The Quiet Death of Racial Progress

How can we stop backsliding toward inequality?


Comments: 179

  1. I appreciated your column much more than usual Mr. Brooks, because in this one, you were actually far more ''fair and balanced'' than usual.

    Whenever anyone of us deals with these macro statistics in the abstract sense (presenting data points, percentages and the like) we zoom in on certain numbers that generally promote our ideological stances. In some cases that can work, but in most cases it doesn't, because you are going to leave out large swaths of the population.

    That is what is happening in particular with minorities, but just poor people overall. It is no longer really a matter of black and white, but rather of dollars and sense - fairness.

    Like all problems of society, it requires an ''all of the above strategy'' that is dedicated, consistent and prolonged.

    What that means is that all matters have the common denominator of taxes. If you make more, then you should be paying more progressively - not less. Those taxes contribute to the infrastructure of society and benefits all - especially the poor. It pays for education, which is a root cause of poverty, and it pays for social programs to raise one out of poverty.

    Once the above is stabilized, then a true living wage ($22hr min) needs to be implemented to further unburden the social network and create even more infrastructure for all to take part in. It is a chain reaction that has compound effects for all.

    - Especially for the people you speak of ...

  2. I support improving the lot of blacks and other minorities in the US, but progressivism, socialism and radicalism are not the solution if we want to win elections.

    For example, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is a Democratic Socialist belonging to and supported by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), whose goals won't appeal to most Democrats, much less Republicans. Here are two of many off-putting DSA goals (https://www.dsausa.org/where_we_stand#global )

    1. "Economic democracy means...direct ownership and/or control of much of the economic resources of society by the great majority of wage and income earners." This is Marxism/Communism, wherein workers own/control the means of production; it hasn't worked elsewhere and won't appeal to US voters.

    2. "Social redistribution--the shift of wealth and resources from the rich to the rest of society--will require...massive redistribution of income from corporations and the wealthy to wage earners and the poor and the public sector, in order to provide the main source of new funds for social programs, income maintenance and infrastructure rehabilitation...." This goal is neither feasible nor appealing.

    I am sad to see Democratic Party leaders so out of touch with reality that some are hailing a socialist like Ms. O-C as the future of our party. O-C and other socialists will cost us wins in the mid-terms and 2020. Abolishing ICE and turning factories over to workers are suicidal platform planks for the Democratic Party.

  3. This is yet another one of those mea culpa type columns from Brooks. He laments the fact that there is a rampant "culture of individualism" that has shifted the focus away from the community. Whereas his observation is right, I wonder why he did not go on to analyze why we have placed more and more weight on individualism and less and less on communalism. The answer is rather simple. It begins with the famous statement by St. Reagan - ". . . government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem." When one pins the blame on the very institution that is supposed to even out the unevenness in society, it is little wonder that our emphasis shifted away from the 'US' to the 'ME.' A few decades later we have Trump that has taken that culture to new obnoxious heights.

    Brooks grudgingly concedes that the left has it right in that there still exists systematic oppression. Just take a look at the number of black men and women who have been shot at, killed by shooting, or, if they are lucky, just asked for an ID and asked to leave the premises.

    But that faint praise is immediately balanced with a false comparison about what the right has done right. All I could say to that false comparison is (to quote his own patron saint) "There you go again."

    It is high time for Brooks to stop making such false comparisons.

    That is to say, the left-wingers have it correct when they point to the systems of oppression that pervade society:

  4. Interesting that we're all striving for a "middle class" existence when the standard of living of the middle class has been declining for decades. The trappings of bourgeois culture are idealized - and to be sure, attractive - but the reality is that the middle class of the 21st century is saddled with rising healthcare, education and child care costs, all the while dealing with stagnant wages and increasing workloads.

    As a person of color, I agree with Brooks's column. Left unsaid is that in addition to the reversal in racial progress, America has been experiencing a decline in prosperity for decades. And with very few - and often inconsequential - exceptions, elected officials have done nothing to halt the slide.

  5. It's still a big step up for those striving to reach it, Vin. The struggle never ends when one gets there, to be sure, but middle class kids have greater advantages and life options than those in working class, and those parents are saddled with the same rising healthcare, education/child care costs and increased workloads, with much less money to manage it. My middle class kids are embarrassed by the tremendous tax breaks they get compared to the "no" tax breaks, none, I got raising them or afterward as a single person. On their tax breaks I could literally live as I do now.

    Having said that, I completely agree with everything else you said. Middle class ain't what it used to be. I was raised middle class. We had a paid-for two-story brick home, everything we needed, and a late model car and boat, all on Dad's $11k income as a blue collar railroad foreman. We took regular vacations. A doctor visit cost $10. A 1968 Camaro cost $3000. One could attend the prestigious U of Chicago, paying the tuition with a part-time job. No credit cards, which arrived later as a way to bilk people who couldn't afford the rising cost of goods.

    Anyone under the age of fifty can't fully appreciate the extent of which our country has been robbed by decades of corporate government. You had to have lived it to understand the incredulity at mid-range cars costing twice what my first house did, a new 3 BR/2.5 car garage ranch on 1/4 acre. It's truly a tragedy to see such promise gone.

  6. "And with very few - and often inconsequential - exceptions, elected officials have done nothing to halt the slide."
    I agree but I would go further and argue that elected officials have often knowingly increased the slide of the middle class downward. Just happened with the tax bill. They don't represent their constituents anymore, just donors.

  7. The dream of class over caste came to an end on 4/4/68. Not all people of color are equal to other people of color.

  8. True progress on race can only be won when everyone's vote is counted equally and fairly. When I read in 'Grant' by Chernow that the first Civil Rights Act 1874 never was passed and it was over 90 years before one similar was passed, I recognized how long the fight for gaining this power has been and with gerrymandering and attacks on voting rights for minorities still is. To achieve equal rights, you need to have equal representation in our democracy. For children to thrive and have opportunities to rise above their impoverished circumstances, they need to have good public education, as well as good nutrition, safe neighborhoods and supportive adults who can provide these with their income. The current administration gave permanent tax cuts to the 1% and now want to gut social programs that give every child a chance. This is morally abhorrent to me as a former dedicated public educator. I think David Brooks need to ask the obvious question as to why the progress started to stagnate in after 1980. Isn't this when Republicans started cutting funding to great programs that supported poorer communities and families? Wasn't this the advent of the 'welfare queen' which was patently false? It turned LBJ's war on poverty into a war on offering any aid to lift your brother, just like they did in 1870's drawing Reconstruction to a close too early. Trump is now saying the war on poverty in America is over. It is not, whenever a child in America goes to bed hungry.

  9. What bothers me about columns like this is that you seem to have no problem identifying the underlying problems that have led to these gaps:
    "the legacy of residential segregation; the racist attitudes in the workplace that demonstrably make it much harder for African-American men to get jobs; the prejudices — in the schools, in the streets and in the judicial system — that make it much more likely that African-American males will be punished, incarcerated and marginalized."

    Yet you offer no solutions. While you may agree with conservatives that the military, church, and marriage often prevent these outcomes, they still don't prevent African American men from facing barriers created by society. Until you are willing to address the "legacy issues" with serious proposals, it is hard to see how there will be any meaningful progress. Rather than describe the problem, why not offer ideas about how the problem can be fixed.

  10. @Bill

    - And there you have it. It is easy to point fingers, isn't it ? We all know that there is still widespread systematic racism. misogyny, and a failed war on drugs that has fed the for profit prison/justice system (pointedly for minorities). These facts are indisputable.

    Conservatives love to point to policies where bootstraps are handed out (actually bought) and where marriage (loveless or not) solve all ills, but do not offer alternatives which are proven, yet go against ideology.

    Charity is not the answer. Society/Government being fair to all, and not to just all of one kind - is.

  11. It's not surprising to me that a conservative columnist recognizes the military for the opportunity it provides to improve economic outcomes for minorities. It's true after all that discipline, training, the GI Bill, and a VA home loan will help anyone (especially since minorities have actually started to benefit from the latter two progressive opportunities in recent years).

    That said, I wonder if the author knows just how much other deliberate progressive policy is exercised in the military to attain that outcome? Effort that is arguably just as important to improved outcomes for minorities as the GI Bill.

    For example, efforts to increase minority Officer membership by targeting ROTC scholarships to HBCUs. What about promotion policies that invalidate promotion board selections for Officers and Senior NCOs if they do not reflect promotion rates by race that are proportionally reflective of the service as a whole? What about the extensive mandatory training provided to military members on racial and ethnic respect. What about the staff positions dedicated to equal opportunity trainers and the routine assessments of bias that Commanders are mandated to conduct and act upon if there is even a perception of bias?

    In short - the military is providing opportunity for minorities at a better rate than industry because it is intentionally exercising progressive policies to minimize the racism and bias that is still rampant across much of the private sector.

  12. Another considered and well researched column by Brooks. Progressives may not like parts of the piece ( e.g., the cultural norms of marriage, church attendance and fathers — helping to elevate blacks out of poverty ), but the overriding theme of a loss of societal momentum toward equality is irrefutable. The trend has huge repercussions for all Americans, regardless of their race or income.

    Brooks always seems to write with compassion and inclusion. Pity we do not have more like him.

  13. @W Greene

    I recommended your comment (even though I am a diehard Liberal) because it was fair, as was the majority of this column. There is nothing wrong with some conservative policies and they have their place when fair and balanced. (mainly in economic matters)

    However, by continually excluding other points of view, that have been tested and work, which also solve problems where conservative ideology does not - is problematic.

    Mr. Brooks writes well and we do need counterbalancing points of view, yet I would hope you offer the same praise to Liberal writers. We all need to learn and outreach.

    Regards,

  14. Progressives don't mind references to the stabilizing tendencies of marriage, church or the military. Why would we? Enough stereotyping, please -- it doesn't advance mutual understanding and in fact just divides us further.

  15. Just watched the latest documentary about Fred Rogers (referred to in this column last week). It was astounding to note his critics who claimed he fostered a "generation of entitlement" by his efforts to teach self-worth.

    Here is an example of the blind spots which lead to cultural overcompensating. Rogers was dedicated to inspiring all to achieve their potential, regardless of environmental impediments. We must learn fundamental self-respect to find our own sense of initiative and reason for succeeding.

    Working toward equality can easily boomerang without both sides facing it together.

  16. Not a good report, but also not surprising.

    I still believe that the hope of re-energizing racial progress in this country is to dramatically improve the resources AND accountability available to primary and secondary schools in our poorest communities. If we did that, I believe that in a generation we’d see a large cohort of black and Hispanic lawyers, doctors, accountants and skilled practitioners of trades emerge from our overwhelmingly black and Hispanic ghettos and seek housing in what are now largely white middle-class communities not because of programs that artificially foster integration but because they can AFFORD the housing. What’s more, the integration would TAKE, because those new professionals would have values that fit far better with their neighbors than those whom HUD still wishes today to slam into those communities via subsidized housing.

