Skip

racist postcards and white privilege
November 13, 2007 10:54 AM   Subscribe

"Reflections on White Privilege" by Tad Lawrence, dean of faculty, Cambridge School of Weston "That white Americans would send cards such as the ones I will show you for the most ordinary of purposes indicates the frightening extent to which they had internalized, accepted and condoned the presentation of African Americans that were the public face of the cards they sent."

Also: Peggy McIntosh: The invisible backpack.
posted by exlotuseater (57 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought this one was pretty cute and I was going to say he was on a bit of a hair trigger there, calling that racist. Then I saw the nearly-invisible caption. W.T.F. These are tiny children, people of the past.
posted by DU at 11:08 AM on November 13, 2007


DU: I did the same thing.

How long tell reprints are available for ironical sale in Williamsburg?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:16 AM on November 13, 2007




Most of what he's describing in that essay isn't "racial" privilege per se, but really economic privilege; since there's a trivially demonstrable correlation between economic power and skin color, it gets used as an easy indicator.

That's the only reason anyone cares about skin color; it's a mark of economic/social class and culture.

If we were all the same color, you'd still find the exact same behaviors; we'd just use different indicators. Perhaps this would be better (assuming you think indicators that correlate more closely to actual economic power / cultural self-identifcation are objectively better than ones that don't), but it's not just a "racial" issue.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:17 AM on November 13, 2007


"'Black Americana" items (vintage housewares and advertisements) with derogatory depictions of African-Americans. Many people find these offensive, yet they are often quite valuable; Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby and Whoopi Goldberg all collect Black Americana." *
posted by ericb at 11:20 AM on November 13, 2007


Kadin, you sound just like the Brotherhood in Invisible Man.
posted by No Robots at 11:22 AM on November 13, 2007


This stuff always upsets me. It's a distraction. What would Bill Cosby say? It's not today's problem.
posted by ewkpates at 11:22 AM on November 13, 2007


That's the only reason anyone cares about skin color; it's a mark of economic/social class and culture.

If we were all the same color, you'd still find the exact same behaviors; we'd just use different indicators. Perhaps this would be better (assuming you think indicators that correlate more closely to actual economic power / cultural self-identification are objectively better than ones that don't), but it's not just a "racial" issue.


What a strange thing to say. The point is that we aren't all the same color, white privilege is pretty evidently something that functions across a whole range of social and institutional interactions, and race has a huge impact on opportunity in the United States.

Don't make the idiotic constructionist mistake of suggesting that because there is nothing essential and "natural" about the way things currently are, we can safely ignore the persistence of this particular difference.
posted by OmieWise at 11:24 AM on November 13, 2007




ericb: This is a cast-iron bank that somehow came into my family at least 80 years ago.



Certainly offensive.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:27 AM on November 13, 2007


Sorry. Link here.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:27 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


This stuff always upsets me. It's a distraction. What would Bill Cosby say? It's not today's problem.

I recall an interview with Dr. Cosby (and a similar one with Oprah) in which he said that it's important to preserve these artifacts, as part of our collective American past.

The collecting of Black Americana/Memoribilia has always been controversial.
Furor Over a Village Antique Shop: Americana or Souvenirs of Racism
posted by ericb at 11:31 AM on November 13, 2007


ExLotusEater, I had one of those when I was a kid. You'd put a penny in its hand and twist one of its ears, and the arm would swing up, the eyes would roll back in the sockets, and the coin would go into the mouth.

It was actually pretty neat. Racist as all hell, of course, but neat.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:31 AM on November 13, 2007


...really economic privilege; since there's a trivially demonstrable correlation between economic power and skin color, it gets used as an easy indicator.

I hate to have to point this out, but you used the word "correlation" but then assumed the relationship was "causation". Which way does the arrow point?

Also, you seem to think that racism doesn't exist ("the only reason anyone cares", the use of scare quotes around "racial", etc) per se. If it's really just a matter of economics, why racism against Middle Easterners? Despite the brownish skin tones, they look pretty different than blacks and don't form a notable economic underclass.
posted by DU at 11:31 AM on November 13, 2007


“In Tallahassee, Fla., at the Black Archives Research Center and Museum, which shows the history of blacks in America from slavery to the present, there is a special room called the ‘Coon Room.’

‘That was a commonly used 19th- and 20th-century word with a racist meaning,’ said Titus Brown, a research associate at the museum, at Florida A&M University. ‘We call it the Coon Room because most of the artifacts in there depict blacks in negative fashion, with exaggerated features, like their lips, noses and hair. They were creating materials to make blacks unequal, to show they were subhuman, to justify their own racism.’

Mr. Brown said he thought these were ‘useful historically to show blacks what race relations were really like.’ But like Ms. Carson and Mrs. Canada, he objects to reproductions of this racist art, like the piggy bank in Mr. Breen's shop.

‘Reproductions are just fostering the negative,’ he said. ‘We don't need to reproduce that history in which one people lacked respect for another people's culture.’”*

posted by ericb at 11:34 AM on November 13, 2007


This is a cast-iron bank that somehow came into my family at least 80 years ago.

I had one of those when I was a kid. You'd put a penny in its hand and twist one of its ears, and the arm would swing up, the eyes would roll back in the sockets, and the coin would go into the mouth.


From the NYT article:
"Inside, the dealer, Thomas Breen, has other items of what he calls black Americana, including a 'Jolly Nigger' cast-iron mechanical piggy bank. As Mr. Breen describes the bank, 'You put money in his hand and an arm goes to the mouth' and his eyes roll. The bank was made in Taiwan; Mr. Breen used a buffing machine to make it look like an antique.'"
posted by ericb at 11:39 AM on November 13, 2007


Also mentioned in the NYT article: Black Ethnic Collectibles Magazine.
posted by ericb at 11:42 AM on November 13, 2007


Black Memorabilia: The Pride and the Pain
"A growing number of blacks who once considered mammy dolls and other black memorabilia racist propaganda say they are now collecting these materials as a reminder of a period in American history that many consider painful and ugly....Nearly half the estimated 10,000 collectors of black memorabilia are themselves black; five years ago fewer than 20 percent of collectors were black....Black entertainers like Whoopi Goldberg and Michael Jackson are said to be collectors of the genre, as is Patrick Kelly, the Paris fashion designer, who is black....But the popularity and especially, the commercialization of these items, in particular the negative stereotypes, has opened old wounds. It has also renewed a longstanding debate among blacks about whether such objects should be embraced as part of black history."
posted by ericb at 11:45 AM on November 13, 2007


I'll also take the bait, against my better judgement, Kadin: If we were all the same color, you'd still find the exact same behaviors; we'd just use different indicators …it's not just a "racial" issue.

As I see it, the simplest of the flaws in this idea is that, in fact, we're not all the same color, and it so happens that people with the skin color in this essay were kidnapped and brought over by boatfuls to a life of slavery at the hands of white folk!

I doesn't much matter what the world would be like if that hadn't happened and if we were all the same color, because every group of color (and Irish, Italians, and many others, to boot) carries a lifetime of social (and economic) oppression with them so close to their skin that it's hardly distinguishable.

You're right, this doesn't have to be a race thing, but it is a race thing that forces blacks to the essential nature of their skin and their history as objects, while white people are more easily allowed to transcend cultural histories as subjects in themselves.
posted by coolhappysteve at 11:50 AM on November 13, 2007


Most of what he's describing in that essay isn't "racial" privilege per se, but really economic privilege; since there's a trivially demonstrable correlation between economic power and skin color, it gets used as an easy indicator.

Maybe after the 1960s or something, but that economic privilege was only possible because his ancestors were not African Americans. He even gave the example of an African American who was lynched for trying to get an education in the late 1800s.

Yes, there are economic differences between whites and blacks today, but it's important to remember the reason those economic differences exist is because of historical oppression. Americans are not going to go from poor to middle class in one generation, it's not just about money, it's about imparting "middle class values" on children.

Poor parents don't teach their kids how to be "middle class" because they don't even know those skills.
posted by delmoi at 12:14 PM on November 13, 2007


In Invisible Man, the protagonist finds one of those banks in his rented room and smashes it. He can't get rid of the pieces, though, and winds up carrying them around for the rest of the novel.
posted by No Robots at 12:30 PM on November 13, 2007


I just want to say CSW was my High School, many years ago. I never thought I'd see it on the blue. Now maybe I should read the essay.
posted by Grod at 1:00 PM on November 13, 2007


I did not go to CSW, but I think Tad Lawrence taught at my highschool before moving over. Looks like I missed out on a great teacher.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:12 PM on November 13, 2007


There is something telling in the fact that the last card on the page is labeled "1960s."

What, precisely it is saying to us is better left as an exercise to the reader.
posted by chimaera at 1:18 PM on November 13, 2007


As a dealer in Antiques I have sold a number of racist (and for the most part very juvenile) postcards. The theme was usually black children, watermelons, and alligators; they were for the most part rather boring. The cards that brought me a lot of money were real photo postcards with the dead Wobblies. The IWW a socialist workers organization went one Sunday to Everett WA on a ferry. When the fairy docked and opened its gate the antiunion thugs opened fire on the unsuspecting Wobblies.The post cards showed them dead laid out on a table, one person to a card.

I was bussed in Richmond VA and was mugged numerous times in the school, starting with day one. I was a minority in school. Stickups were usually groups trying to take money or cigarettes from me. One MLK day we had an assembly where a black leading lawyer spoke to assemblies about the “white devils, and honkies” he really jockeyed the anger levels. Afterwards there was pandomium in the school as a riot broke out. I just could not understand why I was beaten up. I dropped out of high school.

Went into the service where race was not the defining factor but rather rank was. It seemed more about class than color. I had a couple of Black lovers. I would ask them to explain what I was missing. Being very kind they told me that it could not be explained but rather one had to experience being black to understand.

Years later I found an essay written by a black man who had been in my class in High School. His experiences were the same as mine but he made a leap that I had not. When reading his essay I saw how his experiences paralleled mine, including the riot. It seemed more of a class thing and more specifically a neighborhood home boy thing. The magnet that I had in school was being middle class. So engrained was this to my persona that it took effort to see it. My utter acceptance of this as a matter of course must have been bitter to my attackers. Their day to day existence was always a question. Most if not all of those kids, who took delight in reducing me, were dirt poor. Real grinding poverty, meaning that their houses; just 5 blocks from the VA capital,, were crumbling brick, tarpaper, wattle with a tin roof and a real dirt floor. I really got to see were that anger came from. I was really stupid not to have connected it together sooner, just too egocentric.

My dad was so upset about the Richmond VA school system that he found a seat on the school board and worked hard trying to set things right. I think he got more personal satisfaction from his years there than any other one thing in his life.

Racial equality has many more bridges to build to secure a better future. What is really remarkable for me is that I remember VA with a poll tax and a Governor who refused to desegregate. Now Virginia has had a great black governor and to top it off a black man and a woman are both running for president. This is a feat on par with the landing on the moon. WoW all that human change that I got to witness, a really great piece of human achievement. Reading the comments on MetaFi from the majority gives me hope, a lot reasons to believe that the future will be even brighter.
posted by Rancid Badger at 1:46 PM on November 13, 2007 [10 favorites]


I read this, but didn't see it as an explanation of modern day white privilege. Charting the special place of whites up through the sixties is laughably easy. It does nothing to expose the myriad of invisible ways that white folks have a leg up on black folks in the present day, at least not in any instructive or meaningful way. I'm not a civil rights/race relations expert by any means, but my understanding is that - at least in the present - the biggest aspect of white privilege is its invisibility. A racist journey through our collective past is always eye-opening, but doesn't seem to address those quiet structures that act to lift whites (or inhibit minorities) that I think of when the term "white privilege" gets dropped.
posted by absalom at 1:46 PM on November 13, 2007


MetaFilter: Racist as all hell, of course, but neat.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:48 PM on November 13, 2007


If we were all the same color, you'd still find the exact same behaviors; we'd just use different indicators.

Some say the best thing that ever happened to the Irish was, the English discovered black people. :/
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:16 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's the only reason anyone cares about skin color; it's a mark of economic/social class and culture.

That's a ridiculous idea, but I can see where it would be comforting to think so.

absalom: Perhaps you missed this part:
If you think this is old history and no longer the case, you are wrong. Make no mistake about it, my daughters are still benefiting from being white. It has been the American way and will continue to be until we change it.
Thanks for the post, exlotuseater.
posted by languagehat at 2:19 PM on November 13, 2007


I hate to have to point this out, but you used the word "correlation" but then assumed the relationship was "causation". Which way does the arrow point?

It doesn't point either way. I'm aware of the difference between correlation and causation. People use skin color as an economic, social, and cultural indicator, because (they believe) skin color is correlated with these factors. E.g., they see someone with a certain skin color, and use that to make assumptions about them. It's the same mental process that you perform when you look at somebody's clothing and make assumptions about them; we just find it much more offensive because, unlike clothing, a person can't change their skin color.


Incidentally, the reason I put scare quotes around the word "racism" is because it contains the word "race," which I don't like and think is a basically useless concept. There is no such thing, in any objective sense, as "race." There's skin color, and culture, and language, and any number of other factors that people use to identify both themselves and others, but "race" just bundles them together as if they're implicitly linked.

And that's a major source of the problem, in my opinion: when you talk in "racial" terms, e.g. when you talk about "White" and "Black" as cultures or patterns of behavior (which, if you use those terms, you can essentially not avoid doing, because they're so loaded), you reinforce the skin-color/culture bundling. And that bundling, that baggage, is what causes people to look at a person's skin and make irrational assumptions about them.

If you could delete the baggage and eliminate the (irrational) stereotyping, the assumption that because someone has a certain skin color, they must be a member of a particular "race," and thus must also have certain social/economic traits, you would mitigate the worst of the "race problem."
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:32 PM on November 13, 2007


If it's really just a matter of economics, why racism against Middle Easterners? Despite the brownish skin tones, they look pretty different than blacks and don't form a notable economic underclass.

I think Middle Easterners might be a bad counterexample. For one thing, we in the U.S. are economically dependent on them for our well being, due to our reliance on oil. This certainly can be pointed to as an economically based cause for resentment. Also I'm not sure you can say they don't form a notable economic underclass. Most middle eastern countries are dirt poor (for instance wikipedia says per capita income in Afghanistan is $800), and I certainly think many people hold the viewpoint that Middle Easterners (really, poor people in general) are less civilized because of their low economic status. I have heard several people say things along the lines of if the economic situation of people in the Middle East was vastly improved, terrorism would resolve itself, because middle class people are less likely to sacrifice themselves for causes due to their increased investment in their own lives.
posted by nzero at 2:44 PM on November 13, 2007


languagehat: I actually did miss that. I clearly do not believe that white privilege still exists, but I still think he didn't actually talk about where it is now.
I suppose I just want this to be an essay it is not written to be.
posted by absalom at 2:50 PM on November 13, 2007




"I clearly do not believe that white privilege still exists, but I still think he didn't actually talk about where it is now."

I think you got mixed up as you typed.
posted by klangklangston at 4:00 PM on November 13, 2007


That's the only reason anyone cares about skin color; it's a mark of economic/social class and culture.

The fact that skin color can denote economic and cultural class so easily kind of shows that your statement is inaccurate. If it's about economics and not race, how come the economic underclass is disproportionately non-white?

I'm not saying that there isn't economic components to prejudice and that prejusices based strictly on economic class don't exist, but come on. I'm not a huge fan of identity politics either, but I'm not going to deny the obvious. I'm a big fan of un-PC humor and I wouldn't consider any of those pistcards funny or inoffensive.
posted by jonmc at 4:47 PM on November 13, 2007


poor whites were not slaves in america

poor whites could eat, piss, and drink where they wanted

poor whites could vote first

poor whites can walk into a store and not be followed around

poor whites don't get pulled over for no reason

poor whites don't cause people to grab their handbags when they walk by

poor whites are not demonized on television every night of the week as murderers, thugs, and killers

poor whites can rent an apartment, hail a cab, get a mortgage, not be arrested, get the benefit of the doubt...

some people, especially poor whites, think "white privilege" is supposed to mean that they're 'getting things'. They're not, if anything social programs are more geared towards minorities. But it's all the little things, which are sometimes huge things, which make it flat out easier to live in America if you're white. If you don't believe this, go befriend some people of other races and ask their opinion, they're not lying or whining when they tell you how it is to be non-white in America.
posted by cell divide at 5:06 PM on November 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


poor whites [blah blah blah]

Most of your statements just seem ludicrous to me. If a well dressed black guy walks by, most people are not going to "grab their handbags." On the other hand, if a shady looking white guy walks by, they certainly will.

A poor white guy in a department store almost certainly will get followed around (I've been on both sides of that one, fyi).

Banks give loans based on credit scores, which don't happen to include your skin color. You know you can go online and get loans now right? The bank that gave me (at the time, a poor white) my car loan never saw my face, nor spoke with me on the phone. All they saw was my credit rating.

There are plenty of shows with poor whites as the bad guys, and yes, they are on every night of the week.

Poor whites get pulled over all the time, but not for "no reason." They get pulled over because they look poor and people associate that with crime. When I was a college student, I got pulled over several times for "no reason," i.e. I was looking like a poor person in the wrong area of town.

If you want to make a real argument for white privilege, start with economic cycles, and how it's hard for a person from a poor background to do well in life, not a bunch of silly assertions about things you seem to know nothing about.
posted by nzero at 6:10 PM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'd like to hear how middle-class, white Christian men get discriminated, please. Can someone please provide some examples? Because you know that any post about [group]'s struggles fighting systemic oppression are really just saying that you don't really have it so bad. Come on, prove it to us, please, this is totally what we're all here to talk about.

Economic class and race are tied together in a number of complicated ways. To deny that racism exists beyond being a facet of economic status is absurd. If anything, one could more strongly argue the opposite - that class status is more based on race/ethnicity/ancestral lineage than on actual dollars earned or wealth accumulated.
posted by SassHat at 7:35 PM on November 13, 2007


I came across these some time ago and was pretty shocked, postcards with whipping scenes. 'Having a great time, wish you were here.'
posted by tellurian at 8:45 PM on November 13, 2007


I'd like to hear how middle-class, white Christian men get discriminated, please.

You could start with college admissions and how affirmative action has become such an accepted part of everything from hiring practices to government contract procurement. It is the only instance of institutionalized racism that is broadly visible.

Or you could try to be a white male living where you are the only white face for miles around (yes, other folks display the worst traits of racism to white folks as well).

You can point to studies such as this, which at least seem to suggest white privilege isn’t all that it cracked up to be.

Or you start including Asians in your assessments of race privilege and wonder why whites are trailing so far behind in everything from average starting incomes to college starts.

No one really denies racism exists. What is denied is the pervasiveness and influence now especially when society on the whole is more mobile than it ever has been. Granted, 1950 wasn’t that long ago, but to imply that racism is anything more than an added bonus to all the different ways a person is likely to be fucked over is overdone.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 8:58 PM on November 13, 2007


to imply that racism is anything more than an added bonus to all the different ways a person is likely to be fucked over is overdone.

Racism isn't an added bonus; it isn't the icing on the cake. Racism is fundamental, it is core.

There is nothing you can do or be -- be a criminal, be a liar, be rude, be sociopathic -- that so clearly and plaining marks you as a target as being of color does. All of the other things require you meet and demonstrate your sub-par status to another in order to be judged, but being of color means that people will judge you merely by seeing you for a split second, even at a distance.

There is nothing you can be -- poor, a biker, a gang member, a skinhead -- that so clearly and indelibly marks you as a target as being of color does. All of the ways you can dress and act can be turned off or changed, but being of color means you carry that burden 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

So yes, other bad things happen to all sorts of people, but those things happen more or less equally to everyone -- but racism is a huge issue that impacts the daily lives of too many people to list, and many (if not most) of those other things are fleeting and temporary by comparison.
posted by davejay at 11:44 PM on November 13, 2007


Harelip used to be a bit dodgy but it's okay now.
posted by tellurian at 3:28 AM on November 14, 2007


cell divide writes "poor whites were not slaves in america
"poor whites could eat, piss, and drink where they wanted
"poor whites could vote first
"poor whites can walk into a store and not be followed around
"poor whites don't get pulled over for no reason
"poor whites don't cause people to grab their handbags when they walk by
"poor whites are not demonized on television every night of the week as murderers, thugs, and killers
"poor whites can rent an apartment, hail a cab, get a mortgage, not be arrested, get the benefit of the doubt... "


Well, most of this is just incorrect, historically.

Prior to the start of slavery in the English North American colonies, indentured servitude applied to whites as well and blacks. (At some point, indenture turned into chattel slavery for blacks, but apparently it started out "equal-opportunity".)

Sumptuary laws, in the Virginia colonies and the Massachusetts Bay colonies, limited what the poor could eat, drink, where they could shop, and even what they were allowed to wear.

Voting in the colonies was limited to owners of some minimum amount of real property (i.e. land); up to the twentieth century in the US, poll taxes limited voting by both poor blacks and poor whites. (In some states, the poll tax was cumulative, adding up for each year it hadn't been paid, so it could come to a sum equals to several weeks or more of a poor person's earnings.)

Poor whites not only might be followed around in shops, but in company towns could be forced to buy from their employes, using fiat script provided by their employers, thus paying a hidden inflationary fee in addition to monolpoly prices.

Police and paramilitary mercenaries (e.g. the Pinkertons) were regularly used to "pull over" and indeed, to harass, threaten, and kill poor workers who tried to organize for political or collective-bargaining purposes.

As late as the 19-teens and 1920s, Mitchell Palmer, Attorney General of the United States was organizing mass deportations of white immigrants even as native-born whites were being imprisoned with the same excuse, "Red subversion".

Yes, blacks have had it bad, real bad, in America. But you're ignoring a history of bad acts against poor whites. You're ignoring the immigrant experience (the Irish and the Italians and the Jews, for instance, have only in recent decades been considered "white" at all; at least into the 1950s quota existed to keep their numbers down in "good" colleges and out of "white" businesses and neighborhoods), the depredations of the sweatshop, the limb-crushing horror of the steel mills for the immigrant "Bohunks", and the drab poverty, chronic malnutrition and black lung of the Scotch-Irish Appalachians laboring in the mines.

Seriously, your lack of any knowledge of this just makes your argument so incorrect as to be entirely unconvincing.
posted by orthogonality at 5:47 AM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, not to mention how the US's wars have been largely fought by the poor; during the Civil War, as Irish immirants were being press-ganged, rich men could buy their way out of the draft for $300.

By the time of Vietnam, the cost was just a bit more in real dollars, for a college deferment; today in Iraq, of course, you'll find few sons of privilege, and many vitims of the economic draft, carving out America's new empire for the oil companies.

Yeah, it's good to be "the white man", but it's foolish as hell to think there's only one kind of "white man." There's the rich and privileged, and then there's everyone else. And a long favored tool of the aristocracy has been to use race antagonism -- the Herrenvolk or "mudsill democracy" concept -- to divide the poor and distract them from the depredations practiced by the aristocracy.
posted by orthogonality at 5:59 AM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd like to hear how middle-class, white Christian men get discriminated, please.
I'm pretty 100% sure SassHat was being sarcastic. Our society is not going to make any hopeful progress with institutional racism if the conversation always degenerates into a "who-has-it-worse" pissing contest. "There's always a winner and a loser, right?" What a fucking White attitude.

