The public is overwhelmed by budget deficits, shrinking public supports, and the inability of its government to compromise. In this climate, so-called minority issues seem like a distraction. But black and Latino men between the ages of 16 and 24 are profoundly more likely to be poor than whites, more likely to be unemployed or the victims of violent crime, and less likely to graduate from high school. This hasn't changed since Lyndon Johnson first tried to address problems of racism and poverty, calling American Negroes "another nation: deprived of freedom, crippled by hatred, the doors of opportunity closed to hope." Forty years later, young black and Latino men remain in a state of crisis, yet government has been, on the whole, unresponsive.
On the list of right-wing villains, American Enterprise Institute Scholar Charles Murray ranks somewhere between Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and the late Dixiecrat turned Republican senator Jesse Helms. Retired New York Times columnist Bob Herbert called Murray's 1994 book, The Bell Curve, in which Murray links intelligence to race, "a genteel way of calling somebody a nigger."
To mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War -- April 12, 1861 -- the Pew Research Center surveyed Americans on their view of the war's legacy and released the results Monday. On the whole, they weren't particularly surprising. More than half of Americans say that the war is still relevant to politics and life, a plurality of Americans agree that it is inappropriate for public officials to praise Confederate leaders, and most people don't have much of a reaction when they see the Confederate flag displayed.
Given the proliferation of corporate publications and websites that feature smiling minorities, one might think that the days of stark workplace segregation are long gone. And while, yes, the American economy is no longer formally segregated, the data clearly show a workforce where minorities remain greatly underrepresented at management and leadership levels and overrepresented in low-wage work.
Unfortunately, as an observant Muslim, his options were limited. Many Muslims hold that the paying or charging of interest is prohibited, which makes it difficult to purchase a home in the United States.
Ten years ago, the population of Chicago, the country's third-largest city, increased by nearly 113,000. At the time, city advocates heralded the trend as a sign of a local urban renaissance, driven partly by young, mainly white, well-educated professionals who moved to the city and stayed to start families.
In advance of this week's Homeland Security hearings on domestic radicalization, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDounough sought to reassure the American Muslim community that the government views its members as partners, not enemies.
"We have a choice. We can choose to send a message to certain Americans that they are somehow 'less American' because of their faith or how they look; that we see their entire community as a potential threat," McDonough said. "Or we can make another choice. We can send the message that we're all Americans."
In 1990, sociologist William Julius Wilson wrote a provocative article for this magazine, "Race-Neutral Politics and the Democratic Coalition," arguing that Democrats should de-emphasize race-specific policies like affirmative action in favor of race-neutral policies that disproportionately serve minorities (who are disproportionately poor) as a strategy of expanding the Democratic base. The article was a flash point in a then-roiling debate not only about identity politics within the Democratic Party but about the country's willingness to continue activist policies to achieve racial equity.
Patients visit a bilingual clinic. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Bill Owens, a 52-year-old small-business owner, loves his Seattle neighborhood of South Park for its racial and ethnic diversity. Owens has become close to his neighbors of Vietnamese, Korean, Mexican, Guatemalan, and Jamaican descent. Yet Owens and his friends are making themselves sick by residing in South Park, an industrial area south of downtown Seattle that is home to more than 3,700 people.
Among the daily risks and challenges they face are limited access to healthy food, exposure to environmental toxins, and restricted transportation options. These and other burdens, including economic insecurity, weigh heavily on South Park residents.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who claims a major school district in Tucson is violating a new state law by continuing an ethnic studies program (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne knows racism when he sees it, and he isn't afraid to publicly castigate the most recent agents of race hate. Horne is an outspoken opponent of racism in a state roiling with tensions about "illegal aliens" and "anchor babies." The bigotry Horne especially rebukes? Courses like "Latino literature." If Horne has his way, the Tucson public school system -- serving a student body that's over half Mexican American and, like other districts, already suffering hard economic times -- will lose $15 million in state funding this year unless it terminates its Mexican American Studies program.
In July 2010, the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism released Media, Race and Obama's First Year. The white paper detailed what many already knew: The American media often does a terrible job of covering racial issues -- and having a president of color has done little to change that fact.
"Race talk" has occupied a contradictory place in Barack Obama's political strategy. On the one hand, Obama has made it newly salient. The speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 that elevated him to political stardom focused on his vision of reconciliation, racial and otherwise: "There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America," Obama declared, "there's the United States of America." The single speech for which he has been most lauded was his "A More Perfect Union" March 2008 address in Philadelphia, delivered to quell the uproar over his relationship with the incendiary Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
A young woman expresses her view of the racial situation in troubled Cairo, Ill., May 2, 1969. She was part of a demonstration against a black boycott of white merchants. (AP Photo/Fred Jewell)
In the past 70 years, there has been a tide shift in the publicly shared attitudes of white Americans toward African Americans. Some of the earliest public-opinion polls in the 1940s found that an overwhelming majority (about two-thirds) of whites were willing to support segregated schools. By the mid-1990s (the last time questions on school segregation were asked), only one out of every 25 whites held to the same view. Similarly, on interracial couples, polls from the late-1950s and early-1960s found nearly universal disapproval among white Americans; by the 1990s, only a small fraction of whites favored anti-miscegenation laws and a majority actively indicated their support of interracial marriages.
Malaika Jenkins, a 36-year-old African American marketing director, recently moved from Southern California to Oak Park, a racially diverse first-ring suburb at the west edge of Chicago. It's a community where Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie-style homes mingle with grand Victorian houses and the condos and apartments that make up half of the city's housing units.
Jenkins enjoys strolling past the boutiques and bars that dot her neighborhood and seeing people of different backgrounds. "I feel comfortable. ... I like diversity," she says. "I don't want to be in some place where everyone else looks like me, but I want to see some people like me."
Protesters in Colorado in January (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
When 19-year-old Tyler Waltz was a child, Fairfield, Ohio, was a typical Midwestern town. In the small suburb 20 miles north of Cincinnati, life centered on sports and Catholic festivals. Teenagers hung out at the town's strip malls, its three bowling alleys, and in the wooded areas between subdivisions. Area automobile-part factories had laid off thousands of workers since the 1980s. Like Waltz, 90 percent of Fairfield residents were white.