How Much Do White Americans Think It "Costs" To Be Black?

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“How much should you be paid to continue to live the rest of your life as a black person?” This is the provocative question asked by a new study published in the Du Bois Review. According the the press release, the researchers found:

When white Americans were asked to imagine how much they would have to be paid to live the rest of their lives as a black person, most requested relatively low amounts, generally less than $10,000.

In contrast, study participants said they would have to be paid about $1 million to give up television for the rest of their lives.

The answer was different when the contemporary black/white context was stripped away. Some participants…

…were asked to imagine they were born into the fictional country of Atria, and were born either into the “majority” or “minority” population. They were given a list of the disadvantages that the minority population faced in Atria (which were identical to the real disadvantages faced by blacks in America). In this case, white participants in the study said they should be paid an average of $1 million to be born as a minority member in Atria.

The study results jibe with my own informal surveys over the years. The researchers also probed attitudes toward reparations for wrongs committed against ancestors. Whole press release here.

Discuss. 

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  1. Of course people only said $10,000; the question was not asking how much you should be paid to become black, but how much you should be paid to tell other people you are black, all the while you will continue to pass for white.

    “In most cases, the participants were told to imagine they were actually black, but had always passed for white. The imagined race change required no physical transformation, just a change in public status.”

    As people treat you in accordance with how you look and act, not how your ancestors looked and acted, a person in such a situation should not expect to be treated any differently from before. As such, the “less than $10,000” figure sounds way too high to me.

  2. This topic is as worthy of discussion as another thread on Paris Hilton. Try again.

    CB

  3. No kidding. Lame ass survey.

  4. There’s not enough money in the world to get me to change any element of my identity. I guess no one like me was averaged into the poll.

  5. What is the difference between St. Patrick’s day and MLK’s birthday?

    On St. Patrick’s day, everybody wishes they were Irish.

  6. They were given a list of the disadvantages that the minority population faced in Atria (which were identical to the real disadvantages faced by blacks in America)

    Just out of curiosity, I’d like to see that list. The word “identical” is a pretty strong word.

  7. This has all the makings of a quirky, touching comedy starring C. Thomas Howell…

  8. Thanks for that clarification.

  9. which were identical to the real disadvantages faced by blacks in America

    Oh yeah? Says who? And did they also include all the “real advantages” enjoyed by blacks in America?

    Now excuse me, I’m leaving early to meet my foursome at the clubhouse. It’s pot-luck today and I want to be sure and get some of Betty’s creamy noodle salad before it’s all gone.

  10. They were given a list of the disadvantages that the minority population faced in Atria

    I think it would be hard to compile an accurate list of disadvantages as they will vary from person to person and place to place. Even if they were uniformly distributed, it would be difficult to get everyone to agree on exactly what they were. That’s crucial because what matters in this survey is the comparison in the subjects’ minds.

  11. so is it time to feel guilty for being a white male again. Who do I make the reperations check out to?

  12. The only reason you’d have to pay me is because I don’t want to change my identity, not because I think it would be crappy to be black. You get many perks for being black nowadays.

    Being poor, howerver, is another case. It’s much better to be black and middle class than white and poor in today’s america. As for being poor and white or black. Everything else equal, you’re better off black, becuase of the substantial number of scholarships given to minority students.

  13. Fluffy,

    No part of your identity? How much is that stupid name worth to you? I’m assuming it has something to do with your identity.

  14. Did they ask black Americans how much they’d have to be paid to be stuck in the West Virginia backwater fucking their sister, drinking moonshine and living out of a Volkswagen bus the rest of their lives?

  15. What’s my sister look like? I’ll give you a number.

  16. The first thing that ocurred to me when I read this was that of course the number would be low, because nobody really wants to give the impression that their someone who is basically saying “Become a black person? Are you kidding??” In other words, they don’t want to come off as someone who thinks that since black people are inferior, they should be paid a lot of money to be one. But then LoneSnark pointed out the phrasing of the question in his comment above, and now I just think it’s confusing. So I’m not sure what this survey says now.

  17. Are there no black libertarians with enough leisure to waste time posting here? It would be nice to hear from one.

  18. Does the ability to dance without out looking geeky come with foregoing my pasty white and prone to burn to a lobster red, pigmentally challenged skin?

    Yeah, I’d pay $10,000 to live the rest of my life as black.

  19. Xanthippas –
    I agree. It’s a faulty survey for exactly that reason.

    Also, Warren – good show, my boy

  20. PCASW,
    Yeah. I’d like to know what the going rate on the Dwayne Dibley transformation is.

  21. They were given a list of the disadvantages that the minority population faced in Atria (which were identical to the real disadvantages faced by blacks in America)

    Oh really? I would like to actually see what disadvantages were claimed in this survey. Tell us, don’t just assume we believe that the people putting the survey are telling the truth.

  22. NoStar

    It’s easy to say you’d do things you know you’ll never have to do, isn’t it? Sort of like promising you’ll say something intelligent. You know it’s not going to happen.

  23. Are there no black libertarians…

    Fewer than black Republicans, I’d say, so there are probably about…oh…five.
    In the whole country.

  24. Edward,
    There are no black libertarians. Any you happen to meet, are just statistical anomalies.

  25. Thomas Sowell fancies himself as a libertarian. (I think)

  26. Statistically, there is no doubt that being black is a disadvantage. Statistically there is an advantage to being an Indian or Oriental immigrant compared to being a white immigrant. I’m not a goddam statistic and nobody else is. In any society, let me repeat that, any society there will be some groups that achieve more/differently than others. The question is how much of this difference is caused by bias, how much is cultural, how much is legacy? I’m sure I missed some factors there. That blacks face prejudice in American life is IMHO undeniable. How much bias and what should be done about it are not even addressed here and so requires no further comment from this quarter.

  27. study participants said they would have to be paid about $1 million to give up television for the rest of their lives.

    Cable TV rates are far too low.

