Sunday Commentary: White Fragility Underlies the Debate over District Elections

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For years, I heard complaints from people of color, both seeing it on surveys and hearing it anecdotally – an African American football player who interned for the Vanguard several years ago once told me that he and his friends were stopped by police so often that after a while they simply stopped driving into town.

When we held the “Breaking the Silence of Racism” event in 2012, we had a huge outpouring of public comments, and one of the most notable was from parents of students of mixed race, who found themselves isolated and bullied at school.

There is also the longstanding and pervasive achievement gap at the school district.

When polled recently, the majority of respondents were “satisfied” with “openness and acceptance of the community towards people of diverse backgrounds.”  I was a bit surprised by that result, given the decade and a half of data we had assembled to the contrary.  But perhaps if people of color were polled, their numbers would be quite different than the ones here.

I was always struck by the debate and discussion from 2006 when my wife Cecilia, Jann Murray-Garcia and the Human Relations Commission proposed police oversight and were subjected to, at times, naked racism.

The letter to the Enterprise from the spring of 2006 suggested that they “move to Johannesburg, South Africa,” if they want to complain about racial incidents in Davis.

In 2017, 11 years later, attorney Mark Reichel received a voicemail for his efforts to defend a defendant in the Picnic Day case, in which the caller complained about “how ignorant these stupid (n-word) are.”

And yet, in between, over 80 percent of the community voted for Barack Obama… twice.  While a lot of President Obama’s legacy on race is undoubtedly clouded by the backlash his presidency seemed to generate, he really became the first president to articulate the problems of African Americans and that they face issues like racial profiling.

“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” the President put it in one of the more poignant moments of his presidency.

The debate over district elections in Davis has been interesting.  In a lot of ways, it has not been a driving issue in the community.  On Tuesday, there was not a huge number of people at the council meeting.  Two days later, there was basically no one for the school board meeting.   And yet, the issue has kind of dominated community discussion, and the city reports receiving more than 20 emails, Community Interest Forms, and online submittals.

A lot of people have argued that Davis should not fall under the CVRA (California Voting Rights Act) because it lacks, at least in their view, heavy concentrations of people of color – specifically Asians and Hispanics, the two largest protected class subgroups in Davis.  That still isn’t clear.

Personally, I have supported the concept of district elections on the grounds that it (A) lowers the barrier to entry, and (B) makes it more likely that some districts will have higher concentrations of people of color.

I think empowering groups that have been traditionally marginalized is a healthy approach for this community and will improve its governance.  By going to seven districts rather than five, we make it more likely to have disaffected groups who can serve on our council – and that includes not only people of color but also students and renters (there have been, despite some comments, a fair number of renters who have served on the council even over the last 15 years).

But I have also been concerned with some of the comments made on the Vanguard.  In fact, over the years, there has long been pushback on the issue of race.  For many years, I think people, at least white people, have really believed we are moving toward a color-blind society.

The problem with a color-blind approach, in my estimation, is that it blinds people to the legacy of white supremacy and the historical process that led to institutional racism.  In short, I do not believe we can solve the problem of race by ignoring racial differences, but rather by addressing them.

What we have seen over the last five years is the re-emergence of race as the defining issue in American politics.  Really, this was happening before Trump.  The whole push against police shootings and the focus on black victims was one trigger point.  And, ironically, the election of Barack Obama where a lot of people in November 2008 through March 2009 were believing that the election of Obama marked the end of a chapter in American history – the reaction of groups to his election and the ultimate backlash in 2016 with the election of Trump marked the opposite.

In April 2018, the NY Times, reporting on a study in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that Trump voters weren’t driven by economic anxiety but rather, “White, Christian and male voters, the study suggests, turned to Mr. Trump because they felt their status was at risk.”

Diana C. Mutz, the author of the study and a political science and communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “It’s not a threat to their own economic well-being; it’s a threat to their group’s dominance in our country over all.”

There was the PEW Research Poll from earlier this year that found, “Almost half of white Americans say the USA becoming a majority nonwhite nation would ‘weaken American customs and values.’”

The racial voting numbers in this country are powerful, if not overwhelming, other factors.

In 2012, Obama defeated Mitt Romney in a relatively closely contested election. That disproves the RPV (racially polarized voting) theory of politics, right? Not so much. Obama won, despite losing among white voters by a 59-39 margin, in part because he scored huge majorities of Blacks, Hispanics, and even Asians.

Moving to 2016, a big reason why Hillary Clinton lost (aside from just being a bad candidate) is that somewhere between 6.7 million and 9.2 million whites switched from Obama to Trump.

A multi-author study published in the Public Opinion Quarterly found that racial and immigration efforts, not economics, explained the shift in white voting – in other words, this really was about racism.

That study found that the voters who switched to Trump scored highly on measures of racial hostility and xenophobia – and were not especially likely to be suffering economically.

“White voters with racially conservative or anti-immigrant attitudes switched votes to Trump at a higher rate than those with more liberal views on these issues,” the paper’s authors write. “We find little evidence that economic dislocation and marginality were significantly related to vote switching in 2016.”

