The Obama Paradox

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-01-09 21:25Z by Steven

The Obama Paradox

Slate
2017-01-09

Jamelle Bouie, Chief Political Correspondent

Our first black president has an unyielding faith in the goodness of America. It got him elected. And it will cost him his legacy.

The myth of Barack Obama usually begins with his speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and for good reason—it was the speech that jump-started his political career, putting the then–state senator on the fast track to national office. But it wasn’t the speech that made him president. That speech was delivered at a moment of crisis. His former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was in the middle of a media firestorm over a sermon he had given in 2003 in the wake of the Iraq invasion. “No, no, no. Not God bless America,” thunders Wright in the now-infamous video. “God Damn America!”…

…For Obama, who built his political appeal on his distance from this rhetoric—from the tenor and tone of traditional black politics—Wright’s sermon was a disaster in the making. To operate in the mainstream, to attain influence and power, black public figures have to navigate a narrow strait of acceptable behavior. They cannot indulge their anger or give way to their passions. And for Obama, who sought an office all but reserved for white men, he had to prove that he wasn’t an Al Sharpton or a Jesse Jackson, that he held no resentment or frustration with the country. And so on March 18, 2008, Obama delivered an address in Philadelphia now known as his “A More Perfect Union” speech. In it, he repudiated Wright’s anger without dismissing its sources, and along the way he demonstrated the qualities that have defined him as president: a sense of balance, a willingness to look to the better angels of his opponents, a belief that there is always common ground…

Read the entire article here.

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How Trump Happened

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-03-13 18:53Z by Steven

How Trump Happened

Slate
2016-03-13

Jamelle Bouie, Chief Political Correspondent

It’s not just anger over jobs and immigration. White voters hope Trump will restore the racial hierarchy upended by Barack Obama.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” goes the line attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. Typically, you’ll find this pearl adorning a classroom or splashed across a motivational poster. But last month, on the eve of Super Tuesday—when a dozen states cast ballots for the Republican presidential nomination—you could find it on Donald Trump’s Instagram page, the caption to a photograph of a massive rally in Alabama the day before.

Perverse as it may seem for the belligerent real estate magnate to channel even apocryphal Gandhi wisdom, the line is apt. First, we did ignore him—as a buffoon who wouldn’t survive past the summer. Then, we laughed at him—as a buffoon who wouldn’t survive through fall. Eventually, Republicans began to fight him, terrified of his traction with voters. Now, he’s winning, with more votes and delegates than anyone left in the field. On the eve of another critical Tuesday slate of votes, Trump is on the verge of an even greater victory. Polls show him in command both in the smaller states that will award their delegates proportionally, and in the larger, winner-take-all prizes of Ohio and Florida. By Wednesday morning, Trump could be a stone’s throw from the Republican presidential nomination…

….Race plays a part in each of these analyses, but its role has not yet been central enough to our understanding of Trump’s rise. Not only does he lead a movement of almost exclusively disaffected whites, but he wins his strongest support in states and counties with the greatest amounts of racial polarization. Among white voters, higher levels of racial resentment have been shown to be associated with greater support for Trump.

All of which is to say that we’ve been missing the most important catalyst in Trump’s rise. What caused this fire to burn out of control? The answer, I think, is Barack Obama

…“The election of the country’s first black president had the ironic upshot of opening the door for old-fashioned racism to influence partisan preferences after it was long thought to be a spent force in American politics,” wrote Brown University political scientist Michael Tesler in a 2013 paper titled “The Return of Old Fashioned Racism to White Americans’ Partisan Preferences in the Early Obama Era.” For Tesler, “old-fashioned racism” isn’t a rhetorical term; it refers to specific beliefs about the biological and cultural inferiority of black Americans. His work suggests that there are some white Americans who, in his words, have “concerns about the leadership of a president from a racial group whom they consider to be intellectually and socially inferior.”…

Read the entire article here.

