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Only Times Of Crisis, The Authors Say, Have Seen Progress Toward Equality

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Posted February 27, 2000
Tags Hamilton In the News
If you're white, you've heard the same from other whites at some point in your life.  But as Philip Klinkner, and Rogers Smith, professors of government at Hamilton College and Yale University respectively, make clear in the long and sorry history they recount, the problem in the United States is not a black problem, although it is a problem for blacks.

White people are the problem, and they and the government they have dominated for more than two centuries have never really faced up to that fact. 

Only extreme circumstances have pushed them to reform their ways.  And retreat from reform has always followed the decline of crisis.  Yet, as "The Unsteady March" reminds us, we still have not dealt with the white problem here in America.

Klinkner and Smith describe three periods of racial reform in U.S. history: the Revolution and its aftermath, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and World War II and the Cold War.  Each time, according to the authors, the country faced a major threat that challenged not only its political and economic integrity, but also the ideology of freedom and equality that made America different. 

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