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Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN" 
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 Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN"
Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN"


Please use this thread to discuss the above referenced chapter.



Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:33 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN"
Coates' first piece takes on a huge theme for African-Americans: integration vs. independence. His occasion was Bill Cosby's "pound cake speech" (brothers getting shot over a slice of pound cake, and what a shame such cultural baggage is). His anguish seems honest, to me. He surveys some of the historical figures, such as Marcus Garvey and Louis Farrakhan, who have taken either a stance of self-reliance, in which blacks are urged to keep promises, patronize each other's businesses, quit with the misogyny, and otherwise pull themselves up by their bootstraps, or of confrontation, in which the systemic racism which holds African-Americans back is confronted.

His introduction is even more interesting (at least to white folks like me) because he reflects on the position Barack Obama played relative to this tension. Like Dr. Huxtable before him, Obama offered the hope of black people fitting into America "as" black people - no more remarkable or victimized than Italian-Americans or Jewish-Americans. The drama of racism could at last be treated as a distraction to be gotten past. Or that was the hope.

Trump's election in 2016, and events like Charlottesville in 2017, have quenched that hope. For the moment. It is clear that there are still a lot of white Americans voting against People of Color. What Coates has no answers for (nor anyone else, as far as I can tell) is the dysfunctional behavior which continues to set up African-Americans as scapegoats and motivate white people to respond to them with fear rather than color-blind normalcy.



Last edited by Harry Marks on Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:44 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN"
Mr. Marks, I do not agree that one election and one unfortunate act of hate motivated by racism somehow mean that racism can never become a thing of the past. The truth is: race does not form character any more than eye color or preference of ice cream flavor. Race should not matter at all. It should be altogether a matter of indifference in business, politics and life. Are there still racists? No doubt. There are haters of every stripe and will continue to be, but it is not unreasonable to hope and expect that racism will continue to be marginalized in American culture and society. There are, after all, still Nazis...but they are marginal.



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Harry Marks
Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:27 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN"
TEKennelly wrote:
Mr. Marks, I do not agree that one election and one unfortunate act of hate motivated by racism somehow mean that racism can never become a thing of the past.

I am sorry if I suggested the "never" in that sentence. I don't think it is intended by Coates, either. The point seems to be (the introduction to his second essay is a little plainer) that people had hoped that Obama's election meant racism as a social force was already a thing of the past. That it could just be politely ignored and the result would be racism withering away on its own. The sad truth is that his election did not mean that, and the events of the last 24 months have made that clear.

TEKennelly wrote:
The truth is: race does not form character any more than eye color or preference of ice cream flavor.
Well, there are many truths at work, and that is just one of them. As a matter of recognizing facts, we should acknowledge that race continues to be a potent social construct, and people's ideas about it continue to matter very much to the people who have been victimized by it all along, as well as to any country which, like ours, has more than 10% of its citizens facing this nasty pattern.

TEKennelly wrote:
Race should not matter at all. It should be altogether a matter of indifference in business, politics and life.
And in fifty or a hundred years it may not matter. But that depends partly on our willingness to confront the implicit racism still pervasively facing African-Americans, and the overt racism still hanging on among the fringe.

TEKennelly wrote:
Are there still racists? No doubt. There are haters of every stripe and will continue to be, but it is not unreasonable to hope and expect that racism will continue to be marginalized in American culture and society. There are, after all, still Nazis...but they are marginal.
From your mouth to God's ears, as they say. I share your evaluation and your optimism. But I also think it's a good idea if white people like myself acknowledge the cost that continued racism still imposes.



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Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:09 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN"
I was just listening to this first essay on CD. For anyone who is also reading the J.D. Vance book, do you think there is a rough similarity between Bill Cosby's conservatism and Vance's conservatism? Both say that their cultures need to stop blaming others for problems and look within for solutions. I'm not sure, though, that that is what qualifies each as conservative. Maybe that has more to do, in Cosby's case, with wanting to return to a previous time when the black family supposedly didn't have the problems it has today. In Vance's case, conservatism probably lies in the folly of relying on the government to solve the dilemmas of his people.



