Harvey racial optics much different than Katrina (Associated Press, 9/5/2017)

The charges of racism that swirled after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans 12 years ago have yet to surface as Houston recovers from the floods unleashed by Harvey. Houston was hit as the nation roiled from a white supremacist rally that turned deadly Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The violence left in its wake deep divisions primed by President Donald Trump’s assertion that “many sides” were to blame, producing heated debates about Confederate statues and whether they are important historical markers or symbols of hate that should be removed. Those raw tensions didn’t boil over even as Trump provided another potential spark by pardoning Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of ignoring a judge’s order to stop targeting Latinos suspected of being in the country illegally. Trump made the move just as Harvey made landfall Aug. 25 and took aim at Houston, where Hispanics make up about 44 percent of the population.

Charlottesville violence revives painful past for minorities (Associated Press, 8/16/2017)

Bernard Lafayette fought to end segregation during the civil rights movement. But after watching events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend and hearing President Donald Trump blame both sides for the deadly violence, he realized that changing laws did not change enough hearts and minds. “It was below the surface,” said Lafayette, the 77-year-old chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Minorities who came to the United States in search of a better life or who fought for equality were dispirited to see their fellow citizens fighting to preserve the legacy of the Confederacy and displaying Nazi symbols. And they said Trump’s response to the deadly violence only fanned racial flames.

'Let 1994 go': Simpson case's racial symbolism now a relic (Associated Press, 7/22/2017)

Justin Zimmerman was a 7-year-old black boy in Moreno Valley, California, when O.J. Simpson was on trial for murder. He wasn’t old enough to understand the “trial of the century,” but his parents and the older black people in his community made their position clear: They were cheering for Simpson, and were convinced the former NFL star was an innocent dupe in a racial conspiracy. For them, Simpson was a symbol of racial tension and uneven justice. But Zimmerman, now 30 and living in Washington, D.C., grew up amid the hashtags that have come to symbolize the killings of unarmed black men by police. On his Facebook page on Thursday — after Simpson was granted parole from armed robbery and assault convictions — Zimmerman posted: “Let 1994 go guys.”

Newark riots recall era echoed by Black Lives Matter (Associated Press, 7/7/2017)

The rumor spread quickly: A man had been beaten to death by police. For blacks — frustrated by high unemployment, inadequate schools, substandard housing — yet another abuse by police was too much to bear, and they erupted. There were no shouts that black lives mattered. This was Newark in 1967, long before deaths at the hands of police in cities like Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, gave birth to another movement in another era. For four days in July, Newark was the epicenter of black rage. The rioting left 26 dead, more than 700 injured and nearly 1,500 arrested, mostly black. In addition to the $10 million in property damage, the riots left economic and emotional scars on Brick City that, in many ways, have not yet healed.

Boston sports struggle with perception built on racist past (Associated Press, 5/3/2017)

When Red Sox fans hurled the N-word toward Orioles outfielder Adam Jones in Fenway Park, it was a reminder of Boston’s racial legacy — particularly around its sports teams. Boston’s reputation as a racist sports town developed through decades of barriers broken and maintained, intertwined with broader struggles for progress along with today’s climate of racial tension that sports can’t avoid. Despite its teams and the city making strides on race, Boston still has perceptions of racism to overcome.