Minority-Majority, Us-Vs-Them, and Racism

There is a Science Daily article about the phrasing and hence framing of the minority-majority issue. It is about research on public opinion and how it can shift, depending on the wording used. I take three main points from the article.

First, there is still plenty of racism in the US. When elicited by an us-vs-them framing, this racism motivates public opinion which leads to political action. Racism, unsurprisingly, will turn otherwise independent white Americans into Republicans.

“They found that participants who had read that California is a majority-minority state tended to lean more towards the Republican Party and rate their ideological attitudes as more conservative than participants who simply read that the Hispanic population had become equal in size to the Black population in the United States.

“Importantly, participants’ political attitudes shifted to the right despite the fact that all of the participants had labeled themselves as politically independent.”

Second, the crux of the matter with us-vs-them is status. White Americans become more conservative when they fear losing status. It is a win-lose mentality, when framed as us-vs-them. This is why racism is inseparable from classism in American society.

“According to Craig and Richeson, the possibility of a majority-minority shift may threaten White American’s perceived status in the long term, thereby making them more likely to endorse conservative policies in the short term.

“Indeed, participants who read that “White Americans are expected to continue to have higher average incomes and wealth compared to members of other racial groups” despite a majority-minority shift did not report more conservative attitudes, presumably because they did not perceive a threat to status.”

Third, framing really does matter. There are many important factors to consider in influencing positive change, but the simple issue of wording should not be overlooked. How something is phrased can determine if the majority of the population responds with support or opposition.

“”We’re working on ways to present information regarding these very real and important shifts in the country’s racial demographics that don’t engender these type of threat responses and, instead, promote positive relations among members of the majority and minority groups,” Craig concludes.”

There is plenty of racism just below the surface. It doesn’t take much to bring it to the forefront, without any explicit racism ever being involved. Racism is so integral to our society that we should tread carefully.

Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration, Race, & Data

I’ve been feeling a strong draw to get back into my unfinished blogging project about violence and inequality, specifically in the United States, in relation to race and racism. It is a daunting task, and for the moment I must focus elsewhere, but let me for a brief moment revisit this topic.

The most interesting book I’ve read about the American racial order is The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The reason my mind has been brought back to this is because of another book I picked up a short while ago. It is Invisible Men by Becky Pettit.

The reason this book caught my attention is simple. Pettit, like Alexander, focuses closely on the data. It is a struggle trying to grasp what all the data means, and it is nice having books like these as guides. Invisible Men has the added value of looking not just at the data but also what data is collected (or not) and how it is collected, which gives us a rare opportunity to glimpse some blindspots.

I have just started the book and so can’t speak of it in detail at the moment. Let me just offer a passage to give you a taste of it (Kindle Locations 198-216):

“The intensive press coverage of America’s criminals and the extensive supervision of inmates by correctional authorities belie the invisibility of inmates, parolees, probationers, and others involved in the criminal justice system to the outside world. Inmates are a social group isolated socially, physically, and statistically from much of the rest of society. The vast majority of our nation’s inmates come from very few jurisdictions, and the facilities in which they are housed are even fewer in number (Heyer and Wagner 2004). Even our national data systems, as well as the social facts they produce, are structured around a normative kind of economic, political, and domestic life that commonly eludes those under the supervision of the criminal justice system.

“Inmates and former inmates are less likely than otherwise similarly disadvantaged men to hold down steady legitimate jobs, to participate in civic life, and to live in settled households. Even their institutionalization involves a segment of the state cut off from the usual methods of social accounting. We categorically exclude inmates and former inmates from the social surveys routinely used to gauge the condition of the U.S. population, and we systematically undercount them in the U.S. Census and social surveys.

“More than one hundred years ago, Émile Durkheim (1895/ 1982, 54) coined the term “social fact” to describe phenomena that both characterize and explain features of society: social facts are “the beliefs, tendencies and practices of the group taken collectively.” In his own research , Durkheim commonly relied on statistics such as rates of births, marriages, or suicides to isolate and examine social facts.

“This book documents how our collective blindness hinders the establishment of social facts, conceals inequality, and undermines the foundation of social science research, including that used in the design and evaluation of social policy. The decades-long expansion of the criminal justice system has led to the acute and rapid disappearance of young, low-skill African American men from portraits of the American economic, political, and social condition . While the expansion of the criminal justice system reinforces race and class inequalities in the United States, the full impact of the criminal justice system on American inequality is obscured by the continued use of data collection strategies and estimation methods that predate prison expansion.”

And then a little further on, the author sums it up and points out its relevance for us (Kindle Locations 222-225):

“The promise of the civil rights era has been undercut by a new form of invisibility manufactured by mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex. Yet the invisibility of large segments of the American population and the inequality it conceals is not a natural or inevitable product of prison growth.”

That gets the gears of my mind going. How can we understand something and discuss it when it is invisible to our collective sight? This makes for quite the challenge. We need to be very careful about the data upon which we base interpretations, speculations, theories, and conclusions. What is left out?

Slavery and Eugenics: Part 2

In my last post about slavery and eugenics, I used the logic of human biodiversity advocates (HBDers) in order to come to the opposite conclusion about the most probable expected results.

The alternate premise I used for the HBD-style logic was that of how for most of US history defiant blacks were more often imprisoned, killed or otherwise removed from the breeding pool. Hence, defiance-related genetics would have been severely lessened in the African-American population. As I concluded in that post, if the HBD theory is applicable to how genetics and society actually interact in terms of human behavior, American blacks should be the least defiant (and so most submissive, obedient, rule-following, law-abiding, non-violent, non-criminal, etc) demographic among all Americans. My point was that this is the opposite of the conclusions of HBD theory, at least as presented by the typical HBDer.

There is another argument that HBDers (and race realists) often present. I wish to turn it on its head as well.

This other argument is that blacks are so aggressive and criminal because generations of black women were raped by aggressive and criminal white men. So, the premise is that the white genetics that American blacks possess (on average 20% with 1/10 having +50%) is disproportionately the worst possible white genetics. Let me reverse this premise by pointing out that many of the white men impregnating black women throughout history have been white men with power (slaveholders or friends of slaveholders, employers, etc). So, actually the white genetics would quite likely be disproportionately from whites who were the most successful, often from Southern aristocracy or other elites (e.g., Thomas Jefferson).

I began thinking about this second line of thought because another book I’m reading: Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. Here is the relevant passage (The Definitive Griffin Estate Edition, Kindle Locations 1906-1928):

He told me how all of the white men in the region craved colored girls. He said he hired a lot of them both for housework and in his business. “And I guarantee you, I’ve had it in every one of them before they ever got on the payroll.” A pause. Silence above humming tires on the hot-top road. “What do you think of that?”

“Surely some refuse,” I suggested cautiously.
“Not if they want to eat – or feed their kids,” he snorted. “If they don’t put out, they don’t get the job.”
I looked out the window to tall pine trees rising on either side of the highway. Their turpentine odor mingled with the soaped smells of the man’s khaki hunting clothes.
“You think that’s pretty terrible, don’t you?” he asked.
I knew I should grin and say, “Why no – it’s just nature,” or some other disarming remark to avoid provoking him.
“Don’t you?” he insisted pleasantly.
“I guess I do.”
“Why hell – everybody does it. Don’t you know that?”
“No, sir.”
“Well, they sure as hell do. We figure we’re doing you people a favor to get some white blood in your kids.”

I wondered what moral and ethical difference there was between this sort of rape by coercion that threatened to starve a person, and rape by coercion that threatened to knife or shoot a person. Newspapers play up as sensational every attempt by a Negro to rape a white woman. Yet this white rape of Negro women is apparently a different matter. But it is rape nonetheless, and practiced on a scale that dwarfs the Negro’s defaults.

The grotesque hypocrisy slapped me as it does all Negroes. It is worth remembering when the white man talks of the Negro’s lack of sexual morality, or when he speaks with horror about mongrelization and with fervor about racial purity. Mongrelization is already a widespread reality in the South – it has been exclusively the white man’s contribution to the Southern Way of Life. His vast concern for “racial purity” obviously does not extend to all races.

(Later I encountered many whites who freely admitted the same practices my companion described. In fairness, however, other Southern whites roundly condemned it and claimed it was not as typical as my informants suggested. None denied that it was widespread.)

Now combine several centuries of decreasing defiance-related genetics with several centuries of superior white genetics. What we’d expect is, according to mainstream American standards, a superior African-American population (whether or not you want to conjecture this constitutes a separate breed of human). African-Americans should share more of the genetics of these upper class whites which, as HBDers argue, would include a stronger genetic predisposition toward higher IQ and such.

