Special Commentary: The Role of White America in Ending Racism


racismEmerging out of the Ferguson, Missouri, situation has been a community discussion, not just of policing and the militarization of police, but also once again a necessary discussion of racism. Unfortunately, most efforts to discuss racism have seen a debate among those who wish to deny that racism continues to be a struggle in society, with an effort by some to focus either on black on white racism or black on black violence.

However, this column will focus on two interesting discussions of race, as well as some appalling statistics that should demonstrate the continued problem within society.

Recently, I encountered a local group calling themselves Whites Uniting for Racial Justice. They describe themselves as “a group of white people in the Davis community who joined together because of our shared interest in opposing racism in ourselves and in our community.”

In their literature they explain: “We recognize that white people play a key role in the perpetuation of racism and are also capable of becoming a more consistent and powerful force in ending racism in all of its manifestations. We want all white people to take responsibility for facing racism and to act more decisively to oppose it. We gladly take up the challenge to welcome, educate and move more white people toward the goal of ending racism.”

Last week, I read a fascinating op-ed by Gilda Ochoa, a professor of sociology and Chicana-Latino studies at Pomona College.

“Much has been made about recent Census reports highlighting the fact that white students are no longer the numeric majority in U.S. public schools. Awareness of these changes is important, but statistics on students’ racial demographics tell only part of the story,” she writes.

Southern California high schools present an interesting case study where the students are overwhelmingly people of color (80%-plus) while the teachers are overwhelmingly white.

Even in this context, Professor Ochoa writes, “whiteness still dominates.” Most of the educators are white. Three-quarters of the administrators and half of the teachers are white compared to more than 90 percent of the students who are of color.

She notes, “While race alone does not determine perspective, this racial gap between educators and students is glaring. It is a reflection of educational barriers, historical differences and varied immigration patterns. This gap also hinders students’ access to racially diverse role models and approaches.”

At the same time she notes, “Despite the prevalence of white educators, their racial backgrounds were basically ignored during the interviews. Many spoke openly, comfortably and with great detail about their perceptions of Asian Americans and Latinas/os, but they were suddenly silent when asked about their own racial identities.”

She adds, “Several even confessed that they never thought about the significance of their backgrounds. This was especially the case for older white teachers and administrators raised in predominantly white communities.”

She continued, “Some even got defensive; they turned off the tape recorder, looked confused or emphasized how they are just ‘American.’ Some have been taught to think about race only in relationship to people of color and not in relationship to themselves.”

“Whiteness is the assumed norm, and at SCHS Asian Americans and Latinas/os are marked as different,” she argues. “Not acknowledging their racialized backgrounds makes it easier for white educators to ignore their racial privileges and the legacy of racism in the U.S.”

This is an important backdrop from the reality that comes out Ferguson. CNN Money presented ten days ago five very disturbing statistics that illustrate the extent of black-white inequality.

They report, “A typical black household has accumulated less than one-tenth of the wealth of a typical white one. And it’s only getting worse. Over the past 25 years, the wealth gap between blacks and whites has nearly tripled, according to research by Brandeis University.”

The median household wealth for whites is about $91,405 while the median household wealth for blacks is only $6,446.

72.9 percent of whites own their own home while only 43.5% of blacks do.

Moreover, they report, “Blacks also typically have lower incomes than whites, which also makes it harder for them to save and build wealth. The median income for black households is less than 60% that of white ones.”

Median income for whites is $59,754 while it remains only $35,416 for blacks.

The jobless rates is also twice that of whites. Whites are unemployed at a current rate of 5.3% while blacks are unemployed at a staggering 11.4%.

Finally, “All of these factors combine to push many blacks into poverty. America’s 15% poverty rate masks the underlying racial differences. More than one in four blacks live in poverty, while fewer than one in 10 whites do.”

The poverty rate for whites is less than 10% (at 9.7%) while it is at 27.2% for blacks. That means it is not only nearly triple the rate of whites, but it means more than one in every four black families are in poverty while less than one in every ten whites are in poverty.

The political divide in this country explains these statistics in different ways, as one portion of America sees this as a natural outcome resulting from years of racially discriminatory policies beginning with slavery and continuing through segregation.

Others will put the blame more inwardly, arguing that the decline of black families and criminality lie at the heart of the continued gap.

