Do "People Who Are Black Have Strong Historical and Cultural Commonalities" Regardless of Where They are from and Where They Live?

Obviously not, but the Associated Press says otherwise.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

The AP explains why it is capitalizing "black" but not "white" when referring to people's "race."

There was clear desire and reason to capitalize Black. Most notably, people who are Black have strong historical and cultural commonalities, even if they are from different parts of the world and even if they now live in different parts of the world.

Nonsense. What do a Christian Kenyan, a Muslim Nigerian, a Rwandan Tutsi, an Ethiopian Jew living in Israel, an African-American of partial Native American and European heritage, and an Afro-Brazilian of mixed Portuguese and African descent have in common, culturally and historically? The correct answer is nothing. The only thing they have in common is ancestral roots in Africa, and dark skin.

With regard to whites, the AP continues:

White people generally do not share the same history and culture, or the experience of being discriminated against because of skin color. In addition, we are a global news organization and in much of the world there is considerable disagreement, ambiguity and confusion about whom the term includes.

There is, it's true, ambiguity and disagreement about what "white" means. But that's true of "black" as well. People deemed "black" in the U.S. are mostly of mixed ancestral origin, and would be called something else in other countries, including South Africa and Brazil. Researchers found that in one country, what we call "African American" or "black" in the U.S. has twenty-eight different names. Frederick Zhang & Joseph Finkelstein, Inconsistency in Race and Ethnic Classification in Pharmacogenetics Studies and its Potential Clinical Implications, 12 Pharmacogenomics Perspectives in Medicine 107 (2019).

Mizrahi Jews in Israel are sometimes called "blacks." North Africans and Middle Easterners are often called (and call themselves) "black" in the UK. Should aboriginal Australians be referred to as "blacks?" Should Americans with one black and one non-black parent be called "black" or "multiracial?" Is Tiger Woods "black"?

I don't have a strong opinion on capitalizing black or not. In the American context, the reason to capitalize is to make it akin to other ethnic groups, but that rationale has largely been supplanted by the popularity of African American. But regardless of how one feels about the issue, the AP's claims that all people of African descent have historical and cultural commonalities is, dare I say it, racist, creating phony commonalities based on "race." And the claim that "globally," the scope of "white" is ambiguous but the scope of "black" is clear, is risible.

NEXT: John Lewis Was an American Hero Who Battled State Racism

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  1. Let the torrent of abuse begin!

    1. Good thing David doesn’t work for Cisco.

      1. Why? They would have fired him for having the temerity of having an opinion on something?

        1. They fired several other people for having the temerity of having an opinion that wasn’t PC.

    2. David’s right this time. This new policy assumes all black faced people are alike. Even if they live in South Sudan.

  2. They also want to deny white group solidarity, but presuming group solidarity for blacks is okay. But the hypocrisy for capitalizing black but not white would be too glaring, so they will leave them both lower case.

    May as well use the word Caucasian in lieu of white, which, like all ethnicity names (Hispanic, etc.) is capitalized.

    And why is Asian always capitalized?

    1. Because Asia is a place in the world, so Asian is capitalised just like Russian and Canadian.

      1. Well, that makes sense on the Asian bit. Thanks.

    2. Was there a stealth edit, or am I going crazy. I didn’t read the linked article, but I swear the OP said there was no capitalization of both.

      1. There was an edit, I believe, removing an unintentional “not” from the first sentence. In context it was apparent that the AP was capitalizing black but not white, despite the accidental “not” in the OP’s first sentence.

        1. Good to know! Thanks.

  3. I grew up in a majority Black neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s. The biggest difference I found when going over to friends’ homes was that about one out of eight were run like a military school. You had to say ‘Yes Sir’ and watch you manners at all times. Those kids went on to be lawyers, one a doctor, and engineers or such.
    About one quarter of the homes had a feeling a lot like my own – manners, but not nearly so strict. Those, like the first group had parents who would inspect homework for completion.
    The rest of the homes struck me, even as a first-grader, as chaotic. No parent seemed to care what the kids did so long as they did not make enough trouble to be noticed. No homework, no obvious manners. Back then about one third of these families had no father living at home. Now it is about three quarters.
    Sad.

    1. 15 years ago, I was doing Section 8 inspections. I’d find TVs bigger than my toyota (this was the era of projection TVs, before flat panel LCD ones arrived) — and not a single thing for the child to read.
      My nephiew was the same age and left a trail of books and such anywhere he went.

      He’s doing OK now — those kids, not so much….

    2. Welfare and the Great Society did to the black (heh) family what Jim Crow and even slavery couldn’t do, break it apart as an institution.

      1. Actually Nixon was the president that expanded welfare…Hubert Humphrey was very pro-union and the Democrat establishment wanted unions to have more power which meant people needed union jobs. So ironically the health insurance system Republicans defend today was crafted by the UAW and New Deal Democrats…of course Republicans also defend memorials to racist DemoKKKrats. 😉

        1. “So ironically the health insurance system Republicans defend today was crafted by the UAW and New Deal Democrats…of course Republicans also defend memorials to racist DemoKKKrats. ”

          The largely employer funded health insurance system was created (along with all the other indirect compensation “benefits” such as pensions) during WWII as a direct result of caps on direct compensation enacted by the Federal government to keep war materials costs down at a time when labor was scarce.