However, HBDers argue that the average lower IQ and higher criminalization rates of blacks is primarily genetic. But what is the basis of the HBD argument? Why doesn’t generation after generation of infusing supposed superior white genetics lead to an above average black population on various measures? Maybe because it isn’t primarily about genetics.

In reality, American blacks don’t seem all that different than any other group of people when all other confounding factors are controlled for. The only main difference is the racism/racial-bias with which they are treated.

Centerville, IA: Meeting Point of Diversity & Conflict

Let me bring a few thoughts together:

  • Midwestern diversity
  • KKK
  • civic organizations
  • organized crime

I’ll make the connections by focusing on the example of a city in Iowa, as described in Centerville: A Mid-American Saga by Enfys McMurry.

Founded in 1846, Centerville is a small town, once at around 8,000 population and now down to around 5,000. It is located in Appanoose County along the southern border of Iowa. This is a few counties southwest of Johnson County where I live in Iowa City, the home of the Hawkeyes. And this is a few counties southeast of Madison County which is famous for covered bridges and famous for it including the hometown of John Wayne and the temporary home of George Washington Carver. This location leads to a couple of central factors.

First, it was on the edge of slavery. Some of the early residents were abolitionists. And it became part of the Underground Railroad. However, being so close to slave state, escaped slaves and free blacks weren’t very safe living there for they could be easily kidnapped.

Second, it is an agricultural area, but it is also a mining area. This meant it attracted a wide variety of people. Despite it being a small town, its early population included immigrants from more than forty countries and sixty Jewish families. The Midwest (along with the Mid-Atlantic states) has always been where most immigrants have settled. This is why this is the median center and mean center of the United States.

Between location and population diversity, this made Centerville a site of conflict, a contest between political forces and social orders. This was magnified by the vast social change that happened after the Civil War. Blacks were moving North and one of the biggest immigration waves began. Society became very destabilized. It was also a time of increasing social freedom.

There were those who took advantage of these conditions and there were those who sought to enforce new order. There were many Italians in Centerville and with them came the Black Hand which was an early mafia. There was a peak of violence at the turn of the century and then another increase during the 1920s that peaked in the 1930s — see here:

Comparison by year of USA homicide rates

The Black Hand was organized crime, but it also played a role of civic organization in the Italian community. The mafia was a central part of the social order in the region of Italy where many of these immigrants came from. It was based on kinship and shared religion. This is hard for us to understand today. Civic organizations have become tamed and mostly impotent. They are now primarily social gatherings.

The KKK also had this dual role. They held typically conservative values. They sought to defend what they saw as good about society. Like the Black Hand, they would use criminal means at times to enforce their ideal social order. During the early twentieth century, the state and federal governments were far weaker than they are today. This was still the era of the Pinkertons being hired to infiltrate and fight the labor unions. Most power was private at that time. Vigilante and mob justice was common.

It was the early 1920s when the KKK seized political power in Centerville. They used force, threats, intimidation, coercion and about any means necessary. Having gained control of both political parties, their opponents covertly created a third party and ousted the KKK from power after only a few brief years. The KKK wasn’t able to get a permanent toehold and the former members became pariah. Iowa has a mixed history in relation to blacks, at times one of the most progressive and at other times not so much. However, it appears that Centerville was never a sundown town, unlike some other southern Iowa coal mining towns. Winterset, the hometown of John Wayne, was a sundown town.

It should be noted that the KKK wasn’t exclusively focused on blacks, especially not in a town like Centerville that had no large population of blacks. They had other more important agendas such as prohibition and enforcing family values and Christian morality. The prohibition aspect probably was central in an immigrant town like Centerville that included many ethnic groups that loved their drink. Prohibition was an extension of nativism. There is a long history in America of outlawing or trying to outlaw any substance or activity that becomes associated with non-WASP groups, be they a racial or ethnic minority.

I don’t know that the KKK was involved in violence and murder in Centerville. They certainly weren’t pacifists nor did they care much about democratic process. What can be said is that they thrived during violent times of social upheaval.

The following peaceful era of the mid-twentieth century was a rare moment during a century of great violence. We are only now getting back down to those low violent rates. There is an interesting difference, though. The middle of last century was a time of extremely low immigration, but these past couple of decades have had extremely high immigration. So, the violence rates don’t correspond to the immigration rates.

The KKK, of course, associated the violent social disorder to immigrants and blacks. On the other hand, immigrants and blacks might have associated violent social disorder with groups like the KKK.

After the boom era of coal towns like Winterset, I imagine much of this history of diversity and conflict has been forgotten. The patriotism of war and the Cold War era oppression led to some combination of chosen assimilation and forced assimilation. It is just another majority white rural small town, although it does have almost 4% minorities which in a town of 5,000 is a couple hundred people.

I find it interesting that those original immigrant families from so many different countries are now simply considered white. I’m not sure the KKK would be entirely happy about that, but then again neither would the Black Hand. Both the WASP Americans and the ethnic Americans lost the battle for the soul of America. The winner is some new weird amorphous white American, a mutt that is a little bit of many things and nothing in particular.

This is how multiculturalism slowly becomes monoculturalism. I suspect the same fate will happen to the new generation of ethnic outsiders in America. In many regions of the US, regional identities dominate. But in the Midwest, to become assimilated simply means becoming American. That is the role of the Midwest, the Heartland of America. It is where multiculturalism is embraced and where it comes to die. No amount of diversity can defeat this process. There is a faith in this American assimilation here in the Midwest. Bring us your huddled masses and we’ll make Americans out of them. There may be some violence in the process, but unless you want to become Amish the process is near inevitable.

America is where the world comes together. What new thing will be born from this?

Southern Blacks: From Old World to Americanized

I’ve been listening to the audio version of Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. I recommend the book and the audio version in particular.

I’ve had a longtime interest in migration patterns, both to the U.S. and between regions. Reading this book is companion to my reading about the migrations of Southern whites to the same regions Southern blacks headed, mostly the industrial Midwest and California. My previous posts on Southern white migration can be found here and here.

This touches on one of my most favorite blogging themes, the Midwest. I have even more posts about that which I won’t even try to list or link. Where this book touched on the Midwest theme is in contrasting the Northern and Southern cultures. In quoting immigrants, Southern blacks spoke of moving to the North (and other regions of the non-South) as becoming “Americanized”. Others spoke of the South as the “Old World”, as if they had immigrated to the North from a foreign country in some far off continent.

The following are four passages from Wilkerson’s book, the fourth and longest one is Wilkerson speaking of her own experience as the Northern child of Southern black immigrants.

* * * *

It turned out that the old-timers were harder on the new people than most anyone else. “Well, their English was pretty bad,” a colored businessman said of the migrants who flooded Oakland and San Francisco in the forties, as if from a foreign country. To his way of looking at it, they needed eight or nine years “before they seemed to get Americanized.”

As the migrants arrived in the receiving stations of the North and West, the old-timers wrestled with what the influx meant for them, how it would affect the way others saw colored people, and how the flood of black southerners was a reminder of the Jim Crow world they all sought to escape. In the days before Emancipation, as long as slavery existed, no freed black was truly free. Now, as long as Jim Crow and the supremacy behind it existed, no blacks could ever be sure they were beyond its reach.

One day a white friend went up to a longtime Oakland resident named Eleanor Watkins to ask her what she thought about all the newcomers.

“Eleanor,” the woman said , “you colored people must be very disgusted with some of the people who have come here from the South and the way they act.”

“Well, Mrs. S.,” Eleanor Watkins replied. “Yes, some colored people are very disgusted, but as far as I’m concerned, the first thing I give them credit for is getting out of the situation they were in.… Maybe they don’t know how to dress or comb their hair or anything , but their children will and their children will.”

Wilkerson, Isabel (2010-09-07). The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Kindle Locations 5285-5297). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

* * * *

Both men start to lament the changes all around them, the sadder effects of the big city of the North on the people of the South. George waxes on about the days when “people would come down to 135th Street with their house chairs, and they would baptize people in the Harlem River.

“We used to have a boat ride off 125th Street in the Dyckman section,” he says.

“Spread the blankets out. Midsummer, people didn’t have air-conditioning. People would stay up there all night and play card games.

“Things were so much different,” he says. “Drugs wasn’t heard of where I came from. When I came to New York, I didn’t know what a reefer was.”

“We got to being Americanized,” Reverend Harrison is saying. “It got to where we don’t help each other.”