    However, we’ve never been very good at strategic solutions.

    But David should understand this, as focused as he on “community”. There must be shared elements in lives for people to join and be welcomed into viable communities. The strongest element that people recognize in one another is shared class and the values that come with it.

    David also started his column with a dig at Trump and the inflammation of racial division; but this problem has nothing to do with Trump. By the time Obama was midway through his second term, we hadn’t been so divided racially since our civil war. But it wasn’t Obama’s …

  17. … fault, either. People, white and non-white, are rebelling against programmatic solutions that seek an integration not only across complexions but across classes, as well – solutions that are failing, have failed.

    In order to truly integrate America across racial and ethnic divisions and eventually to dramatically moderate racism, we need to pull people in very large numbers and organically into the middle-class. You do NOT do that with subsidized housing but with education … and time.

  18. The Civil War never really ended. For all of the progress that was made in the last century, a black man was lynched in Mobile, Alabama in 1981. Black neighborhoods have been economically abandoned, public schools are under attack, and black men are shot by police with alarming regularity, and without sufficient cause to justify deadly force.

    Black people can be arrested for sitting in a Starbuck’s, chased out of public swimming pools and harassed by the public for no reason other than their mere presence where they “don’t belong.” Drug crimes borne of lack of options and desperation consign millions of black people to privatized jails. Abuse is industrialized.

    These attitudes were a longstanding problem, but they were weaponized by the G.O.P. in recent decades.

    When Barack Obama was elected, it was more than politics as usual that caused his initiatives to be blocked by Republicans. He was called a liar during a national TV address. Our current excuse for a president was midwife at the “birther” movement that sought to discredit and demean Mr. Obama as a candidate.

    Ever since Republicans discovered the Southern Strategy and voter suppression of minorities, a pall has descended on the country. Inflaming white resentment is a winning strategy that bolsters the ego of the ignorant, and gives them a group to feel superior to.

    Until Republicans find it counterproductive, it will continue. It's up to all of us to make it stop. Vote them out. All of them.

  19. Kevin Phillips, the republican strategist and creator of the southern strategy, is no longer a republican and no longer a strategist as far as I know. Unfortunately he realized his mistake too late and now we will pay the price as a society for many years to come. There are too many bad people and not enough good ones out there. I just don't see how we advance as a society or advance as a race at this point.

  20. Exactly.

  21. "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

    LBJ

  22. While the "systems of oppression" Brooks acknowledges can be said to cause a poor outcome for African-American men, the reverse result cannot be attributed to the cultural influences of marriage and church. These are correlations only, with at least as much chance that the men able to marry and attend church regularly do so because they are stable, as opposed to becoming stable by participating in these institutions. The military is another thing entirely. It is really a government training and employment program with something of an affirmative action mission and it is great to see recognition from the moderate right wing that such a program really works.

  23. Not a comforting column, but an honest one.
    It would be great if the numbers themselves were better, but absent such progress, we need to look reality in the face.
    It is even that much more important to see the big picture of the struggles which minorities face instead of just blaming individuals for the predicaments in which they find themselves.

  24. It isn't popular in our society to be able to objectively examine the data and draw conclusions. People on the (far) right and (far) left believe you only are a good person if you adopt their one-sided and extreme views.

    But reality usually resides in the messy middle.

    Thanks for this column. It shows, once again, that we need a leader who can speak to the centrists in our nation--i.e, those people who can see both sides of issues and who be comfortable with complexity.

    Regrettably, I see no one on the horizon who can do that.

  25. @Dan

    There is no such thing as the far left (within the context of American politics). There is such a thing as the far right, where the center is no longer there, but right. (and being pulled further right every day)

    Even if we were to exclude all financial matters, then the sole idea of human rights for all, common decency, a women's reproductive rights to be her own, health care as a human right, and so on - whenever someone stands up for any of the above (even timidly), then they are branded a ''radical'' or ''far left'',

    There are plenty of ideas that work, but the trade off is always going to be who is going to pay, how much is it going to cost, and how many people will be able to partake ? - that's it.

    We can debate (in good faith) over the particulars, but many times the best solutions for helping the most amount of people, being the most efficient, and costing the least are nixed simply on ideological grounds. They are generally Progressive ideas as well.

    That is where we go off the rails and start throwing around terms that have no meaning.

  26. You need to stand up an tell it like it is. For years the Republican Party has given a wink and a nod to racism. It is not by accident that the party has its biggest draw among less well educated white voters. Now we have a President who by his words and actions has made bigotry respectable, after all if the president of the U.S. can do and say racist things then it somehow must be all right. His appeal to banning Muslims, his border wall are an open invitation to his xenophobic base to express their latent hostility. If the Republican Party in Congress were made up of something other than boot licking sycophants they would stand up and reject Trumps boorish behavior. But no, they keep their heads down, try to make illegal immigration an issue (even though it is at a 40 year low) and hope for another Supreme Court opening. As bad as Trump is, what makes me really sick is the failure of the Republican Congress and others who know better (yes you David Brooks) to stand up and speak the truth.

  27. Your chronology of the end of racial progress corresponds pretty exactly to the end of rising wages and a growing middle class.

    Let me be the millionth or so person to point out that, when you take away people's economic security, they turn inward -- toward their family and tribe. They begin to see life as a competition for scant resources, and grow wary of outsiders. They focus on keeping their slice of the pie -- not on making more and bigger pies.

  28. exactly

  29. The planet is finite. The pie, eventually, can't get bigger. Eventually you can't make more pie.

    In 2050 there will be, at least, 10,000,000,000 people. We each will get a sliver.

  30. Blacks are separate and unequal from the Founders and the Followers. So are 1st People.

  31. Accurate, except for the 'quiet' bit. It is only quiet for those who choose not to know.

  32. Isn't the mass incarceration of African-Americans another sign of pervasive and intractable racism? Mr. Brooks should have mentioned that.

  33. The inadequate progress in dealing with our social problems should surprise no one. The stagnation in real income experienced by most working-class Americans, regardless of ethnicity, encourages them to believe they are trapped in a zero-sum contest with other members of their economic class, weakening any sense that they share common interests.

    This lack of empathy blocks the formation of political coalitions that could pressure both federal and state governments to tackle the kind of systemic racism that helps account for much of the inadequate progress made by ethnic minorities. Our society will not commit itself consistently to combat racism, unless its members perceive advantages to themselves in doing so.

    Prejudice, whatever form it takes, damages the economy and therefore harms the interests of most Americans because it prevents the optimal use of our human resources. Racism also promotes violence, making our communities less safe for everyone.

    Trump's divisive rhetoric and policies help mask these realities from his supporters. Unless Democrats counter this strategy with inclusive ideas and policies that improve the lives of all working -class Americans, Republicans will continue to block social progress by pitting different groups against each other.

  34. Hmm, you outline many of the ideals that Bernie Sanders outlined in his bid for President. Maybe there is common ground out there after all.

  35. Excellent, makes one rethink the racial progress, lack of, that we've accomplished over the years. Numbers and statistics don't always give the right answer.

    Living here in Atlanta where we have a majority Black population (46%) one can easily be lulled into thinking progress is being made. Many thousands of African Americans have moved here in the last 20 years and I always thought they came here for the jobs and better climate. That may be so, but maybe there's another driver. Getting away from those racist attitudes from the cities they lived before moving.

    Thank you David. Sad to say, but I likely won't live to see the day when segregation no longer has a place in our country.

  36. Mr. Brooks

    you might look at incarceration rates before blaming norms for the absence of African American men in neighborhoods.

    And in doing so, you might also look at the excellent research on why - this is much more complex than can be elaborated in a brief comment but start with disproportionate sentencing for the drugs most often used in the black community, poor schools and discrimination in the job market and much much more.

  37. Mr. Brooks perhaps would be enlightened by reading “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Anderson.

  38. We talk constantly about higher rates of incarceration but never mention higher rates of crime.

  39. Any strides towards meaningful racial progress was abruptly halted by the 2016 election. America elected and re-elected its first black president and, at last, seemingly turned a corner for a more diverse and tolerant country.

    Today, America is roiled by racial conflicts that tore the country apart in the 60s and 70s. The voters chose a president whose intolerance and racism mattered more than racial progress or the dream of a qualified woman who sought the presidency. The Republican Party, always hostile and unwelcoming to blacks and minorities, is perfectly content with the state of America today. They have the country they want.

  40. It's a funny thing about the Republicans: In the 2016 primaries, two men who could rightfully claim Hispanic (and working backgrounds and working class origins were front runners for the nomination, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. They consistently beat Jeb Bush, whose wife of over 40 years, Columba, was born in Mexico.

    There were no Democratic primary contenders in 2016 who were of Hispanic background. None that I can recall in 2008 either.

    Fundamentally, you can rail against the Republicans, but in looking at the student populations in San Francisco and Manhattan schools, what it seems like is that many working class and middle class white Republicans in less tony places are making choices in regard to who they want to live among, and have their children attend school with no differently than their wealthy "progressive" counterparts with vastly higher incomes in more exclusive parts of the country.

  41. One observation in this piece. In the final paragraphs when talking about the liberal perspective versus the conservative perspective on the barriers to racial progress all statements are made about black people, either as the victims of institutional racism(the liberal perspective) or the heirs of a broken culture(conservative perspective).
    Nowhere in this article about racial progress is there an explicit statement about the behavior of white people.
    The article should not say "the racist attitudes in the workplace . . ."
    It should say the racist attitudes held by white workers make it harder for African American males to get jobs.
    Individual actions and behavior are at the root of an unequal society.

  42. I'm sure you consider yourself someone who believes in facts, evidence, and science. So I'm sure you have a citation for your assertion that it is the racism of only *white* workers that is holding back black males? That there are no Asian or Hispanic employers who are racist in the workplace?

  43. Thank you!

  44. You have to add the racist attitudes of asians and hispanics too. Whitening happens to every group except African-Americans.

  45. The inequality gap continues to widen and no solution is in sight. The elites that run this country have no interest at all in progress for the poor. On the contrary, they believe that their continued dominance depends upon keeping them down.

  46. There is a congregation next to my house. They are Africans who enjoy worshiping in their own language and singing from their own hymnals. Some are citizens or on the road to being citizens, and starting families in Montgomery and Prince Georges countys in Maryland. I imagine it makes life in America a bit less lonely, and they enjoy the fellowship the congregation offers.
    It is a young vibrant beautiful congregation.
    I was invited to their picnic outing by their Pastor with whom I often speak. Weekly. I try to be a good neighbor.
    It was a beautiful turnout, but I felt that my presence was unsettling. Did they fear that this old white guy was an immigration agent? I sensed that kind of vibe.
    I stayed for a bit, politely said I couldn't eat because the wife had an early dinner planned.
    I didn't want my presence to be a disruption of a lovely afternoon.
    Now that is sad.

