In honor of the decision by students at the University of Pennsylvania to replace Shakespeare’s portrait (too stale, pale, and male for our newest crop of intellectuals,) with Audre Lorde’s, (“African American writer, civil rights activist and self-described, “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.'”) I decided to read a batch of Lorde’s poetry to see how it stacks up against the bard’s.
But to make this more fun, I’ve decided to pair each Lorde poem (chosen from those available on PoemHunter.com) with a poem on a similar theme from Shakespeare and let you vote for the ones you think are genuinely the best. (I wanted to make two columns so you can read the poems side-by-side, but I’m not sure how to code that, so I just photoshopped the poems together. Let me know if they aren’t readable.)
EvX: I decided to cut #4, because it was quite long. We still have 5/7 listed on PoemHunter.
(Lest you question my technique in choosing these poems, my methodology was relatively simple: first I headed to the local library, in search of this famous poet’s marvelous books. Alas, even though Lorde published a grand total of 17 books of poems and essays, [including a posthumous collection of writings not previously deemed worth publishing,] coming admirably close to Shakespeare’s 38 plays and 154 sonnets, the local library is mysteriously bereft of her work; I could find only one poem and a couple of essays in large anthologies.
So I turned to the internet, as mentioned. PoemHunter.com, which lists about 400 entries for Skakespeare, also lists 7 poems for Lorde. I assume these particular poems are on the site because Lorde’s fans believe them to be particularly excellent examples of her work, and so decided to use them for my comparison. After excluding one for obscenity and one for length, I was left with a reasonable 5, which I then tried to match against poems of similar theme from William Shakespeare.)
Now at this point, you may be asking yourself, “Who is this grand Shakespearess? Whence hailed this ebony poet of warrior’s virtue?”
According to Wikipedia:
Lorde was born in New York City to Caribbean immigrants from Barbados and Carriacou, Frederick Byron Lorde (called Byron) and Linda Gertrude Belmar Lorde, who settled in Harlem. Lorde’s mother was of mixed ancestry but could pass for white, … Lorde’s father was darker than the Belmar family liked, and they only allowed the couple to marry because of Byron Lorde’s charm, ambition, and persistence.… [Audre] learned to talk while she learned to read, at the age of four, and her mother taught her to write at around the same time. She wrote her first poem when she was in eighth grade.
In this study, 174 elementary school-age children whose parents reported that they started forming sentences ‘early’, ‘on-time’ or ‘late’ were evaluated with standardized measures of language, reading and spelling. All oral and written language measures revealed consistent patterns for ‘early’ talkers to have the highest level of performance and ‘late’ talkers to have the lowest level of performance…
In short, a kid who doesn’t start talking until the age of four is most likely severely retarded. The claim here that Audre Lorde began talking at the age of four, with no given explanation for why and no indication of mental impairment, is extremely suspect. (Though I note that people in Lorde’s day didn’t rush to get their kids autism diagnoses like we do today. Wikipedia’s claim that:
As a child, Lorde, who struggled with communication, came to appreciate the power of poetry as a form of expression. She memorized a great deal of poetry, and would use it to communicate, to the extent that, “If asked how she was feeling, Audre would reply by reciting a poem.”
is consistent with autism and other developmental disorders, so perhaps Lorde is indeed a high-IQ autist who simply began speaking late.)
Lorde’s relationship with her parents was difficult from a young age. She was able to spend very little time with her father and mother, who were busy maintaining their real estate business…
So Audre Lorde is basically the half-white, half-black daughter of rich immigrants who lived in NYC. (Even when liberals are clearly trying their hardest, they still somehow can’t find a poet who is actually a member of America’s historical black community. Perhaps libs just aren’t good at distinguishing between different groups of non-whites, hence their habit of just lumping them all together in an undifferentiated mass of “POCs.”)
Hunter has been ranked as the top public high school in the United States by both The Wall Street Journal and Worth.The New York Times called Hunter “the prestigious Upper East Side school known for its Ivy League-bound students” and “the fast track to law, medicine and academia.” Publicly available data indicate that Hunter has the highest average SAT score, the highest average ACT score and the highest percentage of National Merit Finalists of any high school in the United States, public or private.
Evil Jim Crow laws and homophobia then so shut Lorde out of college and job opportunities that she was basically homeless and starving in the streets:
In 1954, she spent a pivotal year as a student at the National University of Mexico, a period she described as a time of affirmation and renewal, during which she confirmed her identity on personal and artistic levels as a lesbian and poet. On her return to New York, she attended Hunter College, graduating class of 1959. There, she worked as a librarian, continued writing and became an active participant in the gay culture of Greenwich Village. She furthered her education at Columbia University, earning a master’s degree in Library Science in 1961. She also worked during this time as a librarian at Mount Vernon Public Library and married attorney Edwin Rollins; they divorced in 1970 after having two children, Elizabeth and Jonathan. In 1966, Lorde became head librarian at Town School Library in New York City, where she remained until 1968.
In 1984 Audre Lorde started a visiting professorship in Berlin Germany at the Free University of Berlin. She was invited by Dagmar Schultz who met her at the UN “World Women’s Conference” in Copenhagen in 1980. While Lorde was in Germany she made a significant impact on the women there and was a big part of the start of the Afro-German movement. The term Afro-German was created by Lorde and some Black German women as a nod to African-American. During her many trips to Germany, she touched many women’s lives including May Ayim, Ika Hügel-Marshall, and Hegal Emde. All of these women decided to start writing after they met Audre Lorde. She encouraged the women of Germany to speak up and have a voice. … Her impact on Germany reached more than just Afro-German women. Many white women and men found Lorde’s work to be very beneficial to their own lives. They started to put their privilege and power into question and became more conscious.
See, pre-Lorde Germans were basically brute savages, ignorant of ideas like “write things down” or “talk about stuff.” It is very lucky for them that this miracle working Sequoyah deigned to teach them her Dahomey magic art of “consciousness;” I certainly can’t think of anything that occurred prior to 1984 that might have ever made a German person think spontaneously and independently about things like “power” or how the state might oppress an ethnic minority. But getting back to Wikipedia:
Because of her impact on the Afro-German movement, Dagmar Schultz put together a documentary to highlight the chapter of her life that was not known to many. Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years was accepted by the Berlinale in 2012 and from then was shown at many different film festivals around the world and received five awards. The film showed the lack of recognition that Lorde received for her contributions towards the theories of intersectionality.
Gee, why don’t people understand that the idle rich have a unique insight into the lives of oppressed people? It’s just terrible when wealthy people don’t get the credit they deserve.
Oh, would you like to hear some of Lorde’s non-fiction? Here’s an excerpt from an essay she wrote in 1985:
… stock in Black human life in the U.S.A., never high, is plunging rapidly in the sight of white american complacencies. But as African-Americans we cannot afford to play that market’ it is our live and the live of our children that are at stake.
The political and social flavor of the African American position in the 1980s eel in particular aspects to be analogous to occurrences in the Black South African communities of the 1950s, the period of the postwar construction of the apartheid, reaction, and suppression…
The fact that African-Americans can till move about relatively freely, do not yet have to cary passbooks or battle an officially named policy of apartheid, should not delude us for a minute about the disturbing similarities of the Black situation in each one of these profit-oriented economies.
Not only does Lorde appear to be unaware that 324,000 white Americans died to free the slaves, (perhaps this is not her fault–after all, Lorde’s ancestors weren’t in the country back then and she attended such an inadequate, taxpayer-funded school that she might have never heard of this little dust-up between the states,) she also believed in 1985 that the US was moving toward a system of full apartheid.
I can forgive a bad prediction–we all make them–but why was this essay included in a book published in 2000, well after we discovered that the US was not actually moving toward apartheid? Here, let’s have an essay about phlogistan while we’re at it.
Another book with one of Lorde’s essays, “The Impossible will Take a While,” published in 2014, states in its introduction (not written by Lorde):
We live in a contradictory world. Dispiriting events coincide with progress for human dignity. … Only a short while ago, if you were gay, you were probably invisible and closeted, except for a handful of courageous activists who affirmed who they were despite major risks and costs.
Liberals live in this strange time warp where basically the entire world prior to the Obama administration was Dark Ages. In 1984, a good thirty years before this book was published, enough gay men were courageous and active enough to have unprotected sex with hundreds or thousands of partners, resulting in an AIDS epidemic that had already claimed 7,600 American lives. By the early 90s, AIDS was killing over 40,000 people a year, but its rampage was finally checked by condom use and the massively expensive development of retroviral drugs, so that by 2002, a mere 500,000 Americans had died.
That’s a really big “handful.”
Are people simply incapable of figuring out whether strings of words make sense or bear any relationship to reality?
When Ph.D. candidate Gordon Pennycook stumbled on [the “New Age Bullshit Generator,”] he found it profoundly entertaining — at first. But then he got a little disturbed:
“I thought, ‘I wonder if people would actually rate such blatant bullshit as profound,’” …
His study, “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit,” was published in the journal Judgment and Decision Making in November. Pennycook, along with a team of researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, tested close to 800 participants on whether they could determine if a statement was bullshit. …
Defining “bullshit” … he cites the deceptively deep sentence “Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty.”
The study explains: “Although this statement may seem to convey some sort of potentially profound meaning, it is merely a collection of buzzwords put together randomly in a sentence that retains syntactic structure.”
“Bullshit, in contrast to mere nonsense, is something that implies but does not contain adequate meaning or truth,” it continues. …
The researchers used randomly generated sayings from New Age Bullshit Generator and another site called “Wisdom of Chopra” — the last a sarcastic nod to the new age teachings of best-selling alternative medicine author Deepak Chopra — for the study.
They found that people who are receptive to this kind of “pseudo-intellectual bullshit” are less intelligent than those who aren’t.
The governor shall biennially present the New York state Walt Whitman citation of merit to a distinguished New York poet upon the recommendation of the panel constituted in this section. The poet selected shall be considered the state poet and the citation shall carry an honorarium of ten thousand dollars. …
Nothing says “oppressed” like the state of New York voting to give you $10,000 a year to write poems about gay sex and black power. (I would take Lorde’s self-description as a “warrior” more seriously if she put her money where her mouth is and actually joined the army.)
In Ada Gay Griffin and Michelle Parkerson‘s documentary A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde, Lorde says, “Let me tell you first about what it was like being a Black woman poet in the ’60s, from jump. It meant being invisible. It meant being really invisible. It meant being doubly invisible as a Black feminist woman and it meant being triply invisible as a Black lesbian and feminist”.
Honey, you’re not invisible because you’re a black lesbian feminist; you’re invisible because you chose a profession that most people don’t care about and then managed to suck at it.
A rare perpetrator’s memoir described one such recent crime in Virginia. The author, at the time a teenager, was hanging out on his neighborhood corner with his friends one afternoon when they saw “a white boy, who appeared to be about eighteen or nineteen years old… pedaling a bicycle casually through the neighborhood.” One of the black fellows pointed him out to the others, called him a derogatory name, and suggested that he must be crazy to have come there. … They ran after the white boy, knocked him, and beat him unconscious while cars drove past. They kicked his head until blood gushed from his mouth… one of his comrades continued “like he’d gone berserk” and even topped off the episode by picking up the bicycle and smashing it down on the victim as hard as he could. …
“Fucking up white boys like that made us feel good inside,” he wrote, adding that as they walked away they laughed… He said that when his older brother got his driver’s license, the gang would cruise around nearby white neighborhoods, picking out vulnerable targets and beating them close to death. — from Evil: Inside human violence and cruelty, by Baumeister
Wikipedia estimates that about 50-100 lynchings occurred per year between 1868 and 1923, with a peak in 1892 of 161 deaths.
Most of the folks lynched in the US South had been accused of violent crimes such as rape, assault, and murder; many had already been arrested and were awaiting trial when they were dragged out of jail and killed. Lynching functioned, therefore, not like random crime–a bunch of serial killers run amok–but as a form of extra-legal law-enforcement.
A posse of random citizens stringing up horse thieves makes sense in rural, frontier areas where prisons and courts hadn’t yet been built and the nearest police officer might be hundreds of miles away, but 1890s Georgia was hardly the frontier. Neither can we assume that the mobs were afraid that these (mostly black men) would have been acquitted had they gone to trial–the South’s all-white juries tended not to be favorable to black defendants.
If your desire is simply to get accused criminals off the streets, lynch mobs and courts probably returned similar results. (Note: I am not passing judgment on whether or not the accused were actually guilty.)
But court proceedings are banal; prisons are hidden from sight and executions–at least these days–tend not to be public spectacles. Lynchings were public, almost communal events–people even made postcards out of photographs of lynched bodies.
I have said before that intra-racial killing is crime, and inter-racial crime is war. People who commit crimes are entitled to a lawyer, a fair trial, a jury of their peers, and a chance at rehabilitation if they are not clearly psychopaths. People who commit war (or treason) do not get trials; they get rounded up in a counter-raid and executed back.
(Really, one wonders how the North thought this would all turn out.)
The media is great for whipping up this kind of sentiment, as seen in the targeting of whites during the recent Milwaukee riots over the death of a black man at the hands of a black police officer.
Furthermore, lynching–or beating random whites who happen across your protest–sends a loud, visceral message to the other side that merely arresting lawbreakers does not: We will kill you.
In 1968 my father was walking home from work through the alley off of Ohio street in downtown Chicago. He had done this for years.
At the time he was 60 years old. One day a group of 7 black teens and young men decided that they wanted to beat a white man to a pulp. He told my mother that they surrounded him and started calling him racial slurs and then proceed to beat him. They did not rob him. Someone found him and took him to the hospital where they had to cut into his eyelid to release the pressure and blood. He had bruises and cuts all over his body, face, and head. …
He made it through, but that was after being in a coma for three weeks and having to have brain surgery to relieve the bleeding on his brain. … He had small seizures and grand mall seizures all of the time until at the end, one took his life. — “Letter from a Dead Father“
I bet people in ISIS-controlled territory are very careful about how they act.
I couldn’t find the percent of blacks who were lynching victims, so I used data from the Tuskegee Institute + census to calculate it myself. I went into some detail on my methodology in the previous post.
Obviously lynching was not reserved exclusively for African Americans. In the aftermath of the Civil War, angry Southerners lynched many whites suspected of helping helping the Union. Asians, Hispanics, and Indians were also lynched. In one of the largest lynchings, 13 Italians were lynched by New Orleans Irish after an Italian guy killed an Irish guy. But these lynchings died down relatively early, while about 100-50 blacks continued to be killed each year through about 1922.
At the height of the violence, just over two blacks per 100k were lynched every year (or 0.002%.) To put that into perspective, the homicide rate in the US (as of 2013) is 3.9 people per 100k. Japan’s homicide rate is 0.3 per 100k, Canada’s is 1.4, Mexico’s is 15.7, and Honduras’s is an astonishing 84.6.
The “Great Migration” is a little-known part of American history in which millions of black people headed north. Wikipedia, like many others, asserts that lynching was one of the prime motivators that inspired blacks to move:
In the Great Migration, particularly from 1910 to 1940, 1.5 million African Americans left the South, primarily for destinations in northern and mid-western cities, both to gain better jobs and education and to escape the high rate of violence. From 1910 to 1930 particularly, more blacks migrated from counties with high numbers of lynchings. …
The industrial buildup to World War II acted as a “pull” factor in the second phase of the Second Great Migration starting in 1940 and lasting until 1970. Altogether in the first half of the 20th century, 6.5 million African Americans migrated from the South to leave lynchings and segregation behind. Unlike the first round, composed chiefly of rural farm workers, the second wave included more educated workers and their families who were already living in southern cities and towns. In this migration, many migrated west from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to California in addition to northern and midwestern cities, as defense industries recruited thousands to higher-paying, skilled jobs. They settled in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland.
To unpack this for a second, we can identify three important economic factors that prompted the Great Migration:
The continuing mechanization of agriculture meant that fewer workers were needed to produce the same quantity of crops, and wages for agricultural workers in the South subsequently dropped;
WWI and WWII triggered the creation of massive numbers of manufacturing jobs in the North;
And the Immigration act of 1924, which massively cut the number of immigrants allowed into the country (particularly from southern and eastern Europe,) forced factory owners to pay their workers better wages.
(We may also add that the hookworm eradication campaign started around 1910 improved the health of Southern whites, who who were more vulnerable to the parasite than blacks, making them better workers.)
By 1910, the lynching rate had fallen bellow 1 per 100k, and by the 20s it had fallen to less than 0.25 per 100k, which suggests to me that people were more motivated more by the overall unpleasantness of Jim Crow and segregation than the lower-than-your-chance-of-being-murdered-in-Japan chance of lynching.
Unfortunately, the Great Migration appears to have triggered its own crime wave:
The lynch mob is still the most vivid symbol of hate crimes in America, but lynchings are largely a thing of the past. There are still plenty of hate crimes today, but they take a different form. Indeed, the very racial direction of hate crimes has seen a fundamental reversal. According to an FBI report on violence during 1993, black people were four times more likely to commit hate crimes than white people.
NYC had 7.3 million people and 2,605 murders in 1990, or a homicide rate of 35.7 per 100k. If NYC were a country, it would have been one of the most violent places in the entire world, but “white flight” remains a mysterious phenomenon wherein evil white people, for no rational reason, suddenly become afraid of black people moving into their neighborhoods and move away.
Few people today seem to remember that Detroit was once one of the country’s richest, most innovative cities. Employment in Detroit’s auto and war-production factories created economic prosperity for millions of people. According to Barry Bluestone, co-author of The Deindustrialization of America:
In the 1950s and ‘60s, when I was growing up in Detroit, it was one of the richest cities—if not the richest—not only in the United States but in the world. The city had the most powerful industry in the world—the auto industry. The General Motors Corporation itself was so huge that its total annual revenue in the mid-1950s was larger than the gross domestic product of Belgium. That made it the 18th largest country in the world—not just company. … That created tremendous wealth and then that wealth was spread at least somewhat more equally because of the powerful auto workers’ union, the UAW, which was able to win at the bargaining table both wage increases and benefit increases—pensions and health care and life insurance—that made auto workers some of the highest-paid workers in the world. The gains made by the UAW not only benefited white workers but also provided black auto workers with the ability to join America’s middle class.
Obviously many factors contributed to Detroit’s decline, but today we’re concerned with crime. According to Wikipedia:
Ethnic whites enjoyed high wages and suburban life styles. Blacks comprised 4% of the auto labor force in 1942, 15% by the war’s end; they held their own and were at 16% by 1960. … a large well-paid middle class black community emerged; like their white counterparts, they wanted to own single family homes, fought for respectability, and left the blight and crime of the slums as fast as possible for outlying districts and suburbs. …
The Model Cities Program was a key component of President Lyndon B. Johnson‘s Great Society and War on Poverty. Begun in 1966, it operated five-year-long experiments in 150 cities to develop new antipoverty programs and alternative forms of municipal government. The ambitious federal urban aid program succeeded in fostering a new generation of mostly black urban leaders. Detroit was one of the largest Model Cities projects. … Detroit received widespread acclaim for its leadership in the program, which used $490 million to try to turn a nine-square-mile section of the city (with 134,000 inhabitants) into a model city. … The Model City program was terminated in Detroit and nationwide in 1974 after major race riots in most of its target cities. Detroit witnessed growing confrontations between the police and inner city black youth, culminating in the massive 12th Street riot in July 1967. Governor George W. Romney ordered the Michigan National Guard into Detroit, and President Johnson sent in U.S. Army troops. The result was 43 dead, 467 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed. Thousands of small businesses closed permanently or relocated to safer neighborhoods, and the affected district lay in ruins for decades.