The research here shows that, in 2016, Clinton won by 80 percent among Blacks and by 36 percent among Hispanics, but lost by 21 percent (around the same margin as Obama) among whites.

Sociologist Robin DeAngelo has coined the phrase “white fragility” to “describe the disbelieving defensiveness that white people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged—and particularly when they feel implicated in white supremacy.”

The concept fits my experience, but the term is probably not the best idea to describe a group of people that are reflexively defensive every time the issue gets raised.

As she points out, most “white people are sensationally, histrionically bad at discussing racism.”  Their reactions form predictable patterns: “they will insist that they ‘were taught to treat everyone the same,’ that they are ‘color-blind,’ that they ‘don’t care if you are pink, purple, or polka-dotted.’ They will point to friends and family members of color, a history of civil-rights activism, or a more ‘salient’ issue, such as class or gender.”

Once again, if you look at politics there are in fact differences in voting patterns on issues like class, gender, and education level – they are mediated by race.

As I watch the debate on district elections, it becomes evident that groups of people in this community experience the world very differently.  How we bridge that gap is less clear.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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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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76 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: White Fragility Underlies the Debate over District Elections”

  1. Ron Oertel

    “Sociologist Robin DeAngelo has coined the phrase “white fragility” to “describe the disbelieving defensiveness that white people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged—and particularly when they feel implicated in white supremacy.”

    The problem with this theory is that the “implication” is not coming from within.  It’s often coming from others, and is a reaction to that.

    Try sending your white kid to an inner-city school, if you doubt that.

    No – we definitely don’t live in a color-blind society.

     

  2. Rik Keller

    “But I have also been concerned with some of the comments made on the Vanguard.  In fact, over the years, there has long been pushback on the issue of race….” … says the author who accused opponents of exclusionary violations of the Fair Housing Act by local developers of a “dangerous playing of the race card.”  Interesting.

    1. Craig Ross

      It’s strange that you’re so fixated on this.  There are a lot more issues involving race in this community.  As a whole, people of color are much less concerned about this and much more concerned with things like racial profiling, the achievement gap, treatment in the community.  Perhaps it is time that you move on as well.

      1. Craig Ross

        It’s really too bad you want to focus so narrowly on that one issue.  You’ve allowed it to define you and you haven’t moved on. You have a lot to offer this community, but not in your angry state of mind.

        1. Alan Miller

           . . . you haven’t moved on.

          People to not ‘move on’ from what they are passionate about.  That would be like my asking DG to ‘move on’ about race issues.

      2. Ron Oertel

        Craig:  “As a whole, people of color are much less concerned about this and much more concerned with things like racial profiling, the achievement gap, treatment in the community.”

        I would think that they would be concerned about a housing proposal which has the net effect of preventing them from living in Davis in the first place.

        But then again – if they’re prevented from doing so, then their concerns wouldn’t be heard, anyway.

        1. Craig Ross

          That’s precisely the problem – “I would think” – instead of talking with people of color, you’re interjecting your own views onto us.  More importantly, the housing proposal has no impact on people of color.  There is nothing to prevent people of color who living in Davis to purchase a home there.

        2. Ron Oertel

          The problem is that you “think” that you can speak for an entire group of people, whether it’s “people of color” or students.

          You do seem able to speak for development interests, though.  To the point of denying the impact of a discriminatory proposal.

           

  3. Ron Oertel

    “As she points out, most “white people are sensationally, histrionically bad at discussing racism.” 

    A subtle example of “implication”.

    Somehow, the conversation always seems to start out with what white people are doing “wrong”.  Probably not the best way to start an honest and welcoming dialogue, in which the targeted audience feels “implicated” and “defensive” – according to the author.

  4. John Hobbs

    “Try sending your white kid to an inner-city school, if you doubt that.”

    That’s exactly what we did. Both of our kids went to Sacramento High School before the St. Hope stole it. They both did well academically and socially.  They suffer no “white fragility.” When David bleats the predictable, ” it becomes evident that groups of people in this community experience the world very differently.  How we bridge that gap is less clear.” I want to scream, “I’ve been telling you for years, listen to your neighbors’ without re-framing their words.”

     

    1. Bill Marshall

      As some might opine, John, we’re just “in denial” … all whites are “racist”, “fragile”, and “privileged”… if we say no, we are obviously “in denial”, “fragile”, or “protecting our privilege”… nice rhetorical advantage.

      BTW, folk I knew who attended Sac High, did great, too.  The JHS I attended was 1/3 white, 1/3 Asian, 1/3 black… 1960’s… many did very well, and the vast majority of bullying was within the ethnic groups, not across them.  The ‘socio-economic’ cross-section of my JHS was equally as ‘diverse’… poor to very affluent, and most towards the median… across all the ethnic groups…

      The quote you refer to appears to come from someone who had much different experiences than I, or your kids had.  Or, just experienced them with ‘colored’/shaded lenses…

      1. Ron Oertel

        The quote you refer to appears to come from someone who had much different experiences than I, or your kids had.

        Seems to me that you’ve previously cited one racially-motivated/significant incident that occurred to you, when you were young.

