Being Black in Davis Is Not a Picnic

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom…”

 – Martin Luther King Jr.

By Bryn Buchanan

In a city whose population is 2.3% Black, located around a school whose Black population hovers around 3%, asking “What does it mean to be Black in Davis?” should not be a rhetorical question. One thing I often share with my students is that absence can be violence; we as scholars of history should always ask who is excluded, and what systems drive their absence. Black bodies and voices are often marginalized in our community, either because of their absence or because they wield little political clout in a city with an overwhelmingly white racial composition (such as Davis).

This becomes abundantly clear when instances of overt, clear racial discrimination plays out on our streets. For instance, one of the biggest events every year in Davis is the Picnic Day celebration – with a massive influx of people who take part in the festivities and who join, if only temporarily, the Davis community. It is supposed to be a time when we share in goodwill. But it certainly doesn’t feel that way for all of us. One of my early memories of Picnic Day, from shortly after I’d moved to Davis for graduate school, was being on a Picnic Day bus and hearing a group of attendees remark that “there are always so many niggers around on Picnic Day.”

I never went back.

Fast forward a few years, and Black folks who take part in this “colorblind” experience find that they are still Black, still “niggers” in the eyes of this community and  the state.  Police officers on Picnic Day, out of uniform and in an unmarked van, proceeded to assault community members and when these community members fought back they were arrested. Three Black people were arrested immediately for defending themselves against officers who drove their van into the crosswalk.  Three more were arrested, after warrants were issued for them later. Angelica Reyes, one of those charged later, says police had her in a choke hold, which caused her to lose consciousness.’ That’s when Alexander Craver says he witnessed her going down, and defended her.What they did was in the wrong, and I was just protecting a woman, in my defense,’ Craver [another community member charged by police] said.” This is what happens when you are uppity enough to defend yourselves against people purportedly there to enforce peace and the public good.

The aftermath of the incident was also revealing. Local news immediately framed the Black people as a mob, outsiders, and moral degenerates  (note how often the reports use the word “mayhem”) – and did so without the full facts. Instead, many of these reports were based not on community gathered video but on a police press report (since removed) that framed officers as victims and not as assailants. Only a sign saying “Keep Out Negros” would make it more explicit that Davis is a sundown town.

The apathy of the community, and its liberal leanings, are rooted in the idea that racism cannot, does not, happen right here on our streets. And yet it does, regularly, from both residents and law enforcement. Often couched in dog whistle language about “expansion,” “university/city divides,” and “criminals,” the community regularly invokes the danger of places like Sacramento (i.e. scary, non-white spaces) to inform not only its policy decisions but also its unique brand of xenophobia.

So what does it mean to be Black in Davis? It feels like surveillance. It feels like residents who are more concerned with seeing the stars than putting lights on their streets. It feels like a Farmer’s Market where I’ve been harassed by vendors and attendees alike for my Blackness. It feels like a town of white moderates who are more interested in order than in justice; in absence than equity; in buying their kale than defending Black lives. What will it take to shake Davis out of its white moderate dream? How many stories must I share? How many instances have to happen? What will it take before white people see that there is a problem right in our little town? The story of Davis racism could be a saga. The problem is that before our words are ever heard, we have been erased. In the news, in politics, we are silenced for protecting ourselves from our attackers – criminalized for defending ourselves from systemic forms of racism. Compare this to the way it’s often referred to by Davis’s white residents: it seems as though we are living in two different worlds. And we are.

Bryn Buchanan is a PhD student in the Sociology Department and an organizer of SWERV (Students and Workers Ending Racial Violence).



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106 thoughts on “Being Black in Davis Is Not a Picnic”

          1. David Greenwald

            This was a public commenter in July:

            “The problem of racism is not unique to the police or limited to potential cases of excessive force – after the Picnic Day violence occurred, there was a palpable sense that I felt in the community of vindication for many people as the kids who fought the police were one by one revealed to be out of towners.”

            He said he grew up in Davis and attended school at DJUSD, and “I still never felt entirely like a normal Davis kid because of my heritage. I’m still not sure I belong here. All my friends of color that I grew up with here with me who I’ve talked to a lot about this – most even all feel the same way.”

          1. Don Shor

            this goes in the McMartin Preschool file.

            Just because someone says something happened doesn’t make it necessarily true.

