“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” — Isaac Asimov
Michelle Carter competes in the women’s shot put final during the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday.
Michelle Carter Wins Historic Shot Put Gold
With a final, herculean hurl, Michelle Carter scored a gold medal in the women’s shot put final Friday night in Rio — a first for any U.S. woman in the event.
“I knew I had more in the tank,” Carter told reporters. “And to be able to go out there and put the pieces together and pull it out, I’m just really excited.”
Taking advantage of that reserved energy, Carter truly saved her best for last.
Her winning throw, and a personal best, came in her last attempt at 20.63 meters, upsetting the favorite, Valerie Adams of New Zealand, who delivered 20.42 meters on her second throw. Adams’ shortfall ended her three-time consecutive gold medal run.
The 30-year-old busted another record at her third Olympics: She and her father, Michael, are now Team USA’s first father-daughter combination to medal at the Games.
“I’m numb right now,” said Michael, who’s both her first coach and coached her for Rio, Carter told IAAF.org.
Michael Carter won silver in the same event at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, which also happens to be the year the women’s competition began. Since then, American Earlene Brown, who took bronze in 1960 in Rome, had been the country’s only female to medal in shot put until now.
“Of course, I can’t wait until I get the medal and I can walk around the house and say ‘Daddy, I got you,’ ” said Carter, who will receive her gold in a ceremony on Saturday.
The Castile shooting makes black Second Amendment fans nervous.
The video that made the rounds following the police shooting of Philando Castile, a black man shot during a traffic stop in a Minnesota suburb last week, sparked outrage on social media and internationalprotests over the weekend. According to Castile’s fiancé, who shot and narrated the video, Castile was reaching for his ID when he was shot, after he had informed the officer he was armed and had a permit to carry. The shooting, and other cases like it, has sparked concern among black gun owners, and questions about whether the Second Amendment is being applied equally to them. “It terrifies me,” the founder of the Dallas-based Huey P. Newton Gun Club, which advocates black gun ownership, told the New York Times.
In 2014, 54 percent of black adults saidthey believed owning a gun makes people safer, up from 29 percent in 2012.
The number of black Americans who own guns appears to be on the rise. According to a 2014 Pew survey, 19 percent of black adults said they owned a gun, up from 15 percent in 2013. In another 2014 survey, 54 percent of black adults said they believed owning a gun makes people safer. Two years earlier, only 29 percent said so.
Black Americans have historically been the target of black codes and Jim Crow laws aimed at disarming them, notes Philip Smith, founder of the National African American Gun Association. He attributes the ownership increase to several factors. Many blacks, he says, are simply feeling the need to protect themselves against violent crime. (Black Americans are more likely to be the victim of a gun homicide than are members of other ethnic groups.) Fear of terrorism also comes into play, he says—the reasons, he adds, vary by sub-demographic—single women, married fathers, rural vs urban, etc.
President’s comments chime with Hillary Clinton’s lament for ‘loss of so many young African Americans’ as Chicago braces for more demonstrations
President Obama has said he was “deeply disturbed by the footage of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald” in a Facebook message in which he also thanked the people of Chicago for their peaceful protests.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has also plunged into the heated debate following the release of a video showing the black teenager being shot multiple times by a Chicago police officer, saying: “We cannot go on like this.”
She also put the death in a national context, lamenting “the loss of so many young African Americans taken too soon” in a statement released on Twitter as Chicago continued to simmer in the wake of protests on the night the video was made public.
“The family of Laquan McDonald and the people of Chicago deserve justice and accountability,” Clinton said.
She added that the country needed to grapple with broader questions.
“The mothers I met recently in Chicago are right: we cannot go on like this. All over America, there are police officers honorably doing their duty, demonstrating how to protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force. We need to learn from and build on those examples,” she said.
Obama reiterated this, asking Americans to “be thankful for the overwhelming majority of men and women in uniform who protect our communities with honor”.
