Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

What is the legacy of slavery in America?

Question: What is the legacy of slavery in America?

Harris-Lacewell: Yeah it’s funny.  Usually when we start thinking about what’s the . . .  You know what does it mean to think about the continuing legacy of slavery, the first thing that people wanna talk about is Black culture.  And they go, “Oh!  The problem with slavery is that it’s created these problems in the Black family.  And the Black man is emasculated.”  And I always say well no.  The real serious continuing legacy of slavery in this country is the electoral college in the U.S. Senate.  Because what the electoral college in the U.S. Senate are about is a set of compromises that were made in 1789 around slave holding states versus free states.  And it was about this question of how are we gonna be represented in the federal government.  How are we, as Americans, going to be represented.  Large states that had . . . that were slave holding states in the South clearly wanted representation in the House, and they wanted it to be based on how many people there were in each state; and they wanted to count slaves as being among those people in order to get more representation.  Small states in the North were quite anxious about this, and part of what small states like, for example, New Jersey wanted was equal representation for each state.  So what we end up with is sort of a two-sided system where we have, yes, population-based representation, but also state-based representation.  Okay.  So what does all of this end up meaning?  Well it ends up meaning that in fact our states are vastly overrepresented . . . some states are vastly overrepresented in the Senate, and some are shockingly underrepresented.  So for example California has only two senators, but so too does North Dakota have two senators, right?  This means that North Dakota is overrepresented, and California is underrepresented.  Now, the Senate maybe we wouldn’t worry so much because we have a bicameral legislature.  No big deal.  Here is the rub.  In the electoral college, because we have a winner-take-all system; and because African-Americans continue to be living in the South and in urban areas in the North, what that means is because instead of counting each individual vote throughout the country, and whoever wins a plurality of all the votes wins the presidency, instead we have an electoral college where all of those votes get filtered through the states.  This had everything to do with slavery.  This had everything to do with the anxiety of the states over representation over slavery and freedom.  It had everything to do with anxieties about as we move West, protecting the right of slaveholders to move West, and free states being worried about slavery moving into the West.  That’s what these compromises are about.  They’re about the anxiety of slavery in a country that was only tenuously held together because of the issue of slavery; so that now, if you live in a state which is considered a “safe” democratic state, or a “safe” republican state, your vote for the U.S. presidency simply does not matter.  Because once you’re in a safe state, the parties do not have to come to you and ask for your vote.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a dissenter.  So for African-Americans who are living in the U.S. South, they are captured in red states.  For Republicans who are living in democratic states, they’re captured in blue states.  They don’t have to be talked to.  Their concerns don’t have to be addressed.  And this is the legacy of slavery.

Question: Does one’s vote still matter?

Harris-Lacewell: Well certainly your vote matters at all the other levels, right?  So it matters for your Senate vote.  It matters for your congressional vote.  It matters for the dog catcher and the . . . and the school board.  All of that.  So I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t vote because your vote doesn’t matter.  What I’m suggesting is that it doesn’t matter at the presidential level.  And it’s not sort of your perception.  It’s the perception of the candidates in the parties.  I mean they simply will not come and campaign to you.  You know so does it matter to exercise the franchise?  Absolutely, because local elections and local governance is as important as national governance.  But what it does is it does, in fact, allow our presidential candidates to ignore those states which they perceive as safe states, and to invest all of those resources in states they see as swing states.  And that is deeply troubling for our capacity for representation.

"The real serious continuing legacy of slavery in this country is the electoral college in the U.S. Senate."

Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

Bubonic plague case reported in China

Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.

(Photo by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Getty Images)
Coronavirus
  • The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
  • Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
  • Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Keep reading Show less

Education vs. learning: How semantics can trigger a mind shift

The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.

Future of Learning
  • The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
  • Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
  • Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Keep reading Show less

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

Keep reading Show less

Why is everyone so selfish? Science explains

The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.

Credit: Adobe Stock, Olivier Le Moal.
Personal Growth
  • Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
  • New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
  • Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast