Race and Culture

Avatar

Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

Related Post Roulette

284 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    I think people from “other cultures”/White people can and should work to help people in minority communities. We are one country and we should consider ourselves one people. If we only hold out a hand to people that look like ourselves then we are still mired in racism. It is in working together to build up that we can break down the barriers that seperate us.

    I’ve seen “outsiders” help minority communities do well and i’ve seen it work poorly. The essential trick is that the people from outside need to let the minority community lead. The white fold need to take a back seat and be led. For example we have a huge problem in Ak Native communities with chronic alcoholism. White folk really can’t go into 99% native remote villages to do much good. However we could open up and staff (mixed native and white) alcohol treatment facilities, run AA programs and help to develop and implement statewide education programs to youth. Ak Native people want and have asked for all these things so it isn’t a situation where the white folk ran in to save the poor natives. Instead they/we said, you tell us how we can help.

    There have been a lot of ugliness in various minority movements when they were solely led by white men who tended to not listen, keep the leadership to themselves and think it was all about them.Report

  2. Avatar Stillwater says:

    I dunno, Mike. It seems to me you’re wondering if the same culture that demands to be left alone (conservatives whites?) is allowed to mess with other cultures (black teens?). Is that right?

    Unless I’m misunderstanding your argument, I’d have to say no.Report

  3. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Racism is the idea that all members of a race possess certain universal characteristics and these characteristics can be classified as either inferior or superior to those of other races.

    I would say that the latter clause describes a common but not essential feature of racism.

    Circling back to my example, we know that there is nothing in African American genetics which causes gang violence to occur at a higher rate

    We don’t know this at all. The genetics of cognitive and personality traits are very complex and very poorly understood. Although we haven’t identified them, it’s almost certainly the case that there are genes that ceteris paribus make an individual more or less likely to engage in violent crime in general or gang violence in particular. There’s no reason to expect these genes to exist in the same proportions in all races.

    It’s possible that whites and Asians in fact have the greatest genetic predisposition to violent crime and that this is simply being swamped by cultural differences. The bottom line, really, is that we have no idea.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      We do know what lead does to a person and there is pretty strong evidence getting it out of the air is tied to decreasing violent crime rate. But if there is no idea if there is a crime gene, then its probably pointless to talk about it.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to greginak says:

        Sure. If Mike had simply not mentioned genetics, I wouldn’t have objected. But it just isn’t true that we know that there are no such genetic differences.

        The idea of “a crime gene” is a strawman. There are many, many genes that affect brain function in ways that are only very poorly understood. But it’s a sure bet that some of them affect the likelihood that an individual will commit crime. If these genes can be identified, we’ll be able to repair them someday.Report

    • Avatar Lab Rat in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Be careful linking a genetic predisposition to anything regarding race. Race, as defined by popular culture, has very little to do with the actual genetic differences. This is mostly because all humans outside of Africa share a common ancestry (with those who left Africa). What this means practically is Asians, Whites, African-Americans, American Indians, and all “races” outside of Africa are more similar genetically than two populations in Africa separated by 30 miles.Report

      • Avatar Rod Engelsman in reply to Lab Rat says:

        Not to mention that most Europeans and western Asians have about 2.5% Neanderthal genes while a few groups in East Asia have a bit of Denosivan* genes. If any group has a claim to “racial purity” it would be the Africans. At least they’re all of Cro-Mag origin.

        * Denosivans [sp?] were an offshoot of the Neanderthal line that appeared in East Asia waaayyy back when and seem to have had a range (all of east Asia from Siberia down to the Philippines and Australia.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Lab Rat says:

        I’m well aware of this, and it doesn’t mean nearly as much as you think it does. The races were separated for thousands of generations. While this probably isn’t enough time for entirely new traits involving complex mutations to arise, it’s plenty of time for differential selection pressures to radically change the proportions in which different alleles appear. Furthermore, it’s plenty of time for simple mutations to arise and be selected for.

        To give the obvious example, there are the traits that allow us to visually identify members of different races. And there are many non-visible traits that correlate strongly with those visible traits. Huntington disease is far more common in whites than in members of other races. Tay-Sachs disease is more or less specific to whites and especially common in ethnic Jews.

        Search Google for “allele frequency by race” (no quotes) and it’ll pull up several studies finding significant differences in allele frequency by self-identified race for a majority of the alleles examined.

        Obviously it’s important not to draw stupid or racist conclusions from this. But the reality is that a great many genes have allele frequencies that correlate with race.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Lab Rat says:

        Rod, the new theory regarding the disappearance of the Neanderthals was that Homo Sapiens mated with them to their disappearance rather than just simply out competing them.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Lab Rat says:

        Brandon appears to be taking a basic racist tact.
        In point of fact, most races have interbred to a very large degree.
        For thousands of years, there has been brisk trade between continents.

        Certainly we have some subpopulations in Africa that don’t have Neanderthal genes…
        but I’d wager most African Americans do.

        Brandon attributes to race what most scientists would simply attribute to inbreeding.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Lab Rat says:

        Just to clarify. The effects of even extremely small amounts of cross breeding in a natural environment over time is to introduce new beneficial alleles. Over time alleles which do not solve problems on net will be eliminated, being replaced by those that are superior at contextually important problem solving. Of course the problem may be “getting enough vitamin D while living in a cave all winter.”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Lab Rat says:

        Over time alleles which do not solve problems on net will be eliminated

        That is, alleles which are harmful to survival will become relatively less frequent. Tay-Sachs hasn’t gone away entirely, nor has Huntington’s or hemophilia or congenital diabetes or colorblindness.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Lab Rat says:

        On net, yes. I am pretty sure you agree too.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Lab Rat says:

        That is, alleles which are harmful to survival will become relatively less frequent.

        Yeah, that’s right. The term “natural selection’ has always struck me as a bit of a misnomer. Nothing is being selected in the process of evolution since the concept of selection implies some sort of intentional process. But it isn’t intentional. Those alleles, manifested in various individual organisms, which on balance lead to a lower likelihood of individual survival will be less likely to occur in the next generation relative to another allele. There is no competition. And there is no selection (tho attributing this process to selection is seductive to be sure). There’s just a very complicated matrix of causation.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Lab Rat says:

        The effects of even extremely small amounts of cross breeding in a natural environment over time is to introduce new beneficial alleles

        In other words, mutts rule, purebreds drool. My Dutch-Swiss-Indonesian-English-Irish-Spanish-Jewish (and who knows what else) kids are the new elite!Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Lab Rat says:

        On net, yes. I am pretty sure you agree too.

        Not really. You overstated the effect of natural selection pretty spectacularly; I tried to bring it back within reality.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Lab Rat says:

        Seconding BB, it’s widely believed by experts that there’s a genetic component to the rate of alcoholism among Native Americans. Roughly speaking, those of us whose ancestors had distilled spirits longer have had more time for the ability to metabolize alcohol well to be selected for.

        But I’d add that with the obvious example well within the memory of living man, it’s better to be cautious than bold in making race-based generalizations.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Lab Rat says:

        Mike, alleles as problem solvers is a very sophisticated view of genetics that someone with your level of villiany clearly wouldn’t understand.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Lab Rat says:

        Mike,

        An Allele with a one percent net fitness advantage will statistically tend to dominate after hundreds of generations. If you want to start a thread on evolution I am game. Fascinating stuff.

        SW,

        Interestingly Darwin later wrote that he regretted using the term Natural Selection for the very reasons you cite. It implies intention.

        From his correspondences:

        “Talking of “Natural Selection”, if I had to commence de novo, I would have used “natural preservation”for I find men like Harvey of Dublin cannot understand me; though he has read the Book twice.”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Lab Rat says:

        @roger

        If we’ve moved from “eliminate” to “tend to dominate”, we’re good.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      “genetics of cognitive and personality traits are very complex and very poorly understood”
      … most things are much more understood than Brandon thinks.

      Does it say something about me that I can cite high school biology books on genetic predispositions to violence? (specifically, the XXY genotype shows up in remarkable preponderance in prisons, and high levels of estrogen have been linked to aggression in males.)Report

  4. Avatar NotMe says:

    When do you expect race card hustlers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to acknowledge and then start working on “cultural” problems?

    Frankly the left has such a long history of emphasizing racial identity politics I’m not sure it is possible. Evan the favorite liberal son, Moynihan, was savaged for being honest about “cultural” problems.Report

  5. Avatar Brooke Taylor says:

    This is a tricky issue. The importance of culture cannot be understated, but I worry that we treat culture with too much inherent legitimacy. It seems like we’re now in a time where the rhetoric of those who advocate for minorities or other marginalized groups become increasingly shrill and sharp.

    In particular, it’s not helpful when people try to exclude white, majority, or mainstream people from the conversation. It’s not OK to tell people that their ethnicity, cultural background, or socioeconomic status renders their opinions meaningless, provided a good-faith effort is being made. Like it or not, there are lots of ugly aspects of American culture (and its constituent subcultures) that are problematic and should be remedied.

    Why shouldn’t it be acceptable for a white American to try to help people in different ethnic communities, or with different backgrounds? Knowledge of the audience is needed, and people should be smart enough and sensitive enough to offer that help in a manner that gives it the best chance of being useful. Nobody likes to be preached at about the shortcomings of their culture, life choices, or way of life.Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy says:

    “While there is also truth to those claims, nothing is accomplished when both sides point the finger at one another.”

    “To overcome this we need to decide if it is okay for members of other cultures to become involved in finding solutions. And when I say ‘other cultures’ this usually means white culture.”

    There is something very disjointed about these two statements. If white folks are going to help other folks “find solutions”, isn’t that saying there are problems with the latter’s culture? And aren’t we right back to finger pointing? Just in a way that assuages white guilt? Are white people going to listen to black people about the problems with white culture and how these problems often directly contribute to problems with black culture? Because whenever I hear a black person stand up and demand change and improvement from whites, they are often written offer as “crying racism” (a phrase you used hear), playing the race card, or being divisive. How would we respond to Jesse Jackson trying to help white culture address mass school shootings, an almost uniquely white phenomenon? Is there space at the table for that conversation? Is that conversation even happening in a meaningful way?

    White folks have enough problems with their own culture, both in relation to how it impacts other cultures and just on its own right, that we should start our work their, get our own house in order, before we start trying to improve other cultures.

    I don’t think you did so intentionally, but this post reeks of privilege. Getting to define the terms of conversation… defining what racism is and how much race matters and whether culture is the issue or race… that is something only white people seem to get to do. And time and time again, they seem to do it in a way that perpetuates the disparities between the races, cultures, genders, and whathaveyou. They do it in a way that entrenches their power and their privilege.

    Maybe we should let black folks and Hispanic folks and Asian folks and Native Americans tell us how much race matters and what racism is. Given that they are its most likely victims, it only seems appropriate, no?Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

      I read it as The Blindside II: Cultural Edition. White people coming to save the benighted… other cultures.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        There is also some intense question begging going on about what cultural practices are problematic.

        America is not just dominated by white culture, but it is dominated by a white supremist culture. As such, white cultural practices are inherently seen as good or right. And those which differ are seen as foreign, wrong, or bad. Yes, some behavioral trends that might be more prevalent among a given culture or race might be objectively bad (e.g., I’m sure we can all agree that lower murder rates are better than higher murder rates), but can we necessarily say that home ownership is a preferred cultural practice to renting? And if it proves to be economically advantageous (I understand the results to be inconclusive on this, at best) to buy, how much of that is because we have codified into law preferences for home ownership? Not necessarily for racial or racist reasons, but because home ownership was the cultural preference of a given group of people who then defined it as right and created a system wherein it (potentially) became right?

        If we were to start completely from scratch on creating an American culture with our current demographics and giving everyone a fair opportunity to participate, it us unlikely that we would end up with what we have today. We can’t divorce our sense of “good” and “bad”, “right” or “wrong” culture from the cultural context in which we were raised.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris says:

        It’s not question-begging. It’s answer-begging. You think white culture preaches supremacy. Fact is, cultures are constantly striving for supremacy, borrowing from each other, appropriating interesting things they find useful, often applying them in surprising ways. The Western cultures are supreme just now because they gave the world most of its science and technology and some great ideas like pluralistic democracy. Didn’t invent them of course. Just improved and distributed them. And Nike shoes. Gotta include Nike shoes. They reign supreme in the realm of footwear.

        We’re never going to start from scratch, though every year a fresh crop of 18 year old kids appear, young and beautiful and full of hope. Quit believing in race. It’s a stupid, backward concept, completely unscientific and bad for business, too.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        You think white culture preaches supremacy

        You should read what he said, and not add words to it so that you can reply to something else.

        The issue is not whether white culture preaches its own superiority (though this appears to be what Mike is doing, at least implicitly), because it doesn’t really have to. The issue is whether culture is seen as superior (also implicitly, in most cases) because it’s white.

        White culture’s superiority is so entrenched that we generally just call it culture, or American culture, and then refer to racial or ethnic deviations from it as “black culture” or “Hispanic culture” or whatever.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris says:

        I said it was answer-begging, Chris. Pay attention. I have not added any words.

        How shall I interpret this, Chris? America is not just dominated by white culture, but it is dominated by a white supremist culture. As such, white cultural practices are inherently seen as good or right.

        That’s preaching white supremacy. Every culture observes its own rules. Stupidity is also deeply entrenched in the human psyche, idiocy which says there’s such a thing as race. English is winning the battle for the world’s lingua franca. Once it was French. The language of science was once German.

        The Aryan Brotherhood is alive and kicking and well-entrenched in our prison system, to the point where it won’t be rooted out. It was invented in the prison system. The prisons remain the truest measure of segregation in American society for they were always segregated. The very term White Culture is nonsense. It’s a conflation of many cultures from Western Europe. Once those cultural distinctions were observed and if they’re now joined at the hip, this only demonstrates the idiocy of these distinctions.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        White supremist and white supremacy are not synonymous.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris says:

        That’s grossly insufficient. Explain the difference.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Chris says:

        Kazzy,

        Define “white supremist culture” and why is America dominated by it?

        I don’t agree with Mike’s essay but I think this statement is too broad. There is no monolithic white culture. Anglo-Saxon culture is different than Irish culture is different than Germanic culture is different than Italian culture is different than various Slavic cultures is different than Jewish culture, etc. Most of these can possibly be described as a white culture* but they are all very different and there is a long history of a variety of these cultures being considered insignificant or lesser in the U.S. and Europe.

        White Supremist sounds a bit too simplistic and a bit too much like Campus Radcialism 101.

        *Potential exception: http://popchassid.com/10-photos-to-remind-you-that-jews-dont-fit-into-a-stereotype-and-never-have/Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Chris says:

        Chris,

        FWIW I also found Kazzy’s statement to be a bit vague.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        ND: Kazzy can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe he meant what I said in reply to Blaise. I think he said as much when he wrote, “As such, white cultural practices are inherently seen as good or right. And those which differ are seen as foreign, wrong, or bad.”

        Blaise, sorry I bothered to talk to you at all. Have a good one.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris says:

        Heh. We’ll see how Kazzy does, dissecting away White Supremacy from White Supremism. Looks to me like the boy’s got his fingers trapped in his own rhetorical coin-press. Them what invents phrases must supply definitions to the lexicographers.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Chris says:

        Chris,

        I can largely see where you are going but I still think it needs further definition. I’ve seen a lot of people complain about there being too much Jewishness in American media and culture especially because a lot of sitcoms take place in New York. Or they still see Woody Allen movies as being in a foreign language and requiring footnotes.

        Now whether this is true for Irish-American culture or Italian-American culture is an interesting question.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to Chris says:

        New Dealer, I just wanted to say thank you for posting that photo series. I hadn’t seen that before.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        ND, the “too much Jewishness” in culture issue is actually related, but I think in precisely the opposite way you think. It’s one of those moments where “Jewish” means non-white, and there’s a distinct feeling among some people (some white, non-Jewish people) that so many Jewish people in Hollywood or wherever means that too much non-whiteness is seeping into American culture, which is to say, white culture.

        The classic example of what I’m talking about, and what I believe Kazzy is talking about, is Elvis. Elvis was groomed and promoted because he had a “black” sound, but was white. He took something “black,” namely a specific blues/r&b style and made it mainstream simply by virtue of having pale skin. Once it was white, it wasn’t “black music,” it was just American music. The same thing happened, to a large extent, in the 80s with the Beastie Boys, who for a while had the best-selling hip hop album of all time, despite the fact that by that point hip hop had been around for almost a decade and a half, largely because they were white kids (Jewish, coincidentally, but I believe we were discussing recently how Jewish people in America are seen as white when it’s convenient, and non-white when it’s not) who made it OK for a lot of white people to listen to rap (I suspect that many of the hip hop listeners around here of a certain age, including myself, were introduced to hip hop through the Beastie Boys). Hell, when hip hop became violent in a very real way in the mid-to-late 90s, it was another white kid who made it OK for white people to listen to hip hop again (Eminem). It still happens today: white culture is mainstream American culture, “black culture” is distinct from it, and by implication, less “American.” We see it with Twitter vs. “Black Twitter,” which named itself that ironically as a sort of fish you to that reality (and which laughed its ass off when “white” media realized it was there and made an issue of it).Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        White supremist culture is that which privileges white people above others. This remains the case in American society, though we’ve abandoned some of the more egregious forms of it.

        White supremacy is a specific ideological movement that takes white supremist culture to an extreme.

        We can haggle over terms if necessary. These are the ones which I am familiar with. If you’d rather I just say that white American culture privilege white people over others, I can just type all that out each time.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris says:

        That’s a wretched, tautological definition. It says nothing. The Aryan Brother would agree to all its terms.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

        Chris, I agree with ND said about the term white culture being so vague that its practically meaningless. The other problem with Kazzy’s statements is that is combining all the non-whites into one group rather than treating them differently.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

        Kaz –

        You have to admit, though, “white supremacist culture” kind of needlessly leans on a pretty vitriolic and incendiary phrasing if you don’t actually mean it to have anything to do with white supremacists.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        @tod-kelly

        But to define white American culture as white supremist is accurate. At least from my vantage point. If the contention is that we shouldn’t use that term because some very small subset of white Americans has taken the ideology to a violent extreme, well, I don’t know how sensitive to that I’m going to be. “Don’t call us supremists even though we are because it reminds us of the extreme versions of the ideology which we certainly don’t support or agree with but which inevitably grew out of the very basic idea that white people are superior to others.” I dunno… that concerns me.

        I get that it might not be particular productive for conversation, but I’m a bit tired of tip toeing around white people’s sensitivities when it comes to race. It is just MORE privilege seeking to reinforce itself.

        What could be more ironic than white people insisting that conversations about racism happen only on their own terms? I mean, seriously…Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

        @kazzy

        I get that it might not be particular productive for conversation, but I’m a bit tired of tip toeing around white people’s sensitivities when it comes to race. It is just MORE privilege seeking to reinforce itself.

        What could be more ironic than white people insisting that conversations about racism happen only on their own terms? I mean, seriously…

        +1.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris says:

        Race doesn’t matter much to kids any more, at least it didn’t to mine. Suburban kids ape their cooler compadres. The fact remains, America’s kinda sick of the race discussion. It’s increasingly understood to be a non-issue. The Sixties are gone, and good riddance to them. America is coming out of a colloid suspension in terms of income and the opportunities thus created. Class has replaced Race — for everyone but a few Do-Gooders and Hard Core Racists, both of whom are just stinking up the joint with their common definitions of White and Black and Hispanic, it’s all the same pernicious racism at work in the human heart.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

        @Kazzy Are those really your choices? Using phrasing that bunch up white people that disagree with you with cross-burners and lynch-mobbers, or tip-toeing around keeping your opinions to yourself?

        If you are really stating that to your knowledge “white supremacist” is a phrase people – liberals and progressives as well as social conservatives – equate with “ok with the status quo” and not swastikas and sheets with eye-holes, then you live in a very, very different world than I.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Lee, again, see above: “white culture” is whatever “white Americans,” defined loosely as the majority, which will admit whoever it wants whenever it wants whenever it wants (which means Jewish people sometimes, and not others, Hispanics who look particularly European sometimes, and not others, hell even Italians, Irish, and Eastern Europeans sometimes and not others). It is the American culture, and while it certainly co-opts aspects of other cultures in America and elsewhere, it always does so by making them white (Elvis, the Beastie Boys, etc., being the obvious examples, but there are millions more). To the extent that this lumps all non-white cultures together, it does so by virtue of the fact that they are excluded from the mainstream as non-white cultures. They are not all the same, and not even accorded the same status by white culture, but they are all not the mainstream culture, which is to say white culture.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        Tod,

        What you’re saying sounds like this to me:

        “Don’t say white supremist, even though that is what it is, because it sounds a lot like white supremacy, a related but very different term, and white supremacy is really bad and we don’t want to be considered bad even though we’re doing something bad.”

        I can’t really acquiesce to that request.

        Should I call it GobblyGoo? Would that make everyone feel better? On a thread where people question why we don’t talk more about race and IQ?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        “Race doesn’t matter much to kids any more, at least it didn’t to mine.”

        -or-

        “My reality is everyone’s reality.”Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

        Kazzy, I would reconsider that word usage for clarity, if nothing else. The images that come to mind when one hears about “white suprem—” is going to be different from what (I believe) you are trying to get at here. I think that very, very often, that disconnect is going to distract from the other things you are trying to say.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

        Chris, its not just White Chiristians who complain about their being too many Jews in media or Jews having disproportionate representation in politics in the United States.

        I live in NYC. In NYC and its surrounding suburbs, there are obviously a lot of Jewish students and Jewish teachers in the public schools. This means that public schools in the NYC area close on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur because so many teachers and students are not going to be there anyway. During law school, I interned at GMHC. Around the time of the Jewish New Years, a bunch of employees who were all non-white were complaining about how unfair it was that Jews get to close down the schools for their holidays and how much power the Jews have and it causes them inconvenience cause they have to find baby-sitters for their kids. Likewise, I’ve heard a lot of complaints from non-whites on how there too many Jewish senators and representatives and not enough African-American ones, etc.

        There is a lot of Jew hatred among people of color through out the world. Just as white people view us as suspect whites; a lot of non-whites see us as hyper-white and the cause of all their problems. Jews caused the slave trade, Jews caused colonaislim, Jews cause African and Middle Eastern poverty. Its nearly impossible to get people to acknwoledge this and let alone take it remotely seriously. Its hard enough to get people to take Jew-hatred from white people with the seriousness that it deserves.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris says:

        Cheap shot, Kazzy. I specifically said it didn’t matter to my kids. I sure hope race won’t be an issue for your kids and I’m pretty sure it won’t.

        Like the old song says

        You’ve got to be taught
        To hate and fear,
        You’ve got to be taught
        From year to year,
        It’s got to be drummed
        In your dear little ear
        You’ve got to be carefully taught.

        You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
        Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
        And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
        You’ve got to be carefully taught.

        You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
        Before you are six or seven or eight,
        To hate all the people your relatives hate,
        You’ve got to be carefully taught!

        One cheap shot deserves another. Maybe it will matter to your kids. It will, if you continue along this line wherein Whites and Blacks are separate races. People do continue to sort themselves out that way but only when they’re taught to do so. And you may be the one to teach them, if you’re not careful.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Lee, that’s certainly true, but no one’s disputing that there aren’t conflicts among non-white groups and cultures.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

        @kazzy “But to define white American culture as white supremist is accurate. ”

        Yeah, in the same way that defining Barak Obama as a socialist or communist or fascist is accurate, if you look at the dictionary and then choose selected white house policies out of context. Or for that matter, in the same way that his middle name really is Hussein, so why does everybody get so upset when Fox anchors make such a point of emphasizing it? What *is* he hiding, anyway?

        Look… Sure, you can take the words “white” and “supremacist,” use their dictionary definitions, and put them together to create a phrase that describes a society that isn’t yet racially equal. But if you know in advance that everyone on both sides will see those words as meaning guys with sheets over their heads, I don’t understand why you would choose to use it if you’re not meaning guys with sheets over their heads.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Lee, also, you’re probably aware of the term “selling out” that is still used among certain minority groups largely to mean “becoming part of mainstream culture,” which is to say, white culture. Part of the issue is that even many non-white people end up seeing, or at least treating, white culture as the culture.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        @tod-kelly

        Then I will simply spell out “White American culture privileges white people above others” each and every time. Is that okay?

        Because my hunch is some people (maybe not you) will then want to argue about what “privilege” means or how we define “white” or “American” and will continue to argue terms…

        I’m okay with pushing back against that and arguing that white American culture does not privilege white people. I disagree, but I’m open to counter. But I’m tired of getting bogged down in all of the things that prevent us from actually talking about that because it is easier to chip away at terms and definitions than actually address the issue head on.

        Getting to define terms is itself a form of privilege. And white people are often fond of defining and redefining terms.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Chris says:

        @chris

        Good points. I think as a Jewish-person I have a mixed reaction to charges of whiteness. European-Jews have the interesting distinction of being white or non-white depending on the speaker, the context, and what that person finds ideologically convenient at the given moment.

        This is a very strange No Man’s Land to be in and not always the most fun in the world. Many Jews I know talk about having “passing privilege” but there is still the feeling that we can lose it based on whim and fancy.

        TNC has some good essays into realizing that Jews were also group while also talking about the long and complicated history between Jewish and Black communities.

        There is also the troubling part when some whites (usually of a conservative or libertarian bent) look at minority groups (usually Black and Hispanic) and say “Why can’t you be like the Jews?” Sometimes the question is “Why can’t you be like the Asians?”

        So you have white people looking at Jews and Asians and seeing good qualities, probably relating to the work-ethic and the quick assent from manual labor to college educated members of the upper-middle class. This obviously causes inadvertent resentment in the Black and Hispanic communities.

        Though this kind of “Why can’t you be like X?” is nothing new. There is an old political cartoon (probably Thomas Nast) that is pro-Chinese immigrant and anti-Irish immigrant. The cartoon was done to protest the Alien exclusion acts. Same deal: Asians were ascetic, hard-working, studious, temperate (read: basically Protestant). Irish were drunk, violent, malcontents.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        ND, thank you. Good points as well.

        I saw a really good documentary a few years ago about the role of Jews, particularly in New York, in the Civil Rights movement, and how things changed when the teachers were fired en masse in mostly black schools in NYC. Many of the teachers were Jewish, and in fact many of the teachers were Jewish people who had been active in the Civil Rights movement, and the clash between the teachers and the Civil Rights leaders led to a fracturing of that relationship (which, to be fair, was a somewhat fragile one to begin with, particularly since at the fringes of the mainstream Civil Rights movement stood the Nation of Islam with its often openly anti-Jewish leaders). As someone outside of both groups, it struck me as a very sad turn of events, but there is so much at stake here that unnecessary clashes seem inevitable, if tragic.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

        ” But I’m tired of getting bogged down in all of the things that prevent us from actually talking about that because it is easier to chip away at terms and definitions than actually address the issue head on.”

        Hey, if you think using the phrase white supremacist to describe people you’re talking to will keep things from getting bogged down and make discussions more productive, be my guest.

        My criticism (to the extent that it is a criticism) isn’t a political one, it’s a clarity-of-writing one.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        Lee,
        Geez, I wonder why nobody wants to take Jews seriously about
        “Jew Hatred”.
        Could it be because a Jew that does not support Israel is considered a “self-hating jew?”
        Directing such venom against folks — not for something serious, like consorting with ex-Nazis, but for holding an opinion on something that all jews ought to care about… “Is it good for the Jews?”Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        Tod,

        I hear you but it just smacks of “Don’t call white people who are racist racist because it will make them want to stop talking about racism.”

        There is a ton of stuff out there about “How to talk to white people about racism” because white people refuse to talk about it unless it is just so. Privilege, privilege, privilege…Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Chris says:

        Chris,

        That was the Brownsville incident. Brownsville was a very poor section of Brooklyn. It used to be poor and Jewish but in the mid-20th century became poor and black but many of the teachers were still Jewish.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_teachers%27_strike_of_1968

        It is a general truism that the poor Jewish neighborhoods (Williamsburg, Brownsville, the Lower East Side) became poor African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods in the mid-20th century. I don’t know how this template worked in other cities but it might have been the same in San Francisco. The Western Addition/Fillmore went from being a Jewish neighborhood to an African-American neighborhood in San Francisco around the same time-period. Now with gentrification these formerly poor neighborhoods are becoming wealthy and whiter and possibly even a bit more Jewish again. Though Williamsburg always had the Haredi.

        You are right that it caused a lot of strain and among older Jews and blacks, the strain can still be felt. Younger Jews and Blacks might feel tension without fully understanding the long and complicated history. The Civil Rights movement had a lot of Jewish-supporters who provided a lot of financial backing. This lead to a lot of tarring on Jew-commies supporting the Civil Rights Movement in the South and more othering. A rabbi spoke at the March on Washington right before MLK.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        NewDealer,
        you ignore the profit motive in the Civil Rights Movement at your peril.
        Ditto the Arab Spring.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Chris says:

        @kim

        Profit Motive? That is really going beyond the pale. That is purely and absolutely anti-Semitic. You are either directly and indirectly saying that Jews only supported the Civil Rights Movement because equality meant more ways to make a profit.

        This is a gross blood libel. And if you are Jewish (as you have claimed I believe) you should really be ashamed of yourself. You should be ashamed of yourself if you aren’t Jewish.

        You are placing Jews in a place where they cannot win. You are saying we are a people devoid of any ability to do things because it is right and just and that our motives are always based on greed and business.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

        Kim, meh. How are Christians treated in the Middle East? If you think that room would have been made for the Jews without Israel than you really need help. No Israel just means that the Jews of the Middle East get beaten up at home. I’m really tired of the anti-Zionist world view that assumes:
        1. No Israel
        2. ????
        3. Peaceful and democractic multicultual Middle East.

        There is absolutely no evidence for this.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        NewDealer,

        Kim’s idiotic comment has been removed by Dave for a violation of the commenting policy.
        1) Yes, there were white knights.
        2) Yes, there were also people who saw opportunity in chaos.

        … you can guess which half had the money, and which half had the time.

        I’m about ready to start talking about ICELAND. You wanna go there?
        Because we can. We can fucking derail this thread to start talking profit motive, Iceland and British Bankers.

        Profit Motive is a useful tool to explain many things. It’s not the only tool out there.

        It’s certainly not only applicable to Jews, and saying otherwise is the racist thing.
        Suggesting that someone who you damn well know is Jewish is pulling out racist stereotypes is just calling on me to start shouting.

        Well, I’m game to talk about iceland if you are. Or, hey, let’s do ARGENTINA! That’ll BE FUN! Bonus warfare to boot!Report

        • Avatar Dave in reply to Kim says:

          Kim,

          Despite multiple warnings from me and others, you have yet to remove your head from your ass and abide by our commenting policy. If it were up to me, I would have your ass banned and no one here would ever have to suffer your stupidity again. That said, a few of us are going to have to talk about this. You went somewhere with New Dealer that you shouldn’t have. The only person that owes anyone and apology is you.

          If I were you, I’d refrain from posting right now.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        Lee,
        Yes, you’re right, that’s totally unrealistic.
        So is the idea that Israel is good for the Jews.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Chris says:

        Kim,

        You have no right to tell me to Fuck Off. You were the one who brought up the “profit motive” in a vague and enigmatic way.

        I’m tired of your riddles. If you can’t say what you mean, you can’t mean what you say.

        Stop making people guess.Report

      • @kim Watch yourself. I am staying out of this conversation, and I’m not one of the Powers that Be around here, but telling another commenter to “fuck off” is a pretty clear violation of commenting policy.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        NewDealer,
        Yes, I was unclear. I’ll apologize for that, after you apologize for jumping to conclusions.

        If you had phrased what you did in terms of asking a question, rather than labeling me antiSemetic, a disgrace, and a person using blood libel… I wouldn’t be considering plonking you right now.

        Read back what you wrote, and tell me you don’t owe me an apology.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

        ND, Thomas Nast was a weird one. He believed in racial equality a lot and sincerely believed that one of the great things about America was or at least should be that race didn’t matter. He produced some cartoons that really laid bare the evils of of slavery, racism, and and a lot of delightful cartoons showing the promise of racial equality. At the same times, he was so anti-Catholic that his attitude towards Irish was racist.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy says:

      Kazzy, by non-white culture what do you mean exactly? From what I gather, what your really talking about is African-American culture and lumping every non-white American into that culture. If you mean African-American culture than say so. I work with Chinese immigrants from a living and they aren’t really of white culture or non-white culture as you define them.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

      Kazzy,
      Well, I tried to take this a bit more generously. Mike comes from a subculture of his own, after all. and it’s got its problems just as much as any other. I do believe that folks sending chicken pox infected lollipops ought to get some help from people outside their subculture, same as I think the Amish need some help.Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Mike, I don”t that the resistance to replacing class with race solely exists among minorities. In fact, I think that most Americans are reluctant to replace race with class because class is a very dirty word in America. Many Americans are heavily invested in the idea that the United States is a class-less society and are adamant about it.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Lee has a point. Americans like to think that we belong to a classless society, or at least a society where it’s possible for anyone, with enough hard work, to move up the economic ladder. I think that makes it tough for a lot of folks to wake up to the reality that the gap between rich and poor is now as large as it’s ever been and that social mobility in the US has stalled. Social mobility is now greater in most European nations than it is here and will likely become more so if we don’t wake up.

      Both left and right are fixated on race for different reasons–the left because there’s still ample racism to go around and because fighting discrimination is a staple og progressive and liberal policy; the right because race allows them to play against each other people whose economic status and interests should unite them.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Michelle says:

        “Americans like to think that we belong to a classless society”

        If only! I hate the way that class thinking has been increasing. Class in terms of income, class in terms of education. How about we drop race and don’t replace it with any new paradigm of separation?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Michelle says:

        Americans like to think that we belong to a classless society

        That’s why I fit right in. (rimshot)

        Seems to me we like to think we live in a caste-less society. But most classically (so-called) “American” ideals are fundamentally built on class distinctions.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Michelle says:

        Pinky, if you 19th American history than you know that class divisions aren’t particularly new. The 19th century riched liked to model themselves after European nobility and developed a culture that mimicked their culture.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Michelle says:

        I’m not saying class orientation is new; I’m saying it’s increasing. Two reasons pop into mind. One, our religious/ethnic/racial identity is declining – so to the extent that this is a replacement identity, it doesn’t count as a net increase in division. Two, the aspirational attitude of Americans, and I’m particularly thinking of 20th century “middlebrows”, is disappearing; now, people are encouraged to think no bigger than their surroundings. Am I mistaken in seeing that? It’d be nice to think I’m wrong.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Michelle says:

        Eh, I don’t like the way that came out. I should say instead that less-successful people are discouraged from thinking that they could do better, or better than their parents. More successful people expect to remain on top. That’s a class thinking that may be foreign to us. And I should add that the overvaluation of degrees is a part of this, as well as the lack of a frontier where you can remake yourself.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Michelle says:

        “Americans like to think that we belong to a classless society, or at least a society where it’s possible for anyone, with enough hard work, to move up the economic ladder.”

        Not exactly. What Americans actually mean by “classless society” is “there’s nothing that money can’t buy for you”. Anyone who has enough money can party with Section X. You can buy social respectability, you can buy a legacy of altruism, you can buy what passes for nobility (as I said elsewhere, “get on TV without having to be drunk in public”.)

        It doesn’t necessarily mean that hard work will get you there. But it means that if you do get there, then the people saying “sorry, you’re just not…the right sort of person to have a membership in this club” will be saying it because you’re a nonwhite nonman, rather than because your grandfather was born outside the boundary of a wall that hasn’t existed since 1547.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Michelle says:

        Jim, I thoroughly disagree. What makes you think that?Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I will also say that this is a very good point.Report

  8. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    Is it okay for white folks to take an active interest in ending alcoholism on American Indian reservations? Is it okay for white people to craft policies aimed at reducing teen pregnancy rates among African Americans which are twice that of white populations

    You seem to have the assumption that white people/culture can have these positive effects. Isn’t that assumption doing a lot of heavy lifting? Given the history of white American culture’s interference in minority culture and its effects, is that assumption capable of bearing that kind of weight?Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

      Every culture disrupts every other culture, both for good and evil. Parenthetically, good and evil being social constructs, both will be amazed and horrified by the other’s cultural norms and fascinated by their food and women, and men I suppose.

      In Osage County, Oklahoma, you couldn’t buy alcohol on the massive reservation. Their rule, not the White Man’s. If the Noble Savage — may I make so bold as to call them Noble Savages? — all the folks who still want to hang onto the notion of race also project all sorts of nonsense onto other cultures, see first paragraph, nobility seems as stupid an attribute as subhuman — decides to enforce a rule about alcohol within their territories, what business is that of the White Man? Or, indeed, anyone beyond the community of alcoholics?

      Perhaps the Noble Savage could help out in White Culture, whatever the hell that phrase means, since they’ve got so much more alcoholism within their culture and therefore more experience treating it.

      The White Man is not quite done carrying the White Man’s Burden, idiot that he is.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

      I also agree, concur, and whatnot.Report

  9. Avatar krogerfoot says:

    I’m wondering when white people not being allowed to help became a problem in the U.S. Want to help? Churches in poor neighborhoods have food drives, outreach programs, community picnics, neighborhood cleanups, all kinds of helpful events. Join the church, or just ask if there’s something you can sign up for. Who’s going to complain?

    Community centers are constantly looking for volunteers to help organize after-school programs, sports events, charity drives, ad infinitum. Volunteer as an assistant coach/trainer at a school?

    I don’t know—maybe I’m universalizing my experiences, but the idea that different ethnic groups in the U.S. are closed camps is just alien to what I grew up with. Jackson, Mississippi, when I went to college there, was like 50% black, one of the most churchgoing, volunteering, joining population of people I’ve ever met. Picnics, cookouts, basketball games, talent shows, what have you. People are totally open to anyone walking in and asking how they can be useful. If I’m remembering this through Pollyanna goggles, please let me know.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to krogerfoot says:

      When did this happen? Some time in the late 1960s. White people were trying to help and black leadership recognised the need for self-sufficiency. If white people were to make a difference, they should go a-missionarying to white folks in need of enlightenment. Hispanics never tolerated the Do Gooder, they rose up on their own.Report

      • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to BlaiseP says:

        There’s a difference between being a neighbor and being a missionary. If someone’s idea of Doing Good is coming here and pointing out problems that I’m well aware of, well, thanks. You Done Good.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

        If there’s any gospel to be preached, it ought to serve to enlighten everyone. Race as a concept is a malign influence on the human race in its entirety. It does no good to Help the Pore Black Man, nor yet any other Pore Slandered and Maligned Group of Readily-Identifiable Persons in ways which might only serve to reinforce the notion of those group identifications.

        Hence my beliefs on the subject of same sex marriage, the rights of women and every other idiotic classification of persons. We are best-served by abolishing all such constructs.Report

      • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to BlaiseP says:

        I’m not sure whether you’re rebuking me or making some separate point, but I see nothing here to disagree with, exactly.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

        No rebuke is implied. Just expanding on how the discussion went down in the 1960s. Really, people must help themselves, stand up to oppression, become wise in the face of stupidity, For at heart, a racist is a bully and a bully is a coward. Standing up to cowardice and unscientific nonsense is everyone’s duty. We cannot do it for each other.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to krogerfoot says:

      Are we talking about individuals who happen to be white helping other individuals who happen to be not white, or are we talking about one cultural group helping another cultural group?Report

      • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        I thought I was talking about individuals. How would one cultural group go about helping another cultural group? The insurance paperwork alone must be daunting.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Well, I think the overall discussion has some confusion on the question of whether its individuals acting (helping others) as individuals, or individuals acting as representatives of their culture. (That’s a general observation about the whole thread, not a critique of your comment, by the way.)

        That is, I don’t know that anybody actually criticizes any individual white person for trying to help others, just because they happen to be white. But when said white person says, “adopt white cultural attribute X, because black/Latino/Native American cultural attribute Z is a problem,” that’s where it seems to me that people start to criticize. (Maybe because at that point the helper is not seeing the other person as an individual, but as merely a set of cultural attributes?)Report

  10. Avatar BITFU says:

    Mike, stop what you’re doing right now and just remove this post. Don’t worry, hardly anyone will notice; it’s still early and as of right now there are only a few comments.

    Then, once you got that out of the way, I want you to stop, look in the mirror, take a deep breath and repeat after me:

    I am a good person. But I have NO BUSINESS writing about race and culture until I’ve taken the time to develop an understanding of “racism” that goes beyond the definition that I learned when I was a sophomore…in high school.

    Oh, and gosh darn it, people like me.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BITFU says:

      “Don’t even try to have these conversations. Don’t ever say what you actually think. Figure out when to sit, stand, or kneel by looking around.”Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to BITFU says:

      Then, once you got that out of the way, I want you to stop, look in the mirror, take a deep breath and repeat after me:

      After you’re done patting yourself on the back for a job well done, please remove your head from your backside, take a deep breath and repeat after me….I will not violate the Commenting Policy…I will not violate the Commenting Policy…I will not violate the Commenting Policy

      https://ordinary-times.com/commenting-policy

      In case you haven’t figured it out, you just ran afoul of it. Please don’t do it again. Have a nice day.

      Warm Regards,

      The Management.Report

  11. Avatar Damon says:

    “The fact is, race and culture are moving apart organically.” Damn right. Why wouldn’t they? Humans, being tribal, like to hang with those of their own kind. The American culture is fragmenting and becoming more isolated and alien to those not in that subculture, and it will continue to do so.

    Currently in this country, it’s taboo to talk about race and genetics, especially IQ. It’s also rather less acceptable to talk about conflict between the races when certain groups are the perputrators vs when other groups are. While this is not exactly relevant to the topic at hand, it’s speaks to the fact that there are aspects/dynamics in the country that are not being discussed openly. Do you really thing anything progress can be made when certain topics are off limits?Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Damon says:

      How very very VDare of you? Are you a “race realist” like Steven Sailer?Report

    • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to Damon says:

      Why, oh why won’t Those People give me a fair hearing when I tell them that, genetical-wise, they’re stupid and predisposed to violent perputration?Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Damon says:

      ND and krogerfoot,

      So that’s what you tease out of my post? Why don’t you answer the last question?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Damon says:

        The problem is that when people lament the taboos about discussing intelligence and genetics, they are generally not open to having their minds changed otherwise. They have made up their minds and that is it.

        They also tend to love being vague and ignoring all the Blacks and Hispanics or whatever group who do attend college, grad school, etc.

        Your posts on multiple subjects have proven you to be snide and condescending to anyone who has a different ideology, viewpoint, or conclusion. You are too convinced of the correctness of your own views even when they are wrong.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Damon says:

        ND
        Of course I’m convinced of the correctness of my views, and of course I’m not wrong. I’m sure you’d agree that no one would hold positions they were convinced were incorrect. That’s natural. Now, as to your claim I’m snide and condescending, this troubles me, as I am, mostly, neither. (I’ll poll my friends later and confirm) I think that I just come off that way in my writing, so I’ll try again.

        If some apects of racism or racial characteristics, genetics, etc. are taboo from the converstation in this society, how can an open and honest conversation be had about those topics?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Damon says:

        Damon,
        Irrelevancies are often taboo in conversations.
        Or must we talk about narfling the garthok Right Now?

        Simply because you lack the imagination to see a skewed sample set, does not mean that reality must conform to your limited imagination.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Damon says:

      Do you really thing anything progress can be made when certain topics are off limits?

      The reason no progress has been made in mathematics in the past century is that we keep ignoring all the people who are sure that they can trisect the angle with compass and straightedge instead of giving them each of them a fair and complete hearing.

      Oh, and since ND just pointed you at an organization devoted to discussing why dark-skinned people are stupider than they are, what’s all this crap about “off limits”?Report

  12. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Mike,

    This whole essay is really problematic and has a very strong “White Man’s Burden” feel to it. Very 19th century, very paternalistic.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to NewDealer says:

      You’ll have to be more specific ND, otherwise it almost sounds like you are making my point for me.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        This is a wonderful way to make it impossible to criticize you. What, you think I might be asking the wrong questions? See, I was right!Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        The whole feel of the essay to me is the standard conservative talking point of “We can’t get rid of racism until we stop talking about race.”

        I don’t necessarily always think this point comes from malice, it could be a sincerely felt belief. It is also very convenient white-washing of history (PUN NOT INTENDED) and lets white-people ignore when they were actively racist and denies the idea of institutional racism.

        Institutionalized racism is one of the hardest concepts to explain to conservatives or seemingly get them to accept but it exists. Zic points this out for a while. If stereotypes and racist tropes exist for a long time, they eventually enter the unconscious of a nation, that nation’s institutions, and her people. A lot of people might not even realize they have these views until they blurt them while drunk, or angry, etc. Institutionalized racism is much harder to stamp out but it generally leads to disparately longer prison sentences of black people (especially black men) over white people. Doubly so if the defendant is black and the victim is white.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        @Chris : “This is a wonderful way to make it impossible to criticize you. What, you think I might be asking the wrong questions? See, I was right!”

        In fairness, that wasn’t at all what Mike said. He simply asked *why* ND found it 19th century, paternalistic and white-man’s-burden-y.

        I’m not sure how asking for that clarification qualifies as a shutting down of any discussion.Report

      • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I have to agree with Mike, here. I doubt very much that he and I see eye to eye on much of this, but commentators are going to have to do better than just sniff at his essay and say it won’t do, won’t do at all.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Tod, read his comment again, beginning at the word “otherwise.”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        but commentators are going to have to do better than just sniff at his essay and say it won’t do, won’t do at all.

        Other than the dude up thread who suggested that Mike should delete the post altogether, who’s done this?Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        ND,

        Fair enough, but I think you miss my point. I’m not suggesting racism doesn’t exist or that people need to ignore it. What I am suggesting is that racism should take a backseat to culturism as the primary challenge we face. For example, usually when someone complains some negative aspect of a race they aren’t really suggesting it is a genetic problem affecting their entire race, they are pointing to a cultural problem. It may be subconscious but that is the reality of modern discourse along these lines. So if we can shift the focus, it may improve dialogues because debate doesn’t automatically get shut down and called racist.

        As a corollary I also asked if it is permissible for whites to ever point to negative aspects of minority cultures and suggest solutions.Report

      • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        @chris : Fair enough – in the time it took me to get the italics tags right, 19 more comments came in.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Tod,

        A few months ago, Mike wrote a post about the Confederate Flag or Stars and Bars and when they lost their legitimacy. He seemed to peg it around the 20th century when the KKK revitalized the flags or adopted them.

        I along with Chris and others spent a long time explaining that the Confederate Flag and/or Stars and Bars never had any legitimacy, it was dead upon the firing on Fort Sumter. Eventually Mike just said something like “I just don’t see it/believe it” (this is an extreme paraphrase.) This caused a bunch of us to throw our hands up in the air.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Liberals are just as blind to the concept of race as anyone else. Speaking as a Liberal, It’s been my observation Liberals talk a great game about human equality when it comes to women, LGBTQ, and many other groups of people. These divisions they understand, correctly, to be stupid and irrelevant.

        But when it comes to Race, they’re still locked into old paradigms. Yes, there’s still lots of racism in American society, no denying it. But let’s take one step back, attempt to moot a discussion between a Liberal, an Aryan Brother and a Martian. The Martian asks: “What is a White Man?” How would the Liberal’s definition differ from the Aryan Brother’s? What if the Martian picked up an employment form, looked at that check box labeled White and asked “Who wrote these definitions? Does everyone agree with them?”

        No, Liberals have to get out of their condescending mindset about Race. I’m a Liberal, I want liberty and equality for all. But if equal is to mean anything, it must implement a Comparable Interface.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        @newdealer

        ???

        So, Mike said this one thing about a separate topic a while back you didn’t like, so… huh?

        This isn’t a challenge; I am really not following you here. Is this one of those, “he said this thing I thought was wrong, so now he has no legitimate standing to say other things” kind of things? Seriously, I am not tracking.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        I along with Chris and others spent a long time explaining that the Confederate Flag and/or Stars and Bars never had any legitimacy,

        I think we’re missing the question of “to whom” here.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        Tod,

        Don’t you think what a person says about race and racism often needs to be understood in the context of other things they’ve said about race and racism?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

        When it comes to Context, I should like to observe “We can’t get rid of racism until we stop talking about race” is a Liberal’s point. My point. He’s quoting me. Any Liberal who continues to believe in the concept of Race is not one whit improved upon his slack-jawed, bigoted, white-sheet-wearin’ counterpart. Both use the same definition. One hates, the other condescends. I am not sure which is worse, in the larger scope of things.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to NewDealer says:

      White Man’s Burden? Will someone finally get around to defining a White Man to the exclusion of other persons?Report

    • Avatar Brooke Taylor in reply to NewDealer says:

      That’s not the vibe I got from this essay at all. I think he was making an interesting point right up until he got to the standard, “oh gosh, I’m a white man, therefore I have nothing of value to add” hang-wringing.

      We’re all products of our cultural and familial experiences, we can’t escape that. But it’s simply ludicrous to say that one entire category of people is simply not allowed to try to help other groups of people because members of that group have behaved atrociously in the past.

      We should all be engaging in reflection and criticism of our own cultures, but that doesn’t disqualify any of us from helping others. There is no endpoint of “perfect culture” and there’s no group of people that possesses all the answers. We’re all individuals and we’re all responsible for realizing that good ideas often come from outside our own sphere.

      There are certain pernicious ideas and practices that good people should fight against, no matter what culture they’re represented in.Report

  13. Avatar zic says:

    I’ve been married to a jazz musician for 33 years. During that time, I’ve spent a lot of time hanging with musicians, in homes, in bars and festivals where they were performing, in recording studios and practice rooms. So I’ve seen racism, and often at its drunken revealing. And I have to tell you the truth: it is culture. It’s a culture of presumption that because of someone else looks different, the viewer has the right to treat them differently. It often has absolutely nothing to do with the victim of this view other than the way the victim looks.

    Much of racism is about othering, so that the racists can set themselves up as better.

    Like those black women having babies with multiple fathers out of wedlock. Since Ronald Reagan ran for president, there has been this notion that these women abuse the social safety net, this is why we need to scale it back; pink cadillacs and all that. I was a DBA for a dept. of welfare during Reagan’s presidency, I had access to the data; and it was white women with children who’d been abandoned by their husbands that were the cause of welfare creep. That’s why we put legal force behind the notion of child support. But did ya know, those out-of-wedlock births to black women, they’re plummeting? Since the 1990’s, the line nearly drops straight down the chart. So when we go and cut the food stamp program; if anyone justifies it because of those welfare queens with all their babies by different daddies, that’a racism. Racism does not allow the other group to grow, to change, to improve; it only allows them to be the reason, the problem.

    We here a lot about our failing education system. So what schools do you see when you hear this, the places you send your kids to every day, or some inner-city school filled with brown faces? If you don’t see your kids school, you don’t get it. And if you think it’s good to send your kids off to a failing school everyday, why would you expect them to get a good education?

    I know one thing. Most white men can go through life being overly aggressive, they can be slackers, they can be mildly dishonest, they can be braggarts. And rarely will you hear that these men are a problem because they’re white men. They get so benefit of the doubt, some grace, because they are white men.

    (But if voting statistics are to be believed, it’s white men who’ve filled the House or Representatives with fools, too. Congratulations, that’s quite an accomplishment.)Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to zic says:

      Heh, my very white niece had 4 kids by 3 men, and lost custody of every last one of them. Maybe the problem is just people.Report

    • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to zic says:

      “I know one thing. Most white men can go through life being overly aggressive, they can be slackers, they can be mildly dishonest . . . ”

      That is so hurtful. When are you jazz musicians going to stop being so mean? I mean, some of my best friends are white men. Why must you play the jazz card like this, just when we’re all about to agree that none of us here did anything wrong?

      (Actually, this conversation is starting mainly to resemble the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Sheffield, Yorkshire Town Guild’s historical reënactment series.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to zic says:

      Bill Evans the (white) pianist was treated like dirt in Miles Davis’ band. Miles had to step on some black people’s feelings, hard, to get it to stop.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Yeah. I think it was Charlie Parker who innovated bebop because he thought white guys wouldn’t be able to play it.

        I never made the argument that non-white’s are not racist; I simply said that because of my many years watching musicians play music while the audience gets drunk, I’ve seen a lot of racism. Overt racism. And it doesn’t skew in Mile’s direction.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

        I’ve played a good deal of jazz and the more progressive side of funk. Mercifully, somewhere along the line, everyone agreed we benefitted from our differences and viewed the musicianship as the Great Uniter.

        I’m so sick of race as a topic of discussion. To me, it’s so stupid. Do-Gooders have always annoyed me, none more so than those who decry racism but continue to use the definitions provided by the bigots themselves. They’re like the monkey with his hand trapped in the gourd full of peanuts, too stupid to let go of the peanuts.

        We’ve gotten to the point as a species where we can travel everywhere in a day or less. We might have gotten to the point where more enlightened people have rejected the notion of racial supremacy, where one race is better than another. But we just can’t quite let go of the notion of race itself. We make all sorts of excuses for it. Supremism. Truth is, at first I thought it was a typo. What the hell is Supremism if not Supreme? Coltrane’s A Love Supreme? Some sort of cream sauce?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to BlaiseP says:

        zic, from what I undertand bebop was an attempt to make jazz more artistic and less danceable to. Something that you have to concentrate to enjoy like a symphony.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Bebop uncorked virtuoso players.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to BlaiseP says:

        While we could debate the racism/multiculturalism/sexism of musicians for days on end, it sort of misses the point: I’m talking the audiences response to the musicians on the stage. I haven’t seen much overt racism among musicians; though misogyny abounds.

        But when they leave the stage to take a break, at least in clubs, they interact with the audience. That’s where I’ve seen it, and that’s what I was referring to.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

        There’s on-stage stupid and off-stage stupid. So stipulated. In vino veritas, nothing like booze to peel up the veneer and show the world what sort of rot hides underneath.

        Miles Davis once said If somebody told me I only had an hour to live, I’d spend it choking a white man. I’d do it nice and slow.… The only white people I don’t like are the prejudiced white people. Those the shoe don’t fit, well, they don’t wear it. Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to BlaiseP says:

        On bebop, it wasn’t Bird, it was Horace Silver, talking about his album Jazz Messenger, one of the first hard bop albums:

        We’re going to be playing tunes white guys can’t play…. They won’t be comfortable with this music. We’re going to play jazz with the beat and sounds of where we grew up—in black churches, in black neighborhoods.

        Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

        When Jazz Messengers came out, jazz aficionados were tired of mere virtuosity, cramming more notes into the same twelve measures didn’t make for better music. Prog rock failed this test, horribly. Put it this way, one of my biggest influences, Bud Powell, was a tremendously fast player — but then everyone started aping his style. Something had to change.

        Thelonius Monk had broken open the gates to the harmonic corral and Bud Powell had raced around that track. Thrilling stuff, too. But when Art Blakey and Horace Silver put Jazz Messengers together, they returned to the basics. Church piano, gospel, blues, the old roots of jazz. Horace Silver would go on to influence every funk keyboard player, a good deal of soul music, too. His shadow was very long.

        The troubles within jazz in the 50s presaged the troubles in the larger American culture in the 60s. Jazz had always been splitting and diverging along separate paths: the Jazz Section was where people had always put the albums which didn’t fit into the standard, segregated categories. Musicians would flip through them, not many others did. Race did matter when Horace Silver said he wanted to play music the white guys couldn’t play. They couldn’t play it because the white jazz crowd was still locked into this insane idea that only black musicians should play black music. They liked it well enough, white folks had been Taking the A Train, goin’ slumming down in Harlem.

        Troubled times. Hard to put ourselves in their shoes. Miles said it best when he said white people didn’t have to wear the white shoe.Report

  14. Avatar Shazbot3 says:

    Mike,

    “Racism is the idea that all members of a race possess certain universal characteristics and these characteristics can be classified as either inferior or superior to those of other races. The most obvious forms of racism are name-calling and negative generalizations. Then there are the less obvious forms of racism. Under-estimation of a people or what Michael Gerson called, “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” There is the unwillingness to make social connections between races and the reality that inter-racial dating is still a novelty in America.”

    Based on this, Mike, I’m not sure if you even know what racism is. I’m sorry that this sounds so rude. Sure, the first sentence in the quotation above is part of many dictionary definitions. But dictionaries don’t really define important and comple concepts like justice, beauty, liberal, libertarian, rights, morality, etc. Dictionaries just point in the direction of how to use a word.

    Can you give a better explanation of racism here? Do you see why your explanation is so darn thin?Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Shazbot3 says:

      Is there an objective and generally accepted definition of racism that you prefer he use?Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        No, but I’d rather he not pretend that an overly simple definition is correct.

        Racism is hard to define. One aspect of it is oppression.

        His definition needn’t be perfect, but it is so obviously wrong.

        He should have asked someone in the group effected by racism to explain racism to him. This advice should sound familiar to you James 🙂Report

    • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Shazbot3 says:

      That is, on the definition in the first sentence it is racist to say all of the following because all of the following are true (or debatably true) generalizations that point out how one group is “superior” NB: one reason. and there are others, that Mike’s dictionary definition is so useless explaining racism is the word “superior” is itself very vague and ill defined here.

      1. “White people are wealthier than black people”

      2. “Black people are taller than white people”

      3. “Black people are more likely suffer from sickle cell.”

      4. “Black people suffer more cardiovascular disease.”

      None of these are racist, but all are racist according to Mike’s definition.

      Racism often involves believing that another group is inferior based on innate characteristics that are awful. But that is neither necessary nor sufficient for being a racist. Another example: If X says, your race is neither superior nor inferior to mine, but I am going to kill the members of your race because they are different, that would be racism.

      A proper, full definition (that gave necessary and sufficient conditions to the best extent possible and explained the concept) would include a reference to oppression. One aspect of racism is that it is a system of oppression, where one race through behaviors (subtle and not subtle, cultural or legal, violent or not) oppresses another.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        So you’re going to point to examples that fit the general statement, even though anyone reading is unlikely to actually think he might mean that type of example, and you’re not going to provide a better alternative definition?

        At least he put his definition out there, which is a valid and valuable way to structure his argument. If all you can really do is slam his definition on such weak grounds without providing a better alternative, what have you really contributed to the discussion?

        I’m not taking a position on his definition, mind, and I’ve already made my critique of Mike so I’m not really trying to defend him. But I’m actually interested in a comment that says “here’s a better definition, here’s why, and here’s how I would interpret/analyze your post in light of this alternative–and I claim superior–definition.”Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Some terms are very hard to define perfect. “Game” for example. “Racism” is like that.

        However, some definitions are worse than others. If I asserted that Games are by definition fun activities with more than two players with winners and losers, and then argued about whether solitaire was a game, my whole argument would be a mess. Mike did that by analogy. He suggests racism is viewing some other group as having inferior characteristics and then suggests that racism may come from good intentions and so on and so forth. He then asserts racism comes from good intentions. Well, sure, viewing people as different characteristics could come from good intentions, or have good consequences, or even be good in general. But if racism involves oppression, as it clearly does, that is harder to say. It is also harder to say that there is “reverse racism” with a straight face.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        I didn’t ask for perfect. I asked for better. Can you actually provide a better–if still imperfect–definition, or can you not? And if you cannot, are you doing anything more than just being the first to cast stones?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Racism is trivially defined. It begins with the notion of race itself. We may trot an unknown quantity of persons through some Comparator and out they come, neatly sorted by Race.

        The Comparator doesn’t determine if one race is viewed as superior or inferior or even equal. It’s a machine. It was built by someone who engineered it to a certain set of specifications. We know we all came out of Africa, that we’re no different from each other than breeds of dogs. Humans are a species. We can successfully interbreed and reproduce. There is no fundamental, scientific Comparator for race.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Blaise,

        Anti-racists will be the first ones to tell you that “race” isn’t real in any biological or genetic sense. But race as a social construct, that is real as shit. The reality is that the world sorts people based on a variety of criteria, race being chief among them. In different places, the definitions of race will be different, reinforcing the idea that it is a social construct. But just because it is a social construct that is not grounded in biology or genetics does not mean it is any less meaningful because of how we respond to that construct.

        But I hope you realize the offensiveness you would be directing at people of color who have been victims of real racism when you say that race isn’t real. I’m sure many of them would much prefer that race as we know it not be real. Unfortunately, it is very, very real for them and the rest of us when we look at what people do with different ideas about race.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        K,

        Why do you say race is not real in a genetic or biological sense? I am aware Stephen J Gould and his buddies tried to make this argument a few decades ago, but I believe their “theories” faired poorly within the halls of science.

        It is like saying dog breed is not a real genetic or biological distinction.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Roger,
        quite simply, a lot of phenotypes don’t match racial boundaries. Fingerprints, for one… people are constantly saying that XYZ group matches 50% with another group from far off place.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        But race as a social construct, that is real as shit..

        Shit is real enough. I’ll grant you that. But while you continue to cling to it, as if Race had any meaning, you’re part of the problem.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        @roger

        Race is a social construct, divorced from biology and genealogy because our definitions of the various races are not based in biology or genealogy. We don’t say, “Joe Blow has XYZ on his 8th chromosome so he’s black and Slim Jim has ABC on his 8th chromosome so he’s white.” We tend to say, “So and so has some ancestry in the African diaspora so we’ll call him African-American. Unless he came to America via Latin America, in which case we’ll call him Hispanic/Latino and maybe black but maybe not. And if he is sufficiently mixed, we won’t call him black at all, even though he might have as many if not more black ancestors than this guy over here who we definitely will call black. Etc.”

        We came up with definitions and then squeezed people into them regardless of what their biology actually is. It is why many Middle Easterners were considered white pre-9/11 but no longer. That ain’t biology.

        @blaisep
        I don’t cling to it as much as I am realistic about the fact that race continues to matter. I would rather we live in a world where race didn’t matter, or mattered much less, but we don’t. And I don’t think our path to reaching that world is by trying to make it happen over night by ignoring race. I think we need to eliminate the cultural factors that make it matter.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Look, Kazzy, I’d like to square up with you. I’m largely to blame for the bitterness between us. Your heart is in the right place and I know it.

        But I’d only ask you to consider my point: that enlightened, scientific people of good will cannot tolerate the notion of Race, any more than we can tolerate the Racism which arises from it. It’s not such a leap, to be done with all these filthy, cruel constructs, to rid our own vocabularies of them, no matter how much stock the ignorant and hateful might put in them. They have only served to divide mankind, to segregate him and worse, made each of us come to believe we must continue to walk in the light of day, accepting them as givens, as axioms. It can be done. We can be enlightened. We can quit filling in those nasty Race Boxes and just check the box marked Other, writing in “Human”.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Here is why I disagree, respectfully, @blaisep

        I’d like nothing more than there to be a single box marked “Human”.

        But here is why I can’t support an overnight shift to that…

        You have two people existing in the real world as we know it today. Let’s call them Bob and Joe. Both are applying for a job. One of the questions on the application asks about convictions. Bob answers that he has two minor drug related convictions. Joe answers that he has one minor drug related convictions. Those responses are going to greatly advantage Joe over Bob during the interview process.

        But if I were to learn that Bob were black and Joe were white, that might not be the case. Knowing what I know about how blacks and whites are treated in the criminal justice system, starting with stop-and-frisk data and going all the way up to sentencing guidelines and the like, I could potentially parse and probe and learn that Bob was stopped by the police every day on his way to work and twice got nipped with a dime bag of weed and got the book thrown at hime each time. Meanwhile Joe was never frisked and got caught once with cocaine, which he regularly carried on his persons, but between sentencing guidelines and the fact that the DA went easy on him because he “seemed like a good kid” means that his arrest for a more serious crime looks less serious.

        Now, of course, if one were so inclined, they could draw all sorts of nasty conclusions about Bob and Joe based on their race and criminal records. I am not so inclined. So, to me, I would seek to use that data in the most just way possible (allowing for inevitable screwups). Many people would see to use that data in the worst way possible. But that doesn’t make the data wrong, it makes the people wrong. We need to get people to stop looking at black people and thinking horrible things before we need to pretend that black people aren’t black.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Good point Kazzy,

        Just to clarify though, your argument is actually that social constructs of race have not historically or consistently matched up with biological or genetic reality. It has no bearing whatsoever on whether race is real from a genetic standpoint. I am not trying to pick nits. This is a big distinction.

        Agreed?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        @roger

        I’ll say I don’t know the science on that part enough.

        What do we mean when we say race? I mean, what do we REALLY mean when say race in a biological sense?

        With sex, we know what we mean. We mean XX or XY or XXY or whatever other variations exist.

        For biological race, are we looking at melanin content? Ancestral mitochondrial DNA* tracing back to a particular region? What would it mean for someone to be biologically black?

        Race doesn’t fit as neatly as sex because ultimately all humans came from the same spot, which does not hold for sex (unless you subscribe to strict creationism and think that Eve was made from Adam).

        So, yea, what does it mean to have a biological race?

        * I don’t know if these scientific terms are accurate so if they aren’t, just insert whatever the correct ones are.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        You’d like nothing more than a single box marked Human. But you can’t support it. Who do you think will support it, if not you? Let’s suppose instead of Joe and Bob, it was DeMarcus and Jawan. Let’s suppose the boss’ name is Chaim.

        Any race images forming in our minds? Any clues to operate on here? While that’s true, we’re still part of the problem. We don’t see humans, not yet. Until we’re blind to race, we’re still operating in the Flat Earth paradigm the racists defined.

        It simply must stop. It must stop with us. It stopped with me years ago. I made a conscious decision to stop. Most people think I’m crazy. Well, they could conclude I’m crazy based on a multitude of other supporting evidence, no denying that.

        If we want justice for everyone, we must tear down the walls built by the racists. Nothing short will ever suffice. We must have equal justice under law. Your example shows how justice failed, how it was not equal. Just because Bob was the victim of injustice does not make him a better person.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        @blaisep

        I think there are transition steps we need to achieve first. I support true “color blindness” when we live in a world where that is possible. I don’t think we are there yet.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        I cannot agree with Transition Steps. It’s a recapitulation of Plessy v. Ferguson. Equal yes, but we’re still going to tolerate Separate. We must be done with Race entirely, once and for all.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Why do you assume that to acknowledge race is to seek to separate based upon that acknowledgement?

        I can look at people and note their hair color, their eye color, their height, their weight, their manner of dress, their language and make no attempts to separate based upon this information. Why can’t I do the same with race/skin color?

        Again, it isn’t race that is the issue, it is racism… it is the attempts to separate based on race. Just because a few bad actors are going to do bad with something doesn’t mean we do away with it. It means we demand better of the bad actors.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Why do you assume that to acknowledge race is to seek to separate based upon that acknowledgement?

        Huh? Can’t you see the internal contradiction in your own statement? How sincere are you about that One Box Marked Human anyway? Tell me again how this works. The racists define the terms and you acknowledge them — but somehow because you’re ready to say they’re Equal, you’re not Separating them?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Roger, the science of race is still not straightforward. There are still plenty of scientists who argue that there is no biological basis for racial distinctions.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        So Blaise, in your world, where everyone is just “human”, what would you say to the man of dark complexion who walks up to you and says, “Hi. I’m Joe. I’m black”?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        A black guy’s going to inform me he’s black? Are you joking?

        Maybe in Kazzyworld, people say such things. Most people, when they’re introduced limit themselves to names and often business cards. I often ask where people are from. Had a guessing game the other night with an Egyptian, working out which city he lived in. Cairo? Too far north. Luxor? Too far south. Asyut? Pretty close.

        Nobody in my life has ever informed me they were black. I don’t like references to race. Don’t tolerate them on my teams. Think they’re unprofessional.

        Any statement which starts with “Arabs are” or “Blacks are” or “Whites are” — anything of that sort, is sure to be followed by some lie. People might yet cling to these silly labels, lots of people read the Astrology column in the newspapers, too. “I’m a Pisces” — yeah, buddy. Now what does that mean?Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Chris,

        Yeah, it is not straightforward especially due to the interplay of historic or conventional definitions of race being overlaid on top of various populations. Furthermore, the topic has attracted quacks and apologists to both sides of the serious debate.

        However, the distribution of alleles differs between human sub-populations. There are significantly more green eyed lactose tolerant individuals in some populations than others. Some of these subpops can be reliably identified by racial traits. Others less so.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Blaise,

        You’ve lost me. You said we should abandon all references to race. No black people, no white people… just people.

        So in that world, where there are no black people and no white people, just people, how would you respond to someone who said, “I’m Joe. I’m 35. I’m a barber. I am a father and a husband and a son. I am black”? Would you tell him he wasn’t black? That he’s just a person like everyone else? Because as I understand your argument, that would be the logical response to just such a statement. If I have misunderstood this, please correct me. This is a hypothetical, mind you. I recognize that in real life most people don’t just up and introduce themselves as such. But people do self identify. One example:

        “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

        Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/news/20130429/jason-collins-gay-nba-player/#ixzz2f5IoeCSPReport

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        If confronted on the subject, if someone got up in my face and said “I’m black” I’d cut him right down to size and say “Is that so? I’m a Taurus. Now tell me what being black means and I’ll tell you what being a Taurus means. Because I don’t believe in Race any more than I do in Astrology. You can get over your bad black self and start acting like a human being because there’s no White or Black or Tamil or Urdu or gay or straight any other goddamn sorting out of people on that basis on this team. You will act like a professional and respect everyone equally or I’ll show you the door.”

        Can you tell me what being White means? Do you buy into your own self-definition as White, Kazzy? If so, why? Did you oppress some black people some while back? Maybe your ancestors oppressed them. I don’t think you really want a One Box solution. It suits your purposes to condescend to other races, be the big enlightened kinda guy who’s gonna note for the record that some people are oppressed on the basis of race. You exhibit none of the attributes I’d associate with the One Box solution. You want to hang onto the concept of race like a mother monkey still dragging her dead infant around.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Glyph has a link that would fit really well here.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Roger,

        Yes, there are some differential allele frequencies. Some of those definitely matter from a medical perspective. But I think the real salient question is whether there’s any way they matter from a moral perspective, or a perspective of political equality. (And I’m pretty damn sure I know where you stand on that, given your lovely spouse’s evident ancestry.)Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Roger, a few noticable alleles with more between than within “race” variance is hardly a real biological basis for racial classifications. If it were, then we’d see all sorts of racial classifications that wouldn’t make sense, particularly over time. The question of whether there’s any large-scale genetic distinction that doesn’t ultimately show a bunch of overlap, with more within than between variance, appears to be an open one that you and I are not qualified to answer.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        So, @blaisep , you reject the right of people to self identify?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Hey, I’m a Taurus. Isn’t that self-identification?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        And at what point has someone crossed a line?

        “I’m 6’1″. That makes me 2″ taller than you.” Is that acceptable?
        “My skin is a darker complexion than yours.” How about that?
        “Damn, that guy is fast!” Too far?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Nah. (laffing) Kazzy, I’m a Taurus. Or maybe I’m a Gemini. Some astrological charts have me in Gemini. You opened the door to this Self-Identification business. It’s all fine and good for Jason Collins to be brave enough to say “I’m black and I’m gay.” because he’s putting a human face on a stupid set of classifications, as dumb and unscientific as it’s possible to get. He’s being a human being.

        The faces change, the masks remain the same. You can go on squealing and carrying on about how people want to self-identify, it’s been asked and answered. While mankind goes on wearing these masks, we shall never truly be ourselves. Now wake the hell up and quit coining terms like Supremism. Sounds like some frothy whipped sauce for veal. I don’t buy any of it and you shouldn’t either. It’s all bullshit from top to bottom. Either we are members of the Human Race or we are White or Black or some other Racist Classification. It’s bad enough that the racists coined these pernicious terms. It’s worse, it’s fucking tragic, that people believe they apply to themselves.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        That’s quite the dodge, there. Good day.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        “I’m 6’1?. That makes me 2? taller than you.” Is that acceptable?

        Almost 4 inches taller than me, and no, that is not acceptable. I demand either publicly subsidized lifts or some laws that will cut you down to size.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Quite the dodge, indeed. Anyone who identifies by race is wearing the mask carved for him by the bigot, knowing full well who carved it and to what ends. It is a tacit acceptance of the unacceptable.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        Chris, try as I might, I cannot disagree. Darn…LOLReport

      • Avatar Shazbot11 in reply to Shazbot3 says:

        James,

        Sorry for the late reply. And this thread got derailed.

        Here is a better definition, that is vague, but not obviously inadequate and false. (Vague and complicated concepts should have vague definitions at the edges, but not be radically false, as Mike’s definition of racism is.

        “Racism cannot be defined by prejudice alone.Prejudice is a preconceived judgement or opinion, usually based on limited information and is one of the inescapable consequences of living in a racist society.

        Racism is a system of advantage based on race.It is a system involving cultural messages and institutional policies and practices as well as the beliefs and actions of individuals.Others define racism as “prejudice plus power”.When racial prejudice is combined with social power- access to social, cultural, and economic resources and decision-making – leads to the institutionalization of racist policies and practices.”

        That is a description of one the messages of the book “Why are the black kids sitting together at the cafeteria?” (not yet read, but read about, sadly, and embarrassingly) this website:

        http://www.primarygoals.org/books/why-are-all-the-black-kids-sitting-together/

        By this defintion, there can be no racism against whites until blackness implies privilege, which is very much the opposite of the case. And clearly, this is what we are calling “racism” when we are talking about the immoral, pernicious thing called racism. Technically, you can call anything you want racism, but the concept we have of immoral racism is about institutionalized, conscious and not-conscious, privilege and oppression.Report

  15. I think that as long as we live in a country where African-American women are barred from premier sororities at public universities, we can’t really talk seriously in any post-racial sense. And saying “I’m not saying racism no longer exists” is insufficient an acknowledgement.

    That said, culture plays a bit role as well. And just as when we talk about culture we mean race, sometimes when we talk about race we mean culture. And economics, the third leg on that stool.

    It would be awesome if we could disaggregate these things. So that we will know who is really talking about what and when. But we don’t even know what we are talking about, at least some of the time. As it stands, a lot of the time talking about the racial aspect of anything ultimately means we’re going to be talking about race. Which is exhausting, and not always productive.

    To pick Ryan Noonan’s old example, is there a racial element to the objections of celebrations in football? Perhaps there is. Perhaps that’s worth talking about. Except that it comes up in the context of a cudgel against those who object. Because if there is a racial element to it, then the implication is that it’s wrong to feel it. Except that it’s not wrong to feel it. It’s just a way to feel it in any meaningful sense.

    If it’s white-normative to prize home-ownership, what does that say about the belief in home ownership? I think (hope) we should all agree that it doesn’t make it wrong. It might mean that we shouldn’t pass laws favoring it. A perfectly respectable libertarian view, that is. But if you believe in a more activist government, virtually everything the government encourages or subsidizes is going to have a normative quality to it, isn’t it? (As it happens, We rent and I have always rented and have reservations about our emphasis on ownership, but that should be neither here nor there.)Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

      “If it’s white-normative to prize home-ownership, what does that say about the belief in home ownership? I think (hope) we should all agree that it doesn’t make it wrong.”

      I agree that we can’t declare it wrong, at least not solely on the fact that it is white-normative; it might very well be right. But we should be mindful of when we are dealing with preferences and when we are dealing with objective value. If you ask a lot of people why X is good or right, they can’t give much of an answer. Push hard enough and it is usually reduced to some form of, “It just is!” or “That’s the way it’s always been!” Neither of which are sufficient on their own to justify norm-setting.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Kazzy says:

        Good points, Kazzy,

        Instead of focusing on race, I suggest we focus on culture. A culture is a set of norms, patterns, habits, expectations and roles which allow people to solve problems. Consider a culture as an integrated tool set.

        A subculture would then be a broadly identifiable different tool set. No hard and fast borders, but some clear distinctions in expectations, social mores, etc. There are lots of subcultures, and only some of them have racial components. To complicate matters people can adapt to and move within multiple subcultures.

        Depending upon the goals and values of each individual, a given cultural solution set can have strengths and weaknesses. Some solve some problems better than others with less egregious side effects (again per the person’s values).

        Cultures evolve, but they also resist change. As with any evolutionary system they can get stuck on relative fitness peaks, meaning that sometimes there is no easy way to get from where we are today to where we want to go, even assuming everyone wants to get there, which they probably don’t.

        Long way to say that cultural evolution needs to come from within. It is good to see how other subcultures solve problems, as this allow people to see that solutions are possible and perhaps point out ways which similar (yet unique) solution sets can develop within the subculture. Having members move back and forth between and within subcultures also helps, as they can import the best from each.

        One final point is that differing subcultures will lead to different results possibly even vastly different, and this is true even with no discrimination against members (though it would be even more true with discrimination).Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:

      Are you referring to bloomberg piece?

      Print edition has a ‘bottom line’ quote that’s not on the web:

      The bottom line The housing bust was particularly hard on blacks, and the recovery is squeezing them out of new opportunities.

      Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to zic says:

        That wasn’t what I was referring to – I was referring to comments made by Kazzy above, though maybe he was thinking of that – but thanks for sharing the interesting link.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to zic says:

        I wasn’t referring to any specific piece.

        I actually don’t know all of the ways that home ownership and race intersect. I was simply holding it up as an example. We tend to define a group as more successful if they have higher home ownership rates. I’m curious if this is because home ownership is actually correlated with success or if something else is at play. It might not have been the example, I’ll admit.

        As for owning vs renting, it is my understanding that for some folks in some areas, renting is objectively better from a strictly financial standpoint while for some other folks in some other areas, owning is objectively better from a strictly financial standpoint. But there is no hard and fast rule on the economic superiority of either renting or owning.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        Kazzy,
        Home ownership is extremely well correlated with wealth acquisition, which in turn correlates with “success”Report

  16. Avatar Kim says:

    Mike,
    Alright, you’re asking when we can talk culture instead of race.
    How about now?
    Topic is guns. I think we know where most urban folk stand,
    in thinking that getting rid of guns is a good start to fixing problems.

    When do we get a vote on fixing your culture?

    (Yes, this may seem a trifle antagonistic. Back off a moment,
    and think how much harder it is to hear folks with other ideas,
    from other communities, if you come from a systematically
    oppressed group.)Report

  17. Avatar Cascadian says:

    While In favor of the big sort, which is fundamentally differentiating on cultural lines, culture here seems to be a stand in for race. At best it seems like love the sinner hate the sin, at worst it seems like an aesthetic rejection of races and there gangs. If blacks were better at gang violence, they’d look like the Italian, Jewish, or Irish mafias. If they were really good, they’d be on par with the Chinese gangs. In BC we don’t have a lot of African minorities. We have tons of Asians both East and South. They of course have their gangs. The gang we have the most problem with here? The Hell’s Angels. It’s definitely a culture problem.Report

  18. Avatar zic says:

    comment moderation blues.Report

  19. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

    While I think it’s admirable that Mike’s taking a stab at answering this question, I think he does go a bit off when he starts compartmentalizing “culture” from “race”, or for that matter class. Insofar as race is a social construct in America (and it certainly is, regardless of whatever the VDare neo-eugenicist/quasi-ubermensch worshipping “race realists” might say), racial definitions are one of the key elements of cultural definition and experiences in the US. It’s also a class signifier and a behavior signifier. For a lot of people race is still important because their experiences are shaped, rightly or wrongly, by race, creating distinct cultural markers.

    One of the symbols of white and male privilege in the US is to be able to claim that race or gender are separate from culture. For everyone else, it’s never that cut and dried.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

      Nicely said Nob. Seems to me that any suggestion that culture be treated independently from racial or class issues isn’t going to go anywhere since race and class are definitive of culture. So the question “can’t we get beyond race to talk about culture?” seems to express a confusion right outa the blocks. I mean, it’s just impossible to talk about culture without talking about those things.

      More importantly, tho, I experience a bit of knee-jerk opposition to proposals from members of a very consciously and intentionally closed cultural group which is often advocating for very repressive policies based on cultural markers (race, gender, religion and class) attempting to exclude those markers from the discussion. I don’t even know what there is to talk about at that point.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Stillwater says:

        Who is advocating for “very repressive policies based on cultural markers”?

        Do you mean something like not hiring someone without good English skills? Or something else? Just asking.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Who is advocating for “very repressive policies based on cultural markers”?

        Cultural conservatives.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        +1, @stillwater and @nob-akimoto

        And Still, I agree that a big part of the discussion is folk who are (fill-in-the-blank)ist wanting to leave their ist out of the discussion.

        I also think that the history matters; understanding the history matters. Look at the Marx thread; lot of meat in the detail about what makes this definition this, that definition that. The historical weight of words like Liberal and Marxist matter, and matter a great deal to the people on that thread. Yet that meat seems like it’s supposed to get stripped from the bone before we can discuss much of racism; the weight of history and how it shapes ‘now’ is supposed to be set aside, as if we’re beyond it’s grip.

        There is some legitimacy to suggesting that there are trends of change; that some things have improved. But I’d guess that’s the low hanging fruit. It’s a hell of a lot easier to ban lynching people than it is to ban discrimination in the justice system. We need to stop and frisk the notion that we’re beyond racism, and take responsibility for that % of racism that’s not easy to change, in part because it’s less personal to any individual (the low-hanging fruit), and built on the weight of its cultural history, tradition and perception.

        If there are fewer overt racists out there, that’s awesome. But the indirect racism still grips us, and as you suggest, it often roots in closed cultural groups that want to impose standards.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        @roger,

        Who is advocating for “very repressive policies based on cultural markers”?

        Some of those repressive policies:

        stop and frisk
        home lending practices
        foreclosure
        employment
        education
        incarceration
        voting rights

        just for a start.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Stillwater says:

        So putting two and two together, you guys are saying you believe social conservatives are advocating race or sex based hiring, home loans, frisking, incarceration, education and such?

        Really?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Exactly Roger. I’m impressed by your math skillz!Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

        Roger,

        This is where things can get very squishy very fast. I don’t think most social conservatives would actively advocate for targeting people of color for foreclosures.

        But, many (not all, many) people of color find themselves at risk for foreclosure for reasons relating to their race. Some of this is because of liberal policies aimed at increasing home ownership rates among people of color. Some of this is because of predatory lending tactics perpetrated by folks across the political spectrum. Some of this is because the historical legacy of various racist practices leads people of color to be less financial secure. Etc.

        So, when people say, “To hell with ’em… foreclose on anyone who is a month late on their mortgage regardless of their race,” they are ignoring the realities on the ground. Many (but not all) of which are out of many (but not all) people’s control.

        Someone like me… I’d say, “Let’s look at the circumstances by which someone ended up at risk of foreclosure.” If one guy is in that position because he pissed his money away in Vegas… I’d be less inclined to work to keep that guy in his house. If another guy thought he was doing everything right in pursuing the American dream and was told he’d be totes fine with his mortgage based on his income by a licensed professional but, whoops, that turned out to be a bunch of bullshit… I’d be more inclined to work to keep that guy in his house.

        When people, be they social conservatives or whatever, take the “To hell with ’em” route, they want to ignore and ultimately punish people for cultural markers that so many people before them had no issue punishing people for having.

        I hope this made sense…Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Stillwater says:

        Gracias….OOPS! I mean thanks. Hope no racist biggot social conservatives are reading this. They may throw me in jail and foreclose on my home.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Stillwater says:

        BTW, doesn’t this imply conservatives are basically evil? Or are they just misguided and thus accidentally advocating evil?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Btw, Roger, thanks for lumping zic and my own views into a general “you guys” category (progressives!) and reducing it to something neither of us in fact saying. You must be using the New Math.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        BTW, doesn’t this imply conservatives are basically evil? Or are they just misguided and thus accidentally advocating evil?

        Yes! You broke the Code!Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        And one other thing: why are you so sensitive about people calling other groups evil? I seem to recall you calling proudly proclaiming me a supporter of villiany just the other day.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        Roger, just within the last few years, we’ve seen opposition to Lily Ledbetter, a clamp down on voter laws due to fears of voter fraud (which is statistically nonexistent), gutting of school funding, food stamps stripped from the farm bill, backlash against the notion that birth control, like viagra, should be covered by health insurance, thousands of bills to chip away at women’s rights to choose, rulings of discrimination in home lending and foreclosure practices, and incarceration rates remain abysmally high for black males compared to white males committing the same crimes.

        I did not make these things up.

        As a liberal, I would seek policies that help minimize and eliminate these injustices. I know that many of them are not racially motivated; but the results are institutional racism. You, yourself, may not be racist. But if you support the policies that produce this kind of racism, what are you, if not racist? What?

        (and please not, in this last graph, ‘racially motivated’ includes ‘misogyny.’Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Stillwater says:

        K,

        So, what we should do is say, before we apply the terms of a voluntarily agreed to contract (let’s assume this for clarity), “let’s first view whether complying with contractual terms results in disparate impact based upon race, background or gender?”

        If impact is disparate, we should modify the terms of the contract appropriately?

        BTW,what happens if we find Asian women are more likely to blow their wad in Vegas? Do we have to thow that factor out too?Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Stillwater says:

        I believe you harm others out of ignorance, not maliciousness. Huge difference. There is no point arguing with evil people.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        I believe you harm others out of ignorance, not maliciousness.

        Hey, thanks for the compliment!Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Stillwater says:

        LOL. So the details emerge.

        You have defined the following as examples of “advocating for very repressive policies based” on racial, gender or religious “cultural markers”?

        1) advocating for less spending on education?
        2) not agreeing with a regulation requiring health care cover birth control pills?
        3) being in favor of limitations on the abortion of fetuses?
        4) being in favor of the rule of law if the rule leads to disparate impact by race?

        I am sorry, but it is getting less and less easy for me to take those of the far left as being serious.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

        Roger,

        “Voluntary” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there. If people were lied to to get them to agree to a contract, I don’t consider that voluntary.

        As for Asian folks blowing their wads in Vegas, I’d have to know more about it.

        I meant to add and neglected to that I wouldn’t simply offer the benefit of the doubt to people based on race. If I saw that a black guy blew his wad in Vegas for no reason other than he thought it’d be fun, I wouldn’t be sympathetic. If a white family was duped into signing a mortgage they shouldn’t have, I’d want to work with them.

        Let me ask if the following is possible:

        Is it possible for someone to seek to “apply the terms of a voluntarily agreed to contract” and end up “advocating for very repressive policies based on cultural markers” without meaning to because the former does have a disparate impact for reasons grounded in cultural discrimination?Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Stillwater says:

        “Hey, thanks for the compliment!”

        Here is a great article on “pathological altruism”

        http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/06/04/1302547110.full.pdf Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Stillwater says:

        K,

        That is why I specifically said it was voluntary. If someone was lied to or cheated we can just agree that we will throw out contracts where people were lied to or cheated. No argument.

        The argument arises if someone says that voluntary contracts need to be renegotiated because they result in disparate impacts based upon race or gender.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

        If they are truly voluntary, I don’t think they need to be torn up. But we might want to look at those contracts and how they are being entered into going forward.Report

      • @kazzy

        If they are truly voluntary, I don’t think they need to be torn up. But we might want to look at those contracts and how they are being entered into going forward.

        Exactly. We can assume a can opener all we want and posit what happens if/when a truly voluntary contract is entered into. But it’s worth noting that even the most perfectly “voluntary” contract arrangements have some element of non-voluntariness or contingency or misinformation, etc. Maybe from a policy perspective, there’s a point at which we do have to assume something is voluntary. But I don’t think we should live in a fiction that just because the person initialed on every page and was given all the disclosures, then we know for a fact that the arrangement was voluntary.Report

  20. Avatar roger says:

    “Is it possible for someone to seek to “apply the terms of a voluntarily agreed to contract” and end up “advocating for very repressive policies based on cultural markers” without meaning to because the former does have a disparate impact for reasons grounded in cultural discrimination?”

    I think you are asking if it is a good idea to redefine the phenomena known as “disparate impact” as “accidentally advocating very repressive policies”. I would suggest keeping them distinct. And of course, those above on the far left are suggesting it is intentional, not accidental.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to roger says:

      Well, isn’t some of that a function of from which angle the situation is viewed? One group of people see voluntary contracts being enforced. Another group sees those contracts being drawn up in an inherently repressive system. I contend that it is possible, in at least some circumstances, for both sides to be correct.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Kazzy says:

        K,
        Both sides would be correct if we were enforcing voluntary contracts within an inherently repressive system. Yes. I see almost no indications that the system is inherently repressive vs race. In other words, as I have said before, I see no significant inherent headwinds for my children and grand kids who are black than those who are Indian, Hispanic or white. It is a non issue except for college admission, in which case I am sure my black/hispanic/Indian grand kid has a leg up on the whites.

        Nobody commented on my post above on culture being more important than, but overlapping with, race. Different cultures solve different problem sets in different ways to different success. I see huge disparities in both goals and outcomes by subculture.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to roger says:

      And of course, those above on the far left are suggesting it is intentional, not accidental.

      I think I suggested that it becomes intentional when it’s accidental and the result is pointed out but change is resisted.

      But I’m not sure that the people in banks red-lining neighborhoods were only trying to look out for the banks best interest; the racism of their actions were unintentional. And I’m not sure the Congressmen who voted against Ledbetter were only trying to save employers a buck, they didn’t intentionally want to discriminate against women in the workforce. I’m not convinced that all those voter id laws are about concerns of voter fraud; too many slips of using those laws to control electoral outcomes. If it’s accidental, than when the result becomes apparent, you work to change it.

      Stop and Frisk is apparent. Bloomberg defends it, too. That’s overt racism, it’s not accidental.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to zic says:

        ^^ this is a good point.

        This would be the principled response to objections over voter ID laws.

        “The way this law is written, it will disenfranchise the poor, who – in this district – are predominantly minority.”

        “Oh, huh. I didn’t think of that. Okay, we’ll put an amendment on the bill that provides funding for subsidizing driver’s licenses. We can remove the fee to apply at the DMV. Obviously, we’ll have to delay implementation of this until we can verify that we’re not disenfranchising significant numbers of voters.”

        instead of

        “What, are you implying that I’m racist?”Report

      • Avatar Mr. Blue in reply to zic says:

        Not to get sideways, but I’m curious who has some good statistics on what the voters look like that have actually been turned away by existing voter ID laws. We’ve had the laws in effect that we should have had the opportunity to look at.

        The only numbers I’ve actually seen provided are for Arizona, where the racial disparities everyone is worried about didn’t seem to happen According to NPR, whites were slightly overrepresented among those who were turned away.

        Maybe it’s been different in other states. Anyone have a cite?Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        Mr. Blue, the laws are new, many have not been enacted yet because they are being challenged in the court system.

        There’s some research on potential disenfranchisement, like this:
        http://faculty.washington.edu/mbarreto/research/Voter_ID_APSA.pdf

        But the problem is not just voter id laws, it’s having enough voting machines in polling places in minority neighborhoods, its voting roll purges like we saw in FL before the 2000 elections, where thousands of eligible voters were purged from the rolls and could not vote (there was no count taken of the numbers turned away) because their names resembled names of known felons in FL and many surrounding states. ID laws are just one prong of a forked strategy to suppress voting by people who a) may be minority voters and b) will likely vote Democratic.

        That those ID laws might backfire, and keep a whole lot of people Republicans want to vote from voting, just as they seemed to have increased minority turnout? Seems well within the realm of probability to me.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to roger says:

      And of course, those above on the far left are suggesting it is intentional, not accidental.

      I’m on the “far” left now? Heh.

      To the point tho, you attributed to me the view that social conservatives are consciously evil in advocating for their policy choices, a view I responded to by basically laughing at the suggestion. My point in the initial comment on this subthread, was to accuse social conservatives of disingenuousness in suggesting that we can speak about culture and the problems cultural differences create without talking about race, gender, class, etc. And the reason I gave is that culture and subjectively determined cultural self-identification is determined by race, gender, class, and etc. So those concepts are inextricably linked any concept of culture that Mike wanted to talk about in the OP. I then made a comment about the apparent hypocrisy of conservatives arguing for this view given that they create policies based on the very cultural markers they want to move beyond.

      For some reason, you interpreted that as me attributing intentional evil to conservatives (why? I don’t know!) when the totality of the point was to express what I view as an inconsistency in the thought process. My claim is this: there is no way to talk about the effects of culture in the US without taking about the very cultural markers Mike is proposing we dismiss.

      You can view that claim as attributing evil intentions to conservatives or however else you want. I mean, of course you can do that. And you will!Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        I’d add that I could be misinterpreting or misunderstanding Mike’s main argument in the OP. That’s certainly a possibility. And if so, I’d need to revise some of the conclusions I’m drawing from his proposal.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Stillwater says:

        Um, because when I asked if this implies they are intentional racists you agreed. I suppose you could think of them as good racists, but I am not sure this is a more generous interpretation. More generously, you could have said “yes” facetiously. If so, you may want to have a chat with Zic.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Well, I think you just confirmed that you’ll interpret what I write however you want to interpret it independently of both what I’m actually writing as well any effort I might make to clarify what I wrote, including saying exactly why I disagree with your incorrect interpretation of what I wrote.

        OK. Good to have that point made crystal clear. Did you get a hold of Jaybird’s Liberal Decoder Ring or something?Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Stillwater says:

        You are upset because I misinterpreted the word “yes” to mean “yes”?

        Remind me not to let you on any rape juries.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        So Roger, I think I’ve got this straight:

        Unintended consequences of Liberal policies are the fault of liberals; and liberals should be held accountable for them, their policies revoked lest we risk harming the wealth generators.

        Unintended consequences of Conservative policies are accidental, and the Conservatives should be given the benefit of the doubt, their policies invoked lest we risk harming the wealth generators.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        You are upset because I misinterpreted the word “yes” to mean “yes”?

        Sure. That’s it. All the other words I’ve written to clarify what my complaint is also don’t mean what those words explicitly say. They mean something else. In fact, they can mean anything to anyone! Who am I to say what words mean?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        Did you get a hold of Jaybird’s Liberal Decoder Ring or something?

        Mine’s broken. Ever since Obama got elected, It just keeps saying “obey, don’t question, obey, don’t question”.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Roger, I think I see what’s going on here.Did you interpreted my comments complimenting your math skills and breaking the code and my thanking you for the complimenting my ignorance as being sincere?

        They weren’t. They were snark.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

        Your ring must be broken then since plenty of liberals have been questioning and criticizing. That’s what you get for shopping at Sprawlmart.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Thanks Obeyma!Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater says:

        J,
        Funny, my liberal decoder ring is stuck on “don’t narfle the garthok” ever since Summers stepped down from consideration.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        That’s what you get for shopping at Sprawlmart.

        All the best decoders come out of Germany. And they ain’t cheap!Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to Stillwater says:

        Zic,

        We are swiveling around the term disparate impact. If not agreeing with funding the pill has a disparate impact on women, then you are defining this as an unintended negative consequence. Using this logic any action or inaction which has any statistically adverse effect on one group is bad.

        If, for example, you suggested we take a chopper and drop bundles of ten dollar bills out over Detroit and I said no, you could accuse me of advocating policies harmful to black people (I am assuming Detroit is racially more black than the US as a whole). This is of course an absurd argument. Your actual examples are almost as silly.

        When I accuse those of the left as promoting policies which have unintended negative consequences I am not swiveling on the issue of disparate impact. I am for example saying that I believe coercive unions, mandatory benefits, living wages and sweatshop wage restrictions lead specifically to real harm. Lower wages. Fewer jobs. More dead babies and such.

        If you want to change your argument to something like “abortion leads to fewer dead babies” (which is probably true) then I think you will be on firmer ground.Report

      • You are upset because I misinterpreted the word “yes” to mean “yes”?

        Remind me not to let you on any rape juries.

        If the last sentence was meant to be funny, it didn’t succeed.Report

  21. Avatar j r says:

    @zic

    I don’t know that it’s particularly helpful to throw all those race and gender issues into a pile and try to cobble together two all inclusive postures labeled “conservative” and “progressive.” Certainly those words have meanings, but the history of racism in this country (and I will assume sexism as well; although, this is a bit outside of my wheelhouse) is as much conservative as it is progressive. Also, there’s lots of people like me who think that conservatives are every bit as absurd on race as progressives can be on gender.

    As an aside, comparing coverage of birth control to the coverage of Viagra is not a very good analogy.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

      I disagree. Because minority women get both the racism and the misogyny to deal with.

      And again, my list was not a list of policies recently supported or thwarted by conservatives that have racist/misogynist repercussions. And I stress recently.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to zic says:

        My point is that you are conflating a bunch of things under an arbitrary banner of things that progressives like and conservatives don’t (or maybe vice versa). And by making it about progressives vs. conservatives, you’re actually not talking about racism or sexism as a cultural phenomenon (ones that indict progressives as well as conservatives), but only racism as a battering ram that one party uses to attack the other. And that is a much less interesting conversation.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        jr, Republicans have voting records. In the House, Republicans stripped food stamps from the farm bill, and then when it was offered as a stand-alone bill, they didn’t pass it. A lot of children eat because of the farm bill and food stamps, a lot of poor children, and some of them are minorities. Certainly, there’s a huge brown othering obvious in our disdain for those who we think might be abusing the social safety net, might be getting foodstamps. Republicans voted on Lily Ledbetter. They mistreated Sandra Fluke. Somewhere on this godforsaken post, I noted that the birth rates of single black women had been declining since the 1990’s; take a look Texas, since they made it more difficult for women to get access to birth control by defunding women’s health clinics, they’ve started climbing.

        I don’t think you can separate race and gender, though you think I’m conflating them in a progressive soup. Because women come in all races, and they have an astonishingly similar group of problems no matter their race if they’re poor, have children, have an abusive partner, or have no economic means of support.

        Sometimes Republicans, meaning the legislative stand in for Conservative in our government, take policy stances that directly impact harm people when they’re implemented, as in defunding access to reproductive health care in Texas. Because the not only defunded abortion, they defunded access to contraception, to cancer treatment, to pap smears. Sometimes they’re simply resistant to change when harm is identified, as in Lily Ledbetter. And sometimes, Republicans lose, we have ACA and the Ledbetter Act. VAWA was renewed.

        But Roger, he’d have us live in a world where VAWA wasn’t needed; because that’s counting by gender, he’d say, and the violence is the only thing we need to address. What he doesn’t get is that the violence wasn’t being addressed. The disparity in jail sentences isn’t being addressed. The Supreme Court didn’t throw out the 14th; they didn’t say, ‘There are no voting irregularities that we need to watch,” they said Congress needed to update the list of those who merited watching.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to zic says:

        Zic,

        See, you did it again as I suggested below.

        “…Republicans… take policy stances that directly impact harm people when they’re implemented, as in defunding access to reproductive health care….abortion,…access to contraception, to cancer treatment, to pap smears. But Roger, he’d have us live in a world where VAWA wasn’t needed.; because that’s counting by gender,”

        You are suggesting that refusing to support something which helps a group which you prefer amounts to an act of “repression.” There may be arguments for or against government subsidized abortion or whatever. But this is not is.

        On disparate sentencing, I could care less if freckle faced irishmen tended to be incarcerated at different rates than pretty Japanese girls. I only care that the rule of law be applied fairly and uniformly. Yes, wildly different sentencing may cause me to question whether this ideal is met, but it is a country mile from proof, especially considering the cultural differences that also exist between the Irish and the rest of us.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to zic says:

        @zic

        I don’t think you can separate race and gender…

        Of course you can. You may not wish to, but as they are two different things you most certainly can separate them. And that as my point. In choosing to approach this topic from a specifically partisan point of view, you are missing the forest for the trees. And making you miss the forest is precisely the point of partisanship.

        You mention food stamps and the fact that Republicans vote to take away benefits. OK. Now let’s talk about why there are food stamps in the first place. Why do we have a transfer program, that serves as much as an ag support program as an anti-poverty program? Why do we give people a voucher for a specific list of things instead of say a straight cash transfer that people could spend on whatever they want? The answer is as much rooted in conservative contempt for the poor as it is in progressive paternalism (ie contempt for the poor).

        You mention VAWA, which is another perfect example. The effective result of a law like VAWA is to give law enforcement and prosecutors more weapons in their arsenal to use against alleged batterers. What happens when you give the government more weapons to use? The government uses those weapons and more people end up in jail. And I’ll bet you any amount of money that the increase in jail time is going to fall more on the poor and on minorities.

        So, you start from a position that is decidedly progressive: let’s stop domestic batterers from victimizing women. The you want to operationalize it in a way that will most assuredly vicitmize some of the very people that progressives purport to want to protect. You think this is an accident?Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        jr, you make no sense. You will need to show me data that demonstrates causation between VAWA funding and an increase in domestic violence to make any sense; otherwise, you’re just blowing smoke screens about something you fear might happen in the face of something we know actually does happen, and causes great harm when it happens.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to zic says:

        @zic

        What exactly does not make sense? My argument is simple: the actions of progressives have as much to do with the institutions that enforce racism and classism as do the actions of conservatives.

        I never said that VAWA would increase the incidence of domestic violence. I said that it would increase the levels of incarceration among men accused of domestic violence and that those incarceration levels would rise most among men who brown and poor.

        Progressive or conservative, the actions of government tend to follow the same patterns: identify a problem; purport to “do something” about that problem; introduce measures of questionable efficacy that satisfy special interests, but have numerous negative externalities that mostly end up affecting the poor; and finally, taint anyone who opposes these measures as being insufficiently caring.

        So, if you oppose the VAWA, you must not care about support domestic violence. And if you oppose the War on Drugs, you must not care about drug abuse. And if you oppose the ACA, you must not care about the uninsured. And if you oppose the Patriot Act… the terrorists win.

        It is not hard to see how this game is played.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to zic says:

        Progressive or conservative, the actions of government tend to follow the same patterns: identify a problem; purport to “do something” about that problem; introduce measures of questionable efficacy that satisfy special interests, but have numerous negative externalities that mostly end up affecting the poor; and finally, taint anyone who opposes these measures as being insufficiently caring.

        You forgot “dupe the advocates of those policies into thinking their effective because they’re too stupid to know the difference anyway”.Report

  22. Avatar zic says:

    @roger we have this:

    I am for example saying that I believe coercive unions, mandatory benefits, living wages and sweatshop wage restrictions lead specifically to real harm. Lower wages. Fewer jobs. More dead babies and such.

    You are specifically advocating counting things; statistical results.

    Then you say this:

    The argument arises if someone says that voluntary contracts need to be renegotiated because they result in disparate impacts based upon race or gender.

    which is sort of setting aside the notion that things happen because of race or gender; being unwilling to count it. Like Republicans have made a law that it the CDC cannot spend money researching gun violence.

    So can you explain why it’s okay to count dead babies, but not to look at those counts through lenses of race or gender? Because I don’t get it. I really don’t get it at all, it’s a total logical failure. You are not entitled to only your definition of wrong; the people who experience them also have a voice, and a right to ask they be counted.Report

    • Avatar roger in reply to zic says:

      That is why I gave you the silly example of why disparate impact is not a good argument to give against people opposing throwing money out a helicopter over Detroit. The important factor here is not counting things.

      You effectively are arguing that anybody who disagrees with any policy proposal which will help your preferred group is arguing to harm the aforementioned group.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to roger says:

        You effectively are arguing that anybody who disagrees with any policy proposal which will help your preferred group is arguing to harm the aforementioned group.

        Maybe she is, Roger. Maybe she isn’t. But I find it that you, of all people, are lobbing that criticism at her. Don’t you do the exact same thing all the time? Like, consistently and constantly? I’m on the side of the villains, right?Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to roger says:

        Huh. And I think that you’re arguing the just because there’s disagreement, there’s no evidence of harm.

        I did not suggest throwing money over Detriot from a helicopter, though that does sound really similar to the tax money president George W. Bush gave me some years back; I spent it on an expensive pot for my kitchen, doing my patriotic duty to go out and spend (I even bought American, All-Clad) to help push back against the collapsing economy.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to roger says:

        Amend that: I think you’re arguing that counting the harm is harmful, as I said, telling the CDC that they cannot investigate gun violence.

        Roger, there are winners and losers with every policy choice we make, and that include choosing not to make a policy choice; to maintain the status quo. I, for instance, have been a winner because we’ve chosen to tax capital gains differently then we’ve chosen to tax income. But I am aware that is a choice; and a different choice could, and I’d say should, be made.Report

      • Avatar roger in reply to roger says:

        SW,

        LOL. Touché.

        I was going to dismiss this as another wisecrack but you are of course actually correct in a way. I need to choose my words more carefully.

        I agree that an action which coercively prevents someone from gaining (without harming another) is causing harm. This is not the same as any policy proposal of course.

        My argument in the end reduces down to the fact that there should not be preferred subgroups within the human race. We should all play by the same rules.

        This obviously makes no sense though. Over and out, I am going to go rob a liquor store or something.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to roger says:

        My argument in the end reduces down to the fact that there should not be preferred subgroups within the human race. We should all play by the same rules.

        And my argument is that there already are preferred subgroups. I’m just willing to examine how that preference plays out, and that discomforts the preferred.Report

  23. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Shazbot,

    “He suggests…that racism may come from good intentions and so on and so forth. He then asserts racism comes from good intentions,”

    This is an extremely uncharitable reading from you, however it’s not surprising in the least. Since you either couldn’t comprehend what I said or have allowed your weird personal issues to cloud your judgement, please allow me to further explain: If anything I am suggesting that in the past good intentions have come from racism…i.e. well-meaning social experiments based on eugenics, etc. Basically the point is 180 degrees different than what your analysis suggests.

    Also, this:

    “Racism is a system of advantage based on race.”

    Um….no. There are racist systems of advantage, but racism is not a system of its own. I could expand here on why your concept is really part of the overall problem but I suspect it would be a wasted effort and frankly this is more interaction with you than I prefer in the first place.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot8 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      “your weird personal issues”

      Thank you.

      “Nietzsche: Digitale Kritische Gesamtausgabe.

      Socrates was descended from the lowest segment of society: Socrates was plebeian. We know, we can still see how ugly he was. But ugliness, an objection in itself, was almost a refutation for the Greeks. Was Socrates Greek at all? Often enough, ugliness is a sign of crossbreeding, of arrested development due to crossbreeding. In other cases it appears as a declining development. Anthropologists specializing in crime tell us that the typical criminal is ugly: monstrum in fronte, monstrum in animo [monster in face, monster in soul]. But criminals are decadents. Was Socrates a typical criminal? – At the very least, this is not contradicted by that famous physiological judgment that sounded so offensive to Socrates’ friends. A foreign expert in faces who had come to Athens told Socrates to his face that he was a monstrum, – that he was a repository for all the vices and bad appetites. And Socrates simply replied: ‘you know me, sir!’ –

      Mike read my personal issues from comments. If only he could see my face how he could judge my personal issues.

      Yes, I am the uncharitable one here.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot8 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      The definition of “racism” I cited is a quote from an influential African American psychologist.

      So you know what racism is better than her. Got it.

      You also missed the important distinction between prejudice and racism in the quotation.

      I really don’t think I’ve ever said anything personal against you, so I don’t know why you are attacking me personally.

      I ask that the folks in charge of the blog say something to you about this.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Shazbot8 says:

        IM TELLING MOMMY ON YOUUUUUUUUUUUReport

      • Avatar Shazbot8 in reply to Shazbot8 says:

        Oh no, Jim Heffman is being rude on the internet to me.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot8 says:

        Shazbot,

        Believing that the way you interact with me on this site is a personal problem on your part and not a purely intellectual disagreement is my honest evaluation of our interactions. I’m well aware of the commenting policy since I have been around here for quite a bit longer than you. If the powers that be think ‘weird personal issues’ qualifies as a personal attack, I will gladly give myself a lengthy exile because that will mean I have truly lost touch with the spirit of our community. But something tells me I am okay on this one and we both know this isn’t the first time you have tried this tactic so it’s losing a bit of steam.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Shazbot8 says:

        I’m interested, what are my weird personal issues?

        If you can’t answer, you shouldn’t have said it.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot8 says:

        Shazbot,

        The personal issues I have observed is a tendency to make statements designed to aggravate people but then you act surprised when they fire back and demand apologies or some other recompense. I usually do a good job of ignoring your flame bait and should have also done so here, but your mis-interpretation of my position was so far off the mark that I broke my own rule. Be assured, it won’t happen again.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot11 in reply to Shazbot8 says:

        So my personal issue is that I am liberal, pro-choice, atheistic, against hunting, vegetarian, pro-gun control, etc. Those things bother you, so you insult me, while I compliment you (on a number of occasions), and then when I ask for an apology for the insult, it is because of my personal issues.

        Huh.Report

  24. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Racism is the idea that poor people of different ethnicities should be blaming each other for us not paying them more.

    One thing I was trying to get at in my last post was that the culture of poverty is pretty much indistinguishable between ethnicities. Also that people who are more well-to-do have pretty much abandonned the idea of social mobility and now treat that culture as untouchable under a guise of false sophistication. Henry Higgins might have been a paternalistic prick, but Shaw was also on to something about how arbitrary cultural markers of class really are. I’ve moved in both wealthy and poor milieus and it’s far easier to pass than either side would like to think.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *