FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2021
In Our Town, "race" wins again: How sketchy can the journalism get, here in Our Town, when it comes to questions involving "race?"
The journalism can get extremely sketchy! Consider the first news report we read today, a report at the Washington Post.
During the 6 A.M. hour, the report was featured near the top of the Post's web site. The link to the piece said this:
Black restaurant servers were tipped less than others in retaliation for enforcing social distancing, report says
Based on that synopsis, the news report seemed to involve an extremely narrow finding. When we clicked the link and started to read, we found ourselves reading this, dual headlines included.
Just for now, ignore that second headline:
JAN (2/5/21): Black restaurant servers were tipped less than others in retaliation for enforcing social distancing, report says
The subminimum wage is a legacy of slavery that disproportionately harms Black workers today
Black food service workers whose incomes largely derive from tips have earned less during the coronavirus pandemic than their White counterparts and are more likely to experience retaliation for enforcing social distancing and mask rules, according to a new report by One Fair Wage, a national worker-advocacy group.
Black restaurant workers also fared worse on other measures amid a recession that has especially devastated communities of color, with Black unemployment reaching nearly 10 percent. They were more likely to contract covid-19 or know someone who died of the disease, and were less able to obtain unemployment insurance, the report said.
The findings resulted from a survey that One Fair Wage conducted of tipped service workers who received aid from a relief fund that the organization started last March. About 4,000 out of 40,000 workers in New York, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., responded to the emailed survey.
Nearly 90 percent of Black workers said their tips dropped 50 percent or more after returning to work during the pandemic, compared with 72 percent of White workers, the report said. More than 70 percent of Black workers said customers tipped them less for enforcing social distancing and mask rules, compared with 60 percent of White workers.
As you can see, the findings which the Post describes are wholly drawn from a single "new report" by one lone advocacy group.
That doesn't mean that the findings are wrong. On the other hand, it doesn't exactly guarantee that the findings are right.
Beyond that, the findings are based on self-reporting by a self-selected subset of people who work in the field. Also, just to be perfectly honest, the differences described in those opening paragraphs aren't especially huge.
The findings result from a self-selected sample of tipped service workers who had "received aid from [one particular] relief fund" during the past year. Among respondents to that survey, various statistical findings emerged, including this:
"More than 70 percent of Black workers said customers tipped them less for enforcing social distancing and mask rules, compared with 60 percent of White workers."
Ideally, no servers would be tipped less for attempting to enforce such rules. Later in the Post report, we seem to be told that the servers in question had tried to enforce such rules "politely!"
That said, that difference in reported loss of tips strikes us as less than overwhelming. By the way, the Post has its thumb on the scale just a tad in its account of this (reported) difference. If the Post had tried to more precise—to honor parallel construction—that sentence would have said this:
"More than 70 percent of Black workers said customers tipped them less for enforcing social distancing and mask rules, compared with more than 60 percent of White workers."
The actual numbers in the report were 73% for black servers, 62% for white. Did we mention the fact that these numbers emerged from one extremely narrow survey, based upon a subset of workers who chose to respond?
Our view? The Post reported underwhelming findings which had emerged from a single survey—a survey based on self-reporting from a self-selected group of respondents. On that amazingly slender basis alone, we'd be inclined to roll out eyes at the large display the Post gave this new report.
Let us also say this:
A second aspect of the Post's report appears in that second headline. It appears as that headline ties these underwhelming findings to—what else?—slavery days!
The way all restaurant servers get paid is "a legacy of slavery," the Washington Post tells us today. And who knows? That could even be true!
We saw this Post report today because of its very high placement on the paper's web site. The findings it reports are essentially useless—but, as if by the current laws of Our Town, it all tracks to slavery days.
Such reporting is now quite common here in the streets of Our Town. It takes us beyond the point we planned to reach this week in our account of life in Our Town, but it may help us think about the case of Dr. Susan Moore and the way that unfortunate case was reported all over the upper-end press and pundit corps.
Dr. Moore died of Covid-19 in December; she was 52 years old. Following our reports of the past three days, we pose these questions today:
Did Dr. Moore receive inadequate care during her initial hospital stay? If so, did she receive that inadequate care because of her perceived "race?"
According to Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, we human beings are all the same in the biological sense. There's no such thing as biological race.
That myth—the myth of biological race—came to us, live and direct, from the (conceptual) horrors of "the world the slaveholders made." But there's no such thing as (biological) race. Biologically, we humans are all the same!
Our analysts cheered when Crear-Perry seemed to make that often forgotten statement at the end of the December 30 Democracy Now program. (We were watching the show on a Washington PBS station.)
We cheered, but we were struck by the way that closing statement contrasted with what had gone before. You see, all during the prior discussion, Crear-Perry had joined moderator Amy Goodman and a second physician in assuming that they actually knew how to assess the treatment Dr. Moore had received during the first of her two hospital stays.
As is completely obvious, they couldn't possibly know the truth about the treatment Dr. Moore had received. But they all agreed to behave like they did. In this now-familiar way, they reversed an old Storyline.
The original Storyline ran on a basic assumption. It a person who was perceived to be white said something about a person who was perceived to be black, the statement by the "white" person was assumed to be correct and binding.
By the rules of the game, white people were always right. Black people were always wrong.
Within this country's brutal history, that Storyline emerged from a brutal ancient regime—from the world the slaveholders made. During that era, "white" people were strongly inclined to believe in biological race, a belief Crear-Perry rejected.
Today, intellectual leaders in Our Town don't believe in biological race. But dear God! We now tend to manifest a type of blind belief in sociological race. As a result, we're now flipping the scripts which came to us from that earlier brutal world.
Dr. Moore was "black;" her doctor or doctors were "white." In the brave new cosmology invented by people like Goodman, this means that Dr. Moore's assessments were automatically assumed to be right, even though we have no apparent way of assessing what actually happened.
(In a related matter, do we still believe Tara Reade here in Our Town? Do we assume that her accusation had to be right, as we were initially told? Citizens, we're just asking!)
You can read as much as you want about the claims Dr. Moore made in the last few weeks of her life. Even now, you will find exactly zero way of assessing their ultimate accuracy.
Dr. Moore's claims may, of course, have been perfectly accurate—but her claims may have been unbalanced or wrong. That said, we in Our Town now widely agree:
The mere fact of her sociological race means that her claims were correct! We're all expected to attest to things we can't possibly know.
This is the way we now behave here in the streets of Our Town. These are the rules which determine what we'll read in the Washington Post or hear on PBS.
Before she appeared on Democracy Now, Crear-Perry had co-authored a widely-cited opinion column in that same Washington Post. That column had even compared the videotape of Dr. Moore making her claims to the earlier videotape of the late George Floyd being killed, facedown in the street, by Officer Derek Chauvin.
Crear-Perry had no way of knowing whether Dr. Moore's assessments and claims were accurate. Amy Goodman doesn't have a whiff of a hint of the first freaking clue.
Goodman had no way of assessing Dr. Moore's claims. But so what? On her December 30 show, she proceeded with dogma, as always.
This is the way such judgments were made when people believed in biological race. Now we strongly believe in sociological race, and we've flipped the roles which have been assigned to the two "racial" groups.
This is deeply unintelligent work. According to major experts, our species has done it this way all through the annals of time.
Next week: Race and Fury? Race and Pretense? In the ridiculous streets of Our Town, the choices go on and on