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Example Of Argumentative Essay On Racism

Type of paper: Argumentative Essay

Topic: Commerce , Race , Human , Business , Trade , Racism , Discrimination , Social Issues

Published: 01/14/2020


Racism has been in existence since time in memorial. It refers to the division between people of different races. Racism can be defined as a factor that separates people in to various categories; those of superiors and inferior races, tribaldifferences, social status, etc. while many people think that racism is about skin colors, racism goes beyond the differences in outward appearances. Racists believe that people who belong in different categories should never mingle but remain in segregation each in its own setting. For instance, racist believe that white people can never stay together with black people (Feaginand McKinney 150).

Ethnic background differences are one of the leading aspects that have affected the coming together of many people. While human interaction is meant to enhance development and growth, racism separates the human race in to distinct categories with hatred that runs for many generations (Feaginand McKinney 137). This notion has led to many problems between people of different ethnic backgrounds and races as the seed of hatred is planted in people.

Racism is one of the negative trends that have existed since the human race begun. It is an element that has caused a significant divide and hates that has led to conflicts, which have affected relationships from one race to another. It is one of the factors, which have contributed remarkably to the rising of various wars and international conflicts. The results of racism have thus been devastating and have pulled back social and economic aspects. For instance, racism as led to a distinct divide between the black and white (Africans and Europeans). These are two races that have not mingled completely and their divide between has separated the interests of the two continentsfor manycenturies. For a long time the black people have been subjected to ruling of the white whereby whites have been a superior race while blacks are inferior people. As a result, many black people are often subjects of the whites. History records how whites mistreated black people in America. This created hatred as the white believed that black people were meant to be servants (Feagin and McKinney 49). Consequently, this school of thought still holds on until today.

Racism has contributed to the separation of many people. This is the principal factor that has led to inequity and discrimination between people. Many people have been segregated in the past and present due to their backgrounds. While others cannot have their rights, others are forced to live a life of fear because of the superior races. The effect of such a separation becomes evident when some people are living free while others are in bondage. Such an effect is evident amongst people who have different cultures. While some may be free to practice the beliefs and practices other are likely to be neglected and denied the freedom to do their practices, e.g. there are some countries, which do not appreciate other religious practice apart from the native religion or tradition. In the same capacity, a new people in such a place cannot speak their foreign language. This is because it marks their difference that leads to their segregation in public.

It has led to separation between people of remarkable influence at the global level. This is in light with the people who affect worldwidetrends such as trade. It is imperative that people of different races meet on common ground to device a way of exchanging service. Nonetheless, racism has been an obstacle because there are nations and countries that cannot meet to exchange the goods and services due to prejudices and discrimination. For instance, some nations have blocked certain trade links in to their countries due to particular racial disparities. Alternatively, others have been deprived of their rights to have particular access to handling some businesses thus they encounter challenges that cause them not to practice international trade. Such issues have been a significant barrier towards economic growth across the globe.

Given the argument above, it is evident that racism still exists in all people across the glob. While racism is highly noticed in some communities, others disregard racial discrimination. People of different background have in the same capacity suffered due to racial disparities. Consequently, it is paramount for people of all nations stand against any aspect of racism. It is crucial that every person stands on the look out to eradicate any thoughts and attitude that supports racism, and support unity of the human race.

In Conclusion, racism is an act that has to be stopped in order to put an end to the continuous divide between people. This act requires immediate response because the division due to race disparities is continually being passed to the next generation. Therefore, it is imperative that people agree that every person is equally important. Similarly, all people should appreciate one another even in their various racial background and differences. Additionally, people should embrace one another and agree to assist each other in building global unity and peace. As a result, a remarkable society will arise that will lead to considerable rise in economy and social wellness, which is primary to human survival. Failure to this, the society will keep dividing and wars will rise that result to destruction of the human race.

Works Cited

Feagin, Joe R, and McKinney,Karyn D. The Many Costs of Racism. New York: Rowman& Littlefield, 2005. Print.


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Anti-racist Arguments Are Tearing People Apart

What a viral story reveals about contemporary leftist discourse

argumentative essay racism

T he viral YouTube video was cued to begin at 42:23, the moment most likely to elicit incredulity. A webcam was tight on the face of Robin Broshi, a middle-aged white woman. She was upset. The edge in her voice sought to explain, to emphasize, to insist , that a wrong had been done.

“It hurts people,” she said, “when they see a white man bouncing a brown baby on their lap and they don’t know the context!”

Wait. What?

“That is harmful!” she continued. “That makes people cry! It makes people log out of our meetings.” The video’s description mentions the “NYC Community Education Council for Manhattan District 2,” which serves more than 60,000 students spread across 121 schools.

I made a series of rapid assumptions about what I was watching. I surmised that Broshi was a college-educated, upper-middle-class progressive who sits on some sort of education council in the public-school system and owns copies of White Fragility and How to Be an Antiracist . I surmised that she was calling someone out. And I surmised that her white, male target was offscreen rolling his eyes. All of which turned out to be correct.

But I also felt confused. Why would a New Yorker in 2020 see an adult holding a baby with a different phenotype and presume something nefarious was afoot? Until recently, I would have expected that sort of retrograde attitude from the alt-right. Beleaguered curiosity prompted me to burrow down an unlikely rabbit hole: extended footage from several NYC Community Education Council District 2 meetings. I wanted to understand what seemed to be the latest confounding addition to the rapidly changing code of elite, “anti-racist” manners.

From the September 2020 issue: Is this the beginning of the end of American racism?

What I found was more complicated and troubling than one perplexing viral moment. All 11 members of the council are highly educated parents who volunteer time and energy in hopes of improving public schools. Council membership requires lots of tedious, mostly thankless work of a sort that no one undertakes for the power: The resolutions that pass at meetings aren’t even binding on the Department of Education. Yet this advisory body of well-meaning people is plagued by polarizing disagreements about the nature of anti-racism that undermine its ability to effect change. And if this particular incident is exceedingly strange––almost a caricature of how conservatives think identitarian leftists behave––it also illuminates how the fight over anti-racism could roil many other institutions all across the country.

T he council’s June 11 online meeting––the meeting where the baby made his appearance, not the subsequent June 29 meeting, and its discussion of the incident, that went viral––focused on one of the most controversial issues in New York City education: When kids finish elementary school, what should determine which middle school they attend? Currently, fourth graders can apply to one of the selective middle schools that “screens” applicants on the basis of standardized-test scores, grades, and attendance records, or attend a non-screening school. In the meeting, which was open to the public, supporters of the screening system variously argued that it allows academically talented students to learn at an accelerated pace, affords kids who learn at a slower pace the extra attention they require, keeps more rich people in the public-school system, and benefits many Asian immigrants, members of one of the poorest demographic groups in Manhattan. They suggested that changing some of the best rather than some of the worst schools in the system is both unwise and unlikely to remedy the factors causing children from poor families to fall behind.

Critics of screening countered that the selective middle schools are mostly white and Asian in a system that’s mostly Black and Hispanic, that ending screening is necessary to hasten integration, that screening fuels systemic racism, and that all students benefit when schools are diverse.

The council members Broshi, Eric Goldberg, Emily Hellstrom, and Shino Tanikawa were co-sponsors of a resolution that advised an end to screening. Five other members voted the resolution down, citing their own beliefs and circumstantial evidence that a majority of parents favor screening.

Among the “no” voters was Thomas Wrocklage, the white man who would soon be embroiled in controversy. He said he favors other efforts to better integrate schools, but believes that screening should stay in place, because in classes that can exceed 30 kids, everyone learns better grouped with peers of similar ability. His own daughter applied to a “screen school” but wasn’t admitted, he said.

Several members of the anti-screening faction took exception to three things that Wrocklage did during the June 11 meeting: (1) Using a whiteboard, he noted that the four members who want to end screening all send their own kids to screened schools. (2) Three hours and eight minutes into the meeting, when another member characterized screening as “structural racism,” he rejected that characterization by flippantly interjecting, “My living room is integrated right now.” (3) About six minutes later, during an unrelated conversation among other council members about whether the NYPD or the Department of Education should employ school security, Wrocklage briefly held a Black baby on his lap, partly offscreen.

The baby, Jamir, is the nephew of Wrocklage’s close friend, Myesha Moore, who later explained in a YouTube video that their daughters are best friends, they are often in each other’s home, and she initially placed the child on Wrocklage’s lap in order to free up her hands. The baby’s appearance seemed unremarkable to me, especially with the Zoom screen split into 20 tiny squares, so that no one loomed large. See for yourself how unobtrusive the moment was .

But days after the meeting, an open letter signed by scores of parents was sent to Maud Maron, the council president. It began: “Under your leadership, at the June 11, 2020 Zoom meeting of Community Education Council 2 that you chaired, which included discussion of a resolution to eliminate discriminatory screens and counter the effects of 400 years of systemic racism, a CEC 2 member, a white man, displayed a black baby on his lap on camera on more than one occasion.”

Graeme Wood: The cowardice of open letters

The letter went on to characterize Wrocklage’s comment on integration (made several minutes before the child appeared in his lap) as “mocking,” and declared that he “used the black baby as a prop.” Wrocklage told me that he had made the integration comment out of frustration with “the absurdity of these people from their, you know, $2 million Manhattan condos not going outside, not visiting friends in the South Bronx like I do, telling me that I don't understand this screened-admission process” and treating him as though he’s “supporting white supremacy” with his position.

The letter characterized the lap incident as harmful: “Imagine the insult and emotional injury any thinking person, especially a person of color, suffered when they witnessed this scene and heard that comment,” it stated, calling them “shocking, disgusting, offensive, and racially incendiary.” It demanded that Wrocklage resign, claiming that allowing such incidents to continue without consequences “will only further empower the perpetuation of similar racist behaviors.” Maron, the council president, was warned, “If you continue to tolerate such behavior from council members, we deem you unfit to lead the CEC and demand that you resign immediately,” though censoring the speech of other elected members is not her prerogative.

Wrocklage, feeling that his actions were being misrepresented, asked to be formally investigated by the Department of Education, which wisely demurred. The vice president of the council, Edward Irizarry, wrote an official reply to the letter in Maron’s stead, stating, “The most egregious and hurtful claim in your letter is that a councilmember held his dear friend’s baby as a ‘prop.’ Although it was explained in detail that the councilmember was helping a longtime friend … you minimized the explanation and chose to continue unfounded attacks. You do not, and could not, have any idea of the genuine relationship between Tom and those present in his household.”

That should have put an end to the matter, but it didn’t.

S hino Tanikawa is a first-generation American who immigrated from Japan as a child in the 1970s. She began working on education issues more than a decade ago, when her daughter was in elementary school. About five years ago, after attending a workshop, she started familiarizing herself with “the work of anti-racism and the pedagogy of the oppressed,” she told me in a Zoom interview. “I realized how little I knew. And I was interested. So I started taking workshops from different organizations. I’ve been reading a lot of books on what anti-racism is, what racism is. It’s not like you get a degree that you completed this anti-racism work. It’s a lifelong journey.”

As an East Asian person, she said, “if you really are interested in creating an equitable system, the only place to be is to be on the side of Black and Latinx families.” She sees the desegregation of New York City schools as a push “to dismantle a system of oppression” and rejects the common argument that screen schools help poor Asian immigrants by offering them a meritocratic pathway out of poverty. “We are still supporting the system by buying into this narrative that, one, the Asians are the model minority and, two, that meritocracy exists,” she said.

Read: New York City high schools’ endless segregation problem

Tanikawa felt compelled to write her own letter to Maron about the June 11 meeting. She decried “dysfunction and division” on the council, blaming a “lack of racial literacy” among members. Many “do not know the difference between non-racist and anti-racist,” she complained, “or institutional racism and interpersonal racism.” And they show “no awareness that there is such a thing as internalized racism.” Then she gave Maron an ultimatum:

“You offered to collaborate with me on drafting resolutions. I have no interest collaborating with you on policy positions until you exhibit your commitment to anti-racism work … I am committed to anti-racism work and will not compromise to create a resolution that makes you comfortable and I must protect myself from harm caused by Non-racists.”

Tanikawa concluded, “I see no peaceful or constructive path forward for our Council so long as you remain in the leadership position and are resistant to this work,” adding, “I am willing and ready to help you find a path to become anti-racist but I cannot make you want this. You have to do that part.”

Maron, a public defender with four kids in Manhattan public schools, was frustrated. While she disagrees with Tanikawa on the screening issue, she is also leading an effort to use grant money to better integrate schools, and the two women’s priorities and positions do overlap. Maron replied that the letter “makes plain that you are now using your political appointment to this council not to advocate for the families of this district, but rather to advance an ideological position.”

