« COVID and social pressure | Main | St Johns Church timeline »

June 08, 2020

Comments

Trying again.

lj,

Here is what she says about Jackie Robinson;

And I want to do it through the Jackie
Robinson story. You all know Jackie Robinson right. So Jackie Robinson has been quite celebrated
for doing something. What's the tag line that goes with Jackie Robinson. He he broke the color line
right. Now so let's do a little discourse analysis.
[00:13:40] Because every year on the anniversary we celebrate him breaking the color line so think about what that invokes. He was exceptional. He was special. He did it. Finally one of them had what
it took to break through and play with us up until him. Nobody had what it took. So subtext inferior
group. But he did it. And of course the day he did it the day he broke the color line racism in sports ended so imagine if we told a story like this Jackie Robinson the first black man that whites allowed to
play Major League Baseball. And I want you to notice the difference in that story one that's the truth.

This reads to me pretty clearly as if she is saying the standard story is that finally a black player came along who was good enough to play in the major leagues. And then she says the true story is that he was the first allowed to play, and that there were other exceptional black players who weren't allowed to do so, and that's the one that should be told.

And my point is that that what she accurately calls the true story is also the standard story. Never have I heard or read anything that says Robinson was the first sufficiently talented black player. Quite the contrary. The opposite is universally acknowledged.

Nor have I ever heard or read a claim that the signing of Robinson ended racism in sports. That's absurd beyond belief.

Now, I don't feel like this is nitpicking. I put it with the point Marty raised about her criticism of the survey to say that DiAngelo seems to want to fit everything into her frame, whether it goes there or not. What else has she misinterpreted?

Russell says, referring to the definition of racism:

I don't really care what label anybody puts on it.

I do care. First, if DiAngelo wants to convince me of some point about race, starting off by insulting me is not a good plan. Second, if everybody is racist the word loses its meaning. We need to be able to condemn the Bull Connors and Orval Faubus's of the world, and distinguish them from the mass of white people.

I think a useful distinction regarding white people and racism is the one between *fault* and *responsibility*.

I think this is a useful distinction.

But I think I would parse it a little finer. In particular, I would distinguish between those who are actually in a position to make changes, whether to society or to a single organization, but fail to do so -- that fits my definition of "responsible". Then there are those of us who are not in such a position. We have a "duty to try" to get changes made. But "responsibility" overstates the amount of agency we actually have in the real world.

Perhaps a better way to phrase what I'm trying to say is, there's a difference between being responsible for the persistence of a situation and having a responsibility to work to change it. Is that clearer?

byomtov - the word to distinguish Bull Connors is "bigot."

As for DiAngelo's story about Jackie Robinson, the part of that I pay attention to as an important qualifier and indicator of what she is doing is:

Now so let's do a little discourse analysis.

So she's looking specifically at how people, in ordinary conversation, talk about what Jackie Robinson did.

Here's what it says in Wikipedia right now:

Jack Roosevelt Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was an American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. When the Dodgers signed Robinson, they heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

And, indeed, when we shorthand the story, or give the version of the story that most history students would have memorized, it focuses on exactly the details that DiAngelo highlights.

We have a single figure, who is the Hall of Fame player, who "heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball."

The story she describes is the story that hangs on the bones of that brief thumbnail.

The version she calls the "true" version highlights the fact that it was whites that kept him from playing in the first place and whites that gave him the job in defiance of other whites. And that until whites allowed that to happen, no black player of even greater talent than Robinson would have worn that uniform and sat on that bench.

It's not about the details of the story per se, it's about the narrative that the details we focus on constructs - what rhetoricians would call an "enthymeme."

There is no doubt that the story of Jackie Robinson has been told and understood and argued over in detail by baseball fans and baseball historians, and her bit of discourse analysis was not calling any of that into question.

And if you are getting upset because of how her analysis oversimplifies things, that's kinda the point she is making.

We have a single figure, who is the Hall of Fame player, who "heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball."

Not accurate, according to what you quoted, nous. It says:

"When the Dodgers signed Robinson, they heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball."

Very different, right? The Dodgers did it, not Robinson, according to the quotation that you posted.

I think I agree wj, if I interpret you correctly...you mean to say there are *degrees* of responsibility. E.g. those with more power (in the past and the present) bear more responsibility.

I do agree with that. I still think that, especially in a democracy, we all bear at least SOME responsibility. For sure, some more than others.

But I think there is a certain amount of responsibility that we all share simply by virtue of being a member of the polity, and benefitting from a system built largely on racism.

If that makes sense.

"there's a difference between being responsible for the persistence of a situation and having a responsibility to work to change it. Is that clearer?"

And yes, I agree with this 100%.

I'm addressing this to Russell and I know he groks it, so I hope he won't mind if I use him as a stand in for everyone else on the blog. If you just say I'm enlightened, I'm not racist, I treat African Americans the same as I treat whites, you still don't get it.

I don't mind, no worries. And I don't claim to treat African Americans the same as I treat whites, and I acknowledge that, to the degree that I don't, I'm participating in the general ambient racism that is baked into our daily lives.

If racism is the wrong word, I'm open to whatever word folks prefer. The phenomenon I'm talking about is that I notice the color of people's skin, especially with people I don't know well, and the way I interact with black people is not the same as the way I interact with white people.

In my own case that mostly that takes the form of a kind of caution, for lack of a better word. A deliberate taking care that I be polite, that I not do or say anything that might give offense.

I have no idea how that is received. Maybe they just think I'm a nice guy. Maybe it's annoying. Maybe I come off like a condescending ass. I have no idea. It's probably different for different people, and is likely as much in their heads as it is in mine.

The point overall is that it gets in the way, and it's based on skin color, full stop.

And yeah, if we could wave a magic wand and tomorrow everybody just suddenly started treating people who are different from them the same way they treat people who are like them, we'd still have a million things left to address.

I'm just suggesting it as a starting point. Notice how you relate to white people, notice how you relate to black people, notice if there's a difference, think about why that might be. Don't give it a label, just notice, and consider.

It's just an exercise in self-awareness, not a solution to the whole ugly mess. A tiny first step.

First, if DiAngelo wants to convince me of some point about race, starting off by insulting me is not a good plan. Second, if everybody is racist the word loses its meaning.

I think the sticking point here is that the word 'racist' is seen as indicating animus. IMO racism is broader than that.

All I'm getting at with the "don't worry about the label" thing is, if the term gets in the way of thinking about how we might participate in thinking about people of different colors in different ways, don't worry about the label and just deal with the ground reality.

If none of it applies to you, which is entirely possible, no worries.

Regarding DiAngelo, she doesn't really bug me, but I can see about 100 reasons why she might bug folks. If DiAngelo's persona or way of presenting the information gets in the way of thinking about the various ways in which the experience of black and white people in this country is really quite different - not historically, but today - then ignore DiAngelo and consider the ground truth.

As a friend likes to say, eat the meat, and spit out the bones.

By the way, my brief autobiographical narrative in response to the video (which I watched in full) was meant to lead to a conclusion (which maybe I should have stated). I don't see how people could have grown up in my generation in the US without having racism play a part in their psyche. Whether "racist" is the right term, I will leave to others.

I know that when I first encountered black students in my class, in the sixth grade, we didn't interact much at all. I thought that they were shy, and I was shy. Maybe that was true. The idea that they were terrified never crossed my mind. They were probably terrified. I think we should examine our assumptions.

Nous,

I'm sorry, but what you say makes no sense to me.

The story she describes is the story that hangs on the bones of that brief thumbnail.

But it's not. The story that "hangs on the bones" is that blacks were denied the opportunity to play until Rickey signed Robinson, and that this denial was a tremendous injustice to many talented athletes.

The version she calls the "true" version highlights the fact that it was whites that kept him from playing in the first place and whites that gave him the job in defiance of other whites. And that until whites allowed that to happen, no black player of even greater talent than Robinson would have worn that uniform and sat on that bench.

Yes. And this is the standard story. DiAngelo is not a brave iconoclast for telling it. It's not the story that only the truly enlightened tell. It's the story that is the accepted, commonplace, version. That she wants to make a big deal of telling the "true" version is ridiculous. Pretending that it's not the standard version is just dishonest.

There is no doubt that the story of Jackie Robinson has been told and understood and argued over in detail by baseball fans and baseball historians, and her bit of discourse analysis was not calling any of that into question.

Actually, it hasn't much been argued about, AFAIK.

And if you are getting upset because of how her analysis oversimplifies things, that's kinda the point she is making.

This is just offensive. First, she didn't "oversimplify." She misrepresented. Second, one of the things that really turns me off about the whole lecture is her smug assurance that she is just right and if we don't agree it's because of our own blindness.