  47. Now as we never do in America, once we have an anecdote we have to go a bit further (quite a bit…) and ask the pertinent questions. Why is it like that? Why did this happen? What is responsable for theis situation?

  48. You are a beautiful neighbor. Keep communicating. I hope you will all learn from each other.

  49. Lawrence, I share your feelings... and yes, it is sad. Having said that, you're a neighbor...a good neighbor... but it will take time for the majority of the congregation to feel completely at ease. You understand this, and so does the Pastor. Your intentions are wonderful, and the congregation will fully appreciate you...eventually.

  50. Thank you, Mr. Brooks, for pointing out the brief period of serious racial progress - the 1960's and 1970's. This came about as a result of the barrage of protests of the 1960's. As Frederick Douglass said, power has never yielded anything but on demand. School desegregation was ordered by the S.C. in 1954 but in most places in the South was not implemented until the issue was forced in the 1970's.

    Since then re-segregation has been rampant and new tactics of racial subjugation have been devised. Schools have been situated in poor black neighborhoods, underfunded by property taxes and many of them failing. As you point out schools that are 90-100% minority are increasingly common. Racism, overt and implicit, has given us laws structured and enforced to achieve mass incarceration of blacks. Brutality toward blacks, always present, is now becoming more visible thanks to phone cameras.

    Gross disparities in wealth, health, and opportunities remain. Positive programs are few, underfunded, and seem dismal. It's good to see a few of the powerful fired for racial slurs, but it's merely a caution to be more discrete.

    Racial unrest is growing and awareness of racism is spreading. Protests in many parts of the country, Black Lives Matter, The African-Am museum in DC, the Lynching museum in Montgomery, the Civil Rights museum in Atlanta, the Poor People's Campaign being revived, to name a few examples.

    The problems remain, the pendulum is swinging, and demands will be coming.

  51. As usual, a very thoughtful piece from David Brooks. He's truly an heir to William F Buckley. The important change in our society as well, as the ones he mentioned, is the fact that we are no longer a "melting pot", we are now "multi-cultural". To say it another way, we have gone from the model of "From many types, we are One", to the new multicultural model of "From One, we are many types". Now that everyone is self sorting into their own ethno-tribe, why should someone believe a member of another ethno-tribe over their own?

  52. If America wants progress on integration, it needs to make progress on socioeconomic discrimination with a progressive taxation system, socialized medicine, affordable childcare, a real justice system and living wages, and the Greed Over People party will never stand for that kind of human decency, Christian good will or common sense.

    This country has a rich 400-year-long laundry list of socioeconomic discrimination against non-whites which can be demonstrated 1000 different ways.

    Let's just take one way, the systematic jailing of millions of black and Latino Americans for the invented crime of marijuana possession, a policy invented in the 1930's by the nation's first drug czar, Harry Anslinger, which has been discriminately used to destroy minority families for a good 80 years while largely giving whites a pass.

    As if the preceding centuries of slavery, segregation and systematic discrimination of non-whites wasn't devastating enough, America added reefer madness to its sick breadbasket of white supremacy, minority injustice and white privilege.

    More recently, there have been many confrontations between obnoxious white people and black people who were simply engaging in everyday activities such as swimming at pools, using outdoor barbecues and 'living while black'.

    This country has a white supremacy and white privilege problem, not to mention a White-Spiter-in-Chief.

    As a white guy myself, I'm appalled.

    America owes its non-whites a few million sincere apologies.

  53. “More recently, there have been many confrontations between obnoxious white people and black people...” Everyday the news reports crimes committed against people of all colors, most of the time by black assailants. Watch NY 1 or read any newspaper other than the NYT.

    Everyone in this country has a fair chance to be successful. If you can’t make it here, you can’t make it anywhere. Stop blaming others for your failures. Personal responsibility, study hard, work hard. Enough with the tired race card. It doesn’t work in 2018. And not after we elected a black president. Twice.

  54. GOP Greed over People is fitting~! They stopped the movements started in 60's to overcome racism, by their southern strategy.

  55. <<Let's just take one way, the systematic jailing of millions of black and Latino Americans for the invented crime of marijuana possession, a policy invented in the 1930's by the nation's first drug czar, Harry Anslinger, which has been discriminately used to destroy minority families for a good 80 years while largely giving whites a pass.>>

    Actually, when the white middle class began to run into these hideous laws in the late '60s as "hippies", the drug law reform movement began. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was established in 1970. Whites got screwed too, sometimes very badly, however, over the decades, the disproportionate impact very clearly fell on non-whites.

  56. I found Mr Brook's piece to be mostly thoughtful with one exception. He calls upon the radicals of both the Left and the Right (conservatives) to solve the problems of growing racial inequality. The problem of asking radical conservatives is that, in my opinion, their ideology is incompatable with the ideas of integration, stopping police shootings of innocent black people, supporting "safety net" programs and policies, and improving the socio-economic status of minorities.

  57. It's more than sad when a person's only ways out of poverty are the military, becoming religious, and getting married. It's outrageous.

    Disparities in income and wealth must be primary. Equality can never be achieved until minorities are fairly represented in the economic structure.

    To get there education must be improved, secure food supply and health care availability are essential, job training and job opportunities must be on offer.

    A comprehensive, aggressive, long-term, well-funded program is necessary. Racial problems cannot be put behind us until minorities are integrated into the economic structure at fair levels,

    Next year it will be 400 years since the first slave ships arrived in Jamestown. Isn't it about time?

  58. The bipolar model of black v. white (right v. left for that matter) doesn't work anymore, Mr Brooks.

    Case in point, Rodolfo Rodriguez, the 91 year old U.S. permanent resident, visiting his U.S, citizen children in LA on the 4th of July, was allegedly beaten with a brick by Laquisha Jones, while her child was with her at the time. The victim is hispanic and the aggressor black.

    There are more traditional racism, like white x calling on black y, too numerous to enumerate of course. But fear, anger and envy can make things really murky at times. Like the Asian students complaining unfair admission practices, never mind if their representation is still quite disproportional. And of course, you can bet there are equal resentment among non Asian against Asian.

    In a bizarre manner, being an older generation, me and my peers have always known life is unfair. Those families who could afford their children to go to prestigious schools would always get a leg up. Public schools were just fine for the rest of us. The smart or studious ones would get into great schools and the others would be fine with state schools. But now, everyone is vying for the best of the best. And their parents too, for fear their children being left behind.

    Perhaps knowing your place in the universe without wanting too much may not be a bad thing. But it is definitely not the contemporary American thing. Neither progressives nor conservatives would want that, for both want more for their groups.

  59. @Bos: Citing one example of a crazed black individual brutally attacking an elderly Hispanic male for "bumping" into her toddler- does not change the polarity of entrenched black/white racial dynamics of this nation. Good try though.
    The racism Brooks attempts to broach is far more entrenched.

    The daily existence of waking up black is a potential trek through terrain littered with IED's. Never knowing when the mundane will become the horrific:

    Finding out your water supplies have been contaminated for decades and your children now have chronic health issues.

    Learning you neighborhood will play host to a putrid rendering plant.

    Learning that the Fire House in your neighborhood will never reopen because another is being built in a more affluent part of the city.

    Realizing your home equity loan costs more than your neighbor's even though your income and FICA score is superior; driving "to good" of a car...

    Lastly, "knowing your place" (as assigned by others) is always the unseen but starkly-felt position of entrenched racism. And...it is a bad thing.

  60. "Knowing your place in the universe ..." -- what on earth are you saying? That some "groups" should just be happy with less? Who decides?

  61. I thought- for once, Mr. Brooks had finally conceded defeat on a matter so entrenched- he would not attempt to lend succor with a palliative approach. Yet, there in the last paragraphs, were the typical Brooks application; Church, the Military and Marriage; the holy trinity (for Brooks) for riding racism- the theory being that entrance into the mythical Middle-Class is the cure-all.

    "As a nation we seem to have lost all enthusiasm for racial integration... We have settled into a reality that is separate and unequal, and we seem not too alarmed about that."

    If Mr. Brooks had stopped there- he would have sounded brilliant.

  62. In an age when people are literally marching in the streets to declare that their lives matter and that social structures are disadvantaging them to the point of being lethal, its amazing to me that one could describe this as a "quiet death."

  63. As one of those left progressives, I've never seen a contradiction between fighting against structural racism and for individual responsibility.

    There have always been variations to this theme within the black community. Whether one looks at the Garvey movement, the anti-lynching campaign, the struggle to overturn Plessy and integrate schools, the Black Muslim movement, the revolutionary nationalists, the reparations movement, the mainstream civil rights movement, and the list goes on and on.

    A feature common to each despite their differences was their demand for systemic change and their demand that African Americans be ready for the responsibility that would come with real freedom and agency over our own lives and communities.

    The "either-or" approach to the struggle for racial progress was more a feature of how we were seen from the outside rather than a serious internal dichotomy.

    The ideological shift to neoliberalism in America always emphasizes the individual and never the system, even while neoliberalism is failing all around us and systemic oppressions seem to increase every day.

    Segregation was never a natural phenomenon of individual choice. It was structurally created at every point in our history.

    But through a series of decisions, SCOTUS has stripped the nation of the tools to socially engineer integration even though segregation was socially created

    Therein lies the real deception of the conservatives. To them "freedom" meant free to do little or nothing

  64. Bill Richardson, who identifies as Hispanic or Latinx, was a candidate in 2008.

  65. "an attitude ... you might call left on structural racism and right on cultural accountability."

    Yes. There are ideas that have merit regardless of who speaks them. In a meritocracy we go with what works best.

    We've ended up in a winner-take-all two-choice political environment, and realistically we must concede to this truth in election strategy.

    But we must not confuse this as a requirement to accept wholesale one platform or the other. We thinking individuals may accept or reject any single plank on its own merits.

    Thanks to Mr. Brooks for reminding that there are enlightened thoughts to be found on both sides near the center.

  66. John,
    Brooks ends with "If we’re going to do something about this appalling retrogression on race, we probably need to be radical on both ends."
    Seems Brooks doesn't think "centrists" are working.

  67. David, of your comment to the effect that both sides
    are right. THINK again. A German philosopher cautioned: Tragedies occur, not in the collision of
    right and wrong, but between justifiable causes. None justified.

  68. "As the A.E.I. study shows, black men who served in the military are more likely to be in the middle class than those who did not. Black men who attended religious services are 76 percent more likely to attain at least middle-class status than those who did not..."

