RACE IN AMERICA 2021

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SPECIAL EDITION

RACE IN AMERICA 2021

UNITY $4.95

WOMEN OF COLOR Leading with intention and embracing their power

INSIDE YEAR 2020 Protests, pain and a pandemic

BETTER BUSINESS Companies vow to improve diversity & inclusion efforts


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CONTENTS

202 1 S PECI A L E D ITI O N

RACE IN AMERICA

40 STOP THE VIOLENCE Advocates call for peace as crimes against Asian Americans increase

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FEATURES

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BRAND AWARENESS

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AFTEREFFECTS

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LEADING LADIES

Corporations work to increase diversity and inclusion

Many are still reeling from a tumultuous, unprecedented year

These high-powered women of color effect positive change

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48 TANIA SAVAYAN/THE (WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y.) JOURNAL NEWS

PROVIDED BY THE OFFICE OF REP. MAXINE WATERS


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CONTENTS

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UP FRONT

NEWS

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IN UNISON

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LEADING BY EXAMPLE

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MANE CONCERNS

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BORDER CONTROL

Lift Every Voice and Sing proposed as national hymn

The Crown Act prohibits hair discrimination

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DNA DISCOVERY

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RACE MATTERS

One woman learns her lineage isn’t what she thought

Ethnic identity means more to people of color than whites

President Biden’s Cabinet among the most diverse

Experts weigh in on ways to curb illegal immigration

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BALLOT BATTLE

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REDLINING RACISM

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90 ON THE COVER 1. CÉCILE GANTEAUME, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN; 2. LATOSHA BROWN, GETTY IMAGES; 3. DEBORAH LIU, KELSEY FLOYD/WOMEN IN PRODUCT PORTRAITS; 4. LLOYD AUSTIN, SPC. XAVIERA MASLINE/U.S. ARMY; 5. CORIE BARRY, CORPORATE. BESTBUY.COM; 6. CRYSTAL DEGREGORY, CRYSTALDEGREGORY. COM; 7. KIM GODWIN, PROVIDED BY KIM GODWIN; 8. ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, ZACHARY HUPP/DHS; 9. VAN TRAN, SCHOLAR. HARVARD.EDU; 10. DEB HAALAND, CAROLYN KASTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS; 11. DAVID INOUE, PACIFICCITIZEN.ORG; 12. MARCIA FUDGE, JACQUELYN MARTIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS; 13. EDUARDO DÍAZ, THE SMITHSONIAN LATINO CENTER; 14. JAMES CLYBURN, GETTY IMAGES; 15. BEECHER HICKS, GETTY IMAGES

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Politicians at odds over new voting laws

Housing equity still out of reach for many people of color

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REAPING RECOMPENSE Stimulus plan supports African American farmers

EDUCATION

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PROVIDED BY LUISA COLÓN

TRAVEL

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CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

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TIME OF RETURN

STUDY GROUP Foundation provides peer support to minority college students

TEACHABLE MOMENT Critical race theory becomes hot-button issue

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PRIDE AND PURPOSE

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CEREMONIAL GARB

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There’s still a place for historically Black universities

Ethnic museums tell stories of their communities

Ghana welcomes members of the Black diaspora to visit and relocate

URBAN OASES Minority-majority cities in the South offer opportunities

LAST WORD Native Americans fight to wear traditional regalia at graduations

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POWERFUL PROSE Learn more about race in America with these reads

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FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS This is a product of

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jeanette Barrett-Stokes jbstokes@usatoday.com

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jerald Council jcouncil@usatoday.com

Based in suburban Minneapolis, SHEREE R. CURRY enjoys covering corporate America, personal finance and race-related issues. She was a staff reporter at Fortune and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and People. For this issue, she assessed the progress of several corporations that have recently pledged to increase their diversity and inclusion efforts (PAGE 24).

The work of award-winning journalist and author ROSALIND CUMMINGS-YEATES has been featured in Time, London Telegraph and The Root. For this issue, she writes about the rising popularity of Ghana, not only as a travel destination, but as a home for Blacks seeking to connect with their homeland and live without racial discrimination (PAGE 106). As an aficionado of African history and culture, this Chicagoan enjoyed exploring the West African nation’s historic connection to the Black American diaspora.

LAURA CASTAÑEDA teaches at the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles. In this publication, she writes about the Posse Foundation’s new Arts Initiative college scholarship program in collaboration with the Miranda Family Foundation (PAGE 88), and she looks at Asian American, Native American and other museums that preserve the history of our diverse nation (PAGE 100). “There’s so much history, culture and art to see in our own backyard,” she says.

MANAGING EDITOR Michelle Washington mjwashington@usatoday.com

ISSUE EDITOR Tracy Scott Forson ISSUE DESIGNER Debra Moore EDITORS Amy Sinatra Ayres Harry Lister Deirdre van Dyk Debbie Williams DESIGNERS Hayleigh Corkey David Hyde Gina Toole Saunders Lisa M. Zilka CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Deborah Barfield Berry, Matthew Brown, Laura Castañeda, Marco della Cava, Luisa Colòn, Ana Pelayo Connery, Chelsey Cox, Rosalind Cummings-Yeates, Sheree R. Curry, Sarah Elbeshbishi, Sally Ho, Charisse Jones, Jennifer E. Mabry, Sylvia A. Martinez, Tracey Onyenacho, Donna M. Owens, Shameika Rhymes, Jeanine Santucci, Lindsay Schnell, Afi Scruggs, Shondiin Silversmith, Khanh T.L. Tran

ADVERTISING VP, ADVERTISING Patrick Burke | (703) 854-5914 pburke@usatoday.com

LUISA COLÓN is a Brooklyn-based writer whose work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including The New York Times and Latina. Her article in this issue chronicles how her sister Amanda’s life changed after signing up for a mail-in ancestry kit (PAGE 16). “Finding out that she is Black and has a whole new family has been so revelatory for Amanda,” says Colón. “And it’s been really exciting to watch her story unfold and to cheer her on.”

Once a Fulbright scholar in Tokyo and now a freelance journalist in Los Angeles, KHANH T.L. TRAN has covered technology, fashion, the entertainment industry and various topics for publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and The Hollywood Reporter. For this issue, she examined the recent rise in anti-Asian attacks, looking back at the historical context and surveying ways individuals and organizations are moving forward to stop Asian hate (PAGE 40).

DONNA M. OWENS is an awardwinning multiplatform journalist who regularly covers politics, race, gender, social justice and culture. For this issue, she examined the emotional and physical impact that the nation’s racial reckoning is having on Black Americans (PAGE 34). Owens’ work has appeared in The Washington Post, NPR, NBCNews.com, Reuters, Essence and other outlets. The Baltimore native was selected for a residential media fellowship at Harvard Medical School.

ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Vanessa Salvo | (703) 854-6499 vsalvo@usatoday.com

FINANCE Billing Coordinator Julie Marco ISSN#0734-7456 A USA TODAY Network publication, Gannett Co. Inc. USA TODAY, its logo and associated graphics are the trademarks of Gannett Co. Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Copyright 2021, USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. Editorial and publication headquarters are at 7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22108, and at (703) 854-3400. For accuracy questions, call or send an e-mail to accuracy@usatoday.com. Printed in the USA

PROVIDED BY THE CONTRIBUTORS; SARA RUBINSTEIN; KATIE JONES


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UP FRONT

The Harmonies of Liberty African American spiritual could become country’s national hymn

DID YOU KNOW?

SHANNON FINNEY/WASHINGTON PERFORMING ARTS

The Washington Performing Arts Men and Women of the Gospel Choir take the stage at the Kennedy Center.

aren’t singing a separate national anthem. You are singing the country’s naONGRESSMAN JAMES tional hymn,’” says Clyburn CLYBURN WANTS a song about faith and of the spiritual known as the resilience long revered Black national anthem. “The in the Black commugesture itself would be an James Clyburn nity to become the national hymn act of healing. Everybody to help unite the country after can identify with that song.” JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY centuries of racial turmoil. The musical work is an Clyburn, the House majority whip, important part of African American introduced a measure in January that culture and history. For decades, it has would make Lift Every Voice and Sing been performed in Black communities the national hymn and give it a special in schools, at historically Black college place alongside the country’s anthem, and university graduations, at church The Star-Spangled Banner. services and especially during Black His“To make it a national hymn, I think, tory Month. Clyburn says it’s time for it to would be an act of bringing the country be sung in other communities — many of together. It would say to people, ‘You which would relate to the song’s message By Deborah Barfield Berry

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of faith, resilience and hope. Some experts and historians say the legislative push would do little to address systemic problems plaguing communities of color. “It’s symbolically notable for Black people, but in the larger scheme of things, this isn’t going to put food on people’s table. It’s not going to increase people’s pay,” says Michael Fauntroy, a political scientist at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Fauntroy says he worries some people may overstate the importance of symbolic victories and substitute them for more structural changes. However, Clyburn believes the move could inspire. “I realize that it would be symbolic to make Lift Every Voice and

James Weldon Johnson penned the lyrics to Lift Every Voice and Sing. His brother John Rosamond Johnson composed it. The piece was first performed in 1900 at an event commemorating Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The NAACP adopted it as the Black national anthem in 1919.

Sing, which has been published by more than 40 religious publishing houses, our national hymn, but I believe it could help create a climate for some very substantive accomplishments,” Clyburn wrote in a February USA TODAY opinion piece. “Our nation is at an inflection point as we continue to struggle with issues of race. It is my hope that we can reach an acknowledgment and acceptance of our past as we work together to build a stronger future. Our motto, E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) is symbolic of our aspirations. Enshrining Lift Every Voice and Sing as our national hymn will be a substantive step towards liberty and justice for all.”


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UP FRONT

Mane Concerns States enact CROWN legislation to protect cultural hairstyles and head coverings By Marco della Cava and Chelsey Cox

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woman was fired from her call center job for refusing to cut her dreadlocks. In 2018, a 6-year-old boy in Florida was denied entry to his school because of his dreadlocks. Later that year, New Jersey high school wrestler Andrew Johnson had to cut his dreadlocks ringside before being allowed to compete. These recent incidents are indicative of decades of discrimination faced by people of color with textured hair that is naturally curlier, often growing out away from the scalp, as opposed to down, as straighter tresses do. While most dress codes or employee handbooks don’t specifically prohibit any hair textures, some language and broad restrictions have that effect. “Discrimination against Black hair often hides behind seemingly race-neutral grooming policies and dress codes,

BLACK WOMEN ARE

80% MORE LIKELY TO CHANGE THEIR HAIR TO MEET WORKPLACE EXPECTATIONS SOURCE: CROWN Coalition

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UP XXXXX FRONT women are 80 percent more likely to change their hair to meet workplace expectations and 50 percent more likely to be sent home or know someone who was sent home from the workplace because of her hair. “We can no longer allow employers and educators to discriminate against how hair naturally grows and push false stereotypes about appearance, professionalism and acceptability. Black people should be able to exist in all spaces as their full selves,” says Barrett. Ama Karikari-Yawson, founder of Milestales, a consultancy that works on diversity training in schools and business settings, prefers to refer to natural Since the first CROWN Act passed in hair by the term California in July 2019, more states have enacted laws to protect those “Afro-textured.” choosing to wear culturally significant She notes that the issue of hair hairstyles and coverings, including: discriminauNew York July 2019 tion goes beyond style and uNew Jersey December 2019 encompasses uVirginia March 2020 health concerns. uColorado March 2020 Between the uWashington March 2020 use of hot irons uMaryland May 2020 uConnecticut March 2021 and chemical relaxers, “Many uNew Mexico March 2021 people I know, and myself included, have suffered burns In 2019, a Muslim correctionon the scalp and hair that fell al officer filed a lawsuit against out and wouldn’t grow back,” employers who allegedly she says. “We shouldn’t have to prohibited her from wearing a sacrifice our hair or our health hijab. to conform.” In 2019, California Gov. Gavin For decades, Rosario Schuler Newsom signed the nation’s has touted the beauty and first CROWN (Creating a advantages of nonstraight hairRespectful and Open World for styles for people of color. The Natural Hair) Act measure safefounder of Oh! My Nappy Hair, guarding state residents from which has salons in Atlanta, discrimination due to natural Los Angeles and Oakland, hairstyles. New York Gov. Calif., says the new legislation Andrew Cuomo signed a similar represents a big victory on her bill into law, followed by New long road. Jersey. Washington, Maryland, “We have all heard the stories Virginia and Colorado followed about brothers and sisters who suit last year. New Mexico’s have been stigmatized because 2021 bill was crafted to be more of their hair,” she says. “Years inclusive, winning support ago, I said to myself, ‘One day from a broad coalition including I’ll be able to take a shower and Native American and religious get dressed and get out of the advocates. house with my hair the way it is According to the CROWN naturally,’ and that day seems Coalition, a sponsor of to have come.” California’s CROWN Act, Black when in actuality, these policies and practices profile, single out and disproportionately burden Black people for wearing natural hairstyles or protective styling intimately connected with their Black identity,” says Lisa Cylar Barrett, director of policy at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. To address this discrimination, states are enacting laws to protect those who want to wear their hair in cultural and ethnically relevant styles, such as Afros, bantu knots, braids and dreadlocks. In some states, the legislation also prohibits discrimination against cultural head adornments and coverings.

“We can no longer allow employers and educators to discriminate against how hair naturally grows and push false stereotypes about appearance, professionalism and acceptability.” — LISA CYLAR BARRETT, director of policy, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund GETTY IMAGES


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DNA Discoveries My sister’s decision to sign up for Ancestry.com changed her whole world By Luisa Colón

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Y HALF-SISTER AMANDA and I didn’t know what to expect when we ordered mail-in ancestry kits. But we were pretty sure we wouldn’t share any biological ancestors, since Amanda is adopted. And while I got some expected results (confirmation that I am half Jewish and half Puerto Rican) and some unexpected ones (an unusual number of new aunts, uncles and cousins), Amanda was on the receiving end of much more surprising news. CONTINUED

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UP FRONT Born in 1959, Amanda was adopted by our father, who is from Puerto Rico, and his first wife, who was Jewish. The Louise Wise Services adoption agency told the couple that the baby girl was also Puerto Rican and Jewish, and a match was made — “to everyone’s delight,” says Amanda, who even as an infant had big brown eyes like our dad and a head full of dark curls. Oblivious about the adoption, people often commented on the father-daughter resemblance. Our father and Amanda’s mother divorced, and he married my mom. Amanda and I shared a household, parents and the same ethnic makeup — or so we thought. About five years ago, Amanda — who had contacted the adoption agency consistently over the years to see if anyone in her biological family had reached out, to no avail — wanted to dig deeper into her biological ancestry. “I decided to do Ancestry.com because I wanted to confirm my Latin heritage,” Amanda says. When the results came back, “as expected, I was 58 percent Ashkenazi Jew. But the other 42 percent was not even on my radar. My paternal ancestors hailed from the Cameroon, Congo and West Bantu peoples, Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Senegal regions of West Africa.” Amanda’s immediate reaction was to worry that this new information would set her apart from her family — she was no longer Latin like our father, to whom she was especially close, and half-sisters. At the time, Amanda said she felt, “I am now less like them than I had ever been.” And there was another element to her feeling of disorientation, one more far-reaching. When people take a DNA test and find out they are Black, “They are confronted not only with their own personal surprise, but the weight of racism in America, and they are disoriented,” explains Anita Foeman, a professor in the Department of Communications and Media at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, director of the DNA Discussion Project and co-author of Who Am I?: Identity in the Age of Consumer DNA Testing. Foeman notes that as surprising a discovery as this was for Amanda, it’s actually quite common in the Latinx community. “We test Latinx people all the time who are surprised how much

“We test Latinx people all the time who are surprised how much African ancestry they have. ” — ANITA FOEMAN, director, DNA Discussion Project

Amanda with her adoptive father GETTY IMAGES; PROVIDED BY LUISA COLÓN (2)

Writer Luisa Colón and Amanda

African ancestry they have,” she notes. “Remember, Latino is not a race, and many (Latino) people have profiles that look exactly like (Amanda’s). We should not stereotype what it means to be Black. People of African ancestry are all over the globe. More slaves ended up in the Latinx world than in the USA.” In a 2019 study of DNA testing services, the Pew Research Center found that “nonwhite Americans are far more likely than whites to say they were surprised by what their DNA results showed about their ancestors.” The study reported that

“42 percent of nonwhite adults say they were surprised by the findings concerning the racial or ethnic background of their ancestors, compared with 22 percent of whites.” After my sister got over her initial shock, she began to acquaint herself with her biological roots for the first time in her 50-plus years, starting with the expansion of her family. “I found out I had two sisters who were from my birth father, a brother from my birth mother and a few cousins and aunts and uncles on both sides,” she recalls. “I was able

to get pictures of my birth father and mother and all the other relatives.” Her fears about being set apart from our family were unfounded; we were all happy that Amanda was finding out about her ancestry, and our dad “was so excited to hear about the different people and where they all live. He had me send him all the pictures of the new family,” says Amanda. Her newly discovered older sister helped acquaint her with her ethnic and racial roots. And her career took a new turn, too. After 35 years in education, Amanda founded Amethyst Affinity to design and facilitate diversity workshops about the stages of racial identity development for educators, parents of transracial adoption, therapists and community members. “I found it cathartic,” says Amanda, who was able to use her own personal experience to inform the workshops she developed. The results of Amanda’s DNA test not only changed her world, but made it bigger, too. “I am so happy to know my ethnic background and to be embraced by all my sisters, brother and other family members,” she says. “Some days I feel like a peacock strutting my stuff.”