        I’ve witnessed this on a more widespread level.  There was a level of systematic denial and dysfunction regarding the issue, which still exists today.  A “blaming the victim” mentality, as well. (Which is sometimes reiterated on this blog.)

        Might even contribute to situations like this, in which the parents were apparently not fully aware of what was occurring.  (However, it’s not conclusive, regarding whether or not race was a factor.)

        “Other classmates of Crusius have described him as a “weird, nerdy” kid who always hung out with his “own race”.

        “The same kids that bullied him, bullied me. I often got death threats from them or a beating from them, which ended up causing me to leave the school early for my safety.

        “I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out of that school traumatised. I did. A lot of kids did.”

        https://thefloridapost.com/el-paso-massacre-gunman-was-severely-bullied-at-toxic-high-school-became-depressed-and-would-wear-a-trench-coat-to-hide-school-pal-reveals/

         

         

        1. Bill Marshall

          My experience was limited to the day after MLK Jr was murdered… a one time punch… a Black teacher observed the incident, and after making sure I wasn’t injured, put the fear of God (and MLK Jr) into the kid… you distort a 1 minute incident into a pattern… to add credence to your view.  That’s just wrong.

          My single incident never affected my view towards my White/Asian/Black classmates and friends… although David tells us there is no such thing as ‘color-blindness’, that is not my experience/take-away… I know good people and jerks when I see/interact with them.  I’ve known folk of any ethnicity/race that would fit into those categories, and most often, in between.  Spouse and kids feel pretty much the same way.

          I deal with folk individually.  David often appears to say that’s not reality, but it is MY reality.

          Like the typical disclosure, this is all based on my experience/perception… the experiences/views of others may vary… I seldom question others’ experiences, as they perceive them, although I reserve the right to disagree/not be influenced by those…

          I will seldom or ever tell someone how they should feel… and when someone tells me how or how not to feel, “them’s fighting words!”.

          I responded to Mr Hobbs… now, I’m responding to you and all, and will probably be ‘censured’, etc.   Fine.  Just speaking my ‘truth’, as I understand it.  No way in he-double toothpicks that I have a scintilla of thought that I can explain things to some…

           

        2. Ron Oertel

          you distort a 1 minute incident into a pattern… to add credence to your view.  That’s just wrong.

          You are reading more into my comment than what is there.  If I’m not mistaken, you did not attend what I would describe as an inner-city school.  Even so, you apparently did experience one incident, which is already “too many”.  You’re fortunate that the incident was witnessed, and responded to appropriately.  And that you attended a school where it may not have been a systematic problem.

          Read the article I posted, if you think that severe, unchecked bullying (which is sometimes based upon, or has a racial component) is not a problem. A problem which then could spill over into something much larger. (It’s not a “mystery” regarding what ultimately occurred.)

          “although David tells us there is no such thing as ‘color-blindness’, that is not my experience/take-away… 

          I deal with folk individually.  David often appears to say that’s not reality, but it is MY reality.”

          I don’t think that David is referring to individuals, when he states that society is not “color-blind”.  I believe that he is largely correct, regarding that.

          In my opinion, your comment does not warrant any kind of moderation or deletion.

  5. Bill Marshall

    David… you mischaracterize how many feel, in opposition to district elections (but they are a “given”)… you characterize it as “white fragility”, and perhaps “white privilege”… please put away your ‘roller brush’…

    I go from being able to vote for 2-3 folk for 5 seats, to (if you get your 7), to one person out of seven seats… depending who runs in my new “district” I may not have the opportunity to vote for any women or POC’s at all.  Might have no choice at all if only one candidate files.

    Flies in the face of my actual record of voting for women and/or POC’s.  Is that “white fragility” or “white privilege”?

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      There are a variety of reasons for opposition to district elections – I am instead addressing the issue of race and discussions here and elsewhere.

    2. Bill Marshall

      I go from being able to vote for 2-3 folk for 5 seats, every two years, to (if you get your 7), to one person out of seven seats every four years… 

      Missed part of my point… despite your apparent view, David, that both doing districts and increased # of CC seats will increase my effective representation, sure seems like a huge dilution of same for each of us.

      Just saying…

        1. Bill Marshall

          Bull… and I only get to vote once every four years… don’t bother putting lipstick on a pig… it’s still a pig.  You are “spinning things” bigtime.

        2. David Greenwald

          You’re an engineer.  Start thinking about this as a math problem.  The reality is that you’re not going to influence the election with your single vote.  But by going to district elections, it makes it much easier to impact the election in other ways over time – contribution, volunteer work, etc.  In 2018, it took about 7000 or 8000 votes to win, in 2016, it took over 11,000 votes to win.  Next year it will take maybe 2000 to 3000 to win.

          You’re looking at this like Dunning.  You get to vote now five times in a four year cycle.  But you’re vote is a fraction of the total votes and unless the race comes down to a few votes, your impact is negligible.

          Voting is important collectively, but individually you’re vote will rarely if ever be determinative.  By lowering the barriers however, you can be more influential in the process.

        3. Bill Marshall

          Here’s the math, David… if someone is everyone’s second or third choice, they get the most votes… simple math… you don’t even need my HP11C to figure that out.

