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New White Racial Anxieties?

Poor white America in the century of diversity.

Detroit residents fill out applications while attending a job fair, Feb. 2010. (AP)

The race drums are beating in this country again. The loudest ones right now, from the right, and the white. 

The NAACP called out “racist elements” in the Tea Party. Conservatives shouted back loud. A black USDA official is out. The Justice Department is under fire. Pundits charging “reverse racism.” 

Now, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat is asking if poor whites are being excluded from top universities. 

This Hour, On Point: Douthat, Barbara Ehrenreich, Nell Irvin Painter and more, on whites, race, and advantage in the age of diversity.


Ross Douthat, columnist for the New York Times. His column “The Roots Of White Anxiety” appeared in the July 19, 2010 edition. Read his follow-up blog “A More Diverse Diversity.” He is co-author of “”Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream” – you can hear his On Point interview about the book. 

Thomas Espenshade, professor of sociology at Princeton University. He’s author of “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life.”  

Joe Bageant, author of “Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War.”  

Nell Irvin Painter, professor emerita of American history at Princeton University and author of “The History of White People.”  

Barbara Ehrenreich, journalist and author of several books, among them “Nickel and Dimed,” “Bait and Switch,” and “Bright-sided.” Hear her On Point interview last year about the poor in America.

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  • gemli

    In Mr. Douthat’s column in the NY Times, he uses the lower admission rates of rural (primarily Red state) whites as a way to make his real point, which is his dismay that Christian conservatives are not top of the list to be admitted to Harvard and similar upper-crust universities. He says that when Pat Buchanan spoke there he was jeered about his views on homophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism, and he rejoined with an attack on elitist exclusion of Christian conservatives from higher private-ed, thus disadvantaging poor rural whites.

    This is the latest tack that conservatives are taking, which is to demand fair treatment for conservative Christians, whose baggage tends to include homophobic, racist, and anti-Semitic views, and to try to make the liberal white establishment feel guilty about it. It’s very possible that Harvard is not interested in admitting people to geology classes who think that the earth is 6,000 years old, and maybe they don’t want biology class time spent debating evolution vs. creationism. And doesn’t it cut both ways? Shouldn’t Oral Roberts University actively recruit bright young atheists?

    To suggest, as his column states outright, that political polarization in this country is the result of exclusion of poor whites from higher ed, thus producing a cookie-cutter liberal elite, is ludicrous. The polarization I see tends to be Rational vs. Irrational, or Secular vs. Religious, or Educated vs. Ignorant, or Inclusive vs. Racist, or Cooperative vs. Obstructionist. In other words, Democrats vs. Republicans. Run through that list with Sarah Palin in mind, and you’ll see what I mean.

  • JP

    Until government schools and offices stop asking what race people are and stop having racial quota’s, MLK’s dream will not be fulfilled.


    Oh BooHoo, the folks who ran the country for centuries and skewed all the rights in their direction suddenly find themselves on the outs. Gosh, I feel so bad for them. Karma folks, what comes around goes around.

  • Sasha Dormin

    I’m honestly upset by AgSec Vilsack’s (and likely Obama’s) panicked behavior here. Is it any wonder that some liberals plan to stay home this October? We volunteered, canvassed and voted for Change and we got watered-down compromise bills and leaders who cave in to GLENN BECK!?!

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com AKILEZ

    I hate to leave NPR but I’m back.

    Racism can be in every color . I am a victim of racism in the Philippines because of my features are different from native Filipinos.
    Even I am Filipino they look at me different. My fellow Filipinos treat other Filipinos different if they speak different dialect and come from a different
    islands. Filipinos love buying whiteners for those who love the color white and some will marry under race whatever color.

    But in the eyes of the world Racism can only be pointed at one race? That is the white race. Europeans and Americans colonized the world with prejudice and brutality but Asians did the same with fellow Asians like the Mongols, Chinese, Khmer Rouge and the list goes on.

    Especially in America when the movie The Birth of the Nation was introduced. The movie created a violent group that wants to eradicate the colored people in America and ever since that group is still with us.

    They said this nation was created by God to eradicate racism that every skin color can live peacefully and happily.

    The question is how long humans see each other in color. The Human Genome project concluded that whatever skin color we have.

    99 percent of our gene are exactly the same on 1 percent of us makes us different from each other.

    Probably that 1 percent is how we think of each other.

  • jeffe

    Here’s a little wake up call for Mr. Douthat, the rate of poor blacks going to Harvard is not that high either.

    This argument is so absurd, for centuries whites of the south treated the African Americans as second class citizens. They used fear, abuse, violence and murder to control them. Poor whites had to deal the upper class whites and for the most part were not treated any better than blacks in their strata of life.

    However they knew that they had one thing that the African American did not have, segregation and all the power that came with it. A poor white man could tell a African American lawyer to move off the sidewalk in the Jim Crow South. He had power, that power was taken away and now they are just poor whites. So the issue is, what they deserve better because they are white?

    Now some 40 years after the civil rights movement we have white people complaining that it’s not fair. Give me a break.

    By the way the same thing happened in the North. Research how the Irish and the African Americans related to each other in Boston. It’s not a pretty history.

  • informed American

    Americans aren’t worried over the fact that President Obama is Black, Americans are worried that we have a President who is completely incompetent and who is running this country into the ground.


    Woefully mis-informed american,

    Maybe to those who live in LaLa land, but not in those who minds are firmly grounded on this earth.


    informed American you make me smile. you so cute with your cutie comments.

    Jeffe I believe you are talking about the Busing in South Boston.

    Simple problem. Local government wants rural kids to go to school in South Boston but Southies DO NOT WANT colored people in their school

    The tension grew and the infamous The Soiling of Old Glory occurred in government center.
    White protestors attacked a black lawyer that was going to attend a meeting In the 90’s the Southie tension was revived in the Rudy Giuliani was the one who stop the tension between white students and minority students in South Boston.

  • William

    If we allow private colleges to discriminate based on race and religion then we must excuse past discrimination based on race and religion.

  • Loay

    As long as Americans continue to debate racism and ignore the elephant in the room, the issue of classism we will remain divided and the elites will have won.
    Racism has been used as potent tool to prevent class solidarity and stop the masses making united demands on the owning class.

    The elites ensure by manipulation of the media that some issues are discussed and some given short shrift. Class solidarity is what scares them.


  • Rosalind Lee

    As an interviewer for MIT for northern NH and VT, I can say that what I see is NOT discrimination against rural whites because they are white and Christian. It is because rural schools are small and isolated with no culture of striving for the Ivies. Urban poor have access (via public transportation) to local university outreach programs, bigger libraries and other cultural exposure opportunities. The guidance counselors in the small districts are not directing their kids towards adequate preparation. Most of the schools do not have enough students to offer calculus, which is a rock bottom requirement. In the years of interviewing my husband (son of a VT dairy farmer) and I had 4 admits. One was a kid who had taken over the family farm after his Dad decided to quit. Another was a female whose hobby was ice fishing.
    There are rankings for colleges that count “first in the family to go to college” That is the telling statistic.
    There are states like Maine and NC and Texas which have boarding schools for math and science just to address the preparation issue.
    This is not an issue of racism or anti-Christian bias

  • yar

    A bit of a rant from an old white farmer.

    Our country has lived the life of a grass hopper for the past thirty years while China and the other developing countries have toiled away like ants. We want to keep the advantages we are accustomed to. It not that we don’t want other to advance we just don’t want it to be at our expense, while ignoring the facts that our luxury has come from a world of exploitation.

    The current conservative movement is more about shedding responsibility for the elderly and the poor than anything else.
    It is about keeping what’s ours no matter the crimes against humanity we participated in to to get it in the first place.
    America has this I did it myself by my bootstraps mentality. It is a false image, we did it on cheep energy and a world of pain and hunger.

    This is not only a rant about the rich, the 10 dollar pair of bluejeans from Wal-Mart might have cotton grown in Bangladesh, picked by hand, shipped to Taiwan to be woven into cloth, then shipped to Haiti to be cut and sewed into the jeans we purchased at our local Wal-Mart with money we borrowed from China.

    We don’t want change that makes life fair if it hurts our current status. At least this is my root cause analysis.

    We want sustainability, but we want to start by making ourselves immortal, as we know that isn’t possible we give up on the rest.

  • JP

    Did you see the leaked documents recently related to a large number of mainstream media employees refusing to report legitimate and important stories if they shed any bad light on Obama?

    Back on the race issue, we are all Americans first and our race should be 2nd or even much farther down the list of importance. Why do people try to put race before nationality?

  • Rod

    Oh boo hoo is right. For years minorities were told to “get over it,” that they were imagining things. They were told, “So what if there is racism just work harder and stop complaining.” They were also told to “stop playing the race card.”

    Isn’t it funny how the right wing noise machine doesn’t take their own advice? But that assumes that there is a case to be made, which there isn’t. This has more to do with race baiting and the southern strategy trail blazed by Nixon, Reagan, and H.W. Bush.

  • Carolyn

    My issue is simply with the terms “reverse racism” and “reverse discrimination.” Racism and discrimination are simply that. There isn’t any “reverse” involved.

  • jeffe

    AKILEZ no I was not talking about South Boston or Southie in particular.

    Although that period shined a spotlight on what the problems of race are in the North and in particular urban areas and suburban. Remember white flight.

    AKILEZ they did not bus rural African American students, they were from Roxbury and other African American neighborhoods in Boston.

    How did you get this information that it was “rural kids”?

  • John Stotler

    The term “reverse racism” implies that even Racism belongs to white people. That says a lot about this dialog.

  • John

    Perhaps there would be more white evangelical Christians at elite colleges if they believed in evolution.


    Huzzah Yar!!

    American will only begin to regain its lost ground when we make american-buy american-support american products.

  • Expanded Consciousness

    “As long as Americans continue to debate racism and ignore the elephant in the room, the issue of classism we will remain divided and the elites will have won.”

    That is the insight. OnPoint needs to help the problem and not contribute to it by sensationalizing it. This topic need sobriety and intellectual care and not Tom’s excited voice in the introduction I just heard and not that stupid staged photo showing two frowning white guys (one with a shaved head) in front of (!) a complacent looking black woman and a black man sitting (positioned lower) in the background. OnPoint is not just reporting or discussing this issue, it is framing this issue.

  • JP

    It should be illegal to consider Race, income, national origin, or sex in any college admissions! Why can colleges discriminate when it is clear that in MLK’s dream this would not be done.

  • http://ibelieveinbutter.wordpress.com/ Soli

    Yar, CHEERS! Perfect way to put it.

  • JP

    The Sherrod affair shows that conservatives (=old and white) will resort to any kind of lie and dishonesty to manufacture racial contention if they feel it suits their purpose.

    … the ACORN affair was the same sort of “manufactured controversy.”

  • Brian

    I’m so glad that Ross, a son of a lawyer, has used his elite prep school education and Harvard degree to educate us on why elite institutions are defective.

    He’s a great example of how conservatives with less talent are able to achieve levels of media exposure that others have to earn over a lifetime or win a Nobel prize to achieve.

    And even then, Tom Ashbrook is less likely to interrupt the conservative.

  • Expanded Consciousness

    Wake up! This is a republican election strategy. Stir up the races and get the poor whites to vote against their best interests (to vote Republican)!!!

  • http://www.venturacommenter.org F. William Bracy

    Diversity is not the answer — it’s the problem. Three things — cultural background, national identity and religion — are all obstacles that have been strewn before Mankind, blocking his evolutionary intellectual development and, as we see, leaving him without the smarts to manage his way on this small planet.

    Without a doubt, evolution intended to create an intelligent species having the intellectual capacity comprehend the consequences surrounding his own actions — global warming, nuclear holocaust, mass extinction of species, water shortages, famine — all directly or indirectly related to his gross ignorance in the face of an exponentially rising population. The fact is that we might have developed intellectually beyond (or at least up to) the stage where survivability meets the capacity for comprehension, but we’ve preferred war, hate and ignorance.

    Then again, perhaps this is the lesson that was intended. Whether or not there will be anything left behind to be absorbed by the next link in the evolutionary chain is of course never to be known.

  • George Gonos

    Yes, poor white college students face discrimination, as do poor black students, though the kinds of mistreatment are often of a different kind. Only when we get past debating whether it’s “worse” for blacks or whites, and change the focus to social class, will we make any progress. Above all, black and white students themselves must discover this, and act together, to have any hope of making change. The race issue, presented by liberal and conservative media alike as an either-or question, is part of the problem.