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Race Matters Black, Hispanic Americans consider ethnicity integral to their identities By Chelsey Cox and Sally Ho

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LACK AND HISPANIC AMERICANS are more likely

to view race as important to their sense of self than white Americans, according to a Pew Research Center report released in May. Black Americans (55 percent) and Hispanics (54 percent) reported their origins were central to their identity at more than twice the rate of white Americans (23 percent). The data comes as the nation faces a racial reckoning long in the making, particularly in the past year, as videos of police violence in communities of color and protests have roiled cities across the country. The friction over race reaches nearly every part of American life, from the COVID-19 pandemic to how children learn about race and history in schools. The 2020 census was the first to allow white and Black respondents to elaborate on their national origin and ethnic CONTINUED

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UP FRONT background. The previous census had a write-in box only for people of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin; American Indian or Alaska native; or Asian. “The Census Bureau stated that it was a matter in part of equity, to give Black respondents and white respondents the opportunity to provide more information about their origins on the census, as well,” says D’Vera Cohn, senior writer and editor for Pew Research Center.

COUNTRY OF BIRTH At 61 percent, Hispanic immigrants were more likely to report feeling connected to their origins than U.S.-born Hispanics (51 percent). “The closer identification with their origins may be related to their higher foreign born share,” Mark Hugo Lopez, director of race and ethnicity research at Pew, says of Hispanic Americans. “About half of all Hispanic adults were born in another country, for example, and another quarter are the U.S.-born children of immigrant parents. “For Black Americans, in other surveys, we’ve found many grow up aware of their race as their parents are more likely to discuss how their background may impact their life opportunities,” says Lopez. For many of these families, difficult conversations around inequities in everything from policing to housing have long been the norm, and begin when children are in middle school, if not at an earlier age. Sheila SatheWarner’s two sons are Black and Asian. SatheWarner is Indian American, and her husband is of African Caribbean descent from St. Croix. SatheWarner says she emphasizes their Black heritage and encourages her sons to embrace the natural texture of their hair. “We’ve always talked to them about both their heritages. We have been committed to visiting St. Croix,” says SatheWarner, a middle-school principal from Alameda, Calif. “They are both Black.” The subject harkens back to the “one drop rule,” a legal principle rooted in slavery that anyone with even a drop of Black lineage could not own land or be free. Today, it manifests itself in the way people visually categorize others and the social hierarchy, says Sarah Gaither, a Duke University professor studying race, who is Black and white. CLAIMING AN IDENTITY No one carries the same experience or should serve as “identity police,” says Gaither, who stresses the importance of

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“The Census Bureau stated that it was a matter in part of equity, to give Black respondents and white respondents the opportunity to provide more information about their origins ... .” — D’VERA COHN, senior writer and editor, Pew Research Center allowing multiracial, multicultural people to define who they are, and accepting that a biracial person’s identity may evolve. Although respondents were allowed to identify as more than one race in the U.S. census beginning in 2000, the race category options still are not all-encompassing. About half of the 2020 survey’s respondents (49 percent) say they see their identities reflected “very well” in the questions added to the 2020 census, leaving open the question of whether the government is accurately capturing how Americans perceive themselves and identify racially. People of Middle Eastern or North African descent have long struggled with what category to select when filling out forms. The Census Bureau for now

encourages people in those categories to identify as white. And even though Hispanic identity isn’t a race, Latinos often aren’t sure how to answer the race question and select “some other race” on census forms. Aside from the way they outwardly present, how multiracial people are raised and conditioned by their families, their exposure to certain relatives and the makeup of their community surroundings also are important factors in how they identify. Former President Barack Obama, whose father was Kenyan and mother was white, identifies as Black; while Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, whose father is white and mother is Black, has indicated a preference for being identified as biracial. Then there’s pro golfer Tiger Woods, who coined the

term “cablinasian” because his mixedrace parents were of white, Black, Asian and Native American ancestry. For many people of color, especially those who can trace their roots to a specific country, there are often allegiances to the homeland and to the United States — the nation that may have colonized or enslaved their ancestors, but also afforded them unparalleled opportunities. Vice President and Oakland, Calif., native Kamala Harris, who proudly recognizes her Jamaican and Indian heritage, has offered a blueprint of how to respond when asked about heritage. During a 2019 campaign event, she replied, “How do I describe myself? I describe myself as a proud American.” Sally Ho writes for The Associated Press.


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ARE WE THERE YET? Corporate America renews commitment to diversity


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By Sheree R. Curry N THE AFTERMATH OF

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George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, corporate America stepped up to renew commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and social justice reform. Statements from companies were swift. Their words were powerful. Promises were made to include more people of color on corporate boards, among senior management and with entry-level positions. New initiatives extended to supplier partnerships and community reinvesting, all in an effort to

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eradicate racial inequities embedded in the systems and policies of a nation that, in many ways, has been racially divided for centuries. A recent Citigroup report estimates that the racial gap between Blacks and whites has cost the U.S. economy up to $16 trillion in lost revenue in just the past two decades. If these racial gaps were closed today, according to the September 2020 report, America could reap $5 trillion of additional gross domestic product over the next five years.

A WIN-WIN STRATEGY Companies create DEI initiatives

to be more antiracist and inclusive, but it’s also good for the bottom line. Companies in the top quartile for both gender and ethnic diversity outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36 percent in terms of profitability, according to Citigroup. Similarly, DiversityInc monitored its Top 50 companies for inclusion against the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq composite and S&P 500 for several years and found companies that demonstrated their commitment to inclusion outperformed those that did not. Corporate CEOs have myriad reasons to step up to the plate, say some experts.

“History shows that self-interest will drive the most transformational corporate action for diversity, equity and inclusion, but what many continue to struggle with is how to foster inclusion and belonging to produce equitable results,” says Tawanna Black, founder and CEO of the Center for Economic Inclusion, which is committed to strengthening the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., region’s civic infrastructure and advancing an inclusive economy. In one effort, nearly 2,000 CEOs and presidents signed the CEO Action CONTINUED

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Best Buy CEO Corie Barry, center BEST BUY (2)

for Diversity & Inclusion pledge to ensure they support a more inclusive workplace for employees, communities and society at large. Additionally, more than 91 percent of corporate organizations now have a diversity and inclusion strategy in place and the number of diversity and inclusion mentions during company earnings calls has increased 17 percent since 2010, according to data from Gartner, a global research and advisory firm. Some skeptics say we’ve been down this road before without seeing enough progress. Companies issue emphatic statements without strategic accountability or input from affected communities. All the while, the wealthy grow richer and the racially disadvantaged continue to scramble for higher-paying jobs, seats at the table and an honest deal that doesn’t end in discrimination based on fear that the browning of America will somehow topple or displace the white power structure that continues to reign. Still others, like Robin HickmanWinfield, believe a change is in the air. She, the grandniece of famed

photographer Gordon Parks, was one of many approached by companies doling out community grants meant to breathe life and hope back into the dreams of those devastated by the fires that burned across MinneapolisSt. Paul after outraged Americans

solutions company Deluxe Corporation, known for printing checkbooks, reached out to Hickman-Winfield. “The president of the 3M Foundation encouraged me to vision big,” when it came to how the 13-year-old school could benefit from a foundation grant,

“In many ways, we have engaged in these issues for years — but now we’re being bold about our commitments to hold ourselves accountable for this work we’ve promised to do.” — CORIE BARRY, CEO, BEST BUY

witnessed the slow killing of Floyd by police. This time just may be different. After Gordon Parks High School was damaged by fires that erupted during protests, top Minnesota-based companies, including Post-it note manufacturer 3M and the financial

she says. The students now have a new home economics lab, art lab and computer lab. “I was blown away,” Hickman-Winfield says. “For these young scholars in an alternative school to know that they matter to people at 3M is part of

what is going to get them inspired. These corporations are walking the talk. They are investing in a vision.” Fortune 500 companies have made investments in diverse communities for decades. Still, with more than a dozen of them located in Minnesota, the state has one of the largest gaps in racial disparities in the country, ranging from education to homeownership to income. Initiatives such as the Best Buy Teen Tech Centers, which aim to donate millions to reach 30,000 teens annually from disinvested communities, 3M’s CEO Inclusion Council and Target’s Forward Founders, all hope to move the needle. In June 2020, six months before Best Buy announced that it was committing more than $44 million to diversity, inclusion and community efforts, CEO Corie Barry sent a note to employees and customers saying, “In many ways, we have engaged in these issues for years — but now we’re being bold about our commitments to hold ourselves accountable for this work we’ve promised to do.” CONTINUED


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GEORGE FLOYD’S LEGACY Many companies set major goals for recruiting, hiring and retaining employees that predate the COVID-19 pandemic. What makes now so different? “The tragedy of George Floyd caused everyone to accelerate; make bigger, bolder, better investments in the Twin Cities,” says James Momon, who came onboard in December 2020 as 3M’s vice president of equity and community and chief equity officer. About four months prior, Garfield Bowen was named 3M’s first director of social justice strategy and initiatives. The roles of these two African American executives — along with the manufacturing company’s announced plan to invest $50 million over the next five years toward those efforts — are positioned to address racial opportunity gaps through workforce development, the CEO Inclusion Council and other programs. “We want to be a partner, collaborator and advocate for more aggressive change,” Momon says. “We

are investing a lot of our resources in building capability around allyship. Allyship has been a way for us to engage with the broader organization and find pathways to change.” U.S. Bank, based in Minneapolis,

be experts in racial and social justice issues,” he says. “Where a bank can have an impact is looking at issues like the racial wealth gap and applying our expertise in that area.” The bank pledged $116 million last

“The tragedy of George Floyd caused everyone to accelerate; make bigger, bolder, better investments in the Twin Cities.” — JAMES MOMON, VICE PRESIDENT OF EQUITY AND COMMUNITY AND CHIEF EQUITY OFFICER, 3M

3M

also made several significant commitments in the aftermath of Floyd’s death. Many of the initiatives center on the company’s core competencies, says Greg Cunningham, chief diversity officer. “We are not expected to

year to address racial and economic inequities. This February, it committed another $25 million for a microbusiness fund to support women of color. Overall, the bank aims to increase lending to Black-owned and

Black-led businesses, provide grants to pave access to affordable housing in impacted neighborhoods, help African Americans invest in wealthbuilding through homeownership and expand workplace development for people of color. Cunningham adds that the commitments are about “changing outcomes and not just talking about activities.” To meet that challenge, U.S. Bank recently rolled out The DREAM Initiative, which stands for Delivering Resources that Enable Access to Mortgage. “There is a huge disparity in homeownership in this country and here in the Twin Cities,” says Cunningham. “The DREAM Initiative is accelerating homeownership in the Black community,” in part by focusing on financial education. “We will also be having financial wellness coaches in our branches (and) ensure that we have more Black wealth advisers.” He says U.S. Bank is also committed to CONTINUED


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investing in training opportunities for approximately 300 Black women this year to enable them to move into executive positions. “Equity is about looking at where there have been disparities,” Cunningham says. “What happens too often is women and people of color are not tapped to have those plum assignments, and oftentimes they are left out of those accelerator programs to take on those positions. We need to make sure those opportunities are provided to everyone. This is not about fixing Black people. (It is about) how do you eliminate bias in the system that might prevent people from being successful.” By September, Cunningham says U.S. Bank will publish quantitative research to hold the company accountable. “Yes, organizations have put some programs in place to focus on developing, mentoring and increasing the visibility of underrepresented talent — and offering more training to make all employees and leaders aware of their unconscious biases,” says Leah Johnson, vice president, advisory at Gartner. “But ultimately, we’re making incremental, ad hoc investments that are leading to only incremental advancements that are hard to call real progress. Underrepresented talent is still stalling and not progressing equitably into the higher

THE U.S. ECONOMY HAS LOST

$16 TRILLION IN REVENUE IN THE PAST 20 YEARS DUE TO THE RACIAL GAP BETWEEN BLACKS AND WHITES SOURCE: Citigroup

levels of the organizations.”

HOLDING LEADERSHIP ACCOUNTABLE Only 4 percent of corporate leaders today are being held personally, consequentially accountable for their DEI goals, Johnson says. “We’re only going to achieve meaningful progress against our DEI goals for the organization when leaders see DEI as a key business priority and are held accountable for their DEI goals like any other business goal.” As a former lead counsel at Face-

book, Bärí Williams has quite a few stories about being one of few African American female executives at a mega-tech company, and how white co-workers would ask her questions such as “How does your hair do that?” and “Did you get into CalTech due to affirmative action?” “One day my manager took my two male teammates to a (NBA Golden State) Warriors game with outside vendor counsel. They came back the next day and talked about it. I asked, ‘How did I not get that invite?’ He was like ‘You don’t know that outside counsel.’ And I said, ‘That was your job to introduce me. I live 15 minutes from Oracle stadium and was a Warriors intern in college,’” Williams recalls. Her manager’s next biased statement, she says, was worse. “He said, ‘I thought you’d want to be with your kids.’” Racial diversity at Facebook is dismal. Five years ago, about 2 percent of its total workforce was Black and about 4 percent was Hispanic, according to its own Facebook Diversity Report. In 2020, just under 4 percent of the company’s workforce was Black and 6.3 percent was Hispanic. Black and Hispanic women accounted for less than 1 percent of executives, despite years of promises to increase these numbers. Some employees and rejected job applicants have filed grievances with

the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), claiming racial bias in hiring and promotions. At Google, where Williams’ husband works, the number of Black and Hispanic employees is also low. The tech giants, Microsoft included, made promises in 2020 to do better. Facebook says it plans to double the number of its Black employees. A recent report by media brand Fast Company and The Plug, a platform that analyzes the Black innovation economy, revealed that 42 of the largest U.S.-based tech companies committed nearly $4 billion in DEI initiatives, earmarking 75 percent of that for Black-owned businesses. “That isn’t as much as it sounds,” the Black in Tech: Can Silicon Valley Change? report reads. “The company that committed the most money — Microsoft ($772 million) — makes that much in profit in about five days. Apple makes more in operating income in a single day than its commitment of $100 million.” However, the same report noted that Salesforce, with a $402 million pledge, committed nearly a year of its operating income. There’s a lack of diversity in STEM fields. That’s what Michael Jackson says he hears quite often. He’s the founder and CEO of Black Tech Talent, which offers a job board and recruiting services to assist African Americans with experience in technology careers. Despite business relationships with companies such as Amazon, Google, Target and Best Buy from his days promoting BITCon, the annual Blacks in Technology conference, he says that only a few companies are willing to spend $150 to post job openings on his platform. And very few of the larger companies would pay $1,000 to sponsor the three-day Black Tech Talent Summit held in Minneapolis this past June. “There were a lot of promises, but not a lot of checks,” he says. “We didn’t have much success with a lot of the larger corporations doing anything that they mentioned in their press releases. We weren’t fasttracked up their vendor list. We didn’t receive any grant money. We did receive $50,000 in marketing dollars. Not cash.” Jackson, who says he is grateful for the sponsors the summit did receive, CONTINUED


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is willing to give larger companies the benefit of the doubt. “My thought is, it’s partly because we’re coming out of the pandemic and because they wanted to see how the first (conference) went and then jump in later,” he says, while adding, “but the giants should support startups.” “If you are saying you are supporting and uplifting the community, you should support from the beginning. We can’t survive and thrive if we don’t have participation,” Jackson says, adding that he has observed more money flowing through nonprofits and more established organizations. “Everyone wants to give to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the NAACP or MEDA (the Metropolitan Economic Development Association).” But he continues to network and apply for grants. For his for-profit fall community tech fest, he says, “We talked to Target, and they may be interested. We’re waiting to hear back from Microsoft, Google and a few other brands.” Target recently committed to spending more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by the end of 2025, which was in addition to several initiatives launched in 2020. It also established Forward Founders to help Black entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses. “In 2020, Target established the Racial Equity Action and Change Committee to accelerate our existing D&I efforts for Black team members, guests and communities,” a Target spokesperson said. Since then, it has committed to increasing the representation of Black team members by 20 percent over the next three years and established Juneteenth as a holiday.