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Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:23 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN"
DWill wrote:
For anyone who is also reading the J.D. Vance book, do you think there is a rough similarity between Bill Cosby's conservatism and Vance's conservatism? Both say that their cultures need to stop blaming others for problems and look within for solutions.
Yes, I think that is a good comparison. I tend to focus on the recent research showing that conservatives, on average, are more wary, more focused on threats, and in Haidt's findings, more sensitive to "disgust" and rejection of things that are "unacceptable" in the typical social mores. But going back a long way, self-reliance was a lot of what conservatism was about, and still is.

There's a lot to say for it, starting with how difficult it is for anyone to make something of themselves without it. I was raised by self-reliant, Republican parents. But we also benefited from my father's union, and an economy that was advancing by leaps and bounds and had plenty of jobs even for relatively uneducated (white) men like my father. The problem with relying on self-reliance is that it doesn't, in general, deliver the goods as well as some forms of cooperative organization.

DWill wrote:
I'm not sure, though, that that is what qualifies each as conservative. Maybe that has more to do, in Cosby's case, with wanting to return to a previous time when the black family supposedly didn't have the problems it has today. In Vance's case, conservatism probably lies in the folly of relying on the government to solve the dilemmas of his people.
And yet Vance was able to rise above the low expectations of his culture due to the Marines, which is government. Lest we forget, the military was racially integrated before Southern and urban Northern schools were. As far as I'm concerned, the government has some responsibility to make opportunities available to common people, even though it can't fix everything.

I think Coates papers over the problems of the black family too readily. His focus is on injustice, and that is something I agree with. He does acknowledge deep-seated problems, and I think he is right to argue that they are focused on by prejudice to absolve white people for the crime and destruction of white supremacy. But he comes close to pretending that family pathology will go away without "bootstrap" effort and re-orientation of parenting. I don't think that matches our experience with pathology, white, black, brown or other.



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Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:04 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN"
Someone I read recently brought in Haidt to explain Trump's aversion to immigrants, citing the moral foundation of purity/contamination. I believe that Haidt has found this moral "taste" to be more active in those identifying as conservative. Trump does indeed exhibit at times a
visceral disgust at immigrants, as in the shithole slur.

There is much talk of bootstrapping out there. Ben Carson, Trump's puzzling choice for HUD sec., likes to pound that theme. The belief that government benefit programs create dependency is deep-seated. These days, it would seem that the short-term availability of these programs gives the lie to that belief, whatever the truth of the fear may be.

If Vance does enter politics, it'll be interesting to see where he puts himself on the spectrum. I have him pegged as a Mitch Daniels conservative. That wouldn't be bad, as I think Daniels is smart and sensible from what I've seen of him.



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Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:05 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN"
DWill wrote:
Someone I read recently brought in Haidt to explain Trump's aversion to immigrants, citing the moral foundation of purity/contamination. I believe that Haidt has found this moral "taste" to be more active in those identifying as conservative.
Thomas Edsall, in the NY Times, interviewed a researcher with interesting findings about the effects of immigration on voting patterns:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/opin ... ation.html
What is odd about them is that counties with very few immigrants to start with were most likely to have their voting pattern changed by an immigrant influx. Now, some of that may be quirks of quantitative measurement - I haven't seen the research, but if the absolute size of the influx is the same, its relative effect (i.e. percent change) is much larger from a small base. But it looks very different from Gladwell's "Tipping Point" observations.

One way to explain it would be as a violation of "purity" perceptions. Tipping point research sees something between 15% and 25% presence by a minority group to change the perception that a place is "ours" (by whites). But if someone is reacting to "impurity" a small presence can have a stronger effect. Given all the Fox News attention to "sharia law coming here" and other such scare-mongering, that is actually possible.


