Tim Wise on "What Kind of Card is Race?"

Read the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

That bringing up racism (even with copious documentation) is far from an effective “card” to play in order to garner sympathy, is evidenced by the way in which few people even become aware of the studies confirming its existence. How many Americans do you figure have even heard, for example, that black youth arrested for drug possession for the first time are incarcerated at a rate that is forty-eight times greater than the rate for white youth, even when all other factors surrounding the crime are identical (4)?

How many have heard that persons with “white sounding names,” according to a massive national study, are fifty percent more likely to be called back for a job interview than those with “black sounding” names, even when all other credentials are the same (5)?

How many know that white men with a criminal record are slightly more likely to be called back for a job interview than black men without one, even when the men are equally qualified, and present themselves to potential employers in an identical fashion (6)?

How many have heard that according to the Justice Department, Black and Latino males are three times more likely than white males to have their vehicles stopped and searched by police, even though white males are over four times more likely to have illegal contraband in our cars on the occasions when we are searched (7)?

How many are aware that black and Latino students are about half as likely as whites to be placed in advanced or honors classes in school, and twice as likely to be placed in remedial classes? Or that even when test scores and prior performance would justify higher placement, students of color are far less likely to be placed in honors classes (8)? Or that students of color are 2-3 times more likely than whites to be suspended or expelled from school, even though rates of serious school rule infractions do not differ to any significant degree between racial groups (9)?

Fact is, few folks have heard any of these things before, suggesting how little impact scholarly research on the subject of racism has had on the general public, and how difficult it is to make whites, in particular, give the subject a second thought.

Perhaps this is why, contrary to popular belief, research indicates that people of color are actually reluctant to allege racism, be it on the job, or in schools, or anywhere else. Far from “playing the race card” at the drop of a hat, it is actually the case (again, according to scholarly investigation, as opposed to the conventional wisdom of the white public), that black and brown folks typically “stuff” their experiences with discrimination and racism, only making an allegation of such treatment after many, many incidents have transpired, about which they said nothing for fear of being ignored or attacked (10). Precisely because white denial has long trumped claims of racism, people of color tend to underreport their experiences with racial bias, rather than exaggerate them. Again, when it comes to playing a race card, it is more accurate to say that whites are the dealers with the loaded decks, shooting down any evidence of racism as little more than the fantasies of unhinged blacks, unwilling to take personal responsibility for their own problems in life.

and

what does it say about white rationality and white collective sanity, that in 1963–at a time when in retrospect all would agree racism was rampant in the United States, and before the passage of modern civil rights legislation–nearly two-thirds of whites, when polled, said they believed blacks were treated the same as whites in their communities–almost the same number as say this now, some forty-plus years later? What does it suggest about the extent of white folks’ disconnection from the real world, that in 1962, eighty-five percent of whites said black children had just as good a chance as white children to get a good education in their communities (12)? Or that in May, 1968, seventy percent of whites said that blacks were treated the same as whites in their communities, while only seventeen percent said blacks were treated “not very well” and only 3.5 percent said blacks were treated badly? (13)?

What does it say about white folks’ historic commitment to equal opportunity–and which Taranto would have us believe has only been rendered inoperative because of affirmative action–that in 1963, three-fourths of white Americans told Newsweek, “The Negro is moving too fast” in his demands for equality (14)? Or that in October 1964, nearly two-thirds of whites said that the Civil Rights Act should be enforced gradually, with an emphasis on persuading employers not to discriminate, as opposed to forcing compliance with equal opportunity requirements (15)?

What does it say about whites’ tenuous grip on mental health that in mid-August 1969, forty-four percent of whites told a Newsweek/Gallup National Opinion Survey that blacks had a better chance than they did to get a good paying job–two times as many as said they would have a worse chance? Or that forty-two percent said blacks had a better chance for a good education than whites, while only seventeen percent said they would have a worse opportunity for a good education, and eighty percent saying blacks would have an equal or better chance? In that same survey, seventy percent said blacks could have improved conditions in the “slums” if they had wanted to, and were more than twice as likely to blame blacks themselves, as opposed to discrimination, for high unemployment in the black community (16).

In other words, even when racism was, by virtually all accounts (looking backward in time), institutionalized, white folks were convinced there was no real problem. Indeed, even forty years ago, whites were more likely to think that blacks had better opportunities, than to believe the opposite (and obviously accurate) thing: namely, that whites were advantaged in every realm of American life.

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43 Responses to Tim Wise on "What Kind of Card is Race?"

  1. 1
    RonF says:

    How many Americans do you figure have even heard, for example, that black youth arrested for drug possession for the first time are incarcerated at a rate that is forty-eight times greater than the rate for white youth, even when all other factors surrounding the crime are identical (4)?

    I clicked through to the link and then went looking for the cite, but the cite is not a link itself. The question I’d like answerd is whether the study controlled for the cost/quality of lawyer the defendant could afford? Family income is going to control whether you’re got a good lawyer vs. a public defender and whether you’re standing in front of a suburban judge or some city judge who sees a lot of hard cases, etc., etc. I’ve sat in court myself a few times and seen different white kids get treated differently based on what boils down to how much money Mom and Dad have.

    I am very carefully NOT saying that racism isn’t a factor here. Even as a secondary one of “So why don’t black families make as much as white families do?” But “all other factors surrounding the crime” doesn’t control for all factors surrounding the defendant’s defense and outcome of their case. Rich white kids fare a lot better than poor white kids for the same crimes. If the author is going to cite something as precise as “forty-eight times” then it’s worth looking into this in more detail.

  2. 2
    RonF says:

    In other words, even when racism was, by virtually all accounts (looking backward in time), institutionalized, white folks were convinced there was no real problem.