Are you really telling me that my disagreement with a point she makes just proves her point is accurate? Really?

Look, here's a thought experiment.

Let's say we ran the numbers on crime in the US, and found that left-handed people disproportionately show up as perps.

So, the cops decide to randomly stop left-handed people on the street and frisk them.

The numbers back it up!! What's your problem?

Run the same exercise for any of 100 indicators of social dysfunction, and plug in factors like big feet, red hair, blue eyes, male pattern baldness, whatever. Take your pick.

And say that discrimination based on any of those J-random physical attributes had been maintained for, like, 400 years.

Red hair? Don't want to be alone on an elevator with that person.

Big feet? Better follow them around the store, everyone knows people with big feet have light fingers.

Blue eyes? Better examine their credit history very, very closely before making that loan.

Balding man? Better pull them over and check their license and reg, just because.

Do that for a few hundred years. What would your experience be, as a balding blue-eyed red-headed guy with big feet, living in that culture?

Kind of a silly thought experiment. For some people, it's their life.

byomtov - as someone who has taught many classes with many readings that take on topics steeped in American history to many very smart students from China, I can tell you with some assurance that the story she outlines there is pretty close to the one that any one of those students would put together if what they had in front of them was that Wikipedia summary.

I know a lot of primary and middle grade teachers who would say the same thing based on their experience with student written reports.

If that story misrepresents the facts, then the quoted summary is not helping to tell the correct story.

Which is the point.

Those "left handed people" seem a bit sinister to me, y'know?

Which is the point.

My point, at 9:48, is that you misread the wikipedia entry. It's a small thing, but maybe important.

sapient - you are correct in that interpretation, but it is a matter of some ambiguity in the way that the sentence is structured. It could be read as the Dodgers doing it, or it could be read as the Dodgers succumbing to the case that Robinson presents them with. And the way that most students skim a story like that, I'd say the chances are good that more than a handful come away with the reading that I provide there.

It's not a good reading. Most readers do not make good, careful readings. If they did, I'd be out of a job.

I'd be out of a job.

Hope that's never the case. My guess is that you are great at it.

Are you really telling me that my disagreement with a point she makes just proves her point is accurate? Really?

Once you accept assuming the conclusions to be a valid and appropriate approach, this necessarily follows. Surely this isn't the first time you have encountered the mindset.

I had no problem with DiAngelo and found her lecture clarifying, but I’m not all that motivated to convince anyone that they should like her or her talk. I do wonder who disputes the main idea that we are socialized into having at least some racial bias by living in this country. And I’m not concerned about Bernard being some particularly un-self-aware perpetuator of white supremacy simply because he found DiAngelo insulting and unimpressive. I don’t give DiAngelo that much credit. She didn’t suddenly become God.

I guess that’s my long-winded way of saying “then ignore DiAngelo and consider the ground truth.“

Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. There is nothing in his story that should diminish the dedication and courage it took for him to accept the opportunity presented to him by Rickey. The challenge only started there, he endured and excelled.

Whatever Rickeys motives, Robinson achieved being the first black player to successfully play in the majors.

Shorter, Rickey provided the opportunity, necessary but not sufficient to break the color barrier.

This is interesting: https://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2016/2/15/10991906/black-baseball-players-history-before-jackie-robinson-negro-leagues

Are you really telling me that my disagreement with a point she makes just proves her point is accurate? Really?

No. I was telling you that if you were upset that her version oversimplified Robinson's story, that she was also saying that the commonly used thumbnail (a version of which I quoted in my reply) oversimplifies the story.

The other side of that would be that if you are arguing that the interpretation she gave of what "breaking the color barrier" meant is inaccurate, then the version of the story that I found on Wikipedia does very little to help someone unfamiliar with the details to draw the right conclusions about the actual story. She is not arguing for this, though, she is merely demonstrating how that story gets interpreted because of how it is framed.

Once you do know more of the details and the context for the story, though, the thumbnail seems like a decent and memorable version of the events (see Marty's reply here for confirmation of that) because the readers can fill in that context for themselves.

Whatever the case, though, her analysis was concerned with the form that soundbite takes and what that form implies.

Hi, I wanted to respond to Bernie, but I'll quote nous' comment. Bernie is worried that I could say it is nitpicking, but I don't, and one shouldn't, if someone you respect brings up a point, you should treat it with seriousness, not brush it asked.

So nous says
Once you do know more of the details and the context for the story, though, the thumbnail seems like a decent and memorable version of the events (see Marty's reply here for confirmation of that) because the readers can fill in that context for themselves.

I'd argue that it is the 'fill in the context' which is the problem. Because the way it is told is that _Jackie Robinson_ broke the color line. And the context we could fill in is that it requires someone to do something extraordinary to make changes. Now maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. But if the problems are systemic, then we take the people who aspire to greatness and have them break themselves on the barriers until someone is able to break thru. Josh Gibson couldn't break the color line, Satchel Paige couldn't, Papa Bell couldn't, so were they less than Jackie Robinson? I think a lot of people might fill in the context that way, that it took someone like Jackie Robinson to do this (which, in a way, is very true. There were several 'better' ball players than Robinson, Rickey chose Robinson because he correctly felt that he had the ability to make it thru the first year without breaking)

I don't think they fill in the context as 'black ball players who were just as good if not better than white ball players were not allowed to play', they focus on Jackie Robinson as 'doing something'.

We are all familiar with the line that African Americans have to be twice as good to get half as much. Yet the Jackie Robinson story elides that. This shouldn't be taken as a slight on Robinson and people who twist this in that way are arguing in bad faith it seems to me. But the story does not point you to the hundreds of other players who were just as good as Robinson but just didn't have the chance. Until he 'broke' the barrier.

Other news, I was asked how long I was going to keep this open. I'm figuring to close it Monday Morning Japan time, which is Sunday evening US time. I appreciate everyone's thoughtful responses.

LJ and nous,

Let me repeat myself for the last time on this subject.


I'd argue that it is the 'fill in the context' which is the problem. Because the way it is told is that _Jackie Robinson_ broke the color line. And the context we could fill in is that it requires someone to do something extraordinary to make changes. ....

I don't think they fill in the context as 'black ball players who were just as good if not better than white ball players were not allowed to play',

And I think they do, which is where we differ. My evidence is what I read and hear people say about the whole matter. Have you ever actually read or heard the opposite, that Robinson was simply far better than Gibson et al? I haven't. Besides, it would be a ridiculous belief. Since Robinson we've seen the likes of Aaron, Mays,.. others too numerous to name. You'd have to believe that there was suddenly some new strain of black ballplayers that suddenly popped up (so to speak).

I went to college at Vanderbilt. While I was there the school recruited a basketball player named Perry Wallace, who was the first black athlete in the SEC. Now, Vanderbilt had been all white until just a year or two earlier (yes, privilege), so it's fair to assume that racial enlightenment was not universal on campus. It wasn't. But though Wallace was an excellent player no one believed that he was the very first black player good enough to play basketball in the SEC. Instead, it was thought that the school had taken a certain step, which some regarded as progress.

(Not incidentally, Wallace endured many of the same trials that Robinson suffered.)


There are plenty of racial issues in sports and the way we talk about sports (again contra DiAngelo, no one believes that Robinson "ended racism in sports.") and they need to be discussed. It's a standard trope, for example that a baseball player described as "gritty" is white, while a "gifted athlete" is black.

Manufacturing non-existent issues doesn't help.

the story does not point you to the hundreds of other players who were just as good as Robinson but just didn't have the chance. Until he 'broke' the barrier.

I think it does precisely that.

First thought of this morning was that the US has gained enough ground to provide the exceptional black person better opportunity than Robinson had.

Blatant aggression is almost universally frowned on,education may (or may not) have improved some, many companies are hiring minority candidates by preference, social programs proliferate.

We have not achieved, overall, the same level of opportunity that players in baseball have today. The general acceptance, without thought, that it is just normal for them to be there.

Even then, there is racial conflict on a micro level in baseball. But people will always exist that are blatantly against the other.

We have not achieved, overall, the ... general acceptance, without thought, that it is just normal for them to be there.

Yes, precisely, well said, and thank you.

Apologies for my edit, I think I've retained the sense of your original.

byomtov, this question is not to do with Jackie Robinson, and baseball, but relates to something I have often been made uneasy by.

How do you feel, if I may ask, if you hear an otherwise OK seeming non-Jew mention, apparently approvingly, "clever Jewish lawyers"? Or, as I recently heard an old Chinese man say of an old friend of his way back "He was my best Jewish friend!" Does this make you uneasy? Because to me, it implies that such people see the Jewishness first, just as russell implies many (or most) of us see the blackness first. It is this phenomenon, I think, that can lead to unconscious bias, even if sometimes in what might be considered benign preconceptions.

