Supplemental: Do you belong to a race?

MONDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2014

Letter writer makes good point:
On November 30, Michael Eric Dyson wrote a piece in the Sunday New York Times about the Ferguson grand jury.

Dyson started like this:
DYSON (11/29/14): When Ferguson flared up this week after a grand jury failed to indict the white police officer Darren Wilson for killing the unarmed black youth Michael Brown, two realities were illuminated: Black and white people rarely view race in the same way or agree about how to resolve racial conflicts, and black people have furious moral debates among ourselves out of white earshot.

These colliding worlds of racial perception are why many Americans view the world so differently...
Presumably, Dyson meant, in that highlighted passage, that white people rarely “view race in the same way” black people do. Yesterday, a letter in the Times took issue with that formulation.

As best we can tell, we may not agree with the letter writer’s view concerning the killing of Michael Brown. Beyond that, we don’t necessarily agree with his reaction to Dyson’s piece.

We do agree with his general complaint about what he calls “stereotyping.” We think his general complaint is worth reviewing:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (12/7/14): Although well intentioned, Michael Eric Dyson’s article promotes a binary view of race in America. The article emphasizes how “whites” and “blacks” supposedly differ in their perceptions of what happened in Ferguson: Whites were likely to stereotype Michael Brown as a monstrous black culprit and Officer Darren Wilson as justified in his murderous reaction.

I am “white,” so is my wife, so are most of our friends. Not one of us views the events as Mr. Dyson suggests. All of us are horrified by police brutality and the victimization of another young black man. Although a majority of whites may indeed blame the victim, a substantial minority does not.

And that is the point: By stereotyping whites as sharing in the same racial stereotypes, Mr. Dyson inadvertently helps to deepen this country’s racial divide.

R— M—
West Lafayette, Ind., Nov. 30, 2014
We always like it when someone puts scare quotes around “white” and “black!”

We think the writer overstates the extent to which Dyson promoted that “binary view of race in America.” But we also think it’s worth considering the general complaint he makes.

The writer says that he and his friends, who are all white, agree with Dyson’s view. He doesn’t want to get lumped in with people whose views he doesn’t share through racial “stereotyping.”

Good for him! Despite the horrors and the cultural separation enforced by our brutal racial history, we the people have not been turned into two separate-and-different “races.” Reflexively, though, we often stress the differences between the two “races” without noting the overlap and the sameness.

For our money, the “stereotyping” this writer dislikes was much more prevalent in Nicholas Kristof’s recent, condescending column, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 5.”

Not only was Kristof’s racial stereotyping strong. He assumed the obnoxious role of the sun god/philosopher king, taking it upon himself to instruct “the whites” about what they should think, know and feel.

The notion that we belong to two “races” was created and forced upon the world by our benighted ancestors. At some point, people might want to do what the letter writer did—they might consider rejecting the sense that they belong to a “race.”

In our view, “black and white together” remains a worthwhile battle cry. Even better would be this cry: “We the people together.”

How do we make that battle cry work? The letter writer’s refusal to submit to over-generalization may be a good place to start.

Kristof seems to believe that white people are white! As a self-appointed, all-knowing sun god, he may want to expand his vision.

75 comments:

  1. There's something bizarre and offensive about our government's practice of assigning people to 5 ethnic groups: white, black, Asian, Native American, and Pacific Islander. It's reminiscent of South Africa assigning people as white, coloured or mixed.

    I know this practice was supposed to help reduce racism but I think it makes people focus all the more on which "tribe" they belong to.

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    1. The practice is supposed to allow the government to deliver needed services fairly to people. It is not reminiscent of South African's designations because privileges and status were assigned by the government on the basis of the South African categories, whereas it is explicitly forbidden by our Constitution to do so in the USA. Recording demographic info is the only way to make sure that discrimination based on race or ethnicity is not occurring in the provision of government services.

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    2. I find something offensive about your willful ignorance. I don't know why; maybe it's just me. But I'm so used to it that I no longer find it bizarre.

      The government doesn't assign people to ethnic groups. People assign themselves to categories when they're confronted by official demographic questions. Or they may refuse to answer such questions.

      South Africa originally labeled people as native (black), white, or colored. You couldn't even get that right. The country later added Indian as a classification, and displayed the usual creepy obsession with race by further dividing the colored population into subcategories.

      Lest we feel too superior, remember that Louisiana's "one drop rule" meant that its citizens were black if they had 1/32 black ancestry, which means the state kept track of race to five decimal places. South Africa repealed its law in 1991; Louisiana repealed its law in 1983.

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    3. For social purposes that law hasn't been repealed in LA. Look at Obama, who considers himself black despite having a white mother and being raised by white parents and grandparents. That one drop rule is alive and well for self-classification purposes, seems to me.

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    4. Do I have to explain the difference between historical state purposes and private social purposes?

      Because I will if you want.

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    5. It is OK for Obama to live by the one-drop rule then? Lots of biracial people disagree. Is this a subtlety of race not on your radar?

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    6. deadrat, you are correct that our government-mandated assignment of individuals to ethnic group is not identical to South Africa's. I never said they were identical. I said there was a resemblance, which there is.

      Of course, our system is much less pernicious. But, it does have the effect of channeling our thinking. We tend to automatically think of these 5 divisions as being the primary way that people are grouped or group themselves. E.g., countless academic papers take a body of statistics and break it down by these 5 groupings, assuming that this is the most meaningful way to use these statistics.

      IMHO that attitude tends to perpetuate racism. YMMV.

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    7. There's a resemblance if you're hopelessly ignorant. Is that what you want to go with?

      Our system isn't mandated by the government. It's entirely voluntary. Our system isn't used to identify individuals. It's used for demographic analysis.

      "We" tend to automatically think? No, you tend to automatically not think.

      There's nothing "bizarre" or "offensive" about the system. You've decided that it seems strange and pernicious to you based on your uninformed imaginings. I think you might want to consider changing that. YMMV.

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    8. @9:23P, It's not for me to say whether Obama identifies himself as black, white, or biracial. Just as it's not for any other people, those who identify themselves as biracial and those who don't, to say how Obama identifies himself. That's up to the man himself. Lots of white, black, and biracial people will also decide for themselves what race Obama is and how much importance to place on that decision. What's not OK is for the state is decide as part of its public policy.

      Is this not-so-subtlety of race not on your radar?

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    9. He wrote two books about it so none of us need to guess. Read much?

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    10. I didn't say anybody had to guess what he thought. I said the decision what to think was up to him. Read for comprehension much?

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    11. And I never said it wasn't up to him. I do think you cannot both criticize the one-drop rule and adhere to it and still be intellectually honest. Biracial kids have a lot of problems with black people who insist they must choose a race then harass them if they don't choose to self-identify as black. How's that for self-determination?

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    12. Seriously, what's wrong with you? My problem with the one-drop rule is that it was a state-mandated classification for the purposes of legalized discrimination. For myself, I'll accept anyone's declaration of self-identity. I also recognize that I have no way to control anyone else who "adheres" to the one-drop rule in their personal lives.

      But fuck you very much for pointing out my intellectual dishonesty. I mean that from the heart.

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    13. You're way too touchy. I think Obama is intellectually dishonest, but if the shoe fits you too, you're welcome to it.

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    14. So you think Obama is intellectually dishonest about his identification as a black person. Well, obviously you know more about his life's experience than he does. But shall we speculate about your own intellectual dishonesty in deliberating conflating the state-mandated, discriminatory "one drop rule" and people's personal views on racial identification?

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    15. This whole exchange, particularly the injection of Obama into it, proves Dyson's main point, a point which Somerby doesn't even mention in his quite immature post.

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    16. As I said Deadrat, Obama told us all about it in his self-serving autobiographies.

      A state-mandated law cannot exist without also existing in the hearts and minds of people. Personally, I believe those laws stopped being enforced long ago and remained on the books as relics, but it is more dramatic for you to cite those 20th century repeal dates as if full-blown slavery were being practiced in the South in our generation. But hey, I'm the one intellectually dishonest.

      Obama realized that if he wanted to be a politician, he couldn't do so as a man from Indonesia or Hawaii. He needed to identify racially with African Americans, a culture he had no experience with but explicitly learned to be a part of via reading and his "community organizing" in Chicago, one of the most racially polarized and self-segregated cities in the nation. As a biracial man, we all heard him throw his mother and his grandmother under the bus in her campaign speech about race, after being called out for his association with liberation theology, a church he deliberately chose and attended in anticipation of his political career. He choose to remake himself as an African American man, learned how to be African American and won election with the support of the African American community. His is a wonderful example of what being African American can do for an individual who grows up with a complex and multiracial identity that doesn't fit within the structure of party politics. He certainly has the right to do that, just as Andrew Jackson had the right to invent his log cabin childhood. But he doesn't have the right to pretend that Trayvon Martin might have been him or "his son" at any point in Obama's interesting life. That is majorly dishonest and manipulative of the emotions of black people. Did Obama suffer discrimination at Punajou, at Occidental or Columbia, at Harvard, in Chicago? Not in any sense recognizable to anyone to what most people mean by the term. And you, Deadrat, think I know nothing about race. You are an idiot.

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    17. Personally, I believe ...

      Wow! You personally believe a lot of stuff that you can't possibly know, but you make up for that ignorance with conviction. I can't say that your analysis of Obama's life is intellectually dishonest because I'm willing to believe that you believe that your insight into the man's life and interiority is superior to his own. That strikes me as odd, perhaps because it's something that I'm not wiling to do, and because of that I'm uninterested in defending Obama's personality.

      But thanks for making Kristoff's point for him. A man may call himself black, he may look as black as many other black people, most black people may regard him as black, but he's not authentically black until you permit him to be. Because after all, white people have been telling everybody who's black and who's not in this country for a long time. Sometime to five decimal places. And they also get to tell black people when their emotions have been manipulated.

      Let me suggest that your tirade tell us much more about you than it does about the President.

      And how did we get to the racial psychoanalysis of Barack Obama? Oh, yeah. I objected to DAinCA's ignorant comparison of the US government's collection of demographic data to South African apartheid. You then took a left tun into pretending that I claimed that full-blown slavery was being practiced in the south a few years ago and then headed off the map with some bullshit about laws that can't exist on the books without existing in the "hearts and minds of people."

      While we're talking about 20th-century dates, let me note that I was born right at the midpoint of that century and in my lifetime, one section of the country practiced apartheid, complete with miscegenation laws sanctioned by the Supreme Court decades before South Africa got around to writing theirs. Things have changed since then, on the law books and in society, but people like you are still telling black people about themselves. Go figure.

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  2. Dyson says: "black people have furious moral debates among ourselves out of white earshot"

    That black people will not discuss such moral debates within white earshot suggests that black people are drawing an us versus them line between white and black (indicated by referring to black people as "ourselves"), and that they themselves are uninterested in dialog with white people about such matters.

    White people have historically tried to be race blind (not see color) but that doesn't work if black people continue to insist that color matters, even implicitly in statements like Dyson's above. If you are required to recognize color and cannot treat black people as if race were a social construct or irrelevant characteristic, how do we get beyond race?

    It is untenable to insist that race matters except when it doesn't matter since it is unclear to anyone when those occurrences are.

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    1. White people have historically tried to be race blind (not see color)

      Let's face it. Some white people really don't get it, and it's as pointless to sing kumbaya with @4:06 as TDH proposes as it is to assume that all white people have identical views on race as TDH claims Kristoff proposes.

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    2. Where is it written that white people have to "get it"?

      I haven't sung kumbaya with deadrat on anything, so why race?

      Why assume that opinions on Ferguson are necessarily motivated by race?

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    3. That conversation being conducted away from prying white ears is about how to keep black kids from doing the kinds of things that get them shot. But deadrat doesn't want to acknowledge that because being black means never admitting SOME black kids contribute to their own deaths.

      Why was Rice's gun altered to remove the orange tag that identified it as a toy? Why was his 14 year old sister handcuffed and placed in a police car -- reports are saying it happened, but not why. Why is Crump now the Rice's lawyer?

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    4. Wherever it's written, it wasn't written by me. If you don't want to get it, then don't get it. Ignorance is always an option. And if you're white, chances are good that your ignorance is without consequences.

