feminism

An Open Call to Basic Honesty from “Men’s Rights” Douches

“Men’s rights” folks, do me a favor:

Next time you want to post some shit about how “Men get screwed in custody disputes” as if that obviates 24 cent on the dollar wage disadvantage and 2.5-to-1 or 5-to-1 underrepresentation by women in numerous fields, make an argument as to how women could even in theory be at fault.

Remember, since women have not been in charge historically for, gee, the last several millennia in most societies, you’d have to prove that somehow they could get these matters of policy or value through.

And don’t just say “Feminists did it”. Point me to the feminists advocating for unfair standards in custody cases, or the court system, or any institution. Point to their successful campaign to actually convince judges or prosecuting attorneys or whomever else, or to get a law passed, that has this discriminatory outcome.

Otherwise, admit that MEN IN CHARGE decided to screw OTHER MEN in pursuit of their political agenda, so that the problem remains men… in charge. Not women. Not feminism.

I have yet to see a single one of you guys do this, so I’m not holding my breath.

Footnote: Though it should not actually need to be said by any feminist, male or female, I am not stating that men are intrinsically brutal, violent or really anything. Men qua men are not the problem, but masculine, patriarchal culture that has brutal, short-sighted, uncompassionate, destructive values and political priorities. And this culture is not the only problem, but must be understood along with racism and white privilege, classism and capitalist values and institutions, straight supremacy and homophobia, and political power, militarism and statism as forming the basis of the oppressions the majority suffer under.

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politics

#BlackLivesMatter, Bernie Sanders, and Democratic Tactics

Tactical debates are some of the most unpleasant and yet most important aspects of trying to commit for positive social change. People involved in them are discussing the hard work of other people with similar commitments. Coalitions can be tested, and suspicions can flare. The radical fringe can snootily dismiss anything but the most extreme tactics as compromise; those who lean more centrist can in turn snootily imply anyone with problems of conviction with certain tactics as being politically naïve and committed to staying in the ivory tower.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of #BlackLivesMatter’s recent hijacking of a Bernie Sanders rally on Saturday the 8th in Seattle has been that the debate about tactics for a better society became one that a lot of people in the mainstream became involved in. The activists used the opportunity of Michael Brown’s death on August 9th of last year to confront Sanders on what they viewed as a position that has had relative paucity on specific matters of race.

#BlackLivesMatter has been a fantastically successful organization. They have rightly pushed forward the causes of racial inequality and have created almost unprecedented awareness about issues like white privilege and police brutality. If we’re lucky, they’ll continue to do great work. And sometimes, organizations like #BlackLivesMatter have to go a little far to challenge people’s sensitivities.

Still, when I heard of this action, I called it a “travesty”. And even with some of the wonderful responses from the Bernie camp that have been elicited, I still find myself massively uncomfortable with this action.

Don’t get me wrong: #BlackLivesMatter’s assertion that white progressives and liberals too often soft-pedal race is well-taken. Even as I was becoming a bona fide anarchist, I still tended to downplay the role of race as compared to class, viewing the specific causes of racial inequality today as being largely the results of previous generations of racism combined with current trends in classism. I can see the trend they’re talking about. And, for some white progressives, their views becoming broader and more in line with complementary holism doesn’t just come about after being presented with the compelling data of the ongoing salience of race (and gender and sexual orientation and political power) in American life above and beyond class.

But momentarily getting a blip of consciousness is not going to cut it. Even getting a Presidential candidate to discuss race more specifically isn’t worth potentially causing the scuttling of an organization and in-fighting.

I think the reason why #BlackLivesMatter may have taken the tack that they did was that they viewed Sanders as being just like any other Democratic politician feigning progressivism early on to build cred.

But Sanders just isn’t that. My Facebook wall is blowing up with people sharing Sanders’ posts. Millennials love him. Here’s a candidate that isn’t calling them lazy narcissists but is laying down, clearly and repeatedly, the basic facts about inequality and corporate domination in the U.S.

From the standards of anyone on the Left, Sanders’ statements are at best “No duhs”. But from the perspective of people who haven’t heard anything like it, Sanders is something objectively new.

I haven’t had this much hope for a Democratic candidate who could actually win and might make good changes since Obama. And Sanders’ campaign so far is blowing Obama’s out of the water in terms of consistent discussion of inequality on all levels: Unemployment and job training, tax rates, the post-Citizens United ability of corporations to truly hijack the political system…

Plenty of people, white and black, male and female, have become galvanized for Bernie. This is something new.

I think that #BLM didn’t understand this need, and in so doing I think they made a number of errors. And even if their specific action ultimately may do more good than harm, I am very scared about what it shows about the movement and what may happen in terms of coalition-building and alliances.

First: Poor people deserve a safe space too, as poor people qua poor people.

Bernie Sanders’ rallies have become a place for people to hear that their struggles are systemic, to be freed of guilt.

#BLM showed disrespect for that. I suspect they would be livid if gay protesters hijacked their rally.

We always have to be very careful when we penetrate the space that is being created by people to talk about something that we admit is perfectly valid and indeed essential.

Second: #BLM’s action is undemocratic in its norms.

