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raceAhead: A Pharma Billionaire Arrested, Towns Brace For White Lives Matter Rallies, What Black Folks Pay For Water

October 27, 2017, 5:59 PM UTC

Your week in review, in haiku.



Back in the day when

people #trended, they were just

dead, not predators



New phrases to learn

in Catalan: Adeu,

salut, bona sort.



Raise your hand if you

looked through JFK’s files for

Ted Cruz Sr.’s name.



Gladiators work

to find our missing black girls.

Bless you, Shonda Rhimes



This is how the world

ends now: Not with a bang, but

with a cop-a-feel


Have a poetic and scandal-free weekend.


On Point

Billionaire pharma founder arrested for bribing doctors to prescribe an opioid drugOn the same day that the president declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, federal agents arrested Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor for using bribes to boost the sale of an opioid drug typically prescribed for cancer patients in extreme pain. Last year, the company’s CEO and five other individuals were arrested as part of an alleged “nationwide conspiracy,” which included kickbacks to doctors. “These Insys executives allegedly fueled the opioid epidemic by paying doctors to needlessly prescribe an extremely dangerous and addictive form of fentanyl,” a special agent for HHS said in a press release.Fortune

Two towns in Tennessee brace for “White Lives Matter” rallies
Residents in Murfreesboro and Shelbyville, both in Tennessee, are preparing for the worst ahead of two planned white supremacist rallies scheduled for Saturday. Businesses have already begun boarding up windows, and the police have been working overtime, scouring the sites in advance for anything that could pose a public safety threat. City officials are urging people to stay home, but counterprotesters are planning a response. "Honestly, it's terrible, really. I mean, at the end of the day, I just don't support it whatsoever. Being a white person, I'm not behind it at all," said a sweet-sounding guy playing Pokemon Go in the Murfreesboro town square.

Water rates are surging in the Chicago, but black and low-income families are paying more
As this team of reporters from the Chicago Tribune describe it, it is a tangled network that brings the water from Lake Michigan to the taps of millions of Chicago-area residents, and rates have been rising steadily for years. But, “the financial pain falls disproportionately on majority-African-American communities, where residents’ median water bill is 20 percent higher for the same amount of water than residents pay in predominantly white communities,” their analysis finds. While crumbling infrastructure is partly to blame, state regulators have no oversight over local pricing and general management – and two small towns have already been cited for fraud.
Chicago Tribune

Bridgeport school district to require a course in African American or Latinx studies to graduate from city high schools
High school students in Bridgeport, Conn. will have to take a half-year course in African American Studies, Caribbean/Latin American Studies or Perspectives on Race to graduate, beginning with the Class of 2022. Philadelphia and Los Angeles are the only other school districts with a similar mandate. “It is going to make a great deal of difference to our children and our families,” Sauda Baraka, vice chairman of the school board told the Connecticut Post. “Cultural competency has been shown to change the direction of young people and make them more interested in learning.” The decision was long awaited and, evidently, hotly debated. Half the students in the district are Latinx, and 35% are black.
Connecticut Post

The Woke Leader

A new Parthenon based on an old idea
Marta Minujín, a conceptual artist from Argentina, spent the better part of a year building an architectural replica of the Parthenon out of banned books for a festival in Kassel, Germany. The work debuted this summer, and the public was invited to participate by bringing a text from a list of 170 books from around the world that had been banned at some point. “By placing censored material on a replica of the Parthenon—a structure symbolizing democracy—the Argentinian artist asks us to consider the role of politics in attempting to influence thought,” explains My Modern Met. It cuts even deeper. The new Parthenon sits on a site where Nazis burned 2,000 books as part of the Action against the Un-German Spirit

On being black and Latinx
It’s complicated. But the first place for the rest of us to start is by remembering that Latinx (or Hispanic) is not a race. There are black, white, indigenous and Asian people all living in Latin American countries, with different histories and cultural expressions. But anti-black racism exists everywhere, so, as this helpful piece from The Fader points out, failing to acknowledge black Latin Americans effectively erases them from the conversation. The region also has a complicated history with the slave trade, in fact, more ships carrying enslaved people landed in Latin America than in North America. Black Latinxs are also often left out of conversations about immigration and diversity in entertainment.
The Fader

What it was like when women producers were the exception in Hollywood
Hollywood producer Lynda Obst (Interstellar, Contact) has written a candid look at her rise to power as one of the few industry women who could hold their collective noses long enough to stay in the room with the “pigs and drunks” to learn the ropes and change the status quo. Come for the hookers, drug dealers, and harassment, and stay for the big reveal — as women began to produce films, mentor each other and work together, things started to change. Obst has an interesting take on her complicity, or lack thereof. “I think that we did what we had to do, given our desire to break into a closed business,” she says. But she seems to suggest that the real reason for Weinstein’s downfall was not just his declining influence, but the now ascendant power of women and their allies. “I don’t think we would have reached this moment of change otherwise.”
New Yorker


The Republican Party geared its appeal and program to racism, reaction, and extremism...On the urgent issue of civil rights, Senator Goldwater represents a philosophy that is morally indefensible and socially suicidal. While not himself a racist, Mr. Goldwater articulates a philosophy which gives aid and comfort to the racist. His candidacy and philosophy would serve as an umbrella under which extremists of all stripes would stand.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.