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Rationalizing Racial Oppression: How the Right Misuses Crime Data to Justify Unequal Policing

It is understandable that honest and decent people may disagree about the circumstances surrounding the arrest last week of Henry Louis Gates Jr. in Cambridge. For some, Gates was to blame for what happened. He became belligerent with Sgt James Crowley, and thus precipitated his arrest on charges of disorderly conduct. Others point out that being belligerent to an officer does not meet the legal definition of the charge in question, according to the state's own written statuteand multiple court opinions, and to some, they suggest--as have I--that Crowley, though no overt racist, may have responded to Gates's anger in a way he would not have had Gates been white.

But however much honest people can disagree, some seem intent on using the incident--and President Obama's claim that the police acted "stupidly" in arresting Gates (a true statement, given the actual wording of the law, which Gates clearly did not violate)--to make the ultimate racist argument. And by that, I mean the kind of argument that can serve to justify widespread mistreatment of African American peoples, and is used by overt racists to justify their own hatreds, fears and contempt for black folks: namely, that since blacks have higher crime rates than whites, unequal treatment at the hands of cops is simply something to which black individuals--no matter their own criminality--will simply have to get used to. 

This past week, the National Review online--the web version of a magazine started by pro-segregationist conservatives like William F. Buckley--ran two such columns: one by syndicated columnist, Mona Charen, and the other by Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute. According to Charen, while Obama's claim that blacks and Latinos have historically been subjected to unfair treatment at the hands of law enforcement is "not quite" a fact, she claims that to whatever extent it has happened occasionally, we must remember, "Blacks and Hispanics also commit a disproportionately high percentage of crimes." MacDonald goes ever further, trotting out statistics that she feels demonstrate the inherent fairness of police, given widespread black lawbreaking.

First, MacDonald notes, when it comes to racial profiling, it isn't happening. This she claims because, according to data from 2005, as reported by motorists themselves in a large national survey, virtually identical proportions of white, black, and Hispanic drivers report being stopped by the police. In other words, there can be no profiling unless blacks are being stopped at a higher rate than whites. But this claim is disingenuous on two levels. First, because it ignores the fact that according to the same report MacDonald cites, and those going back several years, police are much more likely--on the order of 2-3 times as likely--to physically search blacks, once stopped, than they are to search whites. And this is true, even though blacks, when searched, are less likely to actually have drugs or other contraband on them than whites are. Indeed, as for drugs, data show that usage rates are roughly equal between whites and blacks: in some years whites have slightly higher rates of usage, thus possession, while in other years, blacks have slightly higher rates (1). In any case, there is no logical reason for police to assume blacks are significantly more likely, if at all more likely, to have such items on them, given the evidence, and yet they apparently do.

Secondly, the fact that blacks and whites are stopped in roughly the same percentages by law enforcement, though it may seem to indicate parity of treatment, actually doesn't, for one very important reason: namely, because African Americans, on average, drive 2200 fewer miles per year, per capita, than whites. In other words, whites, collectively have millions more hours and miles on the road and thus, opportunities to be stopped than blacks (2). Thus, given the greater opportunity for whites to be stopped, and the lesser opportunity for blacks to be stopped, the fact that the two groups are stopped at the same rate--especially given the evidence that there is no substantial difference in driving behavior or moving violations which could justify the disparity (3)--suggests a substantial amount of unfair and unequal treatment meted out to black folks.

MacDonald then insists that whatever over-policing blacks may experience in urban areas is justified by black crime rates. In fact, she argues, if anything blacks are beingunder-policed, relative to their crime rates. To wit she claims:

"In the first three months of 2009, 52 percent of all people stopped for questioning by the police in New York City were black, though blacks are just 24 percent of the population. But according to the victims of and witnesses to crime, blacks commit about 68 percent of all violent crime in the city. Blacks commit 82 percent of all shootings and 72 percent of all robberies..."

Yet here too, MacDonald's argument is a textbook example of intellectual dishonesty. Let's examine why.

If New York police are stopping blacks and questioning them less often than violent crime data would seem to justify, why might this be? After all, there must be an explanation, right? So let's think about the possibilities. I can imagine only three. Here they are:

1. The NYPD are so stupid and inept at law enforcement that they go and question white folks, even after witnesses and victims make it quite clear that they were victimized by black people. I'm guessing MacDonald doesn't want to suggest this, and it seems pretty unlikely. 

2. Police really want to question black people when told by victims and witnesses that it's black people doing most of the crime, but because of political correctness, or perhaps the fear of Al Sharpton, they set aside their professional responsibilities and duties and just go out and question whites anyway. Given MacDonald's respect for cops, I can't imagine she would like this one much either. 

Which leaves us with only one other possibility, and it's one that completely eviscerates her bogus statistical inference above, Namely:

3. The violent crime rates are, and indeed violent crime itself is, totally unrelated to stop, frisk and question data. In other words, police are not investigating those serious crimes--the ones that blacks commit so disproportionately--by doing random stops and questionings. Thus, the fact that blacks are so much more likely to commit those kinds of crimes has no bearing on the stop data. The stops must be for other things--drug possession for instance--not for trying to solve already committed violent acts. Think about it: how likely is it that police would use random stops and questioning as a method for uncovering the identity of last night's convenience store hold up man? In those cases, they are going to have more precise information to go on. So if blacks are being stopped less than their rates of offending would "justify" this must be because the stops are for other crimes, while for crimes like robbery or shootings, police are using much more detailed methods than just stopping people on the street and asking them questions.

And when it comes to the reasons for the random stops, friskings and questionings, the evidence indicates that the NYPD carries out such activities in a blatantly disparate fashion. For instance, according to a study from just a few years ago, cops in New York stop and frisk blacks at a rate that is almost five times as high as for whites. Even when you factor in the generally higher black crime rates in New York, and the racial demographics of the neighborhoods where the stops were made (since, after all, blacks should be expected to be most of the people stopped in black neighborhoods), the study found that blacks were still being stopped twice as often as random chance would have predicted, relative to whites. And the blacks who get stopped are considerably less likely than the whites they stop to actually have committed a crime. For every 4.6 stops of whites, police are able to make an arrest, while they have to stop 7.3 blacks before finding evidence of criminality (4). What does this suggest? Nothing to Heather MacDonald, apparently, but to honest people it says this: police are more likely, on the basis of unjustifiable suspicion, to stop blacks than whites, and they are uniquely bad at predicting black criminality.

MacDonald then says that since "black males between the ages of 18 and 24 commit homicide at ten times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined," it only stands to reason that blacks will suffer disproportionate stoppage rates. But this too doesn't follow: homicide is, statistically speaking, among the rarest of violent crimes, and hardly can be used to justify overall policing practices. The fact that blacks commit the offense at a much higher rate than whites (overall the rate differential is about 7:1), may sound scary, but with perhaps 7000 homicides committed by blacks each year, nationwide, and even if we assumed each murderer killed only one person (thus there would be about 7000 unique black murderers annually), this would still only represent about two-one-hundredths of one percent of the black population over the age of 12 (and thus eligible for consideration in crime data). How can such a small percentage of the black population be the basis for widespread over-policing, stops, searches and harassment? Not to mention, police do not investigate murder by simply stopping people randomly and frisking them in the hopes that they will stumble upon the perps. In homicide cases, they tend to narrow their searches considerably, meaning that the number of stops and searches that were part of homicide investigations (and therefore perhaps justified by disproportionate homicide rates among blacks) would, by necessity, be so low as to hardly budge the overall numbers suggesting over-policing of African Americans.

There are, of course, other problems inherent to Charen and MacDonald's argument. Among them, to suggest that higher black crime rates justify unequal policing is to say that black people do not have the right, moral or legal, to be treated as individuals. Rather, we are obligated to view them all as potential criminals because of the actions of others in their community. Thus, no black person can complain about their encounters with cops, so long as other blacks are thuggin.' This is essentially what Charen, for instance, claimed a decade ago, when Amadou Diallo was murdered by members of the NYPD Street Crimes Unit. Though Diallo had been unarmed and had posed no threat to the officers, Charen claimed that he had ultimately died "for the sins" of his black brethren in New York, who because of their crime rates, cause cops to operate on a hair trigger. That such arguments violate the supposedly deep-seated conservative principles of individualism and personal responsibility matters not, it seems to those who would make these kinds of arguments. That such a position could be used to justify virtually any depredation against black people--the suspension of due process rights, draconian curfews imposed only in their communities, preventative detention of random black males, perhaps even forced sterilization of black women--apparently gives the Charens and MacDonalds of the world no moment for pause.

But I doubt they would actually like where the underlying logic of their position leads. Indeed, if we are to use data to justify disparate treatment of this kind, we would need to go further than Charen or MacDonald would likely approve. For instance, whites have much higher rates, in all years, of drunk driving (5): so by the logic of Charen and MacDonald, police should put all their roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints in the suburbs and white rural areas, in order to catch the folks most likely to be guilty of a DWI. Or what about the serious corporate misconduct in which whites seem clearly to predominate? Will conservatives now call for affirmative action as a form of crime control in corporate America: after all, white men are demonstrating their ineptitude and even criminality repeatedly at the highest levels. Of course, they will do none of these things.

It is one thing, in the end, to argue that Henry Louis Gates was in the wrong, or to defend Sgt. James Crowley from charges of racism. It is another thing altogether to do what these two reactionary writers have done: to smear blacks as a group and to say, in effect, that they can be treated however we choose to treat them, all because of the actions of about 3% of African Americans who will commit some kind of violent crime in a given year.

And still, people like Charen and MacDonald wonder why black folks disrespect law enforcement, never stopping to think that such disrespect is the natural result of the very over-policing that the right seeks to rationalize and to which they would give license. 

NOTES:

(1) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Various Years, 1999-2008, Results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings, previously called Summary of Findings from the National Household Survey on Drug Use (Office of Applied Studies, Rockville, MD).

(2) Raphael, S. and M.A. Stoll. (2001). "Can Boosting MInority Car Ownership Rates Narrow Inter-racial Employment Gaps?" in W.G. Gale and J. Rothenberg Pack, eds.The Brookings-Wharton Papers on Urban Affairs, vol. 2. Washington DC: The Brookings Institution, 99-145.

(3) Harris, David. (2002). Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Can't Work. NY: New Press.

(4) Fagan, J. and G. Davies. (2000). "Street Stops and Broken Windows: Terry, Race and Disorder in New York City," Fordham Urban Law Journal, 28, 457.

(5) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2002). National Vital Statistics Reports, vol. 50, no. 5, feb 12, also, CDC, 2002, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, "Unintentional Injuries/Violence, 2001, United States," Youth 2001 Online).

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Comments
48 Comment count
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Tim, I Read "White Like Me"

Tim,

I Read "White Like Me" years ago and I have followed your writings ever since. You are gifted. You have a unique way of hitting the nail right on the head and I find myself saying that's what I've been trying to say. For example, when you said "... since blacks have higher crime rates than whites, unequal treatment at the hands of cops is simply something to which black individuals—no matter their own criminality—will simply have to get used to." You wouldn't believe how many times white people and some middle class Latinos have given me "the look" which says that without verbalizing it whenever I complain about police profiling.

I love how you site all of your sources. That's really great. I believe that it is a sign of intellectual honesty. Do you use EndNote software? I'm reading "Systemic Racism" by Joe Feagin because of your reference a few weeks ago. I can't put it down. I am attempting to write because I believe that writin' is fightin' and I'm sick and tired of being maligned as a black man and not speaking out. Thank you for your untiring, unflagging, tenacious, dogged efforts to speak out with your writings. I hope to do the same.

John Berry

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"because African Americans,

"because African Americans, on average, drive 2200 hours less per year, per capita, than whites"

This is a crazy statement! It asserts that blacks drive 6 hours less per day than whites (assuming both groups drive 365 days a year). One might check ones facts for such utterly ridiculous statements before submitting.

While one might reasonably argue methods of policing, to end ones argument with name calling is disingenuous. In fact, one might very reasonably argue that blacks are underpoliced - especially in their own neighbourhoods - and suffer the consequences. But even this is a bit of a stretch - the problem is not so much of race, but of class. The poor are victimized by both criminals and the system regardless of race. We should help those in need - regardless of race.

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hi ken and thanks...just as

hi ken and thanks...just as you were posting this i caught the typing error on my part: it should have read 2200 fewer miles driven per year...which means that the point i was making (that whites have far more opportunity to be stopped, and thus, being stopped at the same rate suggests over-stops of blacks) is still true, but it was indeed wrong as originally written: sorry about that!

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class vs race - what matters?

Hi Tim - Thanks for the correction.

Statistics can be confusing and misleading. One might wonder what the "correct" amount of stops "should" be and even more interesting, how to best determine such a quantity. Does anyone here know if the "overstop problem" depends on the race of the officer? Or if there is no "overstop problem", but rather an "understop problem"? Should the outcomes for different demographic groups be the same even if the behavior of the demographic groups differs?

We as a nation embrace the idea of a level playing field. While this has not been fully attained, i would assert that: 1) individual choices are orders of magnitude more important then the racial bias in todays society; and 2) class, not race, is what divides the privileged from the unprivileged.

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Both

Your implicit question in your subject line, Ken, is a false dichotomy. They both matter. Independently, they help explain a lot of phenomena. In conjunction, with the right theoretical lenses, they are crucial to understanding a large portion of American society.

The correct amount of stops would ideally be non-racial whatsoever, which would mean no disproportion either way. But the most galling fact is that the disproportion at the moment should be targeted at WHITE drivers. Maybe thanks to racial profiling itself making white people believe that less police attention will be brought to their misbehavior,, it turns out that white drivers are far more likely to have contraband when pulled over. So, for some time at least, even a fair, non-racial profiling system would actually have to pull over MORE whites to really get the real representation of crimes.

You are in fact correct to identify that there is an understop problem as WELL as an overstop problem: That is, police departments target blacks more often than they should either according to proportion of population or proportion of relevant crimes. But police departments also target whites LESS despite a larger proportion of relevant crimes.

Your first point is not necessarily wrong, it's just totally meaningless. What is an individual choice? What is racial bias? How might racial bias be magnified or reduced by class, gender, etc.? What vectors or standards are we using to measure "importance"? Insofar as it's meaningful, though, it's false. Numerous paired studies comparing identical loan applicants (except for their race), identically threatening people in videos (except for their race), identical resumes (except for what race the names on the resumes sounded like they belonged to), identical students, and so forth have shown systemic bias against blacks. So their individual decisions can be IDENTICAL to white individual decisions and yet they can be treated differently. Virtually by definition, that invalidates your first point. Further, historical racism in terms of shaping the landscape of power and wealth is also tremendously important, and also largely unaffected by any individual decisions of any one person or even relatively large groups of people.

Your second point is flatly wrong, and verifiably so. Poor whites have a number of advantages even over middle-class or rich blacks: More likely to have their plight taken seriously, much higher average net worth and home ownership, etc. And rich blacks are also quite different from their social echelon: On average, the black middle-class more closely resembles the black and white poor in health outcomes, home ownership and net wealth, etc. So the black poor are slammed on top of being poor, and the black middle-class and rich are slammed despite being rich.

Notice that I've never been accosted or suspected in a jewelry store, while Oprah has, and no police officer has ever accused me of not being the owner of my own apartment or home... 

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So Much More...

There's so much more to add, of course. For one thing, the fact that the official crime data suggests such a high disproportion for some black crimes could have something to do with a real disproportion in the population, OR it could have something to do with the vast amount of energy cops put into prosecuting and investigating black criminals. One of the innumerable problems with racial profiling is that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy: By focusing on a particular race's crimes, you guarantee that you will find more of them, which will in turn justify more profiling. This effect is particularly onerous because it in turn INCREASES crime among those groups you don't target. In general, black disproportions of crime disappear (when they are not in fact eclipsed by whites in the first place, like with drugs, child molestation, white collar crimes, and other crimes of power and privilege) when you take into account urbanicity and poverty, which is amazing given that those two factors do not alone enumerate the differences between blacks and whites as a group.

Of course, the biggest point is that this is a two-trains-passing-in-the-night argument. Blacks could commit 100 times the number of homicides that Latinos and whites do, and it would make no difference to the Gates case, where he was neither suspected nor accused of anything resembling murder. He was SUSPECTED, quite briefly, of B&E, but the only charge he was accused of was disorderly.

Again, my greatest surprise is that there is ANY controversy over what Obama said, aside from it being tepid and measured. Disagree or not, it is not a radically unfair estimation of the circumstances.

And, of course, the type of things that people get randomly searched for either on foot or in cars are, as Tim points out, rarely homicide or serious crimes, but rather crimes that WHITES are MORE likely to commit: Drug use, possession or sale, for example. So even if we dispense with the moral and legal ramifications of profiling, it's just bad law enforcement.

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"Likewise, whites have rates

"Likewise, whites have rates of child sexual molestation almost twice as high as the rates for blacks, according to the available data"

No they dont. The rates of child sexual abuse are actually higher for blacks than whites, its just that the rates for other forms
of abuse and neglect are higher among blacks by a larger degree, thus making the sexual abuse cases a smaller percentage of the
whole. I assume you are taking this misreading of the data from the following line of the report you cited:

"White youth were more likely than black youth to be victims of
sexual abuse (13% vs. 7%) and less likely to be victims of some form of neglect (58% vs. 70%).

I have to cut a sliver of slack to anyone who misread the data the way you did because of the way its worded here. It could give
someone that impression. But, you would have only to read the
actual data to see that you are badly misinterpreting the numbers.
And when one of main points here is how people misuse, misstate and misrepresent the stats to smear a people, it looks bad when
you yourself do the same.

The first thing to say here is that there are different categories of abuse and neglect. There is physical abuse, sexual abuse,
psychological abuse, neglect, medical neglect, etc. Not only do
the racial and ethic groups differ in overall rate of maltreatment
(all types of abuse and neglect combined) but also on the specific breakdown by type of abuse or neglect. So you can have different
percentages for sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect by race.

Lets look at the more recent 2007 Child Maltreatment report from the Children's Bureau of the DHHS, where we can see the same
issue:

The child victims broke down as

Whites: 45.4%

Blacks: 21.4%

Hispanic: 21.3%

This was similar to the perpetrator breakdown:

White: 48.5%

Blacks: 19.0%

Hispanic: 19.8%

Blacks were considerably more likely to be both victims and perpetrators than whites. But now lets look as the Child Sexual Abuse victims particularly. The victim figure above for all forms of abuse and neglect combined.

White: 51.5%

Black: 16.7%

Hispanic: 18.3%

Indeed, the numbers shift. Whites were indeed a slightly higher percentage of Sexual abuse victims than they were for victims
overall, BUT their actual liklihood was still disproportionately
less than it was for black children, it was just less by a
smaller amount. Lets see where the 2007 report gives a similar
stat as the 1996 report. What percentage of the total number of
abuse and neglect cases for each race were Sexual Abuse:

White: 29,086 of 336,295= 8.65%

Black: 9,450 of 158,624= 5.96%

Hispanic: 10,344 of 157,779= 6.56%

You are thinking that since 8.65 is a higher number than 5.96 (like 13 to 7) that therefore white children are more likely to be
sexually abused than black children. In fact, black children are
more likely to be sexually abused, its just that their liklihood of being victims of OTHER forms of neglect or abuse were even
greater, like physical abuse:

White: 33,826 out of 336,295= 10.06%

Black: 21,394 out of 158,624= 13.49%

Hispanic: 14,151 out of 157,779= 8.97%

For all groups here, physical abuse was a higher percentage of cases than sexual abuse was.

And yes the 29,086 to 9,450 white to black Sexual Abuse gap was a wider gap than the 33,826 to 21,394 for physical abuse. But the
actual liklihood of occurence was higher for black children than
white children in both cases.

Tim, I certainly hope this is the last time we hear this outrageous smear against whites.

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thanks and clarification

Michael - Despite our obvious ideological differences, I do appreciate you pointing out the error on my part in interpreting the data on child molestation/sexual abuse. As you note, the wording in the report is incredibly awful, vague, and frankly imprecise, and thus, I read it the way you noted, even when that was not the proper way to read it. I went back, checked it again and looked at the 2007 report you mentioned, and you are right. It is a matter of sexual abuse differences being far smaller than other forms. fair enough. I will remove that sentence from my essay gladly. It does not, after all, really change the import of or accuracy of the point I was making, which was that discriminating against individual black people on the basis of crime data in the abstract makes no sense, morally, ethically, constitutionally, or practically. Especially, when, as I noted--and as you do not seek to refute because frankly there is no way to do so--that the crimes being profiled for (like drugs) are not indeed crimes that blacks commit more often than whites. In fact, in terms of possession (which is what 80% of all drug busts are for, not dealing), whites are just as likely to possess drugs as blacks. So to dispro stop blacks is foolish law enforcement and several studies discussed in the David Harris book, referenced in the notes makes this exceedingly clear. You and I agree that the reason for the lower hit rates with black vehicles (and likely with bodily stop and frisks too) is because cops are worse at reading guilt in blacks than whites. It isn't because whites are that much more likely to have drugs (they are about equally likely based on the usage data), but apparently the threshhold of suspicion is different, which of course is a problem in and of itself. I will led Frederic deal with your other points, since they were made to him, in re: to arguments he had made... Again, seriously, thanks for the catch on the data. I will make the correction, and am always grateful when, if I make a mistake like that, someone catches it and lets me know. It had been many years since I had looked at that report, and had I gone back to look at it more recently, I might well have caught it myself, but I hadn't, and therefore didn't. Truly sorry about that. I wasn't, by the way, trying to slander whites with the data (as obviously most whites still wouldn't be child molesters, even if the data were as I had reported it). I was merely trying to make the point that aggregate data like that, or any data, is not particularly helpful in deciding how to go about law enforcement... 

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So, as it turns out...

...I did some more digging and discovered that although the initial claim I had made, based on the confusing way in which the data had been presented by the DOJ, had been wrong (i.e., whites do not molest children at nearly twice the rate of blacks), it is NOT the case that blacks commit this crime at a higher rate, as per Michael's rebuttal. The data that both he and I were relying on (and which he was reading correctly, and I initially read incorrectly) was from studies that only are able to capture data for those molesters who come to the attention of authorities as part of neglect/abuse investigations. Suffice it to say, such a sample is going to be heavily skewed towards finding cases (both with sexual and other abuse) in black communities (and low income ones generally) rather than in white spaces, and middle class-and-above communities, because in the latter case, perps are, for a host of reasons, less likely to be discovered (they won't have social workers checking up on them, or in the neighborhood, they will have more privacy and ability to cover up pathology, etc -- just as with drug abuse frankly). 

However, according to a huge sample study, of over 15,000 men, (The Abel and Harlow Child Molestation Prevention Study), white men are slightly more likely to molest than blacks. Whereas white men were 72 percent of the men in the sample (and 71% of the men in the country), they were 79 percent of those who admitted to having molested a child. Black men were 10 percent of the sample (and 12 percent of all men), but they were only 6 percent of those who admitted to molesting. Now, to be fair, it is true that black men were slightly disproportionately found among those whose answers to questions about molestation clearly indicated to the experts that they were lying (either because they had been convicted of the crime already, or because they gave really absurd answers like, "yes i did penetrate my daughter but it was an accident: i slipped on the soap when exiting the shower."--that kind of thing) but this difference was not huge. About 12 percent of liars were black as opposed to 10 percent of the sample, while whites were 67 percent of the liars and 72 percent of the sample. Even if we assume therefore that blacks lie more about molesting, this would not alter the overall trend. It is likely, given this data, that there is a slight (very slight but slight) disproportion of whites in the molesting group of men. Comparable data on women does not exist to my knowledge, but if you look at the data on the female teachers who have been busted for sexual predation against their students (over 130 cases in the last several years), a dispro percentage have been white women (about 93-94 percent, as opposed to white women making up about 86 percent of the female teaching corps...so it turns out that I was wrong about the 99 report I was citing, Michael was correct about that report, but Michael is not correct in relying on that data to determine overall molestation rates, any more than I was to rely on it, when I thought it read the other way...

 here is the link for stuff on the molestation study cited above:

 http://www.yellodyno.com/pdf/Child_Molestation_Prevention_Study.pdf 

 

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"it turns out that white

"it turns out that white drivers are far more likely to have contraband when pulled over. So, for some time at least, even a fair, non-racial profiling system would actually have to pull over MORE whites to really get the real representation of crimes."

Not necessarily Frederic. This is one time where I think Tim is right. I think its more a matter of officers doing a better job of predicitng criminality with whites than blacks.

Now if I remember correctly, there was an asterisk next to search result figure for whites in the study since it was based on 10 or fewer cases. I will check that again, and for different years as well. But the higher search success rate does not necessarily mean that they are doing it more often, although they may. It could mean that police are doing a better job in judging when to do a body and/or vehicle search with whites theyve stopped than with blacks. Hence the higher success rate. SO substantially increasing the search rate might just end up substantially dropping the success rate

"Your second point is flatly wrong, and verifiably so. Poor whites have a number of advantages even over middle-class or rich blacks: More likely to have their plight taken seriously, much higher average net worth and home ownership, etc."

Middle class and rich blacks dont have a "plight". So naturally a poor white persons OUGHT to be taken more seriously. And they have "much higher" net worth than even wealthy blacks? Sure about that? Home Ownership? A professional black middle class couple in an upscale apartment they dont own or a poor white family in a single-wide trailer they DO own? Who is better off Frederic?

"Notice that I've never been accosted or suspected in a jewelry store, while Oprah has, and no police officer has ever accused me of not being the owner of my own apartment or home..."

Oprah? Her net advantage over the immense majority of whites is gigantic. No incident in a jewelry store is even close to being an even trade for being that rich. And was Gates, the tenured Harvard proffessor, accused of not being the owner of his own home? Because he was asked for ID? Shouldnt he have been asked? Even if he had been accused of it, his net advantage and social position is still far greater than your own or most white peoples. Its not an even trade, Frederic. No offense, but if you called a press conference, no one would come. If you called MSNBC or CNN to be interviewed on the air, they would politely end the call.

"By focusing on a particular race's crimes, you guarantee that you will find more of them, which will in turn justify more profiling."

Im not sure what "a particular races crimes" actually means. And they find more rape victims because they are looking harder for them? They find more bodies of murdered people because they are looking more for bodies? Are dead bodies in white neighborhoods typically overlooked do you think? C'mon Frederic. The old chesnut of "oh they are only looking for more black crime so that explains why they find so much more of it" is nonsense.

"This effect is particularly onerous because it in turn INCREASES crime among those groups you don't target. In general, black disproportions of crime disappear (when they are not in fact eclipsed by whites in the first place, like with drugs, child molestation, white collar crimes, and other crimes of power and privilege) when you take into account urbanicity and poverty, which is amazing given that those two factors do not alone enumerate the differences between blacks and whites as a group."

Ive already debunked the "whites do more child molesting" notion. They dont. And the RATE of white collar crime is higher among whites? Where does that stat come from? Not the number, the rate. There may be more whites in a position to do it, but are they any more likely to than those blacks who are in a position? I cant imagine what this is based on. Do tell.

As for choices versus biases lets remember that biases affect choices. And biases held by enormous numbers of persons can result in patterns of choices in every aspect of life that reflect the bias in an equally wide range of outcomes. Yes, including hiring, loans, whether to search someone, pick them up in a Taxi, etc. There is no divide here.

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More Nonsense

"

Not necessarily Frederic. This is one time where I think Tim is right. I think its more a matter of officers doing a better job of predicitng criminality with whites than blacks.

Now if I remember correctly, there was an asterisk next to search result figure for whites in the study since it was based on 10 or fewer cases. I will check that again, and for different years as well. But the higher search success rate does not necessarily mean that they are doing it more often, although they may. It could mean that police are doing a better job in judging when to do a body and/or vehicle search with whites theyve stopped than with blacks. Hence the higher success rate. SO substantially increasing the search rate might just end up substantially dropping the success rate"

Not when you take into account that many of the crimes that people are being searched for are also dispro likely to occur in the white population, and that there is prima facia plausibility to the idea that increasing searches among whites would net results (at least for a few years) because whites have become used to disproportionately low search rates. I personally know many whites, myself included, who are far more willing to tolerate transporting various types of contraband or engaging in risky driving behavior because there is a perception that we are less likely to be pulled over or punished. I also wonder what, precisely, police are doing so much differently in the cases of white folks to explain such a large discrepancy (where LESS searches yield MORE results).

But, I agree, this is another reasonable hypothesis to explain the evidence. What is clear is that police should NOT be searching blacks as often. Nor am I arguing for any form of racial profiling, even were it plausibly indicated that targeting whites qua whites would lead to better results. It is certainly possible, though, that were we to search/pull over/etc. based on percent committing crimes, we may see MORE whites being pulled over rather than less. The drug abuse data certainly indicates that: Were we to imprison/prosecute/search for drugs proportional to the population's actual use rates, whites would be caught in the net more often than their population would indicate by random chance.

"Middle class and rich blacks dont have a "plight". So naturally a poor white persons OUGHT to be taken more seriously. And they have "much higher" net worth than even wealthy blacks? Sure about that? Home Ownership? A professional black middle class couple in an upscale apartment they dont own or a poor white family in a single-wide trailer they DO own? Who is better off Frederic?"

Actually, given that many of them have net worths that won't last very long if they ever lose a job, get sick, etc., even THAT claim may not be true, Michael. A lot more of the black middle-class is in an economically precarious position than their incomes would indicate. The huge amount of black and Latina/o neighborhoods suffering from the economic meltdown with dropping property values, foreclosures, people moving back in with relatives or into rentals even with substantial yearly incomes, etc. indicates that.

As far as whom is better off in your example: First of, it's moot, since you're comparing across strata. Compare the blacks with the apartment they don't own versus the whites at the same income who do have a home. That may not be "plight", though discrimination certainly has psychic costs even for the black middle-class, but it isn't fair and isn't connected to justice.

Second: It depends. If the black family loses their jobs, or even suffers a wage decrease, or gets an expensive illness in the family (especially among a breadwinner), or get defrauded, or lose their life savings, etc., they're out on the street or in a hovel. If the white family is in the same position, they at least have some net worth that they can use as collateral.

The fact that there is ANY comparability between a family making $80,000 a year and a family making $35,000 a year is the issue. It indicates the real depth of racial caste structures, and tells us that class alone is not even remotely sufficient to explain the contours of the economy nor the life circumstances of people.

Further, your example is a poor one. It's not just ownership/net worth vs. non-ownership that distinguishes the black-middle class. The black middle-class is far more likely to be concentrated, thanks to segregation pressures, near low-income folks, with commensurate risks of crime victimization, jealousy and resentment from their neighbors, exposure to pollutants and other health risks commensurate with living in poorer neighborhoods, artificial limits on the value of any property they might eventually acquire, etc. The black middle-class' health outcomes, thanks to a variety of factors, are also far more akin to the white working class than the white middle class, and when you take into account that some of that health problem is due to discrimination (which is ever-present and can't be escaped, unlike some of the health problems that the white poor face), you have a complex picture.

"Oprah? Her net advantage over the immense majority of whites is gigantic. No incident in a jewelry store is even close to being an even trade for being that rich. And was Gates, the tenured Harvard proffessor, accused of not being the owner of his own home? Because he was asked for ID? Shouldnt he have been asked? Even if he had been accused of it, his net advantage and social position is still far greater than your own or most white peoples. Its not an even trade, Frederic. No offense, but if you called a press conference, no one would come. If you called MSNBC or CNN to be interviewed on the air, they would politely end the call."

Yes, if I randomly called a press conference, no one would come. That's stupid, and the fact that you're saying it means you've given up on making real comparisons.

If Tim says the same things that black folks have been saying for years, white folks listen, send him e-mails, he gets to write books and make a decent income... His white voice is part of why he gets attention, and he is aware of this fact, quite loudly. He looks at the whole history of why he was able to become an anti-racist activist in White Like Me quite extensively. Here's a hint: He's not a nationally-known anti-racist activist just because he's a smart guy.

The white poor have been able, historically and in the modern era, to have their complaints at least heard. The black poor are demonized. Similarly, white college students who riot over beer prices get their complaints taken seriously, while inner-city black rioters are demonized and viewed as irrational and destructive. In Katrina, whites found and blacks looted. Down the line, the media are oriented towards producing sympathy for whites and apathy or outright hatred for blacks.

Yes, being harassed in your own home by a cop and being charged for disorderly conduct nor being harassed in a jewelry store are not the same in terms of MAGNITUDE as starving or struggling to pay rent. Since I've experienced the latter, I'm perfectly aware of that. But the point is that, no matter how powerful Oprah and Gates are, I as a white college student with no fame and little fortune STILL have an advantage they don't: The privilege of belonging. In Tim's case, that privilege led to his entire career. Even if I never take it that far, I still have something that incredibly rich, powerful people with influence and connections don't. That is a STAGGERING fact, and which just blows away Michael & Michael's argument about class being more important than race. Further, it's only one such privilege. And, even more centrally, it's a privilege that I don't have to earn, whereas their discrimination is something they must fight with, daily.

Speak to a cross-section of black professionals about the struggle to be taken seriously in their field. It may beat starving, but it would show a severe failure of empathy not to call that a serious burden.

"Im not sure what "a particular races crimes" actually means. And they find more rape victims because they are looking harder for them? They find more bodies of murdered people because they are looking more for bodies? Are dead bodies in white neighborhoods typically overlooked do you think? C'mon Frederic. The old chesnut of "oh they are only looking for more black crime so that explains why they find so much more of it" is nonsense."

Why is that nonsense? It certainly is true in the world of drugs, where blacks are far more likely to be prosecuted, arrested, etc. but whites are far more likely to commit. Given the mass portion that non-violent drug use, possession and sale forms of the prison population and the process of the criminal justice system in this country, that example alone sinks your argument.

Your phrasing is childish baiting, no more. No, they don't ignore bodies found in white neighborhoods. Indeed, quite the opposite: It is bodies found in poorer, blacker neighborhoods, and particularly black bodies, that are ignored. But there's a big leap between finding a body and finding the murderer. Policing resources are distributed disproportionately to black people, suspects, etc. and underdistributed to white suspects. Take the process of "tagging", where white cops will take in black kids under any pretext to get them into the system, even if the charges are dropped. This process takes time, effort and money, that clearly isn't going towards white folks.

In particular, think of the amount of investigative capacity and real ability to prosecute that is put towards white-collar crimes, where even the hypothetical punishments are often so light that it's cheaper to commit the crime and pay the fine, and towards discrimination claims, where the OFCCP has enough investigators to make random checks every few decades, versus the amount of effort that is spent targeting black and brown people for drug infractions. That alone makes my point (and, of course, indicates that class is also part of the issue).

"Ive already debunked the "whites do more child molesting" notion. They dont. And the RATE of white collar crime is higher among whites? Where does that stat come from? Not the number, the rate. There may be more whites in a position to do it, but are they any more likely to than those blacks who are in a position? I cant imagine what this is based on. Do tell."

You looked at one data set. Here's another.

http://books.google.com/books?id=UrRCsOEIchQC&pg=PA245&lpg=PA245&dq=whit...

I quote: "But whites are also more likely to be serial murderers, child molesters and school shooters." Further, white child molesters serve shorter sentences than black crack offenders! Hell, even serial killer profilers use that data, since the commonly accepted profile for a serial killer is a white male.

The data also answers the question about white-collar crime. And even if less blacks are in a position to do it, so what? Given that THAT is connected to racism, that argument is bizarre and a pretty amazing concession on your part! If you see a white-collar crime, as a cop, you don't ask, "Well, might it be a black guy were this some hypothetical universe where black men and women were frequently in positions to embezzle and scam?" The NUMBER in this case is what matters for law enforcement, not the rate. Add in how poorly prosecuted and punished those white-collar crimes are, despite the magnitude of their harm, and you have a very clear case for both race and class privilege and advantage in the criminal justice system.

But, again, it's drugs. Drugs, drugs, drugs. Whites are more likely to binge drink, drink and drive, and use/possess/sell most categories of drugs, according to numerous studies and points of data. That dwarves the child molester category, even if you're right about the black disproportion, because child molesters are a tiny fraction of both police expenditure and of yearly crime, while drug use is, depending on how you measure, a substantial minority or an actual majority of both.

I frankly don't get your point, nor your position. Do you think the criminal justice system is not racist? That there is no racial bias in it? I challenge you to make that point in light of even a fraction of the evidence.

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"We as a nation embrace the

"We as a nation embrace the idea of a level playing field. While this has not been fully attained, i would assert that: 1) individual choices are orders of magnitude more important then the racial bias in todays society; and 2) class, not race, is what divides the privileged from the unprivileged."

Ken, we may embrace the idea of a level playing field, but whether the playing field actually is level (and it isnt) is a separate question. Merit is a wonderful idea. It was a powerful argument against aristocracy. Someone becoming the 18th Duke for no better reason than that is father was the 17th Duke was nonsensical. Of course, the idea of Dukes isnt so good either, but thats another matter. The point though is that while equality and merit are goals, they arent realities.

1)Individual choices are critical of course. But so much of our outcomes in life are determined or highly influenced by the choices that others make about us. Obviously, someones choice to rape or kill you or someone else can have life changing or life ending consequences for you, irrespective of the choices you have made. BUt its not just in crime, its in every aspect of our lives. The choice an uncle makes to call a business owning friend to get you that job, the choice to hire you, sell you a home, give you a loan, etc. Even if you make all the right choices, choices about you from any of a number of others can have profound impact on your outcomes.

Since biases can influence choices, it therefore matters if widely held biases ("memes" or whatever you want to call them) produce detectable differences in outcomes between groups and individuals across society. Being widely held they are widely felt and can be in operation so continuously that it becomes critical to be mindful of them, and to do something about them.

2)The Class divide is massively larger than the racial divide. I have written a number of other posts on other blog threads here as to why I think the idea of "white privilege" is non-sensical and why I think there are much better and more coherent ways of defining "privilege" and "deprivation". I dont use the word "underprivileged". Its a polite late victorian era word that was apparently well intentioned, but does not capture the issue as well as "deprivation" does, IMO.

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"You and I agree that the

"You and I agree that the reason for the lower hit rates with black vehicles (and likely with bodily stop and frisks too) is because cops are worse at reading guilt in blacks than whites. It isn't because whites are that much more likely to have drugs (they are about equally likely based on the usage data), but apparently the threshhold of suspicion is different, which of course is a problem in and of itself."

Yes we do agree on that, and yes thats a problem. When we look at the research on reactions to faces, of taxi drivers, searches, etc there is a pattern. Between stimulus and response there is an almost pavlovian-like differential in reaction. You might say it "changes the complexion" of the situation, to borrow a now infamous phrase. But lets recall that its not just whites who do this, and white "privilege" is not whats causing it. Thats not whats in operation here. You have to ask "why did the Taxi driver do that?" What was going on in their mind in the split seconds when s/he saw the arms go up and decided to bypass one and take the other. That often quick, on the spot calculus, that says search/dont search, drive by/stop, Pull back/reach out. That something thats being touched upon in an array of studies is at the heart of the matter here, I think.

The idea that whites as a whole or as a society as a whole is better off thanks to child labor, or slavery or segregation or covert, even subliminal biased differentials in treatment is absurd. Its ultimately a net negative and loss even putting aside any moral considerations. I am as interested as anyone in getting at the inner workings of how humans (not just whites) collapse the immense amount of data of our world into the manageable inventory of types, categories and groupings we use to navigate the world, and how this process lends itself to stereo-types and oversimplified catergorties, etc. ALso of how our adaptive mental calculus acts on the good and bad information we have to make decisions. Lots their to grasp. I just do not see how talking about "privilege" in this context (in addition to its otehr problems noted elsewhere) explains or clarifies anything about these issues. It certainly serves to purpose to single out whites for what other humans do also.

