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The cost of Biden’s racialism Minorities are paying for his progressive failures

Few connect the dots between race and class (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Few connect the dots between race and class (Mario Tama/Getty Images)


June 30, 2022   5 mins

Joe Biden may have once bragged about his cooperative relations with segregationists, but he still arguably owes more to African-American leadership and voters than any politician in recent history. After all, it was black voters who bequeathed him the two critical victories in South Carolina and Georgia that led to his nomination in 2020. Perhaps that’s why he promised in his inaugural address to focus on the “sting of systemic racism” and fight encroaching “white supremacy.”

Adding action to rhetoric, Biden has embraced brazenly discriminatory policies that Barack Obama would likely have been too savvy to impose openly: special assistance to prospective black homeowners, race-based support for black farmers and black businesses, and attempts to end inflation by promoting “equity” in the financial sector through intrusive regulation.

Yet while Biden has placed racialism — making race a decisive factor in public decisions — at the heart of his political programme, in reality minorities may not prove the Castroite fifth column dreamed up by either the far-Right or their leftist doppelgĂ€ngers. Minorities are more than genetic constructs; they are people with ambitions, families, and budgets. And sadly, Biden’s policies are not making their lives any better.

The inflation his administration deemed first temporary, and only a “high class” concern, is now destroying small minority-owned businesses and eroding their savings. Indeed, America’s embattled economy seems a crucial reason why minority support for Biden has been failing for months, including among black voters. By contrast, Republicans are building on Trump’s surprisingly large share of minority voters in 2020; they command the highest support from Hispanics and African-Americans in recent history. The fall of Roe could impact this, particularly among women, although many Latinos are also devout Catholics and many of them, as well as many black voters, also attend evangelical churches.

Indeed, cultural issues are part reason for the flight of minorities, include racial indoctrination in schools, ineffective law enforcement and questionable gender policies in primary schools — enough to spark a boom in home education among Latinos. A similar pattern is emerging among Asian voters, who played a critical role in San Francisco’s recall of progressive DA Chesa Boudin this month, and the defeat of progressive school board members a few weeks earlier. Similarly, the recent wave of GOP victories in Latino-dominated south Texas has ridden on the embrace of conservative social values and, perhaps most critically, reaction to the chaos unfolding at the border. When the Democrats start losing the Rio Grande Valley, a place they dominated for a century, you know things are changing.

Overall, Biden’s racialist focus also runs against a changing demographic reality. When Biden was growing up, African Americans were the primary racial minority. As late as 2005, black people and Latinos constituted 14% of the population. Today, however, the Hispanic population stands at 62 million, far outnumbering the 47 million African Americans. By 2050, according to Pew, the Hispanic population will swell to 30% of the population, more than twice the black share. Asians, meanwhile, will have grown from barely 12 million in 2000 to more than three times that number by mid-century. Taken together Asians and Latinos will account for 40% of Americans, and the vast majority of the racial minorities.

In modern America, then, political leaders need to transcend the old “black-white” paradigm embraced by Biden. Latinos and Asians (as well as a rising population of Africans from the continent or the islands) experienced very different histories than those descended from slaves or those who suffered under Jim Crow. Although many immigrants have also experienced discrimination; they also came here voluntarily to seek out a better life.

Simply put, the rhetoric around race needs to change. Rather than the language shaped by slavery, progressive Americans should instead embrace what those liberals who dominate our publications and airwaves don’t realise: that most Americans don’t learn about race in college grievance classes but by personal, daily experience. They live in a country where salsa outsells ketchup, Modelo is about to surpass Budweiser as the nation’s top beer brand, and Latin music is the fastest-growing in the country.

Perhaps nothing contradicts the racialist mantra more than the rise in intermarriage, which has soared from barely 5%i n 1980 to 17% today. The notion of America succumbing to “encroaching white supremacy” seems unlikely when 10% of babies have one white and one non-white parent and 12% of all African-Americans are immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere.

Critically, the geography of diversity is also changing, with potential political implications. As minorities move away from the inner cities, they enter a more integrated, less economically isolate milieu. In the 50 largest metropolitan areas, 44% of residents live in racially and ethnically diverse suburbs. Nationwide, in the 53 metropolitan areas with more than 1,000,000 residents, more than three-quarters of black and Hispanic residents now live in suburban or exurban areas.

