Wandering Eye: MARC may extend to Delaware, Supreme Court upholds Fair Housing Act, and more

As the Rachel Dolezal outrage gave way to the much greater outrage in Charleston, John Garvey and Noel Ignatiev wrote in Counterpunch how they sympathized with Dolezal, given the debased state of public discussion about race. From 1993 until 2005, the two published a journal called "Race Traitor," its editorial mission to "abolish the white race." And that led to some interesting insights into how race "works" on the working class, even as academics and college students busied themselves with other concerns. "In light of the political travesties that have developed under the term since, we wish we could have found some better way of differentiating ourselves from those who wanted to make careers (in journalism, social work, organizational development, education and the arts) by insisting that the psychic battle against privilege must be never-ending," the pair write. "'Privilege politics' became a way of avoiding serious thought or political debate and a way of avoiding direct confrontations with the institutions that reproduce race and with the individuals responsible for the functioning of those institutions. The focus shifted to an emphasis on scrutinizing every inter-personal encounter between black people and whites to unearth underlying racist attitudes and to guide people in 'unlearning' them. This has developed into a tendency to strictly enforce the boundaries between the races—not only (as in the past) by white supremacists, but by proponents of what might be considered black advancement." Some would call this statement a "macro-aggression," but those of a certain age saw the dynamic play out in real time, and took it to heart, as Kristal Brent Zook reveals in the WaPo. Biracial as a child in the '70s, by college she was black, and defending the boundary. "In this world, I become more 'militant' about protecting and projecting my identity," she writes. "There's this twisted perception, among some people, of blackness as a kind of club that only the cool kids get to belong to." Of course, she checks her privilege: "I'm acutely aware that my appearance gives me a certain freedom that others don't always have. And with this freedom — as we always say — comes great responsibility. In my case, that means acknowledging and remaining authentically connected to my roots, even if, for some observers, I don't appear to be black at first glance." And the beat goes on. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

The Sun's Natalie Sherman has a story about the MARC possibly extending farther north into Delaware. OK, maybe that news makes you think back to "Wayne's World"—"Hi, I'm in Delaware"—but let's really unpack this. As Sherman reports, "MARC service now ends at Perryville, about 20 miles from the Delaware border. Philadelphia's regional line extends only as far south as Newark, Del., a 30-minute drive from Perryville." There are plans in the works for a "Newark Regional Transportation Center, which would allow two commuter trains to serve the station at the same time." So if you connect these lines, you have access to Philadelphia too, and getting there would be undoubtedly cheaper than Amtrak and maybe even cheaper than gas and tolls in your car—certainly less stressful. Let's extend it out from there. Getting to Philadelphia gets you to NJ Transit, New Jersey's rail system, and that gets you access to New York via Trenton. Or you could just take SEPTA all the way to Trenton and connect to New York that way. The cost, scheduling, and all of that still need to be worked out, but the possibilities are exciting. (H/T @jedweeks.) (Brandon Weigel)

 

With all the attenion given to the Supreme Court's ruling upholding Obamacare subsidies and an expected ruling about gay marriage, another decision may be overlooked, but it's one that comes as a pleasant surprise to liberal court watchers. The court ruled 5-4, with Justice Kennedy siding with the court's liberal justices, to uphold the current interpretation of the Fair Housing Act, which protects people from housing discrimination, whether the discrimination was intentional or not. Local housing advocates made it clear to The Sun earlier this week just how harmful it would be if the decision went the other way. "It would send a real damaging signal if the court were to invert one of the bedrock civil rights protections," Barbara A. Samuels, managing attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland's Fair Housing Project, told reporter Arthur Hirsch. University of Maryland law professor Larry Gibson was "quite pessimistic" based on the transcripts of the testimony and other recent SCOTUS decisions. A decision to change the interpretation of the FHA, Gibson said, "would be just one more decision by this court to remove remedies for past discrimination." In a city like Baltimore, which such a long history of housing discrimination, he and many others see keeping those remedies in place as a major win. (Evan Serpick)

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