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Irrelevant

"2)The Class divide is massively larger than the racial divide. I have written a number of other posts on other blog threads here as to why I think the idea of "white privilege" is non-sensical and why I think there are much better and more coherent ways of defining "privilege" and "deprivation". I dont use the word "underprivileged". Its a polite late victorian era word that was apparently well intentioned, but does not capture the issue as well as "deprivation" does, IMO."

I'm glad to see that our discussions have boiled down to a semantic concept. If you find a word that is better than "white privilege" (while still capturing the magnitude - so a lot of the reason I like the phrase is because it is polemically sound and gets people's attention), again, I invite you to introduce it. As leftists, we're all in this together in terms of presenting the ideas, working on them, etc.

Of course, we still disagree as to this point: Not because you can't cite reasonable claims as to why the class divide is so much more important than the racial divide, but precisely because you can and an anti-racist can cite reasons why race and culture is so vital and feminists can cite reasons why gender is so vital and anarchists can cite reasons why the state is so vital. Comparing the magnitude of oppressions begins to boil down to sheer mendacity over time, and I wonder why the Left continues to insist on doing it. Simply note that all are quite serious problems and battle them in conjunction, since they are all interlinking.

"Yes we do agree on that, and yes thats a problem. When we look at the research on reactions to faces, of taxi drivers, searches, etc there is a pattern. Between stimulus and response there is an almost pavlovian-like differential in reaction. You might say it "changes the complexion" of the situation, to borrow a now infamous phrase. But lets recall that its not just whites who do this, and white "privilege" is not whats causing it. Thats not whats in operation here. You have to ask "why did the Taxi driver do that?" What was going on in their mind in the split seconds when s/he saw the arms go up and decided to bypass one and take the other. That often quick, on the spot calculus, that says search/dont search, drive by/stop, Pull back/reach out. That something thats being touched upon in an array of studies is at the heart of the matter here, I think."

Precisely, which is why I think so many of the multi-cultural "cultural sensitivity classes" or what not are so quixotic and silly. Teaching the beauty of many cultures and cultural respect only helps to get at conscious views, even if they are suppressed ones. We also need tools to stop our subconscious labeling and behavior.

"The idea that whites as a whole or as a society as a whole is better off thanks to child labor, or slavery or segregation or covert, even subliminal biased differentials in treatment is absurd. Its ultimately a net negative and loss even putting aside any moral considerations. I am as interested as anyone in getting at the inner workings of how humans (not just whites) collapse the immense amount of data of our world into the manageable inventory of types, categories and groupings we use to navigate the world, and how this process lends itself to stereo-types and oversimplified catergorties, etc. ALso of how our adaptive mental calculus acts on the good and bad information we have to make decisions. Lots their to grasp. I just do not see how talking about "privilege" in this context (in addition to its otehr problems noted elsewhere) explains or clarifies anything about these issues. It certainly serves to purpose to single out whites for what other humans do also."

Other humans besides CEOs and capitalists seek to amass wealth. Other humans besides George W. Bush seek war and destruction, or violent alternatives to their problems. In no other context would you say this is remotely relevant. Singling out whites, in our society, as the dominant racial group is essential to recognize the actual facts of the situation, and is just as appropriate as singling out capitalists, or Senators, or Presidents.

In any respect, privilege doesn't have to do with the stereotyping, since everyone, even discriminated minorities, does so. It's about the institutional power that the stereotypes get connected to, which NOT everyone does.

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"I also wonder what,

"I also wonder what, precisely, police are doing so much differently in the cases of white folks to explain such a large discrepancy (where LESS searches yield MORE results)."

Fewer searches and higher positive results is a good thing Frederic. It tells you that the methods they are using for determining when to do a search are effective. You dont want a low hit rate. It means that their method for determining when to do a search is not very effective. Searches are invasive, and I dont want alot of them being done by the State, unless they have good reasons and good methods. Wasted time, resources and human-hours on wild goose chases is bad policing. Substantially increasing search rates among whites may only mean ever decreasing effectiveness.

As for what they are doing differently, I suspect its related to what we see among a wide range of studies including reactions to faces, taxi drivers, etc. Just a somehwat greater general sense of unease, suspicion or fear. There could be cultural factors too. If black drivers react differently during questioning during a stop in such a way (seem more agitated, something about their body language or tone of voice, etc) that seems to communicate something that whan observed in white drivers could be indications of hiding something or being up to something. But the fear could be just a concern about police even though they arent actually carrying anything they shouldnt be.

In any case, I think this is ultimately a cousin of what all the other studies are touching upon.

"The drug abuse data certainly indicates that: Were we to imprison/prosecute/search for drugs proportional to the population's actual use rates, whites would be caught in the net more often than their population would indicate by random chance."

Actual usage rates for 12 and over by race dont actually show that much difference, as Tim indicated. According to the 2007 NSDUH report, past month illicit drug use for 12 and over by race was:

2007:

Black: 9.5
White: 8.2
Hispanic: 6.6

2006:

Black: 9.8
White: 8.5
Hispanic: 6.9

"You looked at one data set. Here's another."

Frederic I realize that the child molestation claims about whites are probably among the all-time favorite old chestnuts for people such as yourself. I can only imagine how many times you've used these claims in conversation or on blogs and message boards over the years. Frederic, its pure bunk. The authors you quoted simply repeated this same old urban legend, there was no data set offered. If you think you can offer any actual sourced data to the contrary on this point, by all means do so. Incidentally, there is also no empirical foundation for the claim that whites are disproportionately more likely to be serial killers.

"Why is that nonsense?"

That should have been transparently obvious.

"But there's a big leap between finding a body and finding the murderer."

True, but the question doesnt affect actual murder, rape or armed robbery RATES. It might affect the rate at which the cases are solved and closed, but not the commission rate. If you do think the rate at which they are solved is unusually low in white communities, I would love to see any data on the subject.

Drug use is different, since the users/possessors are not "victims" legally, but are themselves offenders and thus have no interest in being found, or reporting it to anyone. How many are going to report a dealer who is feeding their own habit? So certainly drugs are affected by resources allocated to searching for them, since they dont want to be found.

Drugs are a complex issue because of associated gang and gun violence, differentials in drug type to sentencing, cultural notions and perceptions about prevalence and associated violence with certain categories of drugs, and the allocation of resources that follows from all that. An aregument that you will run into is "well we dont police the suites like we do the streets because there arent as many drive-bys in the suites". That image of street violence and black gangs is very pervasive. As we have seen elsewhere there is an image/reality issue in perceptions accross many issues, and here again I think its at work.

Of course, the ideal rate of drug arrest for possession IMO is zero for any race. There is no "privileged" number for being criminalized for a health issue.

The white collar and corporate crime area I think we agree largely. I would say that humans as a whole fear murder, rape, physical assault, armed robbery etc in a much more visceral way than they fear mail fraud, or their pensions being raided or embezzled. I think for understandable reasons. Thats a part of it. But of course, you have the fact that no elite groups of any race or in any century or nation or culture ever want strong controls, oversight and crackdowns involving their own activities. The colossal sums on lobbying and contributions is part of this. That aspect is class, and not so much race.

The rate obviously matters since if groups do this in proportion to their numbers of those in postions where they would have the opportunity, than its pointless to talk about this being a "white" crime.

"If you see a white-collar crime, as a cop, you don't ask, "Well, might it be a black guy were this some hypothetical universe where black men and women were frequently in positions to embezzle and scam?"

That blacks may be less likely to be in a postion wouldnt change how any one case of it is ever investigated. If a particular instance included black employees that were in a postion to access accounts and embezzle the money, they would and should be investigated along with all others that did. No actual case would ever involve a cop having to wonder about "hypothetical universes".

"I frankly don't get your point, nor your position. Do you think the criminal justice system is not racist? That there is no racial bias in it? I challenge you to make that point in light of even a fraction of the evidence."

I know you dont appreciate having some of your most treasured false-fact urban legends go down in flames. No doubt you have repeated them many many times. But If there is anything that should be clear by now, its that I certainly do not, and have not ever disputed the existence of inequalities and biases.

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Moot

"Fewer searches and higher positive results is a good thing Frederic. It tells you that the methods they are using for determining when to do a search are effective. You dont want a low hit rate. It means that their method for determining when to do a search is not very effective. Searches are invasive, and I dont want alot of them being done by the State, unless they have good reasons and good methods. Wasted time, resources and human-hours on wild goose chases is bad policing. Substantially increasing search rates among whites may only mean ever decreasing effectiveness."

Actually, it might not be.

Let's take a crowd of 200 people, all of whom are smoking weed. I pull one guy aside, find he's smoking weed, I bust him. 1 guy pulled over, 100% success rate! Perfect, right?

Wrong. In this instance, I'd need to go after all 200 people. So in fact whether or not less searches is good is dependent on the amount of criminality, as well as numerous other factors.

Even with the increased rate of contraband discovery among those whites pulled over, the fact remains that tens of thousands of black folks are sent to jail yearly above and beyond their representation among drug users, while conversely tens of thousands of whites aren't. In that area alone, police would need to be going far more aggressively after whites JUST to correct that imbalance.

"As for what they are doing differently, I suspect its related to what we see among a wide range of studies including reactions to faces, taxi drivers, etc. Just a somehwat greater general sense of unease, suspicion or fear. There could be cultural factors too. If black drivers react differently during questioning during a stop in such a way (seem more agitated, something about their body language or tone of voice, etc) that seems to communicate something that whan observed in white drivers could be indications of hiding something or being up to something. But the fear could be just a concern about police even though they arent actually carrying anything they shouldnt be.

In any case, I think this is ultimately a cousin of what all the other studies are touching upon."

Sure, could be. There's almost no evidence to suggest it and a lot of criminologists disagree with you, but you may be correct, the under-searching may be what is ideal and then there's only an overstop problem, not an understop problem.

What's clear is that a) the best hypothesis at the moment is that whites are being understopped and b) CERTAINLY blacks are being overstopped.

"

Actual usage rates for 12 and over by race dont actually show that much difference, as Tim indicated. According to the 2007 NSDUH report, past month illicit drug use for 12 and over by race was:

2007:

Black: 9.5
White: 8.2
Hispanic: 6.6

2006:

Black: 9.8
White: 8.5
Hispanic: 6.9"

Again, you're cherry-picking your data sources. Here's an alternative view: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00.n771.a03.html

 

The report, to be released today, said that African Americans accounted for 62 percent of the drug offenders sent to state prisons nationwide in 1996, the most recent year for which statistics are available, although they represent just 12 percent of the U.S.  population.  Overall, black men are sent to state prisons on drug charges at 13 times the rate of white men, according to the study, which analyzes a wide range of Justice Department information for 37 states to come up with its findings.

These disparities exist even though data gathered by the Department of Health and Human Services show that in 1991, 1992 and 1993, about five times as many whites had used cocaine than blacks, the report said.  The report added that drug transactions among blacks often are easier for police to target because they more often occur in public than do drug transactions among whites. 

One can go down the line, and I notice you didn't even TRY to argue against the binge drinking and drinking-and-driving disproportions among the white community. There are dozens of studies and analyses that indicate that.

What is clear is that whites use either more, comparable amounts or SLIGHTLY less while blacks are arrested at COLOSSALLY higher rates. Remember that blacks and Latina/os are now 2/3 of people in jail, as opposed to 40-50 years ago when they were 1/3 of people in jail, despite their proportion of crime not changing anywhere NEAR that drastically, if at all, during that time period. Drug over-arrests are a massive part of that.

"

True, but the question doesnt affect actual murder, rape or armed robbery RATES. It might affect the rate at which the cases are solved and closed, but not the commission rate. If you do think the rate at which they are solved is unusually low in white communities, I would love to see any data on the subject.

Drug use is different, since the users/possessors are not "victims" legally, but are themselves offenders and thus have no interest in being found, or reporting it to anyone. How many are going to report a dealer who is feeding their own habit? So certainly drugs are affected by resources allocated to searching for them, since they dont want to be found.

Drugs are a complex issue because of associated gang and gun violence, differentials in drug type to sentencing, cultural notions and perceptions about prevalence and associated violence with certain categories of drugs, and the allocation of resources that follows from all that. An aregument that you will run into is "well we dont police the suites like we do the streets because there arent as many drive-bys in the suites". That image of street violence and black gangs is very pervasive. As we have seen elsewhere there is an image/reality issue in perceptions accross many issues, and here again I think its at work."

Why wouldn't it? Certainly, if I suspect that the crime I'm committing is less likely to be closed because cops are spending time busting black non-violent drug offenders at huge disproportions and black teens at huge disproportions, I may be more likely to consider approaching it. It's about as reasonable a hypothesis as your claim that whites aren't being understopped.

Yes, drugs are massively complex, as are all social phenomena. But even the complexities highlight the fundamental racism, classism and imperialism at work. The vast majority of DEA expenditures are for prison sentences and "source country" control like in Columbia, despite the fact that there's no poppy fields in Harlem, no coke fields in South Central LA, and that the majority of the Columbian drugs come from our allied landowners, not to mention that the agriculture of drugs is directly connected to a lack of crop stabilization programs that BOTH side in Columbia are demanding!

But what no one can seriously argue, whether we look at crack versus cocaine sentencing or anything else, is that the criminal justice system nor the drug war is achieving serious results or is giving blacks and Latina/os a fair shake.

"That blacks may be less likely to be in a postion wouldnt change how any one case of it is ever investigated. If a particular instance included black employees that were in a postion to access accounts and embezzle the money, they would and should be investigated along with all others that did. No actual case would ever involve a cop having to wonder about "hypothetical universes"."

Absolutely. But that's moot to my point that, in the real world, white-collar crime is a white crime that is not pursued with sufficient aggression despite its massive impact on people's lives, while non-violent black drug offenses are. It's a very simple and very illustrative comparison.

 

 

"I know you dont appreciate having some of your most treasured false-fact urban legends go down in flames. No doubt you have repeated them many many times. But If there is anything that should be clear by now, its that I certainly do not, and have not ever disputed the existence of inequalities and biases."

That's not what I asked, and this is evasive and abusive. Do you deny or affirm that the criminal justice system is racist, yes or no? It's a fairly simple question, and simply saying that inequalities and biases exist is a copout since it's trivial and doesn't tell us what they are.

Nothing you've said has made anything go up in flames. You have at best made some minor corrections, and in turn have been corrected over and over again...

 

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blowing in the wind

"A lot more of the black middle-class is in an economically precarious position than their incomes would indicate. "

Those who do not save set themselves up for trouble. Almost everyone in this country can choose to save 10% of their income, few do. The disparity between races here is due to individual choice. Do we really want the government to enforce saving? (Well, other than Social Security :) )

"The fact that there is ANY comparability between a family making $80,000 a year and a family making $35,000 a year is the issue. It indicates the real depth of racial caste structure"

Or much more likely, the family making $80K does not know how to manage their finances (first, save for a 6 month emergency!)! As for forced segregation, it seems to now be a matter of individual choice. Folks round here can live anywhere they please, but this does not lead to strongly diversified neighbourhoods.

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Can You Say ANYTHING Relevant?

"Those who do not save set themselves up for trouble. Almost everyone in this country can choose to save 10% of their income, few do. The disparity between races here is due to individual choice. Do we really want the government to enforce saving? (Well, other than Social Security :) )"

Which is completely moot to my point and indicates that you're being contrarian just to deny racism.

If both blacks and whites save 1% of their annual income, that might be equally stupid. (And, in fact, according to many vectors blacks are as financially responsible or MORE so than whites).

But if white folks have sometimes orders of magnitude higher net worths than comparable blacks within their economic strata, that stupidity hurts them less.

Which means we have a racist impact thanks to a non-racist economic structure combined with past racism misallocating wealth.

Further, some folks' stupidity just gets tolerated less. So numerous paired studies have shown that black folks applying for loans have their excuses ignored more often, are denied loans more often or were/are directed towards sub-prime loans even when they qualify for regular loans (part of the reason why the sub-prime loan market got out of control: pure racist predation, nothing more, with the government protecting the white folks as always), than comparable whites with identical creditworthiness in dozens of categories.

Nor is what you said relevant. Even if I save 20% of my $80,000 a year income (even before taxes), I'm only saving $16,000 a year. $16,000 can be obliterated mighty quickly in the case of a family emergency. Further, since for whites a huge part of that intergenerational wealth is in HOME OWNERSHIP, whites still have the advantage of having superior collateral that grows and matures over time, which may or may not be true of saved income by blacks.

It's estimated that the Federal Housing Assistance loans ALONE generated 1 trillion dollars of equity for the white middle-class while racial covenants and other means systematically denied that wealth to black America. A trillion dollars is simply a staggering amount:

“…[T]he baby boomer generation of whites is currently in the process of inheriting between $7-10 trillion in assets from their parents and grandparents, property handed down by those who were able to accumulate assets at a time when people of color couldn’t. To place the enormity of this intergenerational wealth transfer in perspective, consider that this is an amount greater than all the outstanding mortgage debt, all the credit card debt, all the savings account assets, all the money in IRAs and 401(k) retirement plans, all the annual profits for U.S. manufacturers, and our entire merchandise trade deficit combined.”

http://amerikanbeat.net/2009/01/17/tim-wise-on-obama%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9C...

The whole original discussion, of course, was brought up because I argued that the black middle-class finds it very difficult to get any attention for the problems they face: Discrimination, segregation, being trapped into poor neighborhoods, health problems... Your very denialism here proves my argument quite astonishingly.

"Or much more likely, the family making $80K does not know how to manage their finances (first, save for a 6 month emergency!)! As for forced segregation, it seems to now be a matter of individual choice. Folks round here can live anywhere they please, but this does not lead to strongly diversified neighbourhoods."

Not only is this mendacious idiocy, but it is kneejerk racist mendacious idiocy.

For your first claim:

Next, Young insists that blacks fail to save money the way whites do, the implication being that this, and not racism and unequal access to capital, explains the wealth gap between whites and African Americans. As with her previous inaccuracies, however, she once again mangles the data. Young cites the 2003 Black Investor Survey from Ariel Mutual Funds and Charles Schwab, to suggest that black households with comparable upper-middle class income to whites save nearly twenty percent less than whites for retirement. Furthermore, blacks are far less likely to invest in the stock market, thereby hindering their own ability to develop wealth. Yet a look at the Ariel/Schwab data -- which itself is limited to 500 individuals from each racial group with upper-level incomes -- indicates a far different set of conclusions than those reached by Young. For example, according to the report in question, while whites are more likely to have an IRA, there is little difference between blacks and whites in terms of whether or not they have other types of retirement plans, and overall, while 89 percent of whites have money in a retirement program, so do 85 percent of blacks.

As for the amounts of money being saved among this upper-income group, although whites indeed save more, on average, the difference is not -- according to the report itself -- statistically significant. Indeed, whites are a third more likely than blacks to be saving nothing for retirement at this time, and roughly two thirds of both groups are saving at least $100 or more monthly for retirement. As for investments, while there are small differences between upper income blacks and whites, the methodology of the Schwab study makes it clear that those differences in monthly investments and savings are, once again, not statistically significant: amounting, as they do to less than $60 per month.

This kind of "behavioral" gap hardly explains the fact that upper income white households, on average, have about three times the net worth of upper income black households. Instead, that is the residual effect of generations of racism that restricted the ability of people of color to accumulate assets, while whites were allowed, encouraged, and even subsidized to do the same.

Further, Tim's article notes that in fact blacks spend LESS than whites on many frivolous products, such as alcohol. http://www.lipmagazine.org/~timwise/workingfortheman.html

At least your first claim has SOME contemporary support and isn't trivially easy to falsify. Google up "red-lining" for just one piece of the picture as to why you are apparently criminally uneducated as to the real forces of segregation in this country.

Nor do you even bother to address why white folks move out en masse if blacks ever begin to approximate their numerical representation in the country in a neighborhood. This one's called "white flight", and again about ten minutes of Google searching would suffice to demonstrate that what you just said was infantile.

But, again, the interesting part is that you focus on what the black family should do: They should save more! You never wonder why the white family, clearly of less worth in the market, gets to have that wealth. Nor do you ask what the white family's responsibility may be. You just want to pass the buck away from white folks onto blacks. A very predictable, and age-old, script.

 

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"I'm glad to see that our

"I'm glad to see that our discussions have boiled down to a semantic concept. If you find a word that is better than "white privilege" (while still capturing the magnitude - so a lot of the reason I like the phrase is because it is polemically sound and gets people's attention), again, I invite you to introduce it. As leftists, we're all in this together in terms of presenting the ideas, working on them, etc."

Whites as a whole arent privileged. That would be the main reason for not using it. Unlike the rich, they are not as a whole overpaid, or too much say in shaping legislation or in the media. They do not, as a group form a ruling class. Meanwhile, even larger divides exist between US blacks and billions of other humans. The magnitude of that divide renders them "privileged" too apparently . Indeed, most of the entire human race is "privileged" since all you have to do find one group of people anywhere on Earth who have it even worse, and thus you are "privileged" simply by the comaprison, no matter how terribly you yourself may be doing. I couldnt imagine a more useless concept.

It clarifies nothing, explains nothing, and leads no answers and no solutions. The problem with the global range of outcomes is not that US blacks have it too good, or that they are too "privleged". Like most whites, most US blacks are in no sense meaningfully "privileged". Having more than other does not mean you have too much simply because its more.

"Racial Inequality", meanwhile is a perfectly good term.

"Of course, we still disagree as to this point: Not because you can't cite reasonable claims as to why the class divide is so much more important than the racial divide, but precisely because you can and an anti-racist can cite reasons why race and culture is so vital and feminists can cite reasons why gender is so vital and anarchists can cite reasons why the state is so vital. Comparing the magnitude of oppressions begins to boil down to sheer mendacity over time, and I wonder why the Left continues to insist on doing it. Simply note that all are quite serious problems and battle them in conjunction, since they are all interlinking."

They are all serious manifestations of what I think are many of the same problems. But speaking about the scale of divides was another matter. Some are far larger than others. As for which is more defining, there can be different views, but this I think was covered already in prior posts.

"We also need tools to stop our subconscious labeling and behavior."

Yes, but we may be up against a brain and nervous system that evoloved over millions of years as a handy threat assessment/navigation system that reads, reacts, collapses data into manageable categories, creates short hand recipes for how to handle situations, and much else besides, etc. ALot of which lends itself, by its nature to simplifications and quick situational calculations of likely threat to best course. Improve its accuracy, yes but we may need to have realistic expectations of whats attainable.

"Other humans besides CEOs and capitalists seek to amass wealth. Other humans besides George W. Bush seek war and destruction, or violent alternatives to their problems. In no other context would you say this is remotely relevant. Singling out whites, in our society, as the dominant racial group is essential to recognize the actual facts of the situation, and is just as appropriate as singling out capitalists, or Senators, or Presidents."

First, Whites as a whole are not remotely comparable to capitalists, senators or Presidents. Whites as a whole are not a ruling class.Any attempt to create a bogus sense of equivalence here only obscures the issues.

Second, any attempt to deal with exploitation, war and violence cannot be directed at just one group. You might overthrow the Tsar and get Stalin. Then you will learn that it IS relevant. Its not one race, or just one regime or one group.Something alot more fundamental and human is the heart of the matter. Nothing could be more relevant. YOu can go from society to society, region by region, race by race over centuries and millenia. Khans, Caesars, Emperors, caste systems, slavery, ruling elites, exploitation, male domination. In one place and one time the rulers have this or that skin color, this or that religion. But no attempt to deal with this can focus on just them.

We overthrow the Capitalists, and we could get some monstrous tyranny from a new source, a new elite class. This isnt about "whites" or their non-existant "privilege".

"In any respect, privilege doesn't have to do with the stereotyping, since everyone, even discriminated minorities, does so. It's about the institutional power that the stereotypes get connected to, which NOT everyone does."

People act within whatever sphere they can. The immense majority of people of all races do not actually have all that much power or influence, institutional or otherwise. But at whatever level they can and do operate how they act is whats crucial. On what basis, for what reasons, and how can we address and improve.

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A Horrible Theoretical Lens

"Whites as a whole arent privileged. That would be the main reason for not using it. Unlike the rich, they are not as a whole overpaid, or too much say in shaping legislation or in the media. They do not, as a group form a ruling class. Meanwhile, even larger divides exist between US blacks and billions of other humans. The magnitude of that divide renders them "privileged" too apparently . Indeed, most of the entire human race is "privileged" since all you have to do find one group of people anywhere on Earth who have it even worse, and thus you are "privileged" simply by the comaprison, no matter how terribly you yourself may be doing. I couldnt imagine a more useless concept."

Again, you're presuming the vectors you're measuring. You're begging the question.

The rich include black rich and middle-class people who face health outcomes that are worse than their class would suggest, that may be pulled over by the cops or harassed in jewelry stores MORE than me, that get more media attention than I do, that do not get the privilege of being viewed as belonging to a white nation.

Further, the rich as a class AREN'T privileged, even by your maddeningly narrow-minded standards. How about someone who is rich and malnourished, if only due to an eating disorder? Or who is rich and handicapped? Rich and being abused by a spouse? Rich and suffering from cancer? Rich and reviled?

And, again, you're simply wrong. Black males in Harlem have around the same mortality rate as people in Bangladesh. As Chomsky put it,

"It’s hard to say "comparable." But conditions which are about as horrifying. Remember, how bad conditions are depends on what else is around. You could be a very happy Stone Age person and not have a computer or a television set. No doubt the people in the favelas live better than in the Stone Age, although probably not by nutritional or health measures. Even if you look at things like effects on health or life expectancy, the relative position that people have in a society plays a big role. So if you’re much poorer than other people, that harms your health. But I’d say that there are parts of New York or Boston which are not unlike what you find in the Third World. Black males in Harlem, it was discovered a couple of years ago, have roughly the mortality rate of Bangladesh"

The amazing thing about this argument, and possibly THE clinching reason to retain white privilege as a concept and for you to get a refresher course in the topic, is that you actually engaging in DENIAL and apologetics for the depth of the American class structure! Millions in this country starve, are malnourished, or otherwise face severe problems in getting access to food. There are even parts of the Third World where that is not the case. America is a lot more like a Third World nation than you think, and race is a vitally determinative factor for whether you're at the miserable, Third World-esque bottom or face bad economic conditions but not totally deplorable ones.

But none of the above need be true and you'd STILL be making an irrelevant argument.

No one (aside from trivial exceptions, even more trivial than those disadvantaged by being rich) who is white IS DISADVANTAGED BY BEING WHITE.

The class of "white" is a class of privilege, the class of "black" a class of disadvantage, which remains true EVEN when class, gender, sexual orientation, and dozens of other variables remain constant.

The MAGNITUDE of this benefit or disadvantage is surely up for debate. But its existence is not. And, unfortunately, to many whites, denying the magnitude of white privilege is interpreted, no matter your intent, as denying its existence. Further, as we've already seen, your theoretical blinders on the matter lead you to systemic and totally predictable errors even in the topic you purport to focus on, class!

""Racial Inequality", meanwhile is a perfectly good term."

Okay, then what is your term for the unique advantage whites have? The problem with "racial inequality" is that it is totally generic, brings feelings of complacency up among many, and fails to identify the agents for whom the inequality is positive and for whom it is negative.

"First, Whites as a whole are not remotely comparable to capitalists, senators or Presidents. Whites as a whole are not a ruling class.Any attempt to create a bogus sense of equivalence here only obscures the issues."

They aren't?

As a class, they receive unique benefits that others outside of it don't, just like Senators and rich people.

This remains true even when they happen to be very nice people, or be handicapped, or be gay.

Further, this insight extends to gender. Men are empowered and women disempowered.

I'd say that, if anything, the men example is WEAKER than the woman example, yet it is quite serious (the second shift and the glass ceiling, just to name two systemic inequalities).

So you're now getting to the point of denying not just race, but gender. Then the left wonders why people don't like to join their anti-capitalist-ONLY revolution, while they still struggle with being treated like human beings.

"We overthrow the Capitalists, and we could get some monstrous tyranny from a new source, a new elite class. This isnt about "whites" or their non-existant "privilege"."

So why couldn't a change in racial composition alter the racial caste structure? It's happened, after all. Asians used to be miserably low in the caste structure; now they're in a far more complex position. And many countries have what Amy Chua calls "market-dominant minorities", ethnic MINORITIES with disproportionate power. It's hypothetically possible to imagine a black-dominated America, or a woman-dominated America. That certainly satisfies your criterion, and also satisfies the general idea of a "class" being a group of people who could exert dominant power. The fact that that dominant power is more broadly diffused is totally moot.

"They are all serious manifestations of what I think are many of the same problems. But speaking about the scale of divides was another matter. Some are far larger than others. As for which is more defining, there can be different views, but this I think was covered already in prior posts."

But they're simply not. Their institutional structure is not the same. How much they've declined or gained in relative and absolute power is not the same. Where they flow from, whom they benefit, how they operate, whether they have "solid" institutional forms like corporations or are more "weakly" cultural and value-oriented... Racism, sexism, statism and capitalism are alike only in that they're oppressive. That's it, that's all. Otherwise, they are radically different, and have radically different composite logics. Capitalists can wave the flag of feminists to justify their wars in the Middle East. The feminist movement emerged from struggles against other injustices that replicated sexist norms. And so on. It's trivial to say that they're all oppressive, and not at all helpful for guiding activism or tactics against them.

Take your own example. It's imaginable to "overthrow" the capitalists. They have distinct institutional roles, distinct access to means of production, etc. Overcoming racism and white privilege obviously takes rather different tactics: You don't "overthrow" white people. You seem to think that the latter means that it's not a meaningful category. Well, Dr. King, SNCC, the Freedom Riders, Malcolm, and the Black Panthers would certainly disagree, since their struggles against both de facto and de jure racism and segregation were quite real and led to quite real deaths.

"People act within whatever sphere they can. The immense majority of people of all races do not actually have all that much power or influence, institutional or otherwise. But at whatever level they can and do operate how they act is whats crucial. On what basis, for what reasons, and how can we address and improve."

Okay, and one thing whites can address and improve is what advantages they get that, while it might REPLICATE some advantage they deserve, IS not that advantage because it stems from hierarchy.

If I mug a guy and get $100, that's theft. If I get a $100 dollar raise, that's okay. That's true whether or not I make $10,000 or $100,000 a year. Similarly, while white privilege may bring some poor whites closer to some arbitrary living standard, it DIDN"T do so by depriving the rich of something but rather by depriving the poorer and blacker of something. We could see a lot of people get out of poverty if they just stole the possessions of everyone poorer than them, but that'd be a horrible tactic.

Without identifying that privilege, though, that is precisely what is very likely to happen. Look at the history of unions in this country. Many, even quite radical ones, were totally willing to step over black, brown and Asian folks in order to improve their living conditions.

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amusing

FC - Well you leave no doubt as that your views are strongly held and entrenched. I am confident that the marketplace of ideas will sort out the "white privilege" issue with little trouble. Nonetheless i find it fascinating to see the convolutions one must take to support some extreme points of view (i also enjoy religious conservative web sites for similar reasons - the far left and the far right are much closer than both would admit).

-

Hmmm, i wonder if the issue of *reparations* have come up lately? :)

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Okay...

The funny thing is that you can't explain why these convolutions are so obviously illogical or silly. Maybe it's a matter of lack of inclination, but others have HAD the inclination and have yet to pose serious arguments. This ISN'T because I'm religious about everything I believe. As a younger man, I thought of racism as largely a combination of individual noise-level prejudice, past racism and the color-blind operation of economic systems. Tim's work as well as Paul Street, Bruce Haynes, and sociologists in general convinced me, compellingly, that that model leaves out widespread institutional racism that goes above and beyond class and has real emanations that are modern and ongoing.

Reparations HAVE come up on this blog many times, and from Tim's quarter not to mention others at Z/LiP/Alternet/Counterpunch/The Nation. I am in support of them, but I'm not in support of a "$300 check for black folks" approach. It doesn't make any sense, it DOES end up having the effect of taxing people for things their ancestors did, and it ends up being racist anyways because it imposes a solution onto the black community on a "one-size-fits-all" approach. What most advocates of reparations want is some kind of large stimulus program that can be used autonomously by black COMMUNITIES (so they can sort out who deserves what amount, for example) and that could be invested into large-scale public improvement rather than immediately go back into white businesses making a low-level consumer spending burst. (Not to mention that $300 in the hands of every black man, woman and child would be - doing quick arithmetic - around $11,700,000,000, which is peanuts compared to the real gap.) The only difference from this and a welfare program would be the STATE taking responsibility for Jim Crow, segregation, racism and slavery.

I also love this argument that the far left and the far right are more alike because they're, what, religious in their views? So you guys in the middle are, what, religiously "moderate"? How is that any better? Further, why does "moderate" exclude the majority of the American public (who are generally far to the left of even Obama, if you look at poll data) not to mention mean that the sensible "moderates" advocate killing millions of Iraqis? It's silly, abusive garbage that would be below comment were it not so commonly stated as wisdom. There is the argument that Communism and fascism are very much alike, but that's because there's more vectors in politics than just what we idiotically call "left" and "right". Someone who wants to roll the clock back to tribal eras with bio-regions and someone who wants to roll the clock back to the 1950s may share the desire to roll the clock back, but their positive visions are totally opposed and radically different.

The authentic "left" opposes war, opposes racism, opposes sexism, wants to see alternatives to capitalism and statism, believes that humans are a real threat to the ecology and want to moderate that with an array of alternatives ranging from fairly conseravtive to radical, etc. The far right opposes every one of those goals. That's not "much closer", that's diametrically opposed...

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left right back forth

"So you guys in the middle are, what, religiously "moderate"? "

One of my Muslim friends opined when i told him i was agnostic - rather than committed to either a particular religion or even atheism - that i was "ignorant and confused". That is, i did not take a definitive stand at all. I thought it was a perfectly fair assessment and thanked him for his opinion. While i would not claim it is "better" than the alternative, it is my path nonetheless.

While everyone i know is against racism (for instance), the way to address it varies strongly across the political spectrum. Some, including myself, feel that your preferred approach is counterproductive however well meaning. A perfect example of this is how you feel someone in Gates position "should" behave - and how that is strongly dependent on race (as you opined in another thread). I would, of course, advocate everyone - regardless of race/color behave civilly under those circumstances. For both practical (not getting arrested) and intangible (making the world a better place in general) reasons.

Perhaps i am naive, perhaps you are enabling the thing you are trying to fix. In my world view there is much room for people to disagree honorably and still be thoughtful and good people. Perhaps in yours as well.

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Reasonable People...

"One of my Muslim friends opined when i told him i was agnostic - rather than committed to either a particular religion or even atheism - that i was "ignorant and confused". That is, i did not take a definitive stand at all. I thought it was a perfectly fair assessment and thanked him for his opinion. While i would not claim it is "better" than the alternative, it is my path nonetheless."

Okay, fair enough, but agnosticism is a position of not knowing. In politics, there's really no such thing: Your only option is to be apolitical. Doesn't really translate to the same thing. Agnosticism is a reasonable alternative given the epistemological limits of knowing God. But in politics, being apolitical isn't a choice made by looking at a lack of evidence, because there is no lack of evidence. It's a choice of INTEREST, not epistemology.

"While everyone i know is against racism (for instance), the way to address it varies strongly across the political spectrum. Some, including myself, feel that your preferred approach is counterproductive however well meaning."

Then actually make that argument.

Incidentally, how meaningful is it to be "against" racism? First of all, if one makes racist arguments, then one's anti-racist position is hypocrisy or deception. A lot of the right explicitly makes arguments that are founded in racist assumptions about blacks. It's not even subtle: They went out and bought the Bell Curve while simultaneously arguing that the issue WASN'T genetics but was culture!

A majority of whites argued that there was no lesson to be learned about race from Katrina, none at all, while a majority of blacks argued that there was. What this means is that, for whites, the fact that there is even a DIFFERENCE OF OPINION on the matter, which was clear, says nothing about race. That position is one that begins with the assumption that black folks' opinions don't matter. Now, I am 99.9% sure that the vast majority of those whites answering in that manner would not consciously say that. But we can infer a lot about the general value system and worldview from that poll.

Second: Everyone's "against racism" (except for neo-Nazis and KKK members, and people who lionize Hitler, people like David Duke who nearly won an election) just like everyone's "for peace". Some people are "against racism" as a very high priority, central to their objectives. Others are against it on their terms, assuming nothing even mildly obnoxious gets in their way.

Third: Being against racism is meaningless when you don't understand, as do a lot of whites in this country, the circumstances of the racial taxonomy. Germans in the 30s and 40s were "against racism" in the sense that they were against what the shadow cabal of Jews were doing to their country. So a majority of whites hold an array of fairly racist views, even though only 5% or so espouses actual biological or genetic racism. (And even the 5% figure we can't take all that seriously since the success of the Bell Curve wasn't just among neo-Nazis and reprobates). Sub-consciously, as we've discussed, we have prejudicial attitudes, but many whites don't seem especially interested in working on or even not excusing those prejudicial attitudes. And quite a lot of whites either don't know about or reject the idea of white privilege or white advantage (not from Michael Edno's left concerns about class but actually denying that whites are advantaged AT ALL).

If we can't admit who is racist and what institutions benefit whom, then being "against racism" is fairly empty. It's like being against murder, or against hypocrisy. I find the protestations that people have of "not being racist" or wanting to end racism to be cop-outs. If you really mean that, then DO it.

". A perfect example of this is how you feel someone in Gates position "should" behave - and how that is strongly dependent on race (as you opined in another thread). I would, of course, advocate everyone - regardless of race/color behave civilly under tose circumstances. For both practical (not getting arrested) and intangible (making the world a better place in general) reasons."

But that's not even my point. Actually, Gates SHOULD, ideally, have behaved politely, if stridently asserting his rights. Getting angry and doing the "dozens" was the worst of both worlds. But I can UNDERSTAND his motivation.

What's clear is that his anger, fear and humiliation stemmed not just from his individual personality but from structural racism. And whatever was going through Crowley's mind, he ended up making a racist decision in terms of its impact. That's what we on the Left are trying to get across: There's something rotten in Denmark, and it was around before Gates and Crowley argued.

"Perhaps i am naive, perhaps you are enabling the thing you are trying to fix. In my world view there is much room for people to disagree honorably and still be thoughtful and good people. Perhaps in yours as well."

Well, honorable and decent don't figure into it. Even a neo-Nazi who gets along with his neighbors and donates to charity may be "honorable" on some level. I think the vast majority of people are, under ordinary circumstances, quite decent.

For race, though, honorable and decent are clearly not enough. The institutional pressures are so clearly in favor of advancing white privilege and anti-black racism that everyone can behave fairly "decently" and without actually rocking the institutional boat we will still see horrible outcomes.

To reasonably approach the problem of race, people at least need to concur that:

1) Systemic racism is real
2) It systemically benefits whites and harms people of color
3) Elements, to whatever proportion, of how this operates are color-blind government initiatives and market forces, subconscious racist prejudice, conscious racist prejudice, specifically racist (whether by intent or by unwitting design) institutional programs and outcomes, and the corrosive effect of past racism
4) This privilege is unfair (even if we might find that later class adjustments totally eclipse the loss of the race privilege, as Michael would argue and as I would actually concur), as is the racism, and both need to be opposed for a just society

Now, with these four principles in place, there's plenty of room for disagreement. Maybe a lot of it is just misunderstanding and hate, and it needs to be rectified on a micro-sociological level through cultural diversity classes and multi-cultural movements. Maybe the market, with some reasonable adjustments and regulation (or even without), will eventually handle the issue, and that is sufficient. (Note that even people like Nozick would agree that, after you have an imbalanced market thanks to massive non-market and state interference, you need to get the market adjusted in order for it to do its magic). Maybe we just need fairly basic policy overhauls and regulation, or maybe we're looking at something more systemic. Maybe the past racism is moot, or it might be wrong to punish people of today for actions taken when they weren't alive. And so forth.

