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  • Originally published 04/03/2014

    How David Brion Davis came to study slavery

    David Brion Davis, age eighty-six, has published the final volume in the trilogy he inaugurated with The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (PSWC) and continued with The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770–1823 (PSAR) in 1975.

  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    Peniel E. Joseph: Trayvon, Race and American Democracy

    Peniel E. Joseph is founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and a professor of history at Tufts University. He is also the Caperton Fellow for the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. He is the author of Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America and Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama. His biography of Stokely Carmichael will be published next year by Basic Books. He can be reached online at penielejoseph.com. Follow him on Twitter.

  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    Anthea Butler: The Zimmerman Acquittal -- America’s Racist God

    Anthea Butler is a Contributing Editor to Religion Dispatches. Her forthcoming book, "The Gospel According To Sarah: How Sarah Palin and her Tea Party Angels are Galvanizing the Religious Right" will be out in 2012.The not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman case has me thinking a lot about a book I first encountered in seminary, Is God a White Racist?, by the Rev. Dr. Bill Jones. As a budding seminary student, it took me by surprise. Now, as a wiser, older professor looking at the needless death of Trayvon Martin, I have to say: I get it.God ain’t good all of the time. In fact, sometimes, God is not for us. As a black woman in a nation that has taken too many pains to remind me that I am not a white man, and am not capable of taking care of my reproductive rights, or my voting rights, I know that this American god ain’t my god. As a matter of fact, I think he’s a white racist god with a problem. More importantly, he is carrying a gun and stalking young black men.

  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    Professor Anthea Butler calls God a 'white racist' in blog about Zimmerman trial

    The not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman case has me thinking a lot about a book I first encountered in seminary, Is God a White Racist?, by the Rev. Dr. Bill Jones. As a budding seminary student, it took me by surprise. Now, as a wiser, older professor looking at the needless death of Trayvon Martin, I have to say: I get it.God ain’t good all of the time. In fact, sometimes, God is not for us. As a black woman in a nation that has taken too many pains to remind me that I am not a white man, and am not capable of taking care of my reproductive rights, or my voting rights, I know that this American god ain’t my god. As a matter of fact, I think he’s a white racist god with a problem. More importantly, he is carrying a gun and stalking young black men.

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Daniel Levinson Wilk: Paula Deen's Racist Wedding Fantasy Was Once Reality

    Daniel Levinson Wilk is an associate professor of American history at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The opinions expressed are his own.Paula Deen is in trouble. Last month, in a deposition for a discrimination suit brought by an employee, the Food Network star blithely admitted to using racial slurs. Perhaps equally disturbing, she also said she had fantasized about throwing a slavery-themed wedding for her brother, an idea that came to her after eating at a restaurant with an all-black staff.Deen has apologized, though the Food Network has announced that it won’t renew her contract. Whatever her motivations, she tapped into a long history of slavery fantasy in the U.S.

  • Originally published 06/25/2013

    Oregon school board votes to drop high school's 'Redskins' name after ninety years

    Despite strong opposition from local residents, an Oregon school board voted unanimously to drop a high school’s “Redskins” name and mascot after nearly ninety years.Dozens of students and community leaders crowded into Port Townsend High School’s auditorium late Monday and told the Port Townsend School Board they wanted to keep the mascot. Those comments angered Frank Boushie, a Native American who moved to Washington state three decades ago, Q13Fox.com reports.“It was so racist in there, it was unbelievable,” he said. “They just don’t get it.”...

  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    Ex-official: Heritage has betrayed Reagan

    During the Reagan Revolution, the Heritage Foundation was seen as the soul of the free market conservative revival. As senior vice president for research at the think tank from 1981 through 1992, Burton Pines was in charge of its intellectual output — “If Heritage were General Motors, I ran the factory,” he says — but as Heritage comes under fire this week for a controversial immigration report, Pines says the storied organization has lost its way.“It’s a new Heritage and it’s one that’s not standing by the principles of Ronald Reagan,” he told Salon Thursday. “I’m puzzled why they came out with this study and I’m more puzzled why they seem to be against immigration.”The foundation’s new report, which estimates that immigration reform will cost taxpayers $6 trillion, has touched off a civil war on the right....

  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    Ira Katznelson: The Racist History of the New Deal

    WPA Poster, 1935.When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, the United States faced uncertainty and imminent peril at home and abroad. The unemployment rate was 25 percent. Systems of credit and banking were broken and the stock market had lost 80 percent of its value since the 1929 crash. Factories were abandoned. Thousands of families lost their homes. There was no social safety net for millions of impoverished men, women and children. At the same time, liberal democracies struggled as brutal dictatorships in Germany, Russia and Italy flourished, and some Americans feared complete disintegration of the social order and revolution.

