Must-Read: Ta-Nehisi Coates: President Obama on Color-Blind Policy and Color-Conscious Morality

Must-Read: My assorted progeny complain that I have not referred enough things from Ta-Nehisi Coates recently. They are correct. In America today, unfortunately, formally race-blind policy discourse on poverty and inequality is and will not for a long time be truly race-blind at all:

Ta-Nehisi Coates: President Obama on Color-Blind Policy and Color-Conscious Morality: “You will hear no policy targeted toward black people…

…coming out of the Obama White House…. The standard progressive approach… is to mix color-conscious moral invective with color-blind public policy…. Asserting the moral faults of black people tends to gain votes. Asserting the moral faults of their government, not so much. I am sure Obama sincerely believes in the moral invective he offers. But I suspect he believes a lot more about his country which he chooses not to share….

Consider that in a conversation about poverty, featuring America’s first black president, one of its most accomplished progressive political scientists, and one of its most important liberal columnists, the word ‘racism’ does not appear in the transcript once…. This is not a ‘both/and.’ It is a bait and switch. The moral failings of black people are directly addressed. The centuries-old failings of their local, state, and federal government, less so. One need not imagine what a ‘both/and’ approach might sound like, to understand why a president of the United States can’t actually offer one. At best, one can hope for reference to ‘past injustice.’… Perhaps the progressive approach, no matter how intellectually dishonest, is ultimately politically prudent. I don’t wish to minimize the difficulty, rhetorical and otherwise, of being the first black president of a congenitally racist country. In that business, Obama has gotten a lot right. But his ‘both/and’ approach has been very wrong. One way around the conundrum is for the president to say as little as possible….

These people have never tired of hearing is another discourse on the lack of black morality or on the failings of black culture. It saddens me to see the president so sincerely oblige.”

May 14, 2015

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