Reasonable people can disagree on hundreds of issues, and do, under the above parameters. But I can see no world where you can get any real progress by denying any of them.

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peace == non-violence != war

"Okay, fair enough, but agnosticism is a position of not knowing. In politics, there's really no such thing: "

Well, you may feel this way (Christians tell me that Jesus is clearly the answer, but i am slow), but i do not. Is the stimulus a good idea or a bad one? Should abortion be allowed or not? If so, what limits if any should be put upon it? Etc.

Just as i don't subscribe to the tenants of Christianity, i obviously do not subscribe to some of your beliefs. For instance, i think the way to end the vestiges of racism are by being non-racist. This means to NOT discriminate against any group - or give any group undeserved preferences - due to race (but i don't object to helping people based on class/need). The way to peace is non-violence, not war. . .

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Disagreement?

"Well, you may feel this way (Christians tell me that Jesus is clearly the answer, but i am slow), but i do not. Is the stimulus a good idea or a bad one? Should abortion be allowed or not? If so, what limits if any should be put upon it? Etc."

All are answers that can at least in THEORY be explored objectively: Through studies, using real-life examples or experiments, etc. Can't do that with God. They're transparently not the same. Not having an opinion in politics can't be supported compellingly with an appeal to epistemological or ontological argument. All you can argue is that it's not worth your time, which is fair enough, but a totally different argument.

"Just as i don't subscribe to the tenants of Christianity, i obviously do not subscribe to some of your beliefs. For instance, i think the way to end the vestiges of racism are by being non-racist. This means to NOT discriminate against any group - or give any group undeserved preferences - due to race (but i don't object to helping people based on class/need). The way to peace is non-violence, not war. . "

But you subscribe to SOME tenets. You have opinions, and defend them. Everyone pretends to be apolitical, reasonable, moderate and rational until you hit the right buttons. Then suddenly they have passionate opinions. More importantly, they SHOULD. This stuff matters. Just don't pretend that you're more reasonable by virtue of not having an opinion, or not having as strong an opinion.

Thank you for proposing that solution. "Just don't be racist!" Is affirmative action "undeserved preference"? Considering that with affirmative action we are precisely COUNTERING for OTHER peoples' undeserved preferences, thereby levelling the playing field (at least in theory: in practice, the playing field is still lopsided under most affirmative action schemes, just less so), it's fairly clearly not, or at least not the same as refusing to hire a black man. Saying, "I don't think this guy has had a fair shot due to his race, so I'll extend him more consideration all else being equal" may be wrong-headed, but it's NOT racist.

HOW do we stop being racist? Does racism mean just out-and-out prejudice? Or does racism also include, as blacks and sociologists tend to argue, when a racist impact occurs from apparently race-neutral policies?

And why is assistance based on class okay but race not? With if, presumably the argument is that you see some structural disadvantage they have that would color their experience that should be corrected. Race is, if anything, MORE OBVIOUSLY unjust than class structures, so adjusting for it explicitly after the fact would be MORE fair and just than class.

In short, the few proposals you offer, aside from being meaningless and therefore deeply unhelpful, don't seem to be very consistent or make a lot of sense. They also don't provide specific policy guidelines, or even hints of what might LEAD to specific policy guidelines...

It is obvious that racism is structurally generated by corporations and businesses, by government action, by banks, by the criminal justice system... That structural racism, I agree, should just "stop", but it's not that simple.

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"Further, the rich as a

"Further, the rich as a class AREN'T privileged, even by your maddeningly narrow-minded standards. How about someone who is rich and malnourished, if only due to an eating disorder? Or who is rich and handicapped? Rich and being abused by a spouse? Rich and suffering from cancer? Rich and reviled?"

Substitute "white" for "rich" in this statement and how does it read to you? You have in previous posts on other threads claimed that even white homeless people have their (non-existant) privilege if for no other reason that their plight will recieve greater sympathy or might have a better chance of getting out of it than someone who is black and homeless. "White and handicapped?"... you might say... "Black and handicapped is worse, so they are still privileged!"

But then you type something like you did above.

The rich, though being human and therefore subject to all human weaknesses, frailties, personal failings, inner demons and psychological and other problems, are, as a class, privileged. Yes, being mortal they will die someday. Being vulnerable to cancer, they may die of it. They can hate their lives, be miserable and drink themselves to death. Thats being human. But that doesnt alter their being a privileged class. YOu wouldnt say whites as a class cannot be "privileged" because many of them are handicapped, abused, have psychological problems or have cancer.

"Okay, then what is your term for the unique advantage whites have?"

Since they do not have a net advantage from inequality, "unique" or otherwise, there is no term that would be meaningful. On the contrary, they experience a net loss from racial inequality and always have. The very foundation of the white "privilege" narrative collapses into a useless heap. Meanwhile whites as a whole, are not overpaid, they do not have more than what they are entitled to, they do not have too much influence in legislation or media, too much workplace democracy, too much health care, too much housing etc. There is no meaningful sense in which these people can be called "privileged".

Simply saying that others are worse off does not in and of itself mean that they become "privileged" by that fact. As there are billions of humans living far worse lives than US blacks do, blacks in the US are also "privileged". Worse still, most humans are Earth are "privileged" by this absurd definition, since all you have to do is find a group anywhere that is even worse off, then you become "privileged".

"And, again, you're simply wrong. Black males in Harlem have around the same mortality rate as people in Bangladesh."

First, you can accuse me of "cherrypicking", and then say something like this?! This is the very definition of a cherrypick.

Second, I said "Meanwhile, even larger divides exist between US blacks and billions of other humans." Somehow you turned "US blacks" (the whole as a group) into "black males in harlem"? Well Frederic, the statement remains indisputably true. The divide between US bnlacks and billions of other humans is larger than the difference between US whites and US blacks, and they are indeed "privileged" as a result. At least according to your conception of a privilege. In short Frederic you are "simply wrong".

But..its gets worse for you. I then said:

"Indeed, most of the entire human race is "privileged" since all you have to do find one group of people anywhere on Earth who have it even worse, and thus you are "privileged" simply by the comaprison, no matter how terribly you yourself may be doing."

That applies to Bangladeshi's and to the US black underclass, Frederic. There are indeed people who are considerably worse off than either group. They are both therefore "privileged". SO even if it were the case that "black males in Harlem" have the same mortality rate as people in Bangladesh it wouldnt change point. They are privileged. I couldnt imagine a more useless concept.

Third, the people in Bangladesh were alot worse off than the people in Harlem, and they still are. The two are facing very different circumstances. The 1990 Study that Chomsky references here looked at Harlem in 1979,80 and 81. The comparison is not with Bangladesh as a whole but from a region in Bangladesh were the life expectency was nearly 8 years longer than the Bangladesh average. The researchers not only did not compare Banglasdesh's worst neighborhoods, towns and villages with Americas worst, they did the opposite, they took one that was several years better than that countrys average.

The colossal homicide, drug and alcohol rates and the health problems related to them are central to the problems in Harlem, and similar communities. No one is arguing here that that the urban underclass and the sinkholes of addiction and crime that they inhabit are not among the worst off people and places in this country. And this study in question took place before the HIV/Aids and Crack cocaine epidemics hit places like Harlem.

But while becoming a crack addict, for instance, will significantly shorten your life expectency to the point of being comparable with those in a third world country, it does not mean your neighborhood is a third world country. These low rates, and even lower rates, are national averages there, not the extreme low end, as here, and they are dying at that level without taking heroin or crack. They make a tiny fraction of what people in Harlem make, have higher infant mortality and die from a very differnt set of causes that speak to far worse destitution and want. Even today in Bangladesh, more than 80% of the population survives on less than $2 day, and nearly half on less than $1.25 per day. Not per hour, per DAY. ANd Bangladesh is not the poorest comuntry in the world. Dont compare it Frederic.

And I need hardly say that US blacks as a whole are swimming in privileges by comparison.

"The problem with "racial inequality" is that it is totally generic, brings feelings of complacency up among many, and fails to identify the agents for whom the inequality is positive and for whom it is negative.

Its a net negative for whites and blacks, so the last part is nonsense. Its generic, but accurate.

"Further, this insight extends to gender. Men are empowered and women disempowered.

I'd say that, if anything, the men example is WEAKER than the woman example, yet it is quite serious (the second shift and the glass ceiling, just to name two systemic inequalities).

So you're now getting to the point of denying not just race, but gender."

No one "denied" anything here. But males as a whole, like whites as a whole, have not ever received a net benefit from inequality. On the contrary. Were males as a whole were better off when no women could go to medical school? Really? When virtually no women were in leadership? When there were virtually no women architects, engineers and medical researchers?

"Then the left wonders why people don't like to join their anti-capitalist-ONLY revolution, while they still struggle with being treated like human beings."

The Left isnt getting people of ANY race, ethnicity or gender to join their non-existant revolution, "capitalist-only" or otherwise. Its not as if millions of working class white males have joined the cause. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has had immense success with women and all minorities, and yet they arent revolutionary about ANYTHING. Even the GOP does better across all racial, ethnic and gender lines than ANY radical Left party in the US. This isnt about the LEft not being radical enough or being too class focused.

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"Without identifying that

"Without identifying that privilege, though, that is precisely what is very likely to happen. Look at the history of unions in this country. Many, even quite radical ones, were totally willing to step over black, brown and Asian folks in order to improve their living conditions."

This is exactly why the "white privilege" argument is nonsense. Whites would have been better off by uniting with all others along wider class and species interests. They were miserably exploited for a tiny wage, and certainly were not getting anything from "depriving the poorer and blacker". Both groups were exploited horribly, only to two different degrees. By not uniting they made their long term struggle only harder. Marx wrote about the hostility of catholic and prtestant laborers. The basic underlying principle is not new and not hard to understand. People can become alienated from one another, and hostile and fearful of them. Freed blacks feared white immigrant labor. These fears were understandable, and not entirely unjustified.

BUT...millions and milions of new jobs are created. Its not as if the same few tens of millions of jobs of 125 years ago are still the only jobs around, and there is therfore ever increasing competition for them. There are new jobs. Better educated and better paid women, blacks, hispanics asians and others spend that job-creating money and contribute their skills. WOmen doctors save lives, incl white male lives, and black medical researchers create cures and treatments that improve white male quality of life. Meanwhile, that white male can still work, get admitted for a great university and have a great career all the while. It was always nonsense to think its zero-sum. It isnt.

"But what no one can seriously argue, whether we look at crack versus cocaine sentencing or anything else, is that the criminal justice system nor the drug war is achieving serious results or is giving blacks and Latina/os a fair shake."

The entire "drug war" is a colossal waste of time, effort and resources.

"Why wouldn't it? Certainly, if I suspect that the crime I'm committing is less likely to be closed because cops are spending time busting black non-violent drug offenders at huge disproportions and black teens at huge disproportions, I may be more likely to consider approaching it. It's about as reasonable a hypothesis as your claim that whites aren't being understopped."

Why wouldnt it affect the RATES of murder, rape and armed robbery? I think you missed the point here. I was saying that its not as if the rates of murder, rape and armed robbery are the same between blacks and whites, they are just spending more time finding bodies and victims of rape and robbery in black neighborhoods, and so the RATE only seems higher among blacks for that reason. The rate of commission will not be affected in that way or for that reason. You may think that would affect the closure rate for the cases, but I dont know that the closure rates are lower for violent crimes in white neighborhoods.

You really think there are whites who are more likely to commit murder, rape or armed robbery on the theory that being white, they will therefore think that they will not be investigated as thoroughly so long as they do it in a white neighborhood or that its reported to police that they (the perps) are white?

I cant even imagine that happening. I know you claim to have contraband running pals that think this way, but I have never once in my life heard anyone say anything remotely like that. Even if such a ludicrous thing were actually happening, the rates for murder, rape and armed robbery are still lower among whites than blacks, so apparently there arent too many whites acting on this sort of thinking anyway. Assuming of course that there are ANY white murderers, armed robbers or rapists who actually think that.

"Let's take a crowd of 200 people, all of whom are smoking weed. I pull one guy aside, find he's smoking weed, I bust him. 1 guy pulled over, 100% success rate! Perfect, right"

Of course not. But I was not trying to say that "less searches is ALWAYS better". In this case, I think it is. What I said was that the higher hit rate "means that their method for determining when to do a search is not very effective. Searches are invasive, and I dont want alot of them being done by the State, unless they have good reasons and good methods."

Unless they have good reasons. In this case, I dont think there are good reasons. In any case, we are already wasting gigantic resources on the so-called "drug war" and I would rather see alot less than more.

"Even with the increased rate of contraband discovery among those whites pulled over, the fact remains that tens of thousands of black folks are sent to jail yearly above and beyond their representation among drug users, while conversely tens of thousands of whites aren't. In that area alone, police would need to be going far more aggressively after whites JUST to correct that imbalance."

Or decrease the rates for blacks. And no one should be going to jail for drug use and abuse. THe ideal number is zero for both groups. We are already having to say that relative to other kinds of crime, the drug crimes are consuming enormous resources. Greatly escalating the so-called "Drug War" in order to even out racial numbers is going in absolutely the wrong direction.

"Sure, could be. There's almost no evidence to suggest it and a lot of criminologists disagree with you, but you may be correct, the under-searching may be what is ideal and then there's only an overstop problem, not an understop problem."

Well, no-searching is what is ideal for drugs IMO, but I am not sure what specifically you're responding to here. Which criminologists are disagreeing with what exactly? Its possible that both numbers are over-stopped except to two different degrees. Or both are understoped to two different degrees.

"What's clear is that a) the best hypothesis at the moment is that whites are being understopped and b) CERTAINLY blacks are being overstopped."

What does "under" stopped mean? "Under" what? And thats not a "hypothesis", thats a conclusion. Whats it based on? "Over" stopped? Over what? Over their percentage of illicit drug users?

"Again, you're cherry-picking your data sources. Here's an alternative view:"

Again? When was the first time?

And where did you cite something on the point of illicit drug use rates? Whites are not using illicit drugs at higher rates than blacks.

There is an image vs. reality issue here. You cannot forget places like Harlem and what was done to them by drugs, esp. crack. We are talking about sinkholes of despair, violence, poverty, gangs, homicide and addiction. THe image of the urban slum, the black gang and drugs is a powerful meme. Its not entirely shocking that people will have this impression when you remember that while a group of white stockbrokers or young adv agents could snort a cloud of cocaine, their neighborhoods were not torn to shreds and tatters. The suites didnt have the drive bys. The image of drugs, the gangs, and the violence went hand in hand with the image of the city, the slum, and black skin.

Any attempt to understand the differentials between powder and crack or in geographic concentration of resources has to take all that into mind.

"Absolutely. But that's moot to my point that, in the real world, white-collar crime is a white crime that is not pursued with sufficient aggression despite its massive impact on people's lives, while non-violent black drug offenses are. It's a very simple and very illustrative comparison."

There is no such thing as a "white crime". The very notion is racist. Even if whites did it disproportionately to their opportunities (and you have not demonstrated that) it still wouldnt be a "white crime". It is not pursued with nearly the aggression I would like, but for the reasons I have already stated:

The white collar and corporate crime area I think we agree largely. I would say that humans as a whole fear murder, rape, physical assault, armed robbery etc in a much more visceral way than they fear mail fraud, or their pensions being raided or embezzled. I think for understandable reasons. Thats a part of it. But of course, you have the fact that no elite groups of any race or in any century or nation or culture ever want strong controls, oversight and crackdowns involving their own activities. The colossal sums on lobbying and contributions is part of this. That aspect is class, and not so much race.

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Many Responses

"This is exactly why the "white privilege" argument is nonsense. Whites would have been better off by uniting with all others along wider class and species interests. They were miserably exploited for a tiny wage, and certainly were not getting anything from "depriving the poorer and blacker". Both groups were exploited horribly, only to two different degrees. By not uniting they made their long term struggle only harder. Marx wrote about the hostility of catholic and prtestant laborers. The basic underlying principle is not new and not hard to understand. People can become alienated from one another, and hostile and fearful of them. Freed blacks feared white immigrant labor. These fears were understandable, and not entirely unjustified."

Come on, this doesn't even rise to the level of infantility.

First of all: Marx identified the phenomenon as a serious concern. He didn't say that noting the privilege one group or another has is irrelevant or misleading; in fact, he indicated quite the opposite.

Second: There are many fault-lines along which the working class can divide. By your logic, even CLASS is deceptive.

Third: Similarly, "we" means the poor, not the rich. You implicitly note that rich and poor have opposed interests and are real groups. All I'm saying is that white and black are similar:  Just as the rich and the poor might unite in a fight for survival, say an external invasion, so too might white and black unite for CLASS reasons, but that DOESN'T change the fact that white benefits because black suffers.

Fourth: The fact that there may be economic logic to racism doesn't change the fact that racism is important. In fact, it AMPLIFIES my point: If racism is connected to wealth, jobs, the levers of power, people will be willing to fight over it.

Anyways, this is a revealing concession. What I've indicated is that racial tension, inequality, privilege and hostility a) are real, important phenomena, even by your standards, because (among innumerable other reasons) they shortcircuit macro-economic struggles against class and b) that white privilege has been considered, BY POOR WHITES, to be important enough in the past to struggle for tooth and nail. You admit that, but again move the goal-post to make race irrelevant. It's as if you are religiously committed to deny the importance of race and white privilege...

"BUT...millions and milions of new jobs are created. Its not as if the same few tens of millions of jobs of 125 years ago are still the only jobs around, and there is therfore ever increasing competition for them. There are new jobs. Better educated and better paid women, blacks, hispanics asians and others spend that job-creating money and contribute their skills. WOmen doctors save lives, incl white male lives, and black medical researchers create cures and treatments that improve white male quality of life. Meanwhile, that white male can still work, get admitted for a great university and have a great career all the while. It was always nonsense to think its zero-sum. It isnt."

Yearly growth rates don't change the fact that the game is zero-sum anymore than the fact that in Reversi you get more pieces or in Monopoly you get more money by passing Go changes the fact that there's only so much at any given time period and it has to be distributed. This kind of nonsense from leftists is especially appalling because one of our big ASSERTIONS against class and capital is that the limited resources that we can support ecologically should be distributed fairly. Were there unlimited resources, we might be able to tolerate Bill Gates having the GDP of Norway. But since in the real world, him (a white man) having that kind of wealth means by necessity that millions have to starve or be impoverished.

Let's again just look at the class maldistribution. Folks like Bill Gates are not ALL white... just more than 95% so. That means that the disproportion of white males among the highest echelons of wealth and power leads to COLOSSAL aggregate differences between the rich black and the rich white as well as being white and black in general. You keep on noting that the small differences between poor blacks and poor whites aren't anything to write home about, but never bring up the difference between Oprah and Bill Gates and what that means for the opportunity structure, the upper bounds possible for black success, etc.

You also brush over the fact that, while jobs were created, wages stagnated or fell for the majority of the working class population; that population grew too, so that those millions of new jobs were going to millions of new people; and that global warming has ramped up, consumption of fossil fuels has massively increased, etc. That economic growth is impossible to maintain indefinitely. That means that we can't keep on lying at the altar of perpetual growth to solve our racial problems. Those differences between black and white will become ever more vital as we are forced to make difficult choices with limited resources (not to mention between man/woman and North/South), and if history is any indication, whites will band together RACIALLY to preserve their white privilege instead of poor whites banding with poor blacks to fight rich, entrenched people who can actually fight back.

Blacks own 1% of the nation's wealth but compose 12-13% of its population. Whites get the lion's share of that "missing" 11%. That's trillions yearly. It is frustrating, mind-boggling and in fact offensive and racist to say that that isn't important just because a lot of white people are poor.

"The entire "drug war" is a colossal waste of time, effort and resources."

So what? Let's say it wasn't. That STILL wouldn't change that it's a racist war on the poor. Even if some hypothetical world existed where it makes sense to imprison millions of your citizens for drug offenses, 

Another predictable move from your playbook: When someone brings up something that is obviously racial, obviously leads to massive differences in life outcomes between whites and blacks, you either move the goal-post or say something totally irrelevant as a distracting move. Yes, the drug war is a colossal waste of time, effort and resources. But a disproportionate brunt of the impact of that war is being felt by black folks. It is as if admitting ANY racism that could lead to aggregate difference between white and black that would be on the same order as class is somehow verboten to you.

Simply admit that whites, in the aggregate, get benefits that they have not earned. I agree that, in terms of macro-economic statistics, the difference between rich and poor dwarves the difference between black and white. But there IS a difference, and it needs to be resisted, even when those poor whites are in a horrible place. The oppressed CAN be oppressors too...

"Why wouldnt it affect the RATES of murder, rape and armed robbery? I think you missed the point here. I was saying that its not as if the rates of murder, rape and armed robbery are the same between blacks and whites, they are just spending more time finding bodies and victims of rape and robbery in black neighborhoods, and so the RATE only seems higher among blacks for that reason. The rate of commission will not be affected in that way or for that reason. You may think that would affect the closure rate for the cases, but I dont know that the closure rates are lower for violent crimes in white neighborhoods."

I agree. My point is that people were attempting to infer rates in the real population based on more arrests, more reports, more law enforcement data, etc. But that can't possibly be extricated from racism. In any respect, this ENTIRE discussion is something that you have not been able to place at class' door. There is classism in the criminal justice system, but it's not here, not at the point where people see an unidentified suspect on TV and suspect that they're poor when the TV said they were rich.

In actual fact, I believe that the best hypothesis is that blacks commit more crimes on average, but only insofar as poverty and urbanicity play a role. The studies that control for those two factors virtually eliminate the gap between white and black, and sometimes suggest a slight disproportion among WHITES.

 "Or decrease the rates for blacks. And no one should be going to jail for drug use and abuse. THe ideal number is zero for both groups. We are already having to say that relative to other kinds of crime, the drug crimes are consuming enormous resources. Greatly escalating the so-called "Drug War" in order to even out racial numbers is going in absolutely the wrong direction."

Agreed, but notice: The people who are suffering above that zero-level the most are blacks. If you get rid of the drug war, you benefit blacks more than whites, because the opportunity structure is racist. Makes sense, right?

In any respect, it's not that people are going to jail for drugs, it's also that they're going to jail for BREAKING THE LAW. White folks have the privilege of believing that they are above the law, that the law exists only to protect them from blacker and browner people.  That's one of those innumerable privileges that whites have that NO ONE should have.

"Of course not. But I was not trying to say that "less searches is ALWAYS better". In this case, I think it is. What I said was that the higher hit rate "means that their method for determining when to do a search is not very effective. Searches are invasive, and I dont want alot of them being done by the State, unless they have good reasons and good methods."

But they do have good methods.

Read the White Privilege (Remixed) post. Tim, and I, and many others recount many times where  very simple due diligence would have caught people slinging drugs, or using drugs, or otherwise breaking the law. It's not some arcane, esoteric thing. It's the cops being willing to bust obvious underage drinking at college campuses or not just coming up to a party with smoke pouring out the windows and politely asking for the noise to be turned down.

"Again? When was the first time?"

Every time you try to deny the prevalence of white privilege.

"

And where did you cite something on the point of illicit drug use rates? Whites are not using illicit drugs at higher rates than blacks.

There is an image vs. reality issue here. You cannot forget places like Harlem and what was done to them by drugs, esp. crack. We are talking about sinkholes of despair, violence, poverty, gangs, homicide and addiction. THe image of the urban slum, the black gang and drugs is a powerful meme. Its not entirely shocking that people will have this impression when you remember that while a group of white stockbrokers or young adv agents could snort a cloud of cocaine, their neighborhoods were not torn to shreds and tatters. The suites didnt have the drive bys. The image of drugs, the gangs, and the violence went hand in hand with the image of the city, the slum, and black skin.

Any attempt to understand the differentials between powder and crack or in geographic concentration of resources has to take all that into mind."

But not an ounce of that matters for police, judges and lawyers, who should know the reality better than the image. They don't.

Further, can the image possibly be extracted from the reality? The reality of racist media structures makes sure that the image will benefit white folks' image. That's another of those privileges we don't deserve: Media not just presenting us FAIRLY, but media presenting us in such impossibly saintly contours that no real person could ever achieve it.

 

 

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fairness

"All are answers that can at least in THEORY be explored objectively: Through studies, using real-life examples or experiments, etc"

I disagree. The data for economic and political effects of actions is quite poor. Will the economy grow or shrink if taxes are raised/cut, etc? Even if the data was pristine today, the effects in 10 years would still be vastly uncertain. Economics is not called the dismal science for nothing.

I do hold opinions of course, but i acknowledge that they are such. Distinguishing between ones own beliefs and facts is a difficult thing to do, but i find it to be worthwhile. It has the disadvantage of knowing that as time goes on my views are subject to change, either due to internal (new ways of me thinking) or external (new data) events.

"HOW do we stop being racist?"

By not using or advocating using race as a selector to help or hurt others.

"And why is assistance based on class okay but race not?"

It allows us to focus help where it is actually needed. This is distinct from providing help to an individual simply because they belong to a selected group - regardless if the help is needed or not.

"Race is, if anything, MORE OBVIOUSLY unjust than class structures, so adjusting for it explicitly after the fact would be MORE fair and just than class."

One has the right to one's opinions.

"They also don't provide specific policy guidelines, or even hints of what might LEAD to specific policy guidelines..."

I believe they do, but the policies are not what you advocate.

You know, when you respond here you come across as a very black and white thinker (no pun intended). You use disparaging words unnecessarily and in my opinion inappropriately (here i refer not just to your responses to me, but others as well). I do not know if this is a defense mechanism on your part or if you are really that, um, single/sure minded. Of course, you are free to do so, but if nothing else it is likely to skew what you hear from others, making you believe that your opinions are more widely held than they are.

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Too Simplistic

"I disagree. The data for economic and political effects of actions is quite poor. Will the economy grow or shrink if taxes are raised/cut, etc? Even if the data was pristine today, the effects in 10 years would still be vastly uncertain. Economics is not called the dismal science for nothing."

Actually, you DO agree. You are in fact understating the problem when it comes to political science, but what you DIDN'T say is that the evidence is even in THEORY beyond reach, which is what I was arguing is the case for God. The two are not remotely analogous. True, it can be difficult to tell the long-term effects of a policy. Then again, we're pretty sure that a million people in Iraq wouldn't be dead had we not invaded. Similarly, we can be pretty sure that government health care has lower per-patient costs (though obviously some disagree, but not based on some epistemological philosophy). We can be fairly certain that the present economic woes are due in part to a collapse in sub-prime mortgages, in turn due to a climate of deregulation wherein banks gave risky loans. We are 99.999999% confident that the Germans had an extermination program for the Jews (and I don't say 100% only because I have a Humeist skepticism about 100% confidence in anything physical). All of these are political, economic, sociological fact or theory or what have you. None of it is the same as the existence or non-existence of God.

"I do hold opinions of course, but i acknowledge that they are such. Distinguishing between ones own beliefs and facts is a difficult thing to do, but i find it to be worthwhile. It has the disadvantage of knowing that as time goes on my views are subject to change, either due to internal (new ways of me thinking) or external (new data) events."

Everyone's political responses are opinions: They're a mix of personal estimation of the data, personal value judgments as to what is important, etc. That doesn't mean a mild opinion is preferable to an "extreme" one.

"By not using or advocating using race as a selector to help or hurt others."

So, you have a resume on your desk. It's a black man's resume. There's some impressive achievements (good grades at the college he could get into, for example). But the net total of his achievements on paper just don't seem as complete as all the other white candidates that you are looking over. Yet, knowing the history of racism in this country, you have to expect that maybe the college he attended or the jobs he could get would have been better, given his intrinsic level of merit (whatever that means), barring racist pressures to keep him down.

Do you

a) ignore those pressures and judge him based on what you see, thereby willfully ignoring what race did to him and thus selecting white folks to advance, breaking your criterion or

b) take those pressures into account, as best you can, and thereby give him a benefit of the doubt not suggested by his resume, thereby breaking your criterion?

This, and innumerable other examples, show that your proposal is in fact infantile. In the real world, we are not born into innocence. In the real world, race skewed the amount of "stuff" in the society so massively that not taking it into account when making decisions would be willful stupidity, and ends up having the racist impact borne by blacks. How unsurprising that it is overwhelmingly whites who gravitate towards this view and overwhelmingly blacks who tend to mistrust or oppose it.

Fact is, people all the TIME use race as a "selector" to help or hurt others, whether directly (refusing to call a person with a black-sounding name back for an interview) or indirectly (hiring your white golf buddies' white son on his recommendation and ignoring the resume of the very qualified black graduate from the same school). People can either magnify this harm by ignoring that it happened before or try to take it into account. Either way is fraught with error, but at least the latter means that we're not pretending we're neutral on a moving train.

"It allows us to focus help where it is actually needed. This is distinct from providing help to an individual simply because they belong to a selected group - regardless if the help is needed or not."

But it IS needed. Just as the vast majority (but not literally all) of the poor need assistance, so to do the vast majority (but not literally all) blacks face discrimination that harms them. This is true even of middle-class blacks. Stereotype threat, for example, helps explain SAT differences between blacks and whites even within the same class echelon, some very high. Not taking stereotype threat into account when selecting a black candidate for college would be to fail to analyze the true needs and disadvantages they have.

But it wouldn't even be that hard to recitify race-based affirmative action to match your criteria. Just make anyone who makes $200,000 a year or more, or whose parents do, or some similar sum, ineligible for it. That wouldn't deal with the disproportions of white male executives, but it would clearly fit the bill, yet you seem to oppose that.

"One has the right to one's opinions."

They're bad opinions if they'e constructed with willful ignorance of alternative views, or with poor and inconsistent logic.

"I believe they do, but the policies are not what you advocate."

Then suggest a few. Yes, the policies I advocate are undoubtedly quite different. But my problem is that you seem to think that the problem of racism is a simple one that can be solved by everyone following a few of Sartor's Rules. Not only is this maddeningly simple-minded, but it's also a view steeped in white privilege, reducing the difficult and complex structures that people have fought against for centuries into a few simple, easily correctable errors. This may explain the hostility you feel from me: I don't think MLK Jr. was assassinated because people just weren't aware they should treat people without preference or harm under racial guidelines.

"You know, when you respond here you come across as a very black and white thinker (no pun intended). You use disparaging words unnecessarily and in my opinion inappropriately (here i refer not just to your responses to me, but others as well). I do not know if this is a defense mechanism on your part or if you are really that, um, single/sure minded. Of course, you are free to do so, but if nothing else it is likely to skew what you hear from others, making you believe that your opinions are more widely held than they are."

One person's "black and white" is another person's "strident". You continue to make ill-founded assessments of others (even though I have yet to write a paragraph about your online persona), and make kneejerk responses that suggest that you haven't done any of the research. I'm replying to your arguments. I apologize if you dislike my writing or argumentative style, but you have yet to engage with me point-by-point yet I have done that courtesy to you.

 

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off to silliness

"Actually, you DO agree."

Wow, a mind reader. Impressive!

"So, you have a resume on your desk. It's a black man's resume."

Race should not even be listed be on a resume, of course.

Still, making your example more realistic, one typically interviews people before hiring. At that point, race may become known (may be, since mixed races are difficult to decode, for instance). At that point i would look for someone i could work with. Communication is key in the work i do (physics, computers, etc). Again, race is simply not relevant. (You seem to underestimate the competence of black folk and make excuses for their supposed inferiority, even when they can be, in fact, the better candidates.)

People are individuals, not primarily members of artificial groups. To treat them primarily as group members is not a good way to advance anyones interests. Giving help to those in need will tend to level the playing field in a rational way that is far less likely to produce a negative backlash.

"They're bad opinions if they'e constructed with willful ignorance of alternative views, or with poor and inconsistent logic."

We agree!

"This, and innumerable other examples, show that your proposal is in fact infantile"

I take it this is how you say "i disagree"? :) (Innumerable? Infantile? I can hardly wait to see what choice of words you will make next!)

"This may explain the hostility you feel from me: I don't think MLK Jr. was assassinated because people just weren't aware they should treat people without preference or harm under racial guidelines."

This seems to be a impressive non-sequitur. But since you brought it up, what was the quote from MLK Jr - something about judging a man by his skin color? :)

Anyway, i accept your apology - no hard feelings.

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Not Even Trying

"Wow, a mind reader. Impressive!"

 That'll be $20 ;) .

No mind-reading necessary, in actuality. You simply said exactly what I did: Political knowledge may be scant, but it is actually THERE.

"Race should not even be listed be on a resume, of course."

The name on the resume is Tyrone Johnson, the address is listed in a black part of town, and he clearly went to a largely African-American college in an African-American fraternity. Come on. (Not to mention that you may have had an initial phone interview and heard his voice, or had an initial in-person interview and seen him). This is sheer evasion.

I gave the example because studies have shown that black-sounding NAMES on a resume are a severe debit. Not only do people with white-sounding names get called back far more often even with all credentials held equal, but a black-sounding name seems to drastically shrink the additional benefit of experience for an applicant, and a white-sounding name is equivalent to roughly eight years additional experience on average! (Tim goes into extensive analysis of this study in his book on affirmative action).

"Still, making your example more realistic, one typically interviews people before hiring. At that point, race may become known (may be, since mixed races are difficult to decode, for instance). At that point i would look for someone i could work with. Communication is key in the work i do (physics, computers, etc). Again, race is simply not relevant. (You seem to underestimate the competence of black folk and make excuses for their supposed inferiority, even when they can be, in fact, the better candidates.)"

No, in fact black folks are quite often the better candidates. Studies of affirmative action routinely show that applicants both in the educational, employment and government contract system let in under affirmative action regimes do as well or better than their white counterparts. This is really offensive, vile reaching on your part: Arguing that I am underestimating black folks' credentials because I think it's fair to take racism into account. (Of course, the emptiness of your hypothesis can be measured by noting that, if you were right that black folks' resumes on their own would insure fair employment, we would see blacks in something resembling their proportion of the job seekers and/or population in everything from professorial jobs to executive positions. Since we clearly don't...)

Let me break it to you, Ken: You are simply not as enlightened as you think you are. No one is. This is nothing to be ashamed of. In a society as riddled with racial privilege, caste and tension as ours, to be so enlightened would be virtually impossible. But all of the evidence in the world indicates that if you see a black face in an MRI, you are far more likely to view it with hostility, and so forth. Tim went into these studies extensively in his posts on the Gates issue, but apparently you decided that you must somehow be immune from it.

But let's say that you actually are that enlightened, all evidence and history of white folks overestimating their racial innocence to the contrary. The fact is that millions of business-owners and interviewers are not. The OFCCP estimated that 75% of all businesses it surveyed were in "substantial violation" of the most basic tenets of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Innumerable studies have shown that discrimination in the workforce is constant. And at my own university, Bill McCarthy's work showed that the majority of black youth experience many distinct forms of pervasive discrimination before puberty. 

Further, you ducked my question. I was asking you if you would recognize that a black applicant who went to a UC instead of an Ivy League school and worked at the second-tier rather than first-tier companies in the industry may have been there because of race and not because of his own merit, and searched for signs that that may be the case, then compensated. You refused to answer, largely because I suspect you WOULD, in fact, do so. Any reasonable person would. That is all affirmative action schemes do: Recognize that race inhibited people unjustly, so that if we want to judge them fairly, we would take it into account, just like we would take into account that the guy running the race with cinder blocks around his ankles (put there by the race administrators, of course) was probably a much faster runner than he appeared to be.

Not to mention that, in all likelihood, you have what affirmative action does bitterly wrong...

"People are individuals, not primarily members of artificial groups. To treat them primarily as group members is not a good way to advance anyones interests. Giving help to those in need will tend to level the playing field in a rational way that is far less likely to produce a negative backlash."

You ducked the question entirely. I asked if you'd take something particular into account. You didn't answer.

People may be individuals, but in fact they ARE also members of artificial groups, precisely because "artificial" means socially constructed and because society's constructs have real power. Any Sikh who has been pummeled because he got put into a group with terrorists knows that what you just said is naive and insultingly wrong. Any black man pulled over by police because he fit a profile knows that you are wrong. In short, this statement is one dripping with white privilege. It is a racialized viewpoint, one that is possible for you to take for granted.

This is also an abusive false dichotomy. No one has ever said that we should treat people PRIMARILY as group members. Take the University of Michigan's various affirmative action schemes that the Supreme Court shut down. The point bonus for being a member of an underrepresented minority group was still a fraction of the total point scheme. Even Martin Luther King Jr's proposal that businesses hire proportionally to their community still is not treating people "primarily" as a member of any group. So this is just a fantasy, a strawman you are busily replying to because the real issues are much, much harder.

The evidence is clear: The vast majority of black folks, even very middle-class or rich black folks, face constant discrimination that severely hampers their life chances. They are ALL in need. So we are in agreement on the principle. Your apparent disagreement must be because you are not convinced that blacks actually face such severe hurdles. I wonder what exactly would have to occur to convince you otherwise.

"I take it this is how you say "i disagree"? :) (Innumerable? Infantile? I can hardly wait to see what choice of words you will make next!)"

Says the man who takes random comments out of context, one of the most abusive fallacies in the book. I wager that, if you were to actually respond to me and not to random sentences, that I wouldn't come off as such a dick.

"This seems to be a impressive non-sequitur. But since you brought it up, what was the quote from MLK Jr - something about judging a man by his skin color? :)"

*sigh* This is tragic. You seemingly don't care at all about the issue.

If you think Dr. King meant that race wasn't relevant when he said that, then you have no idea about the man's legacy. He resisted RACIALIZED oppression, that of Jim Crow. He knew, quite profoundly, that it was racism committed by white folks as a group upon black folks as a group. Anne Moody's autobiography recounts her experiences with hating and resenting white folks because of their apparent inability to put aside hate, and she was one of Dr. King's followers!

Tim has great articles answering precisely this misconception. Here's one: http://www.alternet.org/story/17263/the_content_of_his_character/

Dr. King was looking forward in the "I Have A Dream Speech" to a future where race was gone. But the fact that it was a DREAM of his, and not a triumphant reality he was declaring, indicates that he knew quite profoundly that reality was very different. It's just like Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World": Satchmo knew that the real world was in fact quite nasty, but he felt that a better world was POSSIBLE. I agree with both of them, but to get to that better world, we have to recognize, honestly, where we are now. And where we are now, race matters, it skews opportunities and changes perceptions, and we will have to struggle past that.

Nor did you reply to the argument, as usual. My allegation was that you attempted to boil the problem of racism down to a few simple sentences, and suggested that were the problem ACTUALLY that simple, Dr. King would be writing books today. I further suggested that this tendency on your part to boil racism down to simplicity while denying even very tepid policy alternatives to deal with it was another example of white privilege. In the real world, racism is hard, it is connected to state and economy and gender issues and institutions, it has a long pedigree and a long history, and just saying "Don't be racist to each other" is deeply unhelpful. Entire classes are taught every day by folks like Tim on how to deal with the difficulties of solving race and the contradictions, innumerable studies are done to gauge it versus the pernicious influence of class, dozens of scholars work on hundreds of books, and you seem to think that the issue can be condensed to less than fifteen words. Unbelievable.

By taking only the last sentence out of an entire paragraph with interlinking and mutually supporting logic, you made what was actually an argument SEEM like a non sequitur, then beat up on the strawman. It was contemptible and dishonest.

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Better Edited Version...please post this instead

"First of all: Marx identified the phenomenon as a serious concern. He didn't say that noting the privilege one group or another has is irrelevant or misleading; in fact, he indicated quite the opposite."

