Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The Sad Return to Segregated Schools in Raleigh, N.C.

Stephanie McCrummen reports on the GOP push to return Raleigh, N.C., to a neighborhood-based system of school assignment: The sprawling Wake County School District has long been a rarity. Some of its best, most diverse schools are in the poorest sections of this capital city. And its suburban schools, rather than being exclusive enclaves, include children whose parents cannot afford a house in the neighborhood. But over the past year, a new majority-Republican school board backed by national tea party conservatives has set the district on a strikingly different course. Pledging to "say no to the social engineers!" it has abolished the policy behind one of the nation's most celebrated integration efforts. With only slight reliance on busing, the Raleigh system has successfully integrated the diverse county -- 72 percent white, 20 percent black, 9 percent Latino -- by focusing on socioeconomic status. In 2000, McCrummen writes, the city adopted a goal that "no school should have more...

Obama Should Focus on Mental Health Care.

I wasn't a fan of David Frum 's "reefer madness" post on the Loughner shooting, but this is a good recommendation for what President Obama should say in his comments in Arizona tomorrow: Go all in on mental health. Liberals will want the president to address gun control. Unsmart. Stokes your opposition, leads to a political contest you cannot win, and even if you do win, what really do you accomplish? A ban on extended magazines? Next time the killer will bring two guns. But more resources for mental health services? Democrats say yay. Enhancement of power to commit the dangerously mentally ill? Will appeal to the center and right. Bonus point: such a discussion inherently favors the president by stimulating a discussion about what government can and should do, rather than the preferred Republican topic of what government can’t and shouldn’t. This might inflame anti-health-care rhetoric, but it's an otherwise great idea. Mental-health services in the United States are extremely...

Social Security Is Modest.

I'm not categorically opposed to Social Security adjustments -- longer phase-in period for benefits, slightly higher retirement age -- but, as the Center on Budget and Policy priorities notes , we should remember that Social Security is actually a pretty modest program: In December 2010, the average benefit for the three principal groups of Social Security beneficiaries — retired workers, disabled workers, and aged widows and widowers — was only about $1,100 a month, or $14,000 a year. That’s less than 30 percent over the poverty level. These modest average benefit levels help to explain why, although the poverty rate is lower for the elderly than for other age groups, many older people are near-poor. While there is no explicit dollar cap on Social Security benefits, top benefits are modest as well. This is because Social Security caps the amount of earnings on which workers pay taxes and accrue credit toward future benefits, and because the program’s progressive benefit formula...

If He Had Been a Muslim.

Peter Beinart observes that the national conversation would be much different if Jared Lee Loughner were a Muslim: Had the shooters’ name been Abdul Mohammed, you’d be hearing the familiar drumbeat about the need for profiling and the pathologies of Islam. But since his name was Jared Lee Loughner, he gets called “mentally unstable”; the word “terrorist” rarely comes up. When are we going to acknowledge that good old-fashioned white Americans are every bit as capable of killing civilians for a political cause as people with brown skin who pray to Allah? I'll just add that we have every reason to believe that "good old-fashioned white Americans" are capable of killing civilians for a political cause. The deadliest terrorist attack on American soil -- before 9/11 -- was the Oklahoma City Bombing, which killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others. Abortion clinic bombings were relatively common throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and the Centennial Olympic Park bombing -- committed by...

Lawmaker Takes a Stand Against Poor Graphic Design.

This is a really awful idea: In the wake of the tragic Arizona shooting, Rep. Bob Brady (D-PA) says he plans to introduce a bill criminalizing the use of certain forms of threatening imagery against lawmakers and judges. "You can't threaten the president with a bullseye or a crosshair," Brady told the New York Times. He explained to CNN that his bill would also ban symbols or language that threaten "a congressman, senator or federal judge." Actually, you can. It's unwise, and we should hope for norms that discourage that kind of rhetoric. But violent rhetoric is as much a part of free speech as civility is. Banning particular kinds of graphic design is really not a precedent we want to set. -- Jamelle Bouie