The reality is probably somewhere in the middle, where the legacy of racism and slavery probably contributed to the latter. The question from a policy standpoint has to be whether there is a general belief that the situation can resolve itself – while the gap remains, there have been slow but steady improvements in terms of education and income over the years within the black community.

However, there is little doubt that the problem remains and every so often we see the problem explode. Last year, it was the shooting of Trayvon Martin and discussions of racial profiling. This year, we see it in the economic situation in Ferguson which mirrors the national picture, with poverty, unemployment and low income pervasive among its black residents.

Rioting can be seen as an irrational and ultimately destructive and counter-productive response to the conditions of the community, but it is a manifestation of years of pent up frustration.

The question is whether this nation can ever get beyond this black-white divide. To do so, everyone will have to honestly assess their role and work together on a way forward.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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52 thoughts on “Special Commentary: The Role of White America in Ending Racism”

  1. Frankly

    She continued, “Some even got defensive; they turned off the tape recorder, looked confused or emphasized how they are just ‘American.’ Some have been taught to think about race only in relationship to people of color and not in relationship to themselves.”

    “Whiteness is the assumed norm, and at SCHS Asian Americans and Latinas/os are marked as different,” she argues. “Not acknowledging their racialized backgrounds makes it easier for white educators to ignore their racial privileges and the legacy of racism in the U.S.”

    These two statements scream in identification of the remaining problems of racism. And there is breathtaking stupidity for failing to recognize the pure cognitive dissonance on display.

    So, the white people interviewed were uncomfortable discussing their racial heritage and just thought of themselves as “American”… and this is the problem because they can ignore their privileges? What hogwash.

    This is just the standard BS from those afflicted with destructive obsession over race… and unable to let go of their perceived identity of being a champion of race-based social cause. It is these people that are the last impediment to greater racial equality in a post civil-rights era. Racial bias is the problem with racism and racial bias is the same as ignorance. And it is the ignorance of the racial social justice crusaders that we must deal with now.

    The truth has nothing to do with legacy because we are not living in history. We are living in the present and should be focused on the future. With respect to race, there is absolutely nothing worth discussing related to the past and the present except to agree that tremendous progress has been made… to the point that we need to change our paradigms about race. And we also need to change our leadership with respect to race. This is not longer a civil rights problem… is is an economic one. And the people that continue to shout the loudest and demand to be heard about the problems with racism, are generally the least understanding and are the least capable to help on the economic front.

    Getting back to the two statements above we will discover the truth for what continues to plague the advancement of some races in this country. It is the prominence of focus on promoting separate cultural identification as a remedy to the challenge of individual self confidence and integration. This focus should be secondary or tertiary.

    When we have these studies and all racial groups explain they are American first and foremost… we will know we have achieved an end to racism in this country.

    1. Chicolini

      Frankly, you state the following:”The truth has nothing to do with legacy because we are not living in history. We are living in the present and should be focused on the future.”

      We have all have a genetic code that records a biological past, a family tree that records births and deaths of relatives, possibly photo albums that depict pictures of our past lives, documents that record our financial past, and memories that are intertwined with our present moments and future plans. Without the past there is no present, and a very uncertain future. If you really only live in the present moment then you have to figure out how to dress, walk, eat, and so forth continuously. Seems unlikely.

      Regarding race and the wish to move on toward a unifying American identity, I must ask the specific America to which you are referring. Is it South America, North America, or U.S.A. Irish, Native, Mexican, African, Asian, and a multitude of other “Americans” are all part of the history of U.S.A. Also, the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence are historical documents that are living and pertinent documents because we have not forsaken our historical past and are able to call upon them as we grow as a nation and address injustices with fair and reasonable amendments. Specifically, California history is filled with struggles and accounts that involve race, labor, land, and power. Let’s not forget where we came from, or we might not realize where we are, and how to go forward with best practices for all concerned.

      1. Frankly

        USA. Move here and you should be focused on how to become a good American despite your racial heritage.

        You cannot have it both ways. You can not demand to be accepted as different because of your racial heritage and then demand to be treated the same. Well… you can, but then you would be responsible for your own inability to be satisfied with either.

        Our past is only a reference, it is not a reason.

        1. wdf1

          Frankly: USA. Move here and you should be focused on how to become a good American despite your racial heritage.

          When I hear this coming from American monolinguals, then it is usually accompanied by a patronizing comment along the lines of, “…and learn English, damnit! You’re in America now!” Our education policy tends to be geared around this kind of thinking. The “achievement gap” includes ELL students. ELL students are generally discouraged from learning much of anything in their native language, because that would just feed and worsen the “achievement gap,” and make standardized test scores look worse for the school and the district.

