Friday, in relation to the serial debate between Jonathan Chait and Ta-Nehisi Coates on race and the "culture of poverty," I criticized them both for neglecting "class as the fundamental struggle in American society."
The United States [I wrote] is indeed a "kleptocracy" [Coates' term]--albeit one with a happy-face--but hardly "in regards to black people" alone. There are poor but "responsible" whites and browns, just as there are "upstanding" middle-class whites and browns; nonetheless their share of the nation's bounty continues to stagnate at best, as the plutocracy walks away with the mother lode....
It's not just or even principally a black problem. It's a problem of class, which both Coates and Chait, rather astonishingly, ignore.
Kudos to Chait for self-correcting. Today, in a follow-up to Coates' increasingly hostile replies, he writes:
[L]et me explain what I do think. The culture of poverty is not solely or even primarily a black problem. It is a problem arising from concentrated poverty, and--as a result of both historic and ongoing racism--concentrated poverty disproportionately afflicts African-American communities.
Class, more than race. Chait sees that. So far, Coates does not, nor do I expect him to.