Examining Our Racialized Lives

There are no races. There is just racism. Races and racism can’t be separated. However, when you identify a person as African-American, you are referring to ethnicity, not race.

Ethnicities do exist and are meaningful categories of human ancestry, culture, traditions, and communities. Speaking of races serves no purpose other than promoting racism, even if inadvertently. There is nothing that race indicates that can’t be better described by ethnicity.

According to a New Study, Blacks Are Losing Out to—Wait for It—African Americans
by Jason Johnson, The Root

“In the case of a job applicant, when asked to speculate about education, ability and income, whites believed that the “black” applicant was less educated and estimated his income as about $29,000 a year. But the candidate labeled “African American” was thought to be more educated by white respondents, and making about $37,000 a year.

“In another experiment, a suspect in a crime was labeled “black” or “African American,” and whites consistently had more negative emotions and were more likely to label the “black” suspect as guilty. In fact, throughout the experiment, “black” always lost out to “African American” among white respondents—but lest you get the impression that they thought better of African Americans, let us be clear: Whites simply liked blacks less. In the study, they didn’t necessarily hold more positive feelings toward African Americans compared with other groups—just compared with blacks. [ . . . ]

“Ultimately, the Emory study speaks to a more important and pressing issue, which is the depth to which overt and even subconscious racial bias in the white majority impacts the lives of African Americans. If a loan application or a college admission form uses the term “black” instead of “African American,” it may play into a larger discrimination cycle already in motion.

“Granted, more often than not, being hired for a job isn’t going to turn on whether you describe yourself as black or as African American. But given the results of this study, and the impact on jobs and lives, one has to wonder if the black unemployment rate is just a little bit higher than the African-American unemployment rate.”

White Privilege, Quantified
by Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic

“Once biases have been catalogued objectively, there remains the problem of what to do about them. A side experiment that Mujcic and Frijters describe in their paper hints at one possible solution. They approached several bus drivers on break, showing them a picture of a subject from the original experiment and asking the driver if that rider would be allowed to stay on. In that survey, 86 percent of drivers said they’d let a black passenger stay onboard—a rate far higher than what happened out on the streets. Perhaps drivers know that they shouldn’t discriminate, but only act on that knowledge when they think their actions are being recorded. Putting policies in place that force people to step outside of their everyday rhythms and evaluate their own fairness might be a useful strategy. Or maybe it comes down to devising something that makes them feel the pressure of that ultimate motivator, social pressure.”

On a related note, here is a clear example of why race is total bullshit. This is a picture of twins:


26 thoughts on “Examining Our Racialized Lives

  1. I think Canada is a better bet. Those highly homogenous, high trust cultures are known to become quite authoritarian and xenophobic when things get bad. I wouldn’t want to personally experience that as a foreign-born immigrant in a Scandinavian country. If another Hitler arises, I’d rather be far away living in a diverse country like Canada or even the US. Diversity has its challenges, but also its benefits.

    Yeah I’d agree with that (let’s just say I live in Canada for a reason). I’m not white myself, so yes I would agree that Canada is very accepting of immigrants.

    Overall though, if you look in the living standards charts, Canada actually doesn’t do too bad.

    Among the nations (go through living standards and quality of life charts):

    – The Nordic nations are usually on top
    – Many of the East Asian nations (Japan in particular, but Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan do well too)

    That leaves only 2 left: Canada and Australia

    Between the two, they seem to trade blows, in different areas.

    One area of concern though as an immigrant for you if you were to choose Australia:


    I have been told abroad that Canada has a good reputation for being friendly. Racism exists (Aboriginals I think suffer the most), but it’s not nearly as bad as in the US.

    But as indicated, Canada has it’s own share of problems:


    Oh, and the media is generally more sane. The Globe and Mail, by the way is a right wing “pro business” newspaper (by Canadian standards).

    Even so, you’ll see articles like these:

    One serious problem as of late though has been concentration of media.

    • Canada is definitely my plan B. But I’m not quite ready to abandon the United States.