          But when you participate in the Spanish Immersion program in Davis, then a different framework is in play. “Wow! My kids are going to be bilingual!” Parents are warned that standardized test scores in English Language Arts (ELA) will lag behind for a few grades, but by junior high, those scores will be on par or ahead of their peers. It’s a polite way of saying that test scores will mirror an achievement gap phenomenon, but we’re not going to call it an achievement gap.

          I just got through listening to a radio piece on education in America today, and various ideas being tried out. One of them was about bilingual education programs. They, too, pointed out that ELA outcomes lag in the early grades, but catch up and significantly improve in later grades. But an additional improved outcome of bilingual education is improved executive functioning. Deciding which language to speak and when is an executive function, and the exercise of doing that improves overall executive functioning in other ways.
          Why can’t this aspect be better developed in ELL students?

          Here’s the link, the episode is called “The Science of Smart.” Unfortunately, the audio archive isn’t yet posted.

          1. Frankly

            English is the language of business. And it is the predominant language in this country. This is a fine example of my point. Those social justice crusaders owning their race-tinted glasses demand acceptance of language differences at the expense of lower economic success for those less able to communicate in English.

            Remember the ebonics debate?

          2. Don Shor

            English is the language of business.

            Depends on the business.

            And it is the predominant language in this country.

            Depends on where you are.

            … demand acceptance of language differences at the expense of lower economic success for those less able to communicate in English.

            I’m not sure you even read the comment by wdf that you’re replying to. Being bilingual can make you more competitive in this country, not less.

          3. Frankly

            English is the language of business. Just go to Dubai and ask around.

            Bilingual is fine. Just make sure that your primary language is English if you live here. Otherwise you will be at economic disadvantage in this country.

          4. Don Shor

            If you’re going into international finance, English is the language of business. If you’re going into telecommunications in much of the United States, it would be very wise to be at least bilingual.
            wdf illustrated some advantages of Spanish immersion.

          5. wdf1

            Frankly: Don said much of what I would have said.

            I don’t know any non-English immigrant to the U.S. who doesn’t want to learn English better. My point is about being bilingual and how we incorporate that (or don’t) in American education. But if they’re poor and lesser educated, then we do make the point of emphasizing that they are deficient in English rather than having the opportunity to become bilingual. There are ways in which we could take advantage of that bilingualism, but it seems that’s an idea lost on you.

            The radio program I highlighted discussed in depth a bilingual program in Utah that had a Chinese Immersion program. Utah is a state that you like to tout for their educational outcomes. Utah is also a state with a lot of bilingual education students on account of the Mormon tradition of sending missionaries all over the world to spread their good news.

            Remember the ebonics debate?

            Yes. What’s your point?

          6. TrueBlueDevil

            Don, in 20 years of being friends with a CEO of a small telcom business, he has never once mentioned the advantage of being bilingual in his industry.

            I have friends in construction who all speak at least a little Spanish (many moderate fluency), but the lead tradesmen usually are quite fluent in English.

            The theory or idea of increased executive functioning sounds nice, I wish I was bi or tri-lingual (I am assuming my ebonics comprehension doesn’t count); but my fear is that this is another academic debate or discussion that detracts from the central mission and greater English fluency. More experimenting.

          7. Don Shor

            Don, in 20 years of being friends with a CEO of a small telcom business, he has never once mentioned the advantage of being bilingual in his industry.

            Maybe that’s why it’s still a small telecom business, instead of, say, Telemundo.

          8. tribeUSA

            Yes, I agree that gaining fluency in both Spanish and English is laudable and practical (and even necessary nowadays) in many businesses.

            However, it is important to maintain English as the common language of the United States; i.e. its fine to learn another language; but be sure to make it a priority to become fluent in English. The author of the Special Commentary essay brings up history a lot–another lesson of history is that most nations in which two or more languages are common, and in which there is not a single language that is spoken by nearly everyone, tend to become balkanized and things get very ugly. The melting pot model of assimilation has many historical examples of success (not only the USA); whereas policies akin to ‘multiculturalism’ nearly invariably lead to identity politics, separation, balkanization, and disaster (particularly when economic times get tough).

          9. BrianRiley429


            What are you aiming at here? There are no signs of English losing its status as the main language in the US and there is no reason to worry about that happening.

