In American Poison, Eduardo Porter argues that the racial animus that has persisted across American history has stunted the development of nearly every institution crucial for a healthy society, including organized labor, public education, and the social safety net. The consequences are profound. Racial hostility largely explains the United States' weak social cohesion, as well as the dismal health and lagging wellbeing of its citizens, compared to those of other wealthy nations. It has shaped a nation that fails not only its minority citizens but white Americans as well. The United States urgently needs a more inclusive understanding of what it means to be an American. But the jury is still out on whether Americans might overcome the ethnic walls that divide them. Trends such as declining residential segregation and increasing intermarriage offer some reasons for hope. But Donald Trump's rise to the presidency, largely powered by white voters's fear of ethnic change, suggests racial harmony is not around the corner.
Eduardo Porter is an economics reporter for the business section of The New York Times, where he was the Economic Scene columnist from 2012 to 2018. Mr. Porter began his career in journalism over two decades ago as a financial reporter for Notimex, a Mexican news agency, in Mexico City. He was deployed as a correspondent to Tokyo and London, and in 1996 he moved to São Paulo, Brazil, as editor of América Economía, a business magazine.
In 2000, Mr. Porter went to work at The Wall Street Journal in Los Angeles to cover the growing Hispanic population. He joined The New York Times in 2004 to cover economics. From 2007 to 2012 he was a member of The Times’s editorial board, where he wrote about business, economics, and a mix of other matters.