            Evidently we have two older white guys who are so threatened by the notion that people of color might experience racial incidents in Davis that they literally and directly accuse the author of lying. The McMartin assertion is particularly egregious, but probably lost on most people: outright lies, mass hysteria, and prosecutors run amok.
            I wonder why they feel so threatened by this? To say “Davis is not racist” is an absurd reductionism. David could post numerous examples of incidents against people of color that those individuals perceive as being directed against them due to their race or ethnicity. It is bizarre enough to deny their perception and tell them they are wrong. It’s more than bizarre to say they didn’t happen.

        1. John Hobbs

          “It’s a question of the credibility of the author”

          Indeed. The credibility of a white author, making a claim of harassment by “black youths” would meet similar skepticism, right? Any discussion of racism (or housing or religious tolerance) in Davis is doomed by the inability of neighbors to listen to each other, without prejudice.

        2. Keith O

          “Hands up don’t shoot”

          Fake untruths happen all the time in order to push agendas.

          Davis is not racist.  I’m sure there’s an incident here or there that can be cited but to paint this community as being racist is misguided and needs to stop.  All it’s doing is causing division.

           

        3. Keith O

          You didn’t answer the question.  I said “Davis is not racist” and you responded with “how do you know?”

          So once again, David, is Davis a racist community?

        4. David Greenwald

          That’s my answer and it has been the same answer I have given for 11 years. You act like it is a dichotomous answer – a community is either racist or not racist. I reject that dichotomy. I believe there is more racism in Davis than most people are willing to acknowledge and I believe most people of color have stories like the ones I am posting below.

        5. Howard P

          Don and David… a bit of clarity… are you saying “Davis is racist” (challenging the statement “Davis is not racist”), or are you acknowledging that there are a few racists in Davis (challenging the concept that Davis is free of all racism)?

          Huge difference…

          My opinion, based on experience is there are jerks everywhere, but in low numbers/%-ages… but jerkism, be it expressed as racism, intolerance of religion, intolerance to any specific religion, political views, the ‘homeless’, etc. definitely exists, but does not ‘define’ the community.

          1. Don Shor

            Don and David… a bit of clarity… are you saying “Davis is racist” (challenging the statement “Davis is not racist”), or are you acknowledging that there are a few racists in Davis (challenging the concept that Davis is free of all racism)?

            I said:

            To say “Davis is not racist” is an absurd reductionism.

            Thus I don’t accept the premise of the question.
            Since most of the codified racism of the past (housing covenants, ‘gentleman’s agreements’, Jim Crow, redlining) has been removed or is now ignored, racism is largely a matter of individual behavior. If you are asking me if there are any individuals in Davis who exhibit racist behavior, I would say the answer is obviously yes. If you are asking me if I consider the numbers proportionally higher or lower in Davis vs. other communities, I’d say that’s not really easily answered.

        6. Keith O

          Exactly Howard.  If anything Davis is a very open and excepting community, not racist by any means.  Sure there will always be an example here or there that will get repeated ad nauseam by the same likely suspects who have an agenda or walk around with a chip on their shoulder but Davis is not a racist community.

        7. Alan Miller

          Once again a good example of why it’s hard to get people to submit guest pieces.

          So we shouldn’t disagree with an author so that they feel comfortable sharing?  Why not just eliminate comments . . . Or at least those you don’t like, or might offend the sensibilities of authors and potential authors?

        8. Howard P

          Somehow one of my comments went into the ‘bit bucket’…

          Don, you supplied the clarity I sought… we are in agreement…

          There are jerks, bullies and criminals in Davis… they do not define the community.

          There are those who welcome newcomers, act to feed/provide shelter to the poor/homeless and serve the community in various ways… they do not define the community.

          Keith, there is no way we are in agreement as to your 8:49 post… we are a bell-curve community… the community is neither nirvana nor hell.  I do believe we are at least 1 std deviation towards the nirvana, but then we still have the rest of the curve.

        9. Alan Miller

          we are a bell-curve community

          Actually, by the standards under which the Vanguard was founded, we are a dark under-bell-y-curve community.

          . . . or something.

      1. Howard P

        33.47/month… philosophically speaking…

        or, the question could be asked, philosophically, “how many racists can dance on the head of a petard?”

  1. Keith O

    It feels like a Farmer’s Market where I’ve been harassed by vendors and attendees alike for my Blackness.

    I’m heading to Farmer’s Market this morning and looking for all the racism that supposedly occurs.  Something tells me that I’m going to come home empty handed.

        1. David Greenwald

          I don’t know how long you’ve lived in Davis, but I have many of these anecdotes, this one is recent: “The racism in Davis may not be obvious, but it runs deep. I’m white but my son is Black. He was 5 years old when we moved here in 1999 and little white girls used to yell the N-word at him over the fence from the park. My Black in-laws are stopped when they drive into town and my son is “well-known” to the police. It is baked into the system.”

        2. Alan Miller

          little white girls used to yell the N-word at him over the fence from the park.

          Which is reprehensible.  Do you believe that BP (KO), or JH, or myself, or anyone else on here believes otherwise?

      1. Howard P

        Let’s see… I come up to a person of color, and say “I can see you are a person of color, so I’d like to ask you to tell me of your experiences…”?  Sounds kinda’ racist to me… probably not going to do that…

        Now, if I meet someone, who happens to be a ‘person of color’, and they choose to share their experiences with me, I’ll listen attentively.

    1. Tia Will

      Keith

      I’m heading to Farmer’s Market this morning and looking for all the racism that supposedly occurs.”

      If you “look with eyes that do not see” I guarantee that will be the result. You have already said that you are wearing blinders when you say that something tells you that you will come home empty handed. With that approach, of course you will. 

      So let me tell you some of the things that you may not see. You may not notice things as subtle as someone jerking away ( avoiding contact) or clutching their purse or wallet tighter when in close proximity to a person of color. You may not see a look of disgust or avoidance of hand contact when money is exchanged. You may not connect with a comment about “those people” made by other whites. You may not associate a frown or sneer in an interaction in which there would commonly be a smile exchanged between two white people with racism. You may not appreciate that silence during an interaction with a black, when the seller has just been chatting with a white customer can be a subtle form of hostility. You might not notice a sample being offered to a white, but not to a black.

      Racism does not have to entail white sheets and burning crosses which are noticeably absent in Davis. It can be an atmosphere that is created by differential treatment which I would say is definitely present. I think that David’s suggestion about asking people of color would be the most productive approach.

      1. Alan Miller

        You may not see a look of disgust or avoidance of hand contact when money is exchanged. You may not connect with a comment about “those people” made by other whites. You may not associate a frown or sneer in an interaction in which there would commonly be a smile exchanged between two white people with racism. You may not appreciate that silence during an interaction with a black, when the seller has just been chatting with a white customer can be a subtle form of hostility. You might not notice a sample being offered to a white, but not to a black.

        It’s also possible to attribute those things to racism, when they are not.  Not that these things don’t happen in racist ways, of course they do.  Is it common at the Farmer’s Market?  I don’t know.  Is it common enough that Davis is a racist town?  How does one measure that?

        I’m a jerk and a total prick.  I wonder how many times people who don’t know me think I’m racist or other-ist, when I’m actually just an a**hole to everyone.

        1. Howard P

          An ‘equal opportunity’ jerk… yeah, that could describe me, I suppose…

          [have to try for the ‘grin’] If you had a hemorrhoidectomy, you could be a ‘perfect’ a-hole!

          Actually I have come to have a lot of respect for you Alan, even when we disagree… sorry to ruin your day by saying that…

      2. Mark West

        I lived for nine years in a city that was overtly racist, complete with neighborhoods segregated by race and/or religion. Davis obviously is not that. What I find quite interesting though is that the arguments made by the locals justifying those segregated communities are almost to a word identical to arguments made here. We just want to ‘protect the character of our neighborhood,’ or ‘our quality of life,’ or simply ‘our lifestyle.’ Some are even espoused as altruistic, ‘they are better off (happier even) when they are grouped together in the same place.

        Are these arguments racist? There, they certainly were, here, perhaps not. Either way, though, they are discriminatory and exclusionary, with the intent of keeping those ‘not like me’ from interfering with my preferred way of life. Racist is a loaded word that many are loath to be associated with, but many of these same people have no issue with making judgments and declarations using identical logic. Is Davis a racist community, no, but it certainly is a ‘not_like_me_ist’ community, and it seems to me that many here are proud of that.

         

        1. Alan Miller

          but many of these same people have no issue with making judgments and declarations using identical logic.

          Making the judgement that others make judgements is highly judgemental.