          And what the heck does my profession have to do with it?  Stereotyping?  Profiling?

          As to influence, if all 5 know that I’ll be voting for or against them… now, 4 (to 6) don’t have that pressure/influence… don’t get busy ‘spinning’… you might get dizzy…

          And you did frame this discussion pretty much on race, and imply that ‘white folk’ can’t be trusted to represent all the people… not just the majority… across many threads…

          But, I expect you will attribute all my thoughts to “white fragility”, proving your point.

  6. Tia Will

    I am instead addressing the issue of race ….”

    I do not think these issues can be separated quite so easily. This law was purportedly enacted as a means of addressing issues of (primarily) racial disparity. The fact that it may, or may not do so in Davis, while potentially having other adverse consequences in terms of limiting choice as Bill points out demonstrates the possible harm associated with well-meaning initiatives that do not always have the intended consequences and may, in fact, be counterproductive in some situations.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Truly spoken Tia… particularly as to “unintended consequences”, and possibly “collateral damages”…

      If districts are drawn to maximum “protected class” ‘representation’, could well be that there will only be one serving on the CC every 4 years.  David has even admitted, that at least one of our POC’s, if not two (currently on the CC), garnered enough votes, City-wide, that they got the most votes, that they became mayor pro-tem, and later, Mayor.  Recent past (depending how you measure that), add Ms Asmundson.  There is a definite chance we won’t see a PC/POC Mayor for a long time when the district elections kick in, particularly if there are 7 on the CC… do the math, David…

  7. Sharla Cheney

    I understand that districts can’t be formed according to race – corralling all black, Hispanic or Asian people into a District, leaving white people in their multiple other Districts.  Am I wrong here?  So making it impossible for voters of color to vote for a candidate of color that doesn’t live in their neighborhood seems to turn the law on its head.  So we can stop talking about race as a factor in moving to district voting in Davis.  All this does is make it a certainty that someone from each area of town wins a seat on the Council and make it cheaper to run a campaign.

    I also am really annoyed that you keep disparaging Hilary Clinton in repeated articles.  Without meddling by Cambridge Analytics and Russian activities in our election, Hilary would be President. 3 million more people thought Hilary should be President, despite a relentless campaign to discredit Hilary through spewing a relentless stream of hate through non-regulated civic and charitable groups.  Read the Mueller Report.

    1. David Greenwald

      A district can have race as a factor, just not the only factor.

      There is no disparagement of Clinton in this, only an analysis of the racial breakdowns of votes.

      1. Sharla Cheney

        Moving to 2016, a big reason why Hillary Clinton lost (aside from just being a bad candidate)…

        This is what you wrote – something that you’ve said before.

    2. Don Shor

      So making it impossible for voters of color to vote for a candidate of color that doesn’t live in their neighborhood seems to turn the law on its head. So we can stop talking about race as a factor in moving to district voting in Davis.

      I agree. Race was not a factor, it was just an excuse for the lawsuit. It isn’t a factor in voting in Davis, and it isn’t going to be a factor in how the districts are drawn. It’s basically irrelevant to this whole exercise.
      My main concern with the change is that it is likely to lead to an increase in parochialism on the council, and to the election of candidates who do not have proven records of working with others, demonstrated knowledge of city issues, or effective governing skills. It is likely to lead to election of people who just happen to be really angry about some single issue, and can galvanize enough of their neighbors to share that anger. Plenty of evidence of that on the local list-serv if you want examples.
      Having lower barriers to election isn’t likely to lead to better governance.

  8. Todd Edelman

    Are there ethnically-delineated stats on voter registration and turnout in Davis? How about students? My guess is that the higher registration and turnout gets, the further Left things move, yes? At least in Davis?

    How’s this idea? We vote for candidates… and some win. Then all of things they support and vote for etc as Councilpersons gets reduced in budget and everything based on the turnout? In other words, if a parking structure is approved for 25 million dollars – that is for 400 to 500 cars, by the way – it gets reduced by 50% if only 50% if eligible humans register. But then it’s also the inverse for good things: If 25 million gets approved for the Child Health Protection Roof on I-80, the amount is doubled if only 50% of registered voters actually vote.

    Simultaneously, if there is 50% turnout, only 50% of the elected Councilmembers are allowed to make a choice every time something comes to a vote in Council.

    If we’re really progressive, we only allow people to drive at the posted speed limit if they’ve voted, but that’s only the base allowance: If only 50% vote, everyone has to drive at half their normal speed. However, on bikes they take advantage of the good thing mechanism, and can ride twice as fast as normal if only 50% vote.

    You can mock this all you want, but you know that you feel sick to your stomach when there’s low voter turnout

    1. Bill Marshall

      Voter registration is ethnically “self-reporting”… see the voter registration form on-line,

      https://registertovote.ca.gov/ 

      So ‘accuracy’ is in question.

      As far as who actually votes, that  would taking mining of County records, and as to ethnicity, one would have to rely on the ‘self-reporting’ @ time of registration.

      As to who voted for who, those are guesstimates, made with assumptions (which may or not be valid, and may be biased assumptions, based on who wants to demonstrate what).

