"No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

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"No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby stormin mormon » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:55 pm

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/10/the-first-white-president-ta-nehisi-coates/537909/?utm_source=atlfb

"White workers are not divided by the fact of labor from other white demographics; they are divided from all other laborers by the fact of their whiteness."

"The dent of racism is not hard to detect in West Virginia. In the 2008 Democratic primary there, 95 percent of the voters were white. Twenty percent of those—one in five—openly admitted that race was influencing their vote, and more than 80 percent voted for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. Four years later, the incumbent Obama lost the primary in 10 counties to Keith Judd, a white felon incarcerated in a federal prison; Judd racked up more than 40 percent of the Democratic-primary vote in the state. A simple thought experiment: Can one imagine a black felon in a federal prison running in a primary against an incumbent white president doing so well?"

I found his argument rather compelling. Anyone else read it yet?
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby Goat Fan » Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:50 pm

This is a great piece of writing. Thanks for the heads up, JB. For me, it reframes the argument about "identity" and economic disruption in terms that really hit home. Also explains why the Sanders message didn't resonate with POC.
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby slopoke » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:12 pm

A very cynical, nihilistic piece (very you, JB! Haha). But he's right. Especially this:

Certainly not every Trump voter is a white supremacist, just as not every white person in the Jim Crow South was a white supremacist. But every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.


A lot of POC are very skeptical of any alliance with whites, no matter how progressive, because they've been sold out so many times in the past. Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Chinese Exclusion, Mexican Repatriation, and on and on. Hopefully Democrats read this before entering into any deals with Trump over the latest carrot he's thrown them.
But to wear out your brain trying to make things into one without realizing that they are all the same- this is called "three in the morning."
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby corn diesel » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:49 pm

I listened to the article read aloud. Good way to experience it. From one perspective, it does seem like he's arguing that the white people who voted against Trump need to own that they are responsible for Trump getting elected? Is that right?
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby stormin mormon » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:16 am

Tommy, I didn't get that but it is possible I missed that angle. To me, I think he was really emphasizing the pervasive nature of racism that still drives a lot of people in this country in terms of how we react to things (I thought the comparison of the crack epidemic and the opioid problem was a good illustration of it) as well as the fact that even if they aren't necessarily white supremacists, they are totally ok with one being in the white house and maybe even favoring it.

I had a conversation yesterday with someone who defended those voters much the same way that Kristof does, "they aren't nazis they are just tired of all the regulations that are making their jobs so hard, etc." But I think Coates is right when he says those regulations became much more burdensome when it appeared that they were coming from a black man. Because the burden of regulation on small businesses did not increase significantly more under Obama than it did with any previous administration. So I think that specter of the uppity black man and his wife really did play wrong with a lot of people.
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby The Burmeister » Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:01 am

I thought this was another phenomenal article by Coates. I really like this line:
It is as if the white tribe united in demonstration to say, “If a black man can be president, then any white man—no matter how fallen—can be president.”

This is something I have thought about a fair amount - can you imagine anyone besides a white man with Trump's "credentials" ever being elected? I wish he had expanded on this idea a little more and tied it to the clear misogyny present in the election - the absurdity of Clinton and Trump being treated as remotely equally qualified for the position of president.
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby dyoung » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:33 am

i thought this was bracing and kind of a slap in the face, just the full coates experience. there has been some (helpful, i think) criticism of coates from the left this year but this is right there with his best work.

since the election, i've been humping the idea that if the democrats actually run good candidates and have a material message, most of their electoral problems will fix themselves. that's still the case, i think, but this was a good wakeup call.
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby Hildog » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:16 pm

Dyoung can you share some links to Coates criticism from the left? I haven't really seen any and would be interested in reading it.
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby dyoung » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:31 pm

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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby lampshade » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:15 pm

That was a good response. I think Coates can be forgiven for his pessimism. I also think the Jacobin article underplayed racism. As Coates’ article said, Trump support crossed all class lines. Despite the universality of racism, maybe class struggle is one way to bring people together (or at least lower class white and black people). Maybe that’s not the only way. I wonder what Coates would say if asked for a potential solution to all this mess. I guess something about reparations? That could help a lot, by getting white people to own up to the history of racism and acknowledge the ways they’ve benefited. But it could have the opposite effect on many white people, leading them to dig their heels in and bury their heads even more. I think that’s what the Jacobin article criticized about “trickle down” race theory.
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby corn diesel » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:33 am

So here's my pushback on the article. First, I think he's re-appropriating the narrative around the post-election soul-searching on the part of progressives. I don't think anyone is saying these blue collar, white, uneducated Trump supporters aren't racist as shit. I mean, I definitely think they are. (Actually, I think between "some" and "most" of them are. For some, I'm willing to entertain the idea that a fairly noble sense of patriotism borders on blind patriotism that leaves them susceptible to white nationalism, or at least voting for whichever guy promises to make America great again.)

What I think progressives are recognizing is that the fact that these are racist pieces of shit is not the end of the story, and that's not the only note we should be playing. A lot of these people are racist as shit AND under-privileged AND probably deserve a little help/credit/whatever because their lives are getting increasingly shitty in a post-industrial service economy where the only road to the middle class is knowledge work - which, at this point, probably requires 6+ years of higher ed, which is tough to come by if you don't already come from affluence. You used to be able to be non-ostentatiously middle class if you had a high school diploma, belonged to a union, and worked in a factory. That's not the case anymore.

I don't think anyone's political calculus includes the possibility that there are people who are kinda racist but also under-privileged. It's like our digestive tracts reject it. It produces too much cognitive dissonance to entertain. Progressives can only entertain the idea that their enemy is a rich white fatcat. In fact, the enemy is more diverse than that, and it includes a lot of poor white racist pieces of shit who also happen to be far less fortunate than the progressive intelligentsia. This doesn't mean the racist piece of shit part should be forgiven - not for a second, but it does mean these people deserve a lot more than just your contempt and disapproval.

And the version of the social justice narrative that does make it into the mouths left-leaning political elites is completely watered down in terms of things that would actually make poor people's lives materially better - black, white, or brown. And that's what we need to be thinking about. And I think Coates' argument steers the narrative back toward something that very open-minded, educated, affluent progressives (i.e., readers of The Atlantic [I have a subscription, btw]) are already comfortable thinking about.
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby Juan » Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:33 pm

Coates isn't a policy guy. He writes metaphorically and metaphysically because that is the level at which he seems to think he can best convey the experience of white supremacy from a Black perspective. And he's brilliant at it. I really like R.L Stephens' take too. Thanks for sharing that article. There is a great back and forth taking place between those two thinkers. I find Jacobin frustratingly dogmatic, but it may be true that the most viable policy approach to racial justice at this point is through a strategy of class struggle. For me, Coates' work is there to remind us that the viability of that approach doesn't mean it squares with a fully fleshed out notion of justice, which would have to account for the fact that non-white people have suffered more in this country and are owed more by this country.

I also think Coates' recent piece about white supremacy has an important practical take away which is to say that Trump voters are not going to be redeemed by some ever more subtle voting data analysis that finally proves the unfounded theory that it was all about the economy. Occam's razor keeps coming back in these postmortems to show that the most comprehensive explanation for Trump's electoral success is whiteness. The fact that so many people have anecdotal evidence of Trump voters they know who "aren't racist" sounds to me like when pundits say global warming isn't happening because it was really cold a few days last winter. It's a misunderstanding of the dynamics of the broader phenomenon being discussed, and of the relationship between the parts and the whole.

It's misguided to continue to strategize based on a fictional group of wayward, racially innocent Trump voters who are just waiting to come back to the Dems. Republican racialized appeals will continue to be effective because White Supremacy runs deep. Dems should still support policies that benefit poor whites throughout the country, regardless of electoral maps, but they shouldn't think they're going to build a grand coalition based on class consciousnesses and a "rejection of identity politics" (which really just means rhetorically signalling that black and brown people will no longer be acknowledged as deserving any special policy or political considerations).
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby corn diesel » Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:32 pm

Ian, how fictional is Trump's 10% drop in approval ratings since taking office?
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby stormin mormon » Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:40 pm

Tommy, part of what I find compelling about Coates' theory is that he isn't focusing on those obviously racist people, he is focusing on the people that don't think they are racist, are well off, but had a visceral reaction to policies, laws, etc. because they were coming from a black man. Hence the desire for a "white" president over any other choice.
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Re: "No, Trump voters (whites) really are racist after all"

Postby Juan » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:08 pm

Ian, how fictional is Trump's 10% drop in approval ratings since taking office?


Scarily, possibly about as fictional as that massive polling disadvantage he had prior to the election.
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