Wilkerson, Isabel (2010-09-07). The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Kindle Locations 8481-8487). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 * * * *

The hierarchy in the North “ called for blacks to remain in their station,” Lieberson wrote, while immigrants were rewarded for “their ability to leave their old world traits” and become American as quickly as possible . Society urged them to leave Poland and Latvia behind and enter the mainstream white world. Not so with their black counterparts like Ida Mae, Robert, and George.

“Although many blacks sought initially to reach an assimilated position in the same way as did the new European immigrants,” Lieberson noted, “the former’s efforts were apt to be interpreted as getting out of their place or were likely to be viewed with mockery.” Ambitious black migrants found that they were not able to get ahead just by following the course taken by immigrants and had to find other routes to survival and hoped-for success.

Wilkerson, Isabel (2010-09-07). The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Kindle Locations 7605-7612). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

* * * *

The seeds of this project were sown within me years ago, growing up with parents who had migrated from the South and who sent me to an affluent white grade school that they themselves could never have dreamed of attending. There, classmates told of ancestors coming from Ireland or Scandinavia with little in their pockets and making something of themselves in the New World. Over time , I came to realize that the same could be said of my family and of millions of other black Americans who had journeyed north during the Great Migration.

I gravitated to the children of recent immigrants from Argentina, Nepal, Ecuador, El Salvador, with whom I had so much in common as the children of newcomers: the accents and folkways of overprotective parents suspicious of the libertine mores of the New World and our childish embarrassment at their nervous hovering; the exotic , out-of-step delicacies from the Old Country that our mothers lovingly prepared for our lunchboxes; the visits to my parents’ fellow “immigrant” friends— all just happening to be from the South and exchanging the latest about the people from back home; the gentle attempts at instilling Old World values from their homelands, my father going so far as to nudge me away from city boys and toward potential suitors whose parents he knew from back home in Petersburg, Virginia , who were, to him, upstanding boys by definition and who would make a fine match in his view, which all but guaranteed that I’d have little interest in them.

Thus I grew up the daughter of immigrants, “a southerner once removed,” as the Mississippi-born poet Natasha Trethewey once called me. My parents bore the subtle hallmarks of the immigrant psyche, except they were Americans who had taken part in an internal migration whose reach and nuances are still little understood.

Wilkerson, Isabel (2010-09-07). The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Kindle Locations 9802-9815). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

An Apology and a Clarification

“You can’t be neutral on a moving train.”
~ Howard Zinn

I called someone, a blogger named M.G,, a racist in a recent post. Actually, I called her blog post racist. In my post, there were quite a few discussions about racism and related topics. None of them seemed overly fruitful.

The least fruitful part was the discussion of the word itself. I was noting how odd it is that conservatives (and the conservative-minded) will criticize political correctness, except when they wish to use it themselves. I’m not a politically correct guy, but neither do I want to be mean-spirited. I wish to apologize for being mean-spirited.

Yes, M.G. made a blog post that was racially biased. Then again, we live in a society that is racially biased, pervasively and systemically. Going by studies, it is fair to say we all are racially biased to varying degrees and in various ways. It seems unfair to pick on M.G. who probably has no intent of being racist, just simply expressing a common attitude in our society.

Maybe it was wrong for me to call M.G. or rather her blog post racist. I could have called her racialist instead which some prefer. Racism implies intent to be racist whereas racialist is simply being racially biased. But that seems like pointless nitpicking. Tim Wise argues that intent is irrelevant or rather the specific intent is irrelevant. In terms of real world results, it doesn’t necessarily matter if your intent is to be racist or your intent is to not admit to the racial bias in yourself and not confront it in society; both end up supporting and promoting the continuation of racism. The real world results are what I care about, not what some blogger chooses to post.

In the comments section of my post (and in the post following it), I admitted to being an asshole. Or to put it in more polite terms, I was being mean-spirited. I was in a bad mood. I’m never far away from a bad mood as I’ve dealt with severe depression for a couple of decades now. It is a side of my personality I struggle with. I don’t like being mean. I don’t like being argumentative, critical and accusatory. My bad moods are my own problem.

However, I would argue, as Mark Fisher argues in Capitalist Realism, that mental illness like poverty and oppression are pervasive and systemic issues that get blamed on individuals, i.e., the externalization of costs translated into individualistic terms. This is a point that directly relates to what I’ve been trying to communicate to others. This is also why it is unhelpful to pick on individuals with racial bias. We are all products of our society. We need to put the focus on the source of the disease, not the symptoms. But we also need to realize that we are all part of the problem. We can’t just blame others. We have to take responsibility, myself included.

I apologize to any individual I picked on in that post, M.G. in particular. And I apologize to anyone involved for my overly confrontational behavior, my sometimes rude language. But no apologies will be offered for my passionate defense of truth (truth as I see it), even though it often leads me into conflict.

Now for the clarification.

In that same recent post, I also stated something that wasn’t stated as well as it could have been. It ended up being a distraction from the point I was trying to make. Here is what I wrote:

“We also know that poor rural Southern whites are the most violent group in America.

The key word here is ‘group’. This statement is true or false, depending on how groups are being defined, how the demographics are being divided.

If you divide people by race, blacks are the most violent group. But what is this group?

Blacks in America include a vast diversity. Some are Northerners and others Southerners. Some are urban residents and others rural. Some Christians, some Muslims and some not either. There are African immigrants who have no European genetics and no history of slavery. There are mixed race people from countries all over the world and so with different historical and cultural backgrounds. Then there is the historical population of American blacks whose ancestors were slaves, but the Gullah in South Carolina are quite different from the African Americans of New Orleans. One in ten of African Americans have more European genetics than African genetics; and so why aren’t they grouped with whites instead?

By shifting away from race, we can look at regional and area populations as I was doing. According to Culture of Honor by Nisbett and Cohen, another view of violence can be seen if we break things down into more specific details.

The South is more violent than the North. Some argue this is because of the South having more blacks, but what the authors found is that the precise regions of high violence are those with the fewest blacks and with the least history of slavery. The region in question is the rural South, typically associated with Appalachia but including what some call Greater Appalachia, mostly the Upper South extending over to the Ozarks. Appalachia and the Ozarks have a long history of violence. They were the most violent areas during the Civil War. This population has a tradition of vigilante justice and blood feuds.

The border areas between Kentucky and Tennessee has the highest historical rates of violence in the entire country. It is the most violent area in the rural South. The rural South is the most violent sub-region within the South as a region. And the South of course is the most violent region in the US. I might also add that the US is one of the most violent Western countries and one of the most violent developed countries in the world.

Broken down in this way, rural Southerners are the most violent group as a specific (sub-)regional population taken in toto. This also happens to be one of the whitest areas of the entire country.

How we group people determines what data we include and exclude. It determines what we see and don’t see, how we interpret and what we explain away.

With my statement, I was trying to demonstrate this point. If you divide people differently, you get different conclusions about who is most violent. I don’t think it is any more helpful to group all whites together as to group all blacks together. This is a point that most HBDers understand, whether or not they would make the same point as I’m making with the data.

My purpose certainly wasn’t to pick on poor whites simply because they are violent. I don’t want to pick on any poor people, no matter race, ethnicity or region. My fundamental purpose was to put the focus on poverty itself and the history of oppression behind it.

Here is the takeaway message:

All personal problems are also public problems.
All public problems are also personal problems.

This mixing causes life to be messy. There is a lot at stake in our daily interactions. Issues of emotion and miscommunication are to be expected.

I didn’t write this post in hoping to change anyone’s mind or to appease my critics. I simply wanted to communicate myself more clearly. I didn’t want to end with a sense of unresolved conflict, at least on my end. These are my final thoughts to the discussions in that post. I don’t want to be in the role of endlessly explaining all of this. If someone doesn’t see it as I see it, then so be it.

Race & Wealth Gap

I heard something truly disgusting last night. The worst part is that I heard it on NPR.

Several guests were discussing how poverty and the wealth gap have increased and how it has increased the most among minorities. One factor given was that blacks are disproportionately employed in government jobs which have been hit the hardest because of funding cuts. One of the guests had the audacity to portray government jobs as just another welfare for blacks. He was arguing that even blacks who work hard for their money still are just being lazy welfare recipients. WTF! In the eyes of a bigot, minorities can’t win for losing.

He said this on the supposedly ‘liberal’ NPR. Did any of the other guests challenge his racism? No. Did the host demand he explain why he made such a racist comment? No. Apparently, no one on this NPR show thought it was unusual or immoral to express such bigoted views on public radio. I’m sure they were all upper class white people.