          The UAW’s contribution was to prevent the auto companies and indirectly all other companies from returning to pute direct compensation after the caps on direct compensation went away.

          1. Obamacare: Lets fix one government fuck up with another government fuck up.

            1. I hope the federal universal heathcare program is formally named Obamacare.

          2. Health and welfare benefits were major factors in a wave of postwar strikes and other conflicts with employers over what bargaining on “conditions of employment” involved.16 Key National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rulings in 1948 clarified the matter. The NLRB held, in a case involving Inland Steel Company and the United Steel Workers, that federal law required employers to bargain over pensions. Shortly after that, the board ruled likewise for health insurance benefits. The Supreme Court upheld the NLRB in 1949. Still, over half the strikes in 1949 and the first part of 1950 were related to health and welfare issues (Weir et al., 1988). During the 1949 steelworkers strike, a fact-finding board appointed by the President firmly supported the union position on bargaining, and the steel companies began to settle.

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235989/

        2. I assume you are aware of the former Wizard of the KKK in West Virginia, Senator Robert Byrd who was Democrat Majority leader of the Senate and has hundreds of monuments in West Virginia.

          1. Trump’s best state is West Virginia!! What a coincidence!!! 😉

        3. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the GOP is pretty much at as much fault as the Dems…but we have to recognize that LBJ was the one that kicked this off. And it’s not like we didn’t know, even back then. Look up “Moynihan’s scissors.”

  4. Don’t some African ethnic groups have extreme hatred for other African ethnic groups? Similarly some European ethnic groups have hatred for other European ethnic groups. Most outsiders would have trouble telling the groups apart.

    1. Don’t some African ethnic groups have extreme hatred for other African ethnic groups?

      How do you think B(b)lack slavery got started?
      Prisoners of war, unruly sons, excess daughters, and all that lovely Arabian gold.

      1. I worked for fifteen years with an immigrant from Ghana. When told he would be eligible for slavery reparations he was surprised and delighted. ‘We make money on both ends!’
        Also, what’s that about Latinx? When in Chile I got a very cold reception from almost everyone I spoke Spanish to. Turns out I learned Spanish from immigrants from Mexico. They pretty much despise Mexicans in Chile.

        1. The entire idea of Latin[oax] Solidarity is a wet dream of some democratic organizer.

        2. From personal experience from teaching in a heavily majority Hispanic school… not even Mexicans like all Mexicans. And I wish you the best of luck if you assume someone is Mexican when they are Guatemalan. Both the Guatemalan AND the Mexicans will let you know you done screwed up.

      2. “Don’t some African ethnic groups have extreme hatred for other African ethnic groups?”

        There was a civil war in Sudan between the north and south for 50+ years. Then South Sudan got its independence. Now there’s a civil war in South Sudan.

    2. Hutus and Tutsis?

    3. I’ve seen vile hatred between African Blacks and American Blacks.

  5. The AP’s style choices are not worth a blog post. One must conclude that the author has some other agenda.

    Personally, I would find it useful to distinguish between Black humor and black humor, and between the Black market and the black market, without having to resort to the surrounding context.

    1. Not worth a blog post, but worth a comment on a blog post?

    2. Personally, I find it convenient to ignore the AP, mush like NYT & WaPo and all the rest.

      (Yes, the “mush” was a typo for “much”, but it seems to fit so well I leave it)

      1. Disaffected losers generally prefer separatist, fringe entities to mainstream organizations.

        1. Not to long ago mainstream organizations lobbied for segregation. Should we have listened to them back then because they were mainstream?

          1. No. Progress moved bigotry — racism, misogyny, gay-bashing, and the like — from mainstream to disaffected fringe.

            A half-century ago, a large volume of bigotry was open, common, and casual. Today’s bigots are defensive, hiding behind terms such as “traditional values,” “colorblind,” “family values,” “heartland,” and “conservative values.”

            1. “Colorblind” is the only way to eliminate racism- something liberals fail to understand. It’s what was taught in Churches, schools, and social groups such as Scouts growing up in the 1960s. It was taught everyone was the same and wanted the same things. Which is, of course, a lie. But people who grew up in that era have far less prejudice than people growing up today who were carefully taught HOW to be racist by the constant drumbeat from primarily schools- not so much Church and social groups- that different groups are different, and should, therefore, be treated differently. One follows the other. Talking to a bunch of 20 somethings when they’re all one ethnic group or another rapidly reveals this truth. Unless they’re in a PC setting- where they learn to hide.

              1. ““Colorblind” is the only way to eliminate racism- something liberals fail to understand.”

                “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”; The Democratic party has profited off racism for most of its history, they’re not about to risk killing the goose that lays their golden eggs.

            2. “No. Progress moved bigotry — racism, misogyny, gay-bashing, and the like — from mainstream to disaffected fringe.”

              Here is a good video on the subject.

          2. If you haven’t noticed… these groups, especially on campus, still argue for segregation. That argument has been on the left side of the aisle for almost 150 years.

        2. Not unlike yourself, for example

        3. Is that why you’ve abandoned the Washington Post?

        4. Hey Arthur, do you believe that “…people who are Black have strong historical and cultural commonalities, even if they are from different parts of the world and even if they now live in different parts of the world.”?

          I find this a very interesting religion.

