By Leigh Patel | On January 24, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases that have upheld the use of affirmative action in college admissions. The cases, one filed against Harvard University and one against the University of North Carolina (UNC), have been organized financially and in media by Edward Blum, a legal strategist who has worked for years to lodge attacks against affirmative action. Although not a lawyer, Blum uses strategy of media and message and is also the president of Students for Fair Admissions, the organization that filed both lawsuits that will all be heard in the highest court in this land. What is affirmative action and what is at stake?
A Q&A with Solomon Jones | One of the things I realized in working against racism in policing is that Frederick Douglass was right when he said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” You simply can’t have an effective movement without very specific demands. If you don’t know exactly what you want and you can’t articulate it clearly, the power structure decides for itself what it is willing to give, and that often turns out to be nothing.
It’s a rough way to begin the new year, mourning an author and an intellectual powerhouse. Lani Guinier, legal scholar, champion for voting rights, and the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School, joined the ancestors on January 7. She was seventy-one. Although heartbroken about her passing, we remain honored to have published her work, including “The Tyranny of the Meritocracy,” which she wrote to provide a clear blueprint for creating collaborative education models to strengthen our democracy rather than privilege individual elites. May she rest in power.
By Jonathan Rosenblum | Once again, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant and her Socialist Alternative organization have beaten the political odds. Last month, she defeated a million-dollar recall campaign by real estate developers and landlords, Democratic Party leaders, big Trump donors, and newspaper editorialists, who all teamed up to evict the eight-year councilor from City Hall.
We did it! We made it to the finish line of another plague year! Just a few more weeks left. Even though it’s not New Year’s Eve yet, uncork some bubbly to celebrate. We earned it. Our big wish for the new year: no more COVID variants. Delta, Mu, Omicron . . . Worst. Upgrades. Ever. Before we slam the door on 2021, we need to applaud and thank our authors and staff for the blog posts they wrote for the Broadside.
By James Baldwin | I have often wondered, and it is not a pleasant wonder, just what white Americans talk about with one another. I wonder this because they do not, after all, seem to find very much to say to me, and I concluded long ago that they found the color of my skin inhibiting. This color seems to operate as a most disagreeable mirror, and a great deal of one’s energy is expended in reassuring white Americans that they do not see what they see.
By Masha Rumer | As the year draws to an end, it’s a reminder of the new coping skills just about everyone has acquired because of the pandemic. In the case of immigrants, the shortages also hurled us right back into our childhoods. Many of us we were raised on stories of famines and wartime starvation, tempered by breadlines and diluted sour cream, particularly in the former Soviet Union, where I’m from. Nothing went to waste: neither old yarn nor chicken skins nor beet greens. We brought this hardiness with us to the US.
President Biden sure is making up for lost time. At this year’s tribal nations summit, skipped over the previous four years by you know who, he signed an executive order for the US to take steps to protect tribal lands and address the epidemic of missing and murdered Native Americans. He proposed a ban on federal oil and gas leases on the sacred tribal site of Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. And in his official White House proclamation for Native American Heritage Month, he listed more commitments the country will make to Indian Country.
By Dina Gilio-Whitaker | The Red Power movement was just one aspect of the social revolution that swept across the American social landscape in the 1960s and ’70s, paralleling other ethnic nationalisms, women’s liberation, the antiwar movement, and the emergence of a new, rebellious, and predominantly white middle-class counterculture. Disenchanted with the conservative values of their parents’ generation and witnessing the increasing degradation of the environment, countercultural youth looked to other cultures for answers to existential questions they perceived as unavailable in mainstream American society.
By Laura Erickson-Schroth and Laura A. Jacobs | The belief that transgender people are recognizably distinct from nontransgender people assumes that there is something we can pick out about a transgender person’s clothing, body shape, or speech that “gives them away.” It assumes that trans people never escape their “essential” gender assigned at birth—that they are never “really” a part of the gender with which they identify.
