Race and the ‘Middle Class’

Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes…Our system commits no such violation of nature’s laws…With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law.
Alexander Stevens on the Confederate Constitution, 1861

Well down here, they see things a little differently…people down here feel that some things are worth killing for.
Agent Monk (Gene Hackman), from Mississippi Burning

Slavery is, as an example of what white America has done, a constant reminder of what white America might do.
Derrick Bell, Faces at the Bottom of the Well

For much of our history, those who fought to free America from racial bigotry were animated by a common idea. They saw racism as a glitch, a bug in our collective software, rooted in our heritage of slavery, inspired by ignorance, and exorcised by the light of reason. As such, racism could be moved to the margins of society through legal action and education until it might one day be eradicated.

In the decades after the Civil Rights Acts, a new pessimism began to spread in some quarters. Faced with what seemed like slow progress on the ground, some began to question the assumptions that inspired previous generations of activists. Harvard law professor Derrick Bell perhaps best articulated this alternative theory of America’s racial dilemma.

What Bell recognized, and missed, in his picture of American race relations resonates now in the rise of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and an increasingly unapologetic white nationalist movement on the right. Bell’s work deserves a much closer look as we ponder how to adapt to the surprisingly explosive challenges posed by the decline of white supremacy.

With Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism, published in 1992, Bell described an alternative to the prevailing narrative on race. He focused on two interlocking conclusions. First, racism in American culture and politics is not bug, but a feature. It was wired into the American experience at birth and plays a vital role in sustaining our unique approach to democracy. Bell argues that this first premise dictates the second, that racial discrimination in American culture is permanent and immutable.

Communicating this idea requires more than a one or two-sentence quote. Here are some relevant passages from Faces:

The critically important stabilizing role that blacks play in this society constitutes a major barrier in the way of achieving racial equality…Whites are rallied on the basis of racial pride and patriotism to accept their often lowly lot in life, and encouraged to vent their frustration by opposing any serious advancement by blacks. Crucial to this situation is the unstated understanding by the mass of whites that they will accept large disparities in economic opportunity in respect to other whites as long as they have a priority over blacks and other people of color for access to the few opportunities available…

The permanence of this “symbiosis” ensures that civil rights gains will be temporary and setbacks inevitable. Consider: In this last decade of the twentieth century, color determines the social and economic status of all African Americans, both those who have been highly successful and their poverty- bound brethren whose lives are grounded in misery and despair…

I want to set forth this proposition, which will be easier to reject than refute: Black people will never gain full equality in this country. Even those herculean efforts we hail as successful will produce no more than temporary “peaks of progress,” short-lived victories that slide into irrelevance as racial patterns adapt in ways that maintain white dominance. This is a hard-to-accept fact that all history verifies. We must acknowledge it, not as a sign of submission, but as an act of ultimate defiance.

We identify with and hail as hero the man or woman willing to face even death without flinching. Why? Because, while no one escapes death, those who conquer their dread of it are freed to live more fully. In similar fashion, African Americans must confront and conquer the otherwise deadening reality of our permanent subordinate status. Only in this way can we prevent ourselves from being dragged down by society’s racial hostility. Beyond survival lies the potential to perceive more clearly both a reason and the means for further struggle.

Bell’s assessment was pretty glum, initially inspiring heated resistance at both ends of the political spectrum. Recent developments strongly suggest that the picture he paints of American racism was, at least in a sense, far too pessimistic. Unfortunately, discovering that Derrick Bell was only half-wrong is an introduction to a much more troubling epoch ahead.

Americans often think of race as though it were real, a concrete biological status, a fact of nature. Bell’s analysis forces us to look past race as a condition and instead recognize it as a concept defined by a function it performs. Biases and prejudices related to heritage, tribe, language, religion and other factors are a universal human condition every culture must manage. Race, as it is experienced here, is a uniquely American notion. “Black” and “white” as we understand them are concepts invented here to preserve a slave economy in an otherwise free society.

Here’s a strangely hopeful and yet terribly dangerous possibility. Race as an organizing principle in our culture is weakening and perhaps even dying. A younger generation born after the death of Jim Crow has increasingly little sense of “whiteness” compared to their ancestors, so little in fact that race is ceasing to function for a majority of them as a pillar of political organization. Bell may actually have been wrong about the permanence of racism in the US – and that may give rise to a frightening problem.

Happy as we might be to prove Bell wrong on the permanence of racism, he nonetheless seems to have been right about the centrality of race to our political order. Our slowly advancing success in the battle to dismantle white supremacy is weakening load-bearing walls in our democracy. Alliances that held together our uniquely “classless” political/economic system have been rendered meaningless by the decline of racism as legitimate political expression. We have not yet figured out how to replace the functions that racism performed in making America operate effectively.

This problem is most apparent in the decline of our so-called “Middle Class.” Observers from elsewhere in the world are almost as baffled by our middle class myth as they are by our racial complexities. Millionaire politicians and construction workers are “middle class.” College professors and postal workers are “middle class.” Everyone who works for a living, or worked for a living at one point in life, regards themselves and each other as “middle class” no matter how obviously wealthy, poor, or disadvantaged they are – so long as they are white or want to identify with whites. In America, “middle class” simply means “us.”

Some point to income or wealth concentration to explain current American middle class angst, but that concentration is not new. Incomes and wealth have been moving toward the extremes since the end of the World War II era. If anything, those statistics paint a hopeful picture as the number of people gaining ground, especially in recent years far exceeds those declining.

Voters on the left have always worried about income inequality. Sanders’ fans in a different era worried just as much about the supposed unfairness of Kennedy’s tax cuts as they did about Reagan’s or Bush’s. What’s new is concern about income fairness on the political right. That concern has nothing to do with income inequality per se. The right has discovered a new interest in fairness because of who is benefiting from this economy. Dig into the numbers and the real source of angst becomes clear. Conservatives are not concerned about families losing ground, they are concerned about which families are losing ground.

A far more open, free, competitive and dynamic economy is opening up opportunity for the first time to minority families. Despite the significant headwinds and setbacks, it is those families who are capitalizing on this chance to move up in relative terms. The only demographic group losing ground in absolute terms is lower-income, mostly rural whites with little education. This, along with a black President, is the only new or recent development in our sixty year trend toward income inequality. It isn’t hard to understand what white voters mean when they howl their determination to “take our country back.”

A vast expansion of freedom and wealth spawned by global capitalism is remaking economies and cultures all over the world. Here in America those forces are slowly crushing an old order that reserved special protections for a large class of people on the basis of racial identity and at the expense of racial minorities. Race itself is breaking down as a means of defining identity. The decline of this racial order is a happy development, so hopeful and promising that many smart, insightful thinkers until recently thought it might be impossible.

For two centuries, America stunted class conflicts by channeling the frustrations of lower-income voters into racial discrimination. The brazen quote from Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stevens cited above sums up the formula for American racial unity. Less fortunate whites, locked out of access to opportunity, were persuaded to lay down their lives to protect wealthy slave holders in exchange for the borrowed dignity of an ersatz “whiteness” and a collection of small-scale economic preferences set aside for them alone. That same maneuver succeeded over and over in American history to paste over resource conflicts that might otherwise have had a very different outcome. Imagine, for example, if blacks had been allowed to participate in the 19th century labor movement.

That logic of whiteness was not unique to the Southern states. To varying degrees around the country it prevailed to form the core of a common American identity. Remove the dignity and privilege that has always accompanied a white identity in America you will have to replace it with something – quickly. In a morally complex sense, less advantaged white Americans have a valid point about the unfairness of this emerging order. They are, in a very real sense, writing the check that pays for a more just and prosperous society for everyone else. More on that to come.

Every new achievement brings fresh evolutionary challenges in its wake. The problems we face now are in some sense enviable, but we need to work fast to capitalize on their promise. We desperately need to build a new template for American representative government before the roof of the old one crashes down on our heads.


History’s best explanation of the role and persistence of racism, the definitive clip from the film Mississippi Burning:

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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139 comments on “Race and the ‘Middle Class’
  1. 1mime says:

    I know this post will be O.T., but it reveals an important truth about the GOP strategy on global warming. This is a more dangerous position than simply denying that man is largely responsible for changes to our climate; rather, it plays to economic fears that are working their way up through the Trumpmania that the cost of addressing climate change as proposed by the Obama administration, is more dangerous to our national economy…an economic mindset that the low information voter has already bought totally into. It seems that the GOP will exploit this angle since it is “working at the moment”.


  2. […] all his many insights, King seems to have failed to perceive what professor Derrick Bell would describe thirty years later. In the strictest sense, blue collar white workers were not voting against their interest by […]

  3. goplifer says:

    I started this little hobby of mine in the months after the ’08 election because I smelled a political earthquake coming and it seemed like my options to participate directly were likely to narrow. It’s always been a soothing outlet for me, a way to organize my thoughts on a subject I find intriguing and off-putting in about equal measure.

    These pieces, especially the ones still on the way, are some of the most challenging and unpleasant I’ve ever put together. In particular, I’m finding the “why do I live in a white neighborhood?” piece very disturbing.

    I’m posting this comment partly to block myself in, so I can’t just pivot back to talking about Donald Trump or climate change. This sucks, I don’t like it, and these are probably too ambitious for a blog format, or for me. Nonetheless, here we go.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Its the hallmark of an intelligent and mature mind to be able to examine yourself and your biases even (especially?) when that leads to an uncomfortable place.

