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Chris Arande: The Other America

I respect Chris Arande’s journalism:

“Anthony Rice’s house in Youngstown, Ohio is a mile away from a river valley once filled with factories offering jobs. Many of those left in the 1980s, and with them, many residents.

His home is one of the few occupied on the street. Empty lots or boarded-up homes make up most of the block. He points to those remaining, listing his neighbors and their age. They are all over 70. “This neighborhood is okie-dokie, although not much goes down here”, he says. “Stores used to be all around here, but they mostly gone. The people left are either too old to move or waiting for someone to buy them out.”

The road itself is a patchwork of potholes. “This street hasn’t been paved in like forever. They just don’t care about us. But we used to that.”

Youngstown is the largest city in Mahoning County, Ohio, where Donald Trump narrowly lost a county Barack Obama won twice easily. That was partly because turnout in Youngstown – which is lower income, younger, and close to half African American – dropped by roughly 15% …

A lot of the US is like that. I have seen it all over, when I put 100,000 miles on my car before the election. I have heard and seen the frustrations of countless people – of all races and faiths – in wildly different places, from Nebraska to Louisiana.

To get out beyond successful neighborhoods in DC, New York City and the elite college campuses – beyond where prevailing socio-political opinions are made – is to see another America. …”

Here in the Alabama Black Belt, which is one of the poorest places in the entire country, I live in the very epicenter of that America. This is the place I call home!

In a hundred mile radius of my front yard, I can see everything that has gone right and wrong in America. To the west, Selma which produced the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which is now a blighted wasteland and powerhouse of civil rights tourism. To the southeast, Tuskegee which produced George Washington Carver and the Tuskegee Airmen, which is now also a blighted wasteland. To the east, Auburn which is a thriving little college town, and which unlike Tuskegee and Selma remains overwhelmingly White. To the north, we have Birmingham, which is a deindustrialized blighted wasteland, and which is surrounded by the prosperous Over the Mountain suburbs like Mountain Brook and Hoover.

The public school system is a joke. Integration was a failure. A half century has passed and racial gaps in test scores have yet to disappear. The black crime rate is significantly higher than the White crime. Every year it seems like Birmingham moves south and Montgomery moves north in order to avoid the clusterfuck in housing and education that was created as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. How much does it cost keep rebuilding entire cities in different counties?

We are living through a disaster on so many levels: among other things, the collapse of the family, the rise in drug abuse, the mechanization of agriculture and deindustrialization have combined to produce this blighted and demoralized landscape. If you drive through large swathes of the South, you will find people left behind in towns that have ceased to have any economic purpose.

Where I am from, we have inherited a population that was brought here as slaves to pick cotton on 19th century plantations. There are no more plantations though. No one picks cotton. Slavery has been dead for over 150 years now. There was some industry here, but now much of that has been shipped off overseas. We have your usual low-wage service jobs in the local Wal-Mart or McDonald’s.

What about all the progress we have made as a country? I think of the tattooed single White woman who dropped out of high school with three kids by three different daddies who is living in a trailer and is on meth or prescription drugs. She doesn’t have a husband. She doesn’t have a positive sense of ethnic or cultural identity. She is in poor health, mentally and physically. She is a burden to her family.

What does this hypothetical tattooed White woman living in a flyover country small town have? She has more freedom and equality than any of her predecessors. She has a smartphone. And yet, look at where that has gotten her. In many ways, she is worse off than her great-grandmother.

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    I first noticed this on trips to Upstate New York and New England as a little boy in the ’80s.

    It’s a race to the bottom.

  • Perhaps some creative leader will come forward and find a way to give all of these people useful work. Making cheap plastic Walmart products can obviously be done in China cheaper than here – and apparently there is still enough of a market here to buy that cheap plastic Walmart product.

    If it weren’t for conservatives, we could simply give people a basic income in exchange for some sort of charity work or make-work jobs. But we can’t do that because socialism/free markets/etc. We print up trillions of dollars to give to Wall Street banks, why not instead just print up that money and give it to poor people? Again, it’s conservatives that are the problem. Conservatives couldn’t preserve social values and the family, but they can conserve “capitalism” (i.e., socialism for the rich) and prevent anyone from solving problems.

    “The purpose of progressives is to keep on making mistakes. The purpose of conservatives is to prevent those mistakes from being corrected.” — C. S. Lewis.

    • Alex Harris

      Prescient quote by C.S. Lewis. Or maybe that game was already afoot back in his day. Perfectly describes the one-way “ratcheting” mechanism of the politics of the last several decades.

    • unpaidpundit

      Working class whites vote Republican in the hopes that Republicans will protect them from blacks, especially in the South. Republican office holders use their power in ways that often end up undercutting the prospects of the white working class. Republicans support lower taxes for the rich and corporations, taxes that could be used for social programs that benefit poor and working class whites. Republicans support free trade deals that export whole industries to the developing world, while further enriching the wealthy. Republicans support legal immigration and wink at illegal immigration that will make whites a minority in our own country.

    • A. Alexander Minsky

      That quote is from G.K. Chesterton, not C.S. Lewis.

  • ScipioAfricanus

    There are still many who are captivated by their indifference to what is happening all around them. The moral relativism that was so in vogue at the beginning of this century is coming to an end. They will be many who will find themselves standing in the middle of the road, to only be run over by realty. The time of sitting idly by is over, it is time to pick a side.

    “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16)

  • liberalcatman

    If anybody here is ever concerned about the Left’s strategy to recover, I would highly recommend reading the replies to this guy’s tweets. Arande keeps trying to tell these people: 1) pleb tier minorities are not that concerned about “identity politics” 2) pleb tier whites do not like being told they’re privileged 3) Economics is the primary concern. He is really trying to make a sincere point about people he feels have been overlooked by politicians and the chattering classes. And no liberals buy it!! Most replies are either mocking poor whites, insisting it is impossible that destitute (relatively) well meaning brown people do not care “Drumpf is raciss”, or mocking Arande for trying to point out the differences between Front/Back row. The tone deafness of SWPL type shitlibs is simply amazing, not to mention the cognitive dissonance. They insist that they care for the working classes, yet mock whatever earnest points they might try to make.

    I hope alt-right people can, over the next four years, continue to encourage this insanity amongst SWPL’s. They really have no idea how to communicate with working class people, white or black. We could capture the entire white working class forever if this continues.

  • Rascal

    Good, yet depressing article.

    • Robert Bruce

      It is, but it is the truth. I have basically lived in the same metro area of Detroit for 40 of my almost 47 years on this earth, and the spreading of the economic decay from Detroit is sad. Empty strip malls wherever you go or they only have like two stores in them. Suburban blight is really bad here in Downriver Detroit.