TIME Race

Why Millennials Can’t Afford to Be Colorblind

Protestors Gather Against Confederate Flag
Andrew Renneisen—The Washington Post/Getty Images People gather to protest the confederate flag which flies in front of the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, SC on June 20, 2015. The protest comes after the racially motivated killings of nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC.

Victor Luckerson is a reporter covering tech and business for Time.

'Not seeing race' allows young people to avoid dealing with the racial rancor that still surrounds us

Because we have been taught to believe in happy endings, it’s easy for young people to view racism as a problem that will inevitably be solved, or perhaps already has been. In the history books, racial progress for African Americans occurs on a comforting positive slope, evolving from slavery to Jim Crow discrimination to the post-Civil Rights era of equality under the law. And in our own lifetimes, we reached a new racial milestone when Barack Obama became the United States’ first black president, thanks in a large part to a groundswell of support from young voters of all races who were optimistic about the future.

What the history books miss is that change rarely happens in orderly progression. There are fits and starts. There are retrenchments. There are debates. Change occurs not only on the macro level, in soaring proclamations by presidents and civic leaders, but also on the micro level, through a shift in the thinking of everyday people. And big racial progress is always met with a measure of resistance–some of it passive, some of it active, some of it horrifically violent. That is what we are experiencing right now in America. That is what happened in Charleston, S.C. last month. And it isn’t going to stop just because an older generation passes away.

Dylann Roof, the man charged with murdering nine black people after being welcomed into their church service, was only 21. He was a Millennial, and while his actions don’t reflect the feelings in the hearts of most young people, it’s now our collective responsibility to address head-on the problems in our society that allow such hate to flourish.

Millennials claim to be racially progressive but are often ill-equipped to have frank discussions about race. In a 2014 survey by MTV, 91% of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 said they believed in racial equality, and 72% said their generation believes more in equality than older Americans. Many of these young people see “colorblindness” as valuable measure of racial progress, with 68% saying that focusing on race “prevents society from becoming colorblind.” But only 37% of respondents were raised in households that talked about race, and just 20% of those surveyed said they felt comfortable talking about biases against specific groups.

This is the crux of the problem. Many young people take “not seeing race” as badge of honor that proves their progressivism and absolves them from engaging in discussions on the topic. Colorblindness allows you to escape the racial rancor that is playing out in our streets, on social media and now even in our churches.

But America is still a country riddled with systemic racial inequalities, and many are are becoming more pronounced, not less. Whites are now 13 times wealthier than blacks, the largest gap since 1989. Blacks are 2.5 times more likely than whites to be arrested for drug possession, even though about the same percentage of blacks and whites use drugs. Despite the promise of equal education enshrined by Brown v. Board 60 years ago, more than a third of black students in the South now attend schools that are almost fully minority and are often doubly segregated by poverty. Their issues are literally invisible to many of their mostly white peers who would never see these schools.

(MORE: Selma High School 50 Years After Bloody Sunday)

It’s not enough to assume that these problems will disappear when younger, more open minds rise to power. A recent survey by NORC at University of Chicago showed that 31% of white Millennials surveyed rated blacks lazier the whites, just one percentage point less than Gen X’ers and 4 points less than Baby Boomers. Twenty-three percent of white Millennials surveyed rated blacks less intelligent than whites, compared to 19 % of Gen X’ers. At the same time, even in 2015, the never-ending litany of racist incidents at college campuses continues, from the vulgar chant on the fraternity bus at the University of Oklahoma to the students who hung a noose on the statue of the University of Mississippi’s first black enrollee. More evidence that even among the most well-educated young people, individual racial cruelty is far too common.

There’s no one solution to these problems—but they are problems all of today’s young Americans will have to work to solve in the years ahead. As of 2014, most children under 5 in the United States are non-white. By 2043, most Americans will be. There are obvious financial and political dangers for people who ignore these demographic shifts, like presidential candidate/entrepreneur/television personality Donald Trump. He stands to lose millions of dollars worth of deals and sponsorships for calling Mexicans “rapists,” even as he draws large crowds. But there’s a collective cost as well. A world where all minorities are not granted the same opportunities and protections as white people–while attending school, while interacting with police, while praying at church–will be a world of even higher incarceration rates, health care expenses and education inequality than the one we live in today. These are economic costs, in addition to the more obvious moral ones, that will ultimately burden everyone.