            There’s nothing about the idea of *adding* languages to a society (along with the people) that necessarily entails the idea of the already predominant language losing its status as the general language.

          10. tribeUSA

            BrianRiley–but there are many jobs in Hispanic neighborhoods where knowledge of Spanish is a requirement, and knowledge of English is not (or where bilingual language skills are required), and there are many such Hispanic heighborhoods, some of which are quite large. I’m not aware of any public schools in the USA that do not require teaching of English proficiency; but certainly it is possible for home-schooling to be conducted in Spanish; a temptation for parents whose English is weak but might prefer to home school their child.

            I’m not worried about English losing its status as main USA language into the forseeable future; but rather the growth of large enclaves where fluent knowledge of English is not generally widespread and where inter-personal transactions as well as local business transactions are conducted in Spanish; and separation of such enclaves into more separated cultural and political interest groups.

          11. wdf1

            The radio show makes the (politically) conservative argument for bilingual education — to make the business deals in foreign countries.

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      I’m sorry, I don’t find the “insights” of Ms. Gilda Ochoa interesting, it sounds like more pandering to the liberal tenants of racism and sexism as all encompassing entities.

      However, if we were to agree with her liberal pablum, then by extension we must conclude that these teachers – who are often female and liberal (progressive) – are racist, right? But I am sure Gilda Ochoa didn’t expect that logical conclusion. (But what are the odds she is a member of a ethnic identity group many consider racist: La Raza?)

      It seems like individuals who get wrapped up in these discussions really have the goal of pinning blame on the white man, or rolling in white guilt, than in true introspection or understanding. I don’t think they really know the black community well, and when presented with new information, then are unable to put it into the larger whole, or unable to pinpoint contradictions or explanations that aren’t related to race or racism, though there are hundreds or thousands of reasons why an individual or society act a certain way, completely unrelated to race.

      There is a significant cohort of African Americans who are in the upper income, including thousands of millionaires, and even billionaires. Then there is a massive black middle class. So at the end of the day what David is writing about here is the black “lower class”, which have some very visible and persistent problems that seem wholly unrelated to race.

      I think a more provable position is that the War on Poverty, i.e. government, has destroyed millions of black families.

  2. Don Shor

    This was rather confusing without any reference to the actual op-ed itself. And without knowing what the questions were, it is hard to assess whether the participants were reasonable in their ‘confusion’ or ‘defensiveness’.

    Here’s Dr. Ochoa’s op-ed: http://www.dailynews.com/opinion/20140820/the-invisible-quality-of-whiteness-in-our-schools-guest-commentary
    SCHS is not a school, it stands for “Southern California high school.” I guess she didn’t want to identify it.

  3. Tia Will


    “USA. Move here and you should be focused on how to become a good American despite your racial heritage.”

    And how do you address the fact that you and I have very different concepts of what it means to be a “good American.”

    If such different definitions of “good American” can come from individuals with superficially similar backgrounds
    ( Caucasian, poor to affluent economic backgrounds, both raised in conservative households, both having become
    affluent largely through our own efforts assuming you have not had a large inheritance, as I have not) then just imagine how that definition of “good American” might vary as seen through the lens of a person of different race, or religion, or language ( some of which do not even have words for things that are part of our common vernacular).

    You frequently state that there will always be tribalism. I believe that tribalism has both beneficial and adverse consequence regardless of how we choose to subdivide it. Some common subdivisions of tribalism are : religion, nationalism, racism, political ideology…..you and I could probably go on all morning listing the kinds of schisms into which humans chose to subdivide themselves. To take any one of these and to claim it is not a problem, because it is not a problem for us in our own life, is to ignore the experiences of others. I agree that as a white male living in Davis, racism is “de minims” to you. Perhaps you might feel differently if you were a black male living in South Central or parts of New York where “stop and frisk” applies.

    My version of being a “good American” includes leading the way in minimizing our tribalism, whether we call it race or religion or national pride by treating all individuals the same. I would blind those that make the decisions in the education system, in the courts, in business to the “tribe” from which an individual comes as much as is physically possible. I have given the example of blinded orchestra leaders selecting new musicians without the ability to determine the artists gender or race. We are quite an innovative and bright group. We could institute such measures in much of the rest of society if we chose to. I believe that we do not largely because we feel safe and comfortable in our own tribalism however we happen to define “us”. And I think it is important to remember that when we are
    defining a group as “us” we are also defining another group as “the other”. That is only one short step from deciding that “they” are not as good as “us” and then making up stories to justify our conclusion.

