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Kamala Harris May be Descended from a Slaveowner. So What?

Having white ancestry, slaveowner or not, does not make someone less "black" if they so identify.

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Various right-wing populist media personalities and sources seem to think that revealing that Kamala Harris has, according to her father, a distant ancestor who was a slaveowner in Jamaica is some sort of "gotcha." In particular, they often suggest that this is evidence that Harris is "not really black" or is "barely black."

As I noted previously, because Harris has black African ancestry and identifies as black, she is included in the legal definition of "black/African" we use in the U.S. This legal definition both reflects and informs common parlance.

Beyond that, the racial categories we use in common parlance in the U.S. do not track genetic ancestry, but are rather sociological. In the U.S., the one-drop rule generally prevailed historically, where anyone with discernible African ancestry was deemed black. According to what I've read but not independently confirmed, the U.S. is the only country that had African slavery where the one-drop rule has been standard.

In short, having a white ancestor, including slave-owning ancestors, has never disqualified anyone from identifying or being identified as black/African American. The only legitimate objection is the history of forcing that identity on people regardless of how they see themselves, and then discriminating against them because of it.

The civil rights group challenging the segregation law in Plessy v. Ferguson purposely chose Homer Plessy as the test-case plaintiff, because, as the Supreme Court related, he was "of mixed descent, in the proportion of seven eighths Caucasian and one eighth African blood; .. the mixture of [African] blood was not discernible in him." Among other things, the litigants hoped to show the absurdity and arbitrariness of American race law.

In the course of my research on government mandates requiring use of race for classification in medical studies, I found that researchers who have done genetic studies estimate that the average self-identified black person in the U.S. has European ancestry ranging from 7 to 24% (depending on the study). Bryc Katarzyna, et al. The Genetic Ancestry of African Americans, Latinos, and European Americans across the United States, 96 Am. J. Human Genetics 37 (2015). People who self-identify as black/African American have anywhere from 2% to 100% African ancestry. This obviously is a confounding factor in trying to use American race categories as proxies for genetic origin, but it also points to the fact that there is no contradiction between having some European ancestry and identifying as black or African American.

Not all of all African Americans with white ancestry have white *slaveowner* ancestry, but some of them do. It doesn't make them less "black"; it does reinforce the horrors of slavery, as slaves were forced into sexual relationships with slaveholders, and their offspring remained slaves unless specifically freed by the father.

It would be preferable if society advanced to the point where differences in "racial" origins were considered largely irrelevant to anything but one's own self-identity. Obviously we haven't reached that stage yet. Meanwhile, it's completely uncalled for to suggest that Senator Harris isn't "really" black.

NEXT: Today in Supreme Court History: August 18, 1920

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206 responses to “Kamala Harris May be Descended from a Slaveowner. So What?

  1. I think the only relevant question is how much Kamala owes in reparations.

    1. Owes to ME due to subrogation.

      Her Great Great Grandfather owned 210 slaves.
      Two of my Great Great Grandfathers fought to end slavery, one came back without his foot and the other didn’t come back at all.

      And her IRISH (not African) father didn’t set foot in America until 1962 — as a college student. Compare her to someone like Allen West who grew up in segregated “inner” Atlanta in the 1950s.

      1. I believe Mr. Harris was born in Jamaica. Then went to college in London before coming to the US.

        1. We’re both right — but you have a good point, he wasn’t an undergrad here.
          B.A. (UCWI-London U.), 1960
          Ph.D. (U. California-Berkeley), 1966

          https://web.stanford.edu/~dharris/professional_career.htm

      2. Compare her to someone like the war criminal Allen West?

        1. War criminal my a**.

          He saved the lives of his men. He made a mistake and admitted it, and if he hadn’t, you’d never have heard of it. And the perp wasn’t hurt — and DID have important information.

    2. Well stated Mr. Towns.

  2. I believe that I too have a slave owner and a slave in my ancestry, from 1.9 million years ago in Africa. Does that get me any points in identity policits?

  3. She passes the Biden test, so she is really Black.

    1. And the Rachel Dolezal test.

  4. I think those “right-wing populist media personalities” are trolling the left. Race should be irrelevant, but many on the left consider it very important. Remember, Biden was pretty much ordered to pick a “woman of color” as his running mate. IMO, those media personalities are trying to turn the left’s views on race against the left. How many on the left will take the bait (e.g., BLM and the Bernie Bros)?

    1. “Race should be irrelevant”

      Are you one of the “colorblind” Republicans, SMP0328?

      1. I’m an Independent and, historically, race has been used in the law for oppressing minorities. Do you think the law can use race for good this time?

      2. Fucking moron. Go drink a gallon of bleach.

        Yes, race should be fucking irrelevant. If you were so enlightened, you’d agree with that, and as David put it “It would be preferable if society advanced to the point where differences in “racial” origins were considered largely irrelevant to anything but one’s own self-identity.”

        Apparently you, Artie-racist-shit-for-brains, don’t really want society to progress. Isn’t that part of the progress that you’re always claiming is being shoved down our throats? A society in which people don’t judge others by the color of their skin? Seems like a pretty ideal situation.

        But hey, principals instead of principles for you moron fucking lefties.

        1. The Volokh Conspiracy civility project — free speech for conservatives, censorship for others — continues along its customary course.

          1. Nah, just you shutting up because you’re a race-baiting, hypocritical, fucking moron. You don’t deserve civility. Fuck off clinger.

            1. I concur.

              I don’t think the left deserves civility anymore — they sure aren’t extending it to us…

              1. Civility is a red herring. Partisans love to talk about civility because they claim to extend it, naturally to people they agree with or people who are weak enough to tolerate their own lack of civility. Then you point it out, which they immediately claim is uncivil. Once you call a spade a spade, they’re nothing but excuses.

                1. “Civility is a red herring. Partisans love to talk about civility because they claim to extend it, naturally to people they agree with”

                  Which people? Professor Volokh?

              2. When the time comes there will be plenty of “civility”….

                1. And I fear that it will come soon…

                  1. Oh it is and it will be glorious.

                    1. Lmao, like you two dorks would do anything. Get a life.

      3. “But in the view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution in color-blind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved.”

        “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

        Couple of racists, I guess.

        As Lewis Carrol well put it:

        “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

    2. I wonder how many BLM & Bernie Bros will be willing to stomach what she did as AG. Deny a DNA test to a Black man she wanted to execute (let alone want to execute a Black man), the pot convictions, etc.

      Her sole qualification is that she was the most virulent anti-Trumper they could find.

      1. And IIRC she was also the most ardent of the candidates in finding creative ways to hurt corporations if they don’t censor in ways the politicians want, meaning harrassment, immediately redirected at silencing politicians they oppose.

        So there’s silencing of political opposition to look forward to.

  5. It has nothing whatsoever to do with whether she’s “really” black. But maybe it means we should reexamine whether it’s really the right idea to blame all whites because some whites were slave owners?

