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    Default White Privileged World

    What is White Privilege?

    “White Privilege is the other side of racism. Unless we name it, we are in danger of wallowing in guilt or moral outrage with no idea of how to move beyond them. It is often easier to deplore racism and its effects than to take responsibility for the privileges some of us receive as a result of it… once we understand how white privilege operates, we can begin addressing it on an individual and institutional basis.” ~Paula Rothenberg

    Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they’ve done or failed to do. Access to privilege doesn’t determine one’s outcomes, but it is definitely an asset that makes it more likely that whatever talent, ability, and aspirations a person with privilege has will result in something positive for them.” ~Peggy McIntosh

    Examples of Privilege

    Being able to…

    • assume that most of the people you or your children study in history classes and textbooks will be of the same race, gender, or sexual orientation as you are
    • assume that your failures will not be attributed to your race, or your gender
    • assume that if you work hard and follow the rules, you will get what you deserve
    • success without other people being surprised; and without being held to a higher standard
    • go out in public without fear of being harassed or constantly worried about physical safety
    • not have to think about your race, or your gender, or your sexual orientation, or disabilities, on a daily basis...

    To learn more about privilege, we recommend:

    • Privilege, Power and Difference, by Allan Johnson
    • Privilege: A Reader, edited by Michael S. Kimmel and Abby L. Ferber
    • White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism, by Paul Rothenberg


    Wikipedia: White privilege (or white skin privilege) is a conceptual framework, derived from critical race theory, that is commonly used to help explain certain inequalities associated with race or ethnicity. The term connotes both obvious and less obvious unspoken advantages that white individuals may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice. These include cultural affirmations of one's own worth; greater presumed social status; and freedom to move, buy, work, play, and speak freely. The concept of white privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one's own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal. It can be compared and/or combined with the concept of male privilege.

    White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

    Peggy McIntosh is associate director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women. This essay is excerpted from Working Paper 189. "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To See Correspondences through Work in Women's Studies" (1988), by Peggy McIntosh; The working paper contains a longer list of privileges. https://www.isr.umich.edu/home/diver...-privilege.pdf

    White privilege checklist

    This list is based on Peggy McIntosh’s article on white privilege. http://crc-global.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/white-privilege.pdf

    This all started when Europeans started colonizing the world. They would conquer nations and where they could they would kill (genocide) majority of the Natives (Americas, Australia, many Islands, etc) and enslave the rest. Where they couldn't, they would colonize them and oppress them. When occupying such nations, they would boast about their ethno-superiority and give some of the natives better treatment for having more fair skin then those of darker skin. In the centuries they colonized and occupied most of the world, they left an impression on the majority of white superiority and non-white inferiority complex. So the majority of the non-whites, especially Asians suffer from inferiority complex while the whites suffer from the superiority complex, thinking they deserve all this and that. And then they have also set up a system where the white privilege exists, where whites get hired more, treated better, promoted more, harassed less and so forth. We live in a white privilege world thanks to Britain and European colonization.

    The attached articles, two of which are available on the links above, shed more light on this.

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    On Racism and White Privilege

    Jennifer Holladay |16 April 2013

    Excerpted from White Anti-Racist Activism: A Personal Roadmap by Jennifer R. Holladay, M.S. (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, Inc., 2000)

    On Racism

    Racism is a doctrine or teaching, without scientific support, that does three things. First, it claims to find racial differences in things like character and intelligence. Second, racism asserts the superiority of one race over another or others. Finally, it seeks to maintain that dominance through a complex system of beliefs, behaviors, use of language and policies. Racism ranges from the individual to the institutional level and reflects and enforces a pervasive view, in white dominated U.S. culture that people of color are inferior to whites.

    Racist beliefs include things like “White people are smarter than people of color,” or “White people make better teachers.” Racism can manifest itself in terms of individual behavior through hate crimes, or in institutional behavior through employment discrimination. Racism might manifest in individual language through the use of slurs, or in institutional policy through a school’s selection of Eurocentric textbooks.

    Related to these relatively obvious manifestations of racism is a subtle system that also contributes to the maintenance of the racial status quo. That subtle system is white skin privilege.

    On White Privilege

    White skin privilege is not something that white people necessarily do, create or enjoy on purpose. Unlike the more overt individual and institutional manifestations of racism described above, white skin privilege is a transparent preference for whiteness that saturates our society. White skin privilege serves several functions. First, it provides white people with “perks” that we do not earn and that people of color do not enjoy. Second, it creates real advantages for us. White people are immune to a lot of challenges. Finally, white privilege shapes the world in which we live — the way that we navigate and interact with one another and with the world.

    White Privilege: The Perks

    White people receive all kinds of perks as a function of their skin privilege. Consider the following:
    • When I cut my finger and go to my school or office’s first aid kit, the flesh-colored band-aid generally matches my skin tone.
    • When I stay in a hotel, the complimentary shampoo generally works with the texture of my hair.
    • When I run to the store to buy pantyhose at the last minute, the ‘nude’ color generally appears nude on my legs.
    • When I buy hair care products in a grocery store or drug store, my shampoos and conditioners are in the aisle and section labeled ‘hair care’ and not in a separate section for ‘ethnic products.’
    • I can purchase travel size bottles of my hair care products at most grocery or drug stores.

    These seemingly benign perks also demonstrate a danger on closer examination. Let’s say that I forgot to pack my shampoo for a business trip. When I get to the hotel, I see that the complimentary shampoo is not the standard Suave product to which I am accustomed but rather Pink Oil Lotion for African American hair. I would be surprised and might even think to myself: “Those black folks and all their lobbying … This is so unfair!” I expect these perks. As a white person, I think I am entitled to them.

    White Privilege: The Advantages

    Certainly, white privilege is not limited to perks like band aids and hair care products. The second function of white skin privilege is that it creates significant advantages for white people. There are scores of things that I, as a white person, generally do not encounter, have to deal with or even recognize. For example:

    • My skin color does not work against me in terms of how people perceive my financial responsibility, style of dress, public speaking skills, or job performance.
    • People do not assume that I got where I am professionally because of my race (or because of affirmative action programs).
    • Store security personnel or law enforcement officers do not harass me, pull me over or follow me because of my race.

    All of these things are things that I never think about. And when the tables are turned and my white skin is used against me, I am greatly offended (and indignant). The police department in my community, like so many other law enforcement agencies throughout this country, uses policing tactics that target people of color. Two years ago, I was driving down Rosa Parks Boulevard, a street that runs through an all-black and impoverished area of town, at night. I was looking for a house that I had never been to before, so I was driving slowly, stopping and moving as I searched for numbers on residences.

    Out of nowhere, this large police van pulled me over, blue lights flashing and sirens blaring, and a handful of well-armed police officers jumped out of the van and surrounded my car. I did as I was told, and got out of my car. (“Hands above your head; move slowly!”) I then succumbed to a quick physical pat-down, as well as a search of my car. The officers had pulled me over -- not only because of my erratic driving -- but also, because, in the words of one officer, I was “a white woman driving down Rosa Parks after dark.” They thought I was looking to buy drugs.

    When I went to the office the next day, I relayed my story to several white colleagues. They shared my sense of violation, of anger, of rage. These co-workers encouraged me to call our legal department and report the incident. I later told the story to a colleague who is black and who lives on Rosa Parks. “You just never have to worry about those things, do you, Jennifer?” she asked and then walked off. In twelve words, she succinctly challenged my sense of privilege.

    White Privilege: The World View

    The third thing that white privilege does is shape the way in which we view the world and the way in which the world views us. The perks and advantages described above are part of this phenomenon, but not all of it. Consider the following:

    • When I am told about our national heritage or “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
    • Related, the schools that I attend or have attended use standard textbooks, which widely reflect people of my color and their contributions to the world.
    • When I look at the national currency or see photographs of monuments on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., I see people of my race widely represented and celebrated.

    As a white person, I see myself represented in all of these places. And, until a couple of years ago, I never questioned that representation — or why people of color were excluded. After all, people like me have done a lot for this country and for the world. If people of color had done their part, so the theory goes, they too would see themselves represented.

    Well, people of color have done more than their share for this country. There is an old saying that the victors of war get to write the history of the world. White privilege works this way, too. Since white folks have been in control for so long, we have determined what is valuable or interesting or useful in terms of education. Greek and Roman mythology, Chaucer, and other canonized works have been selected and revered through the ages as critical components of any “solid liberal arts education.”

    I rarely have to question the validity of these selections — this is, after all, what is valuable and considered “the real stuff.” And I am entitled to a good education, aren’t I? I never question how or why some things are valued and others are not — why some things are important to “us” and other things are not. When people begin talking about diversifying a curriculum, one of the main things that opponents say is: “I am not willing to lower standards for the sake of minority representation.”

    The Black Student Coalition at my college, for example, lobbied the faculty to diversify the readings for the Literature 101 class, a required course for first-year students. One professor objected, saying: “You want me to replace Chaucer with the likes of Alice Walker?” Why do we value Chaucer more than the literary offerings of Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, or Audre Lorde? Who assigns that value and on what basis?

    Things are starting to change slowly. Perhaps your high school hosted programs during Black History Month or during Asian and Hispanic Heritage Months. Maybe your college offered courses in Black, Latino, Caribbean, Native American, Asian or ethnic studies. These are good places to start, but we should not need separate months or classes. Black history is U.S. history; Chicano literature is valuable literature.

    White privilege is a hidden and transparent preference that is often difficult to address. Only on closer inspection do we see how it creates a sense of entitlement, generates perks and advantages for white people and elevates our status in the world.


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    White privilege: An insidious virus that’s eating America from within

    Ferguson offers white people a chance to understand the price of our privilege

    Aug 23, 2014

    White privilege is a term that sometimes gets thrown around too cavalierly, especially when people are having a fight on the Internet and want to shut each other up. Recognizing white privilege does not mean that white people don’t get to express our views on controversial racial topics, or that we have to defer to whatever a person of color may say. It does mean, however, that we have a responsibility to be alert to advantages we may possess, whether as ordinary citizens on the street, economic agents or wielders of rhetoric that appears neutral rather than “racial.” By definition, it means that some of those advantages are things we don’t notice, or take entirely for granted.

    But the most insidious power of white privilege, the albatross effect that makes it so oppressive to white people themselves, is the way it renders itself invisible and clouds the collective mind. It’s like a virus that adapts in order to ensure its own survival and perpetuation, in this case by convincing its host it isn’t there. So we see polls suggesting that large percentages of white Americans believe that racism is not a significant factor in Ferguson or law enforcement in general, that cops are just doing their jobs, and that whatever bad things may have happened once upon a time in our beloved country, they’ve been locked away in the dusty cabinet of history and don’t matter anymore. We passed the Voting Rights Act and exiled the Ku Klux Klan to the margins of society (or at least to websites with really bad graphics). Ergo, white privilege obviously doesn’t exist anymore.

    Among the “childish things” we need to put aside, white people, is the idea that America’s tormented racial legacy belongs to the past. You know exactly the attitude I mean: We have twice elected a biracial president and LeBron James and Jay Z are zillionaires, so no more talk of racism, please. In the more paranoid formulation prevalent in the Fox News demographic (but not limited to it), this becomes the idea that the federal government has spent the last 50 years giving away money, housing, education and other “free stuff” to black people who don’t work or pay taxes, while vigorously grinding down the white man. So either the vision of healing and reconciliation conjured up so eloquently by Martin Luther King, Jr. more than 50 years ago has now been fulfilled (and black people need to stop complaining), or America is being not so slowly turned into a gay-Muslim-socialist totalitarian state where every day is Kwanzaa. Both scenarios come up against the nettlesome fact that African-Americans stubbornly persist in being poor, living in disadvantaged circumstances, getting shot by the police for no particular reason and going to prison in large numbers.

    This kind of white privilege is a willful blindness, along with a passionate embrace of exactly the kind of aggrievement and victimhood that white people often claim to resent in others. It’s found in Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity, of course, but also among people like hipster über-troll Gavin McInnes, the co-founder of Vice, who wrote a piece not long ago explaining that racism, sexism and homophobia do not actually exist. But I’m not principally talking about Republican ideologues and their hardcore supporters, who have built their power and influence on thinly veiled racism over the past 40 years and barely even bother denying it. There is a much larger population of white Americans, I believe, who feel troubled by what they saw in Ferguson but are unable or unwilling to face the fact that it reflects a recurring historical pattern that has obviously not been exorcised, a pattern of power, privilege and domination in which they are complicit.

    Any white person who is being honest can understand this reluctance, and probably any other kind of person too. It’s a lot more comfortable to believe that equal opportunity has been pretty much afforded to all, allowing for some bumps in the road – or to believe that you yourself belong to the unfairly downtrodden and stigmatized group – than to consider the alternatives. It is not comfortable at all for any white American to read the case assembled by Ta-Nehisi Coates in his magisterial reported essay “The Case for Reparations” that American society has not done nearly enough to erase the cultural and historical debt left behind by 250 years of slavery followed by another century-plus of economic discrimination, political suppression, institutionalized theft and straight-up terrorism. “It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear,” Coates writes. “The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us.”

    William Faulkner’s famous remark that the past is not dead, and isn’t even past, could not be more vividly illustrated than by the images from Ferguson: A black man shot dead in the street; angry African-American protesters facing impassive and heavily armed white police officers; tear gas, broken glass and the National Guard. But how to deal with these events that seem like nightmarish echoes of too many previous events? One way, the path of survival pursued by the virus of white privilege, is to detach each of these cases from history. Each of these inexplicably dead black men becomes an isolated phenomenon, with no reference to any discernible pattern. History is bunk, as Henry Ford and then the Gang of Four told us; there are no lessons in the past.

    This urgent agenda of historical decoupling offers one reason why the specific details of each case become so fraught with meaning, and why the elaborate character assassination of every victim is so important to TV talking heads and Internet trolls. If Michael Brown was a thieving thug who made Darren Wilson fear for his life, if Trayvon Martin was a drug-dealing ne’er-do-well who was casing out potential burglaries (and probably high on “Purple Drank”), if Eric Garner was a bruising gangster who resisted arrest and stopped breathing because of asthma and cardiac arrest rather than an illegal chokehold, then their deaths were regrettable (or maybe non-regrettable) consequences of the system working as it should. Race was not a factor, the police and/or random armed citizens acted reasonably, the protesters are mobs of looters and law-breakers, and the liberal pantywaists crying about it on TV are the real racists.

    That pathway remains highly seductive for white America, because it avoids any notion of collective or social responsibility and accesses the Calvinist myth of individualism that lies at the core of white American identity. A man makes his own fate or is elected by Providence – it comes to the same thing in the end – and if those young men and a distressing number of others met death in the street under unsettling circumstances, that can only have been their just deserts. Considering the possibility that they died because of a system of justice and law enforcement that skews heavily toward arresting, imprisoning and otherwise suppressing black and brown people, and that that system is itself embedded within much larger cultural and historical patterns, raises a lot of painful questions. What are we supposed to do about it, for one thing?

    For starters, we can be honest with ourselves about white privilege, when we’re able to see it. That means being honest about how it benefits us and also how it imprisons us, which for me was the great public service of Matt Seitz’s article. Coates’ credit-card metaphor is particularly apposite, directed at the largely white readership of the Atlantic; what middle-class family these days does not understand the crippling effects of long-term debt? Resisting white privilege is not about “liberal guilt,” or donning sackcloth and ashes, or whatever Bill O’Reilly thinks happens in graduate seminars at elite universities. It’s about finding material ways to pay down that debt, and also about recognizing how much the debt has weighed us down – all of us, white and black and brown and all other shades.

    As I said earlier, the virus of white privilege survives by convincing its host organism that it does not exist. That’s because the more clearly we see it the more likely we are to notice that its purported benefits have faded almost to nothing. Whites of the working and middle classes correctly perceive that their economic fortunes have deteriorated over the past half-century, even if the average white household is still 20 times wealthier than the average black household (an especially deleterious consequence of white privilege). An entire right-wing ideological empire remains devoted to convincing white people that benefit-sucking African-Americans and job-stealing Latino immigrants are somehow to blame for their downward trajectory. White privilege is the solvent used, throughout American history, to dissolve multiracial coalitions of working people, and the drug used to brainwash whites into making common cause with the class of CEOs, financiers and landlords. Kicking that drug habit is the only way white America can ever set itself free from the past.


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    7 Actual Facts That Prove White Privilege Exists in America

    White privilege is a concept that far too many people misunderstand. These are the same people who argue that white privilege is made-up, that people of color and others who work to point out entrenched social injustice are just complainers.

    People of color aren't unfairly discriminated against, the argument goes, they are just unwilling to work hard to get ahead. Or maybe it's their "inner city" mentality, to quote Congressman Paul Ryan.

    But despite the wrongheaded belief that people of color are bootstrap pullers, structural inequality dictates that some people are beginning life sans boots. Peggy McIntosh explains the concept of white privilege as an "invisible backpack" of unearned rights and privileges that white people enjoy. "Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they've done or failed to do," reads a quote commonly attributed to Peggy McIntosh. "Access to privilege doesn't determine one's outcomes, but it is definitely an asset that makes it more likely that whatever talent, ability, and aspirations a person with privilege has will result in something positive for them."

    Here are just a few of the things that are more or likely to be true if one happens to have been born white in America:

    1. You are less likely to be arrested.

    Research shows that white Americans are less likely to be arrested and jailed. While people of color only make up 30% of the total population, they are 60% of the U.S. prison population.

    This discrepancy is particularly apparent when it comes to nonviolent drug offenses, where people of color are jailed at much higher rates, even though drug use in the white community is higher than in the African-American community.

    According to Human Rights Watch, people of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites, but they have much higher rates of arrests. While only 14% of black people use drugs regularly, 37% of those arrested for drugs are black.

    This trend holds true for children of color as well, who are more likely to be perceived as guilty. The so-called school-to-prison pipeline targets children of color, funnelling them into the criminal justice system early due to unfair zero tolerance policies in American schools.

    "In Chicago, twenty-five young people were involved in [a] food fight in the cafeteria and instead of being punished by having to clean up the cafeteria, they were suspended from school and arrested," notes the Advancement Project.

    2. You are more likely to get into college.

    The White House recently launched a new initiative called, My Brother's Keeper, aimed at increasing opportunities for boys and young men of color. A key component of the initiative is increasing the number of men of color who graduate from high school and get into college.

    According to a 2013 report by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, elite educational institutions are a "passive agent" in perpetuating white privilege. The report found that white students are still overrepresented in the nation's 468 elite institutions. Even though many white and minority students are unprepared for college in equal rates, more white students are admitted to universities.

    "The higher education system is more and more complicit as a passive agent in the systematic reproduction of white racial privilege across generations," the Georgetown study noted. "Even among equally qualified white, African-American and Hispanic students, these pathways are not only separate but they bring unequal results."

    3. You are more likely to "fit in" and get called back for a job.

    Having a name perceived as "black" is a burden during a job search. In 2012, an unemployed black woman made headlines for reporting that her resume on Monster.com began to receive interest from employers after she changed her name and race. Yolanda Spivey, an insurance professional, noticed that Monster.com's "diversity questionnaire" section seemed to be hurting her employment options. After Yolanda changed her name to the fictitious Bianca White, however, she received calls with job offers immediately. And not only that, they were for better jobs.

    "More shocking was that some employers, mostly Caucasian-sounding women, were calling Bianca more than once, desperate to get an interview with her," Spivey wrote. "All along, my real Monster.com account was open and active; but, despite having the same background as Bianca, I received no phone calls. Two jobs actually did email me and Bianca at the same time. But they were commission only sales positions. Potential positions offering a competitive salary and benefits all went to Bianca."

    4. You are less likely to be perceived as a "thug."

    When Seattle Seahawks superstar Richard Sherman dared speak out after making a game-winning play to get his team to the Superbowl, the word "thug" was used 625 times in 24 hours of television broadcasts. Sherman, a Standford University graduate, called out his critics, noting that white male aggression is seen as acceptable in sports like hockey because the vast majority of players are white.

    "The only reason it bothers me is that it seems like it's the accepted way of calling people the n-word nowadays," Sherman said. "Because they know. What’s the definition of a thug, really? Can a guy on the football field, just talking to people — maybe I'm talking loudly, or doing something I'm not supposed to be. But there was a hockey game where they didn't even play hockey, they just threw the puck aside and started fighting. I saw that and I thought, 'Oh man, I’m a thug?' So I'm really disappointed in being called a thug."

    5. You are less likely to be labeled "angry."

    The ability to express a full range of emotions without repercussions is a privilege. When someone who isn't white (and let's be frank, who isn't male) expresses anger in a public or professional setting, it's not usually called leadership (See: Chris Christies' entire career).

    As a black woman, I know that my spectrum of acceptable emotions is limited. I can't get too angry, because I'll be the angry black woman, a label that dogs many high profile black women including First Lady Michelle Obama. FLOTUS has been criticized for being too demanding by the Beltway media. "I guess it's just more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here," Obama said. "That's been an image people have tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced, that I'm some kind of angry black woman."

    6. You are more likely to make headlines when missing.

    #BringBackOurGirls was the rare moment when the world became collectively outraged by the plight of missing African girls, stolen from their classrooms by terrorists in Nigeria.

    But this is generally not the case. The media has a habit of sensationalizing the cases of missing white young women and girls — cable news anchors shout their names from the mountaintops: Natalee Holloway, Elizabeth Smart, Susan Powell, Laci Peterson.

    Sheri Parks, a professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, calls this the "Missing White Woman Syndrome." Dr. Mia Moody, assistant professor of journalism and media arts at Baylor University, notes the same thing in her research, which looks at the way media frames coverage, with the result that pretty white woman are put on a pedestal, while minorities, the poor and the less traditionally attractive are conspicuously absent from the front page.

    7. You are more likely to find adequate housing.

    Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling made headlines after his racism was caught oh-so-dramatically on tape. But Sterling's racism didn't begin or end with a rant to girlfriend V. Stiviano. The first time Sterling (and his wife Rochelle Sterling) were accused of housing discrimination was decades ago, when they were ordered to pay a multi-million dollar settlement for refusing to rent apartments to people of color.

    As ESPN commentator Bomani Jones emphasized in a recent column, this kind of refusal to rent to people of color has real consequences. "Discrimination in the housing market has been crippling to the attempts blacks and Latinos have made to empower themselves economically," Jones said. "The worst examples are in the sales market — there's a wealth of urban economic evidence showing how the inability to buy homes has affected the black-white wealth gap — but such behavior in the rental market is just as damaging."

    Indeed, although Congress made housing discrimination illegal decades ago, the insidious problem persists. The National Fair Housing Alliance reports that as many as 4 million African-Americans and Latinos experience housing discrimination each year.


    See also,

    The Origins of “Privilege”

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    75% of whites don’t have any non-white friends

    "All my black friends have a bunch of white friends. And all my white friends have one black friend."

    That's the memorable punchline of a Chris Rock bit from 2009 on interracial friendships. And according to some recent number-crunching by Robert Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute, there's a good deal of truth to that statement.

    Let's consider the average American white American and the average American black American, and let's say, for simplicity's sake, that each of them have 100 friends. If you were to break down their respective friend networks by race, they would look something like this.

    If you're interested in how PRRI arrived at these numbers, see the methodological note at the bottom of this post.

    In a 100-friend scenario, the average white person has 91 white friends; one each of black, Latino, Asian, mixed race, and other races; and three friends of unknown race. The average black person, on the other hand, has 83 black friends, eight white friends, two Latino friends, zero Asian friends, three mixed race friends, one other race friend, and four friends of unknown race.

    Going back to Chris Rock's point, the average black person's friend network is 8 percent white, but the average white person's network is only 1 percent black. To put it another way: Blacks have ten times as many black friends as white friends. But white Americans have an astonishing 91 times as many white friends as black friends.
    There are a number of factors driving these numbers. Simple population counts are one of them: there are more white people than black people in the U.S., so it makes sense that the average American is going to have more white friends than black friends.

    Another factor is our tendency to seek out and associate with people who are similar to us in any number of ways - religiously, politically, economically and yes, racially too. The polite term for this phenomenon is "sorting," and it impacts everything from political polarization to income inequality to the racial differences in friend networks seen above.

    As PRRI's Robert Jones writes in The Atlantic, Americans' segregated social circles have influenced responses to the events in Ferguson, Missouri over the past few weeks. Polls show deep divides between blacks and whites on everything from the role of race in Ferguson to the appropriateness of responses by protestors and police.

    The numbers above offer insight into why so many whites have expressed bafflement over protesters' responses to the shooting of Michael Brown. The history between many black communities and the police forces that serve them is long, complicated, often violent, and characterized by an extreme imbalance of power. But as Robert Jones notes, most whites are not "socially positioned" to understand this history, simply because they know few people who've experienced it.

    To be fair, the numbers suggest there is plenty of racial self-selection in black Americans' friend networks too. But focusing solely on black-white relations, there's a pretty big difference between having only one member of a given race in your friend network, and having eight of them.

    In fact, PRRI's data show that a full 75 percent of whites have "entirely white social networks without any minority presence." The same holds true for slightly less than two thirds of black Americans.

    The implication of these findings is that when we talk about race in our personal lives, we are by and large discussing it with people who look like us.

    How PRRI calculated the racial breakdowns of friend networks

    As part of their American Values Survey, PRRI researchers asked respondents to name up to seven people with whom they regularly discussed important matters. They then asked a battery of demographic questions about these people - their relationships to their respondents, as well as their gender, religion, and germane for these purposes, their race. They used these numbers to derive average racial breakdowns of the friend networks of the average black, white and Hispanic survey respondent.


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    The White-Savior Industrial Complex

    If we are going to interfere in the lives of others, a little due diligence is a minimum requirement.

    Left, Invisible Children's Jason Russell. Right, a protest leader in Lagos, Nigeria / Facebook, AP

    A week and a half ago, I watched the Kony2012 video. Afterward, I wrote a brief seven-part response, which I posted in sequence on my Twitter account:

    These tweets were retweeted, forwarded, and widely shared by readers. They migrated beyond Twitter to blogs, Tumblr, Facebook, and other sites; I'm told they generated fierce arguments. As the days went by, the tweets were reproduced in their entirety on the websites of the Atlantic and the New York Times, and they showed up on German, Spanish, and Portuguese sites. A friend emailed to tell me that the fourth tweet, which cheekily name-checks Oprah, was mentioned on Fox television.

    These sentences of mine, written without much premeditation, had touched a nerve. I heard back from many people who were grateful to have read them. I heard back from many others who were disappointed or furious. Many people, too many to count, called me a racist. One person likened me to the Mau Mau. The Atlantic writer who'd reproduced them, while agreeing with my broader points, described the language in which they were expressed as "resentment."

    This weekend, I listened to a radio interview given by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof. Kristof is best known for his regular column in the New York Times in which he often gives accounts of his activism or that of other Westerners. When I saw the Kony 2012 video, I found it tonally similar to Kristof's approach, and that was why I mentioned him in the first of my seven tweets.

    Those tweets, though unpremeditated, were intentional in their irony and seriousness. I did not write them to score cheap points, much less to hurt anyone's feelings. I believed that a certain kind of language is too infrequently seen in our public discourse. I am a novelist. I traffic in subtleties, and my goal in writing a novel is to leave the reader not knowing what to think. A good novel shouldn't have a point.