    3. Do you find it similarly useful to distinguish between White magic and white magic, White lies and white lies?

      1. white trash and White trash?

    4. How about being able to distinguish between White lies and white lies without having to resort to the surrounding context? Not as useful, I take it?

  6. It doesn’t even make sense objectively since nonblacks are a far more interrelated group. Genetically an Asian has more solidarity with a white person than a typical black person would have with another random black person.

      1. Did he stutter? This is true, a random White person and a random Asian person are likely more closely related, genetically, than two random Black people.

        1. Sorry – genetic solidarity doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

          1. Galaxy brained Sarcastro trying to subtly imply raising the concept that genes = similarities = possible solidarity as a counterexample is racist. But asserting skin color = solidarity is not.

            1. Solidarity is social, and external things are what we respond to socially, not hidden stuff like genetics.

              Unless, of course, we are trying really hard to be extra racist, like the one drop rule.

              1. I think the point was simply that the genetic measure was more objective. And it’s true: Blacks are far more genetically diverse than the rest of humanity, which was, more or less, winnowed out from the people who left Africa.

                1. Objective, but not operational.

                  I guess I understand the comment a bit more now; it makes the same error that Prof.Bernstein makes in this series of posts – insisting on strict order for a longstanding social system.

                  Reminds me a bit of generations – like if you’re born this year or later you’re a Boomer, this set of years makes you a Millennial, etc. But what about this Millennial who acts like a Boomer, what about this Boomer that seems more like Gen X. Disaster!

                  Just because the government acknowledges a system does not mean said system must be perfect.

              2. Unless, of course, we are trying really hard to be extra racist, like the one drop rule.

                I should have though the one drop rule was extra super non racist. Under the one drop rule, we’re all black.

                1. Hehe, that is a good point.
                  Of course, that’s not how it actually worked, on accounta the extra racism.

          2. And let’s not forget that word choice, any who may or my not have a galaxy brain, is beside the point here. The point here, which is that the view that “Black” people have any form of historical or cultural commonalities, especially in any way distinct from any historical or cultural commonalities “White” people have, is utterly ignorant.

            This view, adopted by the AP, NYT, and other mainstream organizations, not only disqualifies them as journalists, it disqualifies anybody who takes them seriously as journalists from being taken seriously.

            1. Leaving ignorance aside, it contradicts all the stories they print. For we whities all share our “White Privilege !”, our legacy of earning dividends from our history as oppressors, and even – if the latest pamphlets are to be believed – our scandalous penchant for logic, Protestant work ethic and arithmetic. (Only kidding, we don’t all got arithmetic. Or logic. Or work ethic, but you get my drift.)

              1. Progressivism truly is a cult.

                1. Love it when people on the right explain what people on the left think so they can shake their heads in scorn.
                  I’m a dilettante in this area, having never studied it formally. So some of this could be not the latest thinking. But here’s a view from the other side:

                  White privilege is not about past resources, it’s about what’s happening *now.*
                  Like perceptions of whites as more orderly, advanced, civilized. Which effects hiring and career suggestions and all sorts of stuff.
                  And how old boys clubs continue to have influence, and operate within generally white (and male) networks.
                  And how a lot of the machinery of our meritocracy, created by whites for whites, turns out not to be very meritocratic when applied to nonwhites.
                  As whites, we don’t notice any of that stuff unless we try and look for it. Open doors look like simple corridors to us.

                  Note that these are largely social effects and are not very dependent on the specific past history of a person; skin color is more determinative.

                  The resource imbalance caused by the legacy of historical oppression is a whole ‘nother issue from privilege.

                  1. Given that this kinda opens another front of discussion, I will respond to people’s replies (if any) down below, for threading purposes.

                  2. It’s not a person’s fault if privilege is *foisted* upon them. Blame the individuals who behave in a racist manner by applying privilege based on race. It’s individuals that matter – groups are illusory and non-monolithic.

                    The moment you decide racial group membership is meaningful for making decisions, you’re being racist. It’s the *exact same error* the privilege-foisters are making.

                    Also, I’d love to hear someone try to defend the Smithsonian’s recent claim that science is whiteness. There aren’t enough facepalm .gifs in the world for that.

                  3. “Love it when people on the right explain what people on the left think so they can shake their heads in scorn.”

                    ?? In this case it’s people on the left explaining what people on the left think: “Most notably, people who are Black have strong historical and cultural commonalities, even if they are from different parts of the world and even if they now live in different parts of the world.”

                    This is demonstrably false fuckwittery endorsed by many mainstream news organizations, and you have nothing to say about it?

                    1. It’s not just fuckwittery it’s Warp Factor 8 White Privilege racist fuckwittery : – all you brownish colored people look much the same to me, so …. you are all the same. Now line up straight like good brownish people and do as I tell you.

                      “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

                  4. Like perceptions of whites as more orderly, advanced, civilized. Which effects hiring and career suggestions and all sorts of stuff.

                    Not worth a full fisking, just a little fiskette.

                    1. are orderliness, advancedness and civilisedness part of the white oppressive boss class tyranny, or skills / talents / attributes that are “privileged” by employers for objective reasons ? Or just arbitrary crap ? Should black kids be taught to shun them because of ther oppressiveness ?

