An extended conversation with Lilliana Mason about tribalism, anger and the state of our politics.
If solidarity and the recognition of mutual self-interest are the keys to moving past our fractious moment, it can be hard to see how we'll get there. Anger and tribalism appear to be at an all-time high, creating political and societal rifts that seem unbridgeable. Indeed, it is hard to believe that only 70 years ago, the country was deemed by political scientists to be not polarized enough. In 1950, the American Political Science Association put out a report that suggested that the parties were not distinct enough and that it was making people's political decision making too difficult.
Over the next few decades, they became distinct alright. Lilliana Mason is a political psychologist at the University of Maryland. When we spoke to her last fall, she told us that most people think they know exactly what each party stands for — leaving us with two camps that both seek to destroy the other.
The Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project opened its fall 2015 semester with C-SPAN in the classroom, taping the class for its American History TV series, which you can find here. The project ended the semester with a Wall Street Journal article explaining how students in the class discovered the long-lost gravesite of a Georgia man, Isaiah Nixon, who was killed in 1948 because he voted.
On the morning of July 4, 1944, Primus E. King, an African American duly registered to vote in Georgia, sought to cast a ballot at the Muscogee County Courthouse in Columbus in the Democratic Party's primary election. Shortly after entering the courthouse, King was roughly turned away by a law officer who escorted him back out to the street. During this time the Democratic Party monopolized political activity in Georgia, as in other southern states, and the party's primary provided the only occasion in which a voter was offered a choice between candidates seeking offices in state and local government. For this very reason blacks were denied participation in the primaries by the Georgia Democratic Party and its county affiliates.
After Primus King, a black barber and pastor, successfully sued the Democratic Party for denying his right to vote on the grounds of race and color, three-term Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge declared, "This is a white man's country and we must keep it so." The best way to do so: "Pistols."
Election day is usually a grand occasion for a small town like Alston, GA. For the white people in town, September 8, 1948, marked a day of good ole traditions and community. But for black voters, it became a place of opportunity...and defiance.
How our reading will proceed: in a few days I’ll blog up a reading schedule, assigning certain chapters to a weekly timeline. Then, once enough time has passed for everyone to get an analog or digital copy, we’ll dig in. All posts will be tagged https://bryanalexander.org/tag/tufekci/, and so will be available in that one spot for any reader now and in the future.
From the author’s bio (and it’s pronounced /too-FEK-chee/):Zeynep’s work explores the interactions between technology and society. She started her career as a programmer, and switched to social science after getting interested in social impacts of technology. Zeynep, who grew up in Istanbul, Turkey, and came to the United States for graduate school, is now an associate professor at the University of North Carolina and a contributing opinion writer at the New York Times. She’s currently also a faculty associate at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Previously, she was an Andrew Carnegie Fellow, a fellow at Princeton University Center for Information Technology, and an assistant professor of sociology at UMBC.
Still, it’s almost assuredly reading for the additional details. I’m hoping she has more detail on her work on the the Civil Rights Movement as a precursor to her more digital social media work.
The struggles against sexism and racism come together in the bodies, and the lives, of black women. Co-hosts Celeste Headlee and John Biewen look at the intersections between male dominance and white supremacy in the United States, and the movements to overcome them, from the 1800s through the 2016 presidential election. Guests include scholars Glenda Gilmore, Ashley Farmer, and Danielle McGuire.
Birmingham, 1963. The image of a police dog viciously attacking a young black protester shocks the nation. The picture, taken in the midst of one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous marches, might be the most iconic photograph of the civil rights movement. But few have ever bothered to ask the people in the famous photograph what they think happened that day. It’s more complicated than it looks.
A man named Willie Nash is arrested for the murder of a white man in 1954, in Augusta Georgia. Witnesses place him at the scene. The victim picks him out of the lineup. He confesses. He is headed for the electric chair. Until his young black attorney, Donald L. Hollowell, mounts a defense that rivets black spectators and gives them hope.
Brown v Board of Education might be the most well-known Supreme Court decision, a major victory in the fight for civil rights. But in Topeka, the city where the case began, the ruling has left a bittersweet legacy. RH hears from the Browns, the family behind the story.
The brilliant idea here is that even the romantic view of Brown v. Board of Education many have isn’t really the victory it might have been. Because the continued racism and segregation of the teachers, things may have become even worse! The Supreme Court should and could have done better and the world would have healed a bit quicker.
Sadly we’ve still got similar problems today and they stretch across many other professions including law enforcement. I wonder what we can do to dramatically improve the teacher diversity problem?
Those who appreciated this episode are likely to appreciate this recent episode of The Daily’s podcast: Racism’s Punishing Reach which has several examples that underline the importance of teachers and provides some studies that just weren’t available at the time of Brown v. Board.
I hope to circle back and create a playlist of some of the more interesting things I’ve heard in the last year on the history of race and racism in the United States. This would certainly fit into that list.
A white southern mayor confronts the history in his city.
"There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in his now-famous speech in May of 2017. As Landrieu said those words, city workers a few blocks away uprooted an enormous statue of Robert E. Lee – the last of four Confederate monuments the mayor removed from the city after a years-long process. In a conversation with The Atlantic's editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, Landrieu discusses the politics of race in the south, his grappling with history as a white southerner, and his own family’s connection to the story of civil rights in America.
I love extended interviews on small topics like this one. This does a really good job of taking a look at some of the broader details behind removing Confederate statues in New Orleans.
Today, a single email can launch a worldwide movement. But as sociologist Zeynep Tufekci suggests, even though online activism is easy to grow, it often doesn't last. Why? She compares modern movements -- Gezi, Ukraine, Hong Kong -- to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and uncovers a surprising benefit of organizing protest movements the way it happened before Twitter.