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What's wrong with this teacher's comments?
October 23, 2002 9:28 AM   Subscribe

What's wrong with this teacher's comments? A Pasadena HS teacher circulated a letter with his complaint that African American students at the school are the reason for bad behavior and low test scores. He's now suspended...rightly? More inside...hoping to keep this civil, too...(thanks to Jim Romenesko)
posted by serafinapekkala (67 comments total)

 
There's not that much depth to the article, but it raises some interesting questions about free speech, racial stereotypes, and overworked public school teachers. Is this man spouting racist bigotry, or stating some hard facts, or both? The controversy reminds me of that which swirls around Prof. Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law School, author of the controversial Nigger and Race, Crime, and the Law. The latter is a treatise on race in the criminal justice system, and he caught a lot of flak for asserting that minority perpetrators are not necessarily "victims of the system" and so forth. Thoughts?
posted by serafinapekkala at 9:35 AM on October 23, 2002


Impossible to comment with all the facts, since we can't read the letter in question. But, if this is true:

"The letter also says many African American students, those whose parents are involved with school, are well-behaved. "

Then why did he place the blame on the fact the students are African American, rather than the blame on the parents who aren't involved. Smells fishy to me.
posted by agregoli at 9:35 AM on October 23, 2002


The somewhat rambling letter touches on several points.

Wow, I guess he must be an out-of-touch crackpot then, thanks for making up my mind, LA Times!

If a fact is true and expressed without epithets, then it can't be racist. Facts can't be racist. If he had expressed himself in a way that was open to verification, for instance if he'd said "I have found that more than half of the disruptions in my classes are caused by African American students," then he would have more of a defense. The problem is that he just said "overwhelmingly", which is unspecific and very loaded. I don't know if the guy is a racist, in fact I think we're doing the school a disservice by focusing on what he said instead of seeing if he has a point, but he did leave himself wide open to criticism of this sort.
posted by Hildago at 9:43 AM on October 23, 2002


I think he may be blending teen cultures that have certain 'behaviors' that are attributed to blacks along with monetary class differentiators that probably are skewed towards black in lower-income areas.

The issue may be making assumptions that the students from lower-income classes are less well behaved and have less involved families - which may or may not be true. You commonly see very well-to-do families not involved in their child's lives except for making excuses for them and geting them out of trouble - leading to those kids being the biggest trouble makers (although on pure test scores, I'm not going to assume they don't do well).

Casual relationship, not causal. Symptom versus problem. Maybe not racist, but for a 'scientist', rather poor in making sure the assumptions he's basing his theory on are solid.

(on preview.. what hildago said, too)

In the late '80's, it was all those horrible heavy-metal and punk kids who caused all the disruption in classes.
posted by rich at 9:47 AM on October 23, 2002


Based on my experience as a substitute teacher, this guy's observations ring true. I'm in a different school district, but I have noticed that the class behavior of many middle- and high school students - not all African American but most noticably so - seems inspired by a lifetime of watching Jerry Springer shows. The motto seems to be "I'll do what I want and I don't have to worry about anyone else around me."

There is little self-control, little willingness to adapt one's behavior for different settings. Their blunt rejection of class rules and confrontational attitude when asked to stop disrupt the learning environment for everyone. The full-time teachers tell me this behavior is not just because they have a sub. The teachers deal with it every day.
posted by neuroshred at 9:49 AM on October 23, 2002


"But overwhelmingly," part of the letter reads, "the students whose behavior makes the hallways deafening, who yell out for the teacher and demand immediate attention in class, who cannot seem to stop chatting and are fascinated by each other and relationships but not with academics, in short, whose behavior saps the strength and energy of us that are at the front lines, are African American."

This "behavior" sounds like every high school student I ever knew, including me. What a bunch of disingenuous bullshit.
posted by Skot at 9:49 AM on October 23, 2002


Hmm. No mention of the teacher's race. Would it have made a difference?
posted by kablam at 9:52 AM on October 23, 2002


Stupid to say in today's PC environment, but wrong to say? Hard to say given the information in the article. When the test is given we can see if his anecdotal evidence matches the performance on the test. Then, of course, if it does, we can argue whether the test itself is biased against certain groups.
posted by chris24 at 9:55 AM on October 23, 2002


"Phelps was put on administrative leave with pay and benefits..." Sweeeet!

In seriousness: I don't think this man is necessarily racist using the excerpts here as evidence. (He may or may not be racist in private, or as evidenced elsewhere.)

But he's made a terrible mistake here. In our country, you never admit that ethnicity is a strong predictor for behavior, even though it is true. Whenever anyone (white at least) says something like "this ethnic group will tend to behave this way," they are immeidately crucified.

Why? Because people jump to the conclusion that they are making a causal correlation, with ethnicity being the cause, and behavior being the effect. This is a classic example of that phenomenon, IMHO.

The cause is poverty. The cause is lack of education. The cause is a playing field that is not level, because of deep-rooted social stereotypes.

The social stereotyping is why this letter should not be seen by students, who may feel that it affirms the social stereotypes. But for teachers, who are trying to help the students learn, one and all, I think that this information is valid because it exposes a problem area that the administration may want to focus some energy on. It appears to me that the letter was meant to be read by administrators, and possibly parents, who should be interested in addressing the problems of poverty, lack of education, and a slanted playing field, which all contribute to this statistic.
posted by zekinskia at 9:56 AM on October 23, 2002


First, he assumes that correlation equals causality. Then he glazes over other mitigating circumstances, like parent involvement, budgeting and equipment, and staff development. Finally, he distributes his *unsolicited* opinion in writing and on some listserv.

He is not a bigot, just a blowhard who can't see the forest for the trees.

(on preview, zekinskia beats me to the punch.)
posted by whatnot at 9:59 AM on October 23, 2002


I read this earlier this morning on the obscurestore, and I think the teacher is being called for something that isn't there.

First off, in most cases I refuse to use "african american" unless I can demand to be called "scottish american". It's wordy and silly.

Like agregoli said, it's hard to know without the whole letter.

But, just because something identifies a group racially, DOES NOT MEAN it is racist.

I mean, the majority of the most highly paid NBA players are black. This is not a racist comment. It is a fact.

If by direct observation this teacher found that "most" of the trouble came from black youth, then that is not a racist comment, it is a statement of fact.

Now, he could be mistaken in his observations, and maybe his count was not scientific enough. But say for instance he consulted the number of students that were assigned to detention or suspension, and the majority were black. Well, then, it is not a racist statement to say that the majority were black, it's a simple listing of the facts.

I once had this argument with a friend over black youth wearing beepers. (This was several years ago when beepers were far less common, except amazingly, on urban youth). He said I was being racist. So, we went to the local urban mall and took direct observation. I could not find a single black youth who did NOT have a beeper. Amazing, no? The fact that I happened to be right does not make me a racist. I'm a long ways from a racist. (Look at my other posts if you question my liberal tilt).

It is also a CELEBRATED part of young black culture now to be very loud, disrespectful, and take joy in making a spectacle of oneself. They see this as a badge of honor, the same way the guy in the megadeath t-shirt saw it a badge of honor to tell "the teach" to get off his ass. The "jerry springer" comment above was right on the mark.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:01 AM on October 23, 2002


If a fact is true and expressed without epithets, then it can't be racist

Sure it can. You can, in all likelihood, describe the bad-behaving students any number of ways. You could say that they're poor, or have parents who don't take part in their education, or have families who've never gone far in school. or\ldots

But if all you see is their black faces, if that's what matters to you, that's racist.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:02 AM on October 23, 2002


This guy just lost his head -- a kid genius of the sort who gets into CalTech, and now, instead of discovering a cure for cancer or getting tenure at a major university, is pushing 30 and furious that he's being held accountable for the lack of test results in a typical urban school.

I don't he can be defended on a "it's ok of him because he was simply stating facts." Those kind of "facts" are going to be entirely obvious to every teacher. He clearly was trying to imply something systematic about the general class of African American students, and that's certainly not a right thing to do. As Zekinskia says, it isn't a race problem, but, rather a problem of parental education, parental motivation, neighborhood values, and so forth. The same exact problems are very evident in placing with few or no black students, but plenty of poverty.
posted by MattD at 10:06 AM on October 23, 2002


I'm with Skot. If he were talking about violence or serious disrespect for authority, he might have more of a leg to stand on, since that kind of thing is relatively measureable. Chattiness is pretty subjective and pretty universal.

As Hildago says, facts can't be racist. However, our perception of what is a "fact" can be. If this teacher is faulting African American students more than he does white students for the same behavior because of some preconceived notion that black kids are bad, that can be pretty racist.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 10:10 AM on October 23, 2002


One of my first thoughts while reading the article was that Muir high parents should be thanking God they've got a Cal Tech grad teaching their students science.

MattD: the guy's 39, and has been teaching there for 12 years.
posted by shoos at 10:14 AM on October 23, 2002


First, he assumes that correlation equals causality. Then he glazes over other mitigating circumstances, like parent involvement, budgeting and equipment, and staff development.

I didn't see anything to imply that he was equating correlation with causality — he was simply pointing out a correlation. By stating that black kids misbehave more in his classrooms, there is no way to tell whether he thinks this is because black kids are inherently obnoxious or because black kids are getting screwed by the system that keeps them in poverty and thus provides few rewards for academic excellence. And without knowing what he thinks the cause is of his observation, there's no way to decide whether or not he's racist.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:14 AM on October 23, 2002


This reminds me mightily of the brouhaha over the book "The Bell Curve" several years ago. Without going into the various arguments for and against that particular book, let's suppose that, at some level, things like intelligence and behavior *are* to some extent determined by race. After all, genetic problems like sickle-cell anemia are predominately racial in distribution: am I racist if I assume that a person with sickle-cell anemia is black, even if I have never met or seen that person? No, because it is overwhelmingly probable (not certain, though). Or let's take another example: I can simply assume that the highest-paid NBA player is black, even though I know little of the game and do not follow it. Why can I make this assumption? Simple because the vast majority of players in the NBA are black for whatever reason. My statement does not imply a value judgement.

Now, clearly, most racial generalizations are values-oriented, and this is (rightly) denounced as racist. But what if race (a combination of cultural and genetic influences) could indeed be scientifically proven to be the cause behind certain traits? Suppose we discover people of caucasian extraction lack a certain protein that prohibits the leg muscles from growing a certain way; is it still racist to say "White men can't jump"?

For what it's worth, though, society and culture are far more important in determining self than the collection of genes you happen to be born with.
posted by mrmanley at 10:19 AM on October 23, 2002


If there is no causation, what exactly is the point of mentioning the correlation? It's not like it will be news to anyone with experience with a racially heterogeneous school that there is a degree of correlation between race and disruptive behavior, and between disruptive behavior and low test scores.

Divorced of any discussion of why this is the case or what can be done about it, it seems pigheaded and unnecessary to circulate a letter pointing it out. On the other hand, that discussion may very well be there--we'll never know until someone decides to release the full text of the damn thing.
posted by sexualchocolate at 10:53 AM on October 23, 2002


excellent discussion here, folks.

I once had this argument with a friend over black youth wearing beepers.

most racial generalizations are values-oriented


i had that same argument once, when beepers and cellphones were rarer and stood for "this kid is a drug dealer." that, i think, is where the clash of scientific observation and social baggage lies. as Ynoxas said, it is possible to quantitatively document a trend or fact about a particular population, for example young black men with beepers, and draw a conclusion about the pervasiveness of the trend in that group. but when that trend is picked up by the (some would say majority) culture and used as shorthand for a value judgment about the entire group, it becomes problematic. were all those guys with beepers drug dealers? probably not. maybe some were, and some were imitating the *fashion* of drug dealers (there's a whole other thread about the thug life influence in pop culture here...). what i'm afraid this teacher might be doing is looking at all his loudmouthed black students and hating them for being black, not for being loudmouthed...witness the corrosive effects of unexpressed rage and low pay.
posted by serafinapekkala at 11:10 AM on October 23, 2002


witness the corrosive effects of unexpressed rage and low pay.

Wow. That's an amazing deduction you've made there. Are you available for couples or group sessions as well?
posted by shoos at 11:15 AM on October 23, 2002


Could it be that racist teachers have caused African American students to lash out or to have low test scores? Which came first the the generalizations or the behavior? Children are not terribly surprising, they usually meet your expectations, no matter how high or low you set them.

That aside, judging this teacher by broad generalizations made in the media is, well, prejudice. However, sexualchocolate I think you are exactly right (given what I've seen of the "facts" in this case), why bring up race if not to make a generalization. Otherwise he's either race baiting or just stating what could be observed without the letter.