      Im a firm believer in that schools should be less about teaching WHAT to think (memorizing dates, places, names etc) and more about teaching HOW to think (self analysis, critical thought, awareness of internalized biases etc). Even though I don’t agree with all your opinions, its clear that you def know how to thino., and that comes across in your writing.

      Keep up the good work.

      • 1mime says:

        I second that compliment for Chris! Even as hard-headed as some of us (read that: 1Mime), your pieces are thought-provoking and offer a terrific platform to engage in civil discussion. Thanks for your efforts Chris and I look forward to whatever new iteration you create….as long as you keep your mitts off my “hallmark” childhood (-:

    • flypusher says:

      Chris, we appreciate your effort, and it think it will be interesting for all of to share some stories of how race does or does not influence our lives/attitudes/decisions/etc. I’ll just say as a preface for future discussion that I’ve had that luxury of not be required to think about race for pretty much all my life. So I’ve found the accusations from some former participants, i.e. “All you liberals see is race”, “you’re obsessed with race”, “you always play the race card, blah, blah, blah” to be quite hilarious, because honestly I don’t discuss matters of race that much outside this forum. Seriously.

    • 1mime says:

      Maybe you’ve got the “makings” of your second book, Lifer, “The Society of Crazy”.

    • vikinghou says:

      I have very much enjoyed following your blog. I have learned a lot and have been led to examine topics I otherwise wouldn’t have considered. As I’ve said before, you’ve created an oasis where a community of people with differing views can communicate in a respectful way. Please know that we appreciate you and your efforts very much.

    • n1cholas says:

      Please, keep it up.

      As someone who is way to the left, and also concerned with doing things correctly, I understand how valuable a functioning, sane conservative political party can be to temper the radicals who want change, right now.

      As a lefty, I don’t particularly want a strong, dominant conservative party, but a smart, measured liberal party. And that isn’t possible or likely with a dysfunctional reactionary party standing in for a functioning, sane conservative party.

  4. MassDem says:

    Because of the holidays my brain was taking a vacation from thinking, but I’m back now, more or less.

    There’s been a lively discussion on income inequality here, so I thought you all would like to read this morning’s Boston Globe front page story on that issue.


    A topic that was alluded to, but not discussed in depth (and is brought out in the Globe article) is the question of how much of the recent income & wealth gains are due to innovation, and how much are due to rent-seeking? The former is good for our economy, the latter not so much.

    CEO compensation: is it really linked to actual performance? I think you’d be hard-pressed to make that argument, but see for yourself.


    Re the ongoing debate between mean and average income- while median is a better reflection of where most people’s incomes fall, it does so by discounting outliers. So how about looking at a ratio of median to mean income: a widening of that gap would reveal that incomes at the margins were moving away from those of the average person.

    Chris, I have to say that you are sweeping a big pile of dirt under the rug regarding the rise of income inequality. Despite his obstinate insistence on looking at income averages 🙂, Duncan has a better handle on the problem imho.

    • goplifer says:

      So, is the burst in new money pouring into our economy a consequence of innovation or rent seeking, and are the people generating this new wealth earning the returns from it?

      First, it’s never all one or the other. In the 90’s it was heavily tilted toward innovation. In the 00’s a hefty portion of the apparent economic growth was a sham hidden behind the financial market chicanery. I would argue that we are back on track with a global economy driven by a massive, accelerating burst of technological progress.

      On the rents vs. innovation side, take a look at pay rates at Tesla as opposed to General Motors. Which one of those companies has used the government and regulation to protect its otherwise useless capital? Workers on the assembly line at Tesla start out at $17/hr, with benefits including stock options and an ESPP. Factory worker salaries at the battery plant in Nevada will average in the 20’s/hr.

      But beyond that, look at the salaries for other workers – jobs that barely exist in Detroit and pay nowhere in this range: https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Tesla-Motors-Salaries-E43129.htm

      Interesting note on those jobs. The lowest paying job at Tesla, and the only one that falls below an industry average, is the showroom salesman (product specialist). Paid like a barista. If you ask me – that’s a valuable innovation, but it’s also the category of change happening in this economy that is sparking the most anger. Crappy jobs that used to pay a semi-decent wage that have been innovated out of existence. We’re all better off, except for the guy who was counting on that job – who is on aggregate white, lightly educated, and formerly middle class.

      These are the people who are creating your gap between mean and median incomes. These are workers who, in our supposed golden age of the 50’s, would mostly have been stuck on the assembly line earning 40K a year because no jobs existed that would use and reward their talents. Six figure salaries are great, but over the course of a career it’s the stock (capital) compensation that will really widen the gap. In Detroit, or Cleveland, or Indianapolis or Pittsburgh in their heyday or now, those opportunities didn’t exist. Labor was labor. You couldn’t convert it to capital. The ceiling was pretty tight.

      Attacking the wrong target is how the Swedes ended up with such staggering wealth inequality inside a social democracy. http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/05/wealth-inequality-in-sweden.html. We should be very careful about trying to kill this goose.

      That difference between mean and median incomes reflects an economy that needs fewer workers, places no value on unskilled work, but pays remarkable salaries to people who would have been trapped in middle incomes (and miserable work) a generation ago: https://goplifer.com/2013/11/19/preparing-for-a-post-jobs-economy/

      That dynamic, along with the Swedish experience, is why we shouldn’t try to force everybody back into some Disney plastic version of 1957: http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2012/12/hope-for-a-post-middle-class-america/

      • 1mime says:

        The Boston Globe article posted offered this chilling statement about low unemployment and flat inflation and its impact on the broader economy: “…the fact that even this strong data couldn’t make much of a dent in the income gap marked an unintended turning point, underscoring that the divide is the new normal.”

        The robust growth and opportunity due to the technology sector is fact. Jobs in this sector abound. Profit potential is huge. Pew reports: “3.9 million workers — roughly 3% of the nation’s payroll workforce — work in what we might think of as “core” tech occupations — not people who simply use computing technology in their jobs, but whose jobs involve making that technology work for the rest of us. (We excluded occupations involving the installation and repair of telecommunications lines and equipment, as well as computer repairers.”

        3% of the nation’s payroll workforce. Wrap your arms around that percentage. The question that remains is, how are the other 97% faring? Obviously, those who make their living in the 3 percentile might see the economy differently than the other 97%. What’s happening in the rest of the jobs sector? How is this economy performing?

        Rather than look at a half-empty glass prospect, it is important to look at data which suggests that while the middle class is shrinking, the upper class is expanding….as is the poorest class. This is supposed to make us feel that things are getting better. Yet, like MassDem, I am seeing and hearing a different story from ordinary Americans. Maybe they’re just “too” ordinary. Change that lifts more people than are lost is positive. Call it whatever you want – income divide, wealth divide (a more accurate descriptor, I believe) – there are too many people falling through the cracks. This may not impact those securely ensconced in the upper income brackets ( upper 25% for the sake of fairness), but there are lots more Americans trying to meet life’s necessities who are falling further behind.

        As a nation, we ignore this problem at our peril. Yes, be excited about all the new opportunities but remember how relatively few are enjoying this security today , then think about what lies ahead for them. A basic income would help, but getting that passed while savaging other safety net programs is going to be a heavy lift. Fundamentally, it will require a combination of basic income, re-training, better education and better choices more relevant to the actual jobs market, health care for all and at affordable rates, jobs that reach more than those who fit the 3 percentile of our workforce.

        One thing is certain, we have kicked this can down the road for so long that the solution is going to be a lot harder.

      • but pays remarkable salaries to people who would have been trapped in middle incomes (and miserable work)


        The people getting remarkable salaries are those who are members of the same golf clubs and decide on each others pay
        The CEO caste!

    • vikinghou says:

      The following publication may offer further insight concerning income inequality.

      Click to access R43897.pdf

      A graph depicting income distribution is shown on p. 14. Don’t be distracted by the jump that occurs in the two highest income brackets. Those brackets have a wider income range than the others. Even so, the distribution is skewed to the right, resulting in a mean income that is higher than the median income. Perhaps income equality could be expressed as a “degree of skew,” (as suggested by MassDem) that would be a function of the difference between the median and the mean.

      It would be interesting to search for analogous data from other countries, and find out if the difference between the mean and the median is smaller in countries that are considered to be more equal.

    • moslerfan says:

      Good article from the Boston Globe, but although it mentions several causes for stagnation in the middle class, I think it misses the elephant, which is stagnant demand. Surely austerity, rent-seeking, short termerism, profit hoarding and stock buybacks play into the problem, but all these things are causes of or follow from the top-heaviness of the economy. You simply can’t have a healthy economy that is not broadly based. The article talks about “inequality” which could be and often is interpreted as a moral issue, but they never reach the correct conclusion, which is that without broad and meaningful participation by the majority of the population, the economic base is simply too narrow to support a healthy economy. I wish I had some good solutions to this problem, because I see one of three things developing: effective economic reform, a police state, or a revolution.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Moslerfan

        I agree

        And as for the reason for the fact that the economic base has narrowed?

