May 23, 2012

There is no history of racism in this country that chalked ‘up only to race.’ You can’t really talk about stereotypes of, say, black laziness unless you understand stereotypes of the poor stretching back to 17th century Great Britain. You can’t really talk about the Southern slave society without grappling with the relationship between the demand for arable land and the demand for labor. You can’t understand the racial pogroms at the turn of the century without understanding the increasing mobility of American women.

And this works the other way too. If you’re trying to understand the nature of American patriotism without thinking about anti-black racism, you will miss a lot. If you’re trying to understand the New Deal, without thinking about Southern segregationist senators you will miss a lot. If you’re trying to understand the very nature of American democracy itself, and not grappling with black you, you will miss almost all of it.


Ta-Nehisi Coates on white resentment, Obama, and Appalachia.

Filed under: Obama Race Racism History Appalachia 
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