I Will Jump That Paywall and Fight Every Blogger Here, Bro

Here are a few things I haven't had the chance to blog about but are worth checking out.

--Emily Nussbaum on why Sex In The City gets such short shrift in the writing about this new age of great television. I think it's really important to consider the entire argument, but it's very hard for me to get past Nussbaum's conclusion that "endings matter" and in the end:

And then, in the final round, "Sex and the City" pulled its punches, and let Big rescue Carrie. It honored the wishes of its heroine, and at least half of the audience, and it gave us a very memorable dress, too. But it also showed a failure of nerve, an inability of the writers to imagine, or to trust themselves to portray, any other kind of ending--happy or not. And I can't help but wonder: What would the show look like without that finale?

I don't think this point takes away from the sexism critique, either. The Wire's fifth season was, by far, its weakest.

--The great Rebecca Scott on slavery in France. Maintenant. (En français.) I've long resisted comparisons between the slave society of the antebellum America with modern slavery, because I feel that people who do this are often looking to traffic in the moral capitol of that past, as opposed to illuminating the present. But Rebecca is a serious historian who knows both episodes. I'm slowly wending my way through this piece.

--Eagles wide-receiver Riley Cooper was caught on tape threatening violence against a black security guard who didn't allow him backstage at a Kenny Chesney concert. Cooper's words were objectionable ("I will jump that fence and fight every nigger here, bro.") But his words on returning to camp are some of the best I've seen from someone whose done or said something racist:

"I told them, 'I don't want you to forgive me, because that puts the burden on you, and I want it all on me,'" Cooper said.

This is really really important. A few years ago we had a discussion here about atonement, forgiveness and white guilt. My argument was that white guilt is a destructive force, and seeking "forgiveness" isn't much better. As Cooper says it puts a moral burden on the injured party; the injured having already lost his dignity at the hands of the aggressor, is asked to give one more thing. I'd argue it's better to seek forgiveness of oneself, to learn from one's own wrongs. An apology made in hopes of getting something is already compromised. (Witness the era of "if I offended you.") 

--Robert Sampson's book The Great American City is really, really important for our conversation here around the challenge of color-blind policy and the long shadow of segregation:

Neighborhood social disadvantage has durable properties and tends to repeat itself, and because of racial segregation is most pronounced in the black community. I would add a related implication or subthesis: black children are singularly exposed to the cumulative effects of structural disadvantage in ways that reinforce the cycle.

The data thus confirm that neighborhoods that are both black and poor, and that are characterized by high unemployment and female-headed families, are ecologically distinct, a characteristic that is not simply the same thing as low economic status. In this pattern Chicago is not alone.

To probe the implications of this point in a different but more concrete way, I calculated the per capita income in the year 2000 in black compared to white neighborhoods in Chicago (defined here as census tracts with 75 percent or more of each group). The result was that not one white community experiences what is most typical for those residing in segregated black areas with respect to the basics of income--the entire distribution for white communities (mean = $42,508) sits to the right of the mean per capita income of black communities. Trying to estimate the effect of concentrated disadvantage on whites is thus tantamount to estimating a phantom reality.

This is going by income, not wealth which would likely make matters look a good deal worse. At any rate Sampson is observing something similar to what both Patrick Sharkey and John Logan have observed--that the black community because of segregation is singular. One to one correlations, talk of a "white working class" and a "black working class," or a "white elite" and a "black elite," even controls for income, are myopic. There is a great challenge here for traditional "lift all boats" liberal thinking--black America is not merely a community with a disproportionately large impoverished class, but a class onto itself.

This is not surprising. Creating a separate class was precisely the intent of roughly 300 years of white supremacist policy (commencing with Virginia's slave codes.) The expectation that this could all be wiped away with 50 years of good feelings was magical thinking. The domestic policy of this country in its pre-history, and most of its actual history was the creation of a peon class, denominated by melanin. The policy has been wildly successful.

--Kevin Hart licking shots at Skip Bayless and Stephen A is hilarious.

--Le complément d'objet direct. Le complément d'objet indirect. Oh Mon Dieu. Aidez-moi.

--I don't know much about teaching foreign language. But if I were king for a day, I would mandate that the first week or two go to drilling the IPA system into heads of schoolchildren. Especially for French. /aʒute/ for "Ajouter" makes the world an easier place.

--I've been going through recent back-issues of the X-Men titles. Second Coming is how crossovers should be done. I thought this when I first read the series, but had it confirmed when I went back over it. That story is what the X-Men are all about. (The scene with Xavier and Legion is just lovely.) Unfortunately the rest of the "Cyclops as Malcolm X" era is more hit and miss. There's a beautiful panel with the Hulk and Captain America in AvX ("Yes. Hulk will smash for you.") But I'm not really feeling the X-Men of the "past" now living in the "present." There's a lot going on. I wish Marvel would just settle down for a moment and let the stories breath. Also. Less Storm is always a bad sign.