    I don’t understand the relevancy of this. Racial attitudes are a whole lot different now than they were a half-century ago. The fact that people believed some false premises then – and I certainly agree that those premises were false then – doesn’t mean in and of itself that the same premises are still false.

  3. 3
    RonF says:

    Perhaps this is why, contrary to popular belief, research indicates that people of color are actually reluctant to allege racism, be it on the job, or in schools, or anywhere else. Far from “playing the race card” at the drop of a hat, it is actually the case (again, according to scholarly investigation, as opposed to the conventional wisdom of the white public), that black and brown folks typically “stuff” their experiences with discrimination and racism, only making an allegation of such treatment after many, many incidents have transpired, about which they said nothing for fear of being ignored or attacked (10).

    And yet it seems as though it’s very easy to pick up a newspaper and read of some politician or activist or spokesperson alleging that the cause of some incident or the reason a given law was enacted is due to racism.

    If one accepts the results of the study as valid, then perhaps the difference is that private individuals tend not to “play the race card” because they will be referring to specific individuals that they have some kind of relationship with – employer, acquaintance, etc., and making allegations of racism will very possibly cause personal consequences. “all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed” – likely because they can imagine ways in which such an act will end up making things worse instead of better for them.

    OTOH, someone like Al Sharpton is viewed by those who use such language and concepts as “playing the race card” when he claims that SB1070 is racist. But there is no personal risk for Al Sharpton to do so. He has no relationship with the law enforcement or elected officials (or indeed, the public) of the State of Arizona and thus he feels free to make allegations of racism much more readily.

    So – let’s posit that the typical white American has few black friends or acquaintances or co-workers relative to the number of white ones he or she has. Their exposure to black people having much of anything to say on racism is not going to be what few blacks they know – it’s going to be the black people they have the most exposure to, which is people like Al Sharpton. And so they will perceive that “black people play the race card” while the actual reality is different. It also doesn’t help that someone like him will be perceived as gaining personal advantage by doing this – gaining notoriety, contributions to his causes, or (in the case of an elected official) votes, and thus will be perceived as having a reason to lie.

  4. 4
    Myca says:

    I don’t understand the relevancy of this.

    This is my surprised face.

    Racial attitudes are a whole lot different now than they were a half-century ago. The fact that people believed some false premises then – and I certainly agree that those premises were false then – doesn’t mean in and of itself that the same premises are still false.

    The relevancy is that (if you read the whole article) Tim Wise points out people claiming that the reason white people like you discount racism these days is because of fatigue … because there have been too many false claims of racism made over the last 40 years, and people are burned out.

    Thus, what Wise does, is he says, “Oh, okay, well, if the reason people discount racism now is because they’re burned out, then let’s look at their attitudes from back before they were ‘burned out’,” and surprise surprise, they were horribly racist.

    Because white people aren’t ‘burned out’ on racism because of false charges. They want to deny racism so that they can continue to do and say racist things freely. Thus it has always been. Thus it will always be.

    And yeah, if you broadly agree with white people’s attitudes on black people from the mid-60′s … well, yes it doesn’t necessarily mean that the attitudes are wrong. Maybe they were dumbass racist canards at the time and are now clear-sighted representations of The World As It Is … but Occam’s Razor says that it’s more likely that the reason you share these views is that they were dumbass racists then and that you’re a dumbass racist now.

    —Myca

  5. 5
    Mandolin says:

    As Tim Wise puts it:

    Unless we wish to conclude that black insight on the matter–which has never to this point failed them–has suddenly converted to irrationality, and that white irrationality has become insight (and are prepared to prove this transformation by way of some analytical framework to explain the process), then the best advice seems to be that which could have been offered in past decades and centuries: namely, if you want to know about whether or not racism is a problem, it would probably do you best to ask the folks who are its targets. They, after all, are the ones who must, as a matter of survival, learn what it is, and how and when it’s operating. We whites on the other hand, are the persons who have never had to know a thing about it, and who–for reasons psychological, philosophical and material–have always had a keen interest in covering it up.

    I wish to put particular emphasis on this phrase–”are prepared to prove this transformation by way of some analytical framework to explain the process”

  6. 6
    Myca says:

    if you want to know about whether or not racism is a problem, it would probably do you best to ask the folks who are its targets. They, after all, are the ones who must, as a matter of survival, learn what it is, and how and when it’s operating. We whites on the other hand, are the persons who have never had to know a thing about it, and who–for reasons psychological, philosophical and material–have always had a keen interest in covering it up.

    Well, and this is why I think it’s so important to privilege the words and experiences of PoCs in conversations about racism.

    I mean, not to sidetrack, and I’m sure you don’t want to turn this into another thread about the Arizona immigration law, but this is why it was bullshit for Rand Paul to refer to opposing the Civil Rights Act as the ‘hard part’ of freedom. It’s because it would be actually hard for other people, not for him. The things that would be hard for him he opposes. Or Ron blithely dismissing the concerns of latin@ leaders … even Republicans … who find the Arizona law disturbing. He’s able to handwave away any concerns about what it might lead to, because whatever it might lead to, he knows it won’t lead to it for him.

    When you have zero skin in the game, it’s easy to be cavalier. Maybe we should listen to the folks whose skin is the game.

    —Myca

  7. 7
    Jake Squid says:

    Thanks for pointing this one out. There’s a lot of good stuff in it. RonF is just the highlighting & underlining to the article.

  8. 8
    BluntHammer says:

    Ok, I haven’t weighted in on a subject here for a while, (Though I read it often) but I had to on this subject.

    As a black man, who grew up poor and in the very situations and with the very black people who call “racism” the most… I have to say that it IS an over used term. They completely dismiss the fact that if you dress, act, and give the image via media of a lifestyle… people are going to assume you promote that lifestyle.

