Politics with Amy Walter: A National Reckoning

June 19, 2020

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In the weeks since George Floyd was killed by police officers in Minneapolis, we’ve been watching uprisings take place against police brutality. What many Americans have finally woken up to is what Black Americans have known for years: That it’s impossible to separate police brutality from the racism that is baked into the structure of every American institution. Institutions, like schools, healthcare, housing, and policing have failed to give Black Americans a level playing field. 

99 years ago, Tulsa, Oklahoma was the site of one of the deadliest and most destructive race massacres in U.S. history. On that day, violent white people took it upon themselves to murder Black Americans and loot their businesses. Black homes, churches, restaurants, drugstores, and doctors offices were razed. In the end, Black Wall Street, one of the most prosperous Black communities, was destroyed. 

At a time when Americans are grappling with the role white supremacy played in shaping modern society, President Donald Trump chose to hold a rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day. We take look at how the holiday resonates differently this year. 

Guests: 

Karlos K. Hill, Chair of the African and African American studies department at the University of Oklahoma

RJ Young, Host of the RJ Young Show. Excerpts from his audio diary were provided to us by KOSU. RJ's story is part of the America Amplified initiative. 

 

How Progressive District Attorneys Are Approaching Criminal Justice Reform

It’s been almost a month since George Floyd was brutally killed by police officers in Minneapolis. Protester's demands for police accountability have not waned, forcing officials to address the role of racism in policing and policy. As calls to defund the police grow louder, mayors, police chiefs, and local law enforcement step into the spotlight. At the same time, officials that attempt to reprimand officers for misconduct must face the wrath of powerful police unions. We speak with Kimberly Gardner, the Chief Prosecutor for the City of St. Louis, who was elected on the promise of reform on what it's like to go toe-to-toe with the police. 

Guest:

Kimberly Gardner, Chief Prosecutor for the city of St. Louis

  

How the Economy Fails Black Americans

Not only has the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately hurt Black Americans who've been infected at a higher rate, but the economic uncertainty it's created has set them back in terms of employment. Black Americans are concentrated in parts of the economy that have been designated as essential, like grocery store workers and transit operators. Still, Black unemployment almost tripled from February to May to almost 17 percent.

Today, Black households have one-tenth of the wealth compared to white families and are much less likely to own their homes. Historically, recovering from recessions is tougher for Black people. We sit down for a conversation about the unemployment rate for Black Americans and what an economic recovery might look like.

Guest:

Amara Omeokwe, Economics Reporter at The Wall Street Journal