Read An Almost Thirty Year Journey of a non-African-American Black Man Residing in the U.S. by David SamuelsDavid Samuels (DLS Partners)
Before I moved to the United States of America in 1991, I had very mixed feelings about this country that called itself a “Melting Pot.” Perhaps it was because my Jamaican parents had siblings that had emigrated here, just as my parents had emigrated to England post World War II. In actuality, I was curious about the USA because of its history and accomplishments. As a young black British boy, it did not escape me that the racial history of American and England were significantly different. I was both aware of the relationship between England and its former colonies, as well as the unique history in America to slavery, Jim Crow and segregation, and its laws and views on interracial relationships. Just as in the famous work of Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” published in 1835, he also noted the irony of the freedom-loving nation’s mistreatment of Native Americans and its embrace of slavery.
I’ve met David several times at local events including Innovate Pasadena‘s excellent Friday Morning Coffee Meetup. It was great to see his article on the front page of the Pasadena Outlook (though I’d have put it above the fold) this morning. I was saddened not to find it on the Outlook’s website, but was glad to find it living on David’s own website so I could share it. (Hooray for the independent web and David’s owning his own content!)

I share it not only because his experiences are valuable and worth noting, but because I hope that people will take a look at the leadership services he’s offering to the community as well. 

Read The latest excuses for Trump’s ‘white power’ tweet reveal his weakness by Greg SargentGreg Sargent (Washington Post)
President Trump’s reelection message is that white America is under siege — that white Americans are on the losing end of a race war. But what if white America — or, at least, a large chunk of it — isn’t buying the story that Trump is peddling?
Read Guest Opinion | Ryan Bell: It’s Time to End Policing As We Know It (Pasadena Now)
But what really surprised me at Monday’s city council meeting were the comments from council members in response to public comments. To a one, they swore they were opposed to defunding the police. This tells me that they either don’t understand what defunding the police means or they’re being deliberately obtuse. Legislators defund things all the time. Public education has been undergoing massive defunding for decades nationwide. Same with housing. But suddenly everyone is gobsmacked by the idea of reducing the funding to a city department and reallocating those resources to provide essential services in a safer, more effective way. Several councilmembers, including Mayor Tornek, said that to defund the PPD would be irresponsible and then went on to say that it’s very important that we examine the budget allocations for all departments, including the police, and make adjustments that are responsive to the community. Yes, exactly! That’s exactly what community leaders are talking about.
Read New York Times staffers revolt over publication of Tom Cotton op-ed (CNN)
Staffers at The New York Times expressed dismay Wednesday over the newspaper's decision to publish an op-ed written by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton that called for the U.S. military to be deployed in cities across the country to help restore order.

Vox headlines a post on reparations with “Whitelist”

Dear Vox, It’s bad enough that you’re actually using the word “whitelist” but to have it headlining this particular article seems especially egregious. Maybe you could use better framing like “allowlist” or “denylist” instead?

Screencapture of a Vox article about reparations with a pop up ad warning that reads “HERE’S HOW TO WHITELIST VOX”.
Read The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi CoatesTa-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic)
Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.
I’m both glad and terribly sad to see this six year old article trending in the top 10 articles in The Atlantic right now.

I’m reading it for the reasons that most may be. I’m also specifically reading it (in the dead dark of night) in commemoration of of the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre today.

We definitely need to start a broader discussion about our social and moral conundrum or we’re doomed to continue the same stupid cycle we’ve been experiencing for centuries now. We’re America. We’re better and smarter than this.

This was definitely a long read, so for those who may not have the time, there’s an audio/podcast version you can listen to:


debt peonage 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peon

Annotated on May 31, 2020 at 11:51PM

In Cold War America, homeownership was seen as a means of instilling patriotism, and as a civilizing and anti-radical force. “No man who owns his own house and lot can be a Communist,” claimed William Levitt, who pioneered the modern suburb with the development of the various Levittowns, his famous planned communities. “He has too much to do.”But the Levittowns were, with Levitt’s willing acquiescence, segregated throughout their early years. 

I’d never heard of the background of these Levittowns, but I’m not super surprised to recall that Bill O’Reilly’s family apparently moved to Levittown, Long Island in 1951. It explains a missing piece I had in his background.

Annotated on June 01, 2020 at 12:53AM

But I believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as—if not more than—the specific answers that might be produced. An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders. 

