Exactly one hundred and fifty years ago, South Carolina was on the verge of seceding from the Union over the issue of slavery.

At the same time, New Yorkers were preparing to make a dramatic statement in support of the southern cause and in favor of southern slavery, which had long been the backbone of the northern economy and society. At a meeting held near Wall Street on December 15, 1860, a crowd of more than 2,000, including many of the city’s most prominent citizens, would gather to voice their opposition to both civil war and abolition.

Why does the response of so many in New York, and throughout the North, to the threat of secession surprise many Americans today?

All these years later, on the eve of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, northerners are generally portrayed as anti-slavery and eager for abolition—or else as basically opposed to slavery, but grudgingly willing to compromise in order to preserve the Union. In fact, however, the North was largely not abolitionist, and most northerners still depended on southern slavery for their livelihoods. The Civil War broke out as a result of southern fears about northern interference in the institution of slavery, and northern insistence on keeping the Union intact. It was not even remotely the moral crusade to end slavery that is often hinted at today.

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“Quick Takes” offers a mix of news, opinion, and research related to race, privilege, and inequality.

Today’s “Quick Takes” includes the origins of “Kumbaya,” the politics of black hairstyles, the debate over the problem of race in our society, and one of the largest civil rights settlements in U.S. history.

Readers are encouraged to share these stories and to offer their thoughts at the end of the post.

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“Quick Takes” offers a mix of news, opinion, and research related to race, privilege, and inequality.

Today’s “Quick Takes” includes the costs of immigration measures, the evolving nature of marriage, black farmers poised to receive long-overdue justice, and Sarah Palin on racism and racial justice.

Readers are encouraged to share these stories and to offer their thoughts at the end of the post.

Sarah Palin on racism and President Obama. In her new book, America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin comes out strongly against charges that the Tea Party movement and other conservative groups are racist. She argues that the Tea Party only appears racist to those who mistakenly believe that the United States is still “a fundamentally unjust and unequal country.” As holders of this view, she singles out President Obama, Michelle Obama, and Attorney General Eric Holder (because he called us “a nation of cowards” for failing to discuss race honestly). Palin does not acknowledge the fact that the U.S. does remain in some ways “unjust and unequal” in terms of race, if arguably not “fundamentally” so, or explain what that fact says about how to evaluate the attitudes of the Tea Party and the First Family.

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“Quick Takes” offers a mix of news, opinion, and research related to race, privilege, and inequality.

Today’s “Quick Takes” includes racial profiling, textbooks with offensive stereotypes, movement on the Goodwin Liu nomination, and our film being screened in the Dominican Republic.

Readers are encouraged to share these stories and to offer their thoughts at the end of the post.

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The White House announced late yesterday that President Obama has re-nominated Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Professor Liu’s nomination became controversial when it was discovered that he had addressed the subject of reparations for slavery on a panel following a special screening of our documentary, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Liu’s scholarship has also drawn considerable attention for its intellectual heft and for what conservative senators have declared to be a left-leaning philosophical approach to the law.

Professor Liu was originally nominated to the appellate judgeship in February, and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 12-7 vote. His nomination expired, however, when the Senate recessed in August without having held a full vote.

Professor Liu’s nomination, along with several others who were re-nominated yesterday, must now pass the Senate Judiciary Committee again. A committee meeting has been scheduled for Thursday at which these nominations will be discussed.

The Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum, a traveling exhibit consisting of a replica of the trucks involved in one of the most shocking cases of modern-day slavery in the U.S., is currently touring the nation.

The museum has toured Florida extensively, as well as appearing on the National Mall and at the State Department in Washington, D.C. It is now on a lightning tour of other East Coast locations: today, the museum is at City Hall in Boston; tomorrow, it will be in western Massachusetts, and by the end of the week it will be in Baltimore before ending the tour seven days from now with a stop in Charlotte, N.C.

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President Obama’s nomination of controversial law professor Goodwin Liu to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has been blocked by Senate Republicans and returned to the White House.

Professor Liu became the subject of controversy in late March, in part due to remarks he made on a panel convened to discuss our documentary, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. That evening, in response to the topic of reparations for slavery, Liu observed that any effort to compensate for our nation’s history of slavery and racial discrimination would inevitably require trade-offs which would diminish the privileges enjoyed by people who benefit from that history today.

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“Quick Takes” offers a mix of news, opinion, and research related to race, privilege, and inequality.

Today’s “Quick Takes” includes the death of Lena Horne, the blocking of a federal racial discrimination settlement, a controversy over President’s House in Philadelphia, the depiction of slavery and black citizens in elementary textbooks, and the role of privilege in college education.

Readers are encouraged to share these stories and to comment at the end of the post.

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“Quick Takes” offers a mix of news, opinion, and research related to race, privilege, and inequality.

Today’s “Quick Takes” includes discussion of the Ku Klux Klan at the University of Texas, elementary school racial politics, Holly Fulton, Lady Gaga, what it’s like to be of mixed race in the U.S., the short film “White On Infomercial,” and the impact of race on health care.

Readers are encouraged to share these stories and to comment at the end of the post.

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“Quick Takes” offers a mix of interesting news, opinion, and research related to race, privilege, and inequality.

Today’s “Quick Takes” includes discussion of Europe and reparations for slavery, Native American team mascots, the contributions of immigrants to Arizona’s economy, questions about the Tea Party and race, and the media’s negative portrayal of single black women.

Readers are encouraged to share these stories and to comment at the end of the post.

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