This Week In Race: Walls, ID Laws And Getting Typecast

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Is Michael K. Williams being typecast?

Do voter ID laws hurt minority turnout? Study says: Absolutely

This week, though, The Washington Post published the findings of a huge study of 300,000 people that definitely answers that question. "[W]hen we dig deeper and look specifically at racial and ethnic minority turnout, we see a significant drop in minority participation when and where these laws are implemented," the Post reported.

Hispanics are affected the most: Turnout is 7.1 percent lower in general elections and 5.3 percent lower in primaries in strict voter ID states than it is in other states. Strict voter-ID laws mean lower African-American, Asian-American and multiracial-American turnout as well. White turnout is largely unaffected.

These laws have a disproportionate effect on minorities, which is exactly what you would expect given that members of racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to have a valid photo ID.

The researchers noted that civil rights groups are already worried that Jeff Sessions, the new attorney general with a history of prosecuting people trying to register black voters, might signal for how federal voting rights laws are — or are not — enforced.

Will Donald Trump's wall keep more immigrants in the U.S?

Ana Raquel Minian writes at The Atlantic that President Trump's proposal to build a wall on the border to keep immigrants out of the United States might actually keep them in the country:

"After 2008, more Mexicans started returning to Mexico from the United States than those who crossed the border north. [...]The slow recovery of the U.S. economy after 2008 and the decreasing number of jobs available to immigrants, particularly those in construction where many Mexicans worked, made the United States less attractive. Fewer migrants sought to risk their lives at the border to come and those who were already here but still had family members in Mexico returned home to be with them. [...]

"But it's a wall that will likely reinforce the bars of the cage of gold and discourage those who are already here to continue leaving as they have done since the Great Recession."

When Frankenstein meets Black Lives Matter

After a black teenager named Akai is gunned down by the police, his mother, Dr. Jo Baker — the last surviving descendant of Dr. Victor Frankenstein — endeavors to bring her son back from the dead. That's the premise of a forthcoming comic series, Destroyer, by the acclaimed horror novelist Victor LaValle. LaValle sat down with Entertainment Weekly, and said the comic doesn't hide its connections to the grim, real-world stories that inspired it.

"In the comic, [Jo] listens obsessively to the 911 call that is made that gets her son shot, and I'm using transcripts from that [Tamir Rice] case to try to make it really land. [...]

"He's a 12-year-old black boy, and the no-brainer would have been to name him Tamir. But in a way, it felt too on the nose, and maybe a little ghoulish. Akai Gurley was another black man killed in New York. I feel like his name and his story has been somewhat missed. This was a small way to at least honor that."

What Beyoncé's Grammy snub tells us about race and merit

The Grammys, as always, served up plenty of grist for deconstruction. But Rembert Browne offered a particularly incisive look at the way Beyoncé's snubs this year underlined the long pattern of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences whiffing on generation-defining, discomfiting music by black artists in favor of milquetoast offerings that were quickly forgotten. (Only 10 black artists have ever won the Album of the Year award, which is head-scratching considering how thoroughly American popular music has been shaped by black musicians.)

To Browne, these Grammy snubs are emblematic of the way race and ideas of merit often collide in American life.

"The unfair, f***ed-up part of it all, however, is that it's actually going to take Beyoncé making an album as earth-shattering as Innervisions or Songs in the Key of Life to beat the next collection of Taylor Swift songs about road trips for the Album of the Year Grammy. In order to be celebrated as the artist that made the best album in one year, black artists have to make an album that stands up for 30 years.

"The only reason the Grammys still matter is because they're a reminder of surface-level progressions serving as a convenient smokescreen for one of the stories of America — the never-ending push to keep so many of us in our place."

The purely accidental lessons of the first black 'Bachelorette'

And speaking of race, merit and pop culture, our play-cousin Linda Holmes writes that the announcement of Rachel Lindsay as the first-ever black Bachelorette in the 30-plus-season history of the reality dating show is a pretty good illustration of how ostensibly colorblind processes of advancing candidates can regularly end up with only white folks at the end. (In the world of the Bachelor/Bachelorette, the shows trade off, the star of each new Bachelor/ Bachelorette season is chosen from the handful of top finishers from the previous one.)

"This link between each season and the next has created a way for the centrality of white leads to perpetuate itself, without anyone who set up the whole one-goofus-leads-to-another system having ever needed to have that motive. The motives were undoubtedly ratings, familiarity, and audience loyalty; they probably wouldn't care if the lead were a head of lettuce on a broomstick as long as people watched. (Which they might.) (And let's be honest: some past Bachelors weren't far from that anyway, BRAD.) But it doesn't matter — the effect was the same.

"So yes, it's interesting to see Rachel chosen as the Bachelorette. But watch for her list of suitors. Because that's where you'll get the hint about what the real rules are."

"Am I Being Typecast?"

And finally, over at The Atlantic, Michael K. Williams stars in a video short in which he plays several of the characters for which he's most well-known (Omar!), and they debate whether he has been pigeonholed into portraying a certain kind of black man:

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