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Social Justice

American Prisons: Slavery in the 21st Century

The Clintons had slaves when Bill was governor of Arkansas. But that’s just the beginning. It recently came to light that in Hillary Clinton’s 1996 book, It Takes a Village, she wrote about how when her husband was governor of Arkansas, they had state prisoners working in and around the governor’s mansion, as was tradition–and a cost-saving measure, at that. If you want to read more about the specifics, you are welcome to do so.

Resisting Donald Trump

It seems like a good time for an update. So, Donald Trump won the election. This was not the outcome I wanted. Indeed, it is not the outcome a majority of voters wanted. But it is the one we’ve got. Now, the next move is how to keep Trump from implementing his agenda. Massive protests swept the country. There were smaller ones for each of Obama’s victories, but nothing on the scale we’ve seen so far.

The New Mind of the South: A Review

Here is a book that attempts to pick apart the fundamental contradictions of the American South, with mixed success. Tracy Thompson’s The New Mind of the South seeks to find truth in that slice of America that puzzles everyone outside it. I must admit to a particular fascination with the South, myself, both because of its continued importance to American politics and the economy, and also thanks to my personal connections to it.

Out of the Crisis

We are living in a world in crisis. But it’s not too late to save it–and ourselves. It would be difficult to summarize with any accuracy the problems we currently face, as a species. Even just narrowing down to a specific culture or country, the complexities are too numerous to faithfully generalize. But there are definitely trends we can examine, and those trends tell us a lot about where we may be headed if we don’t change course.

The New Jim Crow, Reform, and Revolution

Yesterday, I offered up a positive review of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Now, I present some salient criticism on what the book failed to include. In the course of researching more material foryesterday’s review, I came across an intriguing critical essay by Greg Thomas, an associate professor of Black Studies at Syracuse University. He asks the crucial question: why do some like The New Jim Crow so much? At first, I wasn’t sure I would be receptive to his criticism, but as I read through I was forced to admit he makes some excellent points.

The New Jim Crow: A Review

Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow is already a national bestseller, so it certainly doesn’t need another positive review. But here’s one anyway! The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness was first released in 2010, but came to my attention over the past couple of years as the Black Lives Matter movement really got going. I had been on my “must read” list for a while, and so I finally got around to reading it.

Cultural Appropriation and Fiction Writing

Author Lionel Shriver recently gave a speech wherein she complained about criticisms of “cultural appropriation.” Was she on to something, or just making lazy arguments in defense of privilege and entitlement? It’s a good idea to start with her actual speech. This post may be construed as a direct response to her points. I’ll speak to what Shriver said. I will ignore breathless speculation about our inevitable PC dystopia, and go with the specific examples she gave:

Is This Social Justice?

It began with a puff piece featuring a small, local restaurant, and ended with acrimony and Yelp’s team stepping in to stem a tide of abusive reviews. To put it mildly, I have some misgivings about stepping into this issue. There are plenty of reasons I shouldn’t, but I also feel compelled to speak up because I think this entire situation has spun out of control. Food magazine Bon Appetit ran a profile a few days ago of a restaurant in Philadelphia called Stock.

Identity: Descriptive vs. Prescriptive

We live in an age dominated by identity. Progressive politics revolve around identity concepts, on the precept that all politics are identity politics. This piece is in no way a denouncement of identity politics. Instead, it’s meant as an examination and possibly clarification of certain ideas and problems I have noticed. At their best, identities are descriptive. That is, a person adopts an identity–by which I mean a specific word–because they believe it describes them well.

Jill Stein: Bested by a Dead Gorilla

Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein is hoping that, by appealing to as wide a variety of cranks and edgelords as possible, she might somehow make herself and the Green Party relevant. (Note: some content in this post may be NSFW.) This led to the somewhat surreal situation we have now: Jill Stein tweeting about Harambe, the 17-year-old gorilla killed several months ago at the Cincinnati Zoo, and that same deceased primate polling ahead of Stein in some states.