By the way, another erroneous generalization, that all Cal-Tech grads are brilliant. Granted the top of the class would be, but someone has to be at the bottom.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:38 AM on October 23, 2002


"Simply pointing out a correlation" my ass. Suppose (for the sake of argument) the troublemakers also tend to be taller than the average student; do you think he would take the trouble to investigate the correlation, publicize it, and warn that the school's problems lie in the influx of tall students? That would appear ridiculous to him and everyone else. No, the perception here, however veiled by disclaimers, is that black kids are inherently disruptive (and [insert other negative characteristics here]), despite the (inevitably mentioned) "good" exceptions. This is straight-up racism, despite the fact that the guy doubtless doesn't think of himself as racist, and an excellent illustration of what gets black people in this country so pissed off.

Tell me, what would be wrong with simply saying "We have a problem in this school with a large number of disruptive students"? Why is ethnicity/color relevant?
posted by languagehat at 1:06 PM on October 23, 2002


I'm a simple CS student, so I'm not sure about the terminology, but isn't the salient issue here culture and not race? (They seem to be very independent.)
posted by Llama-Lime at 1:36 PM on October 23, 2002


Now this guy may or may not be racist (I don't want to judge him without actually reading the letter), but if he is, does that mean that he should automatically be removed from the classroom? I mean, we certainly do not want someone who systematically puts down/treats unfairly/disrespects/etc. a group of people on the sole basis of their ethnicity teaching. However, it seems to me that someone could be racist (i.e. hate members of a particular race), but not allow his racism to affect his behavior in the classroom (to any noticeable extent). If all this guy did was write a letter to the teachers, then even if it was clearly racist, which it may or may not be, should he be fired even if his students never felt that they were being treated unfairly by him because of their race?
posted by epimorph at 1:43 PM on October 23, 2002


Tell me, what would be wrong with simply saying "We have a problem in this school with a large number of disruptive students"? Why is ethnicity/color relevant?

It's relevant if the majority of disruptive students are black.

Personally, I think this teacher's observations (which many of my teaching friends have echoed) could potentially be helpful. Perhaps his criticisms could lead to some self-analysis within the black community about their attitudes towards education. Or it could lead to more victimization whining. I'm hoping for the former, but I'm not holding my breath.
posted by Polo Mr. Polo at 2:22 PM on October 23, 2002


"If there is no causation, what exactly is the point of mentioning the correlation?"

To attempt to make changes within the system to positively affect the correlation, i.e. help to make teachers stop perceiving black students as troublemakers, and/or to help the black students to stop being perceived as troublemakers. Obviously the perception is there already... removing it is very complicated.

"Suppose (for the sake of argument) the troublemakers also tend to be taller than the average student..."

If there were a community of tall students that hung out together frequently, shared clothing styles, dialect, and a feeling of comradery (as I think most minorities do in our public schools) then yes, I have little doubt that teachers would notice and discuss that group, and what should be done about it.

I don't think that "Race" is a good descriptor. Ethnicity or Culture are closer. The three are often interchangeable because they tend to correlate very closely.
posted by zekinskia at 2:45 PM on October 23, 2002


First off, in most cases I refuse to use "african american" unless I can demand to be called "scottish american". It's wordy and silly.[Ynoxas]

Unlike most "Scottish-Americans", African-Americans don't get to choose between being called a hyphenated name or just an "American". As this guy's letter points out, having dark skin sets one apart in the minds of many in this country . So it's usually either "African-American" or one of many other names that are a lot ruder. I don't think many people would say: "Don't call me 'American' , I'm an 'African-American'".

If all this guy did was write a letter to the teachers, then even if it was clearly racist, which it may or may not be, should he be fired even if his students never felt that they were being treated unfairly by him because of their race?[epimorph]

I don't think most of us would be allowed to circulate racist materials at our jobs whether or not students are involved.
posted by originalname37 at 2:52 PM on October 23, 2002 [1 favorite]


Suppose (for the sake of argument) the troublemakers also tend to be taller than the average student; do you think he would take the trouble to investigate the correlation, publicize it, and warn that the school's problems lie in the influx of tall students?

No, he would not, because tall people do not share a common culture, and therefore no logical inference can be made about their common values. Young black people in America do share a common culture. Therefore, some inferences can be made about their values as a group. This man suspects that these values affect the rate of what the dominant culture calls "disruptive behavior".

Tell me, what would be wrong with simply saying "We have a problem in this school with a large number of disruptive students"? Why is ethnicity/color relevant?

What's wrong with it can be simply stated - he might be right, and young black culture might be a catalyst for disruptive behavior at the school. If he is right, when it comes time to try to solve the problem, an approach that completely ignores cultural differences will not be as effective as one that considers them. In fact, it may be completely ineffective, if it happens to run counter to the cultural values of young blacks.

I'm not saying the guy isn't racist - chances are very, very good that he is, and that his observation is motivated by that belief. Still, what we have here is not sufficient proof of this.

In short, we as a society should not use cultural observations as an excuse to perpetuate the oppression of any group of people, but we should also avoid ignoring them for the sake of correctness. IMHO, the best solution is the middle way - use cultural observations to further our understanding of people's common values, then treat people as individuals, who may or may not share one or more sets of common values, when acting.
posted by vorfeed at 3:17 PM on October 23, 2002


Young black people in America do share a common culture

No, they do not. Many young black people share some or all elements of a complex of language and behavior patterns that you're calling "a common culture." Some of those young black people are also disruptive in school. The problem is not that they're black, nor that they share a "culture," the problem is that they're disruptive. It does not help to lay emphasis on their blackness, and it is harmful to those blacks who are not disruptive -- especially if those non-disruptive black students happen to enjoy certain styles of music, dress, and language that are seen as fellow travelers (so to speak) of disruptiveness. This is an important point, so I'm trying to be as clear as possible; forgive me if I fall headlong into verbosity.
posted by languagehat at 3:51 PM on October 23, 2002 [1 favorite]


I don't think many people would say: "Don't call me 'American' , I'm an 'African-American'

Wow. Flash-back to a documentary in the 70's showing Jesse Jackson teaching pre-schoolers to chant: I am...an Afro-Amer-i-can.

So the story is, a scientist guy with probably few social skills circulated a poorly thought-out letter to his colleagues, without delineating what he wanted to accomplish. I say (if consulted) force him to endure one of those cultural sensitivity classes and then ship him off to another school in the district. Yes, he may harbor racist tendencies, but show me a teacher who doesn't have a cultural or sexual bias.

Personal note: my (Egyptian) physics teacher never allowed girls to answer in class nor to do the experiments without a male partner. I still got an A.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:41 PM on October 23, 2002


Young black people in America do share a common culture

God damn it! I missed another freaking memo. Was this at last Tuesday's meeting?
posted by owillis at 5:21 PM on October 23, 2002


If the problem with the school is disruptive "thug culture," then that's the problem with the school.

How does pointing out that the majority of the participants in said disruptive "thug culture" share a particular ethnic background help the school address the problem in any way?

This, to me, seems to be the biggest problem with this letter as the article represents it (and I agree that, since the whole thing isn't quoted, it may not be an accurate reflection of the views of the teacher)--how is his point *helpful*?

The (public) school can't turn away African American students because the school's troublemakers include a disproportionately high number of African Americans (if, indeed, that can be shown to be the case).

I was at an education conference recently in which a number of African American and Latino educators suggested that public school students who are members of minority groups need more positive reinforcement for academic success, and more positive role models who extol the benefits of community leadership, professional success, etc., instead of the anti-intellectual, materialistic message broadcast by many popular actors, rappers, and sports figures. That might be a meaningful point.

Saying "lots of the bad kids are African American, but you know, there are some good kids who are African American, but still most of the bad kids are African American" seems to be either stupid (not a good quality in a teacher) or racist (not a good quality in a teacher). Doing so in a public forum certainly seems to exemplify poor judgment (not a good quality in a teacher).

And here's *my* question for Mr. Phelps--who would you rather have in your physics class? Tiger Woods or Eminem? Serena Williams or Britney Spears
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:52 PM on October 23, 2002


eh, off with his head.
posted by delmoi at 9:47 PM on October 23, 2002


There is no question that, in the United States, race correlates with certain behaviors and phenomena. Lenders would be more profitable if they were allowed to charge different interest rates based on race. Law enforcement would be more effective if it could use racial profiling. Health insurers would be more profitable if they were able to refuse to cover certain diseases based on the race of customers. We know this because all three openly engaged in these practices until laws were passed to force them to stop.

So why are all of these practices against the law in most places? Because in this country, we believe, at least in theory, that it is not appropriate to discriminate against an individual on the basis of their race, even -- and here's the important part -- when it would be economically or socially advantagous to do so. Part of these is a response to our particularly unpleasant history with regard to race. Part is the wonderfully american notion that people ought to be judged as individuals rather than as members of a particular social group. Part is just the practical judgment that policies leading to a permenant underclass composed almost entirely of minorities are not healthy for anyone.

The point of all this is that it is simply not appropriate to draw negative conclusions about an individual based solely on their race even if those conclusions are statistically likely to be true. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is racist to do so. Quite frankly, I'm suprised that this is not self-evident, but after reading this thread, clearly it is not.
posted by boltman at 10:13 PM on October 23, 2002


The point of all this is that it is simply not appropriate to draw negative conclusions about an individual based solely on their race even if those conclusions are statistically likely to be true.

Agreed, but let me ask you a question. Suppose a widget and a gadget apply for a job, and you know that 50 percent of all widgets steal, while only 10 percent of all gadgets steal. All other things being equal, who would you hire?
posted by epimorph at 11:06 PM on October 23, 2002


Ran into many of these arguments and counterarguments fourteen years ago when I (very briefly, believe you me) taught 9th grade English at Martin Luther King Jr. High School, then on 66th Street in Manhattan. (Almost 100% of the student population was black or Latino.)

There's some disingenuousness going on here. The issue is not race, or skin color, or even missing parents in the home. It's thug culture, a culture that has been allowed to speak for African-American kids (and not just them, either) - deeply self-destructive, misogynist, lethally homophobic, foreclosing of any notion of authenticity and maleness/femaleness that would not delight a conservative.

I don't care how Tupac spoke poetry, or how Suge Knight is ostensibly hated for doing the same things and "white" businessman is rewarded for: the whole thing is a sham, a posture, in bad faith, and not particularly conducive towards helping people become members of functioning civil societies.

This pose affects other populations - even here in Tokyo I see foolish 16 years olds copping a limp, a rolled-up tracksuit leg and a do-rag, showing colors - but it's got deep roots in black American culture, and to ignore or minimize the damage it's done to generations now is (again, IMO) the real racism.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:03 AM on October 24, 2002


No, they do not. Many young black people share some or all elements of a complex of language and behavior patterns that you're calling "a common culture."

I think you're making a rather large assumption about what I was calling "a common culture". I never said I agreed with the guy about it - in fact, I think he's probably dead wrong. You'll note that I said if he was right, if black culture was a catalyst, etc.

I think the easiest way to state what I was trying to call a "common culture" is this rhetorical question: Do you believe that, after more than two hundred years of race divisions as a major sociological force in this country, American blacks have no common culture? None at all, there are no common experiences or values that have been passed down through generations of black Americans?

This, this unknown totality, is what I was referring to as "black culture". I realize that there are as many definitions of culture as there are sociologists, but the above is a workable statement of what culture means to me: the shared knowledge of a people.

The point of my post was not to defend this man's particular actions, which I already said are most likely racist, though IMHO the fragment of the letter that we have does not make them provably so.

The point of my post was that culture ought to be a consideration when trying to solve such problems. If one looks around and sees that "a high percentage of the disruptive people in my classes are young and black", then it is logical to attempt to discover if there are common values that many young black people hold, and approach the problem in a way that takes into account these common values. This does not mean "blame the disruptiveness on their being black", as that doesn't seek any solution at all. It means, "be aware of shared cultural values that may be contributing to the problem, or hindering the current solution, and try to shape your solution to appeal to shared cultural values that may help to diminish the problem".

Some of those young black people are also disruptive in school. The problem is not that they're black, nor that they share a "culture," the problem is that they're disruptive.

Agreed 100%. My point was that an understanding of culture might help solve the problem, not that culture was necessarily the problem itself, or even the root cause thereof. My post was an attempt to answer your question of "why is ethnicity relevant" in general. In retrospect, my point would have been clearer if I had constructed a generic argument, instead of trying to use the article's given scenario. Sorry about that.

It does not help to lay emphasis on their blackness, and it is harmful to those blacks who are not disruptive -- especially if those non-disruptive black students happen to enjoy certain styles of music, dress, and language that are seen as fellow travelers (so to speak) of disruptiveness.