Annotated on June 01, 2020 at 01:46AM

Listened to Two Schools in Marin County by Kai Wright and Marianne McCune from The United States of Anxiety | WNYC Studios

Cover art for The United States of Anxiety Podcast

Last year, the California Attorney General held a tense press conference at a tiny elementary school in the one working class, black neighborhood of the mostly wealthy and white Marin County. His office had concluded that the local district "knowingly and intentionally" maintained a segregated school, violating the 14th amendment. He ordered them to fix it, but for local officials and families, the path forward remains unclear, as is the question: what does "equal protection" mean?

- Eric Foner is author of The Second Founding

Hosted by Kai Wright. Reported by Marianne McCune.

Thank you Kai and Marianne. Hearing stories like this really makes me furious that we haven’t figured out how to do these things better. Having some common stories and history to help bring out our commonness certainly helps in getting us past the uncomfortableness we all must feel. Perhaps once we’re past that we might all be able to come up with solutions?

I’m reminded of endothermic chemical reactions that take a reasonably high activation energy (an input cost), but one that is worth it in the end because it raises the level of all the participants to a better and higher level in the end. When are we going to realize that doing a little bit of hard work today will help us all out in the longer run? I’m hopeful that shows like this can act as a catalyst to lower the amount of energy that gets us all to a better place.

Example of an endothermic reaction. nigerianscholars.com / CC BY-SA

This Marin county example is interesting because it is so small and involves two schools. The real trouble comes in larger communities like Pasadena, where I live, which have much larger populations where the public schools are suffering while the dozens and dozens of private schools do far better. Most people probably don’t realize it, but we’re still suffering from the heavy effects of racism and busing from the early 1970’s.

All this makes me wonder if we could apply some math (topology and statistical mechanics perhaps) to these situations to calculate a measure of equity and equality for individual areas to find a maximum of some sort that would satisfy John Rawls’ veil of ignorance in better designing and planning our communities. Perhaps the difficulty may be in doing so for more broad and dense areas that have been financially gerrymandered for generations by redlining and other problems.

I can only think about how we’re killing ourselves as individuals and as a nation. The problem seems like individual choices for smoking and our long term health care outcomes or for individual consumption and its broader effects on global warming. We’re ignoring the global maximums we could be achieving (where everyone everywhere has improved lives) in the search for personal local maximums. Most of these things are not zero sum games, but sadly we feel like they must be and actively work against both our own and our collective best interests.

Watched The urgency of intersectionality from ted.com

Now more than ever, it's important to look boldly at the reality of race and gender bias -- and understand how the two can combine to create even more harm. Kimberlé Crenshaw uses the term "intersectionality" to describe this phenomenon; as she says, if you're standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you're likely to get hit by both. In this moving talk, she calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice.

Intersectionality is definitely a good word to have. 
Watched At the Dark End of the Street book video from YouTube

A groundbreaking book by Danielle L. McGuire. The author gives us the never-before-told history of how the civil rights movement began; how it was in part started in protest against the ritualistic rape of black women by white men who used economic intimidation, sexual violence, and terror to derail the freedom movement; and how those forces persisted unpunished throughout the Jim Crow era. Black women's protests against sexual assault and interracial rape fueled civil rights campaigns throughout the South that began during WWII and went through to the Black Power Movement. The Montgomery bus boycott was the baptism, not the birth, of that movement....

Read Tracing The Story Of 'Lynch Mob' by Lakshmi Gandhi (NPR.org)
Last week, the CEO of AIG invoked the phrase "lynch mob" to compare the vitriolic reaction his company received about its employees' 2009 bonuses. Lynching was so common that a writer even referred to it being as "American as apple pie."
Read Thread by @MarcFaddoul on TikTok face-based filter bubbles (threadreaderapp.com)

# A TikTok novelty: FACE-BASED FITLER BUBBLES
The AI-bias techlash seems to have had no impact on newer platforms.
Follow a random profile, and TikTok will only recommend people who look almost the same.
Let’s do the experiment from a fresh account:

screenshot of Tiktok showing apparent racism

Read Court Overturns Controversial UNC Settlement With Neo-Confederate Group Over “Silent Sam” Monument by News Update (Hyperallergic)
A controversial settlement between the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has been voided. The settlement, approved in November, would have required UNC to hand over the Confederate monument “Silent Sam” to SCV and pay the group $2.5 mill...