Friday Reading List: We All Have Work To Do

Becca Andrews of Mother Jones talks to people of color living in rural America:

KKK chapters across the Southeast have struggled in recent decades to do much more than merely survive, but their numbers have grown over the past several years, and KKK leaders credit their resurgence to Trump and his white nationalist supporters. In Tennessee, my home state, a Memphis corrections officer resigned in November after expressing support for the KKK on his Facebook page and posting that he hoped the Obama family was hanged. A white supremacist conference has been held annually near Nashville for the past six years. And according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Tennessee is home to 38 active hate groups—more than almost any other state in the Southeast. (Florida has 63, and Virginia has 39). Since Trump’s election, there has been ample coverage of white people—the rise of white nationalism, the white working class that makes up Trump’s core constituency, the 53 percent of white women who voted him into office. Much less has been written about the people of color who live and work amid the rising tide of white nationalism in rural red states.

Andrews subsequently shares profiles of a handful of individuals living under these conditions. What's so striking is the contrast between the national spectacle of what happened in Charlottesville, and the quiet, local fear under which these folks live every day. I had similar conversations with folks in Pelham, North Carolina, when the KKK threatened to march last December.

Elsewhere, Chris Stewart, writing at Citizen Stewart, wants to remind you that there is no room anymore for quasi-innocent, tacit disagreement with the White House:

Certainly there are faithful Republicans who aren't racist, who don't support racism, and who are offended when anyone suggests otherwise. Many voted against Hillary Clinton, not for Donald Trump. They believe in small government, low taxes, and some approximation of "liberty."  They believe conservatism preserves the best of American values and produces that prosperity we enjoy. You are not innocent. You are not blind. You are not acting in accord with any reasonable definition of virtue. To you I say, even if you're that rational republican voter you'll have to step over a lot of dead bodies to pull that lever and stubbornly pursue your political theories.
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I don't have much to add there, so we'll just move on ...

Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat looks at some confusing results from a school integration project in California:

New research on schools in the heart of Silicon Valley comes to a familiar conclusion: Poor black and Hispanic students get a leg up academically by attending a less segregated school. But the results come with a significant downside. Those students who left their hometowns to attend wealthier schools in places like Palo Alto were also more likely to be arrested. The study, which was conducted by Columbia professor Peter Bergman and has not been formally peer-reviewed, speaks to both the promise of integration and the complicating factors — including discrimination — that can dampen its effectiveness.

This result should serve as a lesson to folks who want to pursue racial integration through public policy. Most integration plans ask children of color to leave their own neighborhoods, which inevitably puts them in touch with families who explicitly chose to live in whiter, less diverse communities. While that alone is not a reason to oppose integration, these results should inform the ways in which policymakers implement integration.

Finally today, Jon Marcus of The Hechinger Report looks at grade inflation across socioeconomic status:

Here’s the latest, more profound way in which wealthier students have an advantage over lower-income ones: Those enrolled in private and suburban public high schools are being awarded higher grades — critical in the competition for college admission — than their urban public school counterparts with no less talent or potential, new research shows. It’s not that those students have been getting smarter. Even as their grades were rising, their scores on the SAT college-entrance exam went down, not up. Nor are those in some schools more intelligent than those in others. It’s that grade inflation is accelerating in the schools attended by higher-income Americans, who are also much more likely to be white, the research, by the College Board, found. This widens their lead in life over students in urban public schools, who are generally racial and ethnic minorities and from families that are far less well-off.
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I usually prefer to end the week with some good news, but there you have it. I encourage you to spend at least part of the weekend in serious contemplation of how you are going to be a part of eradicating the persistent racial disparities in our country.

Have a thoughtful weekend ...