                    2. on average, does (oppressive white) society view boys and girls as, on average, equally orderly, advanced and civilised ? Or not. So where did this wage gap twixt men and women spring from ?

                    3. do employers discriminate against whites who they perceive as insufficiently orderly, advanced and civilised ? Or do they just take all comers, so long as they score “pretty damn pale” on the pale-ometer ?

                    4. if {green nosed} people are perceived by employers as less {fantabulous} than people with noses of other colors, and accordingly employers discriminate in hiring against the green nosed community, but employers are just straight dang wrong in their perceptions, and in fact green nosers are just as {fantabulous} as everybody else – then there will be a vast pool of ace green nosers available for hire at cut rates, ready and able to make employers who hire then fantastically profitable. Even if all employers – even green nosed ones – are gripped by the false perception stated above, why would some employers not have discovered that green nosed folk work out OK, merely by accident ? It’s not as if all employers are always faced by a massive pool of surplus labor so that they can indulge their prejudices without paying a price.

                    5. if the [green nosed} are perceived as less {fantabulous} than the pink, orange, brown, red and indigo nosed is it for sure that the perception is wrong ? What if there is a cadre of evil-doers going round the green nosed community whispering poison in the ears of green nosed kids. Poison like – “do not show up for your job interview in a clean shirt, and at the hour specified for the interview. Those are oppressive indigo-nose tricks. Don’t fall for it.”

                    1. So…your 4 lays out the case for a market failure that cannot be cured without intervention.

                      Your 5 is describing actual racism. Because you shouldn’t judge people’s merits based on their group identity.

                    2. Sarcastro/
                      On his 5, well, have you seen what the woke/whiteness/antiblackness crowd has been saying? He’s parodying them! I will agree it’s actual racism.

                    3. your 4 lays out the case for a market failure that cannot be cured without intervention

                      Indeed, an intervention by rapacious capitalists seeking to make a quick zillion bucks from the use of cheap green nosed labor. What possible reason is there to believe that Mr Sarcastro Goodbody of the Department of Labor has a better grip on whether green-noses are undervalued in the market than has his uncle, Mr Montgomery Burns ?

                      If you see a one acre corner block in Manhattan on sale for $250,000, that none of the property moguls of Manhattan want to touch, and you think they’re dumb, then buy it yourself ! I

                      As for 5, well, as squirrellold says, it’s probably time to wipe the cobwebs off and wake up. That Prince ain’t coming.

  7. The Style Manual of the American Psychological Association said something about how it was racist to *not* capitalize “Black” — and hence I also capitalize “White.”

  8. Forget it Jake. It’s Chinatown.

  9. “people who are Black have strong historical and cultural commonalities”

    A recent immigrant from Africa has nothing but skin color in common with a black whose ancestor came to the US in 1750.

    I have no problem with using all caps or no caps but a European whose ancestor immigrated from Norway has more in common with a Swedish descendent than a black with Kenyan ancestry has with one from Nigeria.

  10. Abject ignorance about black people from the AP? Say it ain’t so!

  11. My Puerto Rican friend is dark skinned, and obviously descended from Africans. She’s always upset, though, when African Americans call her “black,” because culturally she’s not black/Black. She’s a sweet lady and I’m sure she’s not racist, i.e., offended for being confused for black, it’s just that black culture really does exist, and when black people try to include her in their culture, it’s just as confusing to her as it would be to an average African American person dropped into the middle of Puerto Rico.

  12. “What do a Christian Kenyan, a Muslim Nigerian, a Rwandan Tutsi, an Ethiopian Jew living in Israel, an African-American of partial Native American and European heritage, and an Afro-Brazilian of mixed Portuguese and African descent have in common, culturally and historically?”

    They all walked into the same bar?

  13. When I was growing up, we white folks were supposed to classify ourselves as “Caucasian” (or often just “CAU”), which I thought was stupid. I’ve never been to the Caucuses, and so far as I know, none of my ancestors had either. So I think White would be a step forward (Pink would probably be more accurate, though). However, if every other racial group gets a capital letter, we should, too.

    Any bets on how long it will be before racial differences have become so attenuated that no one will even understand this discussion? By bet is : Before Global Warming destroys civilization.

  14. White people have nothing in common except white supremacy and white fragility.

    1. Awww, you racist trolls are adorable!

    2. From another AP article:

      “CBS News said it would capitalize white, although not when referring to white supremacists, white nationalists or white privilege.”

  15. Should we be capitalizing Orange too?

  16. “Is Tiger Woods “black”?”

    Is Barack Obama?

    1. For that matter is Mrs Harry Windsor, ie Meghan Markle or Halle Berry?

      1. I’m pretty sure that the last thing most white guys think of when they see Meghan Markle or Halle Berry is that either one of them is black.

    2. ““Is Tiger Woods “black”?”

      Ask Fuzzy Zeller.

    3. Is Barack Obama?

      Not according to Bill Maher.

  17. Blacks who had ancestors came here as slaves all have something in common- their ancestors were losers. Literally, not figuratively. Blacks who came here after the slave trade was prohibited looked down on American blacks- they were losers. Current immigrants, well, continue that tradition.