    This is a classical example of the difference between correlation and causation. Service in the military does NOT make somebody middle class; other factors (e.g., education) do. Neither does church attendance propel one to middle class status. The conclusions of this A.E.I. study, I am afraid, are not valid. Please don't fall for this kind of "research".

  69. Correlation is not causality, but it makes sense that the norms of behavior--self discipline, delayed gratification, controlling one's temper, working as a team, etc.--that one learns (and must practice) in the military leads to better life outcomes. Likewise, church attendance is strongly correlated with a whole host of psychologocial social benefits. I wouldn't dismiss these conclusions.

  70. In addition, the military itself delivers a great education in certain areas of knowledge. I know people who first discovered that they could learn through their military service.

  71. The military is an institution that, unlike civilian society, leans towards diversity, provides opportunities and training to men and women of all colors, is built on service, enforces codes of behavior that limit expressions of bigotry, provides health care and education benefits, and so on. Could it be that recruits from all walks of life benefit from these social supports not found in civilian life so that they can build solid lives?

  72. David,
    All those statistics are well and good; I envy your strength and diversity in discussing so many varying factors. But I believe people need an understanding in how they mentally and behaviorally structure their world, their reality upon which they make next decisions in life.

    They do not get that; thus, they developmentally float every which way from Sunday onward. They flounder with their life, year after year. What is a practical basic structure? Groups vs. the individual serves me well, two opposing and fundamental threads of learning. We flip-flop between the two, trying to compare back and forth for best results in any moment of time.

    Groups (with self in tow as an innocent clone) evolve into ever more refined hierarchic quality, ever more powerful -- and increasingly distorted -- through lack of opposing reality checks. The need is balance for self's budding capability.

    Part from groups; value silence and questioning; equality now opposes hierarchy; support/polish those threads of learning. Competence evolves; self becomes a different person thru reality checks/comparisons.

    Think about those two fundamental processes of valuing for one's life: resolve to quit the simple floating. Practice at guiding yourself.

    Support groups on one hand; support self on the other hand. Not rocket science. The hard part is putting a stop to knee-jerk reacting, copying others. Think for yourself as an individual. Note where commentators are destructive and constructive.

  73. I have been a school counselor in Georgia for the past 24 years. I think race relations have improved greatly over that time. However, the students by far still sit together according to their ethnicity. And I agree that over the past 10 years of so progress has stagnated somewhat.

    With regards to black males making up a disproportionate part of the prison population, the implication usually seems to be that this group of the population is no more prone to criminal activity than other groups. The assumption being they are targeted by the police. My observation has been that the police do stereotype and target black males. However, I think that black males are more inclined to commit crimes than other subgroups. If I had to guess why I would say the absence of a father has much to do with this.

    The absence of the father also seems to be seen as the result of societal prejudice. I'm not sure I see that connection. My strong observation as a counselor was that African American women are very reliable and dedicated mothers- perhaps even more so than any other ethnicity. Many times I observed black mothers registering their out of control male, fatherless son, seeking out the best education possible for their children. More often than not these mothers and grandmothers were very poor. But they simply would not give up on her children. Did society cause this too?

    My point is we need to pull things apart when looking at statistics. And we need to get racism out of politics.

  74. Actually, I think the criminal class in the US is mainly white men, but they tend to get away with their crimes, including petty theft, animal abuse, violence, sexual abuse, tax evasion, embezzlement, breaking labor laws, and major crimes like torture and war crimes. And the police get away with murder every day.
    An African-American friend of mine was handcuffed and had her license suspended for months because she swerved to avoid something in the road. Would that have happened to a white woman?

  75. Mr. Johnson, you live in London, so you don't know firsthand how the US has been steadily stealing the assets of middle and working class Americans of all races, but among racial minorities, this is accompanied with daily violence and harassment. Factory jobs have been outsourced, gov't jobs have had steady and large pay cuts, minority neighborhoods have been invaded, destroyed and "gentrified" by white yuppies. It is much harder to live one's daily life and pay one's bills than it was years ago, and I get pestered by cops more - I'm not even African-American, but some English people would call me a "wog." I didn't mind being segregated in this neighborhood, but white people are making it more and more unpleasant to live in my own country. As for flying...haven't been on a plane in 9 years, and dread the thought of dealing with it. In every way in this country, the strong steady wind has been blowing against us. The US is a much worse place for minorities than it was a generation ago.

  76. We adopted British divide and conquer tactics back in the 1690s with the infamous black codes, but we've done very little to counter this in 300 years of our history. The point of divide and conquer is so that rich whites can keep all working class people down by using skin color to pit them against each other. What's amazing is that so many poor and working class whites haven't caught on after all these years.

  77. Mr. Brooks: please take a look at Ta-Nehisi Coates's 2013 blog pieces on the Moynihan report of the 1960s. The gist: Moynihan warned that if we didn't create a jobs program that would empower African-American men to earn enough to support families, we'd see the widespread disintegration of the African-American family. We didn't create the jobs program, and events proved Moynihan right. And not just about the families of African-Americans. The economic pressures faced by African-Americans in the 1960s spread in the next few decades to all segments of American society, and with them came family disintegration. In the last 3 years, life expectancy of white males has been falling, and it's largely due to deaths of despair--alcoholism, drug overdoses, suicides. Despair largely over being poverty-stricken, lonely, and seeing decades of the same ahead. Coates: "There's no real political cost to telling people to get married. (Everyone loves a wedding.) Telling them that there should be a jobs program that makes more men marriage-material is different." https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/revisiting-the-moyn...

  78. " the vast bulk of that decline happened between 1960 and 1975
    You mean before the welfare state became entrenched in the culture?

  79. Sorry David, but the world is changing as we write.

    I couldn't attach a picture of my son at his "White Coat Ceremony". This is done when a person begins their first medical residency. There are 13 new residents in his program. He was the only Caucasian.

    There were two "Black" MDs. The rest were east and west Asian.

    Yes, he's engaged to a Korean Pathologist he met in medical school.

    I can elucidate and elaborate for a long time, but I'll leave that up to you. There should be another column I hope you write.

  80. I must quibble with the title of this piece (which I understand may not be the work of Mr. Brooks). The Quiet Death of Racial Progress? From where I (a 58 year-old white woman) sit, there's nothing quiet about it. The only people who can call it quiet are the socio-politically hearing-impaired. Or they haven't been paying attention.

  81. The idea of equality itself is a myth, it has never existed which is why it continues to fail.

    We are all different, as such, we have different strengths and weaknesses. Some are taller, some better at algebra etc.

    Add to that our economic system of capitalism. It favors the smart, quick risk takers.

    We are NOT all the same and we are certainly not equal. Any attempt to make it so is folly.

  82. What we can be, and the intent of being created equal, is that we are all equal before the law. I believe even Christianity teaches we are all God's children, equal in His eye.

    Where we have seen this promise fall apart is that we can see we aren't equal not because of biological differences, but due to monetary differences where the wealthy are more equal in our courts and some even feel some above the law.

  83. The whole "fathers" thing coming from the right is sadly mistaken. The problem in many families is the failure of a child's parents to maintain themselves as a couple. The connection between the child and each parent -- mother and father -- remains viable, but the connection between the parents never coalesces into being "family".

    Turns out there's pretty good data about this, but the right seems to be stuck in trying to prove African American men as worthless to their children. Turns out not to be the case. Again, let's not allow reality interfere with our strange racial beliefs.

  84. You almost had me until this little gem... "But Conservatives are right to point to the importance of bourgeois norms."

    Bourgeois "norms" meaning the xenophobic sensibilities of the incumbent bourgeois class?

    Mr. Brooks, you just quoted a major government talking point prevalent in Apartheid-era South Africa.

    Do those stats you researched explain the fact that by significant margins, middle class African Americans commit less crime, consume less drugs, and adhere to the "norms" promoted by institutions like churches and the military far more than their white bourgeois peers?

    When you're black, you have to be a better citizen than average just to endure the level of racial hostility we have today.

    Maybe those norms need a little fixin', and conservatives fear the change for their own reasons?

  85. "When your black, you have to be a better citizen than average" and a black president has to be better than any white, just to get elected and endure daily challenges from the privileged white in Congress who can't believe a white man can do the job. YET, for these same privileged whites, a rich, white man can be elected president and continue to be the most divisive, angry, hating president in history and can get away with it, just because he is white. There is absolutely no way any other president could have fueled this kind of fear and barbarism to fellow Americans without being censored.

  86. Thank you Mr. Brooks for acknowledging we're losing ground - but there's nothing quiet about the death of Racial Progress for a black person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  87. ‘How can we stop backsliding?’ Come now, Mr. Brooks, surely you know the answer to that question. The Republican Party, a/k/a The Rebranded Dixiecrats, need to be dealt a stinging, brutal defeat. Trump, Sessions, Miller and the rest of their demented entourage need to be run out of Washington on a rail, and the GOP needs to be swept out of Congress.

    Otherwise, it’s Welcome to Reconstruction, 21st century style.

  88. "As their report clearly shows, the vast bulk of that decline happened between 1960 and 1975. If you look at poverty data since 1980, there’s been little progress, either in black men moving out of poverty or into the middle class."

    Hmmm, declines in poverty stopped around 1980. Remind me again, what President was elected in 1980? The one that talked about"welfare queens driving Cadillacs"?

  89. America's economic success and many of it's wealthiest citizens was facilitated in large part by the violent exploitation of generations, denied life liberty and the pursuit of happiness while forced to serve the general interests of the white majority. Acknowledging this has always led to a push for more equality. Lets now acknowledge that our democracy today seems critically threatened by this same old white male supremacy sentiment.

  90. I appreciate the ability to see both the individual and cultural factors that lead to wealth or poverty, as well as the systemic, legal, and societal factors.

    I would like to add that systemic racism is highly useful to the ruling class.

    If people are too busy bashing black people for kneeling during a football game or brown people for seeking to live and work peacefully in a country that allows them to do so, then they will not have the resources to notice let alone combat that they are being robbed blind by:

    1.) inaccessible for-profit healthcare in the 21st century
    2.) tax heists for oligarchs
    3.) unaffordable housing due to global money laundering
    4.) an insane drug war empowering cartels south of our border
    5.) rule by the absolutely corrupt for their own enrichment

    and so on.

    Slaves were kept ignorant and illiterate for hundreds of years in order to maintain the institutions of slavery.

    Likewise, in modern times, the ruling elite keeps the masses of people distracted with racism, xenophobia, and unnecessary poverty in order to maintain their relative position and hoard the fruits of American lives, labor, and technology all for themselves.

    Racism isn't just unfortunate for black people and brown people, it is also highly useful to the ruling elite.