      3. Liz Merry

        Well described Tia. These are concrete and common examples I have noticed. I admit my own failure as a white woman to step in and correct or point out these micro-aggressions. Most recently I stood silently at Target while two white employees at the register were condescendingly explaining to a Hispanic woman why here coupons weren’t accepted. The instructions on the coupons were contradictory and it was reasonable to assume they were valid. Good customer service would have included at least some bit of empathy, acknowledgment that it was an unfair situation. I’m quite certain I would have received an apology for the frustration. The Hispanic customer did not. I so wish I had the presence of mind to say ” That’s a ridiculous coupon. You are right to be frustrated” to acknowledge this womans’ situation.

  2. Nora Oldwin

    When, in some of these comments, I read “________is not racist” I need to stop and ask you what you think “racism” is, what it looks like- to you. One comment appears over  and over in different guises: some of my best friends are black, I’m married to a person who is black, my children are black. I have made this comment, too. And, I accept the fact that I do not have the power to persuade you to think differently. David, I wonder why you engage in conversations which do not provide an exit to some of these circular themes. And you know I respect you and what you do here. So, as to that, I invite folks in this thread to check out a very interesting recent book about a debunking of de facto racism with proof of de jure racism: “The Color of Law- a forgotten history of how our government segregated America” by Richard Rothstein. This is one of many many books which can help all of us shoulder the burden of making our community different. An opinion only goes so far- but having some grasp of history and law in America can only help this discussion- the author  of the post we are all responding to made me very uncomfortable and that is all to the good. I believe nothing will change if we’re always comfortable- witness the statements I’m addressing here about how “racist” “we” are “not” in Davis.

    1. Alan Miller

      I’m married to a person who is black, my children are black.

      I would hope that such a person would have some idea what their wife and children experience.  How can you discount that?

  3. Jim Hoch

    David, word press will give you the option of disabling comments on a per article basis if that is what you are want.

    I am agreement with the author that there is racism in Davis. Both Don Shor and John Hobbs make racist and ageist statements on a regular basis, including in this thread,  so how could deny it?

     

  4. Cindy Pickett

    I would like to thank Bryn for sharing this piece. The Vanguard is a tough tough audience for having race discussions. If the author is reading the comments above, I hope she won’t take them as representative as Davis as a whole. We have a great community with a range of opinions and experiences.

    But to answer the author’s questions, “What will it take to shake Davis out of its white moderate dream? How many stories must I share? How many instances have to happen? What will it take before white people see that there is a problem right in our little town?”

    I have a two-part answer. People will only believe there is a race problem if they WANT to believe it and are open to hearing stories of racism. Anyone who has his or her mind already made up will find ways to dismiss these stories or will require impossible standards of proof.  Living in a bubble (any kind of bubble) feels good. If you challenge the beliefs on which that bubble is formed, you are going to get pushback.

    The second part of my answer is, “This is NOT your job.” Or, rather, it doesn’t have to be your job. I would much rather see the author get that Ph.D. and change the world through her scholarship and teaching. I know I probably sound cynical or defeated, but really I am not. There’s just more than one way to skin a cat.

    1. Keith O

       People will only believe there is a race problem if they WANT to believe it 

      Exactly, people will look for a race problem because as you say “they WANT to believe it”.

      1. Cindy Pickett

        Yes, motivated reasoning can work both ways. I wasn’t claiming otherwise. Just trying to highlight why it is so difficult to get people to change their existing beliefs.

    2. Alan Miller

      The Vanguard is a tough tough audience for having race discussions.

       

      Discussion in which commenters disagree with the viewpoint of an author is “tough tough”?  That’s what the comment section is for . . . isn’t it?

      1. Cindy Pickett

        By tough or “tough tough” ;-), I merely meant that one’s viewpoint will likely be challenged, dismissed, and maybe ridiculed or some combination of the three. But that’s just what I have observed (especially when comments were anonymous). This is not to say though that I don’t see many other types of comments as well. One just has to be prepared for it all.

        And being challenged isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. That’s how our thinking improves. But I can see how knee-jerk dismissal can turn off many would-be contributors.

  5. David Greenwald

    This year, when the Acme Theatre Company received a Thong Hy Huynh award, one of the high schools students receiving the award talked about “the implicit recognition of how much further we have to go.” He talked about areas where the city has progressed, but that “we cover up tragedies with flowers.”
    Colin Walsh noted that he was in school when Thong Hy Huynh was murdered in 1983.  “Growing up in Davis as a white person, the issue of race was always something I had to self-evaluate and think about.”  He said, “It was not an easy place for people of color growing up here.”

  6. Michael Bisch

    I witness racism, bigotry, xenophobia and prejudice fairly frequently in my daily interactions here in Davis. Sometimes it’s overt, sometimes subtle. It often starts with creating an artificial condition of “they” or “them” versus “we” and “us”. Differentiate, then marginalize. Indifference is a key element/characteristic of the dynamic. As is the knee-jerk denials. Where is the introspection? The willingness to engage in a conversation?

     
    Separately, I’m very troubled by the conversation around racism in regard to the Picnic Day incident. There seem to be a lot of agendas in play.

  7. Ron

    Nora:  “David, I wonder why you engage in conversations which do not provide an exit to some of these circular themes.”

    Let me clear my throat – ahem.  🙂

  8. Alan Miller

    It feels like a town of white moderates who are more interested . . . in buying their kale than defending Black lives.

    I have been told not to equate a certain group of people and affinity to a certain large melon with a high water content.  While I do not understand the offense, I do not so equate out of respect.  Also out of respect, I would appreciate if the author would, out of respect, not equate another group of people, sometimes differentiated by their lighter overall skin hue, with their affinity to a certain dark green leafy vegetable.

    Just sayin’.

  9. Eric Gelber

    Davis is not racist.

    I don’t think the author of this article said Davis is racist. She was describing her experiences, in particular, and what it means to be black in Davis, in general. Eldridge Cleaver famously said, “You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.” Those who dismiss or deny others’ experiences out of hand are not going to be part of the solution. Ergo . . .

  10. Wayne Hawkes

    The racism in overwhelmingly white Davis may not be obvious, but it runs deep. I’m white but my son is Black. He was 5 years old when we moved here in 1999 and little white girls used to yell the N-word at him over the backyard fence from Oak Grove Park. His Valley Oak kindergarten teacher accused him of attacking her. My Black in-laws were stopped regularly whenever they drove into town. Being Black in Davis means being constantly watched, never trusted, and always suspected. If I hadn’t married into a Black family, I wouldn’t have been aware of any of this.

    1. Howard P

      The area around that park is indeed interesting… won’t characterize further, lest I be accused of … *******  bias…

      Those that did that were jerks, probably genetic…

    2. Howard P

      BTW… our kids were/are pretty much ‘color-blind’ … they never referred to their friends or others in  ‘color’ terms… much like my spouse and I…

        1. Howard P

          So, if someone says they have no “unconscious bias”, they do, and they’re ‘in denial’… got it…

          I am very conscious of my biases, and you implying (?) that I and my family have ‘unconscious biases’, is, wrong, and condescending… but of course, we’re just ‘in denial’…

      1. Eric Gelber

        Color-blindness is not unquestionably a positive thing. Many argue that it encourages those who endorse this perspective to ignore the ongoing processes that maintain racial stratification in schools, neighborhoods, health care, and other social institutions. Color consciousness can draw attention to these issues. It can lead to more understanding of our racially stratified society and can give rise to a willingness to work for change. E.g., Color-blindness is Counterproductive.

        1. Howard P

          Many don’t ignore the problems/issues you describe, even if they don’t always look through ‘color-based’ (or ‘biased’) lenses… they actually think… an amazing concept…

        2. David Greenwald

          In fact, the rhetoric of color blindness has been used as a barrier to block further reform efforts and address the fundamental underlying problems.  It also ignores the fact that many of the problems and inequities are now institutionalize and therefore the product of past decisions, not conscious current ones.  That’s why understanding things like unconscious bias and institutional racism might be more important than individual attitudes.

        3. Howard P

          The rhetoric of unconscious bias has been used to instill guilt feelings in, and/or label those who are innocent of racism. As such, it can serve as a barrier to discussing/resolving real problems with racial attitudes.

          If unconscious bias is not an individual attitude, what is it?  ‘Original sin’?  One that only “whites” have?  Is it unconscious bias to attribute it (UB) to everyone?

          Institutional racism, to the extent it still exists, indeed needs to be irradicated. It has been chipped away at, quite well, over the last 50-60 years, but still exists.  Granted.

        4. David Greenwald

          First, you are in error to call it “rhetoric” – it is based in both psychological and cognitive research. (I find it curious how defensive you are about your own fields of expertise and how dismissive you are of other fields).

          Second, it aims to explain how conduct which is not consciously motivated by racial animus can never the less be discriminatory.

          Finally, the idea that institutions have been set up  over time to reinforce the privilege is not a new one but also one that lends a lot of prescience in current society.