He added: “I’m personally grateful to the people of my hometown for keeping protests peaceful.”
In Chicago, prosecutors dropped aggravated battery charges against activist and poet Malcolm London, who was arrested during demonstrations overnight on Tuesday.
“You are free to go,” judge Peggy Chiampas told London on Wednesday afternoon after he appeared in a packed courthouse.
Did outreach begin only after his presidential prospects bloomed?
Over the past year-and-a-half, Sen. Rand Paul has spoken at historically black colleges, gathered with African American leaders in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting of Michael Brown, and criticized a justice system he says unfairly targets minorities. His message is unmistakable: I’m a different kind of Republican who’s not afraid to engage with communities that typically vote for Democrats.
Yet in 2010, when he was a long-shot tea party candidate for Senate, and during his first two years in the job, Paul was rarely seen or heard from in Kentucky’s African American community, according to interviews with more than a dozen black leaders in the Bluegrass State, including seven of the eight African American state legislators. Indeed, his much-publicized courtship has occurred almost entirely as the Republican began plotting a potential run for president.
The officials, almost all Democrats, largely agreed that Paul deserves credit for spending time in minority communities and addressing issues that haven’t been high on the GOP’s priority list. But many were skeptical that Paul is acting out of long-held beliefs about racial injustice, given his earlier absence and his controversial 2010 remarks questioning whether the Civil Rights Act should apply to private businesses, which he’s sought to surmount ever since.
“I see Sen. Paul as really being an opportunist here,” said Democratic state Sen. Reggie Thomas. “His actions over the last couple years, now that he wants to run for president, really belie his feelings he’s expressed.”
“For him or anyone else to think he can show up in our community, smile, shake a few hands, take a few pictures, and that represents something significant in terms of him conveying a message that answers the questions or addresses the issues we are concerned about,” added state Rep. Reginald Meeks of Louisville, “to me that’s being pretty callous and pretty shallow.”
Aside from attending Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations, dispatching field representatives from time to time and working with a tea party-affiliated African American pastor, Paul barely registered in Kentucky’s black communities during his first few years in office, according to the interviews.
In 2005, three years before the Great Recession, the median black household had a net worth of $12,124. Yes, this was far behind the median white household—which had a net worth of $134,992—but it was a huge improvement from previous decades, in which housing discrimination made wealth accumulation difficult (if not impossible) for the large majority of African-American families.
By the official end of the recession in 2009, median household net worth for blacks had fallen to $5,677—a generation’s worth of hard work and progress wiped out. (The number for whites, by comparison, was $113,149.) Overall, from 2007 to 2010, wealth for blacks declined by an average of 31 percent, home equity by an average of 28 percent, and retirement savings by an average of 35 percent. By contrast, whites lost 11 percent in wealth, lost 24 percent in home equity, and gained 9 percent in retirement savings. According to a 2013 report by researchers at Brandeis University, “half the collective wealth of African-American families was stripped away during the Great Recession.”
It was a startling retrenchment, creating the largest wealth, income, and employment gaps since the 1990s. And, if a new study from researchers at Cornell University and Rice University is any indication, these gaps are deep, persistent, and difficult to eradicate.
In the study, called “Emerging Forms of Racial Inequality in Homeownership Exit, 1968–2009,” sociologist Gregory Sharp and demographer Matthew Hall examine the relationship between race and risk in homeownership. Simply put, African-Americans are much more likely than whites to switch from owning homes to renting them.
“The 1968 passage of the Fair Housing Act outlawed housing market discrimination based on race,” explained Sharp in a press release. “African-American homeowners who purchased their homes in the late 1960s or 1970s were no more or less likely to become renters than were white owners. However, emerging racial disparities over the next three decades resulted in black owners who bought their homes in the 2000s being 50 percent more likely to lose their homeowner status than similar white owners.”
This wasn’t a matter of personal irresponsibility. Even after adjusting for socio-economic characteristics, debt loads, education, and life-cycle traits like divorce or job loss, blacks were more likely to lose their homes than whites.