He made a far more profound point than any you think you are making and one that sinks the entire white privilege narrative, and that is that intra-class conflict is to the net detriment of the working class. For whites as a whole, racial inequality is to their net detriment. The white working class was made weaker and their struggle more difficult by not uniting across gender and racial and ethnic lines. Its nonsense to talk about "privilege" in this context.

"Second: There are many fault-lines along which the working class can divide. By your logic, even CLASS is deceptive."

There are many fault-lines along which humans can divide. There is nothing unique about class in that way. Religious, gender, ethnic, racial, linguistic, age, industry, region, political, ideological, etc. The message of Marx at its best is the trancending of these faultlines. A consciousness raising aimed at understanding the common interest and the common class struggle. I think of a larger species, rather than simply class, struggle but the key is there.

Obviously the humans involved in a struggle can think that this struggle is in their interests. They can think that blacks or "the illegals" or "the Jews" are a competitive threat to them and to their well being. This fear and mistrust of one another and alienation from one another is what is to be transcended.

"Third: Similarly, "we" means the poor, not the rich. You implicitly note that rich and poor have opposed interests and are real groups. All I'm saying is that white and black are similar: Just as the rich and the poor might unite in a fight for survival, say an external invasion, so too might white and black unite for CLASS reasons, but that DOESN'T change the fact that white benefits because black suffers."

But they dont. They do not have a net benefit. Having blacks outside the unions hurt the union, it didnt strengthen it. The fewer the workers in the union the weaker it becomes. And these lower paid workers outside the union (white or black or in third world countries) function as a downward pressure on their wages. They are competition. Indeed, large numbers of Americans of all races have seen jobs lost as their employers seek to exploit labor overseas. The better wages of workers in this country are not the result of something taken from poorer workers.

On the contrary, the poverty of poorer workers is a pressure against their wage, a threat to their jobs and meanwhile the tiny disposable income of these poorer workers means less demand for the products that the better paid workers make, since they cannot afford them. Its no gain for them. Im sorry Frederic, but the notion that better paid US whites and/or US blacks are better paid because they are essentially stealing from poorer workers is absolutely ludicrous. The exact opposite is true. This zero-sum theory is pure bunk.

"Fourth: The fact that there may be economic logic to racism doesn't change the fact that racism is important. In fact, it AMPLIFIES my point: If racism is connected to wealth, jobs, the levers of power, people will be willing to fight over it."

Who argued that racism is not important or that it is less important because of some supposed economic logic? We have, as a matter of fact, to deal with how human beings can become alienated from one another and come to believe that their benefit, well being and survival is essentially a zero-sum struggle against other humans. We can all understand how people can fear for the jobs, and therefore their livlihoods. All the more so in the US past, since the wages were tiny, the rights were few and the safety net virtually non-existant. Losing a job then was even more catastrophic than now. With these stakes and fears, no one can fail to see how peoplecould act on whatever gender, ethnic, racial, familial or other grounds for support. Ideally it should have made all persons see how necessary it was to have an All-Peoples struggle. But it just doesnt happen like that automatically.

People are VERY willing to fight over wealth and jobs, but in waging an intra-class struggle on ethnic, racial or gender lines, they are going in absolutely the wrong direction and to their net detriment.

Men as a whole have hugely benefitted from the increases in female labor outside the home and in their wages. Whites as a a whole benefit from greater racial equality. This is why you and Tim will always lose the debate. The overwhelming net advantage is for equality, and that is how you approach the issue in terms of change. Instead of wasting ones entire adult life on walking around trying to talk middle and lower class whites into falsely believing that they are privileged, focus upon the overwhelming advantages they receive from equality and the net detriment they expierience from inequality.

"Anyways, this is a revealing concession. What I've indicated is that racial tension, inequality, privilege and hostility a) are real, important phenomena, even by your standards, because (among innumerable other reasons) they shortcircuit macro-economic struggles against class"

And in so doing it is to their net detriment. Thats not a "privilege".

"b) that white privilege has been considered, BY POOR WHITES, to be important enough in the past to struggle for tooth and nail."

Even if every single poor white and black person, or catholic and protestant person, did nothing but struggle against one another continuously, it wouldnt change that its to their net detriment to do so. If anyone thought otherwise they were dead wrong. Likewise with female emancipation, liberation adn equality. No doubt many males who were themselves oppressed would in turn oppress females and fight relentlessly out of fear and alienation against this liberation. But notwithstanding that, it was in the overwhelming interest of males as a whole that females do alot better. Both their work and their wages contribute immensely.

"Blacks own 1% of the nation's wealth but compose 12-13% of its population. Whites get the lion's share of that "missing" 11%. That's trillions yearly. It is frustrating, mind-boggling and in fact offensive and racist to say that that isn't important just because a lot of white people are poor."

The white poor and middle class arent getting any "missing" wealth. They are themselves "missing" wealth. The actual class divides are absolutely staggering. The top 25% of households have 87% of the nations wealth. That means the remaining 13% was held by the other 75%. In reality, since the bottom 25% have virtually no wealth, that means the middle 50% get nearly all of the rest. But in a country where the top 300,000 are earning as much or more as the bottom 150,000,000 this is little surprise.

No matter how disproportionately white these top level groups are, the idea that whites as a whole are getting "missing" wealth is pure nonsense. The immense majority of whites arent getting more than their fair share. If anything they are getting less or only
as much. There isnt just a "missing" 11% there is a "missing" 62% (87-25) that the bottom 75% of people dont have. And as you leave out the global context here, how can you not regard US blacks are getting the "missing" wealth from those peoples who are far, far poorer?

"So what? Let's say it wasn't. That STILL wouldn't change that it's a racist war on the poor. Even if some hypothetical world existed where it makes sense to imprison millions of your citizens for drug offenses"

Only in a hypothetical world though Frederic. We have to deal with the real one. And in this world we cannot forget, even as we discuss inequalities in how the Drug War is fought, that it is inherently unjust no matter how the resources are expended. I cant simply forget than I am against the drug war in all these the discussions. Thats the "so what". There is no "right" number of addicts, users and abusers in prison. There is no fair number. There is no "privileged" number. And given how many millions of whites have been arrested on drug charges over the course of this absurd "war", it makes little sense to talk about "privilege".

"Yes, the drug war is a colossal waste of time, effort and resources." But a disproportionate brunt of the impact of that war is being felt by black folks. It is as if admitting ANY racism that could lead to aggregate difference between white and black that would be on the same order as class is somehow verboten to you."

Not at all, remember the discussions we have had about image and reality and the racial association of drugs, gangs, violence, addiction, etc? We were just having it, so you couldnt have forgotten. No denial or race or disproportionality. On the contrary, there us a discussion as to merely why that is.

"Simply admit that whites, in the aggregate, get benefits that they have not earned."

In the aggregate they experience a net loss from inequality. Thats what you cant seem to square yourself to.

"The oppressed CAN be oppressors too..."

Nearly all humans can oppress, especially if they are able bodied. If nothing else, the miserable poor white or black or latin or asian man can be a holy, violent abusive terror over the women and children in his home. But lets not pretend that this is a net benefit for them.

"I agree. My point is that people were attempting to infer rates in the real population based on more arrests, more reports, more law enforcement data, etc. But that can't possibly be extricated from racism. In any respect, this ENTIRE discussion is something that you have not been able to place at class' door."

I dont have to put it at the door of class. I am not sure rape is a function of class, or if it is, to what extent. With murder it depends. But I dont lose sight of the fact that by far the biggest theives and murderers of history arent found among historys poorest. Theft on a colossal scale is undertaken by people with none of the ordinary explanations of poverty and deprivation. I am not among those who believe that if only people have more money they will be any nicer or any less criminal. The sort of crooks I am talking about may not need to hit people over the head on a street corner and steal their money. But that may only be because they have found alot better ways to steal.

"Agreed, but notice: The people who are suffering above that zero-level the most are blacks."

Yes.

"In any respect, it's not that people are going to jail for drugs, it's also that they're going to jail for BREAKING THE LAW. White folks have the privilege of believing that they are above the law, that the law exists only to protect them from blacker and browner people."

As I said, enough millions of whites have been arrested that I wouldnt go so far as to say "above the law". I dont know any whites who believe that, or if they do, they never said it out loud whenever I was in earshot.

"But they do have good methods."

Of course they do. The apparent hit rate among whites would seem to show that. But I said that in THIS case they didnt have good reasons to do more searches of whites.

"Every time you try to deny the prevalence of white privilege."

When did I cherrypick data sources? You said "again", when was that?

"But not an ounce of that matters for police, judges and lawyers, who should know the reality better than the image. They don't."

Not necessarily. They are raised, socialized and enculturated in the same society along with everyone else. And the same underlying, sometimes partly conscious, biases are in operation. And when you add lawmakers, jurors and the media in to the mix its not hard to see how biases in outcomes will result from biases in the people who help decide the outcomes.

"Further, can the image possibly be extracted from the reality? The reality of racist media structures makes sure that the image will benefit white folks' image. That's another of those privileges we don't deserve: Media not just presenting us FAIRLY, but media presenting us in such impossibly saintly contours that no real person could ever achieve it."

In terms of physical bodies and beauty, I buy that white beauty is still the norm, but in body shapes that are functionaly unattainable for the immense majority of whites. When you consder the issues of body image, its hard to say that this is to whites benefit. But if you mean this in terms of the content of character though, I dont know what you could mean by "saintly contours".

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Again...

To make this argument transparently clear, let's simply define white privilege at the outset: White privilege is the advantage that whites get AS WHITE PEOPLE. So if you look at white folks through a class lens, you see that, yes, millions are desperately poor. So too if you look at the rich through a race lens, you see that many are black and face discrimination for it. The point is that when you look at race through the racial lens, you see that white people, AS A GROUP, have managed to pilfer trillions from blacks, AS A GROUP. The distribution of this lucre may be overwhelmingly lopsided towards the right end of the chart, but that doesn't make the theft any less real.

"People are VERY willing to fight over wealth and jobs, but in waging an intra-class struggle on ethnic, racial or gender lines, they are going in absolutely the wrong direction and to their net detriment."

Which indicates that either they're insane or YOU'RE MISSING A BENEFIT.

Like a lot of deeply misguided Marxians, your entire spreadsheet can only calculate wages lost, benefits lost. It's baffling why the misguided masses keep missing your cry in the dark.

Part of the reason is that you and those in your intellectual circle keep on getting wrong what they value. For many whites, that psychological wage is WORTH MORE in the risk-benefit calculation than an increase in a real wage. Surely part of the reason is that you consistently underestimate the economic benefits of white male privilege, but part of the reason is that economics aren't all that matter.

I submit that, if millions of whites have fought tooth and nail AGAINST their class interest to RETAIN their race interest, then MAYBE race might be more important than class. Certainly, that fact OBLITERATES your attempt to make class central and white privilege a footnote, since white folks ain't buying it.

"Men as a whole have hugely benefitted from the increases in female labor outside the home and in their wages. Whites as a a whole benefit from greater racial equality. This is why you and Tim will always lose the debate. The overwhelming net advantage is for equality, and that is how you approach the issue in terms of change. Instead of wasting ones entire adult life on walking around trying to talk middle and lower class whites into falsely believing that they are privileged, focus upon the overwhelming advantages they receive from equality and the net detriment they expierience from inequality."

Oh, well, then, I can't wait to see the millions of people in the movement you've created hit the streets.

Oh, wait, you lose the argument too.

At the very least, what Tim and I say has the POSSIBILITY of bringing females and non-whites to the table. Your position, that the advantages that blacks and women are so riled up about aren't actually that important, is not only deeply convenient from a white male, but is likely to get them to tell you to fuck off.

When whites can come to the table and say, "Look, no matter how poor we are, we still get advantages, we didn't earn them, and that's not okay. Let's make this fair and fight together", blacks will take them seriously. Similarly, women will take men seriously when they can acknowledge their responsibility in not fighting the second shift, the glass ceiling. These are ELEMENTARY principles of solidarity, another thing that your worldview just jettisons. If my comrade is suffering MORE than me, then I fight HARDER for them than I would for myself, because they need it more. Blacks need it more. Women need it more. Acknowledging that can't hurt and it can only help bring more people to the table, deepen our conceptual underpinnings and broaden our horizons.

"And in so doing it is to their net detriment. Thats not a "privilege"."

Taking comments out of context with clear clipping is deeply unhelpful. I was seguing into the COSTS of white privilege, which are real.

The rich continuing to insist on an economic system that will ruin everyone's ecology is to their net detriment. That's not a "privilege".

The Waltons, therefore, are not privileged. Billionaires are not privileged.

I will continue to argue this position until you abandon the ludicrous logic that would support it.

"Even if every single poor white and black person, or catholic and protestant person, did nothing but struggle against one another continuously, it wouldnt change that its to their net detriment to do so. If anyone thought otherwise they were dead wrong. Likewise with female emancipation, liberation adn equality. No doubt many males who were themselves oppressed would in turn oppress females and fight relentlessly out of fear and alienation against this liberation. But notwithstanding that, it was in the overwhelming interest of males as a whole that females do alot better. Both their work and their wages contribute immensely."

Fantastic. Tell that to poor whites, and to males. Hopefully, you can stop what is obviously a deeply irrational philosophy. But don't be surprised when doing so that you have to address not only class issues but also race issues. For a lot of whites (maybe not a majority but not an insubstantial group), struggling to raise the minimum wage $2 isn't worth it because those n-words down the street will get more benefit out of it. And if you don't understand why they might choose to make that decision, no matter how short-sighted and irrational, then you don't understand race OR class.

Similarly, I'll evangelize to Bill Gates that it'd be in his better interest to abandon capitalism and massive wealth for an economy that was more sustainable, less brutal and required less dangerous military intervention.

When you admit that Bill Gates' privilege doesn't matter, I'll admit that those Appalachians' privileges don't matter. The same argument can be said for both.

"No matter how disproportionately white these top level groups are, the idea that whites as a whole are getting "missing" wealth is pure nonsense. The immense majority of whites arent getting more than their fair share. If anything they are getting less or only
as much."

They get homes while blacks get apartments or have to live with their families. That's a lot of missing wealth, and for Tim it meant the difference between going to college and not, which in turn meant the difference between his career and not.

"There isnt just a "missing" 11% there is a "missing" 62% (87-25) that the bottom 75% of people dont have. And as you leave out the global context here, how can you not regard US blacks are getting the "missing" wealth from those peoples who are far, far poorer?"

Yes. And another concept that has been introduced is the idea of "American privilege". So plenty of blacks, Asians, etc. also admit that even being born in this country gives us advantages that we didn't earn, that we should take responsibility for and use to our best potential. That's pretty much Noam Chomsky's entire rant for the last fifty years.

But, as I keep mentioning to no apparent reply or interest to you, black males in Harlem have the same mortality rate as people in Bangladesh. For quite a lot of blacks, America IS the Third World. Only the poorest whites even approximate that level of poverty. So your premises are wrong, and almost always erring on the side of underestimating the importance of racism and white privilege.

Further, you keep on changing the discussion back to a class lens because it happens to serve your goal. Those trillions per year of the nation's wealth that is taken from blacks may overwhelmingly be going to the Bill Gates of the world, but the point is that THEY'RE WHITE. So there is a racialized and colossal transfer of wealth constantly from black America to white America. That fact is INDEPENDENT of the class structure, and elevates virtually all whites. It might only be $20 a year for some people, but it is there. And, since the poor have so little already, the slight racial skewing they get MATTERS. (Not even that it's slight: Poor whites have on average orders of MAGNITUDE more net worth than poor blacks.)

"Only in a hypothetical world though Frederic. We have to deal with the real one."

Actually, since many support the drug war, that IS the real one for many. You and I both hate the drug war, but if one supports the drug war, then one is likely to disagree. So many of the ways that you reject white privilege as meaningless or misleading are due to your subjective policy preferences, not the actual social science.

But it IS the real world, since the drug war is insane but it is ALSO slamming blacks more than whites.

"And in this world we cannot forget, even as we discuss inequalities in how the Drug War is fought, that it is inherently unjust no matter how the resources are expended."

Okay, but blanket statements like that are deeply unhelpful when it is really only a small group that has to fear losing their sons and daughters to prison.

I agree, but the idea that the drug war is unjust is our OPINION, whereas the distribution of how it's being targeted is FACT. White privilege is a fact in this discussion, far more so than class or state concerns.

"I cant simply forget than I am against the drug war in all these the discussions. Thats the "so what". There is no "right" number of addicts, users and abusers in prison. There is no fair number. There is no "privileged" number. And given how many millions of whites have been arrested on drug charges over the course of this absurd "war", it makes little sense to talk about "privilege"."

Why doesn't it? Those tens of thousands of whites each year who WEREN'T arrested got lucky. They committed the same crime but got away with it while some black man or woman paid the price of their criminality. Those who weren't arrested get to go on, stop experimenting, go to rehab, and rebuild their lives, while those in prisons get to see their families grow distant and their lives destroyed, get tortured.

You make these grand pronouncements, but for the Rush Limbaugh on the ground who got rehab instead of jail, white privilege was the ONLY thing that mattered. Tim in White Like Me tells the story of an acquaintance of his who got falsely accused of raping a white girl in the South. Had he been black, he would have been lynched. Every single second afterwards wouldn't have mattered, his hard work (or class privilege or male privilege or whatever) wouldn't have mattered, because he'd be dead. Ask someone who just avoided getting one of their three strikes and going to prison for years if they want to trade in their white privilege at that moment, knowing that doing so they will almost undoubtedly go to jail. For them, that's all that mattered. For them, no other privilege could possibly be relevant.

"Not at all, remember the discussions we have had about image and reality and the racial association of drugs, gangs, violence, addiction, etc? We were just having it, so you couldnt have forgotten. No denial or race or disproportionality. On the contrary, there us a discussion as to merely why that is."

And I was tying that into how BOTH the image and the reality are based in racist assumptions that slam blacks and thereby proportionally benefit whites. It's a very simple connection. We're all worse off thanks to the drug war, but some people are YET worse off.

To put it another way: There is no difference, at least in a capitalist economy, between you gaining $20 and me losing $20. Let's say that I were a black man who got put into jail. You as a white guy do have to pay a portion of the cost of keeping me in jail, but I am IN JAIL. You get to compete in a job market where I'm not a threat anymore (not that I ever was a big one, but now I'm not even hypothetically able to get that job at Safeway).

Further, there are some winners in the drug war. New York banks, prison construction companies, corrections officers unions... It's unsurprising to say that the benefits of all that is skewed towards the top.

And the structural reason for the drug war, to eliminate the surplus population, may be fundamentally class-based, but since it's white CEOs and policymakers targeting a black urban poor, there's plenty of white privilege too.

"In the aggregate they experience a net loss from inequality. Thats what you cant seem to square yourself to."

I actually agree, but the same thing can be said of the rich and powerful. By supporting a system, state capitalism, that threatens our ecological viability and risks nuclear war, they orient themselves to kill us all. The problem is that the systemic logic prevents looking at those long-term costs.

In fact, it's actually WORSE, and white privilege far more important, precisely BECAUSE of the massive skewing of class. I don't feel too bad for Bill Gates and his Greek tragedy-style inability to step off the capitalist treadmill. But desperately poor white people in Appalachia NEED that extra $2 an hour wage, or that extra job in the family, or that extra tiny chance to get into a nice school. Without it, they don't survive. So that white privilege for them is more than a psychological wage: It serves a purpose.

Now, you and I might tell them as nice idealistic leftists that they should band together with blacks to fight for that infinitely more massive chunk of the pie held by rich white males at the top, by CEOs and owners of capital and the state. But from their perspective, that involves a ton of risk of getting shot for a hypothetical benefit, whereas if they keep their mouths shut they'll get to keep the pittance given to them under the veil of white privilege. You're telling them to risk that $2 to fight with the n***** down the street and get lumped in with their poverty.

What that tells me is that we need to include both in our discussions, PRECISELY among the poorest. And if you look at the labor history in this country, it bears out the importance of white privilege: The South is among the least unionized areas in America not least because of the massive importance of that little sliver of white privilege. We have to deal with the race issue as well as the class issue to get white and black workers trusting each other and working together.

So, yes, we're all hurt by white privilege, and male privilege, and class privilege, and state power, but some of us are hurt a lot more than others, and it is disingenuous and dishonest to lump everyone in a category together, whether it's rich and poor in class or black and white in race.

But, of course, what you just said ISN'T AN ANSWER. They might be hurt by white privilege, but they're hurt a LOT LESS than blacks are by its existence. That's a net benefit VIS-A-VIS blacks, even if it's an objective harm. That's what I'm trying to get at, and it's something you seem religiously opposed to admitting.

"Nearly all humans can oppress, especially if they are able bodied. If nothing else, the miserable poor white or black or latin or asian man can be a holy, violent abusive terror over the women and children in his home. But lets not pretend that this is a net benefit for them."

They are better off in objective terms, immediately, for having oppressed. Nothing could be CLOSER to a net benefit. There may be eventual costs, just like the thief might EVENTUALLY go to jail or ruin his neighborhood to his own detriment, but in the interim the thief has my wallet and white people have trillions of dollars they didn't earn.

"I dont have to put it at the door of class. I am not sure rape is a function of class, or if it is, to what extent. With murder it depends. But I dont lose sight of the fact that by far the biggest theives and murderers of history arent found among historys poorest. Theft on a colossal scale is undertaken by people with none of the ordinary explanations of poverty and deprivation. I am not among those who believe that if only people have more money they will be any nicer or any less criminal. The sort of crooks I am talking about may not need to hit people over the head on a street corner and steal their money. But that may only be because they have found alot better ways to steal."

I agree, but even THAT is representative of white privilege, because the worst criminals (George Bush, Bill Clinton, CEOs) are overwhelmingly white males. It's not JUST that they're rich, or in positions of power: Colin Powell was both, and that didn't save him from being a political footnote with vengeful speed. Their criminality is considered normal, yes due to class and state power but also due to male privilege and white privilege.

"Yes."

Which means race matters. No matter where we set a level of justice, low or high, race skews the distribution above and below it. All the skewing that white folks get is PRIVILEGE.

"As I said, enough millions of whites have been arrested that I wouldnt go so far as to say "above the law". I dont know any whites who believe that, or if they do, they never said it out loud whenever I was in earshot."

I've heard it, but you're right, people don't usually say it out loud. They don't have to. The different perception is deeply rooted and subconscious. When I call 9-11, I can suspect pretty routinely that the police will be there to help me. This is normal for me, and I wouldn't have reason to question it until I talked to a black man, for whom the process is much more complex and riddled with much more fear. Again, Dave Chappelle's standup shows the ambivalence of the relationship between black communities and the law, an ambivalence that is simply not there for whites. This is a massive advantage for whites, and one I think has led to an OVER-privilege in that whites think (at a deeply subconscious level) they are routinely above the law.

Again: Hundreds of people were lighting up at ONE concert that I attended, without a second thought about even the slightest RISK that they might be caught. Maybe pot should be legal, maybe it shouldn't (I happen to believe it should be, quite stridently), but that utter contempt for the rules is very indicative, and it extends to things that NO ONE believes whites should have the right to do. Tim pointed out that a majority of white college students PLAN on rioting at some point in their college career. This is a startling fact, and one that were it seen among blacks would be dominating new discussion.

Similarly, white folks get to have the belief that they will never fail, that they SHOULD never fail. While it will set them up for falls, like Tim notes in White Like Me, it represents a deep arrogance about the inevitable success of one's endeavors that should NOT exist.

The fact that millions of whites have been arrested is just as moot as saying that thousands of white collar criminals have been arrested.

"When did I cherrypick data sources? You said "again", when was that?"

This entire discussion. That is: Your premise is that, say, psychic advantages are outweighed by material advantages, cherry-picking the vectors that you find important so as to support the argument.

"Not necessarily. They are raised, socialized and enculturated in the same society along with everyone else. And the same underlying, sometimes partly conscious, biases are in operation. And when you add lawmakers, jurors and the media in to the mix its not hard to see how biases in outcomes will result from biases in the people who help decide the outcomes."

When I say "know", I mean that professionals such as police, corrections officers, judges, etc. should be and often are aware of the real statistics, or if they are not it has to be due to criminal negligence. You are right to identify jury members as being a major exception. But a lot of studies have indicated that juries have the potential to take relatively biased people and moderate their opinions upon meditation. Stephen Shalom cites this work for his parpolity arguments. In any respect, some of the worst misbehavior occurs at the "gateway keeper" level of the police, with "tagging", racial profiling, police brutality, etc.

It's not all subconscious bias, but you are correct in identifying that a lot of it IS subconscious bias. Other elements include policy construction, overt bias, policy preferences and signals that indicate that racism just won't be dealt with very harshly, etc. What is clear is that racism in the criminal justice system and the legal system in general is THERE, and that it skews life trajectories between white and black.

"Of course they do. The apparent hit rate among whites would seem to show that. But I said that in THIS case they didnt have good reasons to do more searches of whites."

All right, so clearly for quite a lot of cases the problem isn't that cops are doing their job with white folks and not with black, but rather that a lot of the time cops let white criminals and suspects off the hook far too early, don't do their due diligence, etc. The open question, and part of the reason why your apparent belief that racism is easy to confront is so baffling, is to what extent this occurs vs. your opposing hypothesis, which also has to be part of the picture.

"In terms of physical bodies and beauty, I buy that white beauty is still the norm, but in body shapes that are functionaly unattainable for the immense majority of whites. When you consder the issues of body image, its hard to say that this is to whites benefit. But if you mean this in terms of the content of character though, I dont know what you could mean by "saintly contours"."

I mean both, and it's deeply satisfying to see that I can make an ambiguous comment and get TWO possible meanings from it, both of which fall in the realm of white privilege.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, et al can get away with horrendous mediocrity, stupidity and outright evil in ways that Obama will never be able to. (That's not to say Obama can't get away with war crimes: He is, and he will.)

When blacks riot about serious issues (race, loss of jobs, etc.), we are told about how dangerous they are. When white college students riot, like at Woodstock '99, over things like underage drinking laws being enforced or the rise of alcohol sales, their concerns are taken seriously, even coddled.

This isn't just the media, either. In his book on affirmative action, Tim notes that the majority white teaching professionals in this country tend to give positive interpretations to white students' behavior ("They're not paying attention because the material is not interesting") but negative interpretations to black students' behavior ("They're not paying attention because they don't care about learning").

As to how the white body image helps whites: It means that whites know that they belong, even in that most intimate way of their bodies being treasured and desired. A white woman has the POTENTIAL to achieve the wire-thin figure and match that norm. A black woman does not. Further, it represents the dominance of white norms. Black communities tend to be more willing to embrace larger and rounder figures. But their preference doesn't get to be the norm, and when someone like Tyra Banks dares to weigh 160 pounds, she is called "fat" by the white media. All the studies done on this issue indicate an incredibly pernicious effect upon black and brown women. In this case, there are mixes of absolute privilege and relative privilege for whites.

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"To make this argument

"To make this argument transparently clear, let's simply define white privilege at the outset: White privilege is the advantage that whites get AS WHITE PEOPLE."

They dont get any net advantages though. Thats the fundamental problem here.

"So if you look at white folks through a class lens, you see that, yes, millions are desperately poor. So too if you look at the rich through a race lens, you see that many are black and face discrimination for it."

They do, although there is no even trade there.

"The point is that when you look at race through the racial lens, you see that white people, AS A GROUP, have managed to pilfer trillions from blacks, AS A GROUP."

Since most whites themselves were pilfered, this makes little sense. Race, gender and class exist simultaneously. There can be racial differentials in wealth but that doesnt imply that the white lower or middle classes pilfered anything. On the contrary you can have two groups both being pilfered, except to two different degrees.

"Which indicates that either they're insane or YOU'RE MISSING A BENEFIT."

Those are not the only two choices. They could simply be wrong. There is far more benefit, not merely class benefit, but NET overall benefit for males from gender equality than from sexist oppression and discrimination. Likewise with race.

The notion that males as a whole were better off with no female doctors, lawyers, engineers, therapists, researchers,etc or better off without the enormous job creating or job sustaining money they put into the economy is madness. ANd again, this is likewise with race. Not just class benefit, but overall net benefit.

" For many whites, that psychological wage is WORTH MORE in the risk-benefit calculation than an increase in a real wage. Surely part of the reason is that you consistently underestimate the economic benefits of white male privilege, but part of the reason is that economics aren't all that matter."

The problem is that there is no net psychological benefit from racial or gender inequality. The problem with the "psychological wage" notion is that it posits benefits often in lieu of material benefits, BUT which would still be enjoyed if there were racial equality. You can argue that not having the same restrictions as blacks gave the poor whites of DuBois' time what he considered a "psychological wage". But with equality you will still be treated as a human being, still be able to go to the better schools, use all public facilites, etc. The benefits he postulates as being compensation for their lousy class status, would be enjoyed anyway.

Indeed, they can have better class position, have all the enormous benefits of blacks ALSO having a better class position, while all the while, you have all the things which supposedly constituted a meaningful psychological wage.

This is what obliterates the white "privilege" argument.

"I submit that, if millions of whites have fought tooth and nail AGAINST their class interest to RETAIN their race interest, then MAYBE race might be more important than class. Certainly, that fact OBLITERATES your attempt to make class central and white privilege a footnote, since white folks ain't buying it."

Lots of white folks DO buy it. But its a bit like evolution vs. creationism. No matter how many people "buy" the idea of the garden with the talking snake and dont "buy" evolution, it doesnt change the material truth or falsity of the arguments.

"At the very least, what Tim and I say has the POSSIBILITY of bringing females and non-whites to the table."

With respects Frederic, neither women nor non-whites ever needed you or Tim to come to "the table". They were at the table before either of you were born. And they will continue to be there whether you and Tim are or not.

"Your position, that the advantages that blacks and women are so riled up about aren't actually that important, is not only deeply convenient from a white male, but is likely to get them to tell you to fuck off."

Whats my position? I dont recall saying "arent actually important". I said that there is no net benefit from inequality and there factually is not.

"When whites can come to the table and say"

Solidarity is not only not "jettisoned", which you bizarrely assume I have done, it is the foundation of what I am saying. But "women" and "blacks" are not ideological positions. If Ann Coulter and Clarence Thomas were at our table, you would immediately see that. But even if we dont invite Ann or Clarence to our table, it will have to be cross-ideological. Everyone has to listen, including those who think that the dialogue is about them talking and others uncritically accepting their understanding of the situation. If there are people who come with the idea that whites or males get a net overall benefit from inequality, my job is not to quitely listen and accept their views as true in order to be "taken seriously" by them, but to represent the truth as I understand it. They have to listen too, and I cant take THEM seriously if they come to the table with that attitude.

"The rich continuing to insist on an economic system that will ruin everyone's ecology is to their net detriment."

Whether more eco-friendly business models are to their long term benefit or not, they remain privileged since they have wealth, housing, money, influence and power that is overwhelmingly greater than what any human is entitled to. Recall that I define privilege and deprivation in regards to human rights and human needs. It possible that they are denying themselves even more opportunities for profit by underaking business the way that they do, but they still lie so far above the level of human right and need, that they are privileged either way.

Unlike whites or males as a whole, who have no net advantage from racial and gender inequality, its very hard to argue that the wealthiest do not have a net benefit from the present economic system. Under conditions where human rights, needs, equality and justice are the underlying prinicples, they would fall very considerably. Males and whites have gained far, far more from greater equality than they ever could have lost, assuming they really have lost anything.

It remains an open question however with the rich. I like to emphasize the Species struggle, and not merely a class struggle, but I am often met with criticisms from traditional marxians from along these lines. Ie that the rich wont struggle, even though they may have some species interest in radical change, since their class loss would be so great that it would be more of a net detriment to support radical change than to plow ahead as they are.

This is an interesting area of discussion, as there are ideologic differences between the rich. Surely the Kennedys, Soros and Corzine cannot be regarded as mere reactionary members of a ruling class. Still, they keep alot of wealth and power in spite of their more liberal stances.

"Fantastic. Tell that to poor whites, and to males."

I do.

"Hopefully, you can stop what is obviously a deeply irrational philosophy. But don't be surprised when doing so that you have to address not only class issues but also race issues. For a lot of whites (maybe not a majority but not an insubstantial group), struggling to raise the minimum wage $2 isn't worth it because those n-words down the street will get more benefit out of it. And if you don't understand why they might choose to make that decision, no matter how short-sighted and irrational, then you don't understand race OR class."

I do understand why. But "short sighted and irrational" is exactly the point behind saying that "they have no net benefit from this. The fact that people believe things and do things based on poor information, ignorance, fear and alienation is not all that hard to understand.

"Yes. And another concept that has been introduced is the idea of "American privilege". So plenty of blacks, Asians, etc. also admit that even being born in this country gives us advantages that we didn't earn, that we should take responsibility for and use to our best potential. That's pretty much Noam Chomsky's entire rant for the last fifty years."

Indeed, but while you arent entitled to the "advantage" you are entitled to what you have. The fact that others have it even worse doesnt make you "privileged" simply by the comparison. Someone making the US minimum isnt entitled to make about 700% more than someone making the Mexican minimum, but both are exploited and underpaid. The problem here isnt that the US minimum wage is too high, the problem is that they are BOTh too low, but to two different degrees.

"But, as I keep mentioning to no apparent reply or interest to you, black males in Harlem have the same mortality rate as people in Bangladesh."

I made two posts dated 8/7/09. Scroll up. You appear to have missed the one on Bangladesh. Please read that post before continuing to make this claim.

"But it IS the real world, since the drug war is insane but it is ALSO slamming blacks more than whites."

It is. That part is not in dispute.

"I agree, but the idea that the drug war is unjust is our OPINION, whereas the distribution of how it's being targeted is FACT. White privilege is a fact in this discussion, far more so than class or state concerns."

DIfferentials are a fact, not "white privilege".

"Why doesn't it?"

Becuase a "privilege" is not simply the better of any two outcomes. The number of white lives destroyed by drugs and the criminal justice system isnt high enough for you? Because another groups was even worse, that makes their situation "privilege"?

"I actually agree, but the same thing can be said of the rich and powerful. By supporting a system, state capitalism, that threatens our ecological viability and risks nuclear war, they orient themselves to kill us all. The problem is that the systemic logic prevents looking at those long-term costs."

I know you agree, so does Tim. Thats what ends the debate. Ive covered your rich example above.

"So, yes, we're all hurt by white privilege, and male privilege, and class privilege, and state power,"

Thus, a NET loss.

"but some of us are hurt a lot more than others, and it is disingenuous and dishonest to lump everyone in a category together, whether it's rich and poor in class or black and white in race."

I would say that a person making the US minimum is hurt less than someone making the Mexican minimum. But the US worker didnt steal that money from the Mexican worker, and the US worker isnt "privileged" to be less exploited. Being deprived to two different degrees is still deprivation for both and not privilege for one simply in being the less deprived.

"They are better off in objective terms, immediately, for having oppressed."

But by far a net loss.

"and white people have trillions of dollars they didn't earn."

No, the immense majority of whites have what they have earned, or less. Certainly not more.

"I agree, but even THAT is representative of white privilege, because the worst criminals (George Bush, Bill Clinton, CEOs) are overwhelmingly white males."

The catalogue of human misery, murder, pillage, war, conquest, imperialism, caste systems, sexism and exploitation are sufficiently interracial across the millenia that I wouldnt make any special racial comment as you do here.

"The fact that millions of whites have been arrested is just as moot as saying that thousands of white collar criminals have been arrested."

Not at all. It just makes the "above the law" comment nonsensical.

"This entire discussion. That is: Your premise is that, say, psychic advantages are outweighed by material advantages, cherry-picking the vectors that you find important so as to support the argument."

In other words, no actual cherry picked data sources.

"It's not all subconscious bias, but you are correct in identifying that a lot of it IS subconscious bias. Other elements include policy construction, overt bias, policy preferences and signals that indicate that racism just won't be dealt with very harshly, etc."

Well certainly conscious bias exists. Thats part of it. I mention sub conscious and partly conscious because that could be at work even among people who otherwise mean well, think they arent biased and/or are in a category that "should know better". But in policy construction and preferences you have to inquire into thpose doing the construction. Whats influencing them? Well, among other things, biases.

"The open question, and part of the reason why your apparent belief that racism is easy to confront is so baffling, is to what extent this occurs vs. your opposing hypothesis, which also has to be part of the picture."

Easy to confront? I could go on so much about sub conscious and semi-conscious biases and then think its easy to confront? That makes it hard to confront, not easy.

"George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, et al can get away with horrendous mediocrity, stupidity and outright evil in ways that Obama will never be able to. (That's not to say Obama can't get away with war crimes: He is, and he will.)"

Well thats going to be hard to put to the test as Obama is neither as mediocre nor as stupid as Bush. So I will have to take your word for that one. Evil? We'll see.

"When blacks riot about serious issues (race, loss of jobs, etc.), we are told about how dangerous they are. When white college students riot, like at Woodstock '99, over things like underage drinking laws being enforced or the rise of alcohol sales, their concerns are taken seriously, even coddled."

As for the biases in how we percieve whites and blacks, thats something I have discussed at length. I make no dispute as to its existence in the courtrooms, jury boxes, classrooms, boardrooms, squad rooms and streets of America. Our brains just dont ever "turn off". Any memes at work in there can keep on working every hour of every day everywhere.

Thats not quite "saintly contours". White slackers, hippie pot heads and rioting white punks and frat-house drunks are hardly seen as "saintly" by anyone, nor "taken seriously".

" As to how the white body image helps whites: It means that whites know that they belong, even in that most intimate way of their bodies being treasured and desired. A white woman has the POTENTIAL to achieve the wire-thin figure and match that norm."

But the almost certain reality of failing to achieve it. And with all that that meands for their therefore being undesirable, ugly and "fat". There is no "privilege" in that. And while Tyra might be called "fat" for being 160 (even as many white women would be also), she never would have been famous in the first place, except for the fact of how closely she did come to societal ideas of body and beauty.

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Goalpost Moving

"Unlike whites or males as a whole, who have no net advantage from racial and gender inequality, its very hard to argue that the wealthiest do not have a net benefit from the present economic system. Under conditions where human rights, needs, equality and justice are the underlying prinicples, they would fall very considerably. Males and whites have gained far, far more from greater equality than they ever could have lost, assuming they really have lost anything.

It remains an open question however with the rich. I like to emphasize the Species struggle, and not merely a class struggle, but I am often met with criticisms from traditional marxians from along these lines. Ie that the rich wont struggle, even though they may have some species interest in radical change, since their class loss would be so great that it would be more of a net detriment to support radical change than to plow ahead as they are.

This is an interesting area of discussion, as there are ideologic differences between the rich. Surely the Kennedys, Soros and Corzine cannot be regarded as mere reactionary members of a ruling class. Still, they keep alot of wealth and power in spite of their more liberal stances."

Oh, come on. You're not even TRYING.

When it comes to your preferred area, the rich, suddenly all this rich analysis about bigotry and various forms of privilege disappear. It's JUST about money.

The reason why is transparent. Yes, economically the rich are better off in class terms. This is the definition of class. Saying that the rich have more money is like saying that white people are usually of European descent: It's the definition of the term. Hiding behind this one is tragic.

So I offered an example that you didn't reply to of the real cost of class privilege. There's hundreds of examples one could pick, but the one I chose was the fact that these peoples' entire fortunes are built off of ecologically unsustainable wealth and off of a massive military infrastructure that is not only costly and inefficient but also threatens us all with nuclear extinction. They are guaranteeing their own death. Just like for whites, they are (arguably) harming their CLASS interest to preserve their RACE interest, so too are people with class power harming their own best interest to preserve it. Since their insistence on their privilege is going to ruin all of us, this is even more compelling than your white privilege argument. Yet suddenly, this doesn't matter. Because you've decided, prima facia, that it's only class that matters.

