Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

There Are No Systemic Problems! Or Something.

African Americans are overrepresented in the nation's prisons and jails, and it's common to attribute some of this to systemic forces; poverty, poor schools, inadequate legal representation, drug-enforcement policies, and sentencing laws. It's not that black people are more prone to criminality; it's that they are more likely to find themselves affected by the things that guarantee high rates of incarceration. Of course, some people disagree. Like, for instance , two justices on the Washington state Supreme Court: State Supreme Court justices Richard Sanders and J ames Johnson stunned some participants at a recent court meeting when they said African Americans are overrepresented in the prison population because they commit a disproportionate number of crimes. Both justices disputed the view held by some that racial discrimination plays a significant role in the disparity. [...] Sanders later confirmed his remarks about imprisoned African Americans, saying "certain minority groups"...

Yes, Black People Talk About Responsibility.

Last night, CNN aired a documentary on the financial standing of African American families, that featured this inspired plea on the problem of debt by Pastor DeForest B. Soaries Jr ., the senior pastor at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey. Here's the promo: I don't have much of an opinion as to whether debt is a bigger problem than racism -- I don't see why they have to be in opposition -- but I'm kind of annoyed by the notion that it's a novel or controversial new message. The message that "you should be financially responsible" has been a standard part of black sermons for as long as there have been black churches, to say nothing of rhetoric from popular figures in the black community like Bill Cosby , or the current president of the United States. It's simply true that if you spend enough time with nearly any group of black people, you will hear someone talk about personal responsibility and the importance of thrift. To borrow some from Ta-Nehisi...

Did Bill Clinton Forget About 1994?

Bill Clinton , The Washington Post reports , is "baffled" by Democrats' inability to define themselves and their message: Bill Clinton is baffled. The former president's friends say he is in disbelief that in the closing weeks of the midterm campaigns Democrats have failed to articulate a coherent message on the economy and, worse, have allowed themselves to become "human pinatas." So Clinton is deploying himself on a last-ditch, dawn-to-dusk sprint to rescue his beleaguered party. And as the only president in modern times who has balanced the federal budget, he is leveraging his credibility to become one of the most fierce defenders of President Obama 's economic policies. More baffling, really, is Bill Clinton's surprise at the failure of Democratic messaging. Today's midterm environment -- with a few important exceptions -- is virtually identical to the one Clinton faced in 1994, when Republicans were on the verge of historic gains in the House. Like Obama today, Clinton tried to...

Palin: Too Dysfunctional to Be President.

I try to avoid commentary on Sarah Palin -- because she really isn't that interesting -- but J onathan Martin 's piece on her political operation is worth reading, if only for the assurance that Palin will never sit in the Oval Office: According to multiple Republican campaign sources, the former Alaska governor wreaks havoc on campaign logistics and planning. She offers little notice about her availability, refuses to do certain events, is obsessive about press coverage and sometimes backs out with as little lead time as she gave in the first place. In short, her seat-of-the-pants operation can be a nightmare to deal with, which, in part, explains why Palin doesn’t often do individual events for GOP hopefuls. It’s not that Palin issues outlandish, rock star-like demands such as certain-colored M&M’s in the greenroom. At the events Palin does attend, officials say, she’s no diva; Kind and courteous is the more frequent description. But the high-maintenance aspects of dealing with...

When It Doesn't Pay to Tell the Truth.

I made this point on this week's soon-to-be published podcast, and I had planned to write a longer post about it, but Sally Quinn beat me to it with a post called "Why Anita Hill Deserves an Apology": Women like Anita Hill who try to tell the truth about being sexually harassed all too often are disbelieved and even demonized. Hill testified, during the Senate confirmation hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas , that Thomas had engaged in a consistent pattern of sexual harassment of her in the workplace. And now, Virginia Thomas , Justice Clarence Thomas' current wife, has left a voice mail for Anita Hill asking Hill for an apology. [...] So many women over the years have come to me in a pastoral context and told me about these patterns that constitute sexual harassment at work. They know it's wrong, they even know it's illegal, and they know they are being discriminated against on the basis of their sex. But even today many just want to keep silent because they...

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