        It’s very simple – Neoliberal Policies

        The likes of Reagan and Thatcher came to power and implemented policies designed to:
        “Make Industry more Efficient”

        In order to do this they first broke the power of the unions
        Then they used monetary policy to ensure that there was a permanent poll of the unemployed to depress wages
        (Previous policy had aimed at minimising unemployment)
        Then they massively reduced the tax on the higher paid

        The total effect was to break the link between productivity improvements and the median wage

        If the median wage was still linked to productivity as it used to be it would now be over double

        “Make Industry more Efficient” – how well has it worked – if it has worked really well then it may have been worth it

        Unfortunately the growth rate under 30+ years of “neoliberalism” has actually been LOWER than it was before!!

        As to solution – its a new “New Deal” or it’s the Tumbrils

  5. objv says:

    So, objv, what’s YOUR answer as to the appropriateness of using your own small children in attack ads??????????? If you want your kids to be off-limits, perhaps you shouldn’t draft them as political combatants.

    fly, Homer, mime, Texan and Turtles: Personally, I don’t find anything wrong with politicians having their kids in political ads or with them while they campaign.

    I had to watch the Cruz clip a second time in case I had missed anything offensive. I saw two cute, little girls who were obviously enjoying being with their parents. Each daughter had one line to say. Ted Cruz did the rest of the talking. The material was clearly satirical. The humor was mild considering the commercial aired during Saturday Night Live.

    Kids, especially children that young, should be off limits no matter what. Ted Cruz was smart to have capitalized on the situation. Would any politician have done differently?

    Here’s an ad featuring Hillary’s family with picture of her holding her granddaughter at the end.

    Does that automatically make the baby a public figure?

    • objv says:

      Here’s a Obama/Biden ad from the last election.

      • texan5142 says:

        Wow obj you just can’t admit that Cruz told his seven year old what to say in that one line that was an attack on his political opponents. Show me an equivalent of Hillary or Obama telling his or her young child what to say in an attempt to attack a opponent.

        Rose colored glasses indeed.

      • flypusher says:

        You dodged my question objv, shame on you. I didn’t ask about including young children a parent’s political ad. I asked about including young children a parent’s political ATTACK ad. Answer that one, please. And then perhaps we can talk about all Cruz’s indignation over a situation he helped create, but give him $1 mil in the next 24 hours and that will ease his pain.

      • objv says:

        Perhaps, fly, the reason I didn’t answer the way you wanted me to was because I did not see the commercial as an “ATTACK” ad. I saw it as relatively mild, satirical humor.

      • objv says:

        Texan, if you think that the children of Democrat candidates aren’t coached before interviews, your own edition of liberal, rose colored glasses aren’t the problem. You might need to see an ophthalmologist. 🙂

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Those are some pretty powerful rose colored glasses you have when you can equate the Hillary and Obama ads with kids to the Cruz ad with kids, but hey, maybe I missed the part where Hillary’s granddaughter talks about Cruz wanting to deport several million people, so whatever floats your boat.

      As I said, I thought the Cruz ad was funny and the subsequent cartoon in poor taste, so we agree there.

      You seemed to be just trolling with the “why isn’t it racist” crap, and we probably should just ignore the, “gee, we can’t even talk about Black people and watermelon without folks getting overly sensitive” stuff during the holiday season.

      • objv says:

        Homer, I wear clear contacts.

        I confess I do get stuff in my eyes that blurs my vision sometimes. Everybody does. That’s one reason I persist in continuing to read and contribute to this blog. I don’t mind having my vision challenged. I don’t mind challenging how other people see the world. If that makes me a terrible person or a troll, so be it.

        I did not explain myself well when I mentioned that we had become overly sensitive about mentioning certain foods.

        It’s not that I demand the freedom to use certain words no matter who I hurt. It’s quite the opposite. I am afraid of hurting people inadvertently.

        I am sometimes clueless socially. I would have never known that watermelon and bananas were offensive terms if I hadn’t read it on one of the chron comment sections. I normally go out of my way not to give offense, because I sincerely do not want to hurt people’s feelings. I feel frustration because I do not often know if I am saying the right words.

        That said, people respond positively to me and sincerely seem to like me despite my blundering social style. I think they tend to give me a break. After all, I’m a stereotypical dumb blond. 🙂

    • MassDem says:

      objv, as a parent myself I have to agree with you on this one-kids should be off limits no matter what. If parents make questionable choices regarding putting their kids in political ads, that’s on the parents, not the kids.

  6. objv says:

    Merry Christmas!

    Today, Christians around the world, of all races and ethnicities, celebrate the birth of the One who offers salvation to all who put their faith in Him.

    For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, Romans 10:12

    • vikinghou says:

      “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him”

      I guess that’ll work until the Apocalypse. When that happens all bets will be off.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Viking – Do what I am going to do. When that rapture light comes down for my neighbor I plan on pushing him out of the way and take his place.

      • duncancairncross says:

        “Viking – Do what I am going to do. When that rapture light comes down for my neighbor I plan on pushing him out of the way and take his place”

        I would rather stay here and build this place into a paradise – which will be a lot easier without the nut cases
        Would you really want to go with the nutters??.

      • flypusher says:

        If you get Raptured, can I have your stuff?

        Someone set up the Rapture pet insurance and is making actually $ off it. But God wouldn’t take a good dog to heaven? That’s a downer. Some dogs are more virtuous that a lot of people. And some cats. And some birds.

      • vikinghou says:

        If a Rapture actually comes to pass I’ll bet there will be some red faces. Lots of people who think they’re a shoo-in may be in for a surprise.

      • 1mime says:

        I’m with Duncan, it might be better to hang out with the sinners (-:

  7. Turtles Run says:

    Merry Christmas everyone

  8. MassDem says:

    Finished wrapping gifts at 11:59 last night–technically before Santa showed up.
    Merry Christmas everyone!

  9. Here is an interesting article – another (more accurate) view of Chris’s “new economy”


    • 1mime says:

      Duncan, this is so real. At what point does lack of sufficient income override all other factors? It may be easier for those in the minority class to navigate the safety net than it is for White People who have no experience in using these services, but ultimately, even this aid dries up and then you’re all together in your struggle. And, as Lifer has illustrated, there is the personal, emotional dimension of competing against those who have always been the underclass, who are now as skilled or more skilled in their qualifications, AND, have more equal employment access than ever before.

      Lifer suggests that the deeper problems in our country are being driven by identity. I agree this is a real and significant issue, but more fundamental to sheer survival is the ability of an individual to have sufficient net income to meet basic needs. Loss of hope, generational poverty, crime, discrimination – are real consequences to cyclical struggle. An economy based upon meeting minimal basic needs is not healthy. This “new” shared economy or freedom of workplace jobs market has an underbelly, as the article clearly presents. If Lifer’s data is correct and the middle class is shrinking mostly upwards due to improvement in economic well being rather than expanding even more widely the bottom tier of people living below the poverty line, that’s a new dynamic – and, one that we have no idea is short term or long term, or even a “better” situation. How long will it be sustained if all these people are suddenly faced with having to absorb the cost of benefits and taxes formerly provided by an employer? What impact will this have on “real” net income? Absent a sufficient basic income, how well will these people manage in this new economic reality?

      I think we are looking at two fundamental issues in America: inequality and a changing workplace – both of which impact our social and cultural stability and economy. This is why we are seeing such open expression of class whiplash….something which Occupy Wall Street introduced and I think has been festering ever since. That racial and identity issues are part of this should be no surprise. It is good that minorities and women are benefiting through better educations and skills acquisition and thus challenging into a society in ways that are threatening to those who lack their skills. This is a roiling, uncertain landscape and history will be made as America sorts out what kind of country it wants for its people – all its people. I think we are in for some hard times, and while that may be good for the long-term growth of our country, it is going to be tough. Will America be a better place for the majority of its people is the real question.

      Merry Christmas Duncan from the U.S.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi 1mime
        Happy boxing day – now I’ve got to take the wife shopping!

        “and while that may be good for the long-term growth of our country,”

        Here I disagree – IMHO the changes are absolutely appalling for the short term and long term growth
        I don’t see any advantages in the increasing inequality

        Chris is completely misreading those figures there is nobody leaving the middle class and going upwards
        What is happening is that the whole middle class is moving downwards but some of them are moving downwards slower than some of the others

        Look at Chris’s numbers and change the class limits from the median to the average and you will see what I mean

      • 1mime says:

        What about it, Lifer? Does Duncan have a legitimate point about using average vs. median in determining the number of people moving between classes? Especially as it impacts which direction the middle class is trending?

      • goplifer says:

        Whoa, hang on. That median/average thing has me confused.

        The average household income (@72) is actually much higher than the more statistically meaningful median figure (@53K). I’ve been using median on purpose because it better pinpoints a dividing line and it’s more conservative. If you use the average instead of median then you get a much more rosy assessment, with the increase being larger over time.

        Would it be fair to assume that you meant those in reverse? Still, I’ve only used median in any of these calculations. The math here is complicated. Am I missing something?