BUILDING A MORE INCLUSIVE FUTURE Companies really are trying, from the breakroom to the boardroom. The refrain from most organizations sounds the same, regardless of where they fall on the Fortune 500 list. “We are committed to creating a more inclusive future for our employees,” says Kate Pulley, senior vice president of public affairs at Wells Fargo. “We are also taking steps to address issues and remove barriers that have impacted the ability of diverse customers and communities to achieve economic empowerment and build wealth.”

Target, Albany, Calif. JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

Wells Fargo is among the many corporations that give to the UNCF. Since 2011, it has provided more than $87.3 million to support programming and scholarships to the UNCF and organizations such as the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. In 2020, its supply chain management group awarded $50,000 in scholarships to 10 students enrolled in supply chain management programs at Tennessee State University, Howard University, North Carolina A&T State University, Florida A&M University and Clark Atlanta University. “I think corporate America has made progress, however, further improvement is needed,” says Sonita Lontoh, global head of marketing for personalization, 3D printing and digital manufacturing at HP. She’s also recently accepted a seat on the board at Sunrun, the largest consumer solar-and-battery-as-aservice company in the U.S. As an Asian American female executive, Lontoh says she intentionally made it known that she was available for a board seat because that’s, in part, how people of color will rotate into those positions where they currently represent just under

91% OF CORPORATIONS NOW HAVE A DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION STRATEGY IN PLACE SOURCE: Gartner

20 percent of seats among the Fortune 500, according to a study by Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity. “Boards tend to recruit from their existing networks, which are still primarily white and male,” Lontoh says. “In the past, boards also tended to recruit sitting/former CEOs or CFOs. However, as boards continue to realize the value of expanding their perspectives with diverse views, boards will need to look beyond their traditional networks. There are some programs, such as the

National Association of Corporate Directors’ Accelerate, Women Corporate Directors’ BoardNext, Equilar Diversity Network, Ascend Pinnacle and others, which work to prepare qualified women and underrepresented minorities for board work. It is helpful for American corporations to collaborate with these organizations to expand their board candidates pool.” Still, “We’re not there yet,” says Kavitha Prabhakar, chief diversity equity and inclusion officer at Deloitte US. “Many organizations promptly made DEI commitments and dove into training in the last year in response to the protests for racial justice. Those same organizations may now be finding that real achievement on equity requires a deeper examination of organizational systems, culture and the unstated assumptions that guide decisionmaking.” As outlined in its research, Deloitte recommended that the focus should be on activating equity. “Equity is not an initiative or a program — it is an outcome,” Prabhakar says. “Racial equity for all individuals will exist when everyone has the same power, access and influence.”


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Activists, lawmakers seek positive change after a year of social unrest By Donna M. Owens

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ust days after George Floyd’s killing by a police officer, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams stood before cameras speaking candidly about race in America. Even with a mask on to help shield him from the COVID-19 virus, his raw emotion was palpable. “I am not OK today. I want to give the Black community permission to say, `I am not OK.’ I am tired. I am tired,” said Williams during a May 2020 press conference, invoking the name of another Black man whose shooting death was caught on camera. “I have not watched the video of Ahmaud Arbery. It is too much. I have not watched the video of George Floyd. It is too much,” he continued. “I am not OK. I am tired. I am tired of racism.” CONTINUED

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Mary-Frances Winters echoes Williams’ emotions in her latest book, Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit. The term “Black fatigue” was coined by Winters, the founder and CEO of The Winters Group Inc., a global diversity and inclusion consulting firm. It describes a phenomenon many Black Americans know well: multifaceted physical and psychological damage wrought by simply living, day by day, in a society rife with microagressions and systems that devalue one’s humanity. “In my consulting business, I was hearing over and over again, especially from Black millennials and Generation Zers, ‘We are exhausted.’ This refrain was common no matter what industry or size of organization,” says Winters. The sources of the exhaustion, she explains, run the gamut. It may stem from the need to teach white people about what is or isn’t appropriate behavior or language, such as ‘Can I touch your hair?’ or ‘You are so articulate’ — to feelings of isolation, invisibility and tokenization. “The exhaustion inside the workplace is exacerbated by the constant killing of unarmed Black people outside the workplace that engenders fear, stress and even trauma,” she adds. The police killings of Floyd and other people of color in 2020 ignited nationwide and global protests. Overlapping with the COVID-19 pandemic, the unrest felt akin to “a match dropped into a powder keg of grief,” says Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. That powder keg exploded Jan. 6, 2021, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol to protest the historic election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Five people died in the melee. The mob was not met with the same aggression from authorities that many peaceful protesters for social justice experienced in previous months. Jumaane Williams “Time and again we see white backlash to Black progress,” says Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of voter advocacy group BlackPAC. She called the Capitol chaos “a terrible throwback” to the country’s long history of racial intimidation masquerading as political protest. “It is not a coincidence that this (happened) in the shadows of the first Black senator from Georgia being Mural of Breonna Taylor, Annapolis, Md. elected and during the ratification of the first Black vice president,” she says. GETTY IMAGES; MICHAEL M. SANTIAGO/GETTY IMAGES Indeed, while 2020 brought concurrent


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Mural of Ahmaud Arbery, Brunswick, Ga. GETTY IMAGES; PROVIDED BY BLACK VOTERS MATTER

struggling. Against this backdrop, how does the nation cope and make progress? What are leaders and communities doing to move forward? And can the country collectively survive the ongoing effects of racial stress and trauma?

crises — COVID-19, economic instability and resurgent racism — in some respects, 2021 has felt like deja vu.

TARGETING A TRANSFORMATION Fatal police shootings continue to occur in 2021, including that of 20-yearold Daunte Wright in Minnesota; it came amid the April murder trial that convicted ex-officer Derek Chauvin of Floyd’s murder. That same month, Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, was shot by Columbus, Ohio, police who reported that the teen was holding a knife during a skirmish with other girls. While Black grassroots organizers, the Black Lives Matter movement and multiracial coalitions helped spur recordbreaking Black voter turnout last year, new GOP-led measures threaten the right to vote in states across the country. Earlier this summer, Black Voters Matter organized a Freedom Ride for Voting Rights. It paid homage to the 60th anniversary of the historic Freedom Rides, organized by the Congress of

AN EMOTIONAL TOLL

LaTosha Brown

Racial Equality. “Every bill to suppress votes, criminalize protests and weaken Black power is a reminder of the enduring history of slavery in this country,” says LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter. Moreover, even as health and economic outcomes look more optimistic as the country emerges from COVID-19, millions are still unemployed or financially

In June, members of Congress held a moment of silence on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to mark a somber milestone: nearly 600,000 American lives lost to COVID-19. Black Americans as well as Latinos, Asians and Indigenous people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that Indigenous, Pacific Islanders, Latinos and Black Americans continue to suffer the highest rates of death. The topic hits home for Linda Goler Blount, president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative in the nation’s capital. “Throughout the pandemic, the disparities in health, economic and social outcomes have been stark for Black

women and their families,” she says. This May, the organization announced it had been awarded a $400,000 grant from The Rockefeller Foundation to increase vaccination rates among communities of color. The grant is part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s $20 million Equity-First Vaccination Initiative, which supports hyperlocal, community-led programs to improve vaccine access and support educational outreach in five cities, including Chicago, Newark, N.J., and Baltimore. The organizations’ aim was to increase access to COVID-19 vaccinations in underrepresented communities, contributing to a collective, national goal of ensuring at least 70 million people of color would be fully vaccinated by July 2021. As America emerges from the pandemic, some believe racial healing must commence, too, for the nation to truly move forward. “Racial trauma impacts us all because CONTINUED


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POLICING THE POLICE

Black Lives Matter mural, New York City ANGELA WEISS/GETTY IMAGES

it tears at the fabric of our union,” says Cynthia Lubin Langtiw, a professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. “Although we each experience the impact of racism differently, we collectively bear the burdens of racism.” Racism is not just interpersonal, she adds, it is systemic. “The best solution is to take systemic action to end racism everywhere it occurs, including health care, education, religious institutions and (the) legal system.” Activist the Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network, agrees. “First, the injured parties require a seat at the table,” he says. “You can’t have this discussion without African Americans, given all the ills we’ve suffered as a people.” Self-determination is key, he adds. “Progressives and conservatives must speak to us, not for us. … They don’t know what we need.” Sharpton was among the legacy civil rights leaders who met with Biden and Harris before their historic inauguration. Also present were leadership of the NAACP, National Urban League, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The structural inequality that’s rooted deep within our society must be addressed,” says Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO. “We must prioritize the transformation of our nation into a more just, equal society where all can succeed and thrive.”

CHANGES ARE COMING A recent Pew Research Center survey shows a significant favorable uptick in how the world perceives the U.S., with

strong support for Biden and several of his major policy initiatives. The Biden-Harris agenda includes the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package signed into law that helped put money in pockets, shots in arms and more people in jobs. The adminstration has also proposed the American Jobs Plan to tackle infrastructure, and the American Families Plan which features free community college tuition, support for child care, paid family and medical leave, tax credits and more. Activists in the Movement for Black Lives, a network for organizations working toward social justice, are boldly addressing policy with a political platform that examines slavery reparations, universal income, criminal justice, housing investments, environmental justice and more. Meanwhile, record numbers of Black lawmakers in both parties are pushing for transformative policies on Capitol Hill. “I vow to use my voice to address enduring economic and health disparities and fight to break the chains of systemic racism that have held back the Black community for far too long,” says Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The battle plan for progress must incorporate building and fortifying Black institutions, according to Spencer Overton, president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which works to improve the lives of Blacks. “Laws and politicians will come and go. Some will be good and others will be bad for Black folks,” says Overton. “Strong Black institutions allow us to weather the storms, exercise agency and leadership, debate, participate and fully take advantage of opportunities.”

he murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020 was caught on camera and replayed on media networks worldwide, shared on social media sites and used as evidence during Chauvin’s trial. For many, the footage remains difficult to watch, not only for its tragic content, but because it serves as a reminder that some people of color in the U.S. often feel dehumanized by the police. A 2019 Pew Research survey found that 84 percent of Black adults said that, in dealing with police, Blacks are generally treated less fairly than whites; 63 percent of whites said the same. Similarly, 87 percent of Blacks and 61 percent of whites said the U.S. criminal justice system treats Black people less fairly. Lawmakers are hoping that new legislation will address inequities in policing, improving the interactions and feelings toward people of color and law enforcement. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which bans chokeholds and federal no-knock warrants, among other reform measures, aims to bolster police accountability and prevent problem officers from moving from one department to another by creating a national registry to track those with checkered records. It also would end certain police practices that have been under scrutiny after the deaths of Black Americans in the last year. The law passed in the House, but the Senate has not yet taken action. Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, says election poll results show criminal justice reform was one of the top issues for Black voters in 2020. “It’s time for the Congress to deliver what the people voted for,” she says. Civil rights leaders say there are insufficient protections in the states, which is why passage of federal legislation is critical. Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., notes that several high-profile deaths of Black people by law enforcement officials have not led to major police reforms. The issue has been “kicked down the road” for decades, Ifill says. “We demand that the federal government step up.”

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— Jeanine Santucci and Deborah Barfield Berry

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CONFRONTING

HATE CRIMES Attacks on Asian Americans spark a growing movement to prevent a repeat of the past By Khanh T.L. Tran

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premonition swept over Esther Lim as she absorbed news that a novel coronavirus originating from China was spreading around the world. Recalling how South Asian, Sikh, Muslim and Arab Americans had been targets of racial violence after 9/11, “I just knew the pandemic was going to spark something,” Lim says. “I felt there was going to be a lot of victims of hate.” On March 16, then-President Donald Trump referred to the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus”

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police during the pandemic lockdown dropped 6 percent compared with 2019, anti-Asian hate crimes surged 145 percent in 16 of America’s largest cities, including Philadelphia, Cleveland, Houston and San Jose, Calif., according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino. In addition to hate crimes — defined as criminal offenses against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity — Asian Americans have been increasingly troubled by hate incidents, including spitting and online harassment. In the first year of the pandemic, more than 6,600 hate incidents were collected by Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate, which launched in March 2020 to track anti-Asian hate incidents in the U.S. The nonprofit determined that women were the prime targets. Exactly one year after Trump tweeted about “the Chinese virus,” eight people were fatally shot at three different spas in the Atlanta area. Six Asian women — Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim and Yong Ae Yue — were among the victims. The district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., where four women were murdered at two of the spas, has declared the suspect’s actions as hate crimes punishable by the death penalty. “The Asian American community was dreading this day,” says Texas state representative Gene Wu, who had warned politicians against using terms such as “kung flu” and “China virus.” “We were preparing for it.” GETTY IMAGES (2)

Esther Lim

JEREMY KNIES

of California, San Francisco discovered other users on the social media platform had written more than 773,000 tweets with the hashtag #chinesevirus in the week following Trump’s tweet. Half of them had expressed anti-Asian sentiments. Then in May, acknowledging how the pandemic unleashed “a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appealed “for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally.” Even so, Trump uttered “kung flu” at rallies the following month. Amid the stigmatizing rhetoric, Lim worried for her Korean immigrant parents, especially for her mother, a 68-year-old nurse, who enjoyed walks to a hillside park in her quiet Southern California neighborhood. “I got really scared for her,” says Lim, 32. She armed her mother with pepper spray and a taser. For herself, when she wasn’t working as an operations director at a surfwear company, Lim learned self-defense moves from her father, a 68-year-old pastor who’s also a judo master. A spike in recent attacks on Asians from the San Francisco Bay Area to New York City is sending chills through families like Lim’s. In 2020, when overall hate crimes reported to

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o protect Asian Americans and prevent a repeat

of the past, a growing movement including activists, legislators, philanthropists and entrepreneurs is sweeping the U.S. Individuals who may have never considered themselves activists before are speaking out. Whether initiated with a hashtag or a philanthropic commitment exceeding $1 billion, new coalitions and foundations are forming to support the diverse AAPI community. Government leaders are also enacting laws to ensure people’s safety and justice for victims. What’s more, large companies are taking seriously their roles as corporate citizens to uplift their employees and customers. “It’s a mass movement where people feel this issue cuts so close to home,” says Russell Jeung, professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University and co-founder

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numerous videos have circulated showing assaults on Asian Americans. This year alone,


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of Stop AAPI Hate. “I hope this is a big start to changing the way society views Asians, but I think it’s a strong start in how Asian Americans themselves are galvanized to make that change.” People from all walks of life are stepping up to stop Asian hate. A group called Compassion in Oakland has recruited more than 1,200 volunteers to chaperone the elderly and others in Oakland’s Chinatown who may feel unsafe walking alone. The L.A.-based all-girl band the Linda Lindas scored a viral hit with their punk song Racist, Sexist Boy about a classmate with an anti-Chinese bias. Olivia Munn, Simu Liu and Winston Duke took a detour from their Hollywood film projects to chronicle America’s history of anti-Asian discrimination in a three-minute film helmed by Be Water director Bao Nguyen. On the other side of the country at the Miss Universe pageant in Florida, Singaporean contestant Bernadette Belle Ong unfurled a red and white cape painted by artist Paulo Espinosa with a message reading, “STOP ASIAN HATE.” “We’re in the middle of a cultural awakening, and that stems from the Me Too movement to Black Lives Matter to #StopAsianHate,” Facebook executive Eric Toda said this April at a virtual panel discussion attended by more than 1,600 people. Two months earlier, Toda had published an essay in Adweek urging the advertising industry to act against anti-Asian violence. He told panel attendees from places as far as Canada, Australia and Norway that “we should continue to push because that window that kept us from speaking up, that’s now shattered. That’s shattered forever, and we’re never going back.” Asians have been in America since its naissance. The first Filipinos arrived in 1763 on Spanish trade vessels. In the following century, immigrants from Japan and China began arriving in search of work. The U.S.

