This Week In Race: Racism, Racism And, To Salve Your Soul, John Legend

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There was a lot in the world of race relations to make your head hurt. But it wasn't all bad. There was also John Legend.
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With three weeks left, the reality of the past year is starting to sink in.

Racial conflict showed up in all corners of the news the past week.

Electoral racism

The election may be over, but the trauma lives on. Asma Khalid has been covering the presidential campaign since Marco Rubio's boots were scandalworthy. Along the way, she heard emotional stories from America's heartland about voters' aspirations and fears. She was also routinely questioned, threatened and berated for being a Muslim woman and wearing hijab. After months and months of telling other peoples' stories, Khalid finally shared her own. Khalid; NPR

Police racism

In Charleston, S.C., residents are busy reliving another trauma. After a mistrial in the case of Michael Slager, the police officer who shot Walter Scott in the back, people are wondering whether a black man can ever hope for justice in the courts. In light of the mistrial, it's worth revisiting Feidin Santana's story. Santana filmed Scott being shot on April 5, 2015. Months after, he still dreamed about the shooting every night. Laughland, Swaine; The Guardian

Prison racism

The injustices extended behind the bars and razor wire. A New York Times investigation found that in most New York prisons, black inmates are disproportionately assigned to the worst jobs and living spaces and are subject to harsher, more frequent punishments than white inmates. In one case, a black man was punished with 180 days in solitary confinement for trying to take waffles to his cell. In another, it was bread: "[Paul] Sellers was returning from dinner at Five Points Correctional Facility when he was stopped by an officer for taking 'a loaf of state bread' back to his cell, according to the guard's report." After refusing to give up the bread, Sellers was sent to solitary for 166 days. Schwirtz, Winerip, Gebeloff; New York Times

Liberals and racism

After President-elect Trump's win, some liberal analysts argued that "identity politics" had cost Democrats the election. In a commentary for Code Switch, our former editor, Tasneem Raja, offered a contrary point of view. She says identity politics are a (small, imperfect) attempt at making the United States more equitable across racial lines, and that the folks who criticize that politicking are playing right into the hands of white supremacists. Raja; NPR

Neoconservative racism

Speaking of white supremacists: Richard Spencer is becoming a household name as he fights to legitimize white nationalism following Trump's victory. But Spencer didn't come from nowhere. A piece in Tablet profiles Paul Gottfried, a mentor of Spencer's and the so-called Jewish Godfather of the alt-right. It's a fascinating, troubling look at how conflicting identities can fold into each other without ever truly reconciling. Siegel; Tablet

Interpreting racism

While 2016 has been racially stressful for just about everyone in this country, people of color, for the most part, are pretty accustomed to it. Some white people have been looking for guidance. Sometimes that means hitting up their best black friends — the writers, analysts and voices they follow on social media. Four writers who are often the subject of this unburdening (including our own Gene Demby) discuss the challenges that come with being someone's POC help desk. Bouie, Demby, Harris, McMillan Cottom; Slate

Posthumous racism

Paul Revere Williams has become the first African-American to win the Gold Medal in Architecture — the highest prize given by the American Institute of Architects. Williams' nearly 3,000 designs are famous in Southern California. He has designed homes for Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball, as well as the Neon Museum Visitors' Center and a cathedral in Las Vegas. Williams, who has been dead for 36 years, was not available for comment, but writer Kriston Capps hopes that the award will serve as a wake-up call to an industry that he says attracts and rewards white men. Capps; CityLab

Historical racism

The Standing Rock protests are about protecting the water, sure. But Shannon Prince says that water represents only a small part of the story. The rest is about fighting against the insurmountable colonial presence in Indian Country and the cultural conception that Native Americans are "inconvenient, annoying, [and] a drag" just for existing. Prince; Jezebel

Counteracting racism

Feeling good? Neither are we. So here's something to help get you through the next 22 days of 2016. Rob Harvilla writes a surprisingly convincing argument for listening to John Legend's new album. According to Harvilla, Legend may not be the radical-activist-musician-heartthrob we expected, but he's the one we need. Read the review, spin the record, Darkness and Light, and let the crooning, anti-establishment lyrics of America's sweetheart lull you through the rest of holiday season. Harvilla; The Ringer

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