John McWhorter

“Iconoclastic” as I am thought to be on race, I have been struck by how equally unexpected one view of mine has been considered: that much of Shakespeare’s language is impossible to comprehend meaningfully in real time, so much so that most first-time viewers of a Shakespeare play are understanding grievously less of the meaning than they are aware. Of late, I had a chance to retest my impressions, since the Royal Shakespeare Company is currently doing five Shakespearean plays in repertory in New York and I just caught their magnificent As You Like It.

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Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum may have a number of things to be embarrassed about. However, supporting an observation that there were more two-parent black families during slavery than there are today is not one of them. This observation was found in “The Marriage Vow,” a conservative pledge produced by The Family Leader, a Christian group. It was signed, notably, by Bachmann and Santorum.

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Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum may have a number of things to be embarrassed about. However, supporting an observation that there were more two-parent black families during slavery than there are today is not one of them. This observation was found in “The Marriage Vow,” a conservative pledge produced by The Family Leader, a Christian group. It was signed, notably, by Bachmann and Santorum.

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Sarah Palin’s emails are telling us something about remedial writing classes at our universities and colleges, and it’s not what you think.

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The sad thing about Tracy Morgan’s insights into homosexuality last week during a stand-up act—among which was that homosexuality is wrong because “God don’t make no mistakes”—is that they are part of a sad pattern. Wise people like to point to the racism lying always “just underneath” our thin American skins. Well, an equally wise observation is that a certain especially acrid brand of homophobia lies “just underneath” in too many of America’s black men. Too often, when things get a little ugly, or a little funny, or a little uncensored, out it comes.

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Few could disagree with the central premise of Michael Tonry’s book: the War on Drugs has failed. The price of crack cocaine has fallen steadily since

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Trump Talk

Watching Donald Trump’s interview the other week with CNN’s John King about the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, one couldn’t help but notice something novel about the way he spoke: Trump’s talk was almost pathologically first-person-focused, with his “I’m proud of myself” and “I’ve done a great job” a near constant refrain. What kind of person speaks like that?

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Watching Republicans clutching their pearls to see the rapper Common invited to the White House on a poetry night Wednesday has revealed a party whose stars are grievously out of touch with the culture they hope to lead, as well as to culture in general, apparently. It is understandable that some would imagine if the Obamas convene a poetry night, the invitees would be the likes of Billy Collins or Elizabeth Alexander, who read a poem at the President’s inauguration.

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Color Blind

“I favor integration for integration’s sake,” Bob Herbert wrote in one of his last columns for The New York Times, on what we supposedly need to make poor black students learn more in school.

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Black people have been moving. South, that is, according to a recent and widely read piece in the Times—more, according to the latest census data, than since 1910. And from this article and the census, what we see is that black people first of all are able to move: They have the means to, and if they choose to live among whites, they are encountering ever less opposition to doing so. Moreover, it would appear that typically the black people moving are content with their decision.

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