    And yes… supporting rap music DOES promote that lifestyle. It only gets worse when you factor in the comments of “You are just trying to be white”, if you are black and -Don’t- support that lifestyle.

    When you are stoned, slinging drugs, and pulling in welfare… and then sitting around saying “**** ******** ***ger please, you know I ain’t got no job cause I’m black and its not fair”, all it comes across as is whining.

    Now yes, there IS racism out there. Of course there is. But in the last twenty years, I have seen those of us in the black sub-society of America slide more and more and more towards the idea that “Everyone is racist against us” rather then the truth of “You know, I wouldn’t have gone to jail for 6 months if I hadn’t be smoking pot.”

    I am living proof that you can get out of the ghetto, can get a GOOD job, not smoke drugs, and not get drunk every night. Now mind you, those who I keep in contact with who have never left the ghetto, who blame everything on racism… they turn around and say I am either “Being the white man’s slave” or (the one I love the most) “You are just trying so hard to be white”.

    So just my two cents as someone who has LIVED through this, and not just watched it from the outside. The majority of America is not racist.. they are just making their choices based on what we give them. If they say “Blacks tend to smoke a lot of drugs, get welfare, and play the race card” when that is the image we GIVE them …then how else are they going to view us?

    (OH and side note again: Everyone, of EVERY color, needs to get over the fact America once had slaves. Black tribes sold those slaves off to the slave owners in the first place, slavery was not an “American Ideal”. It happened a long time ago, and we ourselves where NEVER slaves. Our great great great grandpa .. yes, he was a slave. But -WE-, living NOW, never where.>

    – BluntHammer.

  9. 9
    Mandolin says:

    Well, I’m glad your hammer isn’t *sharp* because then it wouldn’t be much use as a hammer. So, congratulations on your superfluous adjective.

    Your claim to authority, however? Not very interesting.

    1) My husband is “living proof” that people can be born poor and “get out” and then make stupidly ridiculous amounts of money helping multinational corporations fuck up the environment. His existence–even his testimonials!–in no way negates the sociology indicating that class boundaries are mostly impermeable in the United States. Exception != rule. You’ve heard that anecdote doesn’t equal data? Well, congratulations. It doesn’t.

    Your gloating over your own superior ability to rise in the world does nothing to disprove the studies indicating that black men are less likely to be interviewed for jobs, that black-sounding names are a deterrent–that black people face discrimination in every part of the hiring process. This happens whether or not they support “that lifestyle.”

    2) Assuming for the moment that you are actually a black person, does your skin color make you in general more informed about racism than white people in general? Yeah, playing the probabilities, I’ll go there. But the claim that black people as a group are more informed than white people as a group does not prevent individual examples from being scattered any-the-fuck-where on the continuum. In this case, you’re scattered far away from both the heart of the sociology, and the heart of what the majority of black people think. Am I going to listen to the science-denying fringe just because their skin is brown? No. Nor do I listen to physicists with alien abduction stories–at least not unless they can martial more than the power of anecdote and actually slip some science behind their doe-eyed assertions.

    3) You’re aware that the description of the problem with drugs/legal system/black people is the disparity in sentencing, right? So your admonition to others to recriminate about what would have happened “if I hadn’t smoked pot” does… what to deal with that? If your skin is black, and you smoke that pot, then you are much more likely to be arrested and imprisoned. If you’re white, then can you spell the word s-k-a-t-e? We can argue all day about whether it’s stupid to make smoking pot a jail-serving offence (though it clearly is), and whether or not it’s stupid to smoke pot given that it is a jail-serving offense (arguable)–but unless you’ve got some actual science lingering up in where you pulled your arguments from, then you can’t argue that the consequences for smoking pot are different depending on your skin color, and way more dire for those who are brown. There’s a word for how outcomes mysteriously end up skewed worse for the brown folk, but darn–it slips my mind.

    4) America once had slaves! Let us get over this! After all, no one now is currently enslaved! And we know–wealth does not build up over generations! The systematic stripping of wealth from one generation of black people has nothing to do with the wealth possessed by their descendants! Also, attitudes do not linger! The shape of slavery in the American south never influenced a single goddamn modern racist attitude! For instance! The 3/5 compromise that valued black lives and labor at less than white has nothing at all in common with Pat Buchanan’s blithe assertion on Maddow’s program that America was built with the labor of white people, which is why our government does not need to include black people in it, while he sat in a city whose infrastructure was laid down with the labor of enslaved Africans! These devaluings are totally unrelated! And if they are related, we should ignore them anyway, because the important lesson of all history is that we should “get over it!” Mistakes from the past are unimportant because we should all just “get over them” like small children with scraped knees! Moving on is always an admirable goal, no matter what it is that we are moving on from!

    In conclusion, Sir Hammer, your argument is weak, and you should return to the tool bench to see if you can muster some better construction.

  10. 10
    nojojojo says:

    BluntHammer, you are ignorant, but fear not! This is a curable virus. Read a book and call us in the morning.

  11. 11
    BluntHammer says:

    Oh Mandolin, I love people like you who still want to blame the black problem on anything but ourselves.

    1: Your husbands ability to “make stupidly ridiculous amounts of money helping multinational corporations fuck up the environment” is nothing to brag about but it does very clearly prove that you CAN make money regardless of color.

    2: No, being black does not make me more informed about ALL racism.. just racism against blacks. Someone who has seen things first time IS more informed the someone who looks at a bunch of numbers and make up opinions based on a situation they themselves have never lived. A white guy reading “More blacks go to jail for smoking pot then white men” and make up a arguement that such is racism… without taking into account that smoking pot is seen as an act of PRIDE in the black ghettos is not factoring in all the information. They are just using the numbers.. and despite that old cliche, numbers CAN lie.

    3: Yes, blacks get harder punishments… on paper. But does that factor in: Money for legal defense? REPEAT OFFENDERS. How they present themselves in court? Both in clothing and attitude? It is all well and good to say “Hey, blacks get harsher punishments” when you ignore that they go into court looking like rejects from a hip-hop video. When they curse, to the JUDGE.

    I have known black people who go in, look like trash, and go to jail. I have also known fellow black people who go in, speak properly, dress correctly, get a slap on the wrist.. and never do that crime again. Seeing a pattern yet?

    Oh, and side note: Smoking Pot is a crime.. Yes, as such people should go to jail for it. It is a dangerous substance that SHOULD be punished even more strongly. And there is no room to argue for if smoking pot is stupid or not, because at the end of the day it is a CRIME. Even if you don’t agree with the law, breaking the law is stupid.

    4: I would 100% agree.. if America was the only place that had slaves. If it wasn’t for the fact slavery was a wide practice in Africa before America was even formed. If it wasn’t for the fact that AFRICANS who come to America will GLADDLY tell you that there is NOTHING in common between how easy we blacks in America have it compared to the “mother land” we swear is so wonderful.

    Look, I know it is hard to get enraged about the “plight of the so-called African America” when a black person is saying “We don’t have it that bad”. Ever black person knows that if you give your kid a freakish name, that kid is going to have trouble in life. But they honestly think they are some how getting one “over the white man”. To this DAY, blacks here in Pittsburgh brag about the race riots here. When the BLACKS went through the BLACK part of town and burned everything down. Blacks burned out BLACK owned business.. and then turned around and blamed “The white man”. Californa, Texas, New Orleans, ect ect. I have lived many places in the last few decades and I see it again and again and again.

    Also, explain to me why you glossed over the entire section talking about the black attitude towards those blacks who do NOT live ghetto? Their attitude towards “Trying to be white” which in fact is really “not trying to be a thug”.

    Also, what color are YOU? Are you black? Do you live in a black area? Do you live in a poor area? (Judging from your comments about your hubby I am guessing not but lets ask for the sake of asking.) Are you a person who has lived in these areas, SEEN it happen… or are you one of those people who see a bunch of numbers and mindlessly believe it? Which is more important to you: First hand experience.. or second hand guess work?

  12. 12
    Ampersand says:

    Your husbands ability to “make stupidly ridiculous amounts of money helping multinational corporations fuck up the environment” is nothing to brag about but it does very clearly prove that you CAN make money regardless of color.

    Aside from several other problems, you’re making a key logical error here by saying it’s about what people “CAN” do. But the logical question isn’t about what people “CAN” do; it’s about how race affects probability.

    Once upon a time, Frederick Douglass worked hard and became very wealthy, even though he began life as a slave. Would it make any sense to argue that there was no racism against blacks in the 1800s, since the example of Douglass “does very clearly prove that you CAN make money regardless of color” in the 1800s?

    The question isn’t if some black people “CAN make money”; the question is whether they have equal odds when compared to white people with otherwise similar characteristics. I don’t believe you can answer that question with anecdotes alone.

    Oh, and as far as prison sentencing data goes, studies like this one do account for past criminal records, and for the defendant’s class (which presumably controls how much money they have to spend on legal defense — and has a lot, I suspect, to do with how they dress). I’m not sure that any study accounts for how people dressed at trial, or attitude. However, do you have any actual evidence — not just “I know it’s true because I’ve seen it!” — that white criminals are systematically snazzier dressers who are more respectful? Because in my anecdotal experience, people of all races are capable of being disrespectful and poorly dressed, and I don’t see any reason to assume a systematic difference one way or the other, once class is controlled for.

    … or are you one of those people who see a bunch of numbers and mindlessly believe it? Which is more important to you: First hand experience.. or second hand guess work?

    Please remember to treat other posters here with respect. If you continue casually slinging insults like “mindless” around, you’re going to be asked to leave.

    I don’t think anecdotal experience is nothing, but I don’t think it’s everything, either. Furthermore, those numbers — what you call “second hand guess work” — are often put together by people have a lot of first hand experience, which they’re building upon with social science methods.

    Are you saying that all of social science is worthless, and that there’s no such thing as a good study? Because that does seem, to me, to be where your argument is going.

  13. 13
    Mandolin says:

    I like first-hand experience (it’s obviously not everything, but it’s something). Is there any particular reason why yours trumps, for instance, nojojojo’s?

  14. 14
    skylanda says:

    I’ll listen to anything that white-boy Tim Wise has to say on race when he stops using rank sexism as a stand-in for his superiority trip on how enlightened he is on all matters of his brotherhood with dudes of other colors. I’m not saying he’s right or wrong on race (although I always gotta wonder when it’s a Caucasian preaching the race gospel), but google tim wise + sarah palin to see some wildly off-the-hook mommy drive-bys (Bristol Palin: fair game for Tim Wise) that ought to make your stomach churn.

  15. 15
    BluntHammer says:

    Mandolin:

    Well, seeing as how he did not state ANY first hand experience, I am not sure how you can think anyone can answer that. Now is the first hand experience of someone who goes into a an area they DO NOT live in, get some experience as an outside factor, and then goes on to write a study about it as valid as that of someone who LIVED through it? I do not think it is.

    Also, is there a way we can hear the answers to the questions I asked you? The answers, after all, could help illuminate your line of thinking for people reading your posts.

    Ampersand:
    We will start with the smaller part first: How is asking someone if they mindlessly believe something LESS insulting then making fun of their screen name in an attempt to prove your point?

    Second:
    “Aside from several other problems, you’re making a key logical error here by saying it’s about what people “CAN” do. But the logical question isn’t about what people “CAN” do; it’s about how race affects probability. ”

    Yes, Race in some places CAN affect that probability.. but like wise does the fact it CAN affect it mean that it IS affecting it? Keep in mind, also, as I stated in my post.. I DO believe racism DOES happen. I am not saying racism does not exist. What I am saying is that the ones who cry “Racist” the most are the ones who use it as an excuse.

