'Straight White Male' is the Real World's easiest difficulty setting

Not really adding to the conversation, but:

I, for one, would absolutely love if everyone tried to act more like Dr. King on his day. I'd love if everyone tried to act more like St. Patrick on his day, too, for that matter.

weswilson wrote:

I'm incredulous how I could have tolerated myself in those days.

I think most good people feel the same about who they were at 20, give or take a few years.

jdzappa wrote:
White america has benefited for generations because we kept slaves in chains, the pittance of affirmative action that goes on barely does much of anything, but it's the small step we can take to help make a more just world.

Then let's figure out better ways of doing things. Just to go back to the Annapolis discussion, here would be some of my proposals:
...

What if the notion that Annapolis is full of entitled white boys is part of what's keeping minorities from wanting to join?

wordsmythe wrote:

Not really adding to the conversation, but:

I, for one, would absolutely love if everyone tried to act more like Dr. King on his day. I'd love if everyone tried to act more like St. Patrick on his day, too, for that matter.

weswilson wrote:

I'm incredulous how I could have tolerated myself in those days.

I think most good people feel the same about who they were at 20, give or take a few years.

jdzappa wrote:
White america has benefited for generations because we kept slaves in chains, the pittance of affirmative action that goes on barely does much of anything, but it's the small step we can take to help make a more just world.

Then let's figure out better ways of doing things. Just to go back to the Annapolis discussion, here would be some of my proposals:
...

What if the notion that Annapolis is full of entitled white boys is part of what's keeping minorities from wanting to join?

I make an effort to drive snakes out of my house every St. Patrick's day.

I think this article provides a decent introduction to America's views on affirmative action, at least for someone like me who knows little about it. Interesting to see that it was a Republican, Bush I, who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991 which explicitly endorses affirmative action.

Basically the article shows using survey-based data that most Americans support it, as long as it's not quota based. Also, federal regulations prohibit affirmative action programs that hire people who aren't qualified or needed for the job. Not sure if that would apply to schools, though.

It also says that even if white people had their jobs taken by every unemployed black person, that would still only affect 2% of the white workforce. I find it hard to get too upset about affirmative action seeing this statistic.

Also interesting, that in some cases white people do benefit from affirmative action--when competing against Asians. According to this story, Asians need on average 140 more points on their SATs to get into an elite university in the US. So I wonder, white people, do you feel you have it easy competing against Asians for education and employment?

I am not completely sure where I stand on the issue in its entirety, but I find at least part of Malor's argument pretty compelling.

When trying to decide who to help today, when choosing between the poor and uneducated, does it make sense to choose one person over another based on skin color? I think that targeting areas or groups of people who have been historically disadvantaged does have great merit but it should be possible to do that without distinguishing based on color.

This will be a simple example but it illustrates my thoughts on the topic. Why not create programs that give people preference for jobs if their parents made less than x amount of money or had less than x education. Why define it in terms of skin color, why not target the very things you are trying to eliminate.

I don't know the answer or even where I sit on the issue but I do think that this is a valid point of Malor's and cannot be just brushed aside.

Kier wrote:

I am not completely sure where I stand on the issue in its entirety, but I find at least part of Malor's argument pretty compelling.

When trying to decide who to help today, when choosing between the poor and uneducated, does it make sense to choose one person over another based on skin color? I think that targeting areas or groups of people who have been historically disadvantaged does have great merit but it should be possible to do that without distinguishing based on color.

This will be a simple example but it illustrates my thoughts on the topic. Why not create programs that give people preference for jobs if their parents made less than x amount of money or had less than x education. Why define it in terms of skin color, why not target the very things you are trying to eliminate.

I don't know the answer or even where I sit on the issue but I do think that this is a valid point of Malor's and cannot be just brushed aside.

As someone who has volunteered and been part of these programs... that's one of, if not the primary category for most local programs.

Most of the race-targeted programs are, in my experience, aimed at undercutting the "legacy" and... well, what's the word for complete lack of discretion applied by racist asshats. The anti-legacy programs _do_ have more reach than just disadvantaged black kids. That's just what makes the most headlines, good or bad.

And, really, if you're working directly against some numbnuts trying to ensure no minorities get into higher education or what have you... the equal and opposite force will also appear, in isolation, racist. Thing is, it's never done in isolation.

