Aug 18, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🍳 Happy Sunday! Today's Smart Brevity count: 905 words ... ~ 3 minutes.

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1 big thing ... New culture war: The meaning of white privilege

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Listening to America ... This article by Axios' Erica Pandey draws on your responses to my request for feedback on media coverage of race, and she interviewed several of you. Keep your thoughts coming: Just reply to this email, or hit me at

The term "white privilege," common in conversations about race, unsettles some white Americans who think it questions the legitimacy of their success.

  • Why it matters: It's a new weapon — and fault line — in American culture and politics.
  • And it's one of a growing list of phrases different sides view very differently. 

The big picture: The dynamic of "white privilege" was popularized by Wellesley College professor Peggy McIntosh in a 1988 paper, but interest in the term has recently exploded.

  • Google searches for white privilege have been steadily rising for a decade — and are surging now.
  • The term refers to a slew of subtle or overt advantages afforded white people: walking around a grocery store without someone assuming you're going to steal, or getting pulled over by the police without fearing for your life.

But to white Americans who have been struggling with other disadvantages, or who worked hard for the success that they've achieved, the term can sound unfair.

  • "I firmly believe that nothing was handed to me," says Joe Fitzgerald, a 72-year-old former trucker from Jacksonville, Fla. "I can see how you might see disadvantages if you’re coming from west Baltimore or the south side of Chicago or Detroit. But I gotta believe there are people in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky and west Texas who feel the same way, and they’re white."

Between the lines: There's no doubt that rural, lower-income, majority-white parts of the country are suffering — opioids, unemployment, infant mortality.

  • But millions of people of color face the same hardships as struggling white Americans — on top of a system rigged against them.
  • "There’s always a sense that blackness and brownness constitutes the bottom of the scale," says Eddie Glaude Jr., a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.

The bottom line: In a 2017 study by Pew Research Center, 46% of white people said they benefited from race — but 92% of black Americans said whites benefit.

Read Erica's full piece.

2. Youth summer unemployment hits 53-year low

What's new: "The unemployment rate for Americans between ages 16 and 24 ticked down to 9.1% in July from 9.2% a year earlier, the lowest ... since July 1966," the Wall Street Journal's Sarah Chaney writes (subscription):

  • Why it matters: "Fewer young Americans have sought summer work in recent decades, but the share of those working or seeking work [is] the highest ... in a decade."
3. Five days that defined 2020
A crush of journalists surrounds Joe Biden at the Iowa State Fair. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A cleverly clarifying way to see through the fog of the Dems' 2020 campaign ... By analyzing 5.8 million donations, the N.Y. Times isolated turning-point days when the five leaders of the money race emerged:

  • March 10: Pete Buttigieg goes "from 2020 afterthought to money star in one CNN town hall."
  • March 19: Bernie Sanders collects "about 30,000 recurring donations on the 19th of every month, starting in March."
  • April 19: Elizabeth Warren calls for impeachment hearings.
  • April 25: Joe Biden enters the race, raising $5.9 million — still his best day.
  • June 27: Kamala Harris rescues her fundraising with a star turn in the first debate: "That little girl was me."

Great graphics.

4. Summer weekend in America
Photo: Noah Berger/AP

Police deployed on the downtown waterfront in Portland, Oregon, as hundreds of Proud Boys and other right-wing demonstrators swarmed for an "End Domestic Terrorism" rally, and were confronted by anti-fascist counter-demonstrators.

  • Authorities set up concrete barriers and closed streets to try to contain the two groups, AP reported. A Starbucks café closed for the day.

"Yet the powder keg that elected leaders and law enforcement feared could engulf the city largely fizzled," per The Oregonian.

  • "After taunts and chants, the showdown devolved into a roving game of cat-and-mouse as packs of political rivals crisscrossed bridges above the Willamette River and police scrambled to keep them apart."
  • "Demonstrators dressed in black and masking their faces hurled mayonnaise and smashed windows of [a] shuttle bus carrying right-wing activists."
5. Hong Kong unrest scares business
Protesters braved torrential rain in Hong Kong's Victoria Park today. Photo: Kin Cheung/AP

The world's biggest banking centers are New York, London and Hong Kong. So with protests now in their 11th week, business is increasingly worried about the prolonged disruption and the rising threat of a violent Beijing crackdown.

  • Some clients are asking how they can "lower their footprint" in the city, per the BBC.

The latest ... In the biggest protest in weeks, hundreds of thousands marched peacefully in driving rain today. (Wall Street Journal)

P.S. 2020 Dems tell Axios that they stand with the Hong Kong protesters, but few gave plans for responding to a violent potential crackdown by China, Alayna Treene reports.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign said that as president, he'd be willing to sanction foreign officials involved in human rights abuses, including violence against demonstrators.
  • Beto O'Rourke's campaign said he would support Rep. Jim McGovern's legislation to halt the sale of munitions and police equipment to Hong Kong, and would support sanctions on those perpetrating human rights violations.
6. 1 date thing: "Dogfishing"
A dog dressed as Yoda from "Star Wars" won the cosplay costume contest (dressing up as a fictional character) at Doggy Con in Atlanta yesterday. Photo: Andrea Smith/AP

Men are borrowing dogs as bait on dating-app profiles, making it awkward fast when a match suggests a dog-walking date, the WashPost's Terry Nguyen writes:

  • "'Dogfishing' is not exactly a lie — the person did take a photo with that dog — but to some daters, it feels like a veiled form of deception."
  • A twist: Johnny Nguyen, 21 has had buddies "come over with a girl, introduce her to [his] dog and go to the park together."

➡️ "Stop borrowing dogs," Erika Ettin, an online dating coach told the Post.

  • "She advises her clients to curate profiles representative of their actual life."
Mike Allen

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