    But then, it takes a few generations for “white” ethnic groups to blend in. One of the more common pieces of graffiti I used to see in NYC in my younger days was “Phil T Greek”. Could have been Italians or Irish spray painting it. Most of suburban America consists of thoroughly mixed white ethnic backgrounds. Cities and rural areas not so much. There’s an area near Syracuse that doesn’t root for the Syracuse University sports teams. the “Orange” are named after the Ulster Orangemen- Protestants. And the, area is heavily inhabited by Irish Catholics. I only found this out after more than a decade of living in this area. And I’m going to note- SU hasn’t announced they’re going to change their team name to placate the mobs.

  18. Genetics suggest greater diversity among people with more recent African ancestry and darker skin tones, than among pale people. Seems like cultural diversity might follow, though I no longer expect journalists to look for or understand complications in physical or social sciences. They’ll put people in simplistic demographic boxes, and be confident there is an answer that fits within their word count.

  19. The Chicago newspapers capitalize “Downstater”, which I always assumed was because they routinely capitalized all racial and ethnic slurs.

  20. Blacks are used as foot soldiers by the Jewish banksters in their zeal to destroy America and enslave its people.

    1. Used in their zeal? “Jews–zealously destroying since 3000 b.c.”
      The zeal is a nice touch; kinda kicks the crazy up a notch, nice.

    2. I’d love to see real data — what percentage of the bankers are actually Jewish?

  21. I think group nouns should be capitalized. Maybe it’s the German in me, as opposed to being the American in me. But as a fan of the Green Bay Packers, the capital P is what tells readers I am referring to the group of which this player is a member, and not to someone who packs meat into containers.

    Hence writers should not only use Black in stories about race and racism, they should use Whites and Hispanics and Asians. And Martians.

    1. The team name is Packers. It’s a proper name, of course it should be capitalized.

      But black or black people is not a proper name. It would be like capitalizing ‘Tall people’ or ‘Gardners’. (Both of those should look ridiculous, because they are. I doubt even Germans would capitalize tall people). And tall people really is a good analogy, because being black, like being tall, is *subjective*.

      1. “…I doubt even Germans would capitalize tall people…”

        They’d capitalize “people” since it is a noun.

        1. They’d capitalise tall people in toto cos in German it’d be in one word :

          Mitdertapemeasurefromheadtotoemorethanonepointeightzerometerpeople

  22. All {fill in the blank} are alike isn’t new. I still remember the winter 1987 guest lecture in law school from Congressman Alcee Hastings. (He is the only federal judge in around 100 years to have been impeached.) I asked a question regarding the definition and use of strict scrutiny. I was told “be quiet. You are white and you need to understand that only white people can be racist”. Still shocked to this day with that manner of thinking. Unfortunately, Palm Beach County kept re-electing him for 30 years.

    1. Are you sure that isn’t a “majority minority” district?

  23. Well the treatment of Black people (or is it black people) here is one of the most racist things I have ever read.

  24. The idea that all Black people have in common an experience of racism is just bollocks. The vast majority of sub-Saharan African Blacks’ immediate quarrels are with other sub-Saharan African Blacks, not with whites/Whites. I’m in no way minimizing the absolute mess the Europeans (not the Americans!) made of the African continent, but if you look at, say, Sudan or Rwanda, there just isn’t any substantial w/White involvement in the latest genocides. And that I can blithely type “latest genocides” suggests, correctly, that there are many.

    Meanwhile, there have been, oh, a couple of major wars centered almost entirely in the w/White and Asian parts of the globe, suggesting (I suggest, diffidently) that maybe there might be some racial and national hatreds not involving any Blacks at all.

    1. Mess they made of the African continent? Or the mess they couldn’t clean up and left behind?

      1. Both, some messes they found that way, some messes they were never involved with, and some messes they created. Africa is a big continent.

      2. Truly impressive white supremacist energy coming from this drive-by post.
        Really, puts even the Bell Curve folks to shame.

        1. “Some messes were created by whites and some weren’t, and pretty much everyone hates everyone” equates to white supremacist energy?

          Dude, do you even put any thought into what you write? Or is it just a madlib now?

        2. Shorter Sarcasstr0:

          “Everything is white people’s fault. HERPDERP”

          1. Yeah, that’s what I think. I just hate myself for being white. Constant self-loathing.

            ::eyeroll::

            1. Have you even read “White Fragility”

              1. Have you?

                That’s not about liberal self-loathing.

            2. I just hate myself for being white.

              Just? Oh, come now…there are plenty of very good reasons for you to hate yourself.

  25. It’s not a person’s fault if privilege is *foisted* upon them. Blame the individuals who behave in a racist manner by applying privilege based on race. It’s individuals that matter – groups are illusory and non-monolithic.

    The moment you decide racial group membership is meaningful for making decisions, you’re being racist. It’s the *exact same error* the privilege-foisters are making.

    Also, I’d love to hear someone try to defend the Smithsonian’s recent claim that science is whiteness. There aren’t enough facepalm .gifs in the world for that.

    Privilege is not about blame, unless you deny it exists. As my examples illustrated, privileged doesn’t come from racist people nor racist groups, but from racist systems.

    Those biased systems are not intentional Jim-Crow esque villainy, nor even people who are sorting people into groups. (Others can be – see redlining) They were created by individuals and groups who at best essentialized their experience, or didn’t bother to consider outreach beyond the types of people they already knew.

    But once done, the only way to deal with such issues is to admit they exist – to acknowledge these factors that can effect an individual. In other words, looking at groupings.