It’s possible that the racial strife of the past year will change young people’s views on America’s racial challenges in a very permanent way. The Confederate flag, which Roof adopted as his own, is suddenly being removed from major retailers and sporting events, and South Carolina’s senate passed a bill to remove the flag from statehouse grounds on Monday.

Even before the Charleston shooting, a group of high schoolers I interviewed for a feature about teenage life in 2015 already seemed to have been made more racially conscious by protests in Ferguson, New York and elsewhere. “Within these last few years, you’re definitely seeing that there’s some stuff that’s still lingering, especially with the justice system,” said Lonnie Hancock, a 16-year-old at East Side Community High School in Manhattan. “Before I was kind of aloof to it. Now I feel like it kind of is more in your face that things aren’t exactly OK.”

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Race

Jackie Robinson’s Life Was No Home Run for Racial Progress

The Brooklyn Dodgers' infielder Jackie Robinson in uniform, circa 1945.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images The Brooklyn Dodgers' infielder Jackie Robinson in uniform, circa 1945.

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

America loved the baseball star on the field, not off it

Jackie Robinson’s story brings together two American obsessions: sports and freedom. This is why we never tire of his tale. Yet in the way that the story has been handed down, it masks as much about our national identity as it illuminates.

The story of Robinson’s breakthrough often comes in the language and rhythms of baseball – the stuff of hits and runs, stolen bases and brushback pitches. He wrought havoc on the basepaths, demolished a racial barrier, and opened up our society.

The popular tale emphasizes Robinson’s moral courage, and rightly so. It has shaped him into a folk hero who belongs to the ages. But Robinson’s story becomes most instructive when we bring it down from the realm of the timeless epic, and connect it to the time and place in which it occurred.

The larger history – of racial struggle in Brooklyn and America after World War II – is often ugly and painful. When Robinson’s saga is placed in this context, it does not represent just a feel-good triumph for racial equality. It also reveals how the quest for freedom and democracy has coexisted with our country’s commitment to segregation and racism.

To be American is to know that we strive for freedom and at the same time we practice its opposite. We are capable of great leaps forward in terms of racial progress, including the election and re-election of the nation’s first black president. Yet our streets are not yet safe enough for unarmed black men to walk in peace. This remains our unresolved conflict: high-achieving African Americans have been welcomed into specific realms of American life, yet such individual accomplishments have done nothing to alter the deeper patterns of black poverty, police brutality, and spatial segregation. The conflict between racial progress and racial inequality was as clear in Jackie Robinson’s day as in our own.

For many Brooklynites, an afternoon at Ebbets Field was the definition of bliss.

The aroma hit them first. The smell of bread rising from the Taystee factory, and cakes baking at the Ebingers plant, greeted the fans when they stepped out of the train station. As the throng pressed closer to the stadium, that scent mixed with roasted peanuts and hot dogs, sweat, and grass. Then came the sounds: the excited yells of children, the vendors hawking scorecards or newspapers. Many Brooklyn natives, like Joel Berger, recalled Ebbets Field as “a total sensory experience.” Nighttime made the stadium a palace, transfixing the eyes. Joe Flaherty remembered the decadent feel “of walking through Prospect Park to see a rare night game.” On a balmy evening in mid-summer, “all of a sudden the sky would be lit up,” transforming Flatbush into “the Emerald City, and as you got closer, you’d pick up your pace, and you’d give your tickets and go charging inside.” A Dodger game was the quintessential Brooklyn experience. In the age of Jackie Robinson, it became more than that. Ebbets Field was not only the borough’s cultural heart but the very seat of American democracy.

Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947, almost nine years before anyone had heard of Martin Luther King, Jr., or Rosa Parks. His achievement armed postwar Brooklynites with a distinctive claim to progress. Dodger fans had long detected something special in their baseball team and their borough; Robinson deepened that sense. He “added another dimension to being a Dodger fan,” reflected journalist and Brooklyn native Pete Hamill. “It was about right and wrong…we became the most American place in the country.” A moral element at once mingled with the magnificent smells and sounds and sights.

If white fans looked further down the street, they would have come to entirely different conclusions about the extent of racial progress. On the same Bedford Avenue that housed Ebbets Field, they would have witnessed the grim reality of housing segregation. Discriminatory federal policies had combined with block-busting realtors and fearful white homeowners to create racially homogeneous neighborhoods. Brooklyn’s African Americans were corralled into a few select areas. Poor blacks had little choice but to pay high rents for dilapidated apartments. In neighborhoods like Crown Heights, Brownsville, and particularly Bedford-Stuyvesant, residents found basic services sorely lacking. Their garbage was collected only sporadically in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and in such areas, the city built few recreation centers, parks, or pools. In the very same years when Robinson played for the Dodgers – 1947 to 1957 – black ghettoes solidified.

