Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Four Tabs on a Theme

Four recent tabs related to recent news about race in America. First, a map showing implicit bias against blacks, by state:

It's notable how little this map correlates with the usual red/blue breakdown by voting or ideology. Generally, the more western you are, the less implicit bias. And for the most part, a smaller black population correlates with less implicit bias. Though, as the story points out, even the lightest blue on this map still falls in the category the researchers call "moderately prefer white." A score of .35 and up is called "strongly prefer white," and that applies to every state shown except New Mexico and Oregon.

And catch this:

A cautionary note: The people who have taken the IAT at the Project Implicit website are not a random sample of Americans, either nationally or on a state-by-state basis. Rather, they're people who, for some reason, chose to take an online test measuring their implicit biases -- which may actually mean they are less biased than average. (After all, at least they wanted to know how biased they are.)
(Here's an earlier post that shows the implicit bias stats from a bunch of other demographic perspectives.)

Then a short article on how watermelons came to be a recurring racist image. The fruit, though native to Africa, was not particularly associated with African-descended people until after the Civil War, when newly freed and black farmers were selling melons in Southern cities.
...the fruit symbolized [these] qualities...: Uncleanliness, because eating watermelon is so messy. Laziness, because growing watermelons is so easy, and it’s hard to eat watermelon and keep working—it’s a fruit you have to sit down and eat. Childishness, because watermelons are sweet, colorful, and devoid of much nutritional value. And unwanted public presence, because it’s hard to eat a watermelon by yourself.
Yes, you're lazy if you stop and sit down to eat. Yes, that makes sense.

Next, Matt Taibbi writing in Rolling Stone about how the police are becoming an illegitimate force in our country:
There were more cops surrounding Eric Garner on a Staten Island street this past July 17th then there were surrounding all of AIG during the period when the company was making the toxic bets that nearly destroyed the world economy years ago. Back then AIG's regulator...had just one insurance expert on staff, policing a company with over 180,000 employees.

This is the crooked math that's going to crash American law enforcement if policies aren't changed. We flood poor minority neighborhoods with police and tell unwitting officers to aggressively pursue an interventionist strategy that sounds like good solid policing in a vacuum.

But the policy looks worse when a white yuppie like me can live in the same city as Garner for 15 years and never even be asked the time by someone in uniform. And at the very highest levels of society, where corruption has demonstrably been soaring in recent years, the police have almost been legislated out of existence.
And finally, from Slate, the racist, classist origins of "broken windows" policing in a book called The Unheavenly City. I think I have a copy of that (or its sequel, The Unheavenly City Revisited) in one of my basement boxes of college books.

So much of this comes down to a disagreement about where and how people want to live -- in diverse, active cities, or quiet, generic pseudo-ruralness. Or maybe that disagreement is just a cover for people who can't admit they don't want to live with people who are different from them.

No comments: