The 44 Percent: local election, Clarence Thomas & AI rapper

Guest speaker and Miami Herald Race and Culture reporter C. Isaiah Smalls II speaks to the students during a special Juneteenth Commencement Celebration at MEYGA (Multi-Ethnic Youth Group Association) Learning Center Liberty City, Florida, on Saturday, June 19, 2021.

Guest speaker and Miami Herald Race and Culture reporter C. Isaiah Smalls II speaks to the students during a special Juneteenth Commencement Celebration at MEYGA (Multi-Ethnic Youth Group Association) Learning Center Liberty City, Florida, on Saturday, June 19, 2021.

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Disgruntled readers are something all journalists have to deal with.

It’s just a part of the job. Aggressive emails can leave your head spinning. Crude calls can ruin your weekend. Anytime my email or voicemail inbox is flooded, however, my hope is that you respect me at all times.

Well, the very opposite of that happened Sunday.

Upset over my recent article about activists going to the UN, a reader, who said she was an enthusiastic supporter of Gov. Ron DeSantis, took the time to call me about how HB 1 — Florida’s anti-riot law, parts of which a federal judge already deemed unconstitutional — has effectively kept “the Blacks” from causing mayhem.


I hung up. Not on my Sunday. She quickly called back and I, hoping for an apology for her rudeness, answered. Big mistake.

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C. Isaiah Smalls II author card

Despite my repeated attempts to get her to lower her voice, she continued attacking “the Blacks” and ended her tirade with something along the lines of “If you care about the Blacks so much, why don’t you go down to the inner city and stop them from killing each other” before hanging up.

I was stunned. There was just so much anger in her voice. I couldn’t believe something that I wrote about had irritated her to the point that she picked up the phone just to tell me I was wrong. About something that actually happened.

James Baldwin once said, “The price one pays for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” Well, journalism’s ugly side is having to deal with enraged readers whose criticisms can deteriorate into race-based attacks. That same ugly side is also what prompted Miami Herald Executive Editor Monica Richardson’s response after she received a racist email. Again, it’s just a part of the job.

Readers, however, have no right to call and attack journalists, let alone berate an entire race. I don’t call trucking companies to complain about how all truckers can’t drive just because a big rig cut me off in traffic.

The irony is, I’m not even angry at the woman. Who knows what she was going through? All I’m asking for is a little respect. The same way you’d want to be approached at your job (let alone on your day off) is the same way to approach me. And I think a lot of my fellow journalists would agree.


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US Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., listens to local Haitian leaders while campaigning at the Wildcat Center on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, in North Miami, Fla. Demings is running against US Sen. Marco Rubio. MATHIAS J. OCNER [email protected]

Primary Election Round Up:

Tuesday was the primaries so I thought I’d just do a quick roundup of the races that affected the Black community:

  • Congressman and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist bested Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried in the gubernatorial primary and will now face incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis in the general election.

  • US Rep. Val Demings easily won the Democratic primary for Senate, setting up a showdown with US Sen. Marco Rubio in November. If elected, Demings will be Florida’s first Black US senator.

  • Congresswoman Frederica Wilson will now face Republican challenger Jesus G. Navarro in November after handily winning her Democratic primary.

  • State Sen. Shevrin Jones dominated the race for state Senate District 34. Jones will be headed to Tallahassee as he does not have a challenger in the general election.

  • In a startling upset, newcomer Ashley Gantt narrowly edged out incumbent state Rep. James Bush won the House District 109 seat outright due to the lack of a Republican challenger.

  • Incumbent Rep. Christopher Benjamin blew out Democrat Wancito Francius in the race for House District 107. Benjamin will take on no-party-affiliated candidate Pierre M. Prime in November.

  • In Miami Gardens, Florida’s largest primarily Black city, three incumbents — Vice Mayor Reggie Leon (Seat 2), Councilwoman Katrina Wilson (Seat 4) and Councilman Robert Stephens III (at-large Seat 6) — came out on top in their respective races. .

  • Two DeSantis-backed Miami-Dade School Board candidates — Roberto Alonso and Monica Colucci — won their respective primaries. The two were among 19 candidates who received DeSantis’ support and won which, as Miami Herald reporter Ana Ceballos’ story says, “will solidify support for the type of hyper-conservative education policies DeSantis has been pushing throughout the state, particularly on topics of race and gender identity.”