Figure 3: Income and wealth by race in the U.S.


It’s a myth that should be put to rest by the economic experience of the African American community over the past 20 years. Because what Kern and other adherents of the “culture of poverty” thesis can’t explain is why blacks’ economic fortunes advanced so dramatically during the 1990s, retreated again during the Bush years and then were completely devastated in the financial crash of 2008.

In order to buy the cultural story, one would have to believe that African Americans adopted a “culture of success” during the Clinton years, mysteriously abandoned it for a “culture of failure” under Bush and finally settled on a “culture of poverty” shortly after Lehman Brothers crashed.

That’s obviously nonsense. It was exogenous economic factors and changes in public policies, not manifestations of “black culture,” that resulted in those widely varied outcomes.


It’s crucial to understand the relationship between wealth accumulated over generations and one’s economic prospects today. Central to that relationship is the concept of “intergenerational assistance.” That’s a fancy way of saying that a person’s chances to advance economically are very much impacted by whether his or her family can help get him or her started on the path to prosperity.

Backfire Effect, Oppressed Minority, & Political Divide

Here are just a few thoughts, but I won’t offer any complex analysis. This is just some info I’ve come across recently: (1) the backfire effect demographics, (2) the most oppressed minority, and (3) the main US political divide.

(1) The backfire effect is very interesting. It’s the cognitive behavior of someone’s beliefs becoming stronger when confronted with facts that contradict those beliefs. When dealing with such a person, rational discussion is impossible.

Anyone can be prone to the backfire effect at times, but only certain groups are consistently prone to it.

Unsurprisingly, research shows that conservatives are most prone. Liberals, on the other hand, may or may not change their beliefs when confronted with new info. However, most liberals tend to not becoming stronger in their beliefs in reaction to facts that counter their beliefs.

Looking at the research, there was only one other demographic I noticed that was also prone. This other group are those who are highly educated, specifically experts. For different reasons than conservatives, an expert believes he already knows more than others, at least when it comes to certain subjects. The expert is probably often right, but this often being right can lead the expert to not as seriously consider new info.

(2) The most oppressed minority isn’t what most people would guess. Researchers have asked Americans who they’d vote for as president. A majority would be willing to vote for a Mormon, for a woman, for a racial minority, and even for a homosexual.

Who wouldn’t most Americans vote for? Atheists. There has never been an openly atheist president and openly atheist politicians are rare.

I was listening to a radio show where a novel was being discussed. The novel apparently involved an atheist character. This led to several atheists to call in to express the prejudice they’ve experienced from Christians, especially in rural areas. The prejudice included ostracization and hate mail.

Atheists, and the non-religious in general, is a growing demographic. But Christian institutions continue to wield immense power in the US. Too often religious freedom simply means the freedom to be religious but not the freedom to be treated fairly as an atheist or non-believer.

(3) The strongest divide in US politics may not be what is portrayed in the MSM. The most loyal base of the Democratic party isn’t the progressive/liberal movement. In fact, it’s social conservatives who are minorities.

These Democratic party minorities are traditional conservatives, not right-wing conservatives as seen in the Republican party. These minorities are social conservatives who largely are evangelical protestants. As traditional conservatives, they believe in social solutions to social problems and they support social institutions to maintain social order. Traditional conservatives, unlike right-wingers, aren’t against government.

The major divide isn’t between liberals and conservatives. Rather, it’s between minority evangelical protestants and white evangelical protestants. The former is a growing demographic and the latter is a shrinking demographic, and at the moment they are at a balance point that hasn’t yet fully shifted. Most interestingly, the Democratic minorities are more socially conservative than the Republican whites, but the Democratic minorities are socially conservative in a traditionally conservative way. The Democratic party, oddly, has become the defender of traditional conservtism.

So, the actual political divide right now is between traditional conservatives and radical right-wingers. Liberals have for various reasons chosen to side with the traditional conservatives.


America’s 10 Most Segregated Cities: analysis, commentary

I noticed this article from Huffington Post:

America’s 10 Most Segregated Cities

1. Detroit, Michigan

The reason I noticed was because the data showed a North/South (i.e., blue/red) divide which is something I wrote about in great detail a short while ago:

However, the HuffPo data seems to imply counterintuitive conclusions. According to the methodology of the study, the Northern ‘metropolises’ show more ‘segregation’ than the Southern ‘metropolises’. Less surprisingly, the Eastern ‘metropolises’ in general show more ‘segregation’ than the Western ‘metropolises’.

The Southern states should be given their due. They’ve come a long way, baby. Federally forced desegregation did wonders for the South. It has never quite been the same since. I went to a desegregated public school in the Deep South and so I can attest to this fact. One commenter said it well:

Southern cities were the first cities under mandatory court supervisio­n to practice desegregat­ion with bussing, anti-redli­ning experiment­s and a variety of mandated reforms. In my view many of those practices and reforms were successful­l in reforming some of the big cities of the old south. That naturally doesn’t include Texas, Arkansas or the rural areas of the south. Those places are only bitterly desegregat­ed. I don’t think we’re talking necessaril­y about race hatred in this article but about old died-in-th­e-wool housing, schooling, and industrial patterns. The north is clearly lagging in that respect, while the west because of it’s almost complete freedom from those patterns is the default leader. Southern cities get kudos for enlightene­d desegregat­ion efforts, while certain Yankee communitie­s need to be recognized as bastions of liberty and prosperity­. Vermont I’m thinking of you. As an immigrant westerner I am biased and have to say “The West Is The Best.”

Yes, some valid points… which many Southern conservatives would deny to the end of time.

That said, I disagree with his assessment that Northern cities need to become more like Southern cities. The South in general has a lot of problems (which I go into great detail about in my North/South Divide post linked above). No city should emulate the South. Yes, desegregation has had value in the South, but the Northern states also don’t have segregated schools and such. The social situation of Northern cities is different, faced as they are with other issues.

As for the West, I don’t know that it’s the best. The West, especially the Northwest, is no doubt more predominately white and lacks the deeply embedded racial history found in the East. Anyway, it’s inaccurate to say that the division is East vs West. The East and West coasts have much more history of racial and cultural diversity since, in the past, immigrants typically entered by way of the coasts. The Midwest, on the other hand, only experienced the arrival of larger minority populations when industrialization began.

Bsmooth: “Wow people in this country are stupid. For those of you trying to make the incorrect point that they are all East Coast or a majority from the East, only 4 of the 10 or 40% are from the East Coast or East.

The Midwestern United States (in the U.S. generally referred to as the Midwest) is one of the four geographic regions within the United States of America that are officially recognized by the United States Census Bureau.

The region consists of twelve states in the central and inland northeaste­rn US: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.­[1] A 2006 Census Bureau estimate put the population at 66,217,736­. Both the geographic center of the contiguous U.S. and the population center of the U.S. are in the Midwest. The United States Census Bureau divides this region into the East North Central States (essential­ly the Great Lakes States) and the West North Central States.

Chicago is the largest city in the region, followed by Detroit and Indianapol­is. Chicago has the largest metropolit­an statistica­l area, followed by Detroit, and Minneapoli­s – Saint Paul. Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan is the oldest city in the region, having been founded by French missionari­es and explorers in 1668.”

– – –

There are a few factors and details that get lost in the analysis of this study. It would appear that either the researchers have some unconscious biases in how they chose their methodology or they were intentionally massaging the data by seeking out a methodology that would give them the results they wanted. Or I suppose they could just be so narrowly focused on a piece of the puzzle that they merely failed to grasp the larger picture. The latter is probably the most likely explanation. I don’t have any reason to doubt that they thought they were making a useful clarification in focusing on what they considered relevant comparisons.

First, the choice of terms is a bit misleading. The study is measuring ‘segregation’ in ‘metropolises’, but the terms are being defined in a specific way. So, what is being measured isn’t necessarily what most people would think is being measured. ‘Segregation’ is a term that has a historical context of laws requiring races to have separate neighborhoods, schools, restaurants, bathrooms, drinking fountains, swimming pools, etc. But the researchers are using ‘segregation’ in an apparently idiosyncratic sense by defining it both more generically and more narrowly. ‘Metropolises’ is a more general term in common language, but is being used in a technical sense here and so is being defined more specifically and more narrowly. This study isn’t comparing all cities, only ‘metropolises’. If I’m understanding correctly their use of this term, these large ‘metropolises’ by definition are going to be mostly found in the old industrial cities of the North. It would be more interesting and probably more insightful to see a comparison of racial diversity and racial violence between all urban, suburban, and rural areas, between all states, and between all regions; or, if racial segregation was to be used, to have all other factors controlled for (e.g., socioeconomic segregation).

