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Call a Thing a Thing

2 284 1806
09.07.2020

Now that we are deep into protests over racism, inequality and police brutality — protests that I’ve come to see as a revisiting of Freedom Summer — it is clear that Donald Trump sees the activation of white nationalism and anti-otherness as his path to re-election. We are engaged in yet another national conversation about race and racism, privilege and oppression.

But, as is usually the case, the language we used to describe the moment is lacking. We — the public and the media, including this newspaper, including, in the past, this very column — often use, consciously or not, language that shields anti-Black white supremacy, rather than to expose it and hold it accountable.

We use all manner of euphemisms and terms of art to keep from directly addressing the racial reality in America. This may be some holdover from a bygone time, but it is now time for it to come to an end.

Take for instance the term “race relations.” Polling organizations like Gallup and the Pew Research Center often ask respondents how they feel about the state of race relations in the country.

I have never fully understood what this meant. It suggests a relationship that swings from harmony to disharmony. But that is not the way race is structured or animated in this country. From the beginning, the racial dynamics in America have been about power, equality and access, or the lack........

© The New York Times


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