DWill wrote:
There is much talk of bootstrapping out there. Ben Carson, Trump's puzzling choice for HUD sec., likes to pound that theme. The belief that government benefit programs create dependency is deep-seated. These days, it would seem that the short-term availability of these programs gives the lie to that belief, whatever the truth of the fear may be.
I do think dependency was sometimes a problem, but that has as much to do with lack of jobs as with government assistance. The same thing is happening in small factory cities of the Midwest - a combination of disability status being available and lack of jobs to move to, or unwillingness to move (people over 40 are not usually willing to move to a different city just for a job, unless they really have to or they are used to being moved by their company).

It often isn't realized that states deliberately moved many welfare recipients onto SSI disability as a response to Welfare Reform. With time limits pressuring them and quotas for reducing the rolls, case workers looked for possible reasons a person might be classified as disabled. There was a huge shift in the late 90s from state welfare (which was, ironically, usually more temporary) to federal SSI.

The tone of all this debate will shift as people adjust to having a growing economy again. Reverse emigration "back" to Mexico already exceeds immigration. With jobs in the U.S. back, there may be some shift back to net immigration, but we have long passed the wave caused by people thrown out of rural agricultural jobs in Mexico by NAFTA's U.S. food exports (subsidized, of course). The fears will subside, and people will turn to other concerns (like weather disasters? we can hope).



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Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:04 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN"
Harry Marks wrote:
Thomas Edsall, in the NY Times, interviewed a researcher with interesting findings about the effects of immigration on voting patterns:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/opin ... ation.html
What is odd about them is that counties with very few immigrants to start with were most likely to have their voting pattern changed by an immigrant influx. Now, some of that may be quirks of quantitative measurement - I haven't seen the research, but if the absolute size of the influx is the same, its relative effect (i.e. percent change) is much larger from a small base. But it looks very different from Gladwell's "Tipping Point" observations.

One way to explain it would be as a violation of "purity" perceptions. Tipping point research sees something between 15% and 25% presence by a minority group to change the perception that a place is "ours" (by whites). But if someone is reacting to "impurity" a small presence can have a stronger effect. Given all the Fox News attention to "sharia law coming here" and other such scare-mongering, that is actually possible.

Your idea might be correct. I've wondered why there can be so much prejudice in areas that are homogeneous.
Quote:
I do think dependency was sometimes a problem, but that has as much to do with lack of jobs as with government assistance. The same thing is happening in small factory cities of the Midwest - a combination of disability status being available and lack of jobs to move to, or unwillingness to move (people over 40 are not usually willing to move to a different city just for a job, unless they really have to or they are used to being moved by their company).

It often isn't realized that states deliberately moved many welfare recipients onto SSI disability as a response to Welfare Reform. With time limits pressuring them and quotas for reducing the rolls, case workers looked for possible reasons a person might be classified as disabled. There was a huge shift in the late 90s from state welfare (which was, ironically, usually more temporary) to federal SSI.

I knew about the sharp increase in disability awards over the past 20 years or so, but had not known about this specific cause. It makes sense. Disability due to mental illness has increased the fastest, which has made critics suspect that real illness is not present in many cases. They might not be wrong about that.



Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:25 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN"
The story about shifting people from welfare to SSI can be found here:
http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/

I first read about it in the Atlantic. This was not the story I read, but it goes over much of the same ground, and also gives credit to the Earned Income Tax Credit, which I must say was a stroke of brilliant policy and may have single-handedly created the budget surpluses of the late Clinton Administration.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... ol/257558/



Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:55 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: NOTES FROM THE FIRST YEAR - "THIS IS HOW WE LOST TO THE WHITE MAN"
The anti-public radio folks should read that NPR article. By no means does it parrot liberal talking points. The Atlantic article was incomplete in one way. It didn't mention that the SSA, in order to encourage people to get off disability, allows them to gross about $1,150 per month from work without losing their check. That can be a nice supplement to the average disability check of $1,300. The problem is that usually recipients won't want to increase their hours even if they can handle that. The SSDI check is their primary security; they don't want to lose it because if they need it later it will be difficult to get it back. The part-time jobs that they get also tend to be quite insecure, with little if any career potential.



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