Chris Hayes: A Colony in a Nation

Mar 19, 2017

Chris Hayes; photo by Virginia Sherwood/MSNBC

Let us build bridges, my friends, build bridges to human dignity across that gulf that separates black America from white America. Black Americans, no more than white Americans, they do not want more government programs which perpetuate dependency. They don’t want to be a colony in a nation.
—President Richard Nixon

This is an excerpt from A Colony in a Nation by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.

Hayes will be discussing and signing his book at Scripps College on March 25.

Below is part of an excerpt from “How America Became a Colonial Leader in Its Own Cities” by Chris Hayes, Vanity Fair, March 6, 2017:

A colony in a nation. Nixon meant to conjure an image of a people reduced to mere recipients of state handouts rather than active citizens shaping their own lives. And in using the image of a colony to make his point, he was, in his odd way, channeling the spirit of the time.

This… the era of Black Lives Matter and the First Black President. Black political power has never been more fully realized, but blackness feels for so many black people just as dangerous as ever. Black people can live and even prosper in the Nation, but they can never be truly citizens. The threat of the nightstick always lingers, even for, say, a famous and distinguished Harvard professor of African and African-American studies who suddenly found himself in handcuffs on his own stately porch in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just because someone thought he was a burglar.

Race defines the boundaries of the Colony and the Nation, but race itself is a porous and shifting concept. Whiteness both is nonexistent and confers enormous benefits. Blackness is both a conjured fiction and so real it can kill.
——A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes (W. W. Norton and Company, 2017)



In the Nation, we venerate the law. In the Colony, we obsess over order; fear trumps civil rights; and aggressive policing resembles occupation. How and why did Americans build a system where conditions in Ferguson and West Baltimore mirror those that sparked the American Revolution?

In 2012, Chris Hayes published Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, a prescient analysis of how Americans’ loss of trust in public institutions might lead to a political crisis. That same political and historical acumen informs Hayes’s latest book, A Colony in a Nation, which reveals that by every empirical measure—wealth, unemployment, incarceration, and school segregation—racial inequality hasn’t improved since 1968. Bringing his signature analysis to this essential issue, Hayes will be joined in conversation by Scripps politics faculty professor Vanessa Tyson.


Chris Hayes Discusses & Signs A Colony in a Nation
Saturday, March 26 at 3 p.m.
Scripps College
Free event
For more info, visit


Other Chris Hayes events in L. A. County:
Sunday, March 26 at 3 p.m.; Writers Block @ Writers Guild Theater (Sold Out)
Monday, March 27 at 7:30 p.m.; Barnes & Noble at the Grove







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