Ta-Nehisi Coates eviscerates another career "progressive"
Read the whole thing. Here's the conclusion:
Obama-era progressives view white supremacy as something awful that happened in the past whose historical vestiges still afflict black people today. They believe we need policies--though not race-specific policies--which address the affliction. I view white supremacy as one of the central organizing forces in American life whose vestiges and practices afflicted black people in the past, continue to afflict black people today, and will likely afflict black people until this country passes into the dust.
There is no evidence that black people are less responsible, less moral, or less upstanding in their dealings with America nor with themselves. But there is overwhelming evidence that America is irresponsible, immoral, and unconscionable in its dealings with black people and with itself. Urging African-Americans to become superhuman is great advice if you are concerned with creating extraordinary individuals. It is terrible advice if you are concerned with creating an equitable society. The black freedom struggle is not about raising a race of hyper-moral super-humans. It is about all people garnering the right to live like the normal humans they are.
So, while trivial by the side of the American historical experience:
1) It sure is weird to be deferred to, physically deferred to -- not in some "smartest guy in the room" mode, but with people physically lowering themselves -- in Thailand because I'm tall, male, white, and older (a four-fer, here). It really throws privilege into sharp relief, exactly because I'm not "used to" it (although of course in other guises, I'm so used to it I can't see it).
2) I just got back from a fourteen-hour each way train trip to the South -- the South of Thailand -- for which I needed some long books to read, and so had gotten a couple of volumes of Game of Thrones to read. Reiterating that I know this is trivial: Although feudalism is pretty bad, slavery looks like it's a million times worse. I encountered the word "coffle" in GoT on this trip, and thanks to Ned Sublette's email list, now I know what it means. In the same way that all Germans anywhere near a death camp had to know what was going on, because of the smoke and the smell, so all Americans in slave states had to know what slavery was all about, because slave sellers were constantly marching chained together gangs of slaves ("coffles") to market, along the public roads. Fortunately (?) death camps and coffles are no longer (?) "normal" (to use Coates's word). "The past is never dead. It's not even past."