White threat in a browning America (Jennifer Richeson re-air)


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This conversation with Yale psychologist and MacArthur genius Jennifer Richeson first appeared a year ago, and it’s one of my favorites. But I wanted to repost it now for two reasons.
First, it’s as a necessary companion to Monday’s conversation with Robert Jones over changing religious dynamics. Richeson focuses on racial demographic change, and in particular, how the perception of losing demographic power pushes people’s politics in a sharply conservative direction. I don’t think it’s possible to understand our politics in this moment without understanding this research.
Second, it’s July Fourth, and this conversation makes me feel patriotic. America has its problems, but it’s to our great and enduring credit that we are at least trying to navigate a transition to being a true multiethnic liberal democracy. Other countries have collapsed into violence and civil war over far less.
It’s easy to look back on history and think that the great political challenges belonged to past generations and we’re merely drafting off their achievements. But it’s not true. We’re navigating an unprecedented political transition in our own time. If we make good on its promise — on this country’s promise — we’ll deserve our place in the history books, too.
Recommended books:
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
Change They Can't Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America by Christopher S. Parker and Matt A. Barreto
The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics by Ryan Enos
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