Maron rejected Tanikawa’s ultimatum and criticized her for threatening to withhold a constructive working relationship “until I, and others, adopt your belief system,” deeming the condition “inexcusable.” Neither council members nor public-school parents “owe fealty to your ideologies,” Maron wrote. She stated that, conversely, Tanikawa has a responsibility  “to listen to those who have different ideas and beliefs than you in a respectful and open-minded manner,” and “to withdraw your threats and affirm that you can work peacefully with the elected members of this council.”

I asked Tanikawa about the impasse. Trying to capture why she finds it difficult to work with Maron, she recalled a time when she believed that something was racist, and Maron disagreed, rather than deferring to her perspective. “She thinks she can deny my experience as a person of color, and I don’t want to spend a lot of one-on-one time with somebody who denies my reality,” she said, alleging a “seeming lack of acknowledgment that [Maron] has privilege” as the biggest hurdle. “Within the anti-racist sphere that I work in, we don’t always agree on the same policies. It’s not about disagreement over what to do or how to fix the problem. It’s really the fundamental understanding of the framework we want to operate in, which is the framework of anti-racism.”

When I asked how she and Maron might overcome that hurdle, Tanikawa said: “If I had an answer to that, I would be the happiest person on Earth. I have no clue. Because I know that Maud has taken these workshops, an all-day workshop with an organization called Center for Racial Justice in Education. She attended that six-hour training. This was maybe two years ago. And this executive superintendent from Manhattan hosted a two-day training last October, and she attended that as well. So clearly, attending workshops isn’t sufficient.”

A ll that conflict at the June 11 meeting and the open letters that followed led to the dysfunction during the June 29 council meeting that went viral.

Early in the June 29 meeting, Maron said, “We owe it to the families of this district to at least try to find ways to work more collaboratively and to respect the broad array of convictions and beliefs parents in this district have shared.” Those words rang hollow to Broshi, a white woman who has served on the council since 2014, including three years as its president, and has long felt a duty to desegregate schools and advocate for anti-racism. “I generally try to keep my advocacy focused on policy and not individual council members,” she later told me. But she spoke up at the meeting in question because she felt that community concerns hadn't been appropriately addressed.

“We had over 100 parents write you a letter explaining why a member of this council was extraordinarily offensive and racist,” she said to Maron. “And you did nothing. And I did nothing. I’m ashamed … I’m sorry, I made a mistake; I didn’t speak out verbally when multiple times during a meeting one of the members on our council engaged in behavior that made me ache and hurt for the nonwhite people that were logged in.”

That was an allusion to Babygate. Wrocklage burst in with frustration.

“Robin,” he said, “I would like to directly ask you a question. You alleged racist behavior. What exactly was that racist behavior about having my friend of five years over at my house in my living room with her daughter who is best friends with my daughter and her nephew? What is racist about that?”

Broshi stated, “Proximity to color does not mean you’re not racist,” adding, “Did you read Ibram Kendi? Did you read How to Be an Antiracist ? All people are capable of racist behavior. We apologize when we offend people of color and they get upset and log out of a meeting immediately because they see white people exhibiting their power over people of color. How can I convince you if you won’t even read a book about white fragility or Ibram Kendi?” Shortly after, Broshi delivered her soon-to-be-viral monologue:

It hurts people when they see a white man bouncing a brown baby on their lap and they don’t know the context! That is harmful! That makes people cry. It makes people log out of our meetings. They don’t come here. They don’t come to our meetings. And they give me a hard time. Because I’m not vocal enough. And I’m not trying to be a martyr. I am trying to illustrate to you that you think I’m a social-justice warrior. And you think I’m being patronizing. And I’m getting pressure for not being enough of an advocate. I take that to heart. That hurts me. And I have to learn how to be a better white person. Read a book. Read Ibram Kendi. Read How to Talk to White People . It is not my job to educate you. You’re an educated white male. You can read a book. And you can learn about yourself.

If a member of a civic body expressed frustration that a colleague refused to read the Bible, the Quran, The Wealth of Nations , The Communist Manifesto , Atlas Shrugged , or Dianetics , and couldn’t understand an accusation until they did, most observers would see the problem. Drawing on outside concepts is fine. But if you can’t explain your position unless everyone reads your source material, then the fault lies with you. No one in a public meeting should have to read the books you consider important, much less accept that the ideas in those books are sacrosanct.

Read: The false promise of anti-racism books

Emily Hellstrom, another council member who wants to end screening, criticized Wrocklage as well. “What you did, it was purposeful, it was knowing,” she said in the meeting that went viral. “The premeditated obnoxiousness you started off with, with the whiteboard … You had a smirk and a grin on your face when you pulled that child in, and … in a joking tone, you said, ‘My living room’s integrated right now,’ as if the hundreds of years of segregation were nothing, because you happened to have a Black friend. It was so belittling. It was so snide … Perhaps you didn’t intend it to be racist. And that does not matter. It was perceived as racist by many people … You need to look deep inside and say ‘I hurt a lot of people.’”

If Wrocklage hadn’t annoyed them with the whiteboard, made the flippant comment, and taken a position on the resolution that they see as racist, other council members may not have perceived the mere act of holding a baby in his lap as harmful.

Wrocklage retorted, “I was laughing at the absurdity of the cognitive dissonance of people like you who are telling people of color how they should feel.” As he sees it, integrated elementary schools and interracial friendships like his own are how desegregation starts. “I suggested that schools should be integrated during elementary school,” he reminded everyone. “We’re starting too late. I was not laughing at the thought of integration. I was laughing at the absurdity of your position.”

Another council member, Vincent Hom, who is Asian American, said: “I likewise did not understand what the racist behavior was that initiated all this … There was nothing I saw that was overtly racist … I would like to hear exactly what was racist about what happened, without having to read a book.”

Tanikawa responded that his confusion illustrates the need for anti-racism training. “All of us, including myself, don’t have the language to really talk about this in a way that’s constructive,” she said. “I have done my own work. And some of you have done work … but clearly we need more of it.” She told Maron, “I don’t see you doing the work,” explaining, “your actions have not shown to me that you understand what racism is at the structural and institutional level––which is fine because I don’t claim to understand it. I’m still learning.” If Tanikawa doesn’t believe she fully understands the nature of structural racism, then how can she be so confident that others don’t understand it, or that “work” will help them see the light? Turning back to Hom, she said, “Vincent, there’s no way around it, you have to read. If you’re not willing to read, then you’re not doing the work.”

For the record, I have read White Fragility and How to Be an Antiracist , and I don’t recall any passage in either text that clarifies why it would be racist for a white man to hold a Black baby in his lap. Tanikawa continued, “You can disagree with people. But this is not an ideological difference. This is how Black and Indigenous people and people of color see the world. It’s not for you and me, an East Asian, affluent person, to deny that reality, to deny what these people are telling us.” In fact, anti-racism as Tanikawa understands it is an ideology ––it is “assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program”––and it is not “how Black and Indigenous people and people of color see the world,” as all those groups are ideologically diverse.

Consider Myesha Moore’s position. In the YouTube video telling her side of the story, she declares, “I feel like if you were in the living room with us that night, you would know that nothing wrong happened.” Everyone knows that “it takes a village to raise a child,” she says. “I just—not even asked—placed Jamir on his lap … there were even times when Jamir would motion or insinuate for Tom to pick him up.” She takes offense at board members who upbraided Wrocklage:

I don’t think there’s anything wrong that went on that night but the fact that middle-aged white women are telling me how to feel. I’m a strong Black woman. I’m a strong, Black young mother. I don’t need anyone to tell me how I feel. I wouldn’t let anyone disrespect my nephew … This is my friend. This is going to continue to be my friend. I’m just a little thrown back that people who are not even Black are telling me that he is offending. Who is he offending? Because there’s not one Black person on the board. So please realize you do not have to speak for me.

Irizarry, the council vice president and its only Latino member, later told the Atlantic contributor Yascha Mounk in a podcast interview that he, too, is frustrated by the faction that “insists others view the world as they do.” He doesn’t understand how their focus on introspection addresses the real problems that public schools face. “I am going to vote ‘no’ when I see all of these nonsensical diversity positions that lack substance, that are really cosmetic in nature,” he said. “Leadership is about building coalitions with people you disagree with … It’s not about showboating and white fragility and all this nonsense that doesn’t make a child learn.”

John McWhorter: The dehumanizing condescension of White Fragility

I magine a large family, perhaps your own, undertaking a series of four-hour road trips every month in a 12-person van. Even if everyone loved one another unconditionally and had no argument about anything more consequential than where to stop for lunch, passengers would get on one another’s nerves. Small annoyances would build up over time until tiny transgressions touched off major rows. Being on a civic council is like that, except you don’t love the other people, the arguments are about the most intractable problems faced by your community, and everything is done in public.

Merely watching the council meetings, I grew frustrated when someone was grandstanding or droning on or oversensitive or needlessly combative. At times, Broshi was on the receiving end of antagonizing behavior rather than dishing it out. At times, Wrocklage antagonized others or presumed bad motives. I had to remind myself that no one is at their best in tedious meetings held remotely months into a global pandemic, and whatever their relatively minor imperfections, these people dutifully show up, far more than most, to do civic work. On substance, I remain undecided as to which faction has the better position on screening policy. Both sides aired concerns that seem reasonable and defensible to me.

But no civic council that meaningfully represents a diverse community will ever be unanimous in how it defines anti-racism, what that definition implies for policy making, any other notion of what is just or true, or the proper framework through which to decide. The self-identified “anti-racist” camp seems convinced only one way forward exists, and everyone must “train” to arrive at the same understanding of race in America. That’s a recipe for conflict.

“If we want better schools for all kids, if we are to work together for children, to remedy the disproportionate outcomes we see … we adults have to talk to each other about race,” a District 2 superintendent, Donalda Chumney, told council members at the end of the June 29 meeting. “We need to permit ourselves to be comfortable in the imperfection of this work. We cannot wait to talk until everybody knows the right words and has assessed the least terrifying public stances to take.” That’s right. In civic life generally, policing perceived microaggressions should never take priority over or distract from the shared project of improving policies and institutions. “I’m still learning how to have effective conversations about race in settings like this, where both or all parties do not share the perspective of the other,” she added. “We have to call each other into conversations, not push each other out … We need structures and protocols to do that.”

Ibram X. Kendi: The anti-racist reading list

I’d offer one rule of thumb: Anti-racism is a contested concept that well-meaning people define and practice differently. Folks who have different ideas about how to combat racism should engage one another. They might even attempt a reciprocal book exchange, in which everyone works to understand how others see the world. A more inclusive anti-racist canon would include Bayard Rustin, Albert Murray, Henry Louis Gates, Zadie Smith, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, Danielle Allen, Randall Kennedy, Stephen Carter, John McWhorter, Glenn Loury, Barbara and Karen Fields, Thomas Chatterton Williams, Adolph Reed, Kmele Foster, Coleman Hughes, and others.

As long as sharp disagreements persist about what causes racial inequality and how best to remedy it, deliberations rooted in the specific costs and benefits of discrete policies will provide a better foundation for actual progress than meta-arguments about what “anti-racism” demands.

How to Tackle an Argumentative Essay on Racism

racism essay

If you have to write an argumentative essay on racism you should consider writing about more recent developments in this field. For example, reverse discrimination based on race, when the members of a majority group are discriminated when they apply for a job or admission to a higher educational institution because the company or college in question have certain quotas for the members of previously discriminated groups. As a result, the representatives of these minority groups can get a job or an admission even if they are less suitable for it or have lower test scores. Thus, minority groups get special treatment – exactly what the struggle against racism was supposed to eliminate.

Don’t forget than an argumentative essay is supposed to be based not only on your opinion and logical conclusions, but facts as well. It is the main difference of this kind of work from, for example, expository essays – argumentative essays involve far greater amount of research work and come as a result of it.

This means that before starting to write you have to organize your thoughts, prepare additional information, study a number of sources, and find enough proof for your point of view. Don’t start writing immediately hoping to cover doubtful aspects of your discourse later – you may discover that the necessary sources of information happen to be unavailable or some facts may actually turn out to be opposing your argumentation, not supporting it. In this case, you may be forced to start anew or rewrite large fragments of your work, which is never a pleasant thing and even less so if your deadline is near.

In the end, your essay should have three things: logical argumentation, factual foundation and (it is very advisable) examples. Preferably personal ones – if you have ever encountered instances of racism of any kind, it may be very useful in your essay – for example, such things make for excellent introduction paragraphs.

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14 influential essays from Black writers on America's problems with race

  • Business leaders are calling for people to reflect on civil rights this Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
  • Black literary experts shared their top nonfiction essay and article picks on race. 
  • The list includes "A Report from Occupied Territory" by James Baldwin.

Insider Today

For many, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a time of reflection on the life of one of the nation's most prominent civil rights leaders. It's also an important time for people who support racial justice to educate themselves on the experiences of Black people in America. 