LogicalMathMan: “Some reasons for dubious criteria used in this study: 1) the study measures the level of integratio­n in a metropolis­, 2) the definition of a metropolis is not specified, 3) the measure of integratio­n based on transient population is ignored, e.g. If NY shows an increase in ‘integrati­on’ compared to a smaller ‘metropoli­s’ in the deep south, it merely suggests that there was more of a transient population that was integrated into the most cosmopolit­an city in the world, 4) no reasons are given for why cities in rural Mississipp­i, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana should be excluded but for the erroneous reason that they do not qualify as ‘metropoli­ses’ under the authors’ criteria, 5) If metropolit­an areas that were designated as cities based on the authors’ criteria for the start of the duration under study ceased to be considered as cities at the end of the duration due to the criteria being set, then an in-transie­nt population with declining minorities would not be considered­.

Overall, IMO, this study is seriously flawed.”

Artos: “Yeah isn’t it. Not nearly as interestin­g as all those tiny little Southern Burgs where segregatio­n is commonplac­e. Course only the big ones got noticed.”

Erik Larsen: “I’m really not clear on the term “segregate­d” vs “racially or culturally self-selec­ted non-divers­e neighbourh­oods”. For example, does a Chinatown or Little Italy mean “segregati­on”? Would it surprise people that immigrants from Somalia would tend to congregate in a certain area of town?

Segregatio­n is a loaded term with a lot of sinister historical baggage. Hmmmm.”

dannarasm: “Identifing segregatio­n by race was important during the civil rights movement because it showed that segregatio­n did, infact, impact an individual­’s ability to obtain an general education, which in turn effects an individual­’s ability to obtain acceptance to higher education. Because of this, government­al social programs were enacted to “balance” the disparity in soci-econo­mic divisions between “races”.

Today, the importance is because the government­al social programs rely upon this data for government­al funding and continued support for the national laws that prohibit “segregati­on” by race. Most important is how schools are funded. Schools are funded in part by property taxes. Those who live in wealthy areas are benefited by schools who have far more money for the schools and education, than those in less affluent areas. De-segrega­tion was a means of removing social-eco­nomic segregatio­n in education where children in poor areas were able to receive a better education by attending schools in more wealthy areas which normally they couldn’t because of socio-econ­omic segregatio­n.

However, one can take the term intergrati­on and apply it to segregatio­n to find out that yes, individual­s prefer to live, work with those of similar race and religious beliefs regardless of laws against segregatio­n. Individual­s segregate themselves and prefer to not intergrate themselves with others who are not in the same socio-econ­omic/relig­ious groups. Thus the form of “classes” in which an individual­, simply by being born in a certain socio-econ­omic area, remains in that socio-econ­omic area.”

Second, the study is only measuring the ‘integration’ of neighborhoods, measuring how the rates of diversity in a given neighborhood match the rates of diversity in the entire ‘metropolis’ which the neighborhood is a part of. So, even during slavery times, the South probably would have measured low on ‘segregation’ as it’s being measured in this study. Slaves lived on the plantation with the slave owner. They weren’t ‘segregated’ in the sense that they were all living in the same neighborhood.

Azuki: “If I’m understand­ing correctly, the compares the overall city demographi­c to local neighborho­od demographi­c. The higher the concentrat­ion of a certain group in a certain location, the higher the segregatio­n score. This study does seem to show people gravitate toward living with other people of the same race. It also shows certain races tend to live in more impoverish­ed neighborho­ods. It does not, however, show segregatio­n is the cause of the impoverish­ment. I would argue the impoverish­ment came first. Reporting the study as some sort revelation on race relations in this country is irresponsi­ble. The race issue does exist, but it’s much higher up on the chain. Therefore, I’m not sure how this helps anyone solve the actual problem. Again, all we’re doing is focusing on consequenc­es and being reactive rather than proactive.”

kbrown2225: “Actually the South has always been more integrated even in the time of Jim Crow. The south relied heavily on the legal system of segregatio­n (i.e. whites only accomodati­ons rather than wholesale segregatio­n of the community.­) With a legal system keeping the races seperate in accomodati­ons whites did not feel as great of a need to segregate in terms of location (although segregated areas certainly existed). The North on the other hand never had a legal system of segregatio­n but rather relied on a segregatio­n of residence (i.e. whites only neighborho­ods etc.) much of which still remains. By the way I was raised outside of Birmingham­, Alabama.”

Third, the study was primarily measuring ‘integration’ of blacks and whites while largely ignoring the bigger picture of diversity and integration. So, ‘metropolises’ that are ‘integrated’ between blacks and whites may or may not be ‘integrated’ in context of Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Middle Easterners, etc. Actual percentages and rates of diversity weren’t being measured. Many of the ‘metropolises’ measured as more ‘segregated’ might also measure as more racially and ethnically diverse. And many of the ‘metropolises’ measured as being less ‘segregated’ might also measure as less racially and ethnically diverse.

valkrye131: “Philadelph­ia is more than 40% black. While segregatio­n remains prevalent in some neighborho­ods, and schools, in real life interactio­n it’s almost non-existe­nt. Anyone who actually lives and works in the city must count a fair number of persons of other races/ethn­icities among their friends, co-workers­, and acquaintan­ces unless they are deliberate­ly segregatin­g themselves­.”

Hmuir: “I was born and raised in Suffolk county New York, To some extent the neighborho­ods are segregated BUT it is the school that makes the difference­. Nearby towns were absolutely segregated because the population of the school were mostly if not all white. I went to a school that was diverse even though that part is never mentioned, we may live in seperate neighborho­ods but we all came together monday through friday, we all got along most of the time. I had more friends that did not live in my neighborho­od than those that did! I am grateful that my schools were diverse because I learned a lot more than others that grew up in a truly homogeneou­s town!”

Myshkin57: “To all the people who think there’s really something here indicative of the racial attitudes of big cities, blue states, or the north, please read up on the criterion used: http://en.­wikipedia.­org/wiki/I­ndex_of_di­ssimilarit­y

The index is figured by comparing the racial make-up of a neighborho­od within a city to the racial make-up of the entire city. So, the easiest way to be “unsegrega­ted” is to not have much racial diversity in your city. An all-white city will be completely unsegregat­ed by these metrics.”

Fourth, the study was only measuring the ‘integration’ of blacks and whites within individual neighborhoods of ‘metropolises’. So, this study seems to falsely assume that having ethnic neighborhoods is the same as being ‘segregated’. A ‘metropolis’ can appear to be not ‘segregated’, according to this study, for the simple reason that there are few minorities and little diversity. Of course, a ‘metropolis’ with large concentrated minority populations will tend to have more clumping of those populations. If there are very fewer minorities in a ‘metropolis’, it might be more difficult and less likely for them to clump together in separate neighborhoods. Also, this study completely ignores how much a ‘metropolis’ embraces multiculturalism and how welcomed people feel no matter their race or ethnicity.

Doktor Avalanche: “”Desegrega­tion” does not equal “integrati­on.””

CabCurious: “The reports of segregatio­n across NYC are misleading­. It’s time we stop thinking of integratio­n in terms of making milky soup and start thinking in terms of mosaics. Outside of central Manhattan, NYC is a model for a mosaic of humanity living together without creating a milky soup devoid of culture and community.

Obviously most of Manhattan is off-balanc­ed compared to the rest of the city. But the census reporting doesn’t respect that the city is grown out of a MOSAIC of different communitie­s deeply interconne­cted in ways that this kind of report doesn’t get at.

Queens and Brooklyn are the most diverse places on earth.

To call the segregated because there are traditiona­l ethnic communitie­s is a disservice to the dialog about ethnicity and culture in america.”

CabCurious:Let’s stop thinking of integratio­n in terms of whiteness and superficia­lity. Let’s start thinking about equal opportunit­y and how to value diversity.”