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    German outpost born of racism in 1887 blends into Paraguay

    NUEVA GERMANIA, Paraguay — The year was 1887 when two of the best-known German anti-Semites of the time put down stakes here in Paraguay’s remote jungle with 14 German families screened for their racial purity.The team of Bernhard Förster and his wife, Elisabeth, the sister of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, had an ambitious plan: nothing less than the establishment of a colony from which an advance contingent of Aryans could forge a claim to the entire South American continent.But the continent had other plans for this new Fatherland....

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    South Dakota tries to change "Negro" and "squaw" place-names

    South Dakota is finding it difficult to change time-worn names of locations that are seen as offensive by African-Americans and Native Americans, such as "Negro" and "squaw" creeks, canyons and mountain ridges.The state issued a plea this month for public assistance in renaming five geographic features. The five are part of a total of 18 sites that include the word "squaw" or "Negro" in their names and have been designated by the legislature as needing renaming.But some of the replacement names suggested by the South Dakota Board of Geographic Names have been rejected by an obscure federal body called the U.S. Board on Geographic Names....

  • Originally published 04/09/2013

    Accidental Racists and More: A Field Guide to the Racists of America

    Do you think racists are all the same? You are wrong. Country star Brad Paisley announced to the world on Monday that he is an "Accidental Racist" in a song that has earned lots of criticism. Before we unpack how one can be accidental about their racism (and why that doesn't exucse the racism), perhaps, in a way, he's onto something. While racism is pretty much just racism there are so many different species of racists....

  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    A post-racial US? Supreme Court may nullify civil rights policies as outdated in era of Obama

    WASHINGTON — Has the nation lived down its history of racism and should the law become colorblind?Addressing two pivotal legal issues, one on affirmative action and a second on voting rights, a divided Supreme Court is poised to answer those questions.In one case, the issue is whether race preferences in university admissions undermine equal opportunity more than they promote the benefits of racial diversity. Just this past week, justices signaled their interest in scrutinizing affirmative action very intensely, expanding their review as well to a Michigan law passed by voters that bars “preferential treatment” to students based on race. Separately in a second case, the court must decide whether race relations — in the South, particularly — have improved to the point that federal laws protecting minority voting rights are no longer warranted....

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    CPAC attendee: "Why can’t we just have segregation?"

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — A panel at the Conservative Political Action Committee on Republican minority outreach exploded into controversy on Friday afternoon, after an audience member defended slavery as good for African-Americans.The exchange occurred after an audience member from North Carolina, 30-year-old Scott Terry, asked whether Republicans could endorse races remaining separate but equal. After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, the audience member said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Terry’s outburst.After the exchange, Terry muttered under his breath, “why can’t we just have segregation?” noting the Constitution’s protections for freedom of association. ...

  • Originally published 03/14/2013

    Lawrence Bobo: Quiet Bias: The Racism of 2013

    Lawrence D. Bobo is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. He is a contributing editor for The Root.(The Root) -- America is not yet done with the illness of racism, the electoral success of Barack Obama notwithstanding. Yet most white folks don't want to talk about or hear about race anymore. And a good many black folks fret that it is strategically wiser for us to let it alone for now.I am uncomfortable with both prescriptions. Some underlying maladies, to be sure, do heal on their own. Despite its modern subtlety and complexity, however, the current strain of racism infecting the U.S. is unlikely to be self-healing.

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Chuck Thompson: Is Racism Worse in the South?

    Chuck Thompson is the author of BETTER OFF WITHOUT ’EM: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession.In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court arguments over the Voting Rights Act, the geography of racism is once again a topic of debate. None other than Chief Justice John Roberts kicked things off when he asked the act’s defenders—that would be the U.S. government—a 20-word question that brilliantly framed the entire debate: “Is it the government’s submission that the citizens of the South are more racist than the citizens of the North?” Roberts asked, pinning a very ragged tail on a very ugly donkey.Unlike most debates about this question, this one has real implications. The landmark act requires that areas of the country with a particularly virulent history of racial discrimination must receive federal approval before making changes in their voting laws. To no one’s surprise, the majority of the states covered by Section 5 are located in the South. If the answer is “yes,” then a reasonable case can be made for upholding the existing law....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Daniel Henninger: Is the South Still Racist?

