I held back a little. He alluded to it later. Her name was Stephanie. We began meeting weekly for regular dinners. He was late a few times. I was annoyed. He worked hard. He was a C-level executive. He had a serious job. I was… a princess. I acted like one, anyway. I was arrogant, critical. I found fault. Nor did I try to. I was just miffed. He was oddly modest, a little self-conscious. Unfortunately, that reticence affected me. It made me cautious too. Pretty soon, we were both sort of bound up not in the fun way , and sex became awkward.
I was getting bored and increasingly embarrassed. Yet, once, after making love, he reached over and took my hand. It was strangely powerful, affecting, and intimate, and my heart clenched painfully. I had the feeling of simultaneously wanting to burrow into this man and hightail it for the hills. I was oddly moved, and we continued. We both had full custody of our kids. We had hardly any private time together. Our dates were very public — in restaurants. Once, early on, I brought him home for some heavy petting in my living room, but it made him so uncomfortable that it never happened again.
Another time, my son surprised us stealing a kiss in the dining room. I thought my friend would die of mortification. The whole world fell away. My arms prickled. My breath shortened. I lost track of the conversation. I looked it up several times. I read several definitions, searching in vain for something good about square. Could I be with a square guy? The distance between us widened.
But, he called me every morning at 10 a. And when we talked, whether by phone or in person, conversation always flowed. We had a natural give and take. When he found out I was being audited, he attended the IRS meeting with me, pored over my paperwork, met my accountant, and did a bunch of figuring. When he learned my sister needed a mess of expensive dental work, he insisted I let him pay for it.
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When he found out I had a second mortgage, he called Chase Bank and negotiated a much smaller payoff. He connected with my kids. Speaking in , Senator John C. Calhoun saw slavery as the explicit foundation for a democratic union among whites, working and not:. On the eve of secession, Jefferson Davis, the eventual president of the Confederacy, pushed the idea further, arguing that such equality between the white working class and white oligarchs could not exist at all without black slavery:.
Southern intellectuals found a shade of agreement with Northern white reformers who, while not agreeing on slavery, agreed on the nature of the most tragic victim of emerging capitalism. Once the larger problem of white exploitation was solved, the dependent problem of black exploitation could be confronted or perhaps would fade away. But its operating premises—white labor as noble archetype, and black labor as something else—lived on. This was a matter of rhetoric, not fact. The noble-white-labor archetype did not give white workers immunity from capitalism. It could not, in itself, break monopolies, alleviate white poverty in Appalachia or the South, or bring a decent wage to immigrant ghettos in the North.
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Black lives literally did not matter and could be cast aside altogether as the price of even incremental gains for the white masses. But as the myth of the virtuous white working class was made central to American identity, its sins needed to be rendered invisible. The fact was, working-class whites had been agents of racist terrorism since at least the draft riots of ; terrorism could not be neatly separated from the racist animus found in every class of whites.
Indeed, in the era of lynching, the daily newspapers often whipped up the fury of the white masses by invoking the last species of property that all white men held in common—white women.
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But to conceal the breadth of white racism, these racist outbursts were often disregarded or treated not as racism but as the unfortunate side effect of legitimate grievances against capital. By focusing on that sympathetic laboring class, the sins of whiteness itself were, and are still being, evaded. Senate, the apologists came out once again. They elided the obvious—that Duke had appealed to the racist instincts of a state whose schools are, at this very moment, still desegregating—and instead decided that something else was afoot.
But this was the past made present. Nor was it important that blacks in Louisiana had long felt left out. That challenge of differentiation has largely been ignored. Instead, an imagined white working class remains central to our politics and to our cultural understanding of those politics, not simply when it comes to addressing broad economic issues but also when it comes to addressing racism. At its most sympathetic, this belief holds that most Americans—regardless of race—are exploited by an unfettered capitalist economy.
The key, then, is to address those broader patterns that afflict the masses of all races; the people who suffer from those patterns more than others blacks, for instance will benefit disproportionately from that which benefits everyone. This notion—raceless antiracism—marks the modern left, from the New Democrat Bill Clinton to the socialist Bernie Sanders. Few national liberal politicians have shown any recognition that there is something systemic and particular in the relationship between black people and their country that might require specific policy solutions.
In , Hillary Clinton acknowledged the existence of systemic racism more explicitly than any of her modern Democratic predecessors.
She had to—black voters remembered too well the previous Clinton administration, as well as her previous campaign. One is tempted to excuse Hillary Clinton from having to answer for the sins of her husband.
Bennett, John P. Walters, and John J. DiIulio Jr. The unemployment rate for young blacks And since the late s, William Julius Wilson and other social scientists following in his wake have noted the disproportionate effect that the decline in manufacturing jobs has had on African American communities. If anyone should be angered by the devastation wreaked by the financial sector and a government that declined to prosecute the perpetrators, it is African Americans—the housing crisis was one of the primary drivers in the past 20 years of the wealth gap between black families and the rest of the country.
But the cultural condescension toward and economic anxiety of black people is not news. Toiling blacks are in their proper state; toiling whites raise the specter of white slavery. Moreover, a narrative of long-neglected working-class black voters, injured by globalization and the financial crisis, forsaken by out-of-touch politicians, and rightfully suspicious of a return of Clintonism, does not serve to cleanse the conscience of white people for having elected Donald Trump. Only the idea of a long-suffering white working class can do that.
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Vote for me! Other Sanders appearances proved even more alarming. And often, what you are not allowed to say are things which offend very, very powerful people. This definition of political correctness was shocking coming from a politician of the left.
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But it matched a broader defense of Trump voters. Certainly not every Trump voter is a white supremacist, just as not every white person in the Jim Crow South was a white supremacist. But every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.