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Mississippi Raids Lead to 680 Arrests: raceAhead

Mississippi Immigration Food Plant Raids ICEMississippi Immigration Food Plant Raids ICE
Handcuffed workers are escorted into a bus for transportation to a processing center following a raid by U.S. immigration officials at a Koch Foods Inc. plant in Morton, Miss. on Aug. 7, 2019.Rogelio V. Solis—AP

They were at the pinnacle of their appeal when nearly 30,000 plus members of the Ku Klux Klan paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue on this day in 1925.

They were a spectacle of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, white supremacists marching 22 across and 34 deep, acting just as if they belonged there. They could be excused for believing that they did. They had fans! The next day, the front page of The Washington Post would read: “White-robed Klan Cheered On March in Nation’s Capital.” The New York Times struck a similarly optimistic tone. “Sight Astonishes Capital," went the headline.

These are among the many historical fun facts that keep popping up as I process the news of the day, week, month, year, century, and then some. They’ve always had fans.

This is a travel day for your faithful correspondent, so this dispatch is short but painful. 

A litany of facts and unanswered questions about why Wednesday, just as the president was navigating a tone-deaf tour of shooting victims and first responders in El Paso and Dayton, U.S. immigration officials raided several Mississippi food processing plants to arrest and detain some 680 mostly Latinx workers.

People with a history of being mistreated by their employers.

Wondering what political or policy agenda was served by scenes of unaccompanied children crying in the streets as their gainfully employed immigrant parents were rounded up and taken away.

The news is still unfolding, but the history seems steady as a rock.

The mail to raceAhead of late echo a common feeling: Things seem to be escalating. “I just got done doing some reflections on how I need to show up in life given what’s been going on,” a longtime reader texted me. They said it felt like training for an elite athletic competition. “We can’t be bogged down with the stuff that isn’t feeding our laser vision. We have to blaze through the smokescreen.”

True that. 

But thinking back to the astonishing sight of Klan members on Pennsylvania Avenue, back so many decades ago, puts things into perspective for me. I’m reminded that I shouldn’t be shocked that violent racist rhetoric is back. I should be shocked that I ever believed it was gone. 

They have fans.

On Point

Her worst fears realized, former Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez sworn in as Puerto Rico governor She is the third person in less than a week in the position, a sign of continued political turbulence on the island. She had explicitly stated she didn’t want the job, but a court ruling found it was her constitutional duty to take the position in the absence of a sitting secretary of state. “Puerto Rico needs certainty and stability and our actions are directed to that end,” she said. “That will always come first.” She is the second woman to hold the position; she has no political platform or many fans. Miami Herald

Sergeant: There are white supremacists on the St. Louis police force Heather Taylor, a 19-year veteran of the St. Louis Police Department told CBS News that white supremacist officers are a problem on the force. “Have you seen some of the Facebook posts of some of our suspended officers right now?” St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards, says he’s not surprised, but says new training is helping, citing lower use-of-force statistics. But, he concedes there is a long way to go. Secondary takeaway: Implicit bias training doesn’t help you if the bias is explicit. CBS News

Cyntoia Brown released after 15 years Brown was only 16 when she shot and killed a man who had picked her up for sex; she was of convicted aggravated robbery and first-degree murder in 2006. But a PBS documentary on her complex life as a trafficked teen made her famous, celebrity allies Rihanna and Kim Kardashian also came to her defense. Her case also helped shape new state-level legislation to protect minors who are victims of sex trafficking. Earlier this year, then Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted Brown clemency for what he called a “tragic and complex case.” NPR

On Background

Let women and managers of color participate in hiring decisions When a manager has the final say in hiring, direct reports tend to reflect the ethnicity of the manager, one workplace diversity report found. The tendency bleeds into gender as well. Nearly 80% of male employees report to men and more than half of all women report to women. (Very few men report to women.) The survey was conducted by human resource software maker Namely, which queried 1,000 clients with more than 175,000 employees. “Our data,” tweeted Namely’s chief people officer, “shows that there is still not diversity at the team level in midsize companies.” The report suggests harnessing bias with a rope-a-dope strategy of letting women and non-white managers influence hiring. Everett Harper, CEO of Trussworks, says making diversity a priority for everyone has worked for them. SHRM

Writing for Toni Morrison Rebecca Carroll is an author, journalist, cultural commentator, and host at WNYC. But she’s also a person who has learned to process her black life in a white world without the veil of the white gaze removed. It has been a journey, she says. “Perhaps too ambitious or presumptuous or high-minded, I had, until the announcement of her death this week, been writing my memoir, Surviving the White Gaze, for Toni Morrison and Pecola Breedlove [the protagonist of The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison’s novel about an 11-year-old black girl who believes having blue eyes would make her beautiful.] Because I survived the white gaze for Pecola, and Morrison taught me how.” A poignant preview of a complicated road to blackness. The Atlantic

The gay rights movement in magazine covers The images will take you on a journey, I promise. Reveal Digital is a small organization that raises funds to digitize, clear rights, and make important collections available to the public. This new trove has just been added to their open access “Independent Voices” collection. The collection includes extraordinary covers from LGBTQ+ journals from the 1950s to the 1990s, a remarkable resource for researchers, and inclusion fans. And if you’re missing back issues of Blazing Star, Come Out!, Dykes and Gorgons, Gay Flames, Lavender Woman, Lesbian Tide, or Sinister Wisdom, you’re in luck. The full list is here, browse the collection here, more context below. JSTOR Daily

Tamara El-Waylly helps produce raceAhead.


“If we ain’t fightin’ to keep slavery, then what the hell are we fightin’ for?”

Nathan Bedford Forrest