Bernadette Belle Ong

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“It’ll be better when we have a more equal society, a society where every group is not only recognized but respected and heard ...” — Van Tran, sociology professor, Graduate Center of the City University of New York Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya MIKAYLA WHITMORE

population became more diversified as people from other Asian countries settled here. According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. is now home to 24 million Asian Americans. Their roots can be traced to approximately 20 countries. “We are not a monolith,” says artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, who was born in Atlanta to Thai and Indonesian immigrants. With support from organizations like the NYC Commission on Human Rights, she’s creating art celebrating the resilience, beauty and hope of Asian Americans who have endured COVID-19-related racism. It isn’t an uncommon experience since the precedence of scapegoating Asians for transmitting smallpox and other diseases on U.S. soil was set more than 150 years ago. Furthermore, she’s highlighting ways that Asian Americans are more than stereotypes. Phingbodhipakkiya’s more than 100 anti-racist designs display vibrant Asian American faces, symbolic flowers and firm statements declaring, for instance, “We too are America.” Unveiled last November on Election Day, her public art campaigns have reached millions via social media as well as in New York’s Times Square, at Boston’s Fenway Park, within London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and high above Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Atlanta. In the artist’s words, reclaiming public spaces is “boldly declaring our belonging.” Attacks on Asian Americans aren’t new. “American history has this thread of how communities are exploited essentially by the majority,” says David Inoue, executive director of civil rights group Japanese American Citizens League. In the 19th century, the Chinese Exclusion Act and other discriminatory laws against Asian immigrants were enacted, and white mobs terrorized Chinese neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Antioch, Calif., Rock Springs, Wyo., Tacoma, Wash., and Seattle. In subsequent decades, the stereotype of Asians fronting a yellow peril harmed Filipino farmworkers during the Great Depression, Japanese Americans in World War II internment camps as well as Vietnamese fishermen in the 1980s. The hate intensified further, resulting in Vincent Chin’s 1982 murder in Detroit and the Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wis., in 2012. This year alone, numerous videos have circulated showing assaults on Asian Americans, including one that left 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee dead in San Francisco. “‘Yellow peril’ gets invoked time and time again in different conditions such as war and economic decline,” says Jeung. His suggestion for shattering the perception that Asian Americans are perpetual foreigners is “to continue reimagining America and to change the narrative about who belongs.” CONTINUED


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A NEW NARRATIVE FOR A BETTER FUTURE

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witter, Instagram, Facebook, Discord,

Twitch and TikTok all have announced their allyship to stop anti-Asian discrimination and shine a spotlight on Asian American creators and businesses. For example, TikTok says it’s banned “kung flu” and other anti-Asian slurs in its app and that videos marked with the hashtag #SpotlightAPI have been viewed more than 7 billion times. Nonetheless, it’s an ongoing process to ensure safety in the digital arena and the physical world. In May, four months after issuing an executive order against anti-Asian discrimination, President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to enable any victim to report a hate incident or crime online in multiple languages to local, tribal and state law enforcement, which then can amass data for the Department of Justice to expedite reviews. In California, where nearly a third of the country’s Asian American population resides, state leaders are budgeting $156.5 million over three years to bolster the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities amidst escalating attacks. To curb digital hate, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has proposed a six-part plan dubbed REPAIR (Regulation and reform, Enforcement at scale, People over profit, Access to justice, Interrupting disinformation, Research and innovation). The anti-hate organization also has collaborated with tech firms like Zoom to prevent harassment among users. “There is no one single fix,” says attorney Lauren Krapf, who oversees technology policy and advocacy for ADL. “Do I think we’re going to eliminate every ounce of hateful and racist conduct? I don’t know. I really do think we can make the internet a better place.” A better future could be prepared by studying an imperfect past. In May, Illinois passed a law called the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act to ensure every student in the state’s public schools would learn about Asian American history. Similarly, a congressional bill introduced by New York Rep. Grace Meng, who co-sponsored the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, aims to promote programs teaching the history, contributions and experiences of Asian Pacific Americans and also to encourage the inclusion of their history on national and state tests. Plus, the call for racial justice and equality is reaching the corporate C-suite. After the Atlanta-area shootings, hundreds of employees from Chevron, Allstate, Salesforce and other companies learned how to dismantle anti-Asian bias in workplaces in free webinars led by nonprofit Hate Is A Virus and diversity, equity and

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inclusion specialist Jennifer Brown. A collective of executives and entrepreneurs — including Slack Chief Financial Officer Allen Shim, Tatcha founder Vicky Tsai and Peloton Interactive cofounder Hisao Kushi — is pledging to donate $10 million over the next year to deter anti-Asian violence. Moreover, Airbnb, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Verisign, Facebook, Discord and TikTok are among an expanding list of corporations that are investing millions of dollars to support organizations working in the Asian American community. Within three weeks of its launch in May, The Asian American Foundation raised almost $1.1 billion with partners such as Mastercard, Bain & Co. and Sweetgreen to sponsor various projects, including stories that highlight Asian Americans. As Georgetown University professor Leslie Crutchfield explains, corporations are responding to a major paradigm shift “in what society is demanding of companies in terms of their responsibility to social and environmental issues, including anti-racism.” Crutchfield, who teaches corporate social responsibility, adds, “When society is not getting from its government the kind of change it wants, it often looks to companies and the private sector for leadership.” Even with all these laws and initiatives, racial unity and acceptance won’t transpire overnight. Sociology professor Van Tran predicts the number of hate crimes will eventually subside in 2024, when the nation adjusts to the postpandemic new normal. “It’ll be better when we have a more equal society, a society where every group is not only recognized but respected and heard,” says Tran, who teaches at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Lim, the young Korean American who prepped her family to resist hate crimes, is learning this lesson. She’s produced more than 71,000 copies of her free booklet, How to Report a Hate Crime, for California and New York residents in nine languages, including Tagalog and Mandarin Chinese. She’s adding new translations and creating versions for other cities and states, such as St. Louis, Georgia, Texas and Virginia. This March, she struck up a conversation on the audio app Clubhouse with Trevor Smith, 27, who works in philanthropy in New York and shared his experience confronting anti-Black racism while living in India and South Korea as a child. Smith described Lim’s publication as “a good tool.” Still, “Reporting hate crimes is reactive. I don’t know if it solves the issue of bias and hate,” he says. “I advocated for a page that says what we’re really trying to combat is structural racism.” Although the discussion between Lim, Smith and others grew intense, Lim later messaged Smith to continue the dialogue. Now friends, they follow each other on social media and share their accomplishments in fighting racism. “It’s about building bridges and alliances,” Lim says.


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Women are leading the charge toward

diversity and inclusion

BOSS L A D I E S By Ana Pelayo Connery

From the #MeToo movement to the social justice protests that followed the murder of George Floyd, recent events across the country have once again ushered in a reckoning on equality that’s giving the words “diversity and inclusion” tons of airtime. What’s different this time is that companies are facing public pressure to address inequalities — with a younger generation of Americans demanding it. The following eight women of color are politicians, CEOs, big-business executives and activists leading the way for inclusion, diversity, social justice and racial equity. Each has broken barriers and made significant contributions already, but all would agree they’re just getting started:


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ALEXANDRIA

OCASIO-CORTEZ U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN, 14TH DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

“Change is a lot closer than we think.” nown as AOC among fans and foes alike, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the bartender-turnedcongressional candidate who in 2018 at the age of 29 upset a 10-term incumbent without taking a penny from corporate entities, becoming the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, she has a following among the working class for her tireless tenacity when it comes to fighting for inclusion in all forms. Whether she’s criticizing the bipartisan infrastructure bill for the lack of diversity among its negotiators or introducing the Political Appointments Inclusion and Diversity Act, which would require the demographics of appointees to be made public, marking a significant step toward making those appointments more inclusive, she’s resilient and determined. Ocasio-Cortez has already built quite the track record speaking up for the rights of minorities, the LGBTQ community and women. In 2020, Rep. Ted Yoho was caught publicly using a sexist slur to describe her. She responded by taking to the House floor to defend not only herself, but Yoho’s wife and daughters, too. “When you do that to any woman, what Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters,” she said. “In using that language, in front of the press, he gave permission to use that language against his wife, his daughters, women in his community, and I am here to stand up to say that is not acceptable.” Whatever she does next, her platform, which includes Medicare for All, is rooted in a desire to advance the notion of equality and justice for all. As she told Time magazine, “I think that change is a lot closer than we think.”

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MAXINE

WATERS U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN, 43RD DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

“For the system to work for all of us, it must also look like all of us.” urrently serving her 16th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Maxine Waters is one of the most senior members of Congress, representing some of Los Angeles’ most multicultural neighborhoods. In 2019, she made history when she became the first woman and first Black chair of the House Financial Services Committee, where she immediately established the first Subcommitee on Diversity and Inclusion. A year later, when George Floyd’s death sparked racial justice protests nationwide, many companies pledged to fund diversity and inclusion efforts, support voting rights and launch listening sessions. “I am following up on those commitments to make sure that those pledges happen,” the congresswoman says. “Often, people of color are the last hired and first fired, so our work is focused on making sure that women and people of color are represented at all levels at corporations.” Waters has been fighting on behalf of diversity and inclusion for decades. In 2008, she co-authored Section 1116 of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, which created the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at the U.S.

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Securities and Exchange Commision to oversee diversity in employment, business activities and management within that agency. In 2010, she co-authored Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, with the goal of improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, ending bailouts and protecting consumers from abusive financial services practices. Over the past year, Waters’ committee helped pass into law COVID-19 relief for small businesses and funding for minority banks and community lenders. “But there is still so much more we can do to ensure that diversity and inclusion is heard everywhere and that minority-owned businesses as well as minority-led community financial institutions and lenders are given opportunities to compete and undo hundreds of years of redlining and discrimination,” she says. At 83, Waters is popular even among millennials, earning her the nickname Auntie Maxine. She routinely gets re-elected with more than 70 percent of the vote and was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2018. “We must keep pushing for progress and social justice in all areas of culture, politics, business and government to make sure that the movement that grew following the deaths of George Floyd and many others is not in vain,” she says. “We must never stop calling for what’s right and fair.”


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BOSS L A DI E S SONIA

SYNGAL PRESIDENT AND CEO, GAP INC.

“Being open to all is our call to action.” t’s difficult to find a company that’s pledged to double the representation of Black and Latino workers at all levels by 2025, or to increase the representation of Black employees in store leadership roles by 2025, but Gap Inc. has done both. “We take this issue very seriously,” says Sonia Syngal, the company’s CEO. “We were also the first Fortune 500 company to announce equal pay for men and women.” Out of more than 7,000 companies across the world, Gap was named one of the top five most diverse companies by the Thomson Reuters Global Diversity and Inclusion Index for two consecutive years. “Our north star is that we are inclusive by design,” says Syngal, who is now considered the highest-ranked Indian American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company since Indra Nooyi stepped down from her post at PepsiCo in 2018. Even when she was at the helm of sister brand Old Navy, where she led the company to record-breaking growth between 2016 and 2020, Syngal relied on the same principles to guide her, often referring to the company’s goal of offering “affordable fashion to anyone regardless of gender, income and body shape.” Last year, Gap became the first retailer to require all suppliers to pay garment workers electronically, which Syngal says is “a critical path to financial freedom.” She’s also the head of one of the only retailers to claim a workforce that is 55 percent Black, Latino, Asian American or something other than white. This year, the company announced it was regularly hosting diversity and inclusion workshops and now includes mandatory racial equity training in its employee onboarding. “We started out as an inclusive company,” Syngal says. ”Creating opportunities for the people and communities connected to our business inspires us to this day.”

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BOSS L A DI E S DEBORAH

LIU PRESIDENT AND CEO, ANCESTRY

“Diverse voices are what help us build better companies.” eborah Liu knows what it’s like to be the token person of color in a room. She also knows what it’s like to be the only woman. “I can’t tell you how many times throughout my career I have been both,” says the 18-year tech industry veteran and new president and CEO of Ancestry, who also serves on the company’s board of directors. Even today, 72 percent of women in tech are outnumbered by men in business meetings by a ratio of at least 2-to-1, according to Trust Radius, a business-to-business review site that funds industry surveys. “One time, a Black colleague and I were presenting to a group of white men, and when I told my career coach about it, she says, ‘Well, when you were looking at them, they were looking at you, right?’ She had a point. It’s very hard to be the ‘only’ anything, but just being in the room represents a step in the right direction.” Prior to taking the helm at Ancestry in March 2021, Liu was a senior executive at Facebook, where she came up with the idea for Marketplace, the hugely successful platform that allows millions of people to buy and sell products. She previously spent several years in product roles at PayPal and eBay. Despite her own success, the lack of women and people of color in her field was so obvious to her that in 2016 she launched Women In Product, a nonprofit that connects women in product management and advocates for equal representation. “I think the interest in diversity is greater now than ever, especially for women and people of color.”

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KARINE

JEAN-PIERRE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE

“I want people to see me on TV and think, ‘OK, my voice is being heard.’” hen Karine Jean-Pierre became the first openly gay spokesperson in history to stand behind the podium during a White House press briefing in May 2021, White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted, “Today is a big day in the press office and @WhiteHouse. My partner in truth—@KJP46 is doing her first full briefing from the podium today making history in her own right. But doing her real justice means also recognizing her talent, her brilliance and her wonderful spirit.” Making the accomplishment even more momentous, Jean-Pierre is only the second Black woman to hold the position. “It’s a real honor to be standing here today,” JeanPierre said, her hands gripping the podium for the first time. “Clearly the president believes that representation matters, and I appreciate him giving me this opportunity.” Before making a mark as the chief public affairs officer for MoveOn, she spent several years working as an adviser in the Obama White House. During the 2020 election, she became then-vice presidential

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candidate Kamala Harris’ chief of staff, where she was the first Black person and first out lesbian to hold that position. Born in Martinique to Haitian parents and raised in New York, Jean-Pierre told Out magazine in 2020, “As a Black, gay immigrant who comes from a workingclass family, I know that America hasn’t always worked for everyone. And I know that America still doesn’t work for everyone. The truth of the matter is: We have a long way to go. But that’s what I’m working toward: mobilizing people around this shared vision of what an America that works for everyone could look like — and then making it happen.” In 2019, Jean-Pierre wrote a memoir, Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America, where she explains how others can get involved in politics and in their communities. “America is progressing towards a stronger, more inclusive future — and I know women of color are a driving force in that evolution,” she told Out, adding that she believes that an America “that is stronger and more inclusive is within reach.”

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ROSALIND

BREWER CEO, WALGREENS BOOTS ALLIANCE

“I tell young people of color, ‘You were likely hired because of the unique perspectives you bring.’” osalind “Roz” Brewer may have grown up the daughter of assembly-line workers, but she is no stranger to the C-suite. In fact, she’s led retail giants twice before her current position as CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, the company that owns Walgreens drugstores, having served as chief operating officer at Starbucks and president and CEO at Sam’s Club. But her current position comes with one giant distinction: It makes Brewer the only Black woman at the helm of an S&P 500 company. “I take my role as one of the

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very few Black female CEOs very seriously,” Brewer says. “However, I look forward to the day when I’m no longer the first.” In 2019, Brewer became the only Black woman to sit on Amazon’s board. A year prior, she shut down all Starbucks stores for mandatory racial bias training after two Black men were arrested for trespassing at a Philadelphia Starbucks when they were simply sitting at a table. “For me, making a difference and positively impacting the bottom line are complementary, rather than an either/ or proposition,” Brewer says. “Being able to do both is important to me because, at this point in my career, purpose is my driving force.”


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BOSS L A DI E S CHRISTY

HAUBEGGER EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF ENTERPRISE INCLUSION OFFICER, WARNERMEDIA

“I’ve had different jobs but only one mission: to use storytelling to empower our community.” hristy Haubegger was a student at Stanford Law School when she came up with the idea for Latina magazine. A few years later, she left law behind and launched Latina with Essence founder Edward Lewis, introducing the country to the first national publication for Hispanic women. This year marks the brand’s 25th anniversary, and while Haubegger is no longer at the helm, the Mexican American remains laser-focused on telling stories of, by and for women and people of color as the executive vice president and chief enterprise inclusion officer at WarnerMedia, a company with a portfolio that includes Warner Bros. Pictures, CNN, HBO, Cartoon Network and more. “In some ways it feels like we’re still pushing the same message we were pushing 25 years ago, but the growth of our population and our impact on pop culture, economics and politics is so much greater now,” Haubegger says. Today, Haubegger oversees a workforce of about 25,000, advocating for diversity and inclusion in every aspect of Warner’s business, including who’s in front of and behind the cameras. Prior to that, she spent 16 years turning Creative Artists Agency (CAA) into one of the most diverse

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and inclusive agencies in the entertainment business, representing the largest share of female and Black directors, according to the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. During her tenure at CAA she also oversaw the launch of its Amplify Database, the industry’s first searchable database for television writers of color. “Most people don’t shape their impressions of our community through personal experience but rather through media,” she says. “It shapes what we think of ourselves and what others think of us, too.” Under Haubegger’s purview, Warner is producing Blue Beetle, the first major film from Marvel or DC to star a Latino superhero. Angel Manuel Soto, also Latino, was tapped to direct. “It’s never been a better time to be a person of color in entertainment,” says Haubegger. “The more inclusive we can get, the more that great talent is evenly distributed.” As if she needed a side gig, in 2020 Haubegger and 10 other prominent Latina activists co-founded Poderistas, a community designed to inspire, affirm and inform Latinas with curated content that includes current events, parenting, finances, health and more. “It started just before the last election because we found a lot of Latinas were not voting, but then it turned into so much more.”

