The racial parenting divide: What Adrian Peterson reveals about black vs. white child-rearing

The racial parenting divide: What Adrian Peterson reveals about black vs. white child-rearing (Salon)

“In college, I once found myself on the D.C. metro with one of my favorite professors. As we were riding, a young white child began to climb on the seats and hang from the bars of the train. His mother never moved to restrain him. But I began to see the very familiar, strained looks of disdain and dismay on the countenances of the mostly black passengers. They exchanged eye contact with one another, dispositions tight with annoyance at the audacity of this white child, but mostly at the refusal of his mother to act as a disciplinarian. I, too, was appalled. I thought, if that were my child, I would snatch him down and tell him to sit his little behind in a seat immediately. My professor took the opportunity to teach: ‘Do you see how this child feels the prerogative to roam freely in this train, unhindered by rules or regulations or propriety?’

‘Yes,’ I nodded. ‘What kinds of messages do you think are being communicated to him right now about how he should move through the world?’

And I began to understand, quite starkly, in that moment, the freedom that white children have to see the world as a place that they can explore, a place in which they can sit, or stand, or climb at will. The world, they are learning, is theirs for the taking.

Then I thought about what it means to parent a black child, any black child, in similar circumstances. I think of the swiftness with which a black mother would have ushered her child into a seat, with firm looks and not a little a scolding, the implied if unspoken threat of either a grounding or a whupping, if her request were not immediately met with compliance. So much is wrapped up in that moment: a desire to demonstrate that one’s black child is well-behaved, non-threatening, well-trained. Disciplined. I think of the centuries of imminent fear that have shaped and contoured African-American working-class cultures of discipline, the sternness of our mothers’ and grandmothers’ looks, the firmness of the belts and switches applied to our hind parts, the rhythmic, loving, painful scoldings accompanying spankings as if the messages could be imprinted on our bodies with a sure and swift and repetitive show of force.”

This essay reveals uncomfortable truths about our culture that we don’t like to acknowledge, making her words all the more powerful and thought-provoking.

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Fuel and Food Are Quick, but the Fealty Is Forever [Feb 2013]

Fuel and Food Are Quick, but the Fealty Is Forever [Feb 2013]

“In Pennsylvania, two convenience chains stir tribal loyalties, a commitment as deep as bonds with the Philadelphia Phillies or Pittsburgh Pirates.

Don Longo, the editor of Convenience Store News, said Sheetz and Wawa were among a handful of regional chains in the country that he called ‘best in class.’ They operate convenience stores that update the old formula known as ‘Coke and smokes’ by offering self-serve soda fountains and cappuccino bars, friendly service and, especially, fresh sandwiches ordered on a touch screen.

Sheetz is the slightly smaller chain, with 226 stores in Pennsylvania and a total of 435 in the region. Wawa has 216 in-state stores and 607 over all, as far south as Tampa, Fla., and north to Parsippany, N.J.

There are clear differences. Sheetz has neon colors, pumps loud country music and is overly fond of the alliterative use of its name in products. It sells Sheetz Shweetz, a CinnaShmonster and Shmuffins. Near its corporate headquarters in Altoona, it offers employees a Shwellness Center.

To Sheetz’s country mouse, Wawa is a more suburban creature. Its décor features muted browns and blonds, and a central island of healthy food includes diced mangoes and apple slices.”

This gem of an article was so amusing, I couldn’t help but share. A perfect metaphor for class and culture in the United States.

America Is Not For Black People

America Is Not For Black People

“The worst part of outfitting our police officers as soldiers has been psychological. Give a man access to drones, tanks, and body armor, and he’ll reasonably think that his job isn’t simply to maintain peace, but to eradicate danger. Instead of protecting and serving, police are searching and destroying.

If officers are soldiers, it follows that the neighborhoods they patrol are battlefields. And if they’re working battlefields, it follows that the population is the enemy. And because of correlations, rooted in historical injustice, between crime and income and income and race, the enemy population will consist largely of people of color, and especially of black men. Throughout the country, police officers are capturing, imprisoning, and killing black males at a ridiculous clip, waging a very literal war on people like Michael Brown.

********

By all accounts, Brown was One Of The Good Ones. But laying all this out, explaining all the ways in which he didn’t deserve to die like a dog in the street, is in itself disgraceful. Arguing whether Brown was a good kid or not is functionally arguing over whether he specifically deserved to die, a way of acknowledging that some black men ought to be executed.

To even acknowledge this line of debate is to start a larger argument about the worth, the very personhood, of a black man in America. It’s to engage in a cost-benefit analysis, weigh probabilities, and gauge the precise odds that Brown’s life was worth nothing against the threat he posed to the life of the man who killed him.”

Absolutely devastating read. Every word is like a punch in the gut. Don’t just read the paragraphs I’ve highlighted here, please: read the whole article.

The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats

The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats

“…Now I own a very large yacht.

But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.”

This is your must-read article for the week. I don’t care if you don’t read anything else today; read this. Read this, and let it sink in.

Because the pitchforks are coming.

(Seriously. READ IT.)

Ikea To Raise Minimum Wage For U.S. Workers With Tie To Living Wage Calculator

Ikea To Raise Minimum Wage For U.S. Workers With Tie To Living Wage Calculator

The Swedish furniture giant Ikea is raising the minimum wage in all of its U.S. stores, and it’s doing so in a way that may raise the bar for American retailers. The famous seller of ready-to-assemble home goods will base the wage floor for each of its stores on the MIT Living Wage Calculator, which estimates what salary a worker would need in order to get by in a particular geographic area.

