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Eugene Robinson: Black America's "Disintegration"

We hear about Robinson’s contention that black America is splintering.

Eugene Robinson (Julia Ewan)

Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson swings a big stick in national policy debates – and he swings from the Left. But this time out he’s not talking policy so much as race.

He’s talkign what it meant to be black in America, and what it means now.

In his new book “Disintegration,” Robinson says there is no more “black America.”

There are, he says, now a bunch of black Americas. There’s a super-rich tier and a super-poor tier. Blacks are going their own ways. Not on the same boat. Divided.

-Tom Ashbrook


Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post, where he has worked since 1980. His new book is “Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America.” You can read an excerpt.

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  • Michael


  • Joshua Hendrickson

    To put it mildly, blacks have never had an easy time of it in America. From slavery to Jim Crow to post-civil rights condescension to racially targeted imprisonment, the behavior of the white majority has been downright criminal. How do we even begin to repair the damage that’s been done? I don’t see any answer in our capitalist society; there’s no profit in it–a fact that capitalism was quite up-front about back in the days of slavery. Until our nation and our world is genuinely economically just, there will be no real possibility for racial justice.

  • Ann

    I research HISTORY because I’ve always loved history, but also so that I can learn more about my own family; more about the context of their lives and that of others; and so that I can understand more about the development of the democracy that they tried to participate in and that I get to be part of. But, I mainly comment about the history I’ve learned, on these pages, so that I can contribute to our “long view” — i.e., to the historical background; to our sense of the lived experiences of those who came before us — when we discuss topics like the one planned for today, about our CONTEMPORARY ISSUES. To me, what Mr. Robinson is going to address is one of the most significant set of issues in American life. The problems I expect he will speak about have gone unaddressed for FAR too long by those with enough power to execute change; while at the same time having been expressively and creatively addressed by those most in need of change, and by those most empathetically desirous of change, ALSO for FAR too long! I am really looking forward to learning from his scholarship and intuition!

  • Nevan

    Within the last three weeks, On Point has featured Henry Louis Gates Jr., Noam Chomsky, Bill Keller, and now Eugene Robinson as guests. It looks like On Point has become the last refuge for angry and disaffected liberals.

  • Sean


    Over the last 3 weeks onpoint has broadcast 30 shows. Just over 10% have featured “disaffected liberals.” If thats to much for you I think the problem is in your court. How many Conservatives do Rush and Fox feature? Why don’t you count that score up also.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Ann: I respect you because your comments are almost always insightful and informative. In this case, do you mean to say that the subject of CLASSISM has been avoided, and needs careful examination? Or, would you slice the pie differently?

    Nevin: If you were my kid I’d suspend your media access for a week and put you to reading “Moyers On Democracy” and Chris Hedges’ “Empire of Illusion.”
    If “the Constitution is hanging by a thread” Glenn Beck is running toward it with the scissors.

    Sean: Good point!

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Eugene Robinson: I do not think there are any Black Republicans without significant wealth. The plantation is alive and well for all ethnicities, and in both parties and all employments. I am a field *igger (rigger?) myself. Thank you Gene for not being a house rigger. (even thou there was milk and *oney (money) on the other side)

  • Ellen Dibble

    The excerpt from Robinson’s work includes my own question: “[Henry Louis]Gates discovered to his surprise that more than 50 percent of his genetic material was European…. So forget about whether the mixed-race Emergents are ‘black enough.’… How black can any of us claim to be.”
    If Robinson lived where I do, close by a state university with tens of thousands of students, and if he went around by bus watching that population, he would say that it is no longer possible to distinguish black from white, if you had a prejudiced brain preprogrammed to see the world like that. You would see a lot of totally mixed racial makeup.
    One doesn’t see this in the older populations. One doesn’t see this in many residential areas. “Dis-integration” applies, as his theory posits, outside of this newly erupting generation and its obvious promise (of vanishing racial discernibility).
    So I was hunting in the excerpt for the statistical sources for “disintegration.” What age groups? Where?

