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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Do liberals over-emphasize race when analyzing the plight of Black America?

My answer: No. This is actually a response to a couple comments that I received on the Call for a Brain Drain thread, but I decided to post on the main page so that I could include some links. (Call it home field advantage.) Check out the previous article so see the argument I am addressing in full. In a nutshell, my good friend criminlmstrmind believes that I was wrong to say that only Republicans ignore facts because Liberals also ignore facts. Criminlmstrmind argues that a fact that Liberals ignore is that race isn't the primary factor in the problems currently facing Black America. We specifically disagree as to whether Asian Americans provide a control group that proves that whatever is ailing Black America is due to a lack of so-called "community responsibility."

I believe my posts stand for themselves when I say that race is the main, if not the sole, source of the problems facing Black America. Overt discrimination constitutes a small percentage of the problems Black America faces; the real problem is institutionalized racism that prevents social mobility. The real reason why race is clearly the main, if not the sole, source of Black America's problems is that no legitimate alternative explanation exists. Criminlmstrmind posits that Blacks somehow lack community responsibility. But if only Blacks lack community responsibility, then that would mean that something genetically inherent in Black people is causing a lack of community responsibility. I disagree 100%. Eugenics is a discredited pseudoscience that invokes the very worst of all racist tragedies. If there is a lack of community responsibility in Black Community, a claim based solely on antecdotal evidence, then that is due to overt discrimination and institutionalized racism. Outside pressures must be the cause of a lack of community responsibility, if it exists, and I honestly don't believe it does. The problem with Black America is that they grow up poor and face institutional racism that prevents their escape.

What of Asian Americans? Does the financial success of Asian Americans prove that Bill Cosby is right and that blacks just need to take responsibilty in order to succeed? No. The argument implicit in criminlmstrmind's article is that Asian Americans constitute the "model minority" because, despite all the overt racism that they faced, they still succeeded financially.

The notion of Asian Americans as a "model minority" is a racist myth. The experience of Asian Americans bears little relation to that of Black Americans other than the fact that both groups are non-white and faced forms of overt racism. Asian Americans are a largely self selected population who tend to immigrate to the United States once they are already educated and relatively stable financially. Although some Asians came to this country as indentured servants and countless poor Chinese workers died building the railroad, Asian Americans, on the whole, came to this country voluntarily while 0% of Blacks came here by choice. Quotas determined immigration in this country until 1965. Before that point only a select few thousand Asian immigrants were allowed each year. The vast majority of these immigrants were wealthy because you had to pay for overseas travel to get to the USA.

Blacks don't have positive role models while Asians often do. An educated parent is probably the best role model one can have; far more Asians have this than Blacks do. Further, the reason that athletes and rap stars are role models in the Black community is because they are the only Blacks who can really make it out of the ghetto. Some poor kid in the ghetto doesn't really believe he can become a doctor or lawyer, but he does believe he could become a rapper. Sure, some Blacks consider Blacks who put on a suit and work for the man as "sell-outs." (So do I, for that matter, regardless of race, if you are going to work to further corporate evil.) But the classification of those few educated Blacks as "sell-outs" doesn't reflect a lack of community responsibility but rather reflects the frustrated response of those who aren't able to make it out of the ghetto. Rather than accept failure, people naturally would rather attack those who succeed. If we want educated Blacks not be thought of as "sell-outs", then Whites should stop giving the least funding to Black schools and ensuring that Blacks remain poor. I think the "sell-out" classification problem is probably the same in white trash trailer parks. ("John is into all that prissy, city boy booklearnin'.")

Blacks had it much, much worse than Asian Americans. Slavery ruined generations and effects Black America to this day. For a refresher course on the kinds of atrocities whites inflicted upon slaves, check out happytulip's blog.

Asian immigrants chose to come to the USA. It's much easier to be productive members of society if you have made the proactive choice to join that society instead of being forced to be on the absolute bottom rung of society, as has happened with Blacks.

Asian Americans are only 3.2% of the population; Blacks are 12% and Latinos are 10%. This small sample ends up skewing the results, For example, people with dual citizenship are counted as Asian Americans. People with dual citizenship are overwhelmingly wealthy because the average person has no desire or need to obtain dual citizenship.

Further, Asian Americans are not equal to Whites. College educated Asians make less than whites and the per capita income of individuals, not families, is lower than Whites. The myth of the model minority ignores the real racism that Asian Americans do face.

