September 20, 2016Things are better than ever. When President Obama talks to young people, that’s the message he uses to gird them against cynicism. "If you had to choose a moment in human history to live — even if you didn’t know what gender or race, what nationality or sexual orientation you’d be — you’d choose now," he tells interns. The world is "wealthier, healthier, better educated, less violent, more tolerant, more socially conscious and more attentive to the vulnerable than it has ever been."
If those same young people study contemporary social science, they’re likely to hear a much different story, at least on the subject of race. They might read about psychological research that shows how hard it is for people to spot and overcome their own biases. They might hear how white supremacy has changed form rather than disappeared. They might encounter scholarship describing how conditions arguably got worse for black people under the administration of our first black president.