  • BHA

    Sounds like ‘Black America’ is disintegrating into the same groupings as ‘Non Black America’. The difference being that the non blacks don’t have a common history – ancestors that were brought here as slaves – that shaped them into a ‘group’.

  • Marc

    Can’t listen today and I know it’s unfair to project what will be said, but here’s my guess:
    Blacks have been persecuted throughout history by whites
    Blacks continue to be disadvantaged
    Racism has been reduced but it’s still widespread

    All of this is probably true to a degree. But what will not be said is:

    Blacks commit crimes at a much higher rate than whites, Asians or just about any other group
    Blacks have children without two parents at a higher rate than almost any other group.
    In terms of educational accomplishments, what they earn, business created, blacks have been behind just about every other group.

    Of course, I could be mistaken and we will hear the other issues, but it will be with the caveat that it’s largely someone else’s fault.

    Personally, I think people like to view themselves as victims and an industry of professors, politicians and media people has formed to reinforce this and perpetuate themselves. None of this means there’s no victimization, but it does mean that it’ll be a lot harder to change what’s wrong.

  • Rob (in NY)

    I look forward listening to the replay of this program after work, but I would ask if Mr. Robinson could touch on various affirmative action programs (e.g what has worked, what has not, etc…). While I have a center/right philosophy on most political issues, I do support various affirmative action programs (e.g. which is one reason I could never hope for a career in GOP politics). However, I also believe some of these programs are nothing more than an exercise in self congratulation among leaders in Corporate America. The bottom line to me is that we will not see much more progress here until the conditions in public school systems with higher percentages of African American children are improved. I would also add that is in the interest of coprorate America to fix these broken public school systems.

  • cory

    I don’t think race can be addressed properly or effectively until class and poverty are.

    P.S. Is Nevan the new “informed American”? If so, welcome aboard! I look forward to being irritated on a daily basis by your comments.

  • ThresherK

    Eugene Robinson has an all-too-scarce ability to be inside the Beltway and not be subsumed by it. Good for him. We need more folks like that on TV of any race.

  • Greg

    I have more in common with “Black America” than this guy.

  • Kathryn

    This talk seems very one-dimensional and I’m not sure what it actually contributes to our thoughts.

  • John

    Is there a class split today between blacks who lived in the north prior to the Great Migration and those who came up from the south later?

  • John

    I have to respond to Marc… You’re right you have no idea what will be said. I thought similar things but I find Mr. Robinson agnostic with respect to the “plight” of African Americans. He has outlined a work that appears from his talking about it is non-biased without agenda for perpetuating the “victim” mentality. Thank you Mr. Robinson. I look forward to reading your book!

  • Andrea Wilder


    I am white/white/white and I nod to people all the time–black and white–it’s the kids, students, who don’t understand this.


  • liz harrow

    when i’m travelling in europe, in a museum or somewhere where i see young black americans who look like college students, (or young asian-americans), i see them as part of my ‘tribe’ and will often nod hello– but i’m white, 57 years old– the tribe part comes from belonging to the university community to the gang of people who go to art museums. if i see older white americans on a guided tour, i skirt around them.
    education is a huge part of our socio-economic identity.

  • Mary F.

    I see Mr. Robinson’s thesis playing out in the push towards charter schools in the current education “reform” movement. As parents in inner-city neighborhoods try to help their children, they do all they can to help their kids get into charter schools. Meanwhile, those kids whose parents don’t know how to go about this, or can’t for whatever reason, are left behind in public schools whose resources are being diminished as funds flow to the charters.

  • Beau Stubblefield-Tave

    I was born in Houston Negro Hospital in 1956 and grew up in the Midwest as the son of Texas Baptist father and a Michigan Catholic mother. Both black, and from very different communities. Would be interested in Robinson’s and others’ comments on The Color Complex and the politics of skin color in the black community. It is a longstanding, and still present, aspect of our splintering. However, the black church remains a source of great unity, in my book.

