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Integration
January 13, 2003 5:54 PM   Subscribe

I stumbled across a fairly controversial opinion piece concerning racial integration, but it's fairly mild compared to some of the writers other opinions. Never the less, his observations on this subject seem to hold up under scrutiny. With few exceptions, whites and blacks seem to prefer their own company, and as evidenced by these pictures, even young urban professionals seem happiest among their own race.
posted by Beholder (114 comments total)

 
hahaha. you're so going to hell for contextualizing MeFi.
posted by oog at 6:17 PM on January 13, 2003


hmmm. seems to confuse social groups, race and skin colour and then draw broad over-general conclusions.

fyi, here in chile two different races are more-or-less completely integrated (particularly in the centre and north). but that's not good troll material, i guess.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:24 PM on January 13, 2003


Black people certainly enjoy Sally and Johnny's company.

And, I leave you with these sage words:

And I told about equality
An it's true
Either you're wrong
Or you're right

But, if
You're thinkin'
About my baby
It don't matter if you're
Black or white

I am tired of this devil
I am tired of this stuff
I am tired of this business
Sew when the
Going gets rough
I ain't scared of
Your brother
I ain't scared of no sheets
I ain't scared of nobody
Girl when the
Goin' gets mean


OW! HA! HEE-HEE!
posted by Stan Chin at 6:27 PM on January 13, 2003



posted by quonsar at 6:28 PM on January 13, 2003


Let me get this straight -- you posted a bunch of corn-pone, jus-folks, regressive puke about how the races don't want to mix and shouldn't (mostly, it seems, because those blacks are lazy and don't want to learn), then you link to photos of a few (mostly) white members of the MeFi community as "evidence" that he's right, and you don't want to be run out of town as a knuckle-dragging troll?

This is a low point. Please begone and feel free to tell yourself whatever little martyr-myths you want to about yourself after you get the bashing you richly deserve.
posted by argybarg at 6:28 PM on January 13, 2003


Interesting that you chose us an example, beholder. I kinda wish I'd taken a picture of my cubicle at work, where I'm the one whiteboy outta six people. Also, while the MeFiNy meet may not have been so racially diverse, it made up for it in other areas: for instance there were several non-heterosexuals for instance.

NTM, what makes you so sure we're all "professionals" as you say. I'm basically a data entry person and I know several others have similar jobs.

Methinks thou doth assume too much.
posted by jonmc at 6:29 PM on January 13, 2003


We talk about the American dream, but the country likes delusions better. We believe things are what we insist they are.

I have no doubt that races do choose to segregate themselves, but that's hardly proof that they should. Humans self-segregate because they're more familiar with people who look like them, not because there's some outside force which naturally pushes them towards others of a particular skin tone; that's ridiculous. The purpose of integration is to force exposure, and thereby over time reduce the awkwardness that being in unfamiliar circumstances causes. Do white children raised by black families run as soon as they are able to the company of other whites? Probably not.

Saying that because we don't want to integrate means we shouldn't be systematically encouraged to is like saying that because dieters will naturally, if left to their own devices, stop eating right and exercising, that there's just no point in trying to get people to lose weight.

Also, the metafilter example doesn't exactly hold, because I don't know what race everybody here is. You're all just white on blue. While most mefites may be white, it's not because of racial self-segregation, as much as other, more complicated social and cultural factors.
posted by Hildago at 6:31 PM on January 13, 2003


Yes, thanks for ignoring Gen and I beholder. I can't speak for Gen, or anyone else there, but I for one am glad that you failed to notice me. :)
posted by riffola at 6:32 PM on January 13, 2003


I like people. Who here likes people?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:33 PM on January 13, 2003


Wait, the monkey was black wasn't it?

*rimshot*
posted by Stan Chin at 6:33 PM on January 13, 2003


"While most mefites may be white, it's not because of racial self-segregation, as much as other, more complicated social and cultural factors."

I'm white 'cause I never venture out into the sunlight.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:36 PM on January 13, 2003


Beholder: tis rare that I am forced unto situation say this, but time and tide as needs must:

Your gay.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:41 PM on January 13, 2003


I'd love to know how quonsar indexes his pictures.

"Oh, my... this looks like a good spot to use the elephant diarrhea picture. Now, where did I put that thing? Was it under "e" for elephant, or "d" for diarrhea?"
posted by yhbc at 6:41 PM on January 13, 2003


Oh, and one last observation. When you state:

his observations on this subject seem to hold up under scrutiny

I believe you must have a terribly lax definition of "scrutiny." Yeesh.
posted by argybarg at 6:44 PM on January 13, 2003


Beholder: tis rare that I am forced unto situation say this, but time and tide as needs must:

Your gay.


His gay what?
posted by mr_roboto at 6:45 PM on January 13, 2003


Damn. Mr. Roboto beat me to it.
posted by jdroth at 6:47 PM on January 13, 2003


So this racism... it vibrates?
posted by The Michael The at 6:48 PM on January 13, 2003


Sigh, flames instead of dialogue. Typical metafilter tantrum. I think the guy has some pretty asinine opinions, but when he says that people in the US prefer to socialize with their own race, that's not a generalization, but a fairly accurate statement. I'm not defending segregation, but no federal law can change human behavior. A desegregated society will only happen if people want it, and I don't see much evidence of that.

I don't believe that the world will ever know peace until racial conflict ends, but unless people can be honest about their opinions, how can progress be made.

Oh Quonsar, do you think if that elephant shits enough, that you'll be able to crawl your way out?
posted by Beholder at 6:52 PM on January 13, 2003


Damn. I hadn't realized this was a thread written by Beholder and containing so much childish bickering, so I went and dug up the link to a mathematical model of racial non-integration in the hopes of getting some intellectual comments about it. Oh well. Maybe all's not lost, and I have the link in my clipboard now ...

In the simulation I've just described, each agent seeks only two neighbors of its own color. That is, these "people" would all be perfectly happy in an integrated neighborhood, half red, half blue. If they were real, they might well swear that they valued diversity. The realization that their individual preferences lead to a collective outcome indistinguishable from thoroughgoing racism might surprise them no less than it surprised me and, many years ago, Thomas Schelling.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:52 PM on January 13, 2003


Oh God. Alright then. *ahem* "Well, I for one welcome our new ..."