I agree with you on this - the letters were inappropriate, though I would still say that, in general, cultural understanding is vital to solving problems like this one. This is similar to what I was saying with the "middle way" comment. One must treat people on their own individual merit, but it doesn't hurt to consider cultural forces that may (or may not!) be at work, either.

This is an important point, so I'm trying to be as clear as possible; forgive me if I fall headlong into verbosity.

Not at all, if I'd been a little more verbose and precise, I might not be staying up typing this right now ^__^
posted by vorfeed at 12:41 AM on October 24, 2002


There is no question that, in the United States, race correlates with certain behaviors and phenomena...Law enforcement would be more effective if it could use racial profiling...We know this because all three openly engaged in these practices until laws were passed to force them to stop...[but]...it is not appropriate to discriminate against an individual on the basis of their race, even -- and here's the important part -- when it would be...socially advantagous to do so.

Tell me boltman how many rapes, how many murders are worth preventing anyone from hurt feelings, social humiliation, and inconvenience? How many in your estimation? 100? 100,000? One million? You'd get pragmatic at some point before we all fell off, so I'd just like you to tell me when. 100 million?

It's so easy to stand on these high principles when we're talking in the abstract, isn't it? But when its your daughter, when its your wife who's the victim the cost/benefit ratio looks a lot different doesn't it?
posted by dgaicun at 12:50 AM on October 24, 2002


I've got a better idea dgaicun, let's just round up everyone that is not white and throw them in prison forever. That would certainly reduce the crimes rate and it would create lots of jobs for white people as prison guards. Too draconian? Oh, well maybe we could just get rid of that annoying "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. Or that pesky fourth amendment that makes police get warrants before they search your house-we could just have the police do random searches of people's houses in poor neighborhoods. That would certainly reduce the crime rate. Our daughters would be safe! What, you have some have some hesitation? Think it might be unconstitutional? Well, guess what? So is racial profiling.

The right to equal protection under the law is taken with deadly seriousness in this country especially when it involves the use of coercive force by the government, and rightly so. Pulling people over because of their race and searching their car unambiguously violates the 14th amendment. Also, I have no problem whatsever saying that it is worth a large (although not unlimited) number of statistical lives.

btw, I don't have a daughter but thanks for asking.
posted by boltman at 6:28 AM on October 24, 2002


let's just round up everyone that is not white and throw them in prison forever.

boltman this is trite, please refrain. I never insinuated that a black life was worth less than a white one (although it certainly makes you look like the 'good guy' when you paint the picture that way, doesn't it? Real cheap.). but you bet your ass that a white life is worth some black discomfort (and vice versa).

Profiling is used in law enforcement everyday and at every level, it is both useful and effective. When a serial killer starts kidnapping little boys, the police better Goddam be checking out middle-class white guys in Wisconsin, because if they're checking out the black ghetto or ChinaTown I'm gonna be pissed. (Uh oh, its the shoe-on-the-other-foot test, boltman, and I pass it.)

Also, those Virginia cops better goddam be looking for a white guy in their sniper hunt...OH, or maybe we should just round up ALL white people and throw them in prison forever, right boltman? No important distinctions there. All logic out the window when it comes to race in America.
posted by dgaicun at 7:00 AM on October 24, 2002


Racial profiling targets people of color even when whites represent a greater percentage by race and a greater number of people committing the profiled crime. That's why profiling doesn't 'work'.

Why is ethnicity/color relevant?
It's relevant if the majority of disruptive students are black.


Perhaps more relevant is that the majority of racists are white.

First off, in most cases I refuse to use "african american" unless I can demand to be called "scottish american".

You can be called Scottish American just as soon as you quit being white.
posted by sudama at 7:36 AM on October 24, 2002


I never insinuated that a black life was worth less than a white one (although it certainly makes you look like the 'good guy' when you paint the picture that way, doesn't it? Real cheap.). but you bet your ass that a white life is worth some black discomfort (and vice versa).[dgaicun]

How about a thousand black discomforts versus one white life. How about a million? ... Before you answer, think about how many lives could be saved if all of us (you included) lived in a police state where we could be under constant surveillance. Let me guess, you're all for humilation an intrusion as long as it doesn't happen to you.
posted by originalname37 at 7:53 AM on October 24, 2002


dgaicun: Also, those Virginia cops better goddam be looking for a white guy in their sniper hunt...

I agree with your point actually... but in this case it seems the demographic may have been off.

Which shows that one must of course be careful.

But, just because you must be careful to me doesn't destroy the idea of certain traits being noticeable, documentable, and to that effect, observable.

Just like after 9/11, any security guard at the airport that was not watching out for young arab males was an idiot. Until it occurs that an 75 year old white women start hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings, then it is only prudent to examine those that "fit the profile" more carefully.

People think that racial profiling means throwing out due process. I don't think it means that by any stretch of the imagination. It just means you make educated guesses. You don't follow "due process" by intentionally throwing roadblocks in your path.

dg is absolutely right. Child abduction? You don't' shake down hoods in the ghetto for that. You know that your first suspects are family members or the nice neighbor with the winnebago. Carjacking? You don't barge in a corporate board room accusing the 2mil a year CEO. It's probably not him.

This is not racism.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:18 AM on October 24, 2002


How about a thousand black discomforts versus one white life. How about a million? ... Before you answer, think about how many lives could be saved if all of us (you included) lived in a police state where we could be under constant surveillance. Let me guess, you're all for humilation an intrusion as long as it doesn't happen to you.

Straw man. Profiling is a moderate and fairly unspectacular tool of cognition. You use it everyday. It only becomes controversial when blacks are plugged into the equation, then all those emotions well up, and cut off blood to the brain.

You better believe there was some profiling going on in that sniper/white van hunt, but no Anglos went crying to the ACLU, and we're no closer to your Orwellian nightmare state.

I'm confused, are you saying that law enforcement has no right to narrow investigations? Are men and women, children and the elderly all equally suspect? This is ludicrous.
posted by dgaicun at 8:25 AM on October 24, 2002


vorfeed: Thanks for clarifying. I agree with you.

Otherwise... man, this thread has degenerated. Think I'll go visit Mongolia.
posted by languagehat at 8:33 AM on October 24, 2002


*profiling* is fine. It's an essential part of police work. racial profiling is something else. There needs to be a balance between the enforcement of laws and the protection on liberty. If you have a narrow enough profile that the benefits outweigh the negative effects, you should profile. Otherwise, don't. Surveilling an entire race tends to generate too wide a profile. This should be avoided. Otherwise, as I tried to explain above you are either end up with either police state or a hypocrisy.
posted by originalname37 at 8:44 AM on October 24, 2002


(please disregard one of the "either"s in the last sentence of my previous post (either one)).
posted by originalname37 at 8:47 AM on October 24, 2002


Also, sorry languagehat for the part I played in degenerating this thread. I'll leave now.
posted by originalname37 at 8:52 AM on October 24, 2002


*profiling* is fine. It's an essential part of police work. racial profiling is something else.

What ever factor narrows a search is acceptable. Race is an element of a profile. Police do not use it exclusively.

There needs to be a balance between the enforcement of laws and the protection on liberty.

Sensibly put. I appreciate people that review problems as trade-offs (in contrast to Leftist Utopians or Rightist Fundamentalists). A true mark of wisdom.

Surveilling an entire race tends to generate too wide a profile.

I seriously doubt police are ever this irrational, much less systematically. Does anyone really think that a little black granny is going to get questioned before a white guy with a mullet- for any crime? Also too wide-er a profile than an entire race, is just plain everybody. If everybody is a suspect we have failed to make any headway.
posted by dgaicun at 9:13 AM on October 24, 2002


Vorfeed: Thanks for clarifying. I agree with you.

Otherwise... man, this thread has degenerated. Think I'll go visit Mongolia.


Save me a ticket, will you?
posted by vorfeed at 9:22 AM on October 24, 2002


sudama: You can be called Scottish American just as soon as you quit being white.

I'm sure you have some deep meaning here but I honestly don't get it...

Racial profiling targets people of color even when whites represent a greater percentage by race and a greater number of people committing the profiled crime. That's why profiling doesn't 'work'.

God I am so sick of this. It's an obvious lie. Profiling does work.

From the 2000 FBI Uniform Crime Report:

Consider robbery.
90% of robbery arrests were male.

Considering males are only 49% of the population, this is notable.

It is not sexist then, to say that most robbers are male. When a robbery has been committed, it is not sexist to assume that, more likely than not, a male did it. THIS IS NOT SEXIST.

Now, also from the report:
Almost 54% of robberies are by blacks.

Considering blacks are only 13% of the population, this is notable.

It is not racist then, to say that most robbers are black. When a robbery has been committed, it is not racist to assume that, more likely than not, a black did it. THIS IS NOT RACIST.

Even if you consider ALL crimes, 27.9% of ALL arrests were black. That is more than DOUBLE their percentage of the population.

Do they commit MORE crime than whites in some categories? YES. Do they commit MORE crime than whites as a whole? NO. They shouldn't be highest in any category by a long shot considering we are talking 75% of america is white and 13% is black. The blacks should be a small small blip on the crime radar. But yet, like above, the numbers are extraordinarily disproportionate.

In fact, if you scroll through the columns, you are hard pressed to find any category to where the black % is anywhere near their population percentile.

But, it is not racist to say that blacks are TWICE as likely to commit crime as whites. It's absolutely true. And, if my math is correct, they are more than 4x as likely to commit a specific crime such as robbery.

I hate it too. But it's true. It's there. There ya go.

If there is a robbery, it is almost definitely a male, and likely a black male. If cops are searching for white women who perform robbery, they are likely to fail considering there's only about a 5% chance of being correct.

That is why profiling works. Is it perfect? Hell no. Is it reasonable? You betcha.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:52 AM on October 24, 2002


I fear that I am responsible for the thread derail. My apologes. My original point was to point out that racial profiling, like racial discrimination in health insurance and lending, is an example of an economically and socially efficient practice that is also illegal and generally considered to be morally illegitimate. In using "profiling", I was referring to the practice that involves police suspecting someone of unspecified criminal activity solely because of the person's race. As in: police officer sees black person and a white person speeding and chooses to pull over the black person because he thinks it is more likely that he'll find some sort of contraband in the black person's car. This is how the term "racial profiling" is generally understood. It is probably an effective policing practice. There is also simply no question that this practice unconstituionally denies blacks equal protection under the law. I was most certainly NOT referring to investigative techniques used after a specific crime to narrow down the range of possible suspects.

dg responded to my original comment by incisively asking me how I'd feel about racial profiling if my daughter or wife was raped or murdered by black person. Although I stand by my response, looking back on the exchange I should have just recognized a troll as a troll and ignored him. So, sorry everyone.
posted by boltman at 11:13 AM on October 24, 2002


boltman,

I'm still not clear on what a 'troll' is*, but if it's someone who isn't interested in reaching truth and who only aims to incite than I assuredly resent that remark. The 'wife' comment was meant to undermine what I perceived as a very sanctimonious position. Like analogies it was meant to help resituate your vantage point (this time from the abstract to the personal perspective)

Furthermore this discussion was never derailed by yourself or anyone. Profiling follows directly from the question in the title of the thread: Was this teacher racist for identifying a problem group?

I was referring to the practice that involves police suspecting someone of unspecified criminal activity solely because of the person's race. As in: police officer sees black person and a white person speeding and chooses to pull over the black person because he thinks it is more likely that he'll find some sort of contraband in the black person's car.

If the issue is illegal car searching then I oppose it. If the issue is if race can play a factor in the 'doubt' part of 'reasonable doubt' then I do not, because it can.

*I thought it was someone who posts invective and then runs away.
posted by dgaicun at 12:02 PM on October 24, 2002


dgaicun, if your intent is truly not to incite, then in the future you might try to avoid using hypothetical scenarios involving the rape and murder of people's loved ones. With the possible exception of Mike Dukkakis, people tend to respond negatively to such rhetoric.

As for your point about moving me from the abstract to the personal perspective, perhaps you ought to try imagining what it feels like to be a law-abiding black man subject to frequent police harassment and near-constant societal microaggression because of the color of your skin. The effects go considerably deeper than "hurt feelings, social humiliation and inconvenience" as you so blithely put it.
posted by boltman at 5:29 PM on October 24, 2002


I hate it too. But it's true. It's there. There ya go.

I searched and searched through your FBI link, Ynoxas, but I can't find the part where they establish that # of arrests = # of crimes committed = # of alleged criminals convicted. Your argument seems pretty tautological: technically, the police could adopt a policy of only arresting black people, which would then raise their arrest rate to 100%, which would prove...?
All hail the wonders of profiling.

And I'm not even touching your oh-so-scientific mall survey proving that all of us poor black folk (or coloreds, or nigras, or whatever the heck you feel like calling us today-- God forbid we should have any say in the matter) are immersed in a culture based on loudness and disrespect.

A few years back, I spent a summer as a teacher's aide in an elementary school. The kids were rude, hyperactive, and utterly oblivious to the lesson plan. All of the actual teachers in my class quit before the summer session was over; for the final two weeks it was just 23-year-old me and about sixteen mostly misbehaving children-- the great majority of whom were either white or Hispanic. I came away from that job feeling like I would be the worst possible teacher ever, but seeing as how I never thought to twist that negative experience into an absurd generalization about whites and Hispanics everywhere, I guess I'm at least a little more fit for the job than this Phelps guy-- and maybe a few posters to this thread.

(*quietly wanders back to The Magical Land of Victimization Whining*)
posted by tyro urge at 6:19 PM on October 24, 2002


Tyro:

Cheers for trying to paint me as a racist instead of addressing the issues. I really appreciate that.

I want to preface this by saying I'm not a racist by any stretch of the imagination. I think that blacks on the whole still, 40 years after beginning their real liberation in america, are routinely disrespected, despised, and disenfranchised. I honestly do believe that black voters were denied their right to vote in south florida. I honestly do believe that corporate america still is not open to blacks, and that be it buying a new car, a new house, or a new pair of shoes they are immediately looked upon with suspicion and most likely not given equal opportunity. In short, I think black people get the short end of the stick in today's world in many many things.

I also honestly belive they commit a disproportionate amount of crime, and I believe I have the data to back it up.

First, the only thing I call people who are racially classified as "negro" is black. Period. The FBI and the Census bureau use the word "black" so I figure I'm on pretty solid footing there, alright? You call me white, I call you black.

Yes, god forbid you do have any say. I don't have any say in what you call me. You think I can DEMAND that you call me something else? You really, really think that would happen? No of course not. But of course, it's not a 2 way street, is it?

I'll basically call you whatever the hell I want to, and you are free to return the favor. Call me cracker whitey boy all day for all I care. It changes absolutely jack shit about what we are discussing.

As far as the FBI results, I'm not going to bother trying to track down what percentage were convicted. Why don't you do some leg work? The FBI considered it data that was important enough to publish broken down by race, sex, age, region, etc. Without citing chapter and verse I would say it's reasonably safe to assume that for major crimes, arrests mirror convictions fairly well. This report was not talking about parking tickets and disturbing the peace. I believe if there had been 450,000 false arrests of blacks last year somebody would have already mentioned it.

Also, faulty arrests would extend throughout the age, race, and sex groups. Lets say 25% of all arrests are false, which I say would be preposterously high. Even so, it would mean 25% of the black arrests and 25% of the white arrests, so it would change ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the relative levels and proportions.

There is no excuse what-so-ever for blacks to be committing crimes at twice the rate of other races. And, as long as the black community as a whole allows this to be seen as acceptable behavior, it will not change. Why do I say it's acceptable? Because if it wasn't, it wouldn't be as common. 12 year old white girls are heavily influenced by Brittany Spears. 12 year old black boys are heavily influenced by gangsta rappers. The difference is Brittany isn't trying to move any G's and pop a cap in that ass. It's just making an entire generation of girls into whores who see their bodies as negotiable property but that's another discussion.

My mall survey was hardly scientific, nor was it meant to be. In the case at hand, anecdotal evidence was sufficient. Also, the observation had nothing to do with whether they were loud and disrespectful, it had to do with whether they carried pagers. I thought it was absurd that 12 year olds carried pagers. I said it was a "black thing" my friend said it was a "kid thing". And, at the mall, all the black kids had them, but yet almost none of the white kids did. Why did they have them? I have no freakin idea... but by god they did. It was a required part of the "uniform" and there were apparently no fashion independent thinkers. Teens of any race are basically blind fashion followers.

The mall was only what was easily at hand. The observations continued through school, work, the grocery store, the movies, the restaurants, other malls, etc etc etc. What's your point anyway? I was looking for 51% to prove my point to a friend. I found 99%. Are you denying that young urban blacks of 5 years ago had a great propensity for carrying beepers?

I asked a mother of 2 black teens at my office why they carry them, she said she didn't know. She said they never answer if she paged them so she could only assume it was for "the look". This is their mother talking, not me.

I'm tired. Tired of this thread, tired of this discussion. Yes, the black man still is not treated equally in all facets of american life. Yes the black man commits a disproportionate amount of crime.

To argue either doesn't exist is lunacy. And I'm wiping my hands of the whole thing.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:53 PM on October 24, 2002


IMO, the racism we experience in the UK is a legacy of colonialism: black and Irish people (to take just two groups) have been mischaracterised as disruptive, criminal, stupid and scrounging off the state for as long as they have been transplanted, denigrated, excluded and disenfranchised - which is forever (virtually).

All of those attitudes reinforce poverty, which - tho I don't have the links to hand, anyone can google them - is directly related to low expectations of academic success, poor employment prospects and, inevitably in a consumer society, property crime.

Having established the attitudes, hot on the heels comes resentment, anger and violence. Surely, only by changing the underlying attitudes, can we move on from this. If you want to quote statistics, has anyone looked at relative prosperity between the ethnic groups? Are black people more likely to be out of work? If so, is there a racist component to that? How does it remain this way, 150 years after nominal emancipation?

In the original link, the teacher was racist, because he took his eye off the behaviour, and saw it as an ethnic issue.

When we account for robbery, do we look at the overwhelmingly caucasian white collar criminals? How many black muggers add up to a corporate thief like Ken Lay? or the WorldCom CEO? Or the environmental criminals, like Union Carbide or Shell, that have by omission or commission, been responsible for many deaths, injuries and other crimes, all around the world (including the US)?

There has been a lot of simplistic comments and analysis on this thread, and it reflects the link at the top - which has not drawn much condemnation. I really thought this place was generally more intelligent than that.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:54 PM on October 24, 2002


'As for your point about moving me from the abstract to the personal perspective, perhaps you ought to try imagining what it feels like to be a law-abiding black man subject to frequent police harassment and near-constant societal microaggression because of the color of your skin. The effects go considerably deeper than "hurt feelings, social humiliation and inconvenience" as you so blithely put it.'

This is my final post on this one.

