The term “economic anxiety” is one we’ve heard a lot since Donald Trump won the 2016 election. The theory is that Trump stoked Americans anger at rising economic inequality and rode that populist anger to the presidency. But what does that term “economic anxiety” really mean? On this episode, I talk to William Darity – a Duke University scholar who says it may be a euphemism for more insidious racial anxieties from white Americans who fear that people of color are gaining too much ground. Darity says the whole story of Trump as a great economic populist papers over how race and bigotry play into economic anxiety. He argues that Donald Trump did not just tap into general economic anxiety, but also white Americans’ more specific fear that they are losing their economic advantage over people of color. He also says that fear isn’t actually true — in a recent Atlantic magazine article entitled “How Barack Obama Failed Black America,” he recounted how African Americans have not gained much economic ground over the last decade.

 

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