KIM

GODWIN PRESIDENT, ABC NEWS

“I stand on the shoulders of giants in journalism who paved the way.” hen she stepped into the role of ABC News president in early 2021, Kim Godwin became the first Black executive — male or female — to run a broadcast-network news operation. “The significance of this appointment is not lost on me,” Godwin told the National Association of Black Journalists, which recently honored her with the Ida B. Wells Award. It recognizes leaders who’ve helped increase opportunities for journalists of color while also improving the coverage of communities of color. Godwin took over at ABC at a time when the network’s news ratings are in the midst of an upswing. Shows like Good Morning America and World News Tonight are some of America’s most-watched news programs, with others like The View consistently ranking at the top of the ratings charts. In other words, Godwin’s

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impact will be far and wide at a time when America ranks last among 46 countries for trust in media, according to a recent Reuters Institute report, and trust in news sources is at an all-time low. But Godwin is familiar with standards and ethics. It was one of her many duties during the history-making news executive’s 14 years at CBS, where she oversaw the domestic and foreign news operation and served as the director of development and diversity. In fact, just a few weeks into her new role at ABC, reports surfaced that she’d met with The View co-hosts and others about the need to tone down personal attacks in an effort to maintain the network’s credibility. During her last year at CBS, she also developed a news unit devoted exclusively to stories that explore the intersection of race and culture while also running CBS Village, a multiplatform franchise with the aim of shining a spotlight on diverse groups and communities.


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ADAM SCHULTZ

Historic Cabinet Biden’s top advisers represent nation’s diversity By Tracey Onyenacho

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RESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S CABINET is one of the most in-

clusive administrations in U.S. history, being comprised of a dozen women and 10 people of color. Many hope this racial and cultural diversity will be an advantage as they carry out the president’s agenda, which includes creating policies to improve the life of people of all ethnicities.

“It’s really important that we physically represent the vast diversity that we have in this nation,” says Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University in New York City. “The perspective of being these insider-outsiders helps a lot of politicians think about issues in a holistic and more three-dimensional way.” Although Biden’s Cabinet has the potential to create real change for communities of color, racial representation

does not guarantee that long-standing ills, such as inequities in housing and education, will be addressed. Whether effective changes are implemented really depends on the perspectives people bring to the offices, says Deondra Rose, assistant professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University in North Carolina. “While it could be the case that someone who has a diverse lived experience (can) better reflect people who share those demo-

graphic identities, it doesn’t necessarily follow that diversity at the top will trickle down to positive, equitable outcomes,” she says. Taking steps to create a truly equal society will be a challenge, requiring an overhaul of oppressive systems that have historically disenfranchised and disadvantaged communities of color. These seven leaders have accepted the challenge to help improve life for the underrepresented and for the country:


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KAMALA HARRIS Kamala Harris’ road leading to the vice presidency of the United States included many firsts. Her political career started when she joined the district attorney’s office in Alameda County, Calif., in 1990. In 2003, Harris was elected the first female district attorney in San Francisco and went on to serve as the state’s attorney general and senator. When accepting thenDemocratic nominee’s Joe Biden’s invitation to be his running mate, she became the first woman of Southeast Asian and African American descent to vie for the position. With her historic win for the second-highest elected office in the land, the Howard University alumnus is the first graduate of a historically Black university and woman to serve as vice president. While at Washington, D.C.’s Howard University, Harris pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha, the country’s first Black sorority founded in 1908. She has spent more than two decades achieving firsts as a woman of color, but it is her current role that could prove politically fraught. Her two high-profile assignments: leading the White House’s effort to combat the migration issue at the southern border and working with Central American nations to address root causes of the problem; and combating restrictive voting rules being enacted across the country by Republicanled legislatures will be challenging tests for a potential future president.

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DEB HAALAND Deb Haaland became the first Native American to lead the Department of the Interior as secretary. Before her historic appointment, she had already made history as one of two Native American women elected to Congress in 2018. In 2019, she became the first Native woman to preside over the U.S. House of Representatives during a debate on voting rights and campaign finance funds. Haaland’s appointment is distinctly significant, given the department’s history of displacing Indigenous tribes. As a member of the Pueblo people of Laguna and 35th generation New Mexican, Haaland is using her position to improve life for Native Americans throughout the United States. In recent months, she announced a new unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to investigate present-day cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and to prepare reports about the federal boarding schools established in the 19th century that removed Native American children from their communities and stripped them of their culture, a practice that continued for 150 years.

LLOYD AUSTIN III Lloyd Austin III is the first Black person to serve as the secretary of defense. His appointment follows a long career in the U.S. military where he served in the Army for 41 years until his retirement in 2016. While on active duty, Austin garnered many firsts. In 2012, he became the first Black vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army and first Black commander of U.S. Central Command. In 2010, he assumed the duties of Commanding General of U.S. forces in Iraq, overseeing all combat operations in the country.

XAVIER BECERRA Xavier Becerra became the first Latino to be confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Prior to being named to Biden’s Cabinet, Becerra served as California’s attorney general and was a member of Congress, representing Los Angeles for more than 24 years. After leaving Congress in 2017, he returned home to Sacramento to serve as attorney general, becoming the first Latino in that role. As attorney general, Becerra was a dogged advocate of the state’s version of Medicaid (Medi-Cal), and sued former President Donald Trump 120 times in defense of the Affordable Care Act and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. As HHS chief, Becerra says addressing high drug costs, expanding Medicaid and eliminating health disparities are top priorities.

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MARCIA FUDGE Marcia Fudge’s path to becoming the secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is paved with stepping stones that addressed issues facing the Black community. Fudge is the second Black woman to occupy the HUD secretary seat. In 1999, she was the first African American and first woman to become mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio, and was elected a Ohio state congresswoman in 2008. During her time in Congress, Fudge has served as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Since her confirmation as HUD secretary, the Cleveland native has vowed to combat homelessness nationwide, and has already announced her intention to dedicate $5 billion in vouchers to public housing officials across the country. She is also launching an investigation into housing group Millennia Companies, after activists reported that previous funds from HUD had been “misappropriated” by the corporation.

MIGUEL CARDONA Miguel Cardona’s confirmation as the secretary of the Department of Education brings him into new political territory. The Connecticut native has spent most of his career in the world of education, starting as an elementary school teacher. In 2003, Cardona became the youngest principal in his home state when he took the helm at Hanover Elementary School. He was the principal for 10 years, then became an assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. In 2019, he became the first Latino to serve as the commissioner of education in Connecticut. Not all teachers met Cardona’s confirmation with enthusiasm. Many questioned his lack of recent teaching experience, citing it as disqualifying. He is now implementing plans to reopen schools following the monthslong shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS Alejandro Mayorkas’ confirmation to Biden’s Cabinet made him the first Latino to serve as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Mayorkas has many years of experience working at DHS, as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2009 and as deputy secretary in 2013. While there, he developed and implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, allowing undocumented children a pathway to citizenship and the right to legally work in the United States. Prior to the role, the Cuba native was a partner in two law firms, O’Melveny & Myers and WilmerHale. Mayorkas’ presence in Biden’s Cabinet has been polarizing for some, since it’s expected that he’ll undo many of the immigration policies that were implemented during former President Donald Trump’s term. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized Mayorkas’ appointment, citing concerns over his decision to expedite visa requests for some foreign investors. Since his confirmation, Mayorkas has ended the “Remain in Mexico” policy, announced changes to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and fired the majority of those on Homeland Security’s advisory council.

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Beside the Golden Door What would a better U.S. immigration system look like?

By Matthew Brown and Sarah Elbeshbishi

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HE NUMBER OF PEOPLE attempting to cross the southern border into the U.S. increased 5 percent to nearly 190,000 between May and June of this year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In the first half of 2021, there were more than 1 million border patrol encounters nationally, already more than tripling the total number of 2017 encounters. Yet the situation at the southern border hasn’t brought about action on Capitol Hill, reflecting the decadeslong gridlock among lawmakers who often have

sharply divergent views on the nature of U.S. immigration. “The parties have been polarizing on immigration over the last 25 years,” says Ramesh Ponnuru, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank. “The issue has become more important to partisan identities in a way that it wasn’t in the past,” Ponnuru adds. “When Bill Clinton was president and he had a commission that suggested a one-third reduction in legal immigration, it was not considered a bizarre thing for a Democrat to suggest such a thing,” he explains. “Whereas now it is much more CONTINUED


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NEWS opportunities for permanent residency have declined, a shift that was accelerated by the Trump administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden administration’s plan to expand legal immigration would see a greatly increased number of temporary worker programs alongside a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented people in the U.S.

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central to a progressive self-understanding that they are welcoming of immigrants and at least skeptical of punitive enforcement.” Meanwhile, conservatives increasingly adopt a hardline stance on immigration enforcement that has grown in tandem over the same period, according to Ponnuru, a trend that accelerated during former President Donald Trump’s administration. Potential policy solutions, though, are not in short supply. Scholars and officials from across the political spectrum have a number of ideas for reforming U.S. immigration, with varying degrees of bipartisan support.

EXPANDING PATHWAYS FOR LEGAL IMMIGRATION Some analysts contend that increasing the number of legal avenues to enter the U.S. is not only a moral necessity, but a wise choice to reduce and streamline overall illegal immigration. Advocates suggest the immigration system is often complex and punitive toward people only interested in coming for temporary periods or to perform certain

jobs. The vast majority of people seeking entry into the country illegally are doing so for economic reasons; helping them find legal work disincentivizes them from staying illegally, analysts contend. Some visas, like those offered through the H-2A and H-2B programs, extend temporary legal status to migrants seeking jobs, such as agricultural work for the former category and labor like landscaping and tourism in the latter. “These visas have an over 98 percent return rate because the workers know that if they return to Mexico legally they can come back in future years, and it’s just so much better to come legally,” says Alex Nowrasteh, director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. “The problem is both of these are seasonal, so if you’re doing a year-round job in construction or retail then you’re not allowed to migrate here,” he says, noting that such programs are dominated by Mexican workers, who are more likely to return to their home country after completing their contracts. During the past four years, temporary worker programs have increased, while

ADDRESSING CAUSES OF MIGRATION TO STEM FLOW Immigration experts also cite the importance of recognizing the issues causing people to come to the U.S. “We should begin to think about what’s happened to the border by looking at what’s happening in the region first, and that includes looking at the conditions that are pushing folks to move from Guatemala, Honduras,” says Ariel Ruiz Soto, a policy analyst for the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute. Vice President Kamala Harris has been tasked with leading the White House effort to stem illegal immigration amid the increase of unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border by establishing a partnership with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. In June alone, 15,253 unaccompanied children from Central America arrived at the border, CBP reports. “(We) must address the root causes that cause people to make the trek,” Harris said in a March meeting with Biden and other Cabinet members. ENFORCING IMMIGRATION LAWS TO INCREASE DETERRENCE The country’s immigration system should be reformed, says Lora Ries, director of the Center for Technology Policy and senior research fellow for Homeland Security at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, but only as part of an effort to reduce the number of exceptions for admission of undocumented immigrants. “We need to focus on the legal immigration system to make it better and easier for people to apply and make it more difficult to come here illegally,” says Ries, who served as acting deputy chief of staff in the Department of Homeland Security during the Trump administration. Such reforms would include harsh penalties in cases of fraud in immigration courts and increasing deportations of ineligible migrants, efforts which the Trump administration prioritized, sparking backlash among Democrats. “We have a fundamental difference on

enforcing the laws. A fundamental disagreement and unwillingness from (the Biden) administration,” Ries says. “They have built a lot of this on the backs of children, unaccompanied alien children,” she explains. “The government keeps providing all these incentives for them to come … all sorts of benefits because they’re kids and then years later we say, ‘Oh well, we need to give them amnesty because they were kids when they came here.’ Well yeah, because you invited them.”

IS COOPERATION POSSIBLE? The polarization surrounding immigration is unlikely to dissipate anytime soon. Some advocates remain optimistic that a consensus is possible — as long as the conversation continues. “We wholeheartedly acknowledge that immigration is good. It’s been good and will continue to be good for our country,” says Kevin Hernandez, policy director at the LIBRE Initiative, a group that advocates for free-market principles in U.S. Hispanic communities. “We also acknowledge that our immigration system is outdated and hasn’t been modernized in three decades.” The kinds of major reforms needed to meaningfully improve the system haven’t been seen since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, according to Hernandez. In addition to Biden’s proposed package, Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., have proposed reforms to the immigration system that may garner some interest across the aisle, Hernandez says. Johnson’s bill, originally introduced in 2017, would allow states a greater say in guest-worker programs by allowing them to issue nonimmigrant visas at their own discretion. The policy would then let states diverge on the number of workers they’d like admitted to work in their states. Paul’s proposal, which was jointly reintroduced with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would reform the visa system to allow for 90-day visits by the relatives of American citizens abroad. Hernandez says the most important factor in determining whether or not immigration reform is possible is maintaining dialogue on these issues. “I think it’s great that we have more people introducing more solutions — if we don’t have those conversations and debates on solutions, it’s going to be the same old comprehensive immigration debate that we see every few years. So, I’m hopeful that we can get to a much better place.”


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Ballot Box Battle States pass restrictive voting laws while federal legislation stalls By Sylvia A. Martinez

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T LAST COUNT, MORE than 400 restrictive voting-related

bills — more than triple the number of those expanding voting rights — have been introduced in 49 states this year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute. Thirty of those limiting laws have passed in 18 states. All of these legislative moves, voting rights activists agree, are aimed at

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MORE THAN

400 RESTRICTIVE VOTING-RELATED BILLS HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED THIS YEAR SOURCE: Brennan Center for Justice

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“If you were to say who brought in a change of guard in the White House, it was a multicultural America — and it was disproportionately Black, Latino, Asian and Native American and youth.” — MARIA TERESA KUMAR, president and CEO, Voto Latino

suppressing the votes of minorities. “It’s a life and death matter for our democracy,” says former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. Some of these new bills limit the ways registered voters can cast their ballots, and stipulate that only poll workers may offer comforts such as water and snacks to those waiting in lines. Most of the bills were introduced in GOP-led state houses after President Joe Biden defeated incumbent Donald Trump in the 2020 election, which also gave the Democrats a razor-thin majority in the Senate. Voting rights advocates say that the laws, which Republicans insist are meant to protect the sanctity of the election box, were prompted by unsubstantiated claims of election fraud in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, particularly in battleground states such as Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Ohio. Many of the new laws are being challenged in court — legal battles which

are expected to extend beyond special and midterm elections. Recently, restrictive voter laws have been upheld in Arizona, in a case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and in Georgia, where eight more legal challenges are pending. In the closely watched Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona’s laws were not racially discriminatory and therefore didn’t violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court decision was “a massive victory for election integrity,” Arizona GOP chairwoman Kelli Ward said in a video shared on social media. “The Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s law against ballot harvesting, which will make the Democrats’ job much harder in 2022.” She suggested that ballot harvesters and voter lists “filled with people who have moved or are dead is a recipe that is ripe for fraud. It is not just an excellent result for this law, but it has positive implications for the election integrity

laws being passed in Arizona and in other states,” Ward says. That’s what worries voting rights advocates. “The grave concern here is we’re seeing effectively a nationwide voter suppression wave,” says Eliza Sweren-Becker, voting rights and elections counsel with the Brennan Center. “This is an effort of voter suppression of the sort we have not seen in the modern era since Jim Crow.” Voting rights advocates agree that the recent rulings are a setback, but they vow to keep fighting. “This is a priority for us (the Congressional Black Caucus), and we’re going to keep pushing this and making noise about it,” says U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly, D-Ill., a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Subcommittee on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. “Make no mistake, this is an CONTINUED


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“The grave concern here is we’re seeing effectively a nationwide voter suppression wave.” — ELIZA SWEREN-BECKER, voting rights and election counsel, Brennan Center for Justice

intentional attack on Black voters,” the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) said in a statement on the Supreme Court ruling. “As we have witnessed, our votes hold a tremendous amount of power and influence and have been the deciding factor in national, state and local elections.” There have been some victories for voter rights. In July, for example, the New Hampshire Supreme Court unanimously struck down a voter registration law as unconstitutional, noting that it created “unreasonable burdens on the right to vote.” In addition, more than 900 bills with expansive provisions — making it easier to vote by mail or expand early voting — have been proposed in 49 states, according to Brennan Center data. More than 50 such laws have been enacted in 25 states. One of the more recent battles over the ballot box has been playing out in Texas. The Lone Star State, already considered one of the most restrictive in terms of voter freedoms, is likely to pass legislation making voting even more difficult for some. Democrats in the state legislature prevented almost-certain passage of the controversial SB7 by staging an 11th-hour walkout, breaking quorum. Some of the more contentious parts of the proposed legislation have been removed, including limiting Sunday voting hours, which some say are aimed at Black churches that often hold “souls to the polls” events, and a provision that would make the process to challenge and overturn an election easier. But the voter restriction bills were revived during a special session called by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and continue to move forward. O’Rourke, who has been mobilizing thousands of volunteers through his Powered by People organization and holding “For the People” rallies across the state, says that challenge provision, which could be reintroduced, would allow the state to overturn future elections

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“simply based on the allegation of fraud.” “That’s exactly what Donald Trump had asked state legislatures to do after the 2020 election,” he says. “If this bill were to be passed and signed into law, you could now — by statute — do that in 2022 or 2024.” Voto Latino, which has registered more than 1 million young Latino voters since 2012, is involved in the Texas legal battle. Voto Latino has filed suit, along with the League of United Latin American Citizens, against Texas over state Senate Bill 1111. That law, which is set to take effect Sept. 1, discriminates against college students and people of color by restricting the type of address a person may use when registering to vote, the suit alleges. “If you were to say who brought in a change of guard in the White House, it was a multicultural America — and it was disproportionately Black, Latino, Asian and Native American and youth. A Democratic candidate has not won the white male voter since (Lyndon B.) Johnson, so this is very much a

disenfranchised group of a multicultural America,” says Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino’s president and CEO. “They’re changing the rules because they don’t like who’s voting and who’s on the eve of voting.” The best solution against piecemeal legislation across states, activists say, is for the U.S. Senate to eliminate the filibuster (if it can secure the votes) and pass the For the People and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement acts while Democrats have control. The For the People Act passed in the House in March, but it didn’t come up for discussion in the Senate after Republicans used the filibuster to block it. “They have to,” says Kumar. “There’s very little excuse that Democrats right now hold the House, the White House and the Senate, and they can’t pass this to retrofit our democracy.” Passage of the For the People Act would set a standard that every citizen is playing by the same rules that don’t discriminate against ZIP code or color, says Kumar, adding, “For five consecutive times the Voting Rights Act was put

up for a vote it was overwhelmingly bipartisan. That’s what we’re asking our legislators to do.” CBC leaders say they will keep fighting: “Voting rights have been a long-standing priority for the CBC, and we will not stop advocating for equitable voting rights until our community’s voice is heard on every level of America’s voting system.” Voting rights activists urge voters to contact their elected officials. “Our representatives work for us, and they need to hear from their constituents,” says Sweren-Becker. Kelly agrees. “Keeping the pressure on and up, it does work,” she says, pointing to public pressure placed on Republicans to not repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017. “Republicans took their phones off the hook because people called so much.” Both she and O’Rourke say they remain optimistic that people will make their voices heard and that elected officials will do the right thing. “I really believe in this country and the people of this country,” O’Rourke says. “Just as we stepped up in 1965 (to pass the Voting Rights Act), we’re going to step up in 2021. We can do this.”


