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Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL 
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 Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL
Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL


Please use this thread to discuss the above referenced chapter.



Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:32 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL
Interesting piece. The writer's honesty about his ignorance and his struggles is something more than charming.



Last edited by TEKennelly on Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:33 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL
Coates discloses, part way through the piece on Michelle Obama, that he has never been called "nigger" by a white person. And I believe him. Even back in the 70s, when Midwestern and Southern white roommates in college explained to me that "there's niggers", meaning there are aggressive black men with a chip on their shoulders, willing to be provocative and unpleasant, the word had meaning outside the racist slur meant to keep people of color in a subservient place. Since I grew up in Southern California, where no one would have gotten away with questioning different races in the same swimming pool, I mostly know a white America in which open racism is a sign of Archie-Bunker-esque ignorance and pathetic grasping after a shred of forlorn race-based dignity.

Coates wanted to recognize Michelle Obama's graceful incorporation of the American story into her own personal story as a sign of normality. The South Side of Chicago is another symbol for him, as Harlem once was for other writers chronicling the black experience, of black people able to carry on normal lives, with board games rather than whippings, and two committed parents, and no confrontation with white racists except the dignified legal challenge to exclusive housing covenants.

I would have liked to see more "show" and less "tell", about her sense of humor, for example. He is better on the details of private normalcy than on exhibiting her public qualities for the record.

I also found the evocation of her full blackness (by contrast with mixed race Barack Obama) a bit disconcerting, as if someone who should know better was buying into racial symbolism when the subject was really the mechanics of post-racism construction of a colorblind structure of meaning. But Coates operates out of the full awareness of minority vulnerability, and he is not going to sign on to any post-racism project until we are actually past racism, and it has become no more significant than claims of a flat earth. We are not there yet.



Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:07 am
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Post Re: Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL
In very many regards, the whole conversation about race is disconcerting. Do you suppose that flat earth claims could fade into irrelevance if people kept talking about the flat earth and just how flat it really is and how the flat earth shapes and defines every landscape? And how wherever you go, there you can see the flat earth? It is certainly possible to see the world in this way.



Last edited by TEKennelly on Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:12 am
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Post Re: Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL
TEKennelly wrote:
In very many regards, the whole conversation about race is disconcerting. Do you suppose that flat earth claims could fade into irrelevance if people kept talking about the flat earth and just how flat it really is and how the flat earth shapes and defines every landscape? And how wherever you go, there you can see the flat earth? It is certainly possible to see the world in this way.

Well, if some category of people kept being afflicted because flat earthers felt it should be the result, I suspect there would continue to be an on-going discussion about flat-earthism. Just because you and I can see that the category of race is not intrinsically relevant doesn't mean it has no effect on people's lives.

I have read more than a few comments to the effect that the commenter doesn't see any reason to discuss race anymore because there are no legal, formal, permitted racist structures anymore. Needless to say, only white people reach that conclusion. If nobody with any power still cared about race, the subject would go away. As Coates says, white people often seem to think black people like talking about race, when in fact they are just confronted with it relentlessly.

Just consider, for a moment, the movies. Why is it that larger, and richer, audiences show up for a movie about the lives of white people than about the lives of black people? Do you think this is just a random outcome, and next year it might suddenly switch so that larger, richer audiences show up for movies about black people?

I don't see the point in denying the problem we face.



Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:19 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL
Actually there are black Americans who would like to stop talking about race.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2d2SzRZvsQ



Last edited by TEKennelly on Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:29 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL
Right. I believe that sentiment has been made before: Why can't we all get along???



Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:53 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL
Well, Morgan Freeman says if we stop talking about race it will stop being a problem. The clip doesn't give him a chance to explain why he thinks that's the case, but I am familiar with the arguments on the other side. So, I still don't see the point in denial. Maybe someone can explain it to me.



Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:47 am
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Post Re: Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL
In truth, race is irrelevant. It does not determine in modern America the limits of your abilities or prospects, it does not shape your character or personality. It generally plays a major role in your life, or the life of Coates, or any American only to the extent that one focuses on it and thinks it is the reason one can do or not do something, or suffers or fails to suffer something. This is why silence about it is a good policy.

I am a bit of two minds on the subject as I believe discussion of reparations is appropriate. What form might they take? I do not know, but discussion of it is appropriate.



Last edited by TEKennelly on Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:04 am, edited 2 times in total.



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Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:16 am
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Post Re: Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL
TEKennelly wrote:
In truth, race is irrelevant. It does not determine in modern America the limits of your abilities or prospects, it does not shape your character or personality. It generally plays a major role in your life, or the life of Coates, or any American only to the extent that one focuses on it and thinks it is the reason one can do or not do something, or suffers or fails to suffer something. This is why silence about it is a good policy.
Yes, well, sometimes it is best to be silent about it, but it is hardly irrelevant. I wonder if Morgan Freeman and Bill Cosby understand that the grinding effects of implicit racism hold many back even though they have managed to escape them.

In my extended family of origin (white) there are many people who have allowed the difficulties of life to cause them to give up on dreams and crash their lives. So I certainly sympathize with those who say any black person can rise above the continued current of racism and, by focusing on other things, overcome trials of life.

But I am also a social scientist - economist by training. And I know that many forces go into any success or failure, and the outcome is a net result of those many forces, sometimes interacting. So when I read that blind matched experiments consistently show that black people face resistance that white people don't, I can't just ignore that with just an admonition to somehow overcome it. Some will, and praise to them. But over the broad spectrum of people that make up our society, many will not. And I don't feel comfortable pretending that this is only a result of lower inner worth.

Think about it: a black man applying for a job, with equal qualifications to a matched white male applicant, has such a reduced likelihood of being called back for an interview that a white man with a prison record has the same chance of being called back. How can we pretend that is irrelevant? Race is not intrinsically relevant, but in a society like ours it is relevant nonetheless.

TEKennelly wrote:
I am a bit of two minds on the subject as I believe discussion of reparations is appropriate. What form might they take? I do not know, but discussion of it is appropriate.
That is a chapter coming up. It was the essay that got Coates labelled a leftist, which I think is very telling. I hope many people join in, because it is hardly a simple subject.



Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:12 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 2: NOTES FROM THE SECOND YEAR - AMERICAN GIRL
Coates speaks of this study about the applicants. I Have not read it. It might be true, but true or not one must make one's own way.

The point is not that everyone will get his dream job, etc. Life is hard. If you want to succeed, you will have to apply yourself and work...whatever the color of your skin.

Coates is himself an example of this.



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Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:34 pm
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