      Let me define "it," just so we're clear. "It" is understanding the racial history of this country and understanding that different people may come to different conclusions about events based on different experiences with race.

      You are free to believe what you want, but if you believe arrant nonsense like "white people have historically tried ... not to see color," then you're likely not going to understand why some people see events like the shooting in Ferguson and come to conclusions that differ from yours. To cite only a minor example, the state of Louisiana historically saw color unto 1/32 part of its citizens' ancestry. That means that the Louisiana Vital Records Registry kept track of the percentage of its citizens' black blood to five decimal places. And this isn't ancient history from Reconstruction. Louisiana didn't repeal the authorizing law until 1983, just eight years before South Africa officially got rid of apartheid.

      No one assumes that all opinions on Ferguson are "necessarily" motivated by race. But we can consult polls to tell us that the prevailing opinions within different groups vary by race. Was Michael Brown's shooting justified? From the NYT/CBS poll in August, 12% of white respondents agreed that it was. 2% of black respondents. Was Michael Brown's shooting unjustified? White/black split on agreement here, 18%/57%. Don't know enough to say? White/black split 68%/39%. Notice this isn't to say that opinion is racially monolithic. There are a small minority of black respondents who think the shooting was justified and almost a fifth of white respondents thought the opposite. And certainly such polls can't be used to judge individual opinion. But there's a divide between populations and it's based on race. The difference of opinion in all three categories, justified/unjustified/don't know, between men and women is less than the margin of error.

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    5. @5:22P, Please have the common courtesy not to tell me what I think. I don't remember making any comment on the Rice shooting. I don't know why the toy gun had its orange tag removed. Samaria Rice says her son got the toy from a friend. I don't know why the police handcuffed the victim's sister. Why did the police threaten to arrest a woman who became distraught when she learned her son had been shot? I don't know and don't care what lawyer the Rices retained.

      What possible significance do you think the answers to these questions hold?

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    6. Crump is using the same tactics as before. An inflammatory statement about treatment of a 14 year old that may turn out to be untrue (attributed to the child). The mom says her son was given the toy minutes earlier but that was not on the video. These facts matter because what happened matters. It would be ugly to think these tragedies were only symbolic to you.

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    7. @9:19, I care about Crump about as much as I care about your concern trolling about what I think is "symbolic."

      It would be ugly to think you'd disbelieve a grieving mother so you could defend another case of lethal police incompetence.

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    8. Even grieving mothers can get things wrong, especially under the influence of someone not very honest. Does it seem likely to you that anyone would have "tackled" a grieving 14 year old girl? Keep in mind that the video was still running -- it is the security video on an adjacent building.

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    9. Even grieving mothers
      Not to mention blog commenters. Does it seem likely that Officer Friendly would have tackled a 14 year old girl? Not the ones I know.

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    10. Crump has established a pattern of making such statements in his previous two cases. He is whipping up outrage. There is plenty to be outraged about without these additional claims that I would bet are contradicted soon.

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    11. Crump will have to stand in line. I'll get to him once I've vented my outrage on the fact that white people don't have race to blame for their failures.

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    12. deadrat: "Let's face it. Some white people really don't get it,"

      I wonder what this "it" is. There are many, many facts relevant to how the various races get along in this country. I don't think there's a single, magic "it" that some anointed people get, but which is hidden to the rest of us ordinary slobs. Furthermore, I don't think that even an anointed (or self-anointed) person knows all the important things about all the various races. I think we're all groping a bit to try to figure out how best to get along.

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    13. Try my second paragraph @7:34P.

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    14. deadrat and Kristof, brothers in condescension.

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    15. DAinCA wonders about a definition. I gave a try @7:34P and referred him to it. Would you like to consider what I wrote or would you rather read my mind?

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    16. Let me define "it," just so we're clear. "It" is understanding the racial history of this country and understanding that different people may come to different conclusions about events based on different experiences with race.

      This would be fine except when other people refer to racial history in a way you don't agree with, you then claim they don't get "it." So this is apparently only your version of racial history, with no room for what others may think or have read. You have no room for white people's "racial history" and no room for other people's experiences, despite making a claim to accepting it. It boils down to just what you agree with. THAT is intellectually dishonest.

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    17. deadrat -- Sorry for overlooking your 2nd paragraph. Thanks for pointing it out.

      However, I stand by my comment. There's an awful lot of history out there that reflects on race relations. I don't think any of us know all of it. Nor am I clear on which aspects you think are key.

      Also, IMHO there are many cultural differences today that are key, regardless of how they came about. I'm talking about cultural differences between races and also differences within racial groups.

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    18. @10:18A, I'm sorry, but I can't quite tell whether you're talking to me or whether you're using the second person indeterminate or both. I also can't tell what you mean by racial history, since sometime you use scare quotes and sometimes you don't. When I use the term, I'm talking about events. There will never be complete agreement about the past, but I think few people dispute the broad outlines for which we have extensive documentation. In this sense there isn't my "version of racial history" and "white people's 'racial history'" and black people's. We have a common national history. People may disagree about what that history means for us today or about the motivations of historical figures, but do we really disagree all that much about what happened? Can you point out where I've erred on the facts, but refused to acknowledge someone who's correct?

      I fail to see what's intellectually dishonest about not agreeing with other people's interpretations. "Getting it" doesn't mean that you have to agree with another person's point of view. It does mean understanding that other people reach points of view that we may disagree with, but which are influenced by their experiences that are every bit as legitimate as our own. Perhaps it's too difficult to think the conclusions are as legitimate as our own, but we can at least acknowledge them as made in good faith.

      This doesn't mean that anyone has to accept the opinions of DAinCA when they're based on ignorance. He thinks that the US government's collecting of demographic data is "reminiscent" of South African apartheid, and he thinks that because he thinks that answers to the demographic questions are mandated. They're not. People may select their own answers or refuse to answer at all. I have no obligation to respect an opinion based on ignorance.

      On the other hand, there are people, including many black residents of Ferguson, MO, who think that Darren Wilson murdered MIchael Brown, that the evidence supports an indictment for that crime, and that a grand jury was manipulated to decide otherwise. I don't agree with those conclusions but I understand why people might, and I understand why polls show a divide on the basis of race. For an astoundingly egregious example of the opposite thinking, see Anonymous @10:28A, who can't bring himself to credit a black man the authenticity of racial self-identification while lecturing black people on how they've been manipulated. Look up the term "drapetomania" to see how long this kind of thing has been going on.

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  3. It can be demonstrated that race is a social construct, not a biological category, but it still matters to our society. Black people are not willing to let go of race because it organizes their identity, provides an attributional framework for explaining negative outcomes in their lives, and provides an automatic inclusion in a social group that is always welcoming, no matter what else you may be in your life. White people have none of these benefits, so they are more willing to deny the importance of race in our culture.

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    1. Yeah, stupid black people and their attributional frameworks. Why don't they just let go? Especially when they have an automatically inclusive social group no matter what they do.

      Just out of curiosity, do you actually know any black people?

      It's true that white people don't have any of these imaginary benefits. But to make up for that, we own everything.

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    2. Who said anyone was stupid. I just said race is more important as a construct to one group than the other. You don't like what I said so of course you make it personal. I don't own much so you must have gotten my share of the payoff for being white.

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    3. Oh, sorry. I wouldn't want to misrepresent you, so let me repharse: "Yeah, conniving black people and their attributional frameworks." Is that better?

      Nothing I've said about you is personal. I've merely ridiculed your ignorance, which you could change if you wanted to.

      So you're white, you don't own much, and you don't have an attributional framework either? Too bad. I guess it just sucks to be you. Take comfort in that you belong to the virtuous racial group for whom race isn't an important "construct" and who own everything.

      At the next White People's Meeting tell Kristoff how grateful he should be that you volunteered to make his point for him. If you can't make it, I'll tell him for you.

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    4. deadrat, you're a sarcastic sob.

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    5. Ridicule is easy. Discussion is hard. What white person who doesn't get the job after an interview blames it on being white? Our attributional framework requires that we find a different explanation. Blaming race cushions self esteem in ways white people have less access to. There is a literature on this, but maybe you think psychology is racist too.

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    6. @10:28P, You're right about my attitude. In fact, you don't know the half of it. As the man said, "Yeah, I've had complaints about it, but it keeps getting worse." If you can get past my style, you'll find I'm not wrong.

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    7. Is ridicule easy? Or are you easy to ridicule? I guess it depends on your "attributional framework."

      What white person who doesn't get the job after an interview blames it on being white?
      Are you kidding me with this? When I interviewed for jobs, everyone I interviewed with was white. Not only that, we had the same educational background, spoke the same slang, and understood the same cultural references. We all had the same normal -- normal skin tone, normal speech patterns, normal everything. Why would I blame a failure to get a job on being white? White never came up. You think that experience is unusual for white job applicants? Do you think things might be different for black applicants?

      Do I think psychology is racist? No, I think it's mainly bullshit. Especially when it's used to make white people victims for not having race as a cushion for bruised self-esteem. Crymeafugginriver. I find that owning everything more than makes up for the hard road of not being able to blame my race for failure.

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    8. When you don't understand something you'd do better to admit it. No one said white people were victims. You keep saying that weird garbage. I don't have a bizarre stereotype of white people owning everything. You have this odd idea that a crime against one black person is a crime against all black people and a million owned by one white person is owned by all white people. That is very odd racial thinking. Now you will deny it, but that is how you've been arguing, in between insults.

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    9. deadrat -- You have demonstrated how powerful the federal racial categories are when you write, "we own everything." You think white people constitute a "we". Well, that's not a useful way to look at things.

      E.g., Larry Ellison owns the island of Lanai. You don't. Could you sail over and tell Larry that you intend to vacation on Lanai for a couple of weeks, because "we" own Lanai. I don't think so.

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    10. @12:13A, Please stop with the literal mindedness. No one used the word "victim," but the language is of disadvantage and victimhood. White people don't have this benefit; white people don't have that cushion. That's the pretty weird garbage.

      You don't have a stereotype of white people owning everything? Why not? The median household net worth of white households was $97K in 2010. For black households, less than $5K. In 2013, white people owned 90% of the nation's wealth; black people about 2%. Pick a statistic -- median income, access to financial assets, percentage at the poverty level -- same story. Now, the response to these facts from people willing to generalize about say, "race as a construct" is interesting. They say, "I'm not rich. Don't lump me in with white millionaires." All of the sudden, generalizing doesn't work.

      Please quit telling me what I think. Particularly when I haven't voiced an opinion on things like crimes against all black people.

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    11. When I say, "we own everything," I'm stating an easily demonstrated demographic fact. Given your propensity for spouting experience-free, fact-free generalizations on topics various, I'm disinclined to accept your criticism on my use of the first person plural.

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    12. well put. The phrase "the black community" comes off as weird and then you see they really are all (or at least 95%) of the same mindset.

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    13. Please cite sources for those median incomes and net worths you keep posting. When I try to look them up I find different numbers than you do.

      Statistics, like those you want to quote, are another form of generalization -- a way to describe a whole group of people formed on the basis of race, using a single number.

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    14. When you say, "We own everything", you're presuming that the word "we" has a meaning. I dispute that. White people are not a nation, a club, a family, a tribe, etc.

      E.g., consider the set of "Non-poor people". Non-poor people own virtually 100% of the wealth. But, you wouldn't use the word, "We" to describe us non-poor. It would sound silly to say "Sabrina Williams, deadrat and I and the rest of the non-poor -- we own everything." You and I are not in any way the same as Sabrina Williams. Nor are we the same as Larry Ellison.

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    15. One more thought. I used to work with a man named Bill Johnson. He was invited to join a Bill Johnson club. To be a member, your name had to be some variant of William Johnson. (There's also a Bobby Jones club.) My co-worker refused to send them $25 to join. He didn't believe that having the same name made these people a "we".

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    16. "What white person who doesn't get the job after an interview blames it on being white? "

      Doesn't Breitbart's site have archives?

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    17. DAinCA,

      Sorry, but I don't believe you ever worked with a man named Bill Johnson.

      But look up the term "granfalloon."

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    18. DAinCA,

      You and I are not in any way the same ....

      I wished you'd stopped there.

      Do me a favor. See if you can conjure up a context in which my comment might make sense, if only sardonically. Try not to make it personal.

      By the way, I talked to Sabrina and Larry this morning, and they want you to stop using their names.

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    19. It's fascinating that someone posting repeatedly to complain about categorizing people has repeatedly posted to excoriate something called "the black subculture" which, by definition, categorizes people.

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    20. deadrat -- Last week Mildred Dresselhaus received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for physics. I paid attention, because my wife knows her daughter. Prof. Dresselhaus said that when she was in college nobody told her that girls didn't do physics. So she went ahead and became a physicist and turned into a great physicist.

      To me, when someone says the whites have all the wealth, that smacks of defeatism and envy, particularly if they're talking to blacks. Now, you may not mean it that way. It's for you to say what context you meant.

      P.S. Anyone who reads Vonnegut can't be all bad.

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    21. Anyone who claims a personal connection to as many people things as you are badly informed about has to be a character deadrat and Somerby invented to chat with. IMHO

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    22. Bill Gates walks into a homeless shelter and immediately everyone in the building, on average, becomes a multi-billionaire. To conflate the likes of the Koch brothers and their ilk with those in the working class is to suggest we are a classless society. I think it's a case of liberals losing touch with reality.

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    23. I'm not sure about the Gates story, but when you walk into a homeless shelter the average IQ rises and each and everyone already there ranks as smarter.

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    24. No, when @11:13P walks into a room, the mean cluelessness plummets, but the median hardly budges.

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    25. Anonymous @10:14A,

      Yours is a reasonable request, and you may even go further if you wish to point out that I was sloppy in not providing the cites to begin with. You will find different numbers depending on the dates of the study, particularly across the divide of 2008. Comparisons across decades use numbers that are inflation adjusted. Please don't think me churlish for not retracing my steps. Unless your numbers differ so dramatically from mine so as to invalidate my point, I'm disinclined to do so.

      You're also right to note that statistics are a form of generalization, but I don't know another way to talk about societal differences without generalizing. My economic statistic-that-is-a-generalization is in response to other generalizations, like white people not having certain "attributional frameworks" (which I think means "excuses."). We have to remember that statistics describe likelihoods with groups, but we do a lot of group activities -- voting, buying, watching TV,etc. We also have to remember that likelihood doesn't mean certainty, that most doesn't mean all, and statistics won't tell us about individuals.

      Delete
    26. Re: Mildred Dresselhaus and another of Dinky's many visits to Fantasy Island:

      [From Physics Central]

      Reflecting upon her experiences as a woman in physics, Professor Dresselhaus says, "When I first started at Hunter College - that was pretty much a women's college, so I had the idea that women could study physics as well as men. When I got to Cambridge University, there were only a few women but we were doing alright. I didn't really know I wasn't supposed to do physics until I joined the mainstream. When I got my degree in 1958 it was pretty lonely - we [women] were only two percent of the physics community then."

      Delete
  4. More strange fruit from Bob's perverse labor: it is now a benefit to be born black, according to some of the commenters he has attracted. A more ordinary person might take that as a hint that maybe he wasn't going about things in an entirely correct fashion. Bob, however, probably thinks it's the proper result of his heroic pursuit of The Truth, regardless of the outcome.

    If our memory is correct, the WSJ ran a justly-ridiculed series on the "They have all the breaks" phenomenon, calling the beneficiaries of society's largesse "Lucky Duckies." We find it interesting to apply that construct to some of the comments of Bob's diligently worked-for commenters. Of course, the WSJ is not a "liberal" publication, and so it doesn't exist, as far as Bob is concerned. He would be entirely uninformed on the phenomenon, and even if he was aware of it, would probably blame it on some failure of liberal messaging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't blame TDH for your being here. Why should I blame him for DAinCA?

      Delete
    2. You and DAinCA seems to be twin forces driving the comment box, particularly on racial matters.

      Delete
    3. Anon @ 10:09 - do you have a point?

      Delete
    4. I don't blame Somerby for deadrat any more than deadrat blames Somerby for DavidinCal. But that doesn't excuse Ruth Marcus for the way letter writers intrerpret her work.

      Delete
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