This last post of yours was nothing but empty equivocation, boltman. In the last exchange we clarified what we both believed 'racial profiling' consisted of. Seemingly we are in agreement on what is 'good' and what is 'bad' police behavior, unless there was something you found unreasonable in this, my last statement:

'If the issue is illegal car searching then I oppose it. If the issue is if race can play a factor in the 'doubt' part of 'reasonable doubt' then I do not, because it can.'

If you didn't disagree with that, what should be impregnable, statement then the conversation should have been over and filed under 'mutual misunderstanding'. If you did disagree with it then it seems it would have been more prudent to respond to it specifically. Instead you go on into some lame tear-fest about the psychological torment of 'microaggression' (which is funny, because psychological tests have been showing for years that black self-esteem is, on average, much higher than that of whites [i.e. blacks have more confidence in their ability and self-worth than whites, not less. Their suicide rates are much lower as well.])

As for imagining myself being law-abiding and yet subject to more suspicion than another, we needn't travel to hypothetical dimension X- it happens every day, brother. The test has already played itself out, and guess what: my position stands. You see as a man, I am in the unfortunate position of being part of a demographic that commits crimes at 10 times the rate of another- women! This plays out in my life day to unfair day, and let me tell you-this pernicious oppression is sapping my very will to live. I go to the store with female friends, and guess who the 'sexist' shop-keeper chooses to suspiciously hold his eyes on? Just because men steal more than women, it doesn't mean I'm going to! Another thing is that women cross over to the other side, when we encounter eachother on dark and lonely streets at night. I'll bet those 'sexist' women wouldn't make such unfair judgments if I was another female (or an elderly midget). What- did she think I was going to rape her or something? I would never do such a thing...it's all so incredibly unfair to be judged like that. Sometimes they even clutch their purses tighter! Don't they know how this 'microaggression' is destroying me as a person? I even have to pay higher car insurance then a woman-just because I'm a man. OH, the microaggression!

Is there a difference, boltman? The answer is 'no'. Logic is useful until we apply it to issues of race in America. At that point its time for emotions, double-standards and gobbledygook. I Thank you for carrying on that proud tradition.

*I would also like to end with a book of recommendation: Thomas Sowell's Migrations and Cultures. This book has important things to say about human culture. To those that insist on the myth that every black failing needs to fall right back onto the shoulders of the white oppressor. Despite the blind belching to the contrary, there is a black culture in America, and it is its own worst enemy. Not profiling. Not 'microaggression'. And not racism. In other words, instead of criticizing this teacher, why don't we criticize these black students, and anyone who apologizes for them, and stop all this empty bitching about racism. We are challenging the behavior of these students because we want to see them succeed, god dammit, not fail.
posted by dgaicun at 11:17 PM on October 24, 2002


I can't believe you just compared your experience as a male to the experience of being black in this country. dude, you need to go out and find yourself a clue--and perhaps a U.S. history lesson--quick.
posted by boltman at 4:37 PM on October 25, 2002


Ynoxas, I neither thought nor intended to portray you as a racist. "Colored" and "nigra" were just the first two examples I could come up with of archaic names for black people that would still be around if everyone held "I'll call you what I've always called you and you'll like it" sentiments similar to yours. Sorry you were offended. Hopefully, "black" won't fall into a similar state of unpopularity before you give it up.

"The FBI and the Census bureau use the word "black" so I figure I'm on pretty solid footing there, alright?" Your role models both seem more malleable on the subject than you. Personally I don't care whether you say "black" or "African American"; I'm just trying to understand the apparent vehemence you have for the latter.

Anyway, time for a little leg work:

Human Rights Watch seems to think that bias may play a role in blacks' disproportionate arrest rate;

"[T]here is a growing body of research suggesting that arrest practices in
certain jurisdictions are based, in part, on race."
From a study undertaken at the behest of the American Society of Criminology;

And the Federal Bureau of Prisons has also looked into the matter.

I'm not trying to argue that the disproportionate arrest rate is in no way justifiable ("Even reviewers predisposed to find evidence of
discrimination... are forced to conclude that the 'few
available studies of this issue offer support to both sides of the question.'"
: page 15 of the ASC link above); I just question your implication that it's obviously there because black people are inherently more likely to commit crimes. Is there no alternate rationale? For example, I'd be more inclined to agree with you if you had argued that poverty played a large role in fostering certain criminal activities, with poor blacks being overrepresented in the lower income brackets and therefore turning up as criminals more often. Instead, you would have me believe that even rich blacks (like, say, Kenneth Chenault) are more likely to shoplift or deal drugs than their white counterparts? Profiling for some hypothetical "wicked Negro gene" just doesn't hold up to scrutiny when there are so many other explanations for why things may be the way they are, IMO. Which is why I think that Phelps guy in the main article is so very wrong. (Assuming the article is accurate, of course.)


Heh, and now I'm too sleepy to go over the beeper/mall thing.

I really do appreciate the link you provided, though, even if our interpretations of the data therein seem to be so wildly different.
posted by tyro urge at 10:09 PM on October 25, 2002


(Forgot to mention: the ACS and Federal Bureau links are both .pdfs)
posted by tyro urge at 10:16 PM on October 25, 2002


"dude, you need to go out and find yourself a clue--and perhaps a U.S. history lesson--quick."
-boltman

Boltman, no need to get emotional. Remember, people will respect you more if you conduct your behaviour based on logic and facts. Stop. Take a deep breath. Think,..then type
posted by Captain Supermarket at 9:47 AM on October 31, 2002


Supermarket, the comments I responded to were dripping with sarcasm and totally outrageous substantively. My response was entirely appropriate, and I stand by it.
posted by boltman at 12:52 PM on October 31, 2002


Good,
I'm glad to hear you say that Boltman. Our people need to maintain rational thought when responding to posts by people like dgaicun. But when we start attacking the person, and not the idea, it turns out to be us who look foolish in the end...
posted by Captain Supermarket at 2:23 PM on October 31, 2002


Perhaps more relevant is that the majority of racists are white.

HA!
posted by David Dark at 10:01 AM on November 1, 2002


Perhaps more relevant is that the majority of racists are white.

A statement which is entirely untrue ... In fact, whites are generally afraid to be racist. As this article points out, whites are so afraid to display racial misgivings, that they would rather be sodomized than labelled racist.
posted by Captain Supermarket at 10:51 AM on November 1, 2002


You're citing a white supremacist website as evidence that whites aren't racist? Now maybe I've seen everything.
posted by sudama at 12:53 PM on November 5, 2002


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