Topic | slavery

Why We Can’t Trust the US State

A version of this talk was delivered originally at a teach-in on “Ferguson and Beyond: Race, State Violence, and Activist Agendas in the 21st Century” at the University of Washington on January 23, 2015. Video of the teach in can be viewed here. Let me begin by pointing out some obvious, but oftentimes overlooked, points. […]

Michael Brown, Ferguson, and the Logic of Slavery

ferguson

The shocking situation evolving in Ferguson, MO has laid bare an ugly feature of American life: that the relationship of American society to Black people is founded upon the logic of slavery. Now, I know many of you will roll your eyes at that assertion. I get it. Slavery was abolished over 150 years ago, […]

The Origins of the Term “Cracker”

saltine crackers

In The Sensitivity of White People and the Problem of Race in America, I proposed that the term “cracker,” when used in reference to white people, originated when black slaves equated racist bosses with the cracking sound of the whips they wielded. That etymology came to me by way of black friends in whose family […]

The Problem with White Pride

Oakland, 1969

  The Race Files publication of Pakou Her’s My Racial Trigger: Raising Brown Babies sparked an unexpected debate about white pride. In particular, this video got the ire of one Race Files reader – The little girl in the clip is biracial. She celebrates this by shouting “hapa power!” while raising her fists in the […]

More on the Accidental Racism of Brad Paisley

goldwater

Yesterday I wrote about Brad Paisley’s Accidental Racist, his musical response to accusations of racism he faced for flying the rebel flag on his chest. Its message? The past is the past. Let’s get over it and move on. But the song is worth further dissection because I think it reveals a great deal about […]

Why I Support Same Sex Marriage as a Civil Right, But Not as a Strategy to Achieve Structural Change

gay_marriage

The pending Supreme Court decisions concerning the constitutionality of California Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act have pushed discussion of same-sex marriage into the mainstream of the news cycle, with many civil rights advocates convinced that regardless of the court’s decision, eventual victory is a done deal. I don’t disagree. I’ve also argued […]

The Autodidact’s Guide to Hegemony

My post of a couple of days ago, Why I Write What I Write, was my autodidact‘s first stab at tackling the concept of cultural hegemony. I know that’s a big, complicated idea, but I think it’s pretty key, and have ever since my brief and tortured attempt at college in my early 20s helped […]

The Stuff You Can Learn From Late Night TV

Since it’s Friday, I thought I ought to post something short. This video made me laugh out loud. It’s made the rounds so you’ve may have already seen it, but it’s the kind of thing that deserves multiple looks. And it’s gotta be one of the best things to happen on late night talk TV […]

Not a Nation of Immigrants

statue-of-liberty

It’s an often repeated mantra, that American is a “nation of immigrants.” Ever since the phrase was popularized by John F. Kennedy (who used it as the title of a New York Times editorial and a book), it has been used by those on the right and the left of the political spectrum, though with […]