What we see of history ain’t the whole story

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Senator William Mahone was one of the most maligned political leaders in post-Civil War America. He was also one of the most capable. Compared to the Roman traitor Cataline (by Virginia Democrats), to Moses (by African American congressman John Mercer Langston), and to Napoleon (by himself), Mahone organized and led the most successful interracial political alliance in the post-emancipation South.

pub. 08/2017

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How Republicans created a kind-of-legit oversight program to suppress Democratic-leaning voters

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When Crosscheck was kicked off in 2005 by then Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach—an anti-immigration lawyer with an itch for white nationalist sympathies—it was a regional, four-state consortium of some of the demographically whitest and Republican states in the American heartland looking for a way to clamp down on any hint of people-of-color voting power. But by 2012 it bloomed to include 15 states (pdf); in 2013 it was 22. And by 2014 it was 29….

…Kobach now enjoys national acclaim as co-chair of the Trump administration’s nefarious new voter-fraud commission.

pub. 05/2017

Why the census is really, really important–and in jeopardy right now

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1. Literally every American social program uses census numbers to allocate resources.

Your fire department, your schools—the data gathered in the decadal census, determines, for example, whether new schools are opened or current schools are shut down. Transportation grants and education grants, among others, are distributed proportionally. If the Veteran’s Administration wants to place a hospital for elderly veterans, they obviously want to select a location heavily populated by elderly veterans. If the numbers are off, the hospital gets mis-sited—and the vets don’t get health care.

pub. 05/2017

A visual guide to gerrymandering

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Algorithms like this one prioritize compactness — that is, ensuring that voters are geographically close together. One of the telltale signs of gerrymandering is dramatically non-compact districts that squiggle and squirm out in all different directions — evidence of lawmakers trying to bring far-flung voters into a single district in order to achieve the partisan mix that best favors their party. Or, as Obama said: districts that let politicians pick their voters, rather than the other way around.

pub. 01/2016

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Voter ID laws do benefit Republicans.

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In the graph below, we display the turnout gap between whites and Latinos, Asian Americans and African Americans in states with and without strict voter ID laws. In general elections in non-strict states, for instance, the gap between white and Latino turnout is on average 4.9 points….

…But in states with strict ID laws, that gap grows to a substantial 13.2 points. The gap between white turnout and Asian American and African American turnout also increases.

The right side of the figure shows that the same thing happens in primary elections — and more dramatically. For example, the white-black turnout gap grows from 2.5 to 11.6 when a state adds strict ID laws. The racial imbalance in U.S. voting expands.

pub. 02/2017

Remember voter suppression?

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On Election Day, there were 868 fewer polling places in states with a long history of voting discrimination, like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina. These changes impacted hundreds of thousands of voters, yet received almost no coverage…. The media devoted hours and hours to Trump’s absurd claim that the election was rigged against him, while spending precious little time on the real threat that voters faced.

pub. 11/2016

Readings about race

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This Google Doc went around some time back. I’ll read and post some of the articles it references myself, but see the doc for more links and offline resources for white folks looking to get outside-their-own-heads perspectives on race issues.

We need to be thinking about how we are thinking about this election. This sense of comfort, of insulation from the horrors of America, is precisely what this syllabus is meant to disrupt. We, white people, clearly weren’t listening hard enough to people of color, to women, to queer people, to immigrants, to Muslims, to anyone who holds a marginalized identity. This did not come as a shock to many marginalized people. Instead, as a friend of mine put it: “I am hurt but my hurt comes mainly from having my fears proven. Not from surprise. I am so angry because there are so many people who needed this result to prove to them the divide of this country instead of listening to the voices of their token friends. Instead of hearing. Instead of trusting.” Now is the time to hear. Now is the time to educate and propel that education into action.

pub. 11/2016?

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.