  28. “Fewer than black Republicans, I’d say, so there are probably about…oh…five.
    In the whole country.”

    Economist Walter Williams and 4 Neal Boortz listeners/small businessmen in Atlanta

  29. Edward,
    I’d pay $2 million if I got to pick which black person I had to be for the rest of my life. Call me Denzel.

    And being married to Jada Pinkett Smith would be worth a million, easy.

    OTOH, You couldn’t pay me enough to be Snoop Dog or Sean Puffy, P-Diddy Dum Diddy Doo Combs. or Alan Combs for that matter.

  30. Who wants a ticket to Atria?

  31. Holy crap! It looks like there’s more famous black libertarians than there are white.

  32. Eddie Murphy used to do a bit on this, essentially “There isn’t a white person in this audience who would change places with me, and I’m rich! Even the white janitor back there is thinking ‘No, I think I’ll ride out this white thing and see where it takes me.'”

    Much earlier, Lenny Bruce would say “So you tell the white bigot ‘You’re on a desert island and you’re going to spend the rest of your life with a white white woman or a black black woman, who do you choose? .. and the black woman is Lena Horne and the white woman is Kate Smith!'” (Update: Halle Berry and Rosie O’Donnell)

    Still, I wonder if the perceived disadvantages are as significant as we continue to believe they are. Put differently, while Bruce is still on the money, I’m not sure I wouldn’t trade places with Murphy. Then again, that would be far more than a $1 million exchange.

  33. There’s a big difference between being born black and living the rest of your life black. Whatever success someone has had in life is not going to disappear just because he/she becomes black, thus the low amount. Being born black as opposed to white, however, there is a statistically higher chance of being born into a slightly poorer family and thus a higher perceived difficulty in becoming successful, thus the higher dollar amount.

    This isn’t racism, but a financial wager made about the perceived chances of success.

  34. Just out of curiosity, I’d like to see that list.
    It probably consists of the actual, rather than imaginary, things the Chinese faced in Malaysia; see T. Sowell for more info and more examples. (Summary: the Chinese minority kicked ass, so nearly everyone else got pissed off)

    How much is that stupid name worth to you?
    My stupid name is the result of a typo. How ’bout yours?

    You get many perks for being black nowadays.
    Here is a statistical analysis of the financial benefits of anti-white racism, er, Affirmative Action.

  35. I can’t find a link, but a recently done study of race-based responses to online personals showed that a black man’s income had to be reported as more than $150,000 per year higher than an equally otherwise attractive (as rated by the women in the study) white man’s in order for women of any race to respond equally positively to his advertisement.

    So there’s your answer.

  36. Wow Libertarian Wiki whatever… I actually cut-and-pasted your link into another browser, and hit enter, fully expecting a “Page Cannot be Found” error message.

    Who knew?

    Thanks!

    CB

  37. “Holy crap! It looks like there’s more famous black libertarians than there are white.”

    Think about it as a black person for a second. What has the Democratic party ever done for your race? What has the Republican Party done for your race since 1870? Yeah, maybe Libertarian would be a rational alternative.

  38. And anon wins the thread!

  39. My stupid name is the result of a typo. How ’bout yours?

    My stupid name is the result of my maternal grandfather musing “I’ve always like the name John David”.

  40. Better phrasing would have been, “…for you and your family to switch places with a randomly-chosen black family for the rest of your life.”

    That way, it’s clear that you’re not living the life you put together for 35 years as a white person, and suddenly declaring yourself black.

    To have everything exactly the same in my comfortable, middle-class life, with the background and experience I had up to this point, except that people now “realize” that I’m black, you’d have to pay me a very small amount of money. Black people in my social, economic, geographic, and professional situation don’t do so badly.

    To actually switch my life with a randomly-chosen black person, and have the opportunities and experiences in my past replaced with his, on the other hand, would be a huge gamble with very good odds of putting me in a worse social, geographic, economic, and professional setting – and one which would likely impose greater burdens on a black man than my existing situation does.

  41. Edward –

    I don’t consider my pseudonym to be part of my identity. That’s kind of the point of a pseudonym, isn’t it? That it’s not you.

    I wouldn’t want to be black. I wouldn’t want to be Chinese. I wouldn’t want to be a woman. But I also wouldn’t want to be any other white male. There are [apparently] people out there who fantasize about changing their identities, but I’m not one of them. I’d be fine with being a stronger / faster / hardier / richer version of myself, but that’s it.

    If they wanted to do the survey correctly, they should have asked how much money a white person would want to be transported to the White Man’s Burden world. That would take “attachment to self” out of the picture, and make the question do what the survey designers really wanted – get whites to quantify what they think being black is worth, by making white the new black.

  42. It’s very amusing to find out that there are people who think the most significant difference between the experience of white people and black people in the United States is affirmative action.

  43. Fluffy

    Sounds like a pretty healthy attitude to me. On the other hand, I think our identites are a little more fluid than we realize, although I can’t give you an example. Maybe I would like to be a person with clearer thoughts.

  44. Joe,

    Yeah that is funny. I think there are a lot of losers running around who think they wouldn’t be losers if it weren’t for that damned affirmative action. Black folk get all the breaks.

  45. My stupid name is the result of a typo. How ’bout yours?

    mine just means “those guys.”

    the list of purported disadvantages is likely the factor which makes this survey worth about… nothing. what kind of black? one from the east indies or caribbean? sure, no prob; above average income and education. apparently those awful white racists love caribbean blacks.

    if the extra ass size is included, then, “no thanks.”

  46. I’d be fine with being a stronger / faster / hardier / richer version of myself…

    Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.

