he’d never seen before. Dammit, if that man didn’t deliver a near-perfect talk, filled with quasi-scientific possibility speak and soaring rhetoric that sounded ridiculously plausible. By the end of it, I was ready to buy his book on the subject, if it had only existed. The whole thing is as delicious as guacamole, trust me. TED
What Alcindor and Simpson meant Bijan C. Bayne is one of my favorite cultural critics and authors, and has an exceptional flair for analysis, particularly on the intersecting worlds of sports, race, power, and fame. (The man also always has his facts on display. Respect.) In this long read, he explores the parallel rises of basketball’s Lew Alcindor (now, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and football’s O.J. Simpson who, in 1969, were “two young heroes, twins in timing and triumph but not in temperament.” He also recalls how the world met their transition from their exceptional college careers to professional sports. “Their impending professionalism invited attention and judgment, even from people close to them,” a kind of betrayal that rankled one but not the other. What’s particularly fascinating is how each of the athletes navigated their early days of wealth and prestige, and how they responded to a world that had strong ideas about how black men should express themselves. The Undefeated
Rod Serling was a really good guy Serling was the host and creative force behind The Twilight Zone, the classic science fiction anthology show that’s been given a modern life thanks to Jordan Peele. But it’s worth remembering just how important Serling was. He was a prolific television writer, but he was also a civil rights supporter, a staunch anti-war activist, and a World War II combat veteran who never fully recovered from the horrors he experienced. Click through for a fascinating 1959 interview with the Emmy Award winning Serling and a fast-talking Mike Wallace, where they addressed, among many things, how advertisers were censoring programming and how networks diluted the treatment of vital topics like racism. And, he knew about cancel culture. Around the 5-minute mark, he launches into a story about a coordinated postcard complaint campaign (with identical postmarks and handwriting) calling an episode of Lassie, in which the beloved collie had puppies, “a sex show.” The episode was pulled. “It is this wild lunatic fringe of letter writers that greatly affect what the sponsor has in mind,” he said. Then, he came for the Nazis. Enjoy the chain-smoking. PBS
Tamara El-Waylly helps write and produce raceAhead.
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“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the earth into a graveyard, into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance—then we become the gravediggers.”
—Rod Serling, from The Twilight Zone episode, “Deaths-Head Revisited,” 1961.