Where the Racists Are: Maurice Sendak wanted to know "where the wild things are."
In 1963, he wrote a book which bore that title. According to the leading authority on the subject, the book "was voted the number one picture book in a 2012 survey of School Library Journal readers, not for the first time."
According to Sendak's book, the "wild things" largely seemed to exist in a young boy's mind. An array of credentialed anthropologists say this finding had salience for the state of "liberal" discourse in the disordered years preceding Mister Trump's War.
These disconsolate scholars report to us from the future through a type of nocturnal submission which the haters regard as mere "dreams." They have a lot of time on their hands—and deep regrets about the way they may have contributed to the pre-war academic culture they have mournfully come to describe as Professoriate Down.
With respect to Where the Wild Things Were, these future experts now say this:
They say the "human" mind had always been wired to imagine, and to stress, the widespread existence of "wild things" and monsters.
This was once a survival skill, they now glumly explain. In prehistory, this impulse produced an instinctive avoidance of rival tribes who might be inclined to violence.
But alas! By the century preceding the war, this hard-wired human instinct had become a liability, our future sources now tell us.
Within the pre-war "liberal" world, this instinct had devolved into a frequently untethered search for racists, sexists, bigots, homophobes and viewers of Fox News—in effect, for monsters of every known type. By this time, the instinctive flight from the Other had produced a largely unhelpful quest to say Where the Racists Are.
To judge from one recent blog post, we can now say with some confidence where the racists are. According to this recent blog post, they're in Irvine, California.
The blog post was written by Kevin Drum, who has long been our favorite blogger. In our view, Drum's work on lead exposure and lead abatement has been one of the major jewels of the Internet's pitiful history.
Inadvertently, his work on this topic has also helped establish one of the leading discoveries of this era. His work has helped establish the fact that it was impossible to introduce information into the American discourse during the largely disordered years preceding Mister Trump's War.
According to recent work by Drum, "where the racists are" is Irvine, California. We say that based on data from the last four U.S. census reports:
Black population of Irvine, CAOur analysts connected these data to Drum's recent exposé, in which he discusses What The Racists Did.
1980: 1.5 percent
1990: 1.8 percent
2000: 1.5 percent
2010: 1.8 percent
According to Drum, the racists—indeed, the hot-blooded racists—all moved out of Los Angeles. This explains why there are so few white kids left in L.A.'s public schools:
DRUM (5/18/19): I don’t mean to pick on anyone here. I just want to make it clear that what happened wasn’t really due to cold-blooded forces of either demographics or housing policy. Rather, it was due to the very deliberate, very conscious choice of whites to abandon big city school districts when they became too black and too Hispanic. The middle class did it mostly by moving away, while the affluent did it by moving their kids into private schools.When Drum says he doesn't want to pick on anyone, he seems to mean both us and Jonathan Chait. In his post, he cites our own recent report about racial imbalance in public schools—a report which has won many prestigious awards in the future, or at least so we've been told.
A lot of things in American life are driven by institutional racism, but this isn’t one of them. This was driven by racism that’s as hot-blooded and as individual as you can get. Over the course of 30 years, millions of whites all over the country made a personal decision that they didn’t want their kids in the same schools as blacks and Hispanics. That’s why big city school districts today are more segregated than they were half a century ago.
For ourselves, we would have thought it was obvious that big urban systems like the three we cited have a paucity of white kids because 1) white families have moved away; 2) white families have stopped moving in; and 3) white families have sent their kids to private and parochial schools.
Drum advanced the analysis by letting us know that the parents who made these decisions are racists—indeed, are "hot-blooded" racists. When we stumbled upon the data for Irvine, we suddenly thought we had an answer to the topic which swamps the liberal mind: Where the Racists Are!
We thought we finally had the answer! "But hold on," future anthropologists have said. "It may not be quite so simple!"
These future scholars note the fact that many middle-class black families have moved away from these urban school districts too.
This happened here in Baltimore, with many black families moving to suburban Baltimore County, whose large school system—the nation's 25th largest—is now 39.4% black, 37.4% white.
As Nikole Hannah-Jones described in a widely-praised report for The Atlantic, it also happened in Tuscaloosa, with black families moving to suburban Tuscaloosa County.
Based upon our own observations, there are reasons to stay in big urban systems, but there are also possible reasons to leave. In a lengthy report in the New York Times magazine, Hannah-Jones described the different ways she and her husband were inclined to assess this matter when it came time to decide where their own daughter would be going to school:
HANNAH-JONES (6/9/16): When the New York City Public Schools catalog arrived in the mail one day that spring, with information about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new universal prekindergarten program, I told Faraji that I wanted to enroll Najya in a segregated, low-income school. Faraji’s eyes widened as I explained that if we removed Najya, whose name we chose because it means “liberated” and “free” in Swahili, from the experience of most black and Latino children, we would be part of the problem...I was determined not to do what I’d seen so many others do when their values about integration collided with the reality of where to send their own children to school.According to Hannah-Jones, "the problem was that we each knew the other was right and wrong at the same time." Even in a New York City home which contained an "office lined with books on slavery and civil rights," the answer to this question didn't seem totally obvious.
As I told Faraji my plan, he slowly shook his head no. He wanted to look into parochial schools, or one of the “good” public schools, or even private schools. So we argued, pleading our cases from the living room, up the steps to our office lined with books on slavery and civil rights, and back down, before we came to an impasse and retreated to our respective corners. There is nothing harder than navigating our nation’s racial legacy in this country, and the problem was that we each knew the other was right and wrong at the same time. Faraji couldn’t believe that I was asking him to expose our child to the type of education that the two of us had managed to avoid. He worried that we would be hurting Najya if we put her in a high-poverty, all-black school. “Are we experimenting with our child based on our idealism about public schools?” he asked. “Are we putting her at a disadvantage?”
Two good people had different reactions to a question debated by many families. Was one of them a racist? Meanwhile, Ta-Nehisi Coates and his wife sent their son to the Manhattan County School (28 percent black). Must they be racists too?
We were struck by Drum's somewhat cold-blooded approach to the topic of hot-blooded racism. We asked our anthropological experts to help us understand why we liberals are now so strongly inclined to reason and speak in the way Drum did.
"The impulse to invent The Other is deeply bred in the bone," these disconsolate future scholars glumly and gloomily told us. They then called our attention to Jay Newton-Small's recent ardent attempt to explain Where the Sexists Are!
We humans! We were always wired this way, these future experts have said. From prehistory forward, our war-inclined species was always wired to see one of the Others under every bed.
This was once a survival skill; in the end, it helped bring on Trump's War. Or at least, so we've been told, in a series of strangely moving nocturnal submissions.
We liberals! Our impulse to say Where the Others Are helped create the pre-war world in which conversation has ceased to exist between two rival, war-inclined tribal groups. The moral certainty crept, but then it spread, eventually taking wide hold.
According to Drum, we now knew Where the Racists Were. They had bought homes in Irvine, CA, seeking relief from the populations Drum himself warmly embraced.
"The instinct seized control," two of our future experts said. They then returned to the hunting, but mostly the gathering, which now consumes their post-conflagration lives.
Tomorrow: Narrative grievance wherever you look! It's time for Siri to go!