Adam Serwer

Adam Serwer is a writing fellow at The American Prospect and a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He also blogs at Jack and Jill Politics and has written for The Village Voice, The Washington Post, The Root, and the Daily News.

Recent Articles

All the President's Frenemies

Barry Blitt
This piece from our October 2011 issue won an award from the National Association of Black Journalists on June 24 for best magazine commentary/essay. It's a packed house at St. Sabina's Church on the South Side of Chicago. The pews are full, and attendees who didn't come early on this August Sunday must huddle in the back, though they don't have to strain to hear the speakers, media maven Tavis Smiley and Princeton professor Cornel West. Chicago is Barack Obama's home court, yet this is the last church meeting where you'd find the president, lest he confirm the right-wing fantasy that he's a fellow traveler of leftist radicals. Fruit of Islam bodyguards stand in their pinstriped suits looking like the Secret Service outfitted by Al Capone's tailor, fingers pressed to their white earpieces as the man they're protecting, Minister Louis Farrakhan, sits in the front row. Next to him is Father Michael Pfleger, the pastor of St. Sabina's, whose caustic remarks about Hillary Clinton prompted...

A City Divided

September 11 was good for Washington, D.C.'s economy, but the expansion has not helped many on the bottom.

You don't have to look at the buildings or the people in Washington, D.C.'s historically black Petworth neighborhood to see that things have changed. Some say you just need to look at the dogs. "It used to be nothing but pit bulls and Rottweilers around here," says a longtime resident who gives his name as Lattimore Jenkins. He sits on a blue cooler across from a new condominium building. "Now you got them little baby dogs, Jack Russells, Chihuahuas." The community has undergone other changes, of course. The tony apartments squatting over the Petworth Metro station where a vacant lot used to be. The bright red bikes, available to rent, lined up along a rack on the corner. The organic supermarket down the street from a decaying Safeway. Maybe the biggest change is that now there are almost as many types of police officers in the neighborhood as there are breeds of dog: city police, park police, transit police. When development came in, patrols shifted their twice-a-week sweeps—on...


Between individual choice and cultural destiny. Martin Luther King Jr., advice columnist . The fruits of elite immunity . Anti-immigration zealots and their faulty logic. Thank you to everyone who joined me on this blog over the past two years, and to The American Prospect for hosting it. It was my privilege to be here, at such a wonderful magazine, and I only hope that I contributed to your understanding of politics and public policy in doing so. I'll see you at Mother Jones .

MLK, Pariah

Dave Weigel makes a point no one should ever forget: Why was King so unpopular in 1966? You could read Taylor Branch or Rick Perlstein, and it is Friday, so you might have the time. The short version: In 1965 and 1966, King started working on housing in northern states, starting in Chicago. The 1966 Gallup poll here was taken around the time of the disastrous Marquette Park march, which King credited for the ugliest crowd of counter-protesters he'd ever seen. (We can read some hyperbole into that if we like.) He was starting in on his anti-war activism. He had moved on from the causes of Southern integration and voting rights to the far more volcanic issues of housing and red-lining and economic redistribution -- he became, fully, a man of the left. King's subsequent political sainthood has very little to do with his post-Nobel Prize activism. It's left for guys like Cornel West to dig that up; to everyone else, King's "dream" was some easily-appropriated stuff about color-blindness...

The Married Superhero

For some silly, masochistic reason, I've spent the last few weeks wading through the mid-1990s Spider-Man clone saga. The basic premise is that the Peter Parker we know and love as Spider-Man is not actually Spider-Man. Instead, following a fight with his clone, the real Peter Parker walked away believing he was the clone, while the clone went on to continue his career as Spider-Man. The clone, now known as Ben Reilly (an amalgam of Peter's slain Uncle Ben and his Aunt May's maiden name) returns and the truth is discovered. Peter then goes off to Portland to live happily ever after with wife Mary Jane and raise a family, while Reilly reclaims his role as Spider-Man. The whole thing took two years, and when it was over Marvel just said psych and undid the whole thing. Peter returns as Spider-Man. So it was pretty lame. In fact, it was the reason I stopped reading Marvel for many years. And it doesn't hold up particularly well over time either. But it's interesting that Marvel never...