Category: racial politics

Where are the grocery stores in black neighborhoods?

Posted by Pierre Berastain

A good article on the racial politics of grocery stores.  Not mentioned in the article, though still relevant, is the fact that one finds alcohol more readily available in poor black neighborhoods.  Discrimination, favoritism, and privilege bleed into too often imperceptible spheres of people’s lives.

Commentary: Where Are the Grocery Stores in Black Neighborhoods?

By Kellee Terrell

When we talk about obesity in America, especially in low income, Black and Latino areas, it’s impossible to have this conversation without acknowledging the fact that mounds of studies have shown us that there is a serious lack of access to healthy whole foods, fruits, vegetables and lean meats. (more…)

At Mexican Border, Four in Five Drug Busts Involve American Citizens

ImagePosted by  Pierre Berastain

“Three out of four people found with drugs by the border agency are U.S. citizens, the data show. Looked at another way, when the immigration status is known, four out of five busts—which may include multiple people—involve a U.S. citizen.”

Amidst the accusations of people like Governor Brewer and Sheriff Apaio that undocumented immigrants are dangerous criminals responsible for smuggling millions of dollars worth of drugs , this article brings a new and fresh perspective.

At Mexican Border, Four in Five Drug Busts Involve American Citizens


The public’s view of a typical Mexican drug smuggler might not include U.S. Naval Academy grad Todd Britton-Harr, who was caught at a Border Patrol checkpoint in south Texas in December 2010 hauling a trailer with 1,100 pounds of marijuana.

Nor would someone like Laura Lynn Farris leap to mind. Border Patrol agents stopped the 52-year-old woman at a border checkpoint 15 miles south of the west Texas town of Alpine in February 2011 with 162 pounds of marijuana hidden under dirty blankets in laundry baskets. (more…)

The Lion and the Hyena

By Alan Bean

I received this graphic from a Facebook friend.  I clicked on “like”.  My friend probably wondered why.  I’m not sure.  Something about the image appeals to me.  The “conservative” is literally lionized, an invisible force for good.  The “liberal” is a scavenger, an impostor, a hyena attempting, in this case unsuccessfully, to feast on the carcass when he didn’t make the kill.

I have often felt like the hyena in the picture, a hapless liberal do-gooder confronting  the conservative juggernaut.  Nonetheless, I feel compelled to mouth off several sentences too many.

Some conservatives would reverse the image.  They see themselves as a lion surrounded by a pack of liberal hyenas.

These savanna fantasies obscure more than they illuminate.  “Liberal” and “conservative”, two grand words with a goodly heritage, are now debased currency.  When liberalism is associated with superficiality, debauchery, and profligate sentimentality, who wants to be a liberal?  When conservatism becomes a code word for racial bigotry, intolerance and privilege, who wants to be a conservative? (more…)

Can Republicans romance Latinos?

By Alan Bean

Like many of you, I switched to a different network on election night whenever a commercial came along (I hate commercials as much as I hate political ads).  The talking heads on every station were sounding the same message: due to changing demographics, the Republican Party must reach out to minorities if it is serious about long-term survival.

Democrats won over 90% of the African American vote and close to three-quarters of the Hispanic vote (over 80% if non-Cuban Americans are excluded from the calculation).  And this after President Obama largely ignored the criminal justice system (a major problem for black voters) while presiding over the unprecedented mass deportation of undocumented residents.

Obama wins the minority vote (including 62% of the Asian electorate) by sitting back and letting Republicans be Republicans. (more…)

Why white people like Republicans

By Alan Bean

The American electorate is more racially divided in 2012 than at any time in the recent memory.  This encourages the simple conclusion that white Americans prefer Mitt Romney to Barack Obama because Mitt is white.  But a recent report by the Public Religion Research Institute paints a far more complex portrait of the white American voter.

As has been widely reported, white women are about equally divided between the two candidates; it’s the men who break strongly for Romney.   In 2008, Barack Obama carried a higher percentage of the white vote (41%) than any Democratic candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976.  Moreover, working class whites give Mitt Romney a favorability rating of 45% compared to Barack Obama’s 44%; among college educated whites, both men are favored by 49% of those surveyed.  If white America throws its support behind the Republican candidate in tomorrow’s election (as they assuredly will) it has little to do with a birds-of-a-feather firing of mirror neurons.

The white electorate divides sharply along five distinct fault lines: education, gender, age, geography and religion.  The Public Religion Research Institute Survey compares the white working class to college educated whites.  College educated white voters favor Romney, but by a scant 2 points; the white working class favors Romney by 13 points (48-35).

