Let’s talk about race!

Let’s talk about race!
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Several years ago, John Derbyshire wrote an interesting article for The American Conservative in which he spoke about catching “the Jew thing” — a sort of obsessive, humourless, conspiratorial anti-Semitism that has a marked tendency to infect certain members of the intellectual far-right.

“I resolved that I would do my best, so far as personal integrity allowed, not to get the Jew thing,” he wrote, before proceeding to review the latest work of Kevin MacDonald, a man who certainly has the Jew thing as outly and proudly as anyone alive today.

The great irony is that John Derbyshire has now been fired from his writing gig at National Review for an equally obsessive hang-up which we might as well call “the black thing.”

Since the February killing of Trayvon Martin — the unarmed African-American teenager who was shot dead by an allegedly overzealous, fair-skinned neighbour — America has plunged into yet another “discussion about race,” the new preferred term for the collective pondering of How This Sort of Thing is Allowed to Happen. Though such language may pleasantly imply an a honest effort at fact-finding and good-natured interracial dialogue, modern history has proven that such “discussions” are usually little more than an opportunity for both communities to haul out their most meticulously well-preserved arguments and cliched gripes, all of which exist to shut down race-based discussions as quickly and self-righteously as possible.

The favoured trope of this particular tragedy has been the so-called “talk” African-American parents are expected to give their children if they want them to survive adolescence — a talk, it’s implied, the Martin family apparently failed to give their son. The basic thesis of the talk is that the white authorities — especially the police — who rule urban America  remain inherently and irrationally racist and suspicious of young blacks, and this is something young African-Americans need to be explicitly told, lest they inadvertently stumble into beatings and gunfights prompted only by the sort of frustrated irritability most of us display when subjected to a pointless confrontation with law enforcement.

It may well be true. Black or white, I think we all benefit from learning the correct, exaggeratedly polite protocols for interacting with cops, who do tend to operate in a suspicious little universe distinctly their own. But recent talk of “the talk” from educated black columnists in major American newspapers has a distinctively off-putting air of patronizing exasperation about it; an ostentatious resignation to the realities of a certain racist reality that’s so supremely self-evident and permanent there’s really nothing to do but lie back and take it.

Frustration over this is what prompted Mr. Derbyshire to author this editorial for Taki’s Magazine, an extraordinarily unsubtle piece entitled “The Talk: Nonblack version.”

We whites have a talk we give our kids, too, says Derb, and proceeds to prattle off a 15-point list of helpful tips for dealing with blacks. Most of these suggestions simply advise avoiding blacks altogether — don’t live in cities that blacks run, don’t go to the beach or carnival on black-heavy days, don’t offer assistance to blacks stranded on the side of the road, don’t venture into black neighbourhoods, and so on. He doesn’t raise these concerns with anything resembling self-criticism or irony; his talk is simply presented as a rational, common sense strategy for dealing with the fundamental racial realities of modern America in the same way the black “talk” is.

Living as I do on the west coast of Canada, I’ve known perhaps two blacks in my entire life, and thus have a fair share of detachment from the heated emotions of this particular issue. Yet the preoccupation — on both sides — with proudly “speaking bluntly” about the realities of their racial opposites still strikes me as an incredibly irritating and self-defeating tactic all the same.

The obsessive drive among among professional black activists to cram every mysterious white-on-black murder (even ones with as many clearly unknown variables as those in the Trayvon case) into some larger narrative of the Jim Crow legacy strikes me as a sheltered smallness of mind every bit as grating as white authors like Derbyshire, who haughtily spout crass and mean-spirited generalizations about African Americans for sympathetic readers in alterna-right publications and expect to be applauded for their “courage.”

In both cases, it’s a sort of hopeless, perversely self-satisfied basking in the supposed “hard truths” of an intractable social problem that invariably evolves into a pronounced, unpleasant personality trait — a “thing” as Derb might call it. Dressed up with cherry-picked statistics, anecdotal hypotheses and other pseudo-intellectual justifications for pre-determined conclusions, it might not fit the textbook definition of “classical racism,” if such a thing can be said to exist, but its practical consequences aren’t much different.


  1. Chris Schultz

    I think the saddest thing is that many of these columnists and pundits are rooting for one outcome or another and bending the facts of this tragedy to their world view, rather then waiting to see what evidence is produced. Perhaps this was racially motivated, or perhaps it was an over zealous idiot with a gun, perhaps he was actually being attacked. As of the moment, it is unknowable, and we need to wait for the facts rather then just jumping on what ever side suits our political dispositions.

    I applaud you JJ for not jumping on one side or the other in this matter.

  2. craigjameswilly

    The police, the criminal-justice system, racist? I mean. I'm white and live in suburbia and I've never come across this problem so it clearly doesn't exist. [/snark]

    I mean, this is really basic effing stuff:
    * The U.S. has 2.3 million people behind bars (World champion: more per capita that post-Soviet (gulag) Russia, more absolutely than the People's Republic of China).
    * Half of people in jail are there because of drug-related charges (http://www.beckleyfoundation.org/pdf/BF_Report_16.pdf)
    * Drug use between black and white people is comparable, whites are sometimes found to actually abuse drugs more (http://healthland.time.com/2011/11/07/study-whites-more-likely-to-abuse-drugs-than-blacks/).
    * However, black people (12% of population) make up 40% of the prison population, mostly arrested for drug-related charges. By some counts black people are TEN TIMES more likely to be incarcerated for drug use than whites (http://www.naturalnews.com/023618_drug_americans_use.html).

    It's these facts which make racism among the police and judiciary self-evident given the massive disparity between black drug use and punishment for black drug use. It makes your condescending statement on the "larger narrative of the Jim Crow legacy strikes me as a sheltered smallness of mind every bit as grating as white authors like Derbyshire," properly mind-numbing.

    This isn't some vague ill-feeling of some intangible concept "institutional racism". It's a reality for ruining the lives of millions of young black people (and not just black people), a reality which is self-evident to anyone who cares to educate themselves to have a very basic knowledge of the facts and stats of the American justice and prison systems.

    As you are libertarian (?), I would hope you'd have a little bit more thoughtful things to say on this. After all, opposition to the Drug War is one of that ideology's finest features.

    General drug war & racism facts: http://drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/64

  3. Ricardo Bortolon

    does this control for incarceration rate for urbanites vs suburbanites vs. ruralites? (I presume there are differences in demographics across the three, though could be that effect fails to manifest in low-density areas.)

  4. ThePsudo

    What explanation do you offer for why blacks are more often jailed for drug use than are whites? There are several to choose from.
    1) Americans generally (especially cops, judges, juries, etc) are predisposed to distrust black defendants.
    2) Whites are better liars.
    3) Something else is at play besides merely ethnicity and drug use rates. Single parenthood rates or income levels, perhaps?

  5. @Ryan_in_SEPA

    Really? How about the fact there is a complete lack of personal responsibility in the urban African American community. As an African American from the rural town where I grew up put it once, the black urban community pretty much has no grasp on personal responsibility.

    You are ignoring this fact because it fits your theory that somehow society is to blame. Explain to me the following:

    1) Blacks have the highest out of wedlock and abortion rates of any group;

    2) Black on black murders account for a plurality of homicides;

    3) Blacks are the most likely to drop out of high school;

    4) Blacks are the least like of any racial group to marry; and

    5) The most likely cause of death for young black males is violence by another black male.

    I grew up in a pretty poor rural area. I knew plenty of blacks. All of them had intact marriages, kids, and good jobs. They almost all despised city blacks including those formally from the city. Most of them went out of their way to point out the distinction.

  6. Josh

    Poverty poverty poverty poverty POVERTY.