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Redlined Real Estate Despite strides, homeownership gap remains for people of color By Charisse Jones

T

HE GAP IN RACIAL equity that persists in many facets of American life exists for homeownership as well. Among Black families, 45 percent owned their home as of the first quarter of 2021, compared with 74 percent of white families, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That disparity is even greater in some cities, according to an analysis of census data by real estate brokerage Redfin. Homeownership is critical to the accumulation of wealth and a factor in the stark difference between the average net worth of white families, which was $171,000 in 2016, versus Black families, who had a net worth of $17,150, according to the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization. While a house itself can be the inheritance passed on to the next generation, a family can tap a property’s equity to fund a child’s college education, start a business or give a child or grandchild the down payment to buy a home of their own. “The mechanism of wealth funnels across all of those different areas,” says Taylor Marr, a lead economist at Redfin. Black families experienced a slight uptick in homeownership in the first three months of 2021, inching up from 44.1 percent during the last quarter of 2020, census data indicates. But the COVID-19 pandemic, which is disproportionately affecting both the physical and financial

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U.S. HOMEOWNERSHIP BY RACE SOURCE: U.S. CENSUS BUREAU

65.3%

73.7%

44%

48.9%

56%

U.S. average

White

Black

Hispanic

All other races

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health of Black Americans, may reverse that trend. “The previous economic expansion benefited Black Americans in terms of wage and job growth, which helped many folks make progress toward homeownership in the last year,” Marr says. “However, Black families have been hit harder economically by the coronavirus pandemic and many have lost their jobs, which could stall further improvements in homeownership.”

A TALE OF TWO CITIES Only a quarter of Black families in Minneapolis own their home, the lowest rate in the nation among metro areas with more than 1 million people, according to Redfin data. Meanwhile, 76 percent of white families in Minneapolis own their residences, representing the widest gap between Black and white homeowning households in the U.S. Washington, D.C., had the highest level of Black homeownership at 51 percent,

and with 72 percent of white families owning their homes, the city had the narrowest racial gap. Multiple obstacles have hindered the ability of Black Americans to buy property, from the lingering impact of redlining, a practice now outlawed, to continuing income inequality. Redlining was a discriminatory practice that prevented Black homebuyers from getting mortgages, relegated them to certain neighborhoods where property values lagged due to bias and a lack of investment. “That released a cycle of segregation that continued decade after decade even after redlining was suspended by fair housing laws,” Marr says. More recently, Black people were disproportionately targeted for the predatory loans that contributed to the housing crash and deep recession that struck in CONTINUED


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NEWS 2008. Many suffered damage to their systematic issues present for a long time credit profiles when they were unable to that’s made it difficult for Black people to keep up with payments loaded with exorget ahead in Minnesota.” bitant interest rates or lost homes worth Black residents in Washington, D.C., less than what they’d paid for them. meanwhile, have likely benefited from “That lingers today and limits people’s property being passed down within famiability to get a loan,” Marr says. “If they lies, says Thomas Mathis, a Redfin agent do get approved, the terms are less favorin the district. able.” “A number of people held onto the Minneapolis has been impacted by all houses they already owned,” he says. The of those issues, says Chris Prescott, Redfederal government, along with private fin’s market manager for Minnesota. companies, also offers good-paying jobs Historically, restrictive covenants that can make it easier to purchase real barred Black residents from buying estate. homes in white neighborhoods, and they BRIDGING THE GAP still sometimes appear in deeds though Changes to zoning laws that would they are now illegal. African Americans allow more affordable townhouses and were also displaced when major freeways duplexes to be built alongside singlecut through their communities, making family homes could help address the “it difficult for Black Minnesotans from ownership gap, Marr says. the start,” Prescott says. More people could also qualify for a When Carlette Duffy sought to have mortgage if utilities and other payments her home appraised, she was surprised are considered when compiling a perby the estimated value. For months, she son’s credit score. suspected she had been “Even controlling for low-balled on two appraisincome and down payment als because she’s Black. and neighborhood, minoriShe decided to put that ties are still denied mortsuspicion to the test and gages at a greater rate than asked a white family friend whites are,” he says. “Some to stand in for her during of the reasons are due to an appraisal. “A Black family credit history. ... Credit Her home’s value sudcan be reformed to denly shot up. A lot. makes about half scores include things like rents or During the early months utilities that don’t tradiof the coronavirus panof what a white tionally make it into credit demic last year, the first family makes. ... scoring.” two appraisers who visited Pocket listings, when her Indiana home valued it Wages are lower, homes are shown only to at $125,000 and $110,000. those in a broker’s private But that third appraisal and in turn network, also need to be went differently. housing options discouraged since they can To get that one, Duffy exclude Black buyers, even communicated with the are lower.” if such discrimination is appraiser strictly via email, unintentional, Marr says. stripped her home of all — CHRIS PRESCOTT, Though the Fair Houssigns of her racial and culmarketing manager for tural identity and had the Minnesota, Redfin ing Act, passed in 1968, banned discrimination white husband of a friend based on race, religion and take her place during the gender when selling, renting or financing appraiser’s visit. a home, bias on the part of some sellers, The home’s new value: $259,000. brokers or lenders can still crop up, some “I had to go through all of that just to real estate agents say. say that I was right and that this is what’s “One of my agents said that even happening,” she says. “This is real.” recently he felt he was denied the opAcross the nation, homes owned by portunity for housing based on his skin Black Americans are significantly uncolor,” says Prescott. “We need people dervalued next to homes in comparable to be aware today that this is something white neighborhoods, according to a that needs to stop, and we need to make study by Brookings. change right now, because it is a real prob“Then you look at income and employlem that people can’t ignore any longer.” ment,” Prescott says. “A Black family makes about half of what a white family Alexandria Burris of the Indianapolis Star makes. ... Wages are lower, and in turn contributed to this story. housing options are lower. It’s been

MELANIN MONEY Teri Williams is a testament to the adage you can be what you can see. Growing up, she spent her summers in Indiantown, Fla., working in the candy store and barbecue restaurant owned by her great-grandmother, Annie Coachman, fondly known in the community as “Ma Honey.” Decades later, after earning an economics degree and MBA from Brown and Harvard universities, respectively, Williams is applying the lessons of business and community stewardship that she learned from her great-grandmother to her own career and community. Twenty-five years ago, Williams and her husband, Kevin Cohee, acquired the assets of three Black-owned community banks, enfolding them into what is now OneUnited Bank. Today, Williams is president and chief operating officer and Cohee is chairman and CEO of the nation’s largest Black-owned financial institution, operating online in all 50 states with physical locations in Boston, Los Angeles and Miami. While systemic racism in banking has been widely discussed during the last 18 months, the establishment of Black-owned banks by formerly enslaved men and women has a distin-

Teri Williams

guished history dating to the end of the Civil War. At the peak of the great migration, during the first half of the 20th century, there were 130 Blackowned banks, primarily in northern cities, throughout the United States. “Banks are the engines in an economy. They put out credit and they lend,” says Mehrsa Baradaran, associate dean and professor of law at the University of California, Irvine and an expert on financial institutions, inequality and the wealth gap. Whites’ refusal to lend money to this newly freed population, coupled with the multiple systems and structures they constructed to prevent Blacks from building wealth, led to an increased self-sufficiency among the first generation of Blacks coming out of enslavement. Because of these institutions, there were many Black wall streets throughout the North and South that helped create thriving

Black communities like Greenwood in Tulsa, Okla., before they were destroyed by whites. “Black banks struggle against the very forces of racism that they are trying to counter,” says Baradaran, who doesn’t believe that private markets alone can fix the wealth gap. It also requires the cooperation of the federal banking agencies. Her recommendation to the federal government: Enact holistic policies that address housing, credit, education and criminal justice reform. Williams believes the present sociopolitical moment reinforces the importance of the need for Black communities to “own our own.” Adding, “I saw how a business could make a difference. I saw the role model that (Ma Honey) was for me and other people in the community, and I’ve realized I am repeating that role, without even realizing I was repeating it.” — Jennifer E. Mabry

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Reaping Recompense $1.9 trillion relief bill includes aid for minority farmers By Jeanine Santucci

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NCLUDED IN THE MASSIVE $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill signed into law by President Joe Biden in March is a provision aimed at benefiting farmers of color who are socially disadvantaged. The provision, which was drawn from the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act, includes $5 billion earmarked for eligible Black, Latino, Native American or Asian American farmers. Four billion dollars would go toward CONTINUED

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NEWS covering up to 120 percent of outstanding debt, and $1 billion is designated for outreach, training, education, technical assistance and grants. Democrats hailed the inclusion of this relief as vital to addressing historic inequalities, particularly for Black farmers, whose numbers have declined and who have faced discrimination. The loan provision is intended to “address the historical discrimination against socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and address issues” related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the text of the bill.

REPUBLICAN CRITICISM The legislation has met mixed reaction: Some see it as a long-needed attempt to repair historic injustices; others, including prominent Republican lawmakers, accused Democrats of adding it to the relief package as part of a “wish list” of items that don’t relate to the pandemic. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., slammed “out-of-control liberals” for putting it in the package, calling the provision “reparations” — remedies that may include compensation to address the U.S. government’s role in perpetuating the harms of slavery against Black Americans. “In this bill, if you’re a farmer, your loan will be forgiven up to 120 percent of your loan ... if you’re socially disadvantaged, if you’re African American, some other minority, but if you’re a white person, if you’re a white woman, no forgiveness. That’s reparations. What does that have to do with COVID?” Graham said in an interview with Fox News. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said it was “unconstitutional” and argued that Congress should not pass aid that would go toward only those of the “right race.” “No proof of income or loss incurred due to COVID is needed to qualify. Just skin color or when you came to the country,” Toomey wrote in a tweet decrying the provision. “A white farmer, struggling to get by in Appalachia or anywhere else in the nation, is disqualified because of his skin color. Is this what the Democrats have in mind for ‘racial equity’?” Toomey’s office noted a report in 2005 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that found farmers were on the decline across all rural communities. Republican senators attempted to remove the provision from the relief package with an amendment proposed by Toomey. The farming legislation was led by Sens. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., along with Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Ben Ray Luján,

John Boyd Jr., president, National Black Farmers ALEX BRANDON/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sen. Lindsey Graham

“Socially disadvantaged farmers have struggled to fully succeed due to systemic discrimination ...” — TOM VILSACK, secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

PATRICK SEMANSKY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

D-N.M.; and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. “For too long, farmers of color have been left to fend for themselves, not getting the support that they deserve from the USDA, making it even more difficult for them to recover from this pandemic,” Warnock said in a Senate floor speech responding to Toomey. “We have an opportunity here to lift all of our rural communities by aiming the aid where it is needed, given our historic past, which is very much present.” Stabenow praised Warnock’s role in crafting the provision, telling Rolling Stone magazine it is “an important piece of reparations.” Though Graham argued reparations were not suited to a COVID-19 relief bill, Stabenow said it was important to address the “longstanding areas of discrimination and racial disparity on land ownership and farmers, particularly in the South.”

HISTORICALLY ‘LEFT OUT OF FEDERAL AID’ Black farmers concentrated in the South in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi have been historically discriminated against, losing about 12 million acres of farmland since the 1950s. A study done by the Government Accountability Office in 2019 found that, according to USDA data, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers get a disproportionately small amount of farm loans compared with farmers and ranchers of other groups. In 2010, Congress approved a settlement of $1.2 billion in what was known as the “Pigford cases,” after thousands of Black farmers had received payments as part of a class-action settlement in 1999 to address claims that the USDA denied loans and other assistance because of race. The USDA has faced accusations of discrimination for decades.

“The Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act would provide financial assistance to help those farmers who historically have been left out of federal aid,” said John Boyd Jr., founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association, in a statement. Biden pledged that his administration, which backed a proposal to study reparations for slavery, would tackle inequalities in the agriculture industry. “For generations, socially disadvantaged farmers have struggled to fully succeed due to systemic discrimination and a cycle of debt. On top of the economic pain caused by the pandemic, farmers from socially disadvantaged communities are dealing with a disproportionate share of COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalizations, death and economic hurt,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement applauding the passage of the relief package.


