I’ve been reading a ton of books lately, as part of my ongoing blogging project.
The project began with a post about race without racism, then continued with a post on the unjust ‘justice’ system, and a third post about robotization touched upon the issues. I still have yet to get to any serious posts that get into all of the details, although I did offer some info from The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander in a comment to my second post.
I’ve finished The New Jim Crow and have read sizable chunks of many other books. The book I’m most focused on at the moment is Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Mason Steele. The author is a liberal social scientist which is interesting because his identical twin brother, Shelby Steele, is a conservative social commentator. Despite having identical genetics, they have seemingly polar opposite views on human nature. That in itself is a point scored for the power of environmental influence.
In Whistling Vivaldi, the author explores and explains the extensive research related to stereotype threat, some of which he was involved with. Some of what he discusses seems like commonsense, but other parts go against what in our society we normally assume and expect about human nature. It really does cut to the heart of so many important issues, maybe even shaking the foundations of our society a bit, specifically in terms of the ideals of individualism and hard work. I will discuss it more later, but I just wanted to say that I highly recommend it.
I’ve been reading some amazing books lately. Books like The New Jim Crow and Whistling Vivaldi should be read by every American, should be taught in every college, should be discussed in the entire mainstream media, and should inform the policy decisions of every politicians. But sadly you’d be lucky to find much at all about these books anywhere, that is without actively looking for it.
I’ve spent the last month looking at thousands upon thousands of book titles and probably have read more pages of reviews than I so far have read pages of books. When I decide to do research, I don’t do it halfway. It took a lot of effort finding the books I’ve been reading lately and I realize most people aren’t likely to go to such effort, even if they wanted to.
It’s frustrating. The most important topics of discussion are those least discussed. You have to be bound and determined to inform yourself. The kind of data in these books is far from common knowledge. If it were common knowledge, many public debates would become moot or at least completely altered to different terms.
In starting this blogging project, I initially wanted to simply discuss violence as it relates to various factors, demographics and regions. It quickly became apparent, though, that I needed to first deal with some more basic issues. For example, a central factor of my thinking has related to race and racism. In discussing this with others, I realize there is so much that gets taken for granted with little questioning, criticism or analysis. It seems to me most people don’t even know what they mean when they speak of race, but scientifically trying to define race is a complete mess of confusion.
So, before I can get to the original focus, I need to build the foundation of data for a rational discussion. Race is one of those terms that needs a whole lot of unpacking. IQ maybe is the same way. Race and IQ are so tied up to discussions of violence and all that relates to it: racism, poverty, etc. Most importantly, I’m fairly sure I don’t yet have a good grasp on a lot of this and I don’t seem to be alone in this. I want to use my blog to help offer better info for public discussion, but first I need to better inform myself about these extremely complex and difficult issues.
This is partly what attracted me to Whistling Vivaldi. It is a book about psychology that gets at the human level of stereotypes and their impact. I don’t want to have a polarized ideological debate. What I want is to move toward genuine understanding.
For those interested in following along with this learning adventure, I listed in a comment some of the books I am reading or might read.