  • gemli

    F. William Bracy is absolutely correct. Well said.

  • jeffe

    Ross Douthat is not making a good argument here.
    A lot of college bound kids who come from farm families who are in the 4H clubs go to college and study agriculture as this kind of relates to what they grew up with. If you come from Newton Mass the chances are you are not going to be very interested in farming.

    Some might want to go to Veterinarian colleges which are as hard to get into as Med school.

    There was a time when Jews were kept out of the Ivy league schools and this was only 50 years ago.

    I use to live in Vermont and did some substitute teaching in the schools up in the central area of the state. I will say this the poor whites that I came into contact with were not going to college let alone going to an Ivy league university. The kids who were going to college came from professional or educated middle class families. If you’re poor and come from a family that does not value education you have to be very motivated and have the support of the school to get ahead.

    Shame of On Point for giving airtime to Glenn Beck, this man is a poison to our country. He is using class and racism as a way to make money.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Ashbrook carefully does not exclusively define the “slip current” elite colleges might offer graduates access to as the financial and business elites.
    I kind of think of certain elite colleges as paternalistically trying to absorb diversity into their preexisting status quo, absorbing them into the values of the upper middle class of the previous generation. Initiating them, giving them the pride or what have you of those there first.
    This, instead of having the upper middle class majority of the student body absorbing the culture and values of the minorities introduced.

  • http://twitter.com/xbertolinox Xavier Bertolino

    I love it! We cant even have one conversation about DISADVANTAGED whites without someone having to mention how disadvantaged everyone else is!!! This is what makes NPR amazing…your first guest made your entire point, Tom!

  • Yahuba Torres

    Until the United States can make quality education, health care and wages equally available to all Americans (regardless of race, gender or creed), we will continue to see the divisions we live with today. People spend too much time worried about sounding like a socialist when the reality is that this is the root of every domestic problem within our shores.

  • Eshe Sherley

    I wish we had heard more from Thomas, he had a logical, balanced view of what is going on in this situation. I hate it when they give less knowledgeable people more time on air than the person who actually did the study. Thomas was right, with limited resources, its easier to kill two birds with one stone. Even though there are very few people in the applicant pool who fit the socioeconomic background we’re talking about anyway….

  • Steven


    It was not Douthat’s work here, it was Prof. Epenshade who did the research. He was prepared to discuss this as an economic not racial issue…you cut him off so you could keep the racial issue going. Shame on you. You should bring back Epenshade to let him more fully explain his research and not give Douthat more attention.

  • nlpnt

    I find it interesting that his figure of 7-10% of Ivy League students being evangelical Christians is based on *self-identification*.

    Given that 1)Around half of all adult Americans no longer profess the belief system they were raised in, and 2)Late adolescence/young adulthood in general, and college in particular is a time of questioning the assumptions you were raised in, perhaps it would be more germane to ask how many students come from an evangelical Christian *background* ?

  • Eshe Sherley

    Also, are they just giving up?! No, people who have a lower socioeconomic background often get less resources,and so are unlikely to apply for a MYRIAD of reasons that have nothing to do with “giving up”

  • Walter Steiner

    I would like to know why the focus is college admissions. College is just the beginning. Racial preferences continue for admission to graduate and professional schools, the awarding of fellowships and grants, employment, promotions, and for business owners, the awarding of government contracts. Racial preferences are really cradle-to-grave.


    There is no LEADER IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. They all the same BS same old Politicians who manufactured the racist Tea Bags.

    Who Mccain? oh please!!! He is not a Leader. Where is he now? He is quiet and the Republicans who are against the EXTENTION OF UNEMPLOYMENT CHECK FOR 15 million or more Americans who are unemployed. you spent 1 billion a month for Bush wars and you can’t even our fellow Americans who are badly needed of food on their tables.

    What did the Republicans do to make America a better nation again? Nada!!! – Wala (tagalog for nothing).

    Obama ACHIEVED a lot for the American people for 1 1/2 years of his administration.

    Did George W. Bush did that when he was in office? NO
    All he did was to take a VACATION almost every month of his presidency.

  • http://www.redboneafropuff.com Mariam

    Divide and conquer. The tactic works especially well among the uneducated and the poor. The rich have known this for centuries, and their victims continue to be duped. With the internet and with cable, they can now be duped 24/7.

  • Steve T

    People hate each other, race is just an excuse.

    I can talk of my personal experience, which is very diverse, and say that class trumps it all.
    Money is what sets class and if you don’t have it…..

  • JP

    Not everyone deserves equal education, rather everyone should have equal opportunity to education.

    To guarantee equal education doesn’t allow people who are not mentally capable to be doctors to go to each class and passs because he have to be equal… This makes no sense.

  • Stephen Real

    Gllenn Beck a Connecitcut Yankee for most of his adult life preaches from his ivory tower in Greenwich to the
    hillbilly slobs. How ironic that he lives in a ivory tower instead of a polace like Kansas.

  • Expanded Consciousness

    We don’t exists in groups. We are individuals. I’m white and I walk around all day and white people don’t give a hoot about me or that I exist. We are strangers and don’t exist in racial groups.

  • informed American

    The only anxiety is coming from the liberal left. Americans have wisely rejected their quota-based, re-distribution of wealth, Affirmative Action vision for America which has failed. As expected, liberals (Obama supporters) are lashing out because they can’t deal with the fact that their socialist schemes are being flushed down the toilet with all the other waste material.

  • JP

    Black Americans still struggle mightily against the leagacy of slavery and discrimination.

    Because of that very recent history, black Americans don’t have the legacy of inherited wealth and property that whites have.

    Whites benefits from generations of well-educated ancestry and the wealth and property those advantages have bestowed on whites in our country. This wealth still allows most whites the option to attend college if they have the smarts.

    Blacks, on the other hand, still suffer from the legacy of generations robbed of equal economic and educational opportunities.
    They don’t always have the generational notion of the value of education instilled in their psyche, because very the recent policies of dominant white culture… they also don’t have the same kind of economic advantages for the same reasons.

    That is why affirmitive action should still be practiced with regards to higher education.

    Black Americans are OWED the support that would give them equal access to education they are now denied due to the recent policies of a dominant white culture.

    The job market is a different question altogether!

    Once black Americans are helped with access to higher education, they should compete in the job market based on their earned distinctions and talents alone.

    Affirmitive action in education, but not in the job market!

    Fair is fair!

  • JP

    Maura from Des Moines,

    You have shown your lack of education. The Billboard in Iowa had nothing to do with racism, comparing Obama’s policies, Democratic Socialism, to two old white people’s policies of the past Fascist Socialism Nazi Socialism.

  • yar

    “Public dollars should be spent on education that leads to economic development. More to the community colleges less to the big public universities.”

    That is a great statement your guest made. What about giving free tuition to anyone who will serve two years of public service? Reintroduce the CCC.

  • Fiona W

    Would we ever go for broke and invest the kind of money we did in the war to EDUCATION as a matter of policy? Have we ever done that? Wouldn’t that be a better as a domestic security policy given whats seems to be brewing in the US among our own polarized population rather than chasing after would be terrorists in wars of attrition we can’t win that cultivate resentment and alienation among the local Iraqi and Afghani civilians. And then maybe a well educated American population, black and white could contribute their knowledge and skills to helping the world rather than giving their lives on the battlefield.


    Jeffe DOES IT MATTER WHERE I GET MY INFO I WAS NOT born in America but I know the SOME history of this country.

    I live in Boston since 93 the only racist people I know here are from other States who moved here in Boston.

    Especially the older people who were born and race in Massachusetts are Respectful people.

    There is no other history in Boston that has history of Racism the only history I know is The Busing.

    Jeffe there is an Irish Club in Dorchester name The Dublin House and people who goes there are Blacks.

  • Phil Clendenning

    It is extrememly annoying and disrepectful to your guests to have them interrupted for yet another station break. National Public radio should be above this impoliteness; let the guest properly finish his/her comment with out breaking in and cutting him off.
    This has been going on for years. Enough already [especially if you want my money and support]

  • Mari

    Barbara Ehrenreich is my hero!
    I wish her books were required reading in middle-school.
    As it is, only already educated and free-minded Americans bother to read her critical analyses of our across-the-board cultural inequities.
    Go right at ‘em, Barbara! Thanks, Tom, for featuring this national treasure on your excellent show.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Let’s call it Park Avenue College, of the elites and for the elites. Does it prepare students to belong comfortably in Greenwich, Connecticut, among the mansions? Does it launch a fair number as interns at Goldman Sachs and its ilk?
    It is guaranteed a future by the success of its graduates.
    To me, it really isn’t the question. Perhaps a college has totally failed if someone works toward that goal. The people of a certain “project,” streetsmart but bouncing out of high school and into parenthood in early teens, they would view the graduates of Park Avenue college as totally coddled, and unlikely ever to be the kind of movers and shakers, of leaders, that are needed. Efforts to gain a GED and find a mate with a modus operandi other than drug dealing fail miserably.
    Witness the great divide.

  • tom in austin

    Ross Douthat’s logic is bizarre. The upper classes are dominated by conservatives more than so-called liberals. He’s twisting reality to drum up votes for the GOP. It’s the same old tired tactics. Don’t fall for it.

  • Tyra Wahl

    Ethnocentrism is a natural form of thinking for the human condition. We are naturally attracted to those who we presume are most similar to ourselves. Racism on the other hand derives out of something else altogether and most often out of a resentment for what is deemed unequal treatment.

    Some of the most racist people I have know in my life were very poorly educated folks whose view points were very geographically small and never challenged by anyone. On the other hand the most compassionate non-racist people I have known were either well educated or even elite level educated… so how does one explain that?

  • http://www.katherinejackson.com Katherine jackson

    Ross Douthat just talked about “the Liberal majority” in this country. But what was going on under Bush? Certainly there were just as many poor whites? Why the resentment now and not then? Either there was resentment then, or the poor whites liked Bush better. If so WHY????

  • Yahuba Torres

    @ JP. You are correct. Poor selection of vocabulary on my part, “equal access” to education is exactly what I mean. Sorry one word threw off your understanding of my comment to the point it makes no sense ;-)

  • Barbara Fells


    Make an attempt to study the issues that concern the tea party protestors. The bailouts are one of their issues.

    Only the intellectually lazy and bankrupt and the bigoted cast all tea party protestors as racists.

    Read the American Spectator article about the ruling class and the country class. That article described the main issues and problems that our country faces.

    Identity politics, race baiting, and class warfare are the tools of tyrants.

  • Carolyn

    If we keep going like this, we will have some kind of skewed reservation system like they have in India. In the end, it will hurt the segment of population it was meant to support.

  • Joyce Cummings

    What are the actual NUMBERS of the applicants Douthat and others are talking about–the numbers of those accepted, rejected, etc. This conversation is totally vague and uninstructive. Not that the topic isn’t one to be explored, but way too much generalizing verbiage. And having lived the first half of a fairly long life in the Northeast and having attended “elites” at both undergrad and grad levels, I’m so sick of hearing from the East Coast media, education coverage focused almost totally on the “elites,”–as if they’re the only few places in the country (along with a chosen teeny sprinkling across the country, mainly West Coast), as though they’re the only institutions where good ed takes place today. Absolutely ridiculous! I know, because I live in a not-large state with three public universities, in the middle of the country, and have experienced the content offered, the wealth of opportunities. Have also experienced the amazing opportunities offered by community colleges, and have been employed at both levels. Get out of that East Coast rut, people!!!!!

  • jeffe

    The other thing that is missing from this argument is how jobs that lower and middle class people use to have are now disappearing or are gone altogether. There was a time when lower income whites went from high school right into good paying factory jobs and other kinds of jobs that did not require a college education.

    I would like to know how many poor whites want to go to Harvard. I think most people poor and otherwise want good paying jobs that give them a good middle class life.
    This has been striped away in the past 25 years and these jobs are now gone for good.

  • Josh

    Perhaps poor white Americans, especially those who identify as “Evangelical Christians,” do themselves harm in terms of admission to elite colleges and universities by shifting to completely anti-illectual ideologies – a perfect example being creationism, or a disbelief in global warming. Elite universities should strive to admit those who excel and who understand basic scientific theory, not those who shove their head in the sand.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I don’t care a whole lot if the shape and color of the next era of elites changes somewhat, but I think the political ramifications would be considerable.
    Once you’ve had four years of determined teaching with a bunch of smart and determined co-students, you are not going to graduate with some of the unvalidated and fearful and biased points of view that Glenn Beck feeds upon. There might be an electorate that would talk back, loudly.