    Beau Stubblefield Tave

  • Anne

    I am from down there in the south too (Latina!) and since I moved to Massachusets over 8 years ago I had an impression that Americans were somehow rude and avoided eye contact when they notice you close by. Well, I since had the opportunity to visit other states in the South (including Arizona) and noticed that people there are so much different and friendlier! I don’t think it’s a matter of being black or white but in what type of culture you grow up in…

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    I am not familiar with Mr. Robinson’s work, but I think that the next surge of civil rights will be about class and not race. Hopefully, those allowed success by previous successes in the movement will support the right side in the battles to come. I think that it comes down to whether you choose to define things by similarities or by differences.

    This definitely is not a new issue. Tom and Jerry has been on the air for a long time…

  • Scott J

    A very close friend of mine is a high school teacher in West Philadelphia in a predominantly black neighborhood, and he has told me that the gap between black African immigrant students and their black American peers is incredibly wide. The racism he has seen and heard directed at the Africans from the American black students is the hardest kind of hateful racism that he has heard of in modern American life. I think that is a sad situation.

  • Eugene

    By definition, I would be considered a middle-class African American. My mother, father, and other relatives would be considered “abandoned.” I feel more connected with African Americans who would be categorized as “abandoned.”

  • Maggie

    How can I, as a white American living in a predominately white community, reach out to the abandoned communities?

  • Cyndi

    To be honest, from what I hear from my friends, black, white, asian, hispanic, purple, blue and green, we are kind of over this whole angry racial crap. There will never be a way to make up for the past, but if we did just how far back are we willing to go with that?

    I’m not sure who everyone is surrounding themselves with but I’m sick and tired of having to check everyone’s skin color to make sure I’m not offensive. Since I strive to be non-offensive in general I get OFFENDED that because of the color of my skin I’m branded a racist.

    I am 37 and white and grew up in the mid-west. I lived in SoCA for a dozen years and now live in the mid-Atlantic area. I have seen racism up close an personal and have very loudly told people to knock it off when they think it’s ok to say something stupid. I have been called names by people who don’t look like me and I called them a racist the same as I call anyone who makes comments like that. I cleared a college classroom once for reminding a classmate that whenever you make a judgement or statement based on the color of someone’s skin that makes you a racist! She hit the roof and scared everyone out of that room.

    I am an American and I long for the day when we call ourselves American and work towards our greater good AS A WHOLE. My heritage is my heritage but I am an American first and I don’t care about the color of your or my skin!

  • Jenene

    Great show Tom. Thank you Mr. Robinson for sharing your research and thinking about what it means to be Black in America today. I am looking forward to reading your book.

  • Adwoa

    Beyond the acknowledging nod: In Spokane, Washington, an African-American woman with southern roots does extraordinary work to settle new immigrants from continental Africa. In Lewiston, Maine, a young first-generation continental African volunteers in inner-city schools.

  • twenty-niner

    “Until our nation and our world is genuinely economically just, there will be no real possibility for racial justice.”

    How do you propose to make the world economically just?

  • dnxtlvl

    Prisoners of war have been given more rights through the Geneva Convention than we have been given although we (Whites/settlers and “Blacks”) are supposedly not at war. The fact that the laws of long ago have been changed, but not enforced causing us to go through various forms of terrorism including the technique, “Learned Helplessness” is unconscionable. If is time to discuss the end of Affirmative Action then it is obviously time to discuss Reparations.
    For years the US Govt said they did not have the money yet they spend trillions in Iran, Iraq… for “peace missions” just as we do not have peace on our own soil. If the Bailouts went to Americans – all Americans – each one of us could have received one million dollars – which would have actually stimulated the economy. That to say – the govt is able to give trillions of dollars to thousands of groups. Perhaps the problem is so much of our economy is based on tenets of slavery and subjugation.

  • twenty-niner

    “To be honest, from what I hear from my friends, black, white, asian, hispanic, purple, blue and green, we are kind of over this whole angry racial crap.”

    Racism is another “ism” that gets tossed around so freely, it’s almost lost its meaning. We hear calls to secure the Mexican border being deemed racist, which is odd because Hispanic is not a race. Hispanics are generally either Caucasian or Negro, and the ones typically pictured crossing the border illegally are Caucasian.

    I believe the more correct term for most of the prejudice we see in society is cultural-ism or tribalism. For example, most anti-Semitics and most Jews are of the same race, Caucasian. However, they are of completely different cultures and tribes.

  • Tiffany

    Whites have been trying to erase and destroy black people for centuries. Perhaps they are finally succeeding.

  • twenty-niner

    “If the Bailouts went to Americans – all Americans – each one of us could have received one million dollars”

    Interesting. Lets do some math:

    300 million Americans x 1 million dollars =
    300 million million dollars
    300 trillion dollars.

    The actual bailout total is hard to measure but let’s say it’s an even trillion plus or minus. That equates to:

    1 trillion / 300 million = $3,333.33 per person, not chump change but hardly a million dollars.

    But you’re thinking along the right lines. Some more math:

    Current US Debt + SS Liability + Medicare Liability +
    Prescription Drug Liability = Total US Unfunded Liabilities

    13.6T + 14.6T + 76.9T + 19.3T = 124.4T
    124.4T / 300 million = $414 thousand per person.

    Thus, our unfunded liabilities total $414 thousand per person. Now there are really only 100 million households, so this equates to $1.2 million per household. So, if we are to meet these liabilities, instead of get a nice big check of 1 million dollars, each household will have to figure out how to pony up about a million bucks.

  • Marian Hackett

    twenty-niner: I’d like to take your comment further if I may — “I believe the more correct term for most of the prejudice we see in society is…” willful ignornance.

  • Ann


    In answer to your question: For me, Mr. Robinson “sliced the pie” (to use your phrase) with a compassion for those he referred to as “abandoned” with a directness and zeal for change on their behalf that I’d hoped for. I find his POV on this to be one of the most important directives on our national agenda.

  • http://transculturalawareness.blogspot.com/ Offie Wortham

    I think this is a long over-due book. I call the blacks not nodding back as “The Dracula Effect.” We don’t see each other anymore. Below are my comments to further explain what Mr. Robinson was saying:

    Lifestyle Matters,
    More than Race, Ethnicity, or Economic Class!
    Offie C. Wortham, PhD

    As obvious as the above title may seem, this truth is generally denied or beyond the comprehension of the general public. People have been categorized or generalized by race or ethnicity for centuries with the erroneous assumption that these vague and unclear classifications would yield correct and meaningful information to formulate successful policies and programs to solve a multitude of social and political problems.
    There are certain standards and patterns of behavior in our society that are admired and respected. There are others that are not. These patterns cut across lines of socio-economic class and even education. Even among the least educated and less affluent there is an awareness of when a person “has no class.” The lifestyle of an individual is a more accurate indicator of the values, morals, ethics and even problems of an individual than their race or ethnicity.
    Adults in the past were miss-educated to believe that various ethnic groups were either inferior or superior intellectually and morally. This is what we call racism. Certain aspects of a group’s culture; their music, their diet, their religion, their speech, their dress, the way they walked, and even their art, were deemed inferior and sometimes almost sub-human.
    The group in power tends to set the standards of what is considered civilized or uncivilized behavior. Whatever they do and like are correct, and everyone else is lacking in terms of proper conduct. (If the minority groups had been in power, the classifications would have been reversed, and the lifestyles of the dominant group would have been labeled as inferior and ignorant.) In some societies people are even killed or put in prison for simply violating manmade social norms. Drinking alcohol was once a crime in the United States! So was gambling, fornication, not believing in a God, homosexuality, and interracial marriages! Today, this lack of tolerance for variations in behavior includes the current laws against the use of certain drugs, and the persistent belief that time in prison improves human behavior.
    Conforming to the lifestyle of the group in power usually assures individuals of more acceptance and less discrimination. People like to associate with people who are as much like them as possible. We feel more comfortable with those who share a common language, religion, culture, and worldview. On the one hand we preach diversity, but in reality, we want to be with people who are just like us. This could be intellectually, spiritually, or who dress as we do, like the same past-times or hobbies, sports, music, or even art.
    The Obama phenomena can be understood better if we view his acceptance as an acceptance of a preferred lifestyle. Highly educated, financially successful, articulate, clean-cut and “nice looking,” moderate in his politics, somewhat religious, and a good family man. This is the perfect image America wants to project to the world, and to itself. In the past, his color and his ethnicity simply meant that he was a member of a race that was generally uneducated, poor, inarticulate, unattractive, a follower of a primitive and emotional religion, and either born out of wedlock, or the unmarried parents of children being raised in poverty and ignorance. Obama transcended the racial issue by having the perfect lifestyle that we all desire! This far over-shadowed his mixed ancestry. His equally intelligent and successful wife even gave up her $250,000 a year job to be at his side as the First Lady! Is there any woman in America, of any color, that cannot fanaticize about having such a choice?
    My point here is that we reject certain groups or individuals because of their speech, their mannerisms, their behavior, their lack of interest in education, and their appearance. The amount of money they make does not move them up one notch in social acceptance, as long as they continue to act like immoral and ignorant clowns. We have always discriminated by lifestyle throughout history. Only recently have we become confused and introduced race or ethnicity as primary factors in determining human behavior, and forgot that lifestyle is really much more important than race.