*breaks down sobbing*

I can't do it, man! I just can't do it!!!
*sniff*
Don't make me do it. Please!
posted by yhbc at 6:53 PM on January 13, 2003


That would've been funnier without the earnest interruptions.
posted by yhbc at 6:55 PM on January 13, 2003


Beholder, you link to photos of a MetaFilter gathering to prove we're a bunch of whiteys who prefer their own company, and then you complain about flames and "typical MetaFilter tantrums"? Man, you got big, brass ones. They're about to come right off, but you've got big ones for the time being, anyway.
posted by mcwetboy at 6:56 PM on January 13, 2003


"I think the guy has some pretty asinine opinions..."

...so my first instinct was to link to him on Metafilter's front page.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:57 PM on January 13, 2003


When buying a hat, use your head
posted by Postroad at 6:59 PM on January 13, 2003


W.
T.
F.
Beholder?
posted by dg at 6:59 PM on January 13, 2003


the elephant does for the thread what the thread does for the site.
posted by quonsar at 7:00 PM on January 13, 2003


apostrophe lack salmon
wicked mad skill intrinsic so

posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:00 PM on January 13, 2003


Seriously, beholder, you can't possibly have thought this was an acceptable front page post. I kind of wish quonsar's was the only comment—but it doesn't matter, because it won't be here long.
posted by languagehat at 7:02 PM on January 13, 2003


We can all agree that the author's a crackpot. What's really remarkable, however, is the horrible analogies:

If we think a pup-dog oughta be a backhoe...

Somebody is exploiting a retarded man for column inches!
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:02 PM on January 13, 2003


A haiku:

Thread: meta meta
Dumbass accusations made
Steaming pile of poo
posted by The Michael The at 7:03 PM on January 13, 2003


C-O-O-L, Pretty_Generic. Don't everybody view source at once to see how he did it, either (It's a jpg. Darn clever, P_G!)
posted by yhbc at 7:04 PM on January 13, 2003


I like people. Who here likes people?

Boiled or fried?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:05 PM on January 13, 2003


"Don't everybody view source at once to see how he did it"

I thought he was using the [vert]tags[/vert].
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:05 PM on January 13, 2003


NTM, what makes you so sure we're all "professionals" as you say.

I don't know what NTM means, but "young urban professionals" means "yuppies." He's calling you all yuppie scum. It's basically like calling you all fags. I can see why the thread might get a little hostile.

There is a little grain of truth in the FPP, and showing a pic from a MeFi gathering may be a way to shock people into realizing it. Helluva bad article to link to, though. There's gotta be something on the American Nazi Party website that's more convincing.
posted by son_of_minya at 7:07 PM on January 13, 2003


Thanks for the link, aeschenkarnos. Almost makes the thread, uh, not bad.
posted by lbergstr at 7:07 PM on January 13, 2003


You folks in NYC couldn't find a token minority to hang out with? Haven't you learned anything from sitcoms? You need at least one. Sienfeld had rotating minority characters, Friends throws one in now, and then, Roseanne had a black friend. Get with it folks, or you'll be getting an invite to a Trent Lott fund raiser.
posted by jbou at 7:17 PM on January 13, 2003


Riffola isn't token enough? Gad Daim, Woman!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:18 PM on January 13, 2003


Newsflash: There's no such thing as race.
posted by zpousman at 7:18 PM on January 13, 2003


Let's not be so quick with our criticisms of beholder. I know many of the attendees of the NYC meet-up by reputation, and I don't think it's a stretch to say that there must have been some good old-fashioned pro-Aryan songs and games. For example, here we see The Michael The making the "Heil Hitler" sign. And in this picture, we see a group singing a rousing rendition of "Deutschland uber alles" (by the way, despite appearances in the last picture, riffola's as white as they come). Hell, if owillis had come within fifty yards of that place, he'd have been strung up by his gonads.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:20 PM on January 13, 2003


Fascinating fact: The Founding Fathers, upon leaving the Santa Maria, became the first people in history not to be immigrants!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:21 PM on January 13, 2003


yes, aeschenkarnos, that was really interesting. These patterns of emergence definitely provide insight. It seems that if the blue dots want at least half of the local dots to also be blue, and don't have a minimum of how many red dots are nearby, neighborhoods segregate quickly.

Even if blue dots only want one quarter of their neighbors to be other blue dots, segregation occurs - the thing being, the dots don't specifically request a certain number of the opposite color. So they'll be perfectly happy with half the local dots being the other color but it isn't a requisite, whereas some percentage of same color dots is a requisite. It may not seem particularly racist but that's the undertone that causes the segregation. People have to actively want an integrated society or things will tend toward separation.
posted by mdn at 7:22 PM on January 13, 2003


when he says that people in the US prefer to socialize with their own race, that's not a generalization, but a fairly accurate statement.

I don't quite see how this can be known without an extremely far-reaching opinion poll or relentless observation by thousands of scientists. And even then the results could be suspect.
posted by JanetLand at 7:23 PM on January 13, 2003


This is a topic which deserves attention, but is extremely difficult to discuss. Jamie Glasov recently published a symposium which brought up some interesting points, and some words of caution, based on a recently published book by Carol M. Swain.
posted by hama7 at 7:25 PM on January 13, 2003


Damn. I hadn't realized this was a thread written by Beholder

Personal attacks instead of discussing the issue. Sure, if that's all you've got. All the guy is saying, is that if you look at the US, it seems pretty obvious that most people prefer to associate with their own race. I've been to at least 30 states, and I've pretty much made the same observation.

The problem is that anyone who says this gets blasted, so they say fuck it, and just give up and move to the suburbs or put their kid in a private school. The result has been white flight and urban decay, and it all began with desegregation laws.
posted by Beholder at 7:28 PM on January 13, 2003


Pretty_Generic: I don't know how you did that 'sideways' thing, but I'll find out, by jove.

Think about how that elephant would feel, if it only knew!
posted by hama7 at 7:28 PM on January 13, 2003


Beholder, you've missed the point twice now. The question is, what does the MeFi NYC meeting have to do with this subject? And if you're going to complain about flames and personal attacks, why, then, did you troll us by implying that we're socially segregationist? You provoked something here, you did.
posted by mcwetboy at 7:37 PM on January 13, 2003


I don't know how you did that 'sideways' thing, but I'll find out, by jove.

It's an inserted graphic. View the source man, view the source!
posted by RevGreg at 7:43 PM on January 13, 2003


Did anyone bother to read that second article Beholder linked to? I think I've seen that one before. It was called "Notes on the State of Virginia."
posted by brina at 7:43 PM on January 13, 2003


Guess I wasted my time by trying to discuss the article in the way the site was intended. Whoops!
posted by Hildago at 7:43 PM on January 13, 2003


You can also do vertical text using IE CSS extensions, writing-mode: tb-rl; filter: flipv fliph;
posted by holloway at 7:47 PM on January 13, 2003


Beholder's patented method to get a community of 17,000 people to act as one:

Call them racists.
posted by dg at 7:48 PM on January 13, 2003


Beholder: Well, of course the guy gets blasted. The guy ends with an Elvis-is-here-I-gotta-go line. Elvis shopped for clothes at stores with mostly black clientele. He grew up with black neighbors in Tupelo. He's on NBC in '68 with a trio of black backup singers, in a purple jumpsuit, doing a black-influenced gospel number and looking like the most suave mofo alive. He ends the show with an obvious allusion to MLK's dream. The editorial guy is freakin' ignorant. Sorry. Is anything going to keep him from sending his children to white flight academies or whatever? (I don't see him living in the burbs, although I could be wrong.) No.
posted by raysmj at 7:51 PM on January 13, 2003


FWIW: The "Fred" in question was once a back-page columnist for the Air Force Times newspaper -- always generated plenty of backlash & hate mail from readers. Then one day - poof - he was gone from the pages, never to be seen again. Now I know why...

Oh, yeah...and beholder needs to get a clue.
posted by davidmsc at 7:54 PM on January 13, 2003


Beholder, your approach was all wrong. You made it personal by pointing out the NYC Mefi gathering, and they attacked back.

Yes people hangout with their own race often, and there are reasons why they do this. I can only guess at the reasons, it's easy, they don't share similar interests, bad experiences with people of a different race, who knows?

Me personally, I had an experience that helped shape the way I view race. I was in a program as a youth where blacks, and Puerto Ricans were the dominant race, and I was one of a handful of white kids, some of the white kids resented this, and one even went as far as to hang a rebel flag in his dorm window, some of the white kids tried to hard to be like the black kids, or puerto rican kids, and I chose to stay to myself for the first month, and checked things out. I ended up making a few close friends, 2 black dudes, one puerto rican dude, and a white dude who came to the program after I did, and was from the same area as myself. There were about 800 students in this program, and I became quite popular on campus, and accepted by all the different groups, but that wasn't the norm, most kids hung with their own, but there were a few small groups like mine that bonded in spite of race. I don't know what point I'm trying to make, but I found living with people of different races a good thing that helped give me a healthy attitude about race.
posted by jbou at 7:55 PM on January 13, 2003


blue dots

I suspect that even if the dots want at least one neighbour of a similar colour, that mild segregation occurs. Quite how much is going to depend on the other factors in the model. Hmm, almost tempted to start reading that Wolfram doorstop again...

Top link aeschenkarnos.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:56 PM on January 13, 2003


The second link sound like an extrapolation of the controversial findings of racial studies by Arthur Jensen, and Phil Rushton, among others.

You can also do vertical text using IE CSS extensions, writing-mode: tb-rl; filter: flipv fliph;

Thanks, by jove!
posted by hama7 at 7:56 PM on January 13, 2003


Never the less, his observations on this subject seem to hold up under scrutiny.

Gosh, they do? Well, let's hear the intense scrutiny to which you subjected his observations. I'm sure they were just as rigorous as your other assertions are supported, e.g: "a desegregated society will only happen if people want it, and I don't see much evidence of that."

Oddly, I read that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of integration. Must be that liberal bias thingie. Sorry to have brought it up.

All the guy is saying, is that if you look at the US, it seems pretty obvious that most people prefer to associate with their own race. I've been to at least 30 states, and I've pretty much made the same observation.

Oh. Now we got it. Sorry to have doubted you. When you speak of the attitudes of the entire US, we didn't realize you had done extensive research, polling, and statistical work done in so very many states. I think we were all worried that you might be mistakenly using observations limited to your own person and limited by your own attitudes to make gross and meaningless and pretty sickening generalizations.

I mean, if it "seems pretty obvious" to you, then it must be right for the rest of us.

'Course, the link to the MeFi photos is the really compelling evidence here, and may turn out to be the equivalent of the Michaelson-Morley results for race relations, if not sociology as a whole. And indulge my curiosity....from one scientist to another, how you were able to get such a large sample (N = what....30 or so, eh?) of data.

Congratulations. Now that we understand the basis for your statements, I'm sure we'll all look forward to seeing your review of the literature, your study design, your polling schema, your datasets, your statistical analyses, and your peer-reviewed paper on the subject.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 7:57 PM on January 13, 2003


My ten-year old daughter goes to a school that's about 30% black, 30% Hispanic, 30% white, and 10% other (North African, East Indian, etc.). She's Japanese/white. There is hardly any racial stratification there. I've been hanging out in the classrooms, playgrounds and cafeteria for five years, and the kids don't seem to care who's what, for the most part.

My point is that homespun "wisdom" about how people "just likes to hang out with their own kind" is bullshit. There's nothing "natural" about racism.
posted by kozad at 7:57 PM on January 13, 2003


at least one neighbour of a similar colour

Hmm, although if they equally desire the same minimum of other-colour dots, then I could see a non-segregated equilibruim. Although adding more than one colour of dot would tip the balance again...

Damn, now I actually want to write some state machine code...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:59 PM on January 13, 2003


Beholder, you've missed the point twice now. The question is, what does the MeFi NYC meeting have to do with this subject? And if you're going to complain about flames and personal attacks, why, then, did you troll us by implying that we're socially segregationist? You provoked something here, you did.

Ok, I will try to make this my last post on this thread. I didn't mean the pictures to be a personal attack, but given the sensitive nature of the subject, I should have expected a few ruffled feathers. My intention was to show that segregation can sometimes be an unconscious thing and that it's not inherently wrong or backwards to feel more comfortable around your own race.
posted by Beholder at 8:00 PM on January 13, 2003


Mefi people accused of wanting to socialize only within their own race? Hell, they don't even seem to want to be confined to socializing within a damn species. Hot monkey love, I tell you.

And now Quonsar's introducing elephants. What next?
posted by madamjujujive at 8:01 PM on January 13, 2003


i stayed in harlem , i liked it.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:03 PM on January 13, 2003


it seems pretty obvious that most people prefer to associate with their own race.

It seems more obvious that racists prefer to associate with their own race.
posted by dg at 8:04 PM on January 13, 2003


It seems more obvious that racists prefer to associate with their own race.

...and indeed, with other racists.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 8:29 PM on January 13, 2003


The people at the MeFi gathering didn't know one another's races until they got to the bar that night. Therefore, racial preference could not have been a factor.
posted by Optamystic at 8:47 PM on January 13, 2003


Ive read Fred for quite some time, and to be honest, he's a mixture of blunt honesty and prejudice masking itself as the same. In this instance, I think Fred is off base somewhat.

I think what is a more likely explanation is that if one's children were being bussed to a school, they were therefore attending a school quite far away from home. Once busing subsidies are removed, parents are presented with a choice between paying to have their child shipped out to a racially integrated but distant school or letting their child go to a school closer to home. I find it hard to fault the parents as racists for sending their child to a closer school, especially once one factors in the costs of transportation.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:03 PM on January 13, 2003


I liked the Atlantic monthly article. I read all of it, and you should too.

But that is the extent I have to say about this matter.

Also, Optamystic: yes
posted by Spacelegoman at 9:34 PM on January 13, 2003


It seems more obvious that racists prefer to associate with their own race

That's why it's called White Flight.
posted by mischief at 9:58 PM on January 13, 2003


"I read that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of integration" Or at least that's what they tell the pollsters. Actions speak louder than words.
posted by MikeMc at 10:14 PM on January 13, 2003


You folks with the full deck of racist cards are more of a problem for racial issues in America than straight up nigger-hatin' bigots. You get so rattled whenever the subject comes up, that instead of finding another to look at it, you just call racist as fast as possible. Then you bathe in each other's snarky liberal spooge. It comical really. It's ok though right? Later, when you curl up on the couch to watch reruns of Martin and 227 tonight, warm in your FUBU gear, you can pat yourself on the back as some kind of racial patriot. Somehow, I doubt it. You make me sick... and you know who you are.
posted by Witty at 10:55 PM on January 13, 2003


Too many words, not enough action...pretentious racial inflammation will proceed until we burn out: live with it, or commit suicide from the lack in human understanding, as some will say that is your complete choice, though I wouldn't. Does colour matter, we breathe the same air, yes?
Oh, fun pictures, but necessary? Yes! hey, why not...
posted by Kodel at 10:55 PM on January 13, 2003


Thanks for the Atlantic Monthly article. That was one of the best links I've found here in a little while. Shame it had to get lost in such a thread.
posted by jann at 10:58 PM on January 13, 2003




Witty:

Nice try. That sounded like hard-nosed, outside-of-it-all wisdom, but you don't know the tiniest fraction of what you think you know.

There's a fashionable line that says that the subtle racists are worse than the rednecks -- that the microscopic faults of imperfect liberals are more destructive than the obviously hate-wielding assholes.

It's a very attractive line -- so meta-smart and worldly. It has the small problem, however, of being dookie. Take a look at the history of racism in this country and you'll find that straight-up racists actually have done tremendous physical harm and have visited untold nightmares on non-whites, whereas the failings of well-meaning liberals have created problems that only those jockeying for Ultimate Hip status (and yes, I mean you) would bother to magnify into signifigant size.

In other words, you don't "make me sick" (oh! your torments), but you are unconvincing.
posted by argybarg at 11:23 PM on January 13, 2003


>I didn't mean the pictures to be a personal attack

Hmm, so, we have a community website. There is no disclosure for what race, nationality, sex, sexual preference, religous preference when a user signs up, right?

Hell, you don't even have to sign up just to read the posts, right?

And, these gatherings? The location/time is simply posted on an open website, right? Something anyone with a browser and a network connection can access, right?

Perhaps it's a "whites-only" TCP/IP/HTTP pipe, eh?

Tells ya what, in the spirit of all the internet begging that's been going on in the last 6 months, send me 5-round-trip tickets to NYC for the next social event, and I will bring up the ratio, maybe make you happy, eh?
posted by jkaczor at 12:19 AM on January 14, 2003


argybarg
>There's a fashionable line that says that the subtle
>racists are worse than the rednecks

Well, from direct experience, it can be worse.

There is one good thing about a loudmouthed redneck biggot... You know where you stand... They hate you.

However, the subtle all "smiles", turn around and spit in your food folks are the ones that drive folks nuts.

I'd love it if all of the racist assholes would wear swatstika's and white sheets, it would my life soooo much easier.
posted by jkaczor at 12:22 AM on January 14, 2003


Here's a wee point: so "races" (ethnic/culturally based groupings with some correlation to similar levels of skin melatonin and other minor traits - most geneticists would agree that "races" do not actually exist)) in America choose to segregate. So what. Humans have tribal instincts.

So what are you trying to say with this post, Beholder? That the coded racism of Mr. "Fred" - - deserves attention? Couldn't you find some other mouthpiece to speak the point - that Americans self-segregate based on percieved "racial" (actually mostly cultural) lines?

There's a funny bit in the movie "barbershop" where the italian barber (who works at an otherwise all black shop) confronts the arrogant college educated - and black - barber at the shop, saying; "I'm more more fucking black than you'll ever be." And......IT'S TRUE! Point: most of what Americans take as "Blackness" is CULTURAL. There are lots of "BlackWhites" in US inner cities - I've known a few myself. And there exist a few "WhiteBlacks" too - mostly in the suburbs.

There are actually a few affluent suburban areas in the US where (to "Fred" it) people don't give a rat's ass about "race". And there are far more which do care....about this thing we call "race".

Guess what - The continent of Africa contains the widest degree of human genetic variation of any continent on Earth due - most likely - to the fact that it is the continent in which Homo Sapiens Sapiens first evolved and then radiated out from, to colonize the other continents. So: Most of the genetic variations - and physical features ascribed to "races" - are actually represented within African sub-populations. "Race" actually tends to get confused (at least in the US) - as on this post - with US inner city sociopatholgy.

EXAM QUESTION: So what (social, economic) factors contributed to the decline of US inner cities in the 60's and 70's?
posted by troutfishing at 12:30 AM on January 14, 2003


Jkaczor - yep. 'Liberal' racists. All smiles.....
posted by troutfishing at 12:34 AM on January 14, 2003


We have a winner!
posted by Witty at 12:50 AM on January 14, 2003


and the winner is...

"snarky liberal spooge"

mmmmm.
posted by quonsar at 2:13 PM on January 14, 2003


He! what about the Middle East?
posted by Postroad at 2:13 PM on January 14, 2003


Take a look at the history of racism in this country and you'll find that straight-up racists actually have done tremendous physical harm and have visited untold nightmares on non-whites, whereas the failings of well-meaning liberals have created problems that only those jockeying for Ultimate Hip status (and yes, I mean you) would bother to magnify into signifigant size.

I'd love it if all of the racist assholes would wear swatstika's and white sheets...


so racists = white people only, yes?
posted by blogRot at 2:39 PM on January 14, 2003


Also jkaczor nothing personal meant but I would like to point out that racists also come in all colors and not all wear swastikas and white sheets.
posted by SweetIceT at 2:49 PM on January 14, 2003


>I would like to point out that racists also come in all
>colors and not all wear swastikas and white sheets.

Whooosh... you missed the point entirely.

Let's review:

>I'd love it if all of the racist assholes would wear
>swatstika's and white sheets

See, I understand they come in all colors, backgrounds, sizes, but it *would* make my life easier if THEY ALL WORE... yada yada yada...
posted by jkaczor at 6:46 PM on January 14, 2003


Sorry jkaczor I missed the point entirely that it would make "your" life easier....
posted by SweetIceT at 8:01 PM on January 14, 2003


OK - I'm coming to this one late, because I haven't been able to get to MeFi/MeTa, but I have a two things to say:

1) I for one didn't know the races, ages, genders, religions, sexual preferences, or real names of most of my fellow meetup attendees until the day of the meetup. I went because I suspected we'd like each other and get along well based on how people presented themselves in writing.

2) But hey, thanks, Beholder, for linking to my site.
posted by Songdog at 8:02 PM on January 14, 2003


Songdog - my question is: why did you suspect that "we'd like each other".....based on how people presented themselves in writing? -- Don't you think that that typed communication might be able to stand in as a very effective proxy tool for for cultural differentiation? And so why would it be surprising that the people you found to be textually sympatico were also so in the flesh?

(note: from a curious AI)
posted by troutfishing at 8:31 PM on January 14, 2003


Common interests, similar senses of humor, etc, troutfishing. I don't like everyone on here, but I usually have pretty clear reasons when I dislike someone. Generally I enjoy reading what people have to say here, and I enjoy taking part in the conversation. I would expect that to bear out in the flesh just as well, regardless of the details of that flesh.

Of course our typed communication, like any other communication, represents us. Of course cultural differences can affect us and affect our writing. Nonetheless, among the NYC meetup crowd at least, I didn't know which people were which color before I met them. If I were to dislike someone based on color whom I had like online without it, I would be a small, small, person.

I do grant that it seems reasonable to assume that those who showed up at the meetup are roughly typical of MeFi's NYC demographic, at least that portion of the demographic without commitments that keep it from going to a bar in the East Village on Friday night. I trust that no one stayed away because of their color, but if they did I believe it was a mistake, and one I hope won't be repeated. If members of this community are isolating themselves from it because they feel they're "different", then they're doing all of us a disservice. Places like MeFi invite us to get to know one another without many of the details that might separate us in other circumstances.
posted by Songdog at 6:33 AM on January 15, 2003


troutfishing: Don't you think that that typed communication might be able to stand in as a very effective proxy tool for for cultural differentiation?

This seems (in context) to be saying that black (or other minority) people write (type?) differently from the majority, so that we can tell from reading people's comments that they're "like us." (We're not just talking about culture, because that's not what this thread is about.) Is that what you meant?

(I can't believe this thread hasn't been yanked.)
posted by languagehat at 7:01 AM on January 15, 2003


Trust me Beholder, you can never, NEVER post something like that here... Everyone here thinks that they're somehow better, more enlightened than everyone else, and if you ever dare to call them on it, they shit on you, ala quonsar's picture.

Discussions don't happen here anymore... Only flames.
posted by eas98 at 7:02 AM on January 15, 2003


Racism is squandering the opportunity to examine why this self-selecting community is disproportionately white and often hostile toward people of color. Why do you suppose it's so painful to simply look in the mirror?
posted by sudama at 7:50 AM on January 15, 2003


Later, when you curl up on the couch to watch reruns of Martin and 227 tonight, warm in your FUBU gear, you can pat yourself on the back as some kind of racial patriot.

What does this mean?
posted by sudama at 7:53 AM on January 15, 2003


often hostile toward people of color

Substantiation, please. Or have you just decided this thread is a home for random flames?
posted by languagehat at 7:59 AM on January 15, 2003


See, I understand they come in all colors, backgrounds, sizes, but it *would* make my life easier if THEY ALL WORE... yada yada yada...

Really? It would make your life easier if everyone with even slightly racist tendencies dressed up in sheets and swastikas and - you're implying with the KKK and Nazi references - threatened violence to their chosen victims? That would be better?
posted by Summer at 8:23 AM on January 15, 2003


After reading Fred's writing, his bio and this thread I can only say that either scrutiny, like beauty, is truly in the eye of (the) beholder (and no where else) or I am way out of touch.

Seems to me I've seen that rumpled hat somewhere before though. The guy has an interesting background, I'll give you that.
posted by Dick Paris at 9:33 AM on January 15, 2003


Ok I hate tos ay this but I can't not say it. While it was jonmc who wondered as to when the next meet up would be, it was me, a non-white person, who started the MeTa thread for MeFi meet up. It was me, a non-white person, who also started the post-meet up thread. So saying that the MeFiNYC meet up was a good example of people of similar ancestory hanging out together, because I was the only Indian there, if it were true, everyone at MeFiNYC would be an Indian no?
posted by riffola at 11:33 AM on January 15, 2003


Uhm riffola, before we get anymore racist, I think the proper term you like to be referred to as is "Native American."
posted by Stan Chin at 11:58 AM on January 15, 2003


Stan, no no I am an Indian from India!! :-D
posted by riffola at 11:59 AM on January 15, 2003


Discussions don't happen here anymore... Only flames.

How true.
posted by whatever at 1:51 PM on January 15, 2003


Stan, no no I am an Indian from India!! :-D

Ah, thank goodness for some levity in this thread. Honestly, I don't understand why some of you are so uptight. So it's not the most insightful or tactful post. It's not like it's going to leap off the screen and bite you.

Personal attacks instead of discussing the issue. Sure, if that's all you've got. All the guy is saying, is that if you look at the US, it seems pretty obvious that most people prefer to associate with their own race. I've been to at least 30 states, and I've pretty much made the same observation.

Obviously, people prefer to associate with people they're more comfortable with. But in my own experience, any correlation between comfort and race similarity is just due to lack of experience.

If I go to a state in which most of the inhabitants have been raised from birth to associate only with members of the same race, then I'm not going to hold it against them if they have a preference; of course they will. I am going to point it out and call it irrational, though.

The opposite is also true. Personally, I have no race preferences in my friends. But this isn't because I've reached some sort of secret enlightenment; it's because the mixed environment I've lived in has borne out the observation, day after day, that race makes very little difference in determining whether I'll get along with someone.

Certainly there are factors which do matter, like the person's living habits, artistic tastes, politics, so on... but the correlations that these things have to race sometimes are just historical accidents.
posted by zerolucid at 6:23 PM on January 15, 2003


I'm confused as to exactly why Beholder's sociologically relevant and completely legitimate observation of the persistence of ethnic preference makes him some kind of "racist"? Did anyone here, unencumbered by strange and eerie taboo, consider the fact that maybe this phenomenon has been the rule instead of the exception in man's natural history; and that the best way to combat it, if what we desire is to one day live as a thoroughly integrated colorless society, might be to analyze it, instead of getting hostile, edgy, and uncomfortable at its very suggestion?

To begin, has anyone here ever thought about why people love their own children more than they love other people's children?

The scientific beginning to this answer probably goes back to the 1970's, when a naturalist by the name of William Hamilton noticed that bees would sacrifice their own lives if it would save those of one of their siblings. Why would a bee sacrifice its own life? It turns out that b/c of the curious biology of bees, they end up passing on more of their genetic material through their siblings than they can through their own off-spring, thus having a greater stake in their siblings survival than their own. Animals live by the method that ensures that the greatest amount of their genetic material lives on after them. The purpose of the macro-organism in service to the metaphorical "selfish gene". Hamilton's idea became known as kin selection theory, and it was the impetus for one legendary E.O. Wilson to found the science known as sociobiology - the science of man's evolved behavior.
The fact of the matter is that race exists, not as a platonic thing, but as a short-hand for a geographical/genetic relationship, and as the work of Cavilli-Sforza shows, any two (native) people from Ghana are more related to eachother than to any two people from belgium. So why the ethnocentrism? Well one sociobiologist named Pierre Van Den Berghe wrote a book that had an idea about it. Berghe's research led him to the conclusion that the degree that two people are genetically related and the potency of their instinct towards cooperation or conflict were geometrically positive. He called this Ethnic nepotism:

"To maximize their reproduction, genes in program organisms to do two things: successfully compete against, and thereby contribute to the reproduction of organisms that carry alternative alleles of the genes in question, and successfully cooperate with (and thereby contribute to the reproduction of) organisms that share the same allele of the genes. In simpler terms, the degree of cooperation between organisms can be expected to be a direct function of the proportion of the genes they share: conversely, the degree of conflict between them is an inverse function of the proportion of shared genes."

'Guns, Germs, and Steel' author Jared Diamond relates to his readers how very pronounced this instinct is in the tribal cultures of New Guinea. He says that when two strangers run into eachother in the forest they will question eachother about all their friends and family, and make forced attempts to establish how they might be related to eachother. If this is unsuccessful, things will probably get violent.

The bad news in all of this is that, for whatever reason, man, like chimps, has an in-group/out-group instinct, and that this expresses itself racially. The good news is that none of this implys determinism. Men are always (within sight) going to be more criminally violent and aggressive than women, because of their basic statistical biology (both physical and mental), but this doesn't mean that the violence can't be curbed by environmental compensation. Similarly, "ethnic nepotism" can be curved as well, and, thankfully, to a much more satisfying level than male aggression. Man is not controlled by his genes, he is informed by them. In this case genes are informing men towards in-group/out-group behavior in the service of genetic self-preservation. But this in-group, by necessity is malleable in its inclusiveness. Thus two rival neighbor tribes may battle eachother, but if a third, larger tribe attacks both, they will now unite into a single in-group, to fight their mutual foe.
Humans, almost by necessity, need to have the in-group/ out-group, but thankfully, b/c we are beings of intellect, we can establish new (or at least additional) basis for the in-group/out-group, than primal relatedness. People of distant relationships can unite under synthetic ideas, be it nation or religion or political idea, against much more closely related people. Looking at abortion clinic and animal rights terrorists, it is clear that people can even include non-human abstractions in their established in-group, against actual humans. It would seem to me that that has relieving implications for the possibility of one day abolishing ethnic nepotistic urges.
On a personal note, I think that this has implications for America's fractured racial relations. If we have no higher ideas to relate by, then race becomes the default coalition. Think about high-school (obviously, I'm thinking in trends here), most of the black kids and the white kids probably had their own tables, but there was that notable exception with the sports kids. The sports kids were all kinds of races, but they sat together under a man-made coalition- a synthetic in-group. Off the top of my head I can think of two other examples of this: both in the military and in the arts, integrated cooperation becomes the rule rather than the exception. I find this elusive higher unifying idea as the great solution to America's ethnic division. The problem remains that (outside of 9/11) there are very few ideas around which blacks and whites intersect. Even shared Christianity ends up segregating racially in the way it is practiced. Whatever this hypothetical unifying idea might one day be, it isn't going to be under assumed American ideals about democracy or capitalism (though I do believe these unite us to a superficial degree). Also, though it might have a certain degree of ethnic diversity, it probably ain't gonna be Meta-filter either.
posted by dgaicun at 4:13 AM on January 16, 2003


That's all very interesting dg. Thanks for taking the time to write all of that. And I'd like to congratulate myself for reading it all. But enough with the accolades...

Your post is so thorough yet your opening leaves a gaping hole: "I'm confused as to exactly why..."

I'm not certain, (and I'm not about to read the entire thread again) but did anyone actually call Beholder a racist? The text he linked is crap (although not necessarily his linking to it) and Beholder's poor exercise of scrutiny and choice of evidence is crap.
posted by Dick Paris at 5:57 AM on January 16, 2003


Thanks dgaicun... excellent!
posted by Witty at 5:58 AM on January 16, 2003


Dick,

Sorry for Van de Beste-ing the shit out of that one. Feel free to skim next time- I won't be hurt. I was alluding to the MetaTalk thread that specifically called this (not the linked article) a "racist thread". Personally, "Fred on Everything" doesn't strike me as a note-worthy link, and 1000 other better links could have provided the fuel for the same discussion. That said, I am sick of people saturating threads with dumb statements about how much they dislike the thread. There are two reasons this is inexcusable:

A) Matt, not anybody else has the final say in whether "Fred on Everything" gets to be on the frontpage. That should be reason enough for everyone to keep their petty "this thread sucks" comments to themselves.

B)Matt provided a forum called MetaTalk where people can bring their grievances, before the jury (you fine people) and the judge (Mr. mathowie).

I'm seeing maybe 50 out of 100 statements that are MetaTalk comments, not MetFilter comments.
I wish people would make an effort to create intelligent discussion or just not post on the thread at all. That hardly seems so unreasonable, that a snide reference to it wasn't in order.

(post that ignores its own premise over)
posted by dgaicun at 7:58 AM on January 16, 2003


PS- Thanks Witty!
posted by dgaicun at 7:59 AM on January 16, 2003


(post that ignores its own premise over)

Ah, and therein lies the problem. With all guidelines come notable exceptions and I would say this thread begs to be one. Upon reflection, I'm not even sure it is an exception. Why? Because it uses the community of Metafilter within the FPP. Now, I'll just get my ass over to MeTa.
posted by Dick Paris at 9:41 AM on January 16, 2003


The problem with your genetic explanation of racial segregation dgaicun is that it doesn't correspond with how we segregate the races in real life. People of African origin may all be black but that doesn't mean they're genetically any more closely related than a Belgian is to a Chinaman. Africa's a vast continent with huge genetic variety, yet we label all African people as coming from the same race. Why? Because in America and Europe they're seen as sharing the same social problems. They have the same 'otherness' as far as white people are concerned.

This also applies to the American tendency to treat people of hispanic origin as a separate race and lump them in with people of African origin. They're just darker-skinned Europeans, genetically very similar to those of Northern European origin. So why the separate treatment? I'd say it's because they're poor and often live in the same parts of town as black people. Their 'otherness' is cultural.

Humans are tribal - I think we can safely say that much is human nature - but the people we include in our tribe is dependent on much more than their genes.
posted by Summer at 9:48 AM on January 16, 2003


"Humans are tribal - I think we can safely say that much is human nature - but the people we include in our tribe is dependent on much more than their genes."

If I would have summarized my post down to this, I could have saved Dick Paris a lot of reading! Nicely put.

I'm gonna have to challenge your other points though.

"People of African origin may all be black but that doesn't mean they're genetically any more closely related than a Belgian is to a Chinaman."

This simply doesn't jive with population genetics. people in Africa are more related to eachother than to people in China. Read History & Geography of the Human Genes (but ignore the amazon.com "Time" headline- journalists don't know their ass from their elbows). Cavilli-sforza made a cladistic taxonomic tree showing how closely related all human populations are. Think of races as giant extended families that are in-bred to some degree.

"This also applies to the American tendency to treat people of hispanic origin as a separate race and lump them in with people of African origin.They're just darker-skinned Europeans, genetically very similar to those of Northern European origin"

First of all "Hispanic" is a linguistic description, so it doesn't serve well as a particularly reliable term for explaining a genetic relationship. I'll use "Mexicans" as a better proxy for what I think you're saying. No one considers Mexicans as more closely genetically related to Africans than Europeans (just socially). On the census Mexicans are considered white. Genetic surveys show that the typical Mexican is about 52% white 48% Amerindian. Race is a very pliable term, and it wouldn't be wrong to speak of the "Mexican race", seeing as how Mexico is a "gene pool" of sorts.
posted by dgaicun at 10:39 AM on January 16, 2003


An overview of race relations in America:

Let's start with Bartolome de las Casas. After pleading his case on behalf of the Indians, Bartolome wraps up his A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies not with a general condemnation of slavery, but with the suggestion (which, to be fair, he is said to have later regretted [or even denied making]) that the conquistadors import slaves from Africa instead. Thanks a lot, Bartolome.

Now we skip to colonial America. The first "negars" brought off a Dutch ship at Jamestown in 1619 and made servants were said to have been treated relatively neutrally at first (accorded a status similar to that of the indentured servants brought over from Europe), but this began to change. For various reasons, hereditary slavery became economically advantageous. But how to justify the slaves' continued subordination? Why, by lowering the social status of the entire race, of course! "Blacks are biologically inferior to us-- more like animals, really-- so you see, we're doing them a favor by bringing them here to toil in our fields! Teaches 'em Christianity, don't you know."

There are really far too many examples to go into detail on each one, so let's just mention some high points from the last few centuries:

The rationalization/cognitive dissonance surrounding the "All men created equal" language of the Declaration of Independence as compared to the entrenched acceptance of slavery by many of the Founding Fathers;

Abraham Lincoln's ambivalence (to put it mildly) toward equal rights for blacks before the Civil War;

The post-Reconstruction backslide and creation of Black Codes throughout the South;

The rise of "separate but equal" Jim Crow laws...

And all that just deals with black/white racial friction. I haven't even touched the other things. Hey, remember back when the Irish weren't quite considered white? No? Guess I shouldn't try bringing up the Italians, then. Or talking about Catholics in general. Germans? Chinese? Never mind, I'll just skip straight to the point:

Anyone who expounds upon the supposed "natural segregation instincts" of different groups in the United States without acknowledging the centuries of active foment of said cross-cultural animosities-- in many cases directly supported by the government-- is being very disingenuous, to say the least. "Hey, let's spend half a millenium setting one group against another for profit and convenience! Then, after five-eighths of a lifetime belatedly paying lukewarm tribute to the notion of equality (both my parents were born before the Brown decision), we can throw our hands in the air and act like racism is just a natural fact of life!" Yeah, that sounds reasonable.

Basically, I disagree with this guy's conclusions. Besides, he says "pup-dog" a little too frequently for my liking. Who the hell says "pup-dog"?! Segregation is not a matter of inevitable destiny. Although, to be honest, I probably wouldn't have gone to a MeFi meetup myself... not because I'm afraid of white people though: I'm just wildly antisocial.

(Quonsar, is that an African elephant? You racist!)
posted by tyro urge at 2:13 AM on January 18, 2003


...Also, I'm wondering if the whole "voluntary segregation due to genetic preference for your own kind" argument is the best theory to apply to American history. How would you reconcile it to, say, Kenneth Clark's doll study, which seemed to show that segregated black children recognized white dolls as the ideal? Or what about black soldiers traveling overseas during World War I? Was it some difference in the genetic makeup of the French that made them more ready to overlook racial differences between themselves and black American soldiers? ("How France Received the Negro Soldiers," at the bottom.) Was it a genetic change that made the returning black soldiers agitate for greater integration, or was it that the injustice of the United States racial situation was made all the more apparent after they'd seen that it didn't have to be that way?

And tying in with Summer's point: What about race mixing? Even if we accept the idea that Africans are more related to one another than they are to other races, how does that reconcile with the fact that many (if not most) African Americans have white ancestry as well? How would your theory account for a family whose ancestors are mostly white, but were recognized as black because of the "one drop" rule? Where should their allegiances lie? Do we do some sort of unconscious gene-based mental calculus every time we meet a stranger? (I found the extended story from the UPI link quite interesting, by the way.)

I'm sorry, but I just can't accept the premise that segregation began because of some genetically-based mutually beneficial tacit agreement between the races. It doesn't seem to stand up to scrutiny, if you ask me.
posted by tyro urge at 2:30 PM on January 19, 2003


Anyone who expounds upon the supposed "natural segregation instincts" of different groups in the United States without acknowledging the centuries of active foment of said cross-cultural animosities-- in many cases directly supported by the government-- is being very disingenuous, to say the least. "Hey, let's spend half a millenium setting one group against another for profit and convenience! Then, after five-eighths of a lifetime belatedly paying lukewarm tribute to the notion of equality (both my parents were born before the Brown decision), we can throw our hands in the air and act like racism is just a natural fact of life!" Yeah, that sounds reasonable.

Thank you.
posted by sudama at 10:46 AM on January 21, 2003


God forbid there might be some truths about the racial situation that actually dip in the nature of things. It wouldn't hurt to take them into consideration on occasion in an effort to better understand what can be done in the future. Only naive tools think racial division in America is based purely on slavery, affirmative active, and Rosa Parks. Racism and racial division are two very different things.
posted by Witty at 10:53 AM on January 21, 2003


"we can throw our hands in the air and act like racism is just a natural fact of life!"

Tyro, Sudama, I said, nothing, nothing, even remotely close to this. You both ignored HUGE passages of what I said to even think that I was A) trying to make apologies for any one B)saying "hey, its all in the genes, so lets just give up" (I clearly stated the opposite)

Everything I said is based in 40 years of mainstream biological theory. There is no determinism about it, so settle down. The only thing we are determined to do is sleep, excrete, etc. But there are certain secondary behaviors that our biologies will lead us to through basic human psychology and biology, lacking an environmental inhibiting force. Take celibacy for one. Without a cultural, or environmentally induced prerogative to abstain from masturbation, sex, or physical gratification, why would someone become celibate? Genes don't control us in any way but metaphorically. Genes don't make us have sex, they construct us biologically so sex feels good, and we naturally move towards pleasurable stimuli. There is nothing in that to say that people are inevitably led towards sex. Afterall many people voluntarily abstain from both sex and masturbation. But it took a reason, an environmentally induced reason, for the person to do that. Similarly, man evolved in a Pleistocene past as a tribal creature. Yes, Virginia social organization has a biological root. There's a reason that chimps travel in troops and lions go in packs, but tigers and orangutans travel individually. Men, like wolves, evolved to travel in cooperative social units. Those units were established on blood. Like the tumble towards sexual gratification, men will tumble towards blood and organization. But as the tumble towards sexual gratification, can be overcome by environment- say by act of religious sacrifice or philosophical discipline, blood and organization can be environmentally side-stepped. Obviously the unibomber was able to gove up society and live as a tribe of one, and the American Japanese during WWII were able to fight passionately against their genetic brethren, Japan, for their adopted country, even as it interned their families at home. My only point in all of this was to note that ethnicity, race, and family are closely related phenomenon, and will always be a potential faultline within the human condition. There is little similarity between my act of noting that the Hatfields and the McCoys, the eternally warring ethnicities of Afghanistan, and Jim Crow miscegenation laws, might all contain some sort of overarching lesson or provide a window of sorts, into human nature, and saying that these things are good, should be embraced, exonerate anyone, or are inevitable. I suggest you both reread my original dialogue and try to find where any one of those things was implied.
posted by dgaicun at 8:49 PM on January 22, 2003


Darwin's Truth, Jefferson's Vision

American prospect writer, Melvin Konner looks at Sociobiology.

Mickey Kaus describes the essay:

" Konner denies that Darwinism is inherently reactionary, serving to "buttress the institutions" of the status quo, as Gould et al. have charged. Acknowledging "obnoxious" truths about human nature, Konner sensibly points out, doesn't mean approving them, but rather means recognizing a "human, cultural need to control them."
posted by dgaicun at 2:05 PM on January 23, 2003


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