      All of my immediate family is here in Iowa. My parents now live in the same city, a few miles from me. One of my brothers and his family lives in a nearby town, only a short drive away. And my other brother is a few hours down in Southern Iowa. Plus, my lifelong friend lives here along with all of his immediate family.

      I have a good government job. So, I have plenty of benefits and job security. This town was not even touched by the economic problems of recent years. It’s sort of an island of normalacy or at least stability, relatively speaking. This town isn’t going anywhere and it is likely to be a prosperous growing economy for a very long time.

      I also love that it is a college town and a literary town. It has an atmosphere of creative culture. It’s nice to live in a place where even bus drivers and janitors have college degrees. It makes it easier to start up an interesting and intelligent conversation.

      This is my home. This is where my fondest childhood memories are. I know this town better than I’ve ever known any woman I’ve dated. It’s my comfort zone, my happy place. Despite some recent changes, it still feels like the same basic town.

      I’m very well-rooted at the moment. The situation will have to get far worse for me and for the society around me before I would willingly dislodge myself. I’ve found a relatively contented nook in the world.

      That said, I wouldn’t mind transplanting all of Iowa City to Canada. Do you think that would be possible?

    • There are cities like that.

      Waterloo, Ontario comes to mind. It is where I went to study. It is a university town, actually in what is known as the “twin cities”, the twin being Kitchener. Nearby is Cambridge and about 30 minutes drive is another college town, Guelph, Ontario.

      Waterloo has a very large Amish community nearby and to the north is lots of agriculture. The city itself is dominated by the university, University of Waterloo. In Canada, it is a well known school for its math and engineering programs. The ciry is about 120k, perhaps 20-30k students. Other major parts of the economy are the technology industry and the insurance industry.

      Kitchener sadly has not been doing as well due to the decline in manufacturing, but as of late has been undergoing a partial revival.

      Guelph may also be worth a look at. University of Guelph is known for its agricultural studies and has the only veterinary school in Canada.

      The region is very German. Before WWI, Kitchener used to be known as Berlin, Ontario. Waterloo I believe has one of the largest Oktoberfest events outside of Germany.

    • The American Midwest should be annexed by Canada. Maybe we could take a vote on it. I think the trio of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa definitely would fit in. But all of the Midwest is majority German ancestry with a fair amount of Amish.

      Do you think Canadians would accept us? Many of the ancestors of those German-Canadians originally came from the American Midwest. The agrarian socialist tradition in Canada was imported from the Amerian Midwest. We are the same people. I’ve got a good amount of German in me, if that helps.

    • @Chris

      I hear that Vancoiver can be a tense place sometimes though regarding immigrants? Online it seems there’s a lot of resentment towards Chijese immigrants from whites and even Chinese here longer…

      The recent Ricardo Duchesnie kerfuffle for example

    • There can be tensions.

      The economy in Vancouver has not been too great – housing prices have gone up way higher than affordable and foreign speculators are a large part of the problem, particularly from Asia, which has caused anti-Chinese sentiment.

      Reading material:

      It’s not nearly as bad as the US, but it still exists.

      There’s racial tensions everywhere I find.

  2. Would it be annexed and accepted? There would be tensions. Anecdotal evidence but, I have heard from people who have lived in the Midwest that people are less friendly (he lived in the Minneapolis area) than in Canada.

    Then again, people in Toronto and Vancouver are also pretty rude.

    Politics notwithstanding, you’d probably be accepted yourself. You should carefully research out Waterloo, Guelph, and that area before making plans though. That and it seems like immigration as of late has become more restrictive.

    Oh, and Kingston, Ontario might be another choice. It is the home of Queens University.

    I’d research all 3 carefully:

    – Kingston, Ontario
    – Guelph, Ontario
    – Waterloo, Ontario

    There are others, but these are the 3 I know best. Yet another may be Peterborough, Ontario.

    There’s too many to bother listing.

