Increasingly, poverty has become a death sentence for poor whites as well. In recent years the death rates of poorer, less educated, middle-aged whites has skyrocketed. The causes include substance abuse and suicide. But something else has begun to change.
The role of class in our criminal justice system has finally begun to get the attention it deserves. The outrage directed at the ridiculous slap on the wrists given to “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, and Stanford rapist Brock Turner, has triggered a long overdue conversation among Americans of all races about our country’s two-tiered justice system – one for the privileged and one for the rest of us — that racial minorities have long known exists.
And more prominent white Americans have begun to join calls for criminal justice reform. So if black Americans and poor white Americans are increasingly finding themselves in the same boat, then what explains the Trump divide?
Well in the same way that there were Southerners who didn’t realize that freedom-seeking slaves weren’t to blame for the war, there are still working-class whites today who don’t realize that racial minorities are not to blame for their woes.