    Ugh, as a city black person, this is total BS. You're just spouting off easily explainable BS and then playing off white stereotypes of how black people are.
    "sure every single black person I met was cool beans but BUT NOT THOSE BLACK PEOPLE FROM THE CITIES THEY ARE ALL EVIL WITH THEIR CULTURE OF DONGS."

    Go read Tim Wise, I think he's a pretty good primer on avoiding silly, racist traps like this.

  7. ThePsudo

    Then I look to you for better answers. What do you think explains the overrepresentation of blacks in the prison population?

  8. Josh

    Poverty, discrimination, poverty, anything but the monumentally broken "culture of dongs" meme that goes around. Remember, in one neighborhood, about 80% of all stops involve blacks when whites are 4 or 5 times more likely to actually have drugs. Discrimination isn't a minor thing.

    If you're young and black and you do something stupid, no jury in America will let you off with a warning. That stays on your record forever. And if white people would rather hire someone with a criminal record than a college educated black person (this is true), imagine if you're black, have no college education (poverty), and have a pretty serious criminal charge on record? You're screwed six ways to sunday!

    And because of stereotype threat, and a crappy racist media that has a hardon for calling black people stupid, your scores on vitally important educational things – no matter how hard you work at it – will always be depressed compared to white colleagues. And even if stereotype threat disn't exist and you got A+'s throughout your life, you're still going to be taxed for being brown in every endeavor in life. This country is so wrongheaded on so many issues that blacks are born to not have a good job!

    That, and american prisons just so happens to actually turn non-offenders into psychologically broken recidivists – so black people get into a revolving door scheme once they're charged for even minor offensives. Thanks to a racially charged justice system you get hilarious things like, say, mandatory sentencing for crack being 18 times longer than cocaine.

    And if racism, as we know it, didn't exist, you still got a race of people that are entirely working class thanks to centuries of institutionalized oppression. In this economy, what would you tell them to do – bootstrap? In a country where working hard has the same effect digging a hole in the middle of nowhere (whether you're black or white) you're going to get screwed.

    Given this evidence, anti racism should extend a wee bit further than "Well, I have black friends". These variables will undeniably screw you over If you're a brown person.

    Saying "well don't commit crimes lol" is really just a less obvious form of blaming victims. Black people commit crimes because of poverty – not because of any "culture of ding dongs."

  9. ThePsudo

    I admit I have no personal knowledge to draw from, but I've heard that many aspects of the racial divide are explained by a difference single parenthood rates between blacks and whites — that is, if you compare white single-parent families to black single-parent families and white two-parent families to black two-parent families, the outcomes are a lot closer together. Do you think there's any truth to that? Maybe that would tie into disproportionate representation in prison populations — if more black inmates had been allowed to live as fathers instead, the outcomes gap would shrink. Is that reasonable conjecture?

  10. Nemo

    JJ a libertarian? lol

  11. Patrick

    I think Mr. McCullough has gone out of his way to almost poke at the Libertarian mindset IIRC, especially after the semi-Libertarian Ron Paul.

  12. phlinn

    Not all drug related crimes are equal. Just as an example: The total homicide number (not rate, but absolute count) for blacks in the us was higher than it was for whites last year in 2009 http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/offenses/expande… . Basically, your links do not deal with the nature of offenses, by using the umbrella term "Drug Related". HYPOTHETICALLY, if whites commit burglaries to support their drug habits, and blacks commit muggings, I would expect a disparate outcome even if the justice system was completely fair on an individual case basis. Since blacks are vastly over-represented in gangs in general, I would not be surprised if that is a significant contributing factor.

    Further, the third article does not do an analysis on a per jurisdiction basis. Simpson's paradox in action: If areas that are predominantly black has slightly higher conviction rate for whites, and a vastly higher enforcement rate in general, while areas which are predominantly white have low enforcement rates in general, but still are harsher on whites than blacks, then the overall system can still appear to over target blacks. Here is an example set of numbers to give you an idea. Assume equivalent offense rates and equal sized towns (rural urban distinctions are left as an exercise for the reader.