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How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America

Posted in Audio, Census/Demographics, Economics, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-01-06 00:23Z by Steven

How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America

The Diane Rehm Show
WAMU 88.5 FM
Washington, D.C.
2015-01-05

Diane Rehm, Host

Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Hispanic Research
Pew Research Center

Jim Tankersley, Economic Policy Correspondent
The Washington Post

William Frey, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program (author of Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America)
Brookings Institution

Jamelle Bouie, Staff writer covering politics, policy, and race
Slate

America is becoming a country with no racial majority. In 2009, for the first time in U.S. history, more minority than white babies were born in a year. Soon, most American children will be racial minorities. The nation’s diversity surge played a key role in Barack Obama’s election as president. Many see these trends as necessary as a much-needed younger minority labor force is already boosting an aging baby boom population. But challenges loom, including clashes over public resources, overcoming a cultural generation gap, and fears over losing privileged status. Diane and her guests discuss how new racial demographics are remaking America.

Listen to the show (00:51:40) here.

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The new threat: ‘Racism without racists’

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science, United States on 2014-11-28 03:32Z by Steven

The new threat: ‘Racism without racists’

Cable News Network (CNN)
2014-11-27

John Blake

They showed people a photograph of two white men fighting, one unarmed and another holding a knife. Then they showed another photograph, this one of a white man with a knife fighting an unarmed African-American man.

When they asked people to identify the man who was armed in the first picture, most people picked the right one. Yet when they were asked the same question about the second photo, most people — black and white — incorrectly said the black man had the knife.

Even before the Ferguson grand jury’s decision was announced, leaders were calling once again for a “national conversation on race.” But here’s why such conversations rarely go anywhere: Whites and racial minorities speak a different language when they talk about racism, scholars and psychologists say.

The knife fight experiment hints at the language gap. Some whites confine racism to intentional displays of racial hostility. It’s the Ku Klux Klan, racial slurs in public, something “bad” that people do.

But for many racial minorities, that type of racism doesn’t matter as much anymore, some scholars say. They talk more about the racism uncovered in the knife fight photos — it doesn’t wear a hood, but it causes unsuspecting people to see the world through a racially biased lens.

It’s what one Duke University sociologist calls “racism without racists.” Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, who’s written a book by that title, says it’s a new way of maintaining white domination in places like Ferguson.

“The main problem nowadays is not the folks with the hoods, but the folks dressed in suits,” says Bonilla-Silva…

…’I don’t see color’

It’s a phrase some white people invoke when a conversation turns to race. Some apply it to Ferguson. They’re not particularly troubled by the grand jury’s decision to not issue an indictment. The racial identities of Darren Wilson, the white police officer, and Michael Brown, the black man he killed, shouldn’t matter, they say. Let the legal system handle the decision without race-baiting. Justice should be colorblind.

Science has bad news, though, for anyone who claims to not see race: They’re deluding themselves, say several bias experts. A body of scientific research over the past 50 years shows that people notice not only race but gender, wealth, even weight.

When babies are as young as 3 months old, research shows they start preferring to be around people of their own race, says Howard J. Ross, author of “Everyday Bias,” which includes the story of the knife fight experiment…

…Another famous experiment shows how racial bias can shape a person’s economic prospects.

Professors at the University of Chicago and MIT sent 5,000 fictitious resumes in response to 1,300 help wanted ads. Each resume listed identical qualifications except for one variation — some applicants had Anglo-sounding names such as “Brendan,” while others had black-sounding names such as “Jamal.” Applicants with Anglo-sounding names were 50% more likely to get calls for interviews than their black-sounding counterparts.

Most of the people who didn’t call “Jamal” were probably unaware that their decision was motivated by racial bias, says Daniel L. Ames, a UCLA researcher who has studied and written about bias.

“If you ask someone on the hiring committee, none of them are going to say they’re racially biased,” Ames says. “They’re not lying. They’re just wrong.”

Ames says such biases are dangerous because they’re often unseen.

“Racial biases can in some ways be more destructive than overt racism because they’re harder to spot, and therefore harder to combat,” he says…

…’But I have black friends’

In the movie “The Godfather,” the character of Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, hatches an audacious plan to kill a mobster and a crooked cop who tried to kill his father.

Michael’s elders scoff at his plans because they believe his judgment is clouded by anger. But in a line that would define his ruthless approach to wielding power, Michael tells them:

“It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”When some whites talk about racism, they think it’s only personal — what one person says or does to another. But many minorities and people who study race say racism can be impersonal, calculating, devoid of malice — such as Michael Corleone’s approach to power.

“The first thing we must stop doing is making racism a personal thing and understand that it is a system of advantage based on race,” says Doreen E. Loury, director of the Pan African Studies program at Arcadia University, near Philadelphia.

Loury says racism “permeates every facet of our societal pores.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Will Today’s Hispanics Be Tomorrow’s Whites?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-16 19:53Z by Steven

Will Today’s Hispanics Be Tomorrow’s Whites?

Slate
2014-04-15

Jamelle Bouie, staff writer covering politics, policy, and race

How Hispanics perceive themselves may shape the future of race in America.

The Trayvon Martin shooting was hardly in the national consciousness before fault lines emerged around the case. Was Martin as innocent as he seemed? Did Zimmerman fear for his life? Did Martin provoke the incident? Was Zimmerman a racist?

Perhaps most controversial among all of these was the question of identity. Yes, Trayvon Martin was black, but is Zimmerman white? For Martin’s sympathizers, the answer was yes. For Zimmerman’s, the answers ranged from “it doesn’t matter” to he “is actually a Hispanic nonracist person who acted in self-defense.”…

…According to Pew—and echoing the results in the last census—the United States is just a few decades away from its demographic inflection point. Come 2050, only 47 percent of Americans will call themselves white, while the majority will belong to a minority group. Blacks will remain steady at 13 percent of the population, while Asians will grow to 8 percent. Hispanics, on the other hand, will explode to 28 percent of all U.S. population, up from 19 percent in 2010. Immigration is driving this “demographic makeover,” specifically the “40 million immigrants who have arrived since 1965, about half of them Hispanics and nearly three-in-ten Asians.”

But the thing to remember about the Hispanic category, for instance, is that it contains a wide range of colors and ethnicities. In the United States, Hispanics (or more broadly Latinos) include Afro-Brazilians, dark-skinned Puerto Ricans, indigenous Mexicans, Venezuelan mestizos, and European Argentinians, among others.

To say that America will become a majority-minority country is to erase these distinctions and assume that, for now and forever, Latinos will remain a third race, situated next to “non-Hispanic blacks” and “non-Hispanic whites.” But, as the Zimmerman controversy illustrates, it’s not that simple…

Read the entire article here.

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Discussing Trayvon Martin, Obama Embraces his Blackness

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-07-23 19:01Z by Steven

Discussing Trayvon Martin, Obama Embraces his Blackness

The American Prospect
2013-07-19

Jamelle Bouie, Staff Writer

On Obama’s remarks this afternoon.

When President Obama issued a pro forma statement following last week’s verdict in the Zimmerman trial, there was some disappointment—“Why didn’t he say more?” It only takes a small step back to see the answer; not only would it have been inappropriate for the president to question the decision of the jury, but given wide outrage at the ruling, it could have inflamed passions on both sides.

But it isn’t out of bounds for Obama to speak on the meaning of Trayvon Martin, which he did this afternoon, during a White House press briefing. And unlike his earlier statement, this was a frank and heartfelt take on the racial issues surrounding the shooting and the trial.

Which, to be honest, came as a surprise. Barack Obama’s entire political career has been about de-racializing his personal identity. Yes, he was a black senator from Illinois, but for white audiences at least, he wasn’t a black one. It’s why the Jeremiah Wright controversy was so dangerous for his candidacy—it emphasized his blackness at a time when he was trying most to build a universal appeal…

…Obama gains nothing by identifying with his blackness, but in talking about Martin, he did exactly that. “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son,” said the president, “Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” He continued, “There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Whither White America?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-06-19 17:02Z by Steven

Whither White America?

The American Prospect
2013-06-13

Jamelle Bouie

More thoughts on the future of white people.

“Majority-minority” is an unusual term—by definition, minorities are no longer such if they’re in the majority—but it’s a convenient shorthand for what most people expect to happen in the United States over the next few decades. A growing population of nonwhites—driven by Asian and Latino immigration—will yield a country where most Americans have nonwhite heritage, thus “majority-minority.”

The most recent analysis from the Census Bureau seems to bear this out. Last year was the first year that whites were a minority of all newborns, and based on current rates of growth, they’ll become a minority of the under–five set by next year, if not the end of this one. Overall, the government projects that within five years, minorities will compromise a majority of all Americans under the age of eighteen, something to keep in mind when trying to project future political support for both parties…

…One fact stands out in all of this, however. The fastest growing group of Americans—by far—fall under the “multiracial category.” If past research is any indication, these Americans are likely the product of intermarriage between whites and Hispanics (the most common interracial pairing) or whites and Asians (the next most common one). While we identify them as nonwhite, we don’t know how they’ll identify themselves in the future.

My hunch is that—as (certain groups of) Latinos and Asians integrate themselves into American life—a good number will identify themselves as white, with Hispanic or Asian heritage, in the same way that many white Americans point to their Irish or Italian backgrounds…

Read the entire article here.

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The Democrats’ Demographic Dreams

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-01-11 20:14Z by Steven

The Democrats’ Demographic Dreams

The American Prospect
2012-06-14

Jamelle Bouie, Staff Writer

Liberals are counting on population trends to doom 
Republicans to a long-term minority. They shouldn’t.

If Democrats agree on anything, it’s that they will eventually be on the winning side. The white Americans who tend to vote Republican are shrinking as a percentage of the population while the number of those who lean Democratic—African Americans and other minorities—is rapidly growing. Slightly more than half of American infants are now nonwhite. By 2050, the U.S. population is expected to increase by 117 million people, and the vast majority—82 percent of the 117 million—will be immigrants or the children of immigrants. In a little more than 30 years, the U.S. will be a “majority-minority” country. By 2050, white Americans will no longer be a solid majority but the largest plurality, at 46 percent. African Americans will drop to 12 percent, while Asian Americans will make up 8 percent of the population. The number of Latinos will rise to nearly a third of all Americans.
 
It’s become an article of faith among many progressives that these trends set the stage for a new Democratic majority. A decade ago, Ruy Teixeira and John B. Judis popularized this argument in their book The Emerging Democratic Majority. More recently, Jonathan Chait in New York magazine made a similar case: “The modern GOP—the party of Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes—is staring down its own demographic extinction,” he wrote. “Conservative America will soon come to be dominated, in a semi-permanent fashion, by an ascendant Democratic coalition hostile to its outlook and interests.”
 
At the moment, Democrats have a powerful hold on nonwhite voters. African Americans routinely vote Democratic by huge margins; 95 percent cast ballots for President Barack Obama, and on average 88 percent have voted for Democratic candidates since 1964, the year Lyndon Johnson guided the Civil Rights Act through Congress. Over the past decade, Latinos have also become a reliably Democratic constituency; 67 percent voted for Obama, and 60 percent supported Democrats in the 2010 congressional elections, when Republicans triumphed otherwise. Asian Americans are only a bit less enthusiastic about the Democrats.
 
At the same time that Democrats won the overwhelming support of African Americans, white voters began to make a corresponding shift into the Republican Party. With the help of racist appeals to the former Confederacy (the “Southern Strategy”), Republicans built on their advantage with white voters to earn a decisive share of their support. In 1972, Richard Nixon won nearly 70 percent of white voters, and in 1984, Ronald Reagan won 64 percent of whites. In the last decade of presidential elections, Republicans have won, on average, 56 percent of the white vote. If whites were the only people who voted in presidential elections, Democrats could not win.