        5. Howard P

          I guess folk need their own ‘religious’ beliefs, then try to justify them by ‘sciences’ that are unproven… if you can show me that there is “proof” and/or DNA showing ‘unconscious bias’, will readily reconsider…

          Until then, it is akin to a “philosopher’s stone” … I’m skeptical…

          Yes, I believe that ‘unconscious bias’ is a “social science” theory (or a bias), not universally held… nor substantiated.

          Feel free to cite real documentation of its (UB) existence.

          I find it curious that you defend concepts that have less ‘proof’ than you seem to demand in legal cases…

           

           

          1. Don Shor

            The first discussion and evidence I saw about unconscious bias had to do with gender, not race: teachers calling on the more outgoing boys more than girls, teachers giving positive feedback to boys about math and science and not to girls. There are many ways to show this with respect to gender, so I see little reason to think it isn’t occurring with respect to race, ethnicity, and myriad other characteristics.
            Here’s one report on the gender issue, of any number that I could link:
            http://www.npr.org/2015/09/01/436525758/how-teachers-unconscious-bias-play-into-the-hands-ofgender-disparity

        6. David Greenwald

          Again, you’re being awfully dismissive considering you’ve basically admitted having not read the research.

          This is a good overview of the state of the research: https://diversity.ucsf.edu/resources/state-science-unconscious-bias

          Here is an article in the APA on unconscious bias and policing: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/12/cover-policing.aspx – “Police departments are eager for ways to reduce racial disparities—and psychological research is beginning to find answers”

          Here’s an article on implicit bias training and 21st Century Policing from the Obama administration: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/commentary/sd-utbg-police-bias-1006-story.html

          That’s a good start.  I’m sure in five minutes you’ll have a response dismissive of volumes of research it would take you weeks or months to properly digest.

           

           

        7. Eric Gelber

          Yes, I believe that ‘unconscious bias’ is a “social science” theory (or a bias), not universally held… nor substantiated.

          Howard – This is basic Psych 101 stuff and has been since I  took my first undergraduate psychology courses in the ’60s. Early, controlled studies showed, for example, that teacher expectations are higher for white students than for blacks or Latinos

          “Universally held” is not the criterion for judging the validity of a theory; but there are, in fact, myriad experimental studies and meta studies on this topic, if you really cared about facts, rather than what you “believe.”

        8. Howard P

          And, based on your 6:20 P (yesterday post) the

          it is based in both psychological and cognitive research.

          were free of conscious (or otherwise) biases both by the researchers and their peer reviewers?

          Indisputable facts?

          Some have biases to find biases , and in failing to do so, go to the argument that “they are there, but you can’t see them, due to you biases”… a rabbit hole.

           

  11. Howard P

    There is a famous tale of an old man sitting at a cross-roads with a village in one direction… as I recall,

    A traveller came to the cross-roads, and asked the old man, “what are the people like in the next village?”  The old man asked “what were the people like where you come from?”  In reply, “they were mean, miserly, and vindictive”.  The old man said, “you will discover the folk in that village are the same”.  The traveller hung their head, and took the other fork.

    Another traveller came to the cross-roads, and asked the old man the same question, and the question came back the same.  The second traveller replied, “they were welcoming, generous, and supportive”.  The old man said, “you will discover the folk in that village are the same”.  The traveller headed to the village.

    Was the old man wise, or a fool?

     

  12. Claire Benoit

    My kids and I lived in Davis several years and didn’t really experience racism… I’m sure there were a few incidents where our blackness was noted but not attacked…

    I do think some Davis people can be elitists and education snobs BUT usually have a great deal of redeeming qualities. It’s a nice community.

    I DO feel like Woodland is extremely racist and just an overall hillbilly haven. I suspect some of the visitors spouting slurs have ventured from that side of town… I also suspect a lot of officers may live there. 🤷🏻‍♀️

  13. Claire Benoit

    The unconscious bias is very real everywhere in America. I saw it most with my son when he went through a hitting phase as a toddler – a lot of kids do. But as a black boy, with a single mother no less, I sometimes saw very exaggerated reactions from Lillian White moms (lol) who were innocent enough but oblivious to how their repressed prejudices were dramatizing their perceptions.

