In a new story for Wired, Bijan Stephen looks at how the Black Lives Matter movement uses social media to organize and fight for change. As Stephen writes, “any large social movement is shaped by the technology available to it,” tailoring their goals and tactics to the media of their time. For the nascent Black Lives Matter […]
During the 1960s and 70s, legendary jazz drummer Art Taylor interviewed his fellow musicians. The interviews are collected in the 1993 book Notes and Tones: Musician-to-Musician Interviews, and it’s one of jazz’s greatest. The familial, casual conversations are also serious and insightful, full of history, portraiture, and revelations about race relations in America, and the […]
RG: Discussions about race, particularly in mixed company, are often combative and contentious. How the hell do we talk about race? TC: No idea. I just try to communicate with as much honesty and respect as possible. I think we should not forget that a not so insufficient portion of this country sees it as […]
What does a victorious or defeated black woman’s body in a historically white space look like? Serena and her big sister Venus Williams brought to mind Zora Neale Hurston’s “I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background.” This appropriated line, stenciled on canvas by Glenn Ligon, who used plastic letter […]
Asking how am I going to cover Black Twitter is like asking how I’m going to cover American culture. I’m never going to get all of it, but I’m going to pull what I find interesting. —Dexter Thomas, as interviewed by Chava Gourarie in the Columbia Journalism Review. Earlier this week the Los Angeles Times hired Dexter […]
In 1968, essayist, novelist and activist James Baldwin spoke with Esquire about racism in America, Dr. Martin Luther King, poverty and police brutality. In our current era of high profile police violence in communities like Ferguson, Missouri, and protests in Baltimore, Maryland, Baldwin’s words sound as prescient and, unfortunately, fresh as they did forty-seven years […]
A young man concerned that the police will take him into custody comes to see danger and risk in the mundane doings of everyday life. To survive outside prison, he learns to hesitate when others walk casually forward, to see what others fail to notice, to fear what others trust or take for granted.
Put another way, the supposition on which our mass incarceration is premised—namely, that it materially reduces crime—is, at best, a hunch. Yet the price we pay for acting on this hunch is enormous. This is true in the literal sense: it costs more than $80 billion a year to run our jails and prisons. It […]
As I described in the Making of Ferguson, the federal government maintained a policy of segregation in public housing nationwide for decades. This was as true in northeastern cities like New York as it was in border cities like Baltimore and St. Louis. In 1994, civil rights groups sued the Department of Housing and Urban […]
Chris Offutt writes in Oxford Americanon the concept of “white trash,” the seemingly immutable class boundaries that divide us, and food’s power to widen the chasm or bridge the gap.
He was driving around the Whitney in his Ford S.U.V., making sure the museum would be ready for the public. Born and raised in New Orleans, Cummings is as rife with contrasts as the land that surrounds his plantation. He is 77 but projects the unrelenting angst of a teenager. His disposition is exceedingly proper […]
“I never did like the world-famous Mardi Gras that went on in New Orleans. It was a beautiful sight, but to me it was horrible. I have seen so many people hurt on that particular day . . . The white people would celebrate their Mardi Gras with big and expensive floats that went down the main part of Canal Street, which were very beautiful and high class . . . But for my people, for them it would be such a tragedy. “