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Racism is dead!

July 29, 2012

Like Glenn Loury and John McWhorter, I’m exhausted with discussing the race “issue” in America. On purely selfish terms, I possess far more interests and facilities than cataloging racism. But as Ta-Nehisi Coates points out, it would be negligent to stop talking about racism as long as it remains a significant force in American politics, particularly as acts of racism and racial prejudice are so blatant and apparent, whether individual acts or discriminatory institutional policies.

Coates goes as far to identify white racism–not white populism, not white resentment–as the central debilitating force to the Obama presidency. New York writer Jonathan Chait is less inclined and more cautious to call attention to white racism but recognizes the political potency of white racial resentment, which Republicans and conservatives deny exists but use to their advantage. Chait writes,

The entire key to the rise of the Republican Party from the mid-sixties through the nineties was that white Americans came to see the Democrats as taking money from the hard-working white middle class and giving it to a lazy black underclass.

Perhaps it explains how the GOP came to be nearly 90 percent white and hold considerably more racial biases than the Democratic Party–I tend to believe so. But whether it’s white racism or white racial resentment that holds significance in American political life, we should admit that racial divisions exist. Race matters. Chait is correct to point out that we don’t have an adequate vocabulary to speak to these racial dynamics, but we must resist the collective urge toward denial.


From → National, Politics, Race

One Comment
  1. It almost seems like racism is making a comeback these days, or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention before. Recently, some white church in Mississippi wouldn’t let a black couple get married there. In a place near my hometown, there was even a KKK meeting. Most of the people who lived around there considered it an embarrassment, but somehow there were enough people interested in that sort of thing for a meeting to happen.

    So racism is still a problem for sure.

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