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, left, cuts the ribbon designating Little Bahamas on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, in Coconut Grove. Alie Skowronski [email protected]

‘We need to know our history.’ West Grove is now officially called Little Bahamas:

The celebration gave attendees an opportunity to understand the long fight, not just for the renaming, but for the very recognition of Bahamians’ contributions to Miami. George Simpson Jr., the great-grandson of EWF Stirrup, a Bahamian who built hundreds of homes for Black Miamians throughout Coconut Grove, explained those contributions to the Magic City quite simply.

“There was no Miami without Bahamians,” Simpson, the Bahamas Diaspora Association chair, said.

Before Miami’s incorporation in 1896, Bahamians had been in what is now known as Coconut Grove since the 1870s. They also showed white settlers how to toil in the extreme Florida climate, clear roads and the skill of building with coral rock. Such critical contributions deserve to be amplified, according to Historic Hampton House founder Enid Pinkney.

“Their stories need to be told and shared with young people,” Pinkney said. “We need to know our history and be inspired and motivated by it.”


US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas talks during an interview session during the banquet program at the Federalist Society Florida Chapters Conference at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts in Lake Buena Vista, Florida on Friday, January 31, 2020. Octavio Jones Tampa Bay Times

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s upbringing centered in the new Esquire story:

This Esquire story dives into the upbringing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom the author dubs “the most powerful Black man in America,” and how his life experience has shaped his politics. To writer Mitchell S. Jackson, Thomas, the rural Georgia native of meager means turned conservative superstar, can be ultimately explained in just 17 words penned by the justice himself: “You hate yourself for being part of a group that’s gotten the hell kicked out of them.”

What I found particularly fascinating was Jackson’s use of the Gullah Geechee vernacular to start the piece. It really helped the reader better understand the environment which shaped Thomas and, as one soon comes to discover, why, in Jackson’s estimation, he appears so determined to distance himself from his West African heritage.

The older Thomas got, the further and further he absconded from his Blackness. The more Thomas revealed his anti-Black sentiments, the more and more bigoted white people propelled him in his career.

A billionaire has promised to pay off the student loans of the members of the 2019 class of Morehouse College. Getty Images

Biden’s debt cancellation “hardly achieves anything,” says NAACP CEO:

President Joe Biden’s newly announced student debt relief plan has already drawn criticism. Most borrowers will have $10,000 in federal student debt canceled and a maximum of $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients.

Although data suggests that $20,000 debt cancellation for those who received Pell Grants will greatly assist Black student borrowers, people like NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson decried Biden for not canceling at least $50,000 of loans per borrower, calling this “a racial and economic justice issue .”

“Black Americans have been disproportionately devastated by student loan debt,” Johnson wrote in a CNN Business op-ed. “Four years after graduating, they hold an average of almost $53,000 in debt, almost double the $28,000 average White Americans hold.”


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FN Meka, an AI rapper, was dropped from Capitol Records following scrutiny over the character’s use of the N-word and adherence to racial stereotypes.

AI rapper dropped from Capitol Music Group:

The words “We offer our deepest apologies to the Black community for our insensitivity” are common anytime public mistakes are made, and Capitol Music Group used that line for signing a virtual rapper who dropped the N-word and depicted racial stereotypes.

Capitol “severed ties with” FN Meka amid ongoing scrutiny over the AI ​​rapper’s content, including a video showing a white police officer beating the character in prison. As Variety’s Jem Aswad points out, the fiasco also illustrates the music industry’s lack of diversity, specifically within the music company Factory Now that created the character.

Although the character was voiced and the music created by some Black creators, Factory Now apparently has no Black stakeholders who stand to profit from its use of Black stereotypes.

“We find fault in the lack of awareness in how offensive this caricature is,” the activist organization Industry Blackout wrote in an open letter posted to social media, which also called for the donation of any funds spent by Capitol on the project to charity and the budgets of Black artists on the label. “It is a direct insult to the Black community and our culture. An amalgamation of gross stereotypes, appropriative mannerisms that derive from Black artists, complete with slurs infused in lyrics.”

Where does “The 44 Percent” name come from? Click here to find out how Miami history influenced the newsletter’s title.

C. Isaiah Smalls II is a reporter covering race and culture for the Miami Herald. Previously, he worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of their inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows. He is a graduate of both Columbia University and Morehouse College.