If you’re familiar with American history and housing policy, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The explicit housing discrimination of the mid-20thcentury has left a mark—arguably a scar—on the landscape of American homeownership. The combination of redlining, block-busting, racial covenants, and other discriminatory measures means that, even now, a majority of blacks live in neighborhoods with relatively poor access to capital and mortgage loans. What’s more, this systematic discrimination has left many black households unable to afford down payments or other housing costs, even if loans are available.
And in the event that black households are able to save and afford a home, they aren’t as financially secure as their white counterparts. To wit, middle-class African-Americans are more likely to belong to the lower middle class of civil servants and government workers—professions that, in the last five years, have been slashed as a consequence of mass public-sector downsizing. All else being equal, a black schoolteacher who loses her job to budget cuts is less likely to have savings—and thus a safety net—than her white counterpart.
INDIANAPOLIS — Standing in a small booth surrounded by displays for rifles, pistols, holsters and other firearm accouterments, the Rev. Kenn Blanchard signed copies of his book “Black Man With a Gun: Reloaded.” Amid the sea of thousands of white faces that descended on this city for the National Rifle Association convention in late April, Mr. Blanchard, an N.R.A. member since 1991, offered his reasoning for why he was one of the few black visitors.
“We still culturally have a fear that we’re going to be that lone guy out, and you don’t want to be the lone guy out,” he said, estimating that one in 100 people at the convention was black. “The exposed nail gets hammered.”
With his blog and podcasts, Mr. Blanchard is an avid proponent of gun rights and founder of the Maryland Tenth Cavalry Gun Club, a national pro-gun organization for African-Americans. And he was one of very few African-Americans comfortable enough with the N.R.A. to be hawking wares here.
At a time when gun issues are volatile nationally and sales are increasing, minority gun owners — whether black, Asian or Latino — may feel that their weighing of the practical pros and cons of gun ownership comes up against the conservatism and unyielding stances of the N.R.A. and some other gun advocates. Mr. Blanchard said it could be a difficult balancing act.
Blacks are less likely than whites to own a gun. In surveys from 1973 to 2012, an average of 27 percent of African-Americans nationwide said they owned a gun, compared with 47 percent of whites, according to data from NORC, a research center at the University of Chicago. Even so, their attendance at the N.R.A. convention was minuscule compared with their rate of gun ownership, let alone their presence in the population at large.
Chuck Gueno Jr., 57, an African-American retired Marine at the convention who likes to shoot competitively, said the N.R.A. had “a stigma of being the good old boys, and people of color might be a little intimidated.”
Part of the stigma around guns among African-Americans can be traced to high rates of gun violence, particularly affecting young blacks and those who live in poor, urban communities. Blacks die from gun violence at more than twice the rate of whites, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Organizations like the N.A.A.C.P., the National Urban League and the National Action Network have spoken out against gun violence affecting African-Americans and other minority groups. Compared with the white community, “in the black community you find a greater propensity of people who know someone who has been shot, who know someone who has been killed,” said Marc H. Morial, the president and chief executive of the National Urban League.
High-profile killings of young, unarmed black men, like Trayvon Martin andJordan Davis, have further alienated many minorities. The N.R.A. has supported so-called Stand Your Ground statutes and laws around the country, which offer legal protection to people who use force in the name of self-defense.
In a Gallup poll taken in January 2013, 49 percent of nonwhite respondents said they were dissatisfied with the nation’s gun laws and wanted them to be stricter, compared with 32 percent in 2012.
For Chad Ross, 36, who served in the Marines and runs the Facebook page “The African-American Gun Club,” Mr. Martin’s death was a prime example of why “a lot of black people have a bad taste in their mouth about the N.R.A.,” he said. “Most blacks thought that Zimmerman had murdered that boy, and most N.R.A. types thought George Zimmerman was in his rights.”