systemic racism | WAMC

systemic racism

Book cover for "When Evil Lived in Laurel"
W. W. Norton & Company / W. W. Norton & Company

In January 1966, Vernon Dahmer, head of a Mississippi chapter of the NAACP and a dedicated advocate for voter registration, was murdered by the White Knights, one of the most violent sects of the KKK in the South.

Veteran journalist Curtis Wilkie’s "When Evil Lived in Laurel" is the chilling story of this little-known brutal murder from the Civil Rights era and its aftermath, which ultimately led to the downfall of the infamous Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers and the destruction of his virulently racist organization.

To recreate these harrowing events—the conversations, incendiary nighttime meetings, plans leading up to Dahmer’s murder, and the nearly botched execution of them—Wilkie drew on his exclusive access to the almost daily journals, kept secret for fifty years, of a former Klan infiltrator for the FBI who risked his life to help break the White Knights.

Bookcover for "The Groundbreaking"
Icon Books Ltd / Icon Books Ltd

  On 31 May 1921, in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a mob of white men and women reduced a prosperous African American community, known as Black Wall Street, to rubble, leaving countless dead and unaccounted for, and thousands of homes and businesses destroyed.

But along with the bodies, they buried the secrets of the crime.  Scott Ellsworth, a native of Tulsa, became determined to unearth the secrets of his home town. Now, nearly 40 years after his first major historical account of the massacre ("Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921"), Ellsworth returns to the city in search of answers.

Book cover for "Punch Me Up To The Gods"
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Brian Broome is a poet and screenwriter, and K. Leroy Irvis Fellow and instructor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been a finalist in The Moth storytelling competition and won the grand prize in Carnegie Mellon University's Martin Luther King Writing Awards.

His debut memoir, “Punch Me Up to the Gods” is available today. It begins in his early years - growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy harboring crushes on other boys. The book is framed around Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool” and is earning rave reviews.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Concerns over "racist myths" being perpetuated by an Albany Police detective have prompted the Chair of the Community Police Review Board to ask the Common Council to intervene.

Zoom Screenshot

Activists, organizers and community leaders recently came together for what they called "an emergency community conversation" about the actions of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Police Chief Eric Hawkins, and the command staff of the South Station.

Book cover for "Let's Talk Race"
New Society

"Let's Talk" Race confronts why white people struggle to talk about race, why we need to own this problem, and how we can learn to do the work ourselves and stop expecting Black people to do it for us.

Written by specialists in race relations and parents of two adopted African American sons, Fern Johnson and Marlene Fine, the book provides unique insights and practical guidance, richly illustrated with personal examples, anecdotes, research findings, and prompts for personal reflection and conversations about race.

Book cover "You'll Never Believe What Happened To Lacey"
Provided - Grand Central Publishing

Amber Ruffin and her sister Lacey Lamar grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. Amber moved to New York City where, in 2014, she became the first ever black female writer on a network late-night show when she joined the staff of “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” She still works there, writing and appearing on camera - often singing - always hilarious - and in September of 2020, NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock premiered “The Amber Ruffin Show” - a no-guest and, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, audience-less half-hour where Ruffin and the show’s announcer, her friend, Tarik Davis, wear zazzy suits and talk about current events.

In hosting this show, Amber joins a long list of Jo(h)n’s, Johnny’s and Jimmy’s - mostly white - looking at a camera or two and giving you their take. By her own account, she is having a blast.

Her sister, Lacey Lamar, still lives and works in Omaha. She loves Omaha. She has worked in the healthcare and human service field for more than twenty-five years, thirteen of those working with troubled youth. And she deals with something racist every single day. She’s petite (though also a body-builder!) and attractive - and black.

Lacey calls Amber and tells her stories about HR people freezing her out, white people shoving their entire hand into her hair, getting followed around by power-hungry mall security and countless others. Some that repeat in a predictable pattern, some brand new and straight out of seemingly nowhere. Of course - the stories aren’t from “nowhere.” The stories are from systemic racism.

So Lacey tells her latest tale. And Amber laughs. And Lacey laughs. 

“You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism” is the sisters' new book, it’s published by Grand Central. Amber and Lacey will be doing an Oblong Online event on Thursday, January 21 at 7pm. The event will be hosted via Crowdcast and will be moderated by Lacey Schwartz Delgado.

CNA/City of Albany

An outside auditor has released its final report on racial bias in the Albany Police Department.

Book cover for "Monopolies Suck"
Simon & Schuster / Simon & Schuster

Something’s not right. No matter how hard you work, life seems to only get harder. In the new book, "Monopolies Suck," antitrust expert and director at the Open Markets Institute, Sally Hubbard, shows us the sways big corporations rule our lives—and what must be done to stop them.

Hubbard says the U.S. failed to protect its citizens against COVID-19, and corporate mergers led to a shortage of ventilators and critical medical supplies, while hospital monopolies underpaid vital health care workers. Small businesses are shuttering without government support, while the most powerful companies profiteer.

Hubbard says the economy is not working for the middle class, and monopolies are amplifying the systemic racism and misogyny that instigated a summer of protests and unrest.

Albany Common Council President Corey Ellis
Dave Lucas / WAMC

2020 has been a remarkable year, but 2021 promises to be a consequential year for Albany Common Council President Corey Ellis, too. Ellis spoke with WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas about racism, policing, the pandemic and politics.

Book cover for "Why Didn't We Riot?"
Penguin/Random House / https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/

South Carolina–based journalist Issac Bailey joins us to reflect on a wide range of complex, divisive topics—from police brutality and Confederate symbols to respectability politics and white discomfort—which have taken on a fresh urgency with the protest movement sparked by George Floyd’s killing.

Bailey has been honing his views on these issues for the past quarter of a century in his professional and private life, which included an eighteen-year stint as a member of a mostly white Evangelical Christian church.

His new book, “Why Didn’t We Riot? A Black Man in Trumpland,” speaks to and for the millions of Black and Brown people throughout the United States who were effectively pushed back to the back of the bus in the Trump era by a media that prioritized the concerns and feelings of the white working class and an administration that made white supremacists giddy, and explains why the country’s fate in 2020 and beyond is largely in their hands.

Issac Bailey is an award-winning journalist and the James K. Batten Professor of Public Policy at Davidson College.

Schenectady Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Zoom Screenshot
YouTube

After two organizational meetings last week, the Schenectady Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative is holding two more virtual gatherings this week.

Medical professionals take oral swabs to test for COVID-19 infections in New Rochelle, New York, March 14, 2020. Drive-thru sample collection sites have been set up as part of New York’s response to COVID-19.
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Sean Madden

Communities of color have traditionally faced disproportionate challenges, including air and noise pollution, lower incomes, and limited access to healthy food and medical care. Experts say the coronavirus pandemic has magnified all of these challenges.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger leads community declaration that racism is a public health crisis
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Burlington, Vermont’s mayor was joined by leaders of the city’s Black community this morning to declare racism a public health crisis.

BlackLivesMatter.com

A group of Rensselaer County residents plan to gather at the County Legislative Building late this afternoon in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Illustration by Dave Lucas & L Liu

A new Siena College poll out today tracks New Yorkers’ thoughts on racism during this summer of unrest.

Albany NY saw protests and civil unrest in the wake of the George Floyd killing.
WAMC photos by Jackie Orchard

A month after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, a Siena College poll finds New Yorkers are troubled by systemic racism and police behavior. But  they don’t support calls to defund the police.

Alice Green, outside the Center For Law  & Justice in Albany
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Weeks before the city became the site of sometimes violent protests between demonstrators and police, the Center For Law And Justice in Albany released a report calling attention to systemic racism. Now it plans a community/government symposium this fall.

A Family In A Small, Rural Town Protests Racism

Jun 8, 2020
Kate Bixby and her mother, Heather Myers, protesting in Bangall, NY, June 6, 2020
WAMC, Allison Dunne

There have been several large protests in the Hudson Valley since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, including over the weekend. But a few protestors in Dutchess County have started one of their own, in their own backyard and, so far, solely within their family.

Children's Museum Initiates Peace Rock Project

Jun 6, 2020
Courtesy of Mid-Hudson Children's Museum

In New York, the Mid-Hudson Children's Museum has launched a community art project in response to both COVID-19 and nationwide protests against systemic racism.

Dr. Alice Green says community policing has failed.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

An Albany civil rights leader says the peaceful protest of Saturday afternoon and the violence of Saturday night come from fears among African Americans that a loved one could be killed by law enforcement.