        As for the “sharing” economy ask your Uber driver what her or she thinks of it. And get ready for an earful. The only people losing so far are capital owners who were trying to squeeze rents they planned to protect through political contributions to their alderman. The people driving the cars (many of whom used to be trapped beneath a cab company or dispatcher) will fill you in on the picture from their perspective.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Chris
        What has happened is that the “median” has not moved much at all
        But the “average” has increased a lot more

        So if you are looking at people relative to the median (which has only increased slightly) and their income has increased – you see them as “improving”

        Whereas the same people now earn a smaller proportion of the average income

        So compared to the median – people seem to have moved UP
        But compared to the average those same people have moved DOWN

        If we are comparing the “wealth (or income) of a society then the average is the correct term to use

        When Bill Gates goes into my pub the average wealth goes up a whole lot but the median does not change

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Chris

        I would like to add a bit from personal knowledge
        From 1990 to 1997 I was Quality Manager at the Darlington Engine Plant
        We went from 80 engines/day to 250 engines/day without increasing the capital and with a 20% increase in workforce
        (Quality also improved – lots)
        That means we were making over twice as many engines per man-day

        Also I remember an improved grindstone technology that allowed over 1000 times as many parts/replacement wheel (mid 80’s at CAV)

        The productivity improvements over the last 40 odd years have enabled each of us to do more than twice as much in the same time

        The problem is that the median has not changed much in that time
        The average has increased dramatically – it would have more than doubled if a lot of the “earnings” had not become converted to “rents”

        If you are looking at the middle class and their “earnings” you must use averages – and using averages as you noticed almost nobody below the top 1% has had an increase
        Everybody else has seen a reduction in earnings

        That PEW report divided classes by their percentage of the median income,
        Those that earned 1.67 x the median income were “high” earners
        And there were more of them
        Because the whole field had moved upwards

        BUT if you look at 1.67 x the average earnings then you will see that there are actually now less of them than back in 1970

      • MassDem says:

        Chris is correct in using median rather than average in comparing incomes as median is less affected by outliers and is more reflective of what the “average” person earns.
        This is Stats 101.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Mass
        “as median is less affected by outliers”

        That is the whole point! – Outliers – the 1% have glomming on to all of the improvements created by the activities of the 99%
        By ignoring the outliers you destroy the meaning of the study

      • goplifer says:


        I get what you mean, but I’m not sure those numbers are necessarily supporting the narrative. If you overlay average incomes with the data from that Pew study, it looks to me like you get the same conclusion from the Pew study – more people are moving up than down as incomes diverge. The Gates Effect you mention is eliminated in calculating a mean because the extreme outlying data points are removed.

        Your anecdote is interesting and I think it’s generally typical. Here’s the uncomfortable story embedded there. The financial gains from the massive increases in “productivity” over course of the last thirty years or so have largely gone to the folks who actually created those gains – and they weren’t on the shop floor. That’s why San Francisco, with its booming technology industry has become the wealth generation engine of the planet while Detroit bled to death.

        This situation is not unfair in the most straightforward sense, but its still dangerous. The people who invented the technologies that created these productivity increases deserve to earn the bulk of the wealth gains. We just can’t afford to create a situation in which no one who failed to ride that wave at that time can ever climb again.

        Somehow we have to preserve the enormous wealth generation potential of this technological revolution while holding the doors open for everyone who possesses the combination of will, talent, and health to play. That’s how this all heads back toward a basic income, or what in the US for political marketing terms we might come to call national profit sharing.

      • 1mime says:

        It’s easy to grasp and agree with wealth following creative genius, especially those in which there are such singular contributions, The technology industry is unique in this regard. What of other industries that are more people-driven? Services, financial, health, education, pharmaceutical, engineering, construction, to name a few….Do these sectors merit a different reward scenario? How many millions are enough for CEOs? Should successful companies reward not only leadership and shareholders but the working staff who help meet production goals? Is this too bourgeoisie an expectation to apply to today’s capital driven marketplace? Isn’t it appropriate to share that economic success with all who made it happen? This may be an antiquated concept in the “new” economy but it shouldn’t be.

        “Seeing further by building on the shoulders of giants” (Isaac Newton), is still a principle that has merit – in business and in life. There are changes happening in our workplace and across our society. Great companies and great nations build upon them and shape a better future for its people. I hope that will happen but it seems that the principle goal of this new economy is dominated by financial reward.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi 1mime

        “It’s easy to grasp and agree with wealth following creative genius, especially those in which there are such singular contributions, The technology industry is unique in this regard.”

        I personally don’t believe in the – “singular contributions”
        It does happen but even in the “technology industry” it is incredibly rare

        Steve Jobs and the iphone
        He didn’t “create” the iphone
        At most he led the team that brought a number of separate technologies (mostly developed by the government) together

        So he led a team of hundreds – working with technology that as developed by thousands
        IMHO not very “Singular”

        Look at this another way – were these “singular contributions” unique? – if the “creator” had been run over by a bus would those “singular contributions” have happened anyway?

        The vast majority of the “contributions” in the computer area would have happened anyway,
        If EBay had never been somebody else would have done that
        The same is true for most software type things

        As always the exceptions prove the rules
        Tesla Motors and Space X are the exceptions –
        IMHO without Elon Musk we would not have either
        Because the cost of getting started – the barriers to entry – there were so enormous

        Elon Musk’s first breakthrough company – PayPal – without Elon we would still have a “PayPal” – maybe a year later

      • 1mime says:

        That’s a good argument, Duncan. It follows the line of thinking championed by Elizabeth Warren in which she explained: “You didn’t build that (by yourself)”…..to those who would not credit the benefits they received in subsidized education and business loans, federal highways, municipal sewer and water services, etc. etc. But, what of creative genius? Surely here is where singularity is a legitimate element.

        I do believe that special people exist who do “make” things happen. Whether it would have happened later by another creative genius doesn’t diminish the contribution of the principle party. I know very little about the technology field but assume that you are correct that many people share in the work product in either the research stage or in production. Smart people attribute shared effort. The large and small businesses that are most admirable, IMHO, are those who recognize the contribution of their workers and reward them in many ways – recognition, salary, stock, bonuses and other benefits. Large corporations are much more focused on CEO pay, Board pay, and shareholder return than on worker reward, and, that’s unfortunate. I don’t know how you change that except to find brave, respected owners who make a personal commitment to fairly compensate their workforce.

      • duncancairncross says:

        “I do believe that special people exist who do “make” things happen.
        Whether it would have happened later by another creative genius doesn’t diminish the contribution of the principle party”

        I agree with the first part – but they are rare

        The second part??
        No I disagree – just moving something forward a few months or years is not nearly as important as doing something that would NOT have happened

        On that point the big financial rewards do not always (or even normally) go to the creative genius – often they go to the “me too” guy who does a better job of marketing or sales

        As far as how to change that?

        Well first you need to reduce the incentive to work that way
        Corporations are social constructs – how about a
        “Three Laws of Corporations”
        (1) Do no harm to any others
        (2) Obey the spirit of all societies laws
        (3) Make a profit

        Then have a progressive income tax – going up to 90+% on obscenely high pay

      • 1mime says:

        As long as your trio of good business practices follows the exact order as listed, I’m with ya, Duncan!

        BTW, thanks for all your interest in happenings in the U.S. from way over yonder…..You are well informed and fearless with championing your point of view and that makes for a better blog.

        Hope the Mrs. didn’t out-box you today!

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Chris
        How can you say

        “The financial gains from the massive increases in “productivity” over course of the last thirty years or so have largely gone to the folks who actually created those gains”

        Without a conflagration of the trousers?

        In my experience almost NONE of the productivity improvements came from the top level management – NONE AT ALL

        ALL of the productivity improvements came from people who were firmly in the 99% and the vast majority from people in the 90%
        People like me in the top 10% (just) implemented the improvements – but the vast majority of the benefits of those improvements went to our lords and masters

        The comparison of Detroit and San Francisco is silly
        Detroit (the city) is poor for two reasons
        It was a one trick poney – and the poney died
        And much more important the wealthy moved the boundaries,
        Wealthy suburbs managed to get themselves off the books so that they could stop paying their fair share of the costs of the city

        Detroit (the companies) are poor because the 1% who ran them fucked up big time, it takes a lot of skill to destroy companies of that size so quickly but our lords and masters the 1% managed to rise to the occasion

        By removing the “outliers” from your numbers you totally destroy the meaning of the comparison

        These “outliers” represent a substantial amount of the wealth of the society – removing them is just silly

        In my career improving productivity I have used statistics a LOT – it is an incredibly powerful tool
        One of the keys is in what you do with the outliers – the first instinct is to lose the extremes BUT that can be a major mistake

        It is OK for a quick and dirty analysis but for a decent analysis you need to understand WHY you are culling your data set

        A lot of times the reason for your problem is hiding in the extremes – not most of the time but too often to just gaily cut off the extremes

      • flypusher says:

        ““Three Laws of Corporations”
        (1) Do no harm to any others
        (2) Obey the spirit of all societies laws
        (3) Make a profit”

        I think that’s a great idea, especially if you are permitting corporations to be considered as “people” in some legal senses. Personally I’d like the 3 laws and corporations aren’t people but I can compromise.

        As an indivdual, living in the context of a 21st Western society gives me protection, a purpose, interesting things to do, and a whole lot of creature comforts. So it’s only fair that I have obligations to support this construct than sustains me, with paying a fair share of taxes an obvious (but not the only) example. The same applies to corporate entities- they benefit, so they need to help nourish. I very much like the cut of the jib of the Patriotic Millionaires organization described in MassDem’s Boston Globe link.