What of Latinos? Push factors forced Latinos out of their homes in Mexico and Central America while pull factors such as readily available low paying jobs brought them to the USA. Latino immigrants tend to be much poorer than Asian immigrants. First, Latinos didn't need to save up the kind of money that Asian Americans had to save in order to visit US. For many, two legs was all they needed to get here. For this reason, Latino immigrants lacked the kind of education and financial well being that Asian American have. Second, Latino immigrants mostly immigrated only in response to the open supply of low paying jobs. Miserable economies in Mexico and Central America created a situation where farm jobs paying pennies on the hour began to look promising to Latinos.

Also, what of White America's community responsibility? If I accept criminlmstrmind's idea that Asians have more community responsibility than Blacks and Latinos, what about whites? Are we responsible just because Whites don't commit as many crimes? No, we aren't. Whites close their ears to the problems of racism and hope that if we ignore it, it will go away. The fact that Whites have been so lucky exposes the fact that community responsibility isn't the real culprit behind the varying treatments of different racial groups in the USA.

Finally, some would say that if Blacks really wanted to escape poverty, they could. Hell, some have even used me as an example. My dad was a lawyer but his heart was bigger than his business sense. We were always lower-middle class and when he died four years ago, I was left to figure out a way to attend graduate school while not getting any help from my parents. The plan is for me to be a lawyer and comfortable despite my somewhat poor background. However, I've had tons of advantages and benefits to get me where I am today. I got my first office job with no experience. White kids have things like that happen all the time, black kids don't. I attended the best public school in San Francisco because I lived 5 blocks away. The black neighborhoods have the worst public schools in San Francisco. My father had a J.D. and provided me with intellectual stimulation throughout my life. In short -- I may have been poor, but my whiteness was an incredible property right that is largely responsible for my success. I am barely making it as is; had I been black there is no doubt in my mind that I would not be writing this blog or attending law school.

CONCLUSION

I don't think you can compare the GOP's denial of a proven fact -- global warming -- to liberals' denial of a racist theory -- the model minority myth. Do liberals overemphasize race when it comes to the problems of Black America? I would argue we don't emphasize it enough. What was the last piece of legislation that liberals enacted to combat the problems of institutional racism? Since LBJ, not much has happened.

As for community responsibility, it's a phantom problem. There is no way to prove it's really a problem and there's no way to fix it even if it is a problem. If true, it means that certain genes in racial groups doom them to be irresponsible. I don't think science can back up that theory. I believe that all races are the same on the inside, it's only the outside that's different. The outside isn't just the color of your skin but it's the color of your experiences.

Comments on ""

 

Anonymous CriminLMstrMind said ... (1:55 PM) : 

The truth is always a compound of two half- truths, and you never reach it, because there is always something more to say. --Tom Stoppard

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:56 PM) : 

Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
-- Winston Churchill

To original poster: I think you're letting your emotions of perceived inequality fog your judgment. It's for this reason why I think liberals are not smarter and more analytical than conservatives, but justify themselves more on emotions.

 

Blogger Michael Alexander said ... (1:41 AM) : 

"Perceived inequality?" I could spend hours citing facts that we all know are already true: white males earn more and enjoy more advantages in society than any other segment of the population.

Conservatives, on the other hand, choose to ingore the factual reality that is discrimination in because wealthy white conservatives don't face discrimination. Most white people believe racism only exists in books and movies.

Racism is an issue where liberals confront and explain the factual certainies of racial inequality while conservatives cover their ears in order to maintain the status quo.

It's a serious charge to say I'm letting emotion get in the way of fact, the facts deny the claim that racial inequality no longer exists.

 

Anonymous criminlmstrmind said ... (1:45 PM) : 

Anonymous, there is nothing "percieved" about inequality in America. It is factual and sum certain. And while some individuals frequently cry wolf, overall, minority groups do suffer greater discrimination in America. This discrimination functions to perpetuate inequality. That a few pathetic goons attempt to bully others by constantly decrying "discrimination" or abuse the social programs intended to aid them does not mean that all claims of discrimination and inequality are merely "perceived".

Liberals and Conservatives are equally passionate in their own (read: opposing) beliefs about inequality and racial discrimination. In disregarding or attempting to obfuscate the statistical fact of inequality, you negate your own argument by demonstrating the extent to which emotions have clouded your (presumably conservative) judgment.

 

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