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Showing posts from 2020

Economic Security is Racist, or Something Like That

 I'm considering starting every piece with, " One of the most amazing things about the current discourse on race is how resistant it is to moving from the theoretical to the concrete; from explanation to practical prescription."  Avoiding concrete explanation and practical prescription is the point of the current discourse promoting social justice (or here insert 'fighting' racism, transphobia, sexism, homophobia or any of the other concepts without agency said to oppress people) and any honest assessment worth engaging starts with that understanding .   However, what's most amazing, is not that observation, but the degree to which the people who speak the most of marginalization on the basis of race, gender, sexuality and place of origin seem to care the least about tangible remedies for the marginalized. Either the problems of the marginalized are not tangible, or these people are not actually talking about the needs of marginalized people. It's the lat

In Conversation with Bret Weinstein's Black Intellectual Roundtable

One of the most amazing things about the current discourse on race is how resistant it is to moving from the theoretical to the concrete; from explanation to practical prescription. This explains why it's possible for a form of 'anti-racism' centered on race essentialism and ignoring the material needs of people dealing with racism to become so prominent. Once material questions are asked its uselessness becomes painfully apparent. I'd suggest that this is not only a problem with people like Ibram X. Kendi and his work, this disconnect from the material limits some of their critics as well.  Another thing that limits all sides in this discourse is that we use the words race and racism to describe a wide range of phenomena in arenas from the personal and individual to the workings of legal and economic systems. The words are so broad and describe so much as to lack any real utility beyond extending discourse and promoting a degree of confusion. In early July Bret Weinste

The Road to Fudge Hazelnut Supreme

When the shutdown first began I became a little obsessed with the Bon Appétit Chef Makes online series with pastry chef Claire Saffitz. She made a number of things I'd pondered making over the years like pop-tarts, tater tots, and Ferrero Rocher chocolate hazelnut balls. I decided to follow her example to give myself something to think about other than politics and the pandemic by re-creating an ice cream I last ate in Seattle in the late 90s. The ice cream was called Fudge Hazelnut Supreme (or Fantasy) it was a vanilla ice cream with a fudge hazelnut ribbon and chocolate covered hazelnut pieces . It's the best ice cream I've ever eaten. The Destination In the process of creating my version of the ice cream I contemplated a hazelnut ice cream base before deciding that it needed to be vanilla to fully contrast the ribbon. The process for infusing the ice cream with hazelnuts for that recipe helped me perfect the vanilla flavor of the base. For the base, chocolate covered

'Anti-racism', All Trap, No Honey: A Discourse About Discourse

One of the things that prevents me from writing more often is the sense that I'm just writing the same thing repeatedly from a slightly different angle. In a nutshell, all I'm saying is that moral idealism substituted for material goals will not lead to justice, but is an argument against materialism. I'm a dumb person's low rent Adolph Reed Jr. translator. I'm a "class reductionist" who understands that when the discourse is reduced to just class there's nothing as important as food, water and shelter that's left out. I often find myself contending with people who insist that there is, unable to name anything. They don't understand that they're making an argument against economic redistribution, or they don't care. There are no concrete manifestations of systemic racism or any oppression that are not dealt with through economic redistribution. When people say that economic redistribution won't end racism, what they mean is that

MLK Was Wrong: The Orthodoxy of The True Religious Left

When I was in middle school, my mother received periodic evangelical solicitations for donations. I can't remember the church, but the letters were garish, with printed sections in bold red. Sometimes the letters would feature 'activity pages' like Mad Magazine fold over images, that once completed revealed Satan or Christ with stigmata, good fun for the kids. The most consistent part was the fervent cry for renewed spiritual salvation through a donation, since you had surely fallen back to sin since the last solicitation. It's just human nature that one would return to sinning and it could be predicted to happen on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. I'm reminded of those letters by the current most celebrated ideas for dealing with the complex history of race in the US, which cast people into a simple sinner/not sinner binary. In this case you're either racist or anti-racist; actively doing anti-racism or actively reinforcing racism, even through inaction. It shoul

Black Lives Matter (Some Limitations May Apply): Why Doesn't BLM Care About Black Unemployment and COVID Deaths?

  If there was no way to fix poverty the best that could be done was to contain it. Quickly, the War on Poverty morphed into the War on Crime. So fast was the transformation that the tools, bureaucracies, and funds allocated to the poverty war were instead used by police stations across the country to fight crime. Police departments began filling the spaces meant for the War on Poverty. It was police who delivered food and toys to needy Black families. Law enforcement would be the frontline on the War on Poverty, and would thereby increase its presence in, and surveillance of the Black community. Mehrsa Baradaran The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap  I have admittedly been pretty silent about the current events roiling the entire country. I honestly don't know what there is to say. The conditions that turned the anger and sadness over the video captured murder of George Floyd into national protests and rioting and looting in cities across the country, are the c

Is This a Primary or a Generational Murder/Suicide Plot?

I made a prediction last April regarding the then potential candidacy of Joe Biden that I should probably acknowledge was wrong, with an asterisk. In a short piece, " Schrödinger's Candidate" , I predicted that Biden would decide against running because getting paid to make speeches as a potential candidate was more fun than losing in the primary. I said that Biden's polling numbers were not real and would sink once he started campaigning. This is where the asterisk comes in. I revisited the prediction in November to acknowledge that it was essentially wrong with a caveat, Biden had yet to truly begin campaigning. He was the only candidate avoiding a live town hall with questions from the audience. As far as I know, this remains true. His campaign schedule seemed incredibly sparse, more in keeping with a book tour for a book of middling success than building political power. In many ways his campaign resembled Hillary Clinton and her avoidance of the press for a