  47. To actually switch my life with a randomly-chosen black person, and have the opportunities and experiences in my past replaced with his, on the other hand, would be a huge gamble with very good odds of putting me in a worse social, geographic, economic, and professional setting –

    I’m white but a woman, so I can claim to be either the Oppressor or the Oppressed, depending on which one I find most convenient. But I can’t think of any advantages I got specifically for being white. I grew up in an integrated neighborhood with integrated craptastic public schools. Most of what I learned as a child I learned not from school, but from books borrowed from the public library, also integrated. I paid for college through a combination of jobs and student loans (also available to people of all races).

  48. Jennifer,
    You are an attractive woman. You may not be an oppressor, but in no way have you any adult experience with being oppressed.

  49. Mr. F. Le Mur-

    The thing I find most perverse about affirmative is its only beneficiaries are mostly middle class or upper income kids anyway. The children of, say, Bill Cosby and Clarance Thomas would get it while the son or daughter of a coal miner in Appalachia (who probably faced more disadvantages) doesn’t.

    If we have to have something like that (and I would prefer we didn’t), I’d rather see it based on economic background than something as nebulous as race.

  50. You may not be an oppressor, but in no way have you any adult experience with being oppressed.

    You are quite wrong.

  51. To actually switch my life with a randomly-chosen black person

    Would you want to switch with a randomly chosen white person? I’m white, but you’d still have to pay me to take that gamble.

  52. Jennifer,

    “But I can’t think of any advantages I got specifically for being white.”

    You got the advantage of not experiencing the disadvantages of being black.

    “I grew up in an integrated neighborhood with integrated craptastic public schools.” Black Americans are much more likely to grow up in segregated neighborhoods and go to segregated public schools. (And to head off the smart-asses, I’m using “segregated” in the same sense Jennifer used “integrated” – to describe the racial composition of certain populations.)

    “Most of what I learned as a child I learned not from school, but from books borrowed from the public library, also integrated.” Black Americans are more likely to live in areas with crappy public facilities.

    Your argument comes down to the phrase “specifically for being white,” apparently to distinguish it from advantages that accrue based on your family’s SES, or the town you were born in, for example. And it is probably true that a black Jennifer whose family had the same SES and lived in the same town would have similar opportunities and outcomes.

    But that’s ducking the issue – if you were born into a black family, there is a very good chance you would have grown up in a different family, at a different SES, in a different community, and had different experiences.

    Saying that these differences in opportunity are not “specifically” caused by race, but by wealth and political geography or whatnot, is true, but that’s a meaningless bit of semantics, because of the connections we all realize exist between those factors and race.

  53. dunno,

    I’m very fortunate, too.

    Cesar,

    A white kid from a poor family in Appalacia who has the same grades as a white kid from Westchester County will leave tire tracks across the rich kid’s back as he rolls over him during the college admissions process.

    I don’t know where this idea comes from that race is the only factor related to social disadvantage that is taken into account. Heck, a middle class white kid from South Dakota will get into more quality colleges in the northeast than a middle class white kid from Massachusetts, just so the school can brag about their geographic diversity. For some reason, no one ever complains about that.

    (BTW, I’d like to see more emphasis on applicants’ SES, too. If Ivy League colleges committed to a policy of ensuring that 1/4 of their enrollees were from families below median income, it would produce a revolutionary change in how this country operates.)

  54. BTW, I’d like to see more emphasis on applicants’ SES, too. If Ivy League colleges committed to a policy of ensuring that 1/4 of their enrollees were from families below median income, it would produce a revolutionary change in how this country operates.

    Probably not. There are already two Ivies; for example, the Harvard the kid whose parents paid his Exeter tuition goes to and the one the kid on scholarship goes to. That said, if such schools are going to select on other than academic grounds at all, SES is probably the way to go.

  55. Are there no black libertarians with enough leisure to waste time posting here? It would be nice to hear from one.

    We used to have a good regular commenter named Born Again Iconoclast, and I believe he identified himself as a black guy. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen him around for months, at least.

    Of course, it’s possible that we have black commenters today who are not immediately identifiable as such from their writing alone. I mean, they may not necessarily work “my black ass!” or even a more subtle “lawsy, lawsy, lawsy” into every post for the sake of being easily identified ethnically.

  56. D.A.R.,

    Ha! There were two GWUs, too. There were the kids whose parents paid sticker price, and the kids on scholarship who tutored them.

    Oddly enough, the former group seemed to be more diverse than the latter.

  57. Of course, it’s possible that we have black commenters today who are not immediately identifiable as such from their writing alone. I mean, they may not necessarily work “my black ass!” or even a more subtle “lawsy, lawsy, lawsy” into every post for the sake of being easily identified ethnically.

    Aye, tis a fecking disgrace the way some o’ them carry on!

  58. Some commenters, I mean.

  59. I would have to think about this. I know a hot white girl who looks like Selma Blair who likes almost everything about me except my physical “type” — she has a pronounced preference for black dudes.

    I could probably handle being Denzel Washington or Will Smith. The older illiterate guy who empties the trash cans around here, not so much.

    These targeted examples aside, I would not want a random identity switch. I mean, if I had the option of switching identities with a random white person, that’s scary too.

    For better or worse, I’ve spent too much time and effort being me.

  60. Ja, joe, I zink mein own Ethnic Heritage is pretty much infisible.

  61. Oops — that should be “Eznic.”

  62. Some commenters, I mean.

    Sure, joe, sure. (I keed!)

    BTW, not to denigrate your alma mater, but I would think both categories of students would constantly be thinking to themselves “This costs four grand more a year than Harvard?!?”

  63. i didnt realize that libertarians were such whiteys before i started reading reason.

  64. Maybe the real reason for the difference in value between the two sets of responses is that the “description of [how black people are treated in] Atria” is a lot worse than how they are really treated in America.

    I can’t help thinking that in the not-too-distant future, medicine will come up with a cosmetic procedure that can _actually_ change your color. Once it is on the market for a few years, the price will tell us how much it is really worth to become white.

  65. DAR,

    That was Chris Rock, not Eddie Murphy.

