Good Math, Bad Math

I am a racist

(Unfortunately, this post has been linked to by a white supremacist site. Instead of providing a forum for their foulness, I’m shutting down comments on this post.)

Unfortunately, I lost the link that inspired this. But I recently saw a post by a conservative about “reclaiming” the word racist. It went on to list a collection of reasons why he was a racist. The gist of it was that all of us dirty liberals were the real racists – because there’s no possible reason for us to support things like affirmative action, welfare, etc., unless we really, deep down, believe that minorities – particularly blacks – are stupid animals incapable of taking care of themselves.

It’s typical bullshit. So I’m responding in my own way. Because, you see, I am a racist. I’m not proud of that fact – but growing up in a deeply racist and sexist culture, you can’t avoid absorbing racist and sexist messages and attitudes into your worldview. And the blogger who inspired this is, like me, a member of the privileged elite. The difference between us is that I at least try to notice the effects of my privilege. I don’t support social justice programs like affirmative action, welfare, and job training because I think that poor black people need help because they’re less smart than me: I think that people like me have unfair advantages that we rarely appreciate, and that everyone deserves the same advantages that I’ve been lucky enough to receive. But however idealistic I am, however commited I am to social justice, the fact remains: I am, to my shame, a racist.

  1. I am a racist – because I never noticed all of the unearned privileges that are given to me until someone pointed them out.
  2. I am a racist – because even after learning about the unearned privileges
    that I recieve, I still don’t notice them.
  3. I am a racist, because I have grown up in a culture that, at every turn, teaches
    me that to be white is to be better, and smarter, and I have absorbed that lesson.
  4. I am a racist, because I instinctively react to members of minorities with fear.
  5. I am a racist, because I live in a sunset town.
  6. I am a racist, because I believe that I deserve the success I
    have, even though I know people who are more smart, capable, and
    talented than I am never had the chances that I did to
    be successful, because of the color of their skin.
  7. I am a racist – because I am a white man who has directly benefited from
    the unfair preferences that have been directed towards me all of my life.
  8. I am a racist – because every day, I benefit from the denial of
    basic privileges to other people.
  9. I am a racist, because I do not notice the things that are denied to people
    who are different from me.
  10. I am a racist, because I do not notice the advantages that I have over
    others.
  11. I am a racist, because even when I do manage to notice what is denied
    to people of different races and backgrounds, I don’t speak up.

The point of this isn’t just to do a sort of “walk of shame”. The
point is that I am an incredibly lucky person, who has benefited from
all sorts of things – from where I was born, to the color of my skin,
to the background of my parents, to my gender. I have recieved, and
continue to receive benefits because of those, and many other factors
that have nothing to do with my own merit. And except for
very rare occasions, that goes unremarked, unnoticed.

People like me think of ourselves as the default – as “normal”
people. We consider the incredible advantages that we receive to
be normal, unremarkable. We don’t notice just how much we benefit
from that assumption of our own normality – the benefits we
receive fade into invisibility. We don’t even notice that they exist. And
then when someone who doesn’t get those benefits
has trouble, we naturally blame them for not being as successful as we
are.

The underlying theme of people like the jerk who inspired this
post is: “I made it by myself, without any help. So
they should be able to make it by themselves, without any
help either.”

But that’s bullshit, because none of us “made it by ourselves”. We’re
the beneficiaries of the system we live in.

I grew up in a wealthy town in NJ. We didn’t consider ourselves
wealthy – but by comparison to lots of other people, we really were.
I went to a very good school system. We complained about it a lot:
the textbooks were too old; the equipment in the science labs were too
beaten up; the classes were too easy, and so on.

When I was in college, I got to teach a summer program for top
students from schools in Newark, Camden, and Jersey City. And I
discovered that my students went to schools where they didn’t have to
worry about their books being too old – because they didn’t
have any books. I mean that literally: in their english
classes, they didn’t have books, because their schools had
never been able to buy new books since it opened – and the
books had long since fallen apart. They didn’t complain about the
lousy lab equipment – because their schools had never had
science labs at all. How could people coming from schools like that
possibly hope to compete with students from a school like
mine? I didn’t admitted to college over people from their schools because
I was smarter. I got admitted into college over people from their
schools because I was richer and whiter.

And when my students went to the campus bookstore to buy
basic supplies like paper and pencils, the people who worked there
followed them around the store – because what would a
bunch of poor black kids be doing in a bookstore if they weren’t
there to rob it?

I write this math blog for fun. How did I get the background to do
it? I come from a highly educated family. They taught me to read
before I even started preschool. I’d learned about statistics from my
father when I was in third grade. I learned about algebra in sixth
grade, even though my school didn’t teach it until 8th or 9th. I
learned calculus in my freshman year in high school – even though my
school didn’t teach it until a senior year AP class. I was learning this stuff
long before the school taught it to me; and my parents made sure that
they bought a house in a very expensive school district where there would
be things like AP classes. My parents paid for me to go to college – which gave
me the time to take courses not just because I needed them to graduate,
but because they covered things that I wanted to learn, just for fun.

How could a person from a family that just managed to scrape by,
who lived in a school system that couldn’t afford textbooks for the
basic classes, much less the AP classes, how could they compete with
me? It’s damned close to impossible. Not because they’re any less
smart, or any less talented. But because I’ve had an absolutely
uncountable number of advantages. Every day of my life, I’ve been
given benefits which helped make it possible for me to become who and
what I am. I’m here partially because I’ve worked damned hard
to get here. But that work, by itself, wouldn’t have gotten me to where I am,
without luck and privilege.

People like me need to remember that. We didn’t earn what we have
all by ourselves. We may have earned part of it – but only
part. An awful lot of what we have is built on privilege: on the advantages
that we’ve been given because of race, gender, wealth, and family.

Comments

  1. #1 mdb
    April 7, 2010

    white guilt is not justification for affirmative action. Now you did have advantages that not everyone has (even many whites), but remember the purpose of affirmative action was to break down the barriers of discrimination – not to make everyone equal.

    I for one do not wish to live in the world of Harrison Bergeron.

  2. #2 khan
    April 7, 2010

    It is hard to see it when one is at the center of it.
    ———————————————————
    The underlying theme of people like the jerk who inspired this post is: “I made it by myself, without any help. So they should be able to make it by themselves, without any help either.”

    That does get old.

  3. #3 Shabash
    April 7, 2010

    This is such a strange country.

    They are dropping billions of $ of bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan but schools in NJ (a very rich state) don’t have BOOKs?

    I was reading about a young kid in Philly complain about the demise of Phillys free Wifi network because he would have to walk past shady neighborhoods to get to the library. The US should deploy a National Guard battalion for this kid…or not buy 100 Humvees and give places like Philly useful infrastructure?

    IDK, but I bet more people have died due to gang and drug violence than “terrorism”.

    Its almost as if the “leadership” WANTs to keep a certain section poor. Parts of the US really are third world.

  4. #4 Christopher Mims
    April 7, 2010

    Wow. Amen. I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot lately and you neatly encapsulated my thoughts on the matter.

  5. #5 Azkyroth
    April 7, 2010

    I think extending the term “racist” as a description of an individual to include things that are unrelated to and unaffected by the individual person’s attitudes and views is unjustified and counterproductive.

  6. #6 Zombie
    April 7, 2010

    The idea of white privilege became clear to me when I considered the fact that my dad was an immigrant from another country, yet nobody has ever questioned either my or his right to be here, citizens and beneficiaries of the US economy and government, because we are white. Nobody says the things about Canadian or English immigrants that they do about Latinos.

    Once I had that to go on, you start noticing those kind of privileges everywhere.

    Nobody will ever convince me that nativism/anti-immigration isn’t deeply racist, or that white privilege is imaginary.

  7. #7 thoughtspiral
    April 7, 2010

    white guilt is not justification for affirmative action. Now you did have advantages that not everyone has (even many whites), but remember the purpose of affirmative action was to break down the barriers of discrimination – not to make everyone equal.

    I for one do not wish to live in the world of Harrison Bergeron.

    That’s a nasty little piece of equivocation.

    The purpose of affirmative action and related programs isn’t to handicap talented people or drag everybody down to the level lowest common denominator. It’s not to ensure equal ability, but equal OPPORTUNITY. No person should be denied a chance to succeed based on race, sex, religion, or parents’ income bracket.

  8. #8 Paul Clapham
    April 7, 2010

    Sorry if I’m being dense, but what is a “sunset town”? I didn’t find anything obvious in my 30 seconds of internet searching.

  9. #9 Blake Stacey
    April 7, 2010

    Wait, people take “Harrison Bergeron” seriously? I guess I must have lost track of the story somewhere, probably around the point where the seven-foot-tall hero instantly powerups everyone he touches and gains the power of flight through his sheer overbearing awesomeitude.

  10. #10 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    April 7, 2010

    @5:

    That might be true *if* by being a participant in a system that benefits one racial or social group over another didn’t affect your attitudes. But the fact is, whether we like it or not, these things *do* affect our attitudes towards other people. We may not do it deliberately – but that doesn’t change reality.

    You can say that I shouldn’t be called a racist because I benefit from the racist biases of our society. But the fact is, I don’t just benefit from the biases: I participate in them. I am part of them. I constantly take actions as part of going through my daily routine that reinforce them.

    When I’m on an empty subway train, and a black person gets on, my instinctive reaction is fear. I *hate* the fact that that’s my reaction. I believe that it’s completely wrong. I was taught by my parents that it’s wrong. I deeply believe that it’s wrong. But it doesn’t change the fact that because that bias is so prevalent that I absorbed it, and it’s a part of me. That *does* make me a racist – because I don’t react that way when a white person, or an asian person gets onto the train.

  11. #11 Blake Stacey
    April 7, 2010

    Paul Clapham:

    A sundown town is any organized jurisdiction that for decades kept African Americans or other groups from living in it and was thus “all white” on purpose.

    … Beginning in about 1890 and continuing until 1968, white Americans established thousands of towns across the United States for whites only. Many towns drove out their black populations, then posted sundown signs. … Other towns passed ordinances barring African Americans after dark or prohibiting them from owning or renting property; still others established such policies by informal means, harassing and even killing those who violated the rule. Some sundown towns similarly kept out Jews, Chinese, Mexicans, Native Americans, or other groups.

    Quoted here.

  12. #12 mdb
    April 7, 2010

    That’s a nasty little piece of equivocation.

    The purpose of affirmative action and related programs isn’t to handicap talented people or drag everybody down to the level lowest common denominator. It’s not to ensure equal ability, but equal OPPORTUNITY. No person should be denied a chance to succeed based on race, sex, religion, or parents’ income bracket.

    income bracket, come on – grow up. How about political power or legacy status to a prestigious university. Life is not fair – deal with it.

  13. #13 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    April 7, 2010

    @8:

    A sunset town is a town which was, effectively, built to be a haven for whites leaving the city. The name came from the fact that in most of the sunset towns, it was an unofficial crime for a black person to be seen in the town after sunset. Blacks could be there during the day, working for the white residents, but once the work day was over, they were supposed to be out of there.

    Much of where I live in Westchester was developed as sunset towns during the 40s, 50s, and 60s. One of the most vivid examples (to me at least) is that the roads that go from the city to Westchester were built with shallow overpass bridges, so that buses couldn’t use the roads – making it that much harder for non-wealthy and non-white people to get there.

  14. #14 mmelliott01
    April 7, 2010

    Bingo. You just said what I’ve been thinking ever since I opened my eyes about 10 years ago. Though some of your points don’t apply to me (not male, don’t live in a sunset town, etc.) most of them do.

    mdb: So I assume you believe all of those barriers have disappeared forever?

  15. #15 dean
    April 7, 2010

    Mark, it might not be the item you originally referenced, but a brother-in-law recently forwarded (to me as well as other family members and friends) an email proclaiming the same thing you start with. it included rants about “racist labels” like african american, spanish-american, korean – american, an others, but amazingly german american, irish american, etc., weren’t lambasted or even mentioned.

    Then it got weird: the original writer railed about needing to reclaim words that had perfectly good historical context but were now “banned” due to political correctness: n***r, k**e, sp**e – you get the idea. “Use of these words doesn’t mean you are a racist – it simply means you are an honest white man”.

    I didn’t pay attention to the origin of the body of the email, and never really read the entire thing, but clearly these ideas are still floating around the good ol’ internet.

    Final comment:
    I mentioned to my wife that her older brother seemed to be going off the deep end – she agreed, saying that unless she could see his emails contained pictures of his great-grand kids or other family, she routinely deletes them without reading them, and suggested I start doing the same.

  16. #16 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    April 7, 2010

    @7:

    Yes, exactly.

    The story that I always tell about affirmative action is from my time at IBM. I was the coordinator of the summer internship program for my department one summer. IBM research was (and still is) overwhelmingly male – much moreso than you would expect even from the unbalanced body of students studying technical subjects.

    So they came up with an idea. Each department was allotted a certain number of summer students every year. That year, they decided that they wouldn’t count hires against that number if they were women or minorities.

    You can imagine the outcry. Naturally, I had people bitching me out over this: how dare they do this! They wanted to hire the *most qualified* students they could find, it’s totally unfair to say that a *less* qualified woman could be hired when a more-qualified man couldn’t!

    One of the people who did that came back a couple of days later, with a resume for a student he wanted to hire. And without even realizing the implications, he said “I took another look through the resume database, and found this woman who’s *even better* than the guy I wanted to hire!”

    That is the fundamental point of affirmative action. Serious, active discrimination still exists. Everyone *wants* to hire the most qualified candidate for a job – but whether consciously or unconsciously, they interpret candidates qualifications differently based on their perceptions of the race and gender of the candidates. And that works powerfully against anyone who isn’t part of the dominant, privileged group.

  17. #17 mmelliott01
    April 7, 2010

    mdb: Still not hearing how current programs go beyond the noble purpose you seem to accept.

  18. #18 Vicki
    April 7, 2010

    “Life is not fair” should not be a rallying cry or a celebration. Yes, life is often unfair. This is a bad thing, and we should try to reduce the unfairness.

    If someone shows up at the doctor with the flu, the doctor doesn’t refuse to see them because infections are natural, or because other people have AIDS.

    That it’s unreasonable that someone who was born on third base and thought he hit a triple got to be President doesn’t make all other instances of discrimination and privilege somehow okay because they aren’t as egregious.

