The New York Times

How to Talk to a Racist


NASHVILLE — There are still white Southerners who honestly believe that American culture worked better for everyone, white and black alike, under segregation. There are still white Southerners who question how bad slavery really was. When an enslaved black person’s health and strength are needed to guarantee the slaveholder’s livelihood, this argument goes, it just wouldn’t make sense to whip them or starve them or rape them or work them to the point of collapse.

Southerners aren’t alone in believing such mendacity, but the South is where slavery and segregation metastasized, so it may be more concentrated here. Wherever this insidious

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