    As far as demographics, most are of European descent. British especially, but all over Europe. There is also a large Slavic population from East Europe. The Asian population has been growing. Most Black Canadians interestingly are from the Caribbean.

    For lack of a better source:

    • “Would it be annexed and accepted? There would be tensions. Anecdotal evidence but, I have heard from people who have lived in the Midwest that people are less friendly (he lived in the Minneapolis area) than in Canada.”

      It depends where in the Midwest one is talking about.

      The Southern edge of the Lower Midwest has much Upper South influence. Even in the most Southeast corner of Iowa, I’ve come across someone with a Southern accent who lived just across the Mississippi River in Illinois.

      The big cities of the Rust Belt are also their own unique places. They are highly diverse, also with a fair amount of migration up from the South, including black populations.

      It is much different once you cross the Mississippi River and especially as you head to the Upper South. All of the Midwest, especially rural Midwest, have had a strong element of easygoing moderation and community-oriented friendliness, although that has broken down a bit as these areas have lost populations (their downtowns dying and public schools shut down). My dad grew up in a prosperous small rural town in Indiana (officially declared Small Town, USA), but the nearby factory closed down and the town is the ghost of its former self.

      The traditional Midwestern culture has most clearly survived further away from the Rust Belt. Minnesota is known for its Minnesota nice. It’s a combination of German and Scandinavian culture. Iowa and Wisconsin have it to some extent as well. It seems to be the same basic culture as the parts of Canada with the same ancestral demographics.

      I’ve wanted to read a good book about Canadian cultural history and ethnic immigration/settlement patterns. Basically, I’d like to read a Canadian version of books like Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fischer and American Nations by Colin Woodard.

      I’d like to get a better sense of my Northern neighbors. I imagine that I’d love parts of Canada and dislike other parts, just as in the US.

      Here is some info on Minnesota nice, in case you’re curious:



  3. As far as Waterloo – it’s interesting because Waterloo is very German (there is also a very large Mennonite population), but nearby, Guelph is predominantly British (English, Scottish, and Irish).

    Waterloo is like a mini-Silicon Valley, although the decline of the Blackberry as of late has not been kind.

    Guelph is a city of about ~120k, noted for its very low crime rates. The auto industry is dominant, but around there’s a lot. Food and agriculture plays a huge role as indicated before. Apparently the Canadian Communist Party started in Guelph before being declared illegal in the 1920s.

    You should do a lot of research around the area.

  4. Although I do regard the Scandinavian culture highly, I do agree that small talk is not something that they excel at. Quite the opposite, they are very introverted. Quite curious for a high trust society.

    But yes I agree with the article that it is hard to penetrate the inside for Americans. One of the things that I have heard many Europeans and even some Canadians say about the US is that people are superficial. The proportion of passive aggressive people seems to be higher in the US than elsewhere in the Western world. There is also a lot more materialism and emphasis on money I find.

    On that note, as indicated, it’s well worth looking into the Waterloo or Guelph area as you seem like you would fit.

    • I think the US gets judged for its big cities and its mainstream media, from Hollywood to Fox News. But I’m not sure how much of any of that is representative of the average American. The image of Americans is a media creation. It is what gets projected out to the larger world.

      I must admit that I don’t recognize many average Americans I know in the image of what an average American is supposed to be like. I’ve especially had that feeling here in the Midwest. The Midwest isn’t like the big cities on the coasts. Most of it isn’t like Chicago either.

    • I disagree. It’s true that anecdotes are not hard data, but the fact that so many people I have met from the US (from multiple different regions no less), suggests that this is widespread behavior.

      My thoughts are something like this one:

      The one thing I disagree about is the upward mobility part. If you do a study on social mobility in the West, you’ll know how the US ranks.

      This may be a function too of worsening inequality. Apparently, upper middle class citizens are on average, less ethical:


      So these types of problems will likely worsen as inequality worsens too.

    • I think I may get the sense of one confusion.

      Americans will use a word like ‘friend’ to refer to both deep, close relationships and more casual acquaintances. But one doesn’t negate the other. A visitor or a new immigrant would only see the latter casual relationships and assume that is all that friendship means to Americans (A similar dynamic would exist for Americans outside of the US when they are traveling).

      This generalization isn’t true, though. Most Americans I know have life-long friends. Even as Americans move around quite a bit, they put a lot of effort into maintaining their old friendships.

      Americans maybe give the illusion of being easily understood. There is the superficial side of Americans. Americans do make friends easily, but they only show so much to their casual acquaintances. It’s like how a quiet Scandinavian may seem unfriendly, until you get to know them. As such, an American seems superficial, until you get to know them. The general outward friendliness of Americans is just that.

      I’m not sure how much a large country like the US can ever be generalized. A significant part of the population is Latino, Chinese, and other ethnicities. Many are recent immigrants or children of immigrants. What is the difference between a Latino in Mexico and a Latino in the US. What would all of a sudden make them superficial when they crossed the border. Latino culture was established in North America long before this country was founded.

      There is something being missed here. I’m not saying that there aren’t some Americans who are extremely superficial, but I just don’t know that is more true than many other countries. I could be wrong. I just would like to see social science data on it.

      It reminds me of the research on narcissism. Many people would assume Americans are narcissistic. But it turns out Americans are less narcissistic compared to some countries that would surprise people. For example, it turns out Japanese are more narcissistic than Americans.

      Japanese keep their problems to themselves and so they tend to obsess over their own problems. Americans love to talk about their problems endlessly, even to casual friends, and maybe this could seem an aspect of superficiaity. An important aspect to this, though, is American culture encourages Americans to listen as much as talk. There is an unwritten rule in America that you should listen to other people’s problems, even casual acquaintances.

      Americans bond through talking. This may seem superficial. But it doesn’t feel that way to Americans. People from other countries may misunderstand what this means, because maybe most other countries only share personal info with the closest of friends and family.

      Just because an American genuinely wants to know about the lives of casual acquaintances doesn’t mean it is just superficial. There are just different levels of knowing that an American would make, just as an Inuit makes many subtle distinctions of kinds of snow. There are many kinds of friends to an American and they don’t confuse them even as they use the same general word.

      I’m not sure how to explain this. It doesn’t seem difficult or contradictory to an American to maintain multiple kinds and depths of friendship simultaneously. A hundred casual acquaintances doesn’t lessen the value of the few close, often life-long friends.

      This dynamic of American relating is particularly exagerated in the South.

      The South is known for being friendly, but to a Northerner much of it can seem superficial. The reason for this is that there is a Southern tradition of being warm, inviting, and generous to strangers. But this is somewhat of a formality built on a highly class-oriented society. It’s why bigotry can hide so well in the South, hidden behind a smile.

      On the other hand, Southerners are highly family focused. It’s more of a kinship culture. A Southern will be friendly to a stranger, but you would have to know that person for years or decades before you are considered close friend and at that point you are essentially part of the family. However, unless you plan on spending decades in the South assimilating to the local culture, you might never see or fully understand that other side of the culture.

      There is a sense of privacy behind the outward form of friendliness. If you mistook the form for the substance, you’d be quite confused.

      I don’t know if I’m explaining this well. I’m not even sure I fully grasp it myself. The regional and ethnic differences in the US are vast. Still, there are some general patterns of behavior that maybe can be discerned.

  5. Hard to say. I lean towards the “no” though, even for close friends.

    The people I spoke to generally lived in the US for several years, typically in 1 region. Many were born in the US and lived their for much (if not most) of their lives.

    Perhaps the cities were over-represented (they are in terms of immigrants and people who travel the world), but there were some from rural areas.

    I feel that in my life I have a reasonably large sample size -a couple of hundred people (I have lived in quite a few places).

    There does seem to be a much lower emphasis on the collective good in the US and psychological studies seem to confirm this:



    Another study:

    There does seem to be a rather bizarre amount of optimism though:

    I will have to look for studies on friendship though – it will probably be hard to find.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s