    Bottom line: If an employer has the idea/image that you are a thug, (IE: from the way you dress, talk, act, or the image that your people show to the world), they have every right to say “I don’t want that type of employee”. They are the ones who have to deal with the fallout if they hire someone who disrupts the work flow. And seeing as it is the COMPANY’S money that is paying those employees, why should those who the Company trust to make those decisions not be allowed to make them?

    If you want the SAME chance as everyone else, then you have to be what that employer wants, REGARDLESS of race.
    Example: WHITE guy walks into a job interview for an office job looking like a Hell’s Angel’s Biker, he is less likely to get a call back over someone LESS qualified or EQUALLY qualified who dresses in a more accepted fashion.

    Why is it so wrong for us, blacks whites everyone, to look at the blacks who look like thugs (which is for a large population of blacks the current “black culture” and has been for a while) that THEY are why they are not getting good jobs? That if they didn’t act like criminals, people would not SEE them as criminals.

    Now, let us look at the report you linked. I agree more black people go to jail then white people. Damn right. And yes they DO get harsher jail times. On the surface it looks VERY racist. And I am sure there are judges that just hate one race more then any other. White, black, Asian, Mexican, take your pick. But lets dig under the surface a little:

    “~people who earned less than $5,000 a year get fewer breaks in sentencing than people who earn more than $5,000 a year; but there doesn’t appear to be much difference in the sentences given those who earn $10,000 a year and those who earn $50,000.”

    One, if you are making less then 5k a year, you are going to the bottom of the barrel public defenders. And yes, some like my wife’s dad works hard for each and every case but for the most part they are only marking time. They are not going to look for loop holes, they are not going to find ways to reduce your time in jail, hell they may not even care if you show up in sweat suits.

    So yes, the poor don’t have the money for GOOD legal advice. But that is the free market for you, you get what you pay for.

    “Having no high school diploma resulted in an additional sentence of 1.2 months.”

    Yes, if you see someone who is 25, no diploma, and is in on a drug charge… you are going to have a LOT less mercy on them then someone with a collage degree, a good job, and a drug charge. Damn right, because one of them is helping society and the other is leeching off of it.

    All of which would no longer be a factor if we blacks got up, and CHANGE OUR IMAGE. Maybe if we STOPPED trying to tell the world that weed is just A-OK. Maybe if we STOPPED calling women b**ches, H*es, C**ts, and other such names things would get better. Maybe if we STOPPED wearing fashion that looks like either a Puffy Video or we just got out of prison.

    Cut off the afro, wear a suit that doesn’t look like a pimp outfit from the 70′s, call those in authority “Ma’am”, “Sir”, and “Mister”, and for all purposes stop living as if we don’t know any better, those who cry “Racism” would be able to get a head in life.

    nojojojo:
    I was going to just let your comment slide but since someone else brought you up… have you LIVED in these areas or did you just read a book about them? It would help in regards to the question someone asked talking about your first hand exp with such matters.

  16. 16
    BluntHammer says:

    skylanda : I was going to mention that, or rather some LIKE that, but I was honestly worried that we would get derailed onto a sexism sub-topic. If I was wrong for trying to avoid that, or if I accidentally insulted anyone by being worried about that, I truly DO apologize.

    I would like to say that you do bring up a good point. I would like to say, if I can, that I do NOT mind people of ANY color wanting to end racism. I just think that if we are going to look at a subject, and I mean -any- subject, that we have to accept that what it looks like on the surface is not always the truth just because it looks bad.

    Sometimes that static on your phone /might/ be the FBI… but most times it is just a bad connection. (A loose example but I hope it gets the point across.)

  17. 17
    Ampersand says:

    Blunthammer:

    If you had said “Mandolin, it sounds to me like you’re out of tune,” I wouldn’t have said a word to deter you. To my ear, a joke about a screen name’s literal meaning is different from saying that someone is mindless. Nor is saying “she did it too!” any excuse.

    Regarding workplace hiring, of course I agree that if we have two applicants, one in businesswear, the other in torn jeans and a tank top, then a regular old office job is justified in hiring the businesswear, and we don’t have to ask about race. (Has anyone here disagreed with that?)

    Obviously, individual traits matter. I don’t think anyone’s denying that. But that’s also not a big concern of mine, by and large. If someone doesn’t get a job because he refuses to take the interview seriously, that’s a just outcome and not really something to be concerned about.

    However, social scientists have also tried sending matched pairs of testers to apply for entry-level jobs. The testers were matched for accent, body type, were rehearsed to give similar responses to questions, had fictional equally-qualified resumes, and of course dressed identically. What these studies have consistently found is that employers are more likely to call back white applicants for interviews, and are also more likely to offer white applicants a job.

    One of these audit studies also considered the “criminal” component, by adding a criminal record into the mix. They found that many employers preferred a white applicant with a criminal record over a black applicant without a criminal record.

    Bottom line: Even after we dress people the same, have them give similar answers, make sure they’ve got similar resumes, etc., there’s still a lot of racism in the job market.

    Regarding your comments on the prison study, you’re right — income, education, etc.., all made a difference. But even after accounting for all those differences, the study still found that whites got lighter sentences than blacks. So race isn’t the only thing that makes a difference; but it still makes a difference, and that’s unfair.

    Finally, I’d say that some of these class issues matter more than our discussion here indicates. For example, you wrote “So yes, the poor don’t have the money for GOOD legal advice. But that is the free market for you, you get what you pay for.” But just because that’s how the free market works, doesn’t make it right. Nor is it impossible to imagine a better system of providing legal help to poor people.

  18. 18
    BluntHammer says:

    Ok going to keep it short for a LOT of reasons.

    One:
    The point is she made a comment that was meant to be demeaning. Now, had you not made an issue of it I would have gladly let it go because it was so unimportant in the bigger picture. Her comment was clearly meant to be insulting and honestly pointless. But I didn’t want to get the main point lost in some petty sniping and for that same reason I am going to drop talking about that aspect of the conversation. (Keep in mind I do not mean to imply others cant.. just that I plan to skip over discussions about it. Big picture and all)

    Two:
    I have seen in these studies that people keep bringing up, and which I KEEP talking about, is that we blacks are judges by OUR actions. Not my actions, or his actions but OUR actions. As I have said MANY times her, so long as our image is that of thugs, gangsters, and women hating macho bullies, those of us who break from that WILL have a hard time making other people see we are not those people. But that is NOT racism. The black culture in this country displays an image, and for the most part is proud of that image, of thugs, gangsters and druggies. Now, if I was in charge of hiring say .. A pharmacy tech. And the image of blacks I see is a bunch of people acting like fools and blaming the white man for everything… why am I going to take a chance with them when it is just going to cause me problems?

    THAT is the diff between now and the 1800s. Yes, in the 1800s blacks where seen as lower humans then whites, as farm tools. And yes, THAT was due to how those in power, who where white, wanted everyone to think. (After all, they themselves thought nothing of enslaving someone.)

    However, NOW we have NO ONE to blame by ourselves. Those very things we hold onto and call (sadly) our “culture” are the very things that hold us back.
    It is NOT that other races think poorly of us because of skin color… it is because we display the image that having this skin color makes us thugs. WE do this. WE do this every time we smoke that joint, or crack, or angel dust. Every time a group of blacks shot at the police. Every time we get to the media and cry “Racism” at the drop of a hat… WE are why people see us so badly. Now, if WE are doing it to ourselves, Ampersand, then how the HELL can we call it racist?

  19. 19
    Ben says:

    Oh, and side note: Smoking Pot is a crime.. Yes, as such people should go to jail for it. It is a dangerous substance that SHOULD be punished even more strongly.

    Wow. Where to start. (trying really hard not to get mad)

    Marijuana is not a dangerous drug; the main reason it is illegal is because of the whims of Harry Anslinger. (Google his name if you haven’t heard of him).

    Be well informed.

  20. 20
    BluntHammer says:

    Ok, I hate to get side tracked but this is something I will.

    Being informed: Weed cause a sense of Depersonalization. For those who do not know, this is when you feel as if you are “Viewing what is going on from outside of my body”, and is linked with a feeling of “having no control of the situation.”

    It also gives an effect that is akin to that, and where it makes the world feel “unreal” and “unusual”. Now, on the surface this doesn’t sound TOO dangerous.. until you learn that such feelings are common to those who have not had enough sleep and are stressed. Both of these things are also well known symptoms of neurological diseases.

    So you are, in fact, putting a toxin into your body that gives you the effects of a mental disease.

    It also slows your reactions, meaning that while the subject may feel they have more time to “react”, in reality you are simply reacting seconds AFTER the fact. Not to mention that the “altered state of consciousness” and the “increased philosophical thinking” is just as bad as when you see someone who is drunk slurring their words, mumbling, and losing the train of the conversation. That Drunk, and the person who are stones, both might THINK they are being “philosophical”, but its an illusion.

    Which brings us to the ever popular “Well, beer is ok, why isn’t pot???”. Because me having a beer, or wine, or drink “X” at home, in a chair, in my living room does not get everyone else in the room drunk with me. And that right there is one of the big facts that I see some people wanting to ignore. Unless someone have spent a lot of money to make your room “air tight”, which would include pumping air from an outside source into that room, your second hand weed smoke is FORCING those effects onto someone else. I do not know about anyone else but the idea of someone being able to light up a blunt around me and NOT caring that it is putting stuff into my body is deeply troubling.

    But let us ignore all of that for a moment. Let’s say the minority of people who smoke weed are right, and its God’s gift to man kind, second only to Jesus himself. At the end of the day… smoking weed is breaking the law. A law which the majority of people do not seem to mind having around. Like the law or not, it IS a law. The message of “Well, if you don’t like the law just break it” is not one I want to be sending to my kids.

    All of which has nothing to do with racism, but only one person was ever perfect and look what they did to him. Me, I have hang-nails. (Old joke, still useful.)

  21. 21
    will shetterly says:

    Tim Wise makes a lot of money talking about race and ignoring other factors, like class. He’s a classic neoliberal anti-racist of the sort that Adolph Reed Jr. describes here.

    RonF, finding statistics in the US for poor white people compared with poor people of other races is mighty tough, ’cause talking about poor white people smacks of communism.

    Ampersand, I realize it’s your blog, your rules, but there’s something odd in telling Blunthammer “Please remember to treat other posters here with respect” after Mandolin implied Blunthammer isn’t black (“Assuming for the moment that you are actually a black person”).

    Mandolin, Blunthammer could be black and still disagree with you. Black people actually have different political views, just as white people do, ranging from right-libertarianism to Maoism.

  22. 22
    will shetterly says:

    Oh, a couple more things about Tim Wise’s article. Regarding Katrina, Adolph Reed Jr. has a great piece here.

    And this sentence “It determines whom the dealer is, and who gets dealt” is awful. Who.

    Okay, that was petty of me. But what he’s saying ignores things like the history of black slaveowners in the US and generational poverty among white people. Seeing the USA exclusively through the lens of race will keep you from seeing the nature of power in this country.

  23. 23
    Myca says:

    Seeing the USA exclusively through the lens of race will keep you from seeing the nature of power in this country.

    Seeing it exclusively through the lens of class will do the same.

    Or gender.

    Or sexuality.

    None of that means that racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia don’t exist or aren’t critically important.

    I’m not sure if I read you right, but you seem to be wandering in the direction of “racism is just classism,” and that’s kind of a bad … well … racist place to be.

    If you’re not going there, though, I apologize.

    —Myca

  24. 24
    Mandolin says:

    Will–you are banned like fuck from this blog. Don’t come back.

  25. 25
    Mandolin says:

    I’m not sure if I read you right, but you seem to be wandering in the direction of “racism is just classism” and that’s kind of a bad–well–a racist place to be.

    He really, really does go there. He goes there on skates; he goes there on drugs; he goes there on a rocketship. He goes there once, and then he goes there twice, and then he goes on back for tea, and then he goes back thirteen more times, and that’s only just this morning.

    Will Shetterly: DO NOT ENGAGE

    Some highlights:

    Will argues that Jews=whites, historically and forever, amen

    The Will Shetterly bingo card

    Will Shetterly on how race had nothing to do with Katrina (WTF, dude? Just shut up sometime, it might stop you from drooling crap.)

    Lots more links at the first one. Or just peruse the internet for 30 seconds. You’ll probably find him being a dick to someone.

  26. 26
    Simple Truth says:

    What does it say about whites’ tenuous grip on mental health

    You know, I was all on board for reading the article until I read that phrase.

    Aside from the ableism and the stunning insult to those who suffer from mental health issues, I have a hard time sticking through that type of condescension. It takes a lot of mental energy to learn how someone else’s experience can affect the small components of life. It’s why it’s called privilege – because you don’t know it’s there unless you don’t have it.

    Telling white people they’re suffering from mental health issues because they haven’t dug into the hard facts isn’t justified. It’s a difficult process to put aside privilege. If they haven’t been exposed to the issues, or PoC, it’s even harder to realize there’s a problem in the first place.

    Privilege is invisible to those who have it. It doesn’t make them mentally-unsound. That’s a childish way to put a hard issue that affects everyone involved.

  27. 27
    Emily says:

    so long as our image is that of thugs, gangsters, and women hating macho bullies, those of us who break from that WILL have a hard time making other people see we are not those people. But that is NOT racism.

    OK, I may be confused, but I thought that is precisely racism – because employers, educators, “the system” in this country do not use stereotypes to judge individual white people, but do use stereotypes to judge individual minority people. And, as demonstrated in the social science studies cited, use those stereotypes even when they have good, objective reasons to believe that the minority individual in front of them is NOT a person who behaves in those stereotypical ways. I mean, isn’t that pretty clear cut racism?

  28. 28
    BluntHammer says:

    @Emily,
    No, because Racism and Stereotypes are baseless ideas formed on -nothing-. With the black culture here in America, they are -willing- and -knowingly- presenting an image to everyone. Not ALL blacks smoke pot, not all blacks sit around blaming racism for why they don’t work. And no one is saying ALL blacks do this. What IS being said is that the image that many blacks project IS a negative image.

    Telling blacks that we need to stop displaying a negative image, and we need to stop bad-mouthing/insulting/bullying those who try to present a positive image as “going white”, is not racist.

    I would say this of ANY race/group of people who promote and support the violent, depraved, hateful image that we as blacks show the world.

    (I find it hard to come up with an excuse or argument that shows the gangster/hard core black/rap lifestyle as anything but violent, hateful, and depraved.)

    If we presented to the world a different image and no one was hiring blacks, I would be right with you screaming “Racism” at the top of my lungs. If the image that the world sees was more peaceful, drug free, and respectful of women and police, and this was still happening, I would be marching with people.

    The problem is that we DO NOT give off that image… we instead appeal to the lowest common denominator within our black culture… and then look shocked when the world sees us in a bad light.

  29. 29
    Robert says:

    BluntHammer, I’m attuned to your philosophical position, but I can also see a glaring hole in it. You say that black people today are presenting the image that is used to oppress them, and to some degree there is merit in that claim. If I were a white supremacist and someone asked me to design a “black culture” that would make my work as easy as possible, well, the thug/rap subculture we have now would do.

    But the thing is, 75 years ago the black culture was radically, radically different – respect for elders, marital fidelity, middle-class values the ideal. Oh sure, there was “black trash”, there’s always some people who don’t know how to behave, I’m sure you’ll agree. But black people as a group were going out of their way to behave well, at least a major chunk of black people as a group were.

    And racism was way worse than it is today. The hanged-from-a-tree kind of worse.

    I think there are good and solid reasons to decry the black subculture and behavior you decry, but honestly, so that white people won’t be as racist just isn’t one of them. The white people who want to be racist will be racist while black people are setting new ultimate standards of Godliness, cleanliness, and hard work.

  30. 30
    F.R. says:

    What Robert said.

    Oh, and because there’s no equivalent white subculture that’s violent, disrespectful of authority, proud of its drug use and ragingly misogynistic? Really?

    (Not to mention that this “the actions of BAD black people are responsible for prejudice against blacks” really smacks of “well, if it wasn’t for STUPID women, there’d be no such thing as sexism”. Which is an argument that really rubs me the wrong way. You are blaming black people for something that is done by white people to black people. That’s kinda screwed up.)

    Anyway, if we’re going for anecdotal evidence – I’m white. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. I knew people who considered smoking pot and treating women like crap to be “acts of pride”. I knew people who took “hard” drugs (and even sold them) while at school, and were damned proud of that fact. I knew people who stole cars, people who committed arson and assault, men who abused their girlfriends horribly. All of these people were white. All of them. Fact is, there are people like that wherever you go. Isn’t it interesting – and, dare I say, racist? – that, despite this sort of behavior being in no way limited to black people, these behaviors are still ASSOCIATED with black people?

    What BH is saying about “image” is part of the problem, yes, but not in the way he thinks it is. It’s symptomatic of racism, not the cause thereof.

  31. 31
    B. Adu says:

    I’d have to sum up blunthammer as an Uncle Tom.

  32. 32
    Robert says:

    Argh, this is a Mandolin thread and I wasn’t supposed to post here. Please feel free to delete, or to move my comment to an open thread. My apologies; long day.

  33. 33
    RonF says:

    Stereotypes come from somewhere. Stereotypes exist because some people in a population fit those stereotypes. Racism gets expressed as “all/most [members_of_a_group] fit the stereotype”, regardless of how many or how few actually do and regardless of how many “not [members_of_a_group]” fit that same stereotype (with the exception of their non-membership in the group in question). And it’s racist regardless of whether that stereotype is negative (“all Hispanics are illegal aliens”) or positive (“All Asian kids are smart”).

    There are good and solid reasons for not participating in the behavior in a negative stereotype, as such behavior is generally self-destructive. But that doesn’t mean that the stereotype is going to go away if the majority of people in a given group stop exhibiting that behavior.

    There’s one big difference between 75 years ago and now, though – the huge media presence of the glorification of the stereotype. Now we have people making millions by exemplifying a stereotype in song, movies, videos, etc., and essentially selling it – both to members of the group and outsiders (e.g., white kids buying rap records and dressing and talking like rap stars). It’s one thing to see a few people exhibiting a certain behavior. It’s quite another to see images of that behavior broadcast to cheering thousands and to see shows whose purpose is to give awards to those performers, and to see kids walking around with their pictures on their t-shirts
    and their music in their ears. The acceptance and even approval of the stereotypes go well beyond the actual number of people who exhibit it in promoting the concept of how many people fit the stereotype and how accurately it fits the group.

    Is it, then, going to help reduce racism if we act within our own communities (be they physical, ethnic, racial, etc.) to reduce the glorification of and consumption of stereotypes?

  34. 34
    Jake Squid says:

    There’s one big difference between 75 years ago and now, though – the huge media presence of the glorification of the stereotype.

    Ummmmm, yeah. I don’t think so.

  35. 35
    Ampersand says:

    I’d have to sum up blunthammer as an Uncle Tom.

    This is a first warning, B. Personal attacks like this are not welcome on “Alas.”

  36. 36
    RonF says:

    Jake, you think the current presence and influence of TV, radio, movies, music and the internet is equivalent to that of the various available media of 75 years ago?

  37. 37
    Jake Squid says:

    That there was a huge media presence of the glorification of the stereotype 75 years ago is undeniable. Your question is an attempt to move the goalposts.

    But, yeah. Everybody listened to the radio then like everybody watches TV now. Considering that nearly 5% of the population of the US listened to “War of the Worlds” and considering that radio was THE media of the ’30s… yes, the influence was equivalent.

  38. 38
    Jake Squid says:

    Fully 1/3 of the country listened to Father Coughlin’s weekly broadcasts.

    Prime time was created as a descriptor for radio. Movie attendance as a percentage of the population was higher in the 30′s & 40′s than it is today.

    Must I go on?

  39. 39
    Elusis says:

    I thought the point Jake Squid was making with his film link was that 75 years ago, all the crime movies were about white criminals, and yet bafflingly, this did not result in all white people being treated as if they were likely to be lawless, anti-social, violent gangsters.

  40. 40
    Jake Squid says:

    That was, indeed, my point. RonF countered that by claiming that mass media wasn’t anywhere near as pervasive in the 30s. He’s wrong there, too.

  41. 41
    Chris says:

    Jake, maybe I’m being dense, but I’m having a bit of trouble following your argument. It seems like you’re saying that the portrayal of white criminals in the 1930s is equivalent to the portrayal of black criminals today. Do I have that right?

    Because that seems to ignore a lot. Yes, gangster movies were enormously popular, and the criminals were usually played by white people. But during this same time, white people also commonly portrayed lawyers, reporters, businessmen, politicians, middle-class workers, family men, policemen, and a great variety of other roles. I am not sure how that can be compared to the lack of variety of black portrayals in the history of American media.

    That whites were not stereotyped in the way that blacks were is largely because of the pre-existing racial history of this country, true. But if white people were portrayed almost exclusively as criminals, fear-based stereotypes of white criminals would certainly gain a lot more popularity than they actually did.

    Of course, the reason this didn’t happen was because whites controlled the media then even more than they do now. One thing that Blunthammer fails to realize (among many other things) is that a lot of media portrayals of black violence are created by white producers, writers, and directors who have never actually had much exposure to the “black community.” And they were constructing blacks as criminals and lowlifes long before blacks were constructing themselves that way in their media.

    So while I agree with you, Jake, that there is a double standard between white and black criminals, you seem to be arguing that this is in spite of the ways the two have been portrayed in the media throughout our history. This implies that the media hasn’t had that much of an effect on racial relations. I don’t think you intended to make this implication, but that seems to be the logical conclusion of such an argument. I think the evidence strongly shows that this double standard exists largely because of the differing ways black and white criminals have been portrayed.

  42. 42
    Jake Squid says:

    I’m just pointing out that there was a huge media portrayal of the gangster stereotype in the ’30s. I’m trying to say that the “… the huge media presence of the glorification of the stereotype,” isn’t different than the presence of the same 75 years ago. What that stereotype is/was isn’t particularly important to the error of RonF’s that I’m highlighting.

    If I wanted to specifically talk about the racist stereotypes glorified by a huge media presence, there are plenty of them in the ’30s. But RonF’s claim of a difference in terms of “the huge media presence of the glorification of the stereotype” immediately brought the Irish Gangster model to mind. (Which was also bigotry, just against a different group.)

  43. 43
    Chris says:

    Thanks, Jake. I understand what you’re saying now. I agree that the media was just as influential then as it is now.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding.