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January 08, 2009


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Bill Harshaw

The NYTimes this morning notes that the leaders of the lower and upper houses of the Colorado legislature are both black. I'm old enough to remember "ethnic politics"--where there'd be a Polish seat (Rostenkowski and Blagojevich) and an Italian seat and a Puerto Rican seat. But that's fading, after all Rahm Emanuel succeeded Blago...

As my poli sci professor back in the 1950's said: there's the melting pot and the tossed salad. Maybe we have political patterns for each.

jelani c.

Yes, there are a number of influential blacks in state houses but they're elected from districts that are more than likely heavily or at least disproportionately black.

The old ethnic blocs in politics have been fading since the 1960s at least. But black ethnicity is different in both degree and kind. We should keep in mind that many black people didn't even enter the political system until the voting rights act of 1965.

On some level what we see with black politics may be a time-delayed version of ethnic politics but whatever it is it remains a viable and focal point for the foreseeable future.

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