Race and Racism

Race and the American Creed

Race and the American Creed

Recovering black radicalism

Race in the United States is marked by a fundamental paradox. On the one hand, there has been considerable progress: segregation enforced by the rule of law is a thing of the past, and segregation at the level of mainstream culture, though persistent, is considered a scandal. On the other hand, today’s postracial America of Kimye and Pharrell is still the era of the New Jim Crow and entrenched black poverty. Diversity in elite universities exists alongside de facto residential segregation, and a black president administers a minority-dominated prison system.

Barbering for Freedom

Barbering for Freedom

Segregation, separatism, and the history of black barbershops

I went to that black barbershop for the reason millions like me have done so before—to feel at home. But for years, as Quincy Mills’s fascinating Cutting Across the Color Line reveals, black barbershops in America were unavailable to people of my lineage and color. Though they became a stereotypical image of a black social institution, crystallized best in Barbershop, they began as institutions of segregation and white supremacy. In the antebellum era, but also well into the period of Reconstruction, black barbershops—predominantly in the South but often in the North—only served white men.

Dwight and Paul Have Left the Building

Dwight and Paul Have Left the Building

Scenes from the other Graceland

Paul wore several dense rings on his large hands as he gave the $5 tours and left the impression that he was not above using them in a mix-up. His charm melted away at the edges of a subtle menace he exuded. If he caught a visitor staring off into space as he was talking, he’d often grab their shoulder forcefully or pound on it twice with a backhanded closed fist, saying “Yo, Yo!” until he was confident that he had regained their attention.

In Baltimore

In Baltimore

Occasionally news crews would insinuate themselves into the crowds and pretend to understand what was happening. “I’m hearing lots of cries for freedom and justice here, not rioting” one newscaster said, authoritatively, while someone next to him continually interrupted: “This is about racism, not rioting. Say the word. This is about state-sponsored murder! Say it!”

On Becoming More Human

On Becoming More Human

Not dying is not living

Increased surveillance, tape-recorded representations of life, played back and rewound and remixed over and over again, digitally and virtually, will only remind jurors of an imitation of life, but it won’t revive the real thing. Rather than die knowing my death had been recorded by the camera, I would just rather not die. And rather than not die, I would like to choose to live.

The Specter of Cosbyism

The Specter of Cosbyism

This flood of black faces on screens both big and small is enough to summon the ghost of Hansberry, peddling her sanguine ’50s vision—but A Raisin in the Sun is a play about the dignified underclass, the downtrodden-but-upright proletariat, whereas Dear White People and Black-ish don’t dare to gesture—however idly—at the poor. These days, even the upright cannot be downtrodden, so the face of blackness thrust forth by both the TV series and the film is well-spoken, well-heeled, white collar.

Episode 16: Spoiled

Episode 16: Spoiled

On this new episode of the n+1 podcast, editor Nikil Saval and contributor Elias Rodriques talk about the Issue 20 Intellectual Situation on privilege and the “check your privilege” discourse. Then, author Alexandra Kleeman joins us to talk about her most recent piece in Issue 21 “The Raw and the Rawer” about fruitarianism and all-fruit diets.

A Love Note to Our Folks

A Love Note to Our Folks

Alicia Garza on the Organizing of #BlackLivesMatter

When protests erupted across the United States late last year, after grand juries failed to indict the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, a friend who works for a prominent media outlet wrote to me wondering “if it’s all just the internet organizing itself.” The nationwide marches and freeway blockades seemed spontaneous, after all, with the Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter being widely used to publicize gathering spots and share images of the demonstrations.

Race and the American Creed

Race and the American Creed

Recovering black radicalism

Race in the United States is marked by a fundamental paradox. On the one hand, there has been considerable progress: segregation enforced by the rule of law is a thing of the past, and segregation at the level of mainstream culture, though persistent, is considered a scandal. On the other hand, today’s postracial America of Kimye and Pharrell is still the era of the New Jim Crow and entrenched black poverty. Diversity in elite universities exists alongside de facto residential segregation, and a black president administers a minority-dominated prison system.

Barbering for Freedom

Barbering for Freedom

Segregation, separatism, and the history of black barbershops

I went to that black barbershop for the reason millions like me have done so before—to feel at home. But for years, as Quincy Mills’s fascinating Cutting Across the Color Line reveals, black barbershops in America were unavailable to people of my lineage and color. Though they became a stereotypical image of a black social institution, crystallized best in Barbershop, they began as institutions of segregation and white supremacy. In the antebellum era, but also well into the period of Reconstruction, black barbershops—predominantly in the South but often in the North—only served white men.