The Problem With American Exceptionalism

Maya Wiley on GRITtv explains why triumphalism hurts us more than it helps.

By Kai Wright Jan 28, 2011

Earlier this week, I joined a GRITtv episode parsing the State of the Union. In a great segment after mine, Maya Wiley of the Center for Social Inclusion and economist Richard Wolfe dissected the triumphant narrative of American exceptionalism that shapes conversation on both sides of the political isle. This idea, of America as a uniquely hardworking nation with a manifest destiny of growth, is one that unifies all political ideologies. And from Michelle Bachmann to Barack Obama, we heard it loudly on Tuesday night. In the clip above, Wiley explains that we have actually long been exceptionally exclusionary and that it took hard choices to fix that–choices our triumphant narratives often stand in the way of making. Below is the whole segment, which is worth watching.

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