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April 25, 2012
Clarksdale, Mississippi, might seem an unlikely starting point for a meditation on twenty-first-century American inequality. After all, the music the town’s fame rests on is born of the sorrow and racial exploitations of another century. Clarksdale proudly markets itself as the home of the blues: the world’s best blues musicians still come to jam in the little Delta town where W.C. Handy once lived, where Bessie Smith died and where Robert Johnson supposedly made his infamous pact with the devil at a crossroads on the edge of town. But Clarksdale is also the site of a very different crossroads, one in many ways emblematic of what America is becoming: a place of stunning divides and dramatically disparate life expectations between rich and poor.
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