  • Carolyn

    Since I was critical of the tattoo episode, I should balance my criticism with praise. I am a huge fan of Eugene Robinson. As a subscriber to The Washington Post, quite often his column makes the newspaper worth the price of the subscription.

    Thank you for having him on On-Point.

  • Rob (in NY)

    “If the Bailouts went to Americans – all Americans – each one of us could have received one million dollars”

    Whether a person supported or opposed TARP bailouts and other, it is important that people making actual statements regarding their cost, rather than making blanket statements that are not supported by actual facts. The most recent estimate of the TARP bailouts signed into law by President Bush and continued by President Obama is $66 billion based on Treasury estimates as most of the money was paid back or the Government’s equity stake is worth a lot of money (and it keeps coming down so many experts actually believe taxpayers will make money off TARP. The actual numbers tell a similar story for the AIG money

    Please stop making inaccurate statements about “trillions in bailout to banks and Wall Street”


  • twenty-niner

    “The most recent estimate of the TARP bailouts signed into law by President Bush and continued by President Obama is $66 billion based on Treasury estimates as most of the money was paid back or the Government’s equity stake is worth a lot of money (and it keeps coming down so many experts actually believe taxpayers will make money off TARP.”

    The bailout of Fannie and Freddie, although ostensibly separate from TARP, never gets factored into anyone’s optimistic accounting.

    “Fannie, Freddie bailout could cost taxpayers $1 trillion”


    A further question is how much buying power will be eroded by the time the Fed is finished with its inflation campaign (QE1 + QE2), which is partly how the bailouts have been financed – another cost that rarely makes it into anyone’s calculus.

  • Rob (in NY)

    @twenty-niner, A little of the discussion topic, but it is ironic that the bailout that is going to cost taxpayers the most is the GSE’s. You are also preaching to the choir regarding the Federal Reserve quantitative easing campaigns, but it is a stretch to call this policy a bailout. It is the Federal Reserve trying to get reluctant banks to lend more and may very well be a long term policy disaster that diminishes the value of our currency, but it is not a bailout.

    Please forgive my pessimistic tone, but the combination of our central bank publicly stating it wants higher inflation and our politicians wanting higher marginal tax rates does not sound like a good recipe for long term economic growth.

  • michael

    “How big? Fannie and Freddie guarantee almost $6 trillion in mortgages, and the potential cost of fixing them will be the largest US bailout ever, potentially up to $1 trillion”

    Potentially is not factual since it can potentially not happen, potentially make an profit, etc, etc

    The link and his other writing sounds more like gossip than anything else.

  • michael

    Rob, 29r,

    like such,


    The SIGTARP outlines four hidden costs, none of them trivial.

