Social Cohesion

Last Impressions

  • By
  • Joel Garreau,
  • New America Foundation
March 23, 2009 |

Among the last things to go in the Depression was -- lipstick.

"It was not particularly expensive, but it was a prized possession," says Jeremy E. Adamson, director for collections and services at the Library of Congress. "You feel bad anyway, but you make yourself look a little bit better. It says, 'I care about myself.' Those little things are terribly important."

Mexican American Assimilation

  • By
  • Tomas Jimenez,
  • New America Foundation
March 18, 2009 |

In Hard Times, What's-His-Name Could Be Your Best Friend

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
March 9, 2009 |

You've got to look out for No. 1. It's a dog-eat-dog world. Everybody's in it for themselves.

These are some of the more charming axioms of American-style capitalism, and during hard financial times, you'd expect that they'd ring truer than ever.

Think of high unemployment and economic scarcity, and up come images of savage competition, broken marriages, corroded race relations and the scapegoating of immigrants. And if things get worse, we're probably going to see all of this and more.

Segregation Forever?

  • By
  • Reihan Salam,
  • New America Foundation
February 23, 2009 |

Last year, I had the great pleasure of seeing The Order of Myths, Margaret Brown's brilliant documentary film on Mobile, Alabama's storied, and segregated, Mardi Gras celebrations. Even now, long after the end of Jim Crow, the city's leading white families put together an elaborate series of Mardi Gras balls and parades under the auspices of the Mobile Carnival Association, and they name a royal court to preside over the festivities. Starting in 1938, a number of black families formed the Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association (MAMGA) to do exactly the same.

Loneliness is a Pain

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
February 23, 2009 |

Are you feeling lonely, disconnected or alienated? It could be making you sick, and, ironically, you're not alone.

In 1985, when researchers asked a cross-section of Americans how many confidants they had, the most common response was three. When they asked again in 2004, the most common answer -- from 25% of respondents -- was zero, nil, nada.

In 1950, only 9.3% of American households consisted of people living alone. By 2000, that percentage had jumped to a whopping 26%.

America Needs Heroes, Flaws and All

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
February 16, 2009 |

Michael Phelps smokes pot. A-Rod took steroids. What's next? Will US Airways Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger get busted too?

Americans love to put their heroes on pedestals almost as much as they enjoy tearing them down. We trot out the outrage when they're disgraced. We wring our hands over what it'll do to the poor kids who look up to them. But if, as the ancient Greeks said, people are known by the heroes they crown, then Americans' penchant for exalting and denouncing says a whole lot about us as a country.

Slavery Casts a Subtle Curse

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
February 9, 2009 |

If a 10-year-old boy in Benin, in West Africa, wants to describe someone he doesn’t trust, he’s likely to use one of these two roughly translated phrases: “He will sell you and enjoy it” or “He can make you disappear.”

Such phrases are not uncommon in the languages of West Africa, which for four centuries was the epicenter of the continent’s slave trade, and their presence in contemporary speech poignantly suggests that slavery’s legacy lingers on in profound ways.

Affirmative Action and After

  • By
  • W. Ralph Eubanks,
  • New America Foundation
January 6, 2009 |

A recent column in the alumni newsletter of my alma mater, the University of Mississippi, is headlined "We Have Legacies." The quote is lifted from the column and would ordinarily evoke the world of Southern landed gentry. A photograph on the page, however, shows the author to be an African-American woman, thereby turning another Old South stereotype on its head at a school that already has cast off many symbols of its all-white history.

A Disintegrating U.S.? Critics Come Unglued

  • By
  • Joel Garreau,
  • New America Foundation
January 3, 2009 |

For seriously predicting that the United States will break into six parts in June or July of 2010, Igor Panarin has suddenly become a Russian state-media celebrity. Hardly a day goes by without another interview or two for the KGB-trained, Kremlin-backed senior analyst. The clamor in Russia for his ideas is growing, he says.

When You Con Your Own

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
December 22, 2008 |
We're obsessed with race and ethnic relations in the U.S., so much so that we tend to believe that most crime, violent or otherwise, is committed across racial, ethnic or religious lines. We make a special category for "hate" crimes. Governments compile statistics on them. Journalists, always looking for the next great divide, eagerly read intergroup conflict into just about any form of antisocial behavior.
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