Business leaders like TIAA CEO Thasunda Duckett Brown and others are encouraging people to reflect on King's life's work, and one way to do that is to read his essays and the work of others dedicated to the same mission he had: racial equity. 

Insider asked Black literary and historical experts to share their favorite works of journalism on race by Black authors. Here are the top pieces they recommended everyone read to better understand the quest for Black liberation in America:

An earlier version of this article was published on June 14, 2020.

"Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases" and "The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States" by Ida B. Wells

argumentative essay racism

In 1892, investigative journalist, activist, and NAACP founding member Ida B. Wells began to publish her research on lynching in a pamphlet titled "Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases." Three years later, she followed up with more research and detail in "The Red Record." 

Shirley Moody-Turner, associate Professor of English and African American Studies at Penn State University recommended everyone read these two texts, saying they hold "many parallels to our own moment."  

"In these two pamphlets, Wells exposes the pervasive use of lynching and white mob violence against African American men and women. She discredits the myths used by white mobs to justify the killing of African Americans and exposes Northern and international audiences to the growing racial violence and terror perpetrated against Black people in the South in the years following the Civil War," Moody-Turner told Business Insider. 

Read  "Southern Horrors" here and "The Red Record" here >>

"On Juneteenth" by Annette Gordon-Reed

argumentative essay racism

In this collection of essays, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annette Gordon-Reed combines memoir and history to help readers understand the complexities out of which Juneteenth was born. She also argues how racial and ethnic hierarchies remain in society today, said Moody-Turner. 

"Gordon-Reed invites readers to see Juneteenth as a time to grapple with the complexities of race and enslavement in the US, to re-think our origin stories about race and slavery's central role in the formation of both Texas and the US, and to consider how, as Gordon-Reed so eloquently puts it, 'echoes of the past remain, leaving their traces in the people and events of the present and future.'"

Purchase "On Juneteenth" here>>

"The Case for Reparations" by Ta-Nehisi Coates

argumentative essay racism

Ta-Nehisi Coates, best-selling author and national correspondent for The Atlantic, made waves when he published his 2014 article "The Case for Reparations," in which he called for "collective introspection" on reparations for Black Americans subjected to centuries of racism and violence. 

"In his now famed essay for The Atlantic, journalist, author, and essayist, Ta-Nehisi Coates traces how slavery, segregation, and discriminatory racial policies underpin ongoing and systemic economic and racial disparities," Moody-Turner said. 

"Coates provides deep historical context punctuated by individual and collective stories that compel us to reconsider the case for reparations," she added.  

Read it here>>

"The Idea of America" by Nikole Hannah-Jones and the "1619 Project" by The New York Times

argumentative essay racism

In "The Idea of America," Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones traces America's history from 1619 onward, the year slavery began in the US. She explores how the history of slavery is inseparable from the rise of America's democracy in her essay that's part of The New York Times' larger "1619 Project," which is the outlet's ongoing project created in 2019 to re-examine the impact of slavery in the US. 

"In her unflinching look at the legacy of slavery and the underside of American democracy and capitalism, Hannah-Jones asks, 'what if America understood, finally, in this 400th year, that we [Black Americans] have never been the problem but the solution,'" said Moody-Turner, who recommended readers read the whole "1619 Project" as well. 

Read "The Idea of America" here and the rest of the "1619 Project here>>

"Many Thousands Gone" by James Baldwin

argumentative essay racism

In "Many Thousands Gone," James Arthur Baldwin, American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist lays out how white America is not ready to fully recognize Black people as people. It's a must read, according to Jimmy Worthy II, assistant professor of English at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

"Baldwin's essay reminds us that in America, the very idea of Black persons conjures an amalgamation of specters, fears, threats, anxieties, guilts, and memories that must be extinguished as part of the labor to forget histories deemed too uncomfortable to remember," Worthy said.

"Letter from a Birmingham Jail" by Martin Luther King Jr.

argumentative essay racism

On April 13 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. and other Civil Rights activists were arrested after peaceful protest in Birmingham, Alabama. In jail, King penned an open letter about how people have a moral obligation to break unjust laws rather than waiting patiently for legal change. In his essay, he expresses criticism and disappointment in white moderates and white churches, something that's not often focused on in history textbooks, Worthy said.

"King revises the perception of white racists devoted to a vehement status quo to include white moderates whose theories of inevitable racial equality and silence pertaining to racial injustice prolong discriminatory practices," Worthy said. 

"The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action" by Audre Lorde

argumentative essay racism

Audre Lorde, African American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist asks readers to not be silent on important issues. This short, rousing read is crucial for everyone according to Thomonique Moore, a 2016 graduate of Howard University, founder of Books&Shit book club, and an incoming Masters' candidate at Columbia University's Teacher's College. 

"In this essay, Lorde explains to readers the importance of overcoming our fears and speaking out about the injustices that are plaguing us and the people around us. She challenges us to not live our lives in silence, or we risk never changing the things around us," Moore said.  Read it here>>

"The First White President" by Ta-Nehisi Coates

argumentative essay racism

This essay from the award-winning journalist's book " We Were Eight Years in Power ," details how Trump, during his presidency, employed the notion of whiteness and white supremacy to pick apart the legacy of the nation's first Black president, Barack Obama.

Moore said it was crucial reading to understand the current political environment we're in. 

"Just Walk on By" by Brent Staples

argumentative essay racism

In this essay, Brent Staples, author and Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer for The New York Times, hones in on the experience of racism against Black people in public spaces, especially on the role of white women in contributing to the view that Black men are threatening figures.  

For Crystal M. Fleming, associate professor of sociology and Africana Studies at SUNY Stony Brook, his essay is especially relevant right now. 

"We see the relevance of his critique in the recent incident in New York City, wherein a white woman named Amy Cooper infamously called the police and lied, claiming that a Black man — Christian Cooper — threatened her life in Central Park. Although the experience that Staples describes took place decades ago, the social dynamics have largely remained the same," Fleming told Insider. 

"I Was Pregnant and in Crisis. All the Doctors and Nurses Saw Was an Incompetent Black Woman" by Tressie McMillan Cottom

argumentative essay racism

Tressie McMillan Cottom is an author, associate professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and a faculty affiliate at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. In this essay, Cottom shares her gut-wrenching experience of racism within the healthcare system. 

Fleming called this piece an "excellent primer on intersectionality" between racism and sexism, calling Cottom one of the most influential sociologists and writers in the US today.  Read it here>>

"A Report from Occupied Territory" by James Baldwin

argumentative essay racism

Baldwin's "A Report from Occupied Territory" was originally published in The Nation in 1966. It takes a hard look at violence against Black people in the US, specifically police brutality. 

"Baldwin's work remains essential to understanding the depth and breadth of anti-black racism in our society. This essay — which touches on issues of racialized violence, policing and the role of the law in reproducing inequality — is an absolute must-read for anyone who wants to understand just how much has not changed with regard to police violence and anti-Black racism in our country," Fleming told Insider.  Read it here>>

"I'm From Philly. 30 Years Later, I'm Still Trying To Make Sense Of The MOVE Bombing" by Gene Demby

argumentative essay racism

On May 13, 1985, a police helicopter dropped a bomb on the MOVE compound in Philadelphia, which housed members of the MOVE, a black liberation group founded in 1972 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Eleven people, including five children, died in the airstrike. In this essay, Gene Demby, co-host and correspondent for NPR's Code Switch team, tries to wrap his head around the shocking instance of police violence against Black people. 

"I would argue that the fact that police were authorized to literally bomb Black citizens in their own homes, in their own country, is directly relevant to current conversations about militarized police and the growing movement to defund and abolish policing," Fleming said.  Read it here>>

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more .

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  • Black Americans Have a Clear Vision for Reducing Racism but Little Hope It Will Happen

Many say key U.S. institutions should be rebuilt to ensure fair treatment

Table of contents.

  • Black Americans see little improvement in their lives despite increased national attention to racial issues
  • Few Black adults expect equality for Black people in the U.S.
  • Black adults say racism and police brutality are extremely big problems for Black people in the U.S.
  • Personal experiences with discrimination are widespread among Black Americans
  • Black adults see voting as the most effective strategy for moving toward equality in the U.S.
  • Some Black adults see Black businesses and communities as effective remedies for inequality
  • Black Americans say race matters little when choosing political allies
  • The legacy of slavery affects Black Americans today
  • Most Black adults agree the descendants of enslaved people should be repaid
  • The types of repayment Black adults think would be most helpful
  • Responsibility for reparations and the likelihood repayment will occur
  • Black adults say the criminal justice system needs to be completely rebuilt
  • Black adults say political, economic and health care systems need major changes to ensure fair treatment
  • Most Black adults say funding for police departments should stay the same or increase
  • Acknowledgments
  • Appendix: Supplemental tables
  • The American Trends Panel survey methodology

Photo showing visitors at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Astrid Riecken/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to understand the nuances among Black people on issues of racial inequality and social change in the United States. This in-depth survey explores differences among Black Americans in their views on the social status of the Black population in the U.S.; their assessments of racial inequality; their visions for institutional and social change; and their outlook on the chances that these improvements will be made. The analysis is the latest in the Center’s series of in-depth surveys of public opinion among Black Americans (read the first, “ Faith Among Black Americans ” and “ Race Is Central to Identity for Black Americans and Affects How They Connect With Each Other ”).

The online survey of 3,912 Black U.S. adults was conducted Oct. 4-17, 2021. Black U.S. adults include those who are single-race, non-Hispanic Black Americans; multiracial non-Hispanic Black Americans; and adults who indicate they are Black and Hispanic. The survey includes 1,025 Black adults on Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP) and 2,887 Black adults on Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel. Respondents on both panels are recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses.

Recruiting panelists by phone or mail ensures that nearly all U.S. Black adults have a chance of selection. This gives us confidence that any sample can represent the whole population (see our Methods 101 explainer on random sampling). Here are the questions used for the survey of Black adults, along with its responses and methodology .

The terms “Black Americans,” “Black people” and “Black adults” are used interchangeably throughout this report to refer to U.S. adults who self-identify as Black, either alone or in combination with other races or Hispanic identity.

Throughout this report, “Black, non-Hispanic” respondents are those who identify as single-race Black and say they have no Hispanic background. “Black Hispanic” respondents are those who identify as Black and say they have Hispanic background. We use the terms “Black Hispanic” and “Hispanic Black” interchangeably. “Multiracial” respondents are those who indicate two or more racial backgrounds (one of which is Black) and say they are not Hispanic.

Respondents were asked a question about how important being Black was to how they think about themselves. In this report, we use the term “being Black” when referencing responses to this question.

In this report, “immigrant” refers to people who were not U.S. citizens at birth – in other words, those born outside the U.S., Puerto Rico or other U.S. territories to parents who were not U.S. citizens. We use the terms “immigrant,” “born abroad” and “foreign-born” interchangeably.

Throughout this report, “Democrats and Democratic leaners” and just “Democrats” both refer to respondents who identify politically with the Democratic Party or who are independent or some other party but lean toward the Democratic Party. “Republicans and Republican leaners” and just “Republicans” both refer to respondents who identify politically with the Republican Party or are independent or some other party but lean toward the Republican Party.

Respondents were asked a question about their voter registration status. In this report, respondents are considered registered to vote if they self-report being absolutely certain they are registered at their current address. Respondents are considered not registered to vote if they report not being registered or express uncertainty about their registration.

To create the upper-, middle- and lower-income tiers, respondents’ 2020 family incomes were adjusted for differences in purchasing power by geographic region and household size. Respondents were then placed into income tiers: “Middle income” is defined as two-thirds to double the median annual income for the entire survey sample. “Lower income” falls below that range, and “upper income” lies above it. For more information about how the income tiers were created, read the methodology .

Bar chart showing after George Floyd’s murder, half of Black Americans expected policy changes to address racial inequality, After George Floyd’s murder, half of Black Americans expected policy changes to address racial inequality

More than a year after the murder of George Floyd and the national protests, debate and political promises that ensued, 65% of Black Americans say the increased national attention on racial inequality has not led to changes that improved their lives. 1 And 44% say equality for Black people in the United States is not likely to be achieved, according to newly released findings from an October 2021 survey of Black Americans by Pew Research Center.

This is somewhat of a reversal in views from September 2020, when half of Black adults said the increased national focus on issues of race would lead to major policy changes to address racial inequality in the country and 56% expected changes that would make their lives better.

At the same time, many Black Americans are concerned about racial discrimination and its impact. Roughly eight-in-ten say they have personally experienced discrimination because of their race or ethnicity (79%), and most also say discrimination is the main reason many Black people cannot get ahead (68%).  