    First, all that TARP borrowing by the Treasury means more expensive borrowing down the road. The Treasury says it’s borrowed for the TARP at only about 0.9%, but the SIGTARP report says 2.8% may be a better estimate. That’s relatively cheap borrowing for now, but could lead to big spikes in the future.

    Second, more expensive government borrowing tends to “crowd out” other borrowing. If people with money can lend to the government–still an awfully safe borrower–at, say, 5%, then why would they lend to a private borrower for any less? Increased government borrowing can choke out private investors or raise their costs of borrowing. That could end up being a considerable cost to businesses, and thus to jobs and the economy.

  • michael

    Third, the bailouts have created “moral hazard” problems. Before the crisis, everyone would give money to Fannie Mae ( FNM – news – people ) and Freddie Mac ( FRE – news – people ), because it was assumed the government would protect in the case of losses. This helped Fannie and Freddie get too large, and also probably contributed to some crowding out in the mortgage sector. Many observers conclude that the TARP turned every big bank into a Fannie or Freddie. Perversely, this could lead to the too big banks becoming even bigger.

    Finally, because the TARP partnered with the FDIC and Federal Reserve, it could potentially lead to losses for these agencies, which would not show up on a TARP balance sheet.

  • Joshua Hendrickson


    my comment is only an observation of the general impossibility of real change. “Economic justice” is probably impossible to achieve, largely because questions like yours presume its impossibility. There are solutions, it’s just that the majority of folks don’t really want to try them out … they’re too conservative, in the sense of wanting to preserve their own advantage (or perceived advantage), or too convinced that their cultural perspective is nigh universal.

    In the end, I think any solution that involves retaining any sort of “economy” is doomed, because capitalism is too logically and readily reducible to slavery. In a world of six billion and counting, we have far more than enough people to run things humanely for all through cooperation, but we continue to pretend that we’re all in it for ourselves alone. Everything is about attitude … including the attitude displayed in your question.

  • twenty-niner

    “my comment is only an observation of the general impossibility of real change. “Economic justice” is probably impossible to achieve, largely because questions like yours presume its impossibility.”

    Firstly, I don’t even know what “economic justice” means. Does that mean everyone winds up in the exact same station in life, same house, same food, same car, etc? Or does it mean there’s stratification in society, but everyone gets the same exact opportunities, and every outcome is purely a result of one’s own actions. Both, in my view, are impossible.

    We are all born in highly disparate environments, our parents raise us in different ways, we have varying luck, physical attributes, mental abilities, work ethic, personality traits, life experiences, far too many differentiators to count.

    And we are all competing for limited resources: basic needs, attractive mates, all the stuff on Maslow’s hierarchy. Even on a perfectly level playing field, someone is going to finish first, and the guy with the stubby legs is never going to have a shot. Does he get an extra push? How about the guy, with the drunken Father, who beat him every day? He may need an extra push as well, but you’d never know it by looking at him. The problem is you can’t account and correct for all of the pluses and minuses that occur over the course of a life.

    To me, what you’re saying is tantamount to wanting water to flow up hill. At some point, you’re trying to defy the laws of physics.

  • twenty-niner

    Michael, Rob

    This is my favorite article of late about US Debt:

    “Three Horrifying Facts About the US Debt “Situation””


    My favorite is number 2:

    “There are only about $550 billion of Treasuries outstanding with a remaining maturity of greater than 10 years.”

    Which means at least 13T in debt is going to have to be rolled over in the next 10 years.

  • James Kurnick

    Dear Mr. Ashbrook, In this age of heated debate that generates more heat than light there is a COMPLETELY NEGLECTED topic which is simply FACT.

    At the current birth rate Japan will implode because of the INVERTED POPULATION PYRAMID. Europe is also and the edge of a cliff and America can withstand the low birth rate among the middle class only by importing young healthy workers.

    A recent report stated that Latinos in America outlive both whites and blacks because only the healthiest latinos make it to the USA.