  91. David.
    You skip one obvious 'solution': voting out a President and Republican party that holds power largely because they stoke fears and hatred daily to their dwindling white base.
    No statistic or analysis of numbers or trends is necessary to reach that obvious conclusion.

  92. 'When it comes to segregation, the story is even worse....
    American neighborhoods are desegregating slightly, but the situation is worse for children. Black and Hispanic children are more likely to be residentially segregated than minority adults."

    At least according to the linked study (figure 3) in his piece, segregation of hispanics declined 6+% and African-Americans 4+% over a decade. I don't know whether that is or is not "slight." For a large population, it seems like some progress. Whatever the correct characterization is, when Brooks then complains that minority children are "more likely" to be residentially segregated than minority children that is true by the exact same margin that he just characterized as "slight." You can't have it both ways. Also, the biggest reduction in segregation over the decade is among hispanic children at 7+%.

    The overall numbers are not good but the picture Brooks wants to paint about the directional trend is not well supported by his data.

  93. Apologies for the typo. The above should read: "when Brooks then complains that minority children are 'more likely' to be residentially segregated than minority ADULTS that is true by the exact same margin that he just characterized as 'slight.'"

  94. When David refers to religion and middle class norms (But conservatives are right to point to the importance of bourgeois norms. Three institutions do an impressive job of reducing racial disparity: the military, marriage and church.) The proper question is which comes first. I come from a middle class family and the results were marvelous - my 40 year old son and his cousins all reflect a good start. But we see family disintegration among formerly middle class whites who are mired in the lousy jobs left after automation and offshoring. The live in once thriving working class towns (like those in the Dayton Ohio area. Yes, some folks raised even in squalor thrive but hopelessness seems to trump everything else for most people, so that religion and norms come with and not before prosperity.

  95. the talk is, like coats of paint over a rotting house, a cover for the denial of the effect of racism and a lack of appetite for remedy.

    no amount of cover will change the underlying cause of "racial disparities" (a soft term, like "inner city" that reduces the problem to a level of grasp that suggests "conversation" rather than action).

    in sum, also reductive, alas, the problem is lack of opportunity, but, hooray, the remedy requires action.

    first, those most affected by home grown historical racism are 1. the native tribes, nearly exterminated, cheated of their lands, betrayed by broken treaties and promises, still being cheated of their compensation for the use of what's left and kept on reservations that are disgraceful (now that border kids have us talking about "humanity," we should take another look at our treatment of the survivors of our founding genocide), and 2. africans, kidnapped, bought and sold, and their descendants concentrated, if you will, in blighted areas within cities that also hold the most brilliant examples of american achievement and, yes, opportunity.

    the fix for both requires nothing short of invasion, educators, builders, health care professionals, etc., and battalions of americans in national service (yes, that's part of the fix) to aid residents given the resources to clear up their streets, upgrade their schools (the key to opportunity) and oversee the rehabilitation of the human spirit crushed by the fallout from slaughter and slavery.

  96. Listen to DT's comments yesterday on immigration in Europe and it's not even code for racism. When you have someone in his role saying that "you are losing your culture" it is not even a subtle normalization of racism and white nationalism. It's a flat out statement of his goal for us. I'm afraid, again, for us.

  97. I note that you don't claim anything Trump said was false, just that it was racist.

    Britain has a rising problem of attacks in its streets using machetes and/or acid. Thousands of girls in Britain have been subjected to genital mutilation, and no one or almost no one has been prosecuted. And thousands of English girls have been subjected to sexual abuse. The genital mutilation and sexual abuse has been committed largely by Muslims of immigrant origin, e.g. Pakistanis.

    Now: is anything I said factually wrong, or is it just racist to say it?

  98. "he vast bulk of that decline happened between 1960 and 1975.... since 1980, there’s been little progress, either in black men moving out of poverty or into the middle class."

    That's true for the entire society. The mid-20th century was a period of high economic growth, declining income inequality AND civil rights ("racial") progress. It was not mere coincidence.

    History has been running backwards since 1980: slow growth (compared to mid-20th century); increasing income inequality; civil rights stasis or regress. That's not mere coincidence.

    Conservatism/rightism is not just about "family values." It also about preserving entrenched social hierarchies. Liberalism/leftism is not just about "civil or individual rights." It is also about removing or reforming entrenched social hierarchies.

    The last 30-40 years have led many Americans to expect the worse. We live in an age of "diminished expectations," thus "right wing populism" that seeks to salvage whatever it can for the "common man" by making the rich richer.
    It has never worked in the long run and it won't this time.

    What has worked (and will again) is increased investment in people (education, health care) and infrastructure funded by more progressive taxation than we have now. "Civil" or "individual" rights are not enough. The two go hand-in-hand and those in the Democratic Party who see them as mutually exclusive have lost their way.

  99. Mr. Brooks, if you look at the poverty data since 1980, you surely must consider the stagnation of real income since 1980. It has increased the economic insecurity of both minority and majority adults.

    If you consider the year, 1980, you of all people ought to know how the conservative movement consolidated its control of the Republican Party and elected Reagan in 1980. I was shocked when he kicked off his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The theme of the Reagan campaign was, you can feel comfortable with your prejudice, we Republicans respect both you and your prejudice.

    Since 1980 conservatives have dominated politics and government. They have appointed a conservative majority to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts worked in the Reagan administration. The opinion in Shelby v. Holder, reflects the views Roberts expressed in his work for the Reagan administration. We now have a Supreme Court that cannot look around as you do and find the effects of racial discrimination. They can only see racial discrimination through the rearview mirror.

    When I compare this column and your recent column on the Kavanaugh nomination, I wonder whether you are capable of objective analysis of the corrosive effect the Republican Party and the conservative movement has had on racial and economic equality.

  100. I seem to recall a final Death Valley scene in an old western where after one man is mortally shot by the other, the injured and dying man manages to handcuff himself to the one who shot him. Sealing their fates. There is nothing pretty about the checkered history of this country, but one thing is sure, if there can be no quarter, no forgiveness, no unity of purpose. Then the choice to focus on grievance and difference will sink all ships. People have to stop being so afraid and suspicious of each other. Sure things need to get better, but let the better more even handed minds of all races work for unity again. It is the only way.

  101. The death of racial progress has been loud recently. Donald Trump holds the megaphone. His horrid example has enabled people to overtly discriminate, ridicule, provoke. A day does not go by where the news has some example of someone calling the police because a black man is sleeping on the grass, or someone is speaking a different language and gets called out by a racist, or ... just check your news feed. The overt racism is relentless and loud and it stems from Donald Trump's example. He has given the ok in his rallies. And people follow his disturbing equivocations to the extreme. Don't dance around the cause; blame Donald Trump for some of the recent surge in deplorable behavior.

  102. It's not necessary to dig into surveys and studies. America is rotten with racism. To write of controlling for parental income (a phrase that made me shudder) is a very bad joke. Brooks points out that Trump is "doing his best to inflame racial division," and at this time, he's abroad insulting allies, spreading lies about NATO, destabilizing the government of the UK, and heading off to meet Putin for his end of term assessment. Trump told us he would "ask" Putin about election meddling. ASK??? And Trump knows that the majority party in the US House of Representatives just reached a new low. No honour. No honesty. No probity. No shame. And
    in the midst of that and on the heels of Charlottesville and much else, Brooks wanted to write something pleasant? The reality is that liberal democracies are being deconstructed by primitive, tribal forces. Churches and parliaments are agents of this attack.

  103. There is nothing new about making scapegoats out of immigrants and people of color. There is nothing quiet about the racists now inspired by Trump who are attacking Afro-Americans, Mexican immigrants, and Puerto Rican and Muslims citizens of the US across the land.

    Trump has a lifelong history of overt racism and bigotry. Trump built his career on Birtherism, racial hatred personified. Hatred is the foundation of the Trump voter base. Trump was the next step after decades of Republican racist practices going back to the Southern Strategy of Richard Nixon.

    President Obama courageously bore the heavy burden of being the first black president in America. Race was a key factor when the GOP enacted total obstructionism with a blood oath the day President Obama was elected to block every move he would try to make. Republican racism created Trump. Trump is disgracing our nation daily and he is the face of the Republican Party

    It will take public protests similar to those to we experienced during the Civil Rights and Vietnam War Eras to mobilize an anti-Trump/GOP movement. The corrupt electoral processes that allowed Trump to occupy the Oval Office demand a massive voter response against the virulent minority who have been empowered by corrupt GOP gerrymandering and systematic voter suppression bought and paid for by the billionaire owners of the Republican Party.

    Get out the Vote. Say No! to hatred and ignorance.

  104. Many "progressives" and Democrats have promoted racial divisiveness as a political tactic to "turn out" the black vote. This may occasionally have short term political benefits but ultimately damages all Americans but especially black Americans.
    Highlighting the high rates of incarceration and single parent families and the low levels of educational and work skills as evidence of racial injustice and victimization of blacks, strengthens a damaging stereotype.
    The goal should be to view blacks, as a group, as Americans like all other Americans.
    Portraying black Americans, as a group, as separate and different than other Americans exacerbates the problem and is not the solution.

  105. I'm a white man who's been married 27 years to a black woman. I have a black family and black friends, and we even had a winter home in Southern Mississippi where her family comes from. I've made a few keen observations, and one of them is that nothing holds people down (black or white) more than religion. There's this lack of will and acceptance of negative situations because rather than work toward solutions they let "God sort it out." If I've heard that once I've heard it a thousand times. But god doesn't solve the problems because there is no god. It's a convenient excuse to do nothing and just "see what happens," as our president is fond of saying. If people need to believe in mythology in order to succeed, if they need the help of fables to act right, they're not going to make in the final analysis because their motivation is not genuine.

  106. The enthusiasm for racial progress ended when LBJ pushed through the Voting Rights and Civil rights acts.

    Suddenly, Confederates form the Slave States of the South (Solid South Democrats then, Conservative Republican Evangelicals now) wandered into the wilderness they only finally after Reagan and Lee Atwater, Gingrich and finally, Trump.

    David Brooks needs to wake up not to racism, but the Southern Slaves States of the Confederacy.

    They are America's original sin. Anyone who tolerates the stars and bars is a traitor.

    Just say it.

  107. I think that conservatives have stopped emphasizing cultural norms except in relation to African-Americans. White America isn't going to church as much and is divorcing or not marrying at high rates creating the same set of conditions but different results. Mr. Brooks, as usual is completely blind to his own prejudices.

  108. Not one word about the persistence, if not growth, of outward and blatant manifestations of racism.The kind that increasingly places a psycjic burden on blacks and other minorities. While there are surely racists on the left and the right, we know the vast majority make their home in Mr. Brooks's Republican party. We will never beat down the structures that hold down blacks until there are enough Republicans willing to disavow the racists in their house.

