Defending Affirmative Action; Post-Racialism Is Dead

Algernon Austin presents an excellent, concise, and wonderfully read scholarly examination of the complicated landscape of race, class and popular perception. Besides the prison industrial complex, black strides in education, poverty rates, crime and other indices contradict claims that blacks are “moving backward.”
--Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, Director, Institute for African American Studies, University of Connecticut and author of Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity (The Johns Hopkins University Press), 2004 and Hip-Hop Revolution: The Culture and Politics of Rap (University Press of Kansas), 2007.

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Tim Wise Defends Affirmative Action

Post-Racialism is Dead

For those of us who actually looked at the data on racial discrimination [PDF], "post-racialism" never made any sense. But for a moment, many people actually seriously considered that we might be a post-racial nation. Now, as charges of racism fly left and right, it is finally clear that we are not there yet. Not only are we not post-racial, but it seems that we need to worry about the re-emergence of the Confederacy. Below are statements by major columnists renouncing post-racialism.
  • The one lesson that everyone took away from the latest “national conversation about race” is the same one we’ve taken away from every other “national conversation” in the past couple of years. America has not transcended race. America is not postracial. So we can all say that again. But it must also be said that we’re just at the start of what may be a 30-year struggle. Beer won’t cool the fury of those who can’t accept the reality that America’s racial profile will no longer reflect their own. (Frank Rich, "Small Beer, Big Hangover," New York Times, August 1, 2009)

  • But today's Palinoidal Republicans have lost most of the professionals, much of Wall Street and an increasing chunk of suburbia. What they can claim is the allegiance of the white South and the almost entirely white, non-urban parts of the Mountain West. Of the 40 Republican members of the Senate, fully half -- 20 -- come from the old Confederacy, the Civil War border states where slavery was legal or Oklahoma, which politically is an extension of Texas without Texas's racial minorities. Ten others come from the Mountain West. The rest of the nation -- that is, of course, most of the nation -- has become an ever-smaller share of Republican ranks.

    All parties are home to distinct subcultures with distinct beliefs. What's different about today's GOP is that increasingly, it is home to just one, and a whole sector of the media -- Fox News, talk radio -- makes its money by emphasizing this subculture's sense of separateness, grievance and alarm, and by creating its own set of "facts." Asked in late July whether they believed Barack Obama was born in the United States, 93 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of independents said yes, but just 42 percent of Republicans agreed. Behind those numbers, 93 percent, 90 percent and 87 percent of Northeasterners, Midwesterners and Westerners, respectively, said yes, but just 47 percent of Southerners said they believed the president was born in this country. Obama, the Republican base is saying, personifies an America that is increasingly alien to them. It's multiracial, as they are not. It puts Sonia Sotomayor, who sure doesn't come from their America, on the Supreme Court. Increasingly, the Republicans have descended into white identity politics.
    (Harold Meyerson, "Lincoln's Prophecy for the GOP," Washington Post, August 20, 2009)

  • On the contrary, violence and the threat of violence have always been used by those who wanted to bypass democratic procedures and the rule of law. Lynching was the act of those who refused to let the legal system do its work. Guns were used on election days in the Deep South during and after Reconstruction to intimidate black voters and take control of state governments.

    Yes, I have raised the racial issue, and it is profoundly troubling that firearms should begin to appear with some frequency at a president's public events only now, when the president is black. Race is not the only thing at stake here, and I have no knowledge of the personal motivations of those carrying the weapons. But our country has a tortured history on these questions, and we need to be honest about it. Those with the guns should know what memories they are stirring.
    (E. J. Dionne, "Leave the Guns at Home," Washington Post, August 20, 2009)