Incidentally, for this argument to even POSSIBLY be true, you'd have to prove two things:

1) That the median wage wouldn't go DOWN, absolutely if we stopped being able to subsidize ecological destruction with imperial power. You seem to think that we could stably redistribute the amount of resources that Americans consume so that we inequity at the level of Japan, but the problem is that AMERICANS CONSUME TOO MUCH. Even very poor people are able to drive their car around thanks to the politics of gas consumption. There are many who argue that living standards and yearly wages would go DOWN if we equalized out among the world. Since dealing with class privilege would ONLY eliminate that internal imbalance, whereas we'd have to deal with white, imperial American and male privilege to get at that nationalized imbalance, it's questionable. I noted that even a simple calculation of the yearly production of the globe, a very favorable one to your position since it assumes that that speculative capital is real money, divided evenly among its members produces FAR less than the median white household, and even less than the median black household. True, living standards and costs of commodities also vary, but at the end of the day even very poor Americans can consume massive amounts of resources.

2) That how much whites get from white privilege is less than what they'd get if we had a substantial change in the class structure. But since that's $7-10 trillion from the FHA loans alone, and a median household income difference of $54,920 from non-Hispanic white households to $33,916 among black households. That's a $20,000 difference in the median household income, and that's only income, let alone access to loans, access to money from extended acquaintance networks, and net worth from prior generations, where the money is even MORE skewed towards whites. There'd have to be a VERY substantial change to our economy for whites to equal that differential.

This is what I meant by cherry-picking. If you think that the only advantage that matters is how much money you make, then of course the rich have advantage and no one else does, because that's the definition of being rich. But this is an infantile position. 

Then we have to add in that in a capitalist society, beating down people below you is pretty close to advancing yourselves. So saying that all white people are doing is preserving a differential between them and blacks is the POINT: That differential matters, even if eliminating it would raise poor white and poor black incomes.

When it comes down to it, millions of black folks think that the innumerable ways that white privilege and racism screws them are worth independent analysis above and beyond class, above greed, above gender, above government. You have created a conceptual framework whose very BASIC for measurement is that only wealth matters. This is a bourgeois, white male framework: It makes tangible only that which white males don't ALL have (even if they have a disproportion of it), which is class advantage. Your entire structure of value is based on white male norms. THAT'S the white privilege that needs to be challenged: The idea that everything that matters can be measured in dollars and cents, which is the only thing white males have yet to have guaranteed themselves. It is ironic that even when we come down to the theoretical underpinnings, we see how white and male privilege plays out.

 

"Becuase a "privilege" is not simply the better of any two outcomes. The number of white lives destroyed by drugs and the criminal justice system isnt high enough for you? Because another groups was even worse, that makes their situation "privilege"?"

Yes. And that's largely because you keep on missing the agents who are really benefitting from it, which is unsurprising given the conceptual blinders you insist on. Corrections officers, white folks who don't like to see black poor when they go into the inner city, the white executives who want to eliminate the "surplus population"... These are all beneficiaries, and they are all overwhelmingly white

Again, without understanding this and recognizing it AS PRIVILEGE, you simply can't understand the world. In California, the victims rights' movement and the prison construction movement are very powerful. (They haven't always been, of course: Polly Klaas helped to deepen that trend, and insure three strikes would get passed). A large disproportion of the anti-prison movement are black folks, people like Mumia. Why would that be the case? Could it be that millions of white folks are just getting it wrong, even those who are "in the know" (that is, people who do tons of research on the topic)? Yes, part of it is that the media is misleading us as to the real costs of the drug war and infinitely overstate the benefits of prisons. But part of it is that tons of overwhelmingly white local economies, like in Susanville (which looks to be a balanced population until you realize that it's 12.5% African American population is almost all state prisoners - it's a sick irony that among the only integrated towns in the country are prison towns), are DEPENDENT on that drug war. If the drug war targetted them according to their proportion of the population, let alone targeted them for their disproportion of USE and sale and possession, suddenly these movements would become a lot less popular. You can't explain why politics work the way they do, why pork works the way it does, who gets government contracts, etc.without understanding white privilege.

Remember: Prisons are 2/3 black and Latina/o now. These millions of white folks who have been victimized are a MINORITY of the problem. From the perspective of white communities, they get rid of a few hippies as well as the normal share of murderers, psychos, etc. and get a burgeoning industry. From the perspective of black communities, they are racially targeted for crimes they don't commit more often and do not reap a share of that pie. The difference between these two communities' perception of the matter is privilege, but it is ALSO the reason why we see the political coalitions shape the way they do. If you can't acknowledge white privilege as privilege, you can't engage in the discussion.

Further, a privilege may not be the better of any two outcomes. But it's the better of THOUSANDS of outcomes. That's what whites get.

Let's say there was a nuclear war. Bill Gates gets into his bunker, so do the Waltons, and survive it. We don't. Now, they lose friends and family who weren't so lucky, they have to survive through nuclear winter. Are they lucky? Are they privileged? They just got the better of two horrible outcomes, right?

I would wager dollars to donuts that you'd say yes in the case of Bill. But you insist on saying

"I do understand why. But "short sighted and irrational" is exactly the point behind saying that "they have no net benefit from this. The fact that people believe things and do things based on poor information, ignorance, fear and alienation is not all that hard to understand."

It's not all those things, not exclusively. Even a very rational person could estimate that the chances of them losing quite a lot from opposing the system (such as their job) is worth shutting up and taking the bribe of white privilege. Ultimately, WE have to prove to them that resistance can be successful. I don't think the desperately poor of the world, white, black or Latina/o, owe us anything but survival. For the absolute poorest and blackest, that almost always means resistance. For whites, who have gotten just enough additional power to not need to resist, not immediately, resistance and compliance are both options. We need to convince THEM that resistance is better than compliance.

"DIfferentials are a fact, not "white privilege"."

They systemically harm whites less thanks to racism in the broader culture that benefits whites. That's white privilege.

"I would say that a person making the US minimum is hurt less than someone making the Mexican minimum. But the US worker didnt steal that money from the Mexican worker, and the US worker isnt "privileged" to be less exploited. Being deprived to two different degrees is still deprivation for both and not privilege for one simply in being the less deprived."

Why didn't he? There is a history of imperialism that transfers that wealth upwards. Even those people making minimum wage (I know, I was there) can live in smaller apartments or in smaller family units, are more likely to be able to go back to a home, might be able to afford a car, can CERTAINLY afford a toaster or a TV. Those are all things the Mexican can't. That systematized transfer of wealth is enacted by HIS tax dollars, however inconsequential, and HIS silence, which for white male workers is NEVER inconsequential. Again: Chomsky's whole shtick has been for years that Americans as a whole (though admittedly middle-class white people in particular) have an obligation to oppose the imperialism that grants them advantages at horrible costs to everyone else.

It's one thing if you take the money that is being siphoned from the Third World consciously and work to resist the systems that create that transfer. That's fine, there's no option otherwise. But there are millions who say nothing (sometimes due to ignorance, but not always), or even try to INSURE their stolen lucre by, say, preventing immigration from that South that their government and the corporations their country houses are looting!

But, again, you're defining your term to make "privilege" not be the right word. Fine. Call it relative advantage, or whatever. It's real. And it surely needs to be opposed. The poor worker doesn't need to say, "I don't want my $2 more from McDonalds thanks to imperialism", they need to oppose IMPERIALISM. Similarly, whites don't need to give "back" their houses or their wages or lock themselves into jail to correct the racial imbalance. Even THAT is a privileged and offensive move, since it can only be made by those who have those resources to give up in the first place, and since no poor black family would willingly give up their sons to prison or willingly give up wages. They need to oppose WHITE PRIVILEGE.

"But by far a net loss"

So what? Even if you're right, that net loss doesn't ever directly hit them, while trying to mitigate it WOULD. If I need $100 to pay my landlord, the fact that I may be losing tens of thousands by failing to band with my black brothers and sisters is irrelevant to the fact that that $100 is in my hands thanks to my ability to get a job, or get a promotion, or get a loan from a friend or family. Eking out survival is preferable to trying to achieve that "lost" wealth by risking losing one's job and cushy status by banding with blacks. One of the most insidious parts about the wages of whiteness is that it makes it POSSIBLE to keep on living without fighting the system, whereas for blacks some form of resistance is virtually inevitable. We can choose collaboration. They can't.

Further, it's questionable even how much you're right. Remember that networks of wealth are a lot more than just net worth. My net worth right now, like most college students', is infinitesimal, indeed possibly negative. But my PARENTS' wealth, and their extended family and friend networks', is substantial. White privilege keys us into those networks, which are vital survival mechanisms. Addressing white privilege would mean that those networks would become proportionally smaller and black folks' proportionally bigger. That is true EVEN of the very poor you talk about endlessly: The white poor are often in horrible straits, but what few people talk about is that they often have an uncle, or aunt, or friend, who provides enough money to scrape by, while the black poor do not have that resources.

Anyways, men and women suffer a net loss from sexism, the rich and poor suffer a net loss from capitalism. That doesn't mean that they're suffering equally, nor that the privileges of those on top aren't real.

"The catalogue of human misery, murder, pillage, war, conquest, imperialism, caste systems, sexism and exploitation are sufficiently interracial across the millenia that I wouldnt make any special racial comment as you do here."

Hitler. Every post-War American President besides Obama. All of the European imperialists. Yes, barbarism throughout history is endless and savage. But we have seen a real escalation, if only due to the technological advances and increase in the global population, of the ability to commit massive crimes.

In any respect, you are once again engaging in goalpost moving. My comment was clearly not meant to be a claim that applied to all of history. In the Dark and Middle Ages, white folks (read: Europeans) did not have the power to engage in the crimes that Genghis Khan did. At that historical era, the worst butchers were probably the Mongols, who by various estimates gave Hitler a run for his money in terms of the magnitude of their death and did so over a much large region (and they didn't end up losing). But over the last two hundred years, we have seen a monopoly of power held overwhelmingly by rich white males.

Similarly, while there have been tremendous variations in everything you cite over the last seven millenia of human history, over the last two hundred years in America there has been a clear and defining trend of rich white male privilege. I can see no sensible denial to this fact.

"Not at all. It just makes the "above the law" comment nonsensical."

Only if you are bafflingly literal and just trying to make arguments for the sake of doing so, logic and evidence be damned. Whites THINKING they are above the law, which is how I phrased it, doesn't mean that they are, doesn't mean they are immune to prosecution. But they get away with a LOT more before they see much more watered down punishments. And, given the unique advantages of whiteness COMBINED with the class disproportion that race brings, even those who commit murder, rape, etc. are very likely to be able to adequately defend themselves so as to reduce or eliminate the effect, while innumerable blacks are investigated and/or arrested and/or taken to trial and/or imprisoned because of little more than the color of their skin. This systematized legal advantage

Further, even the THINKING that they are above the law is an advantage, since it means they do not have to worry about the endless dance that black and brown folks in this country tend to internalize at an early age about how to deal with police officers without getting shot. This helps explain the disproportion of corporal punishment amongst black families, and the disproportion of allowance of corporal punishment from school officials: Black mothers and fathers know that their sons won't get away with things that their white friends will, so they can't take the risk that the "touchy-feely shit" won't work, as Tim put it. That whole worldview is quite profound, and leads to real contempt for the law, which we all see in various forms, even if you disagree as to how prevalent it is. Certainly, it helps explain why people like George W. Bush think they are entitled to break whatever laws they please whenever they want and still run for office, like cocaine use, drunk driving, or the Geneva Convention. Take almost any child of privilege, rich white males overwhelmingly, and you can track a history that begins early and escalates of normalized illegality.

"In other words, no actual cherry picked data sources."

You also have cherry-picked from studies to support your views, such as the airline studies, despite the clear and obvious conclusions of those studies that systemic racism was at work.

"Well certainly conscious bias exists. Thats part of it. I mention sub conscious and partly conscious because that could be at work even among people who otherwise mean well, think they arent biased and/or are in a category that "should know better". But in policy construction and preferences you have to inquire into thpose doing the construction. Whats influencing them? Well, among other things, biases."

Absolutely. Now, those in a position to be enacting these policies are, by virtue of history, disproportionately white males. Since these policies have the effect of continuing to disadvantage blacks and women and elevate white males, again there is a RACIALIZED distribution of privilege, power and harm, just as that distribution is also skewed by class and by gender. Without incorporating all three into our analysis, we can't figure out why so few rich white males are ever imprisoned and we can't figure out why so many rich white males are in positions of power. We need class, race, gender and state analysis acting in tandem to explain these facts.

"Well thats going to be hard to put to the test as Obama is neither as mediocre nor as stupid as Bush. So I will have to take your word for that one. Evil? We'll see."

Even if Obama for the next seven years APPROXIMATED Bush's record, he'd STILL have been more competent because for the first few years he could actually speak the English language without looking at teleprompters. Obama is an infinitely more gifted orator, scholar and politician than Bush ever was. And the point here is that it took THAT man to be elected, with challenges to his credibility STILL occurring, while white folks thought nothing of electing someone who spoke worse English than many of the people voting for him.

Evil, we shall see, but the point is that black politicians are given far less rope to manuever with before their politicized lynchings. Similarly, white CEOs can commit brilliant incompetencies and continue to be hired, promoted and given massive golden parachutes. We tolerate white mediocrity. That is a massive advantage: It means that smart, white college students like myself can skip classes and not try very hard and still be sure that we can pursue almost any job we want, even up to the most powerful office in the world.

"Easy to confront? I could go on so much about sub conscious and semi-conscious biases and then think its easy to confront? That makes it hard to confront, not easy."

I apologize, you and Ken Sartor continue to reply off arguments I addressed to you. Nonetheless, you seem to think that racism, however nasty it is, is just not as difficult to deal with as class. I don't agree: I think they both hold their own unique challenges and hurdles.

"As for the biases in how we percieve whites and blacks, thats something I have discussed at length. I make no dispute as to its existence in the courtrooms, jury boxes, classrooms, boardrooms, squad rooms and streets of America. Our brains just dont ever "turn off". Any memes at work in there can keep on working every hour of every day everywhere."

Which, given the racialized imbalances of power already in existence, perpetuate those racialized imbalances by making the predictions of black criminality a self-fulfilling prophecy, among many other factors. Everyone has stereotypes. But some people have infinitely more power to act on those stereotypes and infinitely less likelihood of being challenged for it. That is white privilege, and given that it's led to hundreds of thousands of black men being imprisoned, many of whom have lost their voting rights, it is substantial.

"Thats not quite "saintly contours". White slackers, hippie pot heads and rioting white punks and frat-house drunks are hardly seen as "saintly" by anyone, nor "taken seriously"."

Actually, even HERE your claim is wrong. Those college rioters who have rioted at colleges across the country and at Woodstock '99 for things like the price of beer were taken quite seriously, and their grievances listened to. Similarly, "slackers" like Tim can become nationally famous through their activism, thanks in large part to what they did while a slacker and pothead in college. And all those marijuana legalization advocates, many of whom are "hippie pot heads", can have their white-privilege-filled protests covered while blacks struggle to have the most elementary parts of their plight heard. So, again, you underestimate how deep and powerful white privilege is.

But so what? What that means is that white folks CAN possibly do wrong. Charles Manson is hated despite being white. But one has to EXCEPT oneself from the "white glow" through one's despicable actions. Otherwise, one is lumped in with all the shiny white real folks, "real Americans" who love apple pie and baseball (note how racialized all these norms are). Black and brown folks have to except themselves not from a POSITIVE norm, but from a negative one. So we let in Bill Cosby and Barack Obama and Colin Powell, tentatively, into our family, as long as they toe the line, while wondering why those people in the ghetto can't be more like them. 

The privilege to clean up, no matter how stupid and immature one's antics were in the past, put on a suit, comb one's hair, and have those be forgiven as a matter of course is one I'd argue is an EXCESS privilege that whites have. Certainly, it's a privilege that blacks don't have.

"But the almost certain reality of failing to achieve it. And with all that that meands for their therefore being undesirable, ugly and "fat". There is no "privilege" in that. And while Tyra might be called "fat" for being 160 (even as many white women would be also), she never would have been famous in the first place, except for the fact of how closely she did come to societal ideas of body and beauty."

So what? There's clearly a difference, and it clearly favors white women. Further, I'd note that, while it may be difficult for white women to get close to the beauty norm, they can deviate much further than black and brown women. There has never been a substantial movement in this country for white women to try to get blacker skin, or "kink": their hair, or get into cornrows, or gain weight to approximate the black beauty standard. But Madame C.J. Walker made her millions off of beauty products that would straighten black womens' hair, lighten the face, etc. Similarly, the zoot suiters and hipsters made a number of efforts to be closer to "white", however seemingly radical they may have been. And, since the beauty myth is so centered on white women, those are a number of high paying jobs that are available to white women.

The fact that Tyra got her wealth by approximating a WHITE beauty norm rather than a black one makes my argument for me.

Further, notice that the other form of discrimination and oppression you're identifying CAN'T be class. It's gender. So, yes, ALL women are screwed by the beauty myth. Yet your position, that white privilege is meaningless, also translates to male privilege being meaningless. Your self-imposed conceptual blinders have already eliminated TWO major categories and made it impossible to have a systemic revolutionary appeal that will include women and black and brown people. That's a majority of the population.

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Black Beauty Standard

Re: Frederic Christie: “As to how the white body image helps whites: It means that whites know that they belong, even in that most intimate way of their bodies being treasured and desired. A white woman has the POTENTIAL to achieve the wire-thin figure and match that norm. A black woman does not. Further, it represents the dominance of white norms. Black communities tend to be more willing to embrace larger and rounder figures. But their preference doesn't get to be the norm, and when someone like Tyra Banks dares to weigh 160 pounds, she is called "fat" by the white media. All the studies done on this issue indicate an incredibly pernicious effect upon black and brown women. In this case, there are mixes of absolute privilege and relative privilege for whites.”

Well put sir!

When transformers 2 came out all I read about on the Sci-Fi/Entertainment forums was how hot Megan Fox was, and how she made young white males salivate for days on end. http://backseatcuddler.com/2009/05/04/megan-fox-gets-friendly-with-a-motorcycle-in-transformers-2/

But it wasn’t explicitly stated that she appealed only to young white males, the assumption naturally was that she appealed to all men by virtue of her body proportions and her race. She is the archetype by which we judge white beauty. Tyra Banks for us black men appeals to us in the very same manner- even though her proportions favor her from the waist down. Even though she is “Thicker” than her white counterparts we see her beauty as being on par if not superior to the thin white, euro body type this country has worshiped since Twiggy.

Black beauty is primarily appreciated amongst black men, and because we are relegated to the place of racial other, our preferences are primarily scoffed upon or ignored altogether. Even the rappers have trimmed down their offerings of booty, as they are all too aware that white males watch these videos, and consume most of the music. So the content must appeal to them as well. The women were much thicker when the audience was primarily black, and from the inner-city. When Pacman Jones was caught on video in a strip club “makin it rain,” some time back- the comments on you-tube were hate-filled, visceral and degrading.  

The strippers were called fat and disgusting; by I’m sure a large number of young white males. These women do not reflect the standard of beauty most whites are used to. But the rounder- fuller figure has always appealed to black men, and this goes back to the Hollywood shorts we saw on newsreels of the time. Our divas, our blues/jazz singers had rounder figures than their white counterparts. The preference is indelibly imprinted on our DNA, just as a preference for the thin- and boyish figure is programmed into the white DNA. I’m 52 and I remember the term "boyish figure" being used in the Platex Living Girdle ads of the 60's, modeled primarily by white women. I’m also reminded of the Flapper who reigned during the Jazz Age of the early 20's and 30's.

The adventurous white woman, who cropped her hair short, bound her breasts in some cases, to take on a boyish appearance; it drove some white men wild with desire. In the recent box office smash G.I. Joe., all of the female actors are incredibly thin and white, as there just aren’t any black women in roles like these. These type movies are targeted primarily towards a young white male demographic. In contrast- the John Singleton movie, Poetic Justice, Janet Jackson had to gain weight to play a girl from the hood, as she was considered unbelievable at her current weight. Beyonce Knowles again gained weight for her role as Etta James in the movie, Cadillac Records. Jennifer Hudson put on more hips for her role in the movie musical Dreamgirls and no one from the black community batted an eye.  

I was introduced to Tyra Bank’s figure in the George Michael video, Too Funky. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTipyA3v9Xk

It was her ample bottom that did it for me. I’m sure most whites would have deemed the junk in her trunk disgusting and out of shape; as some whites tend to prefer the firm- tight buttocks. Yes 160 lbs is quite within the range of the black beauty standard- but close to obese in the white eyes. Jessica Simpson Lost weight for her role in Dukes of Hazard, but to me and most black men- she was just too much on the thin side.

It hurt my eyes watching that woman try to bump and grind, having little more flesh than a 12 year old child. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReXt4l9r2pA

 But when poor poor Jessica gained a few pounds, the white mainstream press (we blacks simply did not care one way or the other) jumped on her like commandos. The same went for Anna Nichole and Britney Spears. As long as they were thin they were the media’s darlings. But when they failed to live up to the rigorous expectations of white beauty they were attacked. Whites in Hollywood have two standards of beauty it would seem. Thin and fat. There is no in-between in Hollywood’s eyes. Maybe it cuts to the heart of the white damsel syndrome. Namely- her beauty is not her own, but it belongs to her race.  

It was so sad to see Jessica and Britney being called fat pigs, and “Oink” comments being plastered all over the tabloids. But both women had a responsibility to tow the beauty line. We don’t care how fat black women get- but you must stay sexy and thin, or we will reject you. Just look how fast Jessica lost the weight after telling magazines she really wasn’t affected by the comments. Oh yes she was. De la soul made a video entitled, Baby Phat- which in essence praises the black woman’s hips and curves, from a black man’s perspective. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUtf_Q4dg9Q

 It doesn’t even occur to the makers of mainstream movies that blacks want to see sexy black women on the big screen too. What we end up with is Halle Berry, and Beyonce; now that she has lost weight. (To appeal to a white audience?)

In a movie targeted towards the mainstream, the black woman will be cast in a supporting role, as the ample- sassy black female; for we don’t matter in the larger scheme of things. If anyone watched the low budget flick, Soul Plane- you saw a nice variety of black actresses ranging from the small, to the thick, up to a bbw (Monique). Sitcoms like Living Single also reflect this trend, for at least 3 of the actresses are larger than the white norm. Tyler Perry’s films reflect this beauty standard as well. Something you would never see in a white movie; with the exception maybe of Hairspray.

Does anyone remember the 70’s pre-disco hit Bertha Butt- or the Bertha Butt Boogie by the Jimmy Castor bunch? http://www.70disco.com/jimmycas.htm  

The album cover dates back to the early 70’s. Now notice the size of the woman on the cover. The animated movie Bebe’s Kids also reflectes a black standard of beauty with at least 3 body types depicted in the film. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4vmA2pJ3HY  

To quote a controversial black preacher: “In the past, we were taught to see others who are different as being deficient. We established arbitrary norms and then determined that anybody not like us was abnormal. But a change is coming because we no longer see others who are different as being deficient. We just see them as different. Over the past 50 years, thanks to the scholarship of dozens of expert in many different disciplines, we have come to see just how skewed, prejudiced and dangerous our miseducation has been.”  

Different does not mean deficient, hence- the Black standard of Beauty is not deficient; its simply different. Hope I haven't offended... Gib

 

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Some Distinctions to Make

"When transformers 2 came out all I read about on the Sci-Fi/Entertainment forums was how hot Megan Fox was, and how she made young white males salivate for days on end. http://backseatcuddler.com/2009/05/04/megan-fox-gets-friendly-with-a-mot...

But it wasn’t explicitly stated that she appealed only to young white males, the assumption naturally was that she appealed to all men by virtue of her body proportions and her race. She is the archetype by which we judge white beauty. Tyra Banks for us black men appeals to us in the very same manner- even though her proportions favor her from the waist down. Even though she is “Thicker” than her white counterparts we see her beauty as being on par if not superior to the thin white, euro body type this country has worshiped since Twiggy. "

Let's clarify two things immediately.

First: Black men are attracted to Megan Fox too. The insanity of the Hollywood circle is that these women, whether they be Queen Latifah, Tyra Banks, Megan Fox, Cameron Diaz, etc. are some of the most gorgeous women on the planet, by virtually anyone's beauty standards. This is especially true when you consider that Megan is very dark-skinned for a white woman. The fact that we can hear ANY of these actresses banking not least on their physical attractiveness discuss things like eating disorders or worrying about good they look only shows how deeply irrational our beauty norms are and how destructive they are to women. And, of course, since they are so destructive to women, they are destructive to men as well, at least any man who cares about the feelings and well-being of his sisters, daughters, mothers, girlfriends and friends.
 
Second: Tyra Banks is not fat, not even at 160 pounds. Hell, if anything I might prefer a tad bit MORE meat on her bones. And she is gorgeous. A vast majority of white men would still find her attractive. Indeed, statistically, they would find her MORE attractive with a little more weight: Studies have shown that men PREFER women to be a few sizes larger than what women think they should be. Just another way that this pernicious body myth is so devastating to women. In any respect, in the real world, white men and black men are not arguing that Tyra Banks or Megan Fox aren't hot. What white men MAY argue is that Queen Latifah isn't.

We have to make a distinction between people's sexual and beauty preferences on the ground and what the fashion and beauty industries sell. They quite deliberately warp our perceptions of what is healthy, beautiful, and desirable in order to sell products. Sometimes, they happen to be echoing some authentic cultural or genetic preference that men have. Other times, they are imposing insanity. But in both cases, the script that they play by is riddled with gender and racial norms and privilege.

Now, notice (for M. Edno's sake), how these consistent privileges create a world where women's psyches are destroyed unless they spend their entire lives worrying about how they can be appealing to men, and even then they might fall short of the mark. This self-esteem focus may not seem so important compared to Bill Gates' wealth versus a poor persons', but for a woman who is losing teeth and risking her life because she refuses to eat or is binging and purging, Bill Gates' wealth is irrelevant to her. Gender is what is killing her.

Further, this beauty focus has macro-economic implications. It means that women are coerced, pressured, forced, etc. into spending quite a bit more of their income on fashion. True, men also have their domains to purchase in where they experience pressure (cars, trucks, boats, golf equipment, sports, etc.), but those are for RECREATION, not a quasi-necessary purchase to remain within normative standards and to attract the opposite sex. Women "have" to buy from the fashion industry.

It also creates a segregation of labor, where women and gay men are disproportionately working in the fields of fashion, modeling, health and beauty products, etc., while men get to work in the "real" professions, professions that grant quite a bit of power: Media, banking, investment houses, etc.

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You speak my heart sir- but

You speak my heart sir- but coming from a black man's perspective its disheartening to read such malice in forums where these very same women you and I praise are insulted in discussions and on-line blogs across this nation. The Standard of beauty as we know it today gives young men permission to be denigrating towards plus-sized white women, and more so towards black women; for they believe black women aren't even in the race. It would be refreshing to see a white female lead in a movie who genuinely reflects the norm in this country. The average size of woman in this country is now a 14.

So you’re more apt to see a black woman fitting this reality than you would a white woman. Course you and I know better, and the countless black men who maintain big booty/thick forums know better; but we aren't making these movies. We aren't publishing these magazines that feature skinny white women as the norm. We aren’t parading girls like Hanna Montana or Paris Hilton about as if their shape is something to be attained in life. Blacks aren’t doing that.
Jet magazine highlights a beauty of the week, in its publication and the model does not fit the standard set forth by the mainstream. She varies in size and weight, and we blacks are fine with that. We aren't casting these women in countless movies where the average size is a 4.

I have yet- (and I belong to quite a few forums, including the newsgroups) I have yet to see comments from black men praising Megan for her svelte figure. Not to say that they don't exist mind you. But you and I come from different backgrounds with different perceptions.
Just know, that when a black man compliments a woman, he may say something like- hi Miss Sharon, you putting on weight? Cause Gurl you lookin good! (Meaning he’s looking at her butt.) His white counterpart might say, Hello Karen, you losing weight? You must be going to the gym because you look great! (Now he’s admiring her firm buttocks and her toned athletic arms)
Its Like night and day, but as you say such is privilege.
Even SNL got into the act by making fun of the fact that black men were more likely to accept a plus-sized white woman, when her own race would almost surely ignore her because of her size. It was a very funny piece.

Serena Williams, fine as the day is long to many black men, is pictured on mainstream forums and blogs. Some whites liken her to a man, while others liken her to a monkey/gorilla. I’m not kidding. Try TMZ.com. The standard of beauty on that site makes you shake your head sometimes. The women they make over are close to anorexic, looking like adolescent males at best; well under what is even considered the norm by white standards. I see it in almost every sitcom and movie with a prodomenitley white cast. No matter how many children the white mother has had- she will always be portrayed as having a slim and trim figure; even in commercials. In contrast, history has shown most black women in sitcoms/movies to be at least a size 12 and up. Almost as if white casting directors expect the black woman to have some weight on her, and cast her for that reason.

Poor Brittney and Jessica were barely even size 10's and they were treated like dirt in the white press. Growing up as a young man during the 70’s I noticed a consistency in the schools I attended and the dances/social events I patronized. It was the thick girls who got the play- and the attention. They were the ones the black jocks and the alpha males chased after. The skinny girls were almost ignored for they had no meat on their bones. That standard still is true today in my community.
In contrast when watching the film, Elephant- I noticed this scene: http://archive.sensesofcinema.com/contents/05/36/elephant.html
“Three girls, Brittany, Jordan and Nicole, who chat, bitch and gossip over lunch, and then go together to the bathroom to throw up. Their bulimia is portrayed as incidental, ironic, a kind of given; but also points to the superficiality of their exchanges. McKibbin finds in the girls’ bulimia a notion of “will as a social achievement”, which is a clue to the underlying tension and competitiveness between the girls.”

These white girls knew instinctively- if you want to be popular and desired (by young white men, in a mostly white school) you will keep yourselves thin. This might be common in suburban schools, but black girls know if you want to turn a guy's head- you have to have some junk in your trunk. For instance this site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiky7OWZJw0

A genre of entertainment that appears to be indigenous to black folk, even in London. I didn’t know they even knew what booty was in London. Note the size of these women steppin onto the stage- you don’t hear people hollering, “Get off! You’re too fat!  Let’s see some skinny women up here! You are correct in your assessment that we black folk are more accepting of the larger sizes and the fuller figures. A girl shouldn’t even be on that stage unless she has something to shake. Course in the eye of the mainstream this is just plain disgusting, all of that flab and loose flesh. Notice at the end of the video the winner looks like she has just won the Miss America pageant.

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"They are guaranteeing their

"They are guaranteeing their own death."

If they succeeded in annhilating the human race, including themselves, then of course their privilege would cease to exist when humanity did. But this is an absurd argument. Obviously you have to have a living human society in order to have humans with societal privileges. But as of August 2009, the Earth is very much still here and their deaths (other than from ordinary mortality) are not an all "guaranteed".

It says something about the magnitude of class privilege that you have to posit total species annhilation in order to give an example of how they could lose their privilege. Sure, if all humans were obliterated, human privilege and deprivation ("underprivilege") would both be gone forever.

"You have created a conceptual framework whose very BASIC for measurement is that only wealth matters."

I never said anything of the sort.

"Even a very rational person could estimate that the chances of them losing quite a lot from opposing the system (such as their job) is worth shutting up...."

Thats fear and ignorance. Rational people can experience fear and be ignorant. Those are human qualities. And whites dont do this more than others do. Most blacks are "resisting" today? Really? *Most* of them are doing no such thing. They get up in the morning and make the best of whats in front of them, just like most people of other groups. And of the black middle and upper class are you sure that revolutionary resistence is what defines their existence? How many Marxists in the crowd at a black business leaders and entrepreneurs gathering? Lots? A few? None?

MOst people dont do all that much activist struggling. Many who do may only do so for a certain time, or until certain tangible goals are attained, and then cease or diminish their efforts. The wealthy can pay thugs, strikebreakers, lobbyists and lawyers to do their fighting for them. Alot less tiring that way. And certainly alot less dangerous.

If white workers who fought for slightly better hours and wages for themselves and then subsided when they attained that...Well... Look, its easy to judge them when you werent in that position. Dont you dare sit there safe and sound in 2009 at a computer and say that after your skull was hit by the butt of that Pinkertons rifle that you would have just jumped up like a Revolutionary Hero. Why didnt they keep fighting? Would YOU have? Maybe they had to get back to work in order to eat. Maybe they put their own families first and had a hard enough time doing that, to say nothing of a revolution.

I dont judge them for not being more than they were. They were raised when they were, knew what they knew and struggled very hard. But they werent "privileged", and whites as a whole have never had any net benefit from inequality. They didnt then, they dont now, and they never will.

Even when many whites did fight, as in the multi-decade bloody labor struggles or in womens rights, it should be stated that not all workers and women actually fought, and even then, many people struggled only as hard and as long as they needed to. The vast majority of people of all races and genders are not all that radical. And alot of people who are radical, especially today in the USA can talk tough about resistence, but theyve never really done any and never had to do it with their own lives on the line. So their cheap talk about standing up is little more than that. Thats why I include "fear" as a reason.

"Yes. And that's largely because you keep on missing the agents who are really benefitting from it, which is unsurprising given the conceptual blinders you insist on."

If they have a net loss, then they are NOT benefitting. And the idea that the US or Mexican minimum wages are "privileges" because the Haitian minimum is even lower is preposterous. None of them are the groups that are "benefitting" from exploitation. The exploited never are.

"A large disproportion of the anti-prison movement are black folks, people like Mumia."

Mumia? Oh come on Frederic. Do you have to be a clone of EVERY white leftist college radical ive met for the last 20 years? Not that I mind the 18 and 20 yos who reads Zinn, Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein and suddenly awaken to radicalism. Just a few classes and they know all they need to know to figure the whole world out. Gung ho revolution! Free Mumia! Every US president is a War Criminal! Viva Chavez! I get it. But cant you at least break the stereotype by being AGAINST freeing Mumia. Pick ONE thing that EVERY college radical supports and go against it. Be a contrarian!

Lol. Nevermind.

"You can't explain why politics work the way they do, why pork works the way it does, who gets government contracts, etc.without understanding white privilege."

No, white privilege explains nothing about it. Corruption, pork, pay offs and kick backs are ancient, international and multiracial.

The challenge is that we have to demonstrate there there is no net benefit from a a drug war, and alot more benefit for them from alternatives. Thats whats needed without regard to "whiteness", which contributes absolutely nothing to that discussion.

"Why didn't he? There is a history of imperialism that transfers that wealth upwards. Even those people making minimum wage (I know, I was there) can live in smaller apartments or in smaller family units, are more likely to be able to go back to a home, might be able to afford a car, can CERTAINLY afford a toaster or a TV. Those are all things the Mexican can't."

And the Mexican in turn is much better of than the Haitian. Theft? I call this differing levels of relative deprivation. There is no "privilege" for any of these peoples, including those at the US minimum. The idea that most of the wealth created on Earth actually exists in only the poorest countries and is then "siphoned" to workers in the US, Europe and elsewhere is mindboggling and absurd.

If you did think that even the US minimum wage is the proceeds of theft, then you have to regard racial inequalities in wealth in the US as merely being inequalities in who recieves the proceeds of theft. Its not black wealth being siphoned to whites, because the wealth doesnt belong to US blacks to begin with. Its not "theirs". If anything, they already have too much. Its just that you think whites have even more stolen money.

In the real world, the size of the global economy has increased immensely over time. Its not the same wealth that exists, zero-sum, over millenia and is merely redistributed or "siphoned" from one place to the next with Industrialization and western workers having contributed nothing to economic growth. An interesting table from J. Bradford DeLong of the Department of Economics, U.C. Berkeley:

Estimated World GDP in 1990 dollars:

Year one: 18.5 Billion

Year 500: 19.92 Billion

Year 1000: 35.31 Billion

Year 1500: 58.67 Billion

Year 2000: 41.016 Trillion

WHoa!!! What happened between 1500 and 2000?

1500: 58,670,000,000

2000: 41,016,690,000,000

Yikes! They must have "siphoned" it from somewhere! Waitaminute...it would already have to exist in order for it to have been siphoned! Even by 1900, it was only 1.1 trillion. So it increased nearly 20x from 1500 to 1900 but 40x from 1900 to 2000. I would suggest looking into the Industial, scientific and agricultural revolutions and mass production to get a better handle on how economies grew at such astonishing rates. Imperialism has exited for millenia, but that explains nothing about stratospheric growth. A little something more than theft is happening here, Frederic.

The extent to which third world labor and resources have been exploited, there is no benefit for US workers as a whole. On the contrary global poverty is a drag on them and a threat to them. Huge numbers have already lost their jobs to third world labor as the bosses seek other areas with weaker labor and environmental standards to exploit. Thats not what creates or sustains a middle class. Global equality at high living standards is in the overwhelming best interests of all of humanity as a whole, including the US white middle class.

"Further, it's questionable even how much you're right. Remember that networks of wealth are a lot more than just net worth. My net worth right now, like most college students', is infinitesimal, indeed possibly negative. But my PARENTS' wealth, and their extended family and friend networks', is substantial. White privilege keys us into those networks, which are vital survival mechanisms."

Humans in general have these networks. We are a social species and we are always more likely to help those that we know and love as opposed to strangers. But depending on who you are, you can have a network of family and friends "in low places" and they therfore cannot get as much from that network, no matter how well meaning the people in it might be. They are themselves in need of assistance. Among groups at the other end, the opposite is true. Such groups are unavoidable and not negative in and of themselves.

"Addressing white privilege would mean that those networks would become proportionally smaller and black folks' proportionally bigger. That is true EVEN of the very poor you talk about endlessly: The white poor are often in horrible straits, but what few people talk about is that they often have an uncle, or aunt, or friend, who provides enough money to scrape by, while the black poor do not have that resources."

The networks would get no smaller, and would not need to be. There is no basis for thinking that the average white persons network is too large or too effective. There is enormous variablility in size, extent and effectiveness of social networks between any particular white, black, asian or latine or native person. Some blacks have very powerful networks of well placed friends, family and other associates, and many whties have very weak networks.

Its that other peoples networks are worse and need to be better. The members of a given black persons network might be as numerous as a white persons, and the people in it are working every bit as hard to help their family member/friend, but they just arent able to deliever the same quality of aid. There is still this tendency to think of the better of any two outcomes to be the "privileged" one. This is exactly the sort of bogus reasoning that keeps getting you into trouble.

"Anyways, men and women suffer a net loss from sexism, the rich and poor suffer a net loss from capitalism. That doesn't mean that they're suffering equally, nor that the privileges of those on top aren't real."

The rich do not appear to have a net loss from Capitalism. Males and females as a whole do have a net loss from sexism, and it is therefore pointless to speak of "male privilege". The problem with inequality is not which of any group suffers the least. Its that all suffer and all benefit from equality.

"And the point here is that it took THAT man to be elected, with challenges to his credibility STILL occurring, while white folks thought nothing of electing someone who spoke worse English than many of the people voting for him."

Lots of white folks did not vote for him. I bet Tim didnt. I didnt. You meant SOME white folks. And while even many conservatives thought Bush wasnt that bright a bulb, Bush was better for their interests than Gore or Kerry would have been.

"Evil, we shall see, but the point is that black politicians are given far less rope to manuever with before their politicized lynchings. Similarly, white CEOs can commit brilliant incompetencies and continue to be hired, promoted and given massive golden parachutes. We tolerate white mediocrity."

Who tolerates whose mediocrity? Marion Barry hasnt been tolerated by his electorate? And while its true that spectacular frauds and incompetencies are committed by white CEOs, its also done by nonwhites, and to what extent they are connected and able to cover their asses and interests can secure their having golden rewards even in dispmal failure. Im not sure that the mindnumbing corruption and incompetence among some black African regimes is any more inspirational in what it says about money, power and the human condition. This fixation with singling out whites for what are species problems is not only unhelpful, its deeply misleading.