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Setting the Stage Foundation creates opportunities in the arts for students of color Latino, and more than 50 percent are first-generation college students. AROLINA GIRALDO WAS Bial notes that the program can help with the culture shock some students ALREADY experiencing experience at elite, largely white culture shock as one of the colleges. With 10 students in each few Latinas at Franklin class, totaling 40 students on campus, & Marshall College in “Community is built into the program.” Lancaster, Pa., when the unthinkable To find program candidates, Posse happened: Her father died near the works with high schools and communiend of her first year. In the midst of her ty-based organizations that nominate depression, her friends checked in on students. They aren’t focused on high her, and her campus mentor tutored SAT scores, and although grades are her to make sure she passed her important, so are communication chemistry exam. skills and the ability to collaboGiraldo, who was born rate. “We’re a merit program, in Colombia but raised in but we look at merit much Miami, attributes a large part more expansively than a of her college success — and test score. ... We’re looking that core group of support — for young people who show to the Posse Foundation, an tremendous academic and education nonprofit founded leadership potential at 17 years in 1989 by Deborah Bial to old,” says Bial. create opportunties for students The groundwork for student of color and to help colleges and Deborah success is set in several ways, universities recruit leaders from Bial including workshops prior to diverse backgrounds. The Posse starting college and regular meetFoundation helps facilitate ings while there. The support four-year full scholarships from doesn’t end with a degree, but 63 partner universities, selectcontinues with internships, ing 10 students to attend career coaching, fellowships each school as a group — a and an alumni network. posse — so that, like Giraldo, “The whole point of they begin with a support Posse is to build a leadernetwork in place. ship network that reflects “We have been there to the diverse demographics of support each other and make this country,” Bial says. With sure none of us fall through the liberal arts and STEM-focused cracks,” says Giraldo, 26, now Lin-Manuel posses in place, the arts were a third-year medical student Miranda a natural next step. “We need at the Philadelphia College of people from all backgrounds Osteopathic Medicine. to lead in the arts — dance, music, To help create a pipeline of leaders in theater, writing.” the fine and performing arts, Posse and Posse alumni Maura Torres Diaz, the Miranda Foundation, a nonprofit 25, graduated with a degree in started by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the fine arts from Hamilton College in creator of Hamilton and In the Heights, Clinton, N.Y. She sees a huge benefit have partnered with the California to the new initiative, especially for Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in first-generation students like herself Valencia, Calif., and Bard College in who are trying to make careers or start Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., to form businesses as artists. arts-centered student posses. “For many students, there’s no Bial, who won a MacArthur Grant in clear-cut (career) path in the arts,” she 2007 for her work, says that to date, says. “They will learn about what a there have been 10,000 Posse Scholars, life in the arts will look like ... and the with a graduation rate of 90 percent. Its different paths you can take.” participants are 80 percent Black and

By Laura Castañeda

C

Wheaton College Posse, Massachusetts

Posse Pre-college Training program

Syracuse University Posse, New York

Lafayette College Posse, Pennsylvania

PROVIDED BY THE POSSE FOUNDATION (5); RICH POLK/GETTY IMAGES


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Course Correction Educators push to protect teaching of critical race theory By Lindsay Schnell

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S MORE STATE LEGISLATURES work to pass

laws banning critical race theory, free speech advocates and college instructors worry about what those laws could mean for college classes that study race. Critical race theory is a decades-old academic concept that studies racism as a social construct — as opposed to something tied solely to an individual — and the still-lingering effects it has within society. Proponents argue that learning the history of racism is crucial to addressing the inequities that result from it, while critics say it singles out white people as the bad guys and, within schools, teaches white guilt. Since George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis ignited a racial reckoning across America, critical race theory — and whether it should be taught in public schools — has been a hotly debated topic. At least a dozen states, among them Oklahoma, Missouri, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia, are going a step further, weighing measures to prohibit schools from teaching about racism, sexism or other “divisive” concepts. Usually, laws dictating curriculum apply only to K-12. But conservative lawmakers have started to extend their reach the past few years, sometimes trying to influence college curricula. In May, when she first heard that Oklahoma had passed a new law banning the teaching of critical race theory in some cases, Melissa Smith, adjunct instructor at Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC), “blew it off,” she says. “I don’t teach that, so I didn’t think it would apply to me.” She was surprised to find out it did. Her race and ethnicity in the U.S. class was put on hold for two weeks. In a statement explaining the pause, the school said, “We aim to lower the temperature of extreme positions.” “If (OCCC’s) interpretation of the bill is correct, it would ban women’s studies, too, or any discussion about race or

GETTY IMAGES; AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS

gender bias,” says Adam taught in K-12. (Oklahoma Steinbaugh, an attorney with legislators approved a bill in the Foundation for Individual early 2020 that required the Rights in Education, which teaching of the Tulsa race works to defend the individual massacre in all K-12 schools rights of students and faculty. starting in fall 2020.) “That pretty much eliminates “We whitewash our history,” any discussion about the Smith says. “I heard someone civil rights movement. How say, ‘We can’t teach white guilt; Melissa Smith do you talk about something we don’t want to teach white like Selma, Alabama, without kids that they’re the oppressor.’ talking about civil rights?” But that’s not what we do. For Smith, the debate about what to We are educating students about what teach in schools is personal. Her master’s happened, and we’re not sugarcoating it. thesis focused on why some of the uglier The reason we have Black History Month parts of U.S. history, including the 1921 and Women’s History Month is that Tulsa race massacre, in which a white white male history gets taught the other mob attacked and killed hundreds of 10 months of the year.” Black residents in one of the country’s Smith says she received overwhelming worst incidents of racial violence, aren’t support from instructors she knows

and some she has never met, as well as dozens of former students. She’s happy that the class was reinstated with the syllabus intact. But she also says she’s dismayed the class is now an elective and no longer a requirement for social studies. Classes like hers “are not about ‘What have I done to create these problems in our society?’ It’s about ‘What can I do to solve these problems?’ Without classes like this, we won’t solve any inequity issues. We’ll just continue to perpetuate those problems,” Smith says. “I say this all the time: If young people of color can face racism, white people can learn about it.” Olivia Krauth of the Louisville (Ky.) Courier Journal contributed to this story.


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Spelman College

Howard University

Hampton University

Fisk University

GETTY IMAGES; JEFF ADKINS/JO ADKINS/JOURNAL S/JOURNAL COMMUNICATIONS; TIM DILLON/USA TODAY; JERALD C COUNCIL; OUNCIL; SPELMAN COLLEGE; PROVIDED BY ANTHONY BROWN

Grade-A Experience Universities for African Americans continue to make a difference By Afi Scruggs

A

NTHONY BROWN DIDN’T THINK he’d end up in

college. In fact, he was lackadaisical about high school. “I basically went from first period to eighth period, and I just fudged my way through everything else,” he says. But a trip to the assistant principal’s office put him on another path. He noticed an item on the administrator’s wall: a pennant for Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. “I saw this pennant, and I asked, ‘What’s that?’” The principal, a BethuneCookman alumnus, said, “‘It’s the school

you’re going to go to one day.’” That prediction proved correct. In 1992, Brown graduated at the top of his class from the college founded under a tree in 1904 by Mary McLeod Bethune. Brown is now an administrator for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District in Ohio. He’s also the president of the National Alumni Council of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), an advocacy group with 37 member organizations. But Brown is the first to say his journey wasn’t easy. He graduated from high school with a 1.9 GPA. He credits the nurturing environment of the university for his success and lists that as the reason HBCUs, or historically Black colleges and universities, are so important.

Anthony Brown

Bethune-Cookman and other HBCUs “wrap their arms around you and provide you with the resources and support. They want you to succeed and provide you with every opportunity possible,” Brown says.

The story of HBCUs is one of prevailing against odds, and their impact is outsized, according to government data analyzed by the UNCF, which found that the schools enroll close to 10 percent of African American undergraduates and award 17 percent of bachelor’s degrees earned by Black students. Recently, HBCUs have benefited from the achievements of high-profile alumni, including Vice President Kamala Harris; mayors Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta and Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, Ala.; and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams. Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has donated millions to several HBCUs, CONTINUED


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17%

TOP HBCUS

OF BACHELOR’S DEGREES HAVE BEEN AWARDED TO AFRICAN AMERICANS FROM HBCUS

1 2

SOURCE: United Negro College Fund

3 4 5 6 7 8

Vice President Kamala Harris is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C.

including Morgan State University in Baltimore, Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina and Hampton University in Virginia. Still, obtaining resources and support remains a challenge. Tennessee owes its sole public HBCU, Tennessee State University, between $150 million and $554 million, according to a recent study, which suggests state legislators have known about the shortfall for 50 years. Meanwhile, public HBCUs in Maryland fought for 15 years before a $577 million settlement ended their lawsuit over state funding. And it took almost 30 years to settle a lawsuit over Mississippi’s funding of its three public HBCUs. Ironically, some purport that the underfunding makes HBCUs more efficient when comparing expenditures to outcomes, says Jason Coupet, an associate professor of public administration at North Carolina State University. “HBCUs can’t afford to (spend) what other universities of comparable size spend on academic expenditures and instructional expenditures. The faculty are generally paid less. You hear that refrain a lot with HBCUs — doing more with less — and it certainly seems to ring true.”

According to the Higher Education Act of 1965, an HBCU is any accredited college or university established before 1964 with a mission of educating African Americans. Today, more than 100 institutions meet that criteria and are eligible for federal funding for capital as well as academic improvements. The history of higher education institutions for students of African ancestry starts in 1837, when Cheyney University was established in Pennsylvania. Quaker philanthropist Richard Humphreys left $10,000 to establish the school, originally known as the African Institute. Almost two decades later, in 1856, Wilberforce University in Ohio became the first private institution of higher education established by African Americans for African Americans. The majority of HBCUs established before the Civil War were founded either by white philanthropists or benevolent societies. At the end of the war, The Freedmen’s Bureau helped launch a wave of schools for newly emancipated freedmen. In 1867, a host of schools were created, including Howard University in Washington, D.C., Alabama State in Montgomery and Morehouse College

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Spelman College Howard University Xavier University of Louisiana Tuskegee University Hampton University Morehouse College Florida A&M University North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University Claflin University Fisk University

SOURCE: U.S. News & World Report

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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in Atlanta. At the time, and for decades following, Blacks were denied enrollment at many U.S. schools. Other HBCUs were established throughout the 20th century: Texas Southern University in Houston was founded in 1947, while the University of the Virgin Islands was founded in 1962. Most of these schools emphasized teaching or were connected to religious denominations in some way. “Every HBCU started as teacher training or preacher training,” says Crystal deGregory, a Fisk University alumnus who is a research fellow at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, near Nashville. Then, as now, the institutions were committed to opening educational access. By doing so, deGregory notes that HBCUs and other independent Black schools profoundly changed society by normalizing public education in the South. “There was really no institutionalization of public education until Black schools were founded after the Civil War,” she says. “Poor white people viewed public education generally as a kind of charity. You rebuff this opportunity because you don’t want to be seen as

someone who’s poor, even though the vast majority of white Southerners were poor.” The colleges and universities depend on tuition for operating costs, but raising fees would make the schools unaffordable for many students. Although Pell Grants and other funding are available, they simply don’t cover all expenses, says Latoya Owens, director of the UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute. Thus, many students must turn to loans to fund their schooling. “So when private institutions are compared to private institutions, and public institutions are compared to public institutions, (HBCUs) are the most affordable,” says Owens. “Yet their students take on more debt to complete college because they simply have less funding ... to pay for food, to pay for housing to make it through school.” Nevertheless, Owens is adamant when it comes to the future of and the need for HBCUs. “I think that overall, the thing people miss about HBCUs is the real attention to the students that we, again, have a mission to serve. We serve them extremely well, better than they are being served by any other institutions.”


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Stage Presence Native Americans win right to wear tribal regalia at graduation ceremonies By Shondiin Silversmith

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N 2019, LARISSA WALN, a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe, was standing outside State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., wearing a purple graduation gown, holding her cap as her senior class from nearby Valley Vista High School graduated inside. She couldn’t join the festivities because her cap was adorned with beadwork and an eagle feather, a traditional practice prohibited by the Dysart Unified School District. Only schoolapproved, academic regalia were allowed on students’ gowns. Waln’s experience was one of many that led to the introduction of House Bill 2705 in the state Legislature, which would allow a citizen of a federally recognized tribe to wear traditional regalia “or objects of cultural significance” during graduation. A school district governing board could not say otherwise. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey in April. “The fact that this is now written into law, I think will give people a certain amount of not just respect and understanding, but also cultural awareness,” says Rep. Jasmine BlackwaterNygren. “This is something that tribal members practice, and this is something that the state of Arizona needs to be aware of, especially with their large Indigenous population.” The Walns, who filed a civil rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Arizona against the Dysart Unified School District on April 24, 2020, believe it should not have taken legislative action to allow tribal citizens to wear traditional regalia at their graduations. “School administrators should have simply embraced diversity,” the Walns say. “We are surrounded by different cultures in every direction we look.” For students and former students like Lourdes Pereira, it seems like policy changes are the way to go. CONTINUED

PATRICK BREEN/THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC

LaRissa Waln protested outside State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., where Valley Vista High School held its graduation in 2019.


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CULTURAL COMMENCEMENT

PATRICK BREEN/THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC

Waln, a Native American, holds the graduation cap she adorned with traditional feathers and beads.

Pereira is Hia-Ced O’odham and a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, and in 2018 she was part of the Tucson Native Youth Council at Pueblo High School. She says during a discussion about education, she heard several Native American students from Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) voice concerns about not being able to wear their traditional regalia during graduation. Pereira says many of these students would hand off the culturally significant items to either a teacher or family member before they walked across the stage to graduate. After hearing these stories, Pereira says she started looking into how to change the TUSD policy, working alongside her friend Madeline Jeans, who graduated from Pueblo High

School in 2017. They led the effort to change the policy barring Native Americans from wearing traditional regalia at graduations in the school district. Pereira recalls looking into the district’s dress code because she wore her traditional regalia often at school, and it was never an issue. Because the regalia was not restricted at school, she felt the policy was contradictory. Pereira and Jeans convinced the school board to temporarily change the policy, which led to a permanent repeal of the rule. It took about six months, Pereira says. She and other Native American students enrolled in the TUSD were able to graduate in 2019 wearing their traditional regalia without limits.

“I think it’s really disappointing to see that that’s what we have to go through as Indigenous peoples,” Pereira says. “It’s unfortunate that we have to fight that hard just to have basic human rights, which is being able to wear our regalia.” Pereira believes that policy changes like those at TUSD and the state bill protecting the right to wear tribal regalia are important to fight for, so future Native American students can enjoy graduation. “Now as Indigenous peoples, we are able to just go through those amazing moments of our lives being who we really are,” she says. “It’s going to be so impactful for future generations.”

While universitywide commencement ceremonies might prohibit adorned caps and gowns or fail to recognize the many ways different cultures celebrate milestones, some universities offer smaller gatherings where students of color can commemorate their achievements incorporating their traditions. Stanford University in California, New York’s Columbia University and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., are just a few that work with campus organizations to host these culturally significant events. “In most instances, these smaller, multicultural gatherings evolved from celebrations originally created by alumni and students,” a Columbia spokesperson says. “The gatherings are voluntary, open to every student who wants to participate, and have become a highly anticipated and meaningful part of the Columbia graduation experience.” Columbia holds ceremonies for Native American, Black, Latino and Asian American graduates. “Many of them began more than 15 years ago as small student gatherings, and they are still led by student planners today. The Native American celebration often starts with an honor song, and many celebrations include relevant student cultural performances including songs, dances, speeches, family appreciations and peer awards,” the Columbia spokesperson says. Stanford University’s Centers for Equity, Community, and Leadership partners with the school’s Asian American Activities Center, Black Community Services Center, El Centro Chicano y Latino and Native American Cultural Center to offer graduation ceremonies that also celebrate students’ family members and friends. Registration is required, but all are welcome. Georgetown University’s Center for Multicultural Equity and Access hosts cultural celebrations honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latino and Black graduates. During many of the events, graduates are given stoles that represent their heritage. “It is our way of bringing students of color and allies together to celebrate their diversity,” said Charlene Brown-McKenzie, director of the Georgetown center, in an online video message. — Tracy Scott Forson

Shondiin Silversmith writes for The Arizona Republic.


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Diversity on Display Ethnic museums tell the stories of their communities By Laura Castañeda

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HE NUMBER OF PEOPLE of color in the country is increasing each year, according to U.S. Census Bureau analysis. That means the stories, history and culture of different ethnic groups that have helped create this nation are becoming more necessary and relevant. “In order to know who we are, we need to know where we came from as individuals and as a nation. We need to know we stand on the shoulders of generations, that we are who we are because of countless others, that we are not alone,” says Karen Ishizuka, chief curator of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. The museum’s A Life in Pieces: The Diary and Letters of Stanley Hayami exhibit tells the story of one Japanese American’s contributions that represents how minorities, often denied the American dream, continue to fight for it. A Los Angeles teen who was imprisoned at Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming, Hayami was later drafted CONTINUED

Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles JAPANESE AMERICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM

National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C. JODI JACOBSON/GETTY IMAGES


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TRAVEL building on the National Mall in Washington D.C.; a Cultural Resources Center in Maryland; and the National Museum of the American Indian — New York at the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City. At the Washington location, The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire exhibit, about a 20,000-mile network that continues today across Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, closed on June 27 to make way for Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight, which opens early next year and features art and design celebrating the Pacific Northwest’s Tlingit people. Tafeni English, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Ala., says these cultural institutions are uniquely suited to offer more context around historical events that helped shape the nation. “Overall, I think people see museums as being pretty static, that we tell a story and that’s it,” says English. “Well, no, that’s not how it works. As our communities change and as social justice issues emerge, museums are able to tell the full story.” Museums and monuments dedicated to the Black experience can be found all PAUL MORIGI/NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN across the nation, from Baltimore’s The Smoking pipes and pipe bags are displayed in this exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. National Great Blacks in Wax Museum to the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. They encompass vast aspects of Black life, from civil rights to soul food. In January, the National into the U.S. Army 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team during World Museum of African American Music opened in Nashville, Tenn. The Universal War II. The exhibit runs until January Hip Hop Museum is slated to open in 2022. 2024 in New York City. Both help tell Cécile Ganteaume, curator for the Smithsonian’s National the story of Blacks in America through music. Museum of the American “As our communiIndian, agrees with “A lot of people are trying to wake up to the Ishizuka and says that ties change and as by and large, what most Black experience and social justice issues understand it a little bit Americans have learned about American Indians better,” says H. Beecher emerge, museums Hicks III, president and has been through popular culture, which is woefully CEO of the new Nashville are able to tell the African American music inaccurate. full story.” museum. “We need “They’ve been taught that North America was a — TAFENI ENGLISH, director, things, like a museum vast, pristine wilderness Civil Rights Memorial Center, that celebrates music, waiting to be settled, but Southern Poverty Law Center to try to bring us back together.” the land was of course In an age in which the indigenous land and was nation is being challenged to reckon with usurped from American Indians, many of its Confederate past, civil rights musewhom were forcibly removed from their ums and archival centers will likely play homelands,” she says. “Americans should understand precisely how the settling of an even larger role in helping to set the racial record straight, says Terri Lee Freethis country was achieved at a great cost JASPER CULT/USA TODAY to Native Americans.” man, executive director at Baltimore’s Opened in 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is the The National Museum of the American CONTINUED newest addition to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Mall offerings. Indian has three facilities: its flagship