      Same for student status, which isn’t even on the registration forms…

      That was addressing your first two questions.

      As to turnout… again, ‘squishy’ numbers, as folk who were registered in a particular location may move, within or outside their registered place, including precinct, City, County, State.  There has been no system to purge a voter from Yolo Co rolls when they move to say, Alameda County, or Colorado.  No automatic system to remove those who are deceased.

      There are no systems in place to “cleanup” the rolls, except as reported by individuals or families (or very long periods of ‘inactivity’… the bias is to not disenfranchise someone.  There are systems in place to prevent double-voting (which is a crime)… when you sign the roster, you are declaring, under penalty of perjury, that you are entitled to vote, once.

      So, keep that in mind when you see “turnout of registered voters”… squishy #’s, as to how many registered voters are still ‘around’.  I suspect at least 5-10% of ‘registered voters’ in a given precinct, have “moved on”… particularly in high-turnover ‘student districts’…

      My PSA for this week.

        1. Ron Oertel

          Just wondering – what if they don’t “identify” themselves?  (I’ve forgotten if this is a “requirement” to vote.)

          I’ve also wondered if “white” people (in particular) might avoid doing so (in various formats/questionnaires), out of concern that it will ultimately be used against their self-interests.

          What if mass “lack of cooperation” becomes a thing, if it’s not already a trend? Do agencies then assume that white people are the likely non-cooperators, and “identify” them as such?

          “We know you’re white – just admit it, or we’ll do it for you” (so to speak). 😉

        2. Ron Oertel

          Looks like “institutional racism” is still legally permitted at universities, at least:

          “From an academic standpoint, the qualifying records, the test scores, how many AP courses, they may all look alike,” said Chris Muñoz, vice president for enrollment at Rice since 2006. “That’s when we might go and say, ‘This kid has a Spanish surname. Let’s see what he wrote about.’ Right or wrong, it can make a difference.”

          “Many counselors will convey to families that a multiracial applicant — like one who is black and Chinese — often has a better chance of being admitted to a highly selective college than those in any other racial or ethnic category.”

          https://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/us/14admissions.html
           

        3. Ron Oertel

          I was being “purposefully provocative”.  But, it’s certainly discrimination.  (In this case, creating a disadvantage for Asians, as well as whites.)

          Note the “gamesmanship” discussed in the article. I wonder how widespread that is.

        4. Bill Marshall

          Hiram… as far as I know, there is no evidence one way or the other… but as I recall there is also no way to report ‘multi-racial’/’multi-ethnic’.  Which continues to be a growing factor… a very large number of Latinx (historically) are actually ‘Native American’ and ‘Spanish’… are they “white”, “spanish”, or “native american”?  Or Latinx?

          I leave it to others, as I see not the importance, except to point out the uncertainties in the numbers.

        5. Bill Marshall

          Craig… your 7:24P post… think pendulum… when one side is unbalanced, you push it to another opposite side, ostensibly for balance… in the 70’s, it was “affirmative action”, where white males were passed over for admittance to schools, jobs, promotions, in favor of minorities and women.  Was that “just”, as ‘reparations’? For things that were in place long before those white males were born, that they had no part of?  No need to respond, just food for thought…

          I experienced the downside of ‘affirmative action’… both gender and racially based… but at the end of the day, skills got me through, but very discouraging at the time.

          But pendulums are funny… when they swing one way, they tend to swing the opposite way… hard to get them down to ‘the center’ (for the musicians, you need to wind up traditional pendulums, historically, right?)… you need to dampen them… what I see, in local, State, Federal politics is folks on the “right” and “left” they are so pushing the pendulum, winding it up, making sure the pendulum keeps swinging… the moderates are the only folk who in the position to speak out… dampen the pendulum.

          We’re seeing MAGA (many take as white privilege), and ‘power to the POC’… the pendulum swings… do we increase/sustain its swing, or dampen it, to reach an equal and just position… not easy, but I think it’s important.

           

        6. Alan Miller

          That’s not institutional racism. That’s the current remedy to equalize the playing field to correct for institutional racism

          That’s the solution being as bad as the problem.

  9. Alan Miller

    DG, this is truly your all-time low-point in the use of logic, or anything even approaching logic.  You state:

    I was always struck by the debate and discussion from 2006 when my wife Cecilia, Jann Murray-Garcia and the Human Relations Commission proposed police oversight and were subjected to, at times, naked racism.  The letter to the Enterprise from the spring of 2006 suggested that they “move to Johannesburg, South Africa,” if they want to complain about racial incidents in Davis.

    Used as data point — a single letter from a racist.  (Perhaps there were a few of more, does not change my argument.)

    In 2017, 11 years later, attorney Mark Reichel received a voicemail for his efforts to defend a defendant in the Picnic Day case, in which the caller complained about “how ignorant these stupid (n-word) are.”

    Used as a data point — a single voicemail from a racist.  (Perhaps there were a few of more, does not change my argument.)

    And yet, in between, over 80 percent of the community voted for Barack Obama… twice.