    1. Frankly

      Tia – there is plenty of room to be recognized as a good American within the gaps between our two worldviews… except for your matriarchal stance that we need to go so far to embrace and accept certain behavior that is obviously and ultimately destructive.

      My wife and I have had this debate from the day our two children where born. Her natural nurturing tendency had it’s place when the kids were young, but would be destructive to their development into functioning adults had she dominated the development approach. She struggles with the tough love thing but knows it is necessary.

      Look at the US military. That organization is completely integrated with people from all races. My son is a soldier and stationed in Texas. He has a group of friends in the Amy that cover every race. Included in this are some white southerners that from time too time make comments about people of other races that would make the average Davis liberal demand prosecution for hate crime. Yet these young men and women get along fine. They would protect and support each other in need.

      The big difference is that the US military is a patriarchy by design. It is the epitome of tough love. It demands the “good American” behavior above all else.

      Frankly, I think our inner city education system should be run by the US military. How would that set with your more nurturing tendencies? I am guessing not well… even if it would save many inner city youth from a crappy future.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Liberal Jerry Brown set up a military school in Oakland. I read several articles about it years ago, and even the liberal teachers LOVED the discipline and male role models. I’m not sure if it is still intact, or if it has had good results.

    2. tribeUSA

      Re: Tia: common subdivisions of tribalism are : religion, nationalism, racism, political ideology…..

      I take exception to inclusion of the ‘racism’ subdivision, and suggest that ‘culturalism’ is a more prevalent and accurate description of a tribal subdivision characteristic. Historical and anthropological data support that most tribes have on occassion adopted and welcomed strangers of a different race into their tribe–with the implicit requirement that upon joining the tribe, this stranger will adopt the culture and practices of the tribe; how can he be a tribe member otherwise? In our history as a species, cultural differences have been much more important than racial differences as a source of human conflict.

      Re: “My version of being a “good American” includes leading the way in minimizing our tribalism, whether we call it race or religion or national pride by treating all individuals the same.”
      I think you are well-meaning here, but am not sure ‘minimizing our tribalism’ is either desirable or achievable–it is part of what defines us as human beings; running very deep in our DNA as a characteristic of survival on planet earth–I think people confuse tribalism and racism. I’d like to re-iterate that the need for tribal identity runs much more deeply and at the same time is much more flexible than is racial identity; i.e. most humans have the capacity to easily redefine their tribal identity; for example to include people of other races (if they have not already done so!) or to switch political party allegiances from the blue to red tribe and back again, etc.

      1. Frankly

        This is well written and spot on. I would add that it appears humans crave tribalism. If made to assimilate into the collective and then later allowed to freely associate, they will filter into tribes of some type. This is why the design of our country is brilliant and successful… it allows the freedom to form into and associate with various tribes… but within a binding set of values and principles… including a common language.

      2. Tia Will


        ” ‘minimizing our tribalism’ is either desirable or achievable–it is part of what defines us as human beings; running very deep in our DNA as a characteristic of survival on planet earth”

        I agree with you that “tribalism” was characteristic that allowed us to survive in the past. I believe that this was very useful before we gained the technological capabilities of mass self destruction. But we also have very deeply embedded in our DNA the ability to reason. I believe that it is time for us to choose to move beyond tribalism which is now doing virtually nothing positive for us and is a massively destructive force in the world. Frankly is thoroughly wedded to his “paternalism ” is superior to “maternalism” model. I believe that this is because his basic default is to a “might makes right” model. However, prior to the settlers coming and imposing their vision, there were “maternalistic ” societies in the American Southwest in which people lived peacefully and prospered. There are small religious groups today that abhor violence. The fact that these groups exist is living proof that it can be done. This is a choice that human beings choose to make to enhance their own power or to force their ways upon others. I do not deny that is is the dominant model today. But it is not inevitable. I stress, it is a choice. It is a choice that we do not have to make.

        1. tribeUSA

          Tia: Re: ” I believe that it is time for us to choose to move beyond tribalism which is now doing virtually nothing positive for us and is a massively destructive force in the world.”