Fifth, the study only compares ‘metropolises’ to other ‘metropolises’ (and even that comparison is narrowly focused because the definition is narrow). So, this says nothing about how these cities compare to rural areas or how these cities compare to states (or how rural areas compare to rural areas, or how states compare to states). In the South, ‘segregation’ probably happens more between wealthier cities and poorer rural areas, with poor whites being ‘segregated’ in the rural areas outside of the ‘metropolises’. In the North, I would suspect there is less difference between cities and rural areas, the difference instead being between urban and suburban areas (both of which are included in the same ‘metropolis’), with poor blacks being ‘segregated’ in the urban areas at the center of ‘metropolises’. The North has less economic disparity which is a significant factor. Race, in America, correlates to socioeconomic class. Going by the same method as this study, if states were being compared (throwing together urban, suburban, and rural areas), then Southern states might show more ‘segregation’. This, however, is speculation as the data being provided is so narrow in focus.

Yeuk Moy: “I would be curious to know if the dissimilar­ity index would significan­tly change if income was factored out.”

deanleto: “well, if they did it on disparity of income, then racial disparity would seem like a love fest”

andwhatarmy: “This is so bogus. If they had assessed relative incomes, then they’d have a handle on why the dissimilar­ities exist. Then they could begin to do something about income disparity.­..but probably not until the likes of Donald T-Rump stop building incredibly costly high-rises only the top 2 percent can afford, or until the Bouvier-ty­pes and movie-star types decide they really don’t like the privacy of the dunes in the Hamptons. I can’t speak to the situation in the other locales, as I have only lived in those two–Nassa­u-Suffolk and NYC. But I can assure you, if the finances in either place permitted integratio­n, it would be more likely to happen there than a lot of the other places mentioned.

And if, for instance, little Southern towns have less dissimilar­ity, it is because both African-Am­ericans and low-income rednecks are equally poor and downtrodde­n, kept in place by one or two oligarchs only, thus they share the cruddy side of town. I lived in a few of those places, too (Athens, GA and Bristol, TN), and saw it as I said it.”

salesdude: “All the cities listed had a large mfg based economy that drew southern blacks during the wars, and when the factories and jobs left, the people were virtually marooned in their neighborho­ods with no means of upward mobility. As the cities lost tax revenue and the white citizens left for the suburbs, the city centers declined, which even further isolated the black community. Drugs took over bringing violent crime and city services declined even further to the point that almost all these cities now have generation­s of families who live hand to mouth. Worse yet, the public school systems are substandar­d which further dooms the residents because without an education you are stuck there. For many inner city kids the only escape is to join the military.”

jeanrenoir: “I’m a white living in Baltimore, the epicenter with Detroit of the tragedy of urban black paralysis and dysfunctio­n. I live in the middle of the city, in the only genuinely integrated neighborho­od in town; most of Baltimore is overwhelmi­ngly white or black. Who can blame either whites or blacks for fleeing from the crime, chaos, blight, dirt, and drugs of urban black America? And the urban black poor can’t afford to leave. So it’s going to be a LONG time, if ever, before “segregati­on” is “overcome” in America. Meanwhile, the black middle class keeps growing, prospering­, and leaving the dysfunctio­nal urban blacks behind, just as the formerly urban whites have. Black America experience­s great progress for the educated middle class, and unchanged paralysis for the hapless, uneducated poor. And blacks and whites who can get as far away from the latter as possible. What a shock.”

eugeneregard: “It has more to do with job loss than anything else. Union manufactur­ing jobs moved to right to work for less southern cities leaving their money base ruptured. As the right to work states lose their jobs to China it will happen there too. The ability to make money makes more choices for more people. Our “free trade” policies have committed economic treason against this country.”

LogicCircuit: “I’d say in big cities the dividing factor is money. Segregatio­n made African Americans poor decades ago and the raw capitalism ruling this country today is making sure they stay poor.

I suppose at least in today’s modern society the forces of a capitalist­ic market don’t discrimina­te. As a general rule, all poor will remain poorer and the rich will get richer.”

Sixth, Northern cities are also older cities and have been the entry point into America for many immigrants, especially for earlier immigrants. So, Northern cities have a long history of racial and ethnic diversity. The ethnic neighborhoods in Northern cities have been there for a very long time. In earlier periods of history, immigrants were more isolated by culture and language. They often chose to live close together for a sense of familiarity and safety. And new immigrants today still are attracted to their respective ethnic neighborhoods. Why shouldn’t they? Ethnic neighborhoods aren’t inherently bad, despite the fact that they measure as being ‘segregated’. Without ethnic neighborhoods, much of America’s ethnic diversity would have disappeared long ago. Ethnic diversity can be a good thing. And the melting pot ideal isn’t always a good thing. In the South, there is less ethnic diversity between blacks and whites because whites in previous times intentionally destroyed the slave’s African culture and forced slaves to conform to white culture. It was when freed black slaves moved to the industrial North (e.g., Harlem) looking for jobs that they began to develop their own independent and distinct culture (e.g., Harlem Renaissance).

rigormrtis: “Most of the cities listed are much older. The southern mega-citie­s have experience­d their growth more recently and pulled people in from all over. They are more cosmopolit­an as a result.”

mpls mas machos: “This is banal, but the reason there aren’t more southern cities on this list is simply because the south urbanized later than every part of the country. For example, Metropolit­an Atlanta, historical­ly the largest and most urban city in the south, had a population in 1960 of @ 1.5 million (city and suburbs), and has now nearly quadrupled in size. Big Eastern cities are old, ancient relative to most others, and have long histories, with entrenched neighborho­ods. If anyone has bragging rights, it’s not North or South, but the West that does.”

greenygenie: “I live and work in an, albeit, suburban area of Palm Beach County, and the races in my area are very well evenly distribute­d.
(See for yourself: http://pro­jects.nyti­mes.com/ce­nsus/2010/­explorer?r­ef=us
Put in 33462)

I think this has a lot to do with the fact that these “neighborh­oods” lack history, and are new on the order of 15 years old. If people should choose to live here, it has nothing to do with neighborho­od identifica­tion, but proximity to work, schools, and affordabil­ity.”

Eyal Neval: “This survey is mind blowingly flawed. The most diverse city, NYC, gets the lowest score. Why? Because the survey states that neighborho­ods were examined to see how many people need to move for that neighborho­od to become as diverse as the city as a whole. So if the city is really homogenous­, very few people will have to move in a certain neighborho­od to match that city diversenes­s, but if the city is as diverse as NY, some neighborho­ods are white, some are black, some hispanic, some mix- that’s not segregatio­n, that’s cultural diversity and it means a lot will have to move to match the city wide stats, but that’s pointless, there is no goal of having a solid gray mush all over the city, it’s good that some neighborho­ods have greek character, some Dominican, and some African American. People can choose which character fits them best and find new friends. There is no segregatio­n in NYC, the opposite is true; due to economic reasons there is a strong gentrifica­tion.”

merger: “One of things I have noticed in my frequent visits to NYC, is that immigrants tend to move into neighborho­ods where there are more people of their nationailt­y. I am sure they feel safer, and it is an easier transition if you are unfamiliar with the language and the culture of a new country. Americans that move to foriegn lands to live, work, and retire tend to live in “American” communitie­s. It makes one feel more comfortabl­e in a foriegn land.”

ZombyWoof: “There are all sorts of political and economic forces at play but one cannot minimize the fact that most of these cities are very culturally diverse, and ethnic enclaves are naturally going to be a consequenc­e of this fact. This in turn encourages entreprene­urship catering to that fact which itself further enhances the “flavor” of those neighborho­od serving as a magnet.”

Seventh, as I pointed out, the researchers weren’t measuring wealth disparity nor were they measuring poverty nor many other factors: races besides blacks and whites, mixed race people and mixed race marriages, how ethnicity correlates to racial identities, percentage of racial diversity rather than just rate comparisons, racial conflict and violence vs tolerance, multiculturalism, etc. So, we can’t use this data to easily ascertain patterns, correlations, and causal links. For example, in the South, there is a lot more poverty and greater wealth disparity. History has forced Southern blacks and whites to live closer together, but that doesn’t change the fact that the rich white kids are sent to private schools and that doesn’t change the fact that the churches tend to remain segregated. Stating Southern ‘metropolises’ are less ‘segregated’ according to this methodology doesn’t in itself tell us much at all. Without looking at the larger context and the minute details of all the relevant factors, we miss out on finding anything meaningful.

littlebrowngirl: “What the study should say is that there are very few diverse areas in the country.”

ZombyWoof: “By harkening back to fair housing laws passed 40 years ago this article seems to suggests that there’s been little progress and that’s just absurd; I’ve been around long enough to see the change from decade to decade.

