Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is an editor and blogger at The Atlantic; he writes about media, politics, what it's like to be African American in this day and age, learning French, being a father, being a writer, football, and all manner of other things. His series on slave narratives - biographical works by former slaves - has been fantastic, and shows both the desire of the enslaved people to establish families and the efforts of slave owners to destroy black families.

He has written a great deal about hidden racism and how it affects African Americans. By "hidden racism," I mean the ways that previously-obvious white supremacy has gone underground and turned into something else. In a posting a day or so ago, he wrote about efforts to apportion electoral votes in Virginia according to a gerrymandered scheme that will favor white, rural counties over the more diverse and more populous urban counties in that state. Such an apportionment would have given the state to Mitt Romney even though President Obama won more than 50% of the vote. (Gerrymandering is also why the Republicans hold a House majority in Congress even though more than 50% of votes nationwide are going to Democrats.)

I'll also suggest a look at his posting called The American Case Against a Black Middle Class, which is about all the institutionalized ways that we have structured laws to keep black people from getting ahead in the ways that generations of immigrants have been able to get ahead. He doesn't mention that after WWII, during the great housing boom and the great entry of people into college because of the GI Bill, it was a lot harder for black people to get mortgages and a lot harder for black people to get into school. That was a result of institutionalized racism in housing and college admissions.

After you've read those postings, think about the anti-tax movement, which arose within a decade or so of the passage of the big civil rights bills of the 1960s and started having serious effects in 1978 with the passage of the evil Prop. 13 in California. And think about the Republicans in Kansas who are trying to eliminate the income tax there altogether.


john_burke100 said...

A couple of useful resources: Klinkner and Smith, The Unsteady March documents how "significant advances in racial justice have occurred only when three circumstances have converged: large-scale wars, which require extensive economic and military mobilization of African-Americans; an enemy that inspires American leaders to advocate inclusive, egalitarian values... and domestic political organizations that are able to pressure those leaders to follow through on their rhetoric." Arnesen , Brotherhoods of Color, shows how apparently race-neutral laws and institutions (his focus is railroad labor, my special focus) operate to reinforce inequality and exclusion--as an intended, not unforeseen, consequence.

Henry Holland said...

Repeal Prop. 13 NOW.

I loved the kerfluffle after Ahnold got elected, he hired Warren Buffett to be an advisor. Buffett then wrote an op-ed about the crazy tax situation in California, where he bought a house in Laguna in the early 70's and it's taxed at the 1978 rate (with increases, of course).

He subsequently bought another house in Laguna but due to Prop. 13, he pays far less tax on his early 70's purchase than he does on his later AND on his house in Omaha. He called for Prop. 13 reform.

He was politely asked to leave the Gropenfuhrer's administration a few days later. Disney still pays a pittance on the land that Disneyland in Anaheim sits on because of Prop. 13.

Repeal Prop. 13 NOW.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you, John, for those pointers. And yeah, Henry.