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In 2019, before museums closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2 million people visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. “I think the role of the museum has always been to educate and to educate truthfully about the subject matter,” she adds. The nation’s largest ethnic group — Latinos — are getting two new museums: a National Museum of the American Latino at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., and Southern California’s Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry at the Riverside Art Museum. “Latinos have played a foundational role in building this country and shaping its culture even before there was a United States of America,” says Eduardo Díaz, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center and the National Museum’s interim director. Although progress is being made, it took 27 years — from an initial report on the Smithsonian and Latino issues to congressional approval last year — to get the official nod for the national museum, says Estuardo Rodríguez, president and CEO of Friends of the American Latino Museum, which led the fundraising campaign. Before it opens in an estimated 10 years at the earliest, he says about $700 million has to be raised, half from private donations, and a location on the already crowded National Mall must be found. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of Latino exhibitions at the Smithsonian. Since 1997, the Smithsonian Latino Center has helped embed Latino content within the Smithsonian’s museums and

research centers. Díaz says exhibits have included Chicano graphics, Latinos and baseball, Latinos and design and Latino history. Less than 1 percent of the permanent works in the National Portrait Gallery featured Latinos until a Latina curator, Taina Caragol, arrived in 2013. Since then, more than 200 portraits of notable Latinos have been added, Díaz says. In May, E. Carmen Ramos was appointed the gallery’s chief curatorial and conservation officer. “It is important that we continue to expand the boundaries of art history, making sure our scholarship reflects a fuller and more complex picture of our nation and world,” Ramos said in a statement. More Latino content is on the way even before the National Museum breaks ground. The Molina Family Latino Gallery at the Smithsonian, scheduled to open in May 2022, will be the institution’s first physical space on the National Mall dedicated to the Latino experience. The 4,500-square foot area will be located on the ground floor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History because, as Díaz says, “Latino history is American history.” The first exhibition will be ¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States. Díaz says, “Some visitors will probably not know much about us. A typical Anglo family from, say, Rapid City, South Dakota, may not know much about our history. This is an opportunity for us to introduce the Latino community to the American constituency.” Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry of the Riverside Art Museum is scheduled to open this December, Riverside Art Museum Executive Director Drew Oberjuerge says. Located about 55 miles east of Los Angeles, the museum will house hundreds of paintings and drawings collected over the years by actor Cheech Marin of Cheech and Chong fame. The inaugural exhibition at The Cheech will feature the glass sculptures and lenticular works of brothers Jaimex and Einar de la Torre in a program titled Collidoscope: A De La Torre Brothers Retro-Perspective. “Cheech says Chicano art is American art and needs to be represented in museums and exhibits,” says Oberjuerge. “Families need to see themselves reflected in art on the walls to enforce that their stories and experiences matter.”

CHEECH MARIN CENTER FOR CHICANO ART, CULTURE AND INDUSTRY

This rendering offers a preview of what visitors can expect at the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry when it opens later this year in Riverside, Calif.

Tonyaa Weathersbee and Dave Paulson contributed to this story.


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Fishing boats outside of Elmina Castle

Going to Ghana M. TORRES/GETTY IMAGES

By Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

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HEN LOS ANGELES NATIVE Keren Johnson

organized a vacation to South Africa in 2016, she added a quick five-day trip to Ghana to break up the long flight back home. She had no idea that those five days would change the trajectory of her life. “I immediately had a positive reaction. I loved the way it smelled, the way it looked. It was the stuff of all my diaspora dreams,” she says of landing in Ghana for the first time. When she woke up the morning of

West African country welcomes Blacks to reconnect with ancestral home her return flight home, she learned that Donald Trump had won the 2016 presidential election. “I thought, ‘Should I even get back on the plane?’ I seriously thought, ‘Why would I go back to America?’” Johnson eventually boarded her flight, but she started planning to

relocate to Ghana as soon as she returned home. “I was doing everything to get to Ghana. I had all my ducks in a row, and I was ready to move.” According to Statista, there were 1.13 million visitors to the West African nation in 2019, and about 3,000 Black American

expatriates relocated there. Those tourist numbers may have been bolstered by 2019’s Year of Return. Deemed a celebration of African resilience, the dayslong commemoration marked the 400-year anniversary of America’s participation in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It encouraged African Americans to visit Ghana and reconnect with their heritage. “We believe we have a responsibility to extend a hand of welcome back home to Africans in the diaspora,” Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said when promoting the Year of Return events. CONTINUED


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Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park & Mausoleum

Elmina Castle

Presidential Palace

LOTTIE JOINER/USA TODAY

PROVIDED BY DIALLO SUMBRY

Diallo Sumbry, Ghana’s first African American tourism ambassador

Diallo Sumbry, Ghana’s first African American tourism ambassador and author of A Smart Ghana Repatriation Guide, suggests the trend isn’t new. “African Americans have been traveling to and moving to Ghana for decades. It’s an easy transition; Ghana is Englishspeaking, safe; it has democratic elections and a growing economy. The food is great. The people are friendly. It’s a haven for entrepreneurs. The Year of Return just made Ghana and Africa more visible,” he says. As one of the architects of the Year of Return initiative, Sumbry witnessed an upsurge in interest in Ghana, with Blacks

from every nation flocking to the country’s historic sites, restaurants, beaches and nature preserves. Legendary fashion model Naomi Campbell, actor Idris Elba, Family Feud host Steve Harvey and rapper Cardi B. were among the celebrities who attended the event. “The Year of Return was the biggest thing to happen to Ghana since independence,” say Sumbry, whose work serves as a blueprint for those seeking to relocate to the country. “My book helps make the transition easier. It’s one thing to live in Ghana versus being a tourist.” Even with a pandemic, interest in relocating to Ghana has not waned. The

M. TORRES/GETTY IMAGES (2)

Ghana Tourism Authority has introduced the Beyond the Return campaign, which targets people of African descent with outreach that includes investment opportunities, facilitated citizenship and cultural connections over the next decade. Since making plans to move to Ghana in 2016, family emergencies and the pandemic stymied Johnson’s relocation schedule, but she did not give up. “I have never backed away from the feeling that I’m most in touch with myself in Ghana. There’s a natural order to my life CONTINUED


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PROVIDED BY KEREN JOHNSON

Through Birthright Africa, Keren Johnson helps provide free educational trips to Africa for African Americans ages 13 to 30. The L.A. native plans to apply for residency in Ghana.

ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Tourists can visit Elmina Castle, where Africans were held captive before being taken from their homeland.

that only falls in place in Ghana,” she explains. She nursed her mother through a terminal cancer diagnosis from 2017 through 2018, and then stayed with her family for a year after her passing in 2019, but Johnson still managed to visit Ghana two more times before she was ready to move in March 2020. “The border closed in Ghana on the same day that I had my going-away party in L.A.,” Johnson says. She stayed on her sister’s couch until the borders opened again in September 2020, and then she jumped on the first plane headed to Ghana. “My grandfather was a strong pan-Africanist, and I want to see what

it’s like to be a pan-Africanist in this generation.” Pan-Africanism also influenced Philadelphia-native Christa Sanders Bobtoya, who first traveled to Ghana more than 20 years ago. “The first time I considered moving to Ghana was when I visited with my father in 1999,” she says. “My father, Boykin Sanders, is a professor of religion at Virginia Union University, and he took seminary students to Ghana and Ethiopia. He was always a pan-Africanist. He had been traveling to the continent since the ’70s. My father invited me on the trip because he wanted me to experience Africa.”

Bobtoya felt an immediate connection during her visit. “I was at Elmina Castle, the oldest and largest slave dungeon in Ghana. I smelled the smells. I heard the chains. I had an out-of-body experience at the door-of-no-return,” she says. “I never felt a spiritual connection to something the way I felt at that moment. I knew I had to come back.” After years living abroad in Brazil, Germany and Spain, Bobtoya did find her way back to Ghana. As the campus director of Webster University Ghana, she is deeply immersed in Ghanaian culture. CONTINUED


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TRAVEL “I fell in love with the country, the lack of microaggressions. I feel a sense of freedom and belonging,” she says. Bobtoya has lived in the country for 17 years and appreciates the slower pace of life. “Time is fluid here. I feel my stress levels are reduced, and I’m much healthier. I have time for people and relationships. Life in the U.S. is much more hectic; industrialized notions that focus on consumerism can never be good for the soul. Here, the value of human relationships is ingrained in the culture. It’s a different mindset.” A different mindset can also mean challenges when adapting to Ghanaian culture. “Ghana is still an emerging country. It requires patience to live there,” explains Sumbry. “There is still a lot of need. The minimum wage is (about $2) a day, but there are opportunities to solve problems. You don’t move to Ghana to find a job. You move to make jobs.” Bobtoya echoes that sentiment. “This country has developed at an astounding rate, but you have to be prepared to deal with issues of time, weak infrastructure and limited health care,” she says. Johnson, a consultant and ambassador at Birthright Africa, which offers youths free trips to African countries, feels that

the difficulties she has experienced in Ghana have not outweighed the value of living on the African continent. “It took a month for me to find a place to live. A lot of places require a year’s worth of rent in advance, and there’s no rental protection. A few people tried to (cheat me), but once I found a reputable real estate agent, I signed for a place the same day,” she says. “I have all the comforts I was used to in L.A. in Accra, and I’m 100 percent safer here. I live in a high-rise apartment. I get fresh vegetables from the market, and I get around with Uber, walking and (with help from) neighbors.” Johnson plans to apply for residency and has found the visa process easy. “(The Ghanaian government wants) us to move in a sincere way, not just for the dollars.” Ultimately, it’s the cultural ties and comfort with being surrounded by Blackness that wins over travelers and expats alike. “Seeing a sea of Black faces on billboards, in cars, in the leadership of the country, is a life-changing experience. For people of (the African diaspora), not having to worry about institutionalized racism or police violence is a breath of fresh air. You are coming to a place where you will feel welcomed,” says Bobtoya.

STAY A WHILE As appealing as it may be to relocate to Ghana, travelers should feel free to just visit. The capital city of Accra has established itself as a tourist location. There are cultural centers where artisans sell their creations, such as pottery, jewelry, artwork and clothing; parks where native flora and fauna can be viewed and monuments, including the memorial for Kwame Nkrumah, the nation’s former prime minister. The Osu district offers a bustling nightlife with bars and restaurants and Labadi Beach is just one option for sun and sand. GETTY IMAGES GETTY IMAGES

West African fabrics are known for their intricate patterns and vibrant colors.


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Urban Oases Black-majority Southern cities offer community and opportunity By Shameika Rhymes and Tracy Scott Forson

T

HE DECADESLONG GREAT MIGRATION that began in

the early 20th century saw African Americans relocating from the South to Midwest and Northern states to evade the unjust and oppressive systems that continued

to deny them freedoms granted to white citizens. Nearly a century later, some African Americans are returning to regions below the Mason-Dixon Line where economic stability, community and culture are creating thriving majority-Black neighborhoods. “Black people are moving to the South,” says Andre Perry, author of Know Your

Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities and senior fellow with the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “People are moving for a variety of reasons, including moving for jobs where the economy is fairly strong compared to the cost of living,” he explains. In a Smart Asset study, the top cities where Black Americans fared best

economically were Grand Prairie and Garland, Texas; Pembroke Pines and Miramar, Fla.; and Charlotte and Durham, N.C. Meanwhile, a similar Urban Wallet study listed Austin, San Antonio and Houston, Texas; Baltimore, Miami, Richmond, Va., and Charlotte. Studies show that the median income of African Americans is 15 percent less than that of whites. The same education and work experience might afford a better standard of living for people of color in regions where inflation is not as significant. “We often populate where there’s good public sector jobs because those tend to have better wages and benefits,” says Perry, who is Black. However, it’s not all about economics. Like their ancestors who fled the violence of the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras, CONTINUED


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THE MEDIAN INCOME OF AFRICAN AMERICANS IS

15%

“Color pull-quote sima nitiume vollupt atemp bractud sima nitiume vol vollupt atempora quae ora quae venis voluptue?” — NAME ALL CAPS, Title attribution to go here

LESS THAN WHITES SOURCE: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Charlotte, N.C. GETTY IMAGES

Blacks today are looking for a sense of community where they can build businesses, churches, schools and social organizations without threat of what some refer to as “whitelash,” when those of the dominant culture react negatively to the success and achievements of people of color. Those often negative reactions that at times resulted in violent massacres — like the one in Tulsa, Okla., in 1921; the 1898 Wilmington Massacre in North Carolina; and the Rosewood, Fla., violence of 1923 — helped fuel the original Great Migration.

However, many Tulsa residents actually remained in the city to rebuild the community, and a large percentage of the Black population still lives in North Tulsa. “People are moving for cultural comfort. There’s something to not having to look over your shoulder and not get killed by police and when you don’t have to feel validated because there are others that share your values and vision,” says Perry. “Black people also are going where there are Black institutions, and not in terms of government, but HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities).” Washington, D.C., home to Howard

University and just miles away from Maryland’s Bowie State University, remains a majority-Black city by a slight margin, although, it is what Perry describes as a gentrified town, where non-Black residents are supplanting people of color. Washington, D.C., New York City, Houston, Detroit and Atlanta are cities that top many lists of best cities for Blacks. Those areas have large Black populations and networking opportunities. However, Perry advises that these lists of the best cities be approached analytically. “It’s really up to the various models.

They are essentially subjective, or the building out (of) the models are subjective in nature,” he explains. “Some of the folks who produce these lists have skin in the game; they aren’t neutral. They want to see Black people buy and buy in certain areas. It’s hard to really develop a top 10 list in this regard because there’s so many variables.” The migration of Blacks to Blackmajority cities is ultimately a quest for opportunity, sustainability and culture. “Black people are going where they can work, live, build wealth and grow,” Perry says.


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Powerful Prose These words of wisdom may help heal society

GETTY IMAGES; PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHERS

USA TODAY NETWORK

M

ANY AMERICANS ARE DOING more than protesting systemic

racism. They are educating themselves on it in unprecedented numbers. Following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020, sales of books on race and racism skyrocketed. “A lot of people don’t really know the history of why things are the way that they are,” says Chad Helton, director of the Hennepin (Minn.) County Library system. “What I would recommend is really looking into the scholarship of Black history. That way you can really understand how racism has manifested itself and how it’s become structural and institutional. ... All of what is happening is connected to systemic and institutionalized racism.” Here are six books that can help educate and enlighten:

What does it mean to accept a racial identity? Are they given to us, or do we select them? Those are just a couple of the questions Laura E. Gómez ponders in Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism, which was named one of NPR’s best books of the year for 2020. “Racial conventions and racism make some people’s race less malleable than others. ... This book explains how and why Latinos became cognizable as a racial group — that is Other and inferior to Whites,” writes Gomez, a New Mexico native and professor of law at the University of California,

Los Angeles. u$25.99, barnesandnoble.com Long before supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, activist Deepa Iyer examined the threat of domestic terrorism in her book, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future. Iyer, a South Asian American racial justice advocate, takes a look at Islamophobia and questions whether hate crimes should be considered acts of terrorism. u$15.95, amazon.com

Discrimination against people of color may not be legally permitted in the U.S., but certain rights, such as serving on juries, are denied to those who have been incarcerated, and statistics show that Blacks and Latinos disproportionately fill the nation’s prisons. That’s the focus of former civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, which spent more than a year on The New York Times bestsellers list. u$24.99, barnesandnoble.com Just Mercy follows the real-life struggle of justice advocate Bryan Stevenson, whose crusade to free the wrongly incarcerated led to the creation of his Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The book and subsequent film follow the case of Walter McMillian and exemplify “how the death penalty in America is a direct descendant of lynching — a system that treats the rich and guilty better than the poor and innocent,” according to the EJI website. u$28, penguinrandomhouse.com

Me and White Supremacy is more than just a book. It’s a challenge. Author Layla F. Saad guides readers through a self-reflection process that encourages those with white privilege to examine their racist ideas and behaviors. Saad also produced a workbook, which has been downloaded by more than 90,000 people. Allyship, cultural appropriation and self-care are among the topics covered. The book debuted on the USA TODAY bestseller list in February 2020. u$55.95 for book and journal bundle, massybooks.com Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me is a letter to his adolescent son. The author struggles to explain how Black men fit into American society. In the process, Coates, a The New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist, attempts to answer long-standing questions about race and how its exploitation has plagued the nation for centuries. An adaptation of the book is now airing on HBO. u$26, penguinrandomhouse.com


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