This is what the rhetoric about Robinson and interracial democracy so brazenly missed. Even if Robinson’s heroics in the stadium pushed baseball fans to rethink their racial attitudes, even if Ebbets Field became a crucible of integration, very little of that feeling spilled over into the city – or country – at large.

Robinson’s own family experienced the inequities first-hand. Jackie Robinson learned that it was one thing to integrate the national pastime, and quite another to desegregate white towns and neighborhoods. The Robinsons ended up enjoying polyglot Brooklyn. But white homeowners had tried to prevent African Americans from buying property in Flatbush. The Robinsons’ black landlord had endured such discrimination. Moreover, after the Dodgers integrated, some white fans had renounced their allegiance to the team. The borough was no interracial oasis, and even for the Robinsons it was not always welcoming.

In 1953, Jackie and Rachel Robinson began to search for a house in the suburbs of Fairfield County, Connecticut, and Westchester County, New York. It was a humiliating experience.

The Robinsons attempted to buy land in New Canaan but were rebuffed. Rachel called about one house in Greenwich and, after giving her name, the owners refused to show it. The couple settled for a property just across the state line in New York. Jackie recalled that in autumn 1953, “we finally found a piece of land in New York’s Westchester County that was just what we wanted.” The Robinsons offered the asking price, waited for weeks, and were told that the price would be raised by $5,000. This was standard practice in housing discrimination, a sure-fire way for whites in exclusive towns to claim that they had nothing against African Americans – it was just that blacks could not meet the asking price. This was purely the market at work, they would say, not racism. So the Robinsons promptly kicked in the extra $5,000. “There was another period of confused silence,” Jackie recalled. “At last, we were told that the land had been sold to somebody else. It was this way everywhere we went.” Suburban whites did not want an African American for a neighbor, even if it was Jackie Robinson.

After the Bridgeport Herald printed an article about the Robinsons’ experience, the citizens of North Stamford, Connecticut, were moved to action. Ministers circulated non-discrimination petitions. The Robinsons finally bought a home on Cascade Road. Rachel Robinson recalled that moment: “I don’t know that I ever have felt closer to being a real American, closer to having lifted from my shoulders the nagging doubts and insecurities that are the heritage of the American Negro.” For her, the ability to buy a home was the true test of American freedom.

Their story serves as a sobering reminder about the meaning of racial progress in America. That progress isn’t really about whether we embrace famous black athletes or cultural icons, or even whether we elect an African-American as president. The true test of our progress is whether we can enact policies that combat racial inequality – to stop the rising tide of mass incarceration and police brutality – and whether we can eradicate racial inequality from our private realms, much closer to home, as well. Only then can we begin to build a country in which African-Americans are truly welcome in every neighborhood, every school, and on every street.

Jason Sokol is an assistant professor of history at the University of New Hampshire. His latest book is All Eyes Are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn. He wrote this for What It Means to Be American a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Race

Flo Rida, Emmitt Smith Back Out of Miss USA

2015 BET Awards - Arrivals
Vincent Sandoval—WireImage/Getty Images Rapper Flo Rida attends the 2015 BET Awards on June 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Donald Trump must be feeling pretty lonely right about now

Shortly after co-hosts Cheryl Burke and Thomas Roberts pulled out of the Miss USA pageant following Donald Trump’s offensive comments about Mexican immigrants, Miss USA performer Flo Rida and pageant judge Emmitt Smith have reportedly followed suit on Wednesday by bowing out of their duties as well.

Flo Rida had been scheduled to perform at the upcoming Miss USA pageant, scheduled to take place on July 12 in Baton Rouge, La, but decided to withdraw, reports the Associated Press. The “GDFR” musician had been scheduled to headline the event alongside “The Voice” winner Craig Wayne Boyd, “Somebody” singer Natalie La Rose and reggaeton artist J. Balvin, all of whom had dropped out prior to Flo Rida’s announcement.

Football star Emmitt Smith has also dropped out from his duties as Miss USA judge. In a press release issued last month, the former Dallas Cowboys running back had been named one of fives judges including HGTV “Property Brothers” personality Jonathan Scott, country crooner Jessie James Decker, E! News anchor Terrence Jenkins and former Miss Universe winner Zuleyka Rivera. Of those five names, only Decker’s remains listed as a telecast judge on the Miss USA website.

A spokesperson for the pageant could not confirm the news about the event’s judges and performers.

And Trump’s derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants has hurt more than just his Miss USA/Miss Universe pageant organization. In a statement released Wednesday, Macy’s announced its decision to end its business relationship with Trump, a move which follows NBC’s decision earlier this week to cut its ties with the real estate developer and his Miss USA/Miss Universe pageants.

“We are disappointed and distressed by recent remarks about immigrants from Mexico. We do not believe the disparaging characterizations portray an accurate picture of the many Mexicans, Mexican Americans and Latinos who have made so many valuable contributions to the success of our nation,” Macy’s said. “In light of statements made by Donald Trump, which are inconsistent with Macy’s values, we have decided to discontinue our business relationship with Mr. Trump and will phase-out the Trump menswear collection, which has been sold at Macy’s since 2004.”

Trump reacted to the news by releasing his own statement, declaring the end of the business agreement was his decision.

“I have decided to terminate my relationship with Macy’s because of the pressure being put on them by outside sources. While selling Trump ties and shirts at Macy’s is a small business in terms of dollar volume, my principles are far more important and therefore much more valuable. I have never been happy about the fact that the ties and shirts are made in China, and should I start a new product line somewhere in the future, I would insist that they are made in America.”

Miss USA/Miss Universe pageant president Paula Shugart told EW that the Miss USA pageant will proceed as scheduled for July 12, and that plans are being made to live stream the event online. Under her direction, the organization has also begun talks with prospective broadcasters. “We’re doing many, many different things at once,” Shugart said. “I kind of liken it to when the Golden Globes aired during the writer’s strike [in 2008]. Obviously, they couldn’t do their typical Golden Globes show, but that event went on and it was different the year of the strike. That’s kind of the approach I’m taking to this.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME Racism

These 5 Facts Explain America’s Enduring Racial Divide

***BESTPIX*** Charleston In Mourning After 9 Killed In Church Massacre
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Monte Talmadge walks past the memorial on the sidewalk in front the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church after a mass shooting at the church killed nine people in Charleston, S.C., on June 20, 2015.

Decades of racism have badly hurt black America

Baltimore was two months ago. Ferguson was eight months before that. And now Charleston. For many black Americans, there really are two Americas. As a thought experiment, we looked at the health, wealth and other stats on black America, and compared it internationally. The results show that America—all of America—needs to do much, much better.

1. Education

Education is supposed to be the great equalizer. The world may not be fair, but it’s supposed to be a lot fairer within the four walls of a classroom. But the numbers tell a different story. African Americans are twice as likely as whites not to finish high school. If white America were a country, its high school graduation rates would rank with the likes of the U.K. and Finland; black America would be on par with Chile and Poland. Black students are suspended and expelled at roughly three times the rate of their white counterparts. Of students who receive multiple suspensions, 42 percent are black; and 34 percent of students expelled are black. And the world they are sent out to isn’t much kinder.

(US News, OECD, US News)

2. Wealth

What happens after high school? 21% of whites end up successfully completing a college degree, compared to only 13% of blacks. But even if they achieve that milestone, the payoff is nowhere near the same. A white family at the median sees a return of approximately $56,000 after completing a four-year degree; a black family sees a return of around $4,900. In fact, “black household wealth is just over the median wealth of an adult” in the Palestinian territories, which is not a comparison you want to see made about any group living in America in 2015. Looking at GDP per capita, blacks make $23,000 compared to the U.S. national average of $53,000. If black America really were its own country, it would be ranked 44th globally on that figure—between crisis-hit Portugal and post-Communist Lithuania. The most damning statistic? The median black household has just 6 percent of the total wealth ($7,113) that the median white household has ($111,146).

(US News, Forbes, Atlantic, Politifact, Forbes, Washington Post)

3. Health

No surprise, a less wealthy lifetime means a less healthy lifetime—and it starts from the beginning. Infant mortality for blacks in America is 11.5 for every 1,000 births; the figure for whites is 5.2. Black Americans’ rates put them with the likes of Mexico (12.58) and Thailand (9.86), whereas white Americans are much closer to Switzerland (3.73) and Japan (2.13). That’s how the racial disparity starts, but how does it end? Black Americans can expect to live a full four years less on average than whites, who on average make it to 79. A life expectancy of 75 years places black Americans below Tunisia, Panama, Costa Rica and Cuba.