In other words, when we are talking about “the white electorate” we are primarily talking about white working class voters.  In this election, 80% of minority votes will go to the Democrat; Romney will be the overwhelming favorite of the white working class; and white college educated voters will fall somewhere in between these extremes.  Since white middle class voters comprise 36% of the voting population, their clout is difficult to exaggerate.  White college educated voters account for 21% of the electorate, black voters, 11%, and Latino voters, 13%. (For the poll under discussion 11% of white voters are neither working class or college educated).

As we have seen, white women are far more likely to favor Obama than their brothers, boy friends and husbands; and this applies just as much to the white middle class (41%-41%) as to white college educated women.  White working class males, on the other hand, will favor Romney by 27 points (57%-28%).  It should be noted, however, that working class males making less than $30,000 divide their votes evenly between Obama and Romney while working class males who have received food stamps in the past two years, favor Obama by a margin of 48% to 36%.  The authors of the study use this data to argue that the white working class, contrary to popular opinion, do not always vote against their perceived interests. (more…)

Lies, Damn Lies, and . . .

By Alan Bean

Like they say, you can prove anything with statistics.  I got an email this morning pointing out the ten American cities with the highest rates of poverty all have Democratic mayors.

Here’s the list:

1. Detroit , MI              32.5%
2. Buffalo , NY               29.9% poverty rate
3. Cincinnati , OH         27.8%
4. Cleveland , OH         27.0%
5. Miami , FL                26.9%
6. St. Louis , MO           26.8%
7. El Paso , TX              26.4%
8. Milwaukee , WI         26.2%
9. Philadelphia , PA        25.1%
10. Newark , NJ             24.2%

And the moral of that is:

It is the poor who habitually elect Democrats yet they are still POOR!

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.

You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”

I have seen similar lists of American cities on racist websites.  There, the moral is that many poor cities have black mayors which shows that black people are incompetent.

Now let’s consider the opposite indicator: the ten American cities with the largest concentration of high net worth individuals.  These happen to be:

  1. New York (currently the mayor is independent, but NY historically favors Democrats)
  2. Los Angeles (Democratic mayor)
  3. Chicago (Democrat)
  4. Washington, D.C. (Democrat)
  5. San Francisco (Democrat)
  6. Philadelphia (Democrat)
  7. Boston (Democrat)
  8. Houston (Democrat)
  9. Detroit (Democrat)
  10. San Jose (Democrat)

How do we account for the fact that the American cities with the highest rates of poverty and the highest net worth individuals tend to have Democratic mayors?  (Detroit, by the way, makes both lists because it’s economy, after several years of free fall, recovered remarkably last year with the rebirth of the auto industry.)

There are two reasons. (more…)

Court blocks Texas Voter ID law

By Alan Bean

Texas Republicans received a second straight setback today when a three-judge federal panel blocked the state’s voter ID law because the state had failed to demonstrate that the law was not prejudicial to minorities.  Earlier this week, a federal court tossed out a Republican-inspired redistricting plan for largely the same reason.

You can’t blame the GOP for trying.  With Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by 12 percentage points among women voters, ninety points among African and Americans and forty points among Hispanics, Republicans are running scared.  As Lindsey Graham told a Washington Post reporter this week, “The demographics race we’re losing badly.  We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

What’s the solution.  Either you court minority voters or you reach out to “angry white guys” by bragging that if the women, blacks and Mexicans hate us, we must be right.

Of course, you could do both at the same time.  The Republican Convention in Tampa has featured its fair share of minority speakers, but a series of racial incidents have marred the proceedings.  Convention delegates aren’t just overwhelmingly white, no serious attempt has been made to address issues minority voters care about: job creation, unemployment, immigration reform, health care and racial profiling.

All the evidence suggests that the GOP strategy, to the extent there is one, has been to double down on their efforts to tap into white male resentment, minimize the number of minority voters who make it to the polls, and generating redistricting maps that give Republican candidates a leg up.

The GOP’s barrage of racially coded messages has attracted media attention.  In a celebrated incident, Chris Matthews of MSNBC accused RNC chairman Reince Priebus of covering for the covert racism at work in the 2012 election.  Matthews’ assault was so intense (see below) that Priebus called him “a jerk”.  Matthews was being a jerk.  But he was also sincerely pissed off, which was kind of refreshing.