    1. I wouldn’t object to an article arguing that Harris’ mixed background (including her Indian mom) provides an example of the complications that any theory of reparations would have to deal with. I also wouldn’t object to an article noting that her experiences as the child of mixed immigrants, raised by a divorced immigrant Indian-American mother, and going to high school in Canada are different than those of the average African American. But for the most part, I’m seeing much, much cruder discussions of her background.

      1. You missed his point (which I was going to make but he beat me to it).
        The idea of guilt-by-ancestry has been pushed by various groups on the left. If you are white, you are guilty for the sins of slavery committed by whites up to the Civil War. (Never mind if your ancestors, like mine, came to this country long after the Civil War.)
        Under that theory, Harris is guilty too. It is a way of showing the absurdity of what has been argued before.
        This is, of course, a political argument, not a legal one.
        As Shakespeare well said:

        For ’tis the sport to have the engineer
        Hoist with his own petard

        1. Again, perhaps people have been making that argument, but that’s not was I’ve been seeing.

          1. Right, did the posts you see claim to be sooper dooper cereal on the issue? Or are you taking the lack of explicit reasoning on their part for the posts themselves imply that the people making them genuinely believe in the idea of reparations?

    2. whether it’s really the right idea to blame all whites because some whites were slave owners?

      I think it is unmitigated bullbleep to blame *anyone* for having ancestors who were slave owners without blaming ALL of those whose ancestors were slave owners.

      And blame ALL of those who weren’t slaveowners or blame none!

      Some of us had ancestors who fought and died to END slavery.

      1. What if the only reason they had slaveowning ancestors was that they were children of rape?

        This line of argument says more about the right’s facile view of race than it does about the left.

        1. I neither consider slaves who were children of rape nor slaves bought by family member to free them in the context you wish to.

          I’m not even getting into things like the Sarah Hemmings issue.

          I’m talking about persons who owned slaves, and whose children (etc.) were NOT slaves — people like Kamala Harris.

          1. 1) that’s not what you argued above…ALL of those whose ancestors were slave owners

            2) Do we know this about Kamala’s background? Because I do not.

            1. 3) Why is it even relevant to her policy ideas?

              I did not even know this was a serious ‘thing’, Sarcastr0. Her ancestors are irrelevant to the evaluation of her policy proposals. If VP Biden wins, she become POTUS. So her policy ideas , such as they are, are fair game for critical examination.

              1. I don’t know that her blackness is part of her policy ideas, but it certainly colors the perspective by which she arrived at them.

                Ed appears to be criticizing her race, not her policies.

                1. OK, let’s discuss her policies.

                  Kamala came closer to practicing actually slavery while keeping people in jail to serve as cheap firefighting labor for CA than any major figure in years.

                  Even Arpaio didn’t try and keep people in jail after a court ordered their release.

                2. I could care less about her ancestors, or her race; those are completely irrelevant. It is her ideas that I find repellent. That is where there is plenty of fodder for spirited discussion.

                  1. Sure. But you seem to be saddled with a party that isn’t going with ideas as their first avenue of attack.

                    That may even be the politically adroit move.

                    1. Well Jo Jorgensen needs to step up her game. I will definitely say that. 😛

                  2. Commenter_XY wrote: “I could care less about her ancestors, or her race; those are completely irrelevant”

                    I care … because Sen. Harris has brought it up over and again. The race card was indeed a major tool in her campaign, and not just when she was explaining something “as the only African American on the stage,” and giving her “little girl being bused” bit.

                    And that’s fine. It’s a good tool. But it makes race a legitimate issue to challenge her on.

      2. Dang. If only the Constitution prohibited corruption by blood…

  6. Eventually race will no longer be a thing.

    1. So is your desire that we all interbreed such that we are one “race”? or something else?

      1. Please provide your insights concerning interbreeding, mad_kalak.

        If you have the courage.

        1. It’s not brave to state the obvious. How very silly of you.

      2. It is a good thing. America is like a ‘melting pot’.

        1. Are they both, really?

      3. As the article notes race is a sociological concept and not a biological concept. It is not a question of breeding to a single race but in removing sociological barriers that create racial differences. For example: I have noted that more commercials have mixed race couples. I don’t know if that is planned and the company are putting more mixed race couples or if it just the casting director is just picking the best actor/actress without regard to race. Either way the fact is that future generation will see mixed race couples as normal. In doing this the social idea that you marry within your race will fall.

    2. Perhaps not, but human nature and history tells us it will just be replaced by some other metric that allows people to feel superior to others.

    3. librarian wrote: “Eventually race will no longer be a thing.”

      Eventually we are all dead. (apologies to JM Keynes)

  7. For me the relevance is showing the absurdity of holding people responsible for the sins of their ancestors. In fact if some people are to be believed most African Americans descended from slaves.have ancestors who were slave holders.

    Plessey would have been termed an octoroon in New Orleans a couple of generations or so before his case. In the days just before the Civil war New Orleans was about 1/2 white and the black population was divided about equally between slaves and free blacks, many with French associations called “Creoles of Color”. They were mostly mixed race and to this day many Creole families hold a significant place in New Orleans society and politics.

    1. 1: I remember Plessey being described as an “Octoroon” although I don’t remember if it was the actual text of the case or the textbook’s description of the case.

      2: Don’t forget the Acadians when discussing New Orleans.

      1. The Cajuns generally weren’t and still aren’t in New Orleans they mostly settled in south west Louisiana. It’s something people in New Orleans generally laugh about.

        1. Cajuns are an example of a marginalized white ethnicity that was discriminated against. They were able to be marginalized because they spoke French and their culture was different than the majority white culture. (So blacks had a similar culture to southern whites but their black skin is how they were marginalized) So Cajuns were finally brought into white culture during and after WW2, but prior to that time they were considered less than WASP whites.

    2. In the days just before the Civil war New Orleans was about 1/2 white and the black population was divided about equally between slaves and free blacks

      It would seem that is not true. At all

      In 1788, it was 40% slave and black, 15% free and black, 45% free and white.

      In 1805, it was 38% slave and black, 19% free and black, 43% free and white.

      In 1810, it was 35% slave and black, 29% free and black, 37% free and white.

      In 1830, it was 33% slave and black, 24% free and black, 43% free and white.

      In 1840, it was 23% slave and black, 19% free and black, 58% free and white.

      In 1850, it was 15% slave and black, 8% free and black, 77% free and white.

      In 1860, it was 8% slave and black, 6% free and black, 85% free and white.

      In 1870, it was 26% free and black, 74% free and white.

      (Data Research Center – https://www.datacenterresearch.org/reports_analysis/prosperity-index/)

      I don’t know how relevant this is to your point. But the data is wrong. (There was a society of people of multiracial heritage in New Orleans that had standing unlike that in other places in the South, I think. But if you are trying to create any picture of numerical, political, or social equality “in the days just before the Civil War”, the answer is no.)