    But there's a place in the political sphere for direct speech and, in the past few years in the U.S., there has been a chilling effect on a certain kind of direct speech pertaining to rights. The president is wary of being seen as the "angry black man." People of color, women, and gays -- who now have greater access to the centers of influence that ever before -- are under pressure to be well-behaved when talking about their struggles. There is an expectation that we can talk about sins but no one must be identified as a sinner: newspapers love to describe words or deeds as "racially charged" even in those cases when it would be more honest to say "racist"; we agree that there is rampant misogyny, but misogynists are nowhere to be found; homophobia is a problem but no one is homophobic. One cumulative effect of this policed language is that when someone dares to point out something as obvious as white privilege, it is seen as unduly provocative. Marginalized voices in America have fewer and fewer avenues to speak plainly about what they suffer; the effect of this enforced civility is that those voices are falsified or blocked entirely from the discourse.

    It's only in the context of this neutered language that my rather tame tweets can be seen as extreme.
    The interviewer on the radio show I listened to asked Kristof if he had heard of me. "Of course," he said. She asked him what he made of my criticisms. His answer was considered and genial, but what he said worried me more than an angry outburst would have:

    There has been a real discomfort and backlash among middle-class educated Africans, Ugandans in particular in this case, but people more broadly, about having Africa as they see it defined by a warlord who does particularly brutal things, and about the perception that Americans are going to ride in on a white horse and resolve it. To me though, it seems even more uncomfortable to think that we as white Americans should not intervene in a humanitarian disaster because the victims are of a different skin color.

    Here are some of the "middle-class educated Africans" Kristof, whether he is familiar with all of them and their work or not, chose to take issue with: Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire, who covered the Lord's Resistance Army in 2005 and made an eloquent video response to Kony 2012; Ugandan scholar Mahmood Mamdani, one of the world's leading specialists on Uganda and the author of a thorough riposte to the political wrong-headedness of Invisible Children; and Ethiopian-American novelist Dinaw Mengestu, who sought out Joseph Kony, met his lieutenants, and recently wrote a brilliant essay about how Kony 2012 gets the issues wrong. They have a different take on what Kristof calls a "humanitarian disaster," and this may be because they see the larger disasters behind it: militarization of poorer countries, short-sighted agricultural policies, resource extraction, the propping up of corrupt governments, and the astonishing complexity of long-running violent conflicts over a wide and varied terrain.

    I want to tread carefully here: I do not accuse Kristof of racism nor do I believe he is in any way racist. I have no doubt that he has a good heart. Listening to him on the radio, I began to think we could iron the whole thing out over a couple of beers. But that, precisely, is what worries me. That is what made me compare American sentimentality to a "wounded hippo." His good heart does not always allow him to think constellationally. He does not connect the dots or see the patterns of power behind the isolated "disasters." All he sees are hungry mouths, and he, in his own advocacy-by-journalism way, is putting food in those mouths as fast as he can. All he sees is need, and he sees no need to reason out the need for the need.

    But I disagree with the approach taken by Invisible Children in particular, and by the White Savior Industrial Complex in general, because there is much more to doing good work than "making a difference." There is the principle of first do no harm. There is the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them.

    I write all this from multiple positions. I write as an African, a black man living in America. I am every day subject to the many microaggressions of American racism. I also write this as an American, enjoying the many privileges that the American passport affords and that residence in this country makes possible. I involve myself in this critique of privilege: my own privileges of class, gender, and sexuality are insufficiently examined. My cell phone was likely manufactured by poorly treated workers in a Chinese factory. The coltan in the phone can probably be traced to the conflict-riven Congo. I don't fool myself that I am not implicated in these transnational networks of oppressive practices.

    And I also write all this as a novelist and story-writer: I am sensitive to the power of narratives. When Jason Russell, narrator of the Kony 2012 video, showed his cheerful blonde toddler a photo of Joseph Kony as the embodiment of evil (a glowering dark man), and of his friend Jacob as the representative of helplessness (a sweet-faced African), I wondered how Russell's little boy would develop a nuanced sense of the lives of others, particularly others of a different race from his own. How would that little boy come to understand that others have autonomy; that their right to life is not exclusive of a right to self-respect? In a different context, John Berger once wrote, "A singer may be innocent; never the song."

    One song we hear too often is the one in which Africa serves as a backdrop for white fantasies of conquest and heroism. From the colonial project to Out of Africa to The Constant Gardener and Kony 2012, Africa has provided a space onto which white egos can conveniently be projected. It is a liberated space in which the usual rules do not apply: a nobody from America or Europe can go to Africa and become a godlike savior or, at the very least, have his or her emotional needs satisfied. Many have done it under the banner of "making a difference." To state this obvious and well-attested truth does not make me a racist or a Mau Mau. It does give me away as an "educated middle-class African," and I plead guilty as charged. (It is also worth noting that there are other educated middle-class Africans who see this matter differently from me. That is what people, educated and otherwise, do: they assess information and sometimes disagree with each other.)

    In any case, Kristof and I are in profound agreement about one thing: there is much happening in many parts of the African continent that is not as it ought to be. I have been fortunate in life, but that doesn't mean I haven't seen or experienced African poverty first-hand. I grew up in a land of military coups and economically devastating, IMF-imposed "structural adjustment" programs. The genuine hurt of Africa is no fiction.

    And we also agree on something else: that there is an internal ethical urge that demands that each of us serve justice as much as he or she can. But beyond the immediate attention that he rightly pays hungry mouths, child soldiers, or raped civilians, there are more complex and more widespread problems. There are serious problems of governance, of infrastructure, of democracy, and of law and order. These problems are neither simple in themselves nor are they reducible to slogans. Such problems are both intricate and intensely local.

    How, for example, could a well-meaning American "help" a place like Uganda today? It begins, I believe, with some humility with regards to the people in those places.
    It begins with some respect for the agency of the people of Uganda in their own lives. A great deal of work had been done, and continues to be done, by Ugandans to improve their own country, and ignorant comments (I've seen many) about how "we have to save them because they can't save themselves" can't change that fact.

    Let me draw into this discussion an example from an African country I know very well. Earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of Nigerians took to their country's streets to protest the government's decision to remove a subsidy on petrol. This subsidy was widely seen as one of the few blessings of the country's otherwise catastrophic oil wealth. But what made these protests so heartening is that they were about more than the subsidy removal. Nigeria has one of the most corrupt governments in the world and protesters clearly demanded that something be done about this. The protests went on for days, at considerable personal risk to the protesters. Several young people were shot dead, and the movement was eventually doused when union leaders capitulated and the army deployed on the streets. The movement did not "succeed" in conventional terms. But something important had changed in the political consciousness of the Nigerian populace. For me and for a number of people I know, the protests gave us an opportunity to be proud of Nigeria, many of us for the first time in our lives.

    This is not the sort of story that is easy to summarize in an article, much less make a viral video about. After all, there is no simple demand to be made and -- since corruption is endemic -- no single villain to topple. There is certainly no "bridge character," Kristof's euphemism for white saviors in Third World narratives who make the story more palatable to American viewers. And yet, the story of Nigeria's protest movement is one of the most important from sub-Saharan Africa so far this year. Men and women, of all classes and ages, stood up for what they felt was right; they marched peacefully; they defended each other, and gave each other food and drink; Christians stood guard while Muslims prayed and vice-versa; and they spoke without fear to their leaders about the kind of country they wanted to see. All of it happened with no cool American 20-something heroes in sight.

    Joseph Kony is no longer in Uganda and he is no longer the threat he was, but he is a convenient villain for those who need a convenient villain. What Africa needs more pressingly than Kony's indictment is more equitable civil society, more robust democracy, and a fairer system of justice. This is the scaffolding from which infrastructure, security, healthcare, and education can be built. How do we encourage voices like those of the Nigerian masses who marched this January, or those who are engaged in the struggle to develop Ugandan democracy?

    If Americans want to care about Africa, maybe they should consider evaluating American foreign policy, which they already play a direct role in through elections, before they impose themselves on Africa itself. The fact of the matter is that Nigeria is one of the top five oil suppliers to the U.S., and American policy is interested first and foremost in the flow of that oil. The American government did not see fit to support the Nigeria protests. (Though the State Department issued a supportive statement -- "our view on that is that the Nigerian people have the right to peaceful protest, we want to see them protest peacefully, and we're also urging the Nigerian security services to respect the right of popular protest and conduct themselves professionally in dealing with the strikes" -- it reeked of boilerplate rhetoric and, unsurprisingly, nothing tangible came of it.) This was as expected; under the banner of "American interests," the oil comes first. Under that same banner, the livelihood of corn farmers in Mexico has been destroyed by NAFTA. Haitian rice farmers have suffered appalling losses due to Haiti being flooded with subsidized American rice. A nightmare has been playing out in Honduras in the past three years: an American-backed coup and American militarization of that country have contributed to a conflict in which hundreds of activists and journalists have already been murdered. The Egyptian military, which is now suppressing the country's once-hopeful movement for democracy and killing dozens of activists in the process, subsists on $1.3 billion in annual U.S. aid. This is a litany that will be familiar to some. To others, it will be news. But, familiar or not, it has a bearing on our notions of innocence and our right to "help."

    Let us begin our activism right here: with the money-driven villainy at the heart of American foreign policy. To do this would be to give up the illusion that the sentimental need to "make a difference" trumps all other considerations. What innocent heroes don't always understand is that they play a useful role for people who have much more cynical motives. The White Savior Industrial Complex is a valve for releasing the unbearable pressures that build in a system built on pillage. We can participate in the economic destruction of Haiti over long years, but when the earthquake strikes it feels good to send $10 each to the rescue fund. I have no opposition, in principle, to such donations (I frequently make them myself), but we must do such things only with awareness of what else is involved. If we are going to interfere in the lives of others, a little due diligence is a minimum requirement.

    Success for Kony 2012 would mean increased militarization of the anti-democratic Yoweri Museveni government, which has been in power in Uganda since 1986 and has played a major role in the world's deadliest ongoing conflict, the war in the Congo. But those whom privilege allows to deny constellational thinking would enjoy ignoring this fact. There are other troubling connections, not least of them being that Museveni appears to be a U.S. proxy in its shadowy battles against militants in Sudan and, especially, in Somalia. Who sanctions these conflicts? Under whose authority and oversight are they conducted? Who is being killed and why?

    All of this takes us rather far afield from fresh-faced young Americans using the power of YouTube, Facebook, and pure enthusiasm to change the world. A singer may be innocent; never the song.


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    Terrorism and Privilege: Understanding the Power of Whiteness

    By Tim Wise - April 16, 2013

    As the nation weeps for the victims of the horrific bombing in Boston, one searches for lessons amid the carnage, and finds few. That violence is unacceptable stands out as one, sure. That hatred — for humanity, for life, or whatever else might have animated the bomber or bombers — is never the source of constructive human action seems like a reasonably close second.

    But I dare say there is more; a much less obvious and far more uncomfortable lesson, which many are loathe to learn, but which an event such as this makes readily apparent, and which we must acknowledge, no matter how painful.

    It is a lesson about race, about whiteness, and specifically, about white privilege.

    I know you don’t want to hear it. But I don’t much care. So here goes.

    White privilege is knowing that even if the Boston Marathon bomber turns out to be white, his or her identity will not result in white folks generally being singled out for suspicion by law enforcement, or the TSA, or the FBI.

    White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for whites to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening, or threatened with deportation.

    White privilege is knowing that if the bomber turns out to be white, he or she will be viewed as an exception to an otherwise non-white rule, an aberration, an anomaly, and that he or she will be able to join the ranks of pantheon of white people who engage in (or have plotted) politically motivated violence meant to terrorize — and specifically to kill — but whose actions result in the assumption of absolutely nothing about white people generally, or white Christians in particular.

    Among these: Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph and Joe Stack and George Metesky and Byron De La Beckwith and Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton and Herman Frank Cash and Robert Chambliss and James von Brunn and Lawrence Michael Lombardi and Robert Mathews and David Lane and Chevie Kehoe and Michael F. Griffin and Paul Hill and John Salvi and Justin Carl Moose and Bruce and Joshua Turnidge and James Kopp and Luke Helder and James David Adkisson and Scott Roeder and Shelley Shannon and Dennis Mahon and Wade Michael Page and Jeffery Harbin and Byron Williams and Charles Ray Polk and Willie Ray Lampley and Cecilia Lampley and John Dare Baird and Joseph Martin Bailie and Ray Hamblin and Robert Edward Starr III and William James McCranie Jr. and John Pitner and Charles Barbee and Robert Berry and Jay Merrell and Brendon Blasz and Carl Jay Waskom Jr. and Shawn and Catherine Adams and Edward Taylor Jr. and Todd Vanbiber and William Robert Goehler and James Cleaver and Jack Dowell and Bradley Playford Glover and Ken Carter and Randy Graham and Bradford Metcalf and Chris Scott Gilliam and Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder and Buford Furrow and Benjamin Smith and Donald Rudolph and Kevin Ray Patterson and Charles Dennis Kiles and Donald Beauregard and Troy Diver and Mark Wayne McCool and Leo Felton and Erica Chase and Clayton Lee Wagner and Michael Edward Smith and David Burgert and Robert Barefoot Jr. and Sean Gillespie and Ivan Duane Braden and Kevin Harpham and William Krar and Judith Bruey and Edward Feltus and Raymond Kirk Dillard and Adam Lynn Cunningham and Bonnell Hughes and Randall Garrett Cole and James Ray McElroy and Michael Gorbey and Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman and Frederick Thomas and Paul Ross Evans and Matt Goldsby and Jimmy Simmons and Kathy Simmons and Kaye Wiggins and Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe and David McMenemy and Bobby Joe Rogers and Francis Grady and Cody Seth Crawford and Ralph Lang and Demetrius Van Crocker and Floyd Raymond Looker and Derek Mathew Shrout and Randolph Linn.

    Ya know, just to name a few.

    And white privilege is being able to know nothing about the crimes committed by most of the terrorists listed above — indeed, never to have so much as heard most of their names — let alone to make assumptions about the role that their racial or ethnic identity may have played in their crimes.

    White privilege is knowing that if the Boston bomber turns out to be white, we will not be asked to denounce him or her, so as to prove our own loyalties to the common national good. It is knowing that the next time a cop sees one of us standing on the sidewalk cheering on runners in a marathon, that cop will say exactly nothing to us as a result.

    White privilege is knowing that if you are a white student from Nebraska — as opposed to, say, a student from Saudi Arabia — that no one, and I mean no one would think it important to detain and question you in the wake of a bombing such as the one at the Boston Marathon.

    And white privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas. And if he turns out to be a member of the Irish Republican Army we won’t bomb Belfast. And if he’s an Italian American Catholic we won’t bomb the Vatican.

    In short, white privilege is the thing that allows you (if you’re white) — and me — to view tragic events like this as merely horrific, and from the perspective of pure and innocent victims, rather than having to wonder, and to look over one’s shoulder, and to ask even if only in hushed tones, whether those we pass on the street might think that somehow we were involved.

    It is the source of our unearned innocence and the cause of others’ unjustified oppression.

    That is all. And it matters.



    They didn't even put the right guy on trial!

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    Nivea Racist "re-civilize" Ad

    Companies like to push the envelope with their ads. Sometimes the gamble works, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes, like in the case of a new advertising campaign from Nivea, the whole thing turns into a fiasco.

    Nivea, a company that specializes in skin-care products, recently released a print ad that it has since pulled. How to best describe the ad? It shows an African American man preparing to toss a decapitated head (his own?) with an afro-style haircut. The ad copy reads: "Re-Civilize Yourself." The underlying message seems to be that afros are not civilized.

    Almost immediately, the ad met with outrage. The Los Angeles Times reported that Facebook users began "posting photos of themselves with Afros on Nivea's wall, saying things such as: 'I wear my hair natural and I just graduated with my doctorate! So who needs to be re-civilized?? Nivea no longer welcomed in my household.' "

    Nivea has since taken down the ad and issued an apology via Facebook. "Thank you for caring enough to give us your feedback about the recent 'Re-civilized' Nivea for Men ad. This ad was inappropriate and offensive. It was never our intention to offend anyone, and for this we are deeply sorry. This ad will never be used again. Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of our company."

    While the ad has since been pulled, the massive interest in the controversy it created continues full steam ahead. Over the past 24 hours, Web searches for "Nivea recivilize yourself" surged 629 percent. "Nivea racist ad" spiked 140 percent. The conventional wisdom is that there's no such thing as bad publicity, but the fallout from this ad SNAFU might prove otherwise.

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    White Mom's Lawsuit Over Black Baby Exposes Ugly Truths About White Privilege


    What happens, exactly, when a white family that wants a white sperm donor gets a half-black child instead?

    In the case of a lesbian couple from Ohio, it means a "wrongful birth" lawsuit against the sperm bank — two years after the fact. The lawsuit has apparently been prompted by the "racial problems" the parents are experiencing now that their child, 2-year-old Payton, is inching closer toward learning about the cruel, racist realities of American society. But there's another large issue sitting at the crux of what's otherwise a lawsuit about medical malpractice.

    Dealing with blackness has become burdensome and inconvenient for these two white mothersbecause the biracial baby completely upended their decades of enjoying the spoils of white privilege.

    Jennifer Cramblett, a 36-year-old woman from Uniontown, Ohio, filed suit Sept. 29 against Chicago-area Midwest Sperm Bank because, according to the allegations, the clinic artificially inseminated and impregnated her with the wrong sperm. Cramblett told the Today Show that they chose a "blond hair, blue-eyed individual" so the child would closely resemble her partner.

    Those dreams were dashed in April 2012, when Cramblett ordered more sperm from the chosen donor, for a second child the couple planned on having. It was then that Cramblett learned there may have been a mix-up. Not long after, it was confirmed she had been impregnated with the wrong donor's sperm.

    But the alleged medical malpractice is only part of what the lawsuit is concerned with, as seen in the documents made public by the Chicago Tribune. The filings paint a picture of a white couple's discomfort with the admitted "steep learning curve" they have had to overcome in terms of understanding black people, black culture, black experiences and even how to do a black child's hair.

    On page six of the lawsuit, for example, Cramblett describes living daily with the "fears, anxieties and uncertainty" about her child's future in their all-white, racially intolerant town, as well as within a culturally insensitive family. Cramblett acknowledges that she wasn't raised with a high degree of cultural competence about African-American people. She now complains about having to travel to a black neighborhood to get her daughter a decent haircut, where she's "not overtly welcome" because Payton has "hair typical of an African-American girl" and not the hair of the white child they wanted in the first place.

    Still, Cramblett maintains that race is not an issue, despite the considerable amount of space taken up in court documents with respect to the racialized elements of the case.

    "I don't find any problems with having a mixed-race child as far as I am concerned," Cramblett told NBC News, tearfully noting that she loves her biracial child and wants her to grow up in a more inclusive environment. "[Payton] will understand it wasn't about, 'We didn't want you. We wanted a white baby.' That wasn't what it was about."

    It wasn't until after the couple had had Payton, and embarked on the process of raising her for two years, that they entertained the idea of moving to a more racially inclusive environment, on the recommendation of Cramblett's therapists.

    All of this, combined with the alleged malpractice, is why the couple is suing for a to-be-determined amount of more than $50,000 for having suffered "personal injuries, medical expense, pain, suffering, emotional distress and other economic and non-economic issues, and will do so in the future."

    Translation: They didn't ask for their comfortable, white privileged way of life to be nearly eviscerated by blackness.

    Fortunately, according to the lawsuit, Cramblett seems aware of research showing that racist environments negatively affect overall well being for non-white children. She told the Today Show that she wants to use the money to underwrite expenses for the family's relocation to a more inclusive environment.

    But what if the child had been born white? Presumably, they would have had no problem raising that child in an environment they admit is unwelcoming of non-whites and not the most accepting of LGBT people.

    There are many layers to this lawsuit. As Cramblett told NBC News, one can't make a mistake like this and tell two first-time lesbian parents they should "just be happy" that they now have a baby, especially since they can't reproduce on their own. And no clinic, let alone any individual, should ever go against a woman's wish for what she wants to do with her body. If she chose a particular sperm donor, that's who she should've gotten. After all, Cramblett was a paying customer.

    But that aspect has clearly become jumbled up with a white couple's inability to cope with blackness, even within their own family. This confusion reveals a sad truth many blacks have known for generations, and one that their child will unfortunately learn when she gets older — that white people almost never have to seriously interrogate how white privilege and institutional racism make many social spaces violently unsafe for black people.

    Until that is, they're forced to confront their privilege by circumstances out of their control.


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    White Washing Your Name Just to Get a Job Response


    His name is José Zamora, and he had a routine.

    During his months-long job search, he says he logged onto his computer every morning and combed the internet for listings, applying to everything he felt qualified for. In the Buzzfeed video above, he estimates that he sent out between 50 to 100 resumes a day -- which is, in a word, impressive.

    But Zamora said he wasn't getting any responses, so on a hunch, he decided to drop the "s" in his name. José Zamora became Joe Zamora, and a week later, he says his inbox was full.

    As he explains in the video, "Joe" hadn't changed anything on his resume but that one letter. But what Zamora had done, effectively, was whitewash it.

    Although digital job applications would seem to be the ultimate exercise in colorblind hiring, numerous studies and applicants have found the opposite. Employers consciously or subconsciously discriminate against names that sound black or Latino, as reported by the New York Times. One much-cited study found that applicants with white-sounding names received 50 percent more callbacks than applicants with black-sounding names, a significant disparity.

    "I had to drop a letter to get a title," Zamora said, later adding, "Sometimes I don't even think people know or are conscious or aware that they're judging -- even if it's by name -- but I think we all do it all the time."


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    Next Time Someone Says 'White Privilege Isn't Real,' Show Them This


    Think white privilege doesn't exist in America? Consider just how much the color of a child's skin changes his or her odds of escaping poverty later in life.

    Roughly 16 percent of white children born into the poorest one-fifth of U.S. families will rise to become a member of the top one-fifth by the time they turn 40 years old, according to a new study by Brookings Institution researchers for the Boston Federal Reserve.

    Those are fairly bleak odds, but for poor black children the odds of making it to the top are even longer: Only 3 percent of black children born into the poorest one-fifth of families will ever make the leap to the top income group, according to the study.

    Even if they don't always make it to the top of the income ladder, poor whites escape the worst forms of poverty more often than poor blacks. Only 23 percent of poor white children will still be counted among the poorest Americans when they turn 40, while a whopping 51 percent of poor black children will, the researchers found.

    This chart shows the social mobility levels for white Americans. The horizontal axis shows where families start out on the income ladder, and the vertical axis shows the percentage of children from those families that end up at each income level by the age of 40.

    As you can see, the poorest white Americans have a decent shot of ending up in a higher tier than their parents -- 58 percent of white children from the poorest families end up in one of the top three income brackets.

    But for black Americans, escaping poverty is far more difficult:

    Just 22 percent of the poorest black children manage to get into the top three income brackets by the time they are 40. And note that there aren't even enough black families in the top income bracket to do statistically significant analysis.

    The findings in the paper, co-authored by Brookings economists Richard V. Reeves and Isabel V. Sawhill, run counter to the beliefs of some, like Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, who argue that racism in this country has diminished to the point that white privilege no longer exists. O'Reilly visited The Daily Show last week and argued that any person, regardless of race, can get rich in America so long as they work hard.

    But opportunities for success are clearly not that simple, for a host of reasons: The myriad legacies of slavery and Jim Crow, decades of racist housing policies, educational disparities, employment discrimination, and a race-fueled War on Drugs.

    Where you start in life financially matters a lot, too: If you're born in the poorest 20 percent of families of any race, yet still earn a college degree, you have roughly the same chance of being stuck in the poorest bracket as rich high-school dropouts do of staying in the richest bracket (16 and 14 percent, respectively).

    Upward mobility is a much harder climb than it would seem.


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    Mark Wahlberg's Ill-Timed Pardon Bid Is The Epitome Of White Privilege


    Amidst the stories of nationwide protests in response to the grand jury decisions in the Mike Brown and Eric Garner shootings, actor Mark Wahlberg’s request to have his decades-old criminal record expunged is poorly timed, to say the least. But Wahlberg’s story nicely exposes a concept that's sometimes hard to pin down: white privilege in America.

    Let’s take it piece by piece. For one thing, there’s the fact that Wahlberg was unharmed while being arrested, despite having committed two violent crimes. According to media reports, while strung out on cocaine, Wahlberg brutally assaulted a Vietnamese man named Thanh Lam while stealing two cases of beer from him, in the process calling Lam a series of racial epithets. Wahlberg then assaulted another man, Hoa Trinh, beating him so badly that he was left blinded in one eye. Yet like so many other white, violent criminals—even heavily armed, rampaging mass shooters like James Holmes and Jared Loughner—Wahlberg suffered no injuries while being apprehended by police. That’s as it should be. But given how many African-American suspects, like Brown and Garner, are wounded or killed during their encounters with police, the discrepancy is striking.

    Even more striking is the degree to which Wahlberg was able to leave this incident behind. Although the assaults culminated in years of criminal behavior for Wahlberg, including two incidents of harassing African-American schoolchildren among more than twenty encounters with the police, he was sentended to just two years in prison and had to serve just 45 days.

    When he emerged from his month and a half in prison, Wahlberg professed to be a changed man. Aided by the connections of his older brother Donnie—who was, at the time, already famous—Wahlberg moved smoothly into a successful entertainment career. Less than three years later, Wahlberg and The Funky Bunch released the album Music for the People (1991), featuring the #1 single “Good Vibrations.” In the following years, he famously modeled for Calvin Klein and began his acting career with roles in TV and feature films.

    For so many Americans, especially Asian-Americans, Latinos, black women, and most of all, black men, a criminal record permanently impacts their professional and personal futures. A criminal conviction—indeed, even a simple arrest—can reduce their options in every part of their lives, from employment to travel to child custody to voting. Wahlberg claims his record has denied him certain recent opportunities. Maybe so. But his record clearly didn’t stop him from making millions and becoming famous.

    There is a larger historical and cultural story at play here. In response to both the recent police killings and the subsequent protests, many commentators have emphasized supposed racial differences. Rudy Giuliani argued that African-Americans commit more violent crimes and so require police response–and he is not alone in making that argument. Others say that African-Americans riot far more readily than other communities. Yet Wahlberg’s childhood neighborhood of Dorchester reveals the inaccuracies in both those narratives. This impoverished white community has seen decades of systemic crime and violence, often tied—as Wahlberg’s assaults were—to drugs and gangs. And in the busing riots of the 1970s, Dorchester featured sustained, brutal communal violence on the part of whites against African-Americans, the latest in the long series of American “race riots” targeting African-American communities.

    Many Americans might prefer to erase the histories of white crime and violence from our collective memories, just as Wahlberg now requests that his own history of violence towards people of color be legally erased. This ability—to write history the way we choose, regardless of the facts—is a frightening example of white privilege. Until we make these histories a fuller part of our understanding of our shared American identity, our sense of ourselves will be as partial as a bio of Wahlberg without his teenage crimes.


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    Albert Einstein Called Racism “A Disease of White People” in His Little-Known Fight for Civil Rights


    Albert Einstein’s activities as a passionate advocate for peace were well-documented during his lifetime. His celebrity as a famous physicist and one of the world’s most recognizable faces lent a great deal of weight to his pacifism, a view otherwise not given much consideration in the popular press at almost any time in history. However, according to a 2006 book titled Einstein on Race and Racism by Fred Jerome and Roger Taylor, the scientist was also as passionate about combating racism and segregation as he was about combating war. This facet of Einstein’s life was virtually ignored by the media, as was a visit he made in 1946 to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the first degree-granting college for African-Americans and the alma mater of Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall.

