Post-mortems on election 2016 are continuing. Hillary Clinton’s new book is one long What Went Wrong exploration.

We’ve been told that economic anxiety is what drove so many white working class voters to Trump, especially in the Rust Belt region that delivered the electoral votes of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio to him.

Sure, he said some things that they wanted to hear. NAFTA was bad. Coal and manufacturing was good. And… aside from that, not much. People hear what they want to hear, and surely some people rolled the dice with him thinking, “hey, rich guy, he must know something.”

But Trump’s ideology is all over the map. Try to pin him down on a policy. You can’t. He can change his tune in the same paragraph. But there are two constant themes: his refusal to criticize Russia, and his antipathy to immigrants. From his opening comments in 2015 when he announced his candidacy claiming Mexican immigrants were largely rapists and murderers, to this week, when he rescinded the largely popular DACA program.

It’s a reason white supremacists have claimed him as one of their own, and Trump has done little if anything to push them away. Klansman David Duke has said that white supremacists would  “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”

Not every white voter who went with Trump is a white supremacist, obviously. But Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in this month’s edition of The Atlantic that gentle racism – not his words – is what propelled Trump to the White House:

THE SCOPE OF TRUMP’S commitment to whiteness is matched only by the depth of popular disbelief in the power of whiteness. We are now being told that support for Trump’s “Muslim ban,” his scapegoating of immigrants, his defenses of police brutality are somehow the natural outgrowth of the cultural and economic gap between Lena Dunham’s America and Jeff Foxworthy’s. The collective verdict holds that the Democratic Party lost its way when it abandoned everyday economic issues like job creation for the softer fare of social justice. The indictment continues: To their neoliberal economics, Democrats and liberals have married a condescending elitist affect that sneers at blue-collar culture and mocks the white man as history’s greatest monster and prime-time television’s biggest doofus. In this rendition, Donald Trump is not the product of white supremacy so much as the product of a backlash against contempt for white working-class people.

If the election were about economic anxiety, wouldn’t Hispanic working class Americans have voted for Trump overwhelmingly, as whites did? They didn’t. But whites at every economic level preferred Trump.

Remember the Charlottesville white supremacy rallies of last month? Why were these white men shouting, “you will not erase us.”?  Why are white Americans – including millions who don’t carry tiki torches in support of Confederate monuments – so threatened by social change, which includes a browning America?

Read the whole article here.

It’s summer, so you may have been away from the TV and may have seen Proctor and Gamble’s new ad. It’s titled “The Talk,  part of a larger advertising campaign titled “My Black is Beautiful.” The ad, uploaded to YouTube last week, shows black mothers throughout the decades discussing racism with their children. Writing for Salon, Gabriel Bell said the “moving” ad captures “The Talk” every black parent has with their kids:

Yes, it’s a commercial — but damn this journey into the effects of racism is a good one. As they grow up in a nation where almost every system is stacked against them, most black children have had “the talk” with their parents — that moment or series of moments where their mother or father reveals the stakes for African Americans in our country in an attempt to shield them from the effects of institutional racism by explaining and preparing them for it.

But the ad has also generated a firestorm of protest on social media. Its detractors say that not only does the ad have an anti-white message, but that any mention of race, racism, or racial bias is racist.

P&G is choosing to push back against the backlash. And that’s a good thing:

“People were like, ‘Thank you for speaking my truth,’” P&G spokesman Damon Jones told Eurweb.com. “But, it has been a past interesting couple of days where we’ve seen a few people position the ad quite differently and stoke some fires.”

Those fires include a critique from the right-leaning National Review, which called the ad “identity-politics pandering.”

See the ad here.


Politico is reporting on a bill crafted by two Republican Senators that would reduce legal immigration by half:

A senior White House official described the moves as part of a broader reorganization of the immigration system. The official said the White House particularly wanted to target welfare programs and limit citizenship and migration to those who pay taxes and earn higher wages.

“In order to be eligible for citizenship, you’ll have to demonstrate you are self-sufficient and you don’t receive welfare,” the senior administration official said.

“You’re going to reduce low-skilled immigration substantially, which will protect American workers and recent immigrants themselves,” this person said.

Of course it has full support of the White House:

Trump praised the virtues of the merit-based models of Canada and Australia in his remarks to a joint session of Congress in late February. “Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, we will have so many more benefits,” he said. “It will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — enter the middle class.”

If passed, it would be the biggest overhaul of the U.S. immigration system in decades. The merit based system is not unlike that of many other countries. Current law allows U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor their parents, siblings and married adult children for immigrant visas. Under the Cotton-Perdue proposal, only spouses and minor children could be sponsored.

But we have to wonder: what is the real goal here? Is the American public clamoring for a crackdown on immigration?  Well, sort of.

Last year Pew Research released results of a poll on Americans’ attitudes on immigration. It found a dramatic drop in those who viewed immigrants favorably:

For more than 20 years, Pew Research Center has been asking whether immigrants in the U.S. “strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents,” or whether they “are a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing and health care.”

