Thursday Reading List: Jay-Z, Gender Differences in Education Attainment, and Scurrilous Practices in Law Enforcement

New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet interviewed Jay-Z about a range of topics, and you can watch the full public version here:

I'm a fan, so I found the whole thing entertaining. Regular readers may be interested in the artist's perspective on how different audiences interpret his music, and what his responsibility is to cultivate a narrative on the topic of race in America. There are lots of great nuggets here, but perhaps the most striking thing is how comfortable Jay-Z seems with the role he plays in American culture. He knows that people will ruthlessly examine his music, political perspectives, personal relationships, and family ... and he is comfortable engaging on almost any of those topics without resentment, fear, or judgment.

Shifting to education, Alana Semuels of The Atlantic looks at the gender gap in college success:

Across socioeconomic classes, women are increasingly enrolling and completing postsecondary education, while, even as opportunities for people without a college education shrink, men’s rates of graduation remain relatively stagnant. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, 72.5 percent of females who had recently graduated high school were enrolled in a two-year or four-year college, compared to 65.8 percent of men. That’s a big difference from 1967, when 57 percent of recent male high-school grads were in college, compared to 47.2 percent of women.

Beyond articulating the statistics, Semuels examines some potential reasons for women outstripping men in terms of higher education attainment. At the risk of being sensationalistic, I do think there's a reasonable connection between this data, and the current movement to hold men accountable for sexual misconduct in the workplace. Women have been earning systematically less than men, for the same work, all while succeeding in both higher education and professions at a more rapid clip. Sexual harassment and abuse are a major way that men protect and hoard power in the workplace, and it's hard to see how these gender imbalances can survive while women are outperforming men at just about every measurable level of educational attainment.

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Finally today, Michael Harriott of The Root looks at some *ahem* questionable practices in federal law enforcement:

Newly released FBI and Department of Homeland Security documents reveal that federal law-enforcement agencies worried that violent “black supremacist extremists” would kill police officers, attack the Democratic National Convention and cause chaos at the Republican National Convention last year. Even though they could find no evidence or substantial proof, federal agencies monitored black organizations and warned local and federal agencies to do the same ...
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All of this would be rage-inducing under any circumstances, but the unjustified targeting is made even worse by the fact that ACTUAL White supremacist groups have been marching and organizing with complete impunity for the last several years. Not to mention, leaders of those White supremacist groups have gleefully celebrated their connection to political violence. These federal monitoring activities exhibit a startling resemblance to how the United States government treated the leadership of the Civil Rights Movement. All of this would be troubling, independent of who occupies the White House and the Justice Department ... but ... well ...

Have a nice day ...