A Good Piece on Anti-Racism

So, we all hate racism. At some point, the efforts to quash racism became racist. I mean this in the sense that they force you to focus on belonging to a race, confronting the fact that you are a member of that race, and then accounting for whatever privileges or violations attach to you because of your membership in that race. This is at best counterproductive because it preserves the idea that "race" is something important. In fact "race" is a fiction dreamed up in the early Renaissance to justify the re-introduction of slavery to Europe. We should be striving to eliminate the concept, not further ingraining it into students.

Here's a piece by David Marcus that takes on the idea that everyone should be made to accept their race and confess their privileges. It's a very solid article on why this approach is backwards, and is actually making racism worse.

It's similar to the way in which the Democratic Party's electoral strategy of focusing on advancing the interests of minorities paved the way for Trump's electoral strategy of consolidating the white vote as a bloc. Indeed, many of the things Marcus warns against are much further along than he himself seems to believe.


Tom said...

I agree with his conclusions, but I wonder about some of his claims. For example, "White people do not face the same kinds of systemic discrimination that people of color do."

Is there systemic discrimination? He seems to think economics shows that there is, but I think that's a result of the breakdown of the family and other social causes that are not racial in nature, even though they affect people of certain races more than others.

But, being white, maybe I just don't see the discrimination.

Grim said...

Well, he's writing to an audience that believes those things are concrete facts without room for dispute. So he's trying to sell them on 'you can get more out of these whites if we don't convince them to think of themselves as whites' rather than 'also, it looks like there may not be a lot of stuff to get -- most whites are not rich, nor especially well-connected, nor particularly powerful.'

raven said...

"most whites are not rich, nor especially well-connected, nor particularly powerful."

That may be true-but we do make a dreadful enemy when aroused. The combination of intelligence, creativity and a solid work ethic has a very sharp side.

Of course. all success due to the above is racist now, eh?

douglas said...

Now, of course Tom is correct that it's not the color of their skin that sees so many minorities disproportionally disadvantaged, it's the (sub)culture they are living in. So how to make a clear argument against that culture- say for instance, so-called 'black' culture (rap/ hip-hop culture, without an appreciation of which you apparently aren't 'really' black), with it's promotion of misogyny, racism, anti-intellectualism, tribalism, lack of self-control, rejection of delayed gratification, rejection of humility and service to others, victim status promotion, etc? They've succeeded in linking those cultural elements to the race, such that any attempt to call out the problems with it are easily labelled as racist. How can we de-link those, or is that something that can only be done from within the community in question?

Grim said...

I might suggest that you can criticize those same elements where they appear in poor white culture. If we get any traction on eliminating those elements, you can then point to the improvements in outcomes as evidence that it's those cultural elements that are the problem.

Although, I'm not sure they're the only problem. AVI linked to a Slate Star Codex piece yesterday on economics, which I'm still thinking about. I do think there are some structural issues about economics that are behind some of the decline.

douglas said...

Indeed we could criticize those same elements in poor white culture, but then no one would be calling me a racist! I think one of the critical differences is that no one will suggest that if you're white and you discard the 'poor white culture' and instead hold yourself to 'middle class' 'white' culture norms (I'd like to think that is equivalent to 'American' culture, but they'd like to make it so there's no such thing anymore), no one thinks poorly of you or tries to hold you back (beyond individuals who may do so for personal reasons). If you make the same suggestion for poor blacks, say, you're a racist, and/or you're trying to strip away their culture- never mind that it's a largely self-destructive culture. It's frustrating.

I'll have a look at that piece, as I do think there are economic factors that inhibit opportunity and encourage poor life choices, or at least dangle the temptation to continue making them in front of those least able to resist the temptation. I don't think they're determinative, or that it's useful for the individual to focus on these things, though it may be proper for society on the whole to consider them. At any rate, there's plenty of blame to go around.