Wednesday's HOT MIC

Wednesday's HOT MIC

Jamelle Bouie, writing in Slate about the retail apocalypse and why Trump doesn't care.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t disaggregate this data by race and gender, but it’s likely that a large number of those nonwhite workers—if not a majority—are women too. By contrast, heavy manufacturing, industrial, and extraction work is overwhelmingly white and male. What’s more, it’s tied to a particular image of the standalone (and often unionized) worker who can provide for his family on one income. Americans have historically had an almost romantic attachment to the hard-hat worker, usually white, in a way that we don’t to any other profession.

Work is gendered and it is racialized. What work matters is often tied to who performs it. It is no accident that those professions dominated by white men tend to bring the most prestige, respect, and pay, while those dominated by women—and especially women of color—are often ignored, disdained, and undercompensated.

For all of the impersonal economic reasons for the decline of retail, for all the understandable reasons motivating political attention to manufacturing, it’s also the case that this is a story of race and gender. A story of who matters in our society; who deserves our collective concern. And if one thing is true in American history, it’s that white men have always been among those called “deserving,” with other groups struggling to attain that label and the respect it implies, and some—like black women—long stigmatized as inherently unworthy.

Really, Jamelle? What is it exactly that you expect Washington to do about the fact that people don't want to get in their cars, wrestle with traffic, find a parking place, and then walk a mile and a half to buy a pair of shoes?

Is racism the reason that Washington refuses to shut down the internet?

One imagines that if Bouie were writing during the first quarter of the 20th century, he would demand that Washington "do something" about disappearing jobs for blacksmiths, wheelwrights, coopers, candle makers, and buggy whip manufacturers.

Of course, if Washington had intervened, we'd still be shoveling horse crap off the streets.

The notion that Washington isn't doing anything about the death of retail has absolutely nothing to do with what color or gender the workers are. It is the simple truth that nothing is to be done to resuscitate a dying brick and mortar retail industry short of making it illegal to sell stuff on the net.

Auto mechanics replaced blacksmiths, electricians replaced candle makers. New industries arose that employed those wheelwrights and coopers who were thrown out of work.

Bouie apparently never heard of "creative destruction."