  10. 1mime says:

    Okydokey – It’s Christmas Eve, and it’s time for a little Bob Dylan…..Merry Christmas Everyone, and Peace on Earth


  11. flypusher says:

    “Our slowly advancing success in the battle to dismantle white supremacy is weakening load-bearing walls in our democracy. ”

    You can make a biological analogy too. Sometimes when a cancer patient has a large primary tumor removed, a bunch of secondary tumors will experience rapid growth. The big tumor had been secreting suppressing factors to limit competition from the smaller, newer clumps of cancer. You could draw an analogy between White supremacy and the primary tumor. You can’t just leave it as it will eventually kill the host, but you have to be prepared to deal with the consequences of its removal.

  12. texan5142 says:

    December 23, 2015 at 6:33 pm
    Texan, I remember Obama’s daughters being interviewed on live TV and with him at various campaign events. Honestly, do you really think that a cartoon like that could have been published of Julián Castro with his kids being depicted as monkeys? They’ve appeared with him.

    You don’t get it do you. The cartoon was wrong but accurate, Cruz children were not being interviewed, they were being told what to say to attack a political opponent. How is being told what to say not knowing the meaning or context the same as being interviewed? Please explain. Did the Obama kids read from a script to attack a political opponent? No. Did a little(Cruz) girl at Christmas time read from a book(script) to attack her dads opponent….yes. Then the slime ball turns around and fund raises of of it. The man is despicable for doing both the spoof and the false outrage after to fund raise.


    “The attack in Paris is heartbreaking,” Cruz told BuzzFeed News. “It is a reminder of the global threat we face and the enormous peril presented by radical Islamic terrorists. It is unfortunate to see media outlets engaging in censorship.”

    “The First Amendment is designed to ensure a robust debate and refusing to publish the cartoons that are the alleged reason for this brutal act of murder and terror is inconsistent with the spirit of a free debate,” he said.

    and he said this about an by the NRA using Obamas dauhters,

    Asked by host David Gregory if the ad went over the line by targeting the Obama children, Cruz said, “I’m going to let people decide to run what ads they want to run.”

    I did not wright this, but the person that did is correct.

    Ted Cruz Was For Controversial Cartoons Before He Was Against Them
    12/23/15 6:58pm
    You miss the issue. The children are off limits when they are a passive set piece (except Obama’s kids arent off limits ever, Bush’s werent after they kept getting arrested and the right wing always dogged Chelsea), but when Cruz started to give his children lines denigrating his opponents, then they become fair game. The cartoon by Telnaes is a good one and accurate, Cruz is using his daughters like trained monkeys (perhaps parrots is a better metaphor) for his political purposes, something that is odious in and of itself.

    • 1mime says:

      Wow, TX, I missed all of that…All I saw was the cartoon…guess I didn’t scroll down or? With your explanation, that does put a whole different light on the subject. I had no idea the cartoon was in reaction to Cruz’ decision to “use” his little kids to attack his opponents. The fact remains, little children should always be off-limits as pawns to do anything more than photo ops, which, of course, most people understand. I’ll add this little nugget to my growing pile of Cruz dung.

    • flypusher says:

      Perhaps if the cartoonist had used marionettes on strings, but even then it’s a very fine line you are walking here. Probably better to stick to just targeting Cruz, and the contradictions you listed give the cartoonists plenty of fair game ammo. But the hypocrite Cruz can stuff all his outrage where the sun don’t shine. He’s laughing all the way to the bank, I’ll bet.

    • Turtles Run says:

      I want to know where OBJV’s outrage at the right with their use of Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy as a new weapon to attack Hillary. I think making claims that she got pregnant solely to help Hillary’s campaign is disgusting unlike the Cruz issue but somehow that is not on OBJV’s radar.

      • objv says:

        Huh? I must have missed that story, Turtles.

        Maybe if a Washington Post cartoonist had drawn Chelsea as a mommy gorilla holding a little monkey baby on a leash, it might have gotten more headlines.

      • texan5142 says:

        Most of us have stated how we think the cartoon was in poor taste and/or disgusting Obj. I have yet to see you admit that it was just as disgusting and/or in poor taste for Cruz to put words in the mouth of his 7 year old daughter to attack an opponent.

  13. Griffin says:

    A bit off topic here but the Arizonia GOP chose State Senator Sylvia Allen to lead the Arizonia Senate Education Committee. Allen is a Young Earth Creationist, is a chem trails conspiracy theorist, and wanted to make Sunday church service mandatory for all Americans (no really). Let me repeat, she’s now the head of an EDUCATION committee.


    If what you’re saying is true Lifer, that rich whites in more rural areas have reneged on their deal with poor whites to make sure only minorities experienced the worst of capitalism, which caused a backlash against the GOP Establishment, are these politicians the natural outcome of that? Since the rural poor no longer believe in the Establishment politicians they are now nominating people from their own ranks instead, and now the rest of America is recognizing how unhinged they are. In other words it’s just a myth that the far-right became more radicalized, these people have always existed but now they are actually getting represented by their own, rather than the traditional wealthy white familes they use to rely on who at least knew how to feign sanity and weren’t as interested in overtly crazy policies.

    • flypusher says:

      There is the temptation to go with the “you made your bed so you can go lie in it” approach (otherwise known as the “give the people what they voted for, good and hard”). There is the idea that the 50 states are supposed to be the laboratories of democracy, testing all this various economic and social policies. You dumb down education like this truly horrid person seems likely to, and you will stifle economic growth. But that may be too long term a consequence for a lot of the voters to grok. I wonder how far we could safely let the tough love approach go in places like Kansas and Kentucky.

    • goplifer says:

      Basically, yes. There are too few credible people willing to tie their reputations and their political fates to this movement. Now they are down to the dregs.

      The culture war is exactly what it sounds like, a campaign to preserve the primacy of white culture in our society. Since outright appeals to race have been thoroughly discredited, the rhetoric of that campaign is instead focused on another element of culture – religion.


      Religious extremists are the last reserves they have left to throw into the effort. Like brigades of gray-haired elders or young teenagers in ill-fitting uniforms, these folks are marched off the to front. It’s a bit sad actually, but they remain to dangerous for pity. Doomed, but still capable of wreaking terrible destruction on the way down.

      • BigWilly says:

        How long were you in Moscow?

      • goplifer says:

        Quit complaining, Willy, and get back to the front. The Fatherland calls and the Der Volk will always celebrate your lonely sacrifice…

      • BigWilly says:

        Godwin’s Law.

      • 1mime says:

        BW, I hope you have a nice Christmas. I mean that.

      • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

        I am a stranger in a strange land… Just read a series of comments blasting George Will over a somewhat epic takedown of Trump and all the unseemly political bile he represents. People on the National Review are literally calling him a liberal, a false/fraudulent conservative and dare I say it… a verifiable Democrat.

        George freaking Will people!

        If you are one of Trump’s growing cadre of Cro-Magnon Neo-Confederates, with an irrational disdain for anything that doesn’t immediately appear to be of anglo-saxon origin, who could believe that George Will is no longer a conservative merely for his rebellion against Trumpism… you probably would believe a ground up yoga mat tastes exactly like a bowl of Rice Chex cereal.

        Just sayin’.

      • 1mime says:

        (-: But, the emperor has no clothes!!!!????

      • 1mime says:

        Here’s something to chew on from that lefty magazine, Salon. A little southern history, courtesy of the “greatest generation”.


      • 1mime says:

        We had out of town company today and i had my first opportunity to sit down over a period of several hours with a Trump supporter in the group. Here’s the profile: female, unemployed – wants/needs to find a job but hasn’t applied yet but wants a job that is commensurate with education and is challenging (IOW, naive but hopeful); college educated, bright, no health insurance, husband in new position with low job security. Oh, and did I mention that she thinks Obama has done nothing for people like them? The conversation, while civil, clearly illustrated to me that the demographics of Trump’s supporters share: financial angst, misplaced anger; very poorly informed about issues they are angry about; not really too interested in learning what they don’t know.

        It was eye-opening.

    • BigWilly says:

      I’m curious about chemtrails, vaccines, bigfoot, the wolfman, Wolfman Jack, Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, F. Lee Ermey, Sirhan B. Sirhan, and anything else out there that looks suspicious. I want to know.

      Rawstory as a source? Just a “Progressive” propaganda rag internet style, not fit to wipe your bum with.

      How do you feign sanity? Not very well, if you ask me. I think your as mad as a hatter. You serve up a word salad, but there’s no sustenance. You can’t sustain bs arguments over the long term, and I believe yours (feigned) will collapse into the nothingness from which it arose.


      Happy birthday Jesus, please forgive us for relocating it to Saturnalia.

  14. objv says:

    “On Tuesday, the Washington Post published a cartoon by Ann Telnaes, the paper’s editorial cartoonist, that portrayed Cruz dressed as Santa Claus and his two daughters as trained monkeys on leashes. The caption read, “Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props.”



    Is the cartoon racist or not?

    If not, would it be if the Obama girls were depicted as trained, leashed monkeys? (I remember Obama’s daughters appearing with him on an interview while he was running for President. They were also involved in his campaign)

    • flypusher says:

      Racist, no? Inappropriate? Yes. There are certain racist stereotypes that are specifically aimed at one race. Comparisons to monkeys or apes in specific to attempts to belittle Black people. Hispanic people had other sorts of demeaning stereotypes aimed at them.

      Therefore, had that cartoon been aimed at the Obama daughters. It would have been both.

      • objv says:

        fly, Cruz is as Hispanic as Obama is black. Since Cruz’s father is from Cuba, he is likely to have some African ancestry.

