Chris Hayes of MSNBC and Jamelle Bouie of Slate joined us this afternoon for a community forum on race and justice. Here’s what we learned:
The problems are intractable, but there are solutions. Audience members asked Bouie and Hayes to tackle big subjects: the racial wealth gap, covert racism and the school-to-prison pipeline. Even for thorny issues, there is hope, the panelists said. To fix the problem of educational inequity, for example, they agreed on a one-word answer: “desegregation.”
...but too often, those solutions are “politically unpalatable,” Bouie said. Parents with students in affluent, majority-white schools don't take kindly to the idea of integrating students from lower-income neighborhoods, the panelists said.
“Desegregation isn’t really that hard to solve as a policy problem,” Bouie said. “But that simple solution is politically impossible.”
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The words matter. It’s easy for people to acknowledge the problem of “racism” — but problems related to "white supremacy," not so much. An audience member brought up that concern and Bouie and Hayes ran with it.
“The problem with white supremacy as a term is it implies the most supreme forms of it — you think Klansmen. I’m not sure there’s a way to get around that,” Bouie said. White supremacy, he argued, isn’t a problem of hate but “of resources and of power” — and it’s not a tiny group of extremists, but a “continuum.”