It is interesting to watch Tom Brokaw try to calm the waters by suggesting that politicians on both sides of the ideological divide should dial back the rhetoric.  That is no doubt true, but it avoided the issue at hand.  Brokaw couldn’t address the race-baiting question for fear it would blow his hard-won reputation for impartiality.  Chris Matthews doesn’t win a lot of style points, but I appreciate his passion.

The ill-famed Willie Horton ad in 1988 was effective largely because it didn’t initially appear to be racial.  Support for George H.W. Bush plummeted when the thinly disguised racial manipulation in Horton ad was decoded.  Suddenly the racial motivation was obvious to any objective observer.  You will not be surprised to learn that the creator of the Horton ad, Larry McCarthy, has been hired by a pro-Romney super-PAC to inject racially coded messages into Republican attack ads.

Are voter ID laws racially motivated?  Republicans insist they are simply trying to bring integrity to the process.  According to the article in the Washington Post,

Republican lawmakers have argued that the voter ID law is needed to clean up voter rolls, which they say are filled with the names of illegal immigrants, ineligible felons and the deceased. Texas, they argue, is asking for no more identification than people need to board an airplane, get a library card or enter many government buildings.

It is possible that the names of illegal immigrants and ineligible felons appear on the voter rolls, but the chances of folks in either category jobbing the system are remote.  Felons and the undocumented have a lot to lose and little to gain from casting an illegal vote.  Republicans have no evidence that voter fraud is widespread (all the evidence points in the other direction), but they know voter ID laws suppress the minority vote and, if you’re with the White team, that can only be good.

Romney appeals to zero percent of black voters

By Alan Bean

As things presently stand, Mitt Romney can count on 60% of the white vote, 33% of the Latino vote and 0% of the African American vote.

Not 5% . . . 0%.  There may be a few thousand black Republicans nationwide willing to pull the lever for the white guy, but there aren’t enough of them to constitute a single percentage point.

I would have thought that a small but measurable contingent of black voters would be with the Republican candidate.  He is the pro-life, anti-gay rights candidate, after all, and black evangelicals have a reputation for being pro-life and anti-gay rights.

And what about the small sliver of  the black electorate wealthy enough to be helped by Republican fiscal policy?   What’s with those guys?

According to the Washington Post, Republican candidates like George W. Bush and Bob Dole captured just over 10% of the black vote.  Hardly a stellar performance, but an improvement on an absolute electoral vacuum.

The lack of Latino enthusiasm for Mitt Romney is understandable.  A harsh anti-immigrant stance lay at the heart of Romney’s primary season strategy and the new Republican Party platform shifts to the right of their standard bearer.

Romney made a point of attending the NAACP conference in July where he claimed to be the candidate who would do the most for African Americans.

No one was fooled.

When the Republican candidate used his NAACP address to flay “Obamacare” it was obvious that the folks assembled before him weren’t his real audience.  Romney’s cynical handlers were hoping that the sight of their man being booed and heckled, however politely, by a room of black opinion leaders would help his standing with the white electorate.

And we’re not talking about the conservative white voters who wouldn’t vote for Obama if you held a gun to their heads.  The message was aimed at white swing voters; the folks on the fence.

This level of cynicism has characterized Republican political algebra since the notorious Southern Strategy was cobbled together in the late 1960s.  Racial resentment runs so deep in America that a solid majority of white voters can be manipulated by a thinly-veiled racial pitch.

You can’t be too gross about it, of course, no one outside a few counties in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia wants to be accused of overt, “I love the Nigra, in his place” bigotry.  But whenever Romney contrasts Obama’s entitlement nation with the personal responsibility America dear to the hearts of Republicans he’s fishing in the slough of racial resentment.

When white voters think welfare, they think black, and Romney’s handlers know it.  The bogus complaint that Obama has scaled back work requirements in the welfare-to-work system doesn’t have to be true.  To most white swing voters, sending out checks no-questions-asked is just the sort of thing a black president would do for his kind.

This is called “dog whistle” politics, the theory being that only conservative whites can hear the high-pitched whine of racial resentment.  Although, from a Republican perspective, it hardly matters, the ears of African Americans have become highly attuned to dog whistle politics over the years, and for good reason.  If you’re black, that ear-splitting siren always spells trouble.

This year the squeal is so loud and persistent that zero percent of African American voters fail to hear it.   It’s white moderates, the kind who generally vote for Democrats, who remain deaf to the whistle, and so long as that’s true the Southern Strategy marches on.