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African journalists analyze the U.S. elections

February 7, 2020, 8:27 PM UTC

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.

African journalists weigh in on the Iowa caucuses, Hollywood’s making mixed progress on diversity, and the House of Prada gets lessons in racial equity.

But first, your week in review in Haiku, inspired by Lewis Carroll.

The time has come, the
President said, to tweet of
many things: Of JOBS

votes, and IOWA,
from impeachment to a king.
Down the rabbit hole

of illness great and
small; looking to a cure ‘fore
it consumes us all.

Through the looking glass,
a future darkly waits, seek
out Wonderland, there’s

danger at the gate:
The sea is boiling hot, and
pigs need more than wings.

Wishing you an adventurous weekend.

Ellen McGirt

On Point

“Africa Reacts” to the Iowa caucuses The Africa program associated with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a bipartisan and nonprofit research organization, is providing a unique service this election season. They’re asking prominent African journalists, equity activists, and other leaders to generate analysis of the U.S. elections. The first installment of “Africa Reacts” starts with Iowa. Overall, the reporting is sharp, fair, pro-democracy, and compassionate toward voters—and keeps Africa in the conversation. “Watching from afar, the Iowa caucuses in my view was a complete replica of any controversy surrounding Africa and elections,” says Rodney Sieh, of Front Page Africa. “Second, warts and all, the Iowa caucuses are important for providing a platform for rich diversity for the DNC's aspirants—a diversity that we rarely see in our stage managed primaries and elections in West Africa despite the need for fresh faces, fresh ideas, and fresh talent for our leadership recruitment pool,” says Ayisha Osori, of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.
CSIS Commentary

UCLA’s latest diversity report brings mixed news The Hollywood Diversity Report 2020 shows that in some areas, the industry is getting the message. The report focuses on the top-grossing films of 2018 and 2019 and paints an encouraging on-camera picture. “As of 2019, both women and minorities are within striking distance of proportionate representation when it comes to lead roles and total cast,” said report co-author Darnell Hunt, dean of the UCLA College division of social sciences. But behind the scenes he says, it’s a different story. The numbers of writing and acting jobs improved slightly in most categories, but lag significantly behind the population overall. “Getting writing, directing, and acting jobs is a critical step for women and people of color because success in the industry is largely driven by the credits you have,” Hunt said.
UCLA Newsroom

Prada employees to receive racial-equity training The luxury fashion brand has agreed to provide the training to its employees in New York and Milan as part of a settlement with NYC after a 2018 window display was removed for racist imagery. The settlement was announced by the New York Commission on Human Rights, in a first-ever enforcement action of a brand and its chosen imagery. Designer Miuccia Prada, her husband Patrizio Bertelli, and CEO Carlo Mazzi will all participate in the training as part of the settlement with the commission. Civil rights lawyer Chinyere Ezie drew attention to the display in a Facebook post calling out the "racist and denigrating blackface imagery."
NBC News

Katy Perry, who is neither British nor Asian, is a new British Asian Trust ambassador Submitted without comment. But, boy, plenty of other people had stuff to say.
CBS News

On Background

How do we grapple with Kobe Bryant’s legacy? This is a topic that continues to roil, proof that the wounds run deep, and Bryant’s impact was wide. CBS News personality Gayle King is currently under fire for bringing up the rape allegations in an interview with WNBA star Lisa Leslie, an exchange that earned a video diatribe from Snoop Dogg, and turned her briefly into a Twitter trending topic. (We also learned that Bill Cosby is able to tweet from jail.) The Undefeated breaks it all down here. But of all the takes I’ve read, this one from Tara K. Menon comes closest to parsing the fine line of what it means to love a public figure, to honor their influence over your life… and have trouble reconciling not only what they allegedly did to someone else, but what it means to grow up in a world where male excellence is the only role model you were allowed to have. A must read.
The Paris Review

A new economics paper for every day of Black History Month Economist Peter Blair is a faculty research fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and an assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education—and a national treasure who will clearly earn a place in some economist/physicist hall of fame for his tireless boosting of “econ papers that have inspired me,” during Black History Month. “Celebrate Black History Month by reading these papers that highlight the work of black scholars, their co-authors, and work by scholars of all backgrounds that speak to the experiences of black people in the U.S. and the diaspora,” he says in his kick-off tweet. On Feb 3 he shared "Can ‘Baby Bonds’ Eliminate the Racial Wealth Gap in Putative Post-Racial America?" Then on Feb. 4, he shared a compelling study about racial disparity in voting wait times, using smartphone data. #BlackEcon Twitter is good Twitter, friends.
Dr. Peter Q. Blair

How simple rituals can keep us strong Longtime raceAhead reader Rebecca Padnos Altamirano, author, activist, and co-founder of experience design firm Tangelo Technologies, offers us a balm for difficult times. While walking her children to the school bus every morning, they sing "Woke Up This Morning," a freedom song from the Civil Rights Movement. The mad dash to the door is gone and the walk becomes about centering and readiness. “It’s a song of resilience, new beginnings, and steadfast faith,” she says. “You can’t help but feel good while singing it.” Lately, she’s found herself called to sing it at various times during the day. “I always feel better afterward. I feel connected to the struggle and it inspires me to overcome any obstacle in my way.” She has a lovely version to recommend. Take four minutes and 17 seconds to remind yourself that ain’t nothing wrong with keeping your mind stayed on freedom.
Thrive Global

Tamara El-Waylly produces raceAhead and manages the op-ed program.


"Bryant’s death has caused more collective tangible pain in Black men than I’ve ever seen. My friends are in pain. My Morehouse students are aching. We’ve never experienced anything quite like this: A celebrity of this magnitude so prevalent in our lives and our collective consciousness suddenly erased. I think part of the reason this is so hard for Black men to cope with is that we don’t have anyone to be angry at. When Nipsey Hussle or Tupac Shakur or Biggie Smalls or even Michael Jackson or Prince died, we had shooters, betrayers and pharmaceutical companies to direct our anger toward. Bryant died when a helicopter fell out of the sky. We have no place to put our anger. We have nobody to vow revenge upon. Now, thanks to the King interview, we have a target."

David Dennis Jr., a writer and adjunct professor of Journalism at Morehouse College, on Kobe Bryant and the Gaye King interview backlash.