    Invited to Lincoln to receive an honorary degree, Einstein gave a lecture on physics but also bluntly addressed the racial animus that held the country in its grip, reportedly calling racism, “a disease of white people” and saying he “did not intend to be quiet” about his opposition to segregation and racist public policy. Lest anyone think the Nobel-prize-winning physicist was pandering to his audience, the Harvard Gazette offers a comprehensive summary of Einstein’s support of progressive anti-racist causes, including his personal support of members of Princeton’s black community (he paid one man’s college tuition), a town Princeton native Paul Robeson once called “the northernmost town in the south.”

    Einstein formed relationships with several prominent black leaders—inviting opera singer Marian Anderson to stay in his home after she was refused a room at the Nassau Inn and appearing as a character witness for W.E.B. Dubois when the latter stood accused of “failing to register as a foreign agent.” But it was his 20-year friendship with Robeson that seems central to his involvement in civil rights causes. The Harvard Gazette writes:

    Einstein met Paul Robeson when the famous singer and actor came to perform at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre in 1935. The two found they had much in common. Both were concerned about the rise of fascism, and both gave their support to efforts to defend the democratically elected government of Spain against the fascist forces of Francisco Franco. Einstein and Robeson also worked together on the American Crusade to End Lynching, in response to an upsurge in racial murders as black soldiers returned home in the aftermath of World War II.

    At the time of the Gazette article, 2007, a movie about Einstein and Robeson’s friendship was apparently in the works, with Danny Glover as Robeson and Ben Kingsley as Einstein. The project is apparently stalled, but with the upsurge in popular interest in the history of civil rights—with the overturning of the Voting Rights Act and the widespread coverage of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington—perhaps the project will see new life soon. I certainly hope so.


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    KKK billboard causing controversy in Arkans


    HARRISON, Arkansas (CNN/KOLR) -- A Ku Klux Klan (KKK) sponsored billboard is turning heads on Highway 65 in one northern Arkansas city. The ad for White Pride Radio features a young white girl and includes the words, "It's not racist to love your people."

    The sign drew various reactions from local residents. "It does seem to come off as pretty racist in a sense that whites are more superior," James Hernandez, a Harrison resident said.

    Yolanda Riggins, a Fayetteville, Ark. resident disagreed, "I don't see it as being any kind of a racism sign." [probably white herself]

    Thomas Robb, the director of the Knights of the KKK -- which is sponsoring the billboard, said the message is clear. "The message is white people have the right to be proud of who they are," Robb said. "Everybody else has a right to be proud and I don't deny that."

    The new ad comes after a different controversial billboard was removed. "We thought, 'Oh, no. Here we go again,'" Harrison Mayor Jeff Crockett said. Mayor Crockett said this time around, the message is more direct.

    "The reflection comes back on Harrison, and if we just keep quiet and let him do the speaking, it looks like we're all like that and we're not like that. Harrison is not like that at all."

    Crockett believes the billboard has the potential to drive people away from Harrison, hurting the local economy. And its association to the KKK only brings people back to the bygone days of racism.


  15. #15
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    Doing life for murder? It’s a piece of cake: Islamophobe killer enjoys White Privilege in Prison

    The colourful candles shone on the super-hero cake, while the birthday boy posed happily for photographs, and enthused about what a ‘good time’ he was having.

    Such celebrations normally raise a smile, but these took place inside London’s Wandsworth Prison, where convicted murderer Liam Whitnell was gloating over a surprise 31st birthday treat.

    The photos and messages Whitnell posted on Facebook this week, including ‘who said prison was hard’, ‘B.day cake from da boys’ and a snap of a takeaway kebab he had delivered to his cell, have left the family of his innocent victim, 24-year-old Kowshar Hussain, outraged and heartbroken.

    For while Whitnell is enjoying cake and takeaways in a room equipped with a games console, music system and a cupboard full of DVDs, Kowshar, a law-abiding and thoroughly decent young man, lies in a grave his mother is too distraught to visit.

    And as Whitnell, who also posted a shot of himself chatting on a mobile phone, celebrates his birthday, the family can only look forward to what would have been Kowshar’s 28th birthday in October with pain and aching loss.

    Kowshar’s sister, Amirun, 24, who is studying a master’s degree in mental health nursing, will mark the day as she always does, by visiting his final resting place.

    Prison authorities say they are investigating, but Amirun is sickened by a system which allows vicious killers to revel in such comforts.

    Amirun says: ‘It looks like a party in there. I had to look at those pictures twice because I thought, “Is that prison?”. It looks like someone’s house.

    ‘How dare he have an Avengers cake, like he’s some sort of hero. Why does he deserve that?

    ‘What they did to my brother is worse than what happens to animals being slaughtered. He had stab wounds everywhere, including his head. There were nine in total on his chest and back, one in his buttock, one in his leg, another that went right through his hand and even one in his toe.

    ‘When Kowshar was taken from us, I consoled myself with the knowledge his murderers were at least sentenced to life in jail. I thought they were getting what they deserved. But you imagine they’re locked up for hours with nothing to do during that time except reflect on the evil they’ve done and why they are inside.

    ‘I thought they’d miss their families and feel what we’re feeling — the pain of not being able to be with the people you love.

    ‘Why should they have privileges like PlayStations? My brother loved to play computer games but he can’t any more.

    ‘Instead he’s lying in a cemetery. That’s where my family will be on his birthday — except for my mother. We try not to let her go. When she does, she doesn’t want to leave. She’s so distraught. When she comes home it’s weeks before she starts talking again.’

    It was 2011 when Whitnell, along with three accomplices, brutally attacked Kowshar with knives and a wheel brace as he collected a car seat from his brother-in-law’s car in what the judge described as the killing of ‘a totally innocent family man’.

    His senseless death continues to haunt this gentle, close-knit Bangladeshi family, for Kowshar was a kind, caring young man who had been married for 18 months to Shana and worked hard as a graphic printer in Canary Wharf. He had never had so much as a brush with the law.

    Kowshar was, says Amirun, the family’s ‘laughter’, but sadly, as she was with him when he died, the last thing she heard him say was the Shahadah — the prayer a Muslim offers to prepare for death.

    The day Kowshar was murdered, two men had launched an unprovoked attack on his brother-in-law, Shabir Ali, and some friends as they sat eating pizza in a car a few streets from Kowshar’s family home in Stepney, East London.

    According to witnesses, a local youth, Robert Lawrence, then 22, and 25-year-old Jonathan Joseph-Bell both, apparently drunk, randomly set upon the men. They grabbed their beards and threatened them, vowing to track them down and stab them before they finally managed to drive off.

    Shabir had planned to collect his wife and three young children from a family gathering later on, but now he was terrified the gang might recognise him in his car and launch another attack.

    So Kowshar and his wife Shana agreed to pick them up instead, and stopped off for the children’s car seats before going on to the family gathering.

    But the two men, who had since been joined by Whitnell and Robert Lawrence’s brother, Anthony Fraser, were lying in wait.

    Amirun, who had joined her brother and sister-in-law for the trip, says: ‘Shabir came out into the street to help get the car seats and I just remember hearing some boys running. There were four of them. Shabir ran off and was unhurt. I don’t think my brother thought anything would happen to him because he hadn’t been involved in the earlier attack, so he just stood there.

    ‘He was standing with his hands up. The next thing he was on the floor. Witnesses in court said they heard a really loud scream. One said he heard a man scream like he’d never heard before — like he was in the worst pain ever. I don’t remember that. I think I was in shock.

    ‘I just saw two guys on my brother attacking him. Then the third came back and was banging on the door of the car I was in, trying to get in.

    ‘Luckily, the door was locked. I was really scared but all I could think was, “Where’s my brother? What’s happening?” I didn’t know they had weapons.

    ‘The third man joined the other two, but somehow my brother managed to get up. He ran past the car, stopped, tripped up a little and turned towards the car. He was just turning around to face in my direction. I know my brother was looking at me and Shana, his wife. I know he was thinking, “I can’t leave them.” That’s when one of them with a knife stabbed him.’

    The attackers ran off and, despite being seriously injured, Kowshar crawled towards the car.

    ‘We were screaming and crying because they had a knife. But I thought he’d only been stabbed once. I thought, “He’ll be fine. We can drive to the hospital”. After opening the car door I could see the blood coming from his head. Kowshar said, “Call the ambulance,” and then he just dropped.

    ‘My hands were shaking so much I couldn’t actually dial. I remember screaming, “I need to call. I need to call”. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening.’

    When Amirun finally managed to dial 999 she was in such a state of shock she couldn’t even explain where they were. Thankfully, one of the nearby residents, who had by now left their homes to help, assisted her.

    Amirun recalls: ‘All the time he was saying, “God is great, God is great”.

    ‘I was screaming “Stop praying. You don’t need to pray. You’re not dying”. After he had said, “There’s only one God” he stopped talking.

    ‘I remember turning around and I saw his shoes on the ground beside the car seat he’d dropped. They must have come off when he was trying to get away. He was running in his socks. That was terribly hard for me to take.’

    Amirun only began to comprehend how seriously her brother was injured when the ambulance arrived and paramedics started to cut off his clothes.

    She says: ‘I could now see four or more stab wounds in his chest. I was in total shock. Every minute the terror became worse and worse.

    ‘They put him on a stretcher to take him to the ambulance. When they lifted him up I saw his arm drop and his head drop. That’s when I knew he wasn’t there. It was just his body. He’d gone. I screamed and screamed.’

    The police took Amirun and her mother Fokrun-Nessa, 59, and 68-year-old father Azizur to the Royal London Hospital, where surgeons tried desperately to save Kowshar’s life.

    She recalls: ‘We waited a couple of hours and then the doctor came out and said, “We tried to open up his chest to get his heart started again, but we’re sorry we couldn’t start it. He’s passed away.”

    ‘Mum just dropped to the floor, my sister-in-law, who was also at the hospital, was crying and I was in shock. I looked towards my dad sitting there silently holding on to his chest. I asked if he was OK but the doctor said he needed a bed immediately. My father was trying to stay strong for the whole family, but he was having a heart attack.’

    After losing her brother, Amirun kept a close eye on both parents while they were treated over the next few days. She also did her best to care for her distraught sister-in-law, who was devastated about losing her husband.

    Unsurprisingly, Amirun says she doesn’t remember much about it. Indeed, the next few weeks were a blur. There was the police interview and the viewing of her brother’s body, of which she says: ‘My brother had a kind of smile on his face. They told us they put make-up on him so he looked more like the Kowshar we knew.’

    The family home was soon filled with friends and relatives offering their sympathies. The funeral was held immediately after the autopsy was complete, a week or two after the murder, and both parents were by now well enough to attend. The 600 guests who had gathered for Kowshar’s ‘wonderful, colourful, happy’ wedding just 18 months before, now came to pay their last respects. Amirun only remembers sobbing.

    ‘I still think it’s not real. If I’m here during the day, I think he’s at work. My mum’s the same. If it’s close to his time to come home from work she’ll go out on the balcony to look for him.’

    Amirun’s is not a wealthy family. Their home is a three-bedroom flat. But walk in the front door, and you are struck by the love the family share.

    Amirun’s parents moved here from Bangladesh before she was born for ‘a better life’. Her father, who spoke little English, nevertheless integrated well and worked all the hours God sent him in menial jobs to support his family.

    He told his daughter: ‘We wanted to raise our children here because we thought it would be fairer, safer and better in every way than Bangladesh.’

    The four children were brought up to respect the laws of this country and their Muslim faith. They don’t drink, don’t believe in sex before marriage and were never allowed to run around unsupervised. Evenings were, Amirun says, family time, when they’d sit, talk and share an evening meal. Those happy times are long gone, the dream of a better life in the UK shattered. Today, Amirun talks of the mother she grew up with in the past tense.

    She was a strong woman with a highly defined sense of right and wrong who did voluntary work with children. Now she is a subdued shadow of her former self. For months after her son’s death she wouldn’t eat and struggled to get out of bed.

    ‘She doesn’t talk as much,’ says Amirun sadly. ‘Now she is always thinking, “What’s the point of being here? Who’s going to be here now my son is gone?”

    ‘Kowshar sat with her every evening when we were in bed, gave her shoulders or feet a massage and talked to her. He was her best friend. She loved him best. We all loved him best.

    ‘Even the teacher who taught us Arabic favoured him. For prayers he’d ask my brother to take the lead because his voice was so good. It sounded like he was singing.

    ‘My father is better. He tries to be strong for the rest of us.’

    Seven months after her brother’s death, Amirun gave evidence in the trial at the Old Bailey.

    She says: ‘They gave us the option of being behind a screen so Whitnell and the gang couldn’t see us, but I wanted to be visible. I also wanted to see what they looked like. They were just smirking — staring at me. There was no contrition.’

    When brothers Lawrence and Fraser were sentenced to a minimum of 26 years without parole and Whitnell and Joseph-Bell to 24 years, Amirun wept tears of happiness. ‘We were all hugging each other,’ she says. ‘We felt we had justice.’

    And today? ‘This isn’t justice,’ she says. ‘When I explained to my dad what Whitnell had done, he couldn’t really speak. He said, “My son can’t have a birthday. He can’t have a cake. He can’t have kebabs. But they’re getting everything they want. Why?”’

    Why indeed.


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    Christian White Woman's "White Savior Complex" Praised by other Whites

    'The Blind Side' woman does something racist, gets retweeted by white people

    By Anne Theriault - December 16, 2014

    Leigh Anne "That Nice Woman Sandra Bullock Played In The Blind Side" Tuohy recently posted the following picture and caption on her Facebook and Instagram accounts.

    "We see what we want! It's the gospel truth! These two were literally huddled over in a corner table nose to nose and the person with me said "I bet they are up to no good" well you know me… I walked over, told them to scoot over. After 10 seconds of dead silence I said so whats happening at this table? I get nothing.. I then explained it was my store and they should spill it… They showed me their phones and they were texting friends trying to scrape up $3.00 each for the high school basketball game! Well they left with smiles, money for popcorn and bus fare. We have to STOP judging people and assuming and pigeon holing people! Don't judge a book by its cover or however you'd like to express the sentiment! Accept others and stoping seeing what you want to see!!!"

    The comments on both posts are full of people praising her -- telling her how awesome she is, how open-minded, how kind. Reading these responses is completely baffling -- like, did these people and I all read the same words?

    Let's break down what happened here:

    1. Two teenagers were sitting alone and completely minding their own business.

    2. A white woman decides that based on the fact that they are "huddled" in corner "nose to nose," they must be "up to no good." Because obviously whenever Black people (especially Black men) gather in public, it's bad news for the rest of us!

    3. Another white woman, one Leigh Anne "I Adopted A Black Boy So I Can't Possibly Be Racist" Tuohy, decides that White Lady #1 is wrong. Which is actually the correct assumption for Ms. Tuohy to make, so I guess this is where some people are getting confused because we see that her intent is good, and that makes us want to believe that the action that follows will also be good. She's at a crossroad here -- two roads diverged, etc. Had she taken the road less travelled, Ms. Tuohy might have said to her friend, "Wow, you're being really racist right now! I'm not comfortable with how this conversation is going." Instead, she decided to confront the teenagers who, as a reminder, have done absolutely nothing wrong.

    4. Leigh Anne Tuohy walks over to the two boys and sits there in silence. I'm sure that wasn't scary for two Black teenagers at all, especially given recent events.

    5. After what was certainly the most awkward 10 seconds of those boys' lives, Ms. Tuohy asks what's "happening" at the table. Like, other than two teenagers sitting there talking like anyone sitting at a table might do? Some kids are hanging out and chatting. That is what's happening.

    Unsure of the correct answer to this question -- other than "we are two friends sitting together and not causing any trouble," which probably seemed too obvious for them to point out -- the boys remain silent.

    6. Leigh Anne tells them that this is her store and they need to "spill." Again, these kids have done nothing except be in public and be Black.

    7. After being interrogated by this woman, and probably afraid that at the very least she's about the call the cops, the boys show her their phones. This part just breaks my brain, like, these two kids had to show this woman evidence that they are doing exactly what they seem to be doing: sitting at a table and having a conversation.

    8. Apparently satisfied with the evidence the boys have presented her with, Leigh Anne Tuohy gives them bus fare and money for popcorn, but not before she has White Lady #1 take her picture with them.

    9. Ms. Tuohy then posts this picture to social media and receives thousands of responses lauding her for being such a good person.

    Leigh Anne Tuohy profiled two Black kids, invaded their privacy and interrogated them, but somehow people are behaving as if this is some kind of wonderful social justice moment. No. Not even a little. This is some fucked up racial profiling combined with white saviourism, and it is racist as hell. Assuming that those kids were doing something bad was racist. Assuming that she could take up space at their table was racist. Insisting that they talk to her was disrespectful and racist. Wanting evidence that they weren't up to no good was racist. Treating those boys as props to make her look good and then posting this picture publicly (and honestly, I wonder if the boys consented to that) is incredibly racist.

    Also, can we talk about how problematic using the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover" is when it comes to talking about race? First of all, it begins with the assumption that the "cover" (or in this case, skin) tells you something unappealing about the contents of the book or person. It also infers that there is something unattractive or bad about the "cover" (or, again, skin). I can't believe that I have to say this, but: there is nothing wrong or bad about Black skin. Black skin is not unpleasant or ugly, and to imply that dark skin might devalue someone is really, really fucked up.

    Black people aren't things. They don't exist just so that white people can make a point about themselves. These are two real kids who not only had to endure this woman's microaggressions but have now had their image splashed all over social media -- the Facebook picture alone has 150,000 likes and over 12,000 shares. Step away for a hot second from this white woman's narrative, and think about how those teenagers must feel -- having their privacy invaded, having assumptions made about them based on their race, and now having a white woman use their images to get praise for herself.

    Now tell me again about how Leigh Anne Tuohy did a good thing.


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    Yes, ISIS Burned a Man Alive: White Americans Did the Same Thing to Black People by the Thousands

    ISIS burned Muadh al Kasasbeh, a captured Jordian fighter pilot, to death. They doused him with an accelerant. His captors set him on fire. Muadh al Kasasbeh desperately tried to put out the flames. ISIS recorded Muadh al Kasasbeh's immolation, produced a video designed to intimidate their enemies, and then circulated it online.

    ISIS's burning alive of Muadh al Kasasbeh has been denounced as an act of savagery, barbarism, and wanton cruelty--one from the "dark ages" and not of the modern world.

    American Exceptionalism blinds those who share its gaze to uncomfortable facts and truths about their own country.

    For almost a century, the United States practiced a unique cultural ritual that was as least as gruesome as the "medieval" punishments meted out by ISIS against its foes.

    What is now known as "spectacular lynching" involved the ceremonial torture, murder--and yes, burning alive--of black Americans by whites. Like ISIS's use of digital media to circulate images of the torturous death of Muadh al Kasasbeh by fire, the spectacular lynchings of the black body were shared via postcards and other media.

    In fact, the burned to death images of the black body were one of the most popular types of mass culture in 19th and 20th century America.

    This account of the horrific murder of Sam Hose by White Americans is an even more grotesque and exaggerated version of the cruelty visited upon Muadh al Kasasbeh by ISIS:

    The white-owned newspapers of the South had long gorged themselves with exaggerated or fabricated accounts of such violence. In the papers' version, the fight between Sam Hose and his boss became transformed into the most enraging crime of all: the rape of the white man's wife. White Georgians tracked Hose down and prepared for his lynching. Two thousand people gathered for the killing, some taking a special excursion train from Atlanta for the purpose. The leaders of the lynching stripped Hose, chained him to a tree, stacked wood around him, and soaked everything in kerosene. The mob cut off Hose's ears, fingers and genitals; they peeled the skin from his face. They watched, a newspaper reported, ''with unfeigning satisfaction'' as the man's veins ruptured from the heat and his blood hissed in the flames.

    ''Oh, my God! Oh, Jesus,'' were the only words Hose could manage. When he finally died, the crowd cut his heart and liver from his body, sharing the pieces among themselves, selling fragments of bone and tissue to those unable to attend. No one wore a disguise, no one was punished.

    The murder of Jessie Washington
    is a genius work in white on black violence, far worse than the wickedness of ISIS's acts against Muadh al Kasasbeh:

    “Great masses of humanity flew as swiftly as possible through the streets of the city in order to be present at the bridge when the hanging took place, but when it was learned that the Negro was being taken to the City Hall law, crowds of men, women and children turned and hastened to the lawn.” “On the way to the scene of the burning people on every hand took a hand in showing their feelings in the matter by striking the Negro with anything obtainable, some struck him with shovels, bricks, clubs, and others stabbed him and cut him until when he was strung up his body was a solid color of red, the blood of the many wounds inflicted covered him from head to foot.”

    “Dry goods boxes and all kinds of inflammable material were gathered, and it required but an instant to convert this into seething flames. When the Negro was firsthoisted into the air his tongue protruded from his mouth and his face was besmeared with blood.”

    “Life was not extinct within the Negro’s body, although nearly so, when another chain was placed around his neck and thrown over the limb of a tree on the lawn, everybody trying to get to the Negro and have some part in his death. The infuriated mob then leaned the Negro, who was half alive and half dead, against the tree, he having just strength enough within his limbs to support him.

    As rapidly as possible the Negro was then jerked into the air at which a shout from thousands of throats went up on the morning air and dry goods boxes, excelsior, wood and every other article that would burn was then in evidence, appearing as if by magic. A huge dry goods box was then produced and filled to the top with all of the material that had been secured.

    The Negro’s body was swaying in the air, and all of the time a noise as of thousands was heard and the Negro’s body was lowered into the box.” “No sooner had his body touched the box than people pressed forward, each eager to be the first to light the fire, matches were touched to the inflammable material and as smoke rapidly rose in the air, such a demonstration as of people gone mad was never heard before. Everybody pressed closer to get souvenirs of the affair. When they had finished with the Negro his body was mutilated.”

    “Fingers, ears, pieces of clothing, toes and other parts of the Negro’s body were cut off by members of the mob that had crowded to the scene as if by magic when the word that the Negro had been taken in charge by the mob was heralded over the city. As the smoke rose to the heavens, the mass of people, numbering in the neighborhood of 10,000 crowding the City Hall law and overflowing the square, hanging from the windows of buildings, viewing the scene from the tops of buildings and trees, set up a shout that was heard blocks away.”

    Many thousands of black Americans were killed by white lynchers in the United States.

    The spectacular lynching was a ceremony (it was not something random or spontaneous; the acts of a few out for black blood possessed insane white people), with distinct practices, that symbolically purged the black body from the white polity in an era of formal white supremacy:

    The actual process of lynching was morbid and incredibly violent. Lynching does not necessarily mean hanging. It often included humiliation, torture, burning, dismemberment and castration. Victims were beaten and whipped, many times in front of large crowds that sometimes numbered in the thousands. Coal tar was frequently used to douse the unfortunate victim prior to setting him afire. Onlookers sometimes fired rifles and handguns hundreds of times into the corpse while people cheered and children played during the festivities. Pieces of the corpse were taken by onlookers as souvenirs of the event [5]. Such was the case when James Irwin was lynched on January 31, 1930. Irwin was accused of the murder of a white girl in the town of Ocilla, Georgia. Taken into custody by a rampaging mob, his fingers and toes were cut off, his teeth pulled out by pliers and finally he was castrated. It still wasn't enough. Irwin was then burned alive in front of hundreds of onlookers (Brundage, p. 42).

    No one was ever punished for this barbaric killing. Black victims were hacked to death, dragged behind cars [6], burned, beaten, whipped, sometimes shot thousands of times, mutilated; the savagery was astonishing. How could ordinary people participate in such brutality?

    The rendering of spectacular violence against non-whites paid a psychological wage to white people that helped to create a type of social cement for White America, one that covered up its own intra-group tensions of class, religion, and gender. This racial logic continues in the present with a racially discriminatory criminal justice system, the murder by police of black and brown people, and how white Americans support such unfair treatment. American politicians and other opinion leaders have denounced ISIS and the death by fire meted out to Muadh al Kasasbeh.

    Would they apply the same standards to white Americans who committed mass violence against African-Americans through lynchings, racial pogroms, and other like deeds?

    Would they support reparations as a material gesture of apology for such crimes?

    Would white folks, on both sides of the ideological divide, condemn their ancestors who participated in such types of violence?

    Will White America ever be willing to fully own its historic ISIS-like behavior against African-Americans and other people of color, and how such violence created the present, where neighborhoods are hyper-segregated, there exists a huge wage and income gap along the color line, and by almost every measure, black and brown Americans have significantly diminished life chances relative to white people?

    Violence is a human trait. ISIS's burning alive of Muadh al Kasasbeh is an act of barbarism.

    However, we cannot overlook how the United States has conducted master classes in violence and barbarism both before, during, and since its founding...and yes, much of this violence was against people of color whose labor, lives, land, and freedom were stolen to create American empire.


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    Racism’s Hidden Toll on African Americans

    By Ryan Blitstein

    Does the stress of living in a white-dominated society make African Americans get sick and die younger than their white counterparts? Apparently, yes.

    In the fall of 1976, Arline Geronimus began living in two separate, unequal worlds. At Princeton University, the political theory major became a research assistant to Charles Westoff, a professor who studied teen pregnancy among the urban poor. Down the road at Planned Parenthood in Trenton, N.J., she spent time with real-life, impoverished pregnant teens.

    A self-assured, middle-class Jewish girl from Brookline, Mass., Geronimus shuttled between the extremes of haves and have-nots, eventually spotting a chasm between the theories of Princeton researchers and the experiences of the women she taught.

    Geronimus would sit in on the professors’ meetings, listening to them discuss how young girls, ignorant of family planning, were ruining their lives with accidental pregnancies. Bearing children at an early age would rewrite these mothers’ life scripts, with terrible consequences. The funders behind the academic studies — including those in charge of Planned Parenthood’s own research arm — supported the consensus opinion that teen pregnancy was a crucial cause of ghetto poverty and ill health among America’s urban blacks. The only question was how to get these girls to stop having babies before they’d come of age.
    The girls Geronimus met at Planned Parenthood’s alternative school for expectant teens, however, seemed to know exactly what they were doing. When she tried to teach them about contraception — something they supposedly knew nothing about — they laughed at her. The girls in the program told Geronimus they were overjoyed to have children. Far from blundering into motherhood, many were experienced with child rearing, having helped raise siblings or cousins. Some talked about how long they’d been trying to have a baby.

    As the months wore on, the professors’ belief — that poor childhood health and ghetto joblessness would disappear, if only these girls would stop getting themselves pregnant — started to seem absurd. “What I was hearing in the halls of Princeton was inaccurate,” she remembers. “It just didn’t fit in, in any way, with what I was seeing.”

    Though Geronimus didn’t understand the discrepancy, she noticed that these girls, even at 15 or 16, had been worn down by tough lives. Compared with her classmates in Princeton’s dorms — many of them hailing from America’s WASP elite — the poor black girls at the clinic seemed to lack the energy and health of youth. Geronimus couldn’t quite put her finger on it, except to say these girls seemed older — and not in a good way.

    Somebody, Geronimus thought, had to put the facts together and change things for the better for these girls and others like them. In a fit of youthful arrogance, she took it upon herself to become that person. Now a professor at the University of Michigan, Geronimus has spent the last 30 years challenging the received wisdom of researchers about a pressing social question: Why are some racial minority groups less healthy than others?

