Black Lives Matter.

By Teju Ravilochan

Deliberately and strategically, the planter class extended special privileges to poor whites in an effort to drive a wedge between them and black slaves […] Poor whites suddenly had a direct, personal stake in the existence of a race-based system of slavery. Their own plight had not improved by much, but at least they were not slaves. Once the planter elite split the labor force, poor whites responded to the logic of their situation and sought ways to expand their racially privileged position.

Just as race had been used at the turn of the century by Southern elites to rupture class solidarity at the bottom of the income ladder, race as a national issue had broken up the Democratic New Deal “bottom-up” coalition — a coalition dependent on substantial support from all voters, white and black, at or below the median income.

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