Subjective questions like “Is America a racist nation” are fairly useless. Some say yes, some say no but what they’re actually debating is how much racism is required for it to be a defining trait. Which is like asking how much you need to smile to qualify as cheerful.
The more useful question is to what degree does racism impact life outcomes and opportunities in the United States? And that question has a straight-forward answer: a huge amount. Every fundamental institution in American life yields racial disparities.
The social science on this is clear. Education, access to health care, quality of treatment, housing, employment, life expectancy, maternal mortality, lifetime earnings all conform in some way to the established hierarchies of race. This is not coincidental.
The presumption seems to be that unless you’re (still) barbecuing Black people en masse in the town square racism cannot be a formative part of your society. Obviously that’s not true. The same ends can now be achieved through far more palatable means.
So stating, as Tim Scott did, that “America is not a racist country” is imbecilic. The more thoughtful question would be “How different would a racist nation look from this one?” And the answer to that one is “Not very different at all.”

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More from @jelani9

23 Apr
I did not tweet earlier out of respect for the service but Daunte Wright’s funeral was legitimately heartrending. He comes from a sprawling family that deeply grieved his loss. The sorrow also represented a kind of whiplash from the post-verdict joy of 2 days ago.
The funeral brought out hundred of people, packed a large church and backlogged traffic in a section of north Minneapolis. In attendance: Philando Castile’s mother, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, relatives of Emmett Till, Jamar Clark and a delegation from the Floyd family.
Jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold played Amazing Grace while an artist made a portrait of Daunte Wright in real time. Harrold’s 14 year old son is the young man accused of stealing an iPhone in a SoHo hotel last winter. The entire funeral was in the service of demanding justice.
Read 7 tweets
20 Apr
I’m outside the Hennepin County Courthouse awaiting a Derek Chauvin verdict. A rally is already in progress.
Here is the scene at the courthouse post verdict.
The mood outside the courthouse is one of elation but people seem to be legitimately shocked that all 3 counts came back guilty. People telling me they expected 1 or 2 of the charges to bring a conviction.
Read 8 tweets
12 Apr
I’m in Minnesota to write about the Derek Chauvin trial but 20 miles away a 20 year old black man named Dante Wright was killed by Brooklyn Center police during a traffic stop. Crowds are gathered at the police precinct.
Some in the crowd threw rocks and garbage at the cops, they responded with about 8 canisters of tear gas that mostly blew back in their faces. They shot 4-6 more about 15 mins later. Wright’s mother bought him a car a week ago. She was on the phone with him when he was shot.
*Name is spelled Daunte. #DaunteWright Protestors have pointed out that Wright died *during* the trial of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd. Tensions and anger are expectedly high right now. This is the context that the jury will hear evidence in tomorrow morning.
Read 4 tweets
9 Mar
I spent a lot of time working on an article which @jbouie has chosen to disagree with in print. So I have taken the most mature path and challenged him to a fistfight at dawn. But before the fisticuffs commence I thought I should note some of his (alright, pretty good) points.
Here is Jamelle’s piece:…
My article looks at the kinds of tensions that have torn previous political parties apart and the extent to which they’re present in the current GOP. The Federalists collapsed in the wake of the War of 1812 with problems exacerbated by their demographic challenges.
Read 11 tweets
11 Feb
The Constitution should’ve placed adjudication of impeachment in the hands of the Supreme Court. The rationale for lifetime appointment to the court was to place the justices beyond political concerns. Not hard to see how politics would interfere with Senate impeachment.
Note, for instance, that no one has ever been impeached by the majority of their own party or anything close to it. It has always been a mostly party-line affair. (Andrew Johnson was Lincoln’s VP but he wasn’t a Republican.)
10 Republicans voted to acquit Clinton on one count, 10 Republicans joined the Democrats in impeaching Trump in January. Nixon would’ve been impeached (but Dems controlled both houses of Congress at the time.) The 44 GOP senators who voted against this trial raise a point:
Read 5 tweets
9 Jan
This will not end on January 20th.

We should prepare for the likelihood that outside the White House Trump will morph into the leader of a revanchist movement seeking to topple the government.

The radical forces will coalesce around the banner of restoration.
Such a movement could easily leverage support of paramilitary groups as well as significant numbers of elected officials in state houses and congress, potentially police unions and/or individual cops.

They think Wednesday was their Fort Sumpter.
Comparisons to the Civil War have pointed to the fact that there are not neatly sectional divisions like 11 contiguous Southern states in 1860. But that doesn’t preclude the possibility of messier internecine conflict emerging.
Read 8 tweets

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