Once we start investigating the numbers, it’s surprising how doable guaranteeing jobs looks. If there are 9.8 million unemployed people, giving each of them a $30,000-a-year full-time job (approximately $15 per hour) would cost about $294 billion. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money. It’s approximately equal to the$265 billion the federal government spent on Medicaid last year, and it’s about half the $585 billion spent on Medicare. These are large federal programs, and squeezing an extra program of their magnitude onto the federal books would not be that easy. On the other hand, the federal government took in almost 10 times that amount in total revenue. It’s only about 1.8 percent of total GDP.
In 1897, President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a federal holiday, reacting to pressure from unions following the contentious Pullman Strike. Over the next century, unions fought to win all sorts of benefits for Americans, ranging from widespread employer-sponsored health care to reduced workdays. But this Labor Day, many of these hard-fought benefits are under attack:
Organized Christianity seems, in general, to have made peace with ‘the economy’ by divorcing itself from economic issues, and this, I think, has proved to be a disaster, both religious and economic. The reason for this, on the side of religion, is suggested by the adjective ‘organized.’ It is clearly possible that, in the condition of the world as the world now is, organization can force upon an institution a character that is alien or even antithetical to it. The organized church comes immediately under a compulsion to think of itself, and identify itself to the world, not as an institution synonymous with its truth and its membership, but as a hodgepodge of funds, properties, projects, and offices, all urgently requiring economic support. The organized church makes peace with a destructive economy and divorces itself from economic issues because it is economically compelled to do so. Like any other public institution so organized, the organized church is dependent on ‘the economy’; it cannot survive apart from those economic practices that its truth forbids and that its vocation is to correct. If it comes to the extermination of the fowls of the air and the lilies of the field and the extermination of the building fund, the organized church will elect—indeed, has already elected—to save the building fund. The irony is compounded and made harder to bear by the fact that the building fund can be preserved by crude applications of money, but the fowls of the air and the lilies of the field can be preserved only by true religion, by the practice of a proper love and respect for them as the creatures of God. No wonder so many sermons are devoted exclusively to ‘spiritual’ subjects. If one is living by the tithes of history’s most destructive economy, the disembodiment of the soul becomes the chief of worldly conveniences.
"God and Country" by Wendell Berry, pg 96 of "What Are People For?"
kaybee-in-la

bill-o-reilly-talking-points

This past week, Bill O’Reilly was his usual raging asshole self when he set out on his Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor” to debunk the notion of White privilege. The essence of his argument? Asian Americans are doing great socioeconomically even though we are not White. Therefore, racism must not really exist, and the root of the problem for African Americans must be a cultural pathology.

To bolster his argument, O’Reilly pointed to racial disparities between Blacks, Whites and Asians in graduation rates, unemployment rates and median family income to conclude that African Americans have essentially invented a mythological White privilege as an attempt to avoid taking “personal responsibility”. O’Reilly argued:

Just 13 percent of Asian children live in single parent homes compared to a whopping 55 percent for blacks and 21 percent for whites. So, there you go. That is why Asian Americans, who often have to overcome a language barrier, are succeeding far more than African-Americans and even more than white Americans. Their families are intact and education is paramount.

In essence, Papa Bear provides a textbook example of Asian Americans used as the wedge minority by the White mainstream to berate African Americans (and implicitly other academically disenfranchised minority groups) for not bootstrapping their way to socioeconomic success. It can’t be racism; it must be some deficiency in Black culture to blame, right? After all, the Asians can do it, why can’t the Blacks?

Asian Americans are no more racially exceptional than African Americans are racially pathological.
Asian Americans are no more racially exceptional than African Americans are racially pathological.

That a (White) conservative pundit would use the Model Minority Myth to insinuate a Black cultural pathology is nothing new. The Model Minority Myth — which, let us remember, is a myth — was invented for this explicit purpose: its first appearance in the American political zeitgeist was in a 1960′s New York Times Magazine article (“Success story: Japanese American style”) as a reference to Japanese American immigrants who overcame discrimination through alleged “perseverance”, in stated contrast to African Americans who were focused on overcoming discrimination through political action (i.e. the Civil Rights Movement). In other words, the Model Minority Myth has always been a fiction invented by Whiteness and has always been used as a cudgel to denigrate, belittle, or dismiss African American efforts to agitate for political equality, while simultaneously appropriating and limiting the roles that Asian Americans can politically inhabit.

The Model Minority Myth is an overt and potent tool of white supremacy used to justify structural racism against virtually all communities of colour (including Asian Americans). For many of us who identify as descendants of the politicized Asian American Movement, dismantling the Model Minority Myth has been of tantamount importance.

