Ta-Nehisi Coates has been sending out some really solid pieces on the social construction of race (here and here). One of the difficulties in explaining this to people is the sheer time scale and immensity of the racial processes that have left vast economic gulfs between our racial categories. Not only do racial categories have statistically significant and unequal groupings of IQ, but you can pick any statistic you like: longevity, health, wealth, income, educational achievement, and on and on. Really, pick anything you want to measure and you will find inequality. It can be hard to explain how these racial categories are social constructions when any statistic you want to measure indicates that these racial categories actually do have meaning. The key here is that these racial categories have meaning because we have given them that meaning through systematic racial discrimination in every single aspect of our lives.
For my students one of the simplest and most valuable explanations has come from Sampson’s Great American City. Here he works to illustrate the power of neighborhoods and what it means to reside in areas of concentrated disadvantage. What he found in Chicago is that concentrations of disadvantage are centered on communities of color. In these areas it is more difficult to access healthcare, education is much weaker, and social services don’t exist, there are fewer economic opportunities, there is less investment, and much more (I suggest reading the book as it compiles over a decade of research).
The point here is that we intentionally and systematically created different opportunity structures for our different racial categories. The outcome is what we have today, vast inequalities in anything you plan to measure.
After my discussion on May 10 with regular Frontier and “Ask Frontier” people I was under the impression I would receive one more bill for service between May 16 and May 20. I did receive a bill last night but not for 4 or 5 days of service, for an entire standard month of service. ANOTHER phone call (this time with Becky – RAW971) to Frontier later, I discover my choices are now to pay the whole thing and be reimbursed “in a few months” or pay about $10 and maybe get charged a late fee that they may waive (she made a note). Oh also, I MAY still get a $200 fee but all I will have to do is CALL AGAIN to convince someone to remove the charge. I am pretty sure every Frontier representative I have spoken with has told me something slightly different (and made notes) so who knows what comes next… maybe they will sick a bill collector on me.
Thank you Frontier for providing me with crappy expensive internet service then making leaving even harder, really made me happy. Learn from my mistakes and don’t use Frontier.
This session in MO: wages driven down, taxes on the wealthy AND on corporations lowered, AND “A bill that would make it a crime for federal agents to enforce federal gun laws in the state and another that bans local governments from working with not-for-profits that accept the sustainability guidelines of the United Nation’s Agenda 21.”
In case you were wondering, none of this will improve the lives of working people. This isn’t partisan speculation. We know with fairly high confidence what will come of these reforms.
The story in Bakersfield has stepped up the crazy. Apparently after police confiscated the phones of witnesses they also deleted the videos. Luckily it appears outside authorities are getting involved. Hopefully some of these officers go to prison for manslaughter but I won’t be holding my breath.
Ta-Nehisi Coates brings us the post about Jason Richwine’s Race and IQ “studies” that I had expected to see a lot sooner. Here is a good quote:
Far from being relegated to some musty corner of intellectual life, the Stoddard tradition, the tradition in which Jason Richwine stands, proved to be an influential force in world history. The Stoddard tradition gave us forced sterilization, “euthanasia” programs, miscegenation bans, and, ultimately, the Holocaust. One might oppose the Stoddard tradition strictly on its tendency to birth suffering, misery, and catastrophe. But one can oppose it for simpler reasons — its practitioners have a nasty habit of being wrong.
We are in the habit of justifying existing social conditions. In the case of Jason Richwine, he is justifying existing inequalities with racism. These explanations do not necessarily have any association with reality. Time and time again in our history a great scientist has stepped forward with proof of some biological failing of some nonwhite set of people and time and time again these scientists are systematically wrong. Unfortunately their systematic wrongness never makes it to the popular consciousness with any sort of quickness, further reflecting the white racial privilege that rules our world. For well over 100 years scientists have dissected, measured, analyzed, and variously categorized humans from different places into different racial categories and they have always been wrong! Our racial categories change to fit social needs and today white people are still trying to put themselves on top.
Think philosophy is too complicated, try this!
My condolences to the Silva family. David Sal Silva appears to have been beaten to death by police officers this week in Bakersfield, CA. A number of people recorded the incident and had their phones confiscated. You might think it rare, but incidents of police brutality are far more common than they ought to be.
Edit: Later came across related blog “Photography Is Not A Crime“