I’m a Latino who grew up in the projects in the Bronx when it could be said there was real segregatio­n. I currently live in Washington Heights which is predominan­tly Hispanic, (although my section is less so), but prior to that (except for some years in San Francisco and Bloomingto­n MN) I have lived in Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, and Park Slope. All these neighborho­ods are predominat­ely one ethnicity or other but I would never consider them segregated as I have always had neighbors from many cultures.

There is still some discrimina­tion and other factors, particular­ly economic (including education funding), have to be considered­, but we have to come to grips with the fact that many people of similar background­s like to congregate in the same areas and there is nothing wrong with that so long as there are no efforts to keep out those “others” whomever they may be.

Also there are other considerat­ions, sometimes you want the convenienc­e of having shops that sell products that cater to your culture and grew up accustomed to being able to obtain without a hassle. In my case I can finally sink my teeth into a nice pernil whenever I want that wasn’t made by my mother and only on special occasions.”

– – –

This is an example of an article about a study where many of the commenters offer more insight and understanding than the article and maybe even more than the study. However, I haven’t looked at the study in enough detail and so I don’t want to necessarily or entirely blame the researchers. It seems the terminological definitions made it easy to misinterpret the complex set of data, but the author of the article should have understood that and helped clarify the issues in order to not encourage problematic and confused interpretations.

lensman3: “This article has been spun in a *VERY* misleading manner. Completely misleading if you look at the last table of the report.

Shame, shame on you Mr Bradford. Your a racist….

Shame, shame on Huffington­post for even posting the article.”

bepa: “Yes the table shows that people nationally have declining black/whit­e segregatio­n


Another problem with the report…a­nyone who says they are of mixed race is classified as black

In the 200 and 2010 census there were people who classified themselves as mixed race..part­icularly the young… Mixed marriages are very common today…an­d the children are fine …that would not be reflected in this report”

I don’t think the author of the article was intentionally trying to mislead nor that he is a racist. But the author could have provided more detailed data and careful analysis. And I’m sure the researchers weren’t intending a racist interpretation by classifying anyone as black who is even just partly black. But that does play into the history of racism where anyone who had any non-white genetics was considered non-white as if ‘white’ represents some pure category. From the report:

Our approach for handling multiple race responses in 2000 and 2010 is to treat a person as black if they described themselves as black plus any other race; as Asian if they listed Asian plus any other race except black; and as Native American/other race for any other combination.

This brings into question the results of this study. If white people who acknowledge they have some black genetics (maybe from a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent) are categorized as black, then neighborhoods with a lot of mixed race people will be measured as being segregated according to these definitions.

Although the study is largely focused on blacks and whites, it also looks at data of Hispanics and Asians (although with the same issue with categorizing mixed race people). One problem is that, in looking at regions, the researchers used whites as the standard for comparison. So, they did comparisons of Black-White segregation along with comparisons of Hispanic-White segregation and of Asian-White comparisons. But they didn’t do segregation comparisons for regions between Blacks, Hispanics and Asians. And they didn’t include all races together in looking at overall diversity in relation to segregation. As such, the researchers still fell short in creating a truly helpful analysis of segregation in America.

There were also many commenters who were apparently confused about the data because of the way the study was designed along with how it was explained in the article. But some of this was just the normal ideological preconceptions that are always found in comment sections. Some conservatives, of course, wanted to simplify it into Democratic cities bad, Republican cities good. And some conservatives wanted to conflate this idiosyncratic, narrow definition of ‘segregation’ with the broader cultural issue of racism, implying that liberals are the real racists. Other commenters had their eyes open for such ideological biases and misinterpretations.

dentuso: “What most will not recognize is the fact that this study takes into acct the volume of minorities per city. Simply; if a city is 50% AA who live predominan­tly in the south, it will show that a massive racial shift would have to occur.

Transverse­ly, if a city is only 5% AA, the study as conducted would show that no major shift need take place.

You can guarantee that those in the south won’t understand how this study is done, and spout that northerly cities are racist. Guaranteed­.”

Cilantro: “This has little to do with being a so-called “progressi­ve” city (code: Democrat party leaders) and more with the history of these former industrial cities which are very old compared to the Southwest, South east and West Coast of USA and their respective histories dating back to over 100 years ago. Many of these cities have experience­d major “white flight” to the suburbs in the 50s, 60s & 70s. Are you suggesting if pro-billio­naire, racist leaning republican­s (ie. “unprogres­sive” ) were in charge these places would be an equalized salad bowl mix of multi-race­s? Give me a break!”

josh2082: “Loving all the comments that go something like: “Aren’t those all blue/Liber­al cities?”

Yes they are. Let’s think about WHY…

1) Metropolit­an areas skew more Democratic
2) Metropolit­an areas also tend to be more racially diverse, and cities with large African-Am­erican population­s also tend to be more Democratic or left-leani­ng.
3) Look at a list of extremely Republican leaning cities- with some exceptions you will probably see a very homogeneou­s population of mainly white people.
Perhaps in the Southwest larger portions of Hispanics will be found, but that’s not the focus of this study. Being white doesn’t make you Republican­, but the numbers don’t lie. Most registered Republican­s are white.

So to me it is no surprise at all most of the cities listed here lean left. After all, you have to have significan­t population­s of diverse racial groups to even have to address segregatio­n.”

The last comment is partly correct, but missing a couple of factors.

Some Southern cities aren’t ‘segregate­d’ in the sense that the population is more mixed together which is simply a result of history. According to segregatio­n being measured in this study, neighborho­ods with plantation­s during slavery wouldn’t be considered segregated because the black slaves lived in the same neighborho­od with the white slaveowner­s. Much of the segregatio­n in the South isn’t based on locate but is instead based on class, culture, prejudice, and also previously based on laws.

Furthermore, the South actually isn’t as solidly Republican as it seems during elections. Minorities tend to vote Democratic when they vote, but minorities­s don’t vote as much as do whites. If all minorities voted as much as whites, the South would probably be a mix of Democratic and swing states. The reason minorities don’t vote is because of a history of disenfranc­hisement. We saw this even in recent years with the Florida fiasco where black-soun­ding names had been removed from the voting registry.

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Anyway, I don’t mean to say that this study was worthless. It presents data that should be considered, but one should consider it in the context of the data being extremely limited and easily misunderstood. It’s the problem of a lot of research. I’m a fan of science. I can’t stand anti-intellectuals who dismiss science. On the other hand, scientific studies are only helpful and interesting to the degree one has the intelligence, insight, and education to understand. But we all exist in varying degrees of ignorance and confusion.

I spent all this time analyzing this study and I can’t be sure that I’m not misunderstanding some important aspect of it. Like the author of the article, I’m in the position of either explaining the study well or not. Hopefully, I at least made clear the complexity of the issues involved.

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In case anyone is interested, here is an interactive US map of racial/ethnic distribution:

Mapping America: Every City, Every Block

White Supremacy Defeated… yet again

I keep coming across racists/racialists who are obsessed with IQ. I dealt with this some in what I posted yesterday. Here is the relevant section:

The white supremacists love IQ because African Americans on average have lower IQs. The white supremacists argue that this is genetic, but there is no conclusive evidence for this hypothesis and much evidence against it. For example, the IQs of all children tend to be more similar and significant IQ differences are mostly seen in later education. The most obvious and simplest explanation is poverty. There are many factors related to poverty that are known to impact brain/cognitive development and hence IQ: pollution (such as lead poisoning from older houses), malnutrition (especially during pregnancy and early childhood), social stress, lack of educational resources, etc.

Here is a map showing the IQ differences in America with, once again, the same North/South divide (with the exception of West Virginia with its Scots-Irish population). The source of the map was using it apparently to make an argument for racism/racialism:

“Finally, it can be viewed in relationship to race. Alone, the racial composition of a state‘explains’ 72% of that state’s estimated IQ, with the two correlating at a robust .85. Expenditures per student, teacher salaries, and classroom size combined explain a paltry 15%. Considered independently, they are statistically insignificant and explain virtually nothing.”

There are different measures of IQ. This map is measuring math and science test scores. There does seem to be a correlation with ethnic diversity and lower average IQ (such as with California and the Southern states), although the ethnically diverse Texas is similar to some Northern states.

This map, however, makes the issue of race seem simpler than it actually is. When looking at other maps of IQ data, black populations in some Northern states have on average higher IQs than black populations in Southern states. And, even more significantly, white populations in many Northern states have on average higher IQs than white populations in Southern states (excluding Texas). So, doing comparisons just within single races, there are IQ differences that show a North/South divide for both black and white populations. However, the difference is most clear for white populations. This can only be explained, as far as I can tell, by poverty being the central factor in IQ differences. Blacks experience higher rates than whites of poverty in all states, but whites mostly just experience high rates of poverty in the South.

It seems the maps of IQ are essentially just another way of mapping poverty. So, why does poverty show a North/South divide? I’d also include in this question the issue of wealth disparity which also shows a North/South divide:

The 10 Most (and Least) Tolerant States in America

California and Texas are good ways of disentangling the poverty from wealth disparity. Both are wealthy states with high wealth disparity which causes them to measure positively on some indicators and measure negatively on other indicators. However, excluding Texas, most Southern states are both poor and have high wealth disparity. Many Northern states have both wealth and low wealth disparity, but there are states like Iowa which are relatively poor and yet have low wealth disparity. In a developed nation like the US, wealth disparity seems to be the more important indicator of social health (rates of high school drop outs, bullying, STDs, teen pregnancy, etc).

I decided to make a new post just with this material because of a response someone gave me on YouTube. NAARandom wrote:

“Whites in Northern states have higher average IQ than whites in southern states”

The south is “dumber” overall because it has a larger proportion of blacks than the north. The intra-racial differences in regional IQ are, at most, 3 points for blacks and 1 or 2 points for whites, and this can be easily explained by selection effects (more intelligent, ambitious, upwardly mobile southerners generally moved north, at least until the late 1940s, early 1950s).

As for southern west coast states having large ratios of nonwhites but “not the same degree of problems”, the two majority nonwhite western states (California and New Mexico), are having quite a few problems. The problems of California are relatively recent (probably in part because their rise in nonwhite population is a relatively recent phenomenon), and New Mexico has been near the bottom in most indicators for quite a while. To the extent that these problems are milder…

…in the west, it’s largely because they have different groups of nonwhites. Northeast Asians, for example, tend to have slightly higher IQs (by 3 to 6) than whites, so their presence in California partially offsets the economic effects of the huge mestizo population, which also has a slightly less severe depressing effect on average IQ than blacks (average Hispanic, which mostly means mestizo, IQ is 89, as opposed to 85 for blacks).

I find it endlessly amusing that people will avoid the simplest answers based on the data when it doesn’t fit their preconceived ideology. It’s scientifically known that poverty (and the factors related to poverty) has a negative impact on brain/cognitive development which is what is being measured by IQ tests. On the other hand, the hypothetical causal relation between racial genetics and IQ is unproven. There has been a fair amount of research and yet no conclusive data so far and no scientific consensus. So, why do racists/racialists prefer the inconclusive data instead of going with the simplest and most obvious explanation?

I realized this was a good opportunity to see if further data upholds the simplest and most obvious explanation of poverty. NAARandom mentioned Hispanics and Northeast Asians. NAARandom points out that Hispanics have higher average IQ than blacks, whites have higher average IQs than Hispanics and blacks, and Northeast Asians have higher average IQs than all of them (this is the case for the average IQ of all Asians in the US). If the poverty explanation is correct, a similar pattern should be seen.

In fact, that is the case with one exception. Yes, Hispanics have a lower poverty rate than blacks. Yes, whites have a lower poverty rate than Hispanics and blacks. Yes, Asians have a lower poverty rate than Hispanics and blacks. But, no, Asians don’t have a lower poverty rate than whites. Actually, Asians have around the same as or even slightly higher poverty rate than whites (depending if Pacific Islanders are included as part of the Asian demographic). Poverty alone explains the lower average IQ of Hispanics and blacks, but poverty alone doesn’t explain why whites have a lower average IQ than Asians. I suspect it’s just a matter of the intelligent (i.e., wealthy) Asians moving to Western countries. However, if one insists on racial genetics explanations, then it would be logical to assume whites (once adjusted for poverty) have inferior genetics.

I personally think that such an argument is just as silly when used against minorities as when used against whites. There are always complex factors, but it’s rational (going by Occam’s razor) to go with the simplest explanation. We know poverty causes lower IQ and we know poverty rates are different racial demographics. We know that black Americans have experienced centuries of enslavement and oppression which caused their present high rates of poverty. We know white Americans experienced centuries of privilege and opportunity which created their present lower rates of poverty. We know that whites in areas with higher poverty rates have lower average IQs. We know that blacks in areas with lower poverty rates have higher average IQs. We know all this. So, why speculate about racial genetics and IQ which we know so little about?

Related to poverty is the factor of wealth disparity. Many of the states (but not all) with high rates of poverty also have high rates of wealth disparity. The states with both whites and blacks with lower average IQs are states with both high rates of poverty and high rates of wealth disparity. Even if you wanted to try to blame their poverty on being dumb, you couldn’t blame the high wealth disparity on their being dumb. Afterall, if most of the smart people (white and black) left these problematic states, then wouldn’t all the population end up being poor and stupid instead of having an elite with most of the wealth?

To me, it seems like a vicious cycle. These poor conservative states are mostly the former slave states and so have societies that were based on class and race. For centuries, the ruling elite of these states intentionally created a poor and disenfranchised class (including both whites and blacks). We know that poverty causes low IQ. And we know that low IQ causes poverty. When you have a society that is built on a certain class staying stupid and poor, why would you expect any other results? You don’t need racial genetics to explain any of this. In fact, racial genetics has no explanatory value considering poor whites in poor states are experiencing similar problems as the poor blacks in poor states. Why not just accept the obvious? Why use convoluted logic to try to prove one’s racist/racialist beliefs? Why?

I brought up Southern West Coast states as an example of states with racial diversity and yet fewer problems than states in the Deep South. NAARandom pointed out that California also has problems. Yes, but fewer than the Deep South. California is more similar to Texas, both massively wealthy with high wealth disparity (also, California has the 5th and Texas the 3rd largest black population). Let’s look at Texas since few other states have such high rates and a long history of racial diversity. The blacks in Texas have an average IQ (92) around 5 to 7 points higher than the national average for average black IQ (depending if you go by the average of 85 or 87) and only 3 points below the Texas overall average (i.e., all races). What is one thing that distinguishes Texas? The most obvious factor is that Texas is wealthy. I’m sure, because of that wealth, blacks have more opportunities for education and self-improvement. Look at Alaska which is also a wealthy state and has the lowest wealth disparity in the entire country (by the way, Alaska has many positive factors, correlated to low wealth disprity, such as the best state for low rates of low birthweight). Blacks there have an average 95 IQ which, interestingly, is the average IQ of all Alaskans and which is the highest average black IQ in the country. This is even with blacks experiencing higher rates of poverty than whites in states like Texas and Alaska.

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In the video where NAARandom responded to me, the issue of violence and race is brought up. That happens to be one of the issues I also analyzed in my post from yesterday. If you look at maps of various kinds of violence and homicide, you find a consistent pattern. Here is one example of a gun violence map (note that this is one of the factors on which California rates well):

So, how can this be explained? The white supremacist will immediately jump to the explanation of blaming it on the blacks simply because blacks live in the region. I’d respond in two ways.

First, a map of black doesn’t directly correlate with the gun violence map.

File:USA 2000 black density.png

Second, a study of this violence proves there is no correlation between Southern black populations and Southern high rates of violence.

A Matter of Respect
James D. Wright

Culture of Honor makes a compelling case that there is something about Southernness itself that accounts for the link between region and violence. The case begins with a review and reanalysis of the extensive research on region and homicide. University of Michigan psychologist Richard E. Nisbett and University of Illinois psychologist Dov Cohen find many common explanations for the South’s higher homicide rate wanting. The legacy of slavery is probably an inadequate explanation because the non-slave regions of the South show the highest homicide rates; temperature fails as an explanation because the cooler upland regions have higher homicide rates. Relative poverty rates cannot be ruled out as a causal factor, but the regional effect remains even when poverty is taken into account.

Two other results point to a fundamental cultural factor. The regional effect does not seem to operate in big cities (big-city homicide rates are about the same in the South as elsewhere); it appears only in small cities and towns (Southern small towns are a lot more violent than small towns in other regions). Also, there is little or no regional difference in black homicide rates, only in the white rates. So the Southern distinctiveness in homicide and violence is concentrated among small-town whites, strongly suggesting the impact of regional culture.

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The entire argument of the white supremacist falls apart like the meaningless bigotry that it is. People are racist because they want to be racist. Yes, a racist can cherry-pick data to rationalize their racism, but they probably wouldn’t be looking for data that supports racism unless they already wanted to be racist. They are, of course, free to be racists. As has been said before, everyone is free to have their own opinion, but that doesn’t mean everyone is free to have their own facts.