Friday, April 18, 2014

Black and Green

I have really enjoyed reading Tom Levinson's posts at the Balloon Juice blog, and he recently posted a really insightful piece at The Atlantic illustrating the ways in which various decisions by the Roberts court have strengthened institutional racism. Levinson is a science writer and educator by trade, but he  applies his thoughtfulness and intellect to a good many subjects.

Levinson's fellow writer at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, has been doing amazing work on race and racism (among other topics), and I feel like I am getting a much-needed education reading the conversations over there. It's not so much that the facts are new to me, but more that I didn't make enough of an effort to understand the real history of white supremacy in America, and the way that white privilege permeates everything. Once the scales fall away, as it were, the next question must be what do we white people do to destroy this system that gives us such privilege? If you believe at all in a just society, that question is imperative.

Getting rid of lawmakers and a judiciary that reify white power would be a good place to begin:
Once you start seeing American history through the corrective lens created by the generations of scholars and researchers on whose work Coates reports, then it becomes possible—necessary, really—to read current events in a new light. Take, for example, the McCutcheon decision that continued the Roberts Court program of gutting campaign-finance laws. 
The conventional—and correct, as far as it goes—view of the outcome, enabling wealthy donors to contribute to as many candidates as they choose, is that this further tilts the political playing field towards the richest among us at the expense of every American voter. See noted analyst Jon Stewart for a succinct presentation of this view. 
But that first-order take on this latest from the Supreme Court's right wing misses a crucial dimension. It isn't just rich folks who benefit from the Roberts Court's view that money equals speech. Those who gain possess other key identifiers. 
One guess as to what those other identifiers might be.  The piece is a devastating indictment of the Roberts Court.

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