The New Jim Crow – Racism or Class?

An interesting view from Author Robert D. Putnam on inequalities in American society and the economy. Putnam believes that racism isn’t the major impediment to economic mobility in the country anymore – class is. And as far as that goes he may be correct. However, in weighing whether racism is an issue – a lot depends on just what you define as “racism”. The conservative view of that is “we aren’t hanging you from trees and burning down your homes anymore – so there is no racism”. Of course to anyone else with an IQ above freezing water – racism is a lot more nuanced that just physical acts of depravity. I mean – just because you aren’t shooting me – doesn’t mean you aren’t trying to kill me with a knife.

Robert Putnam: Class Now Trumps Race as the Great Divide in America

Robert D. Putnam, author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, issued a strong warning to anti-poverty advocates at a forum on social connectedness at the Aspen Ideas Festival Saturday, urging the audience to get beyond talking about poverty and race and start thinking about social mobility and class instead.

“Those two conceptual moves, framing it as poverty and thinking about it as a matter of race, have a very deep history… and I think both politically and analytically that’s an almost fatally flawed framework,” said Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, in response to remarks from co-panelists Anne Mosle, vice president of policy at the Aspen Institute, and Mario Small, chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago.

“You say poverty to most ordinary Americans, most ordinary voters, they think black ghettos,” he continued, whereas over the last couple of generations “class, not race is the dominant — and becoming more dominant — dimension of difficulty here.”

“Relatively speaking, racial differences controlling for class are decreasing while class differences controlling for race are increasing in America,” he said. “Non-white folks with a college education are looking more and more like white folks with a college education and white folks who haven’t gotten beyond high school are looking more and more like nonwhite folks who haven’t finished high school.” Continue reading

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