Legacies links for July 17, 2023: the Memphis massacre, college admissions, geographic racism, and more

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Scenes in Memphis, Tennessee, during the riot of 1866. source: National Park Service

Weekly links:

  • Isaiah Stafford and Kathy Roberts Forde, “The history of Memphis set the stage for the killing of Tyre Nichols,” The Washington Post (July 10, 2023): LINK. A local expression of the nationwide legacy of police violence against African Americans, these authors remind us of Memphis’ violent massacre in 1866. The Tyre Nichols’s death is the latest casualty in this violent legacy.
  • Rebecca Schneid, “Race-based college admissions are now banned, but Texas schools still have ways to ensure campuses are diverse,” Texas Tribune (July 11, 2023): LINK. “Higher education experts say universities can implement other strategies like targeted recruitment in underserved communities, eliminating legacy admissions and getting rid of test requirements.”
  • Angelica S. Gutierrez, “Support for legacy admissions is rooted in racial hierarchy,” The Conversation (July 13, 2023): LINK. An education researcher examines how legacy admissions have helped sustain a racial status quo in higher education (a perspective that’s been lost in many but not all of the debates about affirmative action).
  • Bobby Harrison, “Few options remain for Mississippians convicted of certain felonies to regain voting rights,” Mississippi Today (July 12, 2023): LINK. A vestige of slavery that goes back to Mississippi’s 1890 Jim Crow constitution—specifically designed to target African Americans—will remain in force after the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a case about the state’s lifetime ban on voting for people convicted of felonies.
  • Lelia Barghouty, “How the former Confederate capital slashed Black voting power, overnight,” Washington Post (July 9, 2023): LINK (a free account may be required for access). In 1970, Richmond, Virginia, incorporated rural Chesterfield County as a way to dilute the voting power of Black residents in the wake of the Voting Rights Act.
  • Olivia Lewis, “Black residents are reclaiming the housing market in Detroit,” BridgeDetroit (July 7, 2023): LINK. Signs of hope for Detroit, a city that has suffered for decades from the legacies of racial upheaval, deindustrialization, and political mismanagement: “The city now leads the region in demand for mortgages from Black middle-class homebuyers. According to the reports, between 2012 to 2021 Black homebuyer demand increased by 188%. However, Black residents are still denied mortgages at a higher rate than white mortgage applicants.”
  • Daniel Denvir, “The Black Radical Tradition Can Guide Our Struggles Against Oppression,” Jacobin (July 6, 2023): LINK. Historian Robin D. G. Kelley helped rediscover a tradition of African American radicalism that was—and is—a crucial part of the American Left’s history. A twentieth anniversary edition of his Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination was published a few months ago.
  • Akilah Johnson, “U.N.: Black maternal health in crisis across hemisphere, not just in U.S.,” The Washington Post (July 12, 2023): LINK. “Black women in the Americas bear a heavier burden of maternal mortality than their peers, but according to a report released [last] Wednesday by the United Nations, the gap between who lives and who dies is especially wide in the world’s richest nation—the United States.”

Race and Place:

Why are African Americans more likely than other Americans to live in food deserts, flood zones, or neighborhoods with inferior sanitation? Here are a few recent links that explore the continuing spatial impact of slavery and the post-emancipation migration of African Americans.

  • “Author Q&A: The Evolution of Race and Place in Geographies of Risk and Resilience,” University of Michigan Center for Social Solutions (June 7, 2023): LINK. Two researchers have found that “ethnicity and race correlate to patterns of heighted flood risk and weakened flood resilience globally. Progress in addressing the inequities of people and place, coinciding with resilience and risk, is rooted in community-based reparations across a broad spectrum of areas.” The published report requires a subscription to Progress in Environmental Geography.
  • Scott Morgan, “Food apartheid and food sovereignty: How a tiny Rock Hill [S.C.] nonprofit is trying to bridge a red line drawn long ago,” South Carolina Public Radio (July 10, 2023): LINK. Food apartheid is defined as a system of segregation that divides those with access to an abundance of nutritious food and those who have been denied that access due to systemic injustice–and it’s still happening in this tiny South Carolina town, but a nonprofit is trying to help.
  • Dennis Pillion, “Alabama Black Belt Becomes Environmental Justice Test Case: Is Sanitation a Civil Right?” Inside Climate News (July 10, 2023): LINK. The federal government has launched a civil rights investigation in Alabama to answer a particular societal problem: “Does everyone have the right to basic sanitation in their homes?”