Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye. Hence the old admonishments to be “twice as good.” Hence the need for a special “talk” administered to black boys about how to be extra careful when relating to the police. And hence Barack Obama’s insisting that there was no racial component to Katrina’s effects; that name-calling among children somehow has the same import as one of the oldest guiding principles of American policy—white supremacy. The election of an African American to our highest political office was alleged to demonstrate a triumph of integration. But when President Obama addressed the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, he demonstrated integration’s great limitation—that acceptance depends not just on being twice as good but on being half as black. And even then, full acceptance is still withheld. The larger effects of this withholding constrict Obama’s presidential potential in areas affected tangentially—or seemingly not at all—by race. Meanwhile, across the country, the community in which Obama is rooted sees this fraudulent equality, and quietly seethes.
Obama’s first term has coincided with a strategy of massive resistance on the part of his Republican opposition in the House, and a record number of filibuster threats in the Senate. It would be nice if this were merely a reaction to Obama’s politics or his policies—if this resistance truly were, as it is generally described, merely one more sign of our growing “polarization” as a nation. But the greatest abiding challenge to Obama’s national political standing has always rested on the existential fact that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin.
Read more. [Image: Bill Sanderson]
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Houston: Doughnut City
The term Doughnut City is used to describe a phenomenon that affects the physical shape of some cities of the North American Sun Belt. It consists of the concentration of urban activity on the ring road (where the newest and most advanced generation of housing estates and office parks are located) and the parallel physical disappearance of all that remains inside (the interior is affected by an accelerated process of obsolescence that leads to the demolition of a multitude of buildings). Viewed from a European perspective, the Doughnut City is a phenomenon that goes against nature. If in the cities of the Old Continent proximity to the center means an added value, in the Doughnut City quite the reverse is true: the most eligible urban areas are on the final periphery.