    Town A: 70% black. Convictions: 13 B, 7 White
    Town B and C: 10% black 1 B, 9 W
    Totals: 30% black, 70% white, 15 B convictions, 25 White convictions.

    blacks would be 37.5% of the prison populace. Despite having Favorable or equitable treatment in all 3 locales.

  13. phlinn

    Just ignore that 'last year' meant to delete that after I checked the actual year of the report.

  14. Dan

    Except Americans. All must be aware that every American's obsession is annexation and the destruction of the Canadian Way of Life.

  15. Jim

    Interesting thing about the case; George Zimmerman considered himself Hispanic, not White (not mutually exclusive), but now he has been labeled as the Whitest Man Alive.

    Not that I'm complaining. This mess doesn't need a Hispanic vs. Black layer.

  16. @Ryan_in_SEPA

    What is a white Hispanic? For that matter, I hate the term Hispanic. It is an artificial construct at best, but arguably race is an artificial construct.

  17. Jim

    A Spanish person or an Argentinian would be considered White Hispanic. Someone like Lionel Messi. Someone with primarily European ancestry, but Iberian European ancestry.

  18. @Cristiona

    His mother was from Peru. I think he's got the right to call himself Hispanic if he wants. The only reason there's the bizarre "white Hispanic" construct is because everyone ran with him being white because of his last name, and then had to backpedal when his heritage came out.

  19. James

    No, "White Hispanic", as bizarre artificial and stilted as all racial constructs, was not invented by media in the wake of this killing. Its been remarkably common on census, demographic, and statistical data throughout the US for about two decades now. Arguably not anything to be proud of, but still, its been around for a while.

  20. billytheskink

    Yep. The last 4 US Censuses, I believe, have phrased their ethnicity question by asking first if you consider yourself "Hispanic or Latino" and then asking what "race" you consider yourself to be.
    White, Black or African American, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, Some Other Race, and Two or More Races are the current choices for the latter question, I believe. A bit more than half of Americans who consider themselves to be Hispanic or Latino also consider themselves to be White.

    Few people self-identify as White Hispanic, but it's been a term that US demographers have used for 30+ years.

  21. ThePsudo

    It's not unreasonable to distinguish between (A) lineage fully from Spain and Portugal and (B) lineage mixed between that and the peoples they conquered in the New World. I assure you, the Aztecs and Maya though of the Conquistadors as White Hispanics.

  22. James

    CraigJamesWilly – Good stuff with regards to the disparity between white/black drug arrests.

    Less appreciated – grossly misquoting the author…
    "It's these facts which make racism among the police and judiciary self-evident given the massive disparity between black drug use and punishment for black drug use. It makes your condescending statement on the "larger narrative of the Jim Crow legacy strikes me as a sheltered smallness of mind every bit as grating as white authors like Derbyshire," properly mind-numbing."

    Don't try and sell JJ's post as a white retaliation against the Jim Crow legacy. It's the generalization that all white-black murders are racially motivated that strikes JJ as small minded, not the Jim Crow legacy itself.

    "The obsessive drive among among professional black activists to cram every mysterious white-on-black murder (even ones with as many clearly unknown variables as those in the Trayvon case) into some larger narrative of the Jim Crow legacy strikes me as a sheltered smallness of mind every bit as grating as white authors like Derbyshire, who haughtily spout crass and mean-spirited generalizations about African Americans for sympathetic readers in alterna-right publications and expect to be applauded for their “courage.”"

    I find JJ's thoughts here to ring true, not mind-numbing.

  23. @Ryan_in_SEPA

    Agree. Lets make a big stink about the number of black on black murders that happen every day. They are far more common than what might have happened in Florida.

  24. Jon Bennett

    Zimmerman overreacted to seeing a stranger. Trayvon overreacted to being followed by a stranger. Zimmerman overreacted to getting his ass kicked. Police underreacted by not doing their goddamn jobs and figuring out what went on before all the evidence was cold.

