The New York Times is embracing an increasingly diverse group of columnists and opinion makers. A rising star is Jane Coaston, the new host of the paper’s podcast called “The Argument.” She’s biracial and also identifies as a proud libertarian, saying her views have a great deal to do with her concerns about state power and the criminal justice system.
When it comes to politics, she says, “You're actually more libertarian than you think you are.” That’s especially if you are concerned with the “state having a lot of power over your life.”
Coaston grew up in a liberal household in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her father, an African American, is a retired research and film librarian. Her mother is white and a court-appointed special advocate for neglected and abused children.
She says her role model is her late grandmother — one of the first Black people to work in the Pentagon, who grew up in rural Georgia and experienced her house being burned down by the Ku Klux Klan. In the 1930s, her grandmother told her mother, “Don't let this [the KKK burning down the house] cause you to start hating white people. … It will grow in you like a tree, and it will take root, and you will never get it out.”
When it comes to diversity, Coaston says it’s odd that we expect “a level of intellectual and cultural diversity among white Americans, but are shocked when it comes to any other community.” She dislikes the term “Black community” and says that stereotyping communities “implies a level of sameness.” She does admit to joking about one thing: “There should just be a Black community zoom call.”
Caston also says the legacy of slavery, which meant shared trauma of prejudice, should not “dilute” the differences of experiences for millions of African Americans in the 20th century.