Someone, somewhere, has done the numbers, and decided some criteria will have the most impact, or are the most underserved. Then they went through hell and back to get said program funded. (Bloo, you can probably speak to this. Grant writing is a _bitch_. Even just assisting was some of the hardest, most frustrating, and outright dispiriting stuff I've ever done.)

Kier wrote:

I don't know the answer or even where I sit on the issue but I do think that this is a valid point of Malor's and cannot be just brushed aside.

It kinda can because it completely ignores reality. Race matters and beginning the argument with the assertion that the concept of race doesn't even exist is ludicrous.

Perhaps when my generation dies--Gen X, the first ones born after the Civil Rights Movement--we can move away from affirmative action programs. But my generation was raised by parents who lived in a world were race very much mattered and, as we all know, that filth is taught so it might have to be continued well into the lifetimes of Gen Y.

OG_Slinger:

I feel that Malor's point is being misrepresented there. I can't speak for him, but I think that when we say "Race doesn't exist," we mean "Race is a purely subjective form of differentiation between groups of people," not "Racism doesn't happen." Obviously, racism happens. We know that because we're talking about making it not happen anymore. The entire framework provides the necessary context for the statement.

The way I understand it is, fighting racists based on the subjective definitions which they have established only plays into their hands. Making "black" an actual legal benefit makes their definitions real instead of just being applied by them to others in the form of prejudice.

The primary way of fighting it is to not buy into the concept yourself and to fight its propagation. Affirmative action teaches the next generation exactly the sorts of things racists believe in, so it's never going to led to the abolition of the concept.

Secondary ways of fighting involves persecuting actions, words, and ideas that are built from the race concept. That is, institute clear and severe penalties for people whose actions can be construed as racist. At the most severe, merely self-identifying as any race in any way might be punishable by a tax or fine.

LarryC wrote:

At the most severe, merely self-identifying as any race in any way might be punishable by a tax or fine.

... *sigh*

Hypatian wrote:
LarryC wrote:

At the most severe, merely self-identifying as any race in any way might be punishable by a tax or fine.

... *sigh*

Focus on the whole message, not the incidental points.

That point is simply a perfect illustration of just how ridiculous your understanding of the situation is. When people self-identify as being a member of some group, how is it reasonable to punish people for acknowledging that group identity? The problem is not in the recognition of group identity, it is in the application of prejudice based on that identity.

It will continue to be a problem even if the concept of "race" becomes outmoded, because "race" is just one form of that identity. Prejudice based on group identity that is based on actual ethnic background is no less pernicious. Nor is prejudice based on social or economic class identity. Nor is prejudice based on educational background.

We focus our law on prejudice based on race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, age, and the like not because those are the only categories upon which prejudice rests, but because they are the categories for which the most overt prejudice occurs. We focus on race in specific because prejudice in that area is a serious, persistent problem in the U.S. It doesn't matter whether the division is race, clade, ethnic background, moeity, caste, or whatever. Such divisions will always be a problem. They will always exist, because people band together with other people they feel something in common with. And they will always be a problem because people always feel a need to make distinctions between "us" and "them".

The fact that the distinction that is most problematic in [em]this time and place[/em] is race in particular is not important. Erasing the concept of race is impossible so long as that's a way people use to distinguish themselves from others. Recognizing in public policy that this distinction is used in ways contrary to the public good and taking steps to reduce its effect does not propagate the idea that race is a valid way to divide people up. It propagates the idea that it's a [em]bad[/em] way to divide people up. And don't worry, once it goes away we have plenty of other bad ways to do so. We'll step right up and divide rednecks from city-slickers, Christians from heathens, blue-blooded aristocrats from filthy peasants, real Americans from foreigners.

And when those are the biggest problems, we'll do what we can under the law to curb the greatest excesses of this group mentality that we can.

The goal is not to eradicate those differences, because we will always have differences. The goal is to prevent institutionalized evils created by the over-emphasis of those differences.

But I understand... you just don't get it. I've tried to explain it numerous times, but it doesn't take. And I suppose it's really not worth arguing about, because nothing I can say is going to make you understand. But that's not going to make me stop rolling my eyes and shaking my head when you say something ridiculous.

Personally, I agree with LarryC. You're not going to see an end to racism... well, ever, because people don't like different folks. However I think you exacerbate the problem when the government actually sets policy favoring groups on the basis of race. It's not going to matter until it doesn't matter, right?

Of course, I don't think we should punish people for embracing their race/culture/creed. But I don't think policy should give a lick either way.

Hypatian wrote:

We focus our law on prejudice based on race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, age, and the like not because those are the only categories upon which prejudice rests, but because they are the categories for which the most overt prejudice occurs. We focus on race in specific because prejudice in that area is a serious, persistent problem in the U.S. It doesn't matter whether the division is race, clade, ethnic background, moeity, caste, or whatever. Such divisions will always be a problem. They will always exist, because people band together with other people they feel something in common with. And they will always be a problem because people always feel a need to make distinctions between "us" and "them".

I think there's a pretty significant difference between (justifiably) punishing businesses and other entities that deliberately put a negative impact on someone in a protected class and actually creating programs that award extra benefits for being in a protected class.

There is a big difference, you're right.

The first of these is an action of the law which is extremely likely to fail except in the most blatant situations because the courts are incapable of reading peoples' minds.

The second of these is an action of policy to offset the subtler impact of institutionalized prejudice that people do not even realize they're participating in.

momgamer wrote:

Now I've read through the rest of the posts.

zappa, I'm sorry for your frustration, but I need you to understand that I feel the same way every single day. I have to struggle every day to simply be heard in both my personal and professional lives. My viewpoint is constantly devalued, my input ignored.

When I read posts like yours it feels like yet another attack. And I have to step away and try to stay reasonable.

@Momgamer - my goal was never to insult anyone and your experiences with the Air Force Academy make me extremely mad. You're the exact kind of candidate that should have been accepted.

I just want to ask a question - and I hope it doesn't come off the wrong way - can you tell me more about the situations where your coworkers bully or belittle you? Is there anyone in HR you can take these complaints to? I'm stating up front that maybe I'm naive but I always thought that in most modern companies outright sexist behavior is going to get slapped pretty hard.

Hypatian:

Substantiate. You claim that institutionalizing the benefits and differences of people according to race concept does not propagate that concept. My argument is that it does. So long as it's important to remember that you're black, you will be constantly reminded that you are.

Now your turn. Substantiate how policies institutionalizing the concept of race does not propagate it.

I'll broadly agree that people are apt to classing themselves into groups and acting accordingly. I do not agree that this process is impossible to stop so we just shouldn't do anything about it.

The second of these is an action of policy to offset the subtler impact of institutionalized prejudice that people do not even realize they're participating in.

I have to question the basis of the policy as a long term device. Not only does it emphasize and propagate race concept, it also generates hostility in the non favored groups - jdzappa here is a prime example. We can only surmise how the less open-minded are apt to endure such treatment.

In the long run, I expect it not only to propagate race concept but to drive hostility between the defined groups, rather than harmony.

I am unable to quickly provide data backing up my assertion. Still looking. If you would be so kind, could you provide some data for your position? Otherwise, we are currently [em]both[/em] arguing from a position of knowing precisely jack-all about the effects affirmative action may have on historical trends in prejudice.

Also, would you care to address my point that prejudice does not require race, and that you arguments that we should avoid talking about the concept of race don't particularly apply to any other form of group identity? (Like expressed gender, for example, which is also frequently included in affirmative action programs.)

Hypatian:

I am unable to quickly provide data backing up my assertion. Still looking. If you would be so kind, could you provide some data for your position? Otherwise, we are currently both arguing from a position of knowing precisely jack-all about the effects affirmative action may have on historical trends in prejudice.

Right now, I'm arguing from a rational position, not an empirical one. It's logical that constant reminders of your group identity in the form of legal benefits (for you or that excludes you) serve to increase its relevance to your life, beyond how it already is. Would you accept that current race-concept instances of "reverse-racism" mentions (versus historical mentions of the same) serves as an indicator of increasing or decreasing relevance of race?

Also, would you care to address my point that prejudice does not require race, and that you arguments that we should avoid talking about the concept of race don't particularly apply to any other form of group identity? (Like expressed gender, for example, which is also frequently included in affirmative action programs.)
I'll broadly agree that people are apt to classing themselves into groups and acting accordingly.

That's outside race concept as a whole. There are also such things as sexism (which is relevant in this thread) and classism, nationalism, and other 'isms. Prejudice does not require race. What's the point of making that point?