For many Democratic activists, Obama’s surprising 2008 wins in Virginia, Indiana, Colorado, and North Carolina proved that the party can now win toss-up states with high support and turnout from minorities. As the nonwhite population grows, Democrats are expected to win national elections as long as they keep a healthy portion of the white vote. If Republicans represent the ethnic majority of today’s America, then Democrats represent tomorrow’s—a coalition of black, brown, and Asian Americans, along with liberal and moderate whites, that will become the “permanent majority” that Karl Rove once dreamed of for the GOP.

At least that’s the story. In reality, however, it’s not clear that Democrats can count on the inexorable march of demographics to secure a majority. Assimilation and shifting notions of racial identity could change the equation, and political affiliations—to say nothing of parties—can change dramatically over the course of a generation. Adrian Pantoja, a political scientist who studies Latino political behavior and racial politics, is skeptical. “This is all based on the assumption that the GOP is going to continue to be hostile to minority voters,” he says, “and that minorities will continue to identify as minorities or nonwhite.” Neither is certain.

For all of the racial disparities that still characterize the American experience, it’s also true that race is declining in cultural significance. Interracial relationships—romantic or otherwise—are more common than they’ve ever been. In 2010, 15 percent of all new marriages were intermarriages, and 86 percent of Americans approved of them. The large majority of these marriages occurred among whites, Latinos, and Asians: Forty-three percent were between white and Latino partners, while 14 percent were between white and Asian partners.
 
This has profound implications. If whites are the “mainstream” of American life, with overwhelming representation in politics, business, and culture, then intermarriage with Latinos and Asians has the potential to bring those groups into the mainstream as well. Put another way, the wildly popular comedian Louis C.K. is understood to be white, even though his father and grandfather are Mexican and his first language is Spanish. More important, his children will be perceived as white, despite their Latino heritage. In effect, C.K. and others like him are expanding the definition of “white.”
 
To Pantoja, this bears a strong resemblance to the pattern of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when the U.S. saw massive immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe. “Latinos seem to be on a similar trajectory as Italians,” he says. “At the turn of the century, the Italians were seen as a stigmatized minority group that could not be assimilated into the American mainstream.” It was common to describe Italians as “dark,” “swarthy,” and—in language that also has characterized African Americans—prone to crime and poverty. But as Italians rose out of working-class professions and joined a burgeoning middle class, they and other “nonwhite” immigrants assimilated. Eventually, the New Deal, along with unions, service in World War II, and the G.I. Bill, brought Italians fully into American life…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial Divides in a Multicultural America

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-02-03 02:33Z by Steven

Racial Divides in a Multicultural America

The American Prospect
2011-01-31

Jamelle Bouie

In The New York Times, Susan Saulny writes about the apparent malleability of race in an increasingly multicultural America. To that end, she profiles a group of students in the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association at the University of Maryland:
 
Many young adults of mixed backgrounds are rejecting the color lines that have defined Americans for generations in favor of a much more fluid sense of identity. Ask Michelle López-Mullins, a 20-year-old junior and the president of the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association, how she marks her race on forms like the census, and she says, “It depends on the day, and it depends on the options.”

It’s interesting to see a group of kids who want to live in a colorblind—or at least, racially fluid—world. But I’m not sure how meaningful this is for future demographic trends. I’ve said this before, but it remains true that “black/non-black” is the main racial divide in American life. For proof, it’s useful to look at rates of interracial marriage:…

…The great majority of intermarriages take place between Hispanics, Asians, and whites. If there is a great population of multiracial people, it’s almost certain that they will be some combination of Hispanic and white, or Asian and white. Undoubtedly, some of these people will “become” white in our racial discourse. To paraphrase myself, by 2050 or so, we’ll have a large population of white people with Latino or Asian last names, and a cultural understanding similar to the descendants of ethnic European immigrants…

Read the entire article here.

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