28 September 2020

Bigger concepts: Why the anti-racism movement isn't helping end race inequality PART 1 (Part 5 of a series on race based on emails to my family)

 First and foremost:  I am beginning to realize that anti-racists actually believe that “race” is a real thing.

It isn’t.
While there are genetic differences between groups of people, they don’t at all align with what American’s define as “races".  In fact, a person from
East Africa is more genetically similar to a person from Europe than they are to someone from West or Southern Africa.  Biologically speaking, the term “black” person is completely meaningless. There is actually more genetic diversity within the continent of Africa than between parts of Africa and the outside world.  People from different parts of the continent have completely different, completely unrelated languages, culture, and ancestry.  No one in Africa identifies themselves as “black”, any more than a person in Vietnam self-identifies as “yellow”.  People on opposite sides of Africa are literally not even related to each other.
But genetics is not even what Americans mean when they talk about race.  It is used to mean a “type” of person.  It is supposed to tell you what “team” someone is on, who “your” people are.

The idea that a few random physical traits is what defines a person is not universal - you don’t find the term in ancient texts, even though Europe, the Mid-east, Asia and Africa all had knowledge of each other and trade with each other for tens of thousands of years.
In fact, the concept of “different races”, as we think of it today, was invented by racists, for the purpose of justifying colonization and slavery.

People used to pretend it was possible for science to determine whether someone was a criminal based on the shape of their skull or the bumps on their head.  But it was false.  The physical body tells you nothing about the mind.  Physical traits are determined by nature.  But culture is determined 100% by nurture.  A person adopted from infancy by foreigners will have zero accents from their parent’s country of origin.  Nothing in one’s DNA determines what name they have.

But that means doing a study in which you make the names on applications stereotypically “black” isn’t really testing for prejudice based on skin tone at all.  It’s not testing for prejudice against people with African origins.  It isn’t looking at a characteristic which is a fundamental and unchangeable part of who a person is.  People of any race can choose to be a part of any specific sub-culture – suggesting otherwise is itself racism, quite literally.
Choosing to not make a point to mention one’s race on an application is absolutely not “whitening” it!  That phrase itself assumes that white is the default; that white people have no need to specify their race, but everyone else should make a point of listing it.  It would be like someone with a gender neutral name not specifying their sex on a resume and claiming by not writing “female” on the resume they were “maleing” it up.
The idea of “people” in the sentence
 “Black people who were brought to the United States by force (ie in the cargo holds of slave ships)”, in the context of what people alive today should do in order to maximize their individual chances of success suggests that everyone of a particular race is “one people”, a distinct “type” of human with characteristics so identical that individuals are all interchangeable.  Not a single black person in the country was born into slavery, never mind taken from Africa by force.  We’re not all one single rhizome soul that spans infinite generations, all basically the same person.  People are individuals, and they only experience what they experience.
We seem to think about race the way we think of (non-pet) species, as all basically interchangeable – such that it is not a big deal for any individual to die, but it is a tragedy for a specie to go extinct.  While war and murder may be terrible, we consider “genocide” to be a completely different level, as though it were for some reason worse, or in fact at all different, to kill millions of people who happen to have a few more sections of DNA in common than it is to kill millions of random people.  Hate crimes are given special weight and attention, as though the reason for being murdered randomly makes it more or less ok to be murdered, as if being murdered after being picked out of a phone book is somehow better for the victim than being murdered for your external appearance.

There is absolutely nothing about skin tone or hair texture or eyelid shape that makes a person a particular “kind” of person; that determines who they are or what they like.
Nobody collects and reports on data regarding how all people who are left–handed vote, or on the average education or income of people with attached earlobes vs. unattached earlobes.
Nobody suggests that ‘of course people who wear glasses would prefer to interact with other people who wear glasses’ or that short women would prefer to marry short men.
Grouping people by handedness or earlobes is totally ridiculous, but it is exactly as ridiculous as grouping people by skin tone.  And this is something “anti-racists” do as much, if not more than, the people they wish to make less racist.

I suspect that most, if not all, of the race activists would feel that if every child in the next generation was mixed, and after just a few generations it was impossible to distinguish clear “races”, this would be a bad thing.  Instead of considering it an end to racism, it would be called “genocide”, to breed “minorities” out of existence.  (Never mind that this would also mean an eventual end to “white” people.)

For example, there is an implication in “now blacks in San Francisco make up only 5.22% of the population (less than those answering "mixed" and less than "other")“ that having more of the population identify as “mixed” than black is somehow an inherently bad thing.  I see it as a sign of society beginning to move past the racist concept that anything other than purebred European is automatically “black”.  Up until very recently, all official forms and documents listed a few options, of which mixed was not one, and you had to pick one and only one.  All of those mixed people would have selected black (or Asian) before, and made the number look higher. If every person in the US picked a partner who didn’t look like they could be from the same family as themselves, after a single generation every survey would have 100% “mixed” people, which would mean there was 0% “black” people. But no one would have been murdered or displaced. Explain why this would be negative for any specific individual?

 Of course the majority of so called “African-Americans” who are descended from slavery are at least slightly mixed race already. Just like how our whole concept of race was created by racists to justify colonization and slavery, the idea that everyone can be categorized as one specific race - and that anything other than pure-breed European is “colored” - is from the same people and the same era.  Obama is not black!  Obama has equally as many genes from
Europe as from Africa.  Every time someone refers to him as “the first black president”, they are keeping the traditional concepts such as “octoroon” and “one drop of unpure blood” alive.  If he is black for being half African, then he is also white. Why aren’t we calling him the 44th white president? The reality is neither; he is mixed.  Just like most African-Americans whose family didn’t emigrate here from Africa within the last generation or two is (at least a little bit).  There is no such thing as a “light-skinned black person”.  There are mixed race people, who are only forced into the category “black” because we’ve all collectively agreed to accept the rules made up by slave-owners, and we have been accepting it so long we are blind to how racist it actually is.  Our acceptance of the concept as real is what leads to “solutions” as ridiculous as the ones from the “Radical Imagination” article on banking, in which all (undefined) “black people” get all debt forgiven and zero interest rate loans being taken seriously enough to be published in a mainstream nationwide publication https://nyti.ms/3iCxFxt

It was dominate people of European origin who first divided the population into only two meaningful groups, themselves, and {everyone else}, and used skin tone to make the distinction.  So while people of African origin were the only ones formerly enslaved, people from
India or China or Aboriginal Americans all had to use “colored” fountains and doorways as well.  The use of the term “colored” as a catch-all for every single non-“white” person, regardless of language, genetics, culture, national origin, or citizenship, was one of the most significant manifestations of post-slavery racist America, implying merely from the existence of the term the special status of “white” people.
And yet today it is actually anti-racists that have revived the term, barely hiding its conceptual origin by reversing the word order: “people of color” instead of “colored people”.
If the racist history of the term leaves one wondering what term would be better – there is none!  It is the concept that is racist.  There doesn’t need to be any way to group all of humanity into “white” and “everyone else”, because there is no non-racist circumstances where such a concept is useful.

For generations we (Americans) have all agreed to pretend that there are actually meaningful categories called “race”, by which you can determine something meaningful about an individual person based solely on the about of melanin in their skin; so much so that everyone has internalized it and believes it is actually true - and now we are clinging to our wrong beliefs, treating it as an unquestionable given


The idea that it is “natural to want to be around your own kind” is literally exactly the reasoning used by white nationalists who insist that they are not white supremacists.  They say they don’t “hate” anyone, and that they aren’t racist, they just think people should be around people who are similar, share similar values and culture, they want what is best for their family and their people, they want to remember and celebrate and honor their heritage and history.  This is the central argument of segregationists and people who fly the confederate flag and even members of the KKK.  We identify them, correctly, as racists, but those exact same claims and arguments are no less racist ideas just because they happen to be held by members of an oppressed group, or their supporters.
Wanting to be "around your own kind" is exactly the reasoning of the racist whites who resisted integration and whose "flight" created inner city ghettos. “
… attempts toward integration in particular was tried in the past, with furious resistance from whites, as well as "white-flight."”  This was a problem, rightly decried.

The other concern has been the changing character of a neighborhood that residents were comfortable in, with neighbors they were happy with, and small businesses that they counted on
” "Changing character" is code for "white people moving in". The fact that segregation has been forced on a community for so many generations that it is now embraced doesn’t make it any better.  Separate but equal has always been an invalid concept. It is invalid when white people propose it as a solution, and it is just as invalid if it’s black people embracing it.  Separate is not, has never been, and will never be, equal, which is the whole reason our highest court struck its formal legalization down. As long as it is anti-racists supporting segregation, I don’t have high hopes we can ever move past it.

most humans have some tendency to prefer association with their "own tribe" with whom they are most familiar, have the most similar experiences and beliefs, and with whom they most identify.  

The degree to which humans are separated within a country varies throughout the world, and consistently, the more separate they are, the more racism and conflict there is:

 where ethnic groups have distinct areas apart from each other within a country, there is more conflict. Why? Well, partly because it facilitates separatism”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/05/17/5-insights-on-the-racial-tolerance-and-ethnicity-maps-from-an-ethnic-conflict-professor/?arc404=true (open in private tab to bypass paywall)


Going back to “with whom they most identify” – we collectively decide what characteristics individuals identify with; identity is not any more a real thing than race is.
This is not just my opinion, its been shown experimentally time and again.  People will identify with whatever entirely arbitrary grouping you put them into. 
Literally, even when people are assigned a random group based on a flip of a coin or roll of a dice, group orange will show more affinity, trust, concern, and generosity to another group orange than they will to a group blue. This tribalism is so deeply a part of the human brain that this effect shows up even when the people know that their assignment was random.
A person’s “identity” is what society tells them it is.

As I opened with, there is no biological basis for the American concept of “race”.  But there is no ethnic or cultural basis either, the people who self-identify and/or are identified as “black” by others in the US have as widely varying a genome as they do from “white people”, they have as broad a range of local accents as white southerners, Midwesterners, new Englanders, etc, a wide range of dissimilar cuisine, music ranging from rap to jazz, a wide range of skin tones and features, varied levels of education and class… literally the only characteristic that can be said to encompass all people designated “black” in America is that designation itself.  And in turn, the only reason our “tribe” is considered to be those other people so designated, as opposed to people who specifically share our DNA (which is a specific subset of all people with African heritage), or people who share our nation of birth (ie all Americans) or language, or religion, or any of the other dozens of characteristics one can use to designate a group, is because all of America has bought so deeply into the colonial pseudoscientific concept of race that we have all internalized it and made it the single primary source of identity.  Other people who were born here, whose parents and grandparents were born here, who have no remaining accent from their families nation of origin, no known family in that foreign nation, don’t always think of themselves as first and foremost their assigned “race”. They think of themselves as Americans. 

Whatever characteristic society deems one which can make a nice dividing line between groups of people, people will choose a side.  You can identify as republican or democrat, Christian or Jew or Muslim (or even Buddhist, Hindu, or atheist!), masculine or feminine (that’s a whole can of worms for another day), military or civilian, by race or by local sports team.  People choose which categories are most significant, and it’s really only for recent immigrants and black American’s that it is just assumed that race will be the single dominant trait that defines identity.

This idea we have all bought into, that “black” and “white” are real categories that represent some fundamental truth about who a person is and neatly divides all people into one of two clearly defined binary “types” which happen to correspond to a clearly visible physical trait is what allows us to pretend that the average inequality between different cultural subgroups is a product of “racism”.
But if we look past modern
America, it’s easy to see that isn’t true.  There is the US history of the early Irish and Italian settlers, but perhaps even more illustrative is a much more recent example, from a culture independent of the West and European colonization: Japan

Specifically, Korean-Japanese.
Japan annexed / colonized Korea at the very beginning of the 20th century.  The military took farms and other property from Koreans and gave it to Japanese settlers.  Many Koreans, without restitution and now landless, moved to Japan where they could get factory jobs or other menial labor jobs, which they could get because they would work for less than the Japanese.  Then WWII happened, Japan lost and was forced to give up Korea, then Korea had a civil war over communism vs capitalism, the US got involved, it was settled with a 2 state solution… meanwhile multiple generations of Koreans, people who had been born in Japan, lived their whole lives in Japan, spoke mostly or only Japanese, had no known relatives in Korea, are still officially considered foreigners.  Your parents and grandparents may have all been born in Japan and lived their whole lives there.  You could even have a great-grandparent who was Japanese.  Officially, you are a foreigner.  You have to register with the government, get fingerprinted, choose to affiliate with either North or South Korea, check in every 3 years.  Not only can you not vote, but it is entirely legal to be discriminated against in housing and employment.  You are not eligible for government jobs.  On the social side, Korean Japanese are generally considered to be lazy, dirty, simple-minded, sneaky, and criminal (although if they do commit a crime, they can be deported, to a country they have never been to).  They have a strong association with technically legal gambling, as well as to yakuza (the mafia).
Today, if you have the right resources and connections it is possible to obtain citizenship, although you risk being ostracized as a sell out to the enemy by other Koreans and still won’t be accepted as one of the Japanese.  Nearly every statement you can make about black people in
America you can substitute Koreans in Japan and it remains an accurate statement.
What makes this most illustrative for the plight of race relations in the
US isn’t the similarities – it’s the big dramatic difference: Japanese and Korean people look so similar that without language and other cultural cues, they can’t be told apart.  Not just by ignorant westerners like us, but by each other.  This is best illustrated by the fact that it’s relatively common, if a person has the opportunity and resources and is willing to give up all ties to friends and family, for Koreans to move somewhere, forge papers, and start over pretending to be Japanese. As long as they never come across anyone from their old life and no one tries to trace their paperwork too far, they can live a lifetime with no one finding out.

Another example is the Tutsi and Hutu of Rwanda, a sometimes violent tribal conflict between two ethnically identical but culturally distinct groups that went back 1000s of years before a brief European colonization led to an independent democracy which in turn led to a reversal of power between the two groups (as the historically dominate Tutsi were outnumbered by the Hutu), which also reversed the direction of social power and discrimination.  Perhaps the biggest contribution of the colonizers to the conflict, though, was introducing the idea that the tribes were not just lineages or social statuses, but actual “races”: two entirely different “types” of person.  Since they are in actuality not distinct ethnicities, the information was written on official ID cards, making it easy to distinguish people and prevent anyone moving from one team to another.  Now oppressed became oppressor, and government stoking of prejudice led to so much violence that many members of the once dominate Tutsi fled the country as refugees.  And then formed an army, began a civil war, and (presumably) assassinated the moderate president, sparking off the famous genocide of civilian Tutsi.  The rebel army indiscriminately killed civilians too, but there were many fewer of them, so civilian Tutsi’s ended up being killed around 10 times more than civilian Hutu – in the west the conflict gets presented in the standard oppression narrative with clearly identifiable good guys and bad guys, powerful and victims, but the reality was never so simple.  The best analogy would be if white South African’s (a once powerful minority) had fled the country due to citizen violence against them, formed militia, started attacking civilian towns, and murdered the president, and then black South African’s, egged on by media, started trying to eliminate all remaining white people in the country, whether they were involved in the “resistance” or not. Of course, in
Rwanda the displaced former powerful minority had no physical distinction nor history of outright explicit colonization, but the analogy may help picture the complexity of the situation.  In that situation, it’s hard to designate a “good guy” or even a victim.

What these examples show is that it really isn’t about skin tone at all. It isn’t about an instinct to favor people who look like oneself, it isn’t about a history of slavery, or even historical power, and it has nothing to do with “white supremacy” specifically.  All of these are just how it happened to manifest because of the particular random historical events of America.

The fundamental similarity in all cases isn’t a difference in “race” - it is a sense of “otherness” held by two groups of people, one of which has more resources than the other. In both of these examples that otherness was so artificial that it had to be codified on paper just so the dominate group could know who to discriminate against.  It's an issue of being outsiders; plus the intergenerational inheritance of wealth inequality, as much a factor in
Japan as it is in America.

We can not end the fundamental human brain need for tribalism.  It is one of the most deeply rooted aspects of our mind’s evolution.  We will not make people stop favoring who they think of as “their” people by telling some specific people that they shouldn’t do it.  However, we can change the criteria people make for deciding who is part of their tribe.  We can decide to group all glasses wearers in one group, and they will develop their own culture and be discriminated against, or we can decide that all the humans in our nation are part of the same tribe, treat each other that way and talk that way and it will begin to manifest.

Unless we understand the real fundamental root of the issue – the tendency of humans to group each other into “us” and “them” categories and assume “us” is good and “them” is bad, we have no real hope of improving the situation for any particular specific example of it’s manifestation.  We will forever be chasing tiny specific symptoms of the real issue, while failing to in any way address the root level changes that could actually make a difference.
Any factors which tend to enhance the feeling of otherness will ultimately strengthen the conflict.  Any factors that reduce it will ultimately reduce the conflict.

27 September 2020

Response to a response 3 (Part 4 of a series on race based on emails to my family)

  After a few back and forths, the previous posts (which were originally emails to family members regarding the recent race protests and their implications), I started getting longer, more in-depth, and more nuanced responses.  This (and the last two posts) are responses to those responses.


 I see now why you argued with my saying that your last letter (the one about your childhood & teens) made your position (or the reasons for your position) more clear.  You certainly do spell out your perspective more fully and clearly here.  

I think a lot of what I wrote before assumed the reader had read (and remembered) everything I had written before that.  I didn't want to make already long posts even longer by going over old stuff, so I usually just have hyperlinks to older posts when I think they are relevant.  I was trying to focus on the most pertinent points and put them all together here.


I want to say here that one of your most clarifying points is your analogy between the percentage of convictions and incarcerations by race, and the percentage of convictions and incarcerations by gender.  You provide interesting information and make an excellent point.  Likewise, you provide interesting information about the study showing that cops generally display less race bias than the general population.

Before I go on towards what I agree with and what I don't, I want to pause here to point out that police absolutely should be trained to react, as much as possible, without bias, because 1) it is their job; their profession.  Just like a therapist has to follow a code of ethics that regular people are not subject to, police absolutely should meet a higher standard of objectivity and restraint than your everyday citizen.  2) Being armed with the ability to physically injure or even kill, as well as the power to jail someone, they have a great responsibility to ensure that their power is not abused.  3) They are agents of the government, supposedly acting to ensure safety and justice, and as such have a duty to serve ethically and justly; a duty that far exceeds that of the average Joe.  I hope you agree with this.

I do agree with you and Rachel on that point.  I just don't think it is realistic to have the only acceptable rate of mistakes to be exactly 0, ever.  I think the rate of police killing unarmed and non violent black people, up to several a year, compared to almost 10,000 civilian murders of black people, demonstrates that cops are already performing at a much higher standard.  I think given the public perception, any number above zero, no matter how rare, will always be viewed as "rampant" and a priority issue, and that is a problem.

That being said, I agree that far too many (mostly young and poor) black men commit violent crime (usually upon other young black men or women) and that there is some correlation between who is getting arrested and who is committing crimes.  I won't go into how much is violent crime, and how much is "victimless" crime like drug abuse and prostitution,

Actually, that is a very significant factor in all this, as the statistics show significantly more bias in drug crimes than in violent crimes, for both arrest and incarceration.  Fortunately the majority of states and cities have begun to recognize this. 
(Incidentally, small town middle America is both where the most "tough on crime" mindsets remain, and where the opioid epidemic hit hardest, leading to white women being the group with the highest percentage increase in incarceration "Over the 16 years that were studied, the number of black men in state prison declined by more than 48,000, while the number of white men increased by more than 59,000. Similarly, the number of incarcerated black women fell by more than 12,000, and the number of white women in prison grew by nearly 25,000."


or how black crime is (as you've noted in the past) more visible due to being out on the street, while similar white crimes more often are hidden indoors, nor will I dwell on racial inequities in sentencing (or bail) when the crime is identical, since you are talking here just about police bias and not the other issues.  

But the kind of street crime that you refer to happens mostly in poor black ghettos, whereas much of what I have read of black men's frustration and anger about being stopped repeatedly and without good cause by police is written by educated middle-class black men, often living in middle-class (integrated or mostly white) neighborhoods.  I can't assume that they all responded inappropriately every time that they were stopped by police, and that that is because they were taught to fear or hate police from childhood.  But I would not be surprised that if it happened to someone too many times, and they noticed that it never happened to their white friends, after a while they may accummulate a lot of resentment and eventually anger about it.  I have no reason to believe that every one of the many educated middle-class black men over 30 who complain of excessive police harrassment in their own or other middle-class neighborhoods are either lying, or have been responding inappropriately every time they see a police officer.  


I don't think any of them are lying, and I'm sure many aren't always being disrespectful.  But pretty much all of us are primed to expect to be stopped for no reason, and to be harrassed when we are, and that leads to someone being completely sincere when they claim that being stopped for speeding, or an expired license plate, or not coming to a full stop, was really just because they are black.  That is something I have witnessed many times, an ordinary police stop being (sincerely) attributed to race without any specific basis. I even hear white people saying "if I had been black, I wouldn't have been let go with a warning".  No one person lives a lifetime being both white and black in order to actually experience a lifetime of police interactions, but I know from times being stopped on my motorcycle (with no skin exposed) or in a station wagon with tinted windows at night, or driving a vehicle that looks like it would be owned by some hippy (again, with tinted windows) that cops don't only stop black people.  I know also that discovering a driver is black, they don't necessarily always give them a ticket, never mind do an automatic search.  Certainly things may be worse some places than others, but I've also personally heard plenty of people in the Bay Area say with confidence how they were only stopped because they were black, or that they wouldn't have been let off with a warning if they hadn't been white, or other hypotheticals based on nothing other than their assumptions of what the cops thinking was based on the predetermined narrative of racist cops.
I'm not aware of objective data that finds these significant disparities in middle or high income neighborhoods.  I've searched, and I can only find studies that look at average perceptions of police interactions by race including middle class or above neighborhoods.  Not surprisingly, studies based on self reports find disparities in those perceptions.
There are certainly more total stops and more use of force in poorer neighborhoods and more high crime neighborhoods, (for both white and black people) and an unfortunate number of black people live in those neighborhoods - including individuals with higher income than the neighborhood average, which makes it impossible to parse meaningful conclusions from any statistics that isn't specifically divided that way.
According to this report by the sentencing project "In fact, 62% of African Americans reside in highly segregated, inner city neighborhoods that experience a high degree of violent crime, while the majority of whites live in “highly advantaged” neighborhoods that experience little violent crime."  and "juvenile delinquents who live within areas that have high minority populations (more heterogeneous) will more often be detained, regardless of their individual race or ethnicity."

The reason I commented on each of the examples in the editorial by Ishmael is because the majority of the basis for believing that police bias is driven specifically by skin color rather than factors related to culture, poverty, anti-authoriatiness,etc is anecdotes by individual middle class black people who believe they were stopped and/or treated unfairly based solely on the basis of their skin color. All the reports that come out finding significant bias don't look at high-income, low crime neighborhoods, or if they do, they don't distinguish the data.  If only a very small percentage of those neighborhoods is black, their lesser rate of police stops will get lost in the larger data set.  The problem with relying on notable and outrage inducing anecdotes can be seen when people believe that (for example) only black people are ever shot by police (whites are actually shot by police more often) or that black people make up the majority of the prison population.  You can't draw meaningful comparative conclusions from any number of anecdotes, because there is no basis for comparison.  Overall, poverty and urban density are correlated with arrest rates, especially for young black males.

I think this is similar to how the pre-existing belief that police murder of black people happens at a significant rate allows any one example to be taken as proof, the pre-existing expectation regarding stops allows individual anecdotes to serve as evidence of rampant bias in middle class police interactions without any particular objective evidence.


What I disagree with the most is your apparent belief that everyone who supports the "Black Lives Matter" movement believes all the things that you list as "the basic premise of every protest, every article, every proposal."  The reality is that (as with many movements), there are many different people within the movement who disagree with each other. 


I don't mean to imply that every individual involved believes those specific things.  I am saying the actual specific things articulated in writing, and the specific incidents which garner widespread attention (and the ones that don't) inherently implies those premises.


A prime (and quite relevant) example is the proposal to "defund the police."  ...

Just because extreme proposals get more media attention (as it is the media's intent to attract attention, so the more sensational, the better), does not mean that those who want to completely defund the police, speak for the whole movement.  They do not.  Unfortunately, the media attention makes it seem that way, and then a lot of other people fall into step with the concept for fear they will seem against BLM if they argue that we do need police.  (But some have argued such anyway.)


Granted, literally every message that can be accessed in any form other than direct word of mouth is filtered by some form of "media".  A picture or video of protestors holding signs can be focused on specific signs, newspapers magazines and websites can choose which editorials and letters they publish, even social media algorithms can favor some individual posts to show up in a feed than others.  I think it is reasonable to say that the trigger for each major protest has been an incident of police violence. That alone is the biggest part of what I think is an implied subtext.  The fact that those incidents are the spark for protests, and nothing else is, itself implies that white police are the biggest negative factor to be addressed in black people's lives.

And I do suspect that at least some of the messages that make it through various forms of media have some reasonable degree of representation of at least a plurality of the people involved.
Media absolutely sensationalizes, but it is a bit of a chicken and egg situation - they hype what sells, and what people care about is when white people kill black people.  Just the same way we object when conservative papers or news programs supposedly make a point of showing black criminals (which is theorized to be the primary or only source of subconscious racism), "our" papers and other media make a point of stating the race of officer and victim every time a white person kills a black person.  They are not in the least subtle about it, and they do not make a point of specifying race in any other combination.  They do this because it's what gets people riled up and buying papers, but it sells papers because it fits the conclusion people already have.


I am aware that many white people do feel so bad about racism and/or fearful of offending black people, that they defer to whatever one or more black people say about reality or goals, or, if they disagree, remain quiet about what they really think.  This may be a temporary reactive swing in the opposite direction from when whites did all the talking and blacks kept quiet.  Be patient with the process; there is so much to process.

Still, in my whole life, I have never heard anyone claim that "100% of bad things in the life of every black person is the direct result of the choices of white people.


No, of course, I'm not saying anyone says those words.  I'm saying that is the implication when people give example after example of what they feel constitutes systemic racism and institutional racism and implicit bias and white privilege and oppression and inequality, and when the rare acknowledgment of crime is invariably coupled to a reminder of the factors of trauma and poverty and historical oppression. Being arrested is because of police bias. Prison is due to judicial bias. Education and employment is limited by white administrators and employers.  Poverty and crime are indirect factors of oppression.  Disparate health outcomes are because of racism in medicine. Dietary choices are a result of marketers and city planners.  Tobacco and alcohol is a result of targeted advertising.  What bad thing that happens to black people doesn't get attributed to white people?  There is no room there for any self-determination or influence over one's life in this narrative.


Nor have I heard anyone express most of the other over-simplified, over-generalized statements ending with, "If white people would just stop Oppressing black people, all problems faced by every black person in America would instantly go away, they would all join the upper 1%, and we would live in a (separate, but equal) utopia.  These may be your assumptions about what you think is implied in what others say and do, but it is not my impression that that is what people are thinking.

If that is not the subconscious belief, then there should be some amount of wide-spread attention to any issue that is in no way connected to oppression.  There are plenty of public service type messages geared toward helping people to help themselves that are race neutral.  

If every individual message to or about black people is that every problem worth mentioning is caused by oppression, if oppression is the only thing worth addressing, if all inequalities are caused by oppression, then does it not stand to reason that the purpose of fighting oppression is because there is nothing else worth addressing?

That last one in particular leaves me wondering who you think has these thoughts, black people or white people? 


Both.  Not every individual, of course, but the most vocal, the ones who write and speak on the topic, and a significant number who read and listen to them, and many who participate in activism or talk regularly about oppression and privilege and racism.


Or are you referring quite specifically to young, uneducated, alienated, and angry young black men from the ghetto?  To be clear, that is neither who started the Black Lives Matter movement, nor are they who it is mostly made up of, though presumably many have joined the movement now, as have many white youth all around the world.  It started as, and has become again, a cry against racism of all kinds, not just police. 

Correct, not just police.  Also white "vigilantes".  
" Black Lives Matter ... started out as a ... organization whose mission was to build local power and to intervene when violence was inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes"
"In 2013, three radical Black organizers — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi — created ... #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer"
Our members organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.  Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise."

They are very clear and consistent that they are focused specifically on "the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state."  There is nothing in their own writing that supports the idea that they are equally concerned with black lives lost that aren't directly attributable to either cops or white people.


The unjustified killings by police caught on film and circulated have made the movement very visible, and of late, extremely widespread.  The fact that so many white people all over the country and all over the world have joined these protests against racism is a wonderful thing that can act against anyone's belief that, "White people believe that black lives don't matter, and are filled with Hate."

But knowing that almost half of the U.S. voting public voted for Donald Trump who panders to white supremacists, how can you not tell that racism is "alive and well" in the U.S., and not just a figment of imagination or delusion of black people?

I realize how obvious it seems to democrats and liberals and bay area people, but not every Trump voter sees him as "pandering to white supremacists."  He says plenty of stuff that can reasonably be interpreted as racist, and certainly that are compatible with white supremacist beliefs, but he also doesn't say anything that couldn't be interpreted another way.  He generally claims after each scandalous remark that he meant it in the not racist interpretation - that shit-hole countries is a matter of poverty vs high tech job skills, that he wasn't advocating shooting looters, merely saying that is what tends to happen (and, in fact, more people were killed by rioters or people defending themselves from rioters than were killed by police).
Evangelicals (the largest part of his support, by far) picked him over Clinton because of abortion.  Wealthy whites picked him for tax cuts.  Poor whites picked him for his anti-immigrant nationalism.
13% of people who voted for Trump also voted for Obama.  8% of black voters voted for Trump.
His strongest "base" - the people who didn't just vote for him over Clinton, but who support him fully, no matter what, are known to skew not only white and male, but uneducated, poor, rural, and feeling politically powerless.  Those are not the whites with the power to influence life outcomes of other people.
This article https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/28/opinion/trump-white-voters.html goes into great depth, and makes a strong case for his supporters not being racist specifically, but "otherist", for example showing exactly equal prejudice against Lithuanians as against blacks.  They are particularly afraid of Islamic terrorists.  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/who-are-donald-trumps-supporters-really/471714/ They are, more than any other one thing, authoritarian: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/01/how-your-parenting-style-predicts-whether-you-support-donald-trump/
Not everyone saw the election in terms of "the racist candidate" and the "not racist candidate", so having half of voters choose him over the one other available choice doesn't imply that half of voters are racist.


To use your example about rates of violence by gender, it occurs to me that, despite the fact that the violence disparity is much greater by gender than it is by race, many more white women, fear and/or discriminate against black people, than fear and.or discriminate against men.  This despite the fact that most black violence is toward other blacks. 

This is exactly like how black people report greater fear of police than of crime, even though the murder rate by (non-police) crime is literally thousands of times higher than the rate of police shooting unarmed suspects.  Human psychology focuses on the threat of "other".

However I don't really believe it is true that a majority of white women would feel more afraid alone in an elevator or on a empty street at night around a black female stranger than a white male stranger.  Fear, discrimination, and wanting to spend time around, are 3 completely separate things.  

And while the basic drive to have a partner stems from the reality of how animals reproduce explains women's tendency to marry men, I do think that the level of interracial marriage is part of the problem. 
Notably, while 60% of white Americans explicitly support BLM specifically, only 9% of white Americans marry someone of any other race and less than 1% marry a black person.  That means nearly all of the white "supporters" who are willing to attend a rally, put a sign in their window, or post something anti-racist on social media, are not willing to actually make the "sacrifice" of actually their integrating their own family.  They are still breeding purebreds, and nearly all of them will pass down their wealth to their own children, keeping white people privileged.

I have not heard or read anyone claiming that life would be a perfect utopia without racism, just as I have not heard or read anyone claiming that life would be a perfect utopia without homophobia or war or domestic violence or environmental destruction.  But things would be a lot better without any one of those things.  Surely you agree with that, no?  You may disagree about how much racism there is in the U.S. or in the world, but no matter how much there is, wouldn't it be better without it?


Yes, I do agree.  What I disagree with is the tactics for achieving it, as well as the prioritization and focus on it relative to other issues.  I believe that focusing on integration, education, and income inequality would not only do more to improve conditions for black people, but also do more for actually decreasing racism, both explicit and implicit, in the long run.


I agree with you that violent crime in black ghettos (and in Oakland, the crime spreads out of the ghetto), is a very serious problem that is very harmful to black people, in very concrete terms, not just reputation or making the race "look bad."  (Again, why is it that male violence doesn't make men "look bad" in the same way, doesn't make the majority think that most men are criminal, in the way that white society thinks most blacks are criminal?)

First of all, on what are you basing that: "white society thinks most blacks are criminals"?  What exactly is "white society"?  You just pointed out "so many white people all over the country and all over the world have joined these protests against racism".  In fact, 60% of white Americans explicitly say they support the BLM movement specifically.
And are the only options that a white person either joins a specific protest movement, or believes most blacks are criminals?   Who is actually espousing that belief?  I don't know that even most actual white supremacists make such a claim. 

Second of all, male violence absolutely does reflect on all of us!  Consider the "alone with a male stranger" scenario, and the resistance to unisex restrooms.  The whole "not all men" response to "me too".  The nearly 100% focus of domestic violence as being male perpetrated when the actual numbers are close to even or even slightly more often initiated by women.
And as I pointed out initially, men are given on average 63% longer sentences for the same crime as women are, which is 3 to 6 times larger than the sentencing disparity for the same crime between black people and white people (10 to 20%) which is one of the facts that most shows racial bias is in fact in play.  In implicit bias simulators, police show significantly higher bias to males than to black people "The participants shot armed White males more quickly than armed Black males, and the participants took significantly longer to shoot an armed White female than an armed Black or White male" https://fisherpub.sjfc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1419&context=education_etd  which is likely why though females commit 20% of violent crime and 12% of murder, they make up only 5% of police shootings.  Given a police stop "the race of the suspect did not affect the measured outcome of stops. Gender was related to the likelihood of being frisked... There was a five times greater likelihood of males being frisked" https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/213004.pdf 


In concrete terms, more black people are killed by other black people than by police.  And for this reason in particular, I agree with you that there needs to be more focus on this critical problem.

But I don't see it as either/or.  I think that Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi could not have come up with a better slogan than "Black Lives Matter."  It speaks to both issues, and more.  It speaks to white racism and black internalized racism.  It speaks to cops killing unarmed blacks as well as blacks killing blacks.  It speaks to both deliberate racism, and neglect of poor black neighborhoods and schools, whether intentional or just neglectful.  It is such a fabulous slogan (for blacks without being against whites; simply asserting the importance of black people's lives that have been so oppressed and neglected for so long), such a fabulous slogan, that millions of white people have joined the movement, even risking their lives and health marching too close together (often unmasked, sadly) all around the world to announce that they too want an end to racism in all its forms.


I appreciate your positive outlook, and I wish the founders, movement leaders, and tens of thousands of supporters all recognized what you're saying and agreed with it (or that those who did, actually said it out loud).  But based on the website maintained by the founders themselves, what you are saying is not really their intention, and based on what every large scale protest is actually about, and what activists actually talk about and have as their agenda, both large scale and small, both black and white, I don't see evidence that your view represents them.  I'm sure you are not the only individual supporter to see some extra nuance and complexity and to interpret the slogan to mean something more broad, but as long as that message is not being widely circulated, most people will continue to interpret it the way it is actually intended - a message to white people and a movement very specifically against police violence.


In my opinion, people's behavior is highly influenced by their outer as well as inner environment.  Likewise, change is facilitated by outer conditions, not just from within. 


Agreed.  I do not think changing the narrative is enough by itself.  I also think we need to make significant changes to the economic system, one which allows wealth to stay along genetic lines indefinitely, there by automatically perpetuating the inequities of slavery indefinitely.  Of course that too is not the only thing that needs to change, but I think it is the single largest thing, and one which receives essentially zero attention as being a major race issue.

But the narrative itself is a major issue, and one that is completely obscured by a focus on oppression.  For example, many articles have come out pointing out the rates of covid infection as yet another example of black suffering at the hands of white society.
Yet the differing rates might also be explained by differing perceptions and beliefs, and resulting behaviors, similar to how the infection rate in men is higher than in women, and this is largely attributable to male resistance to wearing masks or following social distancing guidelines.  Men are infected much more than women, and the surge in cases recently is largely increased rates of new infections among republicans, both trends connected with the groups relative resistance to wearing masks and social distancing compared to women and democrats
link 1 link 2link 3link 4 


This is a sub component of a general difference in feelings toward the healthcare system in general.

A strong feeling of being separate from society, of not trusting not just government, but "the system", has real impacts on behavior.  When that extends even to the point of health care advice, it will be self-destructive.  When media and activists then report disparities of outcome as being a product of oppression, it reinforces the idea that you shouldn't trust the system, closing the circle and increasing the negative effect.

Note also, that while there are plenty of articles pointing out the link between behaviors and outcomes for men vs women and democrats vs republicans, every article that discusses covid in the context of race attributes it entirely to systemic racism


As I alluded to earlier, black people have been trying to rise up since slavery ended, and have been blocked and smashed down in so many ways, and yet and still, more than half were able to reach the middle class after the 1960s (interestingly, after much black protest and clamor), though there has been some regression with various economic events which, as always, hit harder at those who have less.  (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American_middle_class,     https://blackdemographics.com/households/middle-class/,   and https://today.duke.edu/2020/05/middle-class-not-level-playing-field-blacks-new-duke-research-finds.

Just as you acknowledge (and I agree) that teaching black children that the police are their enemy will likely exacerbate the conflict and endanger their lives, likewise other conditions of black children influence how they think of themselves, how they think of others, and how prepared they are to achieve.  (By the way, most parents who "have the talk" with black children about encounters with the police, stress the importance of behaving very respectfully towards the police so that they don't get arrested or killed.  So I highly doubt such talks are what is causing the problems.) 


Of course the Talk isn't explicitly telling kids to be resentful or antagonistic!

But you have to consider the kid's world.  Teens are more influenced by peers than parents.  In many cultures honor and respect are the most important things especially for a male.  If you live in a world where someone disrespecting you verbally obligates you assault them physically, if you believe no external authority is legitimate, and of course if everyone you know agrees that cops are the worst of the worst, being told to kowtow to a cop by your parents is perhaps the best way to tip them over the edge and have them react negatively to any police interaction.

Sort of how areas with abstinence only education have the highest teen pregnancy rates, telling kids not to do something is not known to be the most effective way to get them not to do it.


But can't just tell some teen parents in the ghetto to "get it together, raise your kids well, and give them a better education than you had."  If the parents don't know what to do and have no support or guidance, they will make do with whatever they have or know.  There needs to be social workers and educators and good schools for the kids and parks to play in and decent housing that they can afford and transportation and jobs that they can do and job-training and childcare and etc etc etc.  ....  If the BLM movement inspires more government (and private) attention on improving conditions in poor neighborhoods, that would be great and would contribute to turning around black self-esteem and behavior in the ghetto.


Absolutely! Which is exactly why it bothers me to see all of the attention being on what police do or don't do, and no nationwide protests with thousands of people or NYT  editorials regarding real meaningful neighborhood or school integration in the North.  In fact, we get the opposite, people objecting to integration on the grounds of it being gentrification, even in cities with rent control where forced displacement is not an issue.  The movement isn't focused on improving conditions, it is focused on police brutality, which itself is a product, not the primary cause, of conditions.


Do we need to eventually shine more attention on blacks killing blacks,

No, not necessarily.  If we address the root causes - wealth inequality and segregation, it will subside on its own.


and do everything possible to address the many causes and try to turn that around?  Absolutely.  Is it important for improved 2 way communication to take place between blacks and police? For certain.  Do many black people today segregate themselves from whites thinking that whitey is the enemy, or that they have to prove their blackness through separation, or because they have been hurt by racist comments or slights too many times or because they are just more comfortable with people who look and think like they do?  Sure.  (Just like lesbian separatists segregate themselves from men, even though most lesbians don't.)  Do people in movements make mistakes (like everyone else), and do some say and do misguided things, and some even advocate absolute crazy stuff?  Sure, of course, every group of people makes mistakes, and has a few nutty members that get an unfair share of attention.

But I believe what is happening now with the BLM movement is a fabulous thing that has never happened before at this scale (at least not since the civil war.)  And the very fact that so many whites have shown such support, will really help towards many of the attitudes among blacks toward whites which you complain of, (especially if the support is lasting, and backed up with concrete changes.)


I am skeptical, because that support is limited to a statement of principle.  There is no movement for middle class white people to stop picking neighborhoods on the basis of getting their kids into the "best schools".  There is no call to send white kids to low performing public school and donate funds to send urban black kids to private school.  There is no movement to leave white houses and inheritances to random poor black families.  There is no discussion about how to deliberately, systematically encourage cultural and geographical integration.  There is not even any call to personally get to know and befriend a black person, never mind promoting interracial marriage.  There is nothing any white supporter is actually giving up or sacrificing, no real changes for them to make.  It is all about having someone else make changes, the police, the government, the racists.  But it is the actions of random ordinary not-racist middle class people that contribute the most volume to the status quo.


  And it gives me a lot of hope for change.  Will positive change occur in time before we all burn up from climate change? 


I don't know if positive change ever occurs, or if we just endlessly cycle social arrangements, however, "burning up" is not a scenario any climate scientist is predicting, at least not for another 4 billion years, when the sun expands so much it engulfs all the inner planets including the Earth.


I hope so.  Will you and I come closer in our understanding of each other's perspective? 


I think we might be getting closer?

26 September 2020

Response to a response 2 (Part 4 of a series on race based on emails to my family)

  After a few back and forths, the previous posts (which were originally emails to family members regarding the recent race protests and their implications), I started getting longer, more in-depth, and more nuanced responses.  This (and the last and next posts) are responses to those responses.

I'm too tired to write more but these are my initial thoughts:

I wasn't expecting you to even read it so fast!  Thank you, though, I appreciate you responding.

1. Are you saying that poor Black people are inherently more violent than the other types of people we have in this country?

Of course not!  That was one of the points in my first letter, where my stronger and earlier influences were my family and friends.  I take it that we all know that we are all in agreement about how the history has created the conditions we see today, which I explicitly acknowledged in the last letter "It was 250 years of slavery, followed by nearly a century of legal, formalized racism, followed by decades of subtle sneaky racism, that set up the conditions we see today."
Even the mildly racist white conservatives who use the phrase "one of the good ones" are acknowledging that it isn't something inherent in our genes that makes all black people act a certain way. 


That is what you seem to be saying .... If that is what you are saying, why do you think that is? And if you think it's true, what do you propose to do about it? 

I propose several big things (which I've mentioned various times, but go into more detail about in the longer essay).  The big one from "Try #3" is to stop promoting the idea that America Hates Black People, that cops are all fundamentally biased and out to get black people and are constantly killing them every chance they get, that white people have all the power and therefore are the only ones who can save black people - basically, I think the subtext and implications of the protest movement, which are heard by everyone, has such potential to affect the beliefs and mindset of individuals as to be overall counterproductive.  


Some other big things I think should be done is the ending of inheritance, especially of property (which privileges people who's parents have more wealth, which, due to the legacy of slavery and JimCrow etc is disproportionately white people), actually integrating schools and neighborhoods, making preschool and kindergarten free and mandatory and making college free. 
This is how I see it:race cycle.jpg

We are all in total agreement that it is the red box in the upper left corner that started this all off.
We are all in agreement that the yellow box still has some degree of contribution to the green box, though we disagree on the extent.
We all agree that both the green and purple boxes are true, and that they are both a negative issue to be resolved.
It seems to me that the only factors that the left believes are relevant or wants to address is the long bumpy yellow arrow.  I do not believe it will ever be possible to eliminate the yellow arrows, so long as the orange and maroon arrows still exist.

What I propose we do is break the cycle by working to reduce or eliminate both the tan and the blue boxes.  I believe it is within the middle class direct sphere of personal influence to change those things by personal direct action: not by demanding other people change, but by actually living, being, the change.
I believe that what we are actually doing is in fact the polar opposite: we are strengthening and enhancing the blue box as much as we possibly can at every opportunity, and we either ignore or work to support the tan box items as well.


You talk a lot about how bad poor Black people are but I have not heard what solutions you propose to make things better besides holding every single poor Black person accountable for each and every bad decision and action that they make which is not the standard any other racial or economic group in this country has to deal with. 

I don't understand what you are saying.  Every person of every background is generally expected to be accountable for their own bad actions.  It isn't a group thing - I'm not proposing that individuals be held accountable for other people's actions because they share demographics, but by the same token I don't think any one gets a free pass because of their demographics either.
I don't think people should be judged based on their color.  That means not being more harshly, and not being judged more leniently either.  We as a society need to do more than make the ability to gain wealth equally accessible to all, AND all individuals are responsible for their own actions.


2. Why do Black people who were brought to the United States by force (ie in the cargo holds of slave ships) and then enslaved and tortured for hundreds of years have to act like recent immigrants (who by definition came to this country by choice) in order to get White people to treat them better?

a) There are no black people who were brought to the US as slaves.  They would have to be 213 years old.  There is no one who is the child or grandchild of anyone who was brought here as a slave.  Anyone who is here alive today is here for the same reason everyone else is: their parents live here, and they were born here.
b) The reason we need to abide by the standards of the social contract in order to be treated well is the same reason as for everyone else.  

c) The reason I bring up recent immigrants is because, while in every society people form in-groups and out-groups and outsiders are always viewed with suspicion, the success of immigrants shows it is possible to overcome mainstream society's initial natural prejudice.  Notably, the outcomes in terms of education and wealth for recent Africans and Carribeans is significantly better than for native born blacks, which means failure and success is not purely a factor of skin color or features.
c) I'm not just talking about how white people treat them.  That's part of my point, that way too much emphasis is being placed on white people.  In the absence of a truly systematic racism - i.e. legal, official, explicit, enforced - there is room to influence one's own destiny.  I think this focus on how white people treat black people implies that the outcome of every individual's life is purely a product of whether other people either privilege or oppress you, which leaves no room for anyone to have any influence of their own.


 Why do Black people have to stay "low profile" in order to succeed?

What I mean by that is just being an ordinary person, being generally polite and friendly to everyone.  There are plenty of white people who don't abide by the social contract and end up in prison too, or just fired and poor or whatever.  


Why can't the US go through what happened in Germany after the Holocaust? Why can't there be an official acknowledgement of slavery and financial reparations like there has been in Germany?

It's not quite directly equivalent: what happened after the war is the nation paid reparations to the nation of Israel, (as it did to all of the countries that won the war, which is often a mandatory part of surrender treaties.)  The cash that went to Israel no doubt had a significant contribution to the establishment of the country, and I suppose if there were a proposal that American black people should move out of the US and found a new country it would stand to reason that the US should support it,  but note the billions of marks only came out to around $2,800 (in today, US, dollars) per person. 
 Some 55 years later, they made payments to individuals who had personally survived concentration camps, or in some cases to their children if they were no longer alive. There were about 20 thousand Jews still in Germany, (in a nation of 50 million, making them 0.04% of the population.) however payments went to Jews living elsewhere as well.  Those payments came out to around $3000 per person.  https://theconversation.com/if-germany-atoned-for-the-holocaust-the-us-can-pay-reparations-for-slavery-119505 
That being said, I would not be opposed to it, were there any such proposal being made on a serious level.  If there were nationwide protests calling for figuring out some form of reparations, I would support it.  There is of course official recognition that slavery was wrong, from the civil war to things like the constitution museum we went to.  It's a fringe minority who would claim slavery was morally right, (and fewer who would claim it never happened)
However, while it isn't doled out explicitly as compensation for slavery, our country does make payments to people on the basis of poverty, and because poverty is spread unevenly by race, government assistance is disproportionate by race as well, with black people (who make up 13% of the country) recieving 25.7% of assistance  https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-welfare-black-white-780252  which, on average, works out to roughly $20,000 per year  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/12/05/grothman-single-parents-welfare/ 

Granted, there would be some catharsis from the principle of the matter, however a one time payment of $3,000 when compared to $20k annually means the difference in outcomes is clearly not an issue of money.  

Another difference between the two examples is that the extreme oppression of Nazi Germany lasted a decade, and did not involve survivors being removed from their country of origin, community, and language. They were able to maintain cultural traditions - cultural traditions which (while xenophobic) placed strong emphasis on scholarship and being financially savvy.

Instead in the United States we have a president who just issued an executive order declaring how people who tear down monuments to Confederate leaders should be punished. That is like if Germany after WWII erected monuments to Hitler and then doubled down when people tried to take them down. 

Of course I agree with you 100% that our current president is a literally narcissistic, idiotic, nationalist (which, ethically, is no better than racist).  And he has an unfortunate amount of people who still support him, (though he does have the lowest average approval rating of all time, and he is starting to lose even his base) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/09/the-trump-supporters-who-regret-their-vote
But in a market based capitalist democratic republic the top guy only has so much influence over day to day reality of most citizens.  If it weren't so, we should have expected the election of a (half) black president to fix everything. But poverty and segregation, and the results of them, don't go away just because the government makes a certain law or policy, makes a formal apology or writes a few checks.


3. I have read what you wrote several times and I don't get how you arrived at this number: "That leaves maybe 5%, give or take, of the disparity in criminal justice being caused by actual "racism" per say, the kind that is believed in and deliberate." You also say this but I have no idea where it comes from: "According to all actual data, somewhere on the order of 75 to 90% of disparities throughout the criminal justice system, from arrests to incarceration as well as police shootings, are a direct result of behavioral choices of black people." Where is this data you refer to?


"approximately 80% of prison disparity among state prisoners in 1979 was explained by differential offending by race, leaving 20% unexplained" 
"research that relies on incident reporting (i.e., self-report data rather than police data) to circumvent these potential problems [of bias in arrests]... estimated unexplained disparity to be in the range of 15-16%"
I propose that a significant portion of the bias that is found among cops, prosecutors, judges and juries, is not due purely to "media", but to an awareness on some level of the disparate crime rates, and, whether conscious or not, extrapolating that statistical knowledge onto individual cases and individual people, in the same way that the criminal justice system shows even more bias toward men relative to women, not because of media, but because the actual rate of offending is so different that we carry mental beliefs that affect how we see individuals.  I propose that if, on average, people of different races all committed violent crime at the exact same rate, a significant portion of the unconscious bias of individual cops, jurors, (teachers, employers, loan officers, etc) would go away as well, leaving a much smaller percentage of disparity left to be perpetrated by the explicit racists who find their way into positions of power.

However, I am not claiming that these numbers are exact (hence saying give or take)


4. I understand your points about taking responsibility for the things within your control and how violence committed by Black people against other Black people is a real problem that is not taken very seriously by very many people. I disagree with you completely where you veer off and seem to say that there is an inherent violence and criminality within poor Black people and that the police and White society are blameless because they are just acting on their  "implicit bias itself [which] is an indirect result of the actions of black people." 

5. I guess the summary of my viewpoint is: Bakari, stop only blaming poor Black people. And I disagree with you about the causation of the implicit bias a lot of non-Black people have about Black people.


I guess maybe one point of difference is I don't think "blame" is relevant or helpful.
If you are in a car crash, and the other person is clearly 100% at fault, it makes no sense to refuse to go to physical therapy on those grounds, and say "well, they hit me, they should have to go to physical therapy!"  That won't help you walk again. 
If you have one teacher who gives you worse grades than you deserve, you can focus all your time and effort on proving that that teacher doesn't like you and getting support to force them to give you better grades, but overall you will do better by focusing on learning the material as well as possible and turning in the best work you can, in that and all other classes.
It isn't about figuring out who to blame.  All people, as individuals, have better life outcomes if they have a view of the world and of their life that they have control of and responsibility over their own life.  Despite the bias that exists, we don't have the form of literally institutionalized or systemic racism that we had for half a millennia, and it is possible to be successful, but one has to actually believe it is possible to even try.  Outside of the context of race, this isn't that controversial an idea.

Correct me if I'm wrong, it seems like a big point of contention with what I'm saying is it isn't "fair" to put the burden of success on black people when the reasons for the initial disparity are outside of the control of any individual, when historically white people directly benefited from slavery and due to inheritance and social policy white people who's families have been in this country since those days indirectly benefit to this day.  No argument from me there.  I just don't think "fair" is a meaningful term or concept to apply on a national and half a millennium scale.  Really, I don't think it is so useful of a concept even on an individual scale.  If your sibling did or did not get cake has nothing to do with you and whether you should get cake.
Focusing on what is fair isn't productive.  What I'm interested in is the actual outcome.
So, if by changing police policy, we cut unjustified police killings by half, reducing the number from a dozen a year to just a handful, yet as an unintended consequence of reducing police to the point where gangs etc feel emboldened and the murder rate of black people increases just 5% - we will have saved 3 or 4 lives while indirectly contributing to another 450 deaths a year.
That might feel more fair, since it isn't some outside, privileged, government sanctioned person doing the killing, but the net result is 446 more deaths.


I think there is a huge problem in that people feel like the only possibilities are: 

1) acknowledge the crime rate; extrapolate from that that black people are inferior based on their genes, 


2) acknowledge the history of slavery and oppression; extrapolate from that that all disparities from wealth to incarceration are proof of continuation of oppression.

Pick a side.  

Reality isn't that simplistic.  The first half of both of those claims are correct, and the second half of both claims is false.


In regards to our talking conversation:
I find it interesting, somewhat odd, how much more we seem to agree when we speak than when we write.

The one thing I did want to address is about the feelings of police in general:  I don't especially “like” them.  1/2 the people here are in law enforcement. Many of them I'm fairly neutral about, but many of the people I don't especially care to hang out with or work with happen to be cops.  They tend to be conservative, yay 'Murica, follow the rules, respect authority just because, don't ask questions, don't be different, work for the sake of work, all mistakes are excuses... The people I tend to like best, most of them are not in law enforcement.

However, that being said, I don't think "cop" is a "type of person".  I think it is a profession.   While the concept of enforcing laws may tend to attract those who prioritize law and order as a moral value, I think the tendency to condemn them all generally falls into the standard thinking about a bipolar grouping of humanity into good and bad.  Just like the actions of a few black criminals does not reflect on all black people and the actions of a few terrorists does not condemn all Muslims, horrible examples of brutality does not condemn all cops.  The law enforcement people here also include Chief R****, L*** R*******, B****, E***** and Z******.