  66. NM, you’re right. Geez, at least I didn’t misremember it as Pryor!

  67. So Jennifer’s white. Interesting.

  68. i’d switch with tiger woods in a heartbeat.

    no more slices!!

    of course, despite the “black community’s” appropriation of tiger, he is not black.

    he is, as he claims – cablinasian (caucasian, black and asian).

    i agree with those that wouldn’t want to be switched with any RANDOM person, but there are people of any race that i would switch with.

  69. But that’s ducking the issue – if you were born into a black family, there is a very good chance you would have grown up in a different family, at a different SES, in a different community, and had different experiences.

    So now you’re not talking about “being black,” but about money or community or whatever other factors. Even my lily-white self would have been better off had I been born in a rich family. I’d’ve been worse off had I been born to a poorer family. Better off born to a family of college-educated intellectuals. Worse off with a family of Mormon fundamentalist polygamists. SOL born in Saudi Arabia. But these factors have nothing to do with race.

  70. “But I can’t think of any advantages I got specifically for being white.”. . .You got the advantage of not experiencing the disadvantages of being black.

    Isn’t that circular reasoning? “The advantage of being white is you don’t experience the disadvantages of being black. Well, what are the disadvantages of being black? You don’t have the advantages of being white. Which are? You don’t experience the disadvantages of being black.”

  71. Joe-

    But what about a white kid who is a son of a coal miner from southwest Virginia who has 1100 on his SATs and a 2.9 vs. a black kid from a wealthy Northern Virginia D.C. suburb who has 1300 and a 3.1? Who would get into UVA first?

    Ronald Bailey-style Disclaimer: I’m bi-racial (white and “hispanic”) and could put either on my forms since I appear white, However, anything relating to college admissions/job applications I made sure to mark “white” since I oppose racial affirmative action.

  72. D.A.R.,

    It was slightly more downscale when I was there.

    But, yeah.

  73. cesar, hispanic is not a “race”. it’s a cultural designation

    one can be an asian hispanic, a white hispanic, etc.

    a blonde haired blue eyed white kid from spain living in the USA is… wait for it… HISPANIC

  74. cesar, hispanic is not a “race”. it’s a cultural designation

    Notice that I put it in quotation marks. I think its a bullshit category, also. But the federal government uses it as a racial category. I have no idea why. I heard it was Dick Nixon’s idea, and that explains a lot!

  75. a blonde haired blue eyed white kid from spain living in the USA is… wait for it… HISPANIC

    Um, no. he’s a Spaniard, a European. A blond haired, blue eyed white skinned kid from Mexico, however, is Hispanic.

    joe,

    That must have been back before GWU became a Real Estate Investment Trust operating a university on the side. (I figure it’s only a matter of time before they make an offer on the State Department building.)

  76. RIDGELY… you are wrong. he’s ALSO hispanic. from the dictionary…

    Hispanic: an American citizen or resident of Spanish or Latin-American descent.

    we commonly think of mexicans as hispanics instead of spaniards but they are both HISPANIC.

    common misperception

    also, the federal govt. does NOT view hispanic as a RACE> they view it as an ethnic category.

    look at any NCIC reporting sheet (or federal reporting by local PD’s to the fed’s).

    hispanic is not a race. it’s a seperate category. you can be ANY race (or combination of races) and be a hispanic

    also, in regards to hate crimes under federal legislation, hispanic is listed as a victim CLASS, but not an offender class. iow, a white hispanic commits a hate crime against a black, that is designated as a white on black hate crime. but a black commits a hate crime against a white hispanic, and that is viewed as a black on hispanic hate crime

    but, you are incorrect. it is not a race, nor does the federal govt. view it as such.

  77. Jennifer,

    “But these factors have nothing do with race,” is a false statement. At least two of the factors you mention – family wealth and parents’ education level – correlate strongly with race in this country. Obviously, race isn’t the causal issue here – racism and structural inequalities are the causes – but the question is about being a black person in America.

    As a statistical matter, socio-economic status, family wealth, and residence in a community that provides good resources is not randomly distributed among races in this country. If you are born to black parents, you are much more likely to be disadvantaged in these crucial areas.

    So, no, I’m not talking about “being black,” if you’re going to define that in biological terms. I’m talking about the experience of black people who lives their lives in our society, and how it differs from that of white people in our society. Many more of the former then the latter face higher hurdles right out of the gate. Hence, as I wrote, a random white person switching the circumstances of their birth with a random black person in the U.S. would be a bad wager for the white person.

    And as far as your complaint about my phrasing, I think I went on to explain what I meant by “the disadvantages of being black” for you to follow my point.

  78. whit-

    That shows you how weird the “hispanic” category is. My mother is “hispanic” and I’m not even sure what that means exactly. Is it like being black or Asian? Or is it like being Irish Catholic or Jewish?

  79. Cesar,

    I don’t know what kind of weight UVA gives to geographic diversity within the state. I’d guess that they’d go with straight academic standards in that case. Which raises a whole ‘nother question about what the higher grades and scores of kid from a rich town actually mean.

  80. “racism and structural inequalities are the causes – ”

    um,no. in your OPINION they are the causes. many would argue that much, if not nearly all of the differences stem from disparate behavior, in the aggregate.

    for example, black immigrants from the west indies tend to be MUCH more successful on average than native blacks. that’s because it’s not racism and “structural inequalities” that primarily cause disparate results. it is (to quote thomas sowell) “cultural capital”

    imo of course …

    🙂

  81. Latino is a much more legitimate category than Hispanic. Latino = background from Latin America. While “Latin America” is a region with a great deal of diversity in cultures and bloodlines, so are Europe and Africa.

    So Latino is as meaningful a category as White or Black.

  82. cesar, it’s just different. hispanics can be of any race, but most hispanics in the southwest (and many parts of the country) just happen to be from mexico and are of mixed race usually (white and native ancestors)

    a black cuban person who moved to the USA is also hispanic.

    a person of japanese origin who grew up in spain but lives in bensonhurst is also hispanic.

