Before the Civil War, colonization schemes and black laws threatened to deport former slaves born in the United States. Birthright Citizens recovers the story of how African American activists remade national belonging through battles in legislatures, conventions, and courthouses. They faced formidable opposition, most notoriously from the US Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott. Still, Martha S. Jones explains, no single case defined their status. Former slaves studied law, secured allies, and conducted themselves like citizens, establishing their status through local, everyday claims. All along they argued that birth guaranteed their rights. With fresh archival sources and an ambitious reframing of constitutional law-making before the Civil War, Jones shows how the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, and black Americans' aspirations were realized. Birthright Citizens tells how African American activists radically transformed the terms of citizenship for all Americans.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.
"As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power--which groups have it and which do not."
In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people's lives and behavior and the nation's fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people--including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball's Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others--she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.
Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.
In 2000, the United States census allowed respondents for the first time to tick a box marked “African American” in the race category. The new option marked official recognition of a term that had been gaining currency for some decades. Africa has always played a role in black identity, but it was in the tumultuous period between the two world wars that black Americans first began to embrace a modern African American identity.
Following the great migration of black southerners to northern cities after World War I, the search for roots and for meaningful affiliations became subjects of debate and display in a growing black public sphere. Throwing off the legacy of slavery and segregation, black intellectuals, activists, and organizations sought a prouder past in ancient Egypt and forged links to contemporary Africa. In plays, pageants, dance, music, film, literature, and the visual arts, they aimed to give stature and solidity to the American black community through a new awareness of the African past and the international black world. Their consciousness of a dual identity anticipated the hyphenated identities of new immigrants in the years after World War II, and an emerging sense of what it means to be a modern American.
Total impulse buy.
Two small towns, one in Idaho, the other in Upstate New York, try to decide whether to change the nickname of their high school sports teams: The Redskins. Photo: Emblem in the main foyer at Teton High school in Driggs, Idaho. Photo by John Biewen.
More from suburban St. Louis, post-Ferguson, on the popular notion that sports unites communities. Can the camaraderie of a team sport make race and class status “disappear” for the kids involved or their parents? Scene on Radio host and producer John Biewen hangs with a girls’ high school basketball team to test the idea. Photo: Pattonville High School basketball players
Can a winning baseball team bring St. Louis together post-Ferguson? John Biewen investigates in the inaugural episode of Scene On Radio, a new podcast of audio stories from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
How the utopian kingdom at the center of Black Panther falls into a long history of black liberation struggles.
On Sunday night, Marvel’s Black Panther film won the Oscar for three of its six Academy Award nominations: Ludwig Göransson for Best Original Score, Ruth E. Carter for Best Costume Design and Hannah Beachler and Jay R. Hart for Best Production design — just a few of the artists who helped bring Wakanda, the Black Panther’s mythical homeland, to life.
A persistent site for utopian longing, Wakanda has once more captured the public imagination: endowed with unlimited access to the most precious natural resource in the world, unsullied by the ravages of colonialism, Wakanda has reignited conversations about what black liberation can and should look like. According to Johns Hopkins University history professor Nathan Connolly, this latest chapter is part of a much longer tradition of imagining and reimagining black utopias. Connolly speaks with Brooke about how Wakanda arises from a 500-year history — from Maroon communities to Haiti to the actual Black Panther movement — a journey that takes us from "dreams to art to life, and back again."
This segment originally aired on February 23rd, 2018.
This racial dot map is an American snapshot; it provides an accessible visualization of geographic distribution, population density, and racial diversity of the American people in every neighborhood in the entire country. The map displays 308,745,538 dots, one for each person residing in the United States at the location they were counted during the 2010 Census. Each dot is color-coded by the individual’s race and ethnicity. The map is presented in both black and white and full color versions. In the color version, each dot is color-coded by race.
Black mothers and infants in the United States are far more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts. The disparity is tied intrinsically to the lived experience of being a black woman in America.
On today’s episode:
- Linda Villarosa, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine.
- Simone Landrum, a young mother in New Orleans.
- Black women in the United States are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women, and black infants are more than twice as likely to die as white babies. A growing body of research links this disparity to the toxic psychological stress experienced as a result of systemic racism.
I nearly had a panic attack while listening to this. The disparities in parts of America are so painful and distressing and we can, could, and should be doing more to improve them.
Birmingham, 1963. The image of a police dog viciously attacking a young black protester shocks the nation. The picture, taken in the midst of one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous marches, might be the most iconic photograph of the civil rights movement. But few have ever bothered to ask the people in the famous photograph what they think happened that day. It’s more complicated than it looks.
A man named Willie Nash is arrested for the murder of a white man in 1954, in Augusta Georgia. Witnesses place him at the scene. The victim picks him out of the lineup. He confesses. He is headed for the electric chair. Until his young black attorney, Donald L. Hollowell, mounts a defense that rivets black spectators and gives them hope.
Brown v Board of Education might be the most well-known Supreme Court decision, a major victory in the fight for civil rights. But in Topeka, the city where the case began, the ruling has left a bittersweet legacy. RH hears from the Browns, the family behind the story.
The brilliant idea here is that even the romantic view of Brown v. Board of Education many have isn’t really the victory it might have been. Because the continued racism and segregation of the teachers, things may have become even worse! The Supreme Court should and could have done better and the world would have healed a bit quicker.
Sadly we’ve still got similar problems today and they stretch across many other professions including law enforcement. I wonder what we can do to dramatically improve the teacher diversity problem?
Those who appreciated this episode are likely to appreciate this recent episode of The Daily’s podcast: Racism’s Punishing Reach which has several examples that underline the importance of teachers and provides some studies that just weren’t available at the time of Brown v. Board.
I hope to circle back and create a playlist of some of the more interesting things I’ve heard in the last year on the history of race and racism in the United States. This would certainly fit into that list.
A pastor officiates at the wedding of his son—under ordinary circumstances, an affirmation of family and community. But what if the son is gay? And what if the pastor belongs to the most traditional of religious communities?
“Generous Orthodoxy” is the story of Chester Wenger, a 98-year-old Mennonite minister who chose to confront his own church over a question of deepest principle. It asks: What do you do when the institution that has defined your life comes between you and your family? Wenger offers all of us a master class in the art of dissent.
I like the example he also provides regarding Princeton University and Woodrow Wilson, whose reputation is now waning in comparison to where it was just a few decades ago. I suspect that Gladwell’s protest idea would have worked much better, particularly in light of the recent 60 Minutes segment I saw recently: ‘60 Minutes’ features Princeton’s transformative efforts to increase socioeconomic diversity
For decades, Americans have believed that the best way to end racial inequality is to end class inequality. But a landmark 30-year study is debunking that logic.
On today’s episode:
• Emily Badger writes about cities and urban policy for The Upshot, The New York Times’s data-driven venture.
• William O. Jawando worked in the Obama administration on My Brother’s Keeper, a mentoring initiative for black boys.
• Extensive data shows the punishing reach of racism for black boys.
This story is both very powerful and painfully depressing for me, and yet I know there are many that are still far worse. I hope we can find something in these statistics that can help drastically improve the paying field.