    Finally, while I’ve not followed the story, the exhibit was about ‘aspects and assumptions about white culture.’ Assumptions seems to pretty clearly point to this being about stereotypes, not truths.

    1. Please point to one example where real privilege is conferred by a void without the intent of a party involved. And be specific. (What system or actions confer privilege? How does it work mechanically?) Every time I’ve seen someone try to get specific about ‘structural racism’ or ‘privilege’, the reality was always some individual choices at some points in the process. Abstracting it away as ‘the system is racist’ not only makes it insoluble, but obscurs and eliminates responsibility.

      Smithsonian:
      Here’s an image of part of the graphic they had up on their webpage:

      https://twitter.com/ByronYork/status/1283372233730203651/photo/1

      They’ve since taken it down, but they’re absolutely serious. This is their definition of what whiteness is. The word ‘assumptions’ isn’t meant as ‘people’s stereotypes about whiteness’, it’s rather used in the sense of ‘these are the assumptions that whiteness makes of the world’, ie, part of whiteness that makes it ‘oppressive’.

      (Yes, science is oppressive, because logic and numbers are white. That’s literally what they’re claiming when they say “linear rational thinking” and “quantitative emphasis” are whiteness).

      (And, while having a nuclear family is indeed a privilege, it’s a privilege regardless of race – not all privileges are something to be ashamed of.)

        1. The assumptions is right there. I cannot see a way to parse that text that includes taking all of it literally.

          1. “Aspects and assumptions of whiteness”

            I’m not even sure how you’re reading it, because you don’t bother to parse the text in your response. “…Assumptions is right there” doesn’t convey any meaning to me as to how you’re reading it. I’m also not sure what you mean by ‘literally’ in this context, since whiteness isn’t a ‘literal’ thing at all (at best it’s a metaphor for a sociological construct). What would literal even mean in this context.

            And note not ‘assumptions about whiteness’. The only way to read “aspects and assumptions of whiteness” is that these are assumptions *implicit in whiteness*. Whatever whiteness is, the claim is that these are norms associated with it (and by implication, problematic.) They’re certainly serious about it.

            1. Assumptions are by their very nature not necessarily true.

              1. … You’re not used to reading the kind of literature this graphic is referencing, are you.

                In short: these are the things *whiteness assumes*, according to the author(s). To the extent they’re ‘not necessarily true’ of people, they’re ‘problematic’. (Particularly, I’m certain the authors would say that non-white people end up being ‘unfairly discriminated against’ for failing to live up to these assumptions). In short, it’s an attack on any society having any values whatsoever, because those are ‘unreasonable’ assumptions.

                What’s not necessarily true here isn’t what you seem to think it is – ie, the authors are asserting that being logical (or on time, or whatever) is not a virtue, but the expectation (or ‘assumption’) of those things is systemic oppression by whiteness.

                1. Saying racial assumptions are bad is not an attack on society having any values whatsoever. That holds regardless if the assumptions are about your race or others, and whether your race is white black or whatever.

                  That sign is *not* a list of things blacks don’t need to do. That’s a crazy reading of both the sign and our society.

                  Again, there is nothing on that sign that says expecting blacks to be logical or whatever oppresses them. You’re bringing that in from somewhere else.

                  1. These people are crazy. That’s exactly how the sign is meant to be read.

                    Would you like some literature citations?

                    1. Where in the text are you getting that?

      1. Examples of privilege happening without intent? My thesis is no intent or bias, not no *action*, which is a ridiculous thesis I can’t imagine anyone would actually push.

        -Standardized tests that were originally standardized to white folk, and still have a bias (e.g. talking about yachts when not everyone knows what a yacht is)
        -People tell their students and colleagues about a good grants opportunity, which will mean that knowledge doesn’t penetrate other communities with separate networks.
        -The Federal Register is not easy to get ahold of, and hard to read without training and experience. Cutting knowledge of regulatory changes from underprivileged groups regardless of power.

        No one says privileged and systematic inequality are insoluble.

        1. None of your examples are racial. To the extent that we have disjunct friend, family, and community networks, yes, all people have different privileges.

          Standardized tests/ that’s not really white folks so much as affluent folks. Poor white people probably have at least as bad as an idea of what a yacht is as poor minorities. Rich black people (who certainly exist) may even own yachts.

          OTOH, range of vocabulary is a function of reading level and, well, practice. It’s possible to know about the existence of tons of stuff you never encounter by reading about them. People who read more (and more challenging material) are certainly privileged when it comes to taking standardized tests regardless of race, and that’s arguably by intention if not design. Most of the tough vocabulary on standardized tests isn’t hard because it’s objects some people are unfamiliar with, but because they’re unusual words. Very few, if any, SAT vocabulary words are objects. (And AFAIK, yacht is not an SAT vocabulary word).

          Here’s a list of 262 SAT vocab words i found quickly: https://blog.prepscholar.com/sat-vocabulary-words

          Now, if you’re going to say an emphasis on reading is racist, well, that’s nonsense. Reading is a critical skill, both for college and for technical jobs afterwards.

          Network effects (grant opportunity, etc…)/ Everyone has some sort of privilege, to varying degrees and in varying contexts, based on who they know. That some people have better connections than others tends to be a function of *class* rather than race. When i was young, i was privileged to meet a WW1 flying ace because my grandfather knew him. But that wasn’t due to ‘whiteness’, that was due to social networks.

