The Half-Billion Dollar Swoosh

nike1Every city seems to have its Martin Luther King Jr Avenue, or Boulevard. It typically is in the most dilapidated part of town. You can draw your own conclusion from that. When Portland renamed Union Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, there was an outcry, claiming that “Union” was part of the city’s heritage, even though no one was able to come up with what the significance of the name was. About the same time as the name change, the city decided to upgrade the desolate avenue, lined with empty stores and decaying buildings. They improved the street, building a shrubbery-lined median along its length. The crown jewel was a brand new, block-long retail strip. It housed several retail businesses, including a café and a Nike outlet store.

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Race and Self-Deception

Nicholas Kristof grew up on a farm in Yamhill, Oregon. He works for the New York Times, traveling the world, reporting from wherever there is human suffering. In 2005, when pundit Bill O’Reilly was promoting his annual “War on Christmas,” Kristof offered to show him what war really looked like.

“If you want to do something journalistic, come along with me on my next trip to Darfur. You’ll have to leave your studio and deal with people who, if they don’t like you, will shoot you in a moment. But you’ll also have the chance to take a genuinely important and overlooked story and bring it into people’s homes. So come on, Bill. What’ll it be? More ranting from your studio? Or real journalism?”

Mr. O’Reilly did not take him up on the offer.

Mr. Kristof recently published a piece on a timely subject: race and white delusion.

“My hunch is that we will likewise look back and conclude that today’s calls for racial justice, if anything, understate the problem — and that white America, however well meaning, is astonishingly oblivious to pervasive inequity.”

Read it here.