  • John

    Josh, global warming has been refudiated.


    So what if the Bail Out Reach 1 Trillion.

    The American Economy Survived the A GREAT DEPRESSION 2.

    AND AGAIN AND AGAIN OBAMA did not GREATED THE GREAT Recession your beloved Republicans was to BLAME.

    Why some of you cannot put that in your head?
    You so ignorant not to think who was responsible for the unemployment.

    President Obama did his job CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT Republicans?

  • l

    How about base how people get into college by merit and not by skin color and class. Work hard in highschool, get good grades and see how that goes. Also the sign that was put up in Iowa with Obama, Lenin, and Hitler was a stupid sign in many ways, but it wasn’t racist. If someone could explain how it was racist? Was it racist when they compared Bush to Hitler?

  • Stephen Moore

    One point that is totally ignored is that many Evangelical churches have colleges and bible colleges of their own which they heavily promote.
    Most evangelicals see Ivy League schools as “dens of iniquity”

  • Sue Leroux

    What about the common reality that people seek to move “up” in America? When people move into the upper echelons by force of personality, education, success, very few go back to their roots and share their lessons and success locally. They move from the creek into the ocean and, I believe, honestly feel they are helping the people “back home” by making them proud of a native son/daughter. In a way, you can’t really blame people for wanting whatever it is they consider a “better” life. The social response, I think, is to simply ensure that government programs are distributed equitably to help the poor, the middle, the top, in the most important ways for that group — skills, education, opportunities and business/job growth.

  • Fiona W

    I am one of the affirmative action kids who got into an ivy league school and at the time I tried to get through my education and drown out the noise. But I had enough classmates say to me, my friend got a 1350 on the SATs but didn’t get in here. When I expressed my concerns my my white roommate reminded me that she will graduate with 80k student loan while I will graduate with no loan and that life isn’t simple. Her wealthy husband paid off her student loans and financed her graduate education. I went on to grad school and left with my 60k student loan and paid it off myself. Life isn’t simple. You play the hand you get the best you can. There is no black/white plot. We well should accept whatever help there from whatever avenue and do the best we can.

  • Mari

    “Why the resentment now and not then? Either there was resentment then, or the poor whites liked Bush better. If so WHY????”- Posted by Katherine Jackson

    My best friend and I have discussed this, repeatedly. She is black and was raised in the segregated South, I’m white and was raised in the liberal Northeast. If anybody knows racism, firsthand, she does, and we both agree that President Obama has been dogged by vestigial (and overt) racism throughout his term.

    Anecdotal evidence: Last week I was at a store and saw a sad little girl standing next to her dad, who was barking orders at somebody on his cellphone. I said, “Did you hear the good news?” The dad snapped at me, “What? Did Obama get killed?” The girl bowed her head in shame. Then, I said, “They stopped the oil in the Gulf!” At that, the little girl smiled broadly and engaged me with questions. Sadly, I was not allowed to answer them. Her dad whisked her away and out the door. They were both white. That, my friends is racism & intolerance in action, trying, with all its might, to infect yet another generation of Americans.

  • JJ

    Is there any thought that class can be a transient thing? I grew up “lower middle class” in CT and went to an ivy league school on financial aid. (I am white.) My parents grew up poor. My husband and I now make a very good living, thanks in part to our education. As far as I am concerned, I worked hard, with support of my parents, public schools, financial aid, etc… only to be told now that I am one of these rich who will keep getting richer on the backs of the poor. I’m not sure what happened to being the girl who was living the American Dream to being someone whose kids are just more upper-middle class white legacies robbing others of their dreams.

  • L.L.

    Good show.

  • Brian

    I find the very proposition that poor whites are as disadvantaged or more disadvantaged than blacks in America specious.

    Our entire system has been skewed in favor of a white person and against a black person for over three centuries. Trying to find a category of white American (short, fat, brown-eyed, Christian, etc.) against whom there is discrimination, and claiming it is racial discrimination is just outrageous!

    There are enough divisive voices on the air today without adding to the din.

  • pw

    Ross Douthat has troubled me for some time. He’s a very bright guy who travels his world with his eyes firmly closed. Instead of looking at reality, he invents a reality out of strings of sound and impression and then waxes wise about it. If only he’d open his eyes and use his brains and education on reality, he’d contribute a lot to all of us and to his own understanding.

    Note: Every now and then a word crops up that needs to be sent back to the low usage category. “Robust” is one of those words and “elite(s)” is another!

  • gemli

    If you read Ross Douthat regularly, you’ll see the support of Christian conservative themes that consistently runs through his thinking. That’s why I think his real goal is to promote diluting the preponderance of secular-minded attendees at upper crust schools. The racial element gets attention in the public debate, but read his column to see the way he repeatedly turns the focus to the Christian conservative issue. He’s piggybacking his pro-Christian message onto the more mainstream and emotional racial theme.


    JJ you find your niche keep and put your head up. Do not be intimitated by other people black or whote.

    Mari that was racism period.

  • mary elizabeth

    jp Could you kindly give reference of the leaked documents re: nothing bad about Obama by the msm?
    I haven’t heard anything good about Obama from anyone in months. And I don’t watch cable-just listen to radio and read and occasional public TV news.

    In fact, I havn’t heard anything good about anybody.
    The media is caught up in a cycle of negativity, cynicism, stirring controversy. In America, the glass is always half empty. The media has succeeeded in demoralizing the nation.

  • jeffe

    AKILEZ First off it does matter where you get your information if it’s wrong. It seems to me that your point is that Boston does not have a history of racism? I beg to differ. As far as your defensive response to my questions about your information about the South Boston busing era, well you are the one who said they bussed rural African American students into South Boston not me. All you had to do was Google the incident and you would have gotten the information in about 30 seconds or less. I mentioned the Irish and African American events because they lived next to each other and were of similar classes. Racism in the Northern states was and is an issue. It was during the Jim Crow era and it is now. Because you don’t see it does not mean it’s not there.

    As far as the Irish Club in Dorchester (The Dublin House)
    goes well Dorchester use to be an Irish neighborhood it’s not anymore, hence the African American clientele at the bar.

  • Jim in Omaha

    If poor Evangelical whites are not being treated fairly, it’s clearly God’s will that it be so.

  • pw

    In this “christian” country where god only approves of you if you’re richer than someone else, we have the perfect set-up for a permanent underclass with unending racism and classism. Maybe if the christians became real Christians, we’d achieve something like a genuine democratic republic with equal opportunity for all, not just this cardboard stand-up of we-the-people.

  • John

    The white house is now a puppet to be controlled by a political commentator on FOX NEWS! evadenced by their fear of Glenn Beck talking about the USDA Offical’s racist sounding comments.

    That is amazing. Can we trade out this management for a leader.

  • AC

    White Elites have been using poorer Whites to not only buffer them from Blacks, but to prevent poorer Whites from seeing how much they (the less fortunate Whites) have in common with Blacks economically and politically. This has been true since just a few years after Jamestown, and you can read all about their schemes to enact this general situation in the actual words of the White Elites in the public records when they discuss their specific situations, plans and laws!!!

    I have been reading books I send for thru inter-state inter-library loans. I was delighted to see that the information was more easily available by reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. He also explains it SO much better than I can.

    Most of the White Elite behavior regarding race began while we were still a bunch of colonies. April Lee Hatfield suggests that Virginia White Elites listened to their relatives and colleagues in the Barbados, and many of the Black Codes that they then enacted began in the English experience in Barbados with Black slaves, White indentured servants, and the progeny of those two groups. The legal as well as the socio-political history of the races in what was to become the U.S.A. began there, generated by the English White Elite. The over-arching racial landscape they created lasted, legally, all the way thru the Civil Rights & Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965! THAT is how long the White Elites have been driving the whole engine! But since 1965, Blacks FINALLY get a shot at legal equality that THEY have been asking and working for since the first jumps into the ocean off of slave ships and since the first slave insurrections, and since the first slave tried to speak up for himself even tho he was not allowed to activate a court case. Back to my point, Blacks FINALLY get a shot at legal equality; they work hard against the still existent layers of prejudice and disadvantaged living circumstances to nevertheless get into colleges, including some of the elite schools, in increasing numbers, and what happens???!!! Back lash! A mere 45 years of legal equality is just TOO much for some White bigots to tolerate! It’s just too much! WHY? To be charitable, I will suggest that at the very least, the full breadth of the African and African-American experience on this continent have NOT been properly taught in our public schools and most of our K-12 schools.

    To learn HOW prejudiced this country was socially but also LEGALLY, people who tend to dismiss Black achievement as being based on “unfair advantage” ought to know how the White Elite and the laws of the colonies, the states, and the federal government, and the Supreme Court rulings really worked, what their actual words were that are on the law books. Today’s guest, who has not yet been on air, Nell Irvin Painter has a SPLENDID book that might help. I believe it should be required reading in every American school, Creating Black Americans!

    Here is what the White Elites of Northampton County, Eastern Shore Virginia, had to say about the “spurious mixt issue” (i.e., mixed race Mulattoes, either White or Native American with Black or both with Black; I am PROUDLY “spurious”!), in 1831, when they were afraid that the Free Mulattoes would lead the Black slaves into insurrection, because the Nat Turner insurrection had just happened: “We have met together in our respective neighborhoods, in order to consult on the most expedient mode of getting rid of our free negroes, whom we regard as a most prolific source of evil to our community.” This quote is from “Eastville at a Glance” by historian Frances Bibbins Latimer. After this quote from the public records at the courthouse, Frances goes on to say, “This was a very long petition and sets forth resolutions that set the stage for many Free Negroes leaving the Eastern Shore and for hardship for those who remained. As a result of this petition more than half of the free black people living in Northampton County left Virginia. In three months that followed this meeting all of the 650 acres of Indian land was sold and many of them were forced out of the county.” (The White Elites had gotten themselves named the trustees of the Indian land with the express purpose of getting rid of the Indians by taking their land out of both communally-owned status and out of the hands of those Indians who had welcomed the Whites when they first came to the peninsula. The White Elites did not like the Indians because they claimed they looked too Black, and they feared the Indians would help out the Blacks. Also, the Whites got a law passed that allowed THEM to determine who was Indian! — these parenthetical remarks are mine, but they are based on my reading of Frances’ materials in another book she authored, The Journey of a Multi-Racial Family.)

    I bring all this up to point out something we KEEP MISSING!!! The White Elites, for their OWN ADVANTAGE, have been dividing up everybody else since just after landing in Jamestown. In U.S. history, they have continued to be able to get those less fortunate than themselves to fight amongst themselves instead of joining in coalitions to GAIN power against the power of the White Elites. Right now, a caller is properly pointing out how the White Elites successfully got generations of poor Whites to feel aligned to them (the Elites) thru race, rather than seeing that they (poor Whites) should join together with Blacks and Mulattoes and Free People of Color. Today’s Tea Party has been shouting against SOCIALISM; when, in fact, it is the CAPITALIST Elites who are taking their jobs overseas, overworking those who still do have jobs, getting huge tax breaks on their income compared to the low wages of their employees, etc., etc. The (not necessarily White) Elites of today have once again gotten people who SHOULD be coalescing to fight AGAINST ONE ANOTHER!!!! Glen Beck probably makes a fortune; he works for a major corporation; and he has found a way to, at the very least, DISTRACT people away from the REAL CULPRITS, major U.S. corporations, especially by gently stirring up old racial divides. The REALLY hurtful part is how he uses the Civil Rights language that African-Americans fought so hard to carve out correctly, because, after all, they HAD been speaking up for centuries with no one listening. It’s NOT that they expected, I assume, that the language would exclude Whites, but the cagey way in which Glen Beck co-opts their very language to get others (with less good fortune than himself) to use their language against them is revolting!

    I KNOW I am talking about history that many people consider ancient and irrelevant, but it is NOT: it underlies U.S. history; much wealth is still based on money made thru the slave trade and its associated businesses; when our school textbooks skew American history, as the politically-motivated people who make textbooks choices in Texas (which controls most of the entire country’s textbook choices) KNOW they do, mis-information ensues and THAT encourages the continuance of trajectories of prejudice that have misshapen this country for far too long! I WISH I knew how to say this succinctly, but I hope you will be able to see my points I am struggling to make. Read Nell Irvin Painter, Howard Zinn, Frances Bibbins Latimer, John Hope Franklin, Lerone Bennett, Jr., Eric Foner, just to start. When you want to send to Virginia (home of several “Founding Fathers”) for really obscure books, it’s really not so hard; just ask your reference librarian for help. Thanks!

  • Not a Chance


    Racism At NAACP Event?

    Conservative LIARS creatively edit video once again to create a controversy where none exists.

    Sherrod exonerated, offered back her job.

    NAACP apologizes to Sherrod.

    White farmer that Sherrod helped says they have long been appreciative, good friends, and that this was an unjust ordeal created by lying conservatives.

    FOX dishonestly edited the video to make Sherrod speech look “racist sounding comments.


    Get your facts straight!!!

    FOX is staffed with RACIST LIARS!

  • Mark

    I live in Wake County, NC, and as many of you are probably aware, we’re currently experiencing some “theatre” with our school system. We have it all: arrests, protest, etc. I’m including a comment below that was a response to a story run by the News & Observer. I would say easily 5 to 1, most of the responses/comments I observe on the website regarding the matter are laced with racist innuendo. This is but only one…

    “if you don’t want to live in a poor area, get off your lazy butt and get a couple jobs. i don’t care how racist it sounds. ghettos are made on the backs of lazy welfare people too lazy to educate themselves. get out and work and learn if you want to improve your life!”

    Considering that the “new” school board majority was elected with 8% voter turnout, this should become an even bigger issue come next election when they’ll more than likely be voted out, or the majority will swing back towards the “diversity” platform.

    Either way, this is but one situation in America now in which race relations are being greatly strained.


    Thank you Not A Chance.

    I saw the couple that Sherrod helped 25 years AGO.

    They said Sharrod helped them keep their farm and they are friends with them.

    Republicans is trying to divide the United States of America.

    Shame on you people!!!

  • Jack

    An important discussion. The election of Barack Obama has finally brought this to the surface, but he and his presidency are unfairly affected by this issue.

    Interestingly, there are valid points made by both sides here. I would like to see further discussion of a definition of racism, and the glancing mention of the difference that Douthat made between racism and airing racial grievances. I believe this is not something that the NAACP nor the Tea Party gets to define. I also would like to see if we can discuss these issues with a better dissection of the underlying beliefs and assumptions.

    Yar – excellent point about people who feel they are going to lose a certain lifestyle, and one they never really earned. (And yet, why do they believe they are going to lose something? What are their underlying beliefs? Is there an accuracy to it? Why do they have them?)

    There was also a good point that was lost in the wind about students who don’t come from a culture of attending elite schools. I can imagine how far fetched it would be for a bright teen with no family or peer history of attending anything more than the local state school. This, however, needs to be followed by a nod to the comment about the excellence of education at many non-elite schools. The only difference? Access to the well-worn portals that elevate graduates into positions of real influence.

  • ThresherK

    I was in and out of radioshot, and a woman came on and started making a lot of sense. Then I learned it was Barbara Ehrenreich. I should have know.

    In the decade-plus since “Nickeled and Dimed” nobody has written a book which usurps it. Ten years of Republican common sense (sic), mainstream media fetishizing over RealAmerica™, and now the (ohmyGod a Black Democrat is President and everything I put up with before is now a CRISIS!!!111one!) Tea Party, and the best work about this is still by an author who represents, demographically, their worst nightmare.

    Maybe Ross Douthat needs to take the Nickeled and Dimed tour himself.

    PS Didn’t hear whole program, but did Douthat have a bad word to say about legacy admissions, or does he not want to bite the hands of his betters?

  • Mark

    Very informative post AC. You have articulated very well what I’ve always thought; “Its hard to acquire and own property in this nation, when only a few generations back, they actually WERE property.

    Regardless of all of the mindless hyperbole about “working hard and acquiring wealth,” a VAST majority of wealth in this country is earned the old fashioned way, it’s passed down. Well, a VAST majority of citizens cannot benefit from this in that their ancestors were property, vs. having property.

  • michael

    • “Isn’t it funny how the right wing noise machine doesn’t take their own advice? But that assumes that there is a case to be made, which there isn’t. This has more to do with race baiting and the southern strategy trail blazed by Nixon, Reagan, and H.W. Bush.
    Totally agree, and to top it off Tom, had a clip from Glenn Beck to boot, (cause of course Beck would never lie, or distort the truth) . Than talk about the aftermath of the Oakland cop case, you know the one who shot a handcuffed Blackman held to the ground by two other cops, right before swearing at the guy(which onpoint seem to overlook when it was going on and when it happen) his excuse was he couldn’t tell a taser from a handgun.

    What I got from your guest is the elite schools should be trying to recruit poor whites who hate, blacks,gays,latinos,jews, arabs and muslims so the ideology line could somehow before smaller. Even as well all know these are the same people who tell others to get over it.

    But it’s typical conser think


    Very interesting topic but One GROUP that we forget to defend.

    Women are also victims of racism.

  • michael

    • “The Sherrod affair shows that conservatives (=old and white) will resort to any kind of lie and dishonesty to manufacture racial contention if they feel it suits their purpose.
    … the ACORN affair was the same sort of “manufactured controversy.”

    Yep and there get there way most the time, there keep yelling and screaming to be heard and present there lopsided, misinformed, false truth, than plug there ears when it turns out is all false,(example is the birthers who post on this site)

    They tried this in Ma. During Deval Patrick first run, they kept playing a ad that a white women was walking in a alley way and an black man was stalking her. Trying to imply that if Daval was elected this would happen, the used a death of a white farmer by a latino to play up the fear that latinos were out there killing everyone.

    Pat B, and Glen Beck are hardly sources Onpoint should be promoting, along with Mark Williams, (who as been on onpoint and NPR and other Main Stream News sites, just got booted by the tea party federation after not once but many times making racist comments, the last one was the letter to Lincoln.

  • informed American

    I thought the phony-baloney, liberal messiah, socialist presidency of Barack Hussein Obama was supposed to move us into a post racial America?? Wow! That really worked well, just like his 787 billion dollars stimulus package was supposed to keep unemployment below 8%.

  • twenty-niner

    “In fact, I havn’t heard anything good about anybody.
    The media is caught up in a cycle of negativity, cynicism, stirring controversy. In America, the glass is always half empty. The media has succeeeded in demoralizing the nation.”

    I think the media has succeeded in turning the nation into a collection of whiners and sycophants who’ve mastered the art of the excuse and have lost all concept of inner direction and drive. Our idols have gone from explorers, scientists and inventors to any dope who can run around with a ball. The generations that built a railroad uniting East and West, launched the industrial revolution, and won two world wars have left as their scions, a nation in the fetal position sucking its thumb.

  • miro

    Unfortunately, I missed the earlier part of the program, and they still haven’t posted the audio online. Douhat’s NYT op-ed was interesting and provocative, but the much larger political problem has to do with the place of white men in liberal/progressive/Dem politics. I often disagree with Douhat politically, but I think he raises some interesting issues that have more to do with perceptions than economic and social realities — but perceptions do matter a great deal.

    White male alienation and backlash has been analyzed by people on the left as well as the right.

    Todd Gitlin’s 2007 book The Bulldozer and the Big Tent analyzes the voter bases and rhetorics of the two parties. Just as the GOP base relies on the wealthy, the religious, the traditionalist, the xenophobe, and the patriot, the Democratic Party base relies on
    unions, women, and racial, sexual, and religious minorities.

    But in order for Democrats to prevail nationally, they need to attract nearly half the white vote. The Republican/Democratic split of the white male vote plays a large role in determining which party comes to power.

    David Kuhn in his 2007 book The Neglected Voter: White Men and the Democratic Dilemma examines the demographics and the psycho-politics of gender and race today. Psychologically, where is your place in the Democratic Party if you are a non-wealthy male, not a racial-sexual-religious minority and don’t have a protected public sector or union job? (Obviously the Republicans are the party of the rich and they won’t help you, but
    they play the masculine, national, and religious identity cards (Scott Brown’s centerfold & pickup truck, McCain’s veteran POW status, even Palin’s cheerleader persona)), so you feel more at home pulling the levers for them.)

    If the country is not to fall into political division, paralysis, and even more plundering of the middle class under conservative rule, the Democrats need to get the psychopolitics right. It’s not easy because identity politics are inherently irrational and divisive (Todd Gitlin’s point is that it is easier for the Republicans to find a leader who will unite their core constituencies) The Democrats need the identity voters in their base to come out in big numbers, but they will exile themselves to the desert for another two decades if they can’t solve this problem.

  • michael

    Also that whole thing about “The Big Government” release of the clip at the NAACP, turns out they editted pretty bad

    “Shirley Sherrod says that she’s not sure if she’d return to her job at the Agriculture Department even if asked. Sherrod was forced to resign this week after a conservative blogger circulated a video clip of Sherrod at an event explaining that she didn’t give a white farmer as much help as she could have 24 years ago. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday that he would reconsider the department’s decision to oust Sherrod, in light of new evidence. Sherrod says that she was taken out of context in the video clip circulated by conservatives.

    longer version uneditted here.


  • informed American

    Shirley Sherrod’s statement was taken out of context, of course it was, just like Barack Obama’s pastor for twenty years Jeremiah Wright’s statement “U.S.A. OF K.K.K” was also taken out of context. Some people are stupid enough to believe anything.

  • michael

    “Shirley Sherrod’s statement was taken out of context, of course it was, just like Barack Obama’s pastor for twenty years Jeremiah Wright’s statement “U.S.A. OF K.K.K” was also taken out of context. Some people are stupid enough to believe anything.”

    like obama being from kenya, or death panels or socalist=communist=facist.

    lol they sure do :)

  • informed American

    The only reason Obama’s poll numbers are dropping like a rock is because America is so racist, it’s not because Obama’s totally incompetent and completely clueless as President.

  • Carlo Sarmiento

    I have a name for the “poor whites” that feel their success is stifled by advantages given to minorities. I call them “losers”. If you are white and born in the US you have the best advantage, compared to any other individual in the WORLD, to succeed. And this applies to all economic stratas.


    Informed American I agreew with you with that.

  • michael

    “The only reason Obama’s poll numbers are dropping like a rock is because America is so racist, it’s not because Obama’s totally incompetent and completely clueless as President.”

    Yet, even in todays topic the poster yet again made this comment

    “The fact that this President refuses to release his medical records and his school records, and the fact that his own grandmother said that he was born in Kenya, is worrisome for many Americans.”

    Posted by informed American, on July 21st, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    Which by the way has nothing to do with his policy

  • william

    It is no big surprise that the elites in our society are discriminating against poor white students.

  • Elizabeth the Librarian

    I find it disturbing that people are saying “oh well, it’s karma, etc.” Poorer rural whites are not the power holders. They weren’t the slave holders. They have historically had little power. So to say that they “deserve” being denied access to higher education simply because they white, as retribution for past wrongs is factually wrong.


    I noticed it’s all about poor white Americans.

    A never read a comment about the advancement for the colored people. How to stop racism?

    the topic has been avoided and concentrated with the white poor Americans.

    How about the black poor Americans?

  • jeffe

    Jeffe you asked where I got my information about the Boston Busing. I got in the Philippines under the mango tree during my social study class.

    probably that’s why you ask me where I get my information because you know I’m Filipino and come from a third world country. Filipinos don’t know better. Is what you mean. tsk tsk tsk. That’s racist

    I do not know where to begin with this comment.
    First off you make all these assumptions based on my one comment correcting your mistake. Now you are still calling me a racist based on an assumption about your education. If you took the time to look up the period you would have at least found out that your information was wrong. Then you get all defensive and insult your own country in a classic passive aggressive stance.

    First off I never said anything about your education or where you were from. I don’t care. You made a false statement. Again for the last time, you made a false statement, period. You are not man enough to admit you were wrong. Instead of owning up to a lack of knowledge about race relations in the city of Boston you attack me with these false accusations about me being a racist.
    Then you assume I’m pissed off, I’m not really, I’m just amazed at how your mind works and sheer nerve of your statements.

    Funny you should mention racism as seem to remember you posting a lot anti-Mexican rhetoric a while back.

  • twenty-niner

    “How about the black poor Americans?”

    This blog needs a theme song:


  • Janice Aber

    Dear Mr. Ashbrook,
    You cut off the person who probably knew most about which he spoke, Thomas Espenshade, to play a cut of Glenn Beck and to let the commentators speak? Jeez. Let’s hear from the scholars, not the bloviators. I wanted to hear what Espenshade had to say about his study, and all I got was: oops, out of time. I’m disgusted. Sincerely, J. Aber

  • http://www.downhold.org/lowry/ George Lowry

    I don’t know if Boston University is considered an “elite” university, but my daughter (who is white and is from small-town Alabama) received her master’s degree from BU in May.