      • flypusher says:

        Com’on objv, you’re grasping at straws again to correct your overreach. Whatever ancestry their grandfather may of may not have, nobody would consider children that blond and fair-skinned to be Black. Leave it at the cartoon was mean to little kids, even if it didn’t register as racist.

    • 1mime says:

      Cartoons like this are in incredibly poor taste….whichever candidate. Children should be off-limits. Satire can poke fun (even maliciously) at the candidates, but hurting kids is not ok.

      I’m sorry that cartoon ran, even though I do not care for Ted Cruz, this is wrong and the WaPo should have killed it before it ran.

      • texan5142 says:

        Cruz should be condemned for the way he used his children in that ad, but not at expense of his children. The cartoon was in very bad taste and should have not been printed, that being said, using your child in a politcal attack ad begs scrutiny also.

      • flypusher says:

        You walk a fine line when you use kids in your campaign. I think Texan has the right idea-leave the kiddos out of attack ads. Include them in the ads where you’re laying out your positive visions of where you want to take the country.

      • texan5142 says:

        Politicians tend to use their families as props. Using a child to attract an opponent is when one has crossed the line. Cruz child read that in that commercial ad or whatever it was, without knowing what it meant or if it was true, only doing what daddy wanted. He pimmed out his children big time in that ad. If you don’t see that, you are just as twisted as he is.

      • texan5142 says:

        Did not mean you fly, I mean anyone else who can’t see how wrong the spoof was to use children in that manor.

        Your post was before mine so it might look like I was addressing you directly.

      • 1mime says:

        TX, who are you addressing? I looked at the cartoon quickly but didn’t see the Cruz kids reading an ad for their dad? What are you referring to?

      • objv says:

        Texan, I remember Obama’s daughters being interviewed on live TV and with him at various campaign events. Honestly, do you really think that a cartoon like that could have been published of Julián Castro with his kids being depicted as monkeys? They’ve appeared with him.

      • flypusher says:

        Depicting kids as monkeys is insulting. Depicting Black kids as monkeys is extra-insulting, because of the racial history unique to Black Americans concerning that specific insult.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Obj…you are more than capable of getting yourself dressed and fed and to type on a computer…you know full well that there is a historical significance to a linkage between Black people and monkeys…that historical linkage and significance does not exist for Hispanics…stop pretending to be stupid.

      There is no “good” side in this issue. Cruz had his kids read words that they did not understand to attack a candidate. The Washington Post ran a stupid cartoon that they should not have run. To put a cherry on this shit sundae, Cruz did a campaign blitz imploring his followers to send him one million dollars in 24 hours to fight the evil liberal media (why he needs it in the next 24 hours is anyone’s guess).

      • objv says:

        Homer, you are welcome to draw me as a monkey incapable of getting dressed and throwing poo-poo if your heart so desires.

        I asked if the cartoon was racist, and if not, if it would be if it were Obama’s daughters in the cartoon. I wanted to see what the responses would be.

        It’s true that historically African-Americans have been thought to be less evolved and compared to monkeys. That was a result of the theory of evolution being misinterpreted. And, yes, it was horrible and unfortunately, a commonly held belief by both intellectuals and regular folk in the early 20th century. (Remember our discussions on Margaret Sanger?)

        Nowadays, one can’t bring up the subject of monkeys and bananas (or fried chicken and watermelon) in any kind of context in relation to African-Americans. We’ve gone in the other direction and become so racially sensitive as to be ridiculous.

        When Cruz’s daughters were depicted as monkeys, one could say that they were depicted as sub-human. That is the crux of the matter since being thought of as less evolved than other people was what caused a great deal of discrimination and hurt to black people in the past.

        I brought up the subject to generate discussion on how race and politics shades our perspective on fair treatment. Little girls should not be depicted as monkeys no matter what their race or who their parents are – even if the dad is as hated as Ted Cruz is by some here. I wanted to see if anyone would rationalize and defend the treatment the Cruz girls received. It’s been interesting reading the replies.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        The folks who happily compare Black folks to monkeys don’t believe in evolution.

        The, “oh, I was just asking the question to see the responses” is either bullcrap or trolling. You are better than that, but I’m continually baffled at your attempt to defend racist asshats.

        You know, there are a few million people who laugh their asses off at your assertion that we have “become so racially sensitive as to be ridiculous.” as they are getting the police called on them at Toys-R-Us while Christmas shopping, getting pulled over for speeding in Bellaire and Southside Place, and not getting a job interview because their name sounds Black.

        I do have to wonder why you are so concerned that “one can’t bring up the subject of monkeys and bananas (or fried chicken and watermelon) in any kind of context in relation to African-Americans” because I can’t really think of many reasons to bring up fried chicken, watermelon, or monkeys in the context of Black folks.

        Well, I guess I can think of one context where linking the concepts together does make some sense…racists seem to get really upset when they can’t talk about watermelon, fried chicken, and Black folks.

      • 1mime says:

        It bothers me when people don’t just say what they really mean. Own it, don’t play games. We shouldn’t be playing “gotcha” here. I don’t believe children ever should be used for political purposes, and the cartoon should have addressed the underlying story with more adult satire. But, until I read TX’s back story on the cartoon, I didn’t realize that there was more to the story. Everyone here is pretty good about being direct with their feelings and opinions and most make a fine effort to be forthcoming with their posts – making an effort to explain or justify their point and linking to a source if one is pertinent to the comment. That’s how it should be out of respect for the intelligent, thoughtful blogs that Lifer presents and the intelligent group who post here.

      • objv says:

        “The folks who happily compare Black folks to monkeys don’t believe in evolution.”

        Homer, People can distort evolution as readily as they can Christianity.

        “The general acceptance of the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin was easily twisted into a means of identifying further “evidence” of the primitive status of Blacks. … The depiction of Blacks as apes & monkeys found expression in mainstreamed popular culture around the turn of the century”

        Warning: The following link contains sickening images and other content.


        Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, coined the word eugenics. The movement among intellectuals that followed influenced people as varied as Adolf Hitler and Margaret Sanger.

        I, in no way, want to minimize what black people have suffered. African American people should not be compared to monkeys; neither should two little girls who have a politician for a father.

      • objv says:

        Mime, no “gotchas” were intended. My aim was to generate discussion. I was also curious to see how sympathetic how some here would be when the object of a derogatory stereotype was a hated Republican.

      • 1mime says:

        Objv, I think you are being disingenuous about this. It may be that this is how you are most comfortable in communicating controversial issues, but I maintain that you enjoy setting traps for people whose likely responses you already know. It’s not the first time I have noticed this.

        I don’t “hate” Ted Cruz, but I don’t respect or agree with most of his actions, his views, and his political grandstanding cloaked in religion. That is my opinion; you are entitled to yours. What he did to involve his little children in a subtle derogatory attack followed by the despicable appeal for donations was not befitting a presidential candidate. You didn’t tell the whole story and you got caught.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I’m kind of curious to which “derogatory stereotype” Cruz’s kids were subjected to? Do you mean the historic derogatory stereotype of blonde haired Hispanic kids being portrayed as monkeys? Yeah, that one goes way, way back.

        If Ben Carson’s kids were portrayed as monkeys, I would venture to say that all of us “liberals” would be ready to burn the house down. As it is, I think everyone responding to you has indicated that the cartoon should not have been published.

        Cruz’s little ad with his kids reading a fake Christmas story about Hillary actually was relatively funny for you conservatives, and had the roles been reversed, I certainly would have chuckled if one of my favored candidates had produced it. Still, it was qualitatively different than what you repeatedly mentioned about Obama’s kids being interviewed on TV, but a reporter, editor, or cartoonist should lay off children as a general practice.

        If the cartoonist was going to do it, and if an editor was going to allow it, the cartoonist should have gone with a marionette and two puppets, but she was either not creative enough, not a good enough artist to draw it, or knew that portraying the kids as animals would tweak everyone a bit more (I suspect the latter).

        A politician using his kids in an ad is nothing new. Cruz having the girl read lines about a candidate is probably not the best use of a cute girl prop, and then using this whole issue for an “emergency” fund raising goal of one million dollars in 24 hours probably suggests just how “sickened” he really was about it as he tries to profit of the issue with his girls.

        I’m sorry we liberals have had such a ridiculous focus on racial sensitivity to the point where you are worried about mentioning fried chicken and watermelon when talking about Black folks. I don’t know your Asian and Jewish friends, and they may be too polite to tell you, but I suspect they also don’t just love you commenting about how good they must be with math and money.

      • flypusher says:

        So, objv, what’s YOUR answer as to the appropriateness of using your own small children in attack ads??????????? If you want your kids to be off-limits, perhaps you shouldn’t draft them as political combatants.