    And once, a white Davis mother complimented me on being “articulate”… I’m a college dropout and a mediocre verbal communicator at best. It was clear she was actually saying I was “articulate (for a person of color)”

      1. Howard P

        Or, can only “Lillian White moms” or “white Davis mothers” be capable of ‘unconscious bias’ if it actually exists…

        And yes, I am biased against folk who put labels on others, but am very conscious of that bias

  14. Claire Benoit

    Howard I am American so I am well aware that I have biases like the rest.  I mostly disagree with the author that Davis is racist. But I have experienced bias; I think it exists in every part of America; how could it not with our history? And truly bias exists everywhere; its human nature to be more empathetic toward those we can easily identify with.

    so it’s true that white moms, and married moms – are inclined to be hypercritical of colored moms and single moms. Every imperfection in our child; no matter how normal or trite is related to our (the single mother or the non-white mother) perceived failure or inferiority as a woman. And one need look no further than the hypervigilance of cops fearing for their lives to know that brown boys “scare” a lot of Americans effortlessly.

    I consider myself to be pretty sensitive to others and I’ve gotten that impression plenty of times.

    The lady at the park in Davis; beautiful and friendly, meant no harm by her remark and none was taken. But it was awkward nonetheless. She was more articulate than me and I’m certainly not a standout in the very educated town of Davis. 😜

    And I say woodland is a hillbilly haven because it is. Woodland is a hillbilly haven. 🤣. But hillbillies have their charms like everyone else – except when they are jerks.

    1. Alan Miller

      I’m certainly not a standout in the very educated town of Davis.

      CB, you certainly show more ‘real intelligence’ than most of the people who post here, not to mention a sense of humor.  The value of Edumacational Intellegence is overblown, most especially in an overly edumacated place.

      And yes, I just insulted everyone (else) here.  Deal with it.

  15. David Greenwald

    Howard – ran into this as I was reading this morning…

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/06/07/public-defenders-can-be-biased-too-and-it-hurts-their-non-white-clients/?utm_term=.396c0e7a98fc

    Jeff Adachi is the public defender in San Francisco.  I consider him a friend and also one of the people I admire more than most.  This guy is a great lawyer and a great finder for accused and people of color.

    He is also a brave man who puts his money where his mouth is. He took the Harvard implicit bias test, which demonstrated that he has unconscious prejudices against African Americans. He admits the same is probably true for the lawyers who work for him, as it is for most attorneys, and it might impact the way they represent black defendants.

    So he is taking steps to minimize it.  The truth is we all have these biases.  Even those  who have spent their professional careers fighting for justice.

    1. Howard P

      Respectfully, disagree… that we all have biases, that is a true fact… but I know what mine are… very conscious. It’s this ‘unconscious/subconscious’ thing I have real problems with… and I am very conscious about why I have problems with it…

      I’d say that those who have spent their careers ‘fighting of justice’ have strong biases… which is not bad… if they are aware of those biases…

      Will look up the Harvard implicit bias test… do you have a link, or should I just ‘google it’?

      “Implicit” is not equal to “unconscious” which is not equal to “subconscious”… I am conscious about the nuances of words.

        1. David Greenwald

          I’ve read enough research on how people process information and done some work myself to understand people are generally not aware of their cognitive biases that serve as heuristic shortcuts.

  16. Cindy Pickett

    Where I see unconscious racial bias the most in Davis is when well-intended neighbors share information about “suspicious activity” in the neighborhood. Turns out that what makes you suspicious in Davis is having dark skin!

    In my experience, if you are a POC and look like you belong here — well dressed, carrying a coop bag — you may experience relatively little racism. But the combination of being a non-resident and a POC seems to lead to a very different reaction.

    1. Howard P

      Wow… you’ve experienced what you’ve experienced… to me, that’s valid…

      I however have not experienced what you describe… perhaps I’m just clueless… the only suspicious activities I’ve encountered, I’ve identified as just that, and then think about height, general description (non-racial), vehicle, oh yeah, at the end of the day, I note apparent ethnicity… almost as an afterthought, when I know I ‘need’ to report an incident… guess I’m just weird.

      Race/ethnicity has never been a major factor for me, except the few times I was attacked, physically or verbally, because of my ethnicity… then, yeah, the racial thing kinda’ became a significant factor… but it was definitely not ‘subconscious/unconscious’… VERY conscious…

       

      1. Cindy Pickett

        David – My comment was focused on when I see implicit bias — i.e., when people really do not think they are being biased at all.  I have experienced explicit racism here in Davis– being called “ignorant” at a city council meeting — but the woman was clearly angry and trying to insult me.