(US News, Economist)

4. Incarceration

From bad to worse: 1 in 3 black males will go to prison at some point in their life if current trends continue, compared to 1 in 17 white males. Women fare better, but not much—black women are incarcerated at (only) twice the rate that white women are across the country. Overall, blacks only make up some 14 percent of the national population, but are 38 percent of the total prison population. If black America were its own country, it would rank No. 3 on the world list of absolute prison incarceration, ahead of Russia, Brazil, India and Thailand. And once in prison, it gets worse; 60 percent of all prisoners sent to solitary confinement are black.

(Huffington Post, US Department of Justice, Salon, International Center for Prison Studies, Salon)

5. Violence

America’s homicide rate is a national tragedy—but it’s much worse if you’re black. White America’s rate of 2.5 deaths per 100,000 is just somewhat higher than Finland (2.0), Belgium (1.7) and Greece (1.7). But at 19.4 deaths per 100,000 people, black America’s homicide rate puts it above Burma (15.2) and just below Nigeria (20.0). But it’s fatal police shootings where the figures become truly tragic. If you are a young black male in America today, you are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by a police officer than if you are a young white male. If you’re black, you’re also more than twice as likely to be shot and killed by a police officer while unarmed. Over the past year, 41 percent of all unarmed people killed by police were black.

America is better than this. It’s about time we show it.

(FiveThirtyEight, ProPublica, Guardian, Salon)

TIME eBay

eBay to Ban Confederate Flags

US-CRIME-SHOOTING-FLAG
MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP/Getty Images A man holds a sign up during a protest rally against the Confederate flag in Columbia, South Carolina on June 20, 2015.

eBay said in a statement today that it will ban Confederate flag-themed items, immediately, following in the footsteps of Walmart, Sears and K-Mart.

“We have decided to prohibit Confederate flags, and many items containing this image, because we believe it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The backlash against the flag comes in the wake of the mass shooting in a Charleston, S.C., historically black church. The alleged perpetrator, Dylann Roof, has been shown posing with the Confederate flag in photos, as well as making racist remarks.

In response to the shooting, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the Confederate flag that stands on the grounds of the state capitol to be taken down. Viriginia Governor Terry McAuliffe called for his state to phase out license plates depicting the flag, which many associate with slavery and racism.

 

MONEY online shopping

The Confederate Flag Is Getting Some Interesting Reviews on Amazon

tattered confederate flag
age fotostock—Alamy

"Is the other side of this flag a Nazi Swastika?"

On Monday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds. “For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble,” Haley said. Yet at the same time, she said, in light of the way the flag has been used by some as a symbol of hate—most obviously, by the suspect in last week’s deadly shooting in a historic black church in Charleston—”the flag is a deeply offensive symbol” that must be removed from the capitol grounds in Columbia.

Soon after Haley’s announcement, Walmart, Sears, and Kmart stated that they would stop selling flags and other merchandise featuring the Confederacy’s “Stars and Bars.” As of Tuesday morning, however, there was no sign of e-retailers Amazon and eBay following suit with bans of their own. Tens of thousands of items featuring the Confederate flag design remain available for purchase at the sites.

[UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long. By Tuesday afternoon, Amazon and eBay both announced they were removing Confederate flag merchandise from their sites.]

Considering that there’s a tradition for sarcastic and faux Amazon reviews to be used as bullhorns for political opinions—see the reviews of Wendy Davis’s Mizuno sneakers or Paula Deen’s books—it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people are weighing in on the Confederate flag controversy with new reviews. In many cases, they’re not only bashing the merchandise and the sellers, but also Amazon itself for facilitating the sales of what many deem to be a symbol of hate, racism, and intolerance.

Dozens of reviews have been added at Amazon.com over the last few days for one Confederate Rebel Flag in particular. Sold by a company called Rhode Island Novelty, the three-foot-by-five-foot polyester flag—made in Taiwan, priced at $5.74 (down from the “list price” of $45)—has drawn loads of one-star reviews and comments such as the following:

BAN IT…I just feel it symbolizes hatred toward minorities

Boycott the American version of a swastika. Whatever individual meanings it could have, there is no denying its ugly message.

If your [sic] a racist then this is the flag for you.

Worked great not only as toilet paper but really gets a fire going as well.

It’s offensive that this flag is on Amazon, I will not order another thing from Amazon until these things are taken off.

As Quartz pointed out, reviewers have been adding their two cents to the Q&A section for the item as well, with users entering sarcastic queries like, “Is the other side of this flag a Nazi Swastika? I only have one flag pole to show my pride in defunct nations based on racism.”

While the majority of new reviewers take aim at the Confederate flag merchandise and the sellers of such goods, some are defending the “Stars and Bars,” or at least the right of people to buy and sell the items. “This flag does NOT stand for racism and it’s NOT a rag,” one commenter stated. Another commented, “My husband and I both shop at Amazon all the time and if they STOP selling the Flag I’ll no longer shop here.”

Read next: 7 Things You Probably Had No Idea Amazon Sold

TIME Retail

Report Claims Zara Workers Targeted Black Shoppers As Potential Shoplifters

New York City Exteriors And Landmarks
Ben Hider / Getty Images A general view of the exterior facade of Zara International Store on 59th and Lexington Avenue on December 30, 2013 in New York City.

They were seven times as likely to be watched

Racial discrimination may be an issue at New York-based Zara retail stores, according to a new report by the Center for Popular Democracy. The survey of New York City Zara employees conducted earlier this year found that black customers were seven times more likely to be tagged as potential shoplifters than other customers.

More than half of employees mentioned using the code word “special order” to identify suspicious customers, though employees said the code word was phased out midway through the survey. (The survey was conducted without the cooperation of Zara.) 46 percent of those who defined “special order” said that black customers were identified by the phase “always” or “often.” That’s compared to only 14 percent for Latino customers and 7 percent for white customers.

Beyond customers, the survey found that employees of color perceived widespread discrimination at the company. Black employees were twice as likely to be unhappy with their hours as white employees, and they noticed favoritism three times more often. “The favoritism definitely goes to those that are not African American or Latino,” one employee said.

The survey comes on the heels of a discrimination suit filed by the former general counsel for Zara USA, Ian Jack Miller. He claimed that he was discriminated against in pay for his Jewish faith and sexual orientation, and that company executives created a hostile work environment by frequently throwing around racial slurs.

In a statement to The Guardian, a Zara spokesperson denied the survey’s findings, saying that “the baseless report was prepared with ulterior motives and not because of any actual discrimination or mistreatment.” The spokesperson also said: “In its most recent round of internal promotions at Zara USA, approximately half were Hispanic or African American employees.”

TIME Israel

Israeli Interior Minister’s Wife Draws Ire With ‘Racist’ Obama Tweet

 
 

Shalom's husband is partially responsible for U.S.-Israeli relations

Judy Nir Mozes Shalom, wife of Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom, caused a stir on Twitter Sunday after sharing a controversial joke that many are calling racist.

“Do u know what Obama Coffee is? Black and weak,” wrote Shalom, whose husband is partially responsible for maintaining Israel’s good relationship with the U.S., Haaretz reports.

The post provoked an angry response before it was hastily deleted, with Twitter users accusing Shalom of being “racist” and doing “grievous damage” to foreign relations.

Shalom tweeted an apology shortly thereafter, saying the line was “a stupid joke somebody told me.”

[Haaretz]

Read next: Obama Uses N-Word in Frank Interview About Race

Listen to the most important stories of the day

TIME Race

Here’s Why the Confederate Flag Is Still Flying in South Carolina

The South Carolina and American flags fly at half mast as the Confederate flag unfurls below at the Confederate Monument June 18, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Sean Rayford—Getty Images The South Carolina and American flags fly at half mast as the Confederate flag unfurls below at the Confederate Monument June 18, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina.

Some cling to it for cultural reasons, and there are political barriers to taking it down

Correction appended, June 19th.

The Confederate flag is still flying on the grounds of the state capitol in Columbia, S.C., less than 48 hours after a gunman murdered nine black worshippers in a church shooting that is being investigated as a hate crime.

Some are now demanding that the Confederate flag, considered by many to be a symbol of racial oppression, be removed from the state capitol. A MoveOn.org petition asking South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to remove the flag has gotten more than 100,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. Some lawmakers are also planning to introduce legislation to take the flag down.

So why is the Dixie Flag still flying?

