The post-election conversation on MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes this morning was all about the new racial and ethnic realities of the American electorate. The panel brought together three from the left -- Atlantic writer Ta-Nehesi Coates (African-American), Grio writer Goldie Taylor (African-American), and undocumented-immigrant organizer Lorella Praeli of United We Dream -- with Avik Roy, an Indian-American former Romney adviser on health care.
It was a raw discussion, the kind of conversation that should happen more often in this country. (The video is sliced up into various segments here, here, and here. There may be even more segments than that -- it was the first hour of the show.) Roy did his best to hold up the conservative standard in the face of the life experience and skepticism among the other panelists.
All of them acknowledged that a pro-Obama coalition formed for this election that included African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, the unchurched, GLBT folks, and unmarried white women. But they also agreed with this statement made by Roy:
To conservatives who are panicking…and thinking we're demographically doomed…[remember] there are no permanent majorities in politics. Because people do adapt. It's too competitive, people will figure it out, Republicans will figure it out.My opinion is that Republicans will be quick to figure out a way to throw a virtual bomb into the middle of the coalition, driving apart blacks and Latinos or white women and blacks, or what have you.
To prevent that from happening, I want to remind everyone of the final verse of the song "Talking Union," which spends most of its verses setting up the problem of workers organizing against oppressive bosses, but ends with its best effort at a solution:
If you don't let Red-baiting break you upSome of the divisive topics may have changed -- sexual orientation and religion particularly come to mind -- but the point stands. Be aware of when Karl Rove or Frank Luntz or whatever part of the Right's brain trust applies a lever designed to drive us apart and don't let it work.
If you don't let stool pigeons break you up
If you don't let vigilantes break you up
If you don't let race hatred break you up
What I mean: take it easy, but take it.
A couple of other notes:
Ta-Nahesi Coates should be on every episode.
Race is a weird, weird category, which would be objectively meaningless if it weren't for all of its historical and cultural underpinnings. As an illustration, look at this image of Taylor and Roy, sitting side by side. One is African American and the other Indian American. But they look like they could be cousins. How can anyone insist that race is anything but a construct?