Thus, it comes as a surprise when I come across Asian Americans who would not only internalize the myth of the Asian American model minority as articulated by the likes of Bill O’Reilly, but who actually vocally take up its anti-Black logic as their standard. Earlier this month, I invited blogger Byron Wong (BigWOWO.com) onto the Reappropriate podcast to discuss affirmative action; over the course of that conversation and through later comments, Byron blamed cultural differences between Black and Asian communities for observed racial disparities on commonly used tests for college aptitude like the SATs. That perspective has been taken up on his site by both Byron and several of his regular (self-identified Asian American) readers: in a lengthy post and subsequent comment thread, Byron argues that Asians are culturally predisposed to academic pursuits (Blacks, he argues, are culturally predisposed to athletic achievement) and that African Americans should learn how to Tiger parent from Asians to correct the racial disparities in academics.

Another who identifies as Chinesemom puts it more bluntly when she writes:

I don’t think money can do much for African Americans. It is quite clear to me that their problem is the culture. If their culture doesn’t change, they will be stuck here forever. 

No Chinese parents would claim their son a “good boy” if the kid were like Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin, we would be ashamed of raising that kind of thugs, even the killing of them may not be justified. 

Both Bill O’Reilly and — disappointingly — several BigWOWO readers have bought into the Model Minority Myth hook-line-and-sinker. They espouse the tired canard of Asian American cultural exceptionalism, and in so doing join arms with Bill O’Reilly to reinforce the damaging effects of the Model Minority Myth in perpetuating anti-Black and anti-Asian racism in today’s America.

Don’t get me wrong: I understand that the Model Minority Myth is deeply flattering, which forms the basis for its appeal for some Asian Americans. People love to buy into a good story about their own racial or cultural superiority, as has been aptly and repeatedly demonstrated throughout human history. The problem, of course, is that the Model Minority Myth is also almost entirely fiction (a fact that is unlikely to sway partisan defenders of the Myth, who aren’t particularly interested in facts to begin with). The facts reveal that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders aren’t better (or worse) than anyone else; like any community made up of different kinds of people, we are simply people.

aamodelminority-flyer

First, the Model Minority Myth focuses on our success stories while it simply ignores data showing where Asian Americans are struggling, even in the aggregate. Bill O’Reilly cites Labour Department statistics showing low unemployment rates in the Asian American community; he fails to note that while our short-term unemployment rates are low, the same data show that chronic unemployment rates for Asian Americans are highest of all racial groups — and similar to that of Black American jobseekers. O’Reilly is unaware, it seems, of obstacles barring Asian Americans from advancing within their chosen careers – an effect known as the “bamboo ceiling” — which made headlines this week with the revelation that Asian Americans are being excluded from the top positions even in Silicon Valley tech companies where we are otherwise well-represented. And while O’Reilly shows the high median family income of Asian Americans in the aggregate, Papa Bear doesn’t bother to inform his viewer that our wealth gap is also the largest for any racial or ethnic group: some ethnicities have extremely high median family incomes, while others fall far short of the national average. Regionally, Asian American poverty is extremely high, as in San Francisco’s Chinatown area, where Chinese American residents are forced to pack entire families into single-resident dwellings, and limited healthcare access have resulted in rampant chronic disease.

In assuming a common and exceptional Asian culture of bootstrapped success, the Model Minority Myth simply fails to take into account the pan-ethnic (and indeed pan-racial) nature of the Asian American & Pacific Islander identity, which includes multiple subgroups who appear indistinguishable with regard to some socioeconomic metrics from Black, Latino and Native groups. For some Southeast Asian American or Pacific Islander groups, college acceptance and matriculation rates are markedly lower, while unemployment, poverty, and incarceration rates are distressingly high. For example, while as many as 70% of South Asian Americans hold a bachelor’s degree, that rate is a mere 26% for Vietnamese Americans and less than 15% for Laotian, Cambodian and Hmong Americans. The Model Minority Myth simply papers over these ethnic differences in achievement in its assertion of a universal Asian American culture predisposed to better book-learning.

The issues are, as New York Times columnist Charles Blow points out, simply more complicated than the oversimplified Culture Canard would assert. The Culture Canard — which boils all success and failure down to cultural facets — ignores far too many of the mitigating socioeconomic factors that mountains of scientific evidence demonstrate as also significant in determining student success. Charles Blow writes, for example, about the potency of America’s immigration system in filtering America’s Asian immigrants. Blow cites both Pew and Colorlines in writing:

2012 Pew Research report entitled “The Rise of Asian Americans” found:

“Large-scale immigration from Asia did not take off until the passage of the landmark Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Over the decades, this modern wave of immigrants from Asia has increasingly become more skilled and educated. Today, recent arrivals from Asia are nearly twice as likely as those who came three decades ago to have a college degree, and many go into high-paying fields such as science, engineering, medicine and finance. This evolution has been spurred by changes in U.S. immigration policies and labor markets; by political liberalization and economic growth in the sending countries; and by the forces of globalization in an ever-more digitally interconnected world.”