  8. You want cancel culture? This is what cancel culture looks like.

    As a wise man once said: “LOLGF”

  9. The reason Kamala is not African American is because Black immigrants from Africa and the West Indies have had a much different American experience than descendants of slaves who are not immigrants. So Obama’s African father and Kamala’s Jamaican father came to America specifically to attend college which differentiates any children they have from descendants of slaves…because Kamala and Obama knew the sky is the limit even while they lived in a country with racists. Plus if racism was too much of obstacle to overcome in America foreign visiting students always have the opportunity to return home with a prestigious American college degree. So African Americans are stuck in America and can’t go to another country and be part of the elite ruling class like Obama Senior and Harris’ father.

    1. Exactly. She was born with the Civil Rights Act, and grew up as the privileged child of an Econ Professor and a Cancer Researcher. Grew up with what would be an inflation-adjusted family income well into the 6 figures today, grew up as a faculty daughter in a town where that meant something. Silver spoon all the way.

      1. Class is indeed a privilege. That does not mean that whiteness does not also carry privilege.

        Do you think she never experienced racism growing up?

        Because from what I’m reading, she sure as hell is now.

        1. So why didn’t she stay in Canada with her Canadian mother or move to India or Jamaica in which she could be a citizen by filling out some paperwork? Btw, my many white ethnicities were victims of discrimination and many white gen xers have parents with very little savings…so being white doesn’t mean free from discrimination or free from bullying or inheriting wealth. White gen xers had access to affordable college and we had a few good years of a good job market before W Bush ruined everything…but nothing like what the white boomers had.

          1. Ummm. Clinton didn’t help.

            1. The Clinton job market was amazing.

              1. Clinton CAUSED the housing bubble and subprime mortgage mess — which caused 2008. And Clinton could have prevented 9-11.

                1. Ah, George W. Bush, history’s greatest victim of Bill Clinton. Poor guy just couldn’t catch a break.

                2. Lol, no. George W Bush’s compassionate conservative agenda exacerbated the Housing Bubble…he literally ran on Increased home ownership as his most important domestic achievement in 2004.

                  Clinton and Bush get blame for trade with China which decimated our manufacturing sector but the actual loss of manufacturing jobs happened when W Bush was torturing detainees and taking us to asinine wars and encouraging homophobia. The underlying problem of the 2001-2008 American economy was an energy crisis which Bush made worse by mismanaging the asinine Iraq War.

        2. “she sure as hell is now”

          Oh dear, how will a US senator and probably VP [and hence likely president] survive some mean internet comments from randos.

          Maybe Biden should not have openly picked her for her race.

          1. Ah, yeah. Racism that’s not a big deal isn’t racism at all!

            1. Since Biden put her on his short list because of her race it must mean that he is a racist and Harris should call him out for his overt racism.

              1. That’s not really racism, but thanks for playing.

                1. So … should Harvey Mosley have added his “sarc” indicator?

          2. “Maybe Biden should not have openly picked her for her race.”

            He did not do so. He pledged he would choose a woman. He was interviewing Gov. Whitmer a few days before he announced his running mate.

            Your bigotry impairs your perception, Bob. It also makes you the target audience of a white, male, right-wing blog. The Volokh Conspiracy appreciates your patronage and support.

            1. Do you seriously believe that her race wasn’t a factor?

        3. “Do you think she never experienced racism growing up?

          Because from what I’m reading, she sure as hell is now.”

          What an ignorant comment. Every educated person knows that racism = power plus prejudice. What power do internet randos have over a sitting US Senator and VP candidate? Educate yourself, Sarcastro. You know, crack a book once in a while. Maybe read, “White Fragility”.

          1. I’ve read that Brandt excerpt myself. I think it’s a bit unnuanced but power plus prejudice are both group-based, not individual based.

            1. Which is just a way of admitting they’re racist concepts. White Appalachian sharecropper? Powerful! ‘Black’ sitting US Senator? Powerless!

              Because the color of their skin tells you everything that matters, ‘natch. That’s racism for you.

              1. Why not embrace your stale bigotry, Brett Bellmore? Are you trying to score points with young people?

              2. It’s almost as though you also need to include class in such analysis. And gender.

                Welcome to intersectionality, Brett.

                So woke!

                1. It’s almost as though you need to look at people as individuals, rather than instances of groups.

                  Not instances of a race. Not instances of a gender. Not instances of a class. As actual individuals with individual life histories.

  10. Her heritage does not matter; her fascism does.

    1. Her mother moved her to Canada to escape Carter’s America. Once Reagan won and she graduated Canadian high school she returned to America to escape Canada’s racist society with inferior health care and crappy colleges like McGill. 😉

    2. From a recent Wall Street Journal editorial:
      …Ms. Harris’s intervention on behalf of the SEIU. As troubling was Ms. Harris’s use of her authority to help a political supporter and punish a business she didn’t like. She was in the vanguard of the new progressive state AGs who use prosecutorial power against opponents. Watch for this in the Harris Administration in 2025, if not sooner.

  11. Considering slavery of various forms has been ubiquitous throughout most of history, virtually everyone probably has an ancestor who was a slave owner, and an ancestor who was a slave. (Sometimes an ancestor who was both at the same time! Rome, for example, allowed slaves to own slaves).

    That said, in the specific context of American slavery, race is a terrible proxy for ‘your ancestors owned slaves’. Many white colonists/americans never owned slaves. Some were slaves themselves (ie, indentured servants). And as identified in the OP, many slaves gave birth to the children of slave owners.

    Regardless, no one alive to day ever owned slaves. Children aren’t responsible for the sins of their fathers (or mothers, grandfathers or grandmothers, or whatever even more tenuous relationship is required).

    1. *no one alive today who is a US citizen by birth. Although most slavery today is state-slavery, it’s possible someone somewhere owns a slave today.

    2. No. Some of us have ancestors who fought and died to end slavery. IF we are to keep wearing the bloody shirt of slavery, that should count for something….

      1. Her father was a professor at Stanford…and the endowment came from a robber baron that employed Chinese workers and displaced Native Americans.

        1. What’s wrong with hiring Chinese workers?

          1. They had to import Chinese workers because the white 49ers found the railroad work back breaking. And what rights did those Chinese people have prior to Wong Kim??

            1. “They had to import Chinese workers because the white 49ers found the railroad work back breaking. And what rights did those Chinese people have prior to Wong Kim??”

              The right to stay in China, I suppose. And apparently they found working here better than exercising that right. Foot voting, it works!

              1. Nope, go read The Jungle by Sinclair—American recruiters would lie to potential immigrants about how great things were in America and then immigrants would blow their savings on dangerous ocean crossings and it would be very difficult to return home. When o team crossings became better Irish would go back and forth more frequently but the time frame being discussed in 1860s and the Pacific.

                1. Yes, the Chinese laborers were pretty much treated as subhumans who worked in terrible conditions for low pay, despite their organized protests. Though they were not allowed to become citizens, at the time, they contributed the back-breaking labor to help this country fulfill its “Manifest Destiny” by opening up the West for settlement via the physical construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.