  83. whit,

    Keep it up with those CAPS. We find that very persuasive around here.

  84. I wonder if the study also asked the people surveyed just exactly who they thought should be the ones writing the checks to them for the amount they stated they’d need to become black?

  85. whit,

    “many would argue that much, if not nearly all of the differences stem from disparate behavior, in the aggregate.”

    Sure, but that’s just kicking the can down the road a piece. What causes the disparate behavior? Individual behavior can be explained through individual choice. When there’s a meaningful, significant, and persistent differences in behavior between two groups, you’re begging the question of an underlying cause.

    BTW, comparing the segment of the Carribean community that emigrates to the US with American-born African Americans is apples and oranges.

  86. joe, what a nonsensical response. neither are more “legitimate” since they describe completley different things.

    black, white etc. have to do with GENETICs. hispanic and latino have to do with culture and geographical origin.

    they are two different things.

    they somewhat intersect but i have explained that they are different. the dictionary recognizes this, as does the federal govt. and anybody with sense (not that the feds and sense usually go together but i digress).

  87. “How much should you be paid to continue to live the rest of your life as a black person?”

    $25 million.

  88. “How much should you be paid to continue to live the rest of your life as a black person?”

    I don’t know, but I’ve paid millions to be white.

  89. no, joe. i would argue there is a BIG difference.

    it’s similar to the argument about “equal pay” for women and men (that whole .77 canard).

    disparity of results =/= (necessarily) racism or structural inequalities.

    that’s an external locus of control argument (popular with liberals)

    the other argument (popular with libertarians a la sowell) and one that i think is more in line with the evidence is quite different.

  90. Ugh, why do we need racial categories, again? What am I? My mother is Mexican, my father is white. So, what do I mark? White, or “hispanic”?

    I look white as a sheet and have an anglo last name, so when marked “hispanic” in publik skool sometimes my teacher would actually think I was pulling a joke on them!

  91. whit,

    “black, white etc. have to do with GENETICs. hispanic and latino have to do with culture and geographical origin.”

    Neither of those statements is entirely true. The biological basis of “black” and “white” is very unreliable. There is some, but it’s not really that much more robust than the identifiable genetic characteristics of Latinos.

    What I’m saying is, if we’re looking purely at genetic similarity among those categorized as white, or black, we’re not going to find a whole lot more than if we did the same for those categorized as Latino.

    All three categories are simplistic stand-ins for complicated amalgamns of genetics, culture, and geography. It’s only through custom that we call two of those categories “race” and the third something else, but then, it’s only through custom that we group people into those categories anyway.

  92. whit,

    Come on. You know as well as I do that there is a lot more reason to suspect that there are structural inequities related to race in our society than just the unequal outcomes.

  93. joe, we all know that race is not easy to define genetically. we also know that it does exist. unless, one is a postmodernist ninny.

    there are also subgroups, and of course races can intermarry, which makes the distinctions kind of meaningless (see: tiger woods)

    but tell somebody with sickle cell anemia that race is just a social construct!

  94. Cesar,

    Our culture doesn’t exist the way it does because some blue ribbon committee drew it up using AutoCAD. Why do we need racial categories? Cripes, why does the word “through” need to be so hard to spell? This isn’t something someone decided was the smartest way for us to understand the world; it’s just what go handed down to us from thousands of years of dynamic civilization, and we’re dealing with it the best we can.

  95. whit,

    At least 75% of black people do not have sickle cell anemia.

    Sure, race exists. It’s a socially constructed category that has a shaky relationship with phenotype, and an even shakier relationship with genotype. There’s definitely some biology in there somewhere, but there’s a lot more history, culture, and politics.

  96. Joe-

    I wouldn’t have a problem with arbitrary racial categories if it didn’t have an effect on government policy

  97. I would, regardless. It sucks that these arbitrary racial categories exist.

    But they do, and have meaning. Socially constructed things are still real.

  98. Yeah, I do realize socially constructed things have really meaning. Hell, money is a socially constructed value.

  99. Better phrasing would have been, “…for you and your family to switch places with a randomly-chosen black family for the rest of your life.”

    That way, it’s clear that you’re not living the life you put together for 35 years as a white person, and suddenly declaring yourself black.

    I understand what you’re saying here, joe, but I think this might be good in a different survey altogether. I think the results could be very telling, though, I would agree.

    But after thinking about it, I considered the flip-side. Would I (white) choose to be any other existing random white family. My answer is still “no”.

    Ultimately, these surveys are interesting, but not particularly informative.

  100. “Hence, as I wrote, a random white person switching the circumstances of their birth with a random black person in the U.S. would be a bad wager for the white person.”

    But that’s not what the survey was purporting to measure.

    To isolate the meaning of actual blackness, you would have to be exactly the same person you currently are, but magically turned black. I thought this was a “then you would see how people treated you and how much $ it would be worth to avoid that” test, and not a “are you aware that blacks are demographically worse off than whites in the US” test. The former test measures racial attitudes and the latter test measures only knowledge of statistics.

  101. @Joe – “Neither of those statements is entirely true. The biological basis of “black” and “white” is very unreliable”.

    So… how can you advocate affirmative action when, as you say, determining who is black or white is “very unreliable”?

    CB
    No need to answer joe. You think I’m a troll.

  102. Cracker’s Boy,

    Not to get too deep into the thick of this, but the biological basis of the distinction is unreliable but that does not map directly onto the reliability of the designation used for affirmative action, which deals with the more complex matrix of features joe already described.

    In the world, the benefits of a program can be weighed against a factor like reliability/accuracy and one can decide to support the overall aims/results despite the sloppiness.

  103. I swear to The All-father, Odin, If I never hear another discussion about the BS concept of race it’ll be too soon. Ooh, We, as a society, have a sore, let’s keep picking and picking at it. Yeah, that’ll make it better.

  104. Who remembers this from Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins?

    Was it the nigger business from the beginning? What a bad joke: God saying, here it is, the new Eden, and it is yours because you’re the apple of my eye; because you the lordly Westerners, the fierce Caucasian-Gentile-Visigoths, believed in me and the outlandish Jewish Event even though you were nowhere near it and had to hear the news of it from strangers. But you believed and so I gave it all to you, gave you Israel and Greece and science and art and the lordship of the earth, and finally even gave you the new world that I blessed for you. And all you had to do was pass one little test, which was surely child’s play for you had already passed the big one. One little test: here’s a helpless man in Africa, all you have to do is not violate him. That’s all.

    One little test: you flunk!

  105. I was hoping J sub D’s posting (11:53) would be the last word on this – but it seems scab picking is just too satisfying!

  106. Yup – but it’s not mandatory for those disinclined.

  107. I’m late here, and those who have had their minds turned to mush by political correctness are probably going to call me a fascist swine, but I read something from John Derbyshire this week about race and it is something I’ve always thought

    Merlin Chowkwanyun (there’s a name to conjure with!-sorry) at The New Republic (there’s an annoying, but free, registration thingy) goes to the ramparts to defend the no-such-thing-as-race (NoSTAR) dogma. Justin Shubow has engaged with him. At least one friend of NR/NRO-Sally Satel-gets caught in the crossfire.

    NoSTAR baffles me even more than Intelligent Design. It is an exceptionally brazen form of reality denial. If some small group of humans (or any other sexually-reproducing organism) settles in some region of the world and proceeds to interbreed almost entirely among themselves for a few hundred generations, then OF COURSE they will develop particular group characteristics. Some characteristics will be visible to the eye: stature, hair form, skin color, facial features. Some won’t: blood types, disease susceptibilities, PTC tasting. Since individual behavior and personality have physiological, biochemical, and genetic substrates, there are undoubtedly group-statistical differences there, too. We already know some of them. All this is as well established as the orbit of the moon.

    Whether any social policies ought to “notice” these group differences, and if so, which ones and how, is a fruitful and interesting topic of discussion (which, to be fair, comprises a part of the Chowkwanyun-Shubow exchanges). That the group differences exist is simply not controversial. If they did NOT exist-THAT would be controversial. It would contradict the most basic known facts about living organisms, not to mention our own lying eyes.

    I’ve never heard a rational defense of this “race does not exist” fantasy. Even believing that it doesn’t mean much seems implausible.

    To those who are not religious believers and accept a materialistic explanation of the origins of life, please enlighten me.

  108. joe: Sure, race exists. It’s a socially constructed category that has a shaky relationship with phenotype, and an even shakier relationship with genotype.

    I’m never sure if ole ‘joe’ is extremely ignorant or extremely dishonest.

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1196372
    “Of 3,636 subjects of varying race/ethnicity, only 5 (0.14%) showed genetic cluster membership different from their self-identified race/ethnicity. On the other hand, we detected only modest genetic differentiation between different current geographic locales within each race/ethnicity group. Thus, ancient geographic ancestry, which is highly correlated with self-identified race/ethnicity-as opposed to current residence-is the major determinant of genetic structure in the U.S. population.”

    To those who are not religious believers and accept a materialistic explanation of the origins of life, please enlighten me.

    I think it’s pretty simple: denial of the genetic and biological reality of race is a combination of ignorance and dishonest self-congratulation. (An offshoot of Marxist egalitarianism, according to some).

  109. So how much would an American black pay to be white? Or be a member of the ethnic majority in Atria?

    And what is the size of the market for skin lightening creams these days? To some extent race is optional, even now.

  110. Chalupa-

    You can be very politically incorrect and still think Derbyshire is an asshat of the first order. Sorry.

  111. And, theres also a middle ground besides saying theres no such thing as race, and thinking all that matters is race.

  112. Why is he an asshat? He seems extremley intelligent and at even a “conservative” magazine like National Review the only one with the courage to say the r word.

    I’m starting to believe that the denial of racial differences is the major lie that educated people tell themselves in this era of ours, much like the belief that the sun revolved around the earth for pervious generations.

  113. “Why is he an asshat? He seems extremley intelligent and at even a “conservative” magazine like National Review the only one with the courage to say the r word.”

    Hes an asshat pretty much because he thinks everything in the world can be explained by race. He doesn’t just say the “r” word, he beats it into the ground. His entire world
    view revolves around race first, and his IQ fetish second. So, in short, hes an asshat for the same exact reason Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton are.

    To sum up my position-

    Yeah, there is probably such a thing as race.

    No, that doesn’t mean such a reality should influence your entire world view, anymore than the existence of class should make one a hard-core Marxist.

  114. BTW Chalupa, there are differences between races. There will be differences between any two groups. Duh.

    But that doesn’t mean the differences are 100% genetic, pre-determined, and immutable.

  115. He comes down more on the “nature” side of the debate, as do I, so race is going to be a big part of our world view. When blacks score as much as 40% lower than Asians on IQ tests, race turns out to be not only one of a million things that need to be considered, but a ten thousand ton gorilla in the room that we are ignoring. And most modern educated people consider anyone who points it out not only wrong, but immoral. Maybe if he was writing in 1920 he wouldn’t have to keep screaming for the world to recognize the obvious.

    And no one is saying that the differences are 100% genetic, pre-determined, and immutable. Well, except for the immutable part.

  116. Hey Chalupa, Walloons score higher than Flemmings on IQ tests in Belgium (you can look it up).

    The English is Great Britain score higher on IQ tests than the Scots or Welsh.

    Protestants in Northern Ireland score higher on IQ tests than Catholics.

    Isn’t playing around with group identity and IQs fun?

  117. Oh, and heres my personal favorite, there is an IQ gap in Japan between the Japanese and Koreans that is similar to the one in the United States between blacks and whites.

    Yet, in the USA, the gap between Japanese and Koreans is almost non-existant.

