The culture war in education that began in response to the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020 has had a chilling effect on how race is discussed in classrooms. Since January 2021, 44 states have introduced bills and at least 18 have passed laws restricting or banning the teaching of supposed critical race theory. Just 12 states (Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington) have Black history mandates for K-12 public schools. In addition, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine and Rhode Island have legislated Black history courses or electives during the last two years. But several of the 12 states have new laws on the books that limit their curriculum.
Las Vegas—On Sunday, February 11, a group of Native people demonstrated near an entrance at the Super Bowl, where some say Kansas City’s continued use of the “Chiefs” is racist. It is the second consecutive year that Kansas City has appeared in the Super Bowl, and opposition to the “tomahawk chop”, an act some say mocks Native culture and must change, continues. “I’m here to show people that it is not acceptable in this day and age to mock a people,” said Rhonda LeValdo to Last Real Indians (LRI Media). LeValdo, an Acoma Pueblo citizen, traveled to Las Vegas from Kansas City, where she teaches journalism at Haskell University in Lawrence, Kansas.
The United States is on the verge of a constitutional crisis, one that enlivens the nationalist fervor of Trump America and that centers on a violent, racist closed-border policy. In January, the Supreme Court, with a five-vote majority that included both Republican and Democratic appointees, ruled that federal agents can “remove the razor wire that Texas state officials have set up along some sections of the US/Mexico border” to make immigration more dangerous (CBS, 1/23/24). The state’s extreme border policy is not merely immoral as an idea, but has proven to be deadly and torturous in practice (USA Today, 8/3/23; NBC, 1/14/24; Texas Observer, 1/17/24).
In the wake of revelations about a far-right conspiracy in Germany to expel migrants and “non-assimilated citizens”, progressive sections in Germany have launched militant anti-far-right demonstrations across the country, raising the banner “Together Against the Right,” in defense of democracy and against fascism. From January 19 to January 22, more than 1.4 million people, including leftists, trade unionists, youth-students groups, and various other anti-fascist groups hit the streets in more than a hundred cities across Germany, protesting the xenophobic maneuvers and political schemings of far-right groups, including the Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Out the front windows of our bus, we could see acres of sun-dried grasses during a hot and arid Northern California summer. On either side of the road stood barbed-wire fences, like the ones many of our family members spent years behind, surrounded by armed guards and guard towers, living in crowded tar-paper barracks with little to no privacy. “How many of you have been here before or were here during World War II?” our tour guide asked. A few Japanese Americans—in their 70s and 80s, or even older—raised their hands. Many of us were stunned by what the tour guide said next, almost in passing: “Welcome back.”
This January marks what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 95th birthday. Nearly a century after the late civil rights leader’s birth, it’s a good time to reflect on the work still to be done. Just over 60 years ago, in his famous “I Have A Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington, King declared: “We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” Sixty years on, as our report “Still A Dream” highlighted late last year, there’s been some progress.
It was early 2020 when Jay Davis realized his family was going to lose his childhood home, a red brick house in Rosemoor on the South Side of Chicago that had been in his family for generations. Davis’ great-uncle had been living there, and as his dementia worsened the one-story house began to deteriorate. When he died, he left it to his son who had serious health issues and could not maintain the home, Davis said. Davis, 41, wanted to keep the house from becoming another vacant lot on the South Side. He understood the significance of homeownership as a tool for building generational wealth that has been denied to many Black Chicagoans due to racist practices like redlining and predatory lending.
This Saturday, three young Palestinian men, Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ali, and Kenan Abdulhamid were shot in Vermont. The three men, all college students, were shot at four times by 48-year-old Jason J. Eaton. They were speaking Arabic and two of them were wearing Palestinian keffiyehs. All three of the shooting victims are 20 years old. This comes shortly after three separate videos went viral of former State Department official Stuart Seldowitz harassing an Egyptian halal cart worker with vile Islamophobic and racist remarks. “Did you rape your daughter like Mohammed did?” Seldowitz asked the worker.