Coleman Young, Detroit’s first black mayor, explained the long-term impact:
“The heaviest casualty, however, was the city. Detroit’s losses went a hell of a lot deeper than the immediate toll of lives and buildings. The riot put Detroit on the fast track to economic desolation, mugging the city and making off with incalculable value in jobs, earnings taxes, corporate taxes, retail dollars, sales taxes, mortgages, interest, property taxes, development dollars, investment dollars, tourism dollars, and plain damn money. The money was carried out in the pockets of the businesses and the white people who fled as fast as they could. …
Scholars have produced many studies documenting the fall of Detroit from one of the world’s premier industrial cities in 1945 to a much smaller, weaker city in the 21st century, struggling to survive against the loss of industry and population, against crime, corruption and poverty. …
While Detroit was still 55 percent white according to the 1970 census, by 1980 whites only made up 34 percent of the population. The population shift was even more stark considering that Detroit was 83 percent white at the time of the city’s all-time population high in 1950. The migration of whites to the suburbs left blacks in control of a city suffering from an inadequate tax base, too few jobs, and swollen welfare rolls. According to Chafets, “Among the nation’s major cities, Detroit was at or near the top of unemployment, poverty per capita, and infant mortality throughout the 1980s.” …
Several times during Young’s tenure Detroit is named the arson capital of America, and repeatedly the murder capital of America. Often Detroit was listed by FBI crime statistics as the “most dangerous city in America” during his administration. Crime rates in Detroit peaked in 1991 at more than 2,700 violent crimes per 100,000 people. … the arson rate in Detroit was 6.3 times the national average in 2003 and the murder rate was 5.1 times the national average. …
Around Halloween, a traditional day for pranks in late October, Detroit youth went on a rampage called “Devil’s Night” in the 1980s. … Over 800 fires were set in the peak year 1984, overwhelming the city’s fire department. Hundreds of vacant homes across the city were set ablaze by arsonists….
In March 2014 the indebted Detroit Water and Sewerage Department began cutting off water to customers homes with unpaid bills over $150, or if the payment was more than 60 days overdue. As of the 15th of July, more than 15,000 homes had been cut off.
Whew. Sorry that quote was so long; I just couldn’t decide what to cut.
Apologists are quick to present excuses for crime, but I note that Kentucky has also been facing economic difficulties, and yet Kentucky’s homicide rate is far lower than Detroit’s.
Of course, crime rates have been going down since the early 90s, but how much of this is improvements in medical care?
Looks like a lot of it.
By the way, if all of those stabbed and shot people died, as would be more likely if you were shot in a third world country with little medical care, our homicide rate would shoot over 20/100k.
(How much of our soaring healthcare costs are trauma-related?)
In 2013, a black was six times more likely than a non-black to commit murder, and 12 times more likely to murder someone of another race than to be murdered by someone of another race.
In 2013, of the approximately 660,000 crimes of interracial violence that involved blacks and whites, blacks were the perpetrators 85 percent of the time. This meant a black person was 27 times more likely to attack a white person than vice versa. A Hispanic was eight times more likely to attack a white person than vice versa. …
In 2015, police killings of blacks accounted for approximately 4 percent of homicides of blacks. Police killings of unarmed blacks accounted for approximately 0.6 percent of homicides of blacks. The overwhelming majority of black homicide victims (93 percent from 1980 to 2008) were killed by blacks.
Both violent and non-violent crime has been declining in the United States since a high in 1993. 2015 saw a disturbing rise in murder in major American cities that some observers associated with “depolicing” in response to intense media and public scrutiny of police activity. …
New York City, for example, does not participate in NIBRS but it records the races of arrested offenders, and consistently distinguishes between whites and Hispanics. In 2014, 374 people were arrested for murder. Their races were as follows:
Given a population (page B1 of report) that was 32.8 percent white, 22.6 percent black, 28.9 percent Hispanic, and 13.0 percent Asian, a black was 31 times more likely than a white to be arrested for murder, a Hispanic was 12.4 times more likely than a white, and an Asian was twice as likely.
Approximately 12.5% of modern Americans are black and 63% are white. If an equal percent of whites and blacks were criminals, and if criminals chose their victims at random, we would expect about 12.5% of white victims to have been harmed by a black criminal, and 63% of black victims to have been harmed by a white criminal.
In 2013, there were 4,091,971 violent crimes against whites and 955,800 against blacks. A rate of 12.5% and 63% would result in 511,496 black on white crimes and 602,154 white on black crimes.
In reality, there were 560,600 violent black on white crimes, and only 99,403 white on black crimes. And as noted above, this means that 85% of b-w crime is committed by the group that is only 12.5% of the population.
When whites commit violence they target other whites 82.4 percent of the time, blacks 3.6 percent of the time, and Hispanics 7.8 percent of the time. In other words, white violence is directed overwhelmingly at other whites. When blacks commit violence only a minority — 40.9 percent — of their victims are black. Whites are 38.6 percent and Hispanics are 14.5 percent. Hispanic assailants also attack their own group less often than they attack others. Their victims are: Hispanics — 40.1 percent, whites — 50.7 percent, and blacks — 4.7 percent.
Finally, interracial crime can be expressed in terms of the greater or lesser likelihood of a person of one race to commit violence against a member of the other. In 2012/2013, the actual likelihood of attack was extremely low in all cases, but statistically, any given black person was 27 times more likely to attack a white and six times more likely to attack a Hispanic than vice versa. …
The Department of Justice keeps national records on murder. In 2013, it reported 5,621 single-offender, single-victim cases in which the race of the murderer was known. Like most federal statistics, there is no clear distinction between whites and Hispanics, so the only meaningful racial categories are black and non-black. Blacks killed 2,698 people — 48 percent of the total — and non-blacks killed 2,923 or 52 percent. Since blacks were just 13.3 percent of the population, it meant a black was six times more likely than a non-black to commit murder. Although most murders are within the same race, blacks were 13.6 times more likely to kill non-blacks than non-blacks were to kill blacks.
And don’t give me some bollocks about poor people being more likely to commit crime. I know homeless people who don’t commit crime. No one here is committing violent crime to save themselves from starvation.
If the Great Migration was a sensible response to lynching, then White Flight is a sensible response to black homicide.
Edit: an astute reader pointed out that some of the quoted data was wrong and I have removed it.
It’s hard to concentrate on genetics when you feel like your own society is coming apart at the seams. I am very glad today that I am not in Dallas; I can only imagine what the people there (police and civilians,) must be feeling, but it can’t be good. Likewise, having seen the video of Philando Castile’s death, I am sure the African American community is likewise distressed.
From BLM to Donald Trump, racial tensions are on the rise and whites are usually blamed:
(This was tweeted the day after 9 police officers were shot, 5 killed, in Dallas.)
Or, more subtlely:
This post is not an exhaustive look at the dynamics of race and violence in America (I haven’t the time or resources,) but here are some links on the subject if you want them:
The Fort Hood Army Base shooting was committed by a Muslim man. The San Bernardino Christmas Party shooting, which IIRC killed 14 people, was committed by a Muslim couple.
The Orlando shooting, which left 49 people dead, was committed by a Muslim man; most of his victims were black and Hispanic. Most likely all of his victims were gay, (but apparently the shooter himself wasn’t. I am not totally convinced, though.)
6 police officers were involved in the death of Freddie Gray, black. Half of those officers were black, half white. The entire chain of command, from the Baltimore City police force to the Attorney General to the President himself is, of course, heavily black.
Why do people who think that whites are racist against minorities simultaneously try to increase immigration from non-white countries, instead of recommending that non-whites stay very far away? It doesn’t seem like Asians and Hispanics are refraining from shooting blacks, even if whites are the ones who get blamed for it.
Note that these are just the cases that have been prominent in the media/I have heard of/that come immediately to mind. The data, as you are probably aware, shows that most crime is of the far more conventional variety of black on black and white on white, but see all of the links above if you want real crime stats. Also, I have refrained from opining on guilt.
Forgive me; I forgot where this came from. Please let me know f you recognize it so I can properly credit it.
By the way, guys, I have not been able to write as much as I would like to, lately, so I am dropping the Wed. post and only going to be updating 4 times a week. Hopefully I’ll get more time soon. 🙂
It is very easy to dismiss Appalachia’s problems by waving a hand and saying, “West Virginia has an average IQ of 98.”
But there are a hell of a lot of states that have average IQs lower than West Virginia, but are still doing better. For that matter, France has a lower average IQ, and France is still doing pretty well for itself.
So we’re going to discuss some alternative theories.
(And my apologies to WV for using it as a stand-in for the entirety of Greater Appalachia, which, as discussed a few days ago, includes parts of a great number of states, from southern Pennsylvania to eastern Texas. Unfortunately for me, only WV, Kentucky, and Tennessee fall entirely within Greater Appalachia, and since it is much easier to find data aggregated by state than by county or “cultural region,” I’ve been dependent on these states for much of my research.)
At any rate, it’s no secret that Appalachia is not doing all that well:
The Death of Manufacturing
Having your local industries decimated by foreign competition and workforces laid off due to automation does bad things to your economy. These things look great on paper, where increasing efficiency and specialization result in higher profits for factory owners, but tend to work out very badly for the folks who have lost their jobs.
Indeed, the US has barely even begun thinking about how we plan on dealing with the effects of continued automation. Do 90% of people simply become irrelevant as robots take over their jobs? Neither “welfare for everyone” nor “everybody starves” seem like viable solutions. So far, most politicians have defaulted to platitudes about how “more education” will be the solution to all our woes, but how you turn a 45-year old low-IQ meat packer who just got replaced by a robot into a functional member of the “information economy” remains to be seen.
Of course, economic downturns happen; fads come and go; industries go in and out. The Rust Belt, according to Wikipedia, runs north of Greater Appalachia, through Pennsylvania, New York, northern Ohio, Detroit, etc. These areas have been struggling for decades, but many of them, like Pittsburgh, are starting to recover. Appalachia, by contrast, is still struggling.
This may just be a side effect of Appalachia being more rural; Pittsburgh is a large city with millions of people employed in a variety of industries. If one goes out, others can, hopefully, replace it. But in a rural area with only one or two large employers–sometimes literal “company towns” built near mines–if the main industry goes out, you may not get anything coming back in.
Appalachia has geography that makes it difficult to transport goods in and out as cheaply as you can transport them elsewhere, but then, so does Switzerland, and Switzerland seems to be doing pretty well. (Of course, Switzerland seems to have specialized in small, expensive, easy to transport luxury goods like watches, chocolate, and bank deposits, while Appalachia has specialized in cheap, heavy, unpleasant to produce goods like coal.)
But I am being over-generous: America killed its manufacturing.
We killed it because our upper classes look down their noses at manufacturing; such jobs are unpleasant and low-class, and therefore they cannot understand that for some people, these jobs are the only thing standing between them and poverty. Despite the occasional protest against outsourcing, our government–Republicans and Democrats–has forged ahead with its free-trade, send-everything-to-China-and-fire-the-Americans, import-Mexicans-and-fire-the-Americans, and then reap-the-profits agenda.
Too Much Regulation
Over-regulation begins with the best of intentions, then breaks your industries. Nobody wants to die in a fire or a cave-in, but you can’t regulate away all risk and still get anything done.
Every regulation, every record-keeping requirement, every mandated compliance, is a tax on efficiency–and thus on profits. Some regulation, of course, probably increases profits–for example, I am more likely to buy a medicine if I have some guarantee that it isn’t made with rat poison. But beyond that guarantee, increasing requirements that companies test all of their products for toxins imposes more costs than the companies recoup–at which point, companies tend to leave for more profitable climes.
Likewise, while health insurance sounds great, running it through employers is madness. Companies should devote their efforts to making products (or services,) not hiring expensive lawyers and accountants to work through the intricacies of health care law compliance and income withholding.
The few manufacturers left in Appalachia (and probably elsewhere in the country) have adopted a creative policy to avoid paying health insurance costs for their workers: fire everyone just before they qualify for insurance. By hiring only temp workers, outsourcing everything, and only letting employees bill 20 hours a week, manufacturers avoid complying with employee-related regulations.
Oh, sure, you might think you could just get two 20-hour a week jobs, but that requires being able to schedule two different jobs. When you have no idea whether you are going to be working every day or not until you show up for work at 7 AM, and you’ll get fired if you don’t show up, getting a second job simply isn’t an option.
I have been talking about over-regulation for over a decade, but it is the sort of issue that it is difficult to get people worked up over, much less make them understand if they haven’t lived it. Democrats just look aghast that anyone would suggest that more regulations won’t lead automatically to more goodness, and Republicans favor whichever policies lead to higher profits, without any concern for the needs of workers.
New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman recently encapsulated this view in a piece called “Start-Ups, Not Bailouts.” His argument: Let tired old companies that do commodity manufacturing die if they have to. If Washington really wants to create jobs, he wrote, it should back startups.
Friedman is wrong. Startups are a wonderful thing, but they cannot by themselves increase tech employment. Equally important is what comes after that mythical moment of creation in the garage, as technology goes from prototype to mass production. This is the phase where companies scale up. They work out design details, figure out how to make things affordably, build factories, and hire people by the thousands. Scaling is hard work but necessary to make innovation matter.
The scaling process is no longer happening in the U.S. And as long as that’s the case, plowing capital into young companies that build their factories elsewhere will continue to yield a bad return in terms of American jobs. …
As time passed, wages and health-care costs rose in the U.S. China opened up. American companies discovered that they could have their manufacturing and even their engineering done more cheaply overseas. When they did so, margins improved. Management was happy, and so were stockholders. Growth continued, even more profitably. But the job machine began sputtering.
The 10X Factor
Today, manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is about 166,000, lower than it was before the first PC, the MITS Altair 2800, was assembled in 1975 (figure-B). Meanwhile, a very effective computer manufacturing industry has emerged in Asia, employing about 1.5 million workers—factory employees, engineers, and managers. The largest of these companies is Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn. The company has grown at an astounding rate, first in Taiwan and later in China. Its revenues last year were $62 billion, larger than Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Dell (DELL), or Intel. Foxconn employs over 800,000 people, more than the combined worldwide head count of Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Intel, and Sony (SNE) (figure-C).
Companies don’t scale up in the US because dealing with the regulations is monstrous. Anyone who has worked in industry can tell you this; heck, even Kim Levine, author of Millionaire Mommy (don’t laugh at the title, it’s actually a pretty good book,) touches on the subject. Levine notes that early in the process of scaling up the manufacture of her microwavable pillows, she had dreams of owning her own little factory, but once she learned about all of the regulations she would have to comply with, she decided that would be a horrible nightmare.
I don’t have time to go into more detail on the subject, but here is a related post from Slate Star Codex:
I started the book with the question: what exactly do real estate developers do? …
As best I can tell, the developer’s job is coordination. This often means blatant lies. The usual process goes like this: the bank would be happy to lend you the money as long as you have guaranteed renters. The renters would be happy to sign up as long as you show them a design. The architect would be happy to design the building as long as you tell them what the government’s allowing. The government would be happy to give you your permit as long as you have a construction company lined up. And the construction company would be happy to sign on with you as long as you have the money from the bank in your pocket. Or some kind of complicated multi-step catch-22 like that. The solution – or at least Trump’s solution – is to tell everybody that all the other players have agreed and the deal is completely done except for their signature. The trick is to lie to the right people in the right order, so that by the time somebody checks to see whether they’ve been conned, you actually do have the signatures you told them that you had. The whole thing sounds very stressful.
The developer’s other job is dealing with regulations. The way Trump tells it, there are so many regulations on development in New York City in particular and America in general that erecting anything larger than a folding chair requires the full resources of a multibillion dollar company and half the law firms in Manhattan. Once the government grants approval it’s likely to add on new conditions when you’re halfway done building the skyscraper, insist on bizarre provisions that gain it nothing but completely ruin your chance of making a profit, or just stonewall you for the heck of it if you didn’t donate to the right people’s campaigns last year. Reading about the system makes me both grateful and astonished that any structures have ever been erected in the United States at all, and somewhat worried that if anything ever happens to Donald Trump and a few of his close friends, the country will lose the ability to legally construct artificial shelter and we will all have to go back to living in caves.
The current socio-economic system is designed by rootless, soulless, high-IQ, low-time preference, money-/status-grubbing homo economicus for benefit of those same homo economicus. It is a system for designed for intelligent sociopaths. Those who are rootless with high-IQ and low-time preference can succeed rather well in this system, but it destroys those who need rootedness or those who are who are low-IQ or high time preference.
Kevin says, “Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster.” But he’s wrong, there was a disaster, but no just one, multiple related disasters all occurring simultaneously. …
Every support the white working class (and for that matter the black working class) had vanished within less than a generation. There was a concerted effort to destroy these supports, and this effort succeeded. Through minimal fault of their own the white working class was left with nothing holding them up.
Personally, I lack good first-hand insight into working class cultural matters; I have no idea how much Hollywood mores have penetrated and changed people’s practical lives in rural Arkansas. I must defer, there, to people more knowledgeable than myself.
While death rates have been falling for the rest of the developed world and for America’s blacks and Hispanics, death rates have been rising over the past couple of decades for American whites–middle aged and younger white women, to be exact. They’re up pretty much everywhere, but Appalachia has been the hardest hit.
The first thing everyone seems to cite in response is meth. And indeed, it appears that there is a lot of meth in Appalachia (and a lot of other places):
But I don’t think this explains why death rates are headed up among women. Maybe I’m wrong, (I know rather little about drug use patterns,) but it doesn’t seem like women would be more likely to OD on meth than men. If anything, I get the impression that illegal drugs that fuck you up and kill you are more of a guy thing than a gal thing. Men are probably far more likely to die of alcohol-related causes like drunk driving and cirrhosis of the liver than women, for example, and you don’t even have to deal with criminals to get alcohol.
So, while I agree that drugs appear to be a rising problem, I don’t think they are the problem. (And even still, drug overdoses only beg the deeper question of why more people are using drugs.)
As I mentioned a few posts ago, SpottedToad ran the death rate data by county and came up with three significant correlations: poverty, obesity, and disability. (I don’t know if he looked at meth/drug use by county.)
I, for one, am not surprised to find out that disabled, overweight people are not in the best of health.
Here are SpottedToad’s graphs, showing the correlations he found–I recommend reading his entire post.
Obviously one possibility is that unemployed people feel stressed, binge on cheap crap, get sick, get SSDI, and then die.
But then why are death rates only going up for white women? Plenty of white men are unemployed; plenty of black men and women are poor, fat, and disabled.
Obviously there are a ton of possible confounders–perhaps poor people just happen to make bad life decisions that both make them poor and result in bad health, like smoking cigarettes. Perhaps poor people have worse access to health care, or perhaps being really sick makes people poor. Or maybe the high death rates just happen to be concentrated among people who happen to be fat for purely biological reasons–it appears that the British are among the fattest peoples in Europe, and the Scottish are fatter than the British average. (Before anyone gets their hackles up, I should also note that white Americans are slightly fatter than Scots.)
And as many people have noted, SSI/SSDI are welfare for people who wouldn’t otherwise qualify.
In my correspondence with an observing teacher in the hill country of western Pennsylvania, she reported that in her school a condition was frequent in the families, namely, that the children could not carry prescribed textbook work because of low mentality. This is often spoken of, though incorrectly, as delayed mentality. In one family of eight children only the first child was normal. The mental and physical injuries were increasingly severe. The eighth child had both hare-lip and a double cleft palate. The seventh child had cleft palate and the sixth was a near idiot. The second to fifth, inclusive, presented increasing degrees of disturbed mentality.
In my cabin-to-cabin studies of families living in the hill country of North Carolina, I found many cases of physical and mental injury. Among these cases arthritis and heart disease were very frequent, many individuals being bed ridden. A typical case is shown in the upper part of figure 148 [sorry, I can’t show you the picture, but it is not too important,] of a father and mother and their one child. The child is so badly injured that he is mentally an imbecile. They are living on very poor land where even the vegetable growth is scant and of poor quality. Their food consisted largely of corn bread, corn syrup, some fat pork, and strong coffee.
As the title of the book implies, Dr. Price’s thesis is that bad nutrition leads to physical degeneration. (Which, of course, it does.) He was working back when folks were just discovering vitamins and figuring out that diseases like curvy, pellagra, and beriberi were really nutritional deficiencies; figuring out the chemical compositions necessary for fertile soil; and before the widespread adoption of artificial fertilizers (possibly before their invention.) Dr. Price thought that American soils, particularly in areas that had been farmed for longer or had warmer, wetter weather, had lost much of their nutritional content:
My studies of this problem of reduced capacity of sols for maintaining animal life have included correspondence with the agricultural departments of all of the states of the union with regard to maintaining cattle. The reduction in capacity ranges from 20 to 90 per cent… I am advised that it would cost $50 an acre to replace the phosphorus alone that has been shipped off the land in large areas.
There is an important fact that we should consider; namely, the role that has been played by glaciers in grinding up and distributing rock formations. One glacier, the movement of which affected the surface soil of Ohio, covered only about half the state; namely, that area west of a line starting east of Cleveland and extending diagonally west across the state to Cincinnati. It is important for us to note that, in the areas extending south and east of this line, several expressions of degeneration are higher than in the areas north and west of this line. The infant mortality per thousand live births in 1939 is informative. In the counties north and west of that line, the death rate was from 40 49 per thousand live births; whereas, in the area south and east of that Line, the death rate was from 50 to 87.
It is of particular interest to us as dentists that studies show the percentage of teeth with caries to be much higher southeast of this line than northwest of it.
So I Googled around, and found this map of the last glaciation of Ohio:
Okay, I lied, it’s obviously a map of ACT scores. But it actually does look a lot like the glaciation map.
Australia’s soils, from what I understand, are particularly bad–because the continent’s rocks are so geologically old, the soil is extremely low in certain key nutrients, like iodine. Even with iodine supplementation, deficiencies are still occasionally a problem.
Many of the soils in the state are steeply sloping and tend to be shallow, acidic, and deficient in available phosphorus. As early as the late 19th century progressive farmers used rock phosphate, bone meal, and lime to increase crop yield and quality. Since the mid-20th century farmers have used soil tests and corrected mineral deficiencies. Most crop land and much of the pasture land are no longer severely deficient in essential nutrients. West Virginia has always been primarily a livestock producing state. Land on steep slopes is best suited to producing pasture and hay.
Nutritional deficiencies due to poor soil could have been a problem a century ago, just as Pellagra and hookworms were a problem, but they seem unlikely to be a big deal today, given both modern fertilizers and our habit of buying foods shipped in from California.
Looking at statistics from 2005 (the latest for which mortality rates are available) the researchers found that though coal mining brought in about $8 billion to the state coffers of Appalachian states, the costs of the shorter life-spans associated with coal mining operations were nearly $17 billion to $84.5 billion.
Coal mining areas in Appalachia were found to have nearly 11,000 more deaths each year than other places in the nation, with 2,300 of those attributable to environmental factors such as air and water pollution.
The Nation reports that:
In 2010, an explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in southern West Virginia killed twenty-nine miners. Later that year, an explosion at a West Virginia chemical plant killed two workers and released toxic fumes into the surrounding areas. This past year, West Virginia led the nation in coal-mining deaths. …
One study found that residents of areas surrounding mountaintop-removal coal mines “had significantly higher mortality rates, total poverty rates and child poverty rates every year compared to other…counties.” Another study found that compared to residents of other areas in the state, residents of the state’s coal-mining regions were 70 percent more likely to suffer from kidney disease, over 60 percent more likely to develop obstructive lung diseases such as emphysema and 30 percent likelier to have high blood pressure.
In 2014, the Elk River Chemical spill left 300,000 residents of West Virginia without potable water. Five months later, another spill happened at the same site, the fourth in five years. (The chemicals involved are used int he processing/washing of coal.)
Overloaded coal trucks are a perpetual menace on the narrow, winding roads of the Appalachian coalfields. From 2000 to 2004, there were more than seven hundred accidents involving coal trucks in Kentucky alone; fifty-three people died, and more than five hundred were injured. …
After the coal is washed, a slurry of impurities, coal dust, and chemical agents used in the process remains. This liquid waste, called “coal sludge” or “slurry,” is often injected into abandoned underground mines, a practice that can lead to groundwater contamination. … In public hearings, many coalfield residents have attributed their health problems to water wells polluted after the coal mining industry “disposes” its liquid waste by injecting coal slurry underground. The primary disposal practice for coal slurry is to store it in vast unlined lagoons or surface impoundments created near mountaintop-removal mines. Hundreds of these slurry impoundments are scattered across the Appalachian coalfields. Individual impoundments have been permitted to store billions of gallons of waste. … In 2000 a slurry impoundment operated by the Martin County Coal Company in Kentucky broke through into abandoned mineworks, out old mine portals, and into tributary streams of the Big Sandy River. More than 300 million gallons of coal slurry fouled the waterway for a hundred miles downriver.
So, living near a coal mine is probably bad for your health.
Concentration of Land
Wikipedia claims that land in Appalachia (or maybe it was just WV) is highly concentrated in just a few hands–one of those being the government, as much of Appalachia is national parks and forests and the like. Of course, this could be an effect rather than a cause of poverty.
Appalachia may be “isolated” and “rural,” but it’s quite close to a great many cities and universities. Parts of West Virginia are close enough to DC that people apparently commute between them.
In the early 1900s, so many people left Appalachia for the industrial cities of the Northeast and Midwest that U.S. Route 23 and Interstate 75 became known as the “Hillbilly Highway.” (BTW, I don’t think Appalachians like being called “hillbillies.”)
Compared to Appalachian areas in Arkansas or Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kentucky are particularly close to the industrial regions and coastal universities. As a result, they may have lost a far larger number of their brightest and most determined citizens.
While the Appalachian states don’t have particularly low IQs, their IQ curve seems likely to be narrower than other states’. West Virginia, for example, is only about 3% black, 1% Hispanic, and 0.5% Asian. MA, by contrast, is 9% black, 11% Hispanic, and 6% Asian. Blacks and Hispanics tend to score lower than average on IQ tests, and Asians tend to score higher, potentially giving MA more people scoring both above and below average, while WV may have more people scoring right around the middle of the distribution. With its brightest folks heading to universities outside the region, Appalachia may continue to struggle.
And finally, yes, maybe there is just something about the kinds of people who live in Appalachia that predispose them to certain ailments, like smoking or over-eating. Perhaps the kinds of people who end up working in coal mines are also the kinds of people who are predisposed to get cancer or use drugs. I don’t know enough people from the area to know either way.
To the people of Appalachia: I wish you health and happiness.
This is part two on bullying as an emergent social/political behavior and an exploration of the basic thesis that in a dispute between two people, elites will justify or outright lie about violence toward the lower status individual. For a longer explanation, see Part 1: Everything Adults say about Bullying is Bullshit.
“I want to see a cop shoot a white unarmed teenager in the back,” said Ms. Morrison, who also has won the Pulitzer Prize for her work, which includes the bestsellers “Beloved” and “Song of Solomon.” “And I want to see a white man convicted for raping a black woman. Then when you ask me, ‘Is it over?’, I will say yes.”
Welp. That took all of 5 seconds to find via Google. Does Ms. Morrison not own a computer? Or is she ignorant by choice?
The Mother Jones data (above) records not a single white who shot at the NYC police, yet whites were 20% of those shot by the police. Approximately 70% of the people who actually tried to shoot a police officer were black, but only about 40% of those shot by the police were black. Hispanics make up about 30% of those who shot at the police, and 40% of those shot by the police.
In other words, NYC police officers appear to be preferentially shooting whites and Hispanics, not blacks.
Even when we compare the “fired upon by police” bar vs the “struck by police” bar, we notice that the police seem to be much better shots when shooting at whites than at blacks. When they shoot at blacks, they appear to be trying not to actually hit them, whereas they appear to have no such compunctions when shooting at whites.
So where are all of the protests and marches for whites and Hispanics murdered by the police? Does even Stormfront give enough of a shit about murdered whites to block a highway or steal a microphone?
But that is just Mother Jones and the WaPo. What stats do other folks cite?
“Peter Moskos, assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, decided to use figures from the website Killed by Police. …
“Adjusted to take into account the racial breakdown of the U.S. population, he said black men are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men. But also adjusted to take into account the racial breakdown in violent crime, the data actually show that police are less likely to kill black suspects than white ones.
““If one adjusts for the racial disparity in the homicide rate or the rate at which police are feloniously killed, whites are actually more likely to be killed by police than blacks,” said Mr. Moskos. …
“Peter Moskos, assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, decided to use figures from the website Killed by Police. Based on that data, Mr. Moskos reported that roughly 49 percent of those killed by officers from May 2013 to April 2015 were white, while 30 percent were black. He also found that 19 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were Asian and other races. …
“Adjusted to take into account the racial breakdown of the U.S. population, he said black men are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men. But also adjusted to take into account the racial breakdown in violent crime, the data actually show that police are less likely to kill black suspects than white ones.
“If one adjusts for the racial disparity in the homicide rate or the rate at which police are feloniously killed, whites are actually more likely to be killed by police than blacks,” said Mr. Moskos, a former Baltimore cop and author of the book “Cop in the Hood.”
But do others agree with Mr. Moskos’s numbers?
“The investigative journalism website ProPublica came up with a similar percentage in an Oct. 10 article, reporting that 44 percent of all those killed by police were white, using FBI data from 1980 to 2012.
“The fact-checking website PolitiFact concluded in August 2014 that police kill more whites than blacks after the claim was made by conservative commentator Michael Medved. PolitiFact cited data from the Centers for Disease Control on fatal injuries by “legal intervention” from 1999 to 2011.
“Over the span of more than a decade, 2,151 whites died by being shot by police compared to 1,130 blacks. In that respect, Medved is correct,” said PolitiFact.”
“Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!”
So, the article is saying that we should be out in the streets marching and protesting about the preferential killing of whites and Hispanics by the police? Because this is, of course, what the data actually shows.
But what about that pesky matter, crime?
The Baltimore Sun has a widget that lets you see where all of the homicides in Baltimore have been committed since 2007:
I’m guessing the year’s total will come out somewhere around 280, breaking the general trend of falling homicide rates.
“Milwaukee, which last year had one of its lowest annual homicide totals in city history, recorded 84 murders so far this year, more than double the 41 it tallied at the same point last year. …
“The number of murders in 2015 jumped by 33% or more in Baltimore, New Orleans and St. Louis. Meanwhile, in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, the homicide toll climbed 19% and the number of shooting incidents increased by 21% during the first half of the year.”
But sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words:
I’m going to quote a few bits from the Slate Star Codex article linked at the top:
“Then I found a huge review paper on the subject, written by a Harvard professor of sociology, which concluded after analyzing sixty pages of exquisitely-researched studies that:
“‘Recognizing that research on criminal justice processing in the United States is complex and fraught with methodological problems, the weight of the evidence reviewed suggests the following. When restricted to index crimes, dozens of individual-level studies have shown that a simple direct influence of race on pretrial release, plea bargaining, conviction, sentence length, and the death penalty among adults is small to nonexistent once legally relevant variables (e.g. prior record) are controlled. For these crimes, racial differentials in sanctioning appear to match the large racial differences in criminal offending. Findings on the processing of adult index crimes therefore generally support the non-discrimination thesis.’ …
“Police records consistently show that black people are arrested at disproportionally high rates (compared to their presence in the population) for violent crimes. For example, blacks are arrested eight times more often for homicide and fourteen times more often for robbery. Even less flashy crimes show the same pattern: forgery, fraud, and embezzlement all hover around a relative risk of four. …
“The second hypothesis has been strongly supported by crime victimization surveys, which show that the percent of arrestees who are black matches very closely matches the percent of victims who say their assailant was black. This has been constant throughout across thirty years of crime victmization surveys. …
“Summary: Blacks appear to be arrested for drug use at a rate four times that of whites. Adjusting for known confounds reduces their rate to twice that of whites. However, other theorized confounders could mean that the real relative risk is anywhere between two and parity. Never trust the media to give you any number more complicated than today’s date. … Older national data skews more toward the New York City side with little evidence of racial bias, but I don’t know of any recent studies which have compared the race of shooting victims to the race of dangerous attackers on a national level. There is no support for the contention that white officers are more likely than officers of other races to shoot black suspects. …
“a more recent Bureau of Justice Statistics finds that 66% of accused blacks get prosecuted compared to 69% of accused whites; 75% of prosecuted blacks get convicted compared to 78% of prosecuted whites. …
“Summary: Most recent studies suggest a racial sentencing disparity of about 15%, contradicting previous studies that showed lower or no disparity. Changes in sentencing guidelines are one possible explanation; poorly understood methodological differences are a second. Capital punishment still sucks.”
But don’t just take my word for it; go read Scott’s whole post. Obviously he put a lot of effort into it.
Presidential hopeful and US Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign website helpfully explains his thoughts on the matter:
“Issues: Racial Justice
“We must pursue policies that transform this country into a nation that affirms the value of its people of color. That starts with addressing the four central types of violence waged against black and brown Americans: physical, political, legal and economic.
“Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Samuel DuBose. We know their names. Each of them died unarmed at the hands of police officers or in police custody. The chants are growing louder. People are angry and they have a right to be angry. We should not fool ourselves into thinking that this violence only affects those whose names have appeared on TV or in the newspaper. African Americans are twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police. …”
CNN weighs in on the Bernie Sanders/Black Lives Matter incidents:
“Many observers are perplexed by the decision of some Black Lives Matter activists to twice disrupt attempted addresses by presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“Well, I am not perplexed. The new generation of civil rights activists never accepted “trickle-down economics” from conservatives. Today they are rejecting “trickle-down justice” from the liberals. …
“But we have needed and wanted more. Our economic problems include an unemployment rate that is double that of whites, racially biased policing and court systems, predatory lenders who deliberately target black neighborhoods and public schools that expel black children at staggering rates for minor offenses. …
“Sometimes, it seemed some Democratic politicians were happy to publicly name and embrace every part of the Democratic coalition — immigrants rights defenders, womens’ rights advocates, environmentalists and champions of LBGT equality. But not black people.”
Yes, clearly the one thing Democrats fail to talk about is Black people. Really, I’ve hardly heard anyone talking about black people and their issues for the past few decades. Maybe during the LBJ administration there was some talk about black people, but that was ages ago.
“In case anyone missed the memo after Ferguson, Baltimore and Charleston, here it is: the Obama era of black silence on issues that matter to us is over.”
That’s what you call “silence”?
“It turns out the Seattle activists’ actions were aimed less at Sanders himself and more at racist practices and policies being tolerated by local liberals in a supposed progressive bastion like Seattle. The Seattle Police Department has been under investigation for years for racist scandals and problematic use of force. Black children in King County schools are suspended at higher rates than their white peers. And the region is wasting $210 million on a new jail instead of investing in communities. … any fair discussion of “income inequality” must necessarily include a denunciation of our racially biased criminal justice system. Always.”
“This is the Civil Rights Movement Part II, and our leaders should want to get in on the side that promotes human rights—full stop. … You cannot look at a group of people living in fear and dying in droves and tell them they are protesting incorrectly. It’s easy to sit back and critique the method when it isn’t your life on the line. But if someone were being choked, the last thing they would need is a passerby saying, “I’d love to help you out. But could you at least say “please?” Convince me why I should save your life, and do it politely.” White people have the time and the luxury to wait for the system we created to work in our favor.”
“Attempting to soar where her rivals have recently floundered on issues of racial justice, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addressed a crowd of nearly 400 in South Carolina Thursday and said unequivocally: “Yes, black lives matter. …
“…the protesters showed up slightly before the event started and, according to the Clinton campaign, were not allowed into the main event because the room has been shut down due to capacity by the United States Secret Service.
“A Secret Service agent on site confirmed this to CNN.”
How about those evil racists on the Republican side?
“In our stern voices, we chanted: “Black lives matter! Black lives matter! Black lives matter!”
“Confused, boisterous, and starkly naked, they replied: “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”
“During this year’s Primal Scream, we were a part of a group of students who stood in front of Hollis Hall as part of a peaceful protest in response to the recent non-indictment of Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, police officers who are responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, respectively.
“With the support of the administration, we hoped to delay primal scream with a 4.5-minute moment of silence, symbolic of the 4.5 hours that Brown’s body lay on the street after his death. Black lives matter, and we wanted to engage the larger Harvard community on some of the most salient issues of our time: systemic racism, oppression, and brutality on black and brown bodies. And yet, to our dismay, the efforts of several administrators who rallied for students to respect the moment of silence were muted by the chanting of the naked mass.”
In case it’s not obvious, “Primal Scream” is one of those old-school college traditions in which (probably drunk) students strip naked and run through Harvard Yard at midnight on the night before finals. Oh, and it’s in the dead of winter, which means it’s really fucking cold. Probably not the best time to try to get a hundred or so drunk, naked people get on board with an agenda of standing around in the cold for a few minutes.
“More than 200 demonstrators poured onto the streets of Central Square in Cambridge Wednesday evening, extending a series of marches and protests both nationwide and in the Greater Boston Area against racial prejudice in the criminal justice system.
“This is just a continuation,” Divinity School student Rachel A. Foran said, clutching a sign on which read “White silence is state violence.” Foran, like others at the event, emphasized the need for uniting in protest following two separate non-indictments of white police officers late last year who killed unarmed black men. …
“Along the way, organizers handed off a milk crate podium to one another as they invited individuals to decry prejudices against African American men and implore Cambridge residents to join the movement.”
I think Central Square, Cambridge is significantly blacker than Harvard.
“The energies that fuel art are similar to the ones that power politico-economic movements, and the line between the two can often blur. The protest can be considered a form of performance art, and movements at Harvard and beyond have utilized the intersection between the two. …
“Harvard is in a unique position within the genre of protest-performance art, organizers say. And since Harvard is constantly scrutinized by the media, revolutionary art produced on Harvard’s campus—protest-based or otherwise—has unusual reach and staying power.
“Harvard is familiar with the tradition of performance art as a form of protest. For instance, Divest Harvard, a group that calls for Harvard to divest from fossil fuel companies, recently used a tactic that showcases performance art: They initiated the Divest Harvard Fast, a hunger strike in all but name. The hunger strike is an age-old tactic, used by groups ranging from suffragettes to Indian nationalists to Cuban dissidents. The act of fasting has a peculiar evocative power to it: an asceticism that brings up images of emaciated fakirs and a willingness to use the body as a canvas, a la Marina Abramovic.”
“If the American government were sincere about wanting peace in Cambodia, it would stop supporting a repressive dictatorship, and allow the people of Cambodia — represented by the Khmer Rouge and the supporters of the deposed Prince Norodom Sihanouk — to determine their own destiny,”
and of Slate Star Codex’s recent review of “Chronicles of Wasted Time,” the memoirs of a liberal journalist who got his wish to visit Stalin’s utopia, witnessed Holodomor first-hand, and then couldn’t get anyone back home to publish his articles about it or pretty much anything that wasn’t uplifting lies about the awesomeness of the USSR, which you should also read:
“He is reduced to sending secret messages at the bottoms of people’s suitcases, only to find to his horror that even when they successfully reach the Guardian offices back in Britain, his bosses have no interest in publishing them because they offend the prejudices of its progressive readership. …
“The plan goes without a hitch, he passes himself off as a generic middle-class Soviet, and he ends up in Ukraine right in the middle of Stalin’s Great Famine. He describes the scene – famished skeletons begging for crumbs, secret police herding entire towns into railway cars never to be seen again. At great risk to himself, he smuggles notes about the genocide out of the country, only to be met – once again – with total lack of interest. Guardian readers don’t look at the newspapers to hear bad things about the Soviet Union! Guardian readers want to hear about how the Glorious Future is already on its way! He is quickly sidelined in favor of the true stars of Soviet journalism, people like Walter Duranty, the New York Times‘s Russia correspondent, who wrote story after story about how prosperous and happy and well-fed the Soviets were under Stalin, and who later won the Pulitzer Prize for his troubles.”