  109. Mr. Brooks: I would really suggest that you reread MLK's Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

    To equate systemic racism with the supposed moral failing of black fathers is precisely the specious logic of white liberals that MLK's letter eviscerated.

    As if black men could somehow, singlehandedly and with a little more grit in the teeth, change this?

  110. Except that's not what David Brooks is arguing at all. Did you bother to read his concluding statement?: "If we're going to do something about this appalling retrogression on race, we probably need to be radical on both ends."
    He's not saying that black men could somehow highhandedly change this.

  111. SVB- he is not equating systemic racism with cultural/moral failing. He is saying that there are 2 points of view on the matter that hew along the political divide between right and left and that, contrary to what the right and left think, each perspective has validity and both need to be simultaneously worked on for there to be substantive progress made.

  112. I understand the specific critiques of my statement, but they all slightly miss the point. When your argument relies on two-sided understanding, you are necessarily suggesting that the two sides are equivalent in scope and breadth. When Brooks speaks of the demoralization of culture (exemplified by a lack of two-parent families) as being the "counter-argument" to systemic racism, he implies that the victims are just as much responsible for the down-flow effects of racisms and system racism has been. This presents a specious equivalence that hearkens back to the condemnation of welfare mothers in the 1980s. Perhaps that was not the heartfelt intent of the argument, but it is the logical consequence of it.

  113. ...this appalling retrogression on race" has been in America's DNA since before the Civil War.

    Recent Republican presidents, Mr. Brooks, and the not-so-recent (Eisenhower and Nixon and Reagan) have done more to ensure that the races remain separate and unequal.

    Eisenhower, embittered by Brown vs. Topeka (1954) was very slow to enforce the anti-segregation laws when he took his time, in 1957, as the crucible of hate was firing up in Little Rock, when nine black children sought to integrate the school system.

    Nixon sent out a memo to his highest administration staffers that his philosophy about blacks in America was to ignore them with "benign neglect."

    Reagan, of course, burst forth fully blown, like AIDS, with states' rights and anti-affirmative action reassurance to whites. He was the first president in several decades to openly court the votes of white separatists. H.W. and W. were Reagan-lite and fed off the "Contract With America," Newt Gingrich's takeover of the House in 1994 with its specific, pointed racism.

    And now, following the tiger cage match that President Barack Obama fought daily with the Republicans on Capitol Hill, "very fine people" have infiltrated the highest levels of government.

    Mr. Brooks, you were complicit while all this was going on. Now you shed crocodile tears when you, from your ivory tower, gaze upon an America that's essentially divided in two.
    For black Americans, it's always been a half step ahead, and two back.

    We are unwanted.

  114. A good, but frustratingly incomplete column.

    Mr. Brooks writes: "Black and Hispanic children are more likely to be residentially segregated than minority adults." Isn't this due in large part to the number of out-of-wedlock children born to black, and especially Hispanic, people? (In contrast to whites, and especially Asians, who now have the highest earning rates in the US.)

    And then he writes: "Big companies are still reasonably integrated, but newer, smaller businesses are more segregated, often largely white, black or Hispanic." I guess those big companies are not tech companies in California, nor start-up in Silicon Valley.

    There is an excellent book by Patrick Deneen called "Why Liberalism Failed". (And by "Liberalism" he does not mean Democratic Party.) In that book there is a chapter called, "The New Aristocracy", which masterfully explains the philosophical and cultural factors for what Mr. Brooks describe.

    This column would have been so much stronger if Mr. Brooks, like much of the intelligentsia, would discuss that much of what passes as racial issues today are in fact class issues. But that the elite, both left and right, don't want to be implicated via class, so race it is.

  115. What one expects when the GOP is taken over by unreformed Dixiecrats. The Party of Lincoln has degenerated into the Party of Trump. Mr Brooks this didn't happen overnight. Where were you when FOX ran a 24/7 tirade against Obama the man.

  116. I'm surprised that there was no mention of the recent surge in (almost daily) news reports of white people challenging black and/or latino folk, for simply going about their business (Starbucks, Pool Patrol Paula, Barbecue Betty...or whatever all their names were).

    What I find most disturbing about all these stories is not so much the perpetrators, or the stories, or the seeming increase in such episodes (due perhaps to certain racists feeling emboldened in the Trump era?). No, what bothers me the most is the manner in which even newspapers such as the NYT are reporting the stories. They are not written in any kind of cohesive manner, nor are they examined as part of a larger problem, but rather they are reported in a sensational, almost tabloid manner.

    I feel that this in turn is further widening the chasm between whites and blacks in general. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if, due to the rash of such stories, that more and more black folk aren't thinking that maybe they should not bother with white folk at all...even white folk they previously thought to be their 'friends'. The flurry of these stories is such that, some may be thinking that deep down, most white people are truly this way. And this greatly saddens me...to feel that this is how things might be churning.

    The real question then becomes, why isn't the NYT and other news media trying to dig deeper on this new 'trend' of racism? What can we do to stem it...to lessen the ignorance?

  117. Mr. Brooks, what you write is nonsense. It gives me no pleasure to say it but it's just so obvious. We have time to look at only one example, let's look at the one lone Forbes article you cited as evidence that workplaces are less racially integrated than they used to be. What is that article in the face of the fact that America will be a white-minority nation by 2040? Not black-white as you may imagine it, but white / Hispanic / Asian / Afircan American and a thousand more. What about the always-rising rate of interracial marriages, relationships, and KIDS? A huge number of people today are "mixed race". You really believe that was happening the same way in the 1970s or 80s or even 90s?

    No, demographics are not on your side, Mr. Brooks. All your futile cherry-picking arguments are as nothing in the face of the reality of the world and the future you don't want to admit. I wish you would stop pretending it doesn't exist and and start dealing with it.

  118. "We’ve fallen into a bogus logjam in which progressives emphasize systems of oppression and conservatives emphasize cultural norms."

    I'm curious Mr. Brooks, what cultural norms do you think conservatives were emphasizing when they voted for en masse for Donald Trump? Bullying? Lying? Grifting? Serial adultery? Trump's affection for murdering authoritarians?

    What "bourgeois norms" did Barack Obama break the caused so many conservative to hate him with such a passion? That despite all evidence cause many to STILL believe he was a secret Muslim intent on destroying America.

    Cultural norms may be a factor, but a much bigger factor is old fashion racism and the Republican party and much of the right wing media that profit from keeping hate alive.

    There is no more hiding behind "cultural norms" when 87% of Republicans support an openly racist President who has broken virtually every norm that "Values Voters" supposedly held dear. Except the most important one: White Christian supremacy.

  119. Brooks points out that minorities did better from the mid 1960s through the 1970s, but their prospects have stagnated since the 1980s. Hmmm, what happened in 1980? Oh yeah, Ronald Reagan was elected, and the Republican war on affirmative action and the social safety net began.

    Talking about cultural norms is just a sophisticated way of doing what the right has been doing for decades now: implying that minorities fall behind because their culture or morals are inferior. If only minorities went to church, joined the military, or avoided having children out of wedlock their plight would be better. No, that's not the real problem. The real problem is that just when minorities began to advance, Ronald Reagan and a parade of Republicans after him found it politically expedient to stoke white resentment and hostility toward minorities with tales of welfare queens, unemployed young bucks, Willie Hortons, Mexican rapists, or whatever other black or brown person could be portrayed as promiscuous, lazy, violent, or freeloading.

    This had its effect. Programs that helped minorities were cut. Republican-stacked courts limited affirmative action. Ever more minorities were incarcerated. It's a tribute to the resilience of minority communities—of their cultural norms—that they've done so well. The cultural norm that actually harms minorities is the obvious one that Brooks fails to mention: racism. It's still far too prevalent in our society. And the GOP has a lot to do with that.

  120. We have traveled far as a nation when it comes to racial equality. But the journey isn't over by a long shot. We have a government led by a white nationalist who is hostile to minorities, natural born or otherwise. Even in 2018 we have African Americans who get arrested or have the police called upon them just for being black in a public space, from Starbucks to little a black girl whom sold water on the sidewalk. We have white supremacists marching in broad daylight looking to roll the clock back to an era where people of color don't have voice in the halls of power or shaping their own destiny. If left unchecked the racial progress that was made in the last 50 years will be dismantled by those who fears a country that belongs to all its citizens regardless of race.

  121. A spectre is haunting America – the spectre of political cynicism.

  122. Deep racism is being outed.

    Brooks points out that the great improvements came between 1960 and 1975. Those were the years of civil rights legislation and the Great Society programs. They gave the poor and minorities an important boost. But they also led to the outing of deep American racism. And this is found in the church, in schools, in the military, in work, in neighborhoods -- all those institutions that Brooks wants African-Americans to rely on. And this racism continues to be supported by the policies and attitudes of Republicans and Conservatives. No?

  123. The Civil War in America never ended and is being resurrected by Trump and the Republicans. 85% of Republicans support their openly racist President. He is far worse than Geoge Wallace ever was. Wallace acknowledged the errors of his way at the end of his life. A majority of white men and women voted for Trump for President. Outright racism is back and a huge swath of white Americans feel emboldened to express their true hatred of racial minorities. We can all watch virtually every single day in this new age of hatred a horrific video of something you might have expected to see 50 years ago in America. Witness the stripping of Hispanic children from their parents and incarcerating them in cages at our border.

    I have resolutely come to believe only in the last couple of years that there is no hope for a unified America to ever achieve the promise of "all men are created equal." While that part of our founders' vision was so essentially true, much of the founding documents of this country are inherently and openly racist and codify the opposite of this sentiment.

    It is time for the more enlightened states to form a new, more perfect union, write a new Constitution shredding the antiquated elements of hatred in the old and move on in order to finally overcome the racial divide and reach the promised land. And let Trump and the tattered red state America build a wall between New America and themselves to keep their bigotry and evil all to themselves.

  124. It’s very simple. Stop voting for GOP candidates. The dog whistles have become Tornado Sirens, and I have one of those next to my house. If you want progress in any form, vote for Democrats. If you want the Kansas disaster nationwide, keep voting for the GOP. It’s really NOT rocket surgery.

  125. So, what you're saying Mr. Brooks is that everything looked rosy until you actually considered the reality. Reality can be a little jarring but you'll acclimate.

  126. Did people suddenly become more racist after1975? I don’t think so. If the rate of progress had stayed the same it would be very different now. So what changed?

  127. A key figure never cited is the number of siblings within a family. It stands to reason that the fewer the number of children within a family the more the parent(s) will be able to provide the children.

    I am always bothered by the number of headline grabbing incidents, most notably, a typical clash between the police and a young black person which leads to the death of the young black person. The newspapers will report on the family of the ‘victim’ and typically it will be four or more siblings. What bothers me is the failure to connect the number of dependencies and the ultimate tragedy.