Even so, Black Americans have a clear vision for how to achieve change when it comes to racial inequality. This includes support for significant reforms to or complete overhauls of several U.S. institutions to ensure fair treatment, particularly the criminal justice system; political engagement, primarily in the form of voting; support for Black businesses to advance Black communities; and reparations in the forms of educational, business and homeownership assistance. Yet alongside their assessments of inequality and ideas about progress exists pessimism about whether U.S. society and its institutions will change in ways that would reduce racism.

These findings emerge from an extensive Pew Research Center survey of 3,912 Black Americans conducted online Oct. 4-17, 2021. The survey explores how Black Americans assess their position in U.S. society and their ideas about social change. Overall, Black Americans are clear on what they think the problems are facing the country and how to remedy them. However, they are skeptical that meaningful changes will take place in their lifetime.

Black Americans see racism in our laws as a big problem and discrimination as a roadblock to progress

Bar chart showing about six-in-ten Black adults say racism and police brutality are extremely big problems for Black people in the U.S. today

Black adults were asked in the survey to assess the current nature of racism in the United States and whether structural or individual sources of this racism are a bigger problem for Black people. About half of Black adults (52%) say racism in our laws is a bigger problem than racism by individual people, while four-in-ten (43%) say acts of racism committed by individual people is the bigger problem. Only 3% of Black adults say that Black people do not experience discrimination in the U.S. today.

In assessing the magnitude of problems that they face, the majority of Black Americans say racism (63%), police brutality (60%) and economic inequality (54%) are extremely or very big problems for Black people living in the U.S. Slightly smaller shares say the same about the affordability of health care (47%), limitations on voting (46%), and the quality of K-12 schools (40%).

Aside from their critiques of U.S. institutions, Black adults also feel the impact of racial inequality personally. Most Black adults say they occasionally or frequently experience unfair treatment because of their race or ethnicity (79%), and two-thirds (68%) cite racial discrimination as the main reason many Black people cannot get ahead today.

Black Americans’ views on reducing racial inequality

Bar chart showing many Black adults say institutional overhauls are necessary to ensure fair treatment

Black Americans are clear on the challenges they face because of racism. They are also clear on the solutions. These range from overhauls of policing practices and the criminal justice system to civic engagement and reparations to descendants of people enslaved in the United States.

Changing U.S. institutions such as policing, courts and prison systems

About nine-in-ten Black adults say multiple aspects of the criminal justice system need some kind of change (minor, major or a complete overhaul) to ensure fair treatment, with nearly all saying so about policing (95%), the courts and judicial process (95%), and the prison system (94%).

Roughly half of Black adults say policing (49%), the courts and judicial process (48%), and the prison system (54%) need to be completely rebuilt for Black people to be treated fairly. Smaller shares say the same about the political system (42%), the economic system (37%) and the health care system (34%), according to the October survey.

While Black Americans are in favor of significant changes to policing, most want spending on police departments in their communities to stay the same (39%) or increase (35%). A little more than one-in-five (23%) think spending on police departments in their area should be decreased.

Black adults who favor decreases in police spending are most likely to name medical, mental health and social services (40%) as the top priority for those reappropriated funds. Smaller shares say K-12 schools (25%), roads, water systems and other infrastructure (12%), and reducing taxes (13%) should be the top priority.

Voting and ‘buying Black’ viewed as important strategies for Black community advancement

Black Americans also have clear views on the types of political and civic engagement they believe will move Black communities forward. About six-in-ten Black adults say voting (63%) and supporting Black businesses or “buying Black” (58%) are extremely or very effective strategies for moving Black people toward equality in the U.S. Smaller though still significant shares say the same about volunteering with organizations dedicated to Black equality (48%), protesting (42%) and contacting elected officials (40%).

Black adults were also asked about the effectiveness of Black economic and political independence in moving them toward equality. About four-in-ten (39%) say Black ownership of all businesses in Black neighborhoods would be an extremely or very effective strategy for moving toward racial equality, while roughly three-in-ten (31%) say the same about establishing a national Black political party. And about a quarter of Black adults (27%) say having Black neighborhoods governed entirely by Black elected officials would be extremely or very effective in moving Black people toward equality.

Most Black Americans support repayment for slavery

Discussions about atonement for slavery predate the founding of the United States. As early as 1672 , Quaker abolitionists advocated for enslaved people to be paid for their labor once they were free. And in recent years, some U.S. cities and institutions have implemented reparations policies to do just that.

Most Black Americans say the legacy of slavery affects the position of Black people in the U.S. either a great deal (55%) or a fair amount (30%), according to the survey. And roughly three-quarters (77%) say descendants of people enslaved in the U.S. should be repaid in some way.

Black adults who say descendants of the enslaved should be repaid support doing so in different ways. About eight-in-ten say repayment in the forms of educational scholarships (80%), financial assistance for starting or improving a business (77%), and financial assistance for buying or remodeling a home (76%) would be extremely or very helpful. A slightly smaller share (69%) say cash payments would be extremely or very helpful forms of repayment for the descendants of enslaved people.

Where the responsibility for repayment lies is also clear for Black Americans. Among those who say the descendants of enslaved people should be repaid, 81% say the U.S. federal government should have all or most of the responsibility for repayment. About three-quarters (76%) say businesses and banks that profited from slavery should bear all or most of the responsibility for repayment. And roughly six-in-ten say the same about colleges and universities that benefited from slavery (63%) and descendants of families who engaged in the slave trade (60%).

Black Americans are skeptical change will happen

Bar chart showing little hope among Black adults that changes to address racial inequality are likely

Even though Black Americans’ visions for social change are clear, very few expect them to be implemented. Overall, 44% of Black adults say equality for Black people in the U.S. is a little or not at all likely. A little over a third (38%) say it is somewhat likely and only 13% say it is extremely or very likely.

They also do not think specific institutions will change. Two-thirds of Black adults say changes to the prison system (67%) and the courts and judicial process (65%) that would ensure fair treatment for Black people are a little or not at all likely in their lifetime. About six-in-ten (58%) say the same about policing. Only about one-in-ten say changes to policing (13%), the courts and judicial process (12%), and the prison system (11%) are extremely or very likely.

This pessimism is not only about the criminal justice system. The majority of Black adults say the political (63%), economic (62%) and health care (51%) systems are also unlikely to change in their lifetime.

Black Americans’ vision for social change includes reparations. However, much like their pessimism about institutional change, very few think they will see reparations in their lifetime. Among Black adults who say the descendants of people enslaved in the U.S. should be repaid, 82% say reparations for slavery are unlikely to occur in their lifetime. About one-in-ten (11%) say repayment is somewhat likely, while only 7% say repayment is extremely or very likely to happen in their lifetime.

Black Democrats, Republicans differ on assessments of inequality and visions for social change

Bar chart showing Black adults differ by party in their views on racial discrimination and changes to policing

Party affiliation is one key point of difference among Black Americans in their assessments of racial inequality and their visions for social change. Black Republicans and Republican leaners are more likely than Black Democrats and Democratic leaners to focus on the acts of individuals. For example, when summarizing the nature of racism against Black people in the U.S., the majority of Black Republicans (59%) say racist acts committed by individual people is a bigger problem for Black people than racism in our laws. Black Democrats (41%) are less likely to hold this view.

Black Republicans (45%) are also more likely than Black Democrats (21%) to say that Black people who cannot get ahead in the U.S. are mostly responsible for their own condition. And while similar shares of Black Republicans (79%) and Democrats (80%) say they experience racial discrimination on a regular basis, Republicans (64%) are more likely than Democrats (36%) to say that most Black people who want to get ahead can make it if they are willing to work hard.

On the other hand, Black Democrats are more likely than Black Republicans to focus on the impact that racial inequality has on Black Americans. Seven-in-ten Black Democrats (73%) say racial discrimination is the main reason many Black people cannot get ahead in the U.S, while about four-in-ten Black Republicans (44%) say the same. And Black Democrats are more likely than Black Republicans to say racism (67% vs. 46%) and police brutality (65% vs. 44%) are extremely big problems for Black people today.

Black Democrats are also more critical of U.S. institutions than Black Republicans are. For example, Black Democrats are more likely than Black Republicans to say the prison system (57% vs. 35%), policing (52% vs. 29%) and the courts and judicial process (50% vs. 35%) should be completely rebuilt for Black people to be treated fairly.

While the share of Black Democrats who want to see large-scale changes to the criminal justice system exceeds that of Black Republicans, they share similar views on police funding. Four-in-ten each of Black Democrats and Black Republicans say funding for police departments in their communities should remain the same, while around a third of each partisan coalition (36% and 37%, respectively) says funding should increase. Only about one-in-four Black Democrats (24%) and one-in-five Black Republicans (21%) say funding for police departments in their communities should decrease.

Among the survey’s other findings:

Black adults differ by age in their views on political strategies. Black adults ages 65 and older (77%) are most likely to say voting is an extremely or very effective strategy for moving Black people toward equality. They are significantly more likely than Black adults ages 18 to 29 (48%) and 30 to 49 (60%) to say this. Black adults 65 and older (48%) are also more likely than those ages 30 to 49 (38%) and 50 to 64 (42%) to say protesting is an extremely or very effective strategy. Roughly four-in-ten Black adults ages 18 to 29 say this (44%).

Gender plays a role in how Black adults view policing. Though majorities of Black women (65%) and men (56%) say police brutality is an extremely big problem for Black people living in the U.S. today, Black women are more likely than Black men to hold this view. When it comes to criminal justice, Black women (56%) and men (51%) are about equally likely to share the view that the prison system should be completely rebuilt to ensure fair treatment of Black people. However, Black women (52%) are slightly more likely than Black men (45%) to say this about policing. On the matter of police funding, Black women (39%) are slightly more likely than Black men (31%) to say police funding in their communities should be increased. On the other hand, Black men are more likely than Black women to prefer that funding stay the same (44% vs. 36%). Smaller shares of both Black men (23%) and women (22%) would like to see police funding decreased.

Income impacts Black adults’ views on reparations. Roughly eight-in-ten Black adults with lower (78%), middle (77%) and upper incomes (79%) say the descendants of people enslaved in the U.S. should receive reparations. Among those who support reparations, Black adults with upper and middle incomes (both 84%) are more likely than those with lower incomes (75%) to say educational scholarships would be an extremely or very helpful form of repayment. However, of those who support reparations, Black adults with lower (72%) and middle incomes (68%) are more likely than those with higher incomes (57%) to say cash payments would be an extremely or very helpful form of repayment for slavery.

  • Black adults in the September 2020 survey only include those who say their race is Black alone and are non-Hispanic. The same is true only for the questions of improvements to Black people’s lives and equality in the United States in the October 2021 survey. Throughout the rest of this report, Black adults include those who say their race is Black alone and non-Hispanic; those who say their race is Black and at least one other race and non-Hispanic; or Black and Hispanic, unless otherwise noted. ↩

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Hear Something, Say Something: Navigating The World Of Racial Awkwardness

Listen to this week's episode.

We've all been there — confronted with something shy of overt racism, but charged enough to make us uncomfortable. So what do you do?

We've all been there — having fun relaxing with friends and family, when someone says something a little racially off. Sometimes it's subtle, like the friend who calls Thai food "exotic." Other times it's more overt, like that in-law who's always going on about "the illegals."

In any case, it can be hard to know how to respond. Even the most level-headed among us have faltered trying to navigate the fraught world of racial awkwardness.

So what exactly do you do? We delve into the issue on this week's episode of the Code Switch podcast, featuring writer Nicole Chung and Code Switch's Shereen Marisol Meraji, Gene Demby and Karen Grigsby Bates.

We also asked some folks to write about what runs through their minds during these tense moments, and how they've responded (or not). Their reactions ran the gamut from righteous indignation to total passivity, but in the wake of these uncomfortable comments, everyone seemed to walk away wishing they'd done something else.

Aaron E. Sanchez

It was the first time my dad visited me at college, and he had just dropped me off at my dorm. My suitemate walked in and sneered.

"Was that your dad?" he asked. "He looks sooo Mexican."

argumentative essay racism

Aaron E. Sanchez is a Texas-based writer who focuses on issues of race, politics and popular culture from a Latino perspective. Courtesy of Aaron Sanchez hide caption

He kept laughing about it as he left my room.

I was caught off-guard. Instantly, I grew self-conscious, not because I was ashamed of my father, but because my respectability politics ran deep. My appearance was supposed to be impeccable and my manners unimpeachable to protect against stereotypes and slights. I felt exposed.

To be sure, when my dad walked into restaurants and stores, people almost always spoke to him in Spanish. He didn't mind. The fluidity of his bilingualism rarely failed him. He was unassuming. He wore his working-class past on his frame and in his actions. He enjoyed hard work and appreciated it in others. Yet others mistook him for something altogether different.

People regularly confused his humility for servility. He was mistaken for a landscape worker, a janitor, and once he sat next to a gentleman on a plane who kept referring to him as a "wetback." He was a poor Mexican-American kid who grew up in the Segundo Barrio of El Paso, Texas, for certain. But he was also an Air Force veteran who had served for 20 years. He was an electrical engineer, a proud father, an admirable storyteller, and a pretty decent fisherman.