I attended the Janazah and burial of Wadea Al-Fayoume on October 16. In the first weeks of Israel’s assault on Gaza, the six-year old Palestinian American boy, from a suburb of Chicago, was stabbed 26 times by his family’s landlord in a hate crime. The United States is currently awash in rhetoric justifying Muslim and Arab deaths. Joseph Czuba, 71, the landlord charged with killing Wadea and gravely injuring his mother, was on the receiving end of that rhetoric. Czuba was reportedly an avid listener of conservative talk radio. According to Czuba’s wife, he’d grown irate over supposed plans for a “national day of jihad,” a mistranslated call for mass protests that was weaponized by rightwing media to cause panic.
The modern concept of race and what became known as racism can only be understood within the context of the European colonial project at the center of the larger project called modernity. When the people who eventually became known as Europeans spilled out of “Europe” into what became the “Americas,” their encounter with the Indigenous peoples of this region was already informed by a racialized consciousness, as the great Black revolutionary theorist Cedric Robinson helped us to understand. Informed by this consciousness that combined the tendency toward dehumanization based on race and a crude, strange, violent religious framework called “Christianity,” the European barbarians engaged in a genocidal rampage across this region and many others across the globe.
Many states across the Southern United States employ an economic model that prioritizes business interests and the wealthy over ordinary citizens. This model—which we refer to in this report as the “Southern economic development model”—is characterized by low wages, low taxes, few regulations on businesses, few labor protections, a weak safety net, and vicious opposition to unions. The model is marketed as the way to attract businesses into Southern states, with the implicit promise that this will lead to an abundance of jobs and shared economic prosperity for all Southerners. The reality is this economic development model is fundamentally flawed as a strategy for improving living conditions for most Southerners.
Even as politicians work to reenact Jim Crow-era silences about how white supremacy has shaped America, reparations are on the table as they have never been before. After an upswell of grassroots organizing in 2020, we’re seeing a new level of recognition that descendants of enslaved people, whose labor was stolen, are owed a debt. While that organizing has fueled a collective understanding of the need for repair, progress has been bogged down by the weight of that debt and questions about how such debts can be repaid. These questions have been taken up across the country, from the California Reparations Task Force to the cities of Boston, Evanston, Kansas City, Knoxville and St. Louis, among others.
With its swath of shuttered shops, empty cafes, dwindling crowds and shimmering seaside vistas, San Francisco’s Embarcadero resembles an abandoned amusement park in the post-pandemic era, but a century ago this tourist attraction was known as the “slave market,” where dozens of longshoremen would gather each weekday hoping to land a job loading and unloading the freighters docked in the bay. Seldom were there enough jobs to go around, however, and the hiring boss who was assigned by the shipping companies to choose the daily work crews would often go about the task with the same contemptuous air that an overseer might display while inspecting chattel slaves at auction, sneering as he rejected some longshoremen while doling out preferential treatment to others, many of whom had agreed to kick back a portion of their wages to him.
On August 26, a lone white gunman, 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, fired 11 rounds from his semi-automatic weapon into the windshield of a car parked outside a Jacksonville Dollar General, killing the African American driver. Then he walked into the discount store, and fatally shot two other African Americans before turning the gun on himself. Palmeter left behind a manifesto indicating his displeasure with African Americans, reminiscent of another 21-year-old white gunman, Dylan Roof, who eight years earlier sat outside the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. Finishing off a bottle of Smirnoff’s Ice, he pulled a Glock handgun from his waistband, walked into the church and opened fire, killing a pastor and eight of his parishioners, all of them Black.
There are very few intellectuals who have been as attacked, censored, and blacklisted as long and as ruthlessly as the Middle Eastern scholar, Norman Finkelstein. He has been hounded out of universities, denied speaking engagements, and had his books and scholarship either ignored or dismissed. It is surprising, perhaps, that Professor Finkelstein’s latest book, I’ll Burn That Bridge When I Get to It! Heretical Thoughts on Identity Politics, Cancel Culture, and Academic Freedom is a savage attack on identity politics. He likens the current woke culture of the left to red-baiting when his heroes, Paul Robeson, Pete Seager, Rosa Luxemburg, Paul Sweezy, and Annette Rubinstein were marginalized, and in the case of Luxembourg, assassinated.