          Ah yes, the media, including the ones appealing to highbrows and sophisticates such as the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, etc. has successfully portrayed tribalist tendencies as a negative force in the world.
          For example; the source of racial tension in the USA is portrayed mainly in terms of racial tribalism; note the subtext however is the support given to self-identification by race as defined genetically by skin color and ancestory by both the media and politicos; and successful framing of the tension as not cultural based (one can adapt to other cultures), but racially based (one cannot change ones race).
          Similarly, the wars in the middle east over the past few decades are framed in terms of tribes that are in continually warfare with each other due to their strong tribalism; when in fact it is western interests (finance/energy/corporate) that have initiated and been at the root of many of these conflicts, and have pitted these tribes against each other (lessons well-learned from the British empire legacy; whose successfully strategy of global dominance was largely due to divide and conquer strategies employed amongst neighboring tribes; to get them fighting each other thus enabling the British to step in and dominate).

          There is much more I could write about this.
          The interests of the leaders and elite in modern corporate states (quickly evolving into a single whole-world corporate empire) are in maximizing the productivity of the population. One way this can be achieved is by amping up the competition between individuals in a society–there is a natural level of competition between individuals; but this is being amped up beyond a point which is natural and comfortable to most–in order to get most people into such a hyper-competitive mode, society is being atomized into individuals who are all encouraged to put most of their energy into looking out for #1–by denigrating and demeaning traits associated with tribalism and associating such traits with negative attributes such as racism; they can succeed in atomizing people into worker drones with no loyalty to any particular culture or tribe; all the energy goes into looking out for #1 which is harnessed in the form of work longer and harder.

          I don’t know if I’ve explained very clearly, and there is much more to this, but it seems to me that people are being regimented and harnessed now to devote all their life energy into being increasingly more productive; through increasing competition, longer work hours, work surveillance and minute-by-minute productivity metrics, etc. By dissolving connections of community and inter-personal loyalty thru denigration of many such connections as a form of backwards tribalism; the modern corporate state extends their reach. And I would contend that any kind of united new world order that we may be evolving towards would be an absolute tyranny in which most people would be relegated to the role of techo-serfs with declining levels of material wealth, free time, free expression, community cohesion, and other qualities that make life worth living–even worse than the old times of tribalism; when indeed there were some intertribal conflicts.

          Furthermore I would contend that we can’t rid ourselves of the need for tribal belonging on a wish; it runs deep into our subconscious and sublimating this natural need leads to many other social neuroses. As I’ve hinted at in the paragraphs above; I would contend this is not even desirable; our tribal instincts might yet save the world from evolving into a corporate/financial feudal state where most are atomized techno-serfs (or economic units) with diminishing prospects for the future.

          1. Tia Will


            I think that you may have interpreted my position on “tribalism” too narrowly.
            I believe that dividing the world into any dichotomous groups serves the same purpose.
            Dividing it into the “47%” as a distinction from those of us “creators” is a form of tribalism since obviously those who actually have to work for a living, or this who do not have the means to do so are not as virtuous as those of us who are rich.
            Economic or class division is as much a form of tribalism as is racism or religion or the idea of cultural superiority.

            I see human rights as individual, not dependent upon any of our self imposed groups be it being a Christian or Muslim or Jew, or being American or French or Turkish. Once one has aligned oneself with a given group, one has automatically moved away from the individual as the bearer of both rights and responsibilities. For me racial identity, gender identity, patriotism, religion are all means to move away from the focus on the individual to some arbitrarily defined group of
            “us” vs “them” which is the basis for the arbitrary creation of “enemies”. I do not think that this is an insurmountable biologic barrier into which we are locked. I believe it is a choice. And I believe it is a poor one.

            As for the middle eastern conflicts, there would have been no schisms to take advantage off without the underlying tribalism. Neither than nor western opportunism should be ignored in looking at causation. The history of oppression of peoples far precedes the western ability to manipulate these regions for its own benefit.

  4. TrueBlueDevil

    If black men married black women, most of your statistics would be dramatically different.

    The black home ownership rate dwarfs those of citizens in many 1st-world countries!

    I’ve seen few people argue that racism doesn’t exist; but many argue that it is over emphasized, and that it is not a primary reason why Johnny drops of of school, doesn’t study, or any other statistically negative consequences.

  5. Don Shor

    A bit more about Dr. Ochoa’s work here, reviewing her book Academic Profiling: http://www.pomona.edu/news/2013/11/18-ochoa-academic-profiling.aspx
    A couple of things that stand out for me from that article:

    she illuminates that the gap—measured almost solely by performance on standardized testing—is due in large part to the divide that the system of placing students on academic tracks creates and reinforces. Honors, advanced placement and International Baccalaureate students are offered support of every kind, while the remaining students are left with what they started with—little to no support, limited access to tools and teaching that will help them succeed, and a system that polices them based on race and class.