    It took 50,000 years for different races to evolve and it is non scientific to think that you can simply compel people to overlook race. It is happening by degrees. In the meantime white society makes a tremendous sacrifice in doing what it can to help black society and other minority groups. We can begin with the 250,000 soldiers lost fighting for the North in the civil war.

    The biggest offenders are those who extol victim-hood, and make us into enemies. Smaller families would help a lot – at least keep family to the size you can afford to raise - and a lot more expression of gratitude for the sacrifices made by white society to help other groups would be constructive.

  128. Or you could be ignoring all evidence to the contrary. High out of wedlock rates happen in times of high inequality...just saying.

  129. Institutional racism is alive and well within the Republican Party and Supreme Court. One only has to look at the systematic dismantling of voter’s rights, the increase in police brutality towards those especially men of color or the demonization of the peaceful protests of African American Football players to begin to understand how systematically the ability to work hard, improve educationally and economically is distrusted by those with white privelege.

  130. Alas, the findings of Gunnar Myrdal are as true today as they were in the 1940s. Whites (many, and yes many fewer than in the 1940s) are biased and bigoted against Blacks and other non-Whites. Yes we can offset those biases with laws and regulations. But when bigots take over the executive branch that remedy all but disappears. Racism was often contained somewhat by laws and regulations. But Trump has signaled that those breaks are a thing of the past. It started with his use of "the Blacks" during the campaign.

    Seriously, look for pardons for civil rights criminals who murdered Blacks in the sixties. Trump will no doubt say he is following Nelson Mandella's reconciliation movement.

    Fish stink from the head. Clean heads at least controlled the stink and decay of racism. Now, Trump is prepared to unleash hatreds as a means of staying in power.

  131. The conclusion is a bit confusing. The left want to do more, while the right think the traditional American culture and institutions already offer enough help to the black. The right solution is not to go radical on both ends but to emphasize on the middle ground: i.e., the black community should put more pressure on their children to succeed in schools.

  132. I wonder if Mr. Brooks left his scholastic credentials at the partisan door. Bradford Wilcox of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) seems scholarly; but AEI is non-partisan in name only, it doesn’t equate to scholastic. Raj Chetty is a distinguished professor of economics at Harvard; but he is a disciple of Martin Feldstein whose name is very familiar to those of us who watch the failure of Regan's tenant that a rising tide lifts all boats (supply side economics). I am grateful that Mr. Brooks is aware of the change in direction of racial progress since 1980; but concerned that in his effort to reverse this change, he has failed in his duty to define the cause objectively.

  133. Brooks writes,

    "We’ve fallen into a bogus logjam in which progressives emphasize systems of oppression and conservatives emphasize cultural norms. Both critiques are correct. If we’re going to do something about this appalling retrogression on race, we probably need to be radical on both ends."

    It might be nice if Mr. Brooks had acknowledged that virtually every African American leader from W.E.B. DuBois to Thurgood Marshall to Martin Luther King to Jesse Jackson to Barack Obama has been saying exactly the same thing. Maybe Mr. Brooks just wasn't listening.

  134. You forget that Obama identified a key problem early in his presidency in 2008 at a Father's Day Service:

    "They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison"

  135. From here in Quebec I see little difference between GOP America and Russian Orthodox Russia. Women's rights are under attack and in Russia where abortion rights are limited Putin wishes to make abortion illegal. While Trump and the GOP cater to the Christian Right Vladimir Putin is a card carrying member of the Christian Right. On racism the Putin Government is overt in its racism while the GOP sticks to dog whistles.
    The USA is not backsliding it has hollowed out the middle-class where social norms and human progress are constructed by an educated "elite". Much of the USA and Russia has entered the "dark ages" where myth and superstition reign supreme. Even as Russian Orthodox is the official state religion in Russia America has its American Orthodox religious traditions in American Protestantism, Inquisition Catholicism, Modern Orthodox Judaism and Mormonism.

  136. The Nixon Administration practiced what was called "benign neglect" toward race. The GOP's been on the wrong side of seeking equality since Nixon's rise. Given the Southern Strategy, no real surprise, eh?

  137. This is not an issue that can be blamed on Trump, though he reflects his base and fosters racism. The people of the USA are racist and have demonstrated this for years.
    I had a friend from Maine who when he visited us in Canada was disgusted by mixed racial couples eating in a restaurant.
    Over the years he changed and accepted his black neighbours but he poisoned his children who today live his old racist views.

  138. For 30 years I've worked with disadvantaged people, the great majority of those have been black or Latino, and many have been caught up in the criminal justice system. (If you think it's hard to get a job because you're black, just try adding a felony conviction). I long ago stopped trying to say and do the right things--they weren't really helping--and have gotten very pragmatic. You're looking for a job and your address is obviously in the hood? Use your aunt's address on your application. Your name is Darnell Christopher Jones? Style your resume as D. Christopher Jones. Ebonics may be a bona fide cultural dialect, but don't use it outside your home. I can't waste any more time trying to get the larger non-minority society to open the gates of their own free will. Experience tells me the only way people really get out of poverty now is 1) education 2) an unusual talent a la Tyler Perry and Jennifer Lopez, or 3) marry (not cohabitate) up.

  139. "The mind is everything. What you think you become" Buddha.

    Let's mull this over. It ain't "comforting"...

  140. Come on folks - this isn’t that complicated.
    To stop discrimination based on race, stop discriminating based on race.
    Unfortunately for those who love to wrap themselves and their failure in the cloak of “victimhood” , this requires they accept responsibility for their own poor choices.
    Create a culture that devalues education education, self-discipline, achievement, and personal responsibility.
    Add a dash of refusal to delay gratification, (for instance having kids you can’t afford to raise).
    Then top off with assuring fathers are unable or unwilling to parent the children.
    Inevitably, your economic circumstances will plummet.
    Shocking how that happens - but no worry - just blame those horrible privileged white males.

  141. It would help if the media would stop promoting tribalism and identity politics.

  142. Bingo. Why do they do this?

  143. This from a guy whose favorite president, in the very first speech of his first presidential campaign, delivered in Philadelphia, Mississippi, said “I believe in states’ rights.”

  144. Brooks again seems to have emigrated to another planet where no borders exist.

    The term "racial progress" used by a fan of Reagan/Bush family is like sending "thoughts and prayers" to the dead.

    David must have missed Nixon's "southern strategy" too, or maybe he simply likes whistling past the GOP racial grave yard?

  145. Only a white person could create such a tone deaf title. Racism is never "quiet" to those who are oppressed and it has become down-right deafening of late, thanks in large part to our president.

  146. “Three institutions do an impressive job of reducing racial disparity: the military, marriage and church”

    What church are you talking about? Churches are the most segreated places in America!

  147. He is not saying that the churches themselves are integrated; Brooks' point is that attending church makes it more likely that African-Americans will attain middle-class status. He is talking about social stability leading to financial stability.

  148. And even with a African American President for 8 years, it seems little progress can be made. And I can’t figure out why.

  149. It’s simple. Pandering to racist whites has been a path to power for Republicans. It is impossible to imagine the Republican party becoming principled, and eschewing racism. Because with racism, they’re winning.

  150. Brooks notes, "As their report clearly shows, the vast bulk of that decline happened between 1960 and 1975. If you look at poverty data since 1980, there’s been little progress, either in black men moving out of poverty or into the middle class."

    It seems that is generally applicable across the whole economy, as the inequality gap between the 1% and everybody else has grown wider and wider. Granted, some groups of people may be more affected than others, but this is a real problem that affects most people. I would think that less economic viability means that people are going to be more defensive, less apt to move around, leaving whatever segregation that exists more firmly in place. A turnover of people would allow for more change in the dynamics of neighborhoods and possibly more integration.

  151. How to stop backsliding toward racial inequality? You have to ask? Don't vote for Republicans!

  152. My problem with this column and subsequent comments are that it places race at the center of the conversation. Instead, I see the vast majority of evidence - both academically and anecdotally pointing to upbringing and family wealth, rather than race, as the primary factors for inequality.

    I completely acknowledge that race is still a large issue in the US. There are unconscious biases from all institutions that provide a struggle, and from the justice system to job applications, African americans are disadvantaged.

    That being said, in my life I grew up middle class and knew plenty of middle classes African american kids. The vast majority - more than their white peers - who had good upbringings, ended up in college and are now doing well. The poorer kids are all backgrounds struggled on a much higher level.

    Many of the white kids have gotten into drugs, some of the poor African Americans have had children far to early or became friends with the wrong people. but in almost all instances it was the upbringing and family poverty that caused the divide. I didn't see race as a factor, except that a higher percentage of African Americans are poor, therefore more are struggling.

    Let's focus on economic inequality instead of putting the primary emphasis on racism and "civil war never ended rhetoric". At the end of the day I find that history only accounts for a fraction of the total reason why this inequality exists.

  153. "It is difficult for a man to understand something when his salary (or campaign contributions) depend on his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair

  154. . Brooks seems to have it right to me. Racism exists in the US. Conservatives can not. Deny it. While smug NYT readers probably assume it is all Trump supporters they ought to look in theiir own liberal enclaves like the upper west side which is probably more segregated than anyplace other than San Francisco or Malibu.

    White society has problems with racism and black society h cultural norms that perpetuate poverty and a large underclass.

  155. David

    “If we’re going to do something about this appalling retrogression on race, we probably need to be radical on both ends.” One problem is that we are far more radical on the GOP side in a counter productive manner.

    A party that believes racial problems can be ameliorated by limiting voting rights, reducing access to food for the hungry, stripping hard working people of meaningful medical insurance can hardly be said to be interested in doing “..something about this appalling retrogression on race...”

    There is going to come a time when we will fairly face the fact that some problems are not caused equally by both parties. We will someday recognize that as imperfectly as their efforts may have been, only one party has tried at least to make improvements and the other has, through demagoguery legislation and benign neglect failed to contribute.

  156. Conservatives refuse to believe that "systems" control our behavior much more than individual values and beliefs.

    A racist legal system is going to result in racist outcomes regardless of the moral beliefs and values of the individual people working in that system. A corrupt political system is going to result in corrupt political decisions regardless of the values and beliefs of individual politicians.

    We can't change behavior by changing hearts and minds. We only change behavior and social outcomes by changing our systems.

    We will never make any progress on racism, political corruption; or, any of our other social problems until and unless we fix our broken systems.

  157. Since Martin Luther King the nation make strides in reducing racial disparity. Unfortunately, these changes were legal (affirmative action, voting rights, etc.), not social or moral. Racism remained as pervasive as ever, just thinly hidden because of political correctness attitudes. We have limited affordable housing because of racism. We have segregated schools because of racism. We have a lopsided percentage of black males in prisons because of racism. We have the worst President in the history of the country because of racism. Racism, more than any other factor, influences economic, social and political life in America. We must recognize the problem and address it, somehow, or face dire consequences.