According to Ikea, the move will boost the average store minimum wage to $10.76, a 17 percent increase, and bring raises to approximately half of the company’s 13,650 U.S. employees. The new rates will go into effect on Jan. 1, according to Rob Olson, chief financial officer and acting president of Ikea U.S.

Brilliant move by IKEA, especially since they’ve been criticized in the past for treating their American workers differently than their European workers. Considering the company isn’t planning on passing the cost along to its consumers, this whole decision really flies in the face of the American corporate status quo. It’s going to be harder for businesses to keep saying they can’t afford to pay their workers a living wage or even their health insurance.

Kudos.

Sprawled Out in Atlanta

Sprawled Out in Atlanta: What happens when poverty spreads to a place that wasn’t built for poor people?

Long considered the epitome of red-state suburban comfort, a quintessentially middle-class kind of place where the median income is $65,000 and people pride themselves on owning their own homes, Cobb County now has other superlatives attached to its name. Between 2000 and 2010, the county’s poverty rate doubled to 12 percent. Just last month, the Urban Institute reported that of all counties in the United States, Cobb is where low-income people have the least chance of finding affordable places to live.

This is not an indictment of Cobb County in particular. Rather, what’s happening in Cobb is a microcosm of the dilemma facing suburbs nationwide: a rapid spike in the number of poor people in what once were the sprawling beacons of American prosperity. Think of it as the flip side of the national urban boom: The poverty rate across all U.S. suburbs doubled in the first decade of the millennium—even as America’s cities are transforming in the other direction, toward rising affluence and hipster reinvention. If the old story of poverty in America was crumbling inner cities and drug-addled housing projects, the new story is increasingly one of downscale strip malls and long bus rides in search of ever-scarcer jobs. We can’t understand what’s working in America’s cities unless we also look at what’s not working in the vast suburbs that surround them.

I can’t recommend this article highly enough. I haven’t posted much lately; I’ve been really wrapped up in my own life, but this story brought me right back to reality. As a relatively new resident of Metro Atlanta, I’m still startled when I read this:

Suburban poverty exploded here between 2000 and 2011, rising by 159 percent. Now, 88 percent of the region’s poor people live in suburbs. On its face, there is nothing remarkable about that statistic; after all, metro Atlanta is huge (8,300 square-miles, about the size of Massachusetts), and its population keeps rising (it’s now almost 6 million, equivalent to the population of Missouri). But fewer than 10 percent of us live in the city of Atlanta itself. So it would stand to reason that most poor people are suburbanites; most metro Atlantans are suburbanites, period.

Of course I know about the racially tinged history of mass transit, but knowing that and reading about how the lack of transit directly impacts upward mobility is heartwrenching.

Today in greater Atlanta, the odds of a poor kid making it to the top rung of the economic ladder are lower than any other major metropolitan area in the country—in part because residential segregation, which keeps metro Atlantans separated not only by race but also by class, has created widely disparate public school districts, further immobilizing the poor.

We know this problem exists, and yet

the Brookings Institute has found, fewer than 50 percent of poor suburbanites in metro Atlanta even have access to transit, and what they have is limited. Bus service in Clayton County, which has a 21 percent poverty rate, was canceled outright in 2010. There is no regular mass transit in exurban counties like Paulding or Bartow. In Cherokee County, there are just two fixed bus routes along with a few park-and-ride connections to the Xpress regional bus system, which brings suburban commuters to downtown and midtown Atlanta. If you don’t live or work near one of these nodes, you’re out of luck.

In Cobb County, there’s no bus service at all on Sundays. Cobb Community Transit operates a system that is tiny given the immense size of the county—just 20 routes.

How can we fix this? How do we convince a state full of conservative voters who loathe taxation, who love their cars, and who like to pretend poverty happens to other people that we need to publicly fund mass transit? I don’t know. But we certainly need to figure it out.

The Secret Life of a Food Stamp

The Secret Life of a Food Stamp [via Marketplace]

In politics and in the news, a lot of focus is put on the many Yolanda Ballards of America. Whether they deserve the food stamp money they get. What they spend it on. Whether they abuse the system. Those were the kinds of questions clinging to recent debates in Congress over funding for food stamps. But throughout those debates, which resulted in more than $8 billion in cuts to the program over the next decade, one subject got relatively little attention: what happens to those food stamp dollars after people like Yolanda Ballard swipe their EBT cards and the money becomes store revenue.

Last year $76 billion flowed from the U.S. Treasury to people’s food stamp cards. That money then flowed into the revenue streams of about 240,000 stores across the country, all of which have been approved by the federal government to accept food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. You can look at SNAP as a government subsidy with two lives. First, low-income people enrolled in the program get financial help to buy food. Then, when they swipe their EBT cards at the checkout counters, the government pays those stores for that food—which is, of course, being sold at a profit.

So it seems worthwhile to pay attention to how this “second life” of a food stamp subsidy works. There’s just one problem: A lot of the information about how stores benefit from food stamps is confidential.

SO FASCINATING. However you feel about food stamps and government aid, you should read this article. I learned a lot listening to the segments on NPR and I’m so glad I am able to share them to you via Slate.

You can – and should! – also read (or listen to) Part 2, “Save Money. Live Better.” Part 3 is yet to come.