Posted by John Wihbey on Wednesday, July 21, 2010
We had a debate today over emerging issues of race, class, and anxiety for whites in 21st century America. (Audio is available here.) New York Times columnist Ross Douthat got the discussion going this week with his column, “The Roots of White Anxiety.”
One of our guests, Nell Irvin Painter, author of “The History of White People” and a longtime Princeton professor, took on some of Douthat’s ideas on air today. And she wrote in after our show to share more thoughts. We post her note here:
To the On Point Blog, from Nell Painter, 21 July 2010:
Today’s program left me wishing I had been able to say more about the historical context of comments like Ross Douthat’s (remember Michael Novak?). And more about the spurious opposition of race versus class.
Issues of race and class, though not the same, aren’t mutually exclusive. Both forces can be operating at the same time, even though race and class are different aspects of an individual or a family’s identity. I feel strongly that the economic status of a college applicant’s family should be taken into account, say through needbased scholarships, because it’s harder to achieve a strong grade-point average if you have to work full-time than if your finances aren’t precarious. An institution like Metropolitan College (formerly Audrey Cohen College) in New York City shows what working adults can do with support. There should be more like it.
Now, as for history: the theme of tracing the anxieties of white Americans to the supposed advantages of other people, especially black people, is far older than affirmative action.
Full Story: http://www.onpointradio.org/2010/07/nell-irvin-painters-note-to-on-point-race-and-nytimes-ross-douthat/comment-page-1#comment-67016