The Right Thing

A Public Health Doctor and Head of Corrections Agree (Brie Williams, Leann Bertsch)

Because COVID-19 is highly transmissible, including by asymptomatic carriers, the thousands of people each day who leave their homes, enter a correctional facility and interact in close proximity with colleagues and incarcerated people in these often overcrowded, chaotic environments are at considerable risk of transmitting the virus back to their families and into their communities when they return home. 

Changing the Story

I Found a Job that Honored My Latina Voice and Was Instantly Tokenized (Jessica Hoppe)

The cultural trend toward inclusion shone a spotlight on the Latinx experience, with eager capitalists preying upon bland curiosities….Interest isn’t translating to opportunity for us, it’s just further commodifying our culture. Diversity is leveraged as an asset to the dominant class — entertainment for white audiences and a social service for people of color.

Prep for Prep

Prep for Prep and the Fault Lines in NYC Schools (Vinson Cunningham)

For some, this emphasis on the individual ability of a handful of students is a fundamental flaw in the program’s design. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Times journalist who created the 1619 Project, told me that programs like Prep obscure the system’s deep inequalities.

Class mobility via élite education is not usually an up-from-nothing story. What is more common, in the relatively rare instances of mobility which our society currently provides, is a series of institutional incursions, which lend a kind of jerry-rigged privilege to a chosen few.

The Billionaire Election

The Billionaire Election (Anand Giridharadas)

The debate is testing abiding American assumptions. A country more ardently capitalist than most is asking itself, as seriously as at any time in the modern era, whether the ultrarich, just because they are ultrarich, endanger democracy. And a country just as committed, contrarily, to its founding ideal of equality is asking whether to resign itself to a gilded revolving door in which you unseat billionaire leaders you hate by electing billionaires you don’t mind.

Do we wish to be a society in which wealth purchases fealty? Are we cool with plutocrats taking advantage of a cash-starved state to run their own private policy machinery, thus cultivating the networks required to take over the state from time to time, and run it in ways that further entrench wealth?

Six Decades After the Civil Rights Act

Nearly Six Decades after the Civil Rights Act, Why do Black Works Still Have to Hustle? (Tressie McMillan Cottom)

The hustle is an idea, a discourse and a survival strategy often glorified as economic opportunity. It is an ode to a type of capitalism that cannot secure the futures of anyone but the wealthiest. But its popularity lies in how hustling can feel like an equal-opportunity strategy. The term originated as a code for illegal activities, but according to Lester Spence, author of Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics, today we have all been turned into hustlers, trying to monetize our “human capital” for economic advancement.

While we do not think of the middle-class pitch and the low-wage hustle as the same thing, they are responding to the same reality. For black Americans, achieving upward mobility, even in thriving cities that compete for tech jobs, private capital and national recognition, is as complicated as it was in 1963.

Sotomayor Accuses Conservative Justices

Sonia Sotomayor Accused the Supreme Court’s Conservatives of Bias Towards the Trump Administration (Mark Joseph Stern)

When some of the most despised and powerless among us ask the Supreme Court to spare their lives, the conservative justices turn a cold shoulder. When the Trump administration demands permission to implement some cruel, nativist, and potentially unlawful immigration restrictions, the conservatives bend over backward to give it everything it wants. There is nothing “fair and balanced” about the court’s double standard that favors the government over everyone else. And, as Sotomayor implies, this flagrant bias creates the disturbing impression that the Trump administration has a majority of the court in its pocket.

Singling Out Homeless Status

Singling Out Homeless Status is a Double Standard that Unjustly Penalizes the Poor (Adam H. Johnson)

Leading with housing status for homeless people is a common trope in the news reporting business and one in urgent need of re-examining. In many cases, it is used as a rhetorical device to depict people experiencing homelessness as a threat to public safety, a common right-wing canard used to justify virulently anti-homeless policies and harsh policing of people perceived to be poor.

Detroit Homeowners Overtaxed

Detroit Homeowners Overtaxed $600 Million (Christine MacDonald)

Many who got inflated bills were unable to pay them, and now that debt is gathering interest. Others have fallen behind on recent taxes to pay past bills and avoid foreclosure. About 28,000 of the overtaxed homes The News identified have been foreclosed since 2013, the first year those inflated tax bills could have contributed to foreclosures.

Some housing activists have wanted more, including at least halting the tax auction until outstanding debt can be recalculated to reflect past home values. But city and county officials have dismissed that possibility.

The Conundrum of Privilege

White Progressive Parents and the Conundrum of Privilege (Margaret Hagerman)

Parents continue to make decisions…that extend the advantages of wealth. Those choices, however, have other consequences: They shape what children think about race, racism, inequality and privilege far more than anything parents say (or do not say).

Children reach their own conclusions about how society works, or should work, based on their observations of their social environment and interactions with others….So how their parents set up kids’ lives matters deeply.

If affluent, white parents hope to raise children who reject racial inequality, simply explaining that fairness and social justice are important values won’t do the trick. Instead, parents need to confront how their own decisions and behaviors reproduce patterns of privilege. They must actually advocate for the well-being, education and happiness of all children, not just their own.

What is Whiteness?

What is Whiteness? (Nell Irvin Painter)

The useful part of white identity’s vagueness is that whites don’t have to shoulder the burden of race in America, which, at the least, is utterly exhausting. A neutral racial identity is blandly uninteresting.

We lack more meaningful senses of white identity, even though some whites, throughout history, have been committed to fighting racism and advocating for social justice.

Eliminating the binary definition of whiteness — the toggle between nothingness and awfulness — is essential for a new racial vision that ethical people can share across the color line.