    Gee, why do you think that is?

  118. Keep burning straw men.

    Yet, in the USA, the gap between Japanese and Koreans is almost non-existant.

    Gee, why do you think that is?

    When Japense or Koreans have similar IQ scores to blacks or Mexicans, then we can talk.

    And I didn’t know what the hell Waloons were, but I looked them up on Wikipedia and they look pretty white to me.

    Using the examples of the enviornment creating small differences between whites compared to whites and east asians compared to east asians shows how weak your case is. In some countries there may be more Jewish doctors than English ones, and in other places the opposite may be true. But you’ll NEVER find a country where the same percentage of Jews and blacks practice medicine.

  119. The Walloons and Flemings are both white, that was my entire point. The only difference is Flemings speak a form of Dutch, and the Walloons speak French in an accent the French find extremely funny. I can’t tell a difference between them, but they absolutely hate each other. They are both white, and theres an IQ gap that is statistically significant.

    But clearly the Walloons are superior, right Chalupa? Belgium would be better off if there were fewer Flemings and more Walloons.

  120. And a big “wheeeeee!!!!!!!” to monkey man & drop the!

  121. High #-

    Whats URKOBOLD’s IQ?

  122. Hey Chalupa, do you understand the difference between a characteristic which is heritable and a characteristic which is genetic?

    Or would thinking about that question interfere with your whole “Coloreds are inferior” obsession?

  123. Cesar,

    Putting a number on Urkobold’s IQ is like measuring the size of the universe, or like counting the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s noodly appendages.

    Check under your bed tonight. Urkobold will have left you a stinky present to punish you.
    Or maybe to thank you. He works in mysterious and very disgusting ways.

  124. Where does that myth of the WHITE man as being rich come from?
    There are plenty of rich white men,
    but there are a whole lot more less than rich white men.
    If a teacher, or policeman, or other such job,
    the white man and the black man
    are going to make the same amount of money.

    Why does the average white person
    envy the class struggle of the blacks
    and long for the black sense of identity?
    Who do they have to call brother?
    Why do the rednecks have to turn to a rebel flag?

    I see poor whites with those confederate flags on their trucks
    and blacks with the plastic slave shackles, Malcohm X’s and African colors
    and I wonder how the one handles the stereotype
    of being the rich oppressor
    and the other being the poor victim.

    Know who the oppressor is for white and blacks alike?
    It is a pregant teenage girl.
    From that comes a train of sorrow,
    comes the under-educated,
    financially burdened single parents of more children,
    more children raised without advantage and with want.

    The mother’s age at the birth of her first born
    is the single biggest predictor of poverty.
    The father not being in the home comes from that.
    The second predictor is a child being a poor reader.

  125. Isn’t playing around with group identity and IQs fun?

    Am I the only one posting on this forum with a “high IQ” (145-154, two seperate tests) who, by paying attention to the debate, has come to the conclusion that IQ tests do NOT measure intelligence.

    By Odin, I hope not.

  126. Obviously, those IQ tests you took did not measure intelligence accurately. 😉

  127. I know. I appear much smarter that that. 😉

  128. J Sub D- I got 130 and 132 on two different tests, but I graduated high school with a 2.0 and college with a 3.0

    So yeah, color me skeptical also.

  129. being a poor reader

    dj of raleigh’s posts have impoverished me.

  130. Everyone in the US is Rich. Not many would choose to be black.

  131. Fluffy,

    To isolate the meaning of actual blackness, you would have to be exactly the same person you currently are, but magically turned black.

    I disagree – I think being black is part of “who you actually are,” and suddenly going poof like Steve Dallas in the Bloom County cartoon can only change one’s visible appearance, not make one “actually black.”

    Cracker’s Boy,

    So… how can you advocate affirmative action when, as you say, determining who is black or white is “very unreliable”?

    First, I didn’t say that determining who is black or white is “very unreliable.” I said that determining if an individual or group is black or white via genetic testing.

    Second, I can advocate it for the same reason that I can advocate the use of force in the defense of our country on occasion, despite realizing that the cases for military action are usually less than wholly pristine; the bad guys (whether racists, aggressors, or just the vagaries of racial injustice) don’t demonstrate such pristine scruples; I see no reason for the good guys to unilaterally disarm.

  132. For what it’s worth: On a bad day I test at 135, on a good day I peg out at 157.

    Also, the man I admire, like, and love the most is black. He is my friend, teacher, mentor, and pastor. He puts God and individuals above race. I try to follow his lead.

    NoStar

  133. Flemur, if you cud read gooder, you’d have noticed that I never argued that there was no biological component to race, only that it is unreliable.

    I could go further, buy you are way too much of a flaming asshole to be worth it.

    Grand Chalupa,

    I have never heard a single person deny that there are differences in standardized test scored among races. What you are alluding to in your comment is the widespread acknowledgement that we cannot attribute more than a small part of these differences to genetics.

  134. J sub D,

    Am I the only one posting on this forum with a “high IQ” (145-154, two seperate tests) who, by paying attention to the debate, has come to the conclusion that IQ tests do NOT measure intelligence.

    Nope.

    I’m so good at standardized tests that I made money after college teaching high school kids how to ace them. I only wish taking standarized tests was a career.

  135. I have never heard a single person deny that there are differences in standardized test scored among races. What you are alluding to in your comment is the widespread acknowledgement that we cannot attribute more than a small part of these differences to genetics.

    If it was ONLY differences in standardized testing I’d agree that race was a small factor in shaping who we are. But when you combine it with the relative wealth of nations and things like crime statististics and economic success in countries where different races live together, me thinks that you are not giving the natural differences between different groups of men justice.

    I’m not using standardized test as the be all and end all measure of human worth.

  136. Chalupa-

    I’m not using standardized test as the be all and end all measure of human worth.

    Its well known that “racial realists” have a real hard-on for standardized tests.

    And BTW, about crime etc. Walloons have a higher crime rate than Flemings. Jews from the Soviet Union in Israel have a higher crime rate than Jews from Europe or the USA.

    The Scots-Irish in the United States have a higher poverty rate than Irish Catholics, who have a higher poverty rate than English-Americans.

    Again, you can play around with any kind of group identity and come up with all sorts of differences.

    Why not be an “ethnic realist” too, and realize those damn beer-swilling Flemings are inferior to those cultures, Francophone Walloons.

  137. *Should read Flemings have a higher crime rate than Walloons. Its difficult to remember which is which when they both sound like characters from a Dr. Seuss book.

  138. Chalupa –

    On the time scale of human evolution, do you seriously propose that a difference of a couple of centuries in discovering how to forge iron, or in militarizing gunpowder, reflects an underlying biological difference in intelligence? And those centuries lie at the root of the disparate economic success of nations.

    And when are we making our measurement? In the year 900, the “relative wealth of nations” would not have made the Caucasian race look very good. And the Vikings were kind of messing up the crime statistics. But if we’re talking about a biological difference, it should manifest itself equally at all historical time periods.

  139. There is not enough money in the world that I could be given to be black. The only plus to being black is the government would give me a check every month that I didnt have to work for.

  140. Cesar,

    The only way you’d have a point is if I said race and genetics was 100% determinite of everything. See my previous post…

    Using the examples of the enviornment creating small differences between whites compared to whites and east asians compared to east asians shows how weak your case is. In some countries there may be more Jewish doctors than English ones, and in other places the opposite may be true. But you’ll NEVER find a country where the same percentage of Jews and blacks practice medicine.

    Your straw man has already been burned to a crisp.

    On the time scale of human evolution, do you seriously propose that a difference of a couple of centuries in discovering how to forge iron, or in militarizing gunpowder, reflects an underlying biological difference in intelligence? And those centuries lie at the root of the disparate economic success of nations.

    And when are we making our measurement? In the year 900, the “relative wealth of nations” would not have made the Caucasian race look very good. And the Vikings were kind of messing up the crime statistics. But if we’re talking about a biological difference, it should manifest itself equally at all historical time periods.

    History has not simply shown that different parts of the world invent things at different rates. Once in a while a tribe still comes out of some African jungle or Brazillian rain forest that TO THIS DAY has not invented a written language, or the wheel, or in the case of the Australian Aboriginals, never figured out that preganancy had anything to do with sex until the white man was able to point out the connection.

    And of course I haven’t investigated every single period of human history, but I’d bet that even at its lowest point, European still would’ve blown Africa and the Native Americans out of the water, even if East Asia may ocasionally take the lead in objective measurements of well being.

    To all interested in learning more, please read this book, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1593680201/reasonmagazinea-20/

  141. Consider this statement to be akin to one of those statements made for the Congressional record, something said for posterity’s sake.

    Grand Chalupa is an ignorant, racist piece of garbage.

    G.C.,
    Take it elsewhere. We’re interested in reasoned discourse. You do not offer that.

  142. Sorry, the fact that an idea breaks your bleeding heart doesn’t make it untrue.

  143. Joe – really NOT trying to troll… just trying to show you the error of your ways. You really ARE a well educated man… just lacking in what we, in the South, call “common sense”.

    “First, I didn’t say that determining who is black or white is “very unreliable.” I said that determining if an individual or group is black or white via genetic testing.”

    Okay… so if you ARE going to champion affirmative action, how will you determine WHO to affirm? Since, as you say, the biological test is inaccurate, what test WILL you use? Is it enough to simply say “I am black, therefore I deserve special dispensation”? Every time I am asked what my “ethnic group” is (for lack of a better term) I respond “I am a Native American”. I was born here… my parents were born here… my grandparents were born here. That makes me a native.

    Do you propose a “means test”? Based on what? Income? Family income? Hell, there are plenty of poor people. Some are black. Some are white? So THAT can’t be it.

    How do you equitably implement Affirmative Action? That’s just it, joe. You can’t. Discrimination is discrimination, whether it be white against black, or black against white, or man against woman, ad infinitum. It’s wrong. And just because it produces a result that YOU approve of, doesn’t make it right, or fair.

    Just my thoughts… nothing new to see here.

    CB

  144. I don’t think Europe in the dark ages would have blown the Aztecs or Incas out of the water, Chalupa.

    Did you ever think that Africans and aboriginees in Australia didn’t develop because, oh, I don’t know, something crazy like having no navigable rivers and very few natural harbors, or animals native to their land that could be domesticated?

    The horse and iron working–which were closely connected to geography–not genes, gave Europeans, Middle Easterners, East Indians, and Asians an advantage over everyone else in the world.

    How about not being located near easy deposits of copper and iron (like in the Middle East, the birthplace of civilization)?

    Naw, that couldn’t be……the answer is in the blood! Its the key to explaining all of history, right?

    Sorry GC, you aren’t much better than a Marxist historian who sees the “class struggle” in every god damned thing.

    And btw the differences between Walloons and Flemings are not small. In fact the gap is quite comparable between whites and Hispanics in this country.

  145. Oh, if you are ever interested in a much more sensible view of race, put down the Steve Sailer and go pick up some Thomas Sowell. Read his trilogy on race and ethnicity.

  146. It is also worth noting that differences in performance on standardized tests between races or groups do not really give us much instruction on how we should deal with individual members of races or groups when we meet them.

  147. Oh, if you are ever interested in a much more sensible view of race, put down the Steve Sailer and go pick up some Thomas Sowell. Read his trilogy on race and ethnicity.

    I think Sowell is brilliant, (I often reccomend him to liberals) and I agree geography has a role.

    Genes do too.

    No matter what the case, fuck affirmative action and the culture of victimization.

    Let’s leave it at that.

  148. I wonder how much black people would pay to be white? Maybe the authors could email Michael Jackson and ask how much it costs?

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