Issue #16

Branding #BlackLivesMatter, Breonna Taylor, Yvonne Orji, Dave Chappelle

This is The Dossier.

Each Sunday we deliver the latest developments in world affairs, political economy, and culture straight to your inbox, served with a generous side of soul.

We spend the week scouring the internets for essential information and meaningful content to keep you informed, inspired and mildly entertained.

The week began with Democratic Party leaders adorned in Kente cloth, kneeling in solidarity as the Congressional Black Caucus introduced a police reform bill.

The week ended with yet another needless fatal shooting of a Black person at the hands of police.

I’ve been advocating the abolition of the police for years. Regardless of your view on police power — whether you want to get rid of the police or simply to make them less violent — here’s an immediate demand we can all make: Cut the number of police in half and cut their budget in half. Fewer police officers equals fewer opportunities for them to brutalize and kill people.

Mariame Kaba, Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police (NYT Opinion)

📰 Week in brief

  • New York Times: More than 1.5 million sought state unemployment benefits last week as layoffs spread to more job categories even as businesses reopened.

  • POLITICO: Africa eyes the world’s top trade job — but spars over its candidate

  • NPR: Stacey Abrams Calls Georgia's Primary Election 'An Unmitigated Disaster'

  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Atlanta police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks roils city

  • CNN: Trump administration rolls back Obama-era transgender health care protections

  • Fortune: Grubhub to be acquired for $7.3 billion as food delivery wars heat up

  • Variety: Byron Allen and Comcast Settle Racial Discrimination Lawsuit, Set Carriage Deal for 3 Channels

  • AP: Judge tosses out Jussie Smollett’s double jeopardy claim

  • Bossip: Judge Rules The Game’s Sex Assault Accuser Can Collect Rapper’s Royalties To Satisfy $7.1 Mill Judgment

🎶 Nakitta Foxx: We Offer Praise

If you missed church this morning, Nakitta Foxx’s soulful rendition of “We Offer Praise”—sung at George Floyd’s funeral this week—will most certainly take you there.

💰 Branding #BlackLivesMatter

Pushed by employees in some cases, and in others by a fear of losing customers, corporations are being forced to examine their roles in perpetuating inequalities in hiring, pay and promotion, fostering toxic workplace cultures and consumer discrimination. Their track records have raised skepticism about whether they will indeed introduce the kind of change that would make this moment a turning point for racial equity.

The Washington Post

In the wake of a national uprising, companies denounced discrimination and professed their commitment to racial justice in a variety of ways.

The Bachelor selected Matt James as its first Black leading man in the show’s 25 seasons.

Reddit, known for being home to “the most violently racist” content on the internet, welcomed their first Black board member, Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel.

In 2018 Essie Grundy sued Walmart in federal court for racial discrimination. Grundy alleged that products for Black people were segregated from other similar products and displayed behind lock and key. The suit was dismissed last November. Although Walmart insists their protection measures are not race-based, the company has recently committed to stop locking up Black beauty products. 

In a response to NFL players’ demand that the NFL issue a more detailed response to racial injustice, Commissioner Roger Goodell released a video admitting the NFL was wrong about player protests and proclaimed that Black Lives Matter.  

Amazon touted their solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter and committed to a one year moratorium on police use of their facial recognition system after a backlash over their ties to law enforcement.

It appears that a seminal moment in American history has already been coopted by corporate brands.

⚖️ Still no charges, still on payroll

The three Louisville police officers who murdered Breonna Taylor while conducting a no knock warrant at the wrong address for a man who was already in police custody are still on payroll.

To date, no charges have been filed.

Louisville Metropolitan Police released the incident report this week. The 4-page document is mostly blank. The box under “forced entry” was falsely checked “no.” Breonna Taylor’s injuries were falsely reported as “none.”

Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, sat down for an interview with Angie Martinez and Angela Yee. Her account paints a shameful picture of what can only be described as an attempted cover-up:

I told them who I was and that I needed to get into the apartment to see what was going on with my daughter. They told me to hang tight, that a detective would come over to talk to me. 

We stood out there two hours before the detective came over.

So when he comes over... he asks me if I knew of anybody who would want to hurt Breonna or Kenny. Of course, I say ‘No, of course not.’

So I asked ‘Where’s Kenny?’ And he told me to hang tight.

He came back another hour and a half to two hours later and he asked had Breonna and Kenny been having any problems.

And I’m like ‘Are you insinuating Kenny did something to Breonna? Because Kenny would never hurt her.’

At this point I’m screaming ‘Where’s Kenny? I need to talk to Kenny.’

He says, ‘Kenny is at one of our offices trying to help us piece together what happened here tonight.’

I asked about the officer being shot. The detective said, ‘He was here responding to a call.’

‘A call for what?’

‘There were some officers there to serve a narcotics warrant.’

And I said, ‘For who? Because Breonna and Kenny ain’t selling narcotics.’

He said he wasn’t for sure and hadn’t seen the warrant. 

I said ‘Well, I want to see the warrant.’

And he said he didn't know where it was and that it could’ve gotten lost in the shuffle of things.

 He tells us to wait again and it was probably about 11am when he comes back over and tells us that it will be a little bit longer and that they’ll be wrapping up and that we’ll be able to get into the house.

And I say, “Why won’t you tell me where Breonna is? I need to see Breonna.”

And he says, “Well, she’s still in the apartment.”

CBS News reports that under the terms of the city’s current contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, the three officers who murdered Breonna Taylor cannot be fired before the investigation is complete.

Until that day, Jon Mattingly (who earned $109,690 in 2019), Myles Cosgrove ($68,687), and Brett Hankison ($99,480) will continue to enjoy the equivalent of an open-ended paid vacation.

🏁 Driving while Black

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr.—the only African-American driver in NASCAR’s top tier Cup Series—drove a car with a #BlackLivesMatter paint scheme on Wednesday night.

He finished in 11th place, just outside a top ten finish.

Wallace drives for Richard Petty Motorsports, and his car dons the same number 43 as Richard Petty did when he was a driver. (Richard Petty, also known as “the King,” is the Michael Jordan of NASCAR).

In 2018, Wallace finished second in the Daytona 500.

Also this week, NASCAR announced a ban of confederate flags from its venues and races going forward. Wallace said the move was “a long time coming.”

While the decision was widely celebrated, it was not universally embraced.

Little known driver, 50-year old Ray Ciccarelli who races in NASCAR’s third-tier racing series, announced his retirement from NASCAR at the conclusion of the season in response to the confederate flag ban.

Ciccarelli has never won a race in his entire career.

Kyle Weatherman, who drives in NASCAR’s second-tier series, opted to race with a “Back the Blue”-themed car on Saturday.

Weatherman did not finish the race.

🎬 Momma, I Made It

 Early this month HBO debuted Yvonne Orji’s stand-up special, Momma, I Made It, moving the actress beyond Molly, the very unfunny and unlikable character she has dutifully played through 4 seasons of Issa Rae’s Insecure

Given the low numbers of Black comedians who have HBO specials, Momma, I Made It is a notable accomplishment. The special returns Orji to her comedic roots. She jokes about her duality as a Nigerian-born American, effortlessly code-switching, and bouncing between Lagos and D.C., to examine what it means to live a hyphenated identity.

Orji’s reintroduction comes with the added reminder that she was Nigerian famous before she was Black famous. Prior to landing a role on Insecure, Orji played the Nigerian American comedy circuit, emceeing fashion shows and weddings. Her 2008 video comedically portraying African “relatives” of Barack Obama visiting the Oval Office got noticed by one Issa Rae. 

In 2015 right before Insecure was picked up by HBO, Orji was working on her own YouTube show, First Gen (executive produced by Oprah and David Oyelowo). 

Orji co-hosts a podcast with Luvvie Ajayi, Jesus and Jollof. Her forthcoming book, Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams, will be released in 2021.

You don’t get to be Nigerian and tell your parents you want to do comedy without getting a couple of degrees under your belt first,” You’ve got to give your parents what they want, then you go and do the things you want to do. Those are the rules.

Yvonne Orji

🎤 “This isn’t funny at all”

Occupying the liminal space between comedy special and town hall meeting, 8:46 shows Dave Chappelle in full form: a masterful storyteller and comedic genius who draws deeply from the agonizing absurdity of Black life in America.

Like what you see? Suggestions? Criticisms? Anything we missed? We’d love to hear from you!

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