    One of the remedies Ochoa prescribes is to look at students holistically, rather than make their educational careers begin and end with testing. “We don’t live in a meritocracy. We don’t always live in a democracy. We increasingly live in a testocracy,” Ochoa says. “One’s worth is based on how they perform on standardized tests. It’s all based on how they perform on exams.”

  6. Biddlin

    “If black men married black women, most of your statistics would be dramatically different.”


    You can’t argue with logic like that.

    Frankly, some predictable comments from the one of the usual sources. I’d just point out that while English may be the language of business, my proficiency in Spanish saves me mucho dinero and sometimes from physical harm, when dealing in guitars. Not to mention the “priceless” moment when my rubes realise I understood their nefarious mumblings. Its value to me in my voter registration efforts in Texas and Arizona should be obvious, and I’m sure will be in congressional and local elections in the next couple of years. Just an example, Don, i wouldn’t want to make this political.
    The fact we engage in this conversation is reason for hope. Small reason, but some.
    Happy Labour Day (Canuckistan, too!)

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Yes, it’s pretty simple, ain’t it? All the yammering abot household incomes and wealth gap would be dramatically altered if black men married black women. One toaster is cheaper than two; one rent bill is cheaper than two.

      It’s far easier to buy a home on two incomes instead of one, not to mention the support of two extended families, not one. (My understanding is that the home is still the number one investment of most families.)

      There are also economic and safety benefits to being married: you have a built in no-cost (kind of) baby sitter.

      It is also a fact that married men make more money than single men, so there is another economic bonus.

        1. South of Davis

          Don wrote:

          > This would sound less strange if you just said ‘if people got married’.

          Most (but not all) poor black kids have a black mom since most (but not all) super successful black guys marry white woman. My friends play a game when watching the super bowl winning team homecoming parade called “spot the black wife”, years ago when the 49ers came back to SF there was just Jerry Rice (with the white looking black lady he married “after” she had is first kid and has since divorced) and a few other guys. Most of the black members of the 49ers have white wives so do many successful conservative black men such as Ward Connerly and Clarence Thomas. Not that poor whites have a lot to brag about but the percentage of poor black guys that get poor black women pregnant and are not involved with the kids just boggles the mind.

          1. Frankly

            It is well known that marriage results in better economic circumstances unless it includes divorce.

            Maybe this should be a focus of those committed to improving racial equality.

          2. TrueBlueDevil

            Thank you. It is also well known that a large percentage of the children that grow up in poverty are raised in single-parent families.

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          The central thesis here seems to be that some African Americans continue to struggle primarily because of racism of various types. Said proponents usually aren’t this articulate, as they paint a broad brush of black troubles without even being able to pinpoint the several cohorts who do quite well in AmeriKKKa.

          Is this ignorance, pandering, or political expediency? Maybe all of the above.

          This has been a favorite topic of conversation (lecture) by liberals for decades. But they have to go to great lengths to try to prove the connections, with the end game often one of spoils, power, and influence.

          Larry Elders (formerly of KABC radio in LA) said that of the items affecting black Americans, racism was probably number 16 or 17.

          The issue is we aren’t talking about the struggles of Jewish-, Nigerian-, Korean-, Japanese-, or Ethiopian-Americans – all who have done very well as a group in America – we’re talking about a subset of one group that has forsaken marriage and traditional values, but somehow expects the same results as the former groups, who do embrace traditional values.

          If the Vanguard writes an article which claims “Poor people should get ahead by playing bingo”, I’ll address ‘poor people’ and the traditional ways numerous groups have succeeded in America, regardless or skin color.

          1. Tia Will


            “Maybe this should be a focus of those committed to improving racial equality.”

            Let us assume for the moment that focusing on whom marries whom would be a productive conversation. How would you suggest going about influencing this process. As a white man and woman in our society, what influence could we have ?

            I believe in changing what I can. So even if racism is number 16 or 17 on a list of factors, if it is the one that I have the ability to influence, then that is where I would best put my efforts. If that means that I teach my own children to function in the world without contributing to racism, if I call out even subtle racist behaviors in myself, my family, my friends, then I will be contributing in small, but real ways to decrease the impact of racism. As an individual who believes very strongly in “personal responsibility”, I believe that responsibility starts with each of us within ourselves. If we will not honestly examine what contribution we make and what we personally can change, how is that exercising “personal responsibility” ?