        1. Alan Miller

          I have experienced explicit racism here in Davis– being called “ignorant” at a city council meeting

          That’s certainly a possible cause, but is it possible the woman would have called you “ignorant” if you had light skin?  (I’m assuming you don’t from your comment).  How do you know?  I mean like yesterday I was bicycling through a majority black neighborhood in Oakland.  A young black man was coming at me riding on the left,  right at me.  I adjusted center, and he swerved up onto a speed-bump perpendicular to me and I had to take major defensive action to avoid hitting him and crashing.  He then flipped back the other way and continue biking on the left side of the road.  

          A few minutes later I was waiting at an intersection legally and a car passed and the door on the passenger side flew open in front of me, the passenger leaned out back over the door and yelled, “Get the F— out of the way!”.  While there was no racial epithet shouted in either incident, I “felt” pretty strongly that I wouldn’t have been treated this way if I was black and did the same thing (biking legally doing nothing out-of-the-ordinary) in both cases.  I “felt” like I wasn’t particularly welcome.  [And if you’re thinking, “now you have some idea what it’s like to be black in a white neighborhood” that is valid, and I’m sure it is worse in some ways.]

          But my point is, though I “felt” I would’ve been treated differently if I was black, in neither case was I sure.  The first guy couldn’t just been high on something. The second guy could’ve just hated bikes having rights on the road — plenty of white people like that too.  Had he added “Whitey!” to the end of his sentence I would have been convinced, but he didn’t, so I don’t know if there was bias involved, not for sure.

          So, in the case of someone calling someone ignorant . . . are you really sure of the bias?

  17. Tia Will

    not equate another group of people, sometimes differentiated by their lighter overall skin hue, with their affinity to a certain dark green leafy vegetable”

    This reminded me of a political kerfuffle that occurred surrounding the “elitism” of Barack Obama when he made a spontaneous comment about the high cost of arugula. There was much commentary about the choice of “arugula” as though his fondness for this articular vegetable was in some way remarkable. At the time, I remember wondering if the same reaction would have occurred if it had been a comment of one of the Bushes. Was it “elitist” because of the vegetable chosen, or because of the color of the skin of the man who chose it as his example ?

     

  18. Tia Will

    and then think about height, general description (non-racial), vehicle, oh yeah, at the end of the day, I note apparent ethnicity”

    When you say “I note” you are talking about what has already moved into your conscious awareness, not about what is in your subconscious. There are things that human beings universally perceive immediately without conscious processing. They include relative age ( child vs adult), gender ( on a traditional male/female model), and race. Humans are immediately able to make these distinctions and will be in almost universal agreement given environmental conditions that allow them to discern the person in question clearly. This is just how we are wired. We do not have to think about it at all, but we are aware.

    To deny this is essentially to deny that humans have subconscious processing abilities. I would say that the science as has been put forward in articles already linked by David and Robert is clear on the existence of subconscious processing.

  19. Ron

    Tia:  “There was much commentary about the choice of “arugula” as though his fondness for this articular vegetable was in some way remarkable. At the time, I remember wondering if the same reaction would have occurred if it had been a comment of one of the Bushes.”

    I’m guessing that there would have been an even stronger reaction, if “W.” actually knew what arugula is (much less how to pronounce it).  (For that matter, I’m not entirely sure, either.)

  20. Claire Benoit

    There are some white people who consciously denounce their biases and deliberately develop habits that allow them to live as truly “colorblind” until there’s a noble cause that necessitates them seeing color. I adore these sort of people; earth angels. They are rare.

    I have met a lot more “colorblind” people who underestimate their darker counterparts and are more generous with pity and charity than they are with earnest encouragement and brotherhood. In the same bag are those who believe themselves to be bigots, rednecks, “hillbillies” – they use harsh language and can be mistaken for the worst… but will be quick to offer the “n*****” a job, a seat at their family’s table for dinner, and the opportunity to tthemselves to grow  beyond the prejudices they’ve never denied… given time, they often do! I know this to be a fact. Compassion, patience, and understanding goes a long way in every direction.

    Thank you Alan although you’ll probably never see this. I believe a sense of humor is a huge indication of intelligence and I also know that being intelligent and being educated aren’t the same thing. (Although they do compliment each other nicely). Some of the most educated people I’ve ever met didn’t understand the difference.

    1. Alan Miller

      Thank you Alan although you’ll probably never see this.

      I saw it 🙂

      I grew up being taught not to be “prejudiced”.  It wasn’t until I recognized and admitted prejudice in myself and consciously challenged my own inner discomfort . . .

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