    In all the debate about immigration, illegal or otherwise, if we do not bring in MORE IMMIGRANTS in the next 50 years there will be no one to take care of the aging population. Educated people do not reproduce themselves. This is simply fact. Only the poor and under educated groups actually have a birth rate above 2 per couple, and this is truer in Europe than in America, and Japan, which has virtually no immigration has an inverted population pyramid with more people over age 70 than under age 10. This is in stark contrast to the entire history of mankind, and in underdeveloped countries, such as Afghanistan, this is still true, but in the developed world there is a CRISIS, and nobody is addressing this question.

    This is not just politics, this is SURVIVAL. Ignore at our peril. Get the experts to talk about this impending crisis, and not about fears that are unfounded, but fears of what is HAPPENING NOW. This will affect EVERYTHING from health care to financing to housing to actual survival of the society. No society has ever survived a birth rate below 2, and in Europe they are below 1.5, and going DOWN. The US can only survive by importing young labor to keep the engine humming.

    Take a look, it is astonishing.

    James T. Kurnick, M.D.
    781 799 6629

  • Bush’s fault

    You mean to tell me blacks are people too? Why didn’t someone say so? You mean we now have rich blacks and poor blacks and happy blacks and sad blacks and pretty blacks and ugly blacks and blacks who know how to dress and blacks that don’t know how to dress and mega rich blacks and mega poor blacks and blacks who can express themselves and blacks who are dumb and blacks who will learn and blacks who will never learn anything? Oh My God! They’re just like white people!

  • Bush’s fault

    29er…economic justice is a wet dream…that should explain it.

  • Joshua Hendrickson


    My answer remains the same: it’s all about attitude. Your attitude presumes (perhaps rightly) that there must be winners and losers. My attitude presumes (perhaps rightly) that given the many different kinds of cultures we’ve created through history, we can manage to create one where winners and losers are relegated to the dustbin of history. It’s not about getting water to flow uphill; it’s about building a waterwheel.

    I don’t want a “Harrison Bergeron” kind of society where talents are eliminated and equality means a flatness of achievement. I also don’t want a world where we all must drive the same cars and have the same houses.

    What I would like to see is a world where the brutish business of subsistence survival, which chokes the life right out of existence, is taken care of by society as a whole, and all luxuries are costly. Those who want luxuries can work and pay for them, and those who don’t need or want luxuries won’t have to worry about having a roof over their head or where their next meal is coming from. I suspect that the relatively near future may make this world more possible than it is today.

    The real question is not whether such a world is possible. Anything is possible; after all, we’ve managed to create a world out of a wholly imaginary means of valuation and exchange. The real question is do we want that world? And the answer, as you imply, is NO. Too many people want to be Winners and enjoy seeing others lose. In other words, too many people don’t believe in equality. And historically, at least since the dawn of agriculture, that has been the standard.

    So relax. I’ve already conceded that “my side” has lost; there’s just no need for us to sit down and shut up while we wait for the executioner to come for us.


  • Lynne A.

    This is not new. The Black American community has always been two to three different communties,upper-middle,working class and poor.The educated have always been separate because they strive and look ahead to the future for the next generation.
    I have a deverse/mix race background growing up in the north.Totally different then what Eugene Robinson speaks of. My family has always been middle to upper middle class nad educated for 5 generations. We have never lived in all black community,nor do we consider ourselves as black,since we are mixed race.My grandfather was a founder of a hospital in S.W. Phila.My parents were the first people of color on their block in 1960,The block transended,from white to mix. My parents being social climbers,again moved for better schools and neighborhood for us.I and my sisters and brother have followed suit for our own children,and it continues through the next generation ,my grandchildre. I would never live in a all black community,nor would I want too.
    The disadvantage have actually left themselves behind,mainly because that is where they want to be.My daughter teaches at a black high school(the same one Will Smith attended)in Phila. and these kids and their parents are like crabs in a barrel.

  • Lynne A.

    Wrong on the race catagory for the border crossers.The majority of them are American Indians,Maya and Apache.
    They are only coming back to their ancestorial home.