By Sheryll Cashin | Good afternoon. As a law professor, author, and former White House staffer in the Clinton Administration, I have spent nearly three decades grappling with the issue of US residential segregation—its origins, persistence, and calamitous effects in producing racial and economic inequality. My most recent book, “White Space, Black Hood: Opportunity Hoarding and Segregation in the Age of Inequality,” reflects these decades of examination and analysis. It argues that we have a system of residential caste, in which government over-invests and excludes in affluent white spaces, and disinvests, contains, and preys on people in high poverty Black neighborhoods.
You’ve heard the news. Now’s the time to jump on your holiday book buying. Supply chain delays are affecting many industries, including the book industry. Some new books you’ve been waiting for may not make it to bookstores in time for the holiday, and hot sellers may be sold out by December and not reprinted in time. On top of that, what’s thrown a wrench into the works is—wait for it—the pandemic. Who saw that plot twist coming? (We’d probably be in less of this mess if everyone got vaccinated, but hey, let’s not digress.) So, gifts you would typically start buying in December may not be available.
A Q&A with Ruth Behar | So much has changed in the last twenty-five years that sometimes we forget how different were the paradigms we worked with before. Anthropologists were taught that they had to approach their research from a distance. This meant silencing the story of your entanglement with a specific set of people, in a specific place, in a specific moment in time, and how knowledge gets produced in this messy, haunting, unrepeatable process.
By Philip Warburg | The Better Buildings Act, now making its way through the Massachusetts legislature, is a monumental step toward curbing fossil fuel use by larger commercial and public buildings. Yet even as we focus on these major carbon polluters, we cannot lose sight of the need to bring clean energy solutions to residential communities, particularly those that have been unable to tap the solar energy that shines on their rooftops.
By Christian Coleman | Break out the confetti and the champagne! We’re having a double celebration for civil rights activist Desmond Meade! First, he has been named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow! Secondly, it’s the first-year anniversary of his book, “Let My People Vote: My Battle to Restore the Rights of Returning Citizens.” The MacArthur Foundation selected him to join this year’s class of Fellows because of his work to restore voting rights to 1.4 million formerly incarcerated citizens in Florida and to remove barriers to their full participation in civic life.
By Sumbul Ali-Karamali | In this age of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion movements, twenty years after the tragedy of 9/11, why is it still acceptable to denigrate Muslims and what they believe without any knowledge of what they believe? Why are Muslims judged on the basis of stereotypes and not on facts? And why are we as Americans so reflexively quick to believe the worst of Muslims, given half an opportunity to do so?
This year’s theme for Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month is Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope. It invites Hispanic and Latinx communities to reflect on how good our tomorrow can be by holding onto resilience and hope. The following books from our catalog wouldn’t be here without our authors’ sense of hope, be it the hope of a better future embodied in the text or the hope that the book will reach the reader who needs it. In each one, you will experience stories of resilience in the face of seeking justice, of crossing borders and carving out a space for one’s self in an uninviting country, adding to the complexities and contradictions of the United States’ narrative. One of these books is for you. Happy Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month!
Ch-ch-ch-changes are happening to the US population, and time is changing us. The results from the Census Bureau’s 2020 head count are in: the country is growing more urban and more racially and ethnically diverse! And more citizens are identifying as mixed race. Put another way, the population is growing less white. By 2042, White Americans will make up the minority. What does this mean for a country founded on enslavement, settler colonialism, and systemic disenfranchisement? Let’s take several steps back to get perspective. These books from our catalog will be enlightening for our increasingly diverse future.
By Jon Hale | Last week, the State Board of Education in Florida allowed parents to apply for vouchers and enroll in a different school if their children were subject to “COVID-19 harassment.” The policy enforces Governor Ron DeSantis’ anti-masking directive. His order protects parents’ “freedom to choose” whether to mask or not, despite an alarming rise in COVID cases in the state. The order also threatened to withhold funding if school boards did not comply with the law.
Back-to-School season is tinged with precariousness this year. While Delta variant cases surge, many schools are reopening and resuming in-person classes. Even though the Biden administration announced plans to offer COVID booster shots in September, the fact remains that conditions at institutions of learning aren’t safe or fully resourced. We asked some of our authors what they would like folks to be aware of on the education front as students and educators return to the classroom. And given our pandemic reality, we also asked them how they think schools could take this opportunity to re-envision themselves for a better, post-COVID future.