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Race and Class Together

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    Recent protests and civil unrest surrounding the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police are occurring within a larger context of racial inequality. Despite collective and individual progress since the 1960s, blacks still lag far behind whites economically. They are twice as likely than whites to be poor or unemployed even in good economic times. Almost three quarters of whites own homes while the rate among blacks is about 40 %. And regardless of education or occupation blacks make less money and are far less wealthy than whites. It might be convenient or comforting to blame blacks themselves for all this, but that would mean racism went away due to the Civil Rights laws. Overt legal racism disappeared, but covert systemic racism still hinders black people.

    At the same time we live in a troubled economy that's hard on all working people regardless of race. The top 1 % controls 38.6 % of the wealth and gets 23. 8 % of the income. Meanwhile the bottom 90 % controls 22.8 % of the wealth and gets only 48.7 % of the income. More than a quarter of people have no emergency savings, and less than a fifth of Americans could live for six months off their savings. When you throw in the costs of healthcare it's no surprise that more than two thirds of those going bankrupt each year do so because of medical debt. For over thirty years despite hard work, productivity, and high corporate profits average earnings have stagnated. It's clear that we have a class problem.

    For many liberals and leftists economic issues are paramount. " Standing up for working families or the middle class " is the common refrain. From moderates like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden to Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders and liberal minded Elizabeth Warren politicians have plenty to say. Getting something done is questionable. The problem with this emphasis on economic issues or class is that it's code for - white people. Since the era of Bill Clinton and the New Democrats in the nineties regaining white voters lost after the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War has been essential. Since the election of Donald Trump in 2016 some liberals have been very direct about the issue.

    Joan C. Williams wrote in The Atlantic : On Election Night 2016, my social crowd of San Francisco progressives was mystified as to why white people in a few Rust Belt states, many of them union members who’d previously voted for Obama, had just delivered Trump the election. That same night, I wrote an essay for the Harvard Business Review in which I explained what I (a white, liberal law professor) thought so many of my white, liberal, highly educated peers were failing to see: that middle-income white people had voted for Trump not so much because they liked him (though many did) or because they were racist (though plenty were) but foremost as an expression of class anger. After the essay went viral, I expanded it into a book, White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America.

    All told, I’ve spent a good deal of the past two years talking with progressives about the broken relationship between elite white people and the white working class. (I use the term working class to refer to Americans with household incomes between the 30th and 80th percentiles. This group, which has median earnings of about $75,000, is also commonly referred to as the “middle class.”) Democrats presently have a unique opportunity to appeal to the working class, because their base is newly open to a populist message: Income inequality has gotten so bad that people across the political spectrum, college-educated and non-college-educated alike, are feeling a serious pinch.

    Williams is onto something very important, but she and other liberals should not forget that blacks bear the double burden of race and class. This doesn't mean the white working class doesn't matter. On the contrary this says that both groups matter equally and have a common interest in an economy built on shared prosperity where no one is left out due to race. It's about race and class together. With the 2020 Presidential election little more than a week away Democrats and liberals in particular need to keep this in mind.

    Sources

    census.gov/library/stories/2020/09/pove...

    epi.org/blog/before-the-state-of-the-un...

    hbr.org/2017/10/hiring-discrimination-a...

    money.cnn.com/2017/09/27/news/economy/i...

    cnbc.com/2019/02/11/this-is-the-real-re...

    bankrate.com/banking/savings/financial-...

    theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/1...

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    Nice story; very clearly laid out. However do you think this "picture" will change? I doubt it. especially if you see the crowds still flocking to an absolute lunatic they want as leader. In any case I've got the feeling that the situation only will get worse because of a lot of things here. Looking at the "total picture of this country as well its stupid structure of governing then this country is doomed. Sorry but is like Rome "the emperor has no clothes"

    Furthermore if the Catholic bitch gets appointed forget an "normal" operating government; the "church" will run it. France had their lessons with that, but here they are running a couple of centuries behind. Even if Biden wins he will still "loose" because the GOP (Trump party) will make life miserable for him especially on his age. The "chaos" will remain and gets only worse; more guns will get sold and more unrest because the "management" here are not "managers" . A lot has to be changed here if this country ever wants to be "governable". I wrote many times about what has to change in our laws as well governing system. Seldom this country wants to copy things from other countries and the one time they did, they copied the stupid British system, which is now creating all the present mess. Canada is laughing at us, because they selected something else which happens to work.

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    Dutch Wrote:

    Nice story; very clearly laid out. However do you think this "picture" will change? I doubt it. especially if you see the crowds still flocking to an absolute lunatic they want as leader. In any case I've got the feeling that the situation only will get worse because of a lot of things here. Looking at the "total picture of this country as well its stupid structure of governing then this country is doomed. Sorry but is like Rome "the emperor has no clothes"

    Furthermore if the Catholic bitch gets appointed forget an "normal" operating government; the "church" will run it. France had their lessons with that, but here they are running a couple of centuries behind. Even if Biden wins he will still "loose" because the GOP (Trump party) will make life miserable for him especially on his age. The "chaos" will remain and gets only worse; more guns will get sold and more unrest because the "management" here are not "managers" . A lot has to be changed here if this country ever wants to be "governable". I wrote many times about what has to change in our laws as well governing system. Seldom this country wants to copy things from other countries and the one time they did, they copied the stupid British system, which is now creating all the present mess. Canada is laughing at us, because they selected something else which happens to work.

    Thanks for your response Dutch... I will be honest there's not much reason to be hopeful. Millions of Americans really do believe in Trump and they won't face reality. But he's not the only problem racism and economic inequality are longstanding issues that have not been adequately addressed. Trump and the virus have made these things worse.

    We need ordinary people regardless of race to confront racial and economic inequality at the grassroots level. This means getting more people to vote as well as protest. We need to use social media to address these issues and call out people like Trump and other right wingers who want to divide us. If this happens we can change the politics and the country. Sadly there's no guarantee this will happen. Racism keeps a lot of whites from seeing economic issues, and those whites who know the economy is not benefitting working people don't see a common interest with black or nonwhite working people.

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    I am far from an expert. That being said like all humans I have opinions. The lenses which must be used to examine problems laid out regarding the political economy of the U.S. are the following:

    Psychology

    Sociology

    Anthropology

    History

    Biology

    I say this because what is called economics with the conditional exceptional of behavioral economics is nothing more than philosophy at best and theology at worst. Human beings are not rational consumers. They react to inputs of information in varying ways depending upon a host of factors. They also are not irrational all of the time. We can see examples of this in every day life. Statements such as “I only buy Fords because I have had good luck with them” have a factual basis in that the person has not had unusual problems with the Ford vehicles he has owned. It ignores that another person could have purchased the same model and had what he considers excessive problems. A rational person meaning one who eschews emotion in decision-making would analyze every car purchase as a separate unrelated transaction. The only conditions would be technical considerations along with some financial ones and a few aesthetic ones. The manufacturer would not arbitrarily matter.

    In the case of race and class in this country we must view it from a longer distance. The twin considerations of the establishment of wealth/capital derive from, imo, the collapse of the feudal system. At the same time colonialism which is simply tribalism caused the false construct of race. Wealth, in the form of landed families as well as ruling families sought to increase their power and position once new (to them) lands were opened for exploitation. For the British it was pushing colonies in North America, Asia and Africa. Subjugation of peoples deemed inferior permitted exploitation of raw materials and marketplaces for manufactured products. Iirc, Niall Ferguson lamented that the countries of Africa had been given the example of good government by their British overlords. What the people of Africa really learned was crony kleptocracy with oppression.

    I have rambled on far too long. The history of the U.S. is tied up with race because the countries where the colonies sprang from were racist to start with.

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    Here is where the change starts like these people in the video. The more people do this kind of communicating and organizing across racial lines there's a chance to build a more free country with shared economic prosperity for all not just whites or the wealthiest elites.

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    Lonely and Center Left, Sure you both got the right thinking, however there is more to it than that. The main problem is the "capitalistic structure" and "British form of government" which influences life here and leads to "dictatorship". "Money" and "religion" screw it up even further. Then on top of it we have 51 States which all got their own peculiarities and ethnic diversity, who actually are more or less little "countries" on their own. The federal government actually makes things worse to treat all these "little kid countries" as incompetent, while these States often have more people than the Netherlands or Belgium. So I believe that this country is absolutely not "uniform" but far from it and actually the name of "United" States does not fit the real situation. Also some States have due to "the system" their own "little corrupt dictators" such as Georgia and Florida etc. All of this looking at the total picture of this country makes this an un-governable country. Furthermore the "law" system is about the worst you can get; uniformity and coherent thinking is out of the window, especially if the federal government is pure partisan due to its two party system which blocks any progress to an more uniform approach. On top of that, if people here elect an "self centered Hitler type uneducated bully" as leader, then "success" is assured in this big pile of manure. Amen