    She comes from what I what describe as a low middle income family, and her education was paid for through student loans and hard work.

    My wife and I are financially-strapped and simply could not afford to contribute to her education.

    I don’t buy the argument at all that whites are being discriminated against. This is more bunk from Bush-era politics! My daughter earned admission to BU on her own merits.

  • Mark

    informed American, Obama’s poll numbers are dropping because of the economy, which has been decimated by disciples of the free market, the deregulators. It has taken 30 years to create this recession and it’s not going away after a year and half.

    Your posts are obnoxious and you bring nothing of value to this discussion. Shouldn’t you return to Hannity or Beck’s forum?

  • Martyfran

    I think we do ourselves a real disservice by assuming that disadvantage can be put into nice neat categories. Not every white person comes from a situation of privilege. There is a difference between a white person coming from suburban Boston and another coming from eastern Kentucky. Similarly, I know many kids of African immigrants who have lived lives of privilege, yet because of their skin pigmentation they often get preferential treatment in college admissions. Helping the disadvantaged is an admirable thing. Doing it in a fair and even handed way is very difficult.

  • Ben

    Glen Becks of the world take note: It’s not Obama’s fault you got a D- in High School Calculus and didn’t make it into Columbia.

    Study hard, stay focused, and don’t let anything get in the way of your academic goals (especially yourself). The chances that race will be the single deciding factor in your success or failure are smaller than your chances of getting into the NBA.

  • twenty-niner

    I don’t understand the obsession with getting into the Ivy League. A common way the rural and working poor get into a white-collar career is via engineering school, especially those kids who have technical aptitude.

    Here’s some stats form US News and World Report:

    Top 5 engineering schools:

    1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    2) Stanford University
    3) University of California–Berkeley Berkeley
    4) California Institute of Technology Pasadena
    5) Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta
    5) University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign

    Notice that not one of them is in the Ivy League, and two are state schools.

    “Most of these Harvard MBA types – they don’t add up to dog$@!t. Give me guys that are poor, smart, hungry – and no feelings. when you feel, you lose a few, but you keep on fighting.” – Gordon Gekko

  • Arnold

    Just study harder than that minority next to you because the same standards don’t apply. You have to pay for the fact that 200 years ago that guys ancestor might have been discriminated against.

  • twenty-niner

    Correction: three are state schools.

  • regrettable

    Blacks always say they have to do better than their white counterparts to justify their attainment of positions of privilege and stature. How come the President doesn’t subscribe to this standard? He doesn’t seem to care he’s done worse than his white peers.

  • informed American

    Mark, don’t blame me for the country being so terribly divided. Blame it on the race-baiting policies of “your” hopelessly failed President.

  • Alex Bell

    The NAACP should know something about racism, their whole organization is about about favoring one race over all others. It’s no wonder they see it everywhere.

    Does anyone really expect this administration’s DOJ to investigate voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers?

  • JP

    If only he stopped at race-baiting, but he’s also good for class-baiting and private enterprise-baiting.

  • Delaney M

    I’m not going to engage in most of this garbage, but I would like to express my profound disappointment in the forced and thoughtless resignation of the USDA official. Taking this action without knowing all the facts, putting this woman’s career in jeopardy, is a real cause for caution but symptomatic of all the mistakes this administration has made. Not having the facts, not basing actions on science, breaking campaign promises … Disappointed is an understatement.

  • misa

    sometimes it’s so hard for me to feel sorry for so-called poor whites. these people repeatedly vote agains their interests when they go to the polls.

    why? because they are racist to their cores. they allow the nutty republicans to twist the story around and make everything seem like blacks and others are their enemy. they believe whites, and only whites, should have opportunity. Many of them believe this country is or should be for whites.

    they revel in having no education and in some of their backwards thinking. they don’t want to change or progress.

    these are the people who adore morons like Sarah Palin who is anti-education, anti-modernity, anti-big ideas, etc. they are easily threatened by everything different from them.

    why do they need college anyway? they are always acting like it’s such a horrible thing to have.

  • misa

    yep randy, the blacks are going to kill you in your bed.

    but, maybe the mexicans (latinos) will get to you first.


    this is exactly what i mean when i talk about this segment of the white population. the arrogance and hubris is just unreal.

  • michael

    “No Misa. Why do you think they’ve been arming to the teeth? We are past talking to the like of you; just waiting for the flame to the tenderbox now.”

    Wow waiting to kill blacks who would have thought a segment of the white populations would do such? Can anyone guess what shows, news, this person reads? Can anyone guess the education of such a fellow? What rallies he may attend?

  • misa

    oh yes. i know. the kkk is gonna come back and wipe us all out at any moment.

    good lord…

    you’re a case in point…exhibit a.

    your problem may just be yourself, not some black or mexican.

    many of the whites who are poor have been so for generations and generations. they were poor before affirmative action and so-called preferential treatment for nonwhites of the last 40 years.

    so, for the initial couple of hundred years of this country, how are we to explain the poverty that many many whites have lived in? blaming blacks for your issues is ridiculous.

    i know you guys hate to read and think books that aren’t the bible are the devil, but please give it try. please.

  • michael

    “Even if your twisting of words were true…so what…it wouldn’t change anything. You reap what you sow.”

    so by your logic reaping hatred/fear towards blakcs is going to get you what? If your correct that all your get back is hatred in return.

    you are aware that every race has some type of black in them, and most if not all blacks in the U.S. has something other than black in them?

  • misa

    last time i checked mr. i’m on npr, whites were the architects of one of the largest slave trades in human history, were responsible for the fall out from colonialism/imperialism, killed millions of jews, dropped the bomb on the japanese…

    i mean, calling blacks aggressors is laughable in light of the history of europeans.

    plus, use your fbi stats to add some rationality to your argument. statistically, blacks don’t kill whites. they kill other blacks. your fear of being murdered by a black person is disproportional to the reality.


    typical fear monger.

  • Bush’s fault

    Yar makes a good point…one that Tom and staff might consider for a future segment.

    The so-called middle class that all you over-educated underemployed lament was an anomaly of economic history largely borne on the backs of third world resources and cheap American labor. Well, that’s over with. However rich and poor is the norm throughout most of history. Perhaps this is all merely a market correction.

    Take care.

  • Richard in Newton

    I’m somewhat confused. Are the Glenn Becks of the world and their acolytes propagating that race ought to have no bearing and university admissions should be solely left to one’s merits? I would love to see that happen actually just so that they can spout more garbage about reverse racism once the Ivies, the Little Three, Seven Sisters and so forth are 70% Ashkenazy and Asian American in their student body compositions.

    Forgive the plagiarization but “GROW A BRAIN, MORANS!!!”

  • Bush’s fault

    jeffe..you’re all wet on where non-college kids went after high school…in the 60′s they went into minimum wage factory jobs and the snart ones hoped to work their way into something better, and many did…but at least they had work and didn’t wander around like the “walking dead” .. Hillary promised jobs to NY and bailed on us without delivering…after all, there are no jobs for the bottom of the chain…environment be damned…put our poor to work.

  • Rob L

    Is anyone surprised that there’s a backlash after generation of calling all whites racist? It’s been open hunting on whites, men in particular, in the media for the long time. It’s time to end that, to end to affirmative action, and to relegate groups like NAACP to the history books. Otherwise the sleeping giant of white identity may awaken in self defense – we’re seeing the beginnings of that right now.

  • H. Rap Brown

    To paraphrase myself:

    “Racism is as American as cherry pie.”

    I read this new conservative in the NY Times and find him to be a mealey-mouthed, predictably-elite, plutocratic, whitey-is-put-upon mouthpiece.

    Come down to the working-poor neighborhoods and find out that your stats hold little relevance.

  • http://www.affirmativeaction.org Shirley J. Wilcher

    As I commented online when I saw the article, Douthat and others (Richard Kahlenberg) erroneously pit race based affirmative action against affirmative action for other reasons including economic status. This suggests that the two efforts are mutually exclusive, which they are not. The University of Michigan was sued for having race based affirmative action programs, when they also gave points for socio-economic status, graduating from feeder schools, athletics, being the son or daughter of an alumnus, and geography (living in the mostly white Upper Peninsula of Michigan.) Several of these factors benefited white applicants but none received the vitriol and legal attack as did the race criterion. Why? There is clearly a feeling of entitlement by Douthat and others; that those who are white are inherently better students and superior, so they should always go to the head of the line. There is room for outreach and recruitment for many groups. One criterion should not displace the other. Moreover, as Professor Goodwin Liu argued in 2003, white applicants are generally competing against each other because there are far more whites applying to colleges than there are blacks and Hispanics. It was more likely that the plaintiffs in the Michigan cases were displaced by sons and daughters of alumni, or students who went to prep schools or many of the other factors. It is untrue that the handful of minority students are displacing whites, yet the perception that exists is that the few successful black or Hispanic applicants are taking their slots.

    I am surprised and disappointed that the New York Times published this article. It is important, however, to know how those of the right wing are thinking. It shows how far we have to go to bridge the racial divide.

    Shirley J. Wilcher
    American Association for
    Affirmative Action

  • rebekah

    I’m white and grew up in a lower middle class home. My dad worked in HVAC and didn’t go to college. My mom had a degree but had personal problems that kept her from excelling professionally.

    When, by some miracle, I was able to attend a big-name (though not Ivy League) school, I found that my perspective was very different from most of my classmates. For example, in a class when we were comparing the average lifespan for men vs women, no one else took workplace accidents/military casualties into account when trying to figure out why men, on average, die earlier than women.

    I think that any good university should have a good mix of students, from a wide variety of backgrounds, because a variety of viewpoints leads to a more full educational and social experience. I also wish that the middle classes were more focused on bolstering local institutions, rather than this ridiculous aspirational lusting after an Ivy League education. Getting into, or even graduating from an Ivy doesn’t guarantee success. One of my roommates failed out, and several of us have struggled to find our footing since graduation. On an undergrad level especially, it doesn’t much matter where you go as long as you do well once you get there.

  • Thurston Howell III

    If you don’t think that there is no racism among the educated class, take the commuter boats out of the financial district in Boston to the liley-white south shore and you’ll hear the sotta voce jokes, snide asides and blame for blacks for sucking up their all-too-high taxes.

    The boys at the country clubs tend to think blacks should know their place—providing entertainment in film, music and sport.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Where I live, near a huge New England state university, any bus trip near the university reveals what could not have been imagined, maybe anyplace in America, half a century ago. One cannot begin to think which ones might be white or black. If these students sort of sorted themselves by self-identification, you might be able to tell from the seating who is darker or less dark, but they don’t sort themselves, and they are all sort of Tiger Woods, so that looking at any face one can pick out heritages from several parts of the globe. I suspect they look on me, to the extent they care to, as a vestigial part of an era where there were boundaries and awareness of boundaries that no longer exist, neither the boundaries not the awareness.
    So that is satisfying the way holding a grandchild is satisfying, an undeserved grace.
    Or, instead of riding those buses and being gratified, you could go to the country clubs outside of Boston and find people whose mindset includes the idea that the undeserving are being served, that the masses are mooching off the deserving. Apparently that is so, if Thurston is right.

  • edward

    I’m sure Onpoint reason as to quote palin or play Clips from Glen Beck is to pull in more folks like Randy

  • peter nelson

    This issue has NOTHING to do with race – it’s all about culture. No one is “excluding” these people because they are white!

    The people who are being “excluded’ from elite universities and similar institutions are excluding themselves by adopting a value system that rejects science and intellectual pursuits and any attempt to understand and engage with a world outside of provincial middle-Americanism. They revel in their rurality – they choose spokespersons and leaders like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck and they celebrate ignorance.

    What’s the “affirmative action” plan here? Should Harvard create a Department of Creationism Studies? Should MIT get Castrol to endow a chair of NASCAR patches?

    I agree that there is a huge swath of mainly white lower-income people who are not part of the “elite” and haven’t been for a long time. But this is because they reject the whole concept of scholarship and intellectual inquiry that would open the doors to education, whether it’s at an Ivy League school, a state university (which is all I could afford) or self-education which anyone can afford.

