race

The other night, at a large outdoor Halloween-themed party, I saw a young white girl, probably about 3 or 4, dressed up in a long, purple kimono. I felt an involuntary uneasiness. I wanted to ask her parents who she was supposed to be — maybe it's a character in some cartoon I don't know about, I thought — but I didn't want to embarrass anyone. Which is to say, Problematic Dress-up Season is in full swing.

In recent years, social scientists have tried to find out whether important decisions are shaped by subtle biases. They've studied recruiters as they decide whom to hire. They've studied teachers, deciding which students to help at school. And they've studied doctors, figuring out what treatments to give patients. Now, researchers have trained their attention on a new group of influential people — state legislators.

Several years ago, Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs was talking with a favorite aunt, who was also the family storyteller. Hobbs learned that she had a distant cousin whom she'd never met nor heard of.

Which is exactly the way the cousin wanted it.

Hobbs' cousin had been living as white, far away in California, since she'd graduated from high school. This was at the insistence of her mother.

There’s a racial gap when it comes to how women experience breast cancer. Black women are 40 percent more likely to die from the disease compared to white women. And black women who survive tend to have lower quality of life.

We've known for a long time that inequality and systemic educational barriers are holding back many young African-Americans. President Obama has led an initiative to help close the opportunity gap for young black men.

Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson was placed on the inactive list late last week after a Texas grand jury indicted him on a child abuse charge.

Peterson’s four year old child had to go the the hospital after his father beat him with a stick. But Peterson says he was just disciplining his child.

The incident has raised questions about the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in the African-American community.

Mary Sue Rich finally had enough.

The council member from Ocala, Fla., was tired of seeing the young people in her town wearing their pants low and sagging, and successfully pushed to prohibit the style on city-owned property. It became law in July. Violators face a $500 fine or up to six months in jail.

In a hall inside the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama on Saturday, long tables are draped with black linen. Experts are bent over tables, examining aging quilts, letters filled with tight, hand-penned script, and yellowing black-and-white photos tacked into crackling albums — all family keepsakes brought in by local residents.

The population in Ferguson, a city of about 20,000 people north of St. Louis, is about two-thirds African-American. The city’s police force has 53 officers, four of whom are black.

But Ferguson is not alone when it comes to a race gap in police departments. Hundreds across the country have forces with a white percentage that is more than 30 percentage points higher than the communities they serve.

Nick Castele from Here & Now contributing station WCPN took a survey of departments in northern Ohio.

A federal judge has ruled that the way city council members are elected in Yakima, Washington, disenfranchises Latino voters.

Angela Pierce

It's been nearly two weeks since black teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. His death touched off a wave of outrage that spread to cities across the country, including Seattle.

On Thursday evening, the Seattle King County NAACP hosted a rally at Pratt Park in the Central District.

KUOW Photo/Matthew Streib

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Devan Rogers and Yaninna Sharpley-Travis, two members of Youth Undoing Institutional Racism, about how they interpret the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and how they interact with local police.

Over the past week, much of the nation's attention has been trained on the town of Ferguson, Mo., following an incident there in which a police officer shot an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown. Like similar stories, the Michael Brown shooting has become a flashpoint for conversations about race and policing, and there have been heated, chaotic showdowns between the police there and protesters.

Here's some of what's been written about the shooting and the reaction to it in the week since.

FERGUSON AT A GLANCE

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story contains graphic descriptions and offensive language.

Alex Landau, who is African-American, was adopted by a white couple as a child and grew up in largely white, middle-class suburbs of Denver.

Still, "we never talked about race growing up," Landau tells his mother, Patsy Hathaway, on a visit to StoryCorps. "I just don't think that was ever a conversation."

"I thought that love would conquer all and skin color really didn't matter," Hathaway says. "I had to learn the really hard way when they almost killed you."

It's been a tense week in Ferguson, Mo. Protests erupted after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer Saturday. For many, the fear and frustration is familiar.

Amid the demonstrations Wednesday, the Rev. Willis Johnson tried to talk down 18-year-old Joshua Wilson. A photo in the Washington Post showed the two in a powerful moment.

Johnson says police were ordering protesters to move aside as police advanced, and that he was trying to keep Wilson out of harm's way.

He says he was not attempting to discourage protest.

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