There’s also a movement between regions, which is making red states evermore politically influential, as well as diverse. Minorities are leaving the “enlightened” centres of racialist religion — New York, California, Illinois — for the red states of the old Confederacy, Texas, Arizona, Utah and even Great Plains. It’s not hard to see why: in recent report for the Urban Reform Institute, we found minorities have generally done much better — in terms of income and homeownership in deep red areas than in the more loudly “anti-racist” blue regions. In Atlanta, African American-adjusted median incomes are more than $60,000, compared to $36,000 in San Francisco and $37,000 in Los Angeles. The median income for Latinos in Virginia Beach-Norfolk is $69,000, compared to $43,000 in Los Angeles, $47,000 in San Francisco and $40,000 in New York.

Some on the Right fear, and those on the Left hope, that this movement will drag red states into alignment with migrants from former blue homes. This may be true in terms of abortion or tolerance for Donald Trump, but progressives often forget what motivates people to move. Most minorities, like other people, have more important things to worry about than where they slot into some racialist agenda — they want a chance to make a better life for themselves and their families.

So instead of confessional mea culpas about racism and embracing Critical Race Theory, Biden would do well to help these people by focusing on the working-class needs of most Americans. After all, minorities make up over 40% of the nation’s working class and will constitute the majority by 2032. Without them, our country’s labor shortage and issues with ageing would be far worse. For all that the Left fixate on intersectional theory, few seem to connect the dots between race and class.

Ultimately, racial problems can only be solved by addressing fundamental economic issues facing Americans of all races. Rather than obsess over the original sin of slavery, we need to focus on creating opportunity for all those lacking it. Subsidies and special dispensations can only cover a relative handful of people. But policies favouring entrepreneurship, family-friendly housing, and reshoring industry would create far more lasting positive results, particularly if growth can be steered to distressed parts of the South, the southside of Chicago or the barrios of East Los Angeles, the Bronx, San Antonio, or Fresno.

The key to ending racial antagonism, then, doesn’t lie in equity programmes, but in economic growth and opportunity. Unity can’t just be conjured out of thin air — people need to feel it in their bank accounts first. This won’t be achieved through a national campaign of penance, or through boxing the country into a racial zero-sum game. If Biden really cares about America’s minorities, the goal should be simple: to help them to find a road to prosperity and financial independence, along with the rest of the country.


Joel Kotkin is the Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and author, most recently, of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class (Encounter)

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Max Price
Max Price
1 year ago

I loved this article. Particularly the focus on class. So much of the narrative about minority disadvantage obscures class politics. Very refreshing.

Marc Sawatzki
Marc Sawatzki
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

Great article.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

Yes, a population of Latino, Asians and other immigrants will not be guilt-tripped into discriminating in favour of those with a dark skin because of slavery in the way the white liberal have been. Nor will white Anglos tolerate discrimination in favour of Hispanics and Asians when they cease to be a relatively small minority.

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

It can’t escape notice that Latinos and Asians do not have race hustlers pretending to lead them to “the promised land”. They are too busy carving out businesses and educational opportunities to listen to so called “leaders” who are in their own business that is focused on their own power and economic gain.

zhombre
zhombre
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary Bruels

For certain, there is no Latin or Asian Al Sharpton or Ben Crump that I am aware of.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary Bruels

They are trying to get Asians into the “race victim” mode though. Hasn’t worked yet, thankfully, but its pretty clear what your political views need to be if you are Asian and in professions such as media or education m

John Obi
John Obi
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

The truth is that the Asians are one of the most coverted modern day racists on earth.

They also have the advantage of sitting on the fence- in places where they are minority they are in solidarity of victimhood with the blacks but in their own turf they are one of the racist masters.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Obi
J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

Great article. I suppose we have to relearn the wisdom of Coolidge’s statement that the business of the American people is business.
When you bring together a highly diverse group of people, some coming from nations that are traditionally enemies, they have to be united in a common desire to succeed in their new country, and to put animosities aside in the public forum. The politics of racial division leads in entirely the opposite direction.
As the author points out, by mid-century Latinos and Asians will together account for over 40% of the American population. My question is what will the country look like in 2050? Will it still be a world leader after it has (presumably) gone through modern progressivism and racialism, or will it be just another third world country?

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, as usual Joel hits the proverbial nail squarely on the head. It’s economics: always was, always will be. As has been pointed out ad nauseam elsewhere, people fight for their interests far more energetically than for their rights or any other such abstraction.

As for the future, who knows? Any predictions would of course be hostages to fortune. That said, it seems to me that people of all ethnicities would do better to group together under aligned collections of interests rather than unhelpful racial tropes or fossilised party diktats.

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard Parker
Gary Hemminger
Gary Hemminger
1 year ago

This is so basically true that it is amazing it isn’t clearly the policy of the progressives. The progressives are completely captured by the Malthusian climate crowd. Did you read Kagan’s dissent on WV vs. the EPA? She basically says the law doesn’t matter, that climate change is going to destroy the country. She has lost her mind and gone insane. The Malthusians are now running most of our institutions. This isn’t about growth anymore. This is about ridding our institutions of the Malthusians who not only don’t care about growth, but are actively seeking to destroy our Energy and Food production to “save the planet.” Read Michael Shellenbergers recent article. He lays out the fact that the entire Western world is now completely captured by the Malthusians. The whole green movement is about to hit the wall on energy and food production and they will double down on their failure. Unless we stop these Malthusians we are in for a major crisis.

doug masnaghetti
doug masnaghetti
1 year ago

Democrats have a sick, perverted obsession with race, sex, and killing babies. These are all they seem to talk about.

John Obi
John Obi
1 year ago

While republicans sold neoliberalism and use the rhetorics of liberty to take you back to feudalist- capitalism.

stanich Pierpoint
stanich Pierpoint
1 year ago
Reply to  John Obi

Your ignorance of the term feudalism defines you. Be gone knave….

John Thorogood
John Thorogood
1 year ago

Brilliant article. Rings very true for Britain in terms of the underlying problem albeit we’re not yet subject to the same demographics.

Just need a leader with the drive and vision to press for change. Not holding my breath.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  John Thorogood

For all of his faults, Trump was such a leader. Blacks and Hispanics did so much better in Trumps economy, the same way it did in Reagan’s. The rising tide lifts all boats, and always has, but the left hates that fact. That’s why they must continue to sow the seeds of discontent, regardless of the economic conditions.

Marc Sawatzki
Marc Sawatzki
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I have been saying this for 10 years. Hispanics should band with Asians and screw this black/white issue. It is tiring.

Savelij Balalajkin
Savelij Balalajkin
1 year ago

Shifting the focus to class struggles seems like a big No-No to the current Americal Left, masquerading as Liberals.
The crux of the problem that Left has abandoned idea of a class struggle for at almost 40 years, as something that does not work well in the US, where every impoverished citizen sees himself (and even herself) as a temporarily frustrated aristocrat. Racialism on other hand, creates many political opportunities for otherwise useless agitators, mass produced by the current Academia. To put it bluntly, it sells. To whom? To the members of the talking class, always standing behind the career politicians. If class problems are by large, intractable and usually overwhelming, racial problems are fairly small-scale seems easily fixable by income redistribution, citizenry relocation and sectarian reeducation.

Jane Johnson
Jane Johnson
1 year ago

Biden is not the first president to weaponize race in his quest for votes. His role model was Obama, who missed a golden opportunity to have genuinely helped “his people”. Instead, he turned a few local law enforcement issues into national headlines: black Harvard professor mistakenly thought to be seen breaking into his own house, Michael “hands-up” Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Travon Martin in Florida.
All that Obama would have needed to do was address the black community about finishing school, getting a job and keeping it, getting married before having babies. Instead, he preached victimology and how to remain an underclass based on skin color.
Now we see Biden echoing Obama. And only a few conservative blacks have the courage to speak up to suggest that American blacks can succeed if they ignore the do-gooder admonishments to remain victims and continue in a life of dependency on government handouts.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
1 year ago

America is like a freight train or a steam locomotive trundling down the tracks: does it need to apply the brakes, or allow itself to throw more coal into the boiler/furnace? Is it on a slight incline at the moment? What with inflation and the uncertainty of the geo-political situation. Is it headed upwards or downwards on that incline? The train must be struggling uphill at the moment. But the coal keeps coming, and the driver blows the whistle to signal that America is on its way.

Marc Sawatzki
Marc Sawatzki
1 year ago

I have always looked at America; 10 years of prosperity and 20 years of survival. Then keep repeating. That document is what keeps us fairly honest.

Mark Landsbaum
Mark Landsbaum
1 year ago

Nicely done Joel. I particularly liked the beer angle. Makes the point well.

Larry Stevens
Larry Stevens
1 year ago