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Do “Woke Companies” Outperform?

Here’s your week in review, in haiku.



Los Angeles! Just

like I pictured it: Graupel,

hail, and everything



Jussie’s Empire

lost. Stone gets banned from the ‘Gram

McCabe throws the book.



Legend of Zion:

Untethered by gravity,

too great for a shoe.



I do not believe

that R. Kelly can still fly,

at least, not this time.



In spite of it all:

believe each other. It makes

ev’ry load lighter.


Have a light and sunny weekend.

On Point

Will Your Stock Choke if Your Company’s Too Woke?Fortune’s Ryan Derousseau explores what happens when a major brand takes a stand, like Nike did with Colin Kaepernick, Gillette’s ad on toxic masculinity, or Dick’s Sporting Goods’ decision to restrict its own gun sales. It’s more social plea than sales pitch, he writes, one that can often delight employees, boost sales and help a company stand out from a crowded field. “Whether shareholders can cheer the returns is less clear-cut,” he says. A bold position often moves a stock price downward, as was true for all three examples, albeit temporarily – all three stocks rebounded to outperform the S&P. “Under the right conditions, speaking up can boost sales and customer loyalty, without weighing down share prices,” he says.Fortune

Blackface, the story that will not die
Here’s the best of the bunch: USA Today searched yearbooks from 120 colleges from the 1970s and 1980s and found plenty of blackface and other racist photos, plus lots of gleeful Klan and Nazi cosplay. There were 200 such images in all, but one such image, which included a photo of two men as blackfaced versions of boxer Mike Tyson and his then-wife Robin Givens, was in a yearbook edited by current USA Today editor-in-chief Nicolle Carroll. “I am sorry for the hurt I caused back then and the hurt it will cause today,” she wrote in a column. In a refreshing twist, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s yearbook has a photo of him wearing his own face, but in a Confederate Army uniform. “I never intentionally acted in an insensitive way, but with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that participating in that was insensitive and I’ve come to regret it,” Lee said.
The Tennessean

North Carolina gets an election do-over
It’s been a dramatic post-election season for the folks from the Ninth Congressional District in North Carolina. The Republican candidate, Mark Harris, was accused of allowing his campaign to finance a sordid and illegal absentee ballot scheme designed to swing the election in his favor. After an emotional hearing, election officials refused to certify the November results and ordered a new election. The voters of the Ninth District will be without a representative until at least November, a small price to pay for a fair vote, I suppose. You can learn more about how the scheme worked here, and more about the decision below.
New York Times

The truth about hate crimes
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, wants to set the record straight. “Unfortunately, most hate crimes in this country rarely get the kind of attention that the reported — and possibly bogus — attack against [Jussie] Smollett has received,” he writes in this opinion piece. Hate crime hoaxes remain rare he says. The FBI reported a 17% jump from 2016 to 2017 and a 37% increase of hate crimes targeting Jews and Jewish institutions. Overall, 28% of reported hate crimes were committed against African-Americans. “[T]here are still five states with no hate crime laws on the books — Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Wyoming,” he notes. “Hate crime laws are essential because they underscore how seriously we as a society take these crimes.”


On Background

The other truth about hate crimes: They used to be just another activity
Have you ever wondered what happened to the racist white people in those Jim Crow era photos? Do those pictures of Uncle Jimmy smiling in the foreground of a lynching, or Cousin Thelma spitting at an integrating student, ever make it into a family album somewhere? Photographer and writer Johnny Silvercloud answered his own question by positing that after the passage of civil rights legislation, those old racists simply went silent. Their ghosts keeping popping back into the mainstream, he says, like when a millionaire peacefully takes a knee in protest, or at the sight of a Black Lives Matter t-shirt. “I highly doubt that the white faces in the first Civil Rights Era just automatically let go of their racist ideologies,” he writes. “White supremacy — racism in America — had to adapt, and it did.” (Disturbing photos ahead if you click through.)

The trauma of genocide is alive in our genes
It’s called epigenetic inheritance, and there is real scientific evidence that systemic trauma causes genetic differences in descendants of the victims. Studies from Holocaust survivors, only one of many events, is a centerpiece of the research. “The gene changes in the children could only be attributed to Holocaust exposure in the parents,” says one researcher. Another researcher says that the epigenetics helps explain the many health disparities found among Native American people, which include endocrine and immune system disorders. “The persistence of stress associated with discrimination and historical trauma converges to add immeasurably to these challenges.”

When chocolate is both art and history
He’s never tasted the chocolate he uses to make his sculpture, and until recently, has never left his village in an impoverished region of Democratic Republic of Congo. But Mathieu Kilapi Kasiama, a palm-nut cutter and sculptor, has been making a statement with art created using the same cacao beans that have been the spoils of colonial exploitation of his home by countries like Belgium and multinationals, like Unilever. He contributed to a touring exhibition put on by the Congolese Plantation Workers Art League, and was recently in the U.S. for the first time. Profits of the sale of the works went back to the community. “I can take my mother to the hospital sometimes, and I don’t have to climb the palm trees anymore, which I have fallen from five times,” he said through a translator.
New York Times


Taking a stand against R. Kelly, someone who has been termed ‘the king of R&B’ and is loved by many, has not been easy. I decided after a great deal of thought that I should speak my truth, however, because it is time that I stand up for myself.
—Faith Rodgers, alleged R. Kelly victim