In that time period, opinions about immigrants have shifted dramatically. In our latest national political survey, released in March, 59% of the public say immigrants strengthen the country, while 33% describe them as a burden. In 1994, opinions were nearly the reverse: 63% said immigrants were a burden and 31% said they strengthened the country.

But has there been a dramatic increase in legal immigration in the past two decades? No. There has been a growing fear of job loss and career obsolescence, mainly due to automation. But, hey, immigrants you can control. Technology not so much.

Also, there’s a big partisan split on immigration attitudes, and it’s grown dramatically wider. From Pew:


We know that Republicans have been demonizing the undocumented for years, with a big recent spike. But where are the voices of opposition? Where are the leaders who could push back against these attitudes?

Call it a coincidence if you want, or see it as confirmation of bias against black people at structural levels within society.

new study highlights this gap, particularly with respect to social services. The result of the study’s findings: states with higher populations of black people are more likely to have less generous and more restrictive welfare benefits. 

State welfare policies subject all families, regardless of their race, to the same rules.

But the majority of black people live in states with the lowest proportion of families receiving cash assistance. African Americans are at a practical disadvantage as a result of that population distribution, [Heather Hahn, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and co-author of the study said].

“The effects of these policies are not race neutral because we aren’t geographically dispersed evenly by race,” she said.

Here’s how Welfare works: states get to determine the amount of cash assistance that they provide to families in poverty. Each state has differing approaches to supporting needy families. Color blind? Maybe. But consider that attitudes about poverty and the poor are shaped by stereotypes about race.

Learn more about the study described in the Washington Post here.

A new study puts a face on systemic racism by examining police interactions one at a time.  Using body-cam footage of traffic stops by Oakland police, Stanford University researchers demonstrated that police used more respectful language toward white people than toward black people. 

An analysis of 981 traffic stops made by 245 Oakland officers in April 2014 found that officers were more apt to use terms of respect such as “sir,” “ma’am,” “please” and “thank you” when dealing with white motorists when compared to black ones. They apologized to white people more frequently for having to stop them, and expressed concern, telling them to “drive safe.”

The study found that white people were 57 percent more likely to hear an officer say something judged to be highly respectful, while black people were 61 percent more likely to hear an officer say something judged to be extremely disrespectful.

The study doesn’t highlight dramatic, attention-grabbing abuses. It’s about constant, seemingly minor differences in the way people are treated that add up. One wonders whether the same differential would show up if you put body-cams on cashiers and waiters and doctors and teachers. One can imagine so. 


IMG_TK-Confederate_flag__2_1_JDB86S2U_L310756755     On Saturday, several dozen torch-wielding protesters gathered in Charlottesville’s Lee Park chanting “You will not replace us,” “Russia is our friend” and “Blood and soil.” It was a short protest, quickly dispersed.

It was a response to the Charlottesville City Council, which in April voted to sell the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that stands in the park. A judge earlier this month issued an injunction that prevents the city from doing so for six months. It’s part of a – well, movement is too sweeping a term – concurrent effort to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces throughout the south.

It’s hard to say how representative the protesters are of white Southerners today. The removal of the confederate flag from South Carolina in 2015 after Dylan Roof massacred black people in a Charleston church. Yet the fight over the flag hasn’t ended.

It’s easy for many to day, “you lost the Civil War, get over it already.” But to some – okay many, even most – Americans who see Civil War symbols as a reminder of slavery, to some, they’re something else (but don’t call these people racists). In banning the Confederate flag in 2015, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said that it could be displayed, but in a museum. Many others equated it with Nazi symbols, something you just don’t wear in public. Then again, one wonders how many people have both swastikas and Confederate flags in that venn diagram of white supremacist groups.

Right, we’re not supposed to call those who want to preserve Confederate symbols in public places racists. Just historians. Okay then. We’re actually not interested in debating that. What we do find interesting is this: the Charlottesville protesters chanted “you will not replace us!”

Replace hard-core Confederates? Replace white nationalists? Or replace… white people?

White Americans – north, south, east and west – are very touchy these days. In study after study, the idea that white people were losing ground – economically and culturally – was a main reason they voted for Trump.

Now, the latest research offers more evidence that it was fear of diversity – okay let’s just call it racism, mixed with xenophobia – that motivated Trump voters:

Sixty-eight percent of respondents to the PRRI analysis said they believed the U.S. was in danger of losing its cultural identity. Similarly, 65 percent responded that American culture had deteriorated since the 1950s. And more than half of white working-class Americans said that discrimination against whites was as big a problem as discrimination facing blacks and other minorities.

Discrimination against whites. So, we’re at a chicken-or-egg question. Did Trump stoke the fears that were already there, making white pride a thing? Or did he funnel all of the fears of white Americans into one convenient container: race?

You will not replace us: those projections that the U.S. will be racially plural in this century really, really have struck at the heart of white America.

According to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rates for black americans dropped substantially -  25 percent between 1999 and 2015, which narrowed the gap in the death rate between white and black Americans from 33 percent in 1999 to 16 percent in 2015.