          Now, historically racism meant social networks didn’t connect across race as often. But as racism decreases, social networks interpenetrate more. It’s not a systemic issue, the system will naturally correct itself. (And if you look at economic mobility studies which follow the same people over their lifetimes, there’s healthy social mobility in the US, and that includes for minorities these days).

          But everyone can’t know everyone. The most people you can possibly have a relationship with is approximately Dunbar’s number.

          Federal Register/ Again, not racial. Specialized training, certainly. I’m going to guess that poor whites in Appalachia fair even worse at accessing such specialists than poor black people in urban settings. Just a hunch.

          Bottom lines:
          -Not all privilege is problematic. Being well read or good at math gives you privilege, and that’s not a bad thing. Note that good privilege comes from accomplishment rather than superficial characteristics.
          -It isn’t really the systems that are problems when it is problematic, but actual racism on the part of actors in the system. (ie, to the extent that colleague networks are racially constricted because of racism on the part of some people, that’s bad).
          -You never really go into detail on where and precisely how these systems produce *racism*. In fact, none of these would appear to be racism, because they don’t discriminate *on the basis of race*.

          1. 1. They are all racial. There is also a gender component, and a class component. Racial does not mean *exclusively* racial.

            2. I’m not talking about vocabulary size; vocabs of the same size can cover different areas. But yeah, that particular issue of was reformed around 2014, as I recall. Do you think that makes it a bad example?

            3. Yes, just about everyone has some sort of privilege. But some groups have been the dominant paradigm for long enough that they dominate the field. Ignoring the implications of that paradigm is not just unjust, it’s leaving good, productive, and smart members of our society on the table.
            Racism has been here for a while. Networks have become naturally segregated. Ignoring this issue locks in the status quo, which privileges white dudes. This is not an insoluble problem – just consciously engage in outreach to nonstandard networks. But then the question becomes finding and properly interfacing with those networks…

            4. As to the FedReg, again you confuse racial with *exclusively racial*. Non-poor whites in Appalachian privileged is a thing as well. Doesn’t get as much press because the numbers aren’t as big, but there are programs targeting that population. (e.g. rural electrification. Also, amusingly, NPR)

            5. Privilege is not about talent. Being recognized for being legitimately good at a thing is not privilege. Properly defined, privilege is problematic since it makes our meritocracy less meritocratic, ignoring certain talented people because we’re not set up to see them. But not all makes the cost-benefit calculus.

            6. I’ve laid out lots of examples that you acknowledge as issues, even if not purely racial, all of them involve rich white men as a group being favored. If you acknowledge those issues, you can’t say the only issue is intentional racism. And that doesn’t even include unintentional racism like liking/hiring people you see as similar.

            7. Where in my argument do I lay out the thesis that these systems produce *racism*, versus racially unbalanced results? Certainly there are racial follow-on effects from jackwagons reading the Bell Curve and looking at these results like they’re genetic, but that’s not the argument when it comes to privilege and how it operates. Again, you put forth a thesis that is illogical and which no one argues.

            1. I think the fundamental problem here is you’re just looking at disparate impact, as if there is some way to miraculously fix disparities rooted in historical inequality rather than current racism.

              Society is becoming less and less racist over time. Doors are opening. These imbalances will solve themselves as fewer people make fewer racist decisions, and those people who still do become marginalized.

              And if the systems don’t ‘produce racism’, then it isn’t systemic racism. If all they do is reflect either active individual racism, or the fading after effects of historical racism, then it’s not the systems that are the problem, and changing the systems won’t fix the problems either.

              (And there are a lot of professional people who make efforts to reach out to people of color and provide them with opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. I personally work with urban high school students. But it takes time for these connections to permeate through these networks – several generations at least – and it’s only been since the ~1980s when belief in across-the-board racial equality reached overwhelming support among white people.

              Nor should we ever expect exact numerical inequality, unless you believe values are equally distributed by race. That seems like a questionable belief. Prefering workers or friends/colleagues with particular values is neither inappropriate nor problematic. Now, I don’t think scientific values like logical thinking or quantifiability should have a racial component, but if you’ve got scholars of african-american studies telling black people that these values are anti-black, well, i’d say that is *racism*, and is doing more to reduce black access to professional networks than anything ‘the system’ is currently doing.)

              1. … exact numerical *equality*…. Can we have an edit button?

              2. No one is looking for a miracle; it’s a slow process over generations. But ignoring it because we must be colorblind or because we made progress since the 1960s will just make it even slower.

                A racist system is one where some races are not treated equally. It is not a system that makes people more racist.
                As I noted multiple times above, it does this neither from historical legacy nor active malice, but through instantiating the dominant paradigm which tends to address the needs of the dominant white, male, well-off group more than others.

                I’m thrilled you do outreach to black communities. I do as well; so how can you argue that we should not group people based on color when you do exactly that yourself?

                I’ve never talked numbers or quotas. Just noticing privilege and acting accordingly. Make our meritocracy do what it says it does (and what white people tend to think it does).

                The ‘trying hard in school is acting white’ thing was pretty dumb, but I haven’t seen anything like that in the wild since the 1990s.