The point is that even if race could somehow be magically made into a non-issue, there are plenty of other things. So solving the problem of race does not solve the problem of prejudice. As a result, it is unreasonable to put forward the "everybody stop thinking about race and everything will be okay" solution when looking at general problems of prejudice. (For example, the "straight" and "male" parts of this thread's topic.) There's no good reason to call out race as being a special kind of label that's somehow more of a problem than any of these other labels.

As for arguing from a rational position: Both arguments have merit rationally--on my side, I can argue that policies that enforce mixing people from different backgrounds may naturally erode prejudice, as people are put in a position of knowing individual members of classes they might otherwise be prejudiced against. It also has the direct effect of evening out some of the effects of prejudice, which could lead to a reduction in the inequity of economic power (and all the things that come from that) in successive generations.

On your side, I must admit that there's an observable countervailing force of resentment towards this sort of policy.

With numbers, all of the above could be quantified at least partially. How much of an effect does it have on prejudiced attitudes? How quickly? How much does it directly improve the lives of those effected? Do those improvements make an impact on the livelihoods of future generations? Does the resentment represent an increase in the quantity or severity of prejudice in individuals, or is it an increased expression of prejudice that already existed?

Now... one thing that I don't have to admit is rational is the assertion that group identity is in any way bad. There's no more logical basis for saying "it's bad for a person to think of themselves as black" than "it's bad for a person to think of themselves as a Jew" or "it's bad for a person to think of themselves as a gamer".

The problem, again, is not that people identify themselves as being members of a certain group. It's that people identify the group as being somehow inferior to other groups.

And there you potentially have something that could be measured and used to form public policy. Does having a program like affirmative action promote the idea that members of targeted groups cannot succeed on their own? Does it promote that idea in the minds of members of the group? Does it promote that idea in the minds of others? How much of an impact does this effect have, compared to the impact of more diverse groups working together and breaking down barriers between groups? It's necessary to measure this to know.

But, again, this concern is about the effect of policy on people who already self-identify as members of certain groups. Consider that all of these concerns are equally valid for both race and gender: few of us believe that it is necessary to destroy the concept of gender in order to stamp out gender inequality. Why, then, should it be necessary to destroy the concept of race?

Watching the dog chase his tail in this thread has been entertaining.

"government assistance programs should focus on socioeconomic status. We should help poor people regardless of color."

History has caused a cycle of such that black people are more likely to grow up in poverty than whites.

"WHY ARE WE HELPING MORE POOR BLACK PEOPLE THAN WHITE OMG"

And round and round we go.

As a white male I do have a bit of a problem with the assumption that my life has automatically been easier as a result, or that my accomplishments are somehow less meaningful than they would be if I were female or not white.

As far as aid goes I do not think having a vagina and/or colored skin should in and of themselves entitle you to scholarships, placements, government assistance, etc.

Seth wrote:

Watching the dog chase his tail in this thread has been entertaining.

"government assistance programs should focus on socioeconomic status. We should help poor people regardless of color."

History has caused a cycle of such that black people are more likely to grow up in poverty than whites.

"WHY ARE WE HELPING MORE POOR BLACK PEOPLE THAN WHITE OMG"

And round and round we go.

I don't think anyone has said anything like "WHY ARE WE HELPING MORE POOR BLACK PEOPLE THAN WHITE OMG" I thought that the complaint was that programs target race. Maybe I missed something but this seems to mischaracterize the argument.

Kannon and OG_slinger, when they replied to me, said that focusing on socio-economic status is not enough. That race based programs are necessary. That very well maybe true. I still don't understand why, maybe an example might help explain it to me. But in any case it is a valid point in rebuttal.

I guess I just don't see the crazy person complaining about things the way you describe Seth.

The issue is one of politics. By making poverty into a "black" thing as a cultural touchstone, you're helping conservatives sell cuts in poverty programs to an electorate made up mostly of middle class white people. Black culture is essentially a foreign culture to many white voters. It's the "other" that is easy to denigrate and stereotype and turn into an enemy. Divide and conquer. That has been the method of elites in this country for almost 400 years.

The number of white people in poverty far exceeds the number of black people in poverty because black people make up a smaller share of the population. Blacks have a higher rate of poverty, but as long as government aid to the poor is based on the idea of socioeconomic status rather than race, then black people will also disproportionately benefit from anti-poverty programs provided those programs are administered fairly.

it would be nice to imagine that you could just target "the poor" for assistance but because racism cuts right through this issue it's likely that your average poor black person is probably in need of more assistance (what ever form that might take) than you're average poor white person.