    Well, 80% of registered voters who voted, anyway . . . so about 20,000 people.  So, DG makes a point of race by YEAR(NUMBER of DATA POINTS as follows –>  2006(1) –> 2012(20,000) –> 2016(20,000) –> 2017(1).  (Note that your sampling set to point of racists is 0.005% of the size of the set that shows Davisites are cool with a ‘black’ president — this is especially ironic in light of your nonsensical and condescending rant to WM about using MATH).

    Does it surprise anyone there was one (or several) blatant racist in Davis in 2006?  Or 2017?  And yet 20,000 of us, and more likely far more than 40,000 of us, maybe over 50,000 of us, are totally cool with a ‘black’ president.  And then a lawyer got a racist phone call in 2017.

    My point being, AGAIN, it’s not white vs. black, it’s good people vs. the a**holes.

     . . . he really became the first president to articulate the problems of African Americans and that they face issues like racial profiling.  “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” the President put it in one of the more poignant moments of his presidency.

    Agree.  He was great at articulating this sort of issue and did it in a non-divisive way (unlike the Vanguard).  He was much better at this than he was at being President.  My hope for years was that when he retired as president he would tour the country for the rest of his life and speak on racial issues in the way he did in his late campaign and early presidency.  Alas, he may have burned out after being president for eight years.  Too bad, some of early speeches on this subject were masterpieces.

    1. David Greenwald

      Alan – why assume that because I cited one example- I only had one?  I could write a very long article on all the examples. I’ve written many over the years. But that wasn’t the point of this piece.

      1. Alan Miller

        DG – Not saying you had one example, but the examples are singles.  If I understood correctly, you cited racist incidents in 2006 and 2017, “and yet” 80% of people voted for Obama in between.  Neither the racist incidents cited nor that 80% voted for Obama surprise me, and I doubt would surprise anyone.  All this says is that the vast majority of people in Davis aren’t racists (to the point they wouldn’t vote for a ‘black’ president), and a few people are extreme racists who would, for example, leave a racist voicemail or write a dismissively racist letter-to-the-editor — but these are completely different things that aren’t comparable.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          You’re missing the point.  This isn’t a story about extreme racists.  This is a story about the overall indifference of people in the community to the way people of color are treated on a daily basis.

          The hardest thing when you write these things is the tendency to get caught up in the weeds and provide too many example.  You want to illustrate the problem but then focus on your main point – race as a driver of voting behavior across the nation.

        2. Alan Miller

          This is a story about the overall indifference of people in the community to the way people of color are treated on a daily basis.

          What would you suggest “people in the community” do about their “overall indifference” “to the way people of color are treated on a daily basis”?

          By the way, I talked with a black student woman earlier this year at an ASUCD event and just for fun I floated your pervasive thesis indirectly and she said, paraphrasing, “Oh, no, I’ve been treated great in Davis.  I’m gonna miss this town.”

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        “My point being, AGAIN, it’s not white vs. black, it’s good people vs. the a**holes.”

        That’s actually not accurate.  If you looking at the voting data – it’s not about good or bad – it’s rather that there are real differences that are solely drawn along hte line of race.  And a lot of people want to say these days, it’s really socio-economic or education, but that’s not true.  It really issue divided along racial lines.

  10. Alan Miller

    (there have been, despite some comments, a fair number of renters who have served on the council even over the last 15 years)

    You recently argued the current makeup of the council in regards to PofC was not representative and you had to go back years (to show the city tended to vote for a council that was mostly ‘white’).  Here, you argue that there have been “a fair number of renters”.  So what are the numbers, POCs vs. renters?

    1. Bill Marshall

      Alan… you missed the opportunity to ask, “what is fair?”… so, I’ll do it for us both, assuming your concurrence… if not, am speaking for myself…

      Equal opportunity is not necessarily the same as equal results.  Often it is not.  Many variables…

  11. Alan Miller

    By going to seven districts rather than five, we make it more likely to have disaffected groups who can serve on our council

    By going to seven thousand districts rather than five, we make it even more more likely to have disaffected groups who can serve on our council, especially if everyone from those groups moves onto the same block.

  12. Alan Miller

    But I have also been concerned with some of the comments made on the Vanguard.

    . . . And I have been concerned with some of the comments made by the Vanguard.

  13. Alan Miller

    In fact, over the years, there has long been pushback on the issue of race.

    How do you mean that?  Pushback on what ‘issue’ of race.  There are many.

    For many years, I think people, at least white people, have really believed we are moving toward a color-blind society.

    That is kind of . . . IMPOSSIBLE, so I doubt most ‘white people’ believe that.  We can move towards a government that does not have laws or statutes that are racist — changing people is also IMPOSSIBLE, but over time the racists will decrease in number as the old guard dies off and only passes on some of the S to their offspring.

    The problem with a color-blind approach, in my estimation, is that it blinds people to the legacy of white supremacy and the historical process that led to institutional racism.

    Not sure who is blind here, and I just said we don’t have a color blind society, but that is different from a color-blind approach, depending of course on what you mean by that.

