A census report says that Garcia and Rodriguez are among the 10-most-common last names in the U.S. (That sound you hear is Lou Dobbs hissing.) This is the first time this has happened — a fact that hasn’t escaped notice from politicians who want to court Latino voters or advocacy groups who want those same voters to start flexing their considerable electoral muscle. Seventeen million Latinos will be able to vote in 2008, and factor heavily into some important battleground states. The Indian surname Patel also cracked the top 200, jumping over 400 spots since 1990.
- Does Obama have skeletons in his closet? Obama played proactive defense in response to an alleged bombshell that Hillary and the Los Angeles Times may be sitting on — or may just be using as a bluff. Says Slates Mickey Kaus: “Now Obama is on notice that if he plays the Clinton marriage card, a scandal bomb might drop on him too — assuming there is a bomb to drop. It doesn’t matter so much if Hillary actually has some goods on Obama as long as Obama thinks Hillary has some goods on him.”
- Remembering Harold Washington. Could Obama exist without Harold Washington? Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor, saw 90 percent of white voters switch parties after the Democratic primary and vote for a Republican rather than vote for a black man, according to this superb episode of This American Life. (Harold died in office 20 years ago this month.)
- Men’s Vogue is the new Ebony. Men’s Vogue has given four of its last 12 covers to black men. (Does this mean Men’s Vogue is some kind of brave pioneer, or does it mean that Will Smith et al. are all marketable and ‘postracial’?)
- Dangerous Minds and Secret Service agents. An inner-city school teacher tells her young charges that when black people or people of color are treated like trash, they should rise up in protest. Just another workday for Jenna Bush. (Wonder what Daddy thinks? Oh, right. We already know.)
- Explaining the gap in wealth between black folks. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. weighs in on the disparities in wealth among black people outlined in that much-discussed Pew study: “I have been studying the family trees of 20 successful African-Americans, people in fields ranging from entertainment and sports (Oprah Winfrey, the track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee) to space travel and medicine (the astronaut Mae Jemison and Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon). And I’ve seen an astonishing pattern: 15 of the 20 descend from at least one line of former slaves who managed to obtain property by 1920 — a time when only 25 percent of all African-American families owned property.”
- No snitching means no witnesses. Police in New Jersey are trying to make gang cases with no witnesses, who fear violent retaliation. Says a detective: “If you push someone and they agree to testify, now they’re your responsibility. You’ve got to keep them from disappearing or getting hurt. Can we protect them? Maybe. But God forbid that two years later you have to tell someone their husband or father got killed. I don’t want to have to live with that.”
- Please not another noose story. Nope, sorry. It’s another noose story. It’s good for you.