    National Review properly reacted by firing someone who'd bring the wrong image to their publication and put all other columnists in a bad light.

  25. Jon Bennett

    I meant to also point out in the first paragraph that race may be entirely irrelevant to the whole scenario, but somehow that got left out.

  26. PTBO

    Slightly off-topic: Yah JJ, BC is pretty whitebread- though I have found myself on half black/ half white forestry crews. And half the whites spoke french and half the blacks spoke french- always fun going to the English white/native bars of Powell River or Campbell River.

    I think there are more blacks in rural BC then Vancouver (per captia)- Africans tend to like forestry work.

  27. Svan

    Whatever happens, the media has virtually guaranteed the only impartial jury George Zimmerman will ever see is a race of domesticated monsters in the subterranean crucible they've built to escape the non-stop coverage and fart coveting pundit-class that rules the above ground airwaves. Seriously, the only group of twelve people capable of rendering an unbiased verdict on George Zimmerman are those so profoundly disconnected from modern life that they might as well be from an other world.

  28. Nicolasrll

    29 percent of Americans can't identify the Vice-President; finding 12 of them who haven't heard about this seems doable.

  29. Brandon

    I doubt this controversial story is going to be as clear cut as either side wants it to be. My personal belief is that it probably falls somewhere in the murky middle, where Zimmerman morally overreacted to some sort of provocation. Whether it was a legal overreaction is something that is going to be decided by the special prosecutor, and a jury if it comes to that.

    As far as the “outrage” surrounding this, its the same tired arguments thrown out. Morgan Freeman has the correct answer to racism(google morgan freeman on race, for the 60 minutes interview), stop talking about it. As long as you separate people into two different groups, and give different treatment to one another, you can’t have equality. So every time someone plays the “I’m being persecuted card” to defend something that wouldn’t be defensible without that card, then they support racism.

    As for the statistics for the number of blacks going to prison for “drug related crimes”, I think your jumping too quickly to the assumption of some sort of massive conspiracy. “drug related crimes” is a very very very large net, encompassing both bulk drug trafficking, and some moron getting high off paint thinner. The prisons are bursting at the seams, and black, white, or purple, generally don’t send users to prison. What they do however hit people hard for, is dealing, something a poor person is likely more inclined to do (since it usually gets done to pay for their habit, if they don’t end up resorting to stealing, another way people end up in trouble with the law over drugs).

  30. Nicolasrll

    Not treating groups of people differently based on the color of their skin, or hair, or whatever else we can dream up to carve up humanity into little groups, sounds like a great idea, and I agree wholeheartedly. But stop talking about racism? How else are you supposed to stop it, or more realistically, reduce it as much as possible if you don't start by acknowledging it exists? There is such a thing as an unjustified accusation of racism, of course. And there is also such a thing as denouncing racism. We should all try to avoid the former, but the latter also needs to done. There's this quote by Edmund Burke on George Zimmerman's webpage about how all that's necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. I'm not sure what Zimmerman was thinking of applying that to, but it seems to address racism pretty well.

  31. J.J. McCullough

    There's also the issue of certain states giving longer sentences based one's history of past convictions. So the fact that one is formally in prison for a "drug related charge" does not necessarily indicate that he's just some piddling one-time user.

  32. @Cristiona

    I'm white and I got a talk too. Of course, it seems that "be respectful to people who have guns and can arrest you" should be common sense and have nothing to do with race. A traffic stop is one of the most dangerous things a police officer can do, since they don't know what will happen until they're at the window. Which, incidentally, is also point-blank range. Swallowing your pride and being polite seems like the least you can do.

  33. Republicalifornian

    Agree with the folks saying we all need to be polite to police officers. Their job is hard enough, and if they're jaded, it's probably because they've seen some pretty awful stuff. Politeness doesn't cost a dime.

    Agree with the folks that want to wait for all the evidence, not just what dribbles out. My personal belief is the only thing that is clear cut is that Zimmerman messed up by not listening to the 911 dispatch who told him not to pursue. Had he listened, this never would have happened.

