The myth of “radical” black politics that thwarts progressive politics
A chasm appears, however, when race is explicitly considered. The same Pew poll showed that 66% of black adults said “solving race-related issues should be a top priority,” compared to just 27% and 47% among white and Latino respondents, respectively. It is untenable for black Americans to separate race from any issue, which means it is untenable to separate race from fixes.
The anguish of the other “radical” Black is so strong that Whites will sacrifice themselves to ward off proximity to Blackness. The 2019 book by Jonathan Metzl, die of whiteness, documents how the politics of racial resentment harms white Americans while progressive policies are vilified as radical black takeovers. “Politics is deeply tied to identity,” Metzl told me. In his book, Metzl argues that white Americans’ investment in maintaining an imagined place at the top of a racial hierarchy “harms the overall well-being of white Americans as a demographic.”
“In the rural South, if you want to turn people against something,” Metzl told me, “there are three things you have to say: government intrusion into your life, freedom, and the freedoms that you will lose, and Black people will cut in front of you and take your resources.