Sunday, October 04, 2009

On Race


(From the BC thread "The power of legend")

Annoy Mouse,
(who described the asymmetry that excuses crimes committed by blacks)

Close but no cigar I think. While your tripartite formula has merit and the resultant exculpiation of black bigotry is a real problem, I think that you skipped one boundary condition and one intermediate result in your analysis. Both are I believe important.

The boundary condition that limits the effectiveness of appeals to white guilt, or acceptance of black on white bigotry even to the point of excusing criminal activity, is the tenuous connection between current white targets of black ire and those who abused blacks in the past. Blacks suffered under the systems of chattel slavery and the subsequent Jim Crow regimes from 3 to 7 or 8 generations ago. Arguably that happened in another country and blacks migrated (effectively emigrated) to urban America between 3 and 4 generations ago. The descendants of those who fled oppression and bigotry in Eastern and Southern Europe 3 to 4 generations ago simply do not accept responsibility for the very real suffering that blacks endured. More recent immigrants are often even less sympathetic. What rubs salt in the wounds of the descendants of post Civil War immigrants is that they are the targets of both black prejudice and that their access to the educational and economic tools that America offered earlier generations seeking upward mobility are being restricted. That is done under an elitist PC. Ideology run by and for the Ivy League aristocrats who play working class blacks and whites off against each other.

The intermediate step I want to mention is that your model implies that blacks are in a permanent state of childlike irresponsibility for their own conditions, or even worse actions. This is revealed in a pattern of aspirational rather than objective evaluations. People naturally internalize the diminished expectations that these low standards reveal. That results in reduced performance and increased hostility and confrontation.

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starling,
Thank you for your comment. I was merely using the term generation as shorthand for a period of 20 to 25 years. By that measure the legal structure of Jim Crow was dismantled on either side of the 2 generation line, although anyone over 50 who lived under it will carry the memory. The great immigration waves from Southern and Eastern Europe happened between 4 and 6 generations ago by that same unit of measure. One generation earlier there was a wave from Germany and Northern Europe that, as mentioned by bogie wheel, among other things served the Union cause in the Civil War.

Migration by Blacks to the Northern cities was most pronounced between WW-I and the end of the 1960s. That is between 2 and 5 generations ago by my measure. The Jim Crow system had existed for about 2 generations, a little less since it wasn't entrenched until after the end of Reconstruction, before the Great Migration began. It ended shortly before the flow of the blacks to the North tapered off. That gives the period of Jim Crow, roughly from 1876 - 1966, a life of 4 generations by my reckoning, plus as has been noted the subsequent memories.

The key difference between those of us who are over 50 and those who are not is that the bulk of the population who are younger can no longer talk with someone who had direct knowledge of the immigrant experience of the earlier waves. Almost no one alive now has a personal recollection of mature contact with someone who fought in the Civil War or experienced slavery. Those with memories of Jim Crow are still alive but their ranks will dwindle rapidly over the next 20 years.

When I was a college student I once talked with an old man who told me how when he was a boy the old men told him what it was like when they were boys, waiting for the casualty lists from Gettysburg. Those links are now sundered.

Oct 4, 2009 - 8:08 pm

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Alexis,
(who objects to government racial labeling)
Every year schoolteachers in NYC are ordered to fill out a form assigning racial categories to their students. The form explicitly states that the teacher is to make this judgement based on visual observation using their best judgement. No personal identifications are linked to the values assigned but aggregate numbers are reported. There is intense pressure to collect this information because federal money flows based on the data reported. Teachers have been disciplined for refusing to cooperate. The categories are White, Black, Native American or Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Hispanic White, and Hispanic Black, Other. One year some brave soul it is said reported a sizable community of Alaskan Natives in The Bronx. This resulted from a delegation from the Great White Father in Washington who arrived bringing bags-o-cash. They left disappointed. The teacher was never heard from again.

Oct 4, 2009 - 8:37 pm

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Alexis,
Identity must come from the inside; it must never be imposed ...
It isn't always your choice, that is the problem.

I decide who is a Jew.
- Karl Lueger, Mayor of Vienna
(explaining his Jewish friends)

Oct 5, 2009 - 8:49 am

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