The Nation’s Agenda: Left Blindness on Racism

This is a brief letter that the savvy scholar of US racism, Steve Steinberg, had published in The Nation just recently. It shows how the left itself has trouble with thinking beyond the white racial framing of things.

His letter was in response to this article in the December 29, 2008 The Nation.

Colorblind? Your lead editorial, “The First 100 Days” [Dec. 1], issues a welcome list of ambitious initiatives that would “get a real start on repairing our nation,” including a renewed war on poverty. No mention, however, of race and racism, despite the fact that a mobilized black community provided the margin between victory and defeat. A colorblind approach will not address the distinct problems African-Americans confront: occupational apartheid that leaves almost half of black men in cities like Chicago and Washington without jobs; the evisceration of affirmative action by all branches of government; mass incarceration that exceeds 2 million, two-thirds of them black or Latino, often for violation of drug laws; rampant discrimination in housing; a scurrilous lack of enforcement of civil rights laws, especially Title VIII. Can we “repair our nation” without confronting the legacy of slavery? Is the colorblind left going to participate in the charade of using Obama to sidestep racial issues? And is the Democratic Party willing to risk a backlash from blacks who feel betrayed by the election of “the first black President”?  ~ Stephen Steinberg

The Spirit of Justice

Racism usually seems to be the elephant in the room that whites of all persuasions cannot see, or do not want to see (Creative Commons License photo credit: kimberlyfaye). Where is the concern with racial justice going to be put in this new administration? In the goals of progressive media and organizations?


  1. GDAWG

    “racism…… or do not want to see.”
    I tend to believe Professor Steinberg has summed up what we have long noted with much consternation. His letter speaks quite well of the special blindness on the ‘left’. But as we have noted additionally, those special priviledges, based on skin pigmentation or ethnic origin, are just too valuable to willingly share with their fellow travelers.

  2. Seattle in Texas

    Was not quite sure where to put this…but below is a link to a website that might be of interest to progressives anywhere as it compliments this website in general—an array of issues are presented that allow for petition or voting, networking, action, generating concerns that need to be addressed (like yesterday or a century ago…), etc. While the direct link below is on Leonard Peltier as to provide an example of an issue of focus at the site, you can “Browse Ideas by Cause” to the right of the Peltier statement and/or hit “Home” to learn more about this website in general:

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