GftNC,

I think that's right, and I agree it's sometimes, not always, well-intentioned. There's a difference between your two examples, I think. The first relies on a stereotype. In the second the implication seems to be that Jews, or perhaps just non-Chinese, occupy a secondary status in the hierarchy of his friends.

I react more to the first example. One of the marks of a bigot, it seems to me, is that he turns a characteristic, real or imagined, of the disliked group into a flaw, when the same characteristic is more commonly regarded as positive.

Clever Jews. Meticulous Germans. Blacks who are good musicians.

The second case is a bit more complicated, and I'm still thinking it through.

Bernie,

It sounds to me like you're more offended as a baseball fan than as a white guy. I can't help remembering the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is complaining to a priest about his dentist telling Jewish jokes.
Priest: "Does that offend you as a Jew, my son?"
Jerry: "No. It offends me as a comedian."

FWIW, you get no argument from me about DiAngelo's tone. But I have watched enough lectures, book talks, and Powerpoint presentations by management consultants, to know that "experts" generally speak to audiences with a self-assurance bordering on smugness, using buzzwords that border on bullshit, and defining terms idiosyncratically to make their theses sound both good and original (which can be a hard combination to pull off). An aw-shucks-I-could-be-wrong style of presentation is rare, not least because it more-readily invites the question "Why are we all sitting here listening to you, then?"

Somebody speaking of the Copernican revolution once said that due to the heliocentric model of the solar system "Nothing had changed, yet everything had changed". I think that observation has some relevance to the Robinson-centric versus Rickey-centric view of "breaking the color line".

--TP

Just to add to what Tony P. wrote, DiAngelo is selling a book. Maybe it's a good book, but she's selling it. "I might not know what I'm talking about" isn't the best sales pitch.

One last pass through the subject of discourse analysis. Before yesterday, I had not done any reading whatsoever about Robinson. I knew from history that he was the player who broke the color barrier, and I knew enough history to know that the matter must be more complex than just Robinson being a great player whose talent could not be denied. I knew Satchel Paige's name, but not much else. I did not know Josh Gibson at all. And until yesterday I did not ever feel the need to dig deeper than the knowledge I had.

So let's try a different thumbnail sketch in the spirit of Alexandra Bell's "radical editing" project.

"Jack Roosevelt Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was an American professional baseball player [and World War Two veteran] who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the [post-war] era. [In 1945 Branch Rickey signed the veteran to a farm league contract with the shared intent of challenging the color barrier. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. When the Dodgers signed Robinson, they heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s, [and paved the way for the desegregation of the US Military one year later]."

This version is no more or less true than the other version, but the bones of the story create a very different narrative and start readers questioning very different aspects of the historical moment.

Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson were not veterans. Robinson had been court martialed for refusing to go to the back of a military bus.

Discourse analysis.

many (or most) of us see the blackness first

^^^^^^^^^^ this ^^^^^^^^^^

This applies to me. And I generally think of myself as "being on their side", whatever that means. And it's harmful, because it gets in the way of people being able to be themselves and live their lives, in ways small and large.

If it doesn't apply to you, no worries. Well done. But I think it applies to a lot of people.

And I think a lot of people have some level of discomfort being candid about it, because it is inescapably about race, and being 'racist' is, justifiably, seen as a bad thing.

FWIW, if you sift through the academic-sociologist-with-a-book-to-sell tone and verbiage, I think that's pretty much DiAngelo's message in a nutshell. If the tone and verbiage gets in the way, just ignore DiAngelo altogether and get to the facts on the ground.

I know the thoughts and reactions I have. I don't know the thoughts and reactions anyone else have. I known this is an issue for me to be attentive to. Everyone has to do their own head check.

But it's worth doing. IMVHO.

GftNC, I have friends who are Jewish. I also have friends with blue eyes.** Which I mention because I am aware of both on some level, but neither is significant when it comes to our relationship. And that is where I hope we all get to on race as well: it's not that we are oblivious, but it simply isn't a significant factor in how we interact with each other.

** And one who is both. As I recall, she converted while in college.

Tony,

It sounds to me like you're more offended as a baseball fan than as a white guy.

Well, I don't think I'm offended as a white guy at all. I am offended as a baseball fan, and also as a person. I don't think the story she thinks people hear is in fact the one they hear. I think her point is wrong, and of course that leads me to think she may be misinterpreting other information as well.

Nous,

as someone who has taught many classes with many readings that take on topics steeped in American history to many very smart students from China, I can tell you with some assurance that the story she outlines there is pretty close to the one that any one of those students would put together if what they had in front of them was that Wikipedia summary.

Well, OK. I believe you. If you take someone who knows virtually nothing of the history of racial discrimination in the US, and give them only that Wikipedia article to read, they might well draw the conclusion you describe.

But who is that person? A student from China. (And might not even that smart student wonder whether it was all about ability, rather than racism?) Or, maybe, a grade school student with no other information. And why would that be the only information they had on the subject?

Your examples are not typical of the American public, not even the less-well-educated segment. You are conducting a lab experiment. If you give me a brief description some event I've never heard of, and about the context of which I know nothing, I'm likely to misunderstand. But so what. DiAngelo seems, to me, to be claiming that the American public is like your Chinese students. I disagree, and I will ask the following: Take a random sample of people and ask the following:

Why was it that there were no black players in major league baseball until 1947:

1. There were no black players good enough to play in the majors until then.

or

2. Blacks were systematically excluded, regardless of their abilities.

How would this survey come out, do you think?

One other thought on Robinson. He had one personal characteristic which was important in what happened. Important enough that he and Rickey talked about it at some length before going forward. He had the strength to throttle his justifiable fury at the way he was treated. That man went thru hell, without exploding. Especially for someone know for his temper, that was impressive.

Could other black players have done so equally well? Some of them, sure. But it was something about him that wasn't true of all the great players in the Negro Leagues. So while it was actions of whites (specifically Rickey) which made it happen, Robinson wasn't just an interchangeable part of events.

“Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

byomtov - Why was it that there were no black players in major league baseball until 1947:

1. There were no black players good enough to play in the majors until then.

or

2. Blacks were systematically excluded, regardless of their abilities.

How would this survey come out, do you think?

Probably b.

But both of those still try to reframe the issue in terms of bright lines and neither tell us anything about why it is that Jackie Robinson's moment precipitated the change or why it happened when it did.

Students get the big principles and the dramatic examples handed to them. Those things do not give them an instrumental understanding of how to actually achieve change. It's worth considering how we can frame those big moments better in order to provoke further productive thought.

In the production of knowledge, questions are more important than answers.

I'd say 2, but what made them stop doing that? That's what's actually in question. You (or a significant number of people) don't have to believe 1 for DiAngelo's argument to hold (not that that means she's right).

wj - So while it was actions of whites (specifically Rickey) which made it happen, Robinson wasn't just an interchangeable part of events.

Agreed. And I don't think that DiAngelo would disagree, either, or wish to discount Robinson's contributions and achievements.

At its heart, I think what she intends to say there is that it would not have taken someone as resolute as Jackie Robinson to break the color barrier if whites had not insisted on maintaining that barrier so fiercely, nor would Robinson have been able to do it on his own despite his manifest courage and skill unless enough whites were willing to challenge that barrier themselves. And even then, it was Robinson that personally bore the brunt of that backlash because the whites were insulated by their wealth and standing.

Is there anything to disagree with here?

Has anyone read Robinson's I Never Had It Made? I haven't so I don't know to what degree what he wrote addresses the question.

I don't even think she was trying to say that Robinson wasn't exceptional in some way or another. I think she was trying to say that you can't let that obscure the fact that white people were in charge and had the power to keep him and any other black player out. And I get that, if you answer 2, you should already know that, but it's a question of what the emphasis is on that particular story. Is Robinson's heroism first and foremost in people's minds? And does that imply that other blacks weren't heroic enough to break the color barrier (even if subconsciously)? Is there a bias toward that emphasis because it somehow assuages white guilt?

(I don't know the answers to those questions, and the whole line of thinking may be out in left field. Baseball pun!)

I think follow-up questions are often more important than the original questions. Lawyers who have cross-examined witnesses can correct me if I'm wrong.

So, 2. Blacks were systematically excluded, regardless of their abilities is indeed the most probable answer to the question Why was it that there were no black players in major league baseball until 1947? Almost certainly from baseball fans; more than likely from Americans in general, although it would not shock me if "I dunno" turned out to be the most common answer in the latter case.

But if I were a pollster, I'd be tempted to follow up with
"Question 2: Were black players systematically excluded because ...
a) white team owners were personally racist;
b) white team owners feared the fans were racist;
c) white players were afraid of the competition;
d) some other reason?