"That is a massive advantage: It means that smart, white college students like myself can skip classes and not try very hard and still be sure that we can pursue almost any job we want, even up to the most powerful office in the world."

Assuming your dad was the 41st President and your granddad was Prescott Bush. I wouldnt count on sitting in that Oval Office just yet. And on the corporate end, I think you will find that your complete lack of connections will keep you safely out of any CEO chairs.

But it is certainly NOT a net advantage to have mediocrity rise to the top. And while Obama is qualitatively better than Bush, I am not sure his record was so deep or extraordinary to justify being President. If he was not a particularly gifted speaker, he would have been crushed, IMO. Had Dennis Kucinich made the same speeches as Obama, but said them the way he would have, he would have had not nearly so good an outcome as Obama. So while its good on one level that Obama is a better speaker than Bush, thats not necessarily a very reassuring fact about how and why people choose their candidates.

"Nonetheless, you seem to think that racism, however nasty it is, is just not as difficult to deal with as class. I don't agree: I think they both hold their own unique challenges and hurdles."

I do not think that. If anything, class might actually be easier in at least some senses. What would make class harder is the enormously disproportionate resources that they possess. But the sub and semi conscious nature of alot of biases, including race, make it hard to confront. People of all races, (not just whites, Frederic) have to be willing to confront their biases on gender, race, sexual orientation and other areas when they arent even entirely conscious of them. Thats tough.

"Everyone has stereotypes. But some people have infinitely more power to act on those stereotypes and infinitely less likelihood of being challenged for it. That is white privilege, and given that it's led to hundreds of thousands of black men being imprisoned, many of whom have lost their voting rights, it is substantial."

"Infinitely more power"? Infinitely? Even the most powerful in society dont have "infinitely" more power. The immense bulk of whites certainly do not have access to all that much power at all. Like "saintly" this is just another example of your predilection for wildly exaggerating the differences between whites and blacks.

In practice we cant just isolate white kids and adults and say "we wont worry about homophobia and gay bashing among latin, black or asians right know. Let them keep bashing, we have to focus on just the whites". Or "It doesnt matter how much sexism, female objectification or domestic violence there is against women among blacks, latinos and asians. We have to let that all go and just worry about what white males are doing." The same with ethnic and racial prejudice.

That will never work, Frederic and its idiotic in any case. These are society wide issues, and the whole broad front has to be addressed. I have no idea how anyone could believe that the way to deal with race, gender, sexual orientation , ethnicity, religion and age is to look at one group only and no one else.

"Actually, even HERE your claim is wrong. Those college rioters who have rioted at colleges across the country and at Woodstock '99 for things like the price of beer were taken quite seriously, and their grievances listened to."

By whom? And who regarded them as "saintly"?

"Similarly, "slackers" like Tim can become nationally famous through their activism, thanks in large part to what they did while a slacker and pothead in college."

WIth all due respects to Tim, he is not THAT famous. And while some activists are famous, its their activism and writing that gives notoriety, not their slackitude. And I dont know who you think regards slackers as "saintly".

"And all those marijuana legalization advocates, many of whom are "hippie pot heads", can have their white-privilege-filled protests covered while blacks struggle to have the most elementary parts of their plight heard. So, again, you underestimate how deep and powerful white privilege is."

Who is taking Hippie pot heads seriously? Specifically. And they are regarded as "saintly"? By whom specifically? And covered where? Little tiny blurbs? There is a wide drug legalization push, but hippie pot heads arent the segment thats being taken seriously. Its mostly people suffering terribly from various illnesses and claim a real relief from the use of the drug that I have seen being taken seriously, not some knuckleheaded white college stoners with tie-dye shirts and Jamaican dreads.

"So, yes, ALL women are screwed by the beauty myth."

Exactly. Your silly idea that the lesser of two discriminations is a "privilege" is what is nonsense. There is no "privilege" here for white females. I will accept "screwed" has by far the better term.

"Yet your position, that white privilege is meaningless, also translates to male privilege being meaningless. Your self-imposed conceptual blinders have already eliminated TWO major categories and made it impossible to have a systemic revolutionary appeal that will include women and black and brown people. That's a majority of the population."

Inequality is hardly "meaningless" and I have never said that a single time. But there is no net advantage for whites and males in doing it.

"Further, notice that the other form of discrimination and oppression you're identifying CAN'T be class. It's gender."

I never one single time said there is only class oppression. Not once. Quite the opposite.

Comment Bubble Tip

Men Co. and White, Inc.

"Mumia? Oh come on Frederic. Do you have to be a clone of EVERY white leftist college radical ive met for the last 20 years? Not that I mind the 18 and 20 yos who reads Zinn, Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein and suddenly awaken to radicalism. Just a few classes and they know all they need to know to figure the whole world out. Gung ho revolution! Free Mumia! Every US president is a War Criminal! Viva Chavez! I get it. But cant you at least break the stereotype by being AGAINST freeing Mumia. Pick ONE thing that EVERY college radical supports and go against it. Be a contrarian!"

How unsurprising that someone who appears to be an unabashed Marxist sectarian is being, well, sectarian and personally insulting! (Here's a hint: I happen to know about Marxist sects.) I wonder why you guys keep on failing to recruit anyone. I guess if it's not the implicit denial of the importance of problemns facing the majority of the population, it's insulting young prospective leftists instead of congratulating them and bringing them to the fold!

Mumia, being a black man and a legal scholar, has interesting comments on the nature of the American political system, race, etc. I happen to have some disagreements both with Mumia and MOVE ideas, but they're nonetheless comrades, and I'm not going to insult them as readily as you seem to insist upon.

Incidentally, notice that I didn't mention being for OR against freeing Mumia. Can YOU not do at least ONE of the stereotypical Marxist sectarian actions? I just mentioned Mumia as an example. As it so happens, I don't know enough about the Mumia case to comment. It seems like he didn't get a fair trail (well, he CERTAINLY didn't), and neither did the MOVE folks, but that doesn't mean he's innocent or blameless. It DOES mean that we need to have an appeal for his case when the criminal justice system isn't a sham, and THAT leads me to think that Mumia should be freed: Not that I am convinced by his innocence, but that I feel the prosecutors failed to prove his guilt beyond a shadow of the doubt. Anyways, I'm not big in the "Free Mumia" movement. Freeing one black commentator from prison, while probably commendable, doesn't seem to be worth the time and effort put into it as compared to freeing, say, hundreds of black men, and it also brings up ominous points about the Left's tendency to rally around idols and demand their special treatment (since saying "Free Mumia" is, in effect, saying "I think freeing Mumua abu-Jamal is more important than freeing Tyrone Johnson").

But I DO have plenty of views that aren't especially popular among the Left,  or that some Leftist cult or another dislikes, or that don't satisfy your stereotypical and insulting idea of young leftists, which you'd know if you a) asked and weren't being an insufferable, arrogant, ad hominem-attacking ass or b) read my blog. (A is more reasonable, of course.) A short list:

A) I advocate parecon and have a distinct understanding of what that means.

B) I don't think genetically engineered foods are necessarily evil. I think their incorporation could be a vital tool in our portfolio.

C) I don't think vegetarianism is morally or politically superior, nor do I think a just future society would need to abandon meat.

D) I'm not religiously against pornography.

E) I'm not religiously against nuclear power.

F) I think that our revolutionary toolkit needs to include voting, reformist political actions, etc. Among my policy proposals are a socialized health-care system, full employment policies, raising the minimum wage to track productivity, altering NAFTA and GATT, cutting down on military waste and fraud, etc. This is contrary to plenty of Marxists and young anarchists who are against any reform as either being statist or propping up the system (or giving it implicit legitimacy or some other BS).

G) I think white privilege exists and don't argue that we need to stop talking about it because it'll alienate white folks, like your segment of the Left does.

H) I don't believe that 1 in 4 women will be or are victims of rape in our society. I think that that shibboleth among feminists is unnecessary, and prefer to cite a lower number like RAINN does (1 in 6) due to my distrust for statistical outliers. This one actually sparked some controversy in a multi-cultural societies class I went to, since the Professor decided to repeat the 1 in 4 mantra.

I) Chavez was a victim of a CIA coup and has done a lot of great things for Venezuela, but our focus needs to stop being on any President, even a President cool enough to cite Chomsky on the floor of the UN, and to be on the MOVEMENTS in those countries. So, again, I actually get a little worried about the personality cult of Chavez. That having been said, since the CIA thought he was important enough to overthrow, I think he's important enough to support.

So, in short, I actually have a lot of unorthodox views among the Left, no matter what group you put me into. Further, since I became an anarchist when I was 15 thanks not least to Chomsky but also to Bakunin and Proudhon, I beat your stereotypical time scale. And if anything, Michael Albert has been as transformative a thinker as Noam Chomsky was for me, yet he didn't make your short list.

And your proposal indicates (however much in jest) how much contempt you have for reason. Let's say that I evaluate the merits of the commonly held shibboleths of the young college Left, find them all to be reasonable, and have good arguments for each. Why should I just pick one to abandon to fit YOUR ludicrous and infantile idea of non-conformity? Putting that aside, a certain consensus of issues not only is to be expected but makes SENSE in a movement. People should have their own opinions, of course, but also be respectful enough of other comrades to support and acknowledge THEIR causes and struggles. So while you may personally have some qualms about "Free Mumia", they ARE comrades and their work is connected to good causes about prison reform, racism, etc. Have a little more respect.

The worst part was that, in my initial reply, I skipped over this character assassination, thinking your behavior had become more charitable. Apparently not...

Incidentally, which one of those DO you disagree with? Do you refuse to have solidarity with Venezuelans? Do you think American empire doesn't commit war crimes?

Oh, and the "Every American President was a war criminal" is actually not nearly as popular among the college left as you'd think. A fact you knew if you ever interacted with them aside from turning your nose up and ordering another Double Mocha Latte while ranting about how much the proletariat is suffering. (Anyone can do the character assassination bit).

"The rich do not appear to have a net loss from Capitalism. Males and females as a whole do have a net loss from sexism, and it is therefore pointless to speak of "male privilege". The problem with inequality is not which of any group suffers the least. Its that all suffer and all benefit from equality."

Come on now. First: Again, even Marx argued that the capitalists were setting themselves up for their OWN DESTRUCTION and the rise of the proletariats yet never denied that the capitalists were privileged and powerful; capitalists threaten themselves just like the rest of us with global warming, pollution, unsustainable economic systems; and those in political power threaten us just like they threaten themselves with WMD gamesmanship. These are just a few of the dozens of categories where class and political privilege are ultimately deeply harmful to the people who hold it. Yet no one serious uses these claims to deny that those systems benefit the rich.

Further, your premise just seems to be wrong. I find it hard to imagine that all those qualitative and quantitative advantages whites get and men get would be eclipsed by the advantages of a better society, at least not in a way distinct from the capitalists. Whites make MORE than the median household income while blacks make LESS. I fail to see a world where adjusting that difference BENEFITS whites. You might argue that we'd all make more money, but even if Andrew Brimmer's $20 billion estimate of the cost of employment discrimination to the society captures a mere 5% of the total cost of racism, that's STILL only $400 billion, or around $1300 bucks for every man, woman and child in America. Compare that to the difference between the black and white median household income: It's TEN TIMES HIGHER

But so what? Even this distinction is not enough to create a qualitative difference between gender and racial privilege and power. Those systems could work in a different way but still produce what any reasonable person would call "privilege" for those on top. I gave the example of a thief: The fact that I stole $20 may hurt me in the long run, but that short run benefit sure is nice. And the fact that we are competing in a CAPITALIST society ALONE makes my point: You are pointing to costs that are almost all sunken costs OUTSIDE of the market system, whereas all the benefits I point to are ones WITHIN the market system. If men are a business (and, under capitalism, they functionally are), they would be CRIMINALLY irresponsible to use your calculation over mine. They would see losses this fiscal quarter, and maybe over the next ten fiscal quarters, to MAYBE recoup losses they apparently could care less about given their consistent behavior. Ditto for White Co.: That cost to the economy, while serious . Even the argument that gender and race privilege split up the working class and thus make it harder to revolt for justice falls on three points:

a) Many of these men and white folks PREFER their gender or race privilege to their class privilege;

b) Men and white people include the rich, and in fact include a DISPROPORTION of the rich, so making an appeal to whites to get rid of white privilege so they can successfully band together to take their just desserts from the rich is silly when you recognize that you are TALKING to the rich with this statement

c) Even if White Co. or Men Inc. decided to ignore the above, they would STILL be taking the risk of EVERYONE getting hurt (the rich transferring capital or hiring knee-breakers or deploying tanks or nukes), especially the poor, for the POTENTIAL of a more equitable distribution later on down the line. Given that no plausible movement that will reward such efforts immediately exists, it'd be, again, criminally irresponsible to take this risk.

So capitalism makes white privilege and gender privilege, even IF we buy your premise that they clearly harm the "privileged" too, WORTH that harm, just like capitalism makes having a nice car "worth" the ecological catastrophe that car produces. We need to deal with these on their own separate terms, and that means acknowledging that one group is getting the lion's share of the benefit and the mouse's share of the cost.

"Lots of white folks did not vote for him. I bet Tim didnt. I didnt. You meant SOME white folks. And while even many conservatives thought Bush wasnt that bright a bulb, Bush was better for their interests than Gore or Kerry would have been."

Yet millions of poor whites voted AGAINST their class interest for their race interest. Here is another area where white privilege just DWARVES the other considerations. Tim argued, in response to "What's Wrong with Kansas?", that the question is ACTUALLY "What's Wrong with White People"? The difference between blacks and whites voting Democratic versus Republican is far larger than geographical, gender, and numerous other categories. This means that millions of whites vote against their class interest, consistently, while millions of blacks don't, and this is uncontroversially the LARGEST phenomenon where we see this type of difference. White privilege simply HAS to be playing a large role in this, and when we look further, it clearly is.

"The networks would get no smaller, and would not need to be. There is no basis for thinking that the average white persons network is too large or too effective. There is enormous variablility in size, extent and effectiveness of social networks between any particular white, black, asian or latine or native person. Some blacks have very powerful networks of well placed friends, family and other associates, and many whties have very weak networks."

Noise level, random variation does not the signal deny. The fact that, as a white guy, I'm more likely to know or be able to get to know an executive that is at least within my racial group IS a network that's "too large" and "too effective". If there were social justice, my chances of accessing a network of privilege would be the same as a black man's. That is nowhere NEAR the case, and here you're denying what is sociological truism. No one argues seriously that blacks have MORE access to networks that grant them opportunities for advancement, wealth and power. This was indeed the point of the famous argument about the strength of weak ties.

"Who tolerates whose mediocrity? Marion Barry hasnt been tolerated by his electorate? And while its true that spectacular frauds and incompetencies are committed by white CEOs, its also done by nonwhites, and to what extent they are connected and able to cover their asses and interests can secure their having golden rewards even in dispmal failure. Im not sure that the mindnumbing corruption and incompetence among some black African regimes is any more inspirational in what it says about money, power and the human condition. This fixation with singling out whites for what are species problems is not only unhelpful, its deeply misleading."

The list of examples is innumerable. Picking one example of white mediocrity shows that you have no respect for the argument's importance; and picking thousands, as you undoubtedly could, would still be laughable.

Incidentally, you seem to argue that I'm just picking out white examples of mediocrity at random. But I'm not. I'm comparing them to paired examples and making sure to eliminate or control for class, gender and state. So let's take Colin Powell v. Rumsfeld and Cheney. In the intra-State Department vs. Vice President and "Defense" Department turf war over Iraq, it's quite clear that Colin Powell was "right": Iraq didn't have WMDs (not that people honestly thought that on any side of the discussion), a diplomatic solution would have been possible, and in any respect the Pentagon was clearly so incompetent they couldn't control a country with the world's most powerful military sufficiently to prevent an almost purely LOCAL insurrection from rising up. We might expect that Powell would lose temporarily, and be fired, due to the President making his choices, though even here those choices were shaped not least by white privilege (Bush had much more experience with Cheney and Rumsfeld due to their white privilege and access). What we WOULDN'T expect, and is anomalous, is that the Iraq disaster wouldn't cost Cheney his career but would cause Powell, the one who history vindicated, to virtually disappear off the political map, the black man who the media fawned over as the first possible Republican black President. Colin Powell's meteoric fall from grace can only be explained if we add in race to the model.

Individual examples not enough for you? The studies that showed that a white sounding RESUME was equivalent to eight more years of job experience should clinch the point. Very experienced black applicants repeatedly find themselves ignored over mediocre white applicants. Similarly, one of the most startling conclusions of studies like the Boston Federal Reserve Bank paired-loan-tester studies is that while black applicants for loans have their excuses for poor credit ignored, whie applicants for loans find their excuses for poor credit respected. And the fact that white high schools are able to have AP and honors classes means that students like myself can get an A-B average and still get a 4.0 while a black student going to an inner city school with neither has to get all As to achieve the same feat. Of course, some schools like Northwestern take that into account during their application process, but even when they do white students STILL get the advantage of not having to take the classes they did well enough on the AP test for. I personally have 12 units of AP credit, equivalent to nearly one full quarter, or a few thousand dollars less of college tuition. Down the line, paired studies show that white mediocrity, criminality and excuses are tolerated while the same, or even LESS, from blacks is not.

This saintly aura, and I use that word deliberately, is so severe that studies have shown that if you show a criminal on TV but don't mention their race or even SAY the criminal was white, white viewers will remember a black criminal. We ASSUME black criminality even when we are told otherwise. This gives whites an implicit shield from our judgments: A white criminal gets the advantage that we don't even think s/he's white. In a manhunt, what kind of advantage does that give to the fleeing white criminal, who many will fail to remember because of their racial programming to let whites off the hooks while castigating blacks?

Indeed, the whole conservative school of wagging the finger of "personal responsibility" at black communities falls squarely into this trope. Blissfully unaware of the irony of telling other people to have better personal responsibility, they fail to acknowledge that THEIR communities could also do something to clean up their act, whether that be resisting racism, acknowledging white privilege, or just dealing with white drug use, suburban ennui, school shooting and alienation among their kids, etc.

One can go into it in much more detail, but to be totally clear: You might be able to cite examples of white mediocrity being punished, but I would be willing to wager you can find only a handful of examples of white mediocrity being punished more than comparable black mediocrity. Certainly nowhere near the bulk of statistical and anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

So, no, it's not just a "human" thing, just like it'd be absurd for me to say to you that you should stop knocking the rich and the capitalists for wanting money and power. It's deeply misleading and unhelpful to blame them for doing something that's just human, right?

"Assuming your dad was the 41st President and your granddad was Prescott Bush. I wouldnt count on sitting in that Oval Office just yet. And on the corporate end, I think you will find that your complete lack of connections will keep you safely out of any CEO chairs."

So clearly we see class, and racial, and gender, and political power intersect. And notice the CRITICAL importance of that political power. George H. W. Bush may have been a lot poorer than Bill Gates (last I checked, their net worth was in the mid-millions not the mid-billions, but I may be wrong), but his position and connections were enough to get his son the Presidency. So we once again see that class simply isn't enough to explain the world, indeed so much so that we have to include not only class PRIVILEGE but also white PRIVILEGE, political power and PRIVILEGE, and gender PRIVILEGE. Similarly, Hillary Clinton was also connected to a President, but she couldn't ride on that power because of her gender.

I mention this mediocrity, though, because the point is that Obama, even being rich, politically powerful (a Senator), heterosexual, and male, couldn't get away with the kind of mediocrity Bush espoused proudly. The only category that'd produce that outcome would be his race.

As for that: Actually, I HAVE corporate connections, not least from being at a prestigious university and coming from a white middle-class family and... It is exactly those connections that are racialized and gendered: The "old boy's club". The interesting thing about the old boy's club is that it's very possible for a poor white college student to say the right things, court the right Professors, take the right internships, meet the right friends, and thereby gain access to the circles of privilege, while it seems fairly difficult for even a middle-class black student to do so. (Not impossible, of course, but you'll notice that a lot of the major black faces in mainstream power institutions we can think of, like Condi and Colin, took a rather different path and suffered rather different consequences than Rumsfeld or Cheney). That old boy's club, as you rightly implicitly identify, overwhelmingly fills the jobs in this country: Some estimates put the amount of jobs filled by word-of-mouth and informal connections at over 80%! So the fact that this club is not only skewed by class but also race, gender and political power indicates that all of those factors are vital for determining who has power in our society and who doesn't.

"I do not think that. If anything, class might actually be easier in at least some senses. What would make class harder is the enormously disproportionate resources that they possess. But the sub and semi conscious nature of alot of biases, including race, make it hard to confront. People of all races, (not just whites, Frederic) have to be willing to confront their biases on gender, race, sexual orientation and other areas when they arent even entirely conscious of them. Thats tough."

Absolutely. My point, though, is that the benefit of black and brown folks confronting their biases is to make them less prejudiced people and to eliminate a lot of in-group fighting and mistrust. That's important. But the benefit of WHITE folks confronting and eliminating their biases is to enact a major transformative change in the society, leading to massive improvements in treatment of blacks in law, employment, lending, etc.

My second point, though, is that even if we deal with that bias, there's STILL other independent structural issues that we'd have to deal with to achieve racial equality and harmony: Structures and design of communities, the racialized (as well as gendered, class-altered and politicized) maldistribution of wealth, laws on the books and fiscal/political priorities, etc. So it's not enough, even under a VERY generous interpretation of Ken's point that we should just stop being racist, to just stop being racist in our attitudes or biases.

But I'm very glad that we're getting to the point where we can talk about these spheres of influence. And you are perfectly entitled to say, "Okay, I understand that racial privilege in THEORY is just as important as class, but in my estimation and according to my preferences and abilities, I think that my efforts are best put towards fighting class privilege because a) so much of the remaining gender, state and racial privilege are tied in with massive inequal access and dealing with class would deal with that, b) we've made substantial inroads into dealing with race, gender and state oppression but not so substantial inroads into dealing with class and economic oppression and the system of capitalism itself, and c) the sheer magnitude of the inequality forced by the class system is mind-boggling and hampers the life chances of billions." In fact, I'd join you in that private estimation. My point is that someone, a white man or woman like Tim Wise or Peggy McIntosh, who wants to confront white privilege, and I think that precise phrase is vital and the benefits of changing it minimal, can offer just as detailed an argument for the importance of dealing with white privilege and expending their efforts in that manner centrally.

When we can talk about each category and the PRIVILEGE and disadvantage that each category brings, with a consistent terminology that does not raise one category of injustice above or below another in terms of importance even before we make the factual assessment on the ground, then we can actually form a coalition of disparate interests. But if we equivocate and say, "Well, I don't think whites are privileged per se, because even though they get huge systemic advantages they're more harmed by the system of racism than helped and anyways millions of them are still desperately poor", we will see blacks, and women, and gays, and numerous other groups call us on our sanctimonious BS.

"In practice we cant just isolate white kids and adults and say "we wont worry about homophobia and gay bashing among latin, black or asians right know. Let them keep bashing, we have to focus on just the whites". Or "It doesnt matter how much sexism, female objectification or domestic violence there is against women among blacks, latinos and asians. We have to let that all go and just worry about what white males are doing." The same with ethnic and racial prejudice."

Nor is anyone arguing for this. Being able to conceptually separate out what's happening is not the same as making such infinitesimal judgments on the ground. 

But YOU'RE the one arguing to, in effect, ignore what everyone but what rich people are doing by refusing to call anything but class privilege "privilege". You've created a prima facia qualitative distinction in your mind between class power and all other forms of social power, despite what everyone from Chomsky to Ehrenreich to Albert to Tim may say. So you're the one with the position that boils down to this ludicrous state of affairs. I'm arguing to have a conceptual framework that recognizes, at the outset, the equal importance of various categories of injustice and oppression, then proceeds from there. My framework allows me to say, "Well, the claim of black and brown child abusers, rapists and wife-beaters to some kind of racial unity or 'Us versus them' stance is offensive and vile because while they may be racially disadvantaged, they are acting out gender advantage and power in the most grotesque way." Your framework doesn't seem to be able to do that.

Again: If anything, I'd be MORE likely to pick class privilege to focus on at the exclusion of all else were that necessary, so I'd be much more likely to say "Who cares if the poor beat their wives? All that matters is their poverty" than any of your strawman claims above. But it's not necessary and is in fact insulting to both intellectual thought and the victims of injustice. If we deal with racism, we'll deal with virtually all of the difficulties and oppression black and brown rich men deal with, and many of the difficulties poor black and brown men deal with as well as many of the difficulties rich black and brown women deal with, and some of the difficulties poor black and brown women deal with. Similarly, if we deal with gender oppression, we'll deal with the vast majority of what rich white women have on their plate, and a lot of what poor white women have on their plate, and some of what poor black women have on their plate. So on, and so forth.

But in order to deal with ANY of these, we have to recognize them as categories of importance just like class...

""Infinitely more power"? Infinitely? Even the most powerful in society dont have "infinitely" more power. The immense bulk of whites certainly do not have access to all that much power at all. Like "saintly" this is just another example of your predilection for wildly exaggerating the differences between whites and blacks."

Or maybe you're presuming what you're measuring beforehand, again, and it's leading you to make bizarre conclusions.

Even very poor whites are far more likely to live with other whites and in neighborhoods with more wealth than fairly well-off blacks. Racial segregation has to do with a lot of factors, but one of the big ones is white flight, where whites will leave an area if it becomes too black or brown. Now, there is no phenomenon of "black and brown" flight that systematically transforms areas back to ghettoes. That is an ability whites have and blacks don't. That's a qualitative, or "infinite", difference.

Similarly, while I am sure black business owners sometimes discriminate against white applicants or hire from within their own social networks, that doesn't change the massive disproportion of white 

It's whites who own the banks and insurance companies that can "redline" black communities, whites who rent the apartments and can lie about openings to people of color, whites who can "tag" black youth. None of these, and hundreds of other examples of discrimination, are part of the normalized white experience. That's a colossal difference, and even very poor and relatively weak whites are able to take that discrimination to massive extremes. Hell, insofar as out-and-out racism is able to let the Republicans win Senate seats and Presidencies even when they have basically given up courting people of color, that extreme is as large as being able to choose the de facto ruler of the world versus not being able to.

I obviously use words for polemical intent as well as argument, but your reply is to concede the argument.  Whites have the power to act out on their biases and "schemas", blacks don't. That's an accurate description of the data.

"By whom? And who regarded them as "saintly"?"

To quote Tim on the topic:

And so in Boulder, Colorado and Santa Cruz, California just a few weeks ago (on April 20th, 4/20 get it? No irony here, just maddeningly predictable pothead behavior), thousands of people--statistically speaking, nearly all of them white, and with virtually no black folks, other than perhaps an occasional Bob Marley pic on a t-shirt--showed up to spark up: part of an annual pot pilgrimage that has been going on for several years now, always with the same, unarrested result.

Now don't misunderstand, I've indulged my fair share of weed, and I'm not one to advocate the criminalization of such activity, as I think it both a waste of justice system resources and overly punitive. Yet none of that is the point. The point is this: people of color simply could not get away with such a flagrant disrespect for the law, no matter how stupid that law may be. But white hacky-sack kickin' hippies who continue to believe--against all evidence to the contrary--that patchouli can actually cover up body odor? Well, they can get away with damned near anything. 

Oh sure, to read the headline in the student paper at UC Santa Cruz, you might think there had been some jackbooted overreaction by the cops to such behavior. After all, "UCSC Cracks Down on 4/20 Festival," makes it seem as though perhaps the administration had decided to actually arrest people, or even suspend or expel them for engaging in blatantly illegal behavior. But no. Upon reading the article one learns that by "cracking down" the author meant that the campus would erect barricades, enforce parking rules, limit use of school shuttles and ban students from having friends crash at their dorms overnight. Damn pigs, what a police state! Apparently the folks at Santa Cruz haven't gotten the memo on how to deal with scofflaws such as these.

 

Now, notice that these are not only potheads, but potheads who are publically announcing a conspiracy to break a law at a particular place and time. The media didn't comment on that, they commented on the police's response. The police response was NOT to arrest all these people who were openly flouting disrespect for the law (however justified), it was to treat it as if it were some completely legal protest rally. Young slacker potheads get off the hook while police "crack down".

Similarly, the survey that indicated that a majority of white college students planned to riot at some point in their college careers, almost like a rite of passage, was met with stunning silence.

Another quote: http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2001/2001-April/007623.html

And yet, when whites riot (and don't even get me started on Woodstock '99 again), not only do we not call them "terrorists," cops rarely if ever shoot them with rubber bullets or spray them at point-blank range with mace. Although many arrests were made and harsh sentences handed out in the wake of the Michigan State riot two years ago, coverage was still largely sympathetic, with media asking "what made good kids do bad things?" and focusing on the otherwise "straight arrows" who got caught up in the moment. Hell, in that particular riot, white students were caught actually trying to pry a loaded shotgun from a police car (before trying to push the vehicle into the fire) -- an act that surely would result in death number sixteen were a black Cincinnatian to try it, but which, in East Lansing, only prompted a brief volley of tear gas, in order to disperse the crowd.

And most telling of all, in the wake of the two most serious white college riots -- Colorado and Michigan State -- police and residents in the riot zone actually reached out to students in an attempt to "understand their frustrations" more fully. According to Boulder officials, the riots led to a greater attempt by police to improve their relations with students; and in East Lansing, local residents launched a campaign to "adopt" entire dorm floors, invite students to backyard barbecues and let the kids know "that we appreciate them in the community," according to one neighbor. I will swallow my keyboard if anything like that happens in Cincinnati.
 

So, once again, your consistent philosophy of undervaluing racial privilege versus class, gender and state privilege leads to you underestimating its power and importance.

"WIth all due respects to Tim, he is not THAT famous. And while some activists are famous, its their activism and writing that gives notoriety, not their slackitude. And I dont know who you think regards slackers as "saintly"."

So what? He's known, he's able to make money selling books. The only reason he is doing as well as he is, not to mention being as effective an activist as he is (whatever that amount is), is because he's white. That's a lot of privilege. Without it, he would probably just be another unknown anti-racist activist.

No one regards slackers as "saintly", per se. But my VERY POINT is that WHITE people can get away with slacking and NOT BE CALLED SLACKERS. The media makes excuses for them and their slacking far more readily than when the slackers are black. This is obvious with a moment's assessment. You are violently insistent on clouding the point. George W. Bush should declare loudly to the whole nation that C students could become President, could revel in his mediocrity, and millions of whites not only excused it but actually applauded the sentiment. Obama, just as politically powerful (though not as rich - not that that's relevant here), could not.

"Who is taking Hippie pot heads seriously? Specifically. And they are regarded as "saintly"? By whom specifically? And covered where? Little tiny blurbs? There is a wide drug legalization push, but hippie pot heads arent the segment thats being taken seriously. Its mostly people suffering terribly from various illnesses and claim a real relief from the use of the drug that I have seen being taken seriously, not some knuckleheaded white college stoners with tie-dye shirts and Jamaican dreads."

Everyone who buys a Willie Nelson album, who watched Harold and Kumar or Cheech and Chong, who voted for Bill Clinton despite his dalliances with marijuana, and the media who do human interest or local stories on the latest vegan fad or marijuana legalization movement.

But even if you could establish that white hippies weren't taken seriously, that would still only demonstrate that whites can LOSE the ability to be taken seriously, but have it by default, while blacks have to GAIN the ability to be taken seriously and do not have it by default. Your attempts here are just pitiful, and also deeply insulting.

"Little tiny blurbs" of coverage are far more than serious issues that the black community get.

The fact that the movement that white hippies are PART of is being taken seriously, while a movement that black and white folks are part of against white privilege really is not, alone makes my point.

And the medical marijuana arguments from sick people have been around for decades. So that can't be the reason either, though again the whiteness of those faces (not necessarily the faces of the sufferers, but certainly the faces of the sufferers that get attention) and the concern that that whiteness brings to bear should be transparent. We're seeing a push because of an economic collapse that is NOW threatening middle-class white people. But there has been a permanent economic collapse for black communities for decades. So, again, white privilege is on display in EVERY EXAMPLE you offered, even abstracting out class, gender and political influences.

"Exactly. Your silly idea that the lesser of two discriminations is a "privilege" is what is nonsense. There is no "privilege" here for white females. I will accept "screwed" has by far the better term."

We return to the semantic distinction. It doesn't change a systemic arrangement that benefits some over others, that is wrong, that needs to be changed, and that the people who are being benefitted by the systemic arrangement need to be part of that struggle and acknowledge their responsibility in reaping the benefits.

But you're describing the problem in an offensive way. Men are not just "less" discriminated against. Whites are not just "less" disadvantaged. In their spheres, gender and race, they're on top. They are the ruling or elite group in those social spheres. Period.

Your entire analysis is maddeningly simple-minded, and insulting because it ignores that even people suffering under a legitimate plight can have wide variation in how hard it hits them. All women are harmed by the beauty myth. This is obvious. But some women have that harm REDUCED by white privilege, in that at least their racial identity qualifies them for potential membership in the beauty club, whereas some women have that harm AMPLIFIED by racism, in that even if there were no beauty myth affecting all women they would STILL be harmed by not seeing prominent black and brown faces. Gender played a role first, then white privilege further redistributed the goods. Similarly, white privilege began FIRST in America: Indentured servants and landowners versus slaves. Capitalism came LATER and redistributed wealth in a manner that was not least a deeply racialized one. There is an order of operations for oppressions, and being able to extricate each one out is vital. Calling it "white privilege" is essential for that task.

But, of course, the rich are screwed by capitalism too, screwed by pollution and global warming and slowing growth rates thanks to inequality, just less so; and those in political power (another category your class-only focus eliminates from discussion, with disastrous results) are just as screwed as we are if their gamesmanship leads to a nuclear war. Under Marx's original interpretation, the capitalists were MORE doomed than the proletarians, because their system would lead to their inevitable demise and the inevitable triumph of the proletariat. That insight did not for a moment cloud his judgment as to who was the privileged class. The same remains true of race.

"Inequality is hardly "meaningless" and I have never said that a single time. But there is no net advantage for whites and males in doing it."

Again: That doesn't make it disappear. When we talk about white privilege, we mean systemic advantages that raise whites or blacks. The fact that those systemic advantages have harms to the people committing it, as they do, is moot.

But, again, so what? "Net advantage" is a fantastic theoretical phrase to ignore that a) they are still better off RELATIVELY and b) that their relative advantage is, as many honest white people have admitted in Tim's comment sections, an essential survival mechanism.

"I never one single time said there is only class oppression. Not once. Quite the opposite."

But you want to refer ONLY to class oppression in terms of privilege and underprivilege. Racial oppression, gender oppression, and political oppression are to you QUALITATIVELY different in that they're not about "privilege" but just about being screwed less or disadvantaged less. NO white person is harmed by being white qua white. They ARE harmed by the system of privilege in total, but that's not the same. This qualitative distinction between these types of oppression just won't fly.

Comment Bubble Tip

"How unsurprising that

"How unsurprising that someone who appears to be an unabashed Marxist sectarian is being, well, sectarian and personally insulting! (Here's a hint: I happen to know about Marxist sects.) I wonder why you guys keep on failing to recruit anyone. I guess if it's not the implicit denial of the importance of problemns facing the majority of the population, it's insulting young prospective leftists instead of congratulating them and bringing them to the fold!"

Lol. Touched a nerve, eh? Relax Frederic. Im busting your chops. Theres nothing wrong with being the young gung-ho Revolutionary. Well, not necessarily anyway. Besides this often, though not always, moderates somewhat with the passage of time, living and further study (especially when you discover alot more non-radical authors.) In any case, you can say its better than being a young, apathetic cog in the machine whose just interested in getting laid at keg parties.

"But I DO have plenty of views that aren't especially popular among the Left, or that some Leftist cult or another dislikes"

Well unless someone is a complete ideologic party-line robot then they do have at least some differing views. Although a worse problem among radicals of the left and right is how easily they fracture based on these disagreements. Theres some truth to the idea that if you put any 10 socialists in a room and come back a few hours later there will be 9 different political parties (Socialist Workers, Socialist Labor, SOcialist Equality, etc etc).

Just comments on some of these:

"C) I don't think vegetarianism is morally or politically superior, nor do I think a just future society would need to abandon meat."

I am not a vegan either, but its hard not to see the strength of the arguments from people like Peter Singer. THat it is speciesist (cousin of sexist, racist). We cant be slaughtered and eaten because why? We are smarter? If a sufficiently smarter species thought human meat would be a wonderful treat, would that be ok? "Oh their just animals"? So are we. And that does have a ring of "oh their just N's". Singer might say that our moral sense and capacity for moral reasoning give us greater moral responsibility but not greater moral worth.

"This is contrary to plenty of Marxists and young anarchists who are against any reform as either being statist or propping up the system (or giving it implicit legitimacy or some other BS)."

You cant not have reform. I know what they are saying, but how can you ask people to not fight for better wages, better conditions, fairer hiring, and much else besides. The more social democratic reformers have a good argument that they have actually done a much better job at raising quality of life, standards of living and fairness than have the revolutionary regimes, without recourse to violence or one-party police states.

"G) I think white privilege exists and don't argue that we need to stop talking about it because it'll alienate white folks, like your segment of the Left does."

Not at all. Im one who says you tell it as you see it. If you feel the need to call BS, then call it. But this works for all humans, not just white folks. If there are blacks or others who will be alienated by certain statements, then they will just have to feel alienated. They are grown-ups so they can suck it up and deal with it. There are practicalities of consciousness raising. Needlessly antagonising peole should be avoided. But if its a matter of truth telling as you see it, I just dont see holding your tongue.

"H) I don't believe that 1 in 4 women will be or are victims of rape in our society. I think that that shibboleth among feminists is unnecessary, and prefer to cite a lower number like RAINN does (1 in 6) due to my distrust for statistical outliers. This one actually sparked some controversy in a multi-cultural societies class I went to, since the Professor decided to repeat the 1 in 4 mantra."

One in six is really bad though, so while its important to nail down the right numbers and not engage in hyperbole, this still leaves it as a huge problem. But are you sure that you havent engaged in over the top exaggertations on racial divides?

"I)....That having been said, since the CIA thought he was important enough to overthrow, I think he's important enough to support."

Well, thats not a reason for supporting him. I have said things like "If cheney said rain was wet I wouldnt believe him". Its a decently funny line, but it isnt LITERALLY true. It is possible for the US government to be against a regime that really is worth being against even if your on the left.

"Come on now. First: Again, even Marx argued that the capitalists were setting themselves up for their OWN DESTRUCTION and the rise of the proletariats yet never denied that the capitalists were privileged and powerful;"

But that hasnt actually happened, lo these many, many years later. And the very sort of mechanism that he posited as the reason for why they would be overthrown does not appear to be happening.

But the problem here is that you are comparing differing scenarios, ALL of which represent a net loss for the capitalists from where they are TODAY, but then saying that some of these scenarios are LESS of a net loss than others. For instance, simply overthrowing themselves now and accepting a society of equality and social justice at a high standard of living would at least mean they stay alive and live a life of equality. Whereas, if they continue on as now, they might be overthrown by others later and STILL lose nearly everything, but ALSO take the risk of being killed. OR they may be exterminated by some nuclear or ecological catastrophe. This would involve them losing absolutely everything, but they would ALSO lose their lives.

Ok. But all three alternatives (a) accept equality/justice, (b)face revolution, or (c) possible annhilation, represent a worse postion than they are in now. And with no actual guarantee that continuing as they are now really will bring about (b) or (c).

"Whites make MORE than the median household income while blacks make LESS. I fail to see a world where adjusting that difference BENEFITS whites."

Its alot more than the cost of employment discrimination. Youd have to consider not only the work than blacks do as a benefit to the society (more doctors, engineers), and how they would spend their better (and job creating and sustaining) wages, reduction in the numbers of people raped, murdered, and robbed. THe cost of the criminal justice system to the society, etc.

ITs not just that immense numbers of whites would rise to a higher position than they are now (which alone would justify it), but that rises for blacks and women as a whole (half of whites are women) is a great benefit for white males as whole and not just to those groups.

Rising along race, gender, ethnic, sexual orientation and age lines is a net benefit for the immense bulk of whites and put them in a better position than they are now.

"If men are a business (and, under capitalism, they functionally are)"

They are not. Nor are whites. Not even close.

"Even the argument that gender and race privilege split up the working class and thus make it harder to revolt for justice falls on three points:"

Actually it does not fall at all, they just arent the only reasons that solidarity (not just revolts) can fail to materialize.

"a) Many of these men and white folks PREFER their gender or race privilege to their class privilege;"

Many humans (not just whites) do prefer their religion, race, ethnicity, nationality or other forms of division to their underlying class or species interest. There are people who believe that the interests of their immortal soul, the pursuit of "righteousness" and the commands of the Word of God trump ALL other considerations. Lots of people.

I cant speak to immortal souls, but the net interest of humans as a whole is in species consciousness and species wide liberation and emancipation whether most humans see it that way or not. In practice, close family and kin and personal survival are paramount. And various other kinds of consciousness, be it national, religious, gender, ethnic or other can impede our advance. And not just towards some kind of "revolt". But while these are all realities to face, but they dont change the underlying truth of the proposition.

"b) Men and white people include the rich, and in fact include a DISPROPORTION of the rich, so making an appeal to whites to get rid of white privilege so they can successfully band together to take their just desserts from the rich is silly when you recognize that you are TALKING to the rich with this statement"

Well not all that many are rich as a percentage of all white people. What wiull be hard is winning white, black, asian or latin middle classes that are more likely to aspire to greater attainment of security and comfort, and have no interest in a revolution. Indeed, I dispense with the whole idea of a revolution here.

"c) Even if White Co. or Men Inc. decided to ignore the above, they would STILL be taking the risk of EVERYONE getting hurt (the rich transferring capital or hiring knee-breakers or deploying tanks or nukes), especially the poor, for the POTENTIAL of a more equitable distribution later on down the line. Given that no plausible movement that will reward such efforts immediately exists, it'd be, again, criminally irresponsible to take this risk."

White Co and Men Inc dont exist. The issue is whether Koreans, Chinese, French, Germans, Hutus, Tutsis, Muslims, Hindus, Christiants, Jews, Arabs, males and females and transgendered, and all others in the whole species can attain a species consciousness, see a wider species interest, and act going forward from that. Yes, that means calculating the fact that not only will many not do that, but will actively resist anything that seems contrary to their interests. Some of these interests, including right wing armed groups, corporations, nationalist political parties and corrupt state elements will throw every ounce of strength they have in opposition to this.

Most humans encounter a world at birth that is colossal, ancient, extaordinarily complex and try to make the best of things hour by hour, day by day. But they have interests in having needs. And they act to meet those needs as best as they can, based on what information they have and with consideration to any emotional or other bonds they have formed with others. There is great fear in not meeting these needs, or in the perception that they will not be able to meet them. Organisms fight for their survival and benefit and resist what appears to threaten it, even if their judgements as to threats are badly misplaced.

"Yet millions of poor whites voted AGAINST their class interest for their race interest."

Even if they did, it doesnt change the fact that it was against their net intersts to do so. Not just against their class interest but their NET interest. So even if you selected out those whites who voted GOP but believed it was in their class interest to vote Dem, (and you would have to), and then eliminated all other factors from the remainder, whatever you have left is not actually better off in net total.

"The fact that, as a white guy, I'm more likely to know or be able to get to know an executive that is at least within my racial group IS a network that's "too large" and "too effective"."

Not at all. You cant just "unknow" the people you know. If someone else, as a black guy, knows fewer that means his network needs to get better, not that yours is too large. You may not like the "more likely" part in regards to your network, but that doesnt mean that the number you know is too high. Indeed to suggest that most whites have too much juice with too many corporate CEOs is laughable on its face.

This is not zero sum. You dont need fewer uncles for a black guy to have more uncles. You dont need to make fewer friends, acquiantences and other associates in order for someone else to have more.

"If there were social justice, my chances of accessing a network of privilege would be the same as a black man's."

Some black men have much better networks than you do. Many have worse. "Averages" dont trump the realities of the millions of real-world particulars from which they are drawn. In the real world some few have networks of absolutely overwhelming strength, most people dont.

BUt this same underlying reasoning is whats faulty. Someone having less does not mean you have "too much". Indeed two different people in poverty can BOTH have too little even though one is poorer than the other. There is absolutely no logic to the idea that because one persons network is stronger, than therefore it is TOO strong simply in being stronger.

"So let's take Colin Powell v. Rumsfeld and Cheney."

To say this is to know nothing about how Rumsfeld ran the DOD or what happened to the careers of white civil servants or the military to didnt tow the line. Or how either he or Cheney regarded the State Department as a whole.

Cheney was the Vice President, he would serve the full term, barring impeachment and removal. His career IS over. And you think he and Rumsfeld stand higher in esteem than Powell?

"The studies that showed that a white sounding RESUME was equivalent to eight more years of job experience should clinch the point."

Well the resumes with the white-sounding names failed to generate a callback 90% of the time. And the resumes with black sounding names failed to get a callback 93.33% of the time. There is no doubt that a 10% success rate versus a 6.67% (while both very low) shows a consistent discrimination.

Of the 1,330 ads they responded to

No Call-Back for either: 1098 (82.56%)

Equal Treatment: 64 (4.81%)

Whites Favored : 118 (8.87%)

Blacks Favored: 50 (3.76%)

So, of the 232 ads for which there was at least one call back:

Equal Treatment: 27.6%

Whites Favored: 50.9%

Blacks Favored: 21.6%

Yep, thats discrimination. Of course, favored would include resumes of equal strength but not equal call-back. So how much of that is actually "mediocrity" being "tolerated" is a separate point. Only some of these would actually be a weaker taken over a stronger resume of the other race. SOme are weaker over weaker and stronger over stronger.

But thats not the point. The point is there is no net benefit from doing this. And the underlying negative perceptual associations with blacks is not all that unlike what we have seen in many other studies in other settings. The extent to which some of the "black favored" involves less qualified blacks getting the job, and "white favored" involves less qualified whites getting the job only adds to the point that this is not to our net benefit as a whole.

"Absolutely. My point, though, is that the benefit of black and brown folks confronting their biases is to make them less prejudiced people and to eliminate a lot of in-group fighting and mistrust. That's important. But the benefit of WHITE folks confronting and eliminating their biases is to enact a major transformative change in the society, leading to massive improvements in treatment of blacks in law, employment, lending, etc."

There will be a net benefit for the whole society from all persons confronting biases. Its not as if its only white taxi drivers who by pass black customers, or only white people are in human resources, or misremember information on juries, etc.

In the global context, Lifting the human species as a whole requires confronting religious, political, national, ethic and other ideologies besides. Oppression of women, for instance is very interracial, international, and ancient. Its not enough to ask just whites to be better in this regard. If anything, they already are, as the Western states are far and away ahead of much of the world in this sphere. Genocidal slaughters in Africa, mass corruption, ethnic conflict and stratification, dictatorships, exploitation etc are not just about white US nurses, janitors, waitresses and firefighters confronting biases.

"My point is that someone, a white man or woman like Tim Wise or Peggy McIntosh, who wants to confront white privilege, and I think that precise phrase is vital and the benefits of changing it minimal, can offer just as detailed an argument for the importance of dealing with white privilege and expending their efforts in that manner centrally."

The main problem is that white "privilege" doesnt exist. Whites, as a whole dont live "too long", they dont get paid "too much", their social networks are neither too strong nor too large, they dont have too much say in or control over media, they dont have too much control over legislative agendas. What specifically is one "confronting"?

There is a complex of fears, biases, and alienation that we have to confront in all people and the material consequences of these not only today but as the legacy of their existence in prior generations with all that that implies. Of that there is no question whatsoever. But once we agree that it is to the net detriment of whites as a whole to have racial inequality, then Tim (and Peggy) have lost the argument. There is no meaningful "privilege" to discuss.

"Well, I don't think whites are privileged per se, because even though they get huge systemic advantages they're more harmed by the system of racism than helped and anyways millions of them are still desperately poor", we will see blacks, and women, and gays, and numerous other groups call us on our sanctimonious BS."

First, "Groups" do no such thing. Some people in all those groups will agree with you or I on a number of things and others in those groups will not. Second, its still the truth and I will call BS on those who falsely claim otherwise. Its one thing to talk tactics. If you say, "Hitchens and Dawkins are too harsh with creationists, you cant win people over unless you deal with them in a certain way". Theres a point where educating people, and consciousness raising has to include some appreciation of reaching people where they are and not sounding too dismissive or harsh about them. But this is not the disagreement we are having.

This isnt just semantics, its that your fundamental view of society is problematic. The privilge/under-privilege model is seriously flawed in putting forward a simplistic two-polar model. Everyone either has too much or too little. There isnt even a middle. Obviously in the case of Class, there is a rather large Middle that missing. But taking the global context into consideration, both high, low and middle for the US are all skewed higher than the global high, middle and low, with many, many varying degrees or relative deprivation and privilege from the top to the bottom. So is low here "privileged" and "underprivileged" simulataneously?

Worse still, as you assume a zero-sum, you therefore conclude, for instance, that social networks must be smaller for whites, and larger for blacks. Of course, there are in reality millions of networks, not just two. And so in practice this is a meaningless observation. Even on the level of group averages, there are asian, latino and Native American networks to consider. Is only the bottom one "too small" and the rest "too large" or is the top one "too large" and the rest "too small"?

IF the Asian or Latin networks were stronger than the black but weaker than the white, are they therefore "too large" AND "too small" simultaneously? What the hell would that mean?! By misnaming the problem in the way that you do, you misidentify the problem and you are therefore led to poor conclusions as to the solution.

"But YOU'RE the one arguing to, in effect, ignore what everyone but what rich people are doing by refusing to call anything but class privilege "privilege"."

I have defined privilege in terms of human rights and human needs. The baseline being the fullest possible meeting of the widest range of human needs. Thats not just class. Rights and Needs covers the full range of human needs and rights, social, cultural, psychological and material. That includes all genders, races and ethnicities in all circumstances. This creates a standard to which we can compare persons. Those in this range are neither "privileged" nor "deprived".

As one increases above this range we can talk about increases in relative "privilege" while those below have ever increasing "deprivation". The immense majority of whites on this standard are at or below this "middle" zone. Hence, they are not privileged and cannot be.

"That is an ability whites have and blacks don't. That's a qualitative, or "infinite", difference."

"Intangible" is closer to what I think you are going for here. Though, if you mean "qualitative" I would just say "qualitative". "Infinite" means something quite different, like "God has infinite power". The differences between blacks and whites are very finite, its just that some are not as easy to quantify precisely.

"I obviously use words for polemical intent as well as argument, but your reply is to concede the argument. Whites have the power to act out on their biases and "schemas", blacks don't. That's an accurate description of the data."

No whites and blacks and asians and Latinos can and do act on their biases and it matters when they do. And again, taking an international and historical view, sexism, caste systems, class, and other views, group identifications and biases play themselves out everywhere.

"Although many arrests were made and harsh sentences handed out in the wake of the Michigan State riot two years ago, coverage was still largely sympathetic, with media asking "what made good kids do bad things?""

"Many arrests and harsh sentences" does mean it was responded to as you think they should. And saying "what made good kids do bad things" is not an unreasonable question. They arent being portrayed as "saintly" by anyone.

"and focusing on the otherwise "straight arrows" who got caught up in the moment."

Sounds sensible. Wouldnt you want to know the answer? Of course, its not all that hard to imagine how large numbers of drunk people (mostly males) could cause alot of trouble under a variety of circumstances. There are otherwise good people who do incredible stupid things, especially among young males when they are drunk as skunks.

" Hell, in that particular riot, white students were caught actually trying to pry a loaded shotgun from a police car (before trying to push the vehicle into the fire) -- an act that surely would result in death number sixteen were a black Cincinnatian to try it, but which, in East Lansing, only prompted a brief volley of tear gas, in order to disperse the crowd."

So the police should have gunned them down? Of course not, right? Oh so whats the complaint? Not that police saw the rioters as "saintly" , and not that anyone else thought of them or their behavior as "saintly", but because if they had been black, instead of doing the right thing (dispersing them with non-lethal force), they would have overreacted with bullet fire?

The problem with this whole argument, aside from the fact that frat house drunks and drunken rioters arent seen as saintly, is that it posits even good, restrained police response as problematic. Not because it IS problematic, but because blacks might have gotten alot worse treatment. The 'ol better of two outcomes must be "privileged" logic. It falls as dead flat here as it does every other time its used.

"So, once again, your consistent philosophy of undervaluing racial privilege versus class, gender and state privilege leads to you underestimating its power and importance."

As human phenomena, racial inequalities are very serious. But this is a cousin of what we have seen many many times, from the resumes to taxis to faces on a screen. I take this very seriously. But the problem is not meaningfully about "privilege". Its about differences of perception.

Why college towns heavily dependent on their local colleges might want to do everything to not let any problems affect the position of the univeristy in the town, is not the same as "saintly" images of white students, or that drunken, violent young males are seen as persons with serious concerns or that they rioted for serious issues.

Many quotes from the same media sources showed persons in school Administrations or others saying that the riots were about "nothing" or "no real issue" or "bored and drunk". Nearly everyone of them is about alcohol and/or they are drunk. I didnt hear anyone taking alcohol limitations and bans as serious deprivations. Drunken young (mostly) guys didnt like having their booze taken away. Period. The problem of alcohol abuse, underage drinking and campus violence might be taken seriously by campuses and the affected local and campus police departments and college communities, which is fine. But it seems as if the rioting and drinking ARE the issues being taken seriously, not their so-called "grievences" in doing it.

"Everyone who buys a Willie Nelson album, who watched Harold and Kumar or Cheech and Chong, who voted for Bill Clinton despite his dalliances with marijuana, and the media who do human interest or local stories on the latest vegan fad or marijuana legalization movement."

Cheech and Chong?!?!? They are taken seriously? As comics maybe. And Willie as a singer. And Bill? well anyone whoever smoked pot includes a huge percentage of the population. I am not sure "hippie pot head" applies here.

"And the medical marijuana arguments from sick people have been around for decades. So that can't be the reason either,"

It sure can. And that is what I see being taken seriously.

Comment Bubble Tip

Insane.

"Lol. Touched a nerve, eh? Relax Frederic. Im busting your chops. Theres nothing wrong with being the young gung-ho Revolutionary. Well, not necessarily anyway. Besides this often, though not always, moderates somewhat with the passage of time, living and further study (especially when you discover alot more non-radical authors.) In any case, you can say its better than being a young, apathetic cog in the machine whose just interested in getting laid at keg parties."

Sectarianism in the Left is a big nerve for me. We're already so small, numerically.

It is true that when you get to the older segments, you see people become less involved, but is this because the ideas aren't any good or just appeal to the young? I don't think so. Rather, the movement itself is not conducive to engendering long term support and interest, so people leave. As Michael Albert pointed out, if everyone who had been a part of the Left at some time or another (Vietnam movements, any recent wave of feminism, civil rights, anti-proliferation, Third World solidarity, anti-Desert Storm, anti-Bush, anti-Iraq invasion...) had stuck around, we'd have a progressive or even radical movement in this country in the tens of millions, and then they'd be out there recruiting. History would have been very different. So the problem we have to address is the "stickiness" issue, and I think part of the big ways to do that is to make sure that our framework is flexible enough to accommodate "new" issues like white privilege alongside "old" issues like class.

"I am not a vegan either, but its hard not to see the strength of the arguments from people like Peter Singer. THat it is speciesist (cousin of sexist, racist). We cant be slaughtered and eaten because why? We are smarter? If a sufficiently smarter species thought human meat would be a wonderful treat, would that be ok? "Oh their just animals"? So are we. And that does have a ring of "oh their just N's". Singer might say that our moral sense and capacity for moral reasoning give us greater moral responsibility but not greater moral worth."

I agree, but the solution is to ONLY eat things as wildly different from us as possible (e.g. mushrooms and plants)? I think that's even MORE anthropocentric and speciesist: At the least, eating animals alongside plants means that you're only excepting THE closest species from your willingness to eat them. Regrettably, we have to eat SOMETHING to survive. I think the solution isn't vegetarianism but conscientiousness: Not inflicting pain on the things we eat, not harming the ecology while we do it, not wasting the things we eat, etc.

"You cant not have reform. I know what they are saying, but how can you ask people to not fight for better wages, better conditions, fairer hiring, and much else besides. The more social democratic reformers have a good argument that they have actually done a much better job at raising quality of life, standards of living and fairness than have the revolutionary regimes, without recourse to violence or one-party police states."

The counter-argument, of course, is that they have also helped deepen the worst of state atrocities like a growing US empire, backsliding into predatory super-capitalism, etc.

But I agree, you've nailed the issue on the head. No one I've ever met is ACTUALLY against reform. They'd rather not have Iraqis die, and rather not have thousands of nuclear weapons pointing at the world rather than better education. No revolutionary group on the planet got what they wanted all at once: They had to win battles, usually both policy and military, before they got to a revolutionary state. The question isn't about REFORMS, it's about REFORMISM: That is, the idea that ONLY reforms can get the job done. But reforms leading on a steady trajectory to revolutionary change? Not only is that good, it's the only way it ever gets done.

"Not at all. Im one who says you tell it as you see it. If you feel the need to call BS, then call it. But this works for all humans, not just white folks. If there are blacks or others who will be alienated by certain statements, then they will just have to feel alienated. They are grown-ups so they can suck it up and deal with it. There are practicalities of consciousness raising. Needlessly antagonising peole should be avoided. But if its a matter of truth telling as you see it, I just dont see holding your tongue."

But that's not what I'm talking about. Rather, it's a matter of being willing to highlight things one actually DOES agree with (say, the existence of systemic discrimination) in order to raise consciousness, even if someone doesn't think that's the best focus.That's certainly within our parameters.

"One in six is really bad though, so while its important to nail down the right numbers and not engage in hyperbole, this still leaves it as a huge problem. But are you sure that you havent engaged in over the top exaggertations on racial divides?"

If I have, I await being corrected. So far, every time I make a statement that I think may be slightly polemical, I see data that suggests that I've only scratched the surface of the topic. In fact, I am 100% confident that our tendency as white men will be to DRASTICALLY underestimate white privilege and not overestimate it.

"Well, thats not a reason for supporting him. I have said things like "If cheney said rain was wet I wouldnt believe him". Its a decently funny line, but it isnt LITERALLY true. It is possible for the US government to be against a regime that really is worth being against even if your on the left."

Not my argument. Rather, when a regime is being overthrown by the US, it is usually doing something RIGHT, even if that's the only thing it may be doing correctly. Chavez isn't perfect, but he is a progressive President who was elected democratically, his election stemmed from grassroots forces who are our allies and whose victory was a major step forward for the global Left, and his policies have been on average quite good for Venezuela. We should be supporting his supporters in the spirit of solidarity while continuing to push the grassroots principles of the Bolivarian Revolution, the global anti-corporate-globalization movement, etc., WHILE still trying to fit in pushing Chavez further left rather than further right.

Now, your argument WOULD apply to, say, Saddam Hussein. The fact that the US eventually decided to overthrow him doesn't make him a hero.

"But that hasnt actually happened, lo these many, many years later. And the very sort of mechanism that he posited as the reason for why they would be overthrown does not appear to be happening."

So, similarly, whites have created defense mechanisms that stave off the HYPOTHETICAL harm that may come to them. The rich do continue to suffer the costs of capitalism, even now: Pollution, global warming, war, instability, lower growth... they're all costs of retaining their system that do hurt them. The situation is analogous.

In any respect, my point is that neither Marx nor any Marxist on the planet would NEVER have graduated from saying that reasonable claim, "Capitalism hurts the capitalists too" (in fact, "Capitalism in the end hurts capitalists more") to saying that capitalists weren't privileged. This simple insight transfers directly to race, where the fact that whites are hurt by racism (and, in some ways, hurt MORE by it) doesn't change their privilege underneath that system.

"

But the problem here is that you are comparing differing scenarios, ALL of which represent a net loss for the capitalists from where they are TODAY, but then saying that some of these scenarios are LESS of a net loss than others. For instance, simply overthrowing themselves now and accepting a society of equality and social justice at a high standard of living would at least mean they stay alive and live a life of equality. Whereas, if they continue on as now, they might be overthrown by others later and STILL lose nearly everything, but ALSO take the risk of being killed. OR they may be exterminated by some nuclear or ecological catastrophe. This would involve them losing absolutely everything, but they would ALSO lose their lives.

Ok. But all three alternatives (a) accept equality/justice, (b)face revolution, or (c) possible annhilation, represent a worse postion than they are in now. And with no actual guarantee that continuing as they are now really will bring about (b) or (c)."

 

Similarly, with whites, there's no actual guarantee that continuing as they are now will bring about the harms you think racism brings to them, though I think we can agree the probabilities are staggering just like the probabilities of (b) and (c). And all three possibilities actually leave them WORSE off than they are now. (Remember, we're JUST talking about racism being over. Racism being eliminated may make capitalism easier to get rid of, but you can't count the cost of capitalism against the white score just like I can't count the cost of racism against the capitalist score. With racism and institutional discrimination ALONE being eliminated, whites will be worse off and blacks better off, in raw economic terms).

"Its alot more than the cost of employment discrimination. Youd have to consider not only the work than blacks do as a benefit to the society (more doctors, engineers), and how they would spend their better (and job creating and sustaining) wages, reduction in the numbers of people raped, murdered, and robbed. THe cost of the criminal justice system to the society, etc."

Which, all told, is STILL infinitely less than the costs the capitalists accept to retain their privilege, and probably much less than many whites would be willing to pay to retain their "psychological wage".

The problem is that you can't count all those things as "costs" because they're actually redistributive. No new growth comes, at least not immediately, from a black doctor being paid what he deserves: Rather, either white doctors need to take a proportional pay cut or hospitals and clinics need to charge more for services or... The same thing's true with workers: Their low wages aren't "costs", per se, because paying them higher wages means someone else has to get less.

You could count the cost of them not getting maximum productivity, or the cost of their growth not being able to go back into investment, etc. etc. And, yes, I think if you do that you find that we're all held back by racism. So what? We're all held back MUCH worse by capitalism, even capitalists, yet both capitalists and whites fight to make sure their larger piece of pie remains theirs even if the pie could be larger if they shared.

"Well not all that many are rich as a percentage of all white people. What wiull be hard is winning white, black, asian or latin middle classes that are more likely to aspire to greater attainment of security and comfort, and have no interest in a revolution. Indeed, I dispense with the whole idea of a revolution here."

But, conversely, the rich are mostly white. And this DOES matter: The millionaire myth has great hooks among white communities because they see that a few privileged or talented few, like Bill Gates (who came from a decidedly middle-class background), CAN climb the ladder to great wealth. The chances may be very low, but if they luck out, the rewards are amazing. It's like the lottery: It becomes a lot more ho-hum if tens of thousands of people win a few hundred bucks. 

I don't dispense with the idea of a revolution here, because the majority of the population repeatedly expresses revolutionary views, but the point regarding white privilege is that what I said is still tremendously important: The disproportion of whites among the rich CANNOT be explained by class and yet has major impacts on society.

"They are not. Nor are whites. Not even close."

They have unified interests that, historically, they have sought to protect even at the cost of their class interests. That's actually even more united than the average business, which usually won't slit its own throat.

"Many humans (not just whites) do prefer their religion, race, ethnicity, nationality or other forms of division to their underlying class or species interest. There are people who believe that the interests of their immortal soul, the pursuit of "righteousness" and the commands of the Word of God trump ALL other considerations. Lots of people."

Seems like all of these, then, are relevant categories. Sociologically, we count every one of them as a relevant variable. This concession alone seems to make my argument.

"I cant speak to immortal souls, but the net interest of humans as a whole is in species consciousness and species wide liberation and emancipation whether most humans see it that way or not. In practice, close family and kin and personal survival are paramount. And various other kinds of consciousness, be it national, religious, gender, ethnic or other can impede our advance. And not just towards some kind of "revolt". But while these are all realities to face, but they dont change the underlying truth of the proposition."

I agree. That does NOT make the benefits that some get from oppressing their fellow (wo)men sociologically irrelevant, whether we're talking about the exploitation of the working class by the rich or the elevation of whites over blacks.

"Actually it does not fall at all, they just arent the only reasons that solidarity (not just revolts) can fail to materialize."

No, that makes MY argument, NOT yours. Your claim is that racism's existence cannot logically lead to "white privilege" because whites are oppressed, not privileged, by racism: -1 is still negative, even if it's less than -2. But if racism and sexism AREN'T the only things keeping working class solidarity low and thereby hurting whites and men, respectively, then the costs of racism/sexism go DOWN and the benefits go up, proportional to each other.

Ultimately, my arguments were establishing that this was terrible logic, trying to say that a harm inflicted to the oppressors disproves the overwhelming benefit the oppression gets them. Your counter-arguments not only don't rebut this, they actually tend to DEMONSTRATE it.

"White Co and Men Inc dont exist. The issue is whether Koreans, Chinese, French, Germans, Hutus, Tutsis, Muslims, Hindus, Christiants, Jews, Arabs, males and females and transgendered, and all others in the whole species can attain a species consciousness, see a wider species interest, and act going forward from that. Yes, that means calculating the fact that not only will many not do that, but will actively resist anything that seems contrary to their interests. Some of these interests, including right wing armed groups, corporations, nationalist political parties and corrupt state elements will throw every ounce of strength they have in opposition to this."

What I find amazing is two distinct points:

a) That you seem to think that all of these groups are banding together out of total irrationality rather than by rationally (if ultimately self-destructively) preferring their guaranteed benefits under a system of oppression versus a better system for all that does not benefit them as much

b) That you'd recognize clearly what keeps the capitalist from renouncing capitalism and turning revolutionary, and that the capitalist is in fact privileged, but won't recognize the parallel insights for whites

"Even if they did, it doesnt change the fact that it was against their net intersts to do so. Not just against their class interest but their NET interest. So even if you selected out those whites who voted GOP but believed it was in their class interest to vote Dem, (and you would have to), and then eliminated all other factors from the remainder, whatever you have left is not actually better off in net total."

Apparently not, given that THEY are telling you, in language that you cannot misunderstand even as you try to ignore, that they in fact are harming what YOU perceive as their NET BENEFIT for what they perceive as being the most important thing. Maybe it's irrational, though it seems deeply insulting to label millions of people as irrational rather than engaging with their reasoning (however twisted), but it IS there. A psychological wage of whiteness is still a wage because it's still valuable, and millions of whites have voted with their dollars, their ballots, and their mouths for centuries to preserve that psychological wage over a real one. Any economist on the planet would tell you that you're probably drastically underestimating the value of that psychological wage. Which leads you, and the Left, to again and again make terrible strategic decisions.

But, again, the exact same can be said about the capitalists.

"First, "Groups" do no such thing. Some people in all those groups will agree with you or I on a number of things and others in those groups will not. Second, its still the truth and I will call BS on those who falsely claim otherwise. Its one thing to talk tactics. If you say, "Hitchens and Dawkins are too harsh with creationists, you cant win people over unless you deal with them in a certain way". Theres a point where educating people, and consciousness raising has to include some appreciation of reaching people where they are and not sounding too dismissive or harsh about them. But this is not the disagreement we are having."

They don't do those things? Funny, since they seem to do so, consistently, and their members in academia privilege that discussion over discussions you think are valuable. Maybe they find that your choice of privileging class privilege to combat stems from that being the only category you don't benefit from?

Calling BS on white privilege, and on gender privilege, is an act that reinforces those privileges. Period. Those without those privileges are telling you that those privileges are important, you say they're not. Why should we trust you on the issue?

"This isnt just semantics, its that your fundamental view of society is problematic. The privilge/under-privilege model is seriously flawed in putting forward a simplistic two-polar model. Everyone either has too much or too little. There isnt even a middle. Obviously in the case of Class, there is a rather large Middle that missing. But taking the global context into consideration, both high, low and middle for the US are all skewed higher than the global high, middle and low, with many, many varying degrees or relative deprivation and privilege from the top to the bottom. So is low here "privileged" and "underprivileged" simulataneously?"

And just talking about the "rich" and the "poor" is too simplistic. Let's throw out the whole idea. People are all just, y'know, DIFFERENT in class terms.

In fact, real models of white privilege, gender privilege, national privilege, etc. are much more complex than this. But they BEGIN with the argument that whites are benefitted by being white and others are harmed by not being so. Denying this premise is just like denying the premise of rich and poor: It's absurd. Once we can accept the fact, we can then be more specific.

I'm talking about these things as VECTORS. Just as class is a continuum but we put lines in the sand at important levels of net worth or income, so too are race and ethnic benefits or gender benefits a continuum but we mark important points ("white" and "not white"). For example: A beautiful woman is still oppressed as a woman, but compared to an ugly woman she has on average more advantages, more ability to game the system, to escape that oppression. Similarly, not all whites are identical: The WASP power elite is different, even from a racio-ethnic perspective, from Italians or recent European immigrants.

As far as being privileged and underprivileged simultaneously: Yes. Your every attempt to reduce the argument to absurdity actually only yields a new, vital insight, one BASIC to the literature you claim to be rebutting. People have categories where they benefit and where they are harmed. Just as with the example Tim and I offered of a handicapped rich person, who is privileged by being rich but underprivileged by being handicapped (which no one in their right mind would deny, and certainly you have not denied), a poor American white is privileged by being American and white but not by being poor.

You are accusing me of reductivism, but remember: YOU are the person arguing for a model where only class matters. I'm arguing for a model where we focus on many variables that divide people into oppressed and not oppressed. It really insults the intelligence to see you attempt to accuse a by definition more expansive model as too simplistic, as a reason to advocate for a by definition less expansive model.

"This is not zero sum. You dont need fewer uncles for a black guy to have more uncles. You dont need to make fewer friends, acquiantences and other associates in order for someone else to have more."

But the VALUE of those friends and acquaintances need to be lower. Not everyone can know Bill Gates. The amount of people who can, and can be close enough to reap the benefits, is limited. White social networks aren't just more expansive; they're more VALUABLE. THAT is zero sum: Every dollar my social network gets is a dollar your different social network can't.

This is, again, all quite common in this literature...

Further, so what? This would make the meanness and oppression by whites of blacks even WORSE, because they are banding together to deny blacks something that if blacks got it wouldn't harm them! And it still means that in any COMPETITION with blacks (where the game IS zero sum), they are ahead. So what whites have done is reduce and racialize the amount of non-zero-sum resources so as to make sure that they can control that amount in order to win in areas where the issue IS zero sum.

What were you saying about a simplistic model again? Oh, right, you were advocating one.

"Cheech and Chong?!?!? They are taken seriously? As comics maybe. And Willie as a singer. And Bill? well anyone whoever smoked pot includes a huge percentage of the population. I am not sure "hippie pot head" applies here."

Which, again, makes my point: Wide-spread use of illegal narcotics is just not considered that serious when white folks do it. The ability to have your behavior always be excused? A HUGE privilege, not one the rich always enjoy.

"It sure can. And that is what I see being taken seriously."

Why? You not only cut off my explanation, but just offer this without any supporting reasoning. It makes no sense unless you bear in mind white privilege.

"Why college towns heavily dependent on their local colleges might want to do everything to not let any problems affect the position of the univeristy in the town, is not the same as "saintly" images of white students, or that drunken, violent young males are seen as persons with serious concerns or that they rioted for serious issues."

Which is why white youth in non-college towns don't get away with things, right?

Oh, wait, they clearly do. Sociologists tend to agree that "minor" crimes (up to breaking and entry) are found in middle-class, white youth as often as in poor black youth, sometimes more so.

Part of it is economics, but part of it is race. We don't have to wonder what would happen if black colleges started having protests where breaking the law, say by smoking pot, was part of the protest: The fact that such protests overwhelmingly tend not to occur indicates the point. Again, look at White Like Me. Down the line, when it comes to behavior in college, Tim makes a compelling case for the presence of white privilege, whether it's the proclivity of blacker students to try to be more subtle about their drug and alcohol consumption to the tactics white college activists often use that tend to make hunger or going to jail out to be a tactic, something that those who have not starved nor had jail be a normal part of life can afford to think.

Your denials are really reaching...

"Sounds sensible. Wouldnt you want to know the answer? Of course, its not all that hard to imagine how large numbers of drunk people (mostly males) could cause alot of trouble under a variety of circumstances. There are otherwise good people who do incredible stupid things, especially among young males when they are drunk as skunks."

It's sensible? Kids torch Port-A-Potties, rape, and riot, and we care what they think? Why is that SENSIBLE? Over alcohol prices?! That is jackassish behavior.

But the point isn't whether or not this treatment is sensible, the point is that it is what WHITES, and whites only, get. Blacks rioting over infinitely more serious issues are painted out to be maniacs, self-destructive hooligans, and criminals. That media treatment matters: It's the difference between feeling like one belongs or feeling like an alien in one's own country.

"No whites and blacks and asians and Latinos can and do act on their biases and it matters when they do. And again, taking an international and historical view, sexism, caste systems, class, and other views, group identifications and biases play themselves out everywhere."

This is insane. Blacks do NOT have the same media access, the same representation as employers and hirers, the same representation as professors, to be able to discriminate. We know this because both whites and blacks have subconscious racist attitudes about blacks yet the data does NOT suggest that either whites or blacks have deeply held subconscious attitudes about whites. So even the idea that racist attitudes are evenly held and not an expression of privilege is ITSELF false. Blacks repeatedly in polls express a desire to have their neighborhoods be representative, to live in integrated neighborhoods. Whites don't. There is no black flight that drives down property values in white places; there is white flight that drives down property values as spaces become more black. Your argument is sociologically untenable, and when I came to this passage, I lost the patience to continue. You don't like the white privilege literature, yet you apparently haven't read even one book on the topic.

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"The rich do continue to

"The rich do continue to suffer the costs of capitalism, even now: Pollution, global warming, war, instability, lower growth... they're all costs of retaining their system that do hurt them."

Capitalists havent actually been harmed much by these so far. And the alternatives, as I laid out, all seem like they would represent a worse state than they are in now, and so continuing as they are now still would appear to be whats best for them.

"In any respect, my point is that neither Marx nor any Marxist on the planet would NEVER have graduated from saying that reasonable claim, "Capitalism hurts the capitalists too" (in fact, "Capitalism in the end hurts capitalists more") to saying that capitalists weren't privileged. This simple insight transfers directly to race, where the fact that whites are hurt by racism (and, in some ways, hurt MORE by it) doesn't change their privilege underneath that system."

Well Marxists HOPE that Capitalism will hurt the Capitalists in the end, and hurt them very much. Indeed, many Marxists would like nothing better than to be the one making SURE it hurts a whole lot. But again, thats not actually happening.

"With racism and institutional discrimination ALONE being eliminated, whites will be worse off and blacks better off, in raw economic terms"

No. Whites will be better off, and they always would have been. There never was a net gain in this for them.

"And, yes, I think if you do that you find that we're all held back by racism."

Exactly. Which makes the rest of the fudging you do here a little pointless. To even imply a comparability between whites/blacks and capitalists/workers is so outlandish and preposterous that it is literally self-discrediting. You have only to attempt it to immediately remove yourself as a serious person who is making a meaningful contribution.

"The millionaire myth has great hooks among white communities because they see that a few privileged or talented few, like Bill Gates (who came from a decidedly middle-class background), CAN climb the ladder to great wealth."

I am not sure it has any more currency as an ideal and a goal among whites than among others. There are alot of people of every race, ethnicity and culture over thouands of years for whom wealth and power are overwhelming and tantalizing dreams. Are US whites today somewhat more likely to be overly optimistic about their actual chances than US non-whites? Im not sure. Could be.

But the point here was that upper income and middle income asians, blacks and hispanics may be more likely to aspire to greater comfort, greater wealth and expanding their businesses than in any sort of revolution.

"I don't dispense with the idea of a revolution here, because the majority of the population repeatedly expresses revolutionary views"

Such as? I am genuinely curious as to what you are refering to here.

"The disproportion of whites among the rich CANNOT be explained by class and yet has major impacts on society."

I dont think it is explained by only class.

"Seems like all of these, then, are relevant categories. Sociologically, we count every one of them as a relevant variable. This concession alone seems to make my argument."

COncession? When have I said differently?

The point being that there are many barriers to the widespread development of a species consciousness. Thats not in dispute here. People becoming alienated from one another along the lines of in-group, out- group, "Us" and "them" and "the Other" are not new or unique to any particular era, place or race. YEs, religious, racial, ethnic, national and other divides are powerful challenges.

"I agree. That does NOT make the benefits that some get from oppressing their fellow (wo)men sociologically irrelevant, whether we're talking about the exploitation of the working class by the rich or the elevation of whites over blacks."

We dont talk about species emancipation and liberation for no reason. Or as a stale exercise. Its is precisely because of the problems and costs of human alienation, conflict and oppression that emancipatory change is so critical. If there were no relevant inequalities among humans and full human rights, human potential and human productive forces were fully realized there wouldnt be anything for us to discuss here.

But the problem with white or asian males not facing the same problems as black males is not "white" or "asian privilege". It may be true that Korean males do not have to face the same powerful deep-seated negative images that black males do, but if you think that the problem is "Korean Privilege" than you have said something nonsensical. The problem in that case is not that Korean men have it too good, or are "privileged". The problem is that black males are being judged in the context of fears about them that border, in some cases, on the paranoid. We address anti-black discrimination by addressing anti-black discrimination not "Korean Privilege".

"No, that makes MY argument, NOT yours. Your claim is that racism's existence cannot logically lead to "white privilege" because whites are oppressed, not privileged, by racism: -"

First, I have repeatedly explained what I mean by privilege, and why the vast majority of US whites cannot be considered so.

Second, I have in addition made a further point that there is no net benefit for US whites in racial inequality, and that reamins true. Indeed, neither you nor Tim even fundmentally disagree.

Lets remember what you said:

"Even the argument that gender and race privilege split up the working class and thus make it harder to revolt for justice falls on three points:"

It doesnt "fall" at all. They do divide the working class and humanity. This is indisputable. Lets look again at these "points" and see how your not even answering it.

"a) Many of these men and white folks PREFER their gender or race privilege to their class privilege;"

This is supposed to show the working class is NOT divided by gender and race and thus make it harder to unite across genders and races??!?

You didnt even TOUCH my argument to say nothing of supposedly refuting it. I shall repeat my answer as you dont answer it:

"Many humans (not just whites) do prefer their religion, race, ethnicity, nationality or other forms of division to their underlying class or species interest. There are people who believe that the interests of their immortal soul, the pursuit of "righteousness" and the commands of the Word of God trump ALL other considerations. Lots of people.

I cant speak to immortal souls, but the net interest of humans as a whole is in species consciousness and species wide liberation and emancipation whether most humans see it that way or not. In practice, close family and kin and personal survival are paramount. And various other kinds of consciousness, be it national, religious, gender, ethnic or other can impede our advance. And not just towards some kind of "revolt". But while these are all realities to face, but they dont change the underlying truth of the proposition."