  • Rob Burdick

    I am a poor white Ford pick-up driver (with the rifle behind the seat, and the dog riding shotgun). My upbringing was at least two levels of class up from my reality, and I was accepted to several universities I could not afford as well as U of Delaware. A college degree became a requirement for employment in the last few decades, as a means of sorting applicants, when degrees where as common as GED’s or diplomas, and I feel we have all suffered for it. The college grads I have supervised can rarely change a serpentine belt, plunge a toilet, or saw a board squarely. The posession of a degree does not exempt them from the real world as they have been told it would. Racial and class bias are obvious and endemic, well beyond the halls of higher education. Until we can honestly put resources into trades education, and accept that a plumber, carpenter, butcher, or iron-worker is as important as a lawyer or plastic surgeon, our economic and class biasis will continue to smother our own productivity. Why do we admire a dentist who fixes his classic Mustang, but not a mechanic who pulls his own teeth?

  • Bryan

    I have one question to consider regarding the issue of under-represented conservative christians at eliteist higher education institutions. Early in the story one guest suggested roughly 35% of Americans consider themselves born again christians, whereas only 7-10% of college students at eliteist institutions call themselves born again christians. I suggest perhaps the demand for quality higher education among these rural conservative christians is smaller than the demand in other social groups. I personally grew up in a rural conservative Ohio farming community where individuals consistently de-valued education in general, at all levels. I think a portion of this group does not value eliteist education and may even distrust higher education. I grew up with several individuals in utlra-conservative families whose parents would not even consider assisting their children with higher education costs unless they attended a private christian school. I think a portion of this group sees eliteist colleges as brainwashing youth, particularly with respect to science education for the most part disproving as myth much of what their religion tells them is fact. Has anyone considered differnt levels of demand for higher education among social (rather than just socio-economic) groups factoring into this discussion?

  • Brett Griffiths

    Great show. However, I was really frustrated by how often the conversational thread digressed into a race v. class issue. This is one of the singular most harmful rhetorical moves ingrained in American tropes.

    I am a young scholar investigating the teaching and learning at community colleges. What I find in my reading and research is that there are deep issues of culture, language, and social expectations that less advantaged students– from BOTH working class and disadvantaged racial backgrounds– that impede students’ progress in higher education. 1. Students from these backgrounds often don’t know the rules of college–or of researching and applying to college. 2. Once these students get into some institutions, instructors often interpret their behavior, speech, attitudes as deliberate affronts to their education, and 3. The way of making meaning– be it working class ethic of expediency or the Christian ethic of trusting in a universal, though not always transparent, logic, flies in the face of academic inquiry. — It would have been nice to hear these issues broken down some more, and, as some on the show indicated, break up the conflation of white, working class, and Christian. Such an important issue. Keep it up.

  • peter nelson

    You guys are “Elite” but your wusses. In the end, might does make right.

    No, “smart” makes right.

    The Europeans dominated the world in the 18th and 19th centuries because of their superior technology, and their superior grasp of science, not because they were physically stronger or braver. The Chinese, the Indians, the Africans and the South Americans had plenty of guts and “traditional values” and down-home folksy Sarah Palin – style common sense, but it didn’t do them any good.

    Americans are dumbing down their educational systems with the help of the Christian right, and underfunding their schools due to coast-to-coast fiscal mismanagement. Regardless of whether the rednecks storm the gates of Harvard Square or just sit in front of the TV watching Fox, counties where they produce the best engineers and scientists and scholars will get the last laugh.

  • david

    I knew the racism issue would sooner are later arise.
    It has been in the works for months.
    Obama’a poll ratings are going down all across the board and its time to attempt to label anybody who is a conservative or against Obama’s policies as a racist.
    This is nothing less than a political tactic!
    The left-wing media is even involved.
    Some shady plots to silence and demonize conservatives are taking place.

    My wife worked in the admission’s office at a major university in our state. Minorities got extra points towards their admission scores.
    When looking for jobs on campus, you would encounter the term “Compliance positions”

    Race can be a hammer to hurt or a crutch to enable.
    This program today turned into a venue to bash conservatives. Beck must know something? All the liberals are out to shut him up!

  • peter nelson

    I personally grew up in a rural conservative Ohio farming community where individuals consistently de-valued education in general, at all levels. I think a portion of this group does not value eliteist education and may even distrust higher education.

    I think it goes beyond distrust. As I’ve mentioned before, the scientific community has been regularly getting attacked from the Christian right on everything from astrophysics, to neuroscience, to biology and evolutionary theory, to climate science, to anthropology and host of other topics, not to mention funding for science and education.

    When I was in college in the 70′s scientists were mostly conservatives! But the conservative movement has attacked science on so many fronts that they alienated them! I’m an AAAS member and every week in the news section of the journal Science we see more stories on this.

    These people claim to care about the future of their country but they attack and undermine the very institutions that have any hope of ensuring a bright future for the US.

  • jeffe

    Bush’s fault I take issue with the minimum wage factory jobs. Maybe in the South this was the case but in New England they paid living wages in those days and people raised families and did pretty well.

    I grew up in New York and I remember friends of my parents who worked in the garment district in the city and they made good salaries. They owned modest houses in Queens did alright until the bottom feel out that industry in the 80′s.

    The South did take a lot of the manufacturing jobs from the North with lower wages and no unions. The beginning of exporting labor into cheaper markets. From the South it went to Mexico and then to China. We just let them roll over us over and over again, and we smile and say thank you, have a nice day!

    The thing is people use to make it on low wages in the 60′s and 70′s. I guess the turning point was the oil crisis in the mid 70′s.

  • informed American

    Obama could do a lot to diffuse the problem. But instead of having a Commander in Chief, we have a Race Baiter in Chief.

  • jeffe

    Beck must know something? All the liberals are out to shut him up!

    With good reason. Can you seriously call yourself a conservative and defend this guy? What ever happened to the William F. Buckley’s of that party? Are people really going to take a man who rants like he does seriously? He seems to be cut out the same cloth as Senator Joseph McCarthy in some ways.

  • loninappleton

    …. And here again the On Point audience gets to hear the argument framed (framed was a word used above in these comments) in terms of who goes to college and where. That in itself is an elitist position.

    Then turn on your television/cable/computer, it hardly matters which, and see exclusively images of the professional class: doctors, lawyers, sometimes even politicians. And doctors who are cops and lawyers who are cops and vice versa. As stated by other comments this is a class issue and a respect issue. What society values has been skewed to the top 20% of society in the professional class. Chomsky went through all this years ago.

    And a last personal observation: The general public has taken on the mannerisms of that professional class. Common parlance now includes statements of fact peppered with “basicallys” and “essentiallys” as if one had to qualify all statements for future criticism. It winds up being comic and at worst annoying.


    Imagine the US investing 1 trillion dollars in education and infrasctructure each year for five years instead of bombs (which are sitting in the ground); what will we do if we have another spill like the one in the gulf! We have enough bombs to get rid of this little planet where we hate each other enough already. It is disgusting for anybody on this planet to be without food, water, and medicine while we have “rich” with 10 bathrooms!
    The black male unemployment rate is over 60% (fifty percent) in Milwaukee. Homicide in Chicago and every urban center is the result of a sad state of economics!

  • d kanyer

    I feel that this is far from a new issue. I recall that in the early 80s as a white student from a rural and probably suboptimally educated, I did not have the confidence or economic means to aspire to an IVy league education. Yet I managed quite well at a state univeristy with an advanced degree.

    This issue is real but less about white opportunity than economic elitism. It is an issue propogated by the hate mongers on the right who want to instigate racism for a political purpose and feel it is justified. It is not by chance that this issue rises from the Fox crowd just prior to a potentially contentious election.

  • Vill

    A Job application and a resume. Both describe qualifications and why the applicant wants the job. Except with an application it asks for your gender, race, ethnicity, etc. Why is this? Because of Federal funding, contracts, and laws, all that guide and dictate how a business will screen what kind of potential employees it will allow into it’s professional doors. And yet especially in federal, but all spheres of government we see this time and time again. To find the find the best employees to upgrade your business look at the character, education, certification not the gender, ethnicity, and race of a person. As long as we tolerate this as a society the government will and your next employer will enforce this.

  • Grigori0

    Nice posts by Loay, Rosalind Lee, Expanded Consciousness, Elizabeth the Librarian, and Martyfran. (I read all 120+) Minorities victimized by discriminatory practices will bring an emotional and experiential reality to this discussion which must be accounted for. By “minorities” I include all racial, ethnic, economic, religious, linguistic, sexually oriented, and any other form of feeling outcast and persecuted by a perceived “majority”. Many posts here reflect that painful reality: the calls for karmic vengeance against whites, the outcries of the unfairness of the same. (But who would not qualify?)

    Dis-advantage comes in many forms: individual, historical, economic, racial, ethnic, educational, ad nauseam. The sociological delusion that there are hegemonic majorities which receive monolithic and universal advantages (all rich people benefit from X, all men benefit from Y, etc.) only serves to blur the complexity of the tragedy of the human experience. Kudos to Doutha for bringing attention to other oppressed groups (I am not among them) and shame on those who dismiss the pain of others (who do not share common demographics).

    As Doutha argues: “race and class are intertwined, and class is the more important.” Disadvantages and grievances should be addressed on the basis on which they are founded. If they are historical, economic, or racial, they should be addressed as such. Addressing economic issues on the basis of racial differences without addressing historical contingencies, becomes not justice, but its parody. Elite schools giving scholarships to the scions of Ghanaian aristocracy because they are black while passing on affirmative action for economically disadvantaged children of poor black, white, or Hispanic sharecroppers (or Asian immigrants), is an obnoxious miscarriage of justice.

  • peter nelson

    Then turn on your television/cable/computer, it hardly matters which, and see exclusively images of the professional class: doctors, lawyers, sometimes even politicians.

    Shakespeare wrote almost exclusively about kings and princes. People’s entertainment tastes are aspirational.

    And it’s not true that TV only shows white-collar workers – I grew up watching Combat and The Gallant Men and Rawhide, and, later, Columbo and Hill Street Blues, Hawaii 5-0, etc. Shows about cops and cowboys and soldiers show blue-collar guys doing what they enjoy best – exercising force with a bunch of other guys. (The Village People picked up on the undertones to this).

    But when it comes to entertainment people usually want escapism, so why do they want to see stories about ordinary people when they could see stories about people leading more glamorous, adventurous lives doing things they can’t do in places they don’t get to go?

  • peter nelson

    And a last personal observation: The general public has taken on the mannerisms of that professional class. Common parlance now includes statements of fact peppered with “basicallys” and “essentiallys” as if one had to qualify all statements for future criticism. It winds up being comic and at worst annoying.

    I hope you realize that this comment runs completely counter to the much broader observation among social theorists these days that the current trend is for the upper classes to ape and emulate the lower classes – Dressing casually, using hip-hop language and styles, etc. I’ve been to plenty of trade shows where CEO’s of multibillion dollar companies gave talks wearing jeans and Dockers. This would have been unheard of up until a few decades ago. In the past the lower classes would ape the tastes and mannerisms of the uppers, and the uppers would maintain a reserved exclusivity for themselves.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Peter, how do you explain Charlie Chaplin the little tramp, or America’s Funniest Home Videos? Cops and elites are rarely apparent in AFV, but then the audience is probably shaped by being opposite CBS’s Sixty Minutes. Or Three Stooges. Actually, it is extremely entertaining to watch ourselves as if from the outside, just as we are. Banana peel and all.
    By the way, there is an advisory at the WBUR site for posting (I wanted to post about a Senator Brown position), to the effect one is not supposed to impersonate. Interesting. We have an exploding art form of impersonation at this part of WBUR.
    As to emulating, fast-reverse then to about 1975, when the upper middle class was steady and the unions made the middle middle class just shade of style below. You have certain college kids taught to wear ties when taking the plane, explaining to their mother that it is preferable to wear jeans: “Do you want to get mugged?” The mother maintains she wants to look muggable, that is definitely better dressed than the union types. The son tries to persuade her though, saying that even if she were in a housedress and old jacket, “I’d mug you.”
    Now where the top and the bottom are splitting, the rich can buy their jeans pre-aged, pre-torn, but I think the distinctions are clear by the shades (or their equivalent), a hint of avoidance, and hints of mutual scorn, some of it pretty laughable. It’s fine with me to be able to see the way our culture signals itself, as variegated as can be. Everybody in uniform, in burqas, disguises, has its uses among teenagers (to try to avoid too much bullying?). Clearest sign of being overworked and underpaid: purple plaid pants and pale pink polyester T-shirt, cheapest things on the shelf at the recycle shop.