          2. TrueBlueDevil

            We previously had policies that encouraged marriage, and policies which discouraged irresponsible behavior.

            Just one example, I believe I heard years and years ago that we no longer require women to identify the father of a child. This logically can lead to the men getting off scott free, not having to “take care of their responsibility”, and encourages similar irresponsible behavior by both individuals, with society often footing the bill.

            I also recall years ago a Chicago public housing complex not allowing “overnight guests” as part of their policies, which led to 10 or 20 couples getting married in a very short period of time!

            You’re right, if I see racism or potential racism, I’ll say something or act.

            I also don’t think we should patronize any group, and I could easily argue that it was government policies that destroyed the traditional black family, something that even slavery could not accomplish.

  7. tribeUSA

    Talking about the role of racism in our society presents many conundrums:

    One the one hand, there is some actual racism exhibited by some people to various degrees in our society (though I would contend it is a moderate to serious attitude only by a very small percentage of the population of any race).

    On the other hand, when the issue is politicized, I would contend that the process of identity politics makes the problem of racism worse, not better; even though I’ve no doubt that many of those involved with civil rights have the best of intentions (but our naive about the damage and further divisions that identity politics creates). We are going to a point in our american society where identification of ourselves by our race is encouraged or required more than at any point in history; and yet rather schizophrenically at the same time we are asked to be color (race) blind. We do a disservice to our politicians and politicos by presenting them with the irresisitable temptation to practice wedge politics–no surer or easier recipe for success, as it is human nature for all human groups to want to blame the problems they are experiencing on other groups.

    So it is a conundrum; yes there is some racism; but in my view the narratives being deployed to discuss it and the way it is being handled by the press and politicos of our time are making things worse, not better.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Good points. Don’t forget, there’s is an election coming up, and Democrats would like to rally their base, so Furgeson is a perfect story to pounce on to invigorate the “black vote”, which votes overwhelmingly Democrat.

      Ironically, it was the party of Lincoln who first tried to pass civil rights legislation, but it was blocked by the Democrats.

      I saw a special on KQED where someone quotes Lyndon Johnson using a racial epithet in saying, “If we get civil rights passed, the [African Americans] will vote for our party for one hundred years.” I have yet to verify that citation.

  8. Tia Will


    I think that you have just presented a beautiful and times illustration of tribe USA’s point :

    “as it is human nature for all human groups to want to blame the problems they are experiencing on other groups.”

    You are quick to point out the actions of Democrats attempting to mobilize their base, but seem to lack awareness ( or at least willingness to discuss) identical actions by Republicans ( remember the 47% comment of Mitt Romney, or not so subtle attempts to make voting more difficult for groups perceived as likely Democratic voters).

    I see this tendency to point fingers, preferentially target as naive, or misguided, or uninformed or selfish or corrupt rather than deal with the actual issues facing us ( whether large or small in magnitude) as more obstructionist to moving forward than I do identity politics which is certainly not limited to one side or the other although it is being portrayed as though it were here.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Bingo! So both sides are guilty of playing political games to garner power and influence, and the discussion of race is simply a common tool employed by Democrats. This is unique in that African Americans vote overwhelmingly Democrat (over 95%?), so I don’t think they’ll ever give it up.

      I think liberal Democrats should be ecstatic, though, as Hillary Clinton will play the gender card, and will likely be the next president winning an overwhelming majority of the female vote, even with revelations that she joked about getting a child rapist off as a young attorney and her ignominious handling of Benghazi.

      Add in Amnesty from President Obama acting as our Monarch in Charge, which tangentially deals with issues of race, and conservatives may be banished from any real influence for 100 years.

      1. Davis Progressive

        “both sides are guilty of playing political games to garner power and influence”

        well of course, that’s how the political system works. however, that doesn’t mean there is no there here.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          The media and the Left love playing up race and lecturing us. Ironically, today I received an email noting that 5 police officers have been killed in the past 90 days, and four of them were killed by African American men. I have no way to verify that these were the only officers recently killed, but it is ironic that the media never makes an issue out of such occurrences.

          1. Tia Will

            And in addition to David’s point, if you believe that they might have been racially motivated, what were the races of the police officers who were killed ? Context truly matters.

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