I didn't respond to my suitemate. To him, my father was a funny caricature, a curio he could pick up, purchase and discard. And as much as it was hidden beneath my elite, liberal arts education, I was a novelty to him too, an even rarer one at that. Instead of a serape, I came wrapped in the trappings of middle-classness, a costume I was trying desperately to wear convincingly.

That night, I realized that no clothing or ill-fitting costume could cover us. Our bodies were incongruous to our surroundings. No matter how comfortable we were in our skins, our presence would make others uncomfortable.

Karen Good Marable

When the Q train pulled into the Cortelyou Road station, it was dark and I was tired. Another nine hours in New York City, working in the madness that is Midtown as a fact-checker at a fashion magazine. All day long, I researched and confirmed information relating to beauty, fashion and celebrity, and, at least once a day, suffered an editor who was openly annoyed that I'd discovered an error. Then, the crush of the rush-hour subway, and a dinner obligation I had to fulfill before heading home to my cat.

argumentative essay racism

Karen Good Marable is a writer living in New York City. Her work has been featured in publications like The Undefeated and The New Yorker. Courtesy of Karen Good Marable hide caption

The train doors opened and I turned the corner to walk up the stairs. Coming down were two girls — free, white and in their 20s . They were dancing as they descended, complete with necks rolling, mouths pursed — a poor affectation of black girls — and rapping as they passed me:

Now I ain't sayin she a golddigger/But she ain't messin' with no broke niggas!

That last part — broke niggas — was actually less rap, more squeals that dissolved into giggles. These white girls were thrilled to say the word publicly — joyously, even — with the permission of Kanye West.

I stopped, turned around and stared at them. I envisioned kicking them both squarely in their backs. God didn't give me telekinetic powers for just this reason. I willed them to turn around and face me, but they did not dare. They bopped on down the stairs and onto the platform, not evening knowing the rest of the rhyme.

Listen: I'm a black woman from the South. I was born in the '70s and raised by parents — both educators — who marched for their civil rights. I never could get used to nigga being bandied about — not by the black kids and certainly not by white folks. I blamed the girls' parents for not taking over where common sense had clearly failed. Hell, even radio didn't play the nigga part.

I especially blamed Kanye West for not only making the damn song, but for having the nerve to make nigga a part of the damn hook.

Life in NYC is full of moments like this, where something happens and you wonder if you should speak up or stay silent (which can also feel like complicity). I am the type who will speak up . Boys (or men) cussing incessantly in my presence? Girls on the train cussing around my 70-year-old mama? C'mon, y'all. Do you see me? Do you hear yourselves? Please. Stop.

But on this day, I just didn't feel like running down the stairs to tap those girls on the shoulder and school them on what they damn well already knew. On this day, I just sighed a great sigh, walked up the stairs, past the turnstiles and into the night.

Robyn Henderson-Espinoza

When I was 5 or 6, my mother asked me a question: "Does anyone ever make fun of you for the color of your skin?"

This surprised me. I was born to a Mexican woman who had married an Anglo man, and I was fairly light-skinned compared to the earth-brown hue of my mother. When she asked me that question, I began to understand that I was different.

argumentative essay racism

Robyn Henderson-Espinoza is a visiting assistant professor of ethics at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. Courtesy of Robyn Henderson-Espinoza hide caption

Following my parents' divorce in the early 1980s, I spent a considerable amount of time with my father and my paternal grandparents. One day in May of 1989, I was sitting at my grandparents' dinner table in West Texas. I was 12. The adults were talking about the need for more laborers on my grandfather's farm, and my dad said this:

"Mexicans are lazy."

He called the undocumented workers he employed on his 40 acres "wetbacks." Again and again, I heard from him that Mexicans always had to be told what to do. He and friends would say this when I was within earshot. I felt uncomfortable. Why would my father say these things about people like me?

But I remained silent.

It haunts me that I didn't speak up. Not then. Not ever. I still hear his words, 10 years since he passed away, and wonder whether he thought I was a lazy Mexican, too. I wish I could have found the courage to tell him that Mexicans are some of the hardest-working people I know; that those brown bodies who worked on his property made his lifestyle possible.

As I grew in experience and understanding, I was able to find language that described what he was doing: stereotyping, undermining, demonizing. I found my voice in the academy and in the movement for black and brown lives.

Still, the silence haunts me.

Channing Kennedy

My 20s were defined in no small part by a friendship with a guy I never met. For years, over email and chat, we shared everything with each other, and we made great jokes. Those jokes — made for each other only — were a foundational part of our relationship and our identities. No matter what happened, we could make each other laugh.

argumentative essay racism

Channing Kennedy is an Oakland-based writer, performer, media producer and racial equity trainer. Courtesy of Channing Kennedy hide caption

It helped, also, that we were slackers with spare time, but eventually we both found callings. I started working in the social justice sector, and he gained recognition in the field of indie comics. I was proud of my new job and approached it seriously, if not gracefully. Before I took the job, I was the type of white dude who'd make casually racist comments in front of people I considered friends. Now, I had laid a new foundation for myself and was ready to undo the harm I'd done pre-wokeness.

And I was proud of him, too, if cautious. The indie comics scene is full of bravely offensive work: the power fantasies of straight white men with grievances against their nonexistent censors, put on defiant display. But he was my friend, and he wouldn't fall for that.

One day he emailed me a rough script to get my feedback. At my desk, on a break from deleting racist, threatening Facebook comments directed at my co-workers, I opened it up for a change of pace.

I got none. His script was a top-tier, irredeemable power fantasy — sex trafficking, disability jokes, gendered violence, every scene's background packed with commentary-devoid, racist caricatures. It also had a pop culture gag on top, to guarantee clicks.

I asked him why he'd written it. He said it felt "important." I suggested he shelve it. He suggested that that would be a form of censorship. And I realized this: My dear friend had created a racist power fantasy about dismembering women, and he considered it bravely offensive.

I could have said that there was nothing brave about catering to the established tastes of other straight white comics dudes. I could have dropped any number of half-understood factoids about structural racism, the finishing move of the recently woke. I could have just said the jokes were weak.

Instead, I became cruel to him, with a dedication I'd previously reserved for myself.

Over months, I redirected every bit of our old creativity. I goaded him into arguments I knew would leave him shaken and unable to work. I positioned myself as a surrogate parent (so I could tell myself I was still a concerned ally) then laughed at him. I got him to escalate. And, privately, I told myself it was me who was under attack, the one with the grievance, and I cried about how my friend was betraying me.

I wanted to erase him (I realized years later) not because his script offended me, but because it made me laugh. It was full of the sense of humor we'd spent years on — not the jokes verbatim, but the pacing, structure, reveals, go-to gags. It had my DNA and it was funny. I thought I had become a monster-slayer, but this comic was a monster with my hands and mouth.

After years as the best of friends and as the bitterest of exes, we finally had a chance to meet in person. We were little more than acquaintances with sunk costs at that point, but we met anyway. Maybe we both wanted forgiveness, or an apology, or to see if we still had some jokes. Instead, I lectured him about electoral politics and race in a bar and never smiled.

  • code switch

What the police really believe

Inside the distinctive, largely unknown ideology of American policing — and how it justifies racist violence.

by Zack Beauchamp

Police officers line up by the AFL-CIO building during a stand-off between law enforcement officers and protesters at the Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC, on June 23.

Arthur Rizer is a former police officer and 21-year veteran of the US Army, where he served as a military policeman. Today, he heads the criminal justice program at the R Street Institute, a center-right think tank in DC. And he wants you to know that American policing is even more broken than you think.

“That whole thing about the bad apple? I hate when people say that,” Rizer tells me. “The bad apple rots the barrel. And until we do something about the rotten barrel, it doesn’t matter how many good fucking apples you put in.”

To illustrate the problem, Rizer tells a story about a time he observed a patrol by some officers in Montgomery, Alabama. They were called in to deal with a woman they knew had mental illness; she was flailing around and had cut someone with a broken plant pick. To subdue her, one of the officers body-slammed her against a door. Hard.

Rizer recalls that Montgomery officers were nervous about being watched during such a violent arrest — until they found out he had once been a cop. They didn’t actually have any problem with what one of them had just done to the woman; in fact, they started laughing about it.

“It’s one thing to use force and violence to affect an arrest. It’s another thing to find it funny,” he tells me. “It’s just pervasive throughout policing. When I was a police officer and doing these kind of ride-alongs [as a researcher], you see the underbelly of it. And it’s ... gross.”

America’s epidemic of police violence is not limited to what’s on the news. For every high-profile story of a police officer killing an unarmed Black person or tear-gassing peaceful protesters, there are many, many allegations of police misconduct you don’t hear about — abuses ranging from excessive use of force to mistreatment of prisoners to planting evidence. African Americans are arrested and roughed up by cops at wildly disproportionate rates , relative to both their overall share of the population and the percentage of crimes they commit.

Something about the way police relate to the communities they’re tasked with protecting has gone wrong. Officers aren’t just regularly treating people badly; a deep dive into the motivations and beliefs of police reveals that too many believe they are justified in doing so.

To understand how the police think about themselves and their job, I interviewed more than a dozen former officers and experts on policing. These sources, ranging from conservatives to police abolitionists, painted a deeply disturbing picture of the internal culture of policing.

Police officers confront protesters in front of City Hall in New York City on July 1.

Police officers across America have adopted a set of beliefs about their work and its role in our society. The tenets of police ideology are not codified or written down, but are nonetheless widely shared in departments around the country.

The ideology holds that the world is a profoundly dangerous place: Officers are conditioned to see themselves as constantly in danger and that the only way to guarantee survival is to dominate the citizens they’re supposed to protect. The police believe they’re alone in this fight; police ideology holds that officers are under siege by criminals and are not understood or respected by the broader citizenry. These beliefs, combined with widely held racial stereotypes, push officers toward violent and racist behavior during intense and stressful street interactions.

In that sense, police ideology can help us understand the persistence of officer-involved shootings and the recent brutal suppression of peaceful protests. In a culture where Black people are stereotyped as more threatening, Black communities are terrorized by aggressive policing, with officers acting less like community protectors and more like an occupying army.

The beliefs that define police ideology are neither universally shared among officers nor evenly distributed across departments. There are more than 600,000 local police officers across the country and more than 12,000 local police agencies. The officer corps has gotten more diverse over the years, with women, people of color, and LGBTQ officers making up a growing share of the profession. Speaking about such a group in blanket terms would do a disservice to the many officers who try to serve with care and kindness.

However, the officer corps remains overwhelmingly white, male, and straight. Federal Election Commission data from the 2020 cycle suggests that police heavily favor Republicans . And it is indisputable that there are commonly held beliefs among officers.

“The fact that not every department is the same doesn’t undermine the point that there are common factors that people can reasonably identify as a police culture,” says Tracey Meares, the founding director of Yale University’s Justice Collaboratory.

The danger imperative

In 1998, Georgia sheriff’s deputy Kyle Dinkheller pulled over a middle-aged white man named Andrew Howard Brannan for speeding. Brannan, a Vietnam veteran with PTSD, refused to comply with Dinkheller’s instructions. He got out of the car and started dancing in the middle of the road, singing “Here I am, shoot me” over and over again.

In the encounter, recorded by the deputy’s dashcam, things then escalate: Brannan charges at Dinkheller; Dinkheller tells him to “get back.” Brannan heads back to the car — only to reemerge with a rifle pointed at Dinkheller. The officer fires first, and misses; Brannan shoots back. In the ensuing firefight, both men are wounded, but Dinkheller far more severely. It ends with Brannan standing over Dinkheller, pointing the rifle at the deputy’s eye. He yells — “Die, fucker!” — and pulls the trigger.

The dashcam footage of Dinkheller’s killing, widely known among cops as the “Dinkheller video,” is burned into the minds of many American police officers. It is screened in police academies around the country ; one training turns it into a video game-style simulation in which officers can change the ending by killing Brannan. Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who killed Philando Castile during a 2016 traffic stop, was shown the Dinkheller video during his training.

“Every cop knows the name ‘Dinkheller’ — and no one else does,” says Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore police officer who currently teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

The purpose of the Dinkheller video, and many others like it shown at police academies, is to teach officers that any situation could escalate to violence. Cop killers lurk around every corner.

It’s true that policing is a relatively dangerous job . But contrary to the impression the Dinkheller video might give trainees, murders of police are not the omnipresent threat they are made out to be. The number of police killings across the country has been falling for decades ; there’s been a 90 percent drop in ambush killings of officers since 1970. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data , about 13 per 100,000 police officers died on the job in 2017. Compare that to farmers (24 deaths per 100,000), truck drivers (26.9 per 100,000), and trash collectors (34.9 per 100,000). But police academies and field training officers hammer home the risk of violent death to officers again and again.