  • http://www.election08welose.com David Zapen in Miami FL (WLRN)

    This article was a painfully tunnel-visioned look at education and race. A month ago, NPR’s MORNING EDITION noted the lack of jobs for high school dropouts, how unemployment for high school graduates is twice that of college graduates, while jobs requiring advanced degrees stay empty and too many high schools have a graduation rate of 50%. Combine this with underfunded education that lays off ten-year veteran schoolteachers and related paraprofessionals and it’s a terrorist attack that al-Qaeda could only dream of. The current $7.25 federal minimum wage is almost 25% below its 1968 version, unions have been slaughtered since 1981, so what are those without degrees to do? Race is just a distraction otherwise, regardless of whether degrees are earned in (formerly) community colleges or the Ivy League. Remember, merit-based scholarships are growing faster than need-based ones, just as the need is growing. People working full-time while going to school full-time was bad enough in the jobless recovery of the 00′s; how is this wise in the Main Street recession of the 10′s? It is time to make Sean Hannity’s nightmare and Thom Hartmann’s dream come true: free education (VPK to Ph.D./M.D.), free healthcare, with free & clean mass transit.

  • peter nelson

    Peter, how do you explain Charlie Chaplin the little tramp, or America’s Funniest Home Videos?

    AFV is just funny snippets, not meant to be realistic depictions of people’s lives. But Charlie Chaplin is parody – and that raises an interesting point. When working-class whites ARE depicted it’s usually in the form of parodic exaggeration playing up their naivete – Hee Haw, Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, etc. Basically they are shown as clowns, even if there is an underlying serious message. The Little Tramp was a clown.

    When educated white-collar workers, e.g., Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moor, Bob Newhart, the doctors on M.A.S.H. etc, (or educated blacks for that matter – e.g., Bill Cosby) are depicted there is usually an attempt to show them with psychological realism – they are not clowns even when making jokes – even though many minor supporting characters, especially blue-collar ones, are shown as clowns.

    I don’t watch TV anymore so I don’t know what’s on these days, but basically most of the attempts to show blue-collar characters in weekly dramas and sitcoms when I did watch either showed them as clowns or males in a violent setting (cops, cowboys, soldiers).

    I’m sure there were exceptions, but that was the larger trend.

  • peter nelson

    It is time to make Sean Hannity’s nightmare and Thom Hartmann’s dream come true: free education (VPK to Ph.D./M.D.), free healthcare, with free & clean mass transit.

    1. How do you pay for all this?

    2. The problem with education is, as I mentioned above, that in the red states and the Tea Party culture there is a stong anti-intellectual, anti-academic culture.

    Anyone who truly cares about being a scholar can avail himself of all sorts of free resources and can easily be better educated than the average college graduate. But first he has to CARE. He has to think that learning and study and scholarship have merit. I know people who grew up as good students in working class white communities and they were tormented relentlessly by people in their communities! Dorothy Parker had a famous quote about who you can lead to culture and whether you can make them think.

  • http://www.election08welose.com David Zapen in Miami FL (WLRN)

    How do you pay for all this?
    How does one avail oneself of free resources when libraries cut staff and hours, and broadband Internet access’ $20/month can be unaffordable?

    http://www.marketplace.org used to have the rule of thumb that a four-year bachelor’s degree pays for itself in ten years. Instead of letting banks make money off of this, make public colleges free like California did until Reagan punished students for protesting the Viet Nam war and related outrages. Germany invests in solar panels (despite being the cloudiest European nation except for the U.K.) and education while we guard oil routes and our students fall behind the developed world.
    High school dropout rates are worsened by the fact of high unemployment among all but those with advanced degrees, creating the false logic of failure avoidance rather than success seeking.

    Working-class logic, among whites and blacks alike, if often at odds with 21st-century reality, forcing good students to hide their intelligence or create an occasional utopia like the MENSA episode of THE SIMPSONS. How many would-be athletes know of the low odds of getting a four-year (restrictive) scholarship, never mind turning pro for even the five-year average cited by ex-Miami Dolphin Damien McIntosh? How many of them know of the value of Shaq’s M.B.A. degree or Tim Green (ex-Atlanta Falcon) and his law degree and dozen books? Knowledge is power(ful).

  • loninappleton

    @Peter Nelson,

    Your observations about “stealth wealth” are well-taken. And the fact that so much of what we think of upper class behavior has gone underground should be reported on more widely. it is not the envy factor that is important in this but the excess.

    And my specific mention of the narrow class and professions portrayed in mass media speaks to your point exactly. Right now I’m viewing again “Route 66″ which, over three years showed all manner of stories, jobs and freedoms that have nothing to do with Harvard. This not so much nostalgia as being able to see how things have changed on the landscape itself.

  • peter nelson

    How does one avail oneself of free resources when libraries cut staff and hours, and broadband Internet access’ $20/month can be unaffordable?

    The demographic we’re discussing here are the white blue-collar or working classes. They generally CAN afford internet access. And the internet is an excellent source of free college lectures and all sorts of other good educational material. I also like to buy used book, including used college textbooks. Used bookstores abound both in the brick-and-mortal world and online. So I still think it’s more cultural than economic.

    I agree that someone who is so poor they don’t even have internet access is out of luck, but that’s not the main demographic which has comprised the white working classes.

    http://www.marketplace.org used to have the rule of thumb that a four-year bachelor’s degree pays for itself in ten years.

    It’s good that you said “used to” because this assumption has been heavily questioned in recent years. White collar workers manipulate information and symbols and rely on their knowledge instead of a physical presence or manual skill. That makes these the jobs that are most portable over the internet, and therefor the ones most easily outsourced. Accountancy and bookkeeping, legal work, manuscript editing, and even radiologist work is now routinely shipped offshore on the internet. Keep in mind that a radiologist is a full MD – the highest rung on our educational ladder!

    Furthermore we don’t live in a world where a college degree is a rarity offering a stepping stone to a professional career. Most of the studies showing huge benefits for college include data from that period. Many economists now question, if you factor in the years you could have been working if you weren’t in college and also the time value of the money otherwise spent on college, plus the cost of paying off the huge debt-burden most kids graduate with, whether it still makes economic sense today to go to college for many, if not most, people.

    I worked my way through school so I graduated with no debt, but this is almost impossible these days.

  • peter nelson

    Just another comment about student loans from a cultural and educational standpoint:

    I’ll be celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary in a few weeks and during that time we’ve had no debt except our mortgage, which is a tiny fraction of the value of our house even in this market. Such a mortgage is an OK debt to have because it is secured by the value of the house. Otherwise no car loans, no credit card debt (we use plastic but pay it in full every month), nothing.

    The idea of someone taking out UNsecured debt, where there is no guarantee of being able to pay it back, is insane – both for the lender and the borrower. It’s a pure leap of faith. Yet this is the first big education on financial decisions the average kid gets in life. We are indoctrinating a whole generation of young people into the ethos of borrowing money against some hoped-for future revenues! This is exactly the thinking that has gotten so many families, businesses, and local and national governments in deep trouble. Talk about an education!

  • peter nelson

    OK, last post for a while on this:

    Who NEEDS to go to college? Doctors, lawyers, scientists, professional scholars, teachers and engineers. And I’m not sure about engineers – my undergrad degree is in neuroscience but I’ve worked as an engineer for 30 years.

    But most people don’t do any of those things. Why does an insurance company executive need a 4 year college degree? Business management doesn’t take 4 years to learn – an MBA program is 2 years. You can learn actuarial math in night school. Et cetera.

    Scholarship is wonderful, enriching both the individual and society, but you don’t need a college degree to be a citizen scholar – you need curiosity and a love of learning.

  • Ellen Dibble

    peter, I think others are questioning the MBA too. I heard a businessman on the air stating (uncontested) that a good business attracts the supports it needs. I’m not saying it right. We know regulations and countercurrents hit every entrepreneur, but the idea is accountants and lawyers can be hired as needed; don’t start out with an MBA and expect to then dream up a business. Start your lemonade stand and then hire an MBA.
    It must have been incredibly tough to get a degree in neuroscience while working. You probably had 3-hour labs most afternoons year-in, year-out.
    Let me point out that your education is part of why you have not used loans. A lot of people have health issues, try to maintain health insurance, and wind up bankrupt (but alive, for now). My own experience is that it took me till I was in my 50s before I had the credit rating to be able to get my own business on a stable footing. I created my own assets in life insurance policies and so on, which the banks don’t count, but I certainly do. There has never been time for family, just putting pieces of a viable life together, and about the time others retire, I’m ready to roll. And that wouldn’t have happened without the banks losing all standards in the ’00s, giving me enough rope to hang myself, yes, but enough rope to pull myself to shore. Every segment of history has its opportunities and its millstones; we’ve had both. I suspect the black and Latino minorities that are the focus of this forum are mostly from traditions where the extended family was more of an organizing principle than what I experienced. Necessity would have been setting that up for generations. But they would have been plundered worse than I was by the same reason: the family; the family and its traditions would have created a kind of parochialism to prevent me from the often rash-seeming outreach and experimentation that have been necessary.
    If over the last few decades I had just “followed the yellow brick road,” I would be wondering why I’m not in Kansas anymore, something like that. I guess that applies to Appalachian coal miners, presumably white, as well. Okay, I think my argument caves in on itself. Arguably all immigrants, most minorities, are trailblazers in every way. The whole situation is so complex.

  • cupertino

    Summary of our education system.

    Asian and Southeast asians arrived in the US. Initially asians especially southeast asian benefited from affirmitive action but these programs quickly rescinded due to rapid academic performance and now are actually discriminated from many top universities. Asians and southeast asian have not benefited from affirmative action as many seem to lump this group in their discourse.

    Latino and African Americans continually perform poorly in academics at all levels, even with state and national educational intervention. From the universities point of view if they do not intervene these groups will see virtually little to no representation in any college campuses compared to their population. Poor whites are angry at this because it goes against traditional American principles of self determination.

    Poor white conservative complain about affirmative action but the issue of their attending top so called elite schools has more to do with culture than ability. After all poor whites have language acumen and cultural upbringing on principles of self determination. The issue with poor conservative whites is the cultural institution of elite schools which espouses a non euro-early American centric approach to education culture of these institution. Furthermore they envision not fitting into this quasi multicultural, liberal environment.

    So, what is right, wrong and fair.

    1. Its wrong to say all minorities benefit from affirmitive action as asians are more discriminated on their abilities from these institution compared to jews.

    2. Sure, blacks and latinos do benefit from affirmitive action and help but if they weren’t to receive help they would be woefully misrepresented from attending college at all (just look at berkeley). And even with help they are still underrepresented.

    3. If the goal of institution is to maintain cultural and socioeconomic diversity then ridding of affirmitive action would destroy this. We will only see Asians and whites in higher education and Latino and Blacks underclass would be worse than it is now. They would be the lowest of the lowest socio-economic class of our society. So we have to ask is this beneficial for society to have this underclass.

    4. Do poor whites have a legitimate argument here. Technically yes as laws forbid these types of programs. But principally and pragmatically no because exacerbating the social and economic status of African American and Latino Americans would have adverse social consequences.

    5. Solution. Having said that poor white conservatives do have a point in that educational institutions should emphasize African Americans and Latino about western self determination values over victimization of western culture. For asian and Jewish cultures education is altready a main focal point in their values system.

  • AC


    You say,”Latino and African Americans continually perform poorly in academics at all levels.” Later in that paragraph you add, “Poor whites are angry at this because it goes against traditional American principles of self.”

    You say, “Having said that poor white conservatives do have a point in that educational institutions should emphasize African Americans and Latino about western self determination values over victimization of western culture.”

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying that you believe that poor whites perceive that African-Americans do not understand the western values of self determination, and that instead, they (African-Americans) prefer to identify with victimization.