Even assuming that's true, you don't get government anti-poverty programs unless you convince Congress that funding anti-poverty programs is important. The politics of making poverty into a race issue are awful, because people tend to support most strongly programs that either benefit them, or may benefit them in the future. Thus, as a white voter I can support unemployment insurance (because I've been on it in the past and may need it in the future), medicare and social security (because I'm going to be old), or food stamps (because I might be poor someday).

If you come to me and say, "We have a program that's targeted at helping black people," it's not a program that is affecting me personally. I may support it out of altruism or a sense of social justice, but the overall level of support the program from all white voters will generate will likely be smaller than if the program is sold as one that helps everybody regardless of race.

Kier wrote:

Kannon and OG_slinger, when they replied to me, said that focusing on socio-economic status is not enough. That race based programs are necessary. That very well maybe true. I still don't understand why, maybe an example might help explain it to me.

Okay, here's an example. This study sent out thousands of resumes in response to want ads, some with white-sounding names and some with black-sounding names, and recorded how many got called in for an interview. Racism has a large, observable effect on whether people got interviews--the authors of the study find that having a white-sounding name gives you as big an advantage in hiring as having an additional eight years of experience. Also, while having additional qualifications is a big help for white candidates, it is not nearly as much of a help for black candidates.

This racism might be conscious or unconscious by the people doing the hiring--it doesn't really matter. What does matter is that black people have a huge disadvantage in getting hired, which is based on their race, not their socioeconomic status.

Kier wrote:

Kannon and OG_slinger, when they replied to me, said that focusing on socio-economic status is not enough. That race based programs are necessary. That very well maybe true. I still don't understand why, maybe an example might help explain it to me. But in any case it is a valid point in rebuttal.

It's because race has a lot to do with why so many blacks are poor today. A lot of folks don't seem to be willing to look at our history as a country and really see the damage that centuries of slavery and a century of Jim Crow did. Psychologically, our "peculiar institution" ingrained the idea that blacks are inferior, lazy, shiftless, criminal, over-sexed, etc. so deeply that there's still a significant chunk of Americans who believe that crap today.

Using anti-poverty programs that are race neutral does absolutely nothing to address white America's perceptions of blacks. Nor would race neutral programs address the institutional racism that would keep all but the most exceptional black candidates out of college. That means that very few blacks would get the college degree needed to get a good job, get a house, ensure that their children have a very good chance at doing better than they did, and, most importantly, help to change the perception that blacks are all the things I listed above.

It's harder for white people to think that being black means bad things when their manager at work is black, their neighbor in their subdivision is black, and when they get sick they get treated by a black doctor. That's the intent of affirmative action programs.

There may very well be a time that affirmative action programs aren't needed. But that time is generations from now. I'm Gen X. We are the first generation that was born right during or after the Civil Rights Movement. We are the first generation that never saw old school societal racism in action--blacks sitting at the back of the bus, white/colored water fountains, and more--and were taught some ideal of equality (for the most part). But we were also raised by the Silent Generation or Boomers, generations who most definitely grew up in a racist society. And, as we all know, racism gets taught.

It might be a generation or two until we break that cycle. But even then, there's still the legacy of racism and previous attempts by the government to address black poverty (like urban housing) that will help create new racists in future generations.

OG_slinger wrote:

great stuff

To bring this back on track, sorta - it's why I support what's happening at the Naval Academy. That's an institution where you can take young adults of various races and backgrounds and give them the education, discipline, confidence, and social skills necessary to get them all on more equal footing. Is it going to mean extra tutoring for people from bad k-12 schools? sure, but that is exactly the type of work that is needed.

krev82 wrote:

As a white male I do have a bit of a problem with the assumption that my life has automatically been easier as a result, or that my accomplishments are somehow less meaningful than they would be if I were female or not white.

I know you've gone through a lot of BS in your life. But were you to have gone through it without so much of your privilege, you would have had even more BS to deal with.

Thank you everyone. I think I have been convinced.

In particular the resume problem. If you created a program that required hiring people from a particularly socioeconomic status it would not solve the problem because blacks would still get hired less.

Thanks again for pointing out why. That is why I like this board. People don't just tell you that you are wrong, they explain why. I think that is the most important part of the whole exercise.

That is why I like this board. People don't just tell you that you are wrong, they explain why. I think that is the most important part of the whole exercise.

Shut up! You're completely wrong!