Drops in the Bucket on Racial Inequality

Check out Greg Squires’ challenge in yesterday’s article on The Nation’s Web site to talk about race in a way that matters during the presidential campaign.

Despite all the coded barbs during the primary season about race — “hard-working white Americans,” Bill Clinton’s dismissive remarks about Jesse Jackson’s earlier primary successes, and Geraldine Ferraro’s acid observations about Obama’s receiving preferential treatment because he is black among many — Squires says:

Ironically, there is much debate in the United States over the continuing realities of racial and ethnic inequality, the underlying causes of racial inequality and what, if anything, to do about it. These discussions go on in barbershops and barrooms, among academics and some policymakers, and in many corners of American society. But this discussion is not going on among the candidates for President and the pundits reporting on the campaign.

Squires says polling data show that the majority of Americans now attribute racial and ethnic minorities’ failures to achieve social and economic equality not to structural racism but to personal failures. If that’s so, it may explain why despite Obama’s amazing speech about race in America, we haven’t jump-started the REAL conversation Squires exhorts us to have.

How do we get it going?

Alice Chasan served as editor and associate publisher of Shelterforce from 2007 to 2008.


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