It’s not just training and socialization, though: The very nature of the job reinforces the sense of fear and threat. Law enforcement isn’t called to people’s homes and streets when things are going well. Officers constantly find themselves thrown into situations where a seemingly normal interaction has gone haywire — a marital argument devolving into domestic violence, for example.

“For them, any scene can turn into a potential danger,” says Eugene Paoline III, a criminologist at the University of Central Florida. “They’re taught, through their experiences, that very routine events can go bad.”

Michael Sierra-Arévalo, a professor at UT-Austin, calls the police obsession with violent death “ the danger imperative .” After conducting 1,000 hours of fieldwork and interviews with 94 police officers, he found that the risk of violent death occupies an extraordinary amount of mental space for many officers — far more so than it should, given the objective risks.

Here’s what I mean: According to the past 20 years of FBI data on officer fatalities, 1,001 officers have been killed by firearms while 760 have died in car crashes. For this reason, police officers are, like the rest of us, required to wear seat belts at all times.

In reality, many choose not to wear them even when speeding through city streets. Sierra-Arévalo rode along with one police officer, whom he calls officer Doyle, during a car chase where Doyle was going around 100 miles per hour — and still not wearing a seat belt. Sierra-Arévalo asked him why he did things like this. Here’s what Doyle said:

There’s times where I’ll be driving and the next thing you know I’ll be like, ‘Oh shit, that dude’s got a fucking gun!’ I’ll stop [mimics tires screeching], try to get out — fuck. Stuck on the seat belt … I’d rather just be able to jump out on people, you know. If I have to, be able to jump out of this deathtrap of a car. 

Despite the fact that fatal car accidents are a risk for police, officers like Doyle prioritize their ability to respond to one specific shooting scenario over the clear and consistent benefits of wearing a seat belt.

“Knowing officers consistently claim safety is their primary concern, multiple drivers not wearing a seatbelt and speeding towards the same call should be interpreted as an unacceptable danger; it is not,” Sierra-Arévalo writes. “The danger imperative — the preoccupation with violence and the provision of officer safety — contributes to officer behaviors that, though perceived as keeping them safe, in fact put them in great physical danger.”

This outsized attention to violence doesn’t just make officers a threat to themselves. It’s also part of what makes them a threat to citizens.

Because officers are hyper-attuned to the risks of attacks, they tend to believe that they must always be prepared to use force against them — sometimes even disproportionate force. Many officers believe that, if they are humiliated or undermined by a civilian, that civilian might be more willing to physically threaten them.

Scholars of policing call this concept “ maintaining the edge ,” and it’s a vital reason why officers seem so willing to employ force that appears obviously excessive when captured by body cams and cellphones.

“To let down that edge is perceived as inviting chaos, and thus danger,” Moskos says.

This mindset helps explain why so many instances of police violence — like George Floyd’s killing by officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis — happen during struggles related to arrest .

In these situations, the officers aren’t always threatened with a deadly weapon: Floyd, for example, was unarmed. But when the officer decides the suspect is disrespecting them or resisting their commands, they feel the need to use force to reestablish the edge.

They need to make the suspect submit to their authority.

A siege mentality

Police officers today tend to see themselves as engaged in a lonely, armed struggle against the criminal element. They are judged by their effectiveness at that task, measured by internal data such as arrest numbers and crime rates in the areas they patrol. Officers believe these efforts are underappreciated by the general public; according to a 2017 Pew report , 86 percent of police believe the public doesn’t really understand the “risks and challenges” involved in their job.

Rizer, the former officer and R Street researcher, recently conducted a separate large-scale survey of American police officers. One of the questions he asked was whether they would want their children to become police officers. A majority, around 60 percent, said no — for reasons that, in Rizer’s words, “blew me away.”

“The vast majority of people that said ‘no, I don’t want them to become a police officer’ was because they felt like the public no longer supported them — and that they were ‘at war’ with the public,” he tells me. “There’s a ‘me versus them’ kind of worldview, that we’re not part of this community that we’re patrolling.”

You can see this mentality on display in the widespread police adoption of an emblem called the “thin blue line.” In one version of the symbol , two black rectangles are separated by a dark blue horizontal line. The rectangles represent the public and criminals, respectively; the blue line separating them is the police.

In another, the blue line replaces the central white stripe in a black-and-white American flag, separating the stars from the stripes below. During the recent anti-police violence protests in Cincinnati, Ohio, officers raised this modified banner outside their station.

A demonstrator holds a “thin blue line” flag and a sign in support of police during a protest outside the governor’s mansion in St. Paul, Minnesota, on June 27.

In the “thin blue line” mindset, loyalty to the badge is paramount; reporting excessive force or the use of racial slurs by a colleague is an act of treason. This emphasis on loyalty can create conditions for abuses, even systematic ones, to take place: Officers at one station in Chicago, Illinois, tortured at least 125 Black suspects between 1972 and 1991. These crimes were uncovered by the dogged work of an investigative journalist rather than a police whistleblower.

“Officers, when they get wind that something might be wrong, either participate in it themselves when they’re commanded to — or they actively ignore it, find ways to look the other way,” says Laurence Ralph, a Princeton professor and the author of The Torture Letters , a recent book on the abuses in Chicago.

This insularity and siege mentality is not universal among American police. Worldviews vary from person to person and department to department; many officers are decent people who work hard to get to know citizens and address their concerns.

But it is powerful enough, experts say, to distort departments across the country. It has seriously undermined some recent efforts to reorient the police toward working more closely with local communities, generally pushing departments away from deep engagement with citizens and toward a more militarized and aggressive model.

“The police have been in the midst of an epic ideological battle. It’s been taking place ever since the supposed community policing revolution started back in the 1980s,” says Peter Kraska, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies. “In the last 10 to 15 years, the more toxic elements have been far more influential.”

Since the George Floyd protests began, police have tear-gassed protesters in 100 different US cities . This is not an accident or the result of behaviors by a few bad apples. Instead, it reflects the fact that officers see themselves as at war — and the protesters as the enemies.

A 2017 study by Heidi Reynolds-Stenson, a sociologist at Colorado State University-Pueblo, examined data on 7,000 protests from 1960 to 1995. She found that “police are much more likely to try to quell protests that criticize police conduct.”

“Recent scholarship argues that, over the last twenty years, protest policing [has gotten] more aggressive and less impartial,” Reynolds-Stenson concludes. “The pattern of disproportionate repression of police brutality protests found in this study may be even more pronounced today.”

There’s a reason that, after New York Police Department Lt. Robert Cattani kneeled alongside Black Lives Matter protesters on May 31, he sent an email to his precinct apologizing for the “horrible decision to give into a crowd of protesters’ demands.” In his mind, the decision to work with the crowd amounted to collaboration with the enemy.

“The cop in me,” Cattani wrote, “wants to kick my own ass.”


Policing in the United States has always been bound up with the color line. In the South, police departments emerged out of 18th century slave patrols — bands of men working to discipline slaves, facilitate their transfer between plantations, and catch runaways. In the North, professional police departments came about as a response to a series of mid-19th century urban upheavals — many of which, like the 1834 New York anti-abolition riot , had their origins in racial strife.

While policing has changed dramatically since then, there’s clear evidence of continued structural racism in American policing. The Washington Post’s Radley Balko has compiled an extensive list of academic studies documenting this fact , covering everything from traffic stops to use of deadly force. Research has confirmed that this is a nationwide problem , involving a significant percentage of officers .

When talking about race in policing and the way it relates to police ideology, there are two related phenomena to think about.

The first is overt racism. In some police departments, the culture permits a minority of racists on the force to commit brutal acts of racial violence with impunity.

  • How racist policing took over American cities, explained by a historian

Examples of explicit racism abound in police officer conduct. The following three incidents were reported in the past month alone:

  • In leaked audio , Wilmington, North Carolina, officer Kevin Piner said, “we are just going to go out and start slaughtering [Blacks],” adding that he “can’t wait” for a new civil war so whites could “wipe them off the fucking map.” Piner was dismissed from the force, as were two other officers involved in the conversation.
  • Joey Lawn, a 10-year veteran of the Meridian, Mississippi, force, was fired for using an unspecified racial slur against a Black colleague during a 2018 exercise. Lawn’s boss, John Griffith, was demoted from captain to lieutenant for failing to punish Lawn at the time.
  • Four officers in San Jose, California, were put on administrative leave amid an investigation into their membership in a secret Facebook group. In a public post, officer Mark Pimentel wrote that “black lives don’t really matter”; in another private one, retired officer Michael Nagel wrote about female Muslim prisoners: “i say we repurpose the hijabs into nooses.”

In all of these cases, superiors punished officers for their offensive comments and actions — but only after they came to light. It’s safe to say a lot more go unreported.

Last April , a human resources manager in San Francisco’s city government quit after spending two years conducting anti-bias training for the city’s police force. In an exit email sent to his boss and the city’s police chief, he wrote that “the degree of anti-black sentiment throughout SFPD is extreme,” adding that “while there are some at SFPD who possess somewhat of a balanced view of racism and anti-blackness, there are an equal number (if not more) — who possess and exude deeply rooted anti-black sentiments.”

Psychological research suggests that white officers are disproportionately likely to demonstrate a personality trait called “social dominance orientation.” Individuals with high levels of this trait tend to believe that existing social hierarchies are not only necessary, but morally justified — that inequalities reflect the way that things actually should be. The concept was originally formulated in the 1990s as a way of explaining why some people are more likely to accept what a group of researchers termed “ideologies that promote or maintain group inequality,” including “the ideology of anti-Black racism.”

A demonstrator walks past a mural for George Floyd during a protest near the White House in Washington, DC, on June 4.

This helps us understand why some officers are more likely to use force against Black suspects, even unarmed ones. Phillip Atiba Goff, a psychologist at John Jay and the CEO of the Center for Policing Equity think tank, has done forthcoming research on the distribution of social dominance orientation among officers in three different cities. Goff and his co-authors found that white officers who score very highly in this trait tend to use force more frequently than those who don’t.

“If you think the social hierarchy is good, then maybe you’re more willing to use violence from the state’s perspective to enforce that hierarchy — and you think that’s your job,” he tells me.

But while the problem of overt racism and explicit commitment to racial hierarchy is a serious one, it’s not necessarily the central problem in modern policing.

The second manifestation of anti-Blackness is more subtle. The very nature of policing, in which officers perform a dizzying array of stressful tasks for long hours, brings out the worst in people. The psychological stressors combine with police ideology and widespread cultural stereotypes to push officers, even ones who don’t hold overtly racist beliefs, to treat Black people as more suspect and more dangerous. It’s not just the officers who are the problem; it’s the society they come from, and the things that society asks them to do.

While overt racists may be overrepresented on police forces, the average white officer’s beliefs are not all that different from those of the average white person in their local community. According to Goff, tests of racial bias reveal somewhat higher rates of prejudice among officers than the general population, but the effect size tends to be swamped by demographic and regional effects.

“If you live in a racist city, that’s going to matter more for how racist your law enforcement is ... than looking at the difference between law enforcement and your neighbors,” he told me.

In this sense, the rising diversity of America’s officer corps should make a real difference. If you draw from a demographically different pool of recruits, one with overall lower levels of racial bias, then there should be less of a problem with racism on the force.

There’s some data to back this up. Pew’s 2017 survey of officers found that Black officers and female officers were considerably more sympathetic to anti-police brutality protesters than white ones. A 2016 paper on officer-involved killings of Black people, from Yale’s Joscha Legewie and Columbia’s Jeffrey Fagan, found that departments with a larger percentage of Black officers had lower rates of killings of Black people.

But scholars caution that diversity will not, on its own, solve policing’s problems. In Pew’s survey, 60 percent of Hispanic and white officers said their departments had “excellent” or “good” relations with the local Black community, while only 32 percent of Black officers said the same. The hierarchy of policing remains extremely white — across cities, departmental brass and police unions tend to be disproportionately white relative to the rank-and-file. And the existing culture in many departments pushes nonwhite officers to try and fit in with what’s been established by the white hierarchy.

“We have seen that officers of color actually face increased pressure to fit into the existing culture of policing and may go out of their way to align themselves with traditional police tactics,” says Shannon Portillo, a scholar of bureaucratic culture at the University of Kansas-Edwards.

There’s a deeper problem than mere representation. The very nature of policing, both police ideology and the nuts-and-bolts nature of the job, can bring out the worst in people — especially when it comes to deep-seated racial prejudices and stereotypes.

The intersection of commonly held stereotypes with police ideology can prime officers for abusive behavior, especially when they’re patrolling majority-Black neighborhoods where residents have long-standing grievances against the cops. Some kind of incident with a Black citizen is certain to set off a confrontation; officers will eventually feel the need to escalate well beyond what seems necessary or even acceptable from the outside to protect themselves.

