Nothing so well illustrates that impossibility as the conviction among
otherwise sensible scholars that race ‘explains’ historical phenomena;
specifically, that it explains why people of African descent have been
set apart for treatment different from that accorded to others. But
race is just the name assigned to the phenomenon, which it no more
explains than judicial review ‘explains’ why the United States Supreme
Court can declare acts of Congress unconstitutional, or than Civil War
‘explains’ why Americans fought each other between 1861 and 1865.
Only if race is defined as innate and natural prejudice of colour does
its invocation as a historical explanation do more than repeat the
question by way of answer. And there an insurmountable problem
arises: since race is not genetically programmed, racial prejudice cannot
be genetically programmed either but, like race itself, must arise
historically. The most sophisticated of those who invoke race as a historical
explanation—for example, George Fredrickson and Winthrop
Jordan—recognize the difficulty. The preferred solution is to suppose
that, having arisen historically, race then ceases to be a historical phenomenon
and becomes instead an external motor of history;
according to the fatuous but widely repeated formula, it ‘takes on a
life of its own’. In other words, once historically acquired, race
becomes hereditary. The shopworn metaphor thus offers camouflage
for a latter-day version of Lamarckism.
Barbara Jeanne Fields, “Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America.”
Anonymous Guest Post
One of the most striking features about the way the poor are disciplined in the United States is the total banality of it all. For an example, let’s take a look at the 2014 Farm Bill and regulations proposed in February 2016 by the USDA for the implementation thereof.
Prior to the 2014 Farm Bill, in order to qualify as a SNAP retailer, a merchant needed to carry three varieties of each of four categories of staple foods: meat, fish, and poultry; bread and cereals; fruits and vegetables; and dairy products. The February regulations define these as “foods used primarily for home preparation and consumption that provide the main sources of nutrition intake for households.” Retailers also needed to carry perishable foodstuffs in two of these categories.
The 2014 Farm Bill amended these requirements to from three to seven varieties of each type of staple food, as well as increasing the categories where perishables were required from two to three. The rules further require a minimum stock of six of each variety. This amendment was presented as making a larger stock of fresh food, particularly fruits and vegetables, a requirement for a store to accept SNAP benefits.
Guest post by Jonathan Cohn
Politics and morality are never far apart. As such, one key difference between liberals and conservatives is how they derive morality. And both derivations are flawed.
For the liberal, morality is a derivative of intellect, understood in terms of smartness (the assimilation and application of facts) and sophistication. For the liberal, then, immorality is a result of a lack of education. Racism, xenophobia, sexism, etc.—often treated more as individual failings than systemic injustices—can be cured through better education. (The problem, of course, is that the social structures that perpetuate these forms of prejudice and enact them in policy are usually quite well-educated, but also quite immoral.)
1. Everyone will know about it as media will continually harp on it, while other significant things are barely mentioned. Indeed, if something that otherwise would garner attention happens in the wake of such an event, it will largely be ignored. Note that this does not mean all things that could be labeled terrorism will get this attention or even be labeled as such.
2. That said, it is important to see that the media is less a conduit for information than of interpretations.
Like many others, I’ve been horrified by the stories coming out of Flint, where the population of a city, disproportionately poor, disproportionately black, has been poisoned by lead in the tap water. While there has been plenty of finger pointing, it seems the culpability runs from the municipal government in Flint, to the undemocratic emergency manager, to the governor, to a number of state and federal agencies that knew about what was going on and failed to sound the alarm. The people of Flint noticed the water looked, smelled and tasted bad, and they complained. But lacking much in the way of power their concerns were largely brushed off. They also lacked the money to do something like GM, which switched its water supply when it noticed that the city water was corroding its parts. Now those that can show proper identification (i.e. not undocumented people) and who speak English are able to access bottled water, but the damage done may be irreparable. And no doubt continued pressure will be required to keep that water coming.
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According to Wesley Lowery , Black Americans now see race relations as nation’s most important problem. Read past the headline, and you learn that actually, ‘race relations’ is tied with ‘unemployment/jobs,’ which is a bit less exciting. Here’s the full table, from the poll from Gallup.