  158. The same prejudices are apparent with the disabled and the elderly. The latest work requirement for Medicaid is clear and flagrant evidence.

  159. A "bogus logjam"? No, I think it is a real logjam created and reinforced by the highest levels of our government.

  160. Racial progress was real but it never reached vibrant adolescence never mind full maturity. And while I concur that Trump and the GOP need to be rejected, I have to point out that they do not rule Hungary, Poland, Turkey or any of the lands where xenophobia is on the rise. The world of liberal democracy seems to have hit a barrier to progress. Maybe it's a new revolution. In America, what we call the Revolution changed much for some but little for others. Now, it may be that democracy sweeps aside its posh uncle "liberal democracy." America was always racist. White Protestants always wanted to rule, whether in America's South, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, or Northern Ireland. We're in the midst of an earthquake. Is it the big one or just a warning temblor?

  161. It's obvious that the Republican party has used racism as a tool to gain votes and win elections. However I'd prefer to comment on the enormous amount of closet racism that exists in a place like Brooklyn where I reside. When you look closely, everything from residential neighborhoods, religious congregations, and,most heart breakingingly, our schools are harshly segregated as we represent ourselves as being so enlightened. Let's stop lecturing the rest of the country on it's racial attitudes and start cleaning up the mess in our own backyards especially when it comes to the schools. Mayor DiBlasio's proposal to send the top 7 percent of each middle school to specialized elite high schools, do away with that silly compromised test and effectively force parents to look for less popular middle schools is a brilliant way to break down these segrationist patterns. But look at the pushback. This is racism in it's purest form right here in NYC. Stop the self righteous hypocrisy. Let's become real leaders in the battle for fairness and equality.

  162. The specialized schools entrance exam is an example of pure merit based admissions yet you refer to it as “racism in it's purest form”.
    That radical leftism prevents the positive Democrat party platforms from winning elections.

  163. At a minimum, Mr. Brooks comments begin a needed discussion and that's always promising. Race in our country continues to be a tool for politicians to exploit. The subject of race almost instantly provokes division and raw emotions. The path towards understanding may have gotten a little easier, but each day we seem tormented by racially charged news reports, horrible comments by public figures and anger from those who are offended.
    Answers? That's what we need but there seems to be no real push to seek them.

  164. Thank you Mr Brooks for another column of false equivalency. Both sides are equally right and wrong. The best part of the column is that it offers no suggested solution or path forward to make things better.
    Those pesky democrats and those stick in the mud republicans just can't sort it.
    Who would have thought race relations would be so difficult.

  165. Already mentioned in the comments, but not by you, David, as Tom says:
    "Fish stink from the head. Clean heads at least controlled the stink and decay of racism. Now, Trump is prepared to unleash hatreds as a means of staying in power."
    I copy and paste this because it bears repeating over and over again.

    It was standard procedure for modern leaders to condemn racism. It quelled the natural tribal forces that will always be at work. Fear and hate of the "other" will always exist. It is our leader's responsibility to counter that by being a representative of ALL of us. Trump is beyond failing at this. He is inspiring racism. He is fanning the flames of hate. He is spawning immitators. He is breeding bigotry.

    On a constructive note, I must again beat the drum for education reform. Fund PUBLIC education on a statewide level. Do not fund religious or private schools with taxpayer's money. Require states to fund education with exactly the same dollars per student. Set statewide standards.
    Remove funding and ciriculum control from towns and counties. Funding education via real estate taxes is one of the great monsters at work in perpetuating racial inequality and inter-generational poverty.

  166. Glib, wrong, and bordering on absurd. Church, family, and yes, the military, provide safety nets. Inequality and negative trends on race have grown since 1975 because Reagan and his disciples punched hole after hole after hole in the public safety net. There is no reason women or children should be dependent on men, or citizens should pray to the sky, or risk their lives in war to have basic economic security. The Great Society offered it and Republicans ripped it away. It's not complicated.

  167. I am not sure that encouraging black men to serve in the military and go to church will solve the problem of racism in this country. This seems to me oversimplified at best, and pointless at worst.

    Mr. Brooks continuously puts a lot of faith in the steadying influence (or not) of family and religion, and much less or none on the importance of economic well-being and equal opportunity in schooling. I somehow don’t believe that the study from A.I.E. compares on equal footing with the study from Raj Chetty and his group.

  168. Martin Luther King, Jr., came to realize that racial and social justice, and I'll add gender justice too, would not be effectively achievable without economic justice. It's as much or more a matter of class as race and gender, and economic justice has been deteriorating as strongly since 1970 as any of the racial aspects cited here.

    Since before the full onslaught of the Reagan Restoration, but strongly since then, wages are stagnant, incomes for the lower 90% are stagnant, yet wealth and income of the top 10% and especially the top 1% have skyrocketed. We cannot achieve the American Dream, or even hold onto the American Experiment, if the United States is the exclusive playground of an oligarchy or even just an accelerating wealthy class.

    We need a compelling new rallying cry: It's the Economic Justice, Stupid!

  169. Well, it looks like the progressives are probably right. Brooks would love this to be about discipline (military and church), but it's probably not. The military provides training and a number of benefits (college, for one) that people can't get on the outside. A college degree is necessary these days--and the costs are astronomical. The church is an interesting factor, but there is an economic argument there too--the church provides networks for employment etc. It has nothing to do with "grit" or discipline. So maybe Brooks might want to look at the structural impediments that are clearly there, rather than peering into the hears of people he clearly doesn't understand. (For him--a non-Christian--church is a social abstraction, not a scene of faith.)

  170. While we're discussing minorities, let's remind ourselves that our current president was elected by a minority of voters through an antiquated system (the electoral college) and most likely with an assist from Russia. The majority must turn out for all future elections if we want to get back on the road to racial, financial, and educational reform.

  171. Coming from a background of what are now euphemistically called "working class whites," as well as a deeply evangelical family and service in the USMC (a lot like JD Vance), I suggest that it's not only black men who attain greater success when religion and military service are part of the picture. But that is a correlation and not necessarily causation. The relevant factor is not race but a lack of viable options. Once beyond the "working class," neither military service nor religion are probable preconditions to a fulfilling, ethical, and productive life. Once one is beyond the lower socio-economic ranks in our country, alcohol and opioid abuse are not likely alternatives to the military and/or religion, either.

    Regarding David's last sentence, to "do something" about retrogression on race, we absolutely do not need to be "radical." Instead, we need to be thoughtful, serious, sane, and determined, both in everyday life and in the voting booth.

  172. Although a liberal myself, I often read Mr. Brooks' columns and find myself nodding in tune with his reasoned, calm and genially thoughtful approach. I just as often disagree with his premises and instincts, but he seems like a humane, honest and thoughtful conservative (a dying breed).

    One of the differences between myself as a liberal and Mr. Brooks' conservative tendencies is the way we read the last forty plus years of politics. I see the modern conservative movement as determined effort to afford large corporations and ultra-wealthy individuals the opportunity to control our society to their own benefit. Under the guise of small government, freedom and market economics I see a concerted effort of the elites and ultra rich to re-write the rules to their own radical advantage. They are the modern "robber barrons" but with much better PR and messaging.

    For those of us who are not ultra rich, not venture investors and not executives in very large corporations, the government is a legitimate way to assure our future success. Government is a means to curb the offensive acts of the big guys -- consumer fraud, employee exploitation, pollution and granting various other perverse advantages to themselves -- as well as a means to educate the next generation and care for the elderly.

    The modern ultra conservatives have cynically but successfully reinvigorated racism. Racism is a tool to divide those who are being plundered by the elites.

  173. The problem with labeling conservatives "robber barrons [sic]" as the sole sackers of democracy is that the liberal ultra-wealthy far out-number and far out-wealth the Koch types of the world. Check the latest Forbes list, especially the top ten. Check the wealth of our fine Congress - guess who is the wealthiest? Who hangs out on the Vineyard? In the Hamptons? However, you are spot on in your assessment that elites use racism to divide and conquer.

  174. "For those of us who are not ultra rich, not venture investors and not executives in very large corporations, the government is a legitimate way to assure our future success."

    That view strikes me as doing more harm than good.

    Although a mere professor, I achieved a net worth (as did most of my friends) of several millions through careful/frugal spending, saving, investing in rental properties, and a variety of other means (legal and open to the many, not the few.)

    Your comment also errs in the fallacy of composition--surely the great majority cannot rely on government "to
    assure our future success" (i.e., beyond that of providing the necessary functions of government.)

  175. .
    Every individual can develop abilities, skills and knowledge (ASK) and take those to the marketplace. Capitalism rewards ownership, so start a business.

    Remember that virtue, joy in life, creativity and relationships are just as important as smarts.

    Having an attitude of resentment because of challenges/obstacles -- real or imagined -- is an impediment to progress.

    Now go exercise your freedom in this gymnasium of liberty.

  176. @avoice4US:

    What you say is theoretically true.

    However you seem to gloss over that there are specific social structures put in place to keep Blacks and others in a subordinate position relative to Whites.

    Even during the Post WW II boom, Black veterans were excluded from the FHA Housing Loan Program which provided low-interest loans to millions of White families who otherwise could never have qualified for a mortgage, in effect the government bankrolling homeownership for Whites which is and remains a crucial component in amassing some sort of wealth and passing it on to their progeny.

    The GI Bill was also restricted. "Big Government" was not an issue as long as it benefitted Whites who always claim they did everything on their own.

    Toss in the banking industry, the education system, the medical establishment, (remember the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments), and undue control by law enforcement that is now to the point that one cannot eat, wait, golf, drive, and swim without White people calling the cops.

    It's all very well to say we all have talents and abilities etc., but one cannot deny the social structures that have been are STILL in place to advantage one group of people and in its equal and opposite consequence, disadvantage another.

  177. To make progress, we must recognize that we white citizens are the problem. We deny police double standards, we practice racism in our choosing friends, neighborhoods , who we hire, and even where we go to church, but most of all how we vote.
    Unless we become more color blind nothing will change.
    The data Mr. Brooks quoted affirms what happened with the advent of the Republican southern strategy. The 60's brought the problem to a head and solutions were started. The war on poverty, head start, equal opportunity laws, desegregation in education and housing. It all began to work, then Republicans began the tactics that divided us and brought them success. The result was attacks and ending of affirmative actions, ending support for the poor, and a white backlash.
    Even good intentioned conservatives such as Dave Brooks refused to see the connection of their politics to the problem.

  178. Congrats on writing the only sensible comment on this board.

  179. Those points you make are valid, but without acknowledging some balance of culpability to non-whites makes this counterproductive against progress.