                1. “But ignoring it because we must be colorblind or because we made progress since the 1960s will just make it even slower.”

                  Or perhaps the only way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is… to stop using race to make decisions? Colorblindness is the only value that will eliminate racism. Preferential treatment of some races is racism, no matter which races those are.

                  “A racist system is one where some races are not treated equally. It is not a system that makes people more racist.”

                  A racist system is one where races are not treated equally *because of their race*. (If they’re treated unequally for other, historically contingent reasons, especially reasons not necessarily related to race, the system is not racist).

                  “I’m thrilled you do outreach to black communities. I do as well; so how can you argue that we should not group people based on color when you do exactly that yourself?”

                  You’re putting words in my mouth i never said. I said “urban high school students”. You assumed they were all black. They aren’t. Some are black, some are hispanic, some are even white. They all lack opportunities due to circumstances.

                  “The ‘trying hard in school is acting white’ thing was pretty dumb, but I haven’t seen anything like that in the wild since the 1990s.”

                  I have. That kind of thinking has gotten more common in certain academic fields and sub-fields.

                  1. I’ve provided many examples on how government colorblindness locks in racially discriminatory systems.
                    Indeed, your laudable individual outreach recognizes disparities exist and should be compensated for.

                    Because of race need not be ‘but-for’ cause, though. Because, why would it? Who cares about how unitary the causality is if a system’s result includes racial inequity?

                    You talked about your urban outreach right after talking about outreach programs for people of color, in the same parenthetical. The implication is pretty strong.
                    And even if you ignore that, outreach to urban youth will include a lot of people of color, due to the way our system sorts racial groups, no? For the third time, racial disparities don’t require racial exclusivity.

                    If that nonsense about trying to succeed is white is still happening, it’s dumb and I hope that idea dies. I sorta get the alienation and anger, but that doesn’t mean we can condone it.

                    1. In the counterfactual world where we didn’t have historically contingent disparities that were *because of race* in the past, the systems wouldn’t be a problem. OTOH, *all systems* appear to be discriminatory because of those historically contingent disparities, since history underlies the application of all of them.

                      Rather than trying to fix systems that don’t need fixing, we should work to bring people into those systems who are currently excluded only because of historically contingent reasons.

                      In the long term, as our changing attitudes become the new historical contingency, increasing values focusing on our shared personhood and political equality will shape the results of these systems in the future. The impact of historical racism will ultimately be expunged without ever changing the systems.

                      Does waiting suck? I’d say yes, but individuals shouldn’t wait. It’s the actions of individuals which will mediate much of this change. The board is arguably already set, it just needs to play out, and a critical component of that is inspiring young people to push themselves to achieve.

                      Because ultimately, it’s not the statistical fate of some group vs. some other group that matters. It’s whether individuals face improperly discriminatory barriers to success.

                    2. The systems continue the disparity. Part of that is who is ‘in’ the system but the system can operate in discriminatory ways beyond who it interfaces with. E.g. that past SATs issue. Or dealing with pregnancy and childbirth and who is considered the primary caregiver. Or needless physical requirements.

                      I’m not saying we need to tear down the system, but it’s best practice to be conscious of those effects and mitigate where you can. That makes not just society but the system itself better.

                      As the Civil Rights era taught us, at some point you cannot get a continued cultural and attitudinal change without confronting issues with the system.

                      Keeping the playing field tilted and waiting for it to eventually realize on it’s own that it’s not level won’t get you very far.

  26. ?? In this case it’s people on the left explaining what people on the left think: “Most notably, people who are Black have strong historical and cultural commonalities, even if they are from different parts of the world and even if they now live in different parts of the world.”
    This is demonstrably false fuckwittery endorsed by many mainstream news organizations, and you have nothing to say about it?

    Yeah, that’s pretty cringey. Reminds me of like 1990s inclusiveness – all American Indians are basically the same, dontcha know!

    But your July.21.2020 at 6:57 am post goes well beyond that specific silliness. And that’s the thread I replied to.
    Moreover, do you think lack of privileged is not a lived experience folks of similar colors in this country could have in common? Not enough to justify the OP’s statement, but more than nothing.

    Privilege is rarely noticed by those that have it, so don’t worry – whiteness continues to lack any real solidarity.

    1. “Moreover, do you think lack of privileged is not a lived experience folks of similar colors in this country could have in common? ”

      The news outlets at issue are not limiting themselves to “this country”. That’s one of the things that make this abjectly ignorant fuckwittery.

      1. Maybe the issue is that black in common parlance means African *American*, and you’re seeing it differently?

        1. Maybe the issue is that black in common parlance means African *American*

          Maybe the crowd of progressive half-wits who are the only people on the planet who will have anything to do with you think that’s what it means, but those of us who are aware of the rest of the world don’t.

  27. “What do a Christian Kenyan, a Muslim Nigerian, a Rwandan Tutsi, an Ethiopian Jew living in Israel, an African-American of partial Native American and European heritage, and an Afro-Brazilian of mixed Portuguese and African descent have in common, culturally and historically?”

    They’re all “African-Americans” for purposes of affirmative action?

    The AP is a relic. I’ve seen them print hundreds of gun stories, and they’ve never done a single one correct and unbiased, ever. If whatever they printed about race today were well-informed and reliable, I’d be literally alarmed.

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