The report didn’t explore why the gap narrowed so significantly but one of the report’s authors speculated that black people have benefiting from decreases in certain diseases, including AIDS and tobacco-related illnesses.

According to the study, the change was most striking among those 65 and older. In that group, the death rate for black people fell 27 percent, compared to 17 percent for white people. Again, the researchers didn’t study why, but in various news outlets the report’s author has said that overall increases in socio-economic status of older black Americans – who were very young adults during the civil rights era – may have something to do with it.

All is not ideal for black Americans, however. Black Americans have an overall life expectancy that’s still four years less than white Americans. And younger black people are still developing, and dying from, major health problems that typically affect older people:  high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The authors concluded that there’s still work to do:

To continue to reduce the gap in health disparities, these findings suggest an ongoing need for universal and targeted interventions that address the leading causes of deaths among blacks (especially cardiovascular disease and cancer and their risk factors) across the life span and create equal opportunities for health.

Read the full report here.

Research gathering for the 2020 Census will soon begin – yeah, already – and Census Bureau researchers are already looking at new ways to determine who’s Hispanic or Latino in the U.S.

The issue they face in gathering this data is the way Latinos and Hispanics prefer to classify themselves. That is, not fitting into one of the Census’ defined racial boxes:

The “some other race” option is not an official federal race category and was intended to be a residual option for a small number of respondents in census surveys. Instead, it has grown to become the third-largest race group counted by the Census Bureau in the past two censuses. This group is mainly Hispanic: In the 2010 census, 97% of those who checked “some other race” and no other race were Hispanic.

Pew Research Center surveys also find that a majority of Hispanics don’t see themselves fitting into the standard race categories offered by the Census Bureau. In addition, when it comes to describing their identity, more Hispanics prefer to use their family’s country of origin rather than the pan-ethnic terms “Hispanic” or “Latino.”

To address concerns about a rising share of “some other race” selections, Census researchers are testing a combined ethnicity question for 2020. People would be offered all the race and Hispanic options in one place, letting them check a box to identify as white, black, Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander or some other race or origin. The second part of the question would be a line  under each category to supply more detail about their origin, tribe or race. Examples of this include: German, African American, Mexican, Navajo, Asian Indian and Samoan.

Any change in wording must be approved by Congress next year.


By now everyone should be familiar with the saga of David Dao, the Chinese doctor who was forcibly removed from a United flight due to overbooking (when it was not overbooked, it was learned later).

Setting aside the egregious and baffling “policy” that the cops were carrying out, and the big lawsuit Dao is likely to win – oh, and let’s not forget how some media outlets are digging up dirt on him, y’know, to provide that “he’s no angel” storyline – the issue of his race is salient.

China is a key market for United, both for Chinese nationals, and for Chinese-Americans. Well, it turns out United has done itself a world of damage among those demographics. Chinese travelers are boycotting United, and it’s based on this quote:

The outrage is China appears to have come from a media quote from a passenger onboard the flight, Tyler Bridges.

“He said, more or less, ‘I’m being selected because I’m Chinese’,” Bridges had told the Washington Post.

It was learned that Dao was chosen at random by computer for his ejection (and beating and dragging). But isn’t it easy to believe, based on the stereotype, that cops took a look around the cabin and thought, ‘hmmm, older Asian man, he shouldn’t put up a fight.’ Whether they did that or not, consider this another stereotype smashed. That might be the only good thing to come out of this incident. Except maybe for the lawsuit Dao could win.

There’s a story in the Washington Post today about how Trump supporters trust him to do the right thing on health care, no matter what the evidence shows them.

Near the end of the story is a telling anecdote that shows how easy it is for whites to blame non-whites for their economic insecurity. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. In this case a mom, Nancy Ware who has helped her 35-year-old son find an insurance plan and complains about the lack of competition in the exchange in Nashville making her premiums too high. Legitimate complaint. But who does she blame? Not the insurance companies or Tennessee’s political leaders who wouldn’t expand Medicaid. She points the finger at… you know.

Ware is a landscaper and often works near Section 8 housing in the Nashville area, and she becomes furious when she sees residents who “drive better cars than I do, they have weaves and hair color better than I can, they have manicures.” As Ware, who is white, waited in line for the rally to start, a group of young African American protesters walked by, and she yelled at them, “Go cash your welfare checks!”

“He gets penalized on his income taxes, while these people that don’t know how to pull their pants up can go get it for free,” said Ware, whose employer covers the full cost of her health care. “Make it even. Make it balanced.”

Anyone remember Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen driving a Cadillac” anecdote? Now that welfare queen has health care and a better manicure than white people, apparently.

We’ve been told again and again how the Trump vote was all about economic insecurity. Perhaps. But the blame for that economic insecurity, as it has been throughout American history, is cast on the most convenient scapegoat. In this case, the welfare queen with the better hair color has stolen a white woman’s health care. Because… just because.

And Trump? He’s been doing what race-baiting politicians have always done. Except they used to do it in coded ways, dog whistles like “welfare queen.” The dog whistle is gone. The megaphone is here.