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From Preschool to Prison

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Our schools are suspending or expelling a tremendous number of black students, and it begins as early as preschool. It needs to end.

A few years ago, a Georgia elementary school made national news after a student—kindergartner Salecia Johnson—was arrested for throwing a temper tantrum in class. Here’s CNN on the incident:According to their report, when the officer arrived, he observed kindergartner Salecia Johnson on the floor of the principal’s office screaming and crying.The officer stated in the report that he noticed damage to school property and tried numerous times to calm the girl, who eventually “pulled away and began actively resisting and fighting with me.

How Much Does 'Culture' Matter?

"Culture" can mean a lot of things, and when it comes to explaining the particular phenomenon of inner-city black poverty, it's not the most helpful term in the world.

When talking about particular groups, communities or neighborhoods, it’s a mistake to refer to a single, all-encompassing “culture.” It’s too imprecise. What we call “culture” refers to a broad range of concepts and ideas that overlap and diverge at various points. And indeed, within communities—even homogenous ones—there are multiple “cultures” that interact differently with the environment in question.Which brings us to the current argument over race and poverty, sparked by Rep.

No Pain and Lots of Gain

Republicans have failed to diversify their party in the year since proclaiming the urgency of a bigger tent. Here's why it doesn't matter.

As Kristen Solis Anderson writes here at The Daily Beast, the GOP has made mixed progress on the to-do list it gave itself with last year’s “Growth and Opportunity” report, which aimed to revamp the party for a new generation. Republicans, she notes, have moved forward on modernizing their campaign infrastructure, which they credit for their victory in last week’s Florida special election.But the core political problem with the Republican Party isn’t technology—it’s diversity.

Stop with the 'Hitler' Talk

Another paranoid plutocrat compares Democrats to Hitler, betraying his utter ignorance about Hitler.

With another week comes another angry plutocrat who, for want of any other analogy or argument, attacks the Democratic focus on income inequality as similar to Hitler’s arguments during his rise to power. Last time, it was billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins. This time? Home Depot co-found Ken Lagone. Here’s POLITICO with more:“I hope it’s not working,” Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot and major GOP donor, said of populist political appeals.

No 'Cheap Grace' on Race for GOP

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After decades of appealing to white racial resentment, Republicans shouldn't be surprised when people see animus in their rhetoric.

In the controversy over Rep. Paul Ryan’s “inner city” remarks, we’ve reached the backlash to the backlash. “Paul said he thought it was inarticulate, but quite frankly, Democrats are lying in wait as well to pounce on whatever might be off tone,” said Reince Preibus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Likewise, on the internet, conservative pundits proclaimed Ryan a victim of liberal race baiting.

The Imaginary 'Moynihan Report'

Yes, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote a famous report on the state of the black family, but it doesn’t say what conservatives want it to say.

A few folks have come to the defense of Paul Ryan and his remarks on poverty. Here, at The Daily Beast, Ron Christie cites the oft-mentioned Moynihan Report to argue that Ryan was right in his diagnosis of the problem:The future New York Senator’s prescient advice nearly 50 years ago remains true today: “In a word, a national effort towards the problems of Negro Americans must be directed towards the question of family structure. The object should be to strengthen the Negro family so as to enable it to raise and support its members as do other families.

How We Built the Ghettos

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A brief introduction to America's long history of racist housing policy.

Yesterday, apropos of Paul Ryan’s remarks on “inner-city poverty” and a culture that “doesn’t value work,” I wrote about the policy that went into building our inner-cities and depriving whole communities of wealth and opportunity. Likewise, at MSNBC, Ned Resnikoff wrote an excellent piece on the wide income and wealth disparities between blacks and whites. “ In 1984,” he writes, “the white-to-black wealth ratio was 12-to–1…But over the next 14 years the wealth gap began to grow once again, until it had skyrocketed up to 19-to–1 in 2009.

Stop Drug Testing for Welfare

These measures do nothing but shame people on assistance, with zero gains for the public.

On Wednesday, the Mississippi Senate—led by Republicans—approved a bill that would require drug testing for welfare benefits. Given GOP control of the statehouse and the governorship, it’s almost certain to pass. Here’s Jarod Keith with more:When it becomes law, HB 49 will require individuals to take a questionnaire prior to enrolling in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF). If the applicant indicates that he or she has used illegal drugs, state workers are required to give the individual a drug test.