    Lastly, I definitely feel that the media (in pursuit of ratings, no other conspiracy necessary) has played up and stoked the racial tensions of this affair. By showing very old and very sympathetic pictures of the Trayvon and showing unsympathetic pictures of the Zimmerman, they've made a potentially murky situation seem black and white (no pun intended). It's classic American storytelling where we like our heroes troubled, our villains despicable and powerful, and our endings fast and clear cut.

  34. Guest

    "The obsessive drive among among professional black activists to cram every mysterious white-on-black murder (even ones with as many clearly unknown variables as those in the Trayvon case) into some larger narrative of the Jim Crow legacy"
    Is this not a huge generalisation?

    Who are these professional black activists? Are they only black activists in your eyes if they are in the media complaining about anti-black violence? Do you research the press releases they put out that don't get coverage? Have you actually listed "mundane" deaths then examined the responses of black activists? What of other issues they work on where the media is not the most effective medium?

    I don't have all these answers but unless you do, I would caution against making statements like this in the future. Making absolute claims about an ill-defined "they" makes you sound like a conspiracy theorist, which is a bit disturbing when the effect is to dismiss genuine concerns about racism (and if this is not your intention, you might want to reread and work out/elaborate what other function it serves). "Out-groups" including black people already have a problem being nameless and othered, and this line plays into that.

    This may not be intentional on your part but if it is not, I am asking you to be aware of what you're doing by normalising this sort of derailment.

  35. J.J. McCullough

    I think you're reading too much into it. There were enough adjectives and qualifiers in that statement to make it very much a non-generalization.

    Obviously, in the immediate aftermath of the Trayvon story coming to light, certain activists of the Al Sharpton / Jesse Jackson variety were already organizing vigils and marches and protests before they even knew all the facts, just as they had done in the Duke Lacrosse case and various others. I'm sure such activists protest lots of legitimate, clear-cut things as well. I never suggested otherwise. I only took issue, with, as I said, the marked desire to draw conclusions about ambiguous white-on-black cases before all the important details are known.

  36. Nicolasrll

    So, I'm white. My parents are (obviously) white, as are every member of my immediate and extended family that I know of. I grew up in overwhelmingly white neighbourhood and went to an elementary school where all the teachers and pretty much all students were white, and I had white friends. High school and college was somewhat more diverse, but still had a clear white majority.

    Now, my parents, being the decent, educated people that I like to think they are, educated me early and often in the idea that people are people, no matter what their skin colour, and discriminating against them on this, or any other cosmetic basis, is wrong. I think I internalized this pretty early. So recently, when in a heated discussion a friend of mine said I was being "so fucking white", I was kind of shocked. What a shitty thing to say! I was expressing my opinion on a subject to the best of my knowledge and judgement; it sucked to have it reduced to the colour of my skin, which more or less dismissed me from forming an independent opinion. So I can understand why so many white people seem to be expressing their frustration about "reverse-racism" and "anti-racism" and stuff like that.

    But you know, pretty much ever since the Europeans started landing, North America was a swell place to be white, and a more difficult place to be in if you had a different skin colour. Slavery, internment, institutionalized discrimination, etc. To paraphrase Louis C.K, white people aren't better, but it sure is better to be white. When I was living in my hometown, I always had a white prime minister, provincial and federal. My MP was always white. The mayoral candidates were white. Authority figures were almost always white. People on the television were white. Patrick Roy had won the Stanley Cup for Montreal, and he was white.

    This is not necessarily a *bad* thing in the same way that, say, a law that stops non-white people from voting would be. I was living a community where the demographics were overwhelmingly white, so the culture reflected that. But the key point I think is pretty much this: to someone who wasn't white, the place where I grew up would look very, very different. You would be faced with constant reminders that you're different from most of the rest of the people, and maybe more importantly, you're different from the people with power and authority. In the most benign of cases, I can imagine that this would give you a very different outlook on society. But it's not the most benign of cases, is it? We're not talking about just difference in skin colour; we're talking about a society that has a legacy of socially and legally considering that you were inferior because of what you looked like. It seems likely that you would have personal run-ins with that kind of attitude. Maybe from someone with power who used his authority in an unfair way; maybe from reading message boards on mainstream news websites where people complain about "the nigger in the White House"; maybe from reading a column where the writer argue that his children should avoid helping you if you're in trouble or keep out of places where there are many persons who look like you.

  37. Nicolasrll

    I obviously wasn't part of an ethnic minority growing up. But I do know what it feels like to feel and to be excluded, to feel like you're not being represented or acknowledged by the world you live in. I would hope that everyone gets a little bit of that feeling at least once, for empathic purpose. And that leads me to think that someone part of a minority group, a place like North America must be a different place to be in. And this is something worth recognizing, not simply dismissed whenever it's brought up because you yourself don't care about race.

    So yes, I think my friend was being a dick by telling me I was "being white". And you don't get to use your skin colour to justify doing things that are wrong. But I don't know, when I hear about black parents having to give "The Talk" to their children, I don't think it's very empathic of people in my situation to respond by saying "well duh, I too have to give a talk to my kids bout being polite to cops", implicitly saying that there's nothing particularly special about the situation black people are in. I think, in a very real sense, they are not living in the same place we are. They live in a place where they need to tell their children to be careful, because some people will dislike and mistreat them on sight. Some people will automatically view them as a threat. And they just might end up being hurt because of it. It must suck to have to say that to your child, and acknowledging this is not "inflaming racial tensions", "dividing America", or whatever buzz words are being thrown around these days. People like me get to live in a country where basically everything we see reminds us that people like us have the run of the place. Not everyone does.

    So yeah, sorry for rambling so much. Basically, my point is, it's worth making the effort to try to see what the situation looks like for other people with different backgrounds and different points of view. Doing this does not imply that you have to adjust your ethics or your opinions depending on the colour of your skin or on the ethnicity of the other people involved in an argument. If someone attacks or insults or dismisses you because you're white, it's just as wrong as if you were black. But it does mean recognizing that, to other people, race isn't just some unimportant thing that you have the luxury of not having to worry about because everyone looks like you.

  38. Brandon

    I think you are probably going a bit far to suggest having a felony is less of a detriment to job hunting then being black. Last I checked anyways, its perfectly legal to ask on an application “Are you a felon” and promptly throw your application in the trash the moment they see the box checked, but there would be howling and screeching if any variation of “are you black” was a mandatory thing on application. Even if racism was as prevalent as you seem to think, one gets an interview, the other does not.

    As long as its racist to look at all the possible reasons for why XYZ statistic is the way it is, then nothing will change. Personally, I’d never hire someone displaying traits that are of the stereotypical inner city street thug culture, I don’t care what race they are, I’d be just as quick to avoid all ties to someone who was of ANY race that glorified the things that are glorified in that culture. Is that racist? I am sure someone will think so, since anything but total acceptance of one another seems to be today’s battle call.

  39. JonasB

    I don't think it's racist to avoid people who display stereotypical inner-city traits. Someone (not me) might call it elitist, but they'd have an uphill battle to do so successfully. As for the felony thing on job applications, that's not actually a permissible question (in Ontario at least) and you are within your rights to refuse to answer it. This of course raises the problem of what employers do with applicants who decline to answer (refusal = yes?) but that's another issue entirely.

  40. ThePsudo

    Asking whether you have been arrested and/or convicted of a felony is a question on virtually every employment application I've ever filled out. It is almost always accompanied by a disclaimer saying that answering "Yes" is not certain to deny you a job, but may be considered in determining what kind of job you get. I vaguely remember seeing one that said something like, "Do not answer this question if you live in California." or something like that, seemingly an exception for compliance with state law banning the question.