This is the web version of raceAhead, Fortune’s daily newsletter on race, culture, and inclusive leadership. To get it delivered daily to your inbox, sign up here.
In today’s raceAhead, correctional trainees in West Virginia pose with the Nazi salute, New York City students protest segregation at their high school, and the meaning of the Lindy Hop. But first, your week in review, in haiku.
To be a baron
in a modern age! To seek
any job you want,
or no job at all!
To wave off unpleasantries;
knowing you always
have a safe place to
go. Whiz kids, grow up to be
presidents of things,
leaders of people,
very stable geniuses.
Unless: Something goes wrong
Maybe a rapist
is in your path? Or you used
an unsecured phone?
Wishing you a pleasant and secure weekend.
Correctional employees in West Virginia suspended after a leaked photo of new trainees performing a Nazi salute The photo is not subtle. The image is a portrait of a basic training class of the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation in West Virginia, with some thirty trainees posing and posturing. The West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety condemned the photo in the statement, though it’s not clear how they obtained a copy of the image. “It is distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive and completely inappropriate,” says the letter. A copy was also sent to the local television station, though the faces were blurred. Insert problems with the talent pipeline joke here. Then weep.
The Daily Beast
Former employees allege Away fostered a toxic work culture “Away promised a lifestyle of inclusion and nice vacations,” writes The Verge’s Zoe Schiffer. But, in this investigation into the travel brand, former employees pointed to “a culture of intimidation and constant surveillance.” The startup insisted on Slack channels for all communication—emails were banned, direct messages frowned upon—claiming it promoted inclusion and transparency. But what resulted was bullying, hostility, and micromanaging. It’s a must-read piece rife with apparent examples of a deeply troubling work environment.
A former staffer admits Infowars made up stories about the threat of Shariah law in the U.S. And that’s just for starters This is the grim tale written by Josh Owen in the opinion pages of the New York Times. As a young listener, he had been vulnerable to the drama offered by Alex Jones on his far-right conspiracy site and radio show. “I believed that the world was strategically run by a shadowy, organized cabal, and that Jones was a hero for exposing it,” he writes. The essay itself is a mind-numbing look at what Infowars employees do and how the site makes money—wait for the part about the iodine pills and the Geiger counters. And the bison. And the drunken attempt to film at a polling place. And what is it about authoritarian lunatics taking their shirts off? But at some point the horror just all runs together into when Owen and a team visited Islamberg, a small Muslim community three hours north of Manhattan.
New York Times
New York City students protest segregation in their school Beacon High School has an excellent reputation as a college prep and tech savvy high school; it’s competitive and students are admitted based on their grades and a submitted portfolio. But the school is also part of a public school system that serves overwhelmingly Black and Latinx students, yet the demographic make-up of the school about 50% white. This week, students took to the streets to ask the school to do better. “Racism hides itself behind our progressive facade,” Sadie Lee, a sophomore told Colorlines. “I continue to recognize the privilege I had of escaping the system that many of my friends could not,” said Naia Timmons, a junior from Harlem. Only 360 ninth graders were admitted from more than 5,800 applications last year.
The joy and meaning (and neuroscience) of the Lindy Hop during and after Jim Crow Nicole M. Baran has created a fascinating body of work; she’s postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience and is currently studying the genetic basis of social behavior in songbirds. But she’s also been swing dancing for about 15 years. In this wonderful long read, she talks about the history of the dance and its resurgence in Black communities, not as an act of nostalgia, but one of reclamation and justice. “The Lindy Hop—this dance that we love—was born at a time when its inventors were cruelly and systematically excluded from full participation in our democracy, both here in the South and elsewhere,” she writes. “Swing music and the Lindy Hop were undeniable, confident assertions of a belief in the possibilities of freedom. That’s the true legacy, and we must acknowledge it as we dance the Lindy Hop today—each and every time we swing out.”
The Bitter Southerner
Building more meaningful relationships with an audience Here’s how to build a deeper relationship with the community you serve, explains this thoughtful primer from Poynter, the non-profit institute exploring the future of journalism. Think about stories from their perspective. Sounds simple, but it starts with the language you use to describe them. For media organizations, that means understanding your traffic, followers, subscribers, and commenters. But the advice works across industries, particularly now that everyone is a publisher. And we can all listen better. Make sure you’re “keeping track, in some formal or informal way, of the knowledge gained when employees across all parts of the organization interact with current or potential audience members.”
Why we don’t call the midwife Quartz’s Annalisa Merelli makes an interesting case for midwives. In the U.K. and parts of Europe, they are responsible for up to three-quarters of deliveries, and have consistently better outcomes then the doctor-led deliveries, which account for some 90% of births in the U.S. Why don’t Americans call the midwife more often? A century-long concerted campaign to medicalize birth was driven in part by money: Hospitals see birthing services as a reliable source of revenue. But she throws in an interesting twist: race. The medical field’s "expansion into childbirth was especially effective, partly because the midwives who were, until then, running childbirth were overwhelmingly African American and Native American," easy targets for derision during Jim Crow times.
Tamara El-Waylly helps write and produce raceAhead.
“There is a widespread anti-American feeling among the working class, thanks to the presence of the American soldiers, and I believe, very bitter anti-British feelings among the soldiers themselves... If you ask people why they dislike Americans you get first of all the answer that they are ‘always boasting’ and then come upon a more solid grievance. An American private soldier gets ten shillings a day and all found, which means the whole American army is in the middle class and fairly high up in it... The general consensus of opinion is that the only American soldiers with decent manners are Negroes.”
—George Orwell, commenting on the British reaction to Black and white American soldiers during World War II.