    A multitude of figures illustrate the stark health differences between African Americans and whites. Black residents of high-poverty areas, for instance, are as likely to die by the age of 45 as American whites are to die by 65. The disability rates of black 55-year-olds approach the rates of 75-year-old whites. Traditional theories, which blame the phenomenon on factors like genetics or income differences, fail to fully explain these huge disparities. Geronimus has devoted her career to finding the real reasons. Her own complex explanation for what’s happening — the weathering framework — rests on two unexpected, controversial causes: racism and stress, in the broadest senses of both terms. American minorities face a bevy of chronic obstacles that whites and the socioeconomically advantaged cope with far less often: environmental pollution, high crime, poor health care, overt racism, concentrated poverty. Over the course of a person’s life, the psychological and physiological response to this kind of stress leads to dire health problems, advanced aging and early death.

    Geronimus’ papers, published in top-flight economics, medicine, sociology and public health journals, have attracted criticism from major foundations and led some colleagues to virtually blacklist her; early in her career, her findings even provoked death threats. Yet public health scholars are beginning to accept unconventional ideas from Geronimus and her allies about why blacks and other minorities generally aren’t as healthy as whites. As she’s gathered more evidence and refined her theory, Geronimus has become increasingly vocal about how weathering-inspired public policies might save and improve lives. Instead of brief interventions based on conjecture, she favors radical change in health care, welfare and other social policies based on thorough research and cultural understanding.

    But Geronimus’ idea of structural economic and social change has never been an easy sell to the wider American public, to government officials or even to some of the liberal academics and activists one would think might be on her side.

    The existence of health disparities between racial and ethnic groups is common knowledge among public health wonks. But the average American may find the numbers shocking: In impoverished urban areas like Harlem, one-third of black girls and two-thirds of boys who reach their 15th birthdays don’t reach their 65th. That’s almost triple the rate of early death among average Americans.

    While the inner-city ghetto is an extreme case, a broad national trend ranges across a variety of health problems, from prostate cancer to hypertension. Since World War II, Americans’ health outcomes have generally improved. For minorities, though, progress has come slowly. Blacks now die at a rate comparable to the death rate for whites of 30 years ago. Every year, 100,000 more African Americans die than would be the case if black and white death rates were the same. For many diseases, the situation is worsening: In 1950, blacks had a slightly lower cancer death rate than whites. By 2000, the rate was 30 percent higher among blacks.

    Experts have offered three approaches to closing the gap: behavioral (if we could only get them to eat better and exercise more), medical (if we could only give them better health care), and socioeconomic (if we could only get them better education and jobs). After a panoply of interventions, the numbers have barely budged.

    Long before she’d heard the phrase “health disparities,” Geronimus was primed to view the issue through the prism of civil rights. As a young girl, she would visit the tiny Brooklyn apartment where her father and six siblings had grown up, listening to her grandmother’s harrowing tales of escape from brutal Russian pogroms. In high school, Geronimus, then managing editor of the student newspaper, thought the school’s black population didn’t have enough say in student affairs, so she created “Black Voices,” a column for African-American classmates. The other editors were furious. After college, during a Fulbright Scholarship to Sweden, she befriended Iranian refugees in her Swedish class and became involved in protests related to Iran. The Fulbright Commission asked her to stop. “I always somehow felt these compulsions or noticed these things and got in trouble over and over,” she says.

    After an unsuccessful attempt at studying Sweden’s minuscule teenage pregnancy rate, Geronimus returned to Princeton as a research assistant and then served a short stint as an admissions officer. But the question of the Trenton girls nagged at her, so she went home to Massachusetts to attend the Harvard School of Public Health.

    While she was learning to conduct empirical research, Geronimus mulled the puzzle: The girls understood family planning and birth control, and many were consciously making the decision to become pregnant. At the same time, then-current research showed that teenage pregnancy led to socioeconomic difficulties for the young mothers, along with pre-term birth, low-birth-weight babies and high infant mortality rates. To Geronimus, it didn’t make sense that the vast majority of a millions-strong population was having kids at the “wrong” time.

    A professor recommended she read All Our Kin, anthropologist Carol Stack’s early ’70s ethnographic account of three years in a low-income black community. Inspired, Geronimus attacked the quandary the way Stack might have, guessing that something in their families or communities must have influenced the teens toward having babies early. She thought through the cultural differences between her life and theirs. If Geronimus had come home pregnant as a high schooler, her father would’ve thrown her out of the house. But most of the Trenton girls’ families embraced their expectant daughters. Geronimus’ grandmother, like many in her generation, had given birth as a teen, and nobody had criticized her.

    The concept of teenage motherhood as a problem per se seemed to be a societal construct. Maybe, Geronimus thought, researchers were just viewing the minority community through cultural blinders.

    Geronimus hypothesized that the black infants’ poor health wasn’t because their mothers were too young; it was due to their mothers’ social disadvantages. If she could take into account factors like income and race, she might show that teen mothers were no worse off than moms in their 20s. Unlike most studies, which separated mothers into the broad categories of teen and not-teen, Geronimus broke down maternal ages by year. The results among white women were expected: higher infant mortality rates among teen mothers. Yet the numbers for blacks astounded even Geronimus. Black teenage mothers had lower infant death rates than black mothers in their 20s. Because infant health is a decent predictor of maternal health, Geronimus’ data meant the average black woman might be less healthy at 25 than she was at 15. Perhaps the population of pregnant teens in Trenton was onto something. Consciously or not, the black teen mothers might be doing what was best for their infants’ health.

    Geronimus’ advisers were enthralled, though a few faculty members were “pretty allergic” to her theories. But she was only a lowly grad student, so no one paid much attention. She taught at Harvard for a few years, then moved on to Michigan without event.

    Geronimus was in the middle of a talk at the 1990 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science when her 1-year-old daughter, overjoyed at recently having learned to walk, wandered toward the podium. Her husband pulled the girl away to the hallway, only to discover another panelist, Karen Pittman, surrounded by reporters and attacking his wife’s research. It seemed odd that this representative from the Children’s Defense Fund, one of the most prominent nonprofit organizations in America, was disparaging conclusions based on data Geronimus hadn’t yet circulated.

    After 15 years, the people whose careers depended on the scientific status quo had finally taken notice of Geronimus’ work. They were angry.

    Together with earlier studies, Geronimus was presenting new data showing that teen mothers’ socioeconomic outcomes were as good as or better than those of older moms. In many cases, pregnancy made the teens eligible for social programs like Medicaid, or they formed alliances with the families of the fathers of their children, improving their economic positions. Geronimus hoped to explain why these girls were making these choices and to show that efforts to prevent teen pregnancy wouldn’t solve anything. Her goal was to convince people to focus on larger underlying causes of poverty and poor health. After all, even the young mothers who were slightly better off still had it very rough.

    Amid a climate of culture-war controversies over family planning and abortion rights, many didn’t hear the nuanced version of Geronimus’ work. It didn’t help that her conclusions undercut the mission of a major Children’s Defense Fund campaign against teen pregnancy, along with the work of prominent researchers nationwide.

    “Her facts are misrepresentative, her premise is wrong and the policy implications of her arguments are perverse,” Pittman told The New York Times. Many news stories published in subsequent months were horrendously critical, with liberals painting Geronimus as racist and conservatives dismissing her as dangerous. One nationally syndicated columnist accused her of “prescribing pregnancy for poor teenage girls.”

    Geronimus now blames the anger on a lack of empathy. “Most of us can take for granted that we could have healthy babies any time between 18 and 40. The concept that if you’re 25, you’re not going to have healthy kids? That just doesn’t compute,” she says.

    Michigan’s public relations staff received more calls about Geronimus than any professor in the history of the press office. People sent letters to the university president demanding she be fired. Others called her at work and home, telling her she should be shot. One said there were people around the corner with Uzis, coming to kill her family.

    “I found out the hard way just how controversial what I was saying was,” she says. “It was very sudden, and I wasn’t in any way prepared for it.”
    Though the storm soon abated, clouds lingered for years. Michigan faculty members would tell students not to take her courses; some no longer wanted to collaborate with her on research projects. The National Institutes of Health, which funded much of her work, held a days-long forum on teen-childbearing research that left Geronimus feeling at times like she was being interrogated. Neighbors wouldn’t let their kids sit next to her daughter at Dairy Queen.
    “There was always a sense that if I could just crack this intellectual nut and bring people together and come up with the right policy, then it would all be solved,” she says. “That was ridiculously naïve.”

    Geronimus retreated to health research, which seemed safer territory. Scholars had criticized teens’ mothering skills, so she studied intelligence among the children of pairs of sisters. Geronimus showed that when a woman gave birth as a teen and her sister did so during her 20s, the younger mother’s children were no less intelligent than their cousins. She also examined antisocial behavior among children of teen mothers. They differed little from average American children.

    Harsh criticism also drove Geronimus to concentrate on teaching, hoping to cultivate her brand of skepticism in a rising generation of scholars. As chair of the admissions committee at Michigan’s Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, she boosted the number of students from underrepresented racial and socioeconomic groups.

    Slowly, she and the graduate students she advised built up evidence of accelerating, lifelong decline in health among minorities — first among mothers, then across a variety of illnesses and unhealthy behaviors like smoking. While it was well known that blacks are more likely than whites to be hypertensive, no one had looked at the age patterns of that risk. Geronimus found that black and white hypertension rates are virtually identical for people in their 20s, but the differences increase sharply during middle age. Similar patterns appeared in almost every health condition.

    Those disparities don’t subside on the way up the income ladder. Geronimus and then-graduate student Cynthia Colen, now a professor at Ohio State University, led a study showing that upwardly mobile white women who grew up poor improved their birth outcomes, but similar income increases didn’t help black mothers much at all. Other researchers have established that the health of Latino immigrants declines as they stay in America longer and improve their lots in life, and that South Asian Indian mothers, who have socioeconomic profiles comparable to whites, suffer from birth outcomes as poor as those of low-income blacks.

    As Geronimus built a theory to explain her findings, the work of her one-time colleague Sherman James, now at Duke University, was particularly influential. James described a phenomenon called “John Henryism,” named for the powerful black steel-driver of American folklore who dropped dead after winning a contest with a mechanical drill. James claimed that African Americans’ high levels of circulatory diseases were caused by exposure to psychosocial stressors, including chronic financial strain and subtly racist insults. He drew on research into high-effort coping, in which people exposed to long-term stress expend cognitive and emotional effort on those problems and then develop stress-induced health conditions.

    The more results Geronimus produced, and the more she read, the more she began to agree with the radical notion that it wasn’t anything inherent to their race that made black people sick — it was being black in a racist society. The phrase “racism kills” would be a vast oversimplification of Geronimus’ ideas, but the way she describes it, racism is a fundamental cause of health disparities. The intolerance may be overt — several studies document high blood pressure and preterm labor among victims of discrimination. It might also be structural or societal, keeping even middle-class blacks in crime-ridden, environmentally poisonous neighborhoods.

    Geronimus believes white Americans are too culturally removed from the minority experience to grasp the crisis. They take for granted that they’ll be healthy through middle age and essentially ignore those who aren’t so lucky. “We haven’t lived it, haven’t seen it close up. We have a different narrative … and we all grew up knowing that narrative, seeing everything through that prism. In all these different ways, different life experiences get marginalized and ignored,” she says. “That’s not for individual, conscious racist reasons, but because we have a highly segregated society and such entrenched inequality that dates back to when racism was in neon lights.”

    In the early 1990s, Geronimus unified her ideas into a notion she calls weathering. At the time, scholars tended to view the course of life through developmental theory, which depicts humans as moving through stages of maturation, adulthood and senescence. Weathering takes the opposite approach: During a person’s life, Geronimus hypothesized, stressors ranging from pollution to racism-induced anger can weather the systems of the human body, fueling the progression of disease. The stressors accumulate and feed on each other, altering the culture and behavior of a community — leading, for instance, to earlier pregnancies or high smoking rates. Minorities suffer from weathering more often than whites because they’re more likely to experience socioeconomic and political exclusion. In the worst cases, as in the inner-city part of Trenton where Geronimus had worked, weathering accelerates the aging process at an alarming rate.

    Geronimus’ early weathering papers generated a limited, though positive, response. For some researchers, the concepts jibed with their own conclusions and intuitions. “It’s such a compelling theory, many of us who work in this area almost take it for granted that it’s true,” says Chris Dunkel Schetter, director of UCLA’s health psychology program.

    Weathering’s sociological slant was part of a broad move among public health experts toward social epidemiology, which analyzes communities and societies to understand disease. A throwback to the early 20th-century focus on person-to-person infection, the approach received a major boost from Clinton administration Surgeon General David Satcher, among others. Since then, Geronimus’ weathering framework, based on concepts that had once been attacked as dead wrong, has become part of the lingua franca of health research.

    “She was willing to say things that people don’t want to hear,” says Marianne Hillemeier, who worked with Geronimus as a graduate student and is now a health policy professor at Pennsylvania State University. “It takes a toll on a person. It’s difficult to do that. But she did it, and she changed the field.”
    Even Pittman, who now directs the Forum for Youth Investment and calls Geronimus’ thinking “backward,” notes that The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy now concentrates on preventing unplanned pregnancies among adults.

    It wasn’t a large logical jump from weathering to the idea that health disparities are a social justice issue. Geronimus returned to her politico-activist roots, authoring papers with titles like, “To Denigrate, Ignore, or Disrupt: Racial Inequality in Health and the Impact of a Policy-induced Breakdown of African American Communities.” She argues that doctors and academics should address the health disparities by fighting for structural economic and social change.
    Nevertheless, even proponents of weathering fear it’s too early to adapt its tenets to policy. One risk is that it will be another in a succession of persuasive public health theories that, put into practice, produced either few effects or negative outcomes. “The best policy in this area is to put more money into investigations. We don’t know what we’re doing yet,” says Nigel Paneth, a professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at Michigan State University.

    Other researchers offer a less charitable view of Geronimus’ approach. Two prominent economists, Jennifer Mellor and Jeffrey Milyo, have conducted a series of studies that call into question some of Geronimus’ basic assumptions, such as the links between race and income inequality with health outcomes. Several political conservatives accuse advocate-academics like Geronimus of pushing a leftist policy platform under the guise of dispassionate health recommendations.
    “You can be a very careful and honest researcher,” says Dr. Sally Satel, a Yale psychiatry professor and co-author of The Health Disparities Myth. “You stay stuck with a politicized topic, then you tend to have an agenda.”