“The drug dealer — if he says ‘fuck you’ one day, it’s like getting punked on the playground. You have to go through that every day,” says Moskos, the former Baltimore officer. “You’re not allowed to get punked as a cop, not just because of your ego but because of the danger of it.”

The problems with ideology and prejudice are dramatically intensified by the demanding nature of the policing profession. Officers work a difficult job for long hours, called upon to handle responsibilities ranging from mental health intervention to spousal dispute resolution. While on shift, they are constantly anxious, searching for the next threat or potential arrest.

Stress gets to them even off the job; PTSD and marital strife are common problems. It’s a kind of negative feedback loop: The job makes them stressed and nervous, which damages their mental health and personal relationships, which raises their overall level of stress and makes the job even more taxing.

According to Goff, it’s hard to overstate how much more likely people are to be racist under these circumstances. When you put people under stress, they tend to make snap judgments rooted in their basic instincts. For police officers, raised in a racist society and socialized in a violent work atmosphere, that makes racist behavior inevitable.

“The mission and practice of policing is not aligned with what we know about how to keep people from acting on the kinds of implicit biases and mental shortcuts,” he says. “You could design a job where that’s not how it works. We have not chosen to do that for policing.”

Across the United States, we have created a system that makes disproportionate police targeting of Black citizens an inevitability. Officers don’t need to be especially racist as compared to the general population for discrimination to recur over and over; it’s the nature of the police profession, the beliefs that permeate it, and the situations in which officers find themselves that lead them to act in racist ways.

This reality helps us understand why the current protests have been so forceful: they are an expression of long-held rage against an institution that Black communities experience less as a protection force and more as a sort of military occupation.

Police officers often represent more of a military occupation than a protection force for Black communities.

In one landmark project , a team including Yale’s Meares and Hopkins’s Vesla Weaver facilitated more than 850 conversations about policing among residents of six different cities, finding a pervasive sense of police lawlessness among residents of highly policed Black communities.

Residents believe that police see them as subhuman or animal, that interactions with officers invariably end with arrests and/or physical assaults, and that the Constitution’s protections against police abuse don’t apply to Black people.

“[It’s often said that] if you don’t have anything on you, just agree to a search and everything will be okay. Let me tell you, that’s not what happens,” Weaver tells me, summarizing the beliefs of her research subjects. “What actually happens is that you’re bound to get beat up, you’re bound to get dragged to the station. The police can search you for whatever. We don’t get due process, we don’t get restitution — this is what we live by.”

Police don’t treat whole communities like this because they’re born worse or more evil than civilians. It’s better to understand the majority of officers as ordinary Americans who are thrown into a system that conditions them to be violent and to treat Black people, in particular, as the enemy. While some departments are better than others at ameliorating this problem, there’s not a city in the country that appears to have solved it entirely.

Rizer summarizes the problem by telling me about one new officer’s experience in Baltimore.

“This was a great young man,” Rizer says. “He joined the Baltimore Police Department because he wanted to make a difference.”

Six months after this man graduated from the academy, Rizer checked in on him to see how he was doing. It wasn’t good.

“They’re animals. All of them,” Rizer recalls the young officer telling him. “The cops, the people I patrol, everybody. They’re just fucking animals.”

This man was, in Rizer’s mind, “the embodiment of what a good police officer should have been.” Some time after their conversation, he quit the force — pushed out by a system that takes people in and breaks them, on both sides of the law.

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Speech: “We must be united to end racism as well as gender inequality”

Date: Wednesday, 17 June 2020

[As delivered]

Madam President, distinguished delegates,

UN Women believes that women are part of their lived experiences. These experiences impact on who they become, as well as on their families. These experiences may be religious, racial, cultural, or related to sexual orientation.

The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent have highlighted that girls and women of African Descent are likely to be poorer, to be less educated and to have fewer opportunities everywhere in the world.

We are now seeing an outpouring of solidarity, with people protesting in the streets against systemic and brutal racism.

We need to fight against racism, too, in our own institutions and everywhere in the world; because only if we are united, we will build back together after COVID-19.

In fighting apartheid, it took people of the world also to be in solidarity and to fight together and help to end apartheid.

This time has come again. We must be united to end racism as well as gender inequality in the world.

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argumentative essay racism

The crisis of anti-Black racism in schools persists across generations

argumentative essay racism

Professor, Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora, York University, Canada

Disclosure statement

Carl James receives research funding from Social Science Research Council as well as the Peel District School Board, 2017/2018 for the We Rise Together (on the experiences of Black students).

York University provides funding as a member of The Conversation CA.

York University provides funding as a member of The Conversation CA-FR.

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Recent reports of the schooling experiences of Black students in elementary, middle and high school in Toronto tell a story of negligence and disregard. This disregard includes a lack of access to appropriate reading materials and supportive relationships with teachers and administrators.

In conversations about their school life, Black students talk about adverse treatment by their teachers and peers, including regular use of the “n-word.”

These issues contribute to alienating and problematic school days for Black students. And none of this is new: racism in Toronto and Ontario schools has been ongoing for decades .

Twenty years ago, former politician Stephen Lewis was appointed to advise the province of Ontario on race relations. The appointment came after a “stop anti-Black police violence” march turned into an uprising in Toronto. Lewis spent a month consulting with people and community groups in Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor and London and then presented a report on race relations.

The students [I spoke with] were fiercely articulate and often deeply moving…. They don’t understand why the schools are so slow to reflect the broader society. One bright young man in a Metro east high school said that he had reached [the end of high school] without once having a book by a Black author [assigned to him]. And when other students, in the large meeting of which he was a part, started to name books they had been given to read, the titles were Black Like Me and To Kill and Mockingbird (both, incredibly enough, by white writers!). It’s absurd in a world which has a positive cornucopia of magnificent literature by Black authors. I further recall an animated young woman from a high school in Peel, who described her school as multiracial, and then added that she and her fellow students had white teachers, white counsellors, a white principal and were taught Black history by a white teacher who didn’t like them…

More than two decades later, reports continue to show that school boards do not meet the educational needs and interests of Black students and parents.

argumentative essay racism

Two years ago, I led a study to examine the schooling experiences and educational outcomes of Black students. We surveyed 324 parents, educators, school administrators and trustees. We talked to Black high school and university students in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who participated in the five community consultations we held in four school districts.

Participants echoed what students said 20 years ago in the Lewis report. Black students say they are “being treated differently than their non-Black peers in the classrooms and hallways of their schools.” They say there is still a lack of Black presence in schools. There are few Black teachers, the curriculum does not adequately address Black history and schools lack an equitable process to help students deal with anti-Black racism.

Read more: Racialized student achievement gaps are a red-alert

Students spoke about their teachers’ and administrators’ lack of attention to their concerns, interests and needs. They told of differential or “unfair” treatment, and they noted their teachers’ unwillingness to address complaints of racism .

Participants said they perceived a more punitive discipline of Black students. They also said they observed the “streaming of Black students into courses below their ability level.” They said Black students were discouraged from attending university.

Last year, I conducted another study with Black elementary, middle and high-school students in the Peel District School Board (PDSB), a multiracial district in Ontario. This study produced the same list of concerns .

Not belonging

Students reported being called the “n-word,” as they put it, by “people who are not Black.” This use of racial epithets adds to an already alienating educational climate for many Black students.

One middle school student said: “People are getting too comfortable with saying that n-word.”

argumentative essay racism

A high school student shared his reaction to being called the n-word:

“I recall one time where I almost slapped this guy [for using the n-word]; but I was like: ‘Nah! I’m not going to let this happen or let him disturb me like that.”

Like Black students before them, their experiences contributed to their “sense of un-belonging” and a schooling environment that made learning problematic, tough and challenging.

Beyond Toronto, Black students and their parents are similarly complaining about the use of the n-word across Canadian public schools: Several news reports tell of parents in school boards in York , Ottawa , Montréal and Halifax.

One Montréal mother told CTV news that in an argument with his classmate, her son was called “the n-word” by a white student. The mother went on to say: “I’m at war with the systemic racism that occurs at the school.”

CBC Kids News published a story about two Black Grade 12 students in Nova Scotia who gave presentations to their peers across the province about being called the n-word. One of the presenters, Kelvin, said the word is commonly used to “hurt” and put him down.“ He said the word and its implications had not been taught by teachers in any of his classes.

Some parents and educators have connected this ongoing racism to a health and safety epidemic for Black students in Ontario schools.

That the "n-word” brings health and safety implications as well as deep consternation to Black students should be a concern that teachers take up. Teachers need to examine course materials for their content and impact on students’ learning.

Read more: Racism impacts your health

Could a good reading list help?

Based on my research, I recommended the Peel District School Board evaluate their curriculum and assess the usefulness of old texts. Some of these texts repeatedly use the the racial epithet, “ni–er.” As an example, I said the 1960 American novel To Kill A Mockingbird could be re-examined as a core book taught in classrooms.

argumentative essay racism

These are texts that Canadian students might find difficult to relate to their lives. These texts become especially problematic when it is the only time that the lives of Black people are mentioned in class.

All teaching material must be continuously re-assessed in relation to historical, political and social contexts. Materials must also be evaluated for their ability to pertain to the realities of Black students in today’s classrooms.

The experiences of all students must be centred and the knowledge, needs and aspirations they bring into the classroom considered.

This is the same recommendation Stephen Lewis made in 1992.

argumentative essay racism

Responsive learning spaces

As Poleen Grewal, associate director of the Peel District School Board pointed out, it is not just about the texts taught. Teachers who use uncritical texts as a way into discussions about racism are unlikely to benefit Black students already aware of racism. Grewal said teaching must be accompanied by the ability to create “culturally responsive learning spaces.”

Educators need to be aware of how structures of inequities like racism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia and Islamophobia operate in educational institutions to obfuscate student interest in learning.

argumentative essay racism

Recently, a number of school Boards have initiated programs that they claim address anti-Black racism, including anti-racism workshops for teachers. Will these measures help to change the inequitable and racist contexts of Canadian schools and the racism students experience?

Other places have been pro-active with curriculum. In Nova Scotia, To Kill A Mockingbird was removed from the curriculum in 1996, and replaced with the 1998 novel A Lesson Before Dying by African-American writer Ernest J. Gaines.

School boards need to value and draw upon the cultural and intellectual capital of Black students. To do so, they need to encourage the university aspirations of Black students, address racism experienced by students, and use educational materials that enable a relevant and responsive learning environment.

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  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • High school students
  • Black students
  • Critical race
  • Toronto District School Board
  • Back to school 2019
  • racism in school

argumentative essay racism

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Crafting Persuasive Narratives: the Art of Influence through Reason, Emotion, and Credibility

This essay about the art of persuasion explores the interplay of logos, pathos, and ethos in crafting compelling narratives. It illustrates how these three elements—reason, emotion, and credibility—intersect to sway opinions, inspire action, and shape discourse. Through examples spanning renewable energy advocacy, humanitarian appeals, and public health campaigns, the essay demonstrates how communicators strategically leverage these modes of persuasion to make logical arguments, evoke emotional responses, and establish credibility. Ultimately, it highlights the importance of integrating these elements harmoniously to create persuasive narratives that resonate with audiences and drive meaningful change.

How it works

In the realm of communication and discourse, the art of persuasion reigns supreme, employing a trifecta of strategies to sway opinions, inspire action, and shape narratives. At the heart of this art lie three pillars: logos, the appeal to reason and logic; pathos, the appeal to emotions; and ethos, the appeal to credibility and authority. By understanding and mastering these elements, communicators wield a powerful arsenal for crafting narratives that captivate, convince, and compel.

Let’s embark on a journey through the annals of persuasion, exploring how these three modes intersect and intertwine to form cohesive and compelling arguments.

Imagine, if you will, a world where renewable energy reigns supreme, where the air is clean, and the future is bright. In this world, the persuasive power of logos is on full display, as advocates present irrefutable evidence and compelling statistics to support the transition to sustainable energy sources. From plummeting carbon emissions to burgeoning job markets in the renewable sector, the logical case for embracing clean energy is clear and convincing.

Yet, in the realm of persuasion, logic alone is not enough. Enter pathos, the emotional undercurrent that tugs at heartstrings and stirs the soul. Picture a humanitarian crisis unfolding on distant shores, where lives hang in the balance and hope hangs by a thread. Here, the power of pathos is palpable, as storytellers weave tales of resilience, compassion, and human suffering. Through vivid imagery, poignant anecdotes, and raw emotion, they bridge the gap between empathy and action, compelling audiences to lend a helping hand and make a difference in the world.

