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It’s Never Too Late To Rewrite History

After the first round of death threats, the workers decided to wear flak jackets with special helmets. They came in under the cover of night. They obscured their faces with cloth, like olde tyme bandits. Even the trucks came in disguise, the names of their owners covered with cardboard and tape. The entire process was protected by hidden police snipers, other law enforcement stood guard over barricades and waved away a small group of protesters holding candles and growling warnings of retribution.

All of this to remove an obelisk of stone, barely 35 feet high.

The Battle of Liberty Place monument was the first of four Confederate-era monuments scheduled for removal in New Orleans; by 4 a.m. Monday morning it was on its way to storage. It originally honored members of a white supremacist paramilitary group who fought against the city’s racially integrated police force in 1874. But New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who has called for the removals since 2015, said the monuments are better signposts of the past than a marker of the future.

“Relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else,” Landrieu said in a statement. “This is not about politics, blame or retaliation. This is not a naive quest to solve all our problems at once. This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile — and most importantly– choose a better future.”

The three additional monuments – Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis – will all end up in museums eventually. But Landrieu called the Battle of Liberty Place “the most offensive” of the four.

Today, the fight rages on, a local version of what we all must eventually face: A complicated history. “The most intellectually bankrupt argument in support of the white supremacist monuments the New Orleans City Council slated to remove declares that to remove them from the city landscape would make us guilty of rewriting history,” says Jarvis DeBerry, the deputy opinions editor for “Apparently, the crime of rewriting history is far worse than the crime of being a warmongering, secessionist white supremacist.”

As America struggles with its largely unexamined past, there will be more city council fights, more angry vigils and more construction workers pressed into combat-level duty. That’s what white supremacy does. It fights for its rights, often with violence. But history doesn’t have to be written in stone, and we don’t have to avoid difficult conversations because we’re afraid of the response.

The Battle of Liberty Place monument will continue to speak for itself, so I’ll give it the last word. From the inscription:

“United States troops took over the state government and reinstated the usurpers but the national election November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.”


On Point

Notes on the path to despairFew things in the realm of recent scholarship have captivated the public attention as thoroughly as the work of Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, who found that early mortality has been rising for white, middle-class people without a college education. It fueled the heated debate as to whether race anxiety or economic insecurity fed Trump fever in the heartland. But the scholarship is far from settled. Malcolm Harris from the Pacific Standard protested that there are many ways to parse mortality rates, and that that African-Americans still have higher fatality rates than whites. “In these graphs white lives literally count more, and black lives less,” he wrote. And the authors themselves concede more research is needed. But as their inboxes are being filled with stories from real people, the pain is real even if their thesis is imperfect.New Yorker

On the anniversary of Lemonade, Beyonce announces college scholarships for women
Last night, Beyonce updated her website to announce the establishment of Formation Scholars awards, to “encourage and support young women who are unafraid to think outside the box and are bold, creative, conscious and confident.” The four awards will be available to one woman in each of four schools, Howard University, Spelman College, Berklee College of Music or Parsons School of Design, and are available to incoming, current, or graduate students in the creative arts, music, literature or African American studies. #Beygood everyone.

The new chair of the Democratic National Committee swears a lot
Tom Perez is, by all accounts, passionate guy, and his now frequent speeches are peppered with salty phrases which usually involves some version of “Republicans don’t give a shit about people!” If it’s a tactic to get free media, it’s working: The Washington Post compiled a super-cut of his greatest s-bombs, Fox News has been sniffing disapproval (while playing the clips) and a panel led by CNN’s John King also criticized the language. The DNC’s response? Just some shitty t-shirts.
The Hill

Wes Moore tapped as the new head of the Robin Hood Foundation
The organization, which funds more than 200 anti-poverty organizations around the New York City area is lucky to have Moore, who has an incredible resume as a Rhodes Scholar, author, combat veteran, White House fellow and business leader. “Disparity is real,” Moore told the New York Times. “We have communities that have been neglected, and I have lived in one of them. That was something very deeply ingrained in me from a very young age.” He is also the author of “The Other Wes Moore,” an extraordinary look at how another young black man with the same name, born a few months apart and a few blocks away, had a very different life experience.
New York Times

An offensive ad, an empty apology and an angry community
After Shea Moisture, a go-to product line for black women with natural hair, published two  new video ads that featured mostly white women, their former fans on social media spoke up. Some were angry that white women were centered in the marketing, and others analyzed – and dismissed – the business decisions behind the company’s decision to expand their audience. Click through to see the ads, read the lengthy apology and to review the truly epic dragging the company took online.
Huffington Post

The Woke Leader

On writing about Chinese food as a Chinese person
What happens when you are reviled as “the other” but suddenly the food from your culture becomes cool? This is the bizarre conundrum that Chinese and Chinese Americans are currently facing, as their food traditions are being co-opted in ways that feel increasingly strange. “In a weird turn of events, people were making money and becoming famous for eating the things I had grown up with and had been bullied for,” writes journalist Clarissa Wei.  One data scientist looking to quantify the trend found that 90% of the 263 entries under the “Chinese” recipe filter on the New York Times food section were from white writers. Wei talks about the richness of Chinese cuisines and ingredients, lamenting the loss of context that white writers and editors have unwittingly allowed. Blue cheese is cool but fermented tofu is gross? “Only certain dishes like noodles, dumplings, kebabs, and rice bowls have been normalized,” she says. “The majority is still largely stigmatized because, bluntly put, white people have not decided they like it yet.”

A river runs through the fields
American Rivers, a conservation organization, is promoting a short film series that celebrates the beauty and necessity of America’s waterways. But this installment, a thirteen-minute film called Leche y Miel (or Milk and Honey), abandons traditional river fare of cascading rapids and fly-fishing choreography. Instead, they focus is on the people in Yuma, Arizona who work the vegetable fields fed by the Lower Colorado River. The river takes a backseat to the stories of the (mostly) immigrants who are quiet, serious and hard-working, and who rarely get a chance to talk about their lives. “We are very happy,” says one tractor driver. “Let’s hope to God it stays the same.”
American Rivers

Nevertheless, he persisted
About halfway through this hilarious piece from McSweeney’s I stopped laughing and started to feel a wee bit queasy. It’s not just the masterful recreation of the male point of view, it’s the fact that there were so different ways that male persistence exists, rooted in a fascinating mix of enviable certainty and vague insecurity. Voltaire would be proud of this effort.


Why, then, in the absence of all control over the subject of African slavery, are you agitated in relation to it? With Pharisaical pretension it is sometimes said it is a moral obligation to agitate, and I suppose they are going through a sort of vicarious repentance for other men’s sins… Who gave them a right to decide that it is a sin? By what standard do they measure it? Not the Constitution; the Constitution recognizes the property in many forms, and imposes obligations in connection with that recognition. Not the Bible; that justifies it. Not the good of society; for if they go where it exists, they find that society recognizes it as good…
—Jefferson Davis