                  Other marginalized groups of people predominantly worked on the RR– the Mormons in central US and the Irish immigrants in the east, although for better pay and living conditions than were accorded the Chinese migrant laborers.

                  Sinclair’s “The Jungle” and Norris’ “The Octopus” remain great reads.

                2. The Jungle was fabricated.

                  Upton Sinclair was a socialist, and other socialists were pissed.

                  1. It’s a novel, you yutz.

                  2. Prohibition happened…and progressives of that era opposed more immigration. So more than enough evidence exists to support the assertion that working conditions for immigrants were substandard and the constant flow of gullible immigrants undermined the fight to improve working conditions and substandard living conditions led to public health crises like rampant abuse of alcohol. So the golden era of labor unions happened during a period of anomalously low immigration…which is also not a coincidence.

                  3. Dr. Ed 2, I’m not a socialist at all, although, its seems pretty self-evident how business, government, and society have always directly and by tradition and convention arranged social and economic orders to benefit the ruling and managerial classes, to include those here in the States.

                    Capitalism and now financialization have big systemic and seemingly intractable problems of uneven opportunity and justice, as well as monetary unsustainability, but socialism in practice is always worse, as far as I can see. Both approaches to governance pick winners and losers, and the winners are always the self-appointed elites, but, at least one way somewhat affords more liberties and opportunity to those who’d make their own way.

                    That said, today we’re focused on the zero sum game mentality of pie-slicing by race and resources based on our different histories, both real and exploited. It’s a mess and very difficult to parse, especially while the barrel of our entire system is swiftly heading down the river toward crashing cataracts.

                    At any rate, one doesn’t have to believe there isn’t some romanticizing and propagandizing in such books to take in their larger truths of unfairness and mistreatment of the many for the aggrandizement of some. I very much was moved by Zola’s “Germinal”, too, back in the day!

        2. Good point — I’d forgotten about that.

          And it was more “exploited” than “employed” the Chinese laborers.

          1. I agree, exploited is a better word when the laborers have no rights and the Pacific Ocean is between them and their homeland. So Mexican workers that were exploited would simply return home but Chinese workers couldn’t do that in 1865.

  12. I’ve addressed the argument that racists policies have benefited white Americans here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/07/22/a-mistake-that-racists-and-anti-racists-have-in-common/
    It starts:
    Virulent racists and anti-racist activists would seem to have little in common, but in fact they tend to agree on one mistaken premise: Race relations are a zero-sum game. If whites are doing well, it’s at the expense of members of other races. If members of other races are doing well, it’s at the expense of whites.

    On the racist (or “white nationalist”) side, this assumption means that members of other groups need to be subordinated so that whites can thrive. For anti-racists, this means that since whites have benefited at the expense of other groups, whites will now have to give up their “privilege” and reduce their own standard of living to allow other groups to thrive.

    In fact, whites, as a group, don’t benefit from discrimination against, or oppression of, other groups, except perhaps psychologically if such discrimination and oppression make them feel superior and such feelings of superiority make them happy. But from a purely economic perspective, wealth comes from gains from trade, and the wealthier your trading partners, the more wealth you can accrue.

    1. I don’t know how much you know about Keynesian economics but from my understanding pursuant orthodox Keynesianism is that simply giving people money has no downside and merely increases demand for goods and services. So right now we are seeing Keynesian economics in action. My question would be—if there is no downside then why haven’t we paid reparations to descendants of slaves?? So even if we now understand there is a downside to “helicopter drops” the fact orthodox Keynesianism saw no downside is evidence of racism because we should have done the helicopter drop decades ago when no one believed there was a downside.

      1. I don’t know how much you know about Keynesian economics but from my understanding pursuant orthodox Keynesianism is that simply giving people money has no downside and merely increases demand for goods and services.

        I don’t know how much Bernstein knows about Keynesian economics either, but your understanding is incorrect.

        The simplified explanation is that giving people money when the economy is suffering from a lack of demand is helpful.

        1. I disagree, the black unemployment rate has been such that in the past in a seemingly good economy a helicopter drop targeted to that community would have had no downside pursuant Keynesian orthodoxy…to say nothing of depressed economic times. So Trump and Senator Tim Scott crafted an economic program targeted specifically to black neighborhoods called Opportunity Zones. So if you support Opportunity Zones you should be open to the idea of reparations because you would apparently agree the African American community should be the beneficiaries of government programs.

          1. You can disagree all you like, but your description of Keynesian economics is simply wrong.

            1. A helicopter drop in Black neighborhoods in 1950s Mississippi would have had no downside.

              1. No short term downside. You could describe the war on poverty as that sort of helicopter drop, and it absolutely had long term downsides.

                1) A certain fraction of people won’t work if they don’t have to. Make it possible for them to get by without working, they will. And they will provide a model to their neighbors that work isn’t necessary.

                2) You helicopter drop money into places where there are no jobs to be had, people STAY in places where there are no jobs to be had.

                If you were going to helicopter drop anything, it would be bus tickets out of there. Getting any kind of public relief beyond the very short term should require moving to someplace with a lower than average unemployment rate.

                1. I agree about long term. But I think a helicopter drop is a one time thing with an understanding it will never happen again. So the time for the helicopter drop would have been the 1950s and the fact we didn’t do it at that time means we should probably just bite the bullet and do it next year…especially as we will be coming out of a recession. I would also print $5 billion for the UNCF while we’re at it. So because African Americans largely missed out on the affordable college of boomers and gen xers they should get college for very cheap now.

    2. I am tired of being denied personal advances that I have earned on the basis of merit and hard work because of the color of my skin and how my last name is spelled.

    3. I think you oversimplify. There have been, as I’m sure you know, social programs that were designed to discriminate against, or exclude, blacks. These include housing programs like FHA loans and the early version of Social Security. This is not trivial.

      So while Whites were able to obtain FHA-insured mortgages, Blacks were not, and subdivisions were built, based on that financing, that explicitly excluded Blacks.

      Now, we can debate whether everyone would have been better off without that, but it looks like quite an academic point to me. The fact is, whites were given advantages by the government that were denied to Blacks. And of course housing is only one example, but an important one since it has been, over the past 75-80 years, an important source of wealth.

      I’m far from convinced that your argument, even if correct, really carries much weight. Whites engaged in an awful lot of discriminatory practices, and worse, that harmed Blacks. (And for those focused only on slavery, note that the injures, and their after-effects, lasted a long time beyond that.) That these may have harmed whites in the aggregate does nothing to change that – it doesn’t make them innocent victims.

      If you are a passenger in my car, and I drive recklessly and have an accident that injures us both, my injury does not absolve me of responsibility for yours.

      Of course you can say that’s all true, but you and I, for example, didn’t create those FHA policies, so why are we accountable? Only because those past practices continue to have an effect today, and the injustice lingers.

      Is it just that the son, say of that talented individual who never got to be a scientist has poor prospects today, because his father was a poorly-paid teacher in a poorly equipped school, who could never buy a house, rather than a physics professor with the attendant privileges?

