There is no history of racism in this country that chalked ‘up only to race.’ You can’t really talk about stereotypes of, say, black laziness unless you understand stereotypes of the poor stretching back to 17th century Great Britain. You can’t really talk about the Southern slave society without grappling with the relationship between the demand for arable land and the demand for labor. You can’t understand the racial pogroms at the turn of the century without understanding the increasing mobility of American women.

And this works the other way too. If you’re trying to understand the nature of American patriotism without thinking about anti-black racism, you will miss a lot. If you’re trying to understand the New Deal, without thinking about Southern segregationist senators you will miss a lot. If you’re trying to understand the very nature of American democracy itself, and not grappling with black you, you will miss almost all of it.

Instead of taking the time to read deeply and widely about policy, we watch the claptrap that the media serves and parrot it back to each other. We rarely seek to understand the opposition’s arguments. Instead, we act like simpletons, watching only the shows that we think we already agree with so that we don’t have to think too deeply. Instead of debating with civility with others about issues, we mimic the talking heads on our favorite cable talk shows by attacking the opposition’s character. We take this easy route since it is so much easier to dismiss those we disagree with by portraying them as utterly evil. Instead of demanding that mass media coverage dive deeper into public policy issues, we continue to watch the junk the media shows, providing them with high ratings and little incentive to change their ways.