    In short, I do not believe we can solve the problem of race by ignoring racial differences

    What does ‘the problem of race’ mean?  And who is ignoring racial differences?  How is that even possible.

    but rather by addressing them

    What does ‘addressing racial differences’ mean to you — and how will that help “solve” ‘the problem of race’ ?

  14. Alan Miller

    the election of Barack Obama where a lot of people in November 2008 through March 2009 were believing that the election of Obama marked the end of a chapter in American history

    The chapter of white, male presidents only?  Yeah, I think it did mark the end of that.

    – the reaction of groups to his election and the ultimate backlash in 2016 with the election of Trump marked the opposite.

    I don’t see the ‘backlash’ as against ‘his election’, but rather the rise of ‘progressive politics’ that demonized conservatives as a ‘hive mind’ of racists.  They hear that from the coasts and in popular media and you bet many felt threatened and voted for Trump.  Trump is also very refreshing as a non-traditional politician.

  15. Alan Miller

    That disproves the RPV (racially polarized voting) theory of politics, right? Not so much . . .

    Racially polarized voting (RPV) isn’t a theory, it’s a fact, and it’s a measure for a state law to make cities have districts if they have RPV (which is like saying you are going to get food poisoning if you eat a pound of rancid meat), and it’s stupid.

  16. Alan Miller

     . . . a big reason why Hillary Clinton lost (aside from just being a bad candidate) . . .

    You can say that again.

     . . . being a bad candidate) . . . is that somewhere between 6.7 million and 9.2 million whites switched from Obama to Trump.

    Maybe a lot of them because Hillary was a bad candidate.  Or is your theory that they ‘became racists again’ ?

  17. Alan Miller

    A multi-author study . . .

    It’s better when there are more authors  . . .

    . . .  found that racial and immigration efforts, not economics, explained the shift in white voting – in other words, this really was about racism.

    Oh!  This is really about racism!  I take back all the comments I’ve made.  Racism is the answer!

  18. Alan Miller

    That study found that the voters who switched to Trump scored highly on measures of racial hostility and xenophobia

    And this commenter bets that the authors defined those measures and found what they were looking for . . . it’s a form of survey bias.

  19. Alan Miller

    White voters with racially conservative or anti-immigrant attitudes switched votes to Trump at a higher rate than those with more liberal views on these issues,

    Do they mean anti-immigrant attitudes, or opposed to illegal immigration?  Two very different things.  Many legal immigrants are opposed to illegal immigration, but do not have ‘anti-immigrant attitudes’.

  20. Alan Miller

    The research here shows that, in 2016, Clinton won by 80 percent among Blacks and by 36 percent among Hispanics, but lost by 21 percent (around the same margin as Obama) among whites.

    So your point is . . . . .  ?

  21. Alan Miller

    Sociologist Robin DeAngelo has coined the phrase “white fragility” to “describe the disbelieving defensiveness that white people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged—and particularly when they feel implicated in white supremacy.”

    Commenter Alan Miller has coined the phrase “Vanguard Thickheadedness” to describe the ability of the primary writer to stick to their beliefs even when with great evidence they are challenged–and particularly when they feel . . . naw, never mind, pretty much on any day the sun rises in the east.

    Point is, coining a phrase doesn’t make one author’s definition of their own self-creation (similar to Frankenstein) correct.

  22. Alan Miller

    The concept fits my experience,

    Or, more precisely, your experience as seen through the filter of your view of reality . . .

    but the term is probably not the best idea to describe a group of people that are reflexively defensive every time the issue gets raised.

    Yeah, some people are so defensive they tear apart on-line blogs piece by piece in multiple posts after midnight . . . they’ze must be racists in them thar hills!

  23. Alan Miller

    As she points out, most “white people are sensationally, histrionically bad at discussing racism.”

    I stopped beating my wife last Thursday, thank you for asking . . .

  24. Alan Miller

    Their reactions form predictable patterns: “they will insist that they ‘were taught to treat everyone the same,’ that they are ‘color-blind,’ that they ‘don’t care if you are pink, purple, or polka-dotted.’ They will point to friends and family members of color, a history of civil-rights activism, or a more ‘salient’ issue, such as class or gender.”

    Oh my God!  I do some of that stuff!  I must be a racist!  Thanks, DeAngelo!

    Or maybe non-racists do that, too . . . or even POCs might do those same things . . . if they are not racists and are decent people.  Think about it . . .

    And do note, saying the exact phrase — “Some of my best friends are black” disqualifies you, and you actually are a racist.

  25. Alan Miller

    if you look at politics there are in fact differences in voting patterns on issues like class, gender, and education level –

    Blow me away with a feather!

    they are mediated by race.

    You heard the man — THEY ARE MEDIATED BY RACE

    . . . whatever that means.

  26. Alan Miller

    As I watch the debate on district elections, it becomes evident that groups of people in this community experience the world very differently.

    Those that think district elections are stupid, and those that don’t.

    How we bridge that gap is less clear.

    Through compromise:  “District elections are kinda stupid.”