  15. duncancairncross says:

    You are still mistaking the USA for the whole planet

    The whole western world has the same problem with the middle class eroding
    Dr Brin’s “Diamond shaped society” being shifted back into the default pyramid by the elites

    The USA is just a bit further down that path

    The US racism problem is your own – it is a problem BUT it is American it’s NOT the main cause of the reduction of the middle classes

    It’s just like the people saying “more guns is why the murder rate is down” ignoring the fact that the murder rate is down (and much further down) in countries with less guns

    • goplifer says:

      Go find me the successful political movement in western Europe, for example, that is actually pursuing the goals you describe. From everything I’ve been seeing, the driving force behind politics in the rest of the western world is fear of immigrants – pushing those societies toward the right, not the left.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Chris
        I was talking about the problem
        You are talking about the right wing backlash – the two are NOT the same

        As far as
        “the successful political movement in western Europe, for example, that is actually pursuing the goals you describe”
        The left wing anti austerity parties in: The UK, Spain, Portugal and Greece would be a start

        The root cause is the increasing inequality and the elite’s drive to take us back to a feudal society

        The racism and anti immigrant movements are simply people who know that something is wrong and are thrashing about in the darkness – and yes like most panic actions counterproductive or even being pushed by that same elite

      • goplifer says:

        It seems to be that if there was so much global concern about inequality, there would be more political initiative behind the matter. If I’m not mistaken, and I am certainly no expert on politics in the EU or ANZ, that consensus has not materialized. Recent research on the subject has stirred up heat in all the usual quarters, but has not inspired any broader movement.

        In short, I am skeptical that anyone really cares much about our (real) issues with inequality other than the same people who always have. And I think that’s because the impact of global changes in who is earning what are pretty complex and their outcomes are mixed.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Chris

        So your argument is that because the mass media (owned by the elite) has managed to convince a lot of people that the pain they feel is due to “the other” then there is no problem with the growing inequality?

        As far as “it’s just the same people who have always complained”
        The UK Labour party just elected a new leader (couple of months ago)
        He broke all records in the number of members who voted for him – 67% of the party

        His platform? – Inequality

        A few years ago it was well known that inequality was a self limiting factor,
        There was a well known economic force that limited inequality.

        It wasn’t until Piketty did his huge analysis and found that this “self limiting factor” was a phantom of a small data set and did not actually exist in the real world that the existing “everybody knows” was found to be completely wrong

        Piketty published in 2013 –
        How long does it take for an actual piece of research to percolate into the collective mind?

        Also recently published, that study showing that “normal” Americans have no influence at all on what is decided in your government

        And “The Spirit Level” – showing the massive damage done by excessive inequality
        (Published in 2009)

        All of these are quite recent – and are taking some time to become “common knowledge”

        “And I think that’s because the impact of global changes in who is earning what are pretty complex and their outcomes are mixed”

        Yes they are complex – BUT their outcomes are NOT “mixed” – the main outcome is increased inequality and that inequality is hurting people. – they don’t all know that it is the inequality that is at fault but the do know that they are being hurt

    • 1mime says:

      This Pew survey offers interesting insight into American opinions about our economy.


  16. tuttabellamia says:

    LIfer, so what you are saying is that the concept of race, and in particular the concept of the Black race, is psychologically necessary for Whites because without “Black” you cannot have “White,” and Whites need something to compare themselves to and feel superior to?

    • goplifer says:

      Yes, that’s pretty much it. However, it wasn’t just a psychology. It had real, material impact on economic outcomes. It was functional and as such, fixing it requires more than just white people abandoning their racial programming.

      Race, white or black, was invented to make the North American model of slavery possible in a representative government. The compensation that race offers to lower income whites comes in two forms.

      First it offered them protection from slavery itself, protection that did not exist until the early 1700’s. That’s an older thing that obviously lost its relevance five generations ago, though losing its relevance didn’t make it go away. It just became something we live with, but don’t understand.

      The second compensation was what Alexander Stevens referred to in his speech (and endless other similar expressions). Whites got to share together a preferred status regardless whether they were poor, ugly, sick or whatever. That was not merely a psychological status. It had real economic and political meaning.

      Whites got to vote and run for office. They were protected from the worst forms of exploitation by authority figures like police, the military, or bureaucrats. They got preferred access to better schools, housing, and food. And virtually every job of any real value in the economy was set aside for them alone.

      Most of all whites, by virtue of their race, earned the right to benefit from whatever value could be extracted from African Americans. Meanwhile whites were protected from all forms of economic competition by anyone who was not inside the racial club. All of that hinged on the collective protection and promotion of a white cultural identity. Let race cease to be a cultural force and all of those benefits blow way like smoke.

      That’s what the story about the mule is all about. Not merely that he needed someone to be better than, but that he possessed both a right and an obligation to act to maintain that superiority wherever it might be threatened. For him to allow that black farmer to possess a mule would have been a kind of humiliating racial treason. As Hackman’s character said, “some things are worth killing for.”

      White supremacy was created, supported, and enforced by the public at large. It could not just be legislated away. And we cannot replace the role it played in supporting our political structure unless we find a way to replace it with something smarter and more just.

      • 1mime says:

        More just is always smarter, just harder.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        What do you replace White supremacy with? Black supremacy?

        Or replace it with a society that on an institutional, formal level phases out the mention of race on forms and applications and census questionnaires, even if it cannot be considered truly color blind deep in its heart, but maybe not classifying people by race on an institutional level would be a start?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        At least currently, not classifying people on race would not be a start…it would be a wonderful mechanism to hide the really bad stuff some folks try to get away with.

        The gov’t requires companies to track hiring by race just so that there is some mechanism to see how badly minorities are screwed over in the hiring process.

        Let’s not look at race in education, and that way we won’t have to own up to how we are failing huge swaths of the population. http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/no-child-left-behind-worked/

        We could stop tracking data about gender too, and let’s hope that our better angels decide to stop paying women 7% to 10% less for similar work and that women of prime child-bearing years are not discriminated against in hiring and promotion.

        Of course, there are those (and you know them) who would prefer the government have no right to monitor who a company hires or fires, but we’ve seen that movie before, and it doesn’t have a pleasant ending.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I guess it depends on the various reasons for classifying people. As HT says, it can be used to protect the disenfranchised by being able to track information about injustices and disparities in the lives of certain groups so as to better help them. Or as Chris says, it can be used for one group to lord over another. It can be totally benign, to recognize the heritage and cultural contributions of certain groups.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        HT, both classifying and not classifying can be either benign or malicious.

        Maybe I just want to shoot the breeze with you and not have to constantly think of you as a privileged White gentleman. You are HT, and that’s all I need to know.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Let me complete my thought — You are HT, a nice guy, and that’s all that really matters to me.

      • objv says:

        Tutt, Yes, Homer is a nice guy. I agree that is all that should really matter. You’re nice as well. More importantly, I’m honored to be your friend. Merry Christmas to you!

        Homer, Happy Hawaii to you! Although some might be envious of your upcoming trip, I’m content to stay at home and watch the snow fall. I’ll be having a white (not to be confused with privileged) Christmas.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Growing up in north central texas, I very occasionally experienced a white christmas, and then we had the incredibly bizarre Christmas in Houston several years back when we had some flurries on Christmas day.

        We went to Zoo Lights tonight in Houston, and it was 80 degrees at 7:00pm.

        I’m generally not a fan of the cold, but I do like visiting the snow (and then leaving before it turns to grey mush). I’m a little jealous of your nice white Christmas, but I love Houston and it would be difficult to give up the ability to wear shorts in December.

      • flypusher says:

        “We went to Zoo Lights tonight in Houston, and it was 80 degrees at 7:00pm.”

        I did a musical performance at Zoo Light recently. Temps were not quite 80, but definitely not winter-like. I was grateful for that, as weather extremes really wreak havoc on intonation (and I’ve played in both blazing, heat stroke threatening heat and sub zero snow flurry laden cold). I am so thoroughly down with mild winters.

      • 1mime says:

        Just a curious question from someone who loves music but doesn’t play, what happens to tonal quality of stringed musical instruments in extreme temps?

      • flypusher says:

        I’m a wind player, so I can’t speak to strings, but presuming that they behave the same, the cold makes the pitch go flat, and the heat drives it sharp. There are adjustments you learn how to make, but they have limits.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks, I’ve wanted to ask someone that question for a while, now….so, now I know (-:

        I used to think my preferred wind instruments were “woodwinds”…the sax, particularly…until I heard Chris Botti play. He can make that trumpet whisper and soar…great artist.

      • 1mime says:

        This Christmas letter from a Black professor of philosophy at Emory University offers a broader look at the issue of racial inequality. Hopefully, each of us will find a truth within its message.


      • vikinghou says:

        A subtext of what you’re saying, Lifer, is that rural whites are not going to relinquish what’s left of their socioeconomic status without a fight. If they can no longer receive satisfaction at the ballot box, do you expect them to perpetrate acts of violence on an increasing basis?

      • flypusher says:

        ” If they can no longer receive satisfaction at the ballot box, do you expect them to perpetrate acts of violence on an increasing basis?”

        That’s the tinderbox that scumbag Roof was certainly trying to ignite.

  17. flypusher says:

    ‘The only demographic group losing ground in absolute terms is lower-income, mostly rural whites with little education. This, along with a black President, is the only new or recent development in our sixty year trend toward income inequality. It isn’t hard to understand what white voters mean when they howl their determination to “take our country back.” ‘

    So the big question is, how do you seriously deal with these people? You try presenting history to them like Chris’ example above and you get the knee-jerk responses of “playing the race card”, “obsessed with race”, or “you’re the REAL racist!”. If you dare to peruse the comments sections of any number of public forums when the topic is police misconduct, BLM, etc, you will see repeatedly the most poisonous racial stereotypes. These people bitch and moan that White men built this country, and now it’s being taken away from them, never mind that women worked just as hard. Or all the economic value created from the literal sweat and blood of slave labor. Or the labor of many waves of non-WASP, and even non-White immigrants. I can understand why so many people on the other side of the ailse give up and start trolling/mocking these people. Willfully ignorance truly is the immovable object. Is it hopelessly naïve to think we can engage them in any adult discourse? Or can we only try to contain the damage their lashing out will cause?