    Geronimus, who calls herself a “die-hard empiricist,” says her political arguments are drawn from conclusions based on data —not vice versa. Expansive political essays, she believes, have more impact than data-focused papers that address only a slice of the problem. That Geronimus’ claims are both politically divisive and generally well-respected by researchers is testament to the strength of her analysis.

    “You can’t just say, ‘Racism is why we have these disparities,’” says Brenda Henry, a program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a former Geronimus advisee. “If you decide to do what Arline does, you better **** well make sure you can back up your science.”

    On a wintry Friday afternoon, Geronimus sits in her office, describing the nascent project funded by the National Institutes of Health that might provide the first hard evidence of the biology underlying weathering.

    With purple-rimmed glasses and frizzy, graying hair, she looks like an average Midwestern PTA mom. When she speaks, in a sing-song voice tinged with a North Woods accent, her arguments seem ordinary and straightforward, until you realize her conclusions lead to nothing short of social revolution. The only obvious clues to her activist alter ego are the dozen or so photos and posters taped to the walls and doors, images of Muhammad Ali boxing in one corner, Che Guevara wearing a Bart Simpson T-shirt in the other.

    For all its descriptive power and intuitive reasonableness, the weathering framework has a significant weakness: It was created as a metaphor for social and cultural disadvantage. To be sure, minorities deal with chronic stressors, and they often get sick. But until recently, Geronimus couldn’t explain how stress leads to illness.

    Academics have studied the issue for years, though rarely with a focus on race. The most prominent is Rockefeller University’s Bruce McEwen, who during the 1990s devised a concept known as “allostatic load,” which measures the levels of hormones —including cortisol and 15 other chemicals — the body creates in response to stress. Several studies have shown correlations between allostatic load and illness, and Geronimus has long been aware of them. Yet she once felt a biological explanation of weathering would be too reductionist.

    Her opinion changed as she watched her two sons, monozygotic twins, grow up. Most people would call them “identical twins,” but Geronimus doesn’t. Despite sharing the same genomes and looks, from infancy the boys had completely different personalities. In the mornings, one would wake up happy, the other in a foul mood. In adolescence, one had his growth spurt well before his brother. As she saw nature and nurture interact within her children, Geronimus thought about how biology and environment intermingle at the cellular level in ways scholars don’t understand. She began to think of allostatic load as a mechanism to explain the black box she called weathering, converting the stressors of the social world into physiological disease.

    In stressful situations, the body activates hormones that help us, for example, think efficiently or improve memorization. When the threat or challenge recedes, the stress system shuts down production. But during periods of acute or near-constant stress, the body undergoes hormone overexposure, and with time, a high allostatic load causes wear and tear leading to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and accelerated aging. McEwen now calls allostatic load the “biological conceptualization” of the weathering framework. As Geronimus describes it, the results among African Americans are disease and death, the physiological manifestations of social inequality.

    Geronimus knew if she could show the biology of allostatic load and the social conditions of weathering in action, she’d silence many critics. So she and Jay Pearson, a research fellow at Michigan, led the creation of a first-of-its-kind study of both phenomena in the same group of people. The data will come from Detroit, where the University of Michigan already partners with community organizations and health agencies to gather information.

    With the help of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, Geronimus and Pearson’s team will use blood samples taken from participants to measure allostatic load, comparing it to information they collect on psychosocial and environmental stressors, as well as disease rates. They’ll also look at telomeres, the repetitive DNA structures that cap the ends of cell chromosomes. Telomeres shorten when cells divide, so they’re known as a “mitotic clock” that may provide a better measure of age than the number of years a person has been alive. A few small studies have shown that socioeconomic stressors may induce telomere shortening. Geronimus hopes to track racial discrimination and stress as they get underneath the skin, producing hormonal responses and accelerating cellular aging. She expects the new experiment to show that many blacks are, biologically speaking, older than whites of the same chronological age.

    The government has long been aware of racial health disparities. In 1984, the Department of Health and Human Services established a Task Force on Black and Minority Health, and in 2000, its once-per-decade Healthy People plan was refocused to concentrate on the subject. That same year, Congress elevated the National Institutes of Health Office of Minority Health, making it into the higher-profile National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
    Yet no major legislation on the problem was signed under George W. Bush. Now, data show the vast majority of health disparity measures are stagnant, with many getting worse. “Whatever is being done is the wrong thing,” Geronimus says.

    While traditional interventions, like increased heart disease screening for black males, are often helpful, they barely impact overall outcomes. A weathering-inspired public policy, on the other hand, would aim to address the stressors that boost allostatic load — though not in the way one might think. Geronimus’ plan isn’t about managing stress on an individual level: Sending armies of yogis and therapists to America’s ghettos wouldn’t address the larger crisis. Simplistic paeans to racial harmony won’t work, either. The issues are too systemic.

    Geronimus doesn’t offer an all-encompassing solution, just a better method for creating policies that might produce results. One potential idea might address some unintended consequences of Clinton-era welfare reform. By most accounts, the policy was a roaring success, with hundreds of thousands of African Americans leaving the dole for full-time work, or trading up for higher-paying jobs. The changes even reduced poverty rates in many urban areas.

    While black women shared the income benefits of economic expansion, though, their health, on average, declined. Geronimus says stress and changed behavior are the best explanation: Black women took jobs that required hours-long bus rides to reach far-away employers, leading to sleep deprivation and little time for medical visits. Others worked the night shift, a practice the World Health Organization recently linked to increased cancer risk. Many faced difficulties finding and paying for child care for their kids. Despite working hard and playing by the rules, stress levels for many shot up. Because of the social interdependence within impoverished African-American communities, it may have set in motion problems for friends and family members.

    “It wasn’t on the policy radar screen to think about these health issues,” Geronimus says. “Is it a big surprise that in stress-related diseases you’d see their lives got worse? Probably not.”

    More enlightened policymakers might also have predicted that tearing down public housing and relocating residents — a common practice in many cities from the 1990s through the present – would disrupt the social networks and community support that deflect the stress of weathering.

    With a better understanding of minority cultures, even small policy changes might make a difference. For example, many health-promotion programs are aimed at teens who smoke, but in some minority communities, people take up tobacco in their 20s. The same can be said for prenatal risk screening, which currently sees 20-something women (no matter their race) as low-risk, when, in fact, blacks in that age demographic face greater health dangers than teenagers.
    Beyond specific policy initiatives that might cut down on weathering, Geronimus has a broader aim. She wants to reconstruct beliefs — especially the assumptions of white suburbanites who, without thinking about it, often view inner-city minorities as lazy and to blame for their problems, instead of as victims of a system that renders them disabled before they’re teenagers. Geronimus doesn’t dismiss the idea that many poor people, blacks and inner-city residents make stupid decisions and do bad things. She just thinks policies are aimed at the bad actors far too often, with unintended, negative consequences. “I keep hoping that if the picture were made clear to a broad group in its full form, not just as in this empirical outcome or that outcome, it would start building interaction, understanding and empathy,” Geronimus says. “It doesn’t mean we’ll all be sitting around singing ‘Kumbaya.’”

    On her most optimistic days, Geronimus believes she’s living in the right historical moment for such a radical rethinking. A race-conscious black president from the South Side of Chicago has taken office, comparatively colorblind young adults are flocking to cities, a green revolution is itching to happen, and an economic crisis has the country clamoring for change. To meet that call, she and collaborator J. Phillip Thompson, a politics and urban planning professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are shopping a book proposal outlining a plan for suburban whites and urban minorities to participate in the green transformation of American cities, with an eye toward economic revival and the defeat of stereotypes.

    For now, though, President Obama’s health care and civil rights agendas describe vague plans to address health disparities, largely through the types of interventions that have failed in the past. (The White House did not respond to questions on Geronimus’ research and conclusions.) And sometimes, when she’s holed up in her book-filled office in the latte town of Ann Arbor, it’s easy for Geronimus to forget why she’s devoted her life to a grand effort that has created few signs of progress. She often doubts her work will lead to real change. If she were a betting woman, she’d bet against that prospect. Some days, she asks herself why she’s even doing the research at all, and lets her thoughts drift toward retirement.

    But when she visits her community research partners in Detroit, the humbling, heartrending American city that’s become a sort of urban reservation for black Americans, she chats with the people who show up as numbers in her data sets. She listens to them talk of their struggles to find meaning in life or just to make it through the day. Compared to what they’re dealing with, the cushy existence of reading journals and running statistical analyses seems like nothing.
    Visiting Detroit reminds her of the girls she knew in Trenton, back when she was younger and less jaded, when she had more faith that she could make a difference. “There’s just no way to think about doing anything else once I’m there and seeing real people,” Geronimus says. “It feels like something has to get done. You know, something.”


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    Researchers establish link between racism and stupidity

    Findings taken from numerous research projects strongly indicate that prejudice, racism and intolerance are more likely to be present in individuals with greater cognitive rigidity, less cognitive flexibility and lower integrative complexity.

    Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice.

    We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups.

    In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology.

    A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status.

    Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.

    Full Story: Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes

    Source: Psychological Science


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    Bundy Brothers Acquitted in Takeover of Oregon Wildlife Refuge


    Armed antigovernment protesters led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy were acquitted Thursday of federal conspiracy and weapons charges stemming from the takeover of a federally owned wildlife sanctuary in Oregon last winter.

    The surprise acquittals of all seven defendants in Federal District Court was a blow to government prosecutors, who had argued that the Bundys and five of their followers used force and threats of violence to occupy the reserve. But the jury appeared swayed by the defendants’ contention that they were protesting government overreach and posed no threat to the public.

    In a sign of the tension that ran through the trial, Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Marcus R. Mumford, frustrated that the Bundys were not being released, was restrained by four United States marshals after an outburst.

    “I knew that what my husband was doing was right, but I was nervous because the judge was controlling the narrative,” said Ryan Bundy’s wife, Angela Bundy, 39, in a telephone interview from the family ranch in Bunkerville, Nev. “But they saw the truth. I am just so grateful they saw it.”

    It was not immediately clear how the not-guilty verdicts would affect the government’s strategy in another case stemming from the Oregon occupation, or a trial in Nevada that the Bundy brothers and their father, Cliven Bundy, face for an armed standoff there.

    The Oregon occupation, at a remote and frigid reserve in the southeastern part of the state, was rooted in antigovernment fervor and captured the nation’s attention. It had a Wild West quality, with armed men in cowboy hats taking on federal agents in a tussle over public lands and putting out a call for aid, only to see their insurrection fizzle.

    In a month long trial here, the defendants never denied that they had occupied and held the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters for nearly six weeks, demanding that the federal government surrender the 188,000-acre property to local control. But their lawyers argued that prosecutors did not prove that the group had engaged in an illegal conspiracy that kept federal workers — employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management — from doing their jobs.

    Eleven people had already pleaded guilty. One participant, LaVoy Finicum, was killed by the authorities during the standoff.

    Ethan D. Knight, an assistant United States attorney, argued that the case was simple: Ammon Bundy had been selective in deciding which laws applied to him and had led an armed seizure of property that did not belong to him.

    Mr. Mumford said acquitting Mr. Bundy would be a victory for all Americans. “They’re deceiving you,” Mr. Mumford said, gesturing to the prosecutors. “It’s the government that picks and chooses the rules it’s going to comply with.”

    Ammon Bundy, 41, a business owner, testified for three days in his defense. He argued that the takeover was spontaneous and informed by religious belief. But prosecutors, through witnesses and their final arguments, said the group had used the threat of force and violence, crystallized by Mr. Bundy’s call for followers across the nation to come to the refuge with guns.

    All seven defendants in the case were charged with conspiracy to impede federal employees from discharging their duties, and they also faced federal weapons charges and could have been given long prison sentences. The unanimous acquittals covered all the charges but one, a theft of government property charge against Ryan Bundy for removing cameras mounted at the refuge, with no verdict rendered on it.

    In a statement, Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, said she was disappointed. “The occupation of the Malheur Reserve did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences,” the governor said.

    After asking each of the defendants to rise, Judge Anna J. Brown read off the string of not-guilty verdicts. “It has been a long road,” she told the jury afterward.
    Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Mr. Mumford, then requested that the Bundy brothers be immediately released. Judge Brown denied the request and said that because of pending charges in Nevada, the brothers would remain in federal custody.

    Mr. Mumford became agitated. “He is going to be released,” he said in a raised voice.

    Judge Brown rebuked him. “Mr. Mumford, you really need to not yell at me, now or ever again,” she said.

    As Mr. Mumford continued his protest, four court officers surrounded him, and in the ensuing scuffle, documents and other items on the defense table were knocked to the floor and Judge Brown ordered the courtroom cleared.

    Shawna Cox, the only woman among the defendants, expressed fury at the treatment of Mr. Mumford. “I am happy to be free,” she added.

    Outside the courthouse, 75 to 100 people gathered after the verdict. One woman handed out American flags. Supporters of the protesters chanted: “Praise God. Praise God.”

    One of the defendants, Neil Wampler, was congratulated by supporters. “On to the next one,” he said, alluding to the charges still pending against his fellow defendants.
    Ammon Bundy, of Emmett, Idaho, and his brother Ryan, 43, of Cedar City, Utah, and their father were the poster images of the anger over federal control of vast stretches of Western lands. And the armed protesters — later co-defendants — who joined the brothers in their occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge all had similar longstanding distrust of the government.


    I'm staggered that a bunch of armed men can take over federal property, maintain their siege--and then get off scott free. Does anybody think the outcome would be the same if armed Muslims, black men, or Native Americans tried this? And I fear it may encourage others to try similar stunts. Thoughts? - Journalist Nicholas Kristof


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