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Life on the Race Beat: RaceAhead

June 4, 2019, 6:05 PM UTC

Today in mixed blessings, raceAhead says good-bye to high school intern Aidan Taylor who did an outstanding job during his month on the race beat.

In addition to contributing to news summaries, he also developed a social media strategy for raceAhead which I’ll be sharing with the team, helped with an internal diversity assessment project, and began work on a short profile which will appear later in the year. I loved working with him, and I’ve included his short exit interview below.

If he is the future, it is truly bright.

Speaking of bright futures, today we welcome Fortune commentary editor Tamara El-Waylly to the raceAhead family, who will be helping to produce the newsletter on a daily basis. (She’s already been hard at work on some special features that we know will delight you.)

Tamara was a huge get for Fortune; she joined us last fall after covering the United Nations for over three years as a reporter for Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s national newspapers. Her multi-cultural background and international upbringing have especially informed her views. “Joining raceAhead means being a part of a force that informs, that questions, and it’s only through such discourse can change occur.”


Aidan says goodbye below:

RaceAhead: Thank you for everything, Aidan! After your experience on the race beat, are you more or less optimistic that the country can make progress on racism and bigotry?

Aidan: You’re welcome! I think I am actually a little more optimistic because before I was unaware of any real progress, but after reading about the different techniques companies are using and the initiatives they are taking, I have more hope even though there is still a long way to go.

RA: Of the material you read, researched or summarized, what surprised you the most? Made you the most angry?

Aidan: I was most surprised/angered by the Nike situation with maternity leave, and also more recently the Ben Carson hearing when he said “oreo” was really shocking. It angered me that someone who obviously isn’t qualified has so much power.

RA: How can business journalists do a better job reaching younger readers?

Aidan: I think using social media more could engage younger readers. For example, an Instagram that posts a daily post or a snapchat that posts different blurbs on its story.

RA: Do you ever see yourself working at a big corporation? If not, what would change your mind?

Aidan: I think if the job is right and the timing is right and it’s something I am passionate about, I would.

RA: What’s next for you?

Aidan: Next year I will be attending New York University in the College of Arts and Sciences. I’m going in Undecided, and I hope to try some new things to find some new interests that I can later turn into a major.

On Point

Understanding the real risks of A.I.The MPW and Broadsheet teams are currently at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International in London, and despite floating Trump baby balloons and general pomp and puffery, are doing the outstanding work that needs to be done. On an A.I.-themed panel, president and CEO Gillian Tans and TomTom co-founder Corinne Vigreux were unflinching in their assessment of the troubles with A.I. With a lack of diversity in tech, “You get all kinds of bias in the data,” says Tan. “All the algorithms are programmed by white males—that’s not a good idea,” agreed Vigreux. A digital and inclusive education is part of the answer, she says. “If we don’t empower this generation to understand [the technology] behind the decisions they’re making,” she says, “they’ll be the victims of it.”Fortune

Jay-Z is the first hip-hop billionaire
In 2005, Jay-Z declared: “I'm not a businessman; I'm a business, man!” The iconic line, uttered on the Grammy-winning remix of Kanye West’s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone,” is an early reference to the rapper’s entrepreneurial interests. With a personal net worth of $1 billion—officially making him the rap industry’s first billionaire—Jay-Z has a business portfolio that includes the music streaming platform Tidal, his music company Roc Nation, liquor brands D’Ussé and Armand de Brignac, and investment in Uber. His music catalog alone, according to Forbes, has a $75 million value—and he has amassed an art collection worth $70 million.

The 2020 census is on track to deliver the worst undercount of black and Latinx people in 30 years
According to new projections by the Urban Institute, the risk of under-surveying difficult-to-count populations is extraordinarily high, citing the Trump administration’s proposed “citizenship question,” and a host of new data collection schemes that have not been fully tested. "Miscounts of this magnitude will have real consequences for the next decade, including how we fund programs for children and invest in our infrastructure," says the co-author of the report released today. Nationally, black residents could be undercounted by as much as 3.68 percent or 1.3 million people, Latinx could be undercounted by 3.57 percent or 2.2 million people, and 6.31 percent or 1.3 million children under the age of five could be missed.

China issues travel warning for tourists headed to the U.S.
The warning specifically cites increased harassment by U.S. law enforcement agencies, saying that Chinese visitors have been interrogated and harassed, and encourages travelers to increase safety measures and respond “appropriately and actively.” The warning was issued today by the foreign ministry and Chinese Embassy and consulates; China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a similar travel alert citing the high frequency of shootings and robberies in the U.S. The issues come as trade tensions increase, and Chinese social media has been actively discussing the difficulties of traveling to the U.S. for school, work, and tourism under the current administration. Travel from China to the U.S. fell 5.7 percent in 2018 to 2.9 million visitors, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office, the first time the number of visitors has fallen from the previous year since 2003.
AP News

On Background

Happy birthday Jefferson Davis!
Alabama is the only state that still celebrates the born day of the racist man who served as president of the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865. Yesterday, state offices were closed though banks, post offices, and federal offices conducted business as if there were nothing special about the day. To honor his legacy, raceAhead recommends reading the testimonies of nine formerly enslaved people, collected via oral history interviews conducted by the Works Progress Administration from 1936 to 1938. They were all interviewed in Alabama in 1937. “It’s bad to belong to folks that own you soul and body; that can tie you up to a tree, with your face to the tree and your arms fastened tight around it; who take a long curling whip and cut the blood, every lick,” says Delia Lick, in Montgomery. “Folks a mile away could hear them awful whippings. They was a terrible part of living.”
Montgomery Advertiser

One in five police officers post racist content on social media
Injustice Watch, a nonprofit media organization, and BuzzFeed News published research conducted by the Plain View Project, which reviewed the Facebook accounts from 2,900 current and 800 retired police officers from eight police departments across the country. The project’s aim was to compile racist and violent content “that could undermine public trust in the police and reinforce the views of critics, especially in minority communities, that the police are not there to protect them.” More than 5,000 posts met their criteria. It’s a huge problem, say writers Emily Hoerner and Rick Tulsky. “Local law enforcement departments across the country have grappled with officers’ use of social media, often struggling to create and enforce policies that restrict offensive speech.” Click here for the complete collection of posts. Brace yourselves.
Injustice Watch

Your guide to the black feminist mind
The Black Feminism Introductory Resource Guide will offer guidance to those looking to learn about black feminism—and how black women have been ignored by the feminist movement. Drawing from the collections of Harlem’s historic Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the New York Public Library network, the digital guide includes books, audio recordings, and other works essential to black feminism, and will point researchers to the works of Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, and Sojourner Truth—to name a few. “Excluded from mainstream feminism because of their race, and excluded from black liberation movements because of their gender,” writes Amara Green, the guide’s curator, it will be an introduction into the “perspectives of black women’s lives that can often be overlooked.”
New York Public Library

Tamara El-Waylly helped produce today's raceAhead and contributed to today’s summaries.


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. [Laughter.] 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...Is it in the cause of Christianity? It cannot be, for servitude is the only agency through which Christianity has reached that degraded race, the only means by which they have been civilized and elevated. Or is their charity manifested in denunciation of their brethren who are restrained from answering by the contempt which they feel for a mere brawler, whose weapons are empty words? [Applause.]
Jefferson Davis’s Speech At Boston, 1858