Does NOT change the underlying truth of the proposition, whether many humans see it that way or not. Which means I KNOW that many people dont see it that way and that there are reasons for why they dont. The point is, the underlying truth of the propostion does not change.

"b) Men and white people include the rich, and in fact include a DISPROPORTION of the rich, so making an appeal to whites to get rid of white privilege so they can successfully band together to take their just desserts from the rich is silly when you recognize that you are TALKING to the rich with this statement"

Again, this is supposed to show that the working class is NOT divided by gender and race, and thus make it harder to unite across genders and races?! This one of the points on which it "falls"?!! It doesnt even touch it.

Let alone the transparent absurdity of the statement. The immense majority of whites, then and now, are not the rich. So no, an appeal to whites is not an appeal to the rich.

"c) Even if White Co. or Men Inc. decided to ignore the above, they would STILL be taking the risk of EVERYONE getting hurt (the rich transferring capital or hiring knee-breakers or deploying tanks or nukes), especially the poor, for the POTENTIAL of a more equitable distribution later on down the line. Given that no plausible movement that will reward such efforts immediately exists, it'd be, again, criminally irresponsible to take this risk."

This is supposed to show the working class is NOT divided by gender and race and thus make it harder to unite across genders and races??!? You didnt even touch it.

In other words, revolution and species struggle are very hard. "Criminally irresponsible" to fight for human rights, human equality, and the fulfillment of human potential?! There are no movements to do this?

Let me again give the rest of my answer:

"White Co and Men Inc dont exist. The issue is whether Koreans, Chinese, French, Germans, Hutus, Tutsis, Muslims, Hindus, Christiants, Jews, Arabs, males and females and transgendered, and all others in the whole species can attain a species consciousness, see a wider species interest, and act going forward from that. Yes, that means calculating the fact that not only will many not do that, but will actively resist anything that seems contrary to their interests. Some of these interests, including right wing armed groups, corporations, nationalist political parties and corrupt state elements will throw every ounce of strength they have in opposition to this."

You answered that with this:

"What I find amazing is two distinct points:

a) That you seem to think that all of these groups are banding together out of total irrationality rather than by rationally (if ultimately self-destructively) preferring their guaranteed benefits under a system of oppression versus a better system for all that does not benefit them as much"

For capitalists this seems especially true. Unlike whites, they would be alot worse off. You can argue that for them, its rational to continue as they are.

"b) That you'd recognize clearly what keeps the capitalist from renouncing capitalism and turning revolutionary, and that the capitalist is in fact privileged, but won't recognize the parallel insights for whites"

There is no parallel "insight". I have given my definition of a what a privilege is as you well know. I simply add that racial inequality is factually to the net detriment of whites. ANd that remains true. Thats not true of capitalists.

Racial inequality is to the net detriment of whites as it always has been. That was the argument. Net detriment means it is NOT to their benefit to do it. Cost benefit analysis has to include ALL costs and ALL benefits. And counting all costs and all benefits, racial inequality is to their net detriment and always has been.

That doesnt mean that everyone is going to see it that way. If they did we wouldnt be in the position we are in now, in the first place. But while it is certainly important to understand the many various and differing ways in which various peoples DO see things, the underlying truth of the propostion remains. It IS to their NET detriment even if many people dont realize that.

"Apparently not, given that THEY are telling you, in language that you cannot misunderstand even as you try to ignore, that they in fact are harming what YOU perceive as their NET BENEFIT for what they perceive as being the most important thing."

No its still to their net detriment. Thats undeniable.

"Maybe it's irrational, though it seems deeply insulting to label millions of people as irrational rather than engaging with their reasoning (however twisted), but it IS there."

I do engage people all the time. What language I use is partly tactical. If i am speaking to creationists I dont call them morons for believing it. That will shut down discussion. But gardens with talking snakes is a preposterous story no matter how many millions of people claim to believe it. The number of people who believe something is not a measure of its truth, as you should well know.

"They don't do those things? Funny, since they seem to do so, consistently, and their members in academia privilege that discussion over discussions you think are valuable. Maybe they find that your choice of privileging class privilege to combat stems from that being the only category you don't benefit from?"

No "groups" dont do those things. Many people within groups have differing views. That should be self evidently obvious. There is no one single "group view". Since I dont "privilege" class, the rest of the statement is nonsense.

"Calling BS on white privilege, and on gender privilege, is an act that reinforces those privileges."

Since white privilege doesnt exist, it cannot be "reinforced". Its not real.

"Those without those privileges are telling you that those privileges are important, you say they're not. Why should we trust you on the issue?"

You shouldnt "trust" me or them. Its not a matter of trust. First, as I said, there are actually many different people among ALL races and genders with differing views. Those who advocate for a "privilege" narrative dont speak for everyone in their respective groups, as you should know.

Second I have dialogued and debated with people with a wide range of views, including those whose views are similar to those of Peggy McIntosh, Robert Jensen or Tim. These have always been civil, open, honest and intelligent exchanges. Up to now I have had no absolutely no difficulty with them at all. I dont think they have a good argument, and they certainly have not been able to answer or counter mine, but I neither "trust" nor "mistrust" them. They have to make an argument, and defend it. As do I.

"In fact, real models of white privilege, gender privilege, national privilege, etc. are much more complex than this. But they BEGIN with the argument that whites are benefitted by being white and others are harmed by not being so. Denying this premise is just like denying the premise of rich and poor: It's absurd. Once we can accept the fact, we can then be more specific."

Actually they are anything but complex. They are painfully simplistic, as you have demonstrated repeatedly.

Remember the social networks discussion? You are about to get to it. But when you do you show just how simplistic this argument really is. Let skip ahead to that to make the point:

"But the VALUE of those friends and acquaintances need to be lower. Not everyone can know Bill Gates. The amount of people who can, and can be close enough to reap the benefits, is limited. White social networks aren't just more expansive; they're more VALUABLE. THAT is zero sum: Every dollar my social network gets is a dollar your different social network can't."

Putting aside your silly zero sum theory, lets unpack this.

First, I spoke about the size AND strength (which inc "value") of social networks in my discussion. Dont scissor out a quote that mentions the size and then act as if your correcting me by mentioning the value (strength) of the network. And NO, the social networks of whites would NOT have to become weaker (less valuable) in order for the networks of blacks to get stronger.

Second, this is the problem of comparing averages as opposed to continua. In reality there are millions of social networks, not just two. A tiny fraction of the population have networks of absolutely overwhelming strength, but the vast majority do not. On the continuum of weakest to strongest, there are many blacks, asians and latinos who have far stronger, richer and better connected networks than you do, and many who are well below, and millions more who are inbetween.

Averages have value, but they dont trump the millions of particulars from which they are drawn. And of course, even at the level of averages, you would have to include asian, latino, native american averages as well. If asian networks are stronger than the "average" black network but weaker than the average white network, what then? Should they get weaker and stronger SIMULTANEOUSLY?!?

Should their networks get MORE valuable AND less valuable at the same time, Frederic?

What in gods name would that even mean?

Of course, People exist on various continua of income, wealth, power, influence ,prestige, etc and so obviously we are talking about gradations. That is what makes more simplistic two-polar models of privileged/underprivilged (like Tims and yours) so problematic.

With the latter nearly every member of the entire human race is both privileged and deprived SIMULATANEOUSLY based on nothing other than who you compare them too since nearly every human everywhere has people both above and below whether you are talking about status, wealth, income, media access or legislative influence. If you cant see how this renders terms like "privilege" completely worthless, than I dont know what more there is to say to you on this point.

Still you and Tim persist with this definition because you consider it vital for various ideologic and rhetorical reasons to retain the nonsense concept of "white privilege". But as we have seen, the only way to argue it exists is to adopt a defintion of privilege that is so absurdly overbroad that nearly every person on the planet is "privileged" by the same logic.

"I'm talking about these things as VECTORS. Just as class is a continuum but we put lines in the sand at important levels of net worth or income, so too are race and ethnic benefits or gender benefits a continuum but we mark important points ("white" and "not white")."

In order to continue with two poles. Once we break up the "Non- White" category, we get multiple averages, not just two. And THEN we have a little more complexity. As in the case above with social networks. Once we have multiple averages in harder to overlay the simple privilege/underprivilege model upon it.

I think you saw the social networks point I made in the last post, (and I have remade it here above because you didnt answer it) and then decided to say "white/nonwhite".

Comparing continua has the advantage of counteracting any tendency to wildly exaggerate the racial divide.

"As far as being privileged and underprivileged simultaneously: Yes."

With your model they are simultaneously privileged and underprivileged even on the SAME variable. Indeed, the whole human race is. This isnt "complexity", its incoherence.

In the "When Exceptions Prove the Rule" thread you said this:

"But they get access to MORE than black firefighters, nurses, teachers, miners, dockworkers, farmers, truckers and waitresses. Vis-a-vis blacks, they're overpaid or overprivileged."

Of course the white members of these professions are NOT "overpaid and overprivileged". BUt lets understand just how simplistic this is, and why, as I said, this is NOT a semantic disagreement.

You're not just offering some other way of saying inequality or "advantage". When you say "privilege" you mean "too much". BUt how do we determine "too much"? By it being higher than someone elses. Thats it.

This is the "sophisticated" privilege narrative? The fact that that would apply to nearly every human on Earth is apparently not a problem for you. But then again, you did offer this on that same thread:

"So, no, actually, almost all Americans, even very poor people, have at least aggregate wealth that is far higher than what the world can support."

Ahhh! So there really isnt any purpose in fighting for US blacks, including most of the poorest, to actually have more than they have, since they already have more than what the world can support.

Frederic, do you realize that what you say in different posts and different threads are not just disconnected statements but actually should cohere together? So even the very poor in the US should have less than they have now, right? Certainly they should not have more. Indeed US white AND black firefighters, nurses, teachers, miners, dockworkers, farmers, truckers and waitresses are ALL "overpaid or overprivileged." Right?

Good luck with that message, Frederic.

"Which, again, makes my point: Wide-spread use of illegal narcotics is just not considered that serious when white folks do it. The ability to have your behavior always be excused? A HUGE privilege, not one the rich always enjoy."

These statements rival your white/capitalist claims in the depth and breadth of their absurdity. Enough millions of whites have been arrested for narcotics to make the claim that whites are "always" being excused for it completely assinine. There is no "privilege" here and to say the rich are not "always" excused for narcotic use is a meaningless statement. No one group "always" is. And to say that the millions of white families being hurt or destroyed by use, abuse and addiction are not being taken seriously as problems in our society is transparently ridiculous.

Far from being excusable on the grounds of being "polemical" (your usual defense when putting forward colossal exaggerations) these absurd claims only make sensible discussion impossible.

"But the point isn't whether or not this treatment is sensible, the point is that it is what WHITES, and whites only, get. Blacks rioting over infinitely more serious issues are painted out to be maniacs, self-destructive hooligans, and criminals. That media treatment matters: It's the difference between feeling like one belongs or feeling like an alien in one's own country."

Notice again the propensity to vastly exaggerate the divide between white and black. That white rioters are seen as "saintly" and black rioters as "maniacs". I have asked repeatedly for where this "saintly" image was shown? The answer is: nowhere. No one sees frat house drunks and drunken rioters as "saintly". Absolutely no one.

Let me repeat: Many quotes from the same media sources showed persons in school Administrations or others saying that the riots were about "nothing" or "no real issue" or "bored and drunk". Nearly everyone of them is about alcohol and/or they are drunk.

I didnt hear anyone taking alcohol limitations and bans as serious deprivations. Drunken young (mostly) guys didnt like having their booze taken away. Period. The problem of alcohol abuse, underage drinking and campus violence might be taken seriously by campuses and the affected local and campus police departments and college communities, which is fine. But it seems as if the rioting and drinking ARE the issues being taken seriously, not their so-called "grievences" in doing it.

Neither the press coverage, nor the police response to the college riots were inappropriate.

In addition, I would not canonize all black rioters as misguided working class heroes who riot as a deliberate tactic of consciousness raising about serious issues. Looting and stealing, burning out stores, dragging random defensless people out of cars and beating them are not "about" issues. Those ARE the actions of criminals.

The problem with this whole argument, aside from the fact that frat house drunks and drunken rioters arent seen as saintly by the media, is that it posits even good, restrained police response as problematic. Not because it IS problematic, but because blacks might have gotten alot worse treatment. The 'ol better of two outcomes must be "privileged" logic. It falls as dead flat here as it does every other time its used.

"This is insane. Blacks do NOT have the same media access, the same representation as employers and hirers, the same representation as professors, to be able to discriminate."

This is the "insane" statement you were responding to:

"No whites and blacks and asians and Latinos can and do act on their biases and it matters when they do. And again, taking an international and historical view, sexism, caste systems, class, and other views, group identifications and biases play themselves out everywhere."

This is insane? It is indisputably true.

And lets not forget that biases can be shown by murder, beatings, verbal intimidation and vandalism as well as in employment and real estate to say nothing of avoidance, ostracism, self segregation, etc. And these are not the only ways in which humans can express their biases. People act how, where and when they can.

And to repeat what I said earlier:

There will be a net benefit for the whole society from all persons confronting biases. Its not as if its only white taxi drivers who by pass black customers, or only white people are in human resources, or misremember information on juries, etc.

In the global context, Lifting the human species as a whole requires confronting religious, political, national, ethic and other ideologies besides. Oppression of women, for instance is very interracial, international, and ancient. Its not enough to ask just whites to be better in this regard. If anything, they already are, as the Western states are far and away ahead of much of the world in this sphere.

Genocidal slaughters in Africa, mass corruption, ethnic conflict and stratification, dictatorships, exploitation etc are not just about white US nurses, janitors, waitresses and firefighters confronting biases.

"We know this because both whites and blacks have subconscious racist attitudes about blacks yet the data does NOT suggest that either whites or blacks have deeply held subconscious attitudes about whites."

This is a bit of a non-sequitor. I dont see how this relates to the previous sentence.

But when you say sub conscious attitudes, I assume you mean subsconscious NEGATIVE attitudes. There is evidence of a negative associations regarding blacks, and especially black males, but this is not a "privilege" for non-blacks (not just whites) its anti-black bias.

"Blacks repeatedly in polls express a desire to have their neighborhoods be representative, to live in integrated neighborhoods. Whites don't."

Well its not that simple. There are a RANGE of responses from peoples in both groups. A range of preferences. The responses and the interpretation of them involves slightly deeper thought and sophistication than your usual simplistic "black and white" analysis. Name some specific studies, and lets get into those numbers. These groups are not populated by two enormous cookie cutter caricatures.

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Just A Few Points...

 "This is the "insane" statement you were responding to:

"No whites and blacks and asians and Latinos can and do act on their biases and it matters when they do. And again, taking an international and historical view, sexism, caste systems, class, and other views, group identifications and biases play themselves out everywhere."

This is insane? It is indisputably true."

It's insane because you're trying to float it as an argument on topic.

If you just want to say, yeah, everyone engages in biases, sure, that's true.

If you want to say that that means there's not a sharp difference in power between groups, that there's no racial caste, that all biases are made equal, that's insane.

You can try to resurrect old parts of the argument without context, but I'm going to keep on calling it out as a transparently dishonest ploy. Either you mean the literal content of those words, in which case it's not a reply to my position and to the concept of white privilege (and therefore another non sequitur to try to drown the real issue, that you for no good reason continue not to think that white privilege matters despite all the real consequences of that position), or you mean the implied argument that emerges that white privilege doesn't exist because everyone is involved in the process of acting on and forming biases, in which case it's insane and dishonest.

But it STILL remains insane because it implies that all people acting out on their biases have the same effect, and that all people have the same level of bias. But they don't and you keep conceding that they don't. First off, it is transparently clear when factoring in internalized racism and polls and studies of black and brown folks that they do not have the same level of racial hatred for whites as whites do for them. Second, even were that not true, they can't do anything about their hatred. You would never say that George Bush acting out his classist biases by drafting laws that impoverish tens of millions is the same as a poor person spitting in some lawyer's sandwich. They're transparently not, and it's repellent that you're trying to make the analogous argument.

So, the statement literally read is still false. One has to add the caveat that not all groups hate each other equally, and have the equal ability to act out on those biases, for it to be at all honest.

"There will be a net benefit for the whole society from all persons confronting biases. Its not as if its only white taxi drivers who by pass black customers, or only white people are in human resources, or misremember information on juries, etc.

In the global context, Lifting the human species as a whole requires confronting religious, political, national, ethic and other ideologies besides. Oppression of women, for instance is very interracial, international, and ancient. Its not enough to ask just whites to be better in this regard. If anything, they already are, as the Western states are far and away ahead of much of the world in this sphere."

Now you move from one totally irrelevant argument to another totally irrelevant argument.

Yes, through history and across the globe, it is not all black folks being discriminated against and white folks not. Then again, were you at all aware of the arguments of critical race theory, LatCrit, and radical racial scholars, you'd know that they point out that there IS a global white-black continuum in power. Certainly the global North is overwhelmingly white: Only Japan belongs to the global North and yet is non-white. And certainly the global South is overwhelmingly black. Further, elites across the globe are overwhelmingly white, particularly in Africa and the Americas. So, actually, your argument here is ITSELF a position that is far more at home within a bleached-white Marxist literature rather than a left that has long since realized that there is a racial dynamic going on too.

So, yeah, it IS usually whites holding discriminatory power across the globe. Certainly, situations where dark-skinned folk (brown and black) hold power over whites are few and far between; I actually can't think of any.

Remember the Chavez discussion? One of the big elements of Chavez that almost no one in the West talks about, and certainly you didn't, is that Chavez is far browner than the average Latin American elite. He's short and brown, like a cola nut (see Greg Palast's The Best Democracy Money Can Buy). Much of the division in Venezuela is between highly Westernized rich, like the edible-oils executive in her "high heels, designer glasses and push-up bra", and an overwhelmingly brown population (TBDMCB, p. 196).

But, ultimately, I was referring to America. Whites in America are on top in the racial caste structure. Blacks aren't. Here, it IS white taxi drivers not picking up black fares, white politicians enacting legislation that slams black communities, white employers discriminating against black applicants, etc. There can be no serious sociological question as to the direction of the discrimination. You continue to offer irrelevant objections, but not one of them is an objection you yourself believe, as evidenced by you not offering them in any other context. Because they don't make sense.

Why do I harp on white privilege so much? Well, first off, since you haven't conceded the term and its salience over dozens of pages. Intrasigently insisting that the term is silly then expressing bewilderment as to why that's the group being talked about boggles the imagination.

But, more importantly, I'm white. I'm American. I'm middle-class. So since I'm in that group, I want to talk about what my community, my friends and family and neighbors, can do for the cause of justice, to save their own community from a centuries-old rot, can do to stop preying on other communities. This is heroic. I don't know why you can't see that. It's just like Chomsky talking about what middle-class, educated people can do, and like most leftists talking about what Americans and the working class can do, and... If I were in Africa, I'd protest the conditions there. I'm not, so I'm starting where I can have the greatest influence at the least effect for the most moral of impacts (reducing crimes I am complicit in).

Let's analyze the discursive way that you keep hijacking the narrative to a place that it's comfortable for you to be in, as someone who appears to be a white leftist of Marxist inclination. First of all, you keep talking about "biases". But it's not just bias I talk about, as you keep obliquely conceding then stubbornly returning to. It's racialized effects of facially race-neutral policies, the ongoing effect of past racism, internalized subconscious bias, overtly held biases, and outright white nationalism. Returning the discussion to the bias question lets you imply that this is fundamentally an apolitical effort, sharply different from class. Well, it's not. Just like poor folks don't need to just get over themselves and make money, and just like rich folks don't just need to become less Scrooge-like, so too is it not just about white folks and black folks getting along better but about overcoming power differentials. Not talking about that may be more comfortable, but it's not honest and I am sure you know it.

"Genocidal slaughters in Africa, mass corruption, ethnic conflict and stratification, dictatorships, exploitation etc are not just about white US nurses, janitors, waitresses and firefighters confronting biases."

Nor are those things "just" about confronting capital, nor are they about class divisions, nor are they about just imperialism. I would wager no small sum that you would never offer this correction in any other context. Because it is unnecessary and facile.

If white Americans were more conscious of their white racial privilege, of the skewing of global power (both racially and economically) to their advantage (no matter how slight), and were more racially sensitive, they may be more invested in what's going on in Africa, may be more interested in stopping genocides in Rwanda. Certainly, it'd help confront the imperial system (which is not primarily about race but about political power and economic power) which is responsible for a large portion of those atrocities.

But this is at best a fallacy of perfection. I never claimed that all of Africa's, or the world's, or America's, or even New Orleans' or LA's problems were racial. Hell, I didn't even claim a majority were. I did say that white privilege and racial injustice has severe harms and that we need to correct those. You've never even tried to undermine that basic argument.

""Well its not that simple. There are a RANGE of responses from peoples in both groups. A range of preferences. The responses and the interpretation of them involves slightly deeper thought and sophistication than your usual simplistic "black and white" analysis. Name some specific studies, and lets get into those numbers. These groups are not populated by two enormous cookie cutter caricatures."

So, yet again, you demonstrate that you could care less about the topic and just want to defend your pre-existing laziness or lack of interest in the topic. I am 100% confident that if I said that a majority of Americans believed X or Y, you wouldn't say, "There are a range of responses". No crap. That's basic social science. You can say that to any poll, any study, any fact that someone cites. The fact that you bothered to make this argument means you're not trying.

Among other studies:

HOUSING SEGREGATION RESULT OF PREJUDICE, NOT CHOICE OR FINANCES

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Discrimination and prejudice against minorities remains the best explanation for racial housing segregation in U.S. metropolitan areas, a new study in Los Angeles suggests.

Other common explanations for segregation -- that racial groups choose to live together or that minorities can't afford to buy houses or rent apartments in white neighborhoods -- were not supported by the study.

The research also found that, among minority groups, Blacks suffered the greatest amount of discrimination and prejudice. White hostility against Blacks and institutional discrimination against Black homebuyers were some of the contributing factors to segregation.

"There have been many reasons given as to why American cities are segregated, but racial prejudice and discrimination still provide the best answer given the evidence," said Camille Zubrinsky, co-author of the study and assistant professor of

sociology at Ohio State University.

The study used data from the 1993-94 Los Angeles Survey of Urban Inequality, which involved in-depth, face-to-face interviews with 4,025 residents of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The study included interviews with whites, Blacks, Latinos and Asians.

Zubrinsky conducted the study with Lawrence Bobo, a sociologist at UCLA. Their results will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Social Science Research.

The results provide strong evidence that segregation isn't occurring because minorities -- particularly Blacks -- don't have the money to live in white neighborhoods, Zubrinsky said.

Even though Blacks tend to earn less than whites, many Black homeowners in the study were making mortgage payments that would allow them to live in desirable white neighborhoods, she said.

For example, more than one-third of Blacks surveyed (38 percent) had mortgage payments between $600 and $1,400 a month, similar to the 43 percent of whites studied. About one-half of Asians and Latinos studied had mortgage payments in this range.

Similar results occurred among renters: the average monthly rent of Blacks surveyed was only $49 less than that of whites.

"Racial segregation isn't occurring because Blacks and Latinos are too poor to live with whites," she said.

The study also found that people liked to live in neighborhoods where their own race was the majority, but that wasn't the driving force behind segregation, according to Zubrinsky. "All groups appear to want both integration and a significant number of same- race neighbors," she said.

Some scholars have argued that Blacks themselves are most responsible for segregation because they want to live in Black- dominated neighborhoods. But this study showed that Blacks were most likely of all ethnic groups to want to live in an integrated neighborhood. Blacks surveyed said their ideal neighborhood would have between 27 percent and 50 percent non-Blacks.

Whites were also relatively comfortable with the idea of integrated neighborhoods. Slightly more than half said they would be comfortable living in a neighborhood where 50 percent of the residents were Black.

This statistic, while encouraging on the face, also shows the severe prejudice against Blacks, Zubrinsky said. For example, while 57 percent of whites said they would feel comfortable in a half-Black neighborhood, 15 percent more (72 percent) would feel comfortable living in a neighborhood that was half-Latino. And 80 percent of whites would feel comfortable in a neighborhood that was half-Asian.

"This shows that there is a rank order among minority groups, with Blacks on the bottom," she said. "Blacks are seen as the least desirable neighbors and this is probably an important reason for the lack of integration in Los Angeles."

Tim can also point you to other studies and polls that indicate this. White flight is a white response, not a black one.

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"If you just want to say,

"If you just want to say, yeah, everyone engages in biases, sure, that's true."

Exactly! ANd it matters when they do. The problem is whether its ideology, religion, racial bias or ignorance you understand that these are human problems. You deal with them across the board.

"So, the statement literally read is still false. One has to add the caveat that not all groups hate each other equally, and have the equal ability to act out on those biases, for it to be at all honest."

No its literally true. And that is absolutely indisputable. The fact that not all persons in all groups hate all other persons in all other groups equally or that not all humans have the same ability to act on them does absolutely nothing to change that. Many whites have very little power and some whites have enormous power, but they can both act on biases in their own ways. And we dont wait until the poorer whites get richer and more powerful before we worry about their biases, not only because of the harm they are already able to do in the small sphere that they can do it, but later it will be a little too late, since they will have the power to do terrible damage on a much wider scale.

Yes the level of bias also varies from one person to the next within all races and between them.

Its true that there are widely held negative images about blacks, and especially black males, that neither Asian or white males have to face. And its not just whites who hold such views. But "white Privilege" doesnt explain anything about it. Anti-black bias is anti-black bias, not "Asian Privilege".

"You would never say that George Bush acting out his classist biases by drafting laws that impoverish tens of millions is the same as a poor person spitting in some lawyer's sandwich. They're transparently not, and it's repellent that you're trying to make the analogous argument."

I wouldnt call the beatings, killings, intimidations and rapings of women than even poor white, black and latino men can and do inflict upon women as being the same as spitting on a sandwich. Likewise with gay bashing, ostracism and humiliation. Or with verbal and physical assaults and killings against whites, blacks, latinos or asians on racial grounds.

The fact that you would so dismissively marginalize the capacity of even poorer whites, blacks, latinos and asians to act on their fears, biases, ideologies and ignorance by way of something as ridiculous as a guy spitting on a sandwich is absolutely outrageous and you should be ashamed of yourself for having said it.

To say nothing of the preposterous absurdity of comparing the US President/Poor Person divide with White/Asian, or White/Black,etc. Its self-discrediting.

What the hell did you think I meant by saying that all people can and do act on whatever scale they can?

"But, more importantly, I'm white. I'm American. I'm middle-class."

And an ideologue. That explains your focus alot more than these other factors.

"So since I'm in that group, I want to talk about what my community, my friends and family and neighbors, can do for the cause of justice, to save their own community from a centuries-old rot, can do to stop preying on other communities. This is heroic."

Self declarations of heroism never wear well, Frederic. And its absolutely laughable to call what you descirbe here as "heroic".

We all need to deal with biases. Everyone, everywhere and in every circumstance. Every person in every group needs to do that. Its fine to say that you cant confront other peoples biases for them, but that would be true of other white people too, not just non-whites. You cant confront their biases on their behalf. What you can do is try to help facilitate a species consciousness among all members of the species. In practice that may involve you in more conversations with whites than others, because of the demographic reality of your circumstances, but you should speak with everyone you encounter, not just the whites, or the middle class.

In reality, we have to confront sexism, domestic violence, racial/ethnic stereotypes, housing discrimination and homophobia among all people. Schools cant say "only the white kids will get these lessons. Send the black kids to the school yard beause they dont need to hear about homophobia or domestic violence or the rest." Yes they do!

These are human problems, and the fact that some people are able to act on their ignorance, ideology, fears and biases on a wider scale than others doesnt change that. For gods sake you dont wait until someone has great power and THEN say you are going to be concerned about them.

"But it's not just bias I talk about, as you keep obliquely conceding then stubbornly returning to. It's racialized effects of facially race-neutral policies, the ongoing effect of past racism, internalized subconscious bias, overtly held biases, and outright white nationalism."

Ignorance is not just shown through racial biases. Thats exactly what I have said. We went on at length about ideology, ignorance, religions, gender, nationalism, etc. Having said that nearly all of what you just mention there is the result of bias and the ignorance of the many effects of biases, indeed you even mentioned kinds of BIAS on your list of things to show its not all bias.

"Here, it IS white taxi drivers not picking up black fares,"

Frederic, have you ever taken Taxis in New York or Chicago or Philly or DC? WHITE cab drivers? WHite?! Where in gods name did you get the idea that its only white cab drivers in these cities and that only they do this?

What lily white suburban bubble world are you living in?

"Nor are those things "just" about confronting capital, nor are they about class divisions, nor are they about just imperialism. I would wager no small sum that you would never offer this correction in any other context. Because it is unnecessary and facile."

Indeed I have offered this correction in many circumstances. It often does have to be said to those who think that nearly everything is just essentially class, for instance. It does need to be said very often. And it was certainly necessary here. Any simplistic two polar model needs to be confronted with the far messier, far more complex reality.

"Certainly the global North is overwhelmingly white: Only Japan belongs to the global North and yet is non-white. And certainly the global South is overwhelmingly black."

The simplistic two-polar model continues.

The range of skin color variations running south to north was just as true 1000 years ago, when Europeans were backward poor agrarian medievals whose best weapon against plagues was reciting the Rosary. So what? Human phenotypical changes in response to regional environments are what they are. But for some reason you think these skin tone variations are a salient feature.

Humans exist on a continuum from the lightest to darkest and every shade inbetween. Thats part of the understanding of just how socially constructed the idea of dividing humans into neatly discrete races really is. But there is nothing about skin tone that explains anything about how the world is the way that it is.

A complex of factors explain why Europe experienced the scientific, engineering and industrial revolutions that put them at a great advantage over other peoples, why power and development differs so strongly by global regions. One thing that is clear is that skin color doesnt explain anything about it, anymore than it explains Europes weakness and backwardness in the centuries before that, when they were just as milky white.

There has certainly been enough conquest, slaughter, brutality, exploitation and oppression between peoples of the same skin tones within Africa, Europe and Asia to say that even if the skin color variations from north to south were less than they are, there is no reason to think it would result in a world that is any better than the one we have now.

It also worth noting that only a few of the peoples of Europe actually had colonial empires, with most European peoples spending the "Age of Empires" under the occupation and oppression of other European states or the Ottoman Empire. Even within the few imperial powers, brutal oppression and exploitation prevailed against its own populations.

The world is not divided into "white" and "black", "light" and "dark", "top" and "bottom". Asia has 60% of the worlds population, with Africa, North and South America, Europe and Australasia being the other 40%. While Dravidians in South Asia could be called "black" within your racial terminology, the majority of Indians are not, and certainly most Asians are not. The vast bulk of the world is non-black, and they do not exist in just "bottom" or "top" but on a continuum from some of the poorest to some of the wealthiest and most powerful in human history.

COmparing widely differing African, South American and Asian nations in absurdly misleading. They are facing very differing conditions, problems and prospects with some doing far, far better than others. Some people do think this simplistic model is illuminating. But it explains absolutely nothing.

"If white Americans were more conscious of their white racial privilege, of the skewing of global power (both racially and economically) to their advantage (no matter how slight), and were more racially sensitive, they may be more invested in what's going on in Africa, may be more interested in stopping genocides in Rwanda."

They arent getting any "white racial privilege" so its pointless to advise people to be conscious of something thats not real. What you mean is that inequalities exists. Nothing about the bogus concept of white privilege makes that any clearer or will mean anything to changing it.

Power has been skewed for thousands of years in societies all over the world. Its not a white thing. This is a fundamentally human problem. Between males and females, ethnic groups, tribes, classes and races, or between religions. It didnt just happen, and theres no one group that is to blame for it.

And it doesnt matter if in one era Europe is poor and weak and in the next its powerful and rich. The underlying range of human problems that have to be addressed will not change either way. Whether its THIS group or nation "winning" for the time being or THAT group "winning", its the same underlying issues. The human problems that creates up and down divides persists, and if you cant wrap your brain around that, then is a dead end.

"So, yet again, you demonstrate that you could care less about the topic and just want to defend your pre-existing laziness or lack of interest in the topic. I am 100% confident that if I said that a majority of Americans believed X or Y, you wouldn't say, "There are a range of responses". No crap. That's basic social science. You can say that to any poll, any study, any fact that someone cites. The fact that you bothered to make this argument means you're not trying."

On the contrary, my good man, its precisely because I have seen these studies that I know your white-black BS caricatures dont hold any water. Lets see:

"Tim can also point you to other studies and polls that indicate this. White flight is a white response, not a black one."

Thats what you take from such studies? White, Not Black. Two nice, neat, stable, simplistic categories. And forget Asians and Latinos, they dont count, right?

The ideal neighborhoods for blacks was 50% to 73% black? Are blacks 50% to 73% of the population of LA? Of the the USA? Not even close. And those numbers made them the "most likely of all ethnic groups to want to live in an integrated neighborhood."?!?

Wanting your neighborhood to be one-half to three-quarters of your own group was the BEST figure!? That makes my point, not yours. Lets continue:

"The study also found that people liked to live in neighborhoods where their own race was the majority, but that wasn't the driving force behind segregation, according to Zubrinsky. "All groups appear to want both integration and a significant number of same- race neighbors," she said."

Yeah, Frederic, the problem here is "Whites this, Blacks that". No more thought required. Does this sort of absurd caricature and oversimplification capture the reality?

What could be lazier than just trying to shoe horn this on the ground reality into the same old two polar model.

"This shows that there is a rank order among minority groups, with Blacks on the bottom," she said. "Blacks are seen as the least desirable neighbors and this is probably an important reason for the lack of integration in Los Angeles."

Seen as the least desirable neighbors. But were blacks just the least desirable for whites? No. They were the least desirable for Asians and Latinos as well. Both of those groups ALSO had a sharp racial hierarchy of preferences. With blacks at the bottom.

For instance, When given a choice between an all Asian neighborhood or a mixed Asian-white neighborhood (still majority Asian), only 17% of Asian respondents chose All asian. But When given a choice between all-Asian or Asian-Black how many Asians chose all-asian, Frederic? A STAGGERING 75%.

WOW. Now thats astonishing. Sure, many Asians like an integrated neighborhood. Unless its blacks, then they dont. But lets not worry about that, right Frederic? After all, their Asians. Who cares about their biases.

Whats amazing is that you thought this sort of study supports your view and not mine. It makes the point I am trying to make and indeed is why I asked you to name specific studies, because once you get into the numbers, your simplistic model collapses into a useless heap.

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Thank You For Making My Argument

"Exactly! ANd it matters when they do. The problem is whether its ideology, religion, racial bias or ignorance you understand that these are human problems. You deal with them across the board."

So, because everyone tries to make money or protect their economic self-interest, we should make no distinction between capitalists and workers? Because women and men each internalize gender roles, there's no difference? Because every country has war or an army or security concerns, the US and Sweden are no different?

Again: This is insane. You would never make this argument in any other context. Yes, everyone has biases. But the MAGNITUDE and EFFECT of these biases are massively different. EVEN IF white folks didn't have a prima facia responsibility to deal with THEIR privilege, biases and prejudice rather than others', the sheer size alone would suggest focusing on white communities first, even before we take into account how the dominant group's racism sets the standards by which everyone else plays. Just like how the fact that both the poor and the rich want money doesn't change the differences between those groups, or the fact that America and Iran both have militaries doesn't change the fact that one is an empire and one is not.

There's no escaping this. Either your argument is consistent across social movements, in which case you're basically demanding that things collapse to mush, or it's not, and you're clearly making a special exception for a type of oppression you bafflingly don't want to deal with.

"

No its literally true. And that is absolutely indisputable. The fact that not all persons in all groups hate all other persons in all other groups equally or that not all humans have the same ability to act on them does absolutely nothing to change that. Many whites have very little power and some whites have enormous power, but they can both act on biases in their own ways. And we dont wait until the poorer whites get richer and more powerful before we worry about their biases, not only because of the harm they are already able to do in the small sphere that they can do it, but later it will be a little too late, since they will have the power to do terrible damage on a much wider scale.

Yes the level of bias also varies from one person to the next within all races and between them.

Its true that there are widely held negative images about blacks, and especially black males, that neither Asian or white males have to face. And its not just whites who hold such views. But "white Privilege" doesnt explain anything about it. Anti-black bias is anti-black bias, not "Asian Privilege"."

Your intellectual shell game here is astonishingly dishonest.

Biases are not synonymous with privilege. Asian biases against the black community, then, do not demonstrate Asian privilege.

Groups can have biases. But their power to DO SOMETHING about those biases changes. You've never denied that. You've conceded it.

THAT'S white privilege. And you in fact make Tim's (and my) argument, virtually verbatim, when you say that both poor and rich, powerful and weak, whites have to deal with their biases.

No one is denying that blacks, Asians, Latina/os, etc. shouldn't work on issues of racial and cultural sensitivity. But for whites, we not only have that struggle, we have a far more serious struggle: Facing not only the greater MAGNITUDE of those biases, shaped by the way that being the dominant group lets one define reality in one's favor, but also the way that those biases play into and are inextricable from a community-wide privilege that goes above and beyond class.

You fastidiously want to avoid talking about the actual issues being raised here.

"I wouldnt call the beatings, killings, intimidations and rapings of women than even poor white, black and latino men can and do inflict upon women as being the same as spitting on a sandwich. Likewise with gay bashing, ostracism and humiliation. Or with verbal and physical assaults and killings against whites, blacks, latinos or asians on racial grounds."

Another shellgame. First: Pointing out that racial groups can be sexist is to be conflating your social categories. Men writ large need to face their privilege over women writ large. You're confusing vectors in order to win points, at the cost of your honesty and clarity.

Second: Again, this says nothing about the MAGNITUDE and DIRECTION. Women do not hit men anywhere near as often as men hit women. Women do not dominate and control men anywhere near as often as vice versa. It was overwhelmingly white-owned, white-controlled banks and financial institutions that illegally discriminated against and therefore helped set back the black middle class in this recession. It's not blacks who discriminate against whites in job applications. It is facile, insulting and untrue to say that everyone has an equal hand in it, and it leads one consistently to absurd statements like likening the Nazis to the Jews. There are victims and there are victimizers.

"

For instance, When given a choice between an all Asian neighborhood or a mixed Asian-white neighborhood (still majority Asian), only 17% of Asian respondents chose All asian. But When given a choice between all-Asian or Asian-Black how many Asians chose all-asian, Frederic? A STAGGERING 75%.

WOW. Now thats astonishing. Sure, many Asians like an integrated neighborhood. Unless its blacks, then they dont. But lets not worry about that, right Frederic? After all, their Asians. Who cares about their biases.

Whats amazing is that you thought this sort of study supports your view and not mine. It makes the point I am trying to make and indeed is why I asked you to name specific studies, because once you get into the numbers, your simplistic model collapses into a useless heap."

Your argument is that Asians disliking blacks disproves that blacks want to live in integrated communities and whites don't.

In your world, saying that gravity makes objects fall to Earth is denied by people keeping things held up in hammocks and on clotheslines.

You haven't undermined my point about white racial privilege or black racial disadvantage. You've said something totally off-topic. Nice red herring fallacy. What are you trying to lead us off the track of?

Hey, Michael, did you know that the poor vote against their interests? Man, capitalism must not be so bad if they keep on making that decision!

The US victimized Iraq? Well, there's genocide in Darfur! Stop it with your simplistic models!

My argument is that blacks like to live in integrated communities, showing a low level of bias, while whites don't, showing a high level of bias. This shows not only that different communities have different biases, but also that some communities have the power to make those biases real. Your counter-argument? Asians have yet DIFFERENT biases! Yes, thank you for making MY ARGUMENT.

Again, going over the rest of your message is unnecessary. You have, once again, demonstrated that you have no intention of debating issues on point.