I'm not enough of a baseball historian to know whether it's true that some people advocated integrating the major leagues at the team level: black teams playing in the same league with (meaning, "against") white teams. Had that been tried -- and I'm glad it wasn't -- I suspect integration within teams would have happened eventually. And it would be interesting to know whether, in that alternate universe, some black team would have signed a white player before any white team signed a black player, or vice versa.

--TP

Is there anything to disagree with here?

Nope. Just that there is a reason that MLB honors Robinson rather than Rickey. And it isn't that Robinson's baseball skills (which were substantial enough to have gotten him into the Hall of Fame regardless) were so exceptional.

Tony, a), b), and d). All three were factors.

Not to say that white baseball players weren't racists, too. And/or afraid of competition. Just that they weren't what was in the minds of the owners on this.

By d) I mean that, by the late 1940s, excluding blacks from MLB had been happening long enough that inertia/tradition was also a factor. When something has been in place long enough, for many people it simply doesn't occur to them that things might be different. Especially, it doesn't occur to them that they personally might act to make things different.

byomtov, thank you for your answer. I've been busy doing other stuff all afternoon, sorry I couldn't get to this sooner.

I wrestle with the first example ("clever Jewish lawyers"), even when well-intentioned and complimentary, (i.e. not turning a a characteristic, real or imagined, of the disliked group into a flaw), because it reveals that the speaker seems always aware of Jewishness. It's the awareness which makes me uneasy, because it implies "other". The kinds of racial stereotypes you mention are particularly problematic, because so often based in some reality (e.g. the so-called higher IQ average among Ashkenazi Jews - if in fact true, understandable to my mind, although not a geneticist, because as I understand it, until the 20th Century most Jews were engaging in a probably millenia-old selective breeding program, by matchmakers who took particular note of school results, intellectual attainment etc). And black athletes of certain heritages have been found (in the case of some running events) to have certain musculo-skeletal advantages. So to what extent does (possibly valid) generalisation about a race shade into something problematic?

I don't have an answer, I just know it often makes me uneasy.

And your point about the old Chinese man also has validity. But I suppose my uneasiness boils down to the observation that many people are aware of "Jewishness", which implies that it is "otherness" (forgive me wj, but I don't think "blue eyedness" engenders the same kind of awareness).

And whereas plenty of Jews are not immediately identifiable, although perhaps they will hear these kinds of remarks and be, like me, uneasy, black people are immediately identifiable, and subject to generalisations and unconscious bias, and have to be aware of it and its problematic "othering" aspects, all the time.

Comment from byomtov from 8:53 yesterday, which was stuck in the Spam folder, has been published above.
-- wj

And one who is both. As I recall, she converted while in college.

My mother had green eyes - no conversion necessary!

Yeah, I know plenty of blue- and green-eyed Jewish people. I got a bit disoriented by the conversion thing.

I think she was trying to say that you can't let that obscure the fact that white people were in charge and had the power to keep him and any other black player out.

ISTM, the focus on JR is out of context and therefore misplaced. WWII wasn't just an allied victory over some tyrants (the USSR remained standing), it also had lasting social ramifications in the world and in the US. It was the beginning of the end of European colonialism and the beginning of a modern USA.

AA's played a significant role in fighting WWII. A role that was hard to ignore and harder still to square with how AA's were treated in the US. Truman did not de-segretat the armed forces because of a sudden inspiration and JR wasn't brought into MLB because someone had an extemporaneous mood swing. Stuff builds over time. Twenty years passed between the end of WWII and the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This was a building movement at time when the Bull Connor's of this world did not bother to hide their true feelings and THEY LOST! Almost sixty years ago, a much less enlightened, overwhelmingly white population started putting paid, in a clear and public way, to the country's awful history of mistreating minorities.

A long time before being favored by the revealed wisdom of the Robin DiAngelo's of this world, our very white country, eyes opened by the AA role in WWII and our own awful history, started turning things around, completely unaided by accusations of structural racism or implicit bias or microaggressions or the other, very recent stuff that passes for academic advancement.

Oddly, enough white peeps were able to look at themselves and the world about them and agree that things just weren't right and needed to be fixed. Did white peeps do it on their own, in a vacuum? Not even remotely. Brave people, mostly black, faced down the worst of our country in the streets. More eyes opened and things got better, not worse. The move toward equality of opportunity, under the law, in the eyes of society, has been almost entirely continuous.

I don't know where RD grew up, but our family moved to Millington TN in July of 1968. Millington is in Shelby County and so is Memphis, where MLK had been murdered the previous April. Millington was a "Navy Town" and so our high school was integrated. There was an all-AA high school not 5 miles away that was, by court order, integrated into MCHS in September 1970, after I left in August 1970.

You know what? Most of the black and most of the white kids tried to get along. Previous to our move to TN, I attended junior high school in Houston--fully integrated and, for the most part, we all got along. By "get along", I mean talking, having lunch, playing sports, etc. As far as I can tell, that is still the case. Which is why I find lectures from people like BD to be not only tedious but insulting.

We, as a country, have been on a steady arc of improving race relations since WWII ended. Today is light years better for POC's than 1950. Light years. Yet, you'd think that the very air we breathe is toxin-infused with the stench of deep and abiding racism. That is total nonsense. Obviously, prejudice and racism continues. It is a universal characteristic, not unique to the US, but rather a human condition, one that we--the US--has done a pretty good job of dealing with by any reasonable standard.

JR was one of the more visible signs of the initial, downhill movement of a snowball that began with WWII and grew and grew, overcoming much more entrenched opposition than anything POC's face today. For every JR, there were many other examples here and there that were part of the gathering momentum. That said, JR and the other early AA public figures served the vital function of showing white Americans that AA's were not only people like they were, but in many cases, exceptionally talented people.


Brave people, mostly black, faced down the worst of our country in the streets. More eyes opened and things got better, not worse.

Very true. And you are obviously a person who tries to make their own contribution to this progression for the better.

We, as a country, have been on a steady arc of improving race relations since WWII ended. Today is light years better for POC's than 1950. Light years.

Aso true, ISTM.

Yet, you'd think that the very air we breathe is toxin-infused with the stench of deep and abiding racism. That is total nonsense.

In all fairness, McKinney, this is not your call. The testimony of African Americans, if we had any here, would be of value. And your AA colleagues, if not talking to a white, senior partner, might also have something interesting to say on this subject.

Aso = Also

I have friends who are Jewish. I also have friends with blue eyes...And one who is both. As I recall, she converted while in college.

That reads almost as if you're telling me what colour my Jewish eyes should be.

one that we--the US--has done a pretty good job of dealing with by any reasonable standard

then why are we having this discussion?

My mother had green eyes - no conversion necessary!

Yeah. But in this case, I know her well enough to know that she converted.

Me, I discovered a couple of years back (courtesy of Ancestry DNA) that my all-blue-eyed family is 1/8 Ashkenazi. No idea which great-grandparent to look towards.

Truth is, we're none of as a pure-blooded anything as the xenophobes would like to believe.

Is there a transcript of this talk somewhere? Byomtov quoted a big chunk of it, so I assume there is.

That reads almost as if you're telling me what colour my Jewish eyes should be.

Not intentionally. Just that I am aware that most Jews (at least the ones I know) have brown eyes. Which one would expect from people originally (albeit generations back) from the Middle East.

From lj's earlier comment, the transcript:

First off, I should have posted this with it, here is the transcript
https://www.spl.org/Seattle-Public-Library/documents/transcriptions/2018/18-06-28_Robin-DiAngelo.pdf

one that we--the US--has done a pretty good job of dealing with by any reasonable standard

then why are we having this discussion?

I wish I had the time to answer in detail. Very briefly, globally and leaving out a lot of context: aggregate outcomes by ethnicity vary widely in the US even today, although there has been improvement across the board. Nonetheless, the farther left one moves on the spectrum, the view of disparate outcomes for AA's in particular--which ignores much different and more favorable outcomes for other POC's--is taken as proof, in and of itself, of racism (systemic, implicit, etc) and that viewpoint still drives much of the conversation in this country today and this is why we are having this conversation. My view--I'm not alone in this--is that the role race plays is more of a legacy-type role and the difficulties faced more in the AA community than elsewhere--but still a thing elsewhere--are driven by here-and-now factors that are not race-centric but rather seem more in the nature of cultural or environmental. Addressing and remediating these factors is far more complex and difficult than simply attributing bad outcomes to systemic racism and demanding more money for teachers or mentoring programs or what have you. Moreover, in attributing the AA situation to systemic racism, there is an implicit logical deficiency since so many other ethnicities do anywhere from well to extremely well. As I've said before, our "system", to behave in so focused a manner, must be very finely tuned indeed. But, of course, it is anything but finely tuned. It is 330,000,000 peeps scrambling to make a living, have a life and deal with the never-ending stuff that is life.

Unfortunately, my other desk is on fire right now, so everyone have a nice weekend!

Oh, sweet Jesus! Someone being interviewed on NPR discussing Paul Robeson says, when the interviewer mentions he didn't know Robeson was an athlete and only knew him as a singer, that Robeson was a start athlete at Princeton. Princeton!!!??? Rutgers, dammit! RUTGERS!!! (I only put this here because they're also talking about Jackie Robinson, among others.)

P.S. I went to Rutgers, so this outrages me. More so because he said Princeton.

Star athlete, though that would mean he started.

My mother had green eyes - no conversion necessary!

Yeah. But in this case, I know her well enough to know that she converted.

Excellent joke! Took me a while to actually get it.

Just that I am aware that most Jews (at least the ones I know) have brown eyes. Which one would expect from people originally (albeit generations back) from the Middle East.

You're ignoring the rapine of the various Cossack etc incursions, wj. And the variable colouring of the Ashkenazi Jews has led to all sorts of (probably incorrect) theories about mass conversions to Judaism (see the Khazar theory among others). I have a blond, blue-eyed cousin, for example, who survived the holocaust because a German woman was able to pass her off as her own illegitimate grandchild.

Actually, I assumed (having, as I say, no actual information) that rape somewhere along the line was involved.

No doubt it took a lot of courage and perseverance and other things for Robinson to take the pressure of his role, all the while playing brilliantly, and he deserves the admiration he gets. I have no wish to detract from that.

Why did the owners not previously sign black players? I'd say all the reasons Tony suggests, though especially (b), as applied to different owners, and there certainly was resistance from players, both from outright racism and no doubt fear of competition. In fact, IIRC, Rickey traded one or two Dodgers for that reason, and threatened to trade others if they didn't behave themselves.

Why then? Well, WWII was surely critical, as McK says. But don't discount that it was Brooklyn - heavily liberal - likely to support the move. Read Roger Kahn's The Boys of Summer. Some franchises were quite slow to integrate. The Red Sox waited until 1959 and then the best they could do was Pumpsie Green. Imagine that, with all the black talent readily available. But there, or rather here, Yawkey, the then owner, was a quite blatant racist.

As an aside, I once read a story about how the Cardinals came to integrate, a few years later. It seems they were about to move out of St. Louis, for lack of fan support, when the mayor prevailed upon Gussie Busch, the beer magnate, to buy the team and keep it there to avoid damage to the city's reputation. This was not, then, a major transaction for Busch, so he did it, despite having little interest in baseball, hoping that the promotional benefits would make it worthwhile.

Soon after the deal closed Busch met with team management, to find out what he had on his hands. He asked whether the team had any black players. No, he was told. "Well, then, go get some. I don't even care if they're any good. The last thing I need is the NAACP calling for a boycott of Budweiser." Possibly apocryphal.

the role race plays is more of a legacy-type role and the difficulties faced more in the AA community than elsewhere--but still a thing elsewhere--are driven by here-and-now factors that are not race-centric but rather seem more in the nature of cultural or environmental.

Aha, I think we are verging here on the argument about absent fathers, and consequent problems of one-parent families: drugs, poor educational attainment etc. Not race-centric, you see. Totally coincidental to mass incarceration of black men, among other phenomena, for example.

Moreover, in attributing the AA situation to systemic racism, there is an implicit logical deficiency since so many other ethnicities do anywhere from well to extremely well

This argument does rather assume that "blackness" is no different from any other ethnic signifier, in the eyes of most racists, and in fact the system as a whole (be it police, courts, schools etc), which I believe has been demonstrated not to be the case.

The model minority myth.

Rutgers, Princeton, arent they really all the same?

"In all fairness, McKinney, this is not your call. The testimony of African Americans, if we had any here, would be of value."

In all fairness it is as much his call as anyone's. While black people get to point out what they perceive as racism, and we should be inclined to consider their input, they dont get to define it all by themselves.

I'm sorry Marty, I disagree. When McKinney (or any white person) says this:

Yet, you'd think that the very air we breathe is toxin-infused with the stench of deep and abiding racism. That is total nonsense.

it is not his call, or the call of any white person. The existence of "deep and abiding" racism, which is never experienced and rarely seen by white people, cannot therefore be dismissed by them, as "total nonsense". But the incidence of murders of unarmed black people, usually (but not always) men, suggests that McKinney's judgement is quite wrong, as indeed how could it not be? He is a well-meaning, well-off white professional man. It would be quite surprising if he knew much about racism in America at all. I don't know about black people's right to "define" racism, but I sure as hell expect they know it when it stops and searches them, or slams them up against a car.

Chappelle ties up the loose ends:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/dave-chappelle-hits-out-at-don-lemon-candace-owens-and-laura-ingraham-in-netflix-special-on-george-floyd-3?via=newsletter&source=DDMorning

Regarding the Jackie Robinson story, Ben Chapman, Solly Hemus, Enos Slaughter and countless other ballplayers were gratuitous beneficiaries of traditional institutionalized affirmative action for whites and had a "tough time" graciously thanking black ballplayers for forfeiting and in Robinson's case, delaying their professional major baseball careers so the former could get more at bats in then they deserved and in Hemus's case, get promoted to management where he could give Bob Gibson and company a load of racist shit years later.

Actually, Hemus should have been sent "up" to the Negro Leagues to see if he could cut it there.

Spikes up and high cheese, Solly.

https://theundefeated.com/features/after-jackie-robinson-players-who-followed-faced-ongoing-racism-mlb/

Yes, of course, things are much better now, but EVERY step forward was only grudgingly "accepted" by the usual suspects.

If the race situation had been reversed for 230 years and we whites were subjected to the treatment meted out to blacks, events would have moved much faster because we whites, without patience and forbearance regarding our freedoms, would have sued and killed everyone in sight at the first sign of foot dragging.

Can you imagine if black leadership was making us wear masks?

Hell, Steve King just lost his job a mere week ago, and will receive a hefty pension to honor his racist crap.


If anyone is dying to hear more from DiAngelo, she appears in the last interview segment in tonight's Amanpour & Co. on PBS, just finished uploading the show to WNET in NY. It's a re-airing of an interview from September 2018, so the discussion is not reacting to or informed by our current situation.

I understood your point GftNC. I just dont agree.The incidence of murders of black people, 1200 by cops guns between 2013 and 2018, with 700,000 cops, 37 million black citizens doesnt suggest his description is wrong.

Yes its 2.5 times the number per million of white people, but statistically that's not pervasive.

I've already stated my acknowledgement that racism exists. But his statement is, in my opinion, accurate.

Lj, my apologies, I thought my last few comments were on the other thread. Feel free to delete them. They were not on topic.

Is the only measure of racism killings by police, even as regards policing? How many times have you been pulled over in the past year, Marty? Has your car been searched? Ever been stopped and frisked walking down the street?

The answer is yes, to the last question. Regularly as a kid growing up, several times as an adult, not recently.

Patted down, boots off, pockets turned inside out, a few times had the front seat removed from my truck. In Texas the locals did that just to show they could, the Staties were worse. I've watched perfectly white people get beat close to death for running from the cops, or just mouthing off. Me? Yes officer, no officer, no quick moves, hands in plain sight, follow directions immediately. Just another fuckin day growing up.

Have you?

Yes its 2.5 times the number per million of white people, but statistically that's not pervasive.

?!?!?

If "pervasive" doesn't suit, how about "a hell of a lot"? Specifically "a hell of a lot more than you all"?

Pick any measure you like, black people probably are at or near the bottom of the ladder.

Saying that it's due to "factors that are not race-centric but rather seem more in the nature of cultural or environmental", if I may pick on McK for a moment, seems to beg the question. Excluding historical factors because that was then and this is now, likewise.

How did those "not race-centric" factors come to be? Why do they persist?

2.5 times the white population, for any negative outcome, seems pretty damned significant. To me, anyway.

See russell, those numbers reflect how many more white people live in nice upper class suburbs. The closer you get to matching people where I grew up to black people in the same economic strata those numbers get a lot closer.

Maybe you grew up in those neighborhoods, never had a cruiser just pull over to ask you where you're going at 8 pm, and then not like your answer. We used to walk from the Majestic theater in east Dallas to our apartment, about 15 blocks, and get questioned about every 3rd time. We all knew xwhich cops to avoid and which were ok.

Then, when I moved to Farmers Branch, we had to try and literally get out of the town limits so we wouldnt get pulled over because they didnt want the poor kids near the country club.

So no, I dont find the statistics compelling.

I begin to see why Marty sees some much more economic than racial components in events.