Speakerpedia claims that Tim Wise commands a $10,000 speaker’s fee to lecture about White Privilege to college students (and other groups) across the country; he has apparently spoken at over 800 colleges. Does anyone ever get invited to speak about black crime, the targeting of whites and Hispanics by the police, or black on white crime at universities? I bet Jared Taylor would speak for free.
Black Lives Matter has the official support of Harvard University, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Twitter, and the mass media establishment.
(No, seriously this is what the inside of the Twitter headquarters looks like:
Everyone lies. All the damn time. Most lies are completely inconsequential, of course, but lying about who is murdering whom seems like the kind of lie that could result in real consequences: people dying. But even to mention the truth in public carries serious consequences: ostracization, loss of job, harassment, banning, etc. Only low-class losers care about crime against whites; rich people, of course, have no such petty concerns. Maybe because they can live in million dollar neighborhoods where the gates/ferry rides “keep out the riff-raff.”
Whose lies are believed? Whose are not?
Conclusions: The police and whites who worry about getting killed (or get killed) are low-status. Blacks and wealthy whites who proclaim how much they love blacks are high-status.
Does this sound counter-intuitive?
Why? Socially, blacks are more popular than whites.
As I noted yesterday,
“White people want to have black friends; it lets them prove to themselves (and others) just how non-racist they are. It makes them feel better about themselves and assuages some portion of guilt. To have a black friend makes a white person feel like a good white person. …
“Black people, by contrast, have no particular desire to prove how non-racist they are.”
The imbalance puts whites in a position of lower social value, attempting to get social status via black approval. But don’t just take my word for it. Remember that article in the New Yorker about the Vermont couple who adopted 20 kids?
“All the teen-ages were nervous about being black in Vermont, but Fisher and Lilly were wildly popular in high school. Lilly was a track star, and Fisher was cool and good-looking.
“Fisher: I was popular. It went to my head, I won’t lie to you. All the little white girls saw I was the best dancer in the school, and I was the only black guy.”
Fisher dropped out of college, got three girls pregnant and went to prison for beating one of them.
Were you popular enough with women to have three kids before your mid-twenties?
“In NEWSWEEK magazine this week, we suggested that part of the problem [racial self-segregation among students] stems from white parents’ refusal to talk to their young children about race and ethnicity. This inadvertently teaches children that race is a taboo topic. …
“Nevertheless, the scholars are finding stunning racial patterns in the kids’ responses. They found that black kids who self-segregate ─ who only hang out with other blacks ─ are more popular than black kids who have white friends.
“This means that an average black student could increase her popularity by hanging out with other black students. Meanwhile, if she chooses to have white friends, she could put her popularity at risk. Many kids don’t have the social capital or confidence to make this tradeoff.
“When the scholars ran the analysis a second time, substituting how much kids were liked for how popular they were, a similar troubling pattern emerged. Black kids who self-segregated were liked by more black children. Having white friends decreased a black child’s “likeability” ─ at least in the eyes of other black children.
“For white children, in contrast, self-segregating hurt their popularity. …
“Overall, black students were more popular than white students. And both the white and black kids in his study agreed which black kids were popular.”
Newsweek concludes the article by claiming,
“Twenty or thirty years ago, no black kids would have been seen as popular by white kids ─ and few black kids would have had social influence. Black kids would not have been setting the social standard, school-wide. Now they are.”
In “Blacks in the White Establishment,” Zweigenhaft and Dumhoff write about the effects of the ABC program–A Better Chance of Andover–established in 1967 to give scholarships to black and other minority students so they can attend Andover High School:
“Perry’s study found that ABC students felt themselves to be popular. In fact, in response to an item asking, “How popular do you think you are in school this year in comparison with all the other students in your grade,” black ABC students indicated they felt more popular than did a control group of white students at their schools. (More than one-third of the black respondents felt themselves to be among “the most popular” and less than one-tenth thought themselves to be among “the least popular.”)
“Not only were black ABC students popular, they were also valued as leaders in dealing with teachers and administrators. … the student body of 840 students (40 of whom were black) surprised many people (including the faculty, the administration, the New York Times, and, most likely, themselves) by electing blacks as presidents of the sophomore, junior, and senior classes for the 1969-70 academic year. As the New York Times breathlessly and historically informed its readers, Andover, “the alma mater of the Lees and Washingtons of Virginia and the Quincys and Lowells of New England, has elected three Negro students from the ghettos of Chicago and Oakland as class presidents for 1969-70.” (Bold mine)
Of course, 1969 is 40 years before the Newsweek article was published, not 20-30, so perhaps black kids got a lot less popular sometime between the 60s and the 80s. Or maybe Newsweek just employees people who want certain fictions to be true.
“African American—but not European American—children had more segregated relationships and were more disliked by cross-ethnicity peers when they had fewer same-ethnicity classmates. African American children’s segregation was positively associated with same-ethnicity social preference and perceived popularity and with cross-ethnicity perceived popularity. European American children’s segregation was positively associated with same-ethnicity social preference but negatively associated with cross-ethnicity social preference and perceived popularity.”
“I’ve been to many different middle schools and highschools (we moved alot for dad’s job) and it always seemed as though blacks are more “popular” than anyone else in the school?
“My area is majority white…and most of the Black people at my school(and there isn’t a lot) are quite popular. Same with a lot of the Asian kids at my school.
“Well usually I feel as though they have more culture…I don’t know.. more fun then just and I am not trying to “Generalize” the american girl population, but most of us are annoying slutty brats, who just want to take pictures all the time in the same god damn position.
“We’re just always expected to be cool and popular, honestly…and it’s just that most blacks are raised to be more outgoing, so it carries on with them through school. I get along with most people, but I’m not that popular.
“the blacks in my school tend to be popular because some of them make trouble. Source(s): im black,and im not popular”
The general explanation for black crime (if you get one at all) is that blacks feel bad because of racism, they have low self-esteem, they’re unpopular, people are constantly mean to them, they suffer microaggressions, etc.
The “self esteem” racket is quite a thing, and has been going on for quite a while (since the ’80s, at least). I recently happened across a treasure trove of old books a former kindergarten teacher was giving away for free because she was retiring, and gratefully took the whole stack. Many of the books were on the expected topics of “Kindergarten is awesome” and the ABCs, but a substantial subset were books aimed at raising black self-esteem, such as, “I Like Myself”
Actually, there were two copies of this book in the stack.
Here’s a page from the book:
People the MC would not like to be: a baby, an old woman, or a police officer–all white.
And another page:
Remember, whites get bullied more than black kids, but how many books do you think you can find in the average kindergarten class depicting a white kid being bullied by a black kid, and encouraging the white kid to be proud of themself?
“Teach your kids to constantly question the media’s narratives, especially about black people, including what stories the media tells and doesn’t tell, what images they show and don’t show, and the ways that black people and other people of color are made less than human by the media, while white people, even mass murderers, are allowed full humanity. Point out to them the differences in headlines and language used to describe people of color vs. white people and make sure they understand the motives behind them.”
The Cosby Show must have been really hard on her self-esteem.
“By the 1970s, a majority of empirical studies found that Blacks had high self-esteem (Simmons, 1978; Taylor & Walsh, 1979; Rosenberg & Simmons, 1972; Harris & Stokes, 1978; Porter & Washington, 1979). Cross (1991) also reviewed studies published from 1968 to1980, and found that 74% of the studies reported that Blacks had equal or higher self-esteem than Whites. …
“a plethora of quantitative and qualitative studies have reported that Black adolescent girls consistently present high self-esteem scores (Adams, 2003; Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1999; Brodsky, 1999; Brown et al., 1998; Dukes & Martinez, 1994; Gray-Little & Hafdahl, 2000; Makkar & Strube, 1995; Milkie, 1999; Twenge & Crocker, 2002). In an empirical review of race comparative research published from 1980-2000, Adams (2003) found that 23 of 26 studies reported that Black girls had higher self-esteem than White girls. Black adolescent girls may be facing difficult circumstances but they consistently rate higher on self-esteem than any other racial group (Twenge & Crocker, 2002).”
“A Birmingham, Alabama, police detective who was pistol-whipped unconscious said Friday that he hesitated to use force because he didn’t want to be accused of needlessly killing an unarmed man. …
“”We don’t want to be in the media,” he said. “It’s hard times right now for us.” …
“Adding insult to injury: several bystanders, instead of helping, took pictures of the bloodied officer as he was facedown on the concrete and posted the images on social media, where the officer was mocked. …
“”Pistol whipped his ass to sleep,” one user wrote, employing the hashtag #FckDaPolice. Another mockingly offered the officer milk and cookies for his “nap time.””
Important Update: Looks like my sources were wrong and Lt. White has not been charged, but is considering charging him. The text below has been changed accordingly.
Anarcho-tyranny is when the state itself imposes anarchy on its population and punishes them for trying to rectify the situation. It refers most egregiously to situations where people cannot legally defend their own lives or property, or where they are charged with crimes after defending themselves.
You remember this case. A man–we shall call him a Muslim terrorist–walked into a Navy recruitment office and opened fire. The center’s commanding officer, Lt. White, returned fire, probably killing the shooter (there was another gun on the premises that may also have been used, but that shooter is dead and so won’t be charged with any crimes.) and saving the lives of many people. Lt. White faces a minimum of 20 years in prison for bringing a firearm onto a no-guns Federal property.
Now, as far as gun laws themselves are concerned, I’m pretty agnostic. I’m neither on the “everyone should have their own machine gun” side, nor on the “all guns are evil” side. It is pretty obvious to me that different conditions–like, are there bears in your neighborhood?–should probably lead to different laws. I am in favor, however, of not punishing people for good deeds, and for letting them defend themselves.
The whole point of having a gun-free zone is to prevent violence; if the government cannot guarantee the safety of people in those zones, then the government has failed. People must be able to go about their business without fear of random violence; if violence is a problem, then people must be allowed to take steps to protect themselves, like installing metal detectors or taking self-defense classes, or the government must step in and protect them, say, by increasing police patrols. To prevent the former while failing to do the latter creates the conditions of anarcho-tyranny–people are legally prohibited from defending themselves while the gov’t does nothing to defend them.
Lt. White’s violation of the law saved the lives of multiple people. His actions are a clear case that should not be prosecuted; rather,the government should investigate ways to make its no-gun areas safe.
The over-proliferation of laws–legal over-criminalization and over-regulation–is partly a side effect of an over-large government that’s been around for longer than almost any other government on Earth (no, seriously, most governments got their start post-WWII) and so had a long time to make legislation, and partly a side effect of trying to get a bunch of different people with different social norms to get along together in one big country.
For example, Freedom of Speech–one of our core American values–allows one to insult the leaders of major religious groups. But Muslims tend to really dislike seeing their Prophet disrespected. Put both groups in close contact, and one or the other (or both) is liable to be highly unhappy. The result–more laws trying to clarify when it’s okay to be offensive and when it’s not–tends not so much to make people happier, as to make life a bigger pain in the butt for everyone involved. (The obvious solution, IMO, is that people who want to insult Mohammad and people who don’t want to see Mohammad insulted shouldn’t talk to each other.)
More and more regulations are a creeping, silent tax. Small businesses especially hare hard-hit by ever-increasing regulations to keep track of and comply with; eventually the winners are those with the spare budget to afford armies of lawyers to wade through the legislation, or those who cheat. Increasing regulations disincentivise honesty.
Gun laws, as I understand them, have gotten to a similarly complicated state. Of course, there is always some conflict between keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, and keeping guns in the hands of people who would defend themselves from criminals. In this case, I am inclined to think that Navy officers probably aren’t criminals, whether on Federal property or not.
The reasons for the gun-free zones like the one Lt. White was caught in probably stem from the crime wave of the late ’80s/early 90s–the “Gun Free School Zones Act,” for example, was passed in 1990. That crime wave had nothing to do with Naval officers carrying guns at Naval recruitment offices, but everything to do with the impact of the crack/cocaine trade on inner city ghetto (black and Hispanic) homicide rates and gang wars.
Anarcho-tyranny is using laws intended to stop black and Hispanic gang violence to punish whites for defending themselves against Muslim terrorists.
In retrospect, if god had turned me into an Indian, I think I would have just about died of joy. I fucking loved Indians. Alas, scouring my family tree didn’t reveal even one great-grandparent who could conceivably have been a Cherokee princess.*
For irrelevant reasons, I got sent to a ghetto school for sixth grade. I had no friends at this place. The whites wanted nothing to do with me. The blacks were openly hostile. A few of the Mexicans were friendly, but when it came to recess, they played with each other, not me. And besides, they didn’t speak English, and I didn’t know much Spanish.
If only I were Mexican, I thought. If only I woke up tomorrow with beautiful black hair and brown skin, then I could have friends and my classmates wouldn’t hit me.
Sadly, god was not forthcoming. I was stuck with whiteness, pale, useless, disgusting. Maggots are white, I thought.
For some reason my parents tacked up on the wall a portrait I drew of myself in art class. The portrait was supposed to express my misery. Every time I walked past it, I thought, Why do they have that thing on the wall? They never understood.
By middle school, I’d latched onto an identity that I could reasonably fake. It wasn’t really mine, but it was close. I at least had the right facial features, and was legally related (through adoption) to some people from that part of the world, if you went back enough generations. This became my obsession. I studied the language. I saved up my allowance to purchase traditional costumes. I read histories and novels; devoured the music. I talked endlessly about my heritage, no doubt annoying the everliving shit out of everyone around me. (No wonder no one liked me.) I even dyed my hair to look more like my ethnic ideal and lied about my eye color.
In retrospect, that was pretty dumb. But I was a kid, lonely and desperate. The people around me had culture, community, history, identity, pride. And I wanted that. I wanted something to call my own–my own music, my own history, my own country.
The place where I grew up was, obviously, not terribly pleasant or special to me. “Whiteness” is not a trait whites are taught to be proud of; “white music” or “white history” are not things that I was aware of as part of my heritage. On top of that, I came from a part of the country with a reputation for backwardness and bigotry, also not things I was proud of. Ethnically, I do not really have a particular European country I can claim as my own–I am not a majority English or French or German or Hungarian or anything.
As a statistical outlier in many ways, I don’t fit in terribly well with most people, except with other outliers like myself. (Finding such outliers is, I suppose, one of the purposes of this blog.) Not fitting in and what that does to your psyche is a thing I understand.
I have known other people like myself–other people who, at some point in their lives, desperately wanted to be part of an ethnic group they weren’t born in to, leading to what an outside observer would call, “talking all the damn time about it.” I suspect Dolezal experienced something similar. I suspect she just wanted to fit in with the people she loved being with and an identity to claim as her own. Our politics may differ, but I still feel really sorry for her.
Scratch a dozen whites, and I bet six of them secretly wish they could be something they aren’t. That’s why so many of them lie about being Irish, twisting one possibly Catholic grandparent or great-grandparent into a claim that they practically hopped off the land o’ blarney yesterday. No one wants to admit to being mostly English or German, even if they are.
I am struggling to come up with a neat and tidy conclusion to this post. I have obviously come to a point where I am comfortable admitting actual reality, and enough distance from the loneliness to think I was once kind of funny. I have some positive thoughts associated with various accomplishments of groups I have some kinship with. And I am an adult, busy with the everyday concerns of work, friends, family, etc.
But I look at my kids and wonder what sort of identity would make them happy.
*According to 23 and Me, I may actually have a sliver of Indian ancestry, but it’s pretty far back.
Whites–especially whites of my generation or slightly older–were explicitly taught (as kids and sometimes as adults) that there are no differences between racial groups; that all racial groups are friends; that it’s a small world after all. Our celebrities held concerts encouraging us to donate money to starving children in Africa, because, “We are the world.” We were promised a future of inter-racial harmony, where racial differences meant nothing more than liking tacos or needing less sunscreen.
Whites often fail at being racially inclusive, but they generally believe that they should be.
So it is generally with some surprise that whites learn that other people do not think the same thing about them. That a white person who marries a black person, attends a black college, dresses/styles her hair like black people, and devotes her life to the advancement of black causes might actually get rejected by other black people just because she isn’t black. Whites who have an interest in American Indian things, particularly religion, have another fine line to walk. You may watch respectfully, but you cannot join.
Some religions are very open to converts; Christianity in particular. Christians have trouble understanding that other religions might not be open to converts; other people might not want them.
As I see it, there are two main reasons to police the boundaries of a group: either because there are some benefits associated with being part of the group, like getting a job because you graduated from a particular school; or because you really hate people not in your group, like feminists who hate men so much they won’t let trans* folk into their gatherings.
Both of these notions go against white expectations. The anti-racist ideology teaches that there aren’t benefits associated with being non-white (that’s why it’s called white privilege, not black privilege,) and our generally cheerful assumption that we are all supposed to be friends, regardless of race.
If you haven’t heard of Rotherham, it’s a town in Britain where a major scandal recently occurred: Muslim immigrants kidnapped about 1,400 girls over the past decade, raping them and selling them into prostitution. The police had plenty of information coming in about this, but decided it was better to cover up what was happening than to actually bother to rescue anyone, out of fear that doing so would make them look racist.
If it weren’t so goddamn tragic, it’d be hilarious.
The important lesson here isn’t that immigrants are bad. Most immigrants are not bad. The important lesson is that all of the people who claim to be looking out for women did and have done jack shit about the systematic kidnapping and raping of over a thousand girls.
And, look, speaking as a female, I take that kind of personally.
So, what were the feminists doing when this broke? Oh, right, they were too busy talking about a handful of women who were sent death threats over Gamergate to pay attention to the actual violence done to over a thousand women.
A liberal, feminist acquaintance who lives in the UK recently posted, perhaps rhetorically, ‘Why are so many Brits are becoming hostile to immigrants?’ I responded, ‘Well, there was that business in Rotherham,’ and he responded that the media has been under pressure to dig up anything negative they can find on the immigrants.
Later I looked back on this exchange and thought, “Wait a minute, this person, who no doubt considers himself a good person, who believes that he cares about women, just responded to a case of over a thousand women being kidnapped and raped with some twaddle about the media looking for ways to make immigrants look bad? What the fuck?”
As far as I am concerned, feminism is fucking done. I sincerely hope that someone steps up to the plate to help women, because god knows we need it, but it certainly isn’t feminists.
The rest of the liberals are just as negligent. They have completely abandoned the notion of giving a shit about women, except when they want our votes against Republican candidates.
And conservatives, when they pop up, are still blathering on about outlawing abortion, as though this were the 1970s.
Enemies to my right, no friends to the left–what’s a girl to do?
(Incidentally, the Sierra Club recently came out in favor of increased immigration. Increasing the US population is a fine position, if you don’t happen to have trees as your supposed priority.)
(To be fair, my conservative relatives would have put a bullet into anyone who tried to kidnap me when I was a kid. That counts for a little something in my book, though it is balanced by them nearly killing each other when I was a kid.)
As for Rotherham, the lesson there is that if our ability to interact with outsiders is so bad that we’re too scared to arrest them for kidnapping, then we should not be dealing with outsiders. Let someone who is confident that they are not racist and whom you are confident is not racist handle the arresting. And if we can’t be confident that people are capable of being non-racist, then we need to seriously rethink our immigration policies, because why would we let people into our country if we think we (or our neighbors) are going to be racist toward them? People deserve to live in places where they are warmly accepted by those around them, not subject to racist assholes. And people deserve to be protected from criminals, not to have a special class that gets a free pass from the police.