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Oh White People



My god….

In a new poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) on Tuesday, a whopping 43 percent of Americans told researchers that discrimination against whites has become as large a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minority groups. And an even bigger share of Americans — 53 percent — told pollsters American culture and “way of life” have mostly changed for the worse since 1950.

First, there are some real and large differences in the way that different groups of Americans answered those two questions up above. Half of white Americans — including 60 percent of the white working class — told researchers that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem today as discrimination against blacks and other minorities. Meanwhile, 29 percent of Latinos and 25 percent of black Americans agreed. White Americans feel put-upon and mistreated — and large shares of non-white Americans do not seem to have any knowledge of the challenges that white Americans say they face.

This is the base of the Trump voter and rise of proto-fascism in the United States in the last few years. White people frankly want a return to their romanticized vision of the white dominant past in ways that would not look unfamiliar to supporters of Hitler and Mussolini. Race has always been a zero-sum game for many American whites and periodically large numbers of whites enter into a period of full-fledged racial hysteria, even if to the rational community who can look at any number of metrics, this makes no sense. I will however say that the numbers of the white working class are particularly important because the economic insecurity of an outsourced and automated economy, the effects of which are swept under the rug by the many proponents of unrestricted globalization, are very real. I have said for a long time that if you want a stable society you have to have good paying jobs. Without those jobs, racial and religious prejudice becomes even more powerful than it usually is. That is part of what we are seeing in this recent rise of proto-fascism. It’s scary and should make us rethink a lot about the society we want to build before it’s too late.

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  • Steve LaBonne

    When and where has the greedy ownership class ever understood this lesson until it’s too late? Worse, they don’t really have reason to care, because they generally do quite well out of fascist regimes.

    • DrDick

      However, capital has always used racial and religious divisions to play one segment of the working classes off against another, to insulate themselves from harm. I currently see nothing to threaten that approach.

      • Pat

        Erik, have you seen Alec MacGillis’ recent article about attitudes of the white working class against their neighbors?

        He doesn’t go into the idea that it’s all the hard work lower income people need to put in to survive that makes them bitter towards the social safety net. But I think that you’re onto something with this. The Democrats really need to include explicit help for the working class in their proposals if they want to get anywhere next year.

        • Jackov

          MacGillis outlines two important political trends:
          a)the increasing politics of grievance among the white working class*
          b)deep disengagment from politics by the poor and hard-pressed

          Targeted proposals and/or robust economic growth may dissipate some of the first group’s grievances but you also need to reengage the second group.

          * ‘White working class’ has become a catchall. The woman MacGillis profiled is a nurse and he writes ‘those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner.’

          The PRRI survey appears to continue the trend of working class meaning non-college educated, but I didn’t find a specific question on education in the survey. Somehow 275 white people are excluded in by the college/non college binary so something appears off.

        • Matt

          The Democrats really need to include explicit help for the working class in their proposals if they want to get anywhere next year.

          It’s unclear to me, personally, whether this would actually help. There are folks so hypnotized by Norquistism that they will complain about a thing and then *literally* refuse to accept a tax increase to fix that thing. For instance:


          But higher taxes for road maintenance are equally unpopular. In June, Stutsman County residents rejected a measure that would have generated more money for roads by increasing property and sales taxes.

          “I’d rather my kids drive on a gravel road than stick them with a big tax bill,” said Bob Baumann, as he sipped a bottle of Coors Light at the Sportsman’s Bar Café and Gas in Spiritwood.

          Judy Graves of Ypsilanti, N.D., voted against the measure to raise taxes for roads. But she says she and others nonetheless wrote to Gov. John Hoeven and asked him to stop Old 10 from being ground up because it still carries traffic to a Cargill Inc. malting plant. She says the county has mismanaged its finances and badly neglected roads.

          But Sportsman’s Bar owner Hilda Kuntz worries that the classic cars and bikers that roll through town in the summer will stay away.

          “It’s going to kill my business,” she said.

          They KNOW the gravel road is going to hurt their town. They had an option to ante up more money to fix it. Judy is my favorite – she understands why her skinflint behavior is bad, but clings to “wastefraudandabuse” and demands somebody who isn’t her pay.