When a group of people show up to a place, investing their time and effort to support someone, it is deeply unfair to prevent them from being able to talk about what they wish to talk about.

This is obviously a complicated matter. But I’m trying to think of other situations where resistance has perhaps skirted around democratic norms and I can’t think of many. The recent white supremacist protest where a person satirized them by playing a sousaphone the whole time undermined them while letting them speak. The civil rights movement in general emphasized passive resistance: At best, they caused inconvenience and disruption, not actually preventing people from speaking.

After all, now that #BLM has done this, what maxim can they use to defend a white supremacist or a Sanders supporter taking over one of their rallies?

The means that you use to achieve an end influence that end. Organizations historically have struggled to act in ways that are undemocratic or coercive and maintain their integrity. A better society has to be won by the kinds of actions that would be natural in that better society. And I would hope that a good society would never have a person silenced by others with another agenda.

Third: #BLM has unfortunately for many reinforced the idea that class and race may indeed be opposed objectives. And for many, they want to see class inequality ended.

I despise the idea of “oppression Olympics”. I do not believe in sacrificing progress in one area over any other. I will always reject such false dichotomies. Justice is justice is justice.

But one can make a very reasonable argument that, of the inequalities that we face, class is the one that has gotten worse in the most dramatic way and has been least-well challenged. In the 20th century, we saw revolutionary wins for women, people of color, and recently LGBTQ people. There were transforming changes in institutions: The right to vote, the practical ability to enter the workforce, the end of legal marital rape, the end of Jim Crow, and legalized gay marriage. While racism, sexism, and homophobia and heteornormativity are not gone as institutions, certainly they have been sharply mitigated. But, as regards class, we have seen virtually nothing that can be viewed as a revolutionary change. Corporations still retain the power that they always have had. Workers remain roughly as helpless as they ever have been. And, since the 1970s,

It is not a winning strategy to make people believe that they have to make a choice between race and class. And while #BLM did not explicitly or implicitly do this in their message, their action, bereft of broader context, said to many people, “I’m being asked to choose between supporting Bernie or #BLM”.

This is a loss for both movements. It’s a loss of opportunity to discuss. Luckily, on spaces like Tim Wise’s Facebook page, there have been smart, coalition-building discussions and debates. But I truly fear that, for the next year, I am going to have to do more work now when I introduce anything having to do with #BLM.

Fourth, and this one is tough: A lot of people view black activists, as they view gay or female activists, as irrational or entitled or misinformed or aggressive or ideological.

So much of my activist work day to day is engaging with people and trying to get them to see that it does not make one automatically irrational (an “SJW” or an ideologue) to assert that discrimination against women qua women or people of color qua people of color is real and substantial enough to assert “privilege” for men or white people.

Yes, #BLM can’t be held accountable for bad stereotypes. But actions like this can make them seem remarkably petty and entitled. Sanders’ response makes him seem to many that he is just clarifying something obvious. It seems to many that #BLM forced an issue, undemocratically, that Sanders obviously agrees with, and that #BLM attacked the person closest to their viewpoint who can possibly win.

As activists, we must all unfortunately swallow our anger and frustration at bigotry and injustice quite often in order to bring people on board. We have to communicate to people who have not had the opportunity to be informed and enlightened on these matters. As tough as it is, when we fail to do this we fail as activists.

Fifth: I think #BLM is showing some degree of ideological myopia.

Supposedly, some of the controversy came about because Sanders said “Black lives matter, white lives matter, Hispanic lives matter”. I understand why #BLM took exception with this, but this is in fact the only just formulation.

We want a society where all lives matter equally. #BlackLivesMatter as a slogan is so powerful because it challenges people to recognize that black lives so often are treated like they aren’t. Obviously, this is also true of Hispanics, who are routinely demonized. Sanders’ quote here is perfectly consistent with an idealistic platform. Sanders’ statement in response, “I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me”, is also perfectly on point.

Compare this to some of Obama’s statements, where he actually declared that this is a black and a white and a Hispanic America. Not a single #BLM supporter I’ve spoken to has quoted a single line from Bernie that rhetorically obliterates the racial and gender inequalities being faced. He hasn’t talked about that issue, but there are a host of issues that Sanders hasn’t brought up that matter hugely and tremendously. Unfortunately, when you’re building a coalition, sometimes you need to stay on a single message.

I see in this action a belief that racial inequality is so obviously the leading issue, so obviously the most pernicious, that anyone who disagrees otherwise or wants to spend their time focusing on another issue must be silenced. I get very worried when I see that logic, implicitly or explicitly.

If we were able to improve the class inequality situation in the United States, that would help many poor people of color and many communities of color.

Now, I will say that I have seen many reactions from Sanders’ supporters that are grotesque and deeply unfortunate. Many were unable to put aside anger to try to in turn forgive and build coalitions themselves. Many repeated mythologies about inequality that are deeply toxic and problematic.

But this is the door I fear that #BLM opened. Instead of getting an opportunity to raise the consciousness and allow Sanders to speak through something like an open letter or a question at his rally, they forced their issue into the limelight over another issue. I think many will find that an unforgivable action. When people are angry, their better angels rarely rise to the surface.

In any instance, #BLM did