    Daniel Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.At times even a chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court finds it useful, as the saying goes, to put the hay down where the goats can get it. And so it was last week in oral arguments over a big voting-rights case.At issue in Shelby County v. Holder was whether some states in the American South, unlike many states in the North, must still submit any change in voting practices to the Justice Department for approval, as required by one section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted, the practical enforcement of this provision is mainly directed at Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.After listening to his liberal colleagues argue that Alabama's election practices, as interpreted by various legal formulas four decades after the law's passage, still discriminate against blacks, Chief Justice John Roberts put the hay down in front of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli....

  • Originally published 02/26/2013

    Census drops term "Negro"

    The Census Bureau is finally dropping its century-old reference to black Americans as “Negros,” and adopting more modern-day lingo — “black” or “African American.”The change goes into effect next year, The Associated Press reports. That’s when the next American Community Survey is due for distribution to an estimated 3.5 million homes, AP reported.The use of Negro stems from 1900, when it replaced the term “colored,” AP reports. In the 1960s, blacks then began identifying themselves as “blacks,” or “African Americans.” Few nowadays use the term Negro at all, and many find it offensive, said Nicholas Jones, chief of the racial statistics branch at the Census Bureau, according to AP....

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    Smithsonian American Indian museum tackles racist stereotypes, mascots in American sports

    WASHINGTON — The Washington Redskins’ team name has been the subject of legal battles, political debate and now will be part of a scholarly discussion at the Smithsonian about the use of Native American mascots and nicknames in American sports.The National Museum of the American Indian will host a daylong symposium Thursday entitled “Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports.” Scholars, sports writers and Native Americans will gather for the public discussion.The Redskins’ name, perhaps the most visible, has been the subject of ongoing debate. As recently as Tuesday night, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray specifically avoided saying the name of Washington’s NFL franchise in his State of the District speech and instead referred to “our Washington football team.”...

  • Originally published 02/05/2013

    Michael Lind: The White South’s Last Defeat

    Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation. In understanding the polarization and paralysis that afflict national politics in the United States, it is a mistake to think in terms of left and right. The appropriate directions are North and South. To be specific, the long, drawn-out, agonizing identity crisis of white Southerners is having effects that reverberate throughout our federal union. The transmission mechanism is the Republican Party, an originally Northern party that has now replaced the Southern wing of the Democratic Party as the vehicle for the dwindling white Southern tribe....

  • Originally published 02/04/2013

    Why the Volkswagen Super Bowl Ad Isn't Racist

    It was appropriate that in the pre-game festivities leading up to the Super Bowl from New Orleans, with so many of the musicians descended from African American ancestors who remembered their native language(s), played the “Iko, Iko” song, directly created from their ancestors’ blended languages.“My grandma and your grandma Were sittin’ by the fire. My grandma told your grandma: ‘I’m gonna set your flag on fire.’Talkin' 'bout: Hey now! Hey now! Iko, Iko, unday Jockamo feeno ai nane`. Jockamo fee nane`.*

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    MLK's dream still not fulfilled, son says

    As he looked across a room filled with civil rights veterans, White House officials and leaders from corporate America, Martin Luther King III said that the issues his father championed and died for have yet to be fulfilled in many communities across the country.“My heart is heavy today! A people who do not remember their history are doomed to repeat their mistakes,” said King, who spoke at a luncheon in the District, sponsored by the National Action Network, that was held on what would have been his father’s 84th birthday.The Rev. Al Sharpton, the group’s president, hosted events in Washington and New York on Tuesday in honor of the slain civil rights leader, but he told community leaders to beware of reducing King’s legacy to the commemorative events held around his birthday.“Martin Luther King can’t be reduced to a ceremony,” Sharpton said....

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    Blain Roberts: The Ugly Side of the Southern Belle

    Blain Roberts, an assistant professor of history at California State University, Fresno, is the author of the forthcoming book “Pretty Women: Female Beauty in the Jim Crow and Civil Rights South.”...From 1921, when the contest began in Atlantic City, through World War II, only one woman representing a former Confederate state won the competition. Then, beginning in 1947, when a woman from Memphis earned the top honor, the fortunes of Southern contestants rose precipitously. From 1950 to 1963, seven southerners were crowned (each served the following year), including back-to-back wins by Mississippians in 1958 and 1959 — though southerners made up only one-fifth of the possible winners.These were, of course, the years when black Southerners opened a full-scale campaign against Jim Crow, prompting a bitter backlash by white Southerners. White resistance began in earnest in 1954, when the Supreme Court issued Brown v. Board of Education, its decision to desegregate public schools.

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