    • Tuttabella says:

      If engaging people with such strong views is impossible, it’s best to ignore them, and that means not spending hours on end mocking them and/or reading their comments to get that rush of outrage, because doing so just leads to wasted time and energy better devoted to containing the damage.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Engaging in debate is great and seeing how others think is informative, but not when it keeps us from getting something concrete done.

      • flypusher says:

        Tutta, I agree with not engaging with people who are not open to dialog. I lurk on far more sites than I actually participate it. This site is one of the few because there is adult discussion and things to learn. But absolutely I lurked here first. Time is precious and not to be wasted on gone cesspools if hand Internet.

        But I don’t think it’s wise to ignore. These people can also vote, and some if them may get violent in their frustration. I think staying informed on all the opinions here is the first line of political defense.

      • flypusher says:

        Stupid autocorrect;

        Time is precious and not to be wasted on the cesspools of the Internet.

      • 1mime says:

        Tutta, I’ve been thinking about your statement that we may have to ignore people with strong views rather than trying to engage them. Think for a minute about someone who is being a bully – of a child, of you, or someone you like. How do rational people deal with someone like this? Someone whose general response is physical, verbally abusive, and tone-deaf? Yet, if no one challenges them, how long will the bullying go on? It’s the “how” that stops most people in their tracks until it becomes too painful or irritating to allow the ugliness and unfairness to continue. We can’t rid the world of all the mean-spirited bigots, but we can set examples with our own lives and we can teach our children and others we influence what is right. And, we can vote for officials who represent our values and will legislate where and when possible to ameliorate discrimination.

        What is sad is the message America is sending to the world about our racial inequality.

    • goplifer says:

      Getting there, but here’s the crux of the problem. They did what the culture has told them for 200 yrs was enough to earn the benefits of being white. Now, fairly suddenly, that formula doesn’t work anymore – at least not for them.

      Meanwhile, for higher income whites the band plays on. They (we) live in white neighborhoods, with white schools and continue to enjoy all the benefits that used to be associated with whiteness, plus now we get great restaurants and more interesting arts & entertainment. Educated, racially enlightened whites ironically still enjoy all the benefits of white supremacy while the cost is born by those lower down the income chain.

      Blue collar whites get sneered at for their bigotry, but no one ever expresses any concern about why Westchester County is practically all-white. From the perspective of those left behind, upper-income whites have reneged on the deal. Those folks have a point. It is a morally complex point, but a point nonetheless.

      All of this is complicated by the general lack of consciousness around any of these realities by whites at either end of the spectrum. This question has not entered public discourse and would require a lot of translation to get there.

      This is why I write about race so much. This is the only existential issue we face as a country in my lifetime. All of that stuff about the ownership society and a basic income is ultimately an effort to build a new order that can survive in an America where racial identity is no longer our social glue.

      • flypusher says:

        Dr. King nailed it in the “Drum Major Sermon”:

        “The other day I was saying, I always try to do a little converting when I’m in jail. And when we were in jail in Birmingham the other day, the white wardens and all enjoyed coming around the cell to talk about the race problem. And they were showing us where we were so wrong demonstrating. And they were showing us where segregation was so right. And they were showing us where intermarriage was so wrong. So I would get to preaching, and we would get to talking—calmly, because they wanted to talk about it. And then we got down one day to the point—that was the second or third day—to talk about where they lived, and how much they were earning. And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, “Now, you know what? You ought to be marching with us. [laughter] You’re just as poor as Negroes.” And I said, “You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. (Yes) And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white. And you’re so poor you can’t send your children to school. You ought to be out here marching with every one of us every time we have a march.”

        Now that’s a fact. That the poor white has been put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, (Make it plain) he is forced to support his oppressors. And the only thing he has going for him is the false feeling that he’s superior because his skin is white—and can’t hardly eat and make his ends meet week in and week out.”

        I suspect the end of this nasty little nut to crack first will be with the upper class more educated Whites. Not that I think they would dislike being informed of their retention of privilege any less than the lower class would dislike being told how they’ve been played for suckers, but knowledge is power. It can counter the fear of the unknown, the fear of the stranger that fuels so much of this racial hatred. The individual still must choose to accept reality and act, but that’s so much easier to do with education/experiences outside the White cultural bubble.

        I commend you for blogging about the things people don’t want to face.

      • goplifer says:

        I’m going to use that quote from MLK in the next post. Thanks. That was very helpful.

      • 1mime says:

        Fly, I love this story from Dr. King. Each time I read it, I marvel again at its utter simplicity and bare truth.

        One of the obvious problems for those who harbor animus towards minorities is that they can no longer segregate themselves in physical proximity….whether it be in restaurants, hotels, neighborhoods (except as segregated by the power of money), church, or public schools. It must gall those harboring these racial prejudices to no end to be shown to a table next to a Black family. It’s not just that they are Black, it’s that they have the temerity and the financial ability to eat in the same restaurant.

        This is going to be hard for so many people. Regardless one’s opinion of Pres. Obama, you have to admire his courage and fortitude to serve despite the threats and sneers he constantly faces. This will also require those who long ago dealt with this issue positively, to speak out – to lead by example. That may require more honesty than we see being finally expressed by the lower income, less educated White person. After all, if one has the ability to financially segregate oneself at work, neighborhood, and school, they are still controlling a pretty big part of their daily activities.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Funny, I was going to link to that quote ftom “Mississippi Burning” a couple of times in the past but didn’t. That quote affected me, and I remembered it because I recognized something about myself.

      • 1mime says:

        Thomas Edsall, NYT, has a piece today on political correctness. In it, he quotes Pres. Obama who in 2008, as a Presidential candidate, spoke publicly about the underlying resentments many White working men share and their anger that discussion, when it occurs, is cloaked in double-speak, or, PC.

        “Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense.”

        Obama then noted the consequences:

        “So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African-American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.”

        Obama also made a point about the political importance of what is said behind closed doors:

        “Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation.”

        One thing is true – offensive as Donald Trump is, he may have opened the floodgates to a more honest outpouring of feeling than we have witnessed in decades. The question is: what are we going to do about this? Can it stimulate change of our personal and national values relating to inequality?


  18. 1mime says:

    From Mississippi Burning: “An old man who was so filled with hate that he didn’t know that it was being poor that was killing him.”

    “Where does it come from, all this hated?”

    These statements really crystallize the issue.

    • texan5142 says:

      Superiority complex explains most of the hatred.

      From Wiki,

      “The superiority complex is one of the ways that a person with an inferiority complex may use as a method of escape from her or his difficulties. She or he assumes that she or he is superior when she or he is not, and this false success compensates her or him for the state of inferiority which she or he cannot bear. The normal person does not have a superiority complex, she or he does not even have a sense of superiority. She or he has the striving to be superior in the sense that we all have ambition to be successful; but so long as this striving is expressed in work it does not lead to false valuations, which are at the root of mental disease.”[4]

      Explains the mule story perfectly.

      • 1mime says:

        Yep, perish the thought that his dad could have made friends with Monroe, paid him for the use of his mule, and both benefited. He simply couldn’t lower himself to be dependent upon someone he had to feel was inferior in order to elevate himself, even if it was just old Black Monroe.

        Great movie. Still true.

      • 1mime says:

        I was turning that scene over in my mind this afternoon and it provoked another thought. During the Civil War, it was very common for the female head of house to conscript thehelp of the Black matron who was a good manager of the Black people on the farms or plantations. Deep friendships and respect resulted. Are the problems of White racial resentment greater among men than their female counterparts?

      • goplifer says:

        Ask an older black woman about those “friendships.” Hang on to your hat.

      • 1mime says:

        Oh, I have, Lifer. I was speaking about an era where women needed one another and found respect in their relationship. I’m not talking about superficial relationships that you may be referring to, or that were depicted in “The Help”. My personal relationships with older Black women (and men) has been positive. One of the most touching tributes every paid to me was from our Black housekeeper of over twenty years. As you know, a lot of politics is conducted through Black churches. At one such service, the subject dealt with changes that were being discussed by the school board (I was serving on) to the HeadStart Program, which was “sacrosanct” to the Black community. My name was brought up because I supported looking at all discretionary programs equally for funding consideration – a “zero-based” budgeting approach. (We were handed a multi-million dollar deficit by the outgoing board and had to balance our budget per state law.) When Dorothy heard me being criticized as a White person who didn’t care about Black children, she stood up and simply said, “She’s not that way.” Then she sat down. She was so respected in her church that that was the end of that. Her word was gold. I didn’t find out she had done this for years. One day we were reminiscing about my years on the school board and she told me what she had done. There have been other Black people who I had worked with on various projects stand up for me, as I was involved in public education activism for many years. Not that I asked for their support, or that I even knew about it until someone told me, but it meant a lot to me to have their respect and friendship.

        I know you hear a lot of unpleasant stories from Black friends, and I’m sure they are true. But there are good White people who have been working in the trenches to help Black people for years. Because it was just.

        So, in response to your comment. It depends upon whether the friendship and respect is genuine. But that was not my point. My question dealt with whether there is greater male resentment about racial issues.

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