Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Let's talk about racism, Part 1

The topic of race and racism is one of the most dangerous in American public discussion. As Eric Holder, a highly controversial Attorney General said, "Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and we, I believe continue to be in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” He also added:

If we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another and tolerant enough of each other to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us...
"If we're going to ever make progress, we're going to have to have the guts, we have to have the determination, to be honest with each other. It also means we have to be able to accept criticism where that is justified," Holder told reporters after the speech.

I believe that Mr.Holder is right, and I will try to be brave and honest when discussing race in America. I promise to my reader that I will not be cowed by race mongers hurling insults at me for telling the truth to power.

Exhibit 1. Race resentment from the NYT and the academia

I was reading this article from the NYT, and its fallacies became immediately apparent to me. The article is called "How Much Does Race Still Matter?" and it purports to examine the effects of Obama's election on the racial resentment in America. The first obvious flaw of the article is that all the research quoted by the author examines exclusively the attitude of White Americans versus Black Americans. The article itself concedes that there are 32% more Hispanics than Blacks - and yet, the author fails to find any research articles that examine the racial resentment between Blacks and Hispanics, let alone Asians and Blacks (and vice verse). The author also does not even attempt to discuss the racial prejudice towards White people in America - and given the ubiquity of institutional racism in universities and employment (the so-called "affirmative action"), this blindness to the obvious is unexplainable.

But what bothered me most is the article's discussion of a set of questions (put together by Tesler and Sears) which purportedly showed (if answered "incorrectly") a person's "explicit anti-black attitudes". The author conceded that not everyone agreed with these questions, but apparently, a lot of scientists did agree with Tesler.

I believe it would be educational for my readers to answer these questions (and read my own replies) and then debate which answers could be judged as demonstrating "explicitly anti-black attitudes".

1) Irish, Italian, Jewish and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without any special favors.

For some undisclosed reason, the questioners decided to ignore the multiple non-White minorities that were able to over-come the prejudice and work their way up in the American society. These, of course, include the Chinese, Koreans, Indians, and Japanese, Arabs, Persians, Thai, Malaysians and Vietnamese. If anything, the people from these minorities can claim higher median income than the White people. It is also quite well-known, that all minorities suffered discrimination's (and many of them are still discriminated in university admissions and job applications) both by the government and the private business. Indeed, discrimination against Asians is legal today, and is even openly promoted by the federal, state and local governments. And yet, in spite of that, these groups are extremely successful in the US. Based on this undeniable evidence, I am forced to conclude that the Blacks can and should achieve success in this country without any "special favors". I would even contend that any "special favors" would prove to be disastrous to the Blacks and the race relations.

2) Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.

Tens of millions of poor, illiterate minority immigrants came to the US in the 20th century, and in spite of continuous discrimination were able to achieve the living standards far above the level of the White Americans. There is absolutely no reason to presume that American Blacks cannot achieve the same success.

 3) Over the past few years, blacks have gotten less than they deserve.

Given the wide-spread usage of "affirmative action" which explicitly discriminates against White and Asian workers and applicants, and given the fact that the US economy is mostly free, there is no evidence to suggest that the Blacks "got less than they deserve." In fact, the opposite may actually be quite true.

4) It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites.

Given the history of minority empowerment in America, it is beyond any doubt that the Blacks may achieve much more than the Whites if they demonstrate the same level of dedication to success as Asian-Americans and Jewish-Americans have in the 20th century.

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