          • Right–a vigorous program in the party platform won’t make any difference. Winning and then actually creating good jobs for the working class might.

  • Manny Kant

    Wait, what? 25% of black people think that too? I’m going to have to go with “I am incredibly dubious of this survey” as my primary response.

    • Malaclypse

      Alternatively, 25% of black people are perfectly willing to fuck with pollsters’ heads.

      • Warren Terra

        That is one corollary to John Rogers’s famed Crazification Factor = about a quarter of respondents may be genuinely crazy, but with other questions it’s just as likely a quarter of respondents are messing with the pollster.

    • Steve LaBonne

      I am too, but Erik’s point stands. We know there’s a dangerously large number of these people, even if it may be substantially less than 43%.

      • Manny Kant

        Yes, this is definitely a thing with white people. My parents are both Democrats, and my mom pretty far to the left on most issues, but she’ll definitely say stuff along these lines, and my Dad, who has, admittedly, gotten kind of conservative on a bunch of stuff, was giving me a lot of “All Lives Matter” bullshit at one point. And if they’re this bad, actual Republicans must be much worse.

        • kayden

          Actual Republicans are beating up Black protesters at Trump rallies so they are much worse.

    • Philip

      Was the margin of error >=2%? The crazification factor doesn’t just apply to whites.

      • Anna in PDX

        As I remember the original conversation on Kung Fu Monkey (?) involved the example of voters who voted for Alan Keyes. Presumably at least some of them were black?

      • Richard Gadsden

        Subsample margins of error are always higher than poll-wide margins of error.

        Cross-breaks are not good measure of anything.

    • xq

      It’s not surprising to me given other polling results. Black-white differences in political views are large, but there are few issues where substantial differences exist within only one racial group.

  • DrS

    Someone I know told me that he was “straight bashed” at a local gay bar cause someone said something mildly uninviting to him there one evening.

    Sad how persecuted we have allowed the majority to become in this once great country.

    • efgoldman

      Sad how persecuted we have allowed the majority to become in this once great country.

      My (35 year-old journalist) daughter and I were talking today, and I said “well, you know there weren’t any gay people when I was growing up.” We both recognized that I was making a bad, snarky joke, but some people actually believe that shit!

      • Absolutely. Gay people sprang into being along with women who worked outside of the home and sex outside of marriage. Those 90 year old lesbians who’ve been together since college were really happily married to men until 1964! (And the black folks weren’t uppity, neither.)

        • efgoldman

          Those 90 year old lesbians who’ve been together since college were really happily married to men until 1964!

          They were really, really good friends.

      • Warren Terra
  • Warren Terra

    A link to the poll (PDF). Note it’s a long-ass glossy text document (60 pages, almost) rather than an easily accessible presentation of the data or methods.

    Mostly I was curious about that “since the 1950s” question, the results of which are summarized thusly:

    A majority (53%) of Americans say that American culture and way of life has mostly changed for the worse since the 1950s, compared to 46% who say it has changed for the better.
    • Six in ten (60%) black Americans and a majority (54%) of Hispanic Americans believe that American culture has mostly changed for the better since the 1950s. In contrast, only 42% of white Americans agree, and 57% say that the American way of life has mostly changed for the worse over the last sixty years.
    • While a majority of independents (56%), Republicans (67%), and members of the Tea Party (72%) say American culture and way of life has gotten worse since the 1950s, only 40% of Democrats agree.

    The problem was that the question was so vague, and lacked context (context I didn’t really provide by a quick glance at the PDF). On social issues (race, gender, religion, sexual identity, disability) America has been utterly transformed since the 1950s, immeasurably for the better. But on the other hand: when people think of the 1950s in many cases they’re also thinking of an era when a single worker could provide a stable home and benefits, often with good wages for low-skill jobs and union protections. And that’s even before we get into the sepia-toned nonsense provided by Leave It To Beaver (remember: few of the respondents actually remember the 1950s, you have to be almost 70 to do so).

    So, yeah, there are a lot of problems with our society and especially with its racial divisions – but an open-ended question that can be interpreted to mean “is scraping by on two incomes with no security better than living like Wally and the Beav” is a lousy diagnostic tool.

    • efgoldman

      A majority (53%) of Americans say that American culture and way of life has mostly changed for the worse since the 1950s

      Fuck them. I’m white, and I remember the 50s very well. (I am 70).
      PT Barnum and HL Mencken were so, so right about this country.

    • Gwen

      The question is vague and lacks context, and it is possible that different people see different reasons for moral decline.

      For example, I’ve known older Democrats to feel that people are more selfish and less caring than they used to be.

      Whereas older Republicans might have a problem, so to speak, with “political correctness” and “kids today.”

      I think the sense that there is “moral decline” may very well be a proxy for political polarization, particularly as we see large generational gaps opening up between liberal Millennials and reactionary Baby Boomers.

      • Pat

        Many workers see the disabled and quibble with whether or not they could “really work if they wanted to.” It’s a serious lack of empathy.

    • DrDick

      There is definitely a problem with the wording of that question. I would agree that in many ways the American way of life has indeed gotten worse economically since the 1950s. Unions have been gutted, the minimum wage has fallen below the poverty line, wages no longer keep up with productivity, and good paying jobs are increasingly shipped overseas to low wage/no benefit countries. We have also gotten more warlike and spend far too much on the military. On the other hand, things have gotten better on civil rights across the board, though there has been substantial regression on that front since 1980 (thank you, Ronnie Raygunz!).

      • Anna in PDX

        Right, and if I had been asked that question I might have responded yes things are worse because I would have been thinking about government social programs being gutted, unions being bashed, etc. Question is way too general.

    • Hogan
      • Warren Terra

        I think that right off the bat we can question how you get a sample of two thousand people willing to sit through that whole thing, and then call them representative of much of anything.

        But specifically to the 1950s question: it’s number 5, and there’s really no obvious context that would bias it towards or away from questions either of, on the one hand, social structure or, on the other, economics. I think it’s just a bad question (as is question 7: are America’s best days behind us or ahead of us? I mean, in the past we saved the world from the Nazis, or if you prefer helped Stalin do it, and spread both freedom of speech and coca-cola around the world. Who can say if we’ve got similar feats ahead of us?)

        • ColBatGuano

          Also, don’t people have to have lived in the 1950’s to actually be qualified to answer that question? Watching reruns of “Happy Days” doesn’t count.

          • Malaclypse

            What if you remember Richie’s brother Chuck?

          • cpinva

            having watched “Happy Days” when it originally aired doesn’t count either.

            • efgoldman

              having watched “Happy Days” when it originally aired doesn’t count either.

              No, but having seen Leave it to Beaver in first run, does.

              • CJColucci

                I’m not sure how popular Leave it to Beaver is on the nostalgia channels, but I suspect a large number of people wouldn’t get a reference to Paul Ryan coming across as Eddie Haskell. A great loss.

    • Lee Rudolph

      the sepia-toned nonsense provided by Leave It To Beaver


  • Drexciya

    What is the evidence for the idea that good paying jobs makes white Americans less racist or racism less powerful? If anything, wealth simply gives white Americans more options about the kinds of racism they can buy into and benefit from and increases the plausibility of the denials surrounding certain actions that reinforce white supremacy. Which is fine, as far as it goes, but it’s not less.

    • DrDick

      I cannot speak directly to your question, but there is a substantial amount of research showing that racial/ethnic/religious tensions and animosity get worse during hard times (largely because elites use these divisions to pit one part of the working classes against others).

      • oneslyfox

        I don’t like the frame that elites dupe the working classes. I find that people that would reject the concept of false consciousness often take no issue with the idea that entire classes are essentially tricked by those with greater social status. I’m more of a racialized social structure fella. Members of the working class that impede class solidarity or progress towards economic equality in exchange for furthering racial solidarity are expressing a real preference. Elites aren’t duping them. Elites aren’t tricking them into being more racist. They are protecting an existing social structure, using an existing ideology or racialized logic to do so.

        • Origami Isopod

          Agreed. See also Corey Robin’s theory of democratic feudalism.

    • njorl

      Wealth gives you the option of hiding your racism. When school busing was mandated in Boston and Philadelphia, racists who could afford to do so moved to the suburbs, while racists who couldn’t held rallies and shouted at buses full of black kids.

      • Are you sure you mean Philadelphia? Busing was never mandatory there, and white flight began before voluntary busing was instituted. Which doesn’t affect your point, I guess.

      • cpinva

        I think you mean South Boston, VA, not MA.

        • efgoldman

          I think you mean South Boston, VA, not MA.

          Snarky? Because I lived in Boston MA then, and it was not pretty.

        • Origami Isopod

          In case you’re not old enough to remember the era in question (I barely am), here’s the history.

          In case you’re snarking, I don’t know that it’s helpful to use the South as a means of insulting racist places outside the South. Racism permeates the US, and Boston has long been very nastily racist, as well as very classist. It’s generally not the crosses-burning-on-lawns type, although the photo on that wikipedia page comes pretty close.

    • Thirtyish

      My hunch is that “good paying jobs” generally equates to having undergone higher levels of education, and that can be (but by no means is necessarily*) a protective factor against racism.

      *It should be obvious that one’s educational path matters. High-paying careers in STEM fields do not necessarily buffer against racist (or sexist or homophobic) attitudes and can sometimes create communities–or lack thereof–that reinforce them.

      • DrDick

        Not when I was growing up. You could get a factory job that paid enough for a family to live on one income and send the kids to college with a high school degree or less. There are a whole lot of jobs that are now dominated by people with a college degree that went to high school graduates when I was in college.

    • There’s no evidence that a good job makes them less racist. There is evidence that a good job makes them less likely to extend that racism into paramilitary organizations or believe that they have no stake in the system. Of course, they in fact do have very little stake in the system today, but it’s a lot easier to blame that on black people than on vague systems of global capitalism and finance that they do not understand.

      • Origami Isopod

        I think Drexciya is raising a good point here: While what you say is true, Erik, it’s not like the 1950s were free of violent racism. Back then, however, very few white people cared or questioned it. A significant number of white Americans would still want black people under their boots even if they were prosperous.

        • No one is questioning the level of racism or racist violence in the past. The question is whether the unemployed are more or less likely to turn to racist violence or more broadly fascism.

          • Drexciya

            The question is whether people are making a value judgment where Poor People Racism is decided as worse, more violent, more dangerous and more volatile and whether that judgment is sound. I say no. Nothing stops middle/upper class white people from forming an anti-black paramilitary, it just means it’s better funded and executed in ways that make it easier to wash their hands clean of the matter. That applies to any number of things, too.

            You don’t have to bomb a neighborhood and start a race riot when you can gentrify it and price existing communities out. You don’t have to do mini-ethnic cleansings to keep black people out of your neighborhoods when banks will gladly do the service for you. You don’t need “whites only” signs outside of your schools and restaurants when you can just concentrate all of the money in white hands and move the nice stuff to places that non-whites lack easy access to. You don’t have to make sure black people don’t get jobs when you can just ignore them based on “ethnic” names or decide who’s promoted based on your all-white friend circle. Wealth simply determines the flexibility of the tools and mechanisms that are in white hands, not the intensity and severity of the racism that’s exercised through them. Of course poor white people’s racism is cruder – they have fewer options. The primary distinction is that they’re unable to dress the exercise of that racism as defensible self-interest in ways that media outlets identify with and can describe in a race-neutral, face value kind of way. This is one of those topics where weird class assumptions are distorting the quality of the threat assessment. Poor white racists with great paying jobs are rich white racists with new, more indirect tools to get the same thing.

            • Origami Isopod


            • If you don’t think large numbers of unemployed white people are a real threat to social stability, I highly recommend more reading of history.

              • joe from Lowell

                The scam is to pretend that only wealthier white people contribute to institutional racism, so as to conclude that some of the contribution of working-class skinheads towards promoting racist outcomes is roughly equal to all of the contribution of wealthier white people. Did anyone see any income figures in that story about the woman whose neighbor called the cops? No? Well, let’s just fill in the details in the most convenient fashion then. Large rental complex, eh? Usually dens of privilege, I find.

                Well, that, and pretending that getting a loan from a bank demonstrates the same level of racism as beating someone up for their skin color.

      • Nick056

        less likely to extend that racism into paramilitary organizations

        They’re less likely to join paramilitary organizations. But they’re fine turning the police itself into a paramilitary organization tasked with transferring funds from black people to white people, as happened in Ferguson. And while they’ll believe they have a stake in the system, that largely leads to them bringing “the system” down on small measures for correcting racism, like affirmative action or like the VRA, or using the system to create the prison complex, or ensuring that key provisions of the CRA go unenforced even if they are not explicitly overturned.

        I hear what you’re saying, in that systemic oppression of minorities and racist violence is strongly correlated with economic depression and unemployment. But that’s a completely inadequate and beside-the-point answer. Repression of blacks isn’t a function of economic conditions here; it is in itself an economic precondition for white contentment. Paraphrasing Baldwin: first they believe the lie that they are white. Everything else follows.

        • But that’s a completely inadequate and beside-the-point answer

          That depends on the question. The question at hand is not how to end racism. The question at hand is how to undermine the potential for this racism to turn into full-on fascism.

        • Drexciya

          Also, most of what Nick056 said.

          Again, wealth just makes the fascism slicker. It doesn’t make it disappear. It’s entirely unclear to me that it’s even weakened by it.

  • Thirtyish

    I remember a few years ago, when census data reported that for the first time in this country, non-white births were outnumbering white births. I felt hopeful at the time when I read that. While I still think that, ultimately, if anything will save us it might be that, I think that sadly it’s also part of the reason that so many white dipshits have gotten so radicalized and aggressive of late.

    • efgoldman

      I think that sadly it’s also part of the reason that so many white dipshits have gotten so radicalized and aggressive of late.

      Well, it is the reason but it’s not. The people who are reacting this way are innumerate racists who have gut feelings but no actual facts, and who believe what the RWNJ media and TeaHadi politicians tell them.

    • Manny Kant

      I still rather think that Hispanics becoming white will be the main result here in the long run.

      • Pat

        Me too.

      • njorl

        That’s going to be tricky. A lot of Hispanics are mostly native American. I don’t think most racists will find them acceptable. They’ll have to work out some very complicated rituals for accepting people with Spanish names who look a certain way while rejecting others.

        • Thirtyish

          Also, I’ll bet that a sizable number of white, right-wing racists (pardon the redundancy) don’t really consider Jews to be “white.” In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if most of them don’t. I can’t imagine they’d be much more open to considering Latinos “white” should they ever be granted the designation.

          • Manny Kant

            But Jews do get to be white, and so do the Irish and Italians and Greeks and Poles and, hell, Christian Arabs for that matter. That doesn’t mean prejudice against them doesn’t exist, but it’s prejudice that doesn’t interfere with their ability to gain white privilege. I don’t see why there’s any inherent difference with Mexican-Americans.

            • CJColucci

              But what about the Finns?

              • Lee Rudolph

                They can be white when Helsinki freezes over!

                • Ahuitzotl

                  so, 5 months a year?

        • Steve LaBonne

          That’s pretty much how it works in most of Latin America, isn’t it?

          • sonamib

            Indeed. And it’s quite baffling to be considered non-white when you move to the developed world. It really opens some eyes.

        • Manny Kant

          They’ve already figured out complicated rituals for accepting people with Anglo names who look a certain way while rejecting others who don’t. Hell, sometimes rejecting others who do. This guy is black, for instance.

      • LeeEsq

        Besides this, a lot Asian-Americans might be adopted into a sort of Honorary White position like Japanese kind of were during the early 20th century.

        • Jackov

          The Japanese were treated as “not-Chinese” not as “kind of white.”

  • Denverite

    In fairness to my Fellow White People, I think a lot of these crazy poll numbers are driven by the phenomenon whereby a large swath of the country doesn’t tell pollsters what they really believe, they give the Team GOP-approved answer that they hope will piss liberals off the most.

    (I’ve said it before, but this is also why I have Cruz as the odds-on favorite.)

    • The Temporary Name

      In fairness to my Fellow White People

      Sir you go too far.

    • Feathers

      I think a large part of it is also driven by the fact that so many Fellow White People do not know any black people. Or if they do, My Black Friends (supermarket cashier, the 2nd grade teacher I made sure my kids didn’t get, etc.) are nothing like Those Black People.

  • I have said for a long time that if you want a stable society you have to have good paying jobs. Without those jobs, racial and religious prejudice becomes even more powerful than it usually is.

    This is an intended outcome that gets repeated throughout history, especially since that unpleasantness in France.

    “Oh dear you have no jobs. Well clearly it is the fault of those different people over there. Go beat them up.”

  • Phil Perspective

    I will however say that the numbers of the white working class are particularly important because the economic insecurity of an outsourced and automated economy, the effects of which are swept under the rug by the many proponents of unrestricted globalization, are very real. I have said for a long time that if you want a stable society you have to have good paying jobs.

    And the Democratic Party is doing what about this? How many other pols besides Bernie are even remotely talking about these kinds of issues?

    • Malaclypse

      How many other pols besides Bernie are even remotely talking about these kinds of issues?

      I’ll just leave this right here.

    • Jesus, this really is your only talking point.

      • LeeEsq

        The answer should be obvious.

      • Steve LaBonne

        Well, that’s the Fail Perspective we know and love.

  • King Goat

    “This is the base of the Trump voter and rise of proto-fascism in the United States in the last few years. White people frankly want a return to their romanticized vision of the white dominant past in ways that would not look unfamiliar to supporters of Hitler and Mussolini. ”

    I’m not sure I’d come to that depressing conclusion. How about, the 53% weren’t thinking about Jim Crow, the sad state of women’s rights and such, they were thinking that in the 1950’s there was less of the ‘awful crimes’ and general depravity they hear about constantly on our modern media. As to the 43%, it’s probably a bit naive to think that affirmative action was going to be well received among those who don’t get the preference.

    • King Goat

      To clarify, I think it’s a big problem that when people are asked to think of the 1950’s they don’t think of all the horrible things then. I’m just saying that if there’s a good thing in that it also might mean that when they say the 1950’s were better they are thinking of something other than those horrible things, that they don’t want them reintroduced.

      At least I hope.

      • efgoldman

        To clarify, I think it’s a big problem that when people are asked to think of the 1950’s they don’t think of all the horrible things then.

        Hell, I was in a segregated grade school, educating mostly military kids, in 1955-56, Aberdeen, MD. We had the new school, the black kids were bused to the old wreck across the tracks; but I was only ten, and really had no idea.

    • Richard Gadsden

      Relatively few people remember the 1950s. Heck, only a minority of Boomers have any memories of the 1950s.

      So, there’s probably a fair point that there are a lot of white people whose response to the 1950s isn’t “segregation” or “homophobia” or “sexism”, but “polite era before the nasty 1960s”.

      That’s not good – but I suspect that nostalgia for the imagined virtues of an era they don’t remember is a big part of it.

      If your 1950s is Happy Days rather than All In the Family, then complaining that the world isn’t as good as it used to be just means you don’t understand the past, not that you’re necessarily a racist.

      Now, the stuff about “anti-white racism”. Sure, that’s bollocks.

  • Mike G

    I have said for a long time that if you want a stable society you have to have good paying jobs.

    The most charitable thing you can say about perceptions of “white racism” is that it’s a manifestation of the economic rogering most of the bottom 95% have taken in the past few decades. They feel mistreated and betrayed, and since in their worldview criticism of corporations or the economic system is taboo they sublimate it as claims of “racism”.

    • Origami Isopod

      I’m really not sure why you have quotation marks around “white racism.”

      Also, as Drexciya said upthread, prosperity is not going to make it go away entirely. Lots of people in this country can’t be content with good fortune unless there’s an entire class of people they can look down on.

      • Ahuitzotl

        I think its in quotes because he’s referring to the mythical racism-against-whites, not to whites being racist ?

  • pianomover

    My cousin just retired after 30 years at the Redwood City fire dept. to this day any mention of minority hiring will set him off on the reverse discrimination rant.

    • LeeEsq

      You get a similar sort of attitude towards India’s version of affirmative action. A lot of upper caste Indians are really angry at affirmative action for the Scheduled Castes. The language used to denounce this is strikingly familiar. Zero sum thinking is a near universal constant.

  • LeeEsq

    Zero sum thinking is a big problem in democratic politics. A lot of people think that the more for that person or this group means than the less there is available for themselves or their tribe. This is a global problem and tends to be lowest in really homogenous cultures.