Sure, some people have had it worse than others, but the system hurts everyone. I am not an island. We all have a stake in changing it. The real trick is that those of us with the most power, and therefore responsibility, to change the system are the ones who are most taught to deny its existence.

People whose families were once considered non-white (For example: Irish, Italian), but later assimilated, did so at the expense of their own identity. In my experience as a White person, we have no race. We deny our race and our history. We gave it up. We erased it. We traded it up for vapid Barbie dolls and sit-com television. It's much easier to give up our history than it is to accept and take ownership of its resolution. Even the use of "we" to speak about race is awkward and stilted to me as a White person.
There is no such thing, in any objective sense, as "race."
Kadin, I hope you eventually realize that there are valid reasons why so many people in this discussion are speaking out against your ideas that I'm sure seem reasonable and sincere to you. If your idea is true, then the logical conclusion is that no one has any responsibility to fight racism. Racism is certainly intricately intertangled with classism and economic injustice, but I also know it is a separate entity. Why? Because other people have told me so, and I do not make a habit of demanding other people to delete or explain away their memories and emotions and language. I have no rights in other people's heads.

To delete race is to delete other people's (and our own) identity and that is the injustice that feeds all other injustices. Who are we to tell other people what they are and where they come from? To delete race is to delete history, which is to insult the wisdom of our elders: To ignore that knowledge stands on the shoulders of giants. More importantly, to delete race is to completely and conveniently forget that today, in 2007, our US civilization is built upon the graves of genocide-extinct and nearly extinct, still struggling, peoples and our so-called wealth is continually fueled by the poverty of others, mostly non-white, both at-home and abroad.

Racism is a White problem. However, it is an act of kindness for non-white people to help us in racism's resolution, since we don't know our ass from our face when it comes to race and we'll just end up fucking it up if we're left to our own devices.
posted by Skwirl at 12:37 PM on November 14, 2007


Seriously, your lack of any knowledge of this just makes your argument so incorrect as to be entirely unconvincing.

To that, I could say that your tortured attempt to rebut the points (admittedly presented in an inflammatory manner) fails on all counts because you either misread (I said poor whites could vote first, not that they always had the same rights) what I wrote, or spoke about actions rather then race. Example-- a black man gets pulled over because of his skin color, whereas in your example, a poor white has to be part of a labor movement to be harassed. In all of your examples, the poor white has to do something other then simply be a poor white to experience prejudice. A poor white is free to move out of a company town. A poor white does not have to join labor or communist organizations, it's their choice. The black in America does not have these choices, and this is at the heart of what I was (again, admittedly in a somewhat inflammatory way) trying to show.

Same with stuff like If a well dressed black guy walks by, most people are not going to "grab their handbags.". You see, a black in America must dress a certain way just to get the same standard treatment of an utterly average white.

The point is not that poor whites don't endure prejudice and bad treatment. The point is that blacks of any economic background are automatically at a disadvantage, both historically and to the present day. How large a disadvantage is it? For some it may be just a minor annoyance, others may make it a central part of their identity. It only ends once people are aware of it, and don't try to use tortured, apples/oranges comparisons to other bad treatment in American History.
posted by cell divide at 12:55 PM on November 14, 2007


Same with stuff like If a well dressed black guy walks by, most people are not going to "grab their handbags.". You see, a black in America must dress a certain way just to get the same standard treatment of an utterly average white.

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you aren't willfully misinterpreting my statement, but instead are just jumping to conclusions. When I say a "well dressed black guy" I mean a person who is dressed as though he is not poor. This applies equally well no matter what color his skin is. It so happens that the "utterly average white" is better off economically than the average black, and so is likely to be in better trappings. Period. I made no implication that the black would have to be better dressed, and in fact I find the idea ludicrous. The fact is that if you look poor, people will think you are out to commit a crime. If you don't look poor, they won't.
posted by nzero at 2:04 PM on November 14, 2007


"That's the only reason anyone cares about skin color; it's a mark of economic/social class and culture. If we were all the same color, you'd still find the exact same behaviors..."

"...race has a huge impact on opportunity in the United States."

This morning I read a commentary that presented what I'm sure is considered a rather heterodox view on the apparently intractable black-white disparities. Since it's evidently against MeFi etiquette to provide the link, here it is in it's entirety.

Race/ IQ Explanation Gap At “Achievement Gap Summit”
By Jared Taylor

The black-white achievement gap continues to baffle America’s best minds. Just this week we are being treated to the "Achievement Gap Summit," a conference in Sacramento, California. It will draw no fewer than 4,000 uplift experts to no fewer than 125 panels. [Summit called to address racial disparities in academic performance , By Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, November 12, 2007]

One of the organizers is Jack O’Connell, California’s top bureaucrat for schools. He has announced the bold discovery that lagging black and Hispanic test scores are not caused by poverty alone. The racial gaps in achievement are even greater for middle-class and wealthy children than for poor children, he has found. So, he says, something else must be going on.

Mr. O’Connell has decided the culprit is "cultural ignorance" in the schools. For example, he explains, blacks learn to clap and chant in church, and don’t realize they are not supposed to do this in school. And so they get bad grades.

Mr. O'Connell has gone through hours of sensitivity training to learn this. He wants every teacher in California to do the same.

One thing he’s sure about: The problem is "absolutely, positively not genetic." [Email Jack O'Connell]

Likewise this week, newspapers reported on a Pew Charitable Trust study [Economic Mobility of Black and White Families] that found blacks are three times more likely than whites to drop out of the middle class into the lowest fifth of income earners. [Middle-Class Dream Eludes African American Families, By Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post, November 13, 2007]

More specifically, 45 percent of black children whose parents were earning the 1968 median income grew up to be poor. Only 16 percent of white children from similar families hit the skids.

Columbia sociologist Ronald B. Mincy, [send him mail] who was an advisor to the Pew study, says they went over the results again and again to make sure they were right. "There is a lot of downward mobility among African Americans," he told the Washington Post. “We don't have an explanation."

Well, I am not handicapped by a professorship at Columbia. So I do have an explanation—and Jack O’Connell and the Achievement Gap crowd ought to listen up, too.

Ever since IQ tests have been given in the US, the black average has been 85—a full 15 points below the white average.

There is a lot of overlap, of course, and some blacks are smarter than most whites. But while 50 percent of whites have IQs over 100, only 16 percent of blacks do. Likewise, whites are 20 times more likely than backs to have IQs of 130 or higher.

One of the best-established facts in the social sciences—and something that is obvious to everyone—is that people with high IQs tend to do better in school and better in life than people with low IQs.

Clapping and chanting in church has nothing to do with it.

The evidence that racial differences in IQ are at least partly genetic is overwhelming, despite the outraged shrieks that greet anyone who points this out. (As the James Watson affair shows, the shrieks have become so hysterical we can be sure the guardians of orthodoxy are less sure of their position than ever.)

There is something else the hand-wringers should think about: regression to the mean, or the tendency for natural phenomena to draw back from extremes towards the average.

When very tall people have children, for example, they don’t keep getting taller and taller, generation after generation. The children are likely to be taller than average—but not as tall as their parents.

The process works in the other direction, too: Very short people don’t keep having even shorter children; the generations drift up towards the average.

The same goes for intelligence. Francis Galton noted in the 1860s that geniuses’ children are smart, but they usually aren’t geniuses. Likewise, dummies tend to have children smarter than themselves.

Regression is only a tendency, however. Occasionally parents at the extremes produce children who are even more extreme. But that is rare. The more extreme the parents are, the stronger the pullback towards the mean.

The people who agonize over the achievement gap would rather cover their ears than hear this—but regression explains what baffles both Mr. O’Connell in California and Prof. Mincy of Columbia. It explains both why the black-white (and Hispanic-Asian) achievement gap is greater at higher income levels, and why blacks are more likely to fall out of the middle class than whites.

Among blacks, IQ regresses to a mean of 85 rather than 100. So a black who has a high enough IQ to be comfortably middle class—say 120—is much further out toward the IQ extreme for his group than a white with an IQ of 120. Which means the pull towards the mean is much more powerful for the children of smart blacks than it is for the children of equally smart whites.

Put differently, if you match black parents and white parents for IQ, the black-white IQ gap for the children increases sharply as the parents’ IQs go up.

And that, Mr. O’Connor, is why the black-white test score gap is greater for the children of rich parents than it is for poor parents. It may be a rotten shame, but it is just plain harder for middle-class blacks than for whites to pass on their intelligence—and therefore their social status—to their children.

In his book, The g Factor, [Page 471] Arthur Jensen gives a striking example of regression to the mean. He collected the IQ scores of all the elementary school students in one California school district. He then picked out all the students—both back and white—with IQs of 120, a score well above the white mean but even further above the black mean. He found that the average IQ scores for the brothers and sisters of these children was 113 for the white children and 99 for the blacks.

It was to be expected that siblings have lower IQs than the hotshots. But these figures show just how much more freakish it is for black than white children to have IQs of 120. These very smart blacks were, on average, 21 points ahead of their brothers and sisters; the whites were only seven points ahead.

To repeat: Very smart whites have somewhat less smart children, but very smart blacks are likely to have markedly less smart children.

And there is something else going on that the uplift crowd refuses to hear: Blacks have disadvantages entirely apart from IQ. As Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein note in the their book The Bell Curve even when they are matched for IQ, black women are still five times more likely than white women to have illegitimate children, and two and a half times more likely to go on welfare. And even with matched IQs, blacks are two and a half times more likely to have gone to jail.

This probably has to do with greater impulsiveness, or a lower willingness to sacrifice in the present for gains in the future. A classic 1961 study found that back children are much more likely than white children to ask for a small candy bar today than wait a week for a bigger one. (W. Mischel, "Preference for Delayed Reinforcement and Social Responsibility," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 62, 1: 1-7.)

Richard Lynn has written that blacks consistently score higher than whites on tests of psychopathic personality, again, even when they are matched for the same IQ. (See Racial and ethnic differences in psychopathic personality, Personality and Individual Differences, 2002, Vol. 32, pp.273-316. Or his American Renaissance article on the same subjects: Race and Psychopathic Personality, July 2002 ) Psychopathic personality—and the misbehavior that goes with it—is just the kind of thing that contributes to bad grades, and drags middle-class black children into the underclass.

And I can promise you that not one of the 125 panels at the Achievement Gap Summit will talk about it.

Adlai Stevenson once said that given a choice between agreeable fantasy and disagreeable fact, Americans will go for the fantasy every time. The fantasy these days is that racial differences are (in California educrat O’Connell’s words) "absolutely, positively not genetic."

Until people such as Arthur Jensen and Richard Lynn and Charles Murray are on the achievement gap panels and are advising the Pew Charitable Trust, people who ought to know better will keep on finding they “don’t have an explanation” for simple problems.

Jared Taylor (email him) is editor of American Renaissance and the author of Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America. (For Peter Brimelow’s review, click here.) He reports that the next American Renaissance conference will be held February 22-24, 2008 in Herndon, VA.
posted by cousincozen at 4:39 PM on November 14, 2007


How'd a thread on white privilege turn into a "blacks are more likely to be psychopaths and even the smart blacks have very stupid children" screed? Is that...is that supposed to be some kind of rationalization for white privilege?

Oh...
And there is something else going on that the uplift crowd refuses to hear

The uplift crowd? Heh.

And even with matched IQs, blacks are two and a half times more likely to have gone to jail.

This probably has to do with greater impulsiveness, or a lower willingness to sacrifice in the present for gains in the future. A classic 1961 study found that back children are much more likely than white children to ask for a small candy bar today than wait a week for a bigger one.


So even when they're not stupider, those blacks just can't control themselves. I don't know, maybe poor black kids (as the majority undoubtedly were in 1961, and probably still are) know that a dollar/candy bar/break you get today is probably all you're going to get. The future is bleak, we learn that from an early age. So maybe could be might be that's why they don't want to "wait a week" in the hopes that some white teacher will give me more candy please mistuh.
posted by Danila at 10:36 PM on November 14, 2007


I don't want to moderate my own thread, but cousincozen, it appears that race is important to you-- some might even make the hasty assumption that you might be racist. What, exactly is your point, posting the above text?
posted by exlotuseater at 10:52 PM on November 14, 2007


(sorry for the extra comma in there)
posted by exlotuseater at 10:53 PM on November 14, 2007


"Is that...is that supposed to be some kind of rationalization for white privilege?"

No, it's supposed to be at least an insinuation that the concept of "white privilege" is horseshit.

"So maybe could be might be that's why they don't want to 'wait a week'...."

Which can be described as "high time preference," which was the basis of the recent silly brouhaha in Seattle instigated by a black school administrator over "future orientation" ("...having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology...."). All horseshit built on a foundation of horseshit. And all the white liberals go blink-blink and wring their silly little hands. It's pathetic!
posted by cousincozen at 9:02 AM on November 15, 2007


"What, exactly is your point, posting the above text?"

I'll tell you, if you give me a dollar.
posted by cousincozen at 9:49 AM on November 15, 2007


I apologize for that, James. That was crappy of me.

I wanted to provide a different perspective on the, what I consider, specious concept of "white privilege."
posted by cousincozen at 10:02 AM on November 15, 2007


I'm not convinced you've got the chops, but you might want to read up on theories of general intelligence and the notion of IQ heritability if you want to keep making stupid arguments. Hint: You don't know what you're talking about.
posted by OmieWise at 10:05 AM on November 15, 2007


I'll get right on that, OmieWise. And thanks:)
posted by cousincozen at 10:11 AM on November 15, 2007


and a very, um, interesting perspective it is!
posted by exlotuseater at 10:17 AM on November 15, 2007


« Older Serfs of the Turf   |   Would John Rocker be their poster-boy? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post