Perhaps it would help to consider that all blacks get treated the way Marty remembers poor whites are. Regardless of the black individual's socio-economic status.

Marty, the form of my comment did invite the statistics on murder by cop, so it's my fault for limiting the discussion in that way. I agree with russell though, two and half times the white numbers is pretty awful. And as for the other forms of racist harassment, I take your point that poor whites get it a helluva lot worse than rich (or even middling) whites, at least from the police/authorities. But black people get it from racist white thugs as well, plenty of it, so there's that. I understand that we disagree, and you're entitled to your view of course, but I don't see how a rich white guy's opinion on the prevalence of racism is particularly valuable, unless he is a criminologist or someone really knowledgeable about the statistics on different forms of racist harassment.

The incidence of murders of black people, 1200 by cops guns between 2013 and 2018

Plus, of course, guns are not the only way cops murder people.

GftNC,

While I don't disagree at all with your point about "clever Jewish lawyers" fully, I will say that my personal gut reaction is mild, maybe milder than is justified. I react much more strongly to talk of global Jewish financiers, partly because I sense more threat there and partly maybe because I'm kind of a small-scale financial type myself.

A friend who is a retired law professor told me that his dean once assigned him to teach a course on notes and bonds because, as the dean told him, "You people are good at that sort of thing." His reaction was more "WTF?" than outrage, as was mine when I heard the story.

By the way, my sister has blue eyes, as does one of her daughters. I was going to launch into a disquisition on recessive genes and whatnot but a glance at Wikipedia informed me that all that business is nonsense, so I'll skip it.

The only kind of reliable numbers comparing those things come from the Post study and a couple of other nonprofits. The numbers are 2 to 2.5 times per million. 2300 whites to 1200 blacks in the gun study, but the others track.

,i>in Hemus's case, get promoted to management where he could give Bob Gibson and company a load of racist shit years later.

I think Hemus would have kept his mouth shut had he been an active player who had to bat against Gibson.

Kahn tells the story of a game where some players in the opposing dugout sang a loud chorus of "Old Black Joe" while Joe Black was pitching for the Dodgers. According to Kahn each of the next seven batters got a fastball aimed at his head. "Must've been some singers in the bunch," Black mused later, because the music stopped.

Hi everyone, some thread maintenance points. First, thanks to wj for pulling bernie's response out of the spam folder. I should have kept that window open, though my time online doesn't match with most of yours. And note, this breaking up of the timeline can make it difficult to answer points etc, so try to give space and time, it may be that the person you are addressing is there, but something else is happening.

And again, planning on closing this Monday morning Japan time which is Sunday nite US time unless people say they want to talk more. I'm not sure I do, I'm pretty exhausted and it would be nice to forget all this, but I hope you can understand why, though I may feel that, I wouldn't think it is the right thing to do.

The closer you get to matching people where I grew up to black people in the same economic strata those numbers get a lot closer.

Yes, because apparently you grew up poor and disadvantaged.

And the reason that the numbers for black people get closer to your experience is because a lot them grow up poor and disadvantaged.

Which raises the question -

****Why the hell do so many black people grow up poor and disadvantaged?****

Right?

Nobody's challenging the validity of your personal experience. I, personally, am sorry you went through all of that.

The point is that, if you're black, you are more likely to live that experience.

That is why I say black people are treated differently than white people.

Get it?

McTX: We, as a country, have been on a steady arc of improving race relations since WWII ended ...

... and up until the modern GOP decided to disenfranchise as many black people as possible, enlisting the GOP Supremes as collaborators and endorsers.

Or maybe only until Nixon's "southern strategy", which succeeded in the year MLK was gunned down.

The notion that black people in the US are in the same "people of color" category as any other ethnic group is just plain ridiculous, BTW.

The suggestion that poor whites are subject to just the same indignities as poor blacks is another knee-slapper. Even now, when mentioning knees is probably in poor taste.

--TP

In case you don't click on links from John Thullen, you may want to check out Dave Chappelle's talk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tR6mKcBbT4

Not that I really want to, but I'll make another try at trying to try.

Does anyone think it is _not_ possible to be an unconscious racist? To be able to hold opinions about the worth of African Americans that are problematic and not be able to acknowledge them? One of the key points that DiAngelo makes is that racism is defined as a _conscious_ dislike.

[00:15:31] So after civil rights racism got reduced to the following formula a racist is an individual who consciously does not like people based on race and is intentionally mean to them always an individual must be conscious must be intentional.

(I'd also note that the transcript has a number of errors in it so you may want to double check if you quote)

It seems that most of us would accept that there can be unconscious racism. So the question is whether American culture (which obviously isn't conscious of what it is or isn't) can be racist. Perhaps setting it out there, away from questions of individuals. The only problem with that is that it becomes very easy to defend American culture. How can American culture be racist? We love jazz and pop, we lift up African American individuals and celebrate their achievements. How can a culture that does that be racist?

I can't remember if this was shared, but this discusses the epidemic of amputations in black america.
https://features.propublica.org/diabetes-amputations/black-american-amputation-epidemic/

There is not any one neck, no one place where decisions are made, it is a huge number of small choices that end up creating the situation we see, a situation that, as the article points out, looks like this:

two maps why Fakorede has stayed in the Mississippi Delta. One shows America’s amputations from vascular disease. The second shows the enslaved population before the Civil War; he saw it at a plantation museum and was stunned by how closely they tracked. On his phone, he pulls up the images, showing doctors, or history buffs, or anyone who will listen. “Look familiar?” he asks, toggling between the maps. He watches the realization set in that amputations are a form of racial oppression, dating back to slavery.

It is not about you, it is about the system.

This seems to address a number of the points we have been discussing.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/if-you-dont-believe-systemic-racism-is-real-explain-these-statistics/2020/06/12/ce0dff6e-acc7-11ea-94d2-d7bc43b26bf9_story.html

lj, an awful lot of us thought that DiAngelo had something worthwhile to impart, and recognise her concept of white fragility. We have seen many examples of how unbearable the suggestion is that people can be racist without intending to be, or without having conscious bias against black people, and that such attitudes are common.

Whenever you decide to close this thread, I think it has been valuable, and that important things got said (and actually are continuing to be said).

russell, does it really mean that? Or does it mean they started out poor and they have been, for some period of time, treated mostly like the rest of the poor people? If we didnt measure by race we would have 24 million poor (38 with other races) people with lots of overlapping experiences that we could address.

But we spend so much time, energy and effort on how we got here. Why are there 16 million poor white people? What policies have failed to give them enough opportunity to move out of poverty? What historical impacts turned them into generational poor? It cant be white privilege or supremacy. So are some of those factors common with poor black and Hispanics? If we addressed those would we disproportionately help black and Hispanics?

Or are those white people just the percentage that are going to be poor no matter what? Are they lazy or stupid so if we get the black percentage down to that level we can be satisfied we fixed racism and the poor are just a problem?

Dont get me wrong, there are lots of racists, we should have dialog about the fact that in too many places blacks arent considered ordinary. But so many of the effects and impacts of poverty are common I believe we should focus on those with an eye toward making sure the solutions are helping consistantly across those 38m people.


Since I raised the issue of Robinson's military service, I got curious and went looking for some information about our desegregated military:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/25/us/politics/military-minorities-leadership.html

If you enter the Pentagon at the Potomac River entrance, where foreign dignitaries are greeted by the defense secretary, you will walk down the E Ring hall with its portraits of the men who have led the United States armed forces for the past century. To nearly a one, the African-American service members interviewed for this article said they paused when they walked by the painting of Gen. Colin L. Powell, the first and only black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His portrait, they said, came as both a relief — that he was there at all — and a reminder that no one else with their skin color had made it.

“I walk their halls, and nobody on their wall looks like me,” said Lila Holley, a former Army chief warrant officer. Until she gets to the portrait. “I exhale when I see Colin Powell.” she said.

Side note...given the (up until now, at least)increasing militarization of the US police forces, might the lack of black soldiers in combat arms and the increase of white soldiers with "warrior" backgrounds not spill over into our law enforcement institutions?

It would seem to me that these problems both might be described as structural problems.

russell, does it really mean that? Or does it mean they started out poor and they have been, for some period of time, treated mostly like the rest of the poor people?

I'm sort of at a loss here.

First, no, black people aren't treated mostly like the rest of poor people. Black people are treated badly whether they are poor, rich, living in the city, living in the suburbs, have no money, have more money than god. Black people are treated badly who are household names.

Because before people take the time to understand who that person is, they see black skin, and their response begins from there.

Do you doubt that? If so, please say so, and we'll end this conversation right now.

Black people "started out poor" because they started out as property. They have been prevented from building wealth since the day they were emancipated, through any of 1,000 different means, both legal and other than legal, including murder and the utter wanton destruction of their property.

I have absolutely no argument with the fact that a lot of white people are poor, and are treated badly because they are poor. That is wrong, and we should extend ourselves in every available way to do what we can to alleviate that.

And, no doubt, black people who are poor are also treated badly because they are poor.

Black people who are poor, rich, middle class, any and everything in between, are also treated badly *because they are black*, and for no other reason.

White people, of whatever socio-economic stratum, are generally not treated badly specifically because they are white.

Black people - regularly treated badly because their skin color is black. White people - extraordinarily rarely treated badly because they are white. And certainly not by cops, or the law, or employers, or banks, or landlords, or whoever else.

That is the difference.

If you're white, your skin color is probably not an impediment. It probably doesn't interfere with your life in any meaningful way.

If you're black, it likely does. You can get around it, but it's something you have to get around.

That is the difference.

If we want to talk about what to do about that, that's all good. If you want to argue that that is not in fact the case, I'm not really interested in pursuing it, because life is just too fncking short.

People think what they want to think, for whatever reasons they have for thinking it. I'm all out of patience with debating some topics, and that by god is one of them.

russell, It's not a one dimendional discussion. I have, in this thread, discussed how I thought black people get treated differently. But sometimes they just arent treated as differently today as believe they are. Which creates opportunities to have common solutions.

Marty: Why are there 16 million poor white people? What policies have failed to give them enough opportunity to move out of poverty? What historical impacts turned them into generational poor? It cant be white privilege or supremacy.

Could it be, is it at all possible, is it even conceivable, that opposition to policies like expanding Medicaid, regulating payday lenders, increasing the minimum wage, and adequately funding public education at all levels, is part of the reason?

Could it be, is it remotely conceivable, that glorifying "job creators" and "shareholder value", and structuring the tax code accordingly, has something to do with persistent poverty among job consumers at the low end of the income spectrum?

Is there an off chance that poor white people often vote for politicians who embody that opposition and that glorification?

I keep hearing that the "black vote" skews heavily toward the sort of politicians who propose things like Medicare and SS and ACA and SNAP and LIHEAP and the CFPB and the rest of the alphabet soup, from which I infer that black people are smarter, in the aggregate, than "poor whites" who I never heard accused of voting, in the aggregate, for such politicians. If we're going to talk about "economic class" rather than "race", we have to explain why one segment of "the poor" can't seem to make common cause with their fellow downtrodden who happen to be black.

I'm not forgetting, by the way, that most black folks are NOT poor. But if black folks overall regularly vote 80-90% a certain way, I have to assume that POOR black folks, unlike poor white folks, are NOT split 50-50 (at best) between politicians who propose and politicians who oppose policies aimed at improving the lot of "the poor" in This Great Country of Ours.

--TP

As (some people) believe

nous, you may be interested in this book, I read a friend's copy.

https://www.amazon.com/Black-Officer-White-Reuben-Keith/dp/1975747542

I have been trying to write something about McT's comment at the beginning. The transcript that I shared was not the same one, so I went to the youtube video. Unfortunately, that has no punctuation as it is automated, so I have added that, apologies for any mistakes. I've also added links to screenshots, not sure how to embed them into the comment. I've also deleted some of the speech fillers. I hope that I haven't made any changes in meaning, but if I have, please feel free to point them out to me.

McT says (in italics)

She can't understand why others would object to being compelled to listen to her "truth" in mandatory diversity workshops. She can only see White People (WP) in denial; whereas, in a truly complex and subtle world, one possible thing she is likely seeing is WP who don't much care for mandatory political indoctrination and particularly not from someone as self-certain as Ms. DiAngelo explicitly says she is.

at 10:40 she says (in bold italics)

this book is intended for us for white progressives who so often despite our conscious intentions make life so difficult for people of color. I believe that white progresses caused the most daily damage to people of color and I define white progressive as any white person who thinks he or she is not racist or is less racist or is in the choir or already gets it. White progressives can be the most difficult for people of color because to the degree that we think we have it [and] we're gonna put all of our energy into making sure you think that we have it and none of it into what we need to be doing for the rest of our lives. White progressives do indeed uphold and perpetrate racism but our defensiveness and certitude make it virtually impossible to explain to us how we do so, so I'm pretty sure I'm speaking to a room filled with white progressives, so let me just be clear, you are not the choir, there is no choir, I am NOT the choir, that when I say there is no choir, it's because my learning will never be finished and the moment I think I'm the choir I think I'm gonna be done and I'm gonna have certitude. I often joke but [at] some of the levels it's kind of true, when I first applied to be that diversity trainer back in the early 90s I I thought well course I'm qualified to lead a discussions on racism I'm a vegetarian how could I be racist?

Very early in her presentation, she asserts that white people do not know their own history—that was news to me.

I think that you must be thinking of this at 3:50

white people are not taught their history. we don't know our history so I want to acknowledge that I want to position myself of course as a white person,

However, later, she points to this at 22:59 which could be taken to stand as evidence

this is the board after the grand champion college Jeopardy round
https://www.imageupload.net/image/screen-shot-2020-06-13-at-180912.lZFAy

and for me it just it just speaks volumes right again [not] knowing our history and being able to trace it into the present is one of the volumes that speaks. Another one is that is the history of this country, it is not their history didn't happen in a vacuum

She also casts the issue of white supremacy/racism/etc/etc/etc as being "complex and subtle", yet there is nothing either complex or subtle about her endless repetition of the same talking points, rephrased and restated to sound as if she was saying something different.

That is also something from the beginning of the video (3:25)
this is arguably the most complex nuanced social dilemma since the beginning of this country and there are myriad roads in and all of them are essential but so consistently left off the table is whiteness right so we often learn about this group or that group and their struggles and their triumphs and their heroes and heroines and yet we don't ask ourselves struggles and triumphs in relation to whom and so again I'm going to focus on white folks.

Hers is the certainty of the true believer and those who do not agree are beyond the pale--they are unrepentant racists and always will be because they are white and white people are just that way. [emphasis mine]

A quick check of the transcript as a corpus shows 144 instances of ‘we’ and 44 instances of ‘they’. The tokens of ‘they’ are grouped in particular grouping. For example, I think this passage is indicative(7:10):

In my early days of work of what was then termed a diversity trainer I was taken aback by how angry and defensive so many white people became at the suggestion that they were connected to racism in any way. The very idea that they would be required to attend a workshop on racism outraged them. They entered the room angry and made that feeling clear to us throughout the day as they slammed their notebooks down on the table refused to participate in exercises and argued against any and all points. I couldn't understand their resentment or disinterest in learning more about such a complex social dynamic as racism these reactions were especially perplexing when there were few or no people of color in their workplace and they had the opportunity to learn from my co-facilitators of color. I assumed that in these circumstances an educational workshop on racism would be appreciated. After all didn't the lack of diversity indicate a problem or at least suggest that some perspectives were missing or that the participants might be undereducated about race because of scant cross racial interactions. It took me several years to see beneath these reactions at first. I was intimidated by them and they held me back and kept me careful and quiet but over time I began to see what lay beneath this anger and resistance to discuss race or listen to people of color. I observed consistent responses from a variety of participants, for example many white participants who lived in white suburban neighborhoods and had no sustained relationships with people of color were absolutely certain that they held no racial prejudice or animosity. Other participants to simplistically reduce racism to a matter of nice people versus mean people. Most appeared to believe that racism ended in 1865 with the end of enslavement there was both knee-jerk defensiveness about any suggestion that being white had meaning and a refusal to acknowledge any advantage to being white.

So I think she is talking about white people as 'we' and not 'they'.

That her logic is circular and her evidence, if you can call it that, is superficial and selective at best is lost on her and on her audience, which is a common feature when preaching the "truth" to the choir.

I posted the screenshot of her list of examples, so readers can decide if it is superficial or not.

Hers is a secular religion. It is self-contained set of self-evident, self-proving dogmas that cannot be questioned, that control and define the universe and that, if rejected, lead to sin. She uses that word, "sin".

That is at 22:18. If you go to that point in the video, you notice that she puts the words in quotes and when she says it, she uses air-quotes.
it's a moral trauma and it's a piece of white fragility not being able to face our complicity in this system Well historically were projected our sins onto the black body right? lazy shiftless criminal we projected our sins onto the black body.

This is the only mention of sins in the talk.

In a different time and in a different milieu, she'd be a fundamentalist preacher if not a willing participant in a religious pogrom. Here and now, she's seen a different light, a light that gives her the authority to speak for and about all white people. Through her powerful insight, she knows what all white people think and how POC perceive and react to WP (and yet, she seems oblivious to the arrogance of treating every non-white as belonging to a single group with common set of goals and interests).

I’m not sure where you are thinking this is in the talk. Here is where she says something about what people of color think. (37:29)
let's start with the first set color blind probably the number one color blind racial narrative is I was taught to treat everyone the same anybody. Ever heard that one? Okay we just tell you when I hear this from a white person and I hear frequently, there's a bubble over my head and it has a few things in it. The first thing is oh this person doesn't understand basic socialization. This person doesn't understand culture. This person is not particularly self-aware and I need to give a heads up to the white folks in the room when people of color hear us say this they're generally not thinking all right I am talking to a woke white person right now

And, she will not tolerate whites who think of themselves as individuals, raising the question of whether she would afford non-whites the option of seeing themselves as individuals.

The 7:10 passage above continues with this
And over time I began to see what I think of as the pillars of whiteness the unexamined beliefs that prop up our racial responses. I could see the power of the belief that only bad people were racist as well as how individualism allowed white people to exempt themselves from the forces of socialization. I could see how taught to think about racism only as discrete acts committed by individual people rather than as a complex interconnected system and in light of so many white expressions of resentment toward people of color I realized that we see ourselves as entitled to and deserving of more than people of color deserve. I saw our investment in a system that serves us. I also saw how hard we work to deny all this and how defensive we became when these dynamics were named in turn I saw how our defensiveness maintained the racial status quo.

She rails against white privilege, while completely blind to the privilege she confers on herself to judge an entire race based explicitly on that race's imputed characteristics (imputed by her, no less).

This is from 16:13
The second is individualism. Apparently white people do not understand socialization because we really think that we are exempt from it and of course with the irony of that is because we're socialized to value the individual, we put a lot of effort there, but we think that you know just because I say I am or want to be I could be exempt from these forces

She is nonplussed that white individuals do not wish to be categorized as a group of white supremacists. Then, to soften the blow, she trots out the "but we are all racists" ("we are all sinners"), again oblivious to her own condescension. The analogues with religious fundamentalism are just keep piling up.

Here is her mention of white supremacy (17:39)
Racism and white supremacy racism is a system not an event, it's the system we're in and none of us could be and none of us were exempt from its forces but the way we're taught to think of racism functions beautifully to not only obscure this system but to exempt us from its forces or to have us believe we are exempted from its forces now.

Does her world view admit the possibility that a POC might call out a WP for racism and be wrong about it? That WP's can and often do endeavor (successfully) to treat POC's just as they would treat another WP and that there is nothing wrong with that either? That it is not unheard of for a POC to use race as a tool to deflect legitimate criticism or to gain advantage? Because all of these things happen, just like some WP's are overtly or covertly destructively racist to one degree or another and let that racism influence, to one degree or another, how they deal with others. Others, out of ignorance, commit gaffes in attempting to reach out.

She uses this picture at 1:09:39
https://www.imageupload.net/image/screen-shot-2020-06-13-at-191630.lZYeb
and gives this example
the reason I like this picture when I do presentations is because for me this is an amplified visual of institutional power and if I walked in that room as a woman because that would be the salient identity for me in that room I would it would be visceral to me the lifetime of entitlement exuding out of these men's pores, right? And so if you can see that if you can see not only a lifetime of entitlement but if you were to suggest to them that maybe they should have some women or people of color in that group. I can't know but I believe to my core they would feel contempt because they don't see the perspectives of women and people of color as that valuable. I believe that to my core. I don't know them but I'm pretty damn sure if I can see it in them then and I don't relate to them right? But what version of that is coming from my pores? What version of that is visceral for people of color when I'm in the room right?

She then shows this picture (1:10:56)
https://www.imageupload.net/image/screen-shot-2020-06-13-at-192639.lZchr

so women of color you want to be the one that goes in there and helps those white women see their racism? That sound good? All by yourself? They need some diversity all right. So my point is I can be in this room experiencing sexism and patriarchy and I can be in this room perpetrating racism.

Would Ms. DiAngelo prefer WP isolation or outreach, knowing that outreach involves human imperfection and therefore risk of unintended error? It’s really hard to tell and I’m pretty sure that, no matter what, anything that she doesn’t personally approve of is probably in the ‘sin’ category. Single-minded True Believers tend to think that way.

Given that she has worked as a diversity trainer, I think the answer to that is no.

Race, ethnicity, culture, religion, education level, personal appearance, personal hygiene, grammar (or lack thereof) and a hundred other cues inform pretty much what every person assumes and infers about others, at least on a presumptive basis.
It's called being human. The more invested people are in a particular outlook or religion, the more they tend to evaluate others in light of their outlook or religion.

She also uses the word ‘invested’ at 79:39
I might see myself as just an individual. The people of color in my life see me as a white individual. The question is not if but how. Nothing exempts me from the forces of racism. Whites are unconsciously invested in racism. I am unconsciously invested in racism. I want you to imagine if white people internalize this framework, how revolutionary it would be Bias is implicit. I don't expect to be aware of mine without a lot of effort [and the] right feedback from people of color indicates trust because it is a huge moment of risk across a deep history of harm.


Most of us--at least most of the people I've known over the course of living in a lot of places, traveling a lot, having married someone who was not born and raised in the US and having tried a lot of jury trials, meaning I've spent months communicating to and trying to persuade diverse juries throughout a very diverse state--try to work with, accommodate, get along, etc.
Earlier in the talk (13:57) she says this:

that has nothing to do with whether they're informed and in fact if you are white and you have not devoted years of sustained study, struggle and focus on this topic. your opinions are necessarily very limited and no. a trip to Costa Rica. multiracial nieces and nephews. these are not sustained study. struggle and focus Now how can I say that when I don't know most of the people in this room and this of course is the first thing that tends to trigger white fragility, generalizing about white people. As a sociologist, I'm really comfortable generalizing about white people. Social life is predictable and patterned in really observable ways and we've got to grapple with those patterns but I can say this, that your opinions without sustained study, struggle, focus you know, mistake making, relationship build and repair, they’re superficial because nothing, nothing in society gives you the information you need to have more than that.

To give McT the last work, I put his summation here

Racism exists everywhere, to one degree or another. Dealing with it is not easy. In the US, certainly the most diverse country in the West, we've spent centuries trying to align our ideals with our human limitations. Fanatics who believe themselves favored with some new, revealed truth make the unification process more difficult, not less. Fanatics need villains. No villainy, nothing to get worked up over, nothing to work others up over. Therefore, hers is the tool of a bully: fall into line or be labeled the worst of all things, a racist.

So, make of my viewpoint what you will. In Ms. DiAngelo's world, you have only one option: hers.

and in fact if you are white and you have not devoted years of sustained study, struggle and focus on this topic. your opinions are necessarily very limited and no. a trip to Costa Rica. multiracial nieces and nephews. these are not sustained study. struggle and focus

This whole paragraph is the essence of whatever objection I have to her talk. Embedded directly in her talk is the assertion that everyone else's opinion is only superficial, so any disagreement therefore is uninformed thus invalid.

It is a common argument from intellectuals that allows them to "talk among themselves" limiting the practical value to the society they study. Unless one has the time and inclination to do years of intense study then one can't overcome their socialization rendering them an uninformed racist by definition.

And I say "whatever objection" because it is a lecture on an intellectual treatise from a sociologist. The justification that her years of study is the reason you should listen to her is a natural part of any sales pitch, in this case to a group that she is giving a nod and a wink to that we in this room are the smart kids.

I am sure they all left feeling more woke, and those that weren't already strongly considered becoming vegan.


Marty, that is point you could make, but as a linguist, I see lots of people who assume that because they speak a language, they know all about languages. so I am much more sympathetic to her argument. That might classify me as an 'intellectual' and therefore my opinion is not valid in your mind, but it seems to me that there has always been a trend of anti intellectualism in American life and it has gotten steadily worse. One reason why Asian countries have dealt with COVID better than western countries may have been there is still some respect of what intellectuals say.

Also, I don't think your 'study' needs to be academic. How much knowledge to you have about African American's lived experience? Take these quizzes and see how many you can get right.

https://theundefeated.com/features/black-history-quiz-like-youve-never-seen-before/

Unfortunately, for some, this can be like trivia collection. But if I imagine it for Japanese, it is knowing the cultural knowledge and behavior. I doubt any of us here have that for the black community.

Embedded directly in her talk is the assertion that everyone else's opinion is only superficial, so any disagreement therefore is uninformed thus invalid.

it's a common problem among people with strong feelings on this topic.

I should also warn, looking up quizzes for African American cultural information can bring up a lot of really vile trash.

But sometimes they just arent treated as differently today as believe they are.

I don't disagree with this.

What would cause people to see bias or even animus, where none exists? Are they all clinically paranoid? Or is there some larger context that would explain this misperception on their part?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad