The Dream Revisited
Discussion 23: Race, Segregation, and Politics

Discussion 23: Race, Segregation, and Politics

March 2017

The twenty-third discussion explores the impact of persistent racial segregation on political discourse and electoral outcomes in the United States.

Essay

  • Politics in a Racially Segregated Nation

    by J. Phillip Thompson

    Racial segregation in housing provides little opportunity for whites and blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and others to know each other. In the absence of personal familiarity with the "Other," stereotypes often take hold. Workers are less likely to recognize commonalities in their values--concern for family, respect for hard work, willingness to help others--with those of other racial groups and religions. This social distance is easily transferred into scapegoating and divisive politics.

Discussants

  • The Enduring Legacy of Our Separate and Unequal Geography

    by Patrick Bayer

    That racism creates separation is obvious from even the most cursory glance at American neighborhoods and schools. Black and white families who are identical in every other way routinely inhabit completely different spaces within our cities and society. And, it is exactly this separation that allows racism to persist over generations. When we are disconnected, it takes intentional effort to see each other as individuals, and it becomes all too easy to see those of another race as fundamentally different, other, inferior.

  • Linking Multiracial Coalitions and Class-Based Appeals

    by Lawrence Bobo

    If I dissent from the analysis Phil Thompson has given us, and it is a rather modest dissent, it concerns his insistence on the central importance of the white working class. This be-speaks a mistaken analysis of what happened in the 2016 election and of what ought now be the strategy for the years ahead. Hillary Clinton did not lose because the white working class turned on her with special force [...] It is, in my assessment, the failure of a democratic nominee to effectively claim and excite the full multiracial coalition—black, white Latino, Asian and more—that elected Barack Obama in 2008 and comfortably re-elected him in 2012. Guarding against a repeat of that failure is what should concern us most.

  • A Nation Divided Still: How a Vote for Trump Says More about the Voter than the Candidate Himself

    by Christina Greer

    There is a tendency to focus primarily on white working class voters when attempting to understand the politics of a racially segregated nation. To focus only on white working class voters is to lose sight of the role that middle class and upper class whites have played and continue to play in the racial agenda of the new Republican Party. Racial and economic segregation continue to permeate almost all levels of the democratic experiment, which continues to calcify the deep polarization in this country.

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