  27. Alan Miller

    On a serious note, Googled “white fragility” and found the word is only associated with the woman who coined it.  Also happened to glance at the first review of the book, a one-star review (to be fair the book averaged 4 1/2 stars), and found this person pretty much summarized my view on the Vanguard/DeAngelo-style approach to racism, attributed to reviewer Timothy Clontz:

    I am very reluctant to give a negative review, especially when the author is trying to be helpful. In places the author has correctly diagnosed a number of genuine problems.

    Merely being non-racist isn’t good enough, because you end up as a bystander when a bully is beating up on a victim; both covering your eyes and ears and refusing to acknowledge what the victim (of racism) is telling you is happening to them.

    If you haven’t been a victim you cannot fully understand being a victim. If you haven’t experienced the pervasiveness and constancy of negative bias both coming from other groups and even influencing your own view of yourself – then you will never completely comprehend. So in one respect a white person cannot truly say, “I get it.”

    Neither can you ever do enough to win a gold star and say you’ve done “enough” as long as racism exists.

    It’s like the Talmudic maxim: “you will never finish perfecting the world, but you are never free to stop trying.”

    If the book stopped there, it would be fine. Perhaps even excellent.

    But I give this book one star because it makes the problem worse.

    This book is like a bad date where the other person is accusing you of all of your failures, and when you try to make up, to do better, to understand more, to be fully engaged as an ally, you are continually pushed away.

    And then you are told to “breathe” and calm down. Surely you are getting upset and proving the thesis!

    Except that’s not what’s happening.

    Yes, whites don’t see racism because they aren’t a target of it. If you aren’t a racist, then you don’t hang around racists. And if you aren’t black then you don’t have it hurled in your face. 99% of the problem is created by 1% of whites who other whites don’t see.

    The same would be true for misogyny. 99% of rapes are caused by 1% of perps, and the 99% of innocent men don’t see it because the perps aren’t harassing them.

    So men need to listen without being defensive. Whites need to listen without being defensive. It’s wrong to say, “But I’m not doing it” as if that will make it go away.

    But it’s also wrong to say that the non-harassing men or the non-harassing whites are guilty BECAUSE of their innocence.

    No, they aren’t being bad. They are being clueless. And instead of being accused they need to be engaged.

    Especially when they WANT to listen and be helpful.

    In short, if someone wants to be your friend – let them.

    This book doesn’t invite engagement and doesn’t let the non-involved to become involved in affirmatively fighting racism. It turns a lot of would be allies away.

    Ultimately, it’s self defeating.

    We need more people aware of racism. We need more people fighting racism. We need the majority engaged in helping the minority, rather than being turned away.

    I’d give this book five stars if it were half as long. But it’s the flawed existentialism that makes this book a hindrance to people who should be friends, and would be friends, if they were allowed to be.

    1. Alan Miller

      Here’s from another one-star review attributed to MFV-Eugene, OR:

      According to this author, those that are identified as white (not necessarily those who identify AS white) are guilty of racism and must be prepared to be tongue-lashed by her. It is curious that somehow denigrating a person by their skin color is not racist when done by a person of the same appearance. It is a popular book for those that need more of a reason to feel bad about themselves.

      Ironically, the subject is timely and through reading other sources of information on institutionalized racism, I have noticed many examples of this. The articles were well written and effective in that I was not made to feel that anything I did or said was automatically suspect and therefore invalid. A state of paralysis is not one from which change can occur.

    2. Bill Marshall

      Well written, Alan…  much truth.

      Someone likes to cite his restraining a CM who was reacting to a vicious verbal attack/inappropriate behavior by one CC member against another… very noble and heroic… in defending the perp.  The instigator.  He saw, personally, all the behaviors leading up to it. Can’t recall if he ever “called the perp to task”…

      Yet, same someone tends to castigate, and/or categorize folk who don’t take action against injustices they haven’t seen (he accuses them of being ‘blind’ to them).

      ‘Tis a puzzlement”…

      1. Alan Miller

        very noble and heroic… in defending the perp.  The instigator.  He saw, personally, all the behaviors leading up to it. Can’t recall if he ever “called the perp to task”…

        I’d like to hear more about this someday.  I’ve heard the story told here of our white knight by our white knight, but not this aspect.  Very interesting.

        Yet, same someone tends to castigate, and/or categorize folk who don’t take action against injustices they haven’t seen (he accuses them of being ‘blind’ to them).

        You are always right if you accuse people of things for which you have created the definition of their crime.  Very self-satisfying, and a self-delusion.

        1. Bill Marshall

          You are always right if you accuse people of things for which you have created the definition of their crime.  Very self-satisfying, and a self-delusion.

          A true, two-edged sword… cuts both ways… perfectly fits the incident I described…

          I’ve heard multiple accounts of the incident described… all differ in nuances (not facts, which are pretty clear… all accounts, except one, who has not publically spoken of it, who was directly involved)… I weigh the credibility I give to each… admittedly, with my own life experience ‘biases’… which we all do… humans do that… many can’t admit that, but I do, as to myself.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Alan M.  “You are always right if you accuse people of things for which you have created the definition of their crime.  Very self-satisfying, and a self-delusion.”

          This is comment (and the way it’s worded) is interesting. Kind of reminds me of something that a former commenter might say – and which causes one to stop and think about it.

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