  • Woodrowfan

    I just don’t get it. What the f*** have I lost as a white male? Any changes in the opportunities that my Dad had that I don’t are due to changes in the economy that affect everybody.

    (this is rhetorical)

  • Bruce B.

    This is a damned conspiracy to make Drexciya seem like a temperate moderate, isn’t it?

    Alternatively, it’s to make me feel like my role in social change maybe should be ordering more barrels of gasoline online, to be delivered to those healthy enough to go out and burn some stuff down.

  • Mike in DC

    In 20-25 years, possibly sooner, the reference point decade will become the 80s, not the 50s, mainly because everyone old enough to actually remember the 50s will be dead, but there will still be people old enough to remember the Reagan-Bush era(nostalgically).

    • Remember when The U.S. of A. smashed Godless World Communism by staring resolutely at it until its wall fell down & it went away? Those were the days …

      • Warren Terra

        As it is already what we see on a regular basis, I can assure you that the approved narrative, to be spoon-fed to all schoolkids, will be that St. Ronnie incanted The Magic Words and so the wall came down, possibly immediately.

  • Nick never Nick

    Just a few thoughts. The first number, 43%, is pretty horrific. When I worked in Montana, my boss, a white woman’s white woman, had to go to a conference in Atlanta. When she got back, she mentioned that the one thing that shocked her was the amount of reverse racism down there. Bemused, I decided after a time that some black person had probably been rude to her . . . Otherwise, I have no idea what she might have meant.

    The second question, on whether things have gotten better or worse, is just a stupid question, because it’s the kind of thing that people answer idiosyncratically. I know things are a lot better these days, overall — but on a particular day, in a particular frame of mind, I might ignore the strides made in civil rights for basically everyone, and say that they’re worse: maybe because of the economy, maybe because of unionization and concentration of wealth, maybe because I would have liked to live through the 1960s. And my life’s pretty good, now — but if I was embattled without recourse, living in a place with no work but shitty work, ruled by Republicans, and no clear pathway as to how to get ahead, sure, I’d say things were worse. It doesn’t even require racial animosity, though I’m sure there is a lot of that there — I know that my father had a good life with the same cards I was dealt, and that those cards don’t work any more.

    We need to stop being horrified that working class people are identifying lines of race to define themselves — this is normal, when life gets shitty. An America that becomes more equal is an America where all boats are rising. Sure, we on the left say that we’re fighting for all the boats, and we are — but that’s not enough, we have to win, too.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    Conservatives love railing about liberal/ socialist/ Communist utopianism and how foolish it is to work towards an idealized future that might exist someday. Then you realize these are people trying to recreate a past utopia…that um never actually existed.

  • tsam
  • Daulnay

    The unpleasant fact is that the whites (and the blacks who also see it) are correct. For the working class and middle class, economic progress became a zero-sum game. It has been one for the last 30-odd years. Anything that helps the black and Hispanic working/middle class has actually disadvantaged the white working/middle class. This is a strong claim, and provable; it is a matter of mathematics.

    For the last 30-some years, there has been no increase in average income (adjusted for inflation, etc.) for ordinary Americans. All the increase in income has gone to the top (8/10/12/18% — the actual cutoff does not actually matter for this proof).

    Because of how averages work, if any people in the group gain income, someone else in the group must necessarily lose. If they don’t lose, the average goes up. For non-wealthy Americans, the average has not risen. Whenever one part (Blacks) gained, some part of the rest *must* lose.

    Until you break out into the wealthy/upper-middle-class ranks, your gains will mean someone else loses, and vice versa. Also, when you break out, someone else in the upper-middle-class will fall (or the % cutoff of where there’s no progress will drop).

    The problem is not that lower/middle-class whites think that blacks are getting ahead at their expense; they are factually correct. What they don’t realize is cause of that fact.

    The wealthy and very well-off have been and are raking off all of the economic growth, leaving none for everyone else. The rest of us must necessarily hurt our neighbors to improve our own lives. Until we fix that, working-class and middle-class people will not be able to improve their lives without harming each other. It is simple mathematics.

  • joe from Lowell

    25-30% of black and Latino Americans think that white people are discriminated against to the same degree as they are?

    What the….?

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