Following the publication of the Pew report, the news site Colorlines spoke with Dan Ichinose, director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center’s Demographic Research Project, who was critical of some parts of the Pew report, but seemed to echo the role immigration had played. Colorlines put his response this way:

“The more complex and far less exciting explanation for Asian Americans’ relatively high rates of education has more to do with immigration policy, which has driven selectivity about who gets to come to the U.S. and who doesn’t, said Ichinose.”

Because US immigration policy only permits permanent entry through specific visa classes, most Asian Americans are (by definition) selected through this process. Nearly one quarter of Asian immigrants enter as highly-skilled or highly-educated job recruits, an additional one quarter are entering as the immediate family of these recruits. That means by virtue of the effect of US immigration policy on our community alone, nearly half of all new Asian Americans have been selected because they have at least one highly-educated family member and are part of an intact family unit. Meanwhile, immigration is itself an expensive prospect: between the cost of travel and moving, even the most impoverished migrant family must have invested between hundreds and thousands of dollars in their arrival, which results in the selction of families of a certain base earning potential. That means that when amateur sociologists like Bill O’Reilly try to make conclusions about the cultural intelligence of Asians versus Blacks, he is doing so while comparing the general African American population against the achievements of a select group of (economically and educationally) privileged Asian Americans.

From the Center for American Progress.
From the Center for American Progress.

The power of the US immigration system in selecting the Asian American community is no better demonstrated than in Minnesota. This week, the state’s public school educators are holding an emergency meeting to address the summarized findings of the state’s reading, math and science proficiency tests which are administered to grades 3 through 8. As in previous years, the state’s White students boast a proficiency rate two to three times higher than Black, Hispanic or – importantly — its Asian American students. Only 29% of Asian American students are proficient in reading, only 19% are proficient in science, and only 41% (and only 30% of South Asian Americans) are proficient in math; all numbers comparable to Black and Hispanic classmates, and far shorter than the achievement of White students. Aside from the obvious overall problems with any public school system that is so patently failing its students of colour, these data are also illuminating in regards to today’s post topic: they run at direct odds with the Model Minority Myth.

Minnesota student proficiency on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments in 2012 (Grads 3-10).
Minnesota student proficiency on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments in 2012 (Grades 3-8).

The Model Minority Myth of Bill O’Reilly’s articulation would assert that Minnesota’s Asian Americans should, even immersed in a failing school system, be able to leverage our two-parent homes and our Asian cultural predispositions for academia to bootstrap our way at least past the Black and Latino students that Chinesemom would characterize as culturally stagnated. If we are so academically focused in the home, shouldn’t Asian American students demonstrate better proficiency than Black or Latino classmates even when Minnesota public schools are languishing? Yet, this is simply not so. In Minnesota, we’re not Tiger Parenting our way to success.

The reason for this has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with immigration policy. In Minnesota, the Asian American community is about equally distributed between South Asian, Chinese, Hmong, Laotian, Vietnamese and Thai communities; the latter groups include a higher number of immigrants entering the country as political refugees, meaning that they have not been selected through immigration for economic and educational privilege. And, it is the absence of the effects of that filtering that explains the results: Asian American students are not innately or culturally superior at academic pursuits than their non-White peers, they only appear to be when one fails to recognize how some Asian Americans who have been selected for their privilege are able to fall back on that privilege to buoy their educational outcomes. In Minnesota, absence of economic privilege along with the absence of a supportive public school system combine to reveal that Asian Americans of all ethnicities — like all students of colour — can be vulnerable to academic underachievement when the system fails them. No amount of Tiger parenting will help.

tiger-mom

Indeed, the very concept of Tiger Parenting is a contentious one among scholars of this field. Proponents of Asian American cultural supremacy argue that Asian American parents have, in essence, cracked the secret of scholastic success, citing the parenting style codified by Amy Chua’s infamous book. This form of strict parenting is, argues Byron Wong, a distinctly common Asian one; it is a style he also asserts is directly responsible for Asian American high achievement on tests like the SATs, and a style that he further asserts is lacking among African American communities. Yet, in a special issue of the American Psychological Association’s Asian American Journal on Psychology which was devoted to the Tiger Parenting phenomenon, researcher Su Yeong Kim reported that a minority of Asian American parents (28%) are Tiger parents; most Asian Americans (45%) parent in a more supportive style that eschews the negative reinforcement and high expectations characteristic of the Tiger mother.

130508_TigerMomChart.jpg.CROP.original-original

Researchers Min Zhou and Jennifer Lee explore how it is a larger “success frame”, not the Tiger parents, that sets the expectations of Asian American students in a manner that compels academic pursuits but with significant drawbacks for self-esteem and identity: those Asian American youths who succeed in the classroom are strongly motivated by the feeling of being “more  Asian” when they succeed, but those who come up short suffer racial and cultural distance and alienation.

girl-math

Meanwhile, there is little evidence to support the other side of the argument when it comes to the Culture Canard: that African American families are uninvested in academic pursuits, and that Black youth are more interested in basketball, music or “the thug life” than students of other races. Anyone who has spent any time in the Black community knows the emphasis placed by Black parents, Black peers, and even the Black church on higher education for the community’s sons and daughters. Since the times of chattel slavery, intellect was not only prioritized, it was a form of abolitionist revolt: slaves secretly taught themselves to read while hiding that skill from their masters. One of the major priorities of Reconstruction was the creation of schools for the education of Black children. Black students go out for the debate championship and enroll in AP classes as readily as do students of other races. The African American community founded HBCU’s as a direct response to segregation. Black thinkers are responsible for the traffic light, the cotton gin, and the first open-heart surgery. Black intellectuals — Neil deGrasse Tyson, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell and more (not to mention the president and his equally as accomplished wife) — can be found throughout American life. One study by Charles et al (2007) reveals that upon controlling for income and schooling, Black parents are no less invested in the parenting or education of their children than are parents of other races. Another study showed that Black students are equally if not more intellectually curious than their non-Black peers. The stereotype of the unconcerned Black parent is a (racially charged) re-imagining of the Reagonomics “welfare queen”, but bears little resemblance to the realities of contemporary Blackness; anyone who advances this stereotype has spent no time in, and actually engaging with, the Black community.

There is no doubt that a racial disparity exists in quantifiable scores used (often overly broadly) to measure student aptitude. In the aggregate, White and Asian American students earn higher GPAs and outperform on the SATs compared to Black and Latino students; this disparity has been misused by Bill O’Reilly and others to bolster claims of Asian American cultural superiority in the context of the myth of Black cultural pathology. But, as Lee and Zhou point out, many Asian American students cited in such studies are starting from a position of greater privilege and opportunity (while those Asian American students lacking those privileges are lost in the statistical shuffle). Lee writes in an editorial:

Like Chua and Rubenfeld, we found that the children of Chinese immigrants exhibit exceptional educational outcomes that exceed those of other groups, including native-born Anglos. In Los Angeles, 64 percent of Chinese immigrants’ children graduated from college, and of this group 22 percent also attained a graduate degree. By contrast, 46 percent of native-born Anglos in L.A. graduated from college, and of this group, just 14 percent attained graduate degrees. Moreover, none of the Chinese Americans in the study dropped out of high school. These figures are impressive but not surprising.

Chinese immigrant parents are the most highly educated in our study. In Los Angeles, more than 60 percent of Chinese immigrant fathers and more than 40 percent of Chinese immigrant mothers have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In turn, their children benefit from their parents’ human and financial capital, giving them a boost in their quest to get ahead.

This boost – which includes resources such as after-school programs, SAT prep courses and tutoring – isn’t limited to the middle class. The children of working-class Chinese parents employed in restaurants and factories benefit from capital and resources that are made widely available to other Chinese Americans.

Lee alludes to, in part, how local communities are still geographically segregated and stratified by race, not class, meaning that working-class Asian Americans may also benefit by living in or near a wealthier predominantly Asian American ethnic enclave and benefit ting from the improved public school quality therein; whereas middle-class Black Americans may still live in poor predominantly Black neighbourhoods, where public schools may lack the taxpayer funds to provide adequate resources for students. Indeed, in a recent data crunch of admissions information from UCLA, I found that lower-income White and Asian American students still had access to better quality high schools than wealthy Black students.

ucla-high-school-quality

In short, it would be fallacious to ascribe the high educational outcomes of Asian Americans to sheer bootstrapping, as Bill O’Reilly and BigWOWO readers would do; “high-achieving” Asian Americans perform well at least in part due to the specific economic privileges that come with membership in some Asian American ethnic communities, where extra resources are widely available, and even indirectly shared between wealthy and working-class families.

