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This Week In Race: Movies, Memoirs And Fans Who Didn't Hit It Out Of The Park

Clearly the players weren't the problem on May 2, when the Orioles matched up against the Red Sox.
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox
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Clearly the players weren't the problem on May 2, when the Orioles matched up against the Red Sox.

Not a good week for black folk seeing justice for police violence.

Whether you're a 15-year-old honor student (Jordan Edwards)

Or a grown man (Alton Sterling)

Sometimes, however, the moral arc of the universe does bend toward justice, eventually. Even if it takes time, as was the case with South Carolina officer Michael Slager, who shot Walter Scott in the back multiple times in 2015. The state's case against him ended in a mistrial, but Slager pleaded guilty ahead of his federal trial for the violation of Scott's civil rights.

Barnard College dean Avis Hinkson tells students don't play when you step up to receive your diploma: It's a life-changing achievement, Hinkson wrote in The Huffington Post—especially for women of color. Hinkson refuses to downplay the importance of the moment, even though some of her students told her they don't want to wear their mortarboards (caps): "I wear my cap and gown because the only cap given to my grandmothers was a maid's cap," Hinkson writes. And, she says, for people of color, college degrees aren't only significant to them, but to the people and communities that sacrificed to allow them to reach this moment.

Lots of introspection in Mudville this week after Boston fans shouted racist slurs at Orioles center fielder Adam Jones. The bad news: for several decades past, Fenway Park, the Red Sox' storied ball field, has been notorious for the racist, sometimes violent responses of white Boston fans to black Bostonians, even ones who support the home team. The good news: it's a new day — the Sox owner apologized in person. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachussetts Governor Charlie Baker called the incident "unacceptable." And the team pronounced itself "sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few." There's an ongoing investigation to identify the primary offenders. Oh, and the score? Baltimore 5, Boston 2. Hard for the city's black residents, who have in the past found Beantown inhospitable to them. But the quick, forceful response has been heartening. (And, endnote: this happens in way more places than just Boston, and in way more pro sports than baseball.)

Related, kinda: Pitch fans have struck out. The show that featured Kylie Bunbury as the first female Major League Baseball player (a pitcher, who also happened to be stunning and Afro-Canadian) has been canceled.

While you're waiting to buy or stream Jordan Peele's racial thriller Get Out!, you can relax that this won't be the only Peele movie: The Hollywood Reporter announced this week Universal has signed Peele to a two-year deal that gives them rights to his next film, "an untitled social thriller that he will write, direct and produce." Can't wait. Maybe he can call the next one Get Out — And Vote!

Gotta love this woman: Gabourey Sidibe's memoir is moving up the best-seller list; she's snappy, smart and frank about life as a large, deep brown black woman.

"Wise 17 year old" is not an oxymoron. Listen to Yara Shahidi of Black-ish talk race, class, college and Frank Ocean on this week's podcast. Yara discusses being young, gifted, black-and-Iranian with Shereen, while co-host Gene talks with Black-ish creator Kenya Barris on what inspires him, whether he worries about white viewers getting his black jokes and why Rainbow Johnson had to have a nanny. You want to hear this.

It's Friday. Go find out what Cinco de Mayo is really all about (hint: it's not the mezcal), and we'll be back next week.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: May 4, 2017 at 11:00 PM CDT
A previous version of this article misspelled Yara Shahidi's last name as Shidi and Kylie Bunbury's last name as Bunbry.
Karen Grigsby Bates is the Senior Correspondent for Code Switch, a podcast that reports on race and ethnicity. A veteran NPR reporter, Bates covered race for the network for several years before becoming a founding member of the Code Switch team. She is especially interested in stories about the hidden history of race in America—and in the intersection of race and culture. She oversees much of Code Switch's coverage of books by and about people of color, as well as issues of race in the publishing industry. Bates is the co-author of a best-selling etiquette book (Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times) and two mystery novels; she is also a contributor to several anthologies of essays. She lives in Los Angeles and reports from NPR West.
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