Posts Tagged ‘racism’
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.”
These posts didn’t get as much love. Sadly, none of them is out of date.
Here is some push back on the idea that decriminalization of things will lead to harms, as if criminalization isn’t a massive source of harm.
Is prison harmful? Is ripping apart families harmful? Is the endemic sexual assault found in prison harmful? What about the risk of violence, or the torture of solitary confinement? Or overcrowding, or lack of medical care? How about the collateral consequences of imprisonment–unemployment, being barred from public housing, food stamps, federal education aid and a whole host of professions or voting? What about the impact on communities where many people are shuffled between prison and the neighborhood? What about the police harassment that comes with hyper-aggressive law enforcement?
[Speaking of which, High incarceration may be more harmful than high crime h/t Gerry Canavan.]
Amidst all the debate about charter schools, one thing has often been left out. They are not delivering on what their advocates claimed they would do, as the New York Times reports:
A primary rationale for the creation of charter schools, which are publicly financed and privately run, was to develop test kitchens for practices that could be exported into the traditional schools. President Obama, in recently proclaiming “National Charter Schools Week,” said they “can provide effective approaches for the broader public education system.”
But two decades since the schools began to appear, educators from both systems concede that very little of what has worked for charter schools has found its way into regular classrooms. Testy political battles over space and money, including one that became glaringly public in New York State this spring, have inhibited attempts at collaboration. The sharing of school buildings, which in theory should foster communication, has more frequently led to conflict.
Now, I’d push back a bit here. Read the rest of this entry »
Guest post by Jesse Myerson
Amid the great trove of unattractive qualities revealed to be possessed by L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling in a recently-released tape of a conversation between him and his then-girlfriend V. Stiviano, it is understandable that one should have gone underappreciated. But without taking into account his grotesque economic ideology, Sterling’s segregationist Instagram doctrine and less-than-enchanting romantic life lack crucial context.
When Stiviano asks, sensibly, whether he is aware that the athletes to whom people refer when they speak of “the Clippers” are black, Sterling goes full capitalist:
I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them?.. Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?
What he has articulated is capital supremacy, the position that capital is prior to and independent of labor. In a for-profit operation like the L.A. Clippers, the guy who owns the capital and extracts the surplus is the one really pulling the heavy weight, and it’s the athletes he employs who are living high off the league that he and his buddies created. Capitalists, far from being parasitic, are “job creators.” Read the rest of this entry »
I haven’t written anything about the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin. Anything I’ve wanted to say directly about the case has been said far better by others. But I did want to weigh in on a tangential matter.
There was a great deal of outcry over an awful column by Richard Cohen (who has a long and undistinguished history) justifying Zimmerman’s actions by insisting that Martin’s wearing of a hoodie made him suspicious. [No link, but here’s Ta-Nehisi Coates] That the Washington Post continues to feel that valuable column space should be taken up by Cohen tells us something important about the Post. It’s perfectly understandable for people to be outraged by Cohen. But what has troubled me is the difference between the reaction to Cohen and another figure who’s tried to justify such things, one who in addition is actually overseeing the policy: New York City Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg is undeniably an authoritarian. It’s strange that he’s perhaps best known on this score for his law limiting the size of sugary drinks (forcing those who want more to buy two instead of one, not exactly a grave threat to civil liberties to my mind). But getting beyond that, Bloomberg has overseen NYC’s racist stop and frisk policy. Read the rest of this entry »
And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. [my emphasis] Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.
It’s the “it’s been written about” part that jumped out at me on second look. So I did some digging, and learned it’s true. It has been written about – by Scalia himself, in an article decrying affirmative action, 15 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Read the rest of this entry »