    Would you explain to me, please, how slave owners exhibited self determination when they hired people to buy Black people who were then forced to do a majority of the income-producing labor of the colonies and, later, of the country, even though they were lashed, beaten, raped, and sold away from their own loved ones for reasons of commerce or capriciousness? How, exactly, did the slave owning woman of the household exhibit good self-determination skills when she seems to have done none of the work of the household herself; ditto for her husband and children. Flash forward to the period of Reconstruction when African-Americans raced to re-unite with their family and loved ones, searching long, dusty roadways to get the family back together; when those same African-Americans, deprived during slavery of the right to worship, the right to learn to read and write, the right to vote and the right to run for office, set out with extraordinary energy doing all these things and more. Just HOW does that individual and group behavior exhibit a lack of self-determination? Just HOW do the powerful Whites who saw to it that Jim Crow laws would be set in place to TROUNCE on this newly-acquired Black freedom, just HOW do the Whites exhibit healthy self determination by their behavior? I suppose, from a certain point of view, joining an organization, a terrorist, home-grown terrorist organization like the KKK exhibits self-determination in a certain population of White citizens; but I would consider that point of view criminally complicit and actually to represent advocation of crimes against humanity. Nevertheless, during the long, long, long years of Jim Crow, with separate and unequal schools, facilities, housing, African-Americans kept going to work, even tho they were barred from many jobs by self-determining Whites; even tho they weren’t allowed on the trolleys; even tho they were denied membership in many unions for many decades; even tho they experienced second-class citizenship even when they joined the Armed Forces. Hmm, come to think of it, when the White governing class of Philadelphia decided to UN-bury African-American dead from their cemeteries, a number of people including at least one of my relatives organized, bought land, withstood the White protest, and finally established their own cemetery. Oh, but that might not be self-determination, that might represent “victimization” or be just plain morose to some people.

    Really, all that African-Americans have done is to do most of the work that created the wealth of this country for many, many centuries. Sure, a small number of EXTREMELY BRAVE Blacks tried to exercise work slow-downs to protest their enslavement; but it usually didn’t work. It got them whipped, beaten, hanged, or sold South, or maybe they just got to see those things happen to their loved ones, by, guess who….some self-determining overseer or his boss, the slave owner, two people I suspect you might have included amongst those who DID exhibit proper American self-determination; altho, I’ll give you and me some credit & propose that perhaps if you’ve read this piece this far, you might be thinking differently than when you posted.

    Please, read my suggestions for authors to read, above, in my earlier posting. Thanks!

  • Cupertino

    This is exactly what is out of balanced with our universities. There is nothing wrong with examining historical oppressive past and struggles of a group. Rather it is the internalization of these narratives. Groups rightly internalize past oppression and struggles to present social and economic disparities. However, these groups expect society to change to address historical inequalities. There is nothing pricipally wrong with this approach. But in reality society will only change to a certain degree that may not satisfy these groups. For example racism will remain. Whereas other groups although experiencing similar historical oppression, although not to the degree of African American, like colonialization, displacement from war, holocaust, racism etc. are also keenly aware of historical oppression. The difference is that this latter group responds by not waiting for society to accomodate it but rather to take charge in establishing social and economic capital through educational attainment by all means. This is the type of self determination that culturally inherent in these group and lacking in the latter. The latter group African Americans expect society to address these disparities whereas the latter group takes it into their own hand proactively attaining education and economic status as a means of minimalizing historical oppression.
    This is the difference between success of the latter group and failure of African American – Latino group.

  • peter nelson

    For asian and Jewish cultures education is altready a main focal point in their values system.

    This is the key point. As I’ve said several times, above, it’s all about culture. Asian culture and Jewish culture place a very high premium on education, scholars, and scholarship.

    One of my hobbies is collecting folk stories from around the world and included in my collection are Chinese folk stories and Jewish folk stories, among many others. And it’s fascinating how much more often the heroes in their stories are scholars or teachers. By contrast, most of the the heroes in the folk stories from my ethnic group (Scandinavian) are guys with magic swords or something like that. China instituted civil service exams in the Sui dynasty 1400 years ago and this created generations of scholar-bureaucrats to run the empire, and instituted the idea that scholarship was how you got ahead in their culture. Jews who were often not allowed to own land or stay in one place for long, learned that knowledge was the one powerful, portable asset that no one could take from you in a pogrom. Both Chinese and Jewish communities honor their smart young scholars; in working-class white, and African American communities smart kids are picked-on and the kids who get the honor are football or basketball stars.

    Successful ethnic groups, communities, and, ultimately nations are ones which honor scholarship.

  • peter nelson

    This is the difference between success of the latter group and failure of African American – Latino group.

    And, I would add, the failure of the poor whites, who, let’s not forget, are the topic of this program.

  • AC


    I will again suggest that you read African-American history; I’ve already provided, in my earlier post, the names of wonderful scholars who are also terrifically engaging to read! Please, you are just repeating falsehoods about a racial group, African-Americans, based on a theory that you seem to believe in. From what you have to say, I think you might be pleasantly surprised to see how extraordinarily eager for education African-Americans have been, even during slavery. I also think you will see the context in which their deep desire for education dwelled once you learn more about the laws and social context from 1619, when the first African-Americans are thought to have arrived on our (future USA) shores, thru the end of LEGAL Jim Crow, in 1965 with the Voting Rights Act. We could go back and forth on this topic, but until you follow your own advice and make more of a self-determination effort to better educate yourself about the history of this country, I will be at an unfair advantage. I’ve given you some tools; I can only suggest that you take your own advice and believe in the education you will give yourself by seeking out some of the authors I have suggested. Thanks!

  • Ellen Dibble

    AC’s post up top at 11:35 AM on authors worth reading: “Read Nell Irvin Painter, Howard Zinn, Frances Bibbins Latimer, John Hope Franklin, Lerone Bennett, Jr., Eric Foner, just to start.”
    AC points out interlibrary loan is a public library service, sometime free of charge. I believe you can borrow from a library by download using an Adobe free App as well (to Nook/Kindle). AC points to Zinn’s People’s History of the USA.
    Anyone who wants to confront the differential a child of color (or education-averse whites) faces in his quest for self-determination or self-actualization should try mentoring a group of them (various colors, depending where you are; a neighborhood will evolve to shades of dysfuctionality, or functionality of their own bent). See things through their eyes for their growing up years. They will teach you an awful lot. They may end up a bit schizophrenic though, trying hard to actualize your ideas about finishing high school and acquiring say a nursing degree, and yet that does not happen.
    Their feeling is of having failed the mentors, and both sides feel very bad. The situation begins to seem to such a mentor an issue less of one by one, but rather a very broad issue of shaking the political milieu and cultural milieu by the scruff of the neck and say Get With the Program. And instead of a frustrated mentor, you become a frustrated semi-activist. Or maybe both.

  • AC

    Additionally, there are many, many forms of education. Some of it is didactic and repetitive; some of it encourages curiosity; some of it is dynamically creative, and there are so many other forms as well. In the United States, many people still have a hard time understanding education THRU the arts! In a way, JAZZ is a form of education about sound and feeling (and so much more!), and the WAY in which it has been passed down, i.e., the form of the EDUCATION about this FORM OF EDUCATION is thru MORE JAZZ. That is to say, the education and imparting of musical “information” about jazz dynamically created MORE jazz, and jazz that dynamically changed and changed some more! The history of jazz IS the history of ONE FORM OF EDUCATION — one form that is SO rich that the predominantly word-based form of education we experience in the U.S. may have caused us to MISS how well-educated jazz musicians are, whether they be professional or not, and whether they are also highly educated in other fields as well. It is African-Americans who gave us jazz and who have continued to contribute to its changing nature. That’s just an example of how we, as a general culture, have overlooked and undervalued the education, educational contributions, and educational engagement of African-Americans! I’m SURE there are others who have said this better than I have. Thanks!

  • AC

    Ellen Dibble,

    Thanks for your thoughts on mentoring! You make some very insightful points about matters requiring great sensitivity. The more mentoring, the more experience, the more sensitivity, the more success! Thanks!

  • Ellen Dibble

    There was an afterschool program in a public housing project here, which went to morning programs in summer, and it closed down after a few years. It was designed to incorporate mentors age 55 and up, but accepted me though I was “too young,” and there was a paid-for individual, a teacher with a new baby who was taking time off her regular job, and we used an apartment unit that was shared by the whole project. The program would take me out there by taxi, and I was allowed taxis reimbursed by them to take various groups of kids on activities by myself. I took them swimming or out to pizza or just to visit here. I think we couldn’t do that anymore since there are seatbelt laws such that the taxis would have to have several child car seats for those expeditions. The children regularly told me that my apartment seemed safe, and their lives would be totally different in such a circumstance. It was a window for them, but a window is not the same as an open door they could go through.
    Big Brothers/Big Sisters still does mentoring here, but the sponsoring agency I used went belly up, I think through mismanagement.

  • AC

    Ellen D.,

    You say, “the children regularly told me that my apartment seemed safe, and their lives would be totally different in such a circumstance.”

    Thank you for bringing up my MAIN criterion for (my personally) deciding whether we can claim the USA to be “the greatest nation on earth”. I consistently say, “not until the kids in our poorest areas can play outside and walk to school in safety, and come back to safe homes. No drive-by shootings, no coercions to join gangs, no racial profiling. Yes to after-school programs and engaging school projects, to everyone being part of the neighborhood including interfacing with those both younger and older than themselves. Yes to creativity and access to spaces and materials to express that creativity as well as to share it with the community at large. Yes to an active neighborhood with safe bike paths, sports playgrounds, community gardens, community theaters and community galleries, etc., etc.”

    I KNOW I am extreme in my POV. Many would say that the USA offers more opportunities than any nation on earth. I am not convinced. We seem to consistently point out the weak or horrific aspects of life in other countries rather than looking at the successful parts of life in other countries that we really should consider emulating. Too many children are abused by poverty in this country. Until we actively work to change that, I feel we have no right to brag or rest on our laurels. I don’t expect everyone to share my extreme view, but I do enjoy hearing about people actively seeking to make a difference, like your mentoring!

    I trained to start mentoring and just then I got my cancer back. At the time, I feared & the organization concurred that it might not be good for me to get close to child during mentoring only to get sick and possibly die. When my health got stabilized somewhat, I switched to volunteering in an adult literacy group. I loved it, until cancer problems and my student’s leaving the area stopped my participation. I’m really glad to hear about the Boys and Girls Clubs. Being more stable now, maybe I will seek out what they have to offer, even if I can only make a donation. Thanks!

  • Ellen Dibble

    AC, if you have the time, maybe you can help organize mentoring groups yourself. See http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962335/k.BE16/Home.htm for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
    The advantage of working as a group and with a group was that mentors and teachers were always changing. One summer a neighbor from a house with a pool nearby took part. Whoopee! I had done it after inquiring for an elderly friend who hadn’t really meant to do this, I believe, but I certainly did. And my business was slow, which is good because my time and interest was all with the children for a matter of years. When my business picked up, it was clear I would have to totally stop and over the course of a semester I was less of a presence, letting the new mentors take the lead (college students then, who wouldn’t be with them for long anyway). I see some of them around town; one works where I buy food and he can stop for a break and chat; most have had children and moved away, as far as I can tell not exactly upward and onward, but with a very moving respect for me, and probably less of a sense of “otherness” about the community “outside” than had those programs not been in place.

  • AC

    Ellen D.,

    Thanks VERY MUCH for this lead! I am going to be meeting with a friend in a few days to discuss what community activities we could engage with! I will definitely check this out, and it may go to the top of my list! Thank you SO much! My issues, which STILL don’t even feel like they belong to ME, are those of stamina and mobility, so it is in THAT context that I must work, but this is a GREAT lead! Thanks so much!

  • Lynne MF

    From a 4-H alum (I don’t think I’ve seen any others) -
    Harvard showed up for the first time at our daughtesr’ high school when the younger one was a junior (after the other had graduated). They probably regarded it as rural since it’s Indiana outside Indianapolis although 70-80% come from suburbs. A small fraction come from rural slums – substandard houses, mobile homes, low income families. None of them heard the Harvard recruiter. The AP and honors classes were filled with suburban and farm kids who all have high test scores. They predominantly go to Big 10 schools, which are filled with kids qualified for the “elite” schools but aren’t interested. That daugher graduated from a mid-Atlantic liberal arts college which did recruit her. The school still is dominated by northeast / mid-Atlantic students. But they didn’t think the 4H part of her resume was a disqualification. I do think it is class; not just the Ivy League, but other elite schools (I’d include Stanford, MIT, the top liberal arts colleges) do not go far beyond their geographic centers except from truly exceptional students – including athletes in many cases.

  • David

    Those who say class is the issue are just wrong. For the next 50 years, the number one story in America will be the slow build up to the day that white people are less than 50%. It’s already true in the 18 and under population of 7 western states.

    Nothing will be more divisive than this. As we approach that day, white people will become more and more agitated, and will talk about the “founding fathers” and the constitution more and more and more. RACE will be the #1 issue in America. It always has been.

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