  • twenty-niner

    “I don’t want a “Harrison Bergeron” kind of society”

    “The real question is not whether such a world is possible. Anything is possible; after all, we’ve managed to create a world out of a wholly imaginary means of valuation and exchange. The real question is do we want that world? And the answer, as you imply, is NO. Too many people want to be Winners and enjoy seeing others lose.”

    Agree, let’s all keep our eyebrows. I would love to see everyone win, but some people can’t help but lose, repeatedly. I read somewhere that 70% of lottery winners squander there winnings in a few years.

    I don’t quarrel with egalitarianism in principle, I just don’t see it as a realistic outcome. Even if aliens landed and provided us all of our material needs, we would still be competing for mates, leading to envy. My theory is that 95% of what we do up until the age of 25 is ultimately to get laid.

  • Joshua Hendrickson


    LOL! That last bit, about “My theory is that 95% of what we do up until the age of 25 is ultimately to get laid,” had me laughing for personal reasons–you see, I didn’t even get laid until I was 25; before that, I spent ten years writing novels–a solitary activity which practically guarantees one an asexual lifestyle.

    Yah, human beings will quarrel over everything from here til the sun goes red giant on us, and our egos will always be there to trip us up. I just refuse to give up on a vision of a differently ordered world. A future of endless war, starvation and near-or-actual slavery is just too horrible for any of us to permit.

  • http://victorials.wordpress.com Victoria

    gosh, the only people that EVER nod hello back to me are brown people, especially in Brooklyn (oh, I am a pink skinned person). I always thought brown people were just more human.

  • Zeno

    Although I have opinions to express on this issue, I believe my footing in history and personal experience invalidates any such expression. This is one of those strange topics where the absurdity of importance of skin color creates equally absurd walls of exclusion and culture.

  • grace

    Well then Nevan, I guess we won’t expect to hear from you any longer!

  • http://none sam

    Robinson is just another over rated leftist BS artist who wants racial conflict to keep his views alive. Otherwise he would have to get a real job. Considering he speaks for MSNBC and writes for the Washington Post, those news networks cater to radicals like Robinson. Enough said.

  • Carolyn

    Yeah, Bush’s fault,

    I am with you on that. People are finally realizing that blacks are actually people and have the same diversity of opinion, lifestyle, wealth, educational levels, etc as other ethnic/racial groups. Blacks are not, and never have been, one monolithic group.

  • Nick-Montreal

    It is always about class, not race, race is a veil pulled over class struggle to divert the attention of the oppressed, as religiopn was in Europe in the middle-ages through the 19th century. We can only hope that all the veil will one day be torn off and allow humanity to progress to a society of true freedom and responibility , opportunity and choice. But as long as there remains those whom fail to recognize their brothers and sisters as equals in all facets of life, there will be no freedom, and no true meritocracy. An equal society is a perfect meritocracy.

  • Mark the Skeptic

    Is it possible that this dis-integration is a positive sign that people are less inclined to self identify based primarily upon skin color?
    Isn’t it also probable that continuing to group people into such incidental characteristics as skin color perpetuates an unnecessary harm?
    I look forward with anticipation to a time when we nod our heads to one another in recognition to our common humanity, when we form communities based on our shared human desires, and for the time when people will be judged solely on the quality of their character and not the quantity of their melanin in their skin.
    Interesting side note: According to modern molecular and genetic science as well as anthropological evidence, all modern humans have descended from ancestors from Africa. Therefore, race as we know it in the U.S. is essentially a human social construction.

Sep 2, 2014
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks with Mark Wilson, event political speaker chairperson, with his wife Elain Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 4, 2012. (AP)

Nine weeks counting now to the midterm elections. We’ll look at the key races and the stakes.

Sep 2, 2014
Confederate spymaster Rose O'Neal Greenhow, pictured with her daughter "Little" Rose in Washington, D.C.'s Old Capitol Prison in 1862. (Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

True stories of daring women during the Civil War. Best-selling author Karen Abbott shares their exploits in a new book: “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.”

Sep 1, 2014
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) recovers a fumble by Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) in the second quarter of the NFL preseason football game on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP)

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Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

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