  19. #19 EDR
    April 7, 2010

    @12:

    | Life is not fair – deal with it.

    This is either an argument against yourself or the Is-Ought fallacy (I can’t find a very good link).

    The entire point of affirmative action and similar programs is to deal with life not being fair. It is “dealing with it.”

    Or, if this is being used in the more common sense, it is not an argument, its an is-ought problem. That the world is currently unfair does not mean that an unfair world is good or should be acceptable.

  20. #20 mdb
    April 7, 2010

    #16 and #17

    Where was the lamenting of active discrimination in the original post? It was pure and simple white guilt.

    As for your employees new found love of the woman applicant, I am sure it had nothing to do with the chances that it would be approved. Nothing what so ever. You opened his eyes to the applicant’s ability.

    No one is in favor of active discrimination and no one will defend, except a bigot. A bigot did not make you grow up in a wealthy NJ town, A bigot did not…

    Wallow in your white guilt and live under your soft racism of the white man’s burden.

  21. #21 Winston
    April 7, 2010

    Sorry, but I’m not a racist.

  22. #22 Deen
    April 7, 2010

    Great post. It’s important to be aware of the privileges you receive without having to work for them.

    And mdb: awareness of your white privilege is not the same as having white guilt.

  23. #23 D. C. Sessions
    April 7, 2010

    You forgot the enormous advantage of growing up warm, clothed, well-fed, and with adequate medical and dental care.

    Those aren’t as visible as the textbooks and labs, but they last forever and are much handier to the finger-pointers who give themselves credit for being “better” because they didn’t grow up with (e.g) dietary deficiencies. I’d love to see how their kids would do growing up with vitamin C and D deficiencies.

    Well, no, I wouldn’t. But I wish I could get them to at least consider the question honestly.

    That said, I see this as a glass-half-full issue. I don’t in the least begrudge you pride in your accomplishments, because the great majority of those with the same advantages pissed them away. More to the point, concentrating on our advantages carries the implied message that the advantages of good food, medical care, schools, etc. are part of the problem.

    I reject that subtext. Vehemently.

    We consider the incredible advantages that we receive to be normal, unremarkable.

    And they should be. My shame — and that of the rest of us who have those advantages — is that they aren’t.

  24. #24 JBC
    April 7, 2010

    @ mdb

    You are missing the point entirely. It is not justification for affirmative action due to white guilt.
    It is a simple statement that we are groomed from birth to adopt the attitudes of our society, and that our society is inherently a racist one.
    Don’t believe me? Check out Harvard’s psych Implicit Association tests:
    https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/selectatest.html

    Using the ‘Race IAT’, they have shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans (including African-Americans) have an automatic preference for white over black. I took this test in 8th grade and also just now. My preference is the same. Just a little bit racist, through no fault of my own.

    Open your eyes.

  25. #25 Kerrick
    April 7, 2010

    Very good post. The angry, frightened, willfully ignorant and reactionary comments are probably the most revealing part.

  26. #26 Max
    April 7, 2010

    Awesome post!

    Also, I think that the fundamental point of affirmative action is not simply that we screen out more qualified candidates subconsciously, but also that unequal preparation leading to discriminatory hiring practices results in people who are better qualified not getting jobs just because didn’t receive the education they would need to look better. For instance, it’s an indisputable fact that blacks in this country perform more poorly on standardized tests than whites, so a bigot assumes that this means blacks are not as smart as whites, and therefore shouldn’t get as good jobs. A more enlightened person should recognize that since all these tests are basically rubbish when they’re used to compare people of different backgrounds directly, an adjustment to the scores is necessary to control for this discrepancy. That adjustment is affirmative action :)

    People who fall back on the “life’s not fair” argument may be assholes, but at least their honest assholes. A lot more people, I think, actually believe that blacks are dumber than whites, but of course they’re never willing to admit it…

  27. #27 Derek Hammer
    April 7, 2010

    Culture is certainly racist; culture is certainly sexist. Recognizing that is not difficult.

    What some people (including myself) have a difficulty understanding is how when two candidates are exactly alike and a college is forced to choose the minority, how that is not inherently racist.

    It is entirely possible that the non-minority applicant is just as underprivileged or even more-so than the minority candidate. E.g. an inner city white kid being compared against a suburbia black kid.

    And, this (at least for me) is not a white/black thing. Hispanic-Americans are a growing population in the United States and it could very well become that Hispanics become more underprivileged than African Americans in the eyes of the law (due to their recent immigration status and strong racism that persists in America against Hispanics).

    I am a big fan of diversity. I do not think that diversity means that business X should hire Y minorities. If I were to go about hiring people, skin color would never be a determining factor. Indeed, I would tend to hire more minorities because they do have a varied life experience from white males that grew up in suburbia. However, I’d hire, in a heartbeat, a white Australian that has travelled the world and has a great life experience to share with everyone over a hispanic woman that is a fourth generation american and has lived in suburbia all her life.

    If that makes me an ignorant conservative.. well, I don’t know. It seems very thoughtful and measured to me.

  28. #28 matt
    April 7, 2010

    Anyone who believes in race and acts on that belief is a racist. Race only exists in the mind and actions of the racist. The “races” that we have in the United States are made up. It feels positively apartheid South Africa to think about what fractional origin you need to have to belong to a race. Is there something in common about the huge percentage of the world’s population that some people call “Asian” that is meaningful? Are the lives of people from Kazakhastan, Korean, and Indonesia similar in a way that makes it a meaningful designation? Are my own children to be labeled multi-racial in some significant way, a way that is allowed to affect societal benefits that they can or cannot accrue?

    It’s nonsense. End race, end racism.

  29. #29 Declan
    April 7, 2010

    I’m with MarkCC on this one. His 11 step program could be the creed for D.A.-Dumbaholics Anonymous

    Just like any addiction,being hooked on easy answers like the ones racism/religion provide can’t be cured until one acknowledges there’s a problem. Everyone’s a little bit racist. That includes me,you,all the hippies and Gandhi.

    It’s a question of perception based on publicity as to what’s socially acceptable at any given time. The British Empire was every bit as racist,sinister and bloodthirsty as the Nazis,yet the Union Jack flag is a fashion label.

    More have been enslaved and murdered in the name of Christianity than by Mao,Stalin and Pol Pot put together,yet to wear a cross is just fine.

    Racism religion and genocide are as old as humanity itself because smart people that ask too many awkward questions tend to get burned at the stake,turned into piles of gold teeth,smoke and shoes,or forcibly converted to the cult of easy answers.

    Well done MarkCC. Keep up the good work

  30. #30 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    What some people (including myself) have a difficulty understanding is how when two candidates are exactly alike and a college is forced to choose the minority, how that is not inherently racist.

    It is entirely possible that the non-minority applicant is just as underprivileged or even more-so than the minority candidate. E.g. an inner city white kid being compared against a suburbia black kid.

    Derek, I highly recommend Jerome Karabel’s The Chosen.

  31. #31 htoromoreno
    April 7, 2010

    As a light-skinned latino with no perceivable accent and with an ambiguous last name, I have “crossed” over and have sat in on conversations that make me weep when I go home. Even now, after 15 years as an educator, I can’t believe the things I hear being said about minority students in private. Worse still, is the nepotism and “good ole boys” network that rules public school administrations and faculty hiring. When you are the “norm”, it is hard to understand the realities of the “other”. I am both and neither, and have to fight the “racist” and “racialist” ideas that have become a part of my fabric.

  32. #32 Pat Cahalan
    April 7, 2010

    @ Derek

    > It is entirely possible that the non-minority
    > applicant is just as underprivileged or even
    > more-so than the minority candidate. E.g. an
    > inner city white kid being compared against
    > a suburbia black kid.

    Yes, that’s entirely possible. The obvious question: is it really likely, and if so, how likely… and if very likely, what are you comparing it *to*?

    The number of psychological studies showing embedded age/sex/race biases among those who choose candidates for any purpose (jobs, education, etc.) is staggering. I’m not even going to bother to cite them here. You can do a google scholar search if you’re interested.

    It is several orders of magnitude more likely that dozens of acceptable candidates will be passed over in favor of a college-educated white male of equal or less pedigree… than it is that a vastly superior candidate will be passed over to fill a quota. Yes, it happens. You can point to lots of anecdotes showing that it happens. The plural of anecdote is not data.

    If you’re talking about equal opportunity as a question of justice, that’s fine. If you’re talking about the possibility of imposing injustice via a quota system, that’s fine too… provided you have some sort of evidence to back it up. It’s simply ridiculous to even bring up the question of “reverse racism” without substantive evidence showing that this is a real (as opposed to hypothetical) phenomena. Spoiler alert: it’s not. But you’re welcome to go try and prove otherwise.

    Everything I’ve read shows that income disparity, economic opportunity, access to education, etc. are still wildly in favor of the middle- to upper-class white male. Period, end of story.

    @ mdb

    Tagging a known phenomena with a pejorative is the last refuge of the idiot. “White guilt” is a made up term, made up precisely for the purpose of ignoring embedded societal biases.

    I don’t wallow in white guilt; I didn’t create the society I was born into. I’m also not so outright stupid as to ignore the fact that my current position is very, very loosely coupled to my own efforts and highly, highly coupled to opportunities that I had that most people don’t. Yes, I’ve made some of those opportunities myself, and yes I’ve had the presence of mind to act on some of those opportunities on my own initiative, which is why I’m more successful (arguably) than many other people of my socioeconomic background. I do take some small measure of pride in that, in my opinion deservedly so.

    That doesn’t make society just.

  33. #33 Robert C.
    April 7, 2010

    You are not racist, you just let yourself to be indoctrinated into some irrational “white guilt”. Irrational, I repeat. Were Asians privileged? And where are they now, comparing to blacks, or even those “privileged” whites?

  34. #34 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    You are not racist, you just let yourself to be indoctrinated into some irrational “white guilt”. Irrational, I repeat.

    Argument by repeated assertion. Brilliant.

    Were Asians privileged? And where are they now, comparing to blacks, or even those “privileged” whites?

    Define “Asians.”

  35. #35 Winston
    April 7, 2010

    Oh, my, Kerrick @25, do you think I am “angry, frightened, willfully ignorant and reactionary”?

    I am not a racist. But do you know me better than I know myself? Am I that willfully ignorant? Angry, I am? Frightened of who? Why do you think I am frightened? Do you know me so well? Or, am I so ignorant I don’t know myself. Oh, dear.

    I won’t bash myself. My life came with advantages and disadvantages. Just like everyone’s life does.

    I won’t wallow in self-serving, masochistic guilt because I was born caucasian, nor will I whine over the disadvantages my circumstances gave me [and what those disadvantages are, are none of anybodies business].

  36. #36 Robert C.
    April 7, 2010

    One more note: I am a first time visitor on this blog, and only after writing the comment above I looked at Mark’s bio. Mark: you work in IT. Look at your colleagues at work. You will likely see many people from India – a poor, post-colonial country. Probably a comparable number from continental China. A much smaller number of “privileged” whites (from places like Eastern Europe/Russia) Are you seriously thinking they all were offered more opportunities than those enjoyed by blacks in the U.S.? Just look around, think a little, draw conclusions and stop writing this rubbish about “privilege”.

  37. #37 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    This is an excellent post, by the way.

  38. #38 frog
    April 7, 2010

    mdb#20: No one is in favor of active discrimination and no one will defend, except a bigot. A bigot did not make you grow up in a wealthy NJ town, A bigot did not..

    The exact point of a “sunset town” is that a BIGOT did make him grow up in that wealthy town. A black family that was just as successful was excluded from that town and HAD TO live in a poorer town.

    These kinds of arguments are amazing. That someone can still willfully blind himself to his advantages — systemic advantages — is mindboggling. It’s a psychiatric illness.

    Active discrimination is still affecting people today. The active discrimination of the past is still effective today.

    If you’re white, good odds that a chunk of your wealth today can be traced back to your grandfather getting a cheap mortgage back in 1950 and a free education with the GI bill. Blacks and hispanics didn’t get those mortgages — couldn’t buy those properties — couldn’t go to the same colleges.

    They got free shit, and you inherited that free shit.

    The chutzpah! The narcissism! And, I think, the deep white guilt that feed these delusions. It’s not the “liberals” who are wallowing in guilt — when you face up to reality, that’s not wallowing in guilt. It’s the folks who KNOW about an injustice and then pretend it didn’t happen — those folks are living in a world of guilt that makes them incapable of rationally analyzing the world. The sign of “white guilt” is precisely the psychological delusions that make them incapable of recognizing their own privilege, recognizing obvious matters of fact.

  39. #39 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    Yes, the life chances of every individual in a given country (based on history or GNP or per capita income) are precisely identical. You’re a genius, Robert.

  40. #40 frog
    April 7, 2010

    RobertC: You will likely see many people from India – a poor, post-colonial country. Probably a comparable number from continental China. A much smaller number of “privileged” whites (from places like Eastern Europe/Russia) Are you seriously thinking they all were offered more opportunities than those enjoyed by blacks in the U.S.?

    First show us that those folks aren’t privileged in their countries of origin. Privilege is relative, oh little one. When you show me that IT is filled with untouchables, you’ll have an argument. Until then, you are irrationally trying to protect your own self-worth, due to the deep and insane guilt you carry.

    It’s not like African Americans have an option, in general, to sign up at Hyderabad University, get an IT degree, and then return to work IT in the states. They’re not, in general, upper and middle-class Indians.

    But I guess you assume that India is just unremitting poverty, with no classes, with no structure, just a brown sea of wogs.

  41. #41 Winston
    April 7, 2010

    Frog: Does *everyone* who disagrees with you carry “deep and insane guilt”? Just wondering.

  42. #42 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    April 7, 2010

    @36:

    You’re just demonstrating more racist ignorance.

    *Every* Indian coworker and fellow student that I’ve ever known has come from a family of wealthy city brahmins. India as a whole is a very poor country – but that doesn’t mean that *every* person in India is poor. The upper class in India is incredibly privileged – they have wealth and status that is absolutely astonishing in comparison to the rest of the population.

    Similarly, there’s a huge disparity in China. There are two main factors in China: racial and location. First, in China, the Han ethnic group is incredibly privileged in comparison to the other groups, like the Mongol or the Manchu. And second, the people of the cities are incredibly wealthy and educated in comparison to people from the countryside. Try actually talking to some Chinese coworkers or students, and find out where they’re from. Better than 9 times out of 10, it will be Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, or Nanjing. Once again, you’re looking at a huge country that does have a small privileged elite, and that elite makes up the vast majority of the educated immigrants to the US.

    When a Han chinese tries to go to the best technical university in Beijing, they’re competing against other Han chinese. The ones who get in all come from similar backgrounds, and went to similar quality schools. It’s nothing like the situation we have in the US where we have a huge legacy of segregation. Try and find a Chinese worker in an American tech company who came from a rural country manchu family. They’re considerably rarer than black workers.

    And I’ll close by pointing out that in your claim that all my talk of privilege is “rubbish”, that you completely ignore all of the advantages that I specifically mentioned, which I received by virtue of being born in the right place, to the right parents, with the right skin color.

  43. #43 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    [and what those disadvantages are, are none of anybodies [sic] business]

    Aaaawwwww. Come on, Winny – describe a few. Pretty please?

  44. #44 brightstar white
    April 7, 2010

    About 20 years ago I was working on a farm in West Australia picking potatoes and other fruits and veges the farm was run by my then brother in law who was a refuge from asia, married to my sister in law I was the only white on the farm during the day I did notice a lot chatter and laughter and snide remarks directed at me which I understood to be nothing but racist since I did understood some of the comments in their own tounge EVERY RACE ON THIS EARTH can be RACIST when you are the minority or the weaker or the more vulernable or less educated or that different colour BUT its to me laughable since the white races are more advanced thinkers they invented and made possible computers, football, space travel, moon walks, cricket, stealth aircraft, and DEMOCRACY what ever that means? fair and just laws, the dole, free heath care anywhere in the world …the red cross, advanced medicine all done by a majority of WHITES and WHITE thinking, no not any other colour, are we smarter? no JUST different, thats what idiots like Robert Mugabe dont figure out, he and his RACIST arse scrachin ILK.. that WHITES showed him what he would envy.. without GUNs and murder that piece of POO would have been a bean picker not a bean counter @ that he’s prooved he aint smart.. or his drunken bed partners thats one example of racist hate and GREED the whites in Africa balanced the living standards for ALL none of the coloured goverments would exist today in Africa if it where not for WHITES the rest would be living like squabbling MONKEYS if not for the white thinking changing their primative minds YES whites are different… big deal live with it honeychild…history lesson all colouerd races ie the celts, picts, druids, the anglos of the British Isles where conquered by WHITES…now Im here as by product of that BIG BANG

  45. #45 hmm
    April 7, 2010

    I’m aware that a lot of what you’re saying is true but there’s an awful lot of bullshit in there, too.

    There’s a guy in my philosophy class who spews almost the exact same bit of white guilt rhetoric daily. And daily, I at least play the devil’s advocate with him or outright disagree with him when I actually do. Unfortunately, I can’t get into this debate with you on the internet, but if we’re ever lucky enough to be in the same room, I’ll tell you why some of what you’re saying is silly.

    Forgive me for not giving you more of my time, but you sound exactly like every other Jew who feels guilty to have been born into privelege…

  46. #46 Winston
    April 7, 2010

    Hello, SC: Disadvantages? I’m not a good speller, for one.

    But, really, one day you might say something pretty hurtful to some one else because your interlocutor chose not to advertise something hard in his or her life. Something unfair, something awful, something that will, always hurt. You might say something mean and cruel because you didn’t know all the facts. Therefore mockery is risky. Unless, of course, you have no empathy or feelings for others.

    We all have privileges, we all have disadvantages. Many people choose to feel guilt for the former nor advertise the latter.

    Life simply is what it is and we just have to do our best.

  47. #47 hmm
    April 7, 2010

    You might find the last bit offensive, I don’t know and don’t particularly care, but as far as my limited observations have gone it’s mostly been my jewish friends who feel the most guilt about being white.

    The stuff you’re saying has been around for years and has been said in a much much more convincing way by many political philosophers….and still, there are parts of the argument that seem to be without merit, in particular the parts that ignore the fact that inner city and rural schools suck not because of lack of money or lack of privilege, in my humble estimation, but because inner city and rural culture are both repugnant and anti-intellectual down to their cores

  48. #48 brightstar white
    April 7, 2010

    About 20 years ago I was working on a farm in West Australia picking potatoes and other fruits and veges the farm was run by my then brother in law who was a refuge from asia, married to my sister in law I was the only white on the farm during the day I did notice a lot chatter and laughter and snide remarks directed at me which I understood to be nothing but racist since I did understood some of the comments in their own tounge EVERY RACE ON THIS EARTH can be RACIST when you are the minority or the weaker or the more vulernable or less educated or that different colour BUT its to me laughable since the white races are more advanced thinkers they invented and made possible computers, football, space travel, moon walks, cricket, stealth aircraft, and DEMOCRACY what ever that means? fair and just laws, the dole, free heath care anywhere in the world …the red cross, advanced medicine all done by a majority of WHITES and WHITE thinking, no not any other colour, are we smarter? no JUST different, thats what idiots like Robert Mugabe dont figure out, he and his RACIST arse scrachin ILK.. that WHITES showed him what he would envy.. without GUNs and murder that piece of POO would have been a bean picker not a bean counter @ that he’s prooved he aint smart.. or his drunken bed partners thats one example of racist hate and GREED the whites in Africa balanced the living standards for ALL none of the coloured goverments would exist today in Africa if it where not for WHITES the rest would be living like squabbling MONKEYS if not for the white thinking changing their primative minds YES whites are different… big deal live with it honeychild…history lesson all colouerd races ie the celts, picts, druids, the anglos of the British Isles where conquered by WHITES…now Im here as by product of that BIG BANG

  49. #49 Winston
    April 7, 2010

    Correction to post 46:

    We all have privileges, we all have disadvantages. Many people choose *not* to feel guilt for the former nor advertise the latter.

    PS – I’m not a good proofreader. I love my words the way they are. Another disadvantage.

  50. #50 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    big deal live with it honeychild…history lesson all colouerd races ie the celts, picts, druids, the anglos of the British Isles where conquered by WHITES…now Im here as by product of that BIG BANG

    Yes, dear. You’re a very special flower.

    pat pat pat

  51. #51 hmm
    April 7, 2010

    And yes, seriously people please spare us your anecdotes (MY anecdotes are approached with some skepticism at least, heh) about your indian, asian and black coworkers.

    If nothing else you’re looking at some very skewed samples here. Many Indian and other Asian immigrants have been selected far from randomly (the history of Asian immigration to the United States is worth looking into sometime) from their respective populations, so what you see, if it’s even valid in the first place, can’t be said to be representative of anything but the set of people who immigrated here.

    Likewise, slave vendors weren’t just grabbing Africans at random, so the bankruptcy of American black culture and almost total failure to thrive of American blacks in spite of social programs is not a referendum on Africans or blacks in general, and might be a product of what Mark’s talking about or might be something else–I think it’s down to the anti-intellectual culture about which I was completely ignorant until being enlightened by some black intellectuals.

  52. #52 Robert C.
    April 7, 2010

    Sweetheart, I am MARRIED to a Chinese. A Chinese, who, as a child, did not have toys to play (which she always recalls when we buy stuff for our kids). A Chinese, who didn’t even have quality food when growing up, and she still pays the price (in dental bills). I have colleagues at work, who come from extremely poor, rural areas in China, and who are children of peasants. In China! Please overcome your ignorance and educate yourself what this means. Same applies to Indians – I also have colleagues at work, and not all of them are bramini (yes, there are a few untouchables too). As for myself, I am from Eastern Europe. Now, promote all of us to “honorary Anglos”, the privileged white oppressors!

  53. #53 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    Hello, SC: Disadvantages? I’m not a good speller, for one.

    But, really, one day you might say something pretty hurtful to some one else because your interlocutor chose not to advertise something hard in his or her life. Something unfair, something awful, something that will, always hurt. You might say something mean and cruel because you didn’t know all the facts. Therefore mockery is risky. Unless, of course, you have no empathy or feelings for others.

    We all have privileges, we all have disadvantages. Many people choose to feel guilt for the former nor advertise the latter.

    Keep talking/digging, Winny.

    Life simply is what it is and we just have to do our best.

    Simple, indeed.

    You’re not going to describe your disadvantages? I’m so disappointed!

    *pout*

  54. #54 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    April 7, 2010

    I find it fascinating how many people are focusing on the guilt aspect.

    I don’t feel *any* guilt about being born with privilege. The things I feel guilt for are things like my instinctive reaction on the subway. For the most part, when it comes to privilege, I don’t feel guilt – but I do feel a *responsibility* to acknowledge my good fortune. Like I said in the original post: I did work hard for everything I had. And deep down, I do feel like I deserve the success that I have. But at the same time, it’s important for me to acknowledge that while I worked for and earned what I have, other people from a different background could have worked just as hard or harder, and *not* gotten what I have.

    It’s not about guilt. It’s about *acknowledgement*. It’s about recognizing what I have that others don’t – and admitting that it makes a difference. When you approach things from the false perspective of being completely self-made, it’s easy to blame people for not having succeeded by claiming that they just didn’t work as hard as you did.

  55. #55 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    Robert, are you going to define “Asian” or not?

  56. #56 Winston
    April 7, 2010

    SC, come on now! Can you argue a point without mockery? From what you’ve written, you don’t seem like a very nice person. Or a tolerant person.

    Tolerance. It seems the majority of posters here have little if any toleration for people who disgree with them. Life is pretty simple when one’s philosophy is limited to “you’re with me or you’re a racist bastard in insane self denial. You’re an angry bad, bad person.”

    I’ll repeat. I am not a racist. Life is what it is in that we are given and presented with things both fair and unfair, just and unjust.

    So, go ahead and live nastily in umbrage that everyone doesn’t share your self-imposed guilt. Your life-style just isn’t for me.

  57. #57 Robert C.
    April 7, 2010

    Does anyone else need the definition of Asians, or it is just SC? If there is a substantial demand, I will, of course, come up with some definition, or just copy/paste from Wikipedia. Then we can move on to defining “blacks”, which were also used in this discussion without a prior, proper definition of the term. (ditto “whites”).

  58. #58 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    Winston,

    Try to say something substantive and sound. Something that would lead intelligent and informed people to take your arguments seriously. Otherwise, we might justifiably think you a fool. I’m sure that’s not what you want.

  59. #59 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    If there is a substantial demand, I will, of course, come up with some definition, or just copy/paste from Wikipedia. Then we can move on to defining “blacks”, which were also used in this discussion without a prior, proper definition of the term. (ditto “whites”).

    Oh, please do. A useful definition of these three groupings would be excellent. Are you talking biological or social? This is important given that Mark CC’s experiences have been based on his socially perceived race and gender, and these are perceived in a given cultural context. As I’m sure you know.

  60. #60 Winston
    April 7, 2010

    SC, did you know that you are following the Karl Rove playbook rather well when you write that I write neither soundly nor substantialy? I’ll bet you do know.

    When attacked, turn the attacker’s own criticism back on him. Louder and ruder.

    I wondered if you can make a point without mockery because all I heard from you in response to my posts was a rather cavalier mockery.

    So you respond that I am not “substantive or sound.”

    It’s a neat trick. A high school debaters trick just like your demand that Robert C define Asian. You and Karl Rove both must have paid attention in class.

  61. #61 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    I challenge anyone to find substance in Winston’s post @ #60.

  62. #62 Robert C.
    April 7, 2010

    SC – since you are aware of the distinction between biological and social, I am sure you don’t need any definitions from me. FYI, however, for the purpose of this discussion, as stated clearly in subsequent post, I invoked the example of Asians coming from generally unprivileged social environments (continental China, India).

  63. #63 Derek Hammer
    April 7, 2010

    @32/Pat,

    I’m just saying that I’m skeptical of things affirmative action because no one can explain to me how it isn’t institutionalized racism. Now, there may be a statistical justification for the application of such practices (and anecdotally this seems true, as well), but perhaps there are better ways to go about rectifying these injustices.

    I think you should be more careful about picking words up like “reverse discrimination” (which I didn’t mention in my last post) and offhandedly dismissing them. It comes off as very rude and .. standoffish. If you didn’t mean to sound that way, I apologize for taking it in such a negative manner. It felt combative.

    The problem with institutionalize racism and the justification that statistically we’d be better off is that people aren’t statistics and that people aren’t numbers. We cannot throw a few people under the bus for the betterment of everyone. Or, rather, I cannot; it would be against my moral values.

    There is one very effective tool for eliminating racism and sexism: education. The more we raise the ‘lowest common denominator’ the more we are able to understand and cope with racism and sexism. I see it as a personal obligation for myself to combat the cultural tendencies of racism and sexism. Unfortunately, I sometimes fail (in the manner that MarkCC mentions). However, I think I’m better for it because of the times that I don’t fail.

    Also, I want to put a question out to everyone since many people talk about financial and educational success as a yardstick by which they are measuring everyone. Like the SATs that assume some level of white culture (I didn’t know that before someone mentioned it here), is there something to say that our definition of success is skewed. Perhaps some racially-influenced culture defines success in a different way.

    I’m no expert but I have a ton of interest in the Harlem Renaissance and the formation of jazz culture (of which is another example of white bias when we say “Go read F. Scott Fitzgerald. Oh, yeah, and the Harlem Renaissance was kickstarted by those white Modernists.”). It is pretty clear to me that during that time and still today that musical talent and success is highly valued in the African American community. So, becoming a jazz saxophonist is much more valued in the black community. Again, I’m no expert and I may be completely wrong about that.. but what evidence I do have seems to suggest it.

    So, really, should we be judging the value of our justice system based on the ideals and values of a white middle-class male? This shouldn’t be seen as a reasoning to ignore the racism and sexism embedded in our culture but rather a question of whether our yardstick should be a little more nuanced.

  64. #64 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    SC – since you are aware of the distinction between biological and social, I am sure you don’t need any definitions from me.

    No, I really do.

    FYI, however, for the purpose of this discussion, as stated clearly in subsequent post, I invoked the example of Asians coming from generally unprivileged social environments (continental China, India).

    Anecdotes notwithstanding, neither I nor anyone else can have a clue what you’re talking about if you don’t clearly define your terms.

    Thanks ever so much,

    SC

  65. #65 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    I’m just saying that I’m skeptical of things affirmative action because no one can explain to me how it isn’t institutionalized racism.

    Describe specific examples, in historical context.

  66. #66 manfred
    April 7, 2010

    Mark, if you truly believe in affirmative action, why not lead the way for the rest of us by relinquishing your comfortable position at Google to a less-qualified minority applicant? I’m guessing you aren’t willing to do that, are you? But that won’t stop you from demanding that *other* white people–particularly poorer, blue collar whites–make that sacrifice anyway, all so *your* guilt can be assuaged.

    You may or may not be a racist, but you clearly are a hypocrite, just like every other affluent white liberal. Constantly exalting ethnic diversity in all of its variegated forms while hiding from it in a milky-white, suburban community.

  67. #67 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    Also, I want to put a question out to everyone since many people talk about financial and educational success as a yardstick by which they are measuring everyone. Like the SATs that assume some level of white culture (I didn’t know that before someone mentioned it here), is there something to say that our definition of success is skewed. Perhaps some racially-influenced culture defines success in a different way.

    What is your question?

    I’m no expert but I have a ton of interest in the Harlem Renaissance and the formation of jazz culture (of which is another example of white bias when we say “Go read F. Scott Fitzgerald. Oh, yeah, and the Harlem Renaissance was kickstarted by those white Modernists.”). It is pretty clear to me that during that time and still today that musical talent and success is highly valued in the African American community. So, becoming a jazz saxophonist is much more valued in the black community. Again, I’m no expert and I may be completely wrong about that.. but what evidence I do have seems to suggest it.

    What on earth are you trying to say?

    So, really, should we be judging the value of our justice system based on the ideals and values of a white middle-class male? This shouldn’t be seen as a reasoning to ignore the racism and sexism embedded in our culture but rather a question of whether our yardstick should be a little more nuanced.

    Gibberish.

  68. #68 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    April 7, 2010

    @66:

    Way to hide behind a strawman.

    Affirmative action is not, and never was, about hiring less-qualified people. Affirmative action is, and has always been, about the fact that certain groups of people are actively discriminated against. In general, for a woman or minority to be hired into a job like mine, they need to be vastly *more* qualified than a white applicant in order to get the job.

    The best coworkers I’ve ever had have been women. Are women smarter than men? Better coworkers than men in general? No. But in a technical field, it’s so damned hard for a woman to get the job that the women who make it are far better on average than the men. And what that *really* means is that there are lots of cases where *more* qualified women were rejected in favor of *less* qualified men.

    Of course, that couldn’t be. Because white guys like you really *are* vastly superior. If women, or black people, or hispanics don’t get the great jobs, that’s because they’re just not as good as us whites, right?

  69. #69 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    Still waiting for the definition of the races.

  70. #70 manfred
    April 7, 2010

    “Affirmative action is not, and never was, about hiring less-qualified people.”

    And yet that is necessarily what it becomes when there are insufficient qualified people in those groups affirmative action programs seek to help. If too few of them do well enough on a test to pass, they are passed anyway or the test is simply thrown out. See, for example, the New Haven firefighters controversy from last year. Quotas are inherently unmeritorious and are filled regardless of whether or not doing so means passing over more-qualified white applicants.

    “In general, for a woman or minority to be hired into a job like mine, they need to be vastly *more* qualified than a white applicant in order to get the job.”

    All the more reason why *you* should be the one to have to fall on the sword of equality and not someone else making one-fifth your salary. If affluent white liberals want affirmative action, it is time they start suffering its effects.

  71. #71 manfred
    April 7, 2010

    “Still waiting for the definition of the races.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewontin%27s_fallacy

  72. #72 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    Still waiting…

  73. #73 Robert C.
    April 7, 2010

    Come on, Manfred, we know what ‘race’ is about. To liberals, race is a social construct, and for this purpose all of us whites, including Czechs, Slovaks, Romanians, but also Chinese or Indians (often with more skin pigmentation than “blacks”) are “white oppressors”.

  74. #74 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    Black=

    White=

    Asian=

    Fill in the blanks. How do these biological differences account for social outcomes?

    Thanks.

  75. #75 hmm
    April 7, 2010

    “I don’t feel *any* guilt about being born with privilege. The things I feel guilt for are things like my instinctive reaction on the subway. For the most part, when it comes to privilege, I don’t feel guilt – but I do feel a *responsibility* to acknowledge my good fortune. Like I said in the original post: I did work hard for everything I had. And deep down, I do feel like I deserve the success that I have. But at the same time, it’s important for me to acknowledge that while I worked for and earned what I have, other people from a different background could have worked just as hard or harder, and *not* gotten what I have.”

    This seems like a reasonable personal philosophy and it might be pretty close to mine personally.

    I take great enjoyment in slapping down white people who try to say that black claims of persistent racism are so much whining by challenging them to the simple task of going to the store with a young black male and watching the amount of extra scrutiny you get both at the store and on the way by the police.

    On the other hand, I think we have to be more fearless when confronting issues of race if we are talking about more than personal philosophies and talking about potential solutions.

    I think that one aspect of any solution will be to recognize that there are, in addition to the systematic issues you’re talking about, internal issues in many black communities, not least of which is profound anti-intellectualism.

    A _fair_ discussion probably wouldn’t have to focus on this too much, but the fact that every discussion about race and advantage and privilege is tainted with intellectual dishonesty spurred by people being terrified of being labeled racist makes me more apt to mention these things just so they’re given some hearing.

    So, sure, acknowledge your advantaged position, but don’t think that all of the disadvantage of minority groups comes from without by a savage oppressor when you have the crucial piece of evidence that affirmative action hasn’t cured everything–if it were all external, it should have come damned close: there are internal factors as well.

    If you want to make a heroic or profound post about race, say something that _isn’t_ progressive dogma.

  76. #76 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    I take great enjoyment in slapping down white people who try to say that black claims of persistent racism are so much whining by challenging them to the simple task of going to the store with a young black male and watching the amount of extra scrutiny you get both at the store and on the way by the police.

    On the other hand, I think we have to be more fearless when confronting issues of race if we are talking about more than personal philosophies and talking about potential solutions.

    I think that one aspect of any solution will be to recognize that there are, in addition to the systematic issues you’re talking about, internal issues in many black communities, not least of which is profound anti-intellectualism.

    A _fair_ discussion probably wouldn’t have to focus on this too much, but the fact that every discussion about race and advantage and privilege is tainted with intellectual dishonesty spurred by people being terrified of being labeled racist makes me more apt to mention these things just so they’re given some hearing.

    Blather. Read some Gogol and see what an idiot you are.

  77. #77 hmm
    April 7, 2010

    “Blather. Read some Gogol and see what an idiot you are.”

    I don’t know what Gogol is, but I would be very very surprised if you’ve taken as many classes or read as many books as I have on these and tangential subjects.

    But name calling works, too.

  78. #78 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    I don’t know what Gogol is,

    Who Gogol is. Sigh.

    but I would be very very surprised if you’ve taken as many classes or read as many books as I have on these and tangential subjects.

    Hee. Go for it.

  79. #79 Robert C.
    April 7, 2010

    “challenging them to the simple task of going to the store with a young black male and watching the amount of extra scrutiny you get both at the store and on the way by the police.”

    Go to a store with a young Chinese male, and watch if you will receive any amount of extra scrutiny. Are Chinese a different race? Definitely. Dare to draw conclusions?

  80. #80 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    So you’re not going to define the Asian race, Robert?

  81. #81 Robert C.
    April 7, 2010
  82. #82 Sc (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    If you need it so badly:…

    In your own words – what defines an Asian? Black? White?

    How hard can this be?

  83. #83 SC (Salty Current)
    April 7, 2010

    Go to a store with a young Chinese male, and watch if you will receive any amount of extra scrutiny. Are Chinese a different race? Definitely.

    So you’ve identified a race. Define.

  84. #84 Robert C.
    April 7, 2010

    You already got it.

  85. #85 Robert C.
    April 7, 2010

    Provide a good example and define “blacks”.

  86. #86 DrugMonkey
    April 8, 2010

    very well put MarkCC. we all think we are normal, average and can only see those that are better off than ourselves. So therefore our privileges are mere baseline. expected value. and we know somebody out there has it better than us.

    we just don’t grok that somebody has it one hell of a lot worse.

  87. #87 Stats Guy
    April 8, 2010

    Do you realize people of Japanese, Hong Kong and Korean ancestry have higher incomes on average than white Americans? Where is the white privilege?

    Do you realize that blacks of Caribbean descent also have a higher income on average than white Americans? Where is the white privilege?

    Do you realize that most people in the US living below the poverty line are white yet most aid programs and charities specifically exclude white people? Where is the white privilege?

    Go look up the numbers.

  88. #88 Daniel
    April 8, 2010

    I applaud this post but just have one observation to make on the following line: “I am a racist – because every day, I benefit from the denial of basic privileges to other people.”

    My concern with this line is that is suggests a zero-sum game to economics in which for some to benefit others must suffer. I think that improvements in rights and well-being are more inclusive than that. The tatty old books in your school do not need to be taken away and given to the schools lacking any books at all because there is nothing to say that _all_ schools can have books. More vibrant culture contribute to more affluent economics. There are limits to growth but not to the extent to justify the kind of ethnic and class disadvantages that you rightly condemn. And consider how much better _your_ life would be if the reasons why you fear members of some groups were addressed.

    Consider also rights – you can extend them to hitherto deprived groups without harming those who have always had those rights. Except of course if you think that challenging the hubris of the privileged _harms_ them (in which case the privileged just need to take a chill-pill and get over it).

  89. #89 Pat Cahalan
    April 8, 2010

    > “Affirmative action is not, and never was, about
    > hiring less-qualified people.”

    @ manfred (70)

    > And yet that is necessarily what it becomes when
    > there are insufficient qualified people in those
    > groups affirmative action programs seek to help.

    Citation, please. I do not in any wise grant that this is necessarily the case.

    > If too few of them do well enough on a test to
    > pass, they are passed anyway or the test is simply
    > thrown out. See, for example, the New Haven
    > firefighters controversy from last year. Quotas
    > are inherently unmeritorious and are filled regard-
    > less of whether or not doing so means passing over
    > more-qualified white applicants.

    Again, the plural of anecdote is not data. Please do not cite single instances of injustice in comparison to an established body of evidence showing societal imbalance.

    Unless you want to claim baldly that minorities, generally, have much less opportunity. In which case I’ll ask you politely to justify that statement.

    @ Derek (63)

    > I’m just saying that I’m skeptical of things
    > affirmative action because no one can explain
    > to me how it isn’t institutionalized racism.

    I don’t know that we can discuss this unless you provide a definition for institutionalized racism. I suspect we’ll devolve into discussing a tautology.

    Favoritism (even supposing that affirmative action qualifies) is not equivalent to prejudice. It does not necessarily follow (as manfred claimed) that attempting to level a playing field is automatically “unfair”.

    A more general version of Mark’s point is that merely by the nature of who you are (if you are sitting here reading this post) you are fantastically more privileged than a staggering majority of humanity on the planet. In the particular subcase of the United States, if you are white, middle or upper class, and male, you have a huge statistical advantage over your non-white, lower or lower middle class, and female counterparts.

    You’ve had access to better educational opportunities. You’ve been exposed to less crime. You’re more likely to have a good nutritional history. More likely to have come from a solid family background. Less likely to have been exposed to drug addiction as a cultural norm. More likely to have been encouraged to exhibit alpha negotiation skills. More likely to have a functional safety net in the event of personal crisis or health problems. Less likely to be exposed to environmental factors that affect your long term health. Less likely to be exposed to communicable disease. More likely to have ready access to technology. Less likely to have been exposed to violence. Fantastically less likely to have been sexually assaulted.

    > It felt combative.

    You may not have used the term “reverse racism”, but it’s clearly implied. I’ll apologize for putting the words in your mouth, however, that wasn’t kosher. Now you go ahead and apologize for “institutionalized racism”. :)

    > The problem with institutionalize racism and
    > the justification that statistically we’d be
    > better off is that people aren’t statistics
    > and that people aren’t numbers. We cannot throw
    > a few people under the bus for the betterment
    > of everyone.

    That is not what is being suggested. What’s being suggested by affirmative action is that several subpopulations of the United States are **already under the damn bus**, and have been for decades. The fact that we’re riding comfortably on it is sort of Mark’s point. It behooves us to stop the bus, get out, and pull everyone out from under the bus. Yes, it means that some of us might wind up losing the opportunity to listen to our iPods and read Proust. Others might find out that some guy under the bus is actually better suited for the job we currently enjoy.

    > There is one very effective tool for eliminating
    > racism and sexism: education. The more we raise
    > the ‘lowest common denominator’ the more we are
    > able to understand and cope with racism and sexism.

    Absolutely. Pity the educational system underserves precisely those people you’re talking about wanting to help. And, by the implication of your previous argument, if we take money away from some affluent neighborhood and give it to an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, or if we move kids from the disadvantaged neighborhood into spots in the affluent schools, we’re necessarily throwing some of those rich kids under bus.

    Sticky problem, that.

    Note also that educational opportunities take generations to work their way through subpopulations. Seems pretty unfair to all those people who are getting screwed just on the promise that their grandkids may someday have an opportunity equal to the ones my grandparents actually had.

    > Like the SATs that assume some level of white
    > culture (I didn’t know that before someone mentioned
    > it here), is there something to say that our
    > definition of success is skewed. Perhaps some
    > racially-influenced culture defines success in
    > a different way.

    Yes, our (if by “our”, you mean “popular culture’s”) definition of success is skewed. However, if by “our” you mean “people who actually study racial, sexual, and economic disparity in the U.S.”, then no, absolutely not. “Success” is typical a multi-factored metric, including measurements of health, income prosperity, leisure access, disposable income, family stability, psychological happiness, etc.

    > So, really, should we be judging the value of our
    > justice system based on the ideals and values of
    > a white middle-class male?

    Typically, people who study this sort of thing don’t do this. Google Scholar, my friend. Check it out. Sociology and economics conferences typically publish their conference papers online. Go read.

    The fact that political pundits, talk show hosts, and the average Joe Blog Commentator doesn’t actually do any research doesn’t mean that the answers to your questions aren’t already out there.

    @ Stats Guy

    That’s a wildly entertaining collection of complete and utter bullshit. You don’t deserve your tag.

    A real “stats guy” would compare income not on average, but weighted by socioeconomic background. Your non-existent actual numbers are completely meaningless if “blacks of Caribbean descent” have a higher income on average than white Americans because only wealthy “blacks of Caribbean descent” migrated to the United States to begin with. I personally haven’t seen any sociology papers which reference “blacks of Caribbean descent” as a particular measurable socioeconomic entity. What’s your actual source?

    Similarly, “most people in the US living below the poverty line are white” is equally pretty meaningless… if there’s 306 million Americans, and 75% of them are white (reference: CIA factbook… see how easy that was?), that means that there’s 229 million white Americans. If 12.4% are African-American, there are ~38 million black people.

    Okay, so if 15% of white Americans are below the poverty line, that means ~34 million white Americans are in poverty.

    By your entertaining “stat”, we could have 33 million African-Americans in poverty and that’s still be okay… in spite of the fact that 33 million African-Americans represents a whopping 87% of the subpopulation.

    Yeah, it’s thinking like that that keeps actual real institutionalized racism going strong…

  90. #90 Seigfried Cantrellamos
    April 8, 2010

    Today I was pulled over by black ladycop for speeding. She gave me a ticket. What good is my white privilege if I cannot use it?!

  91. #91 user@example.com
    April 8, 2010

    The comments thread is seriously not worth reading, but this is a good post anyway. Thanks for it.

  92. #92 Jud
    April 8, 2010

    Couple of interesting posts from Derek Hammer. This bit intrigued me:

    However, I’d hire, in a heartbeat, a white Australian that has travelled the world and has a great life experience to share with everyone over a hispanic woman that is a fourth generation american and has lived in suburbia all her life.

    World traveller? Great life experience to share with everyone? So folks with depressed/depressing backgrounds and way too poor to think of travelling the world wouldn’t be the type of people you’d “hire in a heartbeat”? Now, contemplate: If people with your attitudes are doing the hiring, what sort of work force (and non-working force) are we looking at?

    In a later comment, Derek mentions education as an alternative to affirmative action. I’d love to see it, but I doubt you’d find a single state in the USA willing to elect a governor and legislators on a platform of sharing out school funds equally between wealthy and poor areas. IIRC, an incumbent governor in a Northeastern state tried making some noises about this, and political reaction was swift and negative. So though it’s a wonderful suggestion, I’m afraid we have to look elsewhere for solutions to the problem of holding back qualified people due to their backgrounds.

    Speaking of holding back qualified people: It is a defense to an affirmative action case that the candidate is unqualified. Only candidates qualified for a particular position are required to be considered. Nor can quotas be used any longer, after a string of U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Thus any arguments about unqualified candidates or quotas are using strawmen.

    Finally, re “white guilt:” I don’t feel guilty about the privileges I’ve had. I do, however, recognize that I’ve had them. My financial privileges included a relatively comfortable youth. But we were not (at least by U.S. standards) wealthy, and I still remember fighting to hold back tears when my parents informed me that my first choice of colleges hadn’t come through with sufficient scholarship money to enable us to afford it. The fact that there are hundreds of thousands of other kids in the U.S. each year in the same position angers me as I think back to the emotions of that moment.

  93. #93 Martha
    April 8, 2010

    Sunset towns are stupid!

  94. #94 Roger Witte
    April 8, 2010

    I am of Ashkenazi Jewish stock and I grew up in North London). Throughout most of my life I didn’t think much about race issues, I just took the benefits of being white for granted. That isn’t to say I didn’t protest against fascist or other overt political racists, I just thought that I could be ‘colour blind’.

    Then, about eight years ago, I met a woman and fell in love with her. We married about a year later. She is a black Jamaican. Now I find I have to think about race issues all the time. I have to think about them because they impinge on my personal and family life profoundly, and all the time. Furthermore, most of these effects are small and, individually, I cannot be certain which particular incidents or decisions are directly down to race – I can just see that they accumulate differently according to race.

    Also it isn’t as simple as ‘White Good’ – ‘Black Bad': There are many subtle racisms. For example, here in the UK, there are subtle differences in the treatment of Caribbean black people and African black people (especially by each other). And these differences extend to their UK-born descendants.

    I have discovered that being able to (mostly) ignore race is a racially defined priviledge in our society.

  95. #95 Sharon Astyk
    April 8, 2010

    I truly wish I hadn’t read the comments thread since it is hard to retain the memory of the clarity and thoughtfulness of the original post after doing so. But good post.

    Sharon

  96. #96 Occasionally Racist Jew.
    April 8, 2010

    I too have occasional racist impulses, despite the fact that my sister married a black man, and my other sister married a mexican. And despite the fact that my mother was raise by a black woman while her biological mother drank herself to death. I say that so that people can see that I identify, to some extent, with MarkCC prior to saying this:

    I agree that your (Mark’s) characterization of affirmative action was the intent for which it was developed. However, that has not ended up being the result in many cases. As a person familiar with extremum based optimization, you will agree that any additional constraints will in general (though not always) reduce the value of the objective function at optimality. When quotas are instituted on institutional hiring practices, they fuction as a constraint. They will in general result in reduced values for the optimization of workforce quality. This isn’t because minorities are worse workers, it is because of the nature of systems.

    Now: quotas aren’t the only form of affirmative action. But quotas will, perforce, reduce the average quality of the workforce. For anyone who disagrees, I refer you to Dantzig.

  97. #97 Vicki
    April 8, 2010

    Robert–

    Yes, many of us see race as a social construct. How can it be otherwise, when my mother has been white since she was a teenager, and her parents weren’t white until they were middle-aged? When I’m white where I live but not in some of the places I visit? When a friend of mine is white in Montreal but not in London? When my nephew’s idea of how many white classmates he had was significantly higher than his parents’, because he defined anyone not visibly black as white, and his parents don’t think of Chinese-Canadians as white?

    If you disagree with that definition of race, I hope you have a different one. Please state it.

  98. #98 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    April 8, 2010

    @97:

    Yup, that’s one critical key issue: racial identity is based on social perceptions.

    I’m an ashkenazi Jew. That means that to some people, I’m white, and to some, I’m not.

    My wife is Chinese. Some people consider Chinese to be sort-of white; others don’t. (She doesn’t.)

    Our children are half-chinese, half ashkenazi – whether they’re perceived as white depends on how recent their haircut was. (I don’t understand why, but most people think they look more chinese when their hair is short.)

    But even getting away from the social issues: there’s simply no real definition of race that makes particularly good sense biologically. There’s no genetic marker that exists that you can look at and say “If you’ve got *this* gene, you’re black”, or “If you’ve got this *combination* of genes, you’re white”. What we call race is completely social – it doesn’t exist in any meaningful way biologically.

    One of my more annoying internet hobbies has been tweaking neo-nazi racist types, and trying to get them to define “white”. Because they *can’t* do it beyond the pornographic definition: I know it when I see it.

  99. #99 Dapo
    April 8, 2010

    Whites don’t owe blacks anything. Especially as we’re really the same homosapiens. I could go on but u know the truth anyway

  100. #100 KeithB
    April 8, 2010

    The problem is not so much that *life* is unfair, it is that *people* and *society* are unfair. And *that* we can fix.

    When I was visiting in India I was warned as we were driving through an obviously muslim section of town that “this was where all the gangs and crime was.” When I casually mentioned that I went to High School with gang members and stoners (I went to a public High School in a suburb of Los Angeles) they were clearly shocked.

  101. #101 frog
    April 8, 2010

    @41: Frog: Does *everyone* who disagrees with you carry “deep and insane guilt”? Just wondering.

    No — just the ones who make factually delusional statements, implying some sort of irrationality. When it’s white folks claiming that they have NO privilege, or some related nonsense, such as “But I’m poor white folks”, as if one kind of disprivilege makes the other non-existent — well, it’s quite easy to surmise that irrationality comes from an attempt to protect their idea of self-worth.

    Aka, insane guilt.

    And ain’t it funny that anti-racists are accused of “white guilt” on much flimsier bases (recognizing advantage implying an irrational emotional response to having that privilege), yet turn the argument around on a firm basis, and you get this kind of whining?

    Funny.

  102. #102 SC (Salty Current)
    April 8, 2010

    You already got it.

    Hilarious. I ask for a definition the Asian race, and you link to a site that describes how definitions of Asian vary widely. To which of those listed do you subscribe, and why? How does it constitute a biological race?

  103. #103 AnyEdge
    April 8, 2010

    You know SC, I agree with you that Robert C is not a particularly engaging person, and can’t really support his arguments. But employing the standard internet tactic of identifying logical fallacies followed by demanding further and further specific definitions doesn’t win any debates either. It is a deliberately obfuscative practice generally engaged in by persons without the ability to defend their own premises.

    By leading down an endless rabbit hole of definitions and meta-tactics, you are free never to respond to his true argument which you actually understand very well. It’s not a particularly enlightened method of debate, as it demonstrates only that you know the rules of debate, and not the practice. You’re like a chess player who has memorized a lot of openings: you defeat your opponants not by superior skill, but by an impressive knowledge of history. Until you meet someone who knows how to take you off the book line without ceding material. Then you’re lost.

  104. #104 Occasionally Racist Jew
    April 8, 2010

    Please note that what I wrote above assumes that the objective is in fact to hire the most highly qualified workforce. If the objective is not that, then while the quota constraint will result in a diminished optimal objective function value in general, it will be diminished compared to the nature of the objective. If the objective were, as Mark has argued, to keep white men employed, then that is what will be diminished. However, I suspect that this is a more complex system than merely bosses who seek to promulgate racism.

  105. #105 Gyeong Hwa Pak
    April 8, 2010

    Yup, that’s one critical key issue: racial identity is based on social perceptions.

    To take it further, racial identity is supported through phenotypic expressions, which can be extremely misleading.

    For example, I don’t look “typically Asian” despite being of Asian descent. So I have been told here in the US that I am Middle Eastern, Native American, African American, and Latino. OTOH, Cambodians have called me half-white.

    *turns and waves at SC

  106. #106 Caelius Spinator
    April 8, 2010

    The worst part about racism is even the most radical solutions don’t always work well. My current institution would love to have more black and Hispanic students. It has worked exceptionally hard to approach gender parity in its undergraduate student body and been largely successful. But similar efforts to recruit blacks and Hispanics have failed. The admissions office estimates that 1600 black and Hispanic students each year could be successful at the institution. (I forget that number includes those who would benefit from the pre-freshman camp they run for those minorities.) Basically, those in charge of admissions know that the faculty will not lower standards (and probably should not anyway) and consider it cruel to admit those insufficiently prepared to complete a degree. But if you’re in those 1600 and apply, you pretty much are admitted automatically.

    The end result is that few blacks and Hispanics apply, and those who are admitted go to the Ivy League. The institution’s only hope to be less lily-white and Asian is for math and science education to improve in the inner cities and the rural South. My undergraduate institution had a similar core curriculum (with a different emphasis) and was pretty much in the same boat.

    The best solution I’ve seen to the problem is the Harlem’s Children Zone, in which they try to give poor children in New York access to the same educational and other types of resources as suburban middle-class children. Then affirmative action really can work.

  107. #107 Pat Cahalan
    April 8, 2010

    @ 96/104 – Occasionally

    > When quotas are instituted on institutional hiring
    > practices, they fuction as a constraint. They will
    > in general result in reduced values for the
    > optimization of workforce quality. This isn’t
    > because minorities are worse workers, it is
    > because of the nature of systems.

    Human organizations are not the same sort of complex system as other complex systems. Your statement is based upon a premise which may or may not be valid. You would need to perform research to support your position. Another spoiler alert: even fairly bad quota systems do not have an overall impact on workforce performance in almost all organizations.

    Why? See below…

    > Please note that what I wrote above assumes
    > that the objective is in fact to hire the most
    > highly qualified workforce.

    That is *not the objective*, but it clearly illustrates why we have this situation. Lots of people *think* this is the objective. So it sounds reasonable on the face of it for people to argue against quota systems on this basis.

    However, the objective is to hire the most *effective and productive* workforce.

    In practice, hiring managers (due to limited domain experience) rely upon predictors of effectiveness that we tend to call “qualifications”. However, any person who studies organizations can tell you outright that most if not all of the predictors we call “qualifications” are very, very poor predictors. In fact, they’re largely utter crap. There’s lots of outstanding literature to support this.

    The SAT is not a predictor of academic capability. It tells you nothing about a student’s motivations, which is a much better indicator of undergraduate performance. A college GPA is a terrible predictor of post-graduate capabilities. Any single degree is a terrible predictor of workforce capability. Technical certifications are horrible predictors of actual technical capability. Even a resume with a long raft of experience tells you nothing about how well your new hire will work in your organization.

    So, generally, the resumes that float to the top of the pile are college educated people with interesting “life experience”, nice alphabet soup collections of degrees or certifications. Why? Because the workforce has more workers than jobs, and hiring managers are usually overworked. It cuts the resume pile by a factor of 10 and makes it so that they have to interview fewer people.

    It also happens to systematically weed out lots of high quality candidates and favor those aforementioned upper middle class and upper class white males. It’s not nefariousness, it’s just a result of viewing the objective incorrectly.

  108. #108 SC (Salty Current)
    April 8, 2010

    You know SC, I agree with you that Robert C is not a particularly engaging person, and can’t really support his arguments. But employing the standard internet tactic of identifying logical fallacies followed by demanding further and further specific definitions doesn’t win any debates either.

    Pointing to the logical fallacies in people’s arguments doesn’t win debates? Actually, yes, it generally does. And I haven’t demanded “further and further specific definitions.” I asked for a specific definition to begin with, which he was unable to provide, for the reasons Mark CC describes @ #98.

    It is a deliberately obfuscative practice generally engaged in by persons without the ability to defend their own premises.

    No, it isn’t either of those. I have asked people to make their argument clearly and support it. As you’ve acknowledged, Robert hasn’t done that.

    By leading down an endless rabbit hole of definitions and meta-tactics, you are free never to respond to his true argument which you actually understand very well.

    What are you talking about?

    It’s not a particularly enlightened method of debate, as it demonstrates only that you know the rules of debate, and not the practice.

    Huh?

    You’re like a chess player who has memorized a lot of openings: you defeat your opponants not by superior skill, but by an impressive knowledge of history.

    I suspect anyone who’s read my comments at Pharyngula for the past two years would tell you that you’re wrong. And for the record, I have a doctorate in sociology and teach about race and ethnicity, so I think I’m capable of making substantive arguments in this area (or of referring people to materials concerning more complex questions, as I did @ #30).

    Until you meet someone who knows how to take you off the book line without ceding material. Then you’re lost.

    Well, I haven’t been lost yet.

    But your concern is noted.

  109. #109 Deen
    April 8, 2010

    @Occasionally Racist Jew:

    They will in general result in reduced values for the optimization of workforce quality.

    Not necessarily. What quotas try to correct is a bias in the perceived quality of workers. Because of this bias, the selection of workers without the quotas could not be expected to result in an optimized actual quality of workers either. It’s therefore quite possible that while some will see a decline in perceived quality, the quotas may actually result in better actual quality.

  110. #110 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    Vicky: what you wrote is nothing else than an argument for a color-blind society, which is also my preference. Since there is no clear, just or even slightly rational definition of race (either in biological, or in social context), why not just get rid of the whole concept?

  111. #111 SC (Salty Current)
    April 8, 2010

    *waves to Gyeong Hwa Pak*

    Vicky: what you wrote is nothing else than an argument for a color-blind society, which is also my preference. Since there is no clear, just or even slightly rational definition of race (either in biological, or in social context), why not just get rid of the whole concept?

    Of course we need to get rid of the whole concept. But race as a social construct exists and continues to have real consequences for people. This has to be recognized and addressed. That racial categories are cultural constructs with no meaningful biological basis doesn’t change that.

  112. #112 Eamon
    April 8, 2010

    I am a racist – because I am a white man who has directly benefited from the unfair preferences that have been directed towards me all of my life.

    Well, if you’d appended ‘American’ to the front of the ‘white man’ I could have agreed with you to a point. As a Catholic Northern Irish white man I’ve been directly impacted by unfair prejudices that have been directed towards me all of my life, and now that I live in Japan I can be directly discriminated against because I am not racially Japanese.

  113. #113 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    Hilarious. I ask for a definition the Asian race, and you link to a site that describes how definitions of Asian vary widely. To which of those listed do you subscribe, and why? How does it constitute a biological race?

    If you are interested in a definition of the Asian race, then come up with some. I am not interested, because such definitions are unavoidably subjective and context-dependent, and, I repeat, I am not interested at all about splitting hair. If you want to dispute the correctness of my categorizing the Chinese and Indians as Asians, then the burden of proper argumentation to support such disagreement is YOURS, not mine.

  114. #114 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    But race as a social construct exists

    Race as a social construct exists only as long as as there is support for creating such social constructs. Affirmative action creates/amplifies such constructs, rather then recognizes their independent existence (perhaps there is a positive feedback). Proof? The success of many formerly unprivileged groups, and the lack thereof in the case of blacks (Latinos are about to become another victim of this politics).

  115. #115 Deen
    April 8, 2010

    @Caelius Spinator:

    But similar efforts to recruit blacks and Hispanics have failed.

    I think your example mostly shows that no single institution can fix the system on its own. It may well be that most equal opportunity programs at universities and businesses come too late for many people, because equal opportunities were already denied in primary and secondary school, or just by society as a whole.

  116. #116 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    One more thing, SC. It looks like we completely agree that we both dislike the concept of race. If you, however, are a proponent of affirmative action (I am not), then you unavoidably need some definition of race, to know against whom to discriminate, and who should benefit. Thus it is much more proper if I ask you for such definition, not the other way around.

  117. #117 That's just sad.
    April 8, 2010

    Wow, SC. You did exactly what he just chided you for. Like most doctors of soft sciences, you are gifted at blather and woefully inept at substance.

    As a person with a PhD in actual science (Electrical Engineering), I see right through your pathetic intellectual masturbation.

  118. #118 SC (Salty Current)
    April 8, 2010

    If you are interested in a definition of the Asian race, then come up with some. I am not interested, because such definitions are unavoidably subjective and context-dependent, and, I repeat, I am not interested at all about splitting hair. If you want to dispute the correctness of my categorizing the Chinese and Indians as Asians, then the burden of proper argumentation to support such disagreement is YOURS, not mine.

    You made claims about “Asians” in #33 and #36. The problems with these were pointed out to you by several people (especially Mark CC @ #42). Like others, I was trying to press you to understand that it is impossible to make general statements about the relative privilege of such an enormous and ill-defined category. Your argument contains a fundamental flaw. (I was also trying to drive home that race is a social construct, which you’ve now acknowledged.)

  119. #119 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    “equal opportunities were already denied in primary and secondary school, or just by society as a whole. “

    An immigrant from continental China overcomes potential racial/cultural prejudice, the language barrier and often also poverty much deeper than the one characteristic to U.S. inner cities. Yet I have plenty of Chinese colleagues at work, who didn’t benefit from any affirmative action. So, there must be some other factor at play than “denying the opportunities by the society”. The society did not deny this opportunity to non-Anglo Europeans. The society does not deny this opportunity to new immigrants from India or China. How come it suddenly denies it to blacks? Will you dare to consider the blasphemous notion that blacks deny the opportunity to themselves? (I know, I know, only Bill Cosby is allowed to say this.)

  120. #120 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    SC – I wasn’t the first one to use the concept of race in this discussion. First, the word “blacks” was used. So, I responded with a similarly underdefined “Asians”, in the same context (so, my usage of a common racial denominator is based on the exactly same principles that you guys use to define “blacks”, whatever these principles would be). Want to play with definitions? Define “black” first for me, and (primarily) for yourself.

    And I repeat, it is you, not me, who quite badly needs such definitions, because I am not a proponent of AA. You can’t have any AA without defining the eligibility, so please, go ahead, define the black race, and don’t try to turn the table on me by shifting the discussion toward the murky areas of anthropology. I, repeat, DON’T need race definitions. YOU DO, so it is your responsibility to come up with some definition that holds water.

  121. #121 SC (Salty Current)
    April 8, 2010

    Wow, SC. You did exactly what he just chided you for. Like most doctors of soft sciences, you are gifted at blather and woefully inept at substance.

    As a person with a PhD in actual science (Electrical Engineering), I see right through your pathetic intellectual masturbation.

    Ad hom rant containing nothing of substance.

    Race as a social construct exists only as long as as there is support for creating such social constructs. Affirmative action creates/amplifies such constructs, rather then recognizes their independent existence (perhaps there is a positive feedback). Proof? The success of many formerly unprivileged groups, and the lack thereof in the case of blacks (Latinos are about to become another victim of this politics).

    Let me see if I have this straight. Your argument is that “many formerly unprivileged groups,” which you won’t define and whose lack of privilege you have not demonstrated, have “succeeded,” while “blacks” (I assume you mean in the US) have not, and that the cause of this is the recognition of white privilege, prejudice, and discrimination and attempts to attenuate these? White privilege and racism would end if everyone ignored the problem and made no attempt to remedy the situation? Seriously? I find this whole “recognizing the effects of race makes you a racist and creates/drives inequality” line of argumentation simply ludicrous, and find it hard to believe that anyone can argue this with a straight face.

    One more thing, SC. It looks like we completely agree that we both dislike the concept of race. If you, however, are a proponent of affirmative action (I am not), then you unavoidably need some definition of race, to know against whom to discriminate, and who should benefit. Thus it is much more proper if I ask you for such definition, not the other way around.

    Affirmative action is not discrimination. Programs in a country of course use the definition that is prevalent in that culture, as this is the definition with social consequences. But I agree with Karabel in the book I cited above – that affirmative action should be extended to class. Also, the vast racial inequality in public education in the US has been amply demonstrated, and needs to be addressed. Affirmative action is only one of a set of changes that need to be made.

  122. #122 SC (Salty Current)
    April 8, 2010

    SC – I wasn’t the first one to use the concept of race in this discussion. First, the word “blacks” was used. So, I responded with a similarly underdefined “Asians”, in the same context (so, my usage of a common racial denominator is based on the exactly same principles that you guys use to define “blacks”, whatever these principles would be). Want to play with definitions? Define “black” first for me, and (primarily) for yourself.

    What aren’t you understanding here? You made arguments about Asians as a category not being privileged. What is your response to Mark CC @ #42?

    The society did not deny this opportunity to non-Anglo Europeans. The society does not deny this opportunity to new immigrants from India or China. How come it suddenly denies it to blacks?

    What?

  123. #123 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    “many formerly unprivileged groups,” which you won’t define”

    I DID define, expressly and in many places. It is not my fault that you don’t like these specific examples, because they are incompatible with your social theories (you would have to discuss “Chinese peasant privilege”, “Indian privilege” or “Eastern European privilege”, and this would be, naturally, quite ridiculous).

  124. #124 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    My response to #42 was in #52. If you want to dissect the Asians into “privileged” or “underprivileged” group, you have no right to treat blacks differently. Dissect too, because, just as there are privileged Asians, there are also privileged blacks.

  125. #125 Mu
    April 8, 2010

    Marc, the pure fact that you as a Jew are complaining about racial privilege shows that the situation you decry with the inner city schools is not all old-fashioned racism (roughly equivalenting antisemitism with skin-color based racism). Plenty of other people have pointed out that it’s not simply a question of “skin color”, we have successful “colored” immigrant groups from India, China, Korea, South America and the Caribbean. The only group that, on average, never made much progress is the one of African decent, and I’m starting to wonder if the cultural component hasn’t long overtaken the skin color one. We have 50 years (or two generations) of affirmative action, school equality etc, and nothing seems to make a difference. At which point are you going to stop with measures “righting past unequalities”? And what is the alternative approach after that?
    Throwing more money at the problem looks good, but, at least in my community, doesn’t seem to work. The latest data on graduation rates vs. cost per student show an inverse correlation, the high graduating HSs in the affluent neighborhoods actually are getting less money than the failing ones in the (Hispanic) poor areas, and have for at least a decade. Of course, that doesn’t correlate with areas of inner cities that don’t have a unified school district covering both affluent and poor areas, creating a true funding disparity due to the local tax base.
    But then, I always thought that the US is heavily undertaxed anyway, but that usually gets me yelled down as “socialist wealth redistributer”.

  126. #126 SC (Salty Current)
    April 8, 2010

    (you would have to discuss “Chinese peasant privilege”, “Indian privilege” or “Eastern European privilege”, and this would be, naturally, quite ridiculous).

    As has been made clear to you by more than one person, there is nothing ridiculous about recognizing that some groups in China, India,* and Eastern Europe are extremely privileged relative to black people in the US. This is a simple statement of fact. Again, do you have a response to Mark CC @ #42?

    *Note that these two countries do not comprise the entirety of Asia.

  127. #127 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    #122, the last paragraph. What “what”? I wrote quite clearly that people coming here without money, without adequate command of the English language, without the support of the “old boys Anglo club”, can (and quite regularly do) succeed. More regularly, actually, than the blacks, who are MORE privileged, comparing to a Chinese peasant, for example.

    The conclusion from this is: the society DOES NOT deny any opportunities to minorities/newcomers/aliens, or whatever you call them. So, it is unlikely that it singles out blacks, while accepting Indians, Chinese, Romanians (do you realize what Romania was, just several years ago?) and so on. I do not believe that this argument is difficult to understand. I do believe, however, that it breaches a taboo, and this is evident from the attempts to create the dychotomy “white oppressors/black victims”, while removing any references to successful minorities.

  128. #128 Deen
    April 8, 2010

    @Robert C:

    The society does not deny this opportunity to new immigrants from India or China.

    You fail to see that the people from China and India that come here have already been greatly privileged in their own societies. They belong to the tiny fraction of their society that were given the possibility to go to college and study and work abroad. The vast majority of them are all still living in poverty back in India or China.

    How come it suddenly denies it to blacks?

    “Suddenly”? What rock have you been living under?

  129. #129 MRM
    April 8, 2010

    Great post. Thank you for heading down this decidedly non-mathematical tangent for a bit.

    In my life, two things have helped me open my eyes and see for myself with unnerving clarity much of what you describe above: (1) When I researched my own ethnic history and learned more about why my family came to the US. (2) When I married a girl much like me who happened to be born in South America and who happened to natively speak Spanish.

    To the first point, my family’s heritage is Irish. Specifically, we are from a rural town near the border between the current Republic of Ireland and the UK. When I first stumbled across a sign in an antique shop that said simply: “Help wanted. Irish need not apply.”, my entire worldview changed. I immediately started noticing people who live under those [mostly unstated] rules today.

    To the second point, it is unbelievable how often I’ll hear derogatory prejudicial comments from my English speaking colleagues about hispanics. The conversation changes completely when they hear me speak Spanish fluently. Sadly, there are large portions of my own family who look at my wife differently than they would if she had been born in the States.

    @#114: pseudointelligent rubbish. It sounds great when stated once. Suppose affirmative action and all the so called artificial “social constructs” you describe were to suddenly be removed entirely. What then? How long do you suppose pockets of underprivileged minorities would remain underprivileged and isolated? An extension of your comment, if I assume that you are a decent person at heart, is that these pockets would eventually disappear once our artificial constructs are removed. I posit that the opposite would occur. As evidence, I cite the fact that underprivileged pockets of society exist in all modern cultures around the world. Unfortunately this appears to be a cancer that is hardwired into us.

  130. #130 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    Again, My response to #42 was in #52, and again, it is not my fault that it is incompatible with certain theories dear to your heart. That’s just how it is. As an academic scientist, I worked with people born in China, as children of peasants. These people frequently had not enough to eat, they lived through cultural revolution, some had their relatives killed. They, as a rule, came to the United States without speaking adequate English. The immigration system actively discriminated and still discriminates against them. Yet they succeed, and this is evident to anyone who opens his/her eyes during a seminar at any U.S. university. Comparing to these people, American blacks, having access to free education and welfare programs, are PRIVILEGED All of them, I am not even mentioning privileged blacks such as Obama.

  131. #131 SC (Salty Current)
    April 8, 2010

    My response to #42 was in #52. If you want to dissect the Asians into “privileged” or “underprivileged” group, you have no right to treat blacks differently. Dissect too, because, just as there are privileged Asians, there are also privileged blacks.

    Yes, but we’re talking about groups and societies. You haven’t described a systematic differentiation among black people in the US as Mark CC did in the case of China with regard to ethnicity and region. Moreover, money doesn’t cancel out race effects. Even the most famous, wealthiest black people in the US are still disadvantaged by their perceived race. But this is why I agree with Karabel and others that affirmative action admissions policies should be extended to class.

    And this isn’t “dissecting”; it’s appreciating social realities. There are systems of stratification in other countries that systematically privilege some groups, and people in the privileged groups on average benefit from that. That doesn’t mean that no one from the subordinate groups in these societies “succeeds” or that everyone in the dominant groups does, but on average levels of “success” follow the system of stratification. Also, it should be noted that in every one of these societies an ideology has been constructed to justify inequalities, usually through claiming that there is something inherent in the people at the bottom or top of the hierarchy that keeps them there.

  132. #132 Tim Martin
    April 8, 2010

    Mark, I wanted to ask you some questions about the “reacting to minorities with fear” issue, because I feel it’s a phenomenon people criticize somewhat unjustly.

    This is just a starting point, but I’d like to ask some specifics about the fear that you experience. If you’re alone on a subway car and a black woman walks on, is that any less frightening than a black man? What if a black man walks on who is wearing a suit – is that less frightening than a black man in casual clothes? What if an Asian man walks on – does that cause fear as well? You talk about reacting to “minorities” with fear, but are there differences in your level of fear based on other factors, like… *which* particular minority someone is, their gender, what they’re wearing, how they hold themselves, etc? I know there are with me. Assuming there are with you, as well, do you think these differences in subjective fear have any basis in reality? Do you think the fact that black Americans are vastly overrepresented in violent crime in this country has something to do with fearing them more than other groups?

  133. #133 Jud
    April 8, 2010

    Robert C. writes:

    An immigrant from continental China overcomes potential racial/cultural prejudice, the language barrier and often also poverty much deeper than the one characteristic to U.S. inner cities. Yet I have plenty of Chinese colleagues at work, who didn’t benefit from any affirmative action. So, there must be some other factor at play than “denying the opportunities by the society”. The society did not deny this opportunity to non-Anglo Europeans. The society does not deny this opportunity to new immigrants from India or China.

    Ah, but they did. Ask the children and grandchildren of non-anglo Europeans who immigrated in the early 20th Century, the descendants of Chinese railroad workers, etc., how much “opportunity” the immigrant generation received. Have their descendants achieved rough equivalence in socio-economic status in less time than the descendants of African slaves? Arguably yes, but there are a welter of reasons for this, such as lack of identifiability of non-Anglo Europeans once accents and/or last names change; and the lack of a thorough program of legal discrimination in most of the areas where these immigrants resided within the U.S.

    How come it suddenly denies it to blacks? Will you dare to consider the blasphemous notion that blacks deny the opportunity to themselves?

    Millions of Jews in Poland lived in ghettoes in less than wonderful financial circumstances and were very much considered lower class by other Poles. These people emigrated to the U.S. and again lived mainly in their own lower-class enclaves. They were not among the intellectual, financial, or political leadership in either place. Several generations pass after the early 20th Century, and voila! – Americans of European Jewish ancestry are no one’s idea of a group needing affirmative action.

    By contrast, it is still just a couple of generations since the descendants of slaves experienced thoroughgoing legal discrimination in schooling, choice of residence, employment, and other areas; it is less than a generation since laws regarding aid to the poor were changed so as not to preferentially penalize two-parent families; and social and covert discrimination continue through the present day. So, first – if you would like to see the descendants of slaves raise themselves up, give ‘em some time, at least as much as other groups have had that haven’t experienced (in the U.S. at least) quite the same degree of historical and contemporary discrimination as the slave descendants have. Second (remembering that hiring unqualified people is not required under the law, and that quotas are now illegal), I don’t have a problem helping folks realize opportunities for which they’re qualified, do you?

  134. #134 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    “but on average levels of “success” follow the system of stratification”

    The example of the advancement of Asian Americans turns the “system of stratification” upside down, and it will take a great deal of equilibristics to attribute the indisputable success of this WHOLE ETHNIC GROUP solely to wealthy individuals.

  135. #135 Deen
    April 8, 2010

    @Robert C: yes, you worked with a number of successful immigrants. But don’t you see that that is a very biased sample? Either they were very privileged, or unusually bright and/or hard-working to overcome all the obstacles you mentioned. Only a small fraction will make it, but a small fraction of a billion people is still a lot of people.

    But what about all the Chinese who didn’t make it out of the country? And all the ones that are stuck doing unskilled labor in the US?

  136. #136 manuelg
    April 8, 2010

    quoting Robert C.

    > The conclusion from this is: the society DOES NOT deny any opportunities to minorities/newcomers/aliens, or whatever you call them.

    Awesome. Glad we settled that.

    Why does a certain type of mind so easily conflate (1) the possibility of opportunities to advance socially and economically and (2) really existing privileged social and economic status?

    It is like confusing (1) a manufacturers coupon for macaroni and cheese with (2) a steak dinner, already in the belly, in the process of being digested.

    These bed-wetters, full of terror at any critical eye viewing their current social status, betray their own worthlessness. Because if they possessed the gumption and ability to provide value to others for remuneration in a marketplace, they would then possess the confidence that they could withstand any reversal of fortune.

    Did you really think we wouldn’t notice your mania, or, the source of the mania, your pathetic terror of critical judgement of your status?

    Feel free to spare me your reply – I care too much for my socks to permit you to nip at my ankles.

    Cheers, and let us all celebrate dry bed-sheets.

  137. #137 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    “Ah, but they did. Ask the children and grandchildren of non-anglo Europeans who immigrated in the early 20th Century, the descendants of Chinese railroad workers, etc., how much “opportunity” the immigrant generation received. “

    Ah, an EXCELLENT point! Add to this the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act, or the still existing immigration quota. And explain to me WHY, despite this past (and partially also present) discrimination, this group succeeded (without AA), while the blacks still can’t (with AA, free education,
    welfare and thousands of concerned well wishers).

    “Have their descendants achieved rough equivalence in socio-economic status in less time than the descendants of African slaves? Arguably yes, but there are a welter of reasons for this, such as lack of identifiability of non-Anglo Europeans

    Yes, yes, and yes, and as for the identifiablity, this argument crumbles when you forget to exclude the Chinese from the reasoning. They are identifiable too, aren’t they?

    The lack of success of blacks CAN be argued in terms of the the relative privilege of blacks vs. whites. But this is an UNTRUE dychotomy. There are other minorities as well, sometimes even less privileged than blacks, and generally they succeeded (identifiable or not).

  138. #138 Wilson
    April 8, 2010

    When I’m on an empty subway train, and a black person gets on, my instinctive reaction is fear. I hate the fact that that’s my reaction. I believe that it’s completely wrong. I was taught by my parents that it’s wrong. I deeply believe that it’s wrong. But it doesn’t change the fact that because that bias is so prevalent that I absorbed it, and it’s a part of me. That does make me a racist – because I don’t react that way when a white person, or an asian person gets onto the train.

    I guess that makes me a ‘clothes-ist’. If a well-dressed (or even just neat and clean, I hope) black person were to get on that subway car, I would have less fear (I think) than if an obvious white skinhead or an Asian guy (or woman, for that matter) who looked like he belonged to a gang did.

  139. #139 Robert C.
    April 8, 2010

    Dean: No, I don’t see it as a biased sample. I have not met anyone who came here with a suitcase of money (this includes myself too).
    Indeed, they are hard working, but if you see the ability and willingness to work hard as a “privilege”, which needs to be straightened up by AA, then it just illustrates the depth of the ideological rift between us and the impossibility to reconcile our positions.

  140. #140 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    April 8, 2010

    @132:

    Good questions, which reveal some important things.

    I do react different depending on the ethnicity of a person getting onto a subway train. I do not in general react with fear to asian people. I do when the people are black or hispanic. I do react more strongly to men than to women than to men, and more strongly to people who are dressed in certain ways.

    Does any of this have to do with crime rates? Perhaps. But I don’t know what the crime rates are. But on some level I have internalized the idea that certain people are more scary, more dangerous, more likely to do something harmful to me than others. On a deep level, in spite of facts, I believe that a random black person getting onto the subway is more likely to do something harmful than a random white person.

    And yet – I’ve never been hurt in any way by a black person. I’ve never been robbed by a black person. I’ve never been threatened by a black person. But I *have* been robbed, threatened, and beaten by white people. So why do I react on a general basis to members of a group who have never done anything to me to inspire that reaction, but I don’t react to the group of people who have?

    The thing about crime rates, at least where I live and work, is that they’re very low. The odds of any person, regardless of skin color, ethnicity, or any other perceived factor is going to do anything to me is extremely low. It’s low enough that even if a member of a group is, say, five times more likely to harm me, that risk is still so low that it’s foolish to react in fear to them. It’s like saying that as a New Yorker, I’m ten times more likely to die in a flood than in an earthquake. That’s absolutely true. But I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about floods; when it’s raining, I don’t spend time worrying about whether the street I’m on is safe if there’s a flash flood.

    I’ve come into Manhattan for work an average of four times a week for over three years. That’s not counting all of the times that my wife and I come into the city for non-work reasons. I’ve shared subway platforms, streets, etc., with at least tens of thousands of different people. In that time, I’ve never been threatened by anyone. (The two times in my life that I was robbed were in the campus area of New Brunswick NJ, and in a mall in Christiana Delaware.)

    The fear is completely unreasonable. It’s based on *perceptions* of danger, not by actual danger. And those perceptions and fears are learned responses. We’re constantly told that black people and hispanic people are more likely to be criminals than whites – and I’ve obviously internalized that. And yet – it’s not particularly true. (In fact, as a white person, I’m safer with black people than with white; the real statistics are that the vast majority of crime by black people is black-on-black crime.)

  141. #141 Pat Cahalan
    April 8, 2010

    @ Robert C

    Again, there are reams of literature that actually address the questions you’re posting. You’re acting like nobody studies this stuff.

    This is an indicator that you’re not a critical consumer of research.

    You’re insisting upon some sort of direct comparison between a class of immigrants and another class of people altogether, as if people magically pop into existence as they cross the border/reach maturity. Sociological factors impacting access and class mobility don’t work that way, dude.

    Someone might come from a country where they are fleeing actual genocide. In their home country, they may have been a long suffering minority. They come here, and that context is changed. Certainly, they may still have barriers to entry. Certainly, they still may have mobility problems. But the central context of their existence is that they *left* a place where their personal safety and existence was threatened on a daily basis, and came to a place where that is not the case.

    Compare to someone who grows up in the projects. They are under served, under educated, likely to come from a fractured home environment, surrounded by an environment with few successful role models, if any, and lots and lots of negative role models.

    Sure, they’re not being hunted down and executed because they’re Muslim or Christian or Hutu or Tutsi or Slavic or whatever. Arguably, they have it “better”, as a base, than someone who came from one of those environments.

    Doesn’t matter, though. Because part of the human condition is that safety and security are relative measures, not ordinal ones. Even if Person A comes from horrible country and goes straight to the projects and lives right next door to Person B… even if they’re subjected to discrimination *by the people like Person B*, they still have a major advantage that Person B doesn’t have. They’ve experienced progress.

    People take advantages of opportunities when they perceive opportunities as being present.

  142. #142 SC (Salty Current)
    April 8, 2010

    The example of the advancement of Asian Americans turns the “system of stratification” upside down, and it will take a great deal of equilibristics to attribute the indisputable success of this WHOLE ETHNIC GROUP solely to wealthy individuals.

    You’re very confused. Are you denying that systems of stratification exist in China and India that privilege some groups over others? That this leads to differences in outcomes across groups? That some groups in Asia can be privileged relative to black people in the US? That immigrants from more privileged groups in these countries (as the second large wave of Chinese immigrants since the ’60s is) have better chances than less privileged groups? You haven’t defined what you mean by Asian (are you only including recent Chinese and Indian immigrants to the US? Their children?*), and now you’re claiming the “indisputable success of THIS WHOLE ETHNIC GROUP”? On what basis? As far as attributing anything to wealthy individuals, I have no idea what you mean.

    *By the way, the poverty rate among Asian Americans is 50% higher than that among white people. 1-2 million Asian Americans live in poverty. You don’t think about that probably because these are mostly people from Southeast Asia and you likely haven’t met them at work. It might help you to gain some perspective if you did some research into different groups of black people who have immigrated to the US from African countries…

  143. #143 Jud
    April 8, 2010

    Robert C. writes:

    Chinese Exclusion Act, or the still existing immigration quota

    These banned immigration, and are not at all the same as laws enforcing discrimination on those already resident, as I pointed out in my comment #133 (which you conveniently elided from your quote of it).

    this argument crumbles when you forget to exclude the Chinese from the reasoning

    I didn’t forget. As pointed out above, you conveniently failed to quote the part of my comment contrasting the slave descendants’ situation to that of Asian as well as Anglo-European immigrants: the lack of a thorough program of legal discrimination in most of the areas where these immigrants resided within the U.S.

  144. #145 skeptifem
    April 8, 2010

    THANK YOU! People seem to think you have to intend racism or sexism for it to happen. It is an uncomfortable conclusion, that most people are by default racist and sexist, because we actually have to *do* something about it.

    When people do that whole ‘liberals are the real racists’ thing, I reply that the inequality is so consistently racial that either something is just wrong with black people, or they are being systematically oppressed. I don’t know how they can square all that personal responsibility bs with the statistics- there would certainly have to be something wrong with black people if they have an equal chance at pulling themselves up and just fail to do so.

  145. #146 Mu
    April 8, 2010

    Pat @ 141, I really liked that interpretation of why some recent black immigrants are succeeding where african-americans fail, due to them seeing success. But it plays again to the notion of cultural difference, not racial discrimination from the rest of society being the decisive difference (at least assuming that your average racist will be at least as bigoted against immigrants as he’s against african-americans).

  146. #147 Isabel
    April 8, 2010

    “Nobody says the things about Canadian or English immigrants that they do about Latinos.”

    This is completely wrong. Learn something about the immigration of French Canadians. They were treated like shit. Definitely not welcomed.

    Many other “ethnic whites” were treated as badly or worse.

  147. #148 skeptifem
    April 8, 2010

    God, people who whine about affirmative action remind me of the people who whine about social security. Maybe you knobs should look into the circumstances when affirmative action was put in place, so you actually understand why this was done at all. It is easy to criticize social programs when you don’t have to face the consequence of their absence. If you actually had to look at the condition of affected people before the programs were put in place you would feel foolish about questioning their usefulness.

  148. #149 Dana
    April 8, 2010

    Re. the affirmative action question:

    Like others have said, there is an enormous amount of data showing that being wealthy, white and/or male gives an artificial advantage in school and job placement, compared to equally qualified candidates of other backgrounds. Google Scholar would be a good place to start for anyone interested in seeing the studies.

    The whole point of AA is that the best minority students / employees in the rejection pile were likely rejected because of their background, not because of their qualifications. Likewise, the worst white male students / employees in the acceptance pile, the ones who could get “bumped” due to AA, were likely viewed as acceptable because of their race or gender.

  149. #150 Mu
    April 8, 2010

    Big difference between affirmative action and social security. AA directly affects someone else negatively, the person who would have gotten the job, scholarship, business contract etc instead of the beneficiary of AA. SS on the other hand is a slight sacrifice in the form of SS taxes, broadly spread onto society without “victims” (other than those that consider any form of taxation robbery).

  150. #151 Khalihs
    April 8, 2010

    I agree that Mark is racist, just by the comments he’s written; reacting “instinctively” with fear to people of other ethnic appearances is both racist and non-instinctive.

    It may be your gut reaction, but it’s not instinctive. Children that are brought up in mixed neighborhoods don’t have this issue; so instinct is out.

    When I see a black person (or anybody else, for that matter), my typical reaction is to smile & nod at them – acknowledge that they exist. If they add any extra animation, I’m going to look at them like “wtf, man?” – but I do that to everybody.

    You may wish to call the human genome project, though, and let them know about this new source of data you have that states that there are no genetic markers to identify different “races” – they’ve been operating under the assumption that there is. Even scientific magazines claim there are. You must be ahead of the times, to be able to state this opinion on “scienceblogs” without reprisal.

    Here are a few things you may not know: “white” and “black” are colors, not races; not ethnicities. Not all “black” people have the same cultural identity. That, and very few “black” people are actually “black” – compare a native Somali with the President if you don’t understand this distinction.

    A standard DNA test used by police forensic scientists can differentiate between Hispanic and African descent; people use DNA tests all the time to see if the have any Native American Indian in their lineage. You’re making as scientific fact, statements of ignorance.

    Which is pretty much what racists have done for ages.

    Maybe you need to move out of your Sunset Town – or do you stay there because you feel more secure without minorities around? That’s not my fault; that doesn’t make me racist, just because you are.

    My issue is that I’m a “SFBA-elitist” – I don’t think anyone not brought up in my area can truly understand people not brought up in my area. I believe that non-SFBA natives don’t value diversity or education enough; and lack critical thinking skills. And I believe that affirmative action is overused as a tool.

    The technology exists today to completely take gender / race / ethnicity out of the the hiring process. Completely. With few exceptions, industry-wise.

    The bigger issue for “racism” is that “race”, biologically speaking, equals “species”; we are all the same race: Homo sapiens. This other stuff is sub-species; which most avoid saying, as Racists will latch onto that as something worth noting. But in the sense of breeding successfully, etc; we’re all the same.

    In the sense of genetic markers that correlate to advantages our ancestors evolved to better suit their dominant historical environments, we do have those; but still the same species.

    To another poster, I forget who now; I’m anti-illegal immigration; period. That includes Canadians, Russians, Serbs, Irish (drools), English; if you have a valid reason for emmigrating to here, do so; but go through established channels, so we can make sure you’re not a fugitive, on a terrorist watch list, or harboring some rare contagion. Couldn’t care less, after that.

    I’ll admit I’m a minority in not being inherently racist. I’m fine with that. Most of my peers in the microcosm of the SFBA would feel the same way, I’m sure.

    The small town I live in is racist, though more towards Hispanics than blacks. But it’s Tennessee – I’m finally accustomed to the fact that people here do not think like back home. But with the poor education system in this rural community, and the lack of good job opportunities, it’s not difficult to understand.

    Poor doesn’t discriminate; if you live in a bad economic area, you have poorer opportunities than if you live in an affluent one. Most of my friends are white; not by any choice of mine, but because most minorities seem to distrust me out here – given that it is a rural community, that doesn’t surprise me much.

    Culturally, I suppose I’m an Irish-Norwegian-American; okcupid.com states that my matches worldwide are mostly in norway/scandinavia/germany/etc – I found that amusing. My humor is decidedly Irish. My upbringing is very SFBA American. I love sourdough and garlic, and intellectual people; but I have family cultural values passed down generationally from Ireland, Germany, Norway and Appalachia (trust me, it’s different).

    But I’m not racist; as Ice-T alluded to in Body Count, I don’t care what ethnicity you are as a woman; I’m open to “having fun”. I make no distinctions in whom I pursue or show an interest in dating.

    But if I was on a Subway, and a black man walked on, and I saw you recoiling in fear “instinctively”, you can bet I’ll shoot you a dirty look. That’s simply a rude behavior on your part. :p

  151. #152 khalihs
    April 8, 2010

    @148 Yes, AA was needed for social reform when it was enacted, but it was poorly constructed for modern times; and is unnecessary if we’d simply employ technology to create a submission system that “Orson Welles” the hiring process.

    The big challenge being the personal interaction aspect.

    I see VR technology as the best answer to that, and developing models that fully capture individual movements and mannerisms. That way every candidate could interact with interviewers through a proxy program that would standardize all outwardly projected factors, and candidates would be hired based on qualifications and presentation skills solely.

  152. #153 gwangung
    April 8, 2010

    Do you realize people of Japanese, Hong Kong and Korean ancestry have higher incomes on average than white Americans?

    On a per capita basis compared to other folks in the same area? (You do realize that comparing, say, Japanese Americans in Hawaii to whites in Mississippi might be a bit misleading, right?)

  153. #154 khalihs
    April 8, 2010

    @148 Yes, AA was needed for social reform when it was enacted, but it was poorly constructed for modern times; and is unnecessary if we’d simply employ technology to create a submission system that “Orson Welles” the hiring process.

    The big challenge being the personal interaction aspect.

    I see VR technology as the best answer to that, and developing models that fully capture individual movements and mannerisms. That way every candidate could interact with interviewers through a proxy program that would standardize all outwardly projected factors, and candidates would be hired based on qualifications and presentation skills solely.

  154. #155 Duff
    April 8, 2010

    Excellent first-hand account of white privilege. Refreshingly honest!

  155. #156 Brett Stevens
    April 8, 2010

    You’re right: you’re a racist.

    You have a problem with the idea that non-“diverse” societies exist, even though the historical record of “diverse” societies is one of failure.

    You have made hating the majority into your own form of “enlightened” bigotry.

    That’s a racist.

    On the other hand, someone who wants to live in a non-“diverse” society in order to preserve his or her culture, heritage, language and values is a Nationalist.

    And we are rising in number as people see that “diversity” itself — not the ethnic ingredients thereof — is the problem.

  156. #157 SC (Salty Current)
    April 8, 2010

    You may wish to call the human genome project, though, and let them know about this new source of data you have that states that there are no genetic markers to identify different “races” – they’ve been operating under the assumption that there is.

    No, they haven’t.

    Even scientific magazines claim there are. You must be ahead of the times, to be able to state this opinion on “scienceblogs” without reprisal.

    Wrong. Provide evidence from the scientific literature for the existence of human races/subspecies groups, defining them and describing their biological basis. (By the way, if you’re going to cite Rosenberg or Bamshad, you should read chapter 4 of Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age, which is available online at Google Books.)

    Race is a useless concept for science.

  157. #158 speedwell
    April 8, 2010

    Just curious… Mark, you said:

    I’ve never been hurt in any way by a black person. I’ve never been robbed by a black person. I’ve never been threatened by a black person. But I *have* been robbed, threatened, and beaten by white people.

    How do you compare your reaction to white people who remind you of the people who hurt you with your reaction to black people who you are most likely to react to, though none of them have ever done anything to you?

  158. #159 Anonymous
    April 8, 2010

    skeptifem said: People seem to think you have to intend racism or sexism for it to happen.

    Hmm, OK. What do you call someone who, despite their preconditioning and life in a racist culture, is honest about their shortcomings and systematically strives to eliminate racist thoughts from their mind and actions from their life? Do you still call that person “a racist,” or is there a better name for it that doesn’t leave the seeker frustrated and angry that his bona-fide efforts get him the same pejorative, insulting name?

  159. #160 speedwell
    April 8, 2010

    Sorry, Anonymous 159 was me.

  160. #161 Anonymous
    April 8, 2010

    So kill yourself already so we stop having to listen to your whining.

  161. #162 anon
    April 8, 2010

    Why not even the playing field? If it bothers the author enough to write such nonsense, why don’t people such as him find all these wonderful, talented, deprived non-whites and trade jobs. Then, historical grievances will be rectified and whites who haven’t yet been notified of the privileges that automatically come with their skin color can then compete
    for the remaining crumbs with such painfully privileged whites.

  162. #163 Evan A.
    April 8, 2010

    Once upon a time, I would’ve agreed with you, but now I look at the global picture. How would your much vaunted white privilege benefit you in China, Japan, India, or Zimbabwe?

    Nonwhites are very more than welcome to live in a nation where their racial group is more than 90% of the population.

    As long as a race of people have to rely on a different race to provide them jobs and other opportunities, then they will never truly be equal. The same thing applies to women who believe in the Glass Ceiling.

    Can you imagine Whites whining about why the Blacks or Asians won’t hire them? Of course not! WE do not need them to provide jobs for us. If we are shut out of jobs, schools, clubs, or anything else, then we simply make our own opportunities; and we will make them better!

    The best cure for your ailment is to simply relocate to the nonwhite paradise of your choice. Remember this, if you are stuck living with racists, you are far better off living with racists of your own kind.

  163. #164 Pat Cahalan
    April 8, 2010

    > Big difference between affirmative action and
    > social security. AA directly affects someone
    > else negatively, the person who would have
    > gotten the job, scholarship, business contract
    > etc instead of the beneficiary of AA.

    Er, you either aren’t reading the whole thread or you’re deliberately ignoring a large part of it.

    This may actually occur, but it’s hardly an injustice if there is no actual reasonable way to determine that the person who *would* have gotten the job instead of the beneficiary of AA… *should* have gotten the job instead of the beneficiary of AA.

    As I said above, most predictors for job success are poor predictors. Saying that someone who matches a bunch of those predictors has some sort of “right” to the job is a bunch of hooey; their rights are not being infringed by the potential employer passing them over.

    I’ve been in the workforce for almost a quarter century now, everything from blue collar jobs on up. In my experience, the actual competency distribution works something like this: maybe 5% of any given organization actually excels at their job. Another 45% is competent, but not so much that they couldn’t be replaced by anyone else who was competent. 35% are largely ineffective, and the last 15% are downright net negative contributors.

    The differentiators between the ineffective and the excellent employees is mostly intangible; things that wouldn’t show up on the resume at all.

    Sure, forcing a quota system has its own problems (to be clear, I’m not a fan myself), but if your main argument against quotas is that “they’re not fair”, you’re just kidding yourself.

  164. #165 Dwayne Oliver
    April 8, 2010

    Ah, look at me! Look how sensitive and insightful I am! Look at how much I care! I see so many things you ordinary people who don’t have my profound awareness and deep moral commitment can’t possibly see! Aren’t you so lucky to have beautiful people like me to show you how mundane and insensitive you are? You’re not as good as me at all. I work so very hard to purge myself of all traces of racism, and the rest of you haven’t even really begun. I’m a special, superior kind of person elevated far above the vulgar masses, and you ignorant rednecks ought to be glad you have people like me around to show you the way to enlightenment.

  165. #166 Anonymous
    April 8, 2010

    “Once upon a time, I would’ve agreed with you, but now I look at the global picture. How would your much vaunted white privilege benefit you in China, Japan, India, or Zimbabwe?

    Nonwhites are very more than welcome to live in a nation where their racial group is more than 90% of the population.

    As long as a race of people have to rely on a different race to provide them jobs and other opportunities, then they will never truly be equal. The same thing applies to women who believe in the Glass Ceiling.

    Can you imagine Whites whining about why the Blacks or Asians won’t hire them? Of course not! WE do not need them to provide jobs for us. If we are shut out of jobs, schools, clubs, or anything else, then we simply make our own opportunities; and we will make them better!

    The best cure for your ailment is to simply relocate to the nonwhite paradise of your choice. Remember this, if you are stuck living with racists, you are far better off living with racists of your own kind.”

    ——————————–I am from China. Don’t know about Japan, India, or Zimbabwe, but you surely do have BIG white privilege in China. Yes, the Whites are a majority in America, and they have privilege; the Whites are a minority in China, and there they have privilege too.

  166. #167 Jason
    April 8, 2010

    If how well you do in school is determined by what school can afford books, etc., care to explain why whites from families making 10K or less a year outscore blacks whose families make more than 70K?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1995-SAT-Income2.png

  167. #168 Mike
    April 8, 2010

    Mark – you’re a knob, too.

  168. #170 Eric
    April 8, 2010

    So, because YOU grew up wealthy and privileged and now feel guilty about it, that means that the vast majority of whites who didn’t grow up in your circumstances have to foot the bill via programs like affirmative action? You know that’s what happens, right? It’s not the highly educated work-force or the owners of production who built their fortunes on the backs of the white, black, brown, etc. working classes who have to sacrifice. Hell no. It’s predominantly the white grunts who don’t even get to be grunts anymore who have to pay the price. Thanks a lot, man. Then again, I should also commend you for supporting a program that keeps the working-classes divided along racial lines instead of uniting and pointing their wrath where it firmly belongs, on you. No need to kiss anyone’s ass with your fake white “sensitivity,” you’ve got us plenty divided, conquered, and mollified with things like compassionate “reverse discrimination.” Idiot.

  169. #171 Joe
    April 8, 2010

    If you are a racist then google should fire you.

    If you feel so guilty then donate your salary sell, your home and spend the rest of your life in helping others. Otherwise you are a hypocrite.

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