Yet, in his recent post, Byron Wong ignores these mitigating factors and suggests (along with many of his readers) that Asian Americans are scoring up to 400 points higher on average on the SATs than Black students (a number misapplied from the work of Thomas Espenshade), which he uses to assert the intellectual academic superiority of the Asian American student, and Black cultural and parental pathology. The SATs are a poor measure of student aptitude, and are not designed to measure student merit in the first place. While the SATs are very weak predictors of first-year college performance within the range that they are typically considered by college admissions officers, they are very strong at predicting one thing: the family income of the test-taker. Those who point to racial gaps in the SATs as evidence of Asian American cultural exceptionalism and Black cultural pathology fail to consider some things we already know: 1) that median family income differs across the races, and 2) income seems to matter quite a bit on SAT outcome.

Most of the racial gap between SAT scores is exactly what you would expect based on the median family incomes of the various racial groups analysed.
Most of the racial gap between SAT scores is exactly what you would expect based on how median family income impacts SAT performance. Error bars represent the standard error of difference of the SATs — any score falling within the error range would not be considered to be statistically different from one another. Data are compiled from multiple sources (Census, College Board) and are all taken from the 2011-2012 year.

In fact, when one considers the differences in median family income between Asian and Black students, one finds that the racial disparity in average SAT score is for the most part exactly what one would expect if assessing any two students coming from different backgrounds in family income. Given their median income, African American students are not, in fact, underperforming on the SATs at all (which does not mitigate all of the other problems with this exam, but I digress); and they are certainly not underperforming for vaguely defined if wholly racist explanations related to stagnated culture. This is not a culture thing, this is an economics thing.

As for Asian Americans, the only significant deviation in how Asian American students perform in the aggregate on the SATs is their high mean score on the math portion: in the aggregate, Asian Americans score about 75 points higher than one might expect for their income level on the math section alone. This is no small feat to be sure, but the reasons for this very specific high achievement are not clear. Further, it’s hard to hang the entire hat of Asian American cultural superiority on a 75 point boost in one section of a three-part SAT exam; and Asian Americans are performing exactly as would be expected based on their median income level on the other two sections.

It is in consideration of minority student performance not just in the absolutes, but in relation to the context of opportunities afforded to them, that lead Lee and Zhou to the perhaps surprising conclusion that it is (in Los Angeles at least) Mexican American youth who are the most successful of all students, not Asian Americans.

At what seems to be the other end of the spectrum, the children of Mexican immigrants had the lowest levels of educational attainment of any of the groups in our study. Only 86 percent graduated from high school – compared with 100 percent of Chinese Americans and 96 percent of native-born Anglos – and only 17 percent graduated from college. But their high school graduation rate was more than double that of their parents, only 40 percent of whom earned diplomas. And, the college graduation rate of Mexican immigrants’ children more than doubles that of their fathers (7 percent) and triples that of their mothers (5 percent).

…[T]here is no question that, when we measure success as progress from generation to generation, Mexican Americans come out ahead.

In the end, this isn’t really about figuring out which culture is superior to another (hint: none); it’s about pulling the focus away from the fiction of the Culture Canard in the first place by debunking the myth that Asians are culturally exceptional and should provide the roadmap for “low-achieving” minorities.

Bill-o-reilly-racial-hustlers

A nearly 4000 word essay on Bill O’Reilly and his Asian American supporters regarding the Culture Canard might seem like much ado about nothing, but this pernicious myth demands analysis, if for no other reason than to point out how unfounded the Model Minority Myth is. But more tangibly, these words do not exist in a vacuum. They are only the latest salvo in America’s larger ongoing siege on Blackness – one that has real-world impact in the form of denying political investment in social services’ programs that would promote American class mobility, education, and uplift. When Bill O’Reilly demands “personal responsibility”, his goal is actually to absolve society of the responsibility of acknowleding our foundation in institutional racism. When Bill O’Reilly blames the racial hustlers, he shifts attention away from the mass incarceration state, educational segregation, economic violence, voter disenfranchisement, and the perpetual maintenance of Black America as a permanent social underclass.

And that’s not even getting into the damning effect of the Model Minority Myth on Asian American politics.

As Asian Americans, I believe we have a personal responsibility to not only refuse to support The Model Minority Myth, but to actively dismantle it at all costs. Sure, it might seem fun to have one’s culture praised by an “Important White Man” like Bill O’Reilly — is this newfound White acceptance a sign that we’ve made it?!? – but we must remember: this is nothing more than repackaged insidious anti-Asian and anti-Black racism for a new millennium. Asian Americans are no more culturally superior — or inferior — than any other group of people. We haven’t cracked the mystical, magical, Tiger mom secret to getting into Harvard. We are just people — some of us very privileged, others of us less so — who succeed and fail at life just like any other; racial parity is an America that recognizes, not flattens, those imperfections.

As an Asian American, I believe in the solidarity project. I prioritize the uplift of all people of colour, not just other Asian Americans. I have no desire to be embraced by the likes of Bill O’Reilly and used as a weaponized identity against my fellow man. To that end, I want no complicity in the Culture Canard; and, neither should you.

LA cops kill John Winkler, an unarmed white man. Some pertinent questions to ask yourself before comparing this with the shooting of Michael Brown:

1. Did multiple eyewitnesses state that the victim was clearly surrendering at the time of his death? 
2. Did the authorities leave the victim’s body in the street for several hours? 
3. Is the victim’s death an example of the systematic targeting of his racial group by the local police force? 
4. Did the police force in question refuse to investigate or release information about the officer(s) until they’d had time to skip town? 

The fact that the answer was “Yes” to all of these is the source of protests in Ferguson around the shooting of Michael Brown. If there are no protests around someone else’s death, it may be because the answer is “No” for most or all of these questions. 

Answers in this case are as follows:
1. No. 
2. No. 
3. No. 
4. No.

LA cops kill John Winkler, an unarmed white man. Some pertinent questions to ask yourself before comparing this with the shooting of Michael Brown:

1. Did multiple eyewitnesses state that the victim was clearly surrendering at the time of his death?
2. Did the authorities leave the victim’s body in the street for several hours?
3. Is the victim’s death an example of the systematic targeting of his racial group by the local police force?
4. Did the police force in question refuse to investigate or release information about the officer(s) until they’d had time to skip town?

The fact that the answer was “Yes” to all of these is the source of protests in Ferguson around the shooting of Michael Brown. If there are no protests around someone else’s death, it may be because the answer is “No” for most or all of these questions.

Answers in this case are as follows:
1. No.
2. No.
3. No.
4. No.

During slavery, it was commonly propounded that the whites were both smarter and stronger than blacks. There were even faux concerns that if slavery were abolished, the black race would die out, unable to survive on its own. Once slavery ended, however, things changed. The “happy docile slave stereotype” (there were always multiple variants) was replaced by the predator/rapist, whose purported presence served to justify wave upon wave of lynching epidemics.

What these examples show is how fluid racist ideologies can be under pressure, and yet still fulfill their same basic function of justifying and naturalizing racially stratified outcomes. The book “Social Dominance: An Intergroup Theory of Social Hierarchy and Oppression” explains how stratified societies maintain themselves with a mixture of hierarchy-enhancing and hierarchy-attenuating ideas, values and “legitimating myths,” which can vary over time, but still continued to produce stratified outcomes provided newer legitimating myths emerge to support hierarchy, as the older ones fall out of favor.

In America as a whole, perhaps the most useful framework for understanding this process in the so-called post-civil rights era is Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s concept of “colorblind racism,” as explained in his 2003 book, “Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States.” While the idea of a “colorblind” social order was, in the 19th century, a relatively radical, emancipatory idea, more recently the notion has been turned upside down, with the claim that we are already colorblind, except, perhaps, for those who still see racial injustices. The concept of “colorblind racism” neatly captures what’s involved in this shell game.

lisaquestions
lisaquestions:

daughterofargus:

killmewithdicks:

this is the best post i have ever seen

#misogyny #sexism #mras #fedoras #violence #murder #sex worker hate

I love how when guys criticize Anita Sarkeesian they end up justifying her criticisms.

While I hesitate to call myself “thankful” for it, the internet outrage over Sarkeesian’s latest video drew my attention to her Feminist Frequency series, and I’m really happy I found it because it’s great. I’ve seen a bunch of criticism directed at her over some obscure problem with her analysis of Hitman, so it’s nice to see that that criticism is in fact completely ludicrous.

lisaquestions:

daughterofargus:

killmewithdicks:

this is the best post i have ever seen

#misogyny #sexism #mras #fedoras #violence #murder #sex worker hate

I love how when guys criticize Anita Sarkeesian they end up justifying her criticisms.

While I hesitate to call myself “thankful” for it, the internet outrage over Sarkeesian’s latest video drew my attention to her Feminist Frequency series, and I’m really happy I found it because it’s great. I’ve seen a bunch of criticism directed at her over some obscure problem with her analysis of Hitman, so it’s nice to see that that criticism is in fact completely ludicrous.

During slavery, it was commonly propounded that the whites were both smarter and stronger than blacks. There were even faux concerns that if slavery were abolished, the black race would die out, unable to survive on its own. Once slavery ended, however, things changed. The ‘happy docile slave stereotype’ (there were always multiple variants) was replaced by the predator/rapist, whose purported presence served to justify wave upon wave of lynching epidemics.

What these examples show is how fluid racist ideologies can be under pressure, and yet still fulfill their same basic function of justifying and naturalizing racially stratified outcomes. The book ‘Social Dominance: An Intergroup Theory of Social Hierarchy and Oppression’ explains how stratified societies maintain themselves with a mixture of hierarchy-enhancing and hierarchy-attenuating ideas, values and ‘legitimating myths,’ which can vary over time, but still continued to produce stratified outcomes provided newer legitimating myths emerge to support hierarchy, as the older ones fall out of favor.

In America as a whole, perhaps the most useful framework for understanding this process in the so-called post-civil rights era is Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s concept of ‘colorblind racism,’ as explained in his 2003 book, ‘Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States.’ While the idea of a ‘colorblind’ social order was, in the 19th century, a relatively radical, emancipatory idea, more recently the notion has been turned upside down, with the claim that we are already colorblind, except, perhaps, for those who still see racial injustices. The concept of ‘colorblind racism’ neatly captures what’s involved in this shell game.

'The central component of any dominant racial ideology is its frames or set paths for interpreting information,' Bonilla-Silva explained, and he identified four such frames at the heart of colorblind racism: 1) Abstract Liberalism, using ideas associated with political liberalism (such as 'equal opportunity,' the idea that force should not be used to achieve social policy) and economic liberalism (choice, individualism) — in an abstract manner to explain racial matters. 2) Naturalization ('That’s just how things are.') 3) Cultural Racism (arguments like 'Mexicans don’t put much emphasis on education' or 'Blacks have too many babies'to explain the condition of minorities.) 4) Minimization of Racism, which simultaneously acknowledges and dismisses persistent racism ('It’s better now than in the past' or 'There is discrimination, but there are plenty of jobs out there').

With this framework as background, it’s not hard to understand the evolution of even more pernicious extremist variants in the right-wing media, which Boehlert sketched out. It began with Andrew Breitbart and his website announcing that ‘basically racism had been eradicated, and that anyone who talked about the topic was therefore a racist,’ especially ‘civil rights activists and civil libertarians … because by raising questions, or talking about it, or discussing it, they were trying to rip the country apart, because the country is already solved racism.’

blackourstory
profkew:

PHOTOGRAPH BY RUDDY ROYE
Between the World and Ferguson by Jelani Cobb

When I was eighteen, I stumbled across Richard Wright’s poem “Between the World and Me.” The poem, a retelling of a lynching, shook me, because while the narrator relays the details in the first person, the actual victim of that brutish ritual is another man, unknown to him and unknown to us. The poem is about the way in which history is an animate force, and how we are witnesses to the past, even to that portion of it that transpired before we were born. He writes,


    darkness screamed with thirsty voices; and the witnesses rose and lived:The dry bones stirred, rattled, lifted, melting themselvesinto my bones.The grey ashes formed flesh firm and black, entering intomy flesh.
Nothing save random fortune separated the fate of the man who died from that of the one telling the story. Errin Whack and Isabel Wilkerson have both written compellingly about the long shadow of lynching. It is, too often, a deliberately forgotten element of the American past—one that is nonetheless felt everywhere in Ferguson, Missouri, where protests followed the shooting of Michael Brown, who was eighteen years old, by a police officer. One can’t make sense of how Brown’s community perceived those events without first understanding the way that neglected history has survived among black people—a traumatic memory handed down, a Jim Crow inheritance.
Read more.

profkew:

PHOTOGRAPH BY RUDDY ROYE

Between the World and Ferguson by Jelani Cobb

When I was eighteen, I stumbled across Richard Wright’s poem “Between the World and Me.” The poem, a retelling of a lynching, shook me, because while the narrator relays the details in the first person, the actual victim of that brutish ritual is another man, unknown to him and unknown to us. The poem is about the way in which history is an animate force, and how we are witnesses to the past, even to that portion of it that transpired before we were born. He writes,

    darkness screamed with thirsty voices; and the witnesses rose and lived:
The dry bones stirred, rattled, lifted, melting themselves
into my bones.
The grey ashes formed flesh firm and black, entering into
my flesh.

Nothing save random fortune separated the fate of the man who died from that of the one telling the story. Errin Whack and Isabel Wilkerson have both written compellingly about the long shadow of lynching. It is, too often, a deliberately forgotten element of the American past—one that is nonetheless felt everywhere in Ferguson, Missouri, where protests followed the shooting of Michael Brown, who was eighteen years old, by a police officer. One can’t make sense of how Brown’s community perceived those events without first understanding the way that neglected history has survived among black people—a traumatic memory handed down, a Jim Crow inheritance.

Read more.

Reparations for Ferguson: Total police control over black bodies has echoes in American history.

From Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic, quoted here in full because I think it deserves to be read in full: 

A few weeks ago I received an anxious text from my wife informing me that a group of young men were fighting outside of our apartment building. We’ve spent most of our adult lives in New York, and most of that time in New York living in Harlem. I love Harlem for the same reason I love all the hoods I have lived in. I walk outside in my same uniform, which is to say my same jeans, my same fitted, my same hoodie, and feel myself washing away, disappearing into the boulevard, into the black and (presently) the brown, and becoming human.

There have been young people fighting outside my window for as long as I can remember. I was no older than five sitting on the steps of my parents’ home on Woodbrook Avenue watching the older boys knock shoulders in the street—”bucking” as we called it then—daring each other to fire off. From that point on I knew that among my people fisticuffs had their own ritual and script. The script was in effect that evening: show cause (some niggas jumped me in the park), mouth off (I ain’t no punk), escalate (wait right her son, I’m bout to get my shit). 

My wife wanted to know what she should do. She was not worried about her own safety—boys like this are primarily a threat to each other. What my wife wanted was someone who could save them young men from themselves, some power which would disperse the boys in a fashion that would not escalate things. No such power exists. I told my wife to stay inside and do nothing. I did not tell her to call the police. If you have watched the events of this past week, you may have some idea why. 

Among the many relevant facts for any African-American negotiating their relationship with the police the following stands out: The police departments of America are endowed by the state with dominion over your body. This summer in Ferguson and Staten Island we have seen that dominion employed to the maximum ends—destruction of the body. This is neither new nor extraordinary. It does not matter if the destruction of your body was an overreaction. It does not matter if the destruction of your body resulted from a misunderstanding. It does not matter if the destruction of your body springs from foolish policy. Sell cigarettes without proper authority and your body can be destroyed. Resent the people trying to entrap your body and it can be be destroyed. Protect the home of your mother and your body can be destroyed. Visit the home of your young daughter and your body will be destroyed. The destroyers of your body will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions. 

It will not do to point out the rarity of the destruction of your body by the people whom you pay to protect it. As Gene Demby has noted, destruction is merely the superlative form of a dominion whose prerogatives include friskings, detainings, beatings, and humiliations. All of this is common to black people. All of this is old for black people. No one is held accountable. The body of Michael Brown was left in the middle of the street for four hours. It can not be expected that anyone will be held accountable.

We are being told that Michael Brown attacked an armed man and tried to take his gun. The people who are telling us this hail from that universe where choke-holds are warm-fuzzies, where boys discard their skittles yelling, “You’re gonna die tonight,” and possess the power to summon and banish shotguns from the ether. These are the necessary myths of our country, and without them we are subject to the awful specter of history, and that is just too much for us to bear.

James Poulos is trying admirably to get at this, noting that we fear Lincoln’s awesome prophecy. But even Poulos can’t quite escape:

We know that America is exceptional in one key respect—we came to democracy without much bloodshed. Around the world, from Hungary and Russia to Iraq and Nigeria, we see the dream of peaceful democratization dragged again and again to what the philosopher Hegel called the slaughter-bench of history. Racial strife and murderous governments, not liberty and democracy, are the rule in history, the established pattern. We know that, mercifully, democratization scourged us only once in ferociously modern style: during the Civil War.

The last sentence here nullifies the first. Some 600,000 Americans—2.5 percent of the American population—died in the Civil War. What came before this was a long bloody war—enslavement—against black families, black communities and black bodies. What came after was a terrorist regime which ruled an entire swath of this country by fire and rope. That regime was not overthrown until an era well within the living memory of many Americans. Taken all together, the body count that led us to our present tenuous democratic moment does not elevate us above the community of nations, but installs us uncomfortably within its ranks. And that is terrifying because it shows us to be neither providential nor exceptional, and only special in the subjective sense that our families are special—because they are ours.

My family lives in Harlem. My wife did not call the police. An older head told the angry boys that they needed to take it somewhere else, which they did. Black people are not above calling the police—but often we do so fully understanding that we are introducing an element that is unaccountable to us. We introduce the police into our communities, the way you might introduce a predator into the food chain. This is not the singular, special fault of the police. The police are but the tip of the sword wielded by American society itself. Something bigger than Stand Your Ground, the drug war, mass incarceration or any other policy is haunting us. And as long we cower from it, the events of this week are as certain as math. The question is not “if,” but “when.”

There has always been another way.