      1. That really is the argument, isn’t it…that the attenuated effects of discriminatory practices which ended 60 or 70 years ago, or slavery which ended 150 years ago, are responsible for the statistically different outcomes, and even the social pathologies, of the black community today. In a trivial and universal sense, the particulars of human history affect each of us. But in order to come to your conclusion that blacks lack responsibility and moral egency for their own lives today, you must leap over comprehensive changes that have eradicated every vestige of de jure discrimination in American law, 50 years of affirmative action, and trillions of dollars of social transfer payments, that for 70 years all these efforts were completely ineffectual. I don’t buy it.

        1. No one said blacks lack agency, only that they’ve been treated particularly unfairly. You exclude a huge middle between ‘blacks have no agency’ and ‘they are solely responsible for their place in society.’

          And if you don’t think bigotry continues to this day I would point you to any thread here that mentions the Bell Curve, or to the white resentment that’s redolent in this thread.

          Blacks have a responsibility and America has a responsibility. Both.

          If you want to wipe out the burdens of history, what you need is effort, not time.

          1. A lot of folks reason that blacks lack moral agency for current actions and lack an adequate power and ability to overcome present day destructive behaviors due to prior mistreatment. In fact I would contend that that is clearly the argument made by those that raise the history of, say, deed restrictions in Levitttown in the 1950’s when the issue of, say, 74% out-of-wedlock births among blacks today is pointed out. The question is whether those prior injustices have receded in history and been ameliorated by social actions in the interim, or whether those prior injustices still govern black lives, to the extent that it is a sine qua non that we need further amelioration on steroids.

            1. Wealth is transfered generationally. You can argue that effect is somewhat smoothed out since 1860, but certainly not 1950. Absent black fathers is in the mix as well, but don’t pretend it got there on it’s own. Nor that it somehow overwhelms a national history of redlining.

              Maybe we could address part of the issue about black fathers be reforming the criminal justice system

              There is no question we haven’t ameliorated very much by social actions in the interim. You continue to posit time and not effort is what we need.

            2. More false choices and excluded middles.

              1. (That was @sl, not sarcastro.
                Nested threading never stops sucking.)

        2. I don’t claim Blacks lack agency or responsibility for their own lives. Are you of the “They’re shiftless and lazy” school?

          I think Blacks start life heavily handicapped. If I have $100 and you have $10, and we both invest wisely and make 10% at the end of the year I’ve made $10 to your $1.

          And if I am given better investment opportunities than you I might make $10.10 to your $.75. In other words the starting point matters.

    4. “Virulent racists and anti-racist activists would seem to have little in common, but in fact they tend to agree on one mistaken premise: Race relations are a zero-sum game.”

      Not just that, though. They’re also both in agreement on a very key point that unites them: That individuals can properly be treated as instances of their race/group, rather than as individuals. Color tells you what you need to know.

      Just as the “virulent racist” will decide that the individual details of somebody’s life are irrelevant, so will the “anti-” racist declare you a victim or a victimizer based on innate characteristics, not personal history.

      The truth is, they’re both racists.

    5. More money chasing the same amount of goods leads to inflation.

  13. I can’t imagine anyone other than “various right-wing populist media personalities” actually thinking that this story has legs. This is just not a story that anybody else is going to care about, so chortle all you like.

    And while I’m far from sold on the idea of reparations, at least be honest about the argument in favor of it. The argument isn’t that people should be punished for the sins of their ancestors, or that every white person is culpable, or even that every black person is a descendant of slaves. No one is claiming any of those things.

    Rather, the argument for reparations is that because of not just slavery, but also the hundred years that followed of Jim Crow, excluding blacks from much of the economy, systemic racism, redlining, banks refusing to give loans to blacks trying to start businesses, and so on, that blacks as a group were prevented from advancing economic advancement and are entitled to group compensation. Since they were discriminated against as a group, they are entitled to restitution as a group. You can’t have it both ways, where during Jim Crow individual blacks are treated as part of a race, but now that Jim Crow is over we ignore that history. American racists treated them as a group, so when it comes time to make restitution they’re still part of that group.

    Now, disagree with that argument all you like — I’m far from sold on it myself — but at least be honest that that is the argument, and respond to it fairly if you’re going to respond.

    1. she never suffered from systematic racism, but DID benefit from slavery. But for slavery money, her father wouldn’t have been able to come to the US as a student.

      1. Why would the child of a slaveowner who raped a slave have slavery money?

        1. David, this is Dr. Ed you’re talking to.

        2. No but his non-slave daughter would…

          1. Because…?

    2. Krychek, the argument for reparations is as you stated. But the argument for white people whose ancestors did not participate in slavery et al. is that all white people have benefited from Jim Crow, discrimination etc. There may be other good reasons to pay for reparations out of general tax revenue, let’s say, but my position is that from an economic point of view, while blacks were victimized by Jim Crow and so forth, it harmed whites too economically for the reasons stated in the post. So, again, this doesn’t go to the argument that reparations should be paid somehow, but it does go to the argument that since all whites are richer b/c of discrimination against blacks, whites are morally bound to pay blacks. The argument in the post I linked is that in fact, whites are also on average poorer because of that discrimination. (None of which, of course, has anything specifically to do with Harris).

      1. And then how much in tribute have we already provided since LBJ?

        1. Tribute? God you’re a garbage person.

      2. David, and that’s why I’m not completely on board with reparations. There are too many variables and moving parts. I think the cold, hard reality, though, is that individuals often benefit by being part of a group, and often suffer by being part of a group, and that’s just the way life is. I, personally, had nothing to do with me being born in the US rather than in Darfur, and I sure have reaped great benefits as a result. On the other hand, without getting into personal detail, a relative of mine did some very bad things for which his children and grandchildren are still suffering. So, life ain’t fair.

        And there is no such thing as a solution that will be fair to every individual. Doing nothing at all means that those who are suffering the residual effects of stuff that happened in the past will continue to suffer. Doing anything at all means that at least some people who have no connection to those prior bad acts will suffer. This is a situation in which there is no good solution, so the question is what’s the least bad solution. If I knew the answer to that I’d be rich.

        I had not heard that whites are, on average, also poorer because of racism. Assuming that to be true, I’m not sure it’s relevant. Suppose I toss a Molotov cocktail through my neighbor’s window, but I’m clumsy and spill some gas on myself, causing me to be badly burned. That I suffered from my own bad behavior doesn’t mean I might not be obligated to also compensate my neighbor for what I did to him. If you’re going to do bad stuff, you assume the risk for the consequences.

        1. But that’s assigning collective guilt to “white people.” The argument, or at least the better version of the argument, is not that all white people are wrongdoers, but that all white people have benefited from the action of wrongdoers–even if that person’s family were abolitionists and then civil rights activists for generations. My argument is that of course blacks were the primary victims of Jim Crow et al, but, understanding that these things are not zero-sum, whites are also worse off because blacks were made worse off; better off relatively, sure, but worse off absolutely.

          1. Not incidentally, it will also be much easier to create a broad coalition against racism if people correctly believe that it’s in everyone’s interest to do so than if they cling to zero-sum myths.

          2. White people have benefited from from the actions of wrongdoers that other white people did nothing to suppress. The Klan and Jim Crow would have been out of business in no time if other white Southerners had refused to tolerate it. It’s probably not that much different conceptually from Germans who looked the other way — while benefiting economically from — the terrible things that the Nazis did to the Jews. Most Germans were not Nazis, but the Nazis stayed in power because the non-Nazi Germans didn’t do anything to stop them.

            At some point, silence is complicity. Granted, on the moral awfulness scale, merely being silent isn’t as bad as actively burning crosses on people’s lawns. But it sure ain’t laudable either.

      3. since all whites are richer b/c of discrimination against blacks, whites are morally bound to pay blacks. The argument in the post I linked is that in fact, whites are also on average poorer because of that discrimination.

        But David, if that’s true, whites did it to themselves.

        Besides, there’s a simple logical flaw here. It’s not necessarily true, even by your reasoning, that whites are worse off because they discriminated. What’s true is that society, whites and Blacks combined, are worse off. But if whites took a disproportionate share of the wealth then they might be better off because of the discrimination than they would be otherwise. If I have $80, and you have $20, and I arrange, at a cost of $5, to steal $10 from you, we are, in the aggregate, worse off by $5, but I’m better off than if I hadn’t stolen from you.

        Is that unrealistic? Blacks hold about 4% of the wealth in the country, while making up over 13% of the population. Whites hold 85% of the wealth. I think that refers to non-Hispanic whites, as there is a separate category for Hispanics, so that’s 63.4% of the population. Seems like those proportions would be different without historical discrimination.

        1. Another point worth considering, David, is this.

          You talk about wealth being created by gains from trade. True enough. But, as Becker, I think, points out, when the majority refuses to trade with the minority, that is more costly to the minority than to the majority, because its opportunities for trade are much more diminished.

          The white hotel owner who won’t rent to Blacks loses a lot less business than the Black hotel owner who doesn’t get any white guests. (Indeed, the white may actually have an economic incentive to discriminate, but that’s a different matter.)

        2. “But David, if that’s true, whites did it to themselves.” I reject racial reductionism of this sort. There is no such group as “whites” that could be held collectively guilty for behavior. There are always people who object to bad behavior by their governments and fellow citizens. I even read a book about Jews in Berlin who survived in hiding during WWII. Some of these Jews were known to be in hiding and where by literally dozens of people, none of who reported on them.
          But to your point, yes, overall whites were in charge, and thus if as a group whites were harmed by their own discriminatory policies, one wouldn’t sympathize with them. But that’s not really the claim. The claim is that even if you were a white immigrant from Switzerland who immigrated ten years ago to a small town in Montana with zero black population and have had no contact with black people, you are still the beneficiary of white privilege, and thus owe compensation to black people. And again, if we are talking economically, this is nonsense. In the absence of discrimination etc., society would be wealthier and the Swiss immigrant would, if anything, be better off. If we are talking about “social privilege” the fact that, say, the Swiss immigrant won’t get pulled over by the cops on a pretext, but a black visitor might, doesn’t actually make the Swiss immigrant any wealthier, and in fact he’s not getting a privilege, he’s just being treated like he should be. The black person is being unfairly treated, but the Swiss guy isn’t gaining from that. Which again, is not to say that there aren’t other arguments for reparations, and for taking them out of general tax revenue. My argument is that you can’t say that, on average, white people are wealthier because black people are poorer due to racism. The opposite is true, white people would be wealthier if black people were also wealthier, though on relative basis, the gap would close. So the major benefit whites, on average, have gotten from racism is not economic gains, but the psychic gain of feeling superior.

          1. you can’t say that, on average, white people are wealthier because black people are poorer due to racism. The opposite is true, white people would be wealthier if black people were also wealthier,

            And, as I pointed out, you can’t say white people would be wealthier if Black people were wealthier, at least not in today’s context, where Black poverty is a consequence of generations of severe discrimination.

            Look at this way. Without that history society would be wealthier than it is. But that doesn’t mean every subset of society would be. It’s entirely possible, as a matter of logic, that the wealth lost by Blacks exceeds the total loss to society.

            If I steal your wallet, take the money, and throw the wallet away, society is worse off by the value of the wallet, but your loss is a lot greater than that.

          2. If we are talking about “social privilege” the fact that, say, the Swiss immigrant won’t get pulled over by the cops on a pretext, but a black visitor might, doesn’t actually make the Swiss immigrant any wealthier, and in fact he’s not getting a privilege, he’s just being treated like he should be. The black person is being unfairly treated, but the Swiss guy isn’t gaining from that.

            Well, defining “privilege” requires a baseline of how people “should be” treated. Suppose the speed limit is 65 and I’m going 75 without being stopped while a Black driver going 75 is stopped. Looks like a privilege to me. Should all speeders be stopped? No, if only because it’s impossible.

            Does that make me wealthier? Well, yes, actually. It makes my life easier, for one thing, which is one important benefit of having wealth. It means I don’t have to pay a speeding ticket, or have my insurance rates go up, which affects my pocketbook directly. If I’m driving as part of my job I get more work done, because I don’t spend time interacting with the trooper.

    3. Rather, the argument for reparations is that because of not just slavery, but also the hundred years that followed of Jim Crow, excluding blacks from much of the economy, systemic racism, redlining, banks refusing to give loans to blacks trying to start businesses, and so on, that blacks as a group were prevented from advancing economic advancement and are entitled to group compensation.

      That’s one argument, but it’s not mine. (It comes closer to my argument for affirmative action, and even there I lean more toward remediating economic deprivation irrespective of race.)

      My argument for reparations is that chattel slavery stole life, liberty and labor from generations of African-Americans (I say “generations” rather than “centuries” because I start this clock with the birth of the USA). That theft imposed a moral debt on the nation that sanctioned and enforced it through a series of laws and institutions up to and included the Constitution. The debt survives and accrues interest until paid for as long the nation that incurred it exists.

      And it has nothing to do with the purported guilt of any living individuals. If national obligations expired with the generations that incurred them, the generation of Americans born today would have no duty to service or redeem the $30 trillion borrowed by its ancestors. Proof of this collective duty is that the same person may be both obligor (as taxpaying American) and obligee (as descendant of slaves).

      1. (Ugh that’s hard to read. I’ll see if I can find the open tag and try again.)

        1. The software won’t let me. Says I’m posting a duplicate comment. Oh well, chances are nobody was going to read it anyway.

          tl;dr: Trump is awesome, Biden will replace cops with antifa. Really, that’s what it says. Read it if you don’t believe me.

          Also, this platform sucks eggs. Is a preview function really too much to ask?

          1. Everything I just said stands, but I re-posted the comment at the end of the thread anyway.

  14. Why do you conflate “racist” with “white nationalist?” It would appear that you think the two terms are synonymous.

    1. I don’t think the two terms are synonymous. “White nationalist” is to “racist” as “golden retriever” is to “dog”. In other words, all white nationalists are racists but not all racists are white nationalists.

  15. I’m not at all sure that the “one drop” rule “ generally prevailed historically”. If the OP is asserting that the one drop rule was a written legal principle under federal law and most if not all state laws, from the formation of the Union, or even post Civil War, until ???, that’s clearly false.

    1. Massachusetts had Black voters in the vote to ratify the Constitution. Remember that it was Wilson who segregated the Federal workforce — it hadn’t been before then. And WEB DuBois graduated from Harvard (and could have had a Masters had he not decided to study in Germany instead).

      Racism in the North really wasn’t what some would profit from having us believe it was.

      And lots of people lied — in my living memory, I knew people whom I knew were partially Black but officially not.

    2. Under current federal law, anyone with “origins in the black races of Africa” is defined as black/African American. So we still have the one-drop rule.

      1. LOL. that’s an OMB reg guideline for the census bureau. From 1997, which is sort of historical I suppose. To better deliver on affirmative action, not to invidiously discriminate. Still, it does say “in whole or in part” which taken literally can mean one drop or one gene or even one molecule. Rachel Doleantz can finally be vindicated. And every kid applying to Harvard has a preference, if he has any sense. And we thought the 1/1024 claim was risible.

        1. No, that’s the OMB definition that, despite dating from 1997 (and originally from 1997), is still valid throughout the federal government.

  16. Kamala Harris May be Descended from a Slaveowner. So What?

    1: Stolen Valor. So what if someone with a DD falsely claims to have earned the Medal of Honor? So what if he makes a fake one and wears it — it’s only a piece of metal with some fabric on it.

    SHE WAS NEVER HARMED BY DE JURE RACISM. Not personally as she was born in 1964, and not by ancestry because they weren’t here. She was a child of privilege in Palo Alto, unlike Condi Rice who was born a decade earlier and grew up in Birmingham (“Bombingham”) Alabama.

    That’s stolen valor. At the age of 21, John R. Lewis was one of the original Freedom Riders. Kamela Harris wasn’t. Nor did she have her head smashed open on the Edmund Pettis bridge nor anything else.

    2: The racial data on Affirmative RETRIBUTION is infuriating — the data presented shows just how capacious and arbitrary this all is. And that’s the sort of thing that creates racism.

    3: She’s supposed to be morally superior to me because of slavery. Except that my folks never owned slaves AND HERS DID. And then we take it one step further, my folks fought & died to end slavery WHILE HERS WERE OWNING SLAVES.

    4: Michelle Obama’s speech essentially was a threat of violence should these schmucks not be elected — and we are supposed to tolerate the riots and looting and such.

    5: GRRRRRRRR…………

    1. She’s supposed to be morally superior to me because of slavery.

      I mean this whole post is an impressive safari of racial resentment, but this is a telling view of race relations.

      1. Equal to me would be perfectly fine, and I’d agree.

        It’s the morally superior status that I resent, and I resent it because I am supposed to personally bear the guilt of slavery and she not — when she WAS responsible for it and I am not.

        1. Where are you getting the idea that blacks are morally superior to whites?

          I’ve never gotten the feeling anyone blames me for slavery, and I’m quite white.
          What am I missing that you’re picking up?

          [Also trying to understand the idea that if you haven’t lived through Jim Crow you’re stealing valor by…being black?]

      2. I’ve been noticing that people have been attributing to Harris all sorts of things she’s never said, i.e., some leftists (black or white) believe X about race, or X about white people, or X about black people, so Harris believes X, even if she never said anything remotely along those lines. For obvious reasons, that’s not proper logic.

  17. Another amazingly tone-deaf post that shows that the Conspirators badly need a black voice. Or at least need to hang out around black people, descendants of slaves and the slaveowners who raped them.

    1. See above, you moron.

    2. Kamala is apparently one of the descendants of the rapist slaveowners. They should drop her a line and see if she wants to hang out.

      1. Did you even read the title of the post? “Kamala Harris May be Descended from a Slaveowner. So What?”

        Is anyone on the left arguing that descendants of slaveowners must have the sins visited upon them?
        Slavery is a stain upon our country, not upon any individual alive today.

        1. Is anyone on the left arguing that descendants of slaveowners must have the sins visited upon them?
          Slavery is a stain upon our country, not upon any individual alive today”

          No, its a stain on those who benefited from it (and still do) and NOT those who fought and died to end it.

          1. Is Washington not the Founding Father of America? Then slavery is part of America.

            Besides, history and morality don’t work like that. Our history is our history, and the Civil War is not some transaction wherein we paid this many lives to come out the other side morally clean.

            1. I love the folks who flip between the “I don’t own slaves, why do I have to keep hearing about slavery” whinge, and boasting about their confederate creds and “preserving heritage.”

        2. Is anyone on the left arguing that descendants of slaveowners must have the sins visited upon them?

          Of course they are, silly rabbit. That’s an unavoidable consequence of “reparations” — taking something from me that I had no hand in taking from you.

          1. Reparations are not punishment. I don’t agree with them, but at least I understand what they’re asking for and why.

            1. Reparations are not punishment.

              I suppose you could tell the people whose assets are being seized for redistribution that they’re not being “punished” — maybe “chosen for service” or something more Orwellian like that — but that seems like fairly cold comfort.

              1. So you consider Social Security and Medicare to be punishment? What about no taxes on Indian Casinos?

                1. “Reparations”, specifically, are, if not punishment, at least an assertion/admission of guilt. “the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.”

                  That the one paying is responsible for the harm is built right into the meaning of the word. “Reparations” are something you owe someone on account of YOUR having harmed them.

                  If you’re just helping them out without any implication of guilt, the word wouldn’t apply. You’d call it “charity”.

                  That’s why the demand instantly raises opposition. It’s an accusation and a demand for a confession of guilt.

                  1. That’s asked and answered above – the YOU is America, not some you in particular as a white guy.

                    I don’t think it’s good policy, but do not pretend it is some sins of the father nonsense.

                    1. If it’s not a sins of the father thing, why the racial aspect?

                    2. Because America the country did some horrid stuff to them, and continues to dabble in racial bigotry and white resentment. This is a way of making them whole.

                      That is quite different from descendants of slaveowners being punished.

                    3. the YOU is America

                      No, it’s a specific group of people in America giving (willingly or otherwise) to a different specific group of people in America. For once, this particular situation really is a zero-sum game.

                2. So you consider Social Security and Medicare to be punishment? What about no taxes on Indian Casinos?

                  Ah, here come the handfuls of confetti. I’m quite comfortable you don’t actually think a single one of those is analogous.

                  1. Your 2:44 pm logic would seem to include such programs as well.

                    But I see you don’t actually know what proponents of reparations call for, so you’ve made up some requirements to rail at. Well, enjoy.

            2. Reparations bred Hitler & WWII

              1. We’d better reform our criminal system then, because reparations are breading a whole buncha Hitlers out there as we speak!

    3. If I’m being criticized by you and also by commentators who think Harris’ black identity is a good excuse to let out all their resentments against anyone whose ever said anything they don’t like about race, regardless of whether Harris has ever expressed such a view, I expect the tone is about right.

      1. My point is, I don’t think you’re aware that you’re explaining the obvious. The Africans who were shipped here 300 years ago were as black as midnight. All African-Americans know that they have some white blood in them, from some point. You’re treating this as breaking news.

        1. Apparently, it’s breaking news to some people, for whom the revelation that Harris has white ancestry is apparently salient, or at least the people talking about it think it is.

          1. And ps, fwiw, it’s not *all* black people in the U.S, but a large majority of them, according to genetic studies. A smaller percentage have Native American ancestry. Some have both.

    4. ” Another amazingly tone-deaf post that shows that the Conspirators badly need a black voice. ”

      The Volokh Conspiracy does not need a black voice. Or a female voice. Its strikingly white, remarkably male composition is essential to its nature (a partisan, polemical, movement conservative blog with an increasingly thin academic veneer).

      1. Strikingly Jewish, but we do let Gentiles participate in the comments.

        1. Ah, I think you may have put your finger on the real problem here. Perhaps instead of clicking that one is not a robot, it should be required to recite the mourner’s kaddish.

    5. How would the descendant, over a hundred years removed, from the victim of a crime have any voice worth considering about said crime?

      If my great-great-great-great grandfather robbed a bank, what input would I have to provide in regards to bank security?

  18. If I’m being criticized by you and also by commentators who think Harris’ black identity is a good excuse to let out all their resentments against anyone whose ever said anything they don’t like about race, regardless of whether Harris has ever expressed such a view, I expect the tone is about right.

    1. No, I think she is a phony.

      She is a child of immigrants, nothing more and nothing less.

  19. Did her slave owner ancestor rape another ancestor or was it a later voluntary encounter between a free white and a free black?

    1. JFC, Bob, if you need a link to a free porn site, google it or ask.

    2. Having better people wipe their shoes on your bigoted, backward, right-wing tongue (“stepping stone of progress”) for a half-century or so has made you cranky, Bob from Ohio.

  20. Look, this is all the same play the FOX and the GOP tried in the early goings of Obama’s first campaign. The idea behind it is to depress enthusiasm in the candidate based in the mistaken belief that race is the only reason Obama and Harris are candidates. Back then, FOX dropped it after a couple weeks. It won’t work any better now.

    1. To be clear, “this is all” means “questions about Harris’s race.”

  21. Where are these supposed right wingers who care about racial purity for Harris? Joe Biden is the one who did unprompted gatekeeping for blacks, not Trump.

    I don’t know what to call it, but this is one of those tactics where Group B claims Group A has taken position A, but people in Group A can only find news articles restating these claims by Group B and nobody from Group A actually making the claims. I did some Googlefu and we have Don Lemon and April Ryan debating Harris’s blackness recently…are they right wing now? WaPo published an article by Vanessa Williams (a black woman) claiming Harris makes us look beyond black and white. Is she right wing now too?

    I’m just not seeing it. I’m open to evidence as always, but you don’t think Google of all places would be shitting itself in broad daylight and shouting from the treetops if anyone remotely right wing said something about Harris being black or not?

  22. I do not get the outrage. Part and parcel of “identity politics” is claiming as many victims statuses as possible. Being “black” makes ones opinions and social position supposedly more advantageous in the system of identity politics. So naturally within that paradigm of course one who is trying to make the case that she does not have legitimacy within that system would say she is “less black” because she does not have a claim on that victim status since she is only ancestrally half black and also her family owned slaves (another ding.)

    You might not agree with this value system, but if you are looking at the internal workings of it then it is natural to point out that someone is not all “black.”

  23. And of course the slavery argument only seems to blame white people completely ignoring that Africans were the ones largely kidnapping and exploiting enemy tribes and Muslims who ran the West African slave markets. But, hey, who needs reality….

  24. “I want to be judged, not on the color of my skin, but on the content of my character and the merits of the policies I support…on second thought, why not just judge me on the color of my skin?”

    1. Rarely quoted MLK later in life on that speech “I lied.”

        1. Is that video of the Portland rioters?

  25. Awesome Black Politician — and she’s a Republican.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoEuCOfjTYQ

  26. … Why do Volokh contributors continue to act as though these attacks on Harris are made in good faith?

  27. “Having white ancestry, slaveowner or not, does not make someone less “black” if they so identify.”

    I identify as Black now, so I’m going to go loot some Ronald McDonald houses for my reparations and murder some white truck drivers for peace.

  28. hey, I just realized. Doesn’t this mean she’s a racist and should be canceled?

  29. Racism and ethnic hatred will be over when the government stops asking it as a question on all official forms. Just check boxes for “American Citizen” or “Not an American Citizen”.
    As long as the government asks the question, the government is sanctioning racism.

    1. I just realized “sanctioning” is one of those words that has two definitions, which are the opposite of each other.

    2. The problem with the civil justice system is calling some people “tortfeasors” and others “victims.” Why can’t we all just be litigants?

  30. Am I not correct in saying that Barack Obama is exactly half white and half black? He could claim to be either, but chooses ‘black’. Would everyone here be comfortable if he had always proclaimed himself white?

  31. [Sorry for re-posing this, but my html typo made the first iteration unreadable. So as long as I went to the trouble of typing it….]

    Rather, the argument for reparations is that because of not just slavery, but also the hundred years that followed of Jim Crow, excluding blacks from much of the economy, systemic racism, redlining, banks refusing to give loans to blacks trying to start businesses, and so on, that blacks as a group were prevented from advancing economic advancement and are entitled to group compensation.

    That’s one argument, but it’s not mine. (It comes closer to my argument for affirmative action, and even there I lean more toward remediating economic deprivation irrespective of race.)

    My argument for reparations is that chattel slavery stole life, liberty and labor from generations of African-Americans (I say “generations” rather than “centuries” because I start this clock with the birth of the USA). That theft imposed a moral debt on the nation that sanctioned and enforced it through a series of laws and institutions up to and included the Constitution. The debt survives and accrues interest until paid for as long the nation that incurred it exists.

    And it has nothing to do with the purported guilt of any living individuals. If national obligations expired with the generations that incurred them, the generation of Americans born today would have no duty to service or redeem the $30 trillion borrowed by its ancestors. Proof of this collective duty is that the same person may be both obligor (as taxpaying American) and obligee (as descendant of slaves).

  32. What I have noted is that conservative/Republicans are throwing everything they can at Senator Harris trying to find something to stick. They are doing the same with Joe Biden and again with little success. This election will be a referendum on President Trump. He should focus on selling what he has done (very little) and give up trying to bring Biden/Harris down. Trump can not make Biden/Harris look bad enough to make people over look his own failures.