The press blames black flight from major cities on whites, but history and the numbers show that's not true.
Whenever we talk about gentrification it really is a good idea not simply to understand who's coming and who's going, but precisely when the coming and going happened. In reference to our conversations around Washington, D.C., it's really important to understand that the black population was falling in the city long before the arrival of hipsters, interlopers, and white people in general.
Washington's black population peaked in 1970 at just over half a million (537,712 to be precise.) It's declined steadily ever since, with the biggest decline occurring between 1970 and 1980 when almost 100,000 black people left the city. Whites were also leaving the city by then, but at a much slower rate--the major white out-migration happened in the 50s and the 60s.
By 1990 whites had started coming back. But black people--mirroring a national trend--continued to leave. At present there are around 343,000 African-Americans in the District, a smaller number, but still the largest ethnic group in the city. I say this to point out that the idea that incoming whites are "forcing out" large number of blacks has yet to be demonstrated.
A slew of newspaper articles assume the truth of gentrification. But any proponent of the gentrification thesis (explicit or implicit) needs to fully explore and answer the following question: Is white migration into the city forcing black migration back out?
Speaking as though this is the case because it "feels true" isn't evidence. Indeed it's the flip side of blaming white migration to the suburbs on riotous, criminally inclined blacks.
I don't say this so much in defense of hipster interlopers, as I do in opposition to the theory that black people are, solely, the thing that is acting upon them. Understanding the vestiges of white supremacy isn't the same as understanding black people. There needs to be a lot more agency in this discussion. There also needs to be a lot less nostalgia.
One that note, I'd mention that "Chocolate City"--like most
majority-black cities--is a recent innovation, covering the last half of
the 20th century. As late as 1950, there were more whites than blacks
in Washington, and the city was still gaining white residents. By
1960--pre-riots, mind you--their numbers were falling precipitously.The
shift was seen, at the time, as a bad thing. Still it would be facile
to conclude that the latest shift back is a "good" thing.
likely, we are using a local matter as an inadequate substitute for a
broader national situation that still plagues us. The fact is that the
two parties--those blacks who remain by choice or otherwise, and those
whites who are returning--are not equal. In the District, you are
looking at a black population that is reeling under a cocktail of an
ancient wealth gap, poor criminal justice policy, and economic
instability. On the other side, you have a well-educated, well-insulated white population with different wants and different
There is much more here to consider
about what that means, about what people feel like they're losing. Even
as I interrogate the statistics, I maintain that people are not stupid,
and that it's critically important to understand why they feel as they
do. Black people have not owned much in this country. And yet, in the
later years of the 20th century, we felt like we felt like we owned many
of America's great cities.
I suspect much of our present angst can be traced to the lifting of that illusion.
My view on the Hillary Clinton email “scandal,” as expressed over the months and also yesterday, is that this is another Whitewater. By which I mean: that the political and press hubbub, led in each case on the press’s side by the New York Times, bears very little relationship to the asserted underlying offense, and that after a while it’s hard for anyone to explain what the original sin / crime / violation was in the first place.
The Whitewater investigation machine eventually led, through a series of Rube Goldberg / Jorge Luis Borges-style weirdnesses, to the impeachment of Bill Clinton, even though the final case for removing him from office had exactly nothing to do with the original Whitewater complaint. Thus it stands as an example of how scandals can take on a zombie existence of their own, and of the damage they can do. The Hillary Clinton email “scandal” has seemed another such case to me, as Trey Gowdy’s committee unintentionally demonstrated with its 11-hour attempted takedown of Clinton last year.
Rubio says he will make the U.S. the single-greatest nation in the world again. Thought experiment: When was this last true? If not under Obama, as Rubio says, under George W. Bush, when the country was widely hated overseas and the economy collapsed? Or under Bill Clinton? George H.W. Bush? Reagan?
Hillary Clinton’s realistic attitude is the only thing that can effect change in today’s political climate.
Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz have something in common. Both have an electoral strategy predicated on the ability of a purist candidate to revolutionize the electorate—bringing droves of chronic non-voters to the polls because at last they have a choice, not an echo—and along the way transforming the political system. Sanders can point to his large crowds and impressive, even astonishing, success at tapping into a small-donor base that exceeds, in breadth and depth, the remarkable one built in 2008 by Barack Obama. Cruz points to his extraordinarily sophisticated voter-identification operation, one that certainly seemed to do the trick in Iowa.
But is there any real evidence that there is a hidden “sleeper cell” of potential voters who are waiting for the signal to emerge and transform the electorate? No. Small-donor contributions are meaningful and a sign of underlying enthusiasm among a slice of the electorate, but they represent a tiny sliver even of that slice; Ron Paul’s success at fundraising (and his big crowds at rallies) misled many analysts into believing that he would make a strong showing in Republican primaries when he ran for president. He flopped.
Thenew Daily Show host, Trevor Noah, is smooth and charming, but he hasn’t found his edge.
It’s a psychic law of the American workplace: By the time you give your notice, you’ve already left. You’ve checked out, and for the days or weeks that remain, a kind of placeholder-you, a you-cipher, will be doing your job. It’s a law that applies equally to dog walkers, accountants, and spoof TV anchormen. Jon Stewart announced that he was quitting The Daily Show in February 2015, but he stuck around until early August, and those last months had a restless, frazzled, long-lingering feel. A smell of ashes was in the air. The host himself suddenly looked quite old: beaky, pique-y, hollow-cheeky. For 16 years he had shaken his bells, jumped and jangled in his little host’s chair, the only man on TV who could caper while sitting behind a desk. Flash back to his first episode as the Daily Show host, succeeding Craig Kilborn: January 11, 1999, Stewart with floppy, luscious black hair, twitching in a new suit (“I feel like this is my bar mitzvah … I have a rash like you wouldn’t believe.”) while he interviews Michael J. Fox.
Republicans may have a lock on Congress and the nation’s statehouses—and could well win the presidency—but the liberal era ushered in by Barack Obama is only just beginning.
Over roughly the past 18 months, the following events have transfixed the nation.
In July 2014, Eric Garner, an African American man reportedly selling loose cigarettes illegally, was choked to death by a New York City policeman.
That August, a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed an African American teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri. For close to two weeks, protesters battled police clad in military gear. Missouri’s governor said the city looked like a war zone.
In December, an African American man with a criminal record avenged Garner’s and Brown’s deaths by murdering two New York City police officers. At the officers’ funerals, hundreds of police turned their backs on New York’s liberal mayor, Bill de Blasio.
If passion is a job requirement, says the writer Miya Tokumitsu, employees have little room to complain about mistreatment at work.
It’s been said in many places and by many luminaries: Do what you love.
But what does this phrase actually mean?
Miya Tokumitsu, a contributing editor at Jacobin magazine and author of the new book Do What You Love And Other Lies About Success and Happiness, criticizes the pervasiveness of this idea in American work culture. She argues that “doing what you love” has been co-opted by corporate interests, giving employers more power to exploit their workers.
I recently spoke with Tokumitsu about work myths and why we should pay attention to them. The following transcript of our conversation has been edited for clarity.
Bourree Lam: Your book started as an essay, “In the Name of Love,” (which was later republished by Slate) that really touched a nerve with people. What were you talking about in that essay and why are people so drawn to it?
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The championship game descends on a city failing to deal with questions of affordability and inclusion.
SAN FRANCISCO—The protest kicked off just a few feet from Super Bowl City, the commercial playground behind security fences on the Embarcadero, where football fans were milling about drinking beer, noshing on $18 bacon cheeseburgers, and lining up for a ride on a zip line down Market Street.
The protesters held up big green camping tents painted with slogans such as “End the Class War” and “Stop Stealing Our Homes,” and chanted phrases blaming San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee for a whole range of problems, including the catchy “Hey Hey, Mayor Lee, No Penalty for Poverty.” They blocked the sidewalk, battling with tourists, joggers, and city workers, some of whom were trying to wheel their bikes through the crowd to get to the ferries that would take them home.
Rand Paul, once viewed as the frontrunner, is leaving the Republican race after never gaining much momentum. So is Rick Santorum.
The story of Rand Paul’s presidential campaign, which he’s suspending today, is one of unfulfilled expectations.
Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky, entered the race with high hopes. In January 2014, my colleague Peter Beinart deemed him the Republican frontrunner. A few months later, in October, Time named him “the most interesting man in politics.” But voters never seemed to agree, and he limped into Iowa trailing in the polls, and he ended up tallying less than 5 percent there—better than Jeb Bush, but still not a figure that set him up to compete down the road.
It’s understandable why Paul’s presidential prospects once seemed so bright. The nation was in the midst of what appeared to be a “libertarian moment.” Liberals and conservatives alike were joined in their backlash against an overweening security state, revealed by Edward Snowden. Newfound skepticism about the police fit in, too, and Paul was talking about the GOP’s dire need to reach out to minorities like no other candidate. The Tea Party, which had helped him upset an establishment candidate in the Kentucky Senate primary, was still a major force. His 13-hour filibuster of CIA Director John Brennan’s nomination won widespread acclaim. While rivals like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio either alienated colleagues or flailed, Paul was consolidating the support—unexpectedly—of Mitch McConnell, the powerful Senate majority leader and fellow Kentuckian. Paul was also expected to bring in the organizational energy and know-how that his father, former Representative Ron Paul, had built over many years.
Even if white people no longer openly promote having neighborhoods and schools to themselves, many of them continue to help make that happen.
Progress has undoubtedly been made since the days of explicit segregation, and most white people no longer openly advocate for segregation in neighborhoods, schools, and offices. When speaking to researchers, many even argue that integration is important and necessary. At the same time, old racial stereotypes die hard, and perceptions that black people are lazy, criminal, and dim-witted contribute to the maintenance of segregation and the inequalities that result from it. Despite laws prohibiting segregation—most notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964—it persists on several fronts today.
Some of the most striking studies done on present-day segregation have to do with how it’s connected to the ways families share money and other resources among themselves. The sociologist Thomas Shapiro, for instance, argues that the greater wealth that white parents are likely to have allows them to help out their children with down payments, college tuition, and other significant expenses that would otherwise create debt. As a result, white families often use these “transformative assets” to purchase homes in predominantly white neighborhoods, based on the belief that sending their children to mostly white schools in these areas will offer them a competitive advantage. (These schools are usually evaluated in racial and economic terms, not by class size, teacher quality, or other measures shown to have an impact on student success.) Shapiro’s research shows that while whites no longer explicitly say that they will not live around blacks, existing wealth disparities enable them to make well-meaning decisions that, unfortunately, still serve to reproduce racial segregation in residential and educational settings.