What Paul Ryan Gets Wrong

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If there's deep poverty in our urban centers, it's not because of culture, it's because of racism and public policy.

It was late last year when Paul Ryan couldn’t stop talking about poverty. “I want to figure out a way for conservatives to come up with solutions to poverty,” he said, as reported in a Buzzfeed feature on his political evolution, “I have to do this.”Since then, he has announced his plan to take a “new direction in the war on poverty.” He has attacked Obamacare and other programs as “poverty traps”, endorsed proposals from other Republicans like Utah Senator Mike Lee and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and released a report (criticized as misleading) that outlines the problems with existing federal anti-poverty programs.

Black Kids as Guilty Adults

A new study shows how implicit bias changes dramatically perceptions of black children.

I’ve written before about the power of implicit racial bias—how it alters our perceptions and shapes our actions. Blacks, and black men in particular, are seen as unusually violent and aggressive, which—as we’ve seen with Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis—can have deadly consequences for everyday life.Of course, it’s not enough to say there’s implicit bias; you have to prove it. And over at The Wire, Philip Bump highlights a disturbing new study that measures bias as it applies to African American boys.

The Return of ‘Willie Horton’

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To stop the president's nominee for the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department, the right-wing borrowed from an old playbook.

As governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis presided over a prison “furlough” program that gave convicts a chance to return their communities for short periods. Like all programs, it wasn’t without its problems, but state officials considered it success: Few inmates escaped, and those who participated had a lower recidivism rate, as they were better able to reintegrate into society.Unfortunately for Dukakis, one of the escaped prisoners was Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who never returned from furlough, and went on to assault a young couple, raping the woman and knifing her husband.

Obamacare is a Job Creator

Republicans might want to believe otherwise, but the Affordable Care Act isn't hurting the economy—it's helping it.

The House Republican majority began its reign of dysfunction with a bill to repeal Obamacare. Creatively called the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” it formed the basis for their messaging on the law.“The Congressional Budget Office has said that Obamacare will kill 800,000 jobs,” declared Michele Bachmann during the Republican presidential primaries. “This will be the biggest job-killer ever,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott during the 2012 election season.

The Backlash to '12 Years'

Steve McQueen's acclaimed film is the new target of right-wingers who hate "white guilt" and love racial resentment.

If “Best Picture” is supposed to award the film that excels in all categories, then 12 Years a Slave was a worthy choice. From its performances to its cinematography and music direction, Steve McQueen’s story of Solomon Northup—and his journey through the antebellum South—is a tremendous accomplishment. By any measure, it deserves its award.Unless, that is, you’re a little critic named Rush Limbaugh. Then, the success of the film is just further evidence for your resentment and paranoia.

The 'Intruder' Defense

© Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

Oscar Pistorius is on trial for murder, with a defense that comes straight from the Florida of George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn.

Oscar Pistorius—the “fastest man on no legs”—is on trial for murder in the 2013 shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.The details are straightforward. On Valentine’s Day last year, Pistorius fired four shots through a locked bathroom door and killed Steenkamp. The prosecution’s case is that this was premeditated, as evidenced by a neighbor who says she heard shouts and screams from the house, prior to the shooting.Pistorius and his lawyers, on the other hand, say that this was a mistaken case of self-defense—that Pistorius was trying to defend his home from an intruder.

Dreaming of a White GOP

In the dreams of one infamous conservative writer, the GOP is the party of white people. But the reality is that the dream has already come true.

John Derbyshire was a columnist for the National Review before he was fired for defending his racism in print. Now, the erstwhile pundit is writing for white nationalists, and denouncing Republicans for trying to expand their tent and appeal to minorities:He said “conservatives are the only people in the U.S.A. trying to ‘transcend contentious racial issues,’” but agreed with his “friend” — white nationalist Jared Taylor – that white people should stop trying to get along with black people.

About the Author

Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie

The Daily Beast's Jamelle Bouie's reporting and analysis has appeared in The American Prospect, The Nation, The Atlantic,, and The Washington Post. He covers campaigns and elections, as well as policy and public opinion. He is based in Washington, D.C.

Catching Chris Christie

Jamelle Bouie joined 'The Reid Report' Tuesday to dissect the New Jersey governor's new budget and examine how the Democrats might try to fight him.




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