Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Posted with Minimal Comment.

When I was in high school , there wasn't much to running for class office; you collected 50 signatures and then spent the following month convincing your classmates that you could actually do something about anything in the school. That said, it seems that other school districts have other requirements for entering the election; in Nettleton, Mississippi, for instance , certain offices are restricted to white students and others to black students, as seen in this memo issued by the school: Black kids who want to represent their fellow students have to settle for vice president or reporter, where they can serve their (presumably) more qualified white superiors, or something. This is what I mean when I say that we're only 40 years removed from the civil-rights movement. These attitudes took generations to materialize, and while we've come a long way, it's unreasonable to expect that they'll disappear in a few decades. On the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic march on...

The Dark Side of Beltway Bipartisanship.

Seth Masket goes hard after Mark Halperin 's latest ode to bipartisanship: I don't know how these Beltway fantasies get started. No, you don't need bipartisanship to get things done. This past Congress has seen almost no bipartisanship, and yet it's probably been one of the most productive since LBJ was in the White House. Sure, Republicans could have aided bipartisanship by voting for more of Obama's agenda, but why would they want to do that? That's certainly not what they got elected to do. Masket only hints at this, but there seems to be a real anti-democratic undertone to the Beltway fantasy of perpetual bipartisanship. Think about it: In the bipartisan fantasy land of Mark Halperin or David Broder , elected officials would ignore their constituents in favor of a "bipartisan agenda" defined entirely by a handful of elite opinion writers. For members of Congress, political loyalty would extend as far as themselves, and you would see a steady disregard for grassroots groups and...

DEA Looking for a Few Good Ebonics Speakers.

At NPR's news blog, Frank James snarks on the DEA's request for linguists who specialize in Ebonics: Some stories make you doublecheck the date just to make sure it's not April Fools Day. Such is an Associated Press report that the Drug Enforcement Administration is seeking speakers of Ebonics who can do translation work for its agents in the Southeast. It's really getting increasingly harder to tell the real from fake news, isn't it? Clearly, James thinks this is absurd, but I don't see why; Ebonics is almost exclusively spoken by African Americans, and for DEA agents working in the Southeast United States, it's not a stretch to say that they will have some contact with at a least a few of those African Americans. Given the background of most agents -- middle-class and white -- there's a good chance that they aren't familiar with African American slang and vernacular. Hell, there's a good joke about this in Season 3 of The Wire , as Roland Pryzbylewski depends on Caroline Massey to...

From the Annals of Terrible Presidents.

Adam Serwer offers a brief defense of Uylsses S. Grant's presidency: U.S. Grant was one of the most pro-civil-rights presidents we've ever had, and it's largely because of the preeminence of Confederate lost cause dead-enders among Civil War historians intent on romanticizing the Confederate cause that his tenure as president is characterized as one of the worst ever. Yet aside from the disastrous Supreme Court appointments that helped undo his civil-rights legacy, Grant's record as president overall is clearly a positive one, and people at the time thought so too. As historian Sean Wilentz has pointed out, he was the only president between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson to be re-elected to a second term other than Abraham Lincoln. If I had the power to declare a fiat , I would declare a moratorium on harsh references to Grant's tenure as president. Not only was Grant a pretty good president -- and on the whole, an American hero -- but among 19th-century presidents, there are other...

Health Care and the "Model Minority" Myth.

I don't have much to add to this , but it's worth noting: In their paper, "Barriers to Health Care Among Asian Americans," UB School of Social Work professors Wooksoo Kim and Robert H. Keefe write that Asian Americans cannot be carelessly lumped together with such easy stereotypes as "well adjusted" or "successful." In addition to the many Asian Americans who have assimilated well and become accomplished professionals, able to enjoy all the accompanying benefits, millions of Asian Americans still face daunting obstacles that stand in the way of quality health care, the UB researchers say. [...] Kim and Keefe find that Asian Americans "face crucial disadvantages preventing them from receiving quality health care taken for granted by other, more culturally assimilated Americans." That we don't notice those disadvantages owes itself to the prevalence of the "model minority" myth. You can see this in other areas as well. While Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Americans tend to do well when...

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