Part of the answer is political. The South Carolina Heritage Act of 2000 stipulated that the Confederate flag would be removed from the capitol dome itself, but would be flown nearby at the Confederate Soldiers’ Monument, on the Statehouse grounds. It’s literally locked into place—State Representative Leon Howard told TIME that that the flag is padlocked to the flagpole to prevent tampering or removal.

Because of the strong support for the Confederate flag among many South Carolina voters, some political scientists have said that advocating for flag removal is the equivalent of political suicide in the state—Republican Governor David Beasley lost his 1998 campaign for re-election partly because he wanted to take down the flag.

In this climate, there’s little chance that a bill to remove the flag will pass, said Rep. Howard, a Democrat who serves as chair of the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee. Howard said that the legislature is divided down party lines on the subject of the flag, and he thinks his Republican colleagues are unlikely to change their minds on this issue.

“Defenders of the flag are going to say, ‘if the flag had been taken down and put away, this senseless act would have happened anyway, this would have not deterred this young man from taking a gun and killing these people,'” he told TIME. But even though he’s less than optimistic, he thinks the massacre in Charleston has brought the legislature “closer to moving it than ever before.”

The flag of the Confederate States of America has had a fraught history in the South since the Civil War, but supporters say it represents a symbol of Southern heritage, a history they associate with honor and valor, not racism.

Here’s an excerpt from a 2001 TIME story on Southerners who cling to symbols of the Old South, quoting Chris Sullivan, editor of Southern Partisan magazine, which celebrates the Confederate cause:

“There’s an old joke about a Yankee who comes down South and drops into a country store… Something comes up about the Civil War, and he says, ‘When is the South going to get over that?’ The guy tells him, ‘When it’s over.’ So the Yank says, ‘What would you call what happened at Appomattox Court House? And the Southerner says, ‘Longest cease-fire in history.'”

The refusal to believe that the war is over, according to the 2001 story, is linked to anxieties about the erosion of white people’s economic status in the face of racial progress.

Progress has made loyalists more militant about holding onto their idea of Dixie: its history and heritage, its family and sovereignty, its thumb in the eye of Northern culture and, for some, its codes of racial superiority and subjugation.

“Robert Penn Warren said when the Confederacy died, it became immortal in the South,” says Charles Wilson, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. “Southern white ministers were the center of a kind of civil religion that sacralized the Confederacy after the war was over to help keep it alive, so they made Robert E. Lee into a saint and Stonewall Jackson into a martyr.”… But for “an intensely committed ideological group,” the right-wing politics of the ’80s and ’90s—smaller government, state’s rights, the racially charged dismantling of welfare—echoes the old rebel yell. And for poor whites who missed the boat in the New Economy, flags and monuments to heroes may, he says, “be a kind of last stand.”

And yet, as Ta-Nehesi Coates points out at The Atlantic, the Confederate flag is a symbol of a culture that was not just accidentally racist—racism was baked into the very purpose of secession. Here’s an excerpt from the 1861 “Corner Stone” speech, by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, explaining the purposes of the Confederacy:

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

The debate over whether the flag should be flying on state property has been batted back and forth for decades, often used as a political tool by national politicians. Joe Biden demanded the flag be removed from the South Carolina capitol back when he was a presidential candidate in 2007, and John McCain waffled on the issue during the same election.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misused a colloquial description of the confederate flag. “Stars and Bars” is a term for an earlier design of the same flag. It also misidentified the state capitol, which is Columbia.

TIME Crime

Former Classmate Describes Charleston Shooting Suspect as ‘Different’ With a ‘Wild Side’

"It never, never crossed my mind that he would go out and murder all those people like that"

John Mullins, a former classmate of alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, told CNN Thursday that Roof was “different” to his peers, both quiet and with “kind of a wild side to him, too, where there’s that sort of carelessness about things.”

However, he added, “It never, never crossed my mind that he would go out and murder all those people like that.”

Mullins also told CNN that he and Roof shared mutual black friends with whom Roof sometimes would “sh-t talk,” cracking jokes back and forth. “He would make kind of racist slurs as jokes, but they were never taken seriously in any form or manner,” Mullins said.

However, photos of Roof wearing a jacket decorated with patches associated with white supremacists surfaced quickly after he was taken into custody Thursday. And a survivor of Wednesday’s massacre has reported that Roof said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country and you have to go” when one of the young men he allegedly killed was begging for his life.

[CNN]

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com