But persuasion is not merely a matter of facts and feelings; it is also a matter of trust and credibility. Consider the case of a renowned expert in their field, a paragon of knowledge and integrity. As they take the stage to address a captive audience, their ethos precedes them, commanding respect and instilling confidence. With every word they speak and every argument they make, they bolster their credibility, establishing themselves as authorities worthy of trust and admiration. Whether in the courtroom, the boardroom, or the public square, ethos serves as a bedrock of persuasion, grounding arguments in the solid foundation of expertise and integrity.

Moreover, the true power of persuasion lies in the seamless integration of logos, pathos, and ethos, each element complementing and reinforcing the others to create a symphony of persuasion. Picture a political campaign rallying supporters to the polls, its message resonating with equal parts reason, emotion, and authority. Through a combination of compelling policy proposals, stirring speeches, and endorsements from trusted leaders, the campaign galvanizes voters and shapes the course of history.

In the realm of public health, persuasion takes on a life-saving urgency, as advocates strive to combat misinformation and promote vaccination against deadly diseases. Here, logos takes center stage, as scientists and healthcare professionals present rigorous evidence and sound reasoning in support of immunization. Yet, in the face of vaccine hesitancy and skepticism, pathos emerges as a potent force, appealing to parents’ fears for their children’s health and safety. Meanwhile, the credibility of medical experts and public health authorities serves as a bulwark against doubt and distrust, reinforcing the message of vaccination as a critical tool for protecting individual and community well-being.

In conclusion, the art of persuasion is a multifaceted and dynamic endeavor, requiring a deft touch and a keen understanding of human nature. By harnessing the power of logos, pathos, and ethos, communicators can forge connections, change minds, and shape the course of history. Whether advocating for social change, marketing a product, or mobilizing support for a cause, the principles of persuasion remain constant, guiding us on a journey of discovery, influence, and impact.


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Crafting Persuasive Narratives: The Art of Influence Through Reason, Emotion, and Credibility. (2024, Jun 01). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/crafting-persuasive-narratives-the-art-of-influence-through-reason-emotion-and-credibility/

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PapersOwl.com. (2024). Crafting Persuasive Narratives: The Art of Influence Through Reason, Emotion, and Credibility . [Online]. Available at: https://papersowl.com/examples/crafting-persuasive-narratives-the-art-of-influence-through-reason-emotion-and-credibility/ [Accessed: 6 Jun. 2024]

"Crafting Persuasive Narratives: The Art of Influence Through Reason, Emotion, and Credibility." PapersOwl.com, Jun 01, 2024. Accessed June 6, 2024. https://papersowl.com/examples/crafting-persuasive-narratives-the-art-of-influence-through-reason-emotion-and-credibility/

"Crafting Persuasive Narratives: The Art of Influence Through Reason, Emotion, and Credibility," PapersOwl.com , 01-Jun-2024. [Online]. Available: https://papersowl.com/examples/crafting-persuasive-narratives-the-art-of-influence-through-reason-emotion-and-credibility/. [Accessed: 6-Jun-2024]

PapersOwl.com. (2024). Crafting Persuasive Narratives: The Art of Influence Through Reason, Emotion, and Credibility . [Online]. Available at: https://papersowl.com/examples/crafting-persuasive-narratives-the-art-of-influence-through-reason-emotion-and-credibility/ [Accessed: 6-Jun-2024]

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Rep. Jamaal Bowman Loses Support of an Ex-Colleague Over Israel

Mondaire Jones, a fellow Black progressive who entered Congress with Mr. Bowman after the 2020 election, is endorsing Mr. Bowman’s challenger, George Latimer.

Mondaire Jones gestures with both hands as he speaks at a news conference in 2023, with Representative Jamaal Bowman at his side.

By Nicholas Fandos

Roughly four years ago, Mondaire Jones and Jamaal Bowman made history together. Young, left-leaning Democrats, they won hard-fought primaries in neighboring districts to become the first Black men ever to represent New York’s Westchester County in Congress.

Now, they find themselves deeply at odds over the Israel-Hamas war , a break so sharp that Mr. Jones vowed on Monday to help defeat Mr. Bowman in the Democratic primary on June 25 and endorse his opponent, George Latimer.

It was the latest sign of how intensely the conflict in the Middle East has come to divide Democratic politics this election year. Mr. Latimer and Mr. Bowman have already spent months debating the conflict, and the race has been transformed by $10 million in outside spending by pro-Israel interest groups on Mr. Latimer’s behalf.

Mr. Jones said in an interview that he could not sit by while Mr. Bowman positioned himself as a leading critic of Israel, saying that his former ally had sown “pain and anxiety” among Jewish New Yorkers and had torn “at the fabric of our community and our civil rights coalition.”

But Mr. Jones also may be considering his own political self-interest. After losing his House seat in 2022, he is now running to unseat Representative Mike Lawler, a Republican, in a swing district just to the north. Creating some distance from Mr. Bowman may help win over Jewish voters, as well as other moderate voters.

“As someone who is among the most popular Democrats in the Hudson Valley, it is my prerogative to play a dispositive role in ending this long, painful nightmare that we have been experiencing since Oct. 7,” Mr. Jones said. He planned to formally make the endorsement at an event on Tuesday.

For Mr. Latimer, the long-serving Westchester County executive, Mr. Jones’s support could provide an important shield as he attempts to fight off his opponent’s accusations of racism in the final weeks of an increasingly bitter contest in a district with large Black and Jewish populations.

Mr. Jones, who once worked under Mr. Latimer, stated firmly: “George Latimer is not a racist.”

Mr. Jones, 37, and Mr. Bowman, 48, both stepped into the national spotlight in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic and a national protest moment spurred by the death of George Floyd. Though they did not endorse each other at the time, they both ran campaigns against long-serving incumbents and drew support from pillars of the Democratic left like the Working Families Party and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Mr. Bowman, a former middle-school principal, was always more antagonistic toward his party’s power structure than Mr. Jones, a white-collar lawyer. He accepted support from the Democratic Socialists of America, and, in Washington, he voted against President Biden’s signature infrastructure bill, while Mr. Jones aligned himself with party leadership.

Mr. Jones said he was motivated to insert himself into the Bowman-Latimer race, though, specifically because of Israel.

Since the war broke out last fall, Mr. Bowman has emerged as one of Israel’s most outspoken critics in Congress. He was among the first lawmakers to call for a cease-fire after Hamas’s attack left more than 1,200 Israelis dead. He has accused the nation of committing genocide in Gaza and at one point cast doubt that Hamas committed sexual violence, calling the claim “propaganda.” (He later said he was wrong.)

“There is nothing progressive about rushing to call for a cease-fire in the days following Oct. 7 before Israel could even begin to defend itself,” Mr. Jones said. “There is nothing progressive about getting endorsed by the D.S.A., which in the days following Oct. 7 amplified a pro-Hamas rally in New York City.”

Mr. Jones said he would let others draw their own conclusions about whether Mr. Bowman’s statements amounted to antisemitism. He also indicated he took no issue with spending in the race by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and affiliated pro-Israel groups that are also supporting Mr. Latimer.

“If someone happens to be a Republican and agrees with me on that, then that's just being a human being in the American political system,” he said. (AIPAC has endorsed Mr. Jones’s opponent.)

Mr. Bowman has firmly rejected accusations of antisemitism, saying he is pro-peace, not anti-Israel or anti-Jewish. He has called Hamas’s attack a war crime, but argues it does not justify an Israel counteroffensive that has killed tens of thousands of Gazans, including many women and children, according to heath authorities there.

Mr. Jones joins a growing list of current and former public officials to back Mr. Latimer, 70. They include Eliot L. Engel, the longtime congressman whom Mr. Bowman defeated in 2020 ; numerous state lawmakers; and almost every local Democratic Party committee in the district.

Mr. Bowman still has the support of some powerful labor unions, left-leaning lawmakers like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and the top members of House Democratic leadership, who routinely back incumbents.

Mr. Latimer, who is white, said he hoped Mr. Jones’s endorsement would help put to bed charges that he has used racist tropes as he seeks to cast Mr. Bowman as an attention-seeking distraction in Congress.

“The argument about me running a racist campaign falls flat on its face when people who are African American, Latino and Asian are supporting me,” he said in an interview.

A spokesman for Mr. Bowman declined to comment.

But the congressman recently cast the growing list of political figures behind Mr. Latimer as a sign that Westchester’s Democratic establishment was circling the wagons to try to put one of its own back into office.

“I was never their guy,” he said. “To me, what my opponent represents is an acquiescing to the wealthy, elite corporate interests and special interests, especially as it relates to AIPAC and Israel.”

Nicholas Fandos is a Times reporter covering New York politics and government. More about Nicholas Fandos

Politics in the New York Region

Congestion Pricing: Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that she was shelving the long-awaited plan to implement congestion pricing , citing economic concerns, just weeks before it was to go into effect.

Doctor-Assisted Death: Legislation related to the emotional issue of so-called medical aid in dying has long languished in Albany. But a new push to legalize the practice has gained momentum .

Plastic Waste: As plastic continues to fill landfills and oceans, New York lawmakers are considering a proposal to limit single-use plastic products. Here’s what to know about the legislation .

A Quiet Suspension: A little-known New York State fund that paid the medical expenses of children who suffered neurological injuries as a result of medical malpractice during childbirth has been suspended .

Limiting Donations to Israel: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who rarely wades into state politics, publicly backed a bill  that could strip New York nonprofits of their tax-exempt status if their funds are used to support Israel’s military or settlements.

Transgender Student-Athlete Rules: A parent group in New York City asked for a review of rules that let students play on sports teams that align with their gender identity. Democratic officials responded angrily .

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Trump ally steve bannon ordered to report to prison by july 1.

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WASHINGTON — Former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon must report to prison July 1 to serve a four-month sentence for flouting a subpoena from the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, a judge ruled Thursday.

The order would put Bannon, 70, behind bars while  his ex-boss learns his own sentence on July 11  in the Manhattan hush money case — which also could include prison time just four days ahead of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

Trump, 77, and his allies have alleged that Democrats are “weaponizing” the US legal system to help President Biden’s struggling re-election campaign. 

Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Donald Trump, arrives at the federal courthouse.

DC US District Judge Carl Nichols — a Trump appointee — ordered Bannon, a staunch pro-Trump activist and online broadcaster, to serve his punishment.

Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, was  convicted in July 2022  on two counts of contempt of Congress for flouting the Democrat-led select committee’s demand for testimony and records.

Nichols noted that Bannon could still file for a stay of the order containing his prison reporting date, possibly delaying his punishment.

Bannon’s legal team unsuccessfully argued at trial that he was willing to negotiate with the select committee before he was charged. 

Another former Trump aide, former West Wing trade adviser Peter Navarro, was  convicted in September 2023  of similarly defying the committee, arguing he was concerned about executive privilege.

Navarro, who helped mount Trump’s trade war with China,  reported to prison in March to serve his four-month sentence .

Trump has had a tumultuous relationship with Bannon, who entered politics after a successful career in investment banking — including brokering a deal involving “Seinfeld” that entitles him to fees whenever the hit sitcom airs.

Bannon joined Trump’ 2016 campaign fewer than three months before the election to serve as chairman in the final stretch, working alongside campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.

He followed Trump into the White House as chief adviser and assiduously pushed him to make good on right-wing campaign promises while feuding with fellow West Wing staffers he deemed “globalists.”

argumentative essay racism

Trump fired Bannon in August 2017 and later trashed him in public remarks for his disheveled appearance, bestowing upon him the nickname “Sloppy Steve.”

The then-president erupted in rage when it emerged that Bannon had given author Michael Wolff wide-ranging access to the White House, which Wolff loosely chronicled in the anti-Trump book “Fire and Fury,” published in early 2018.

The book included quotes attributed to Bannon suggesting that Trump’s son Donald Jr. was “treasonous” and that first daughter Ivanka Trump was “dumb as a brick.”

“[Wolff] used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!” Trump tweeted after the book was published.

Former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” Trump also vented at the time.

“Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party… Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.”

In August 2020, Trump again slammed Bannon after the ex-aide was  criminally charged with fraud over a private fundraiser to build portions of the US-Mexico border wall , which the sitting president had already redirected billions of defense dollars to construct.

Bannon used supposed wall funds to finance his own lifestyle, prosecutors alleged.

argumentative essay racism

“I haven’t been dealing with him for a long period of time,” Trump said at the time.

“I didn’t like that project,” the then-president added. “I thought it was a project being done for showboating reasons … It was something I very much felt was inappropriate to be doing.”

Trump and Bannon later reconciled — with Bannon helping Trump’s then-attorney Rudy Giuliani distribute the contents of Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop ahead of the 2020 election and then cheerleading his allegations of voter fraud when Trump lost to Joe Biden.

Trump pardoned Bannon  on the pending wall-fraud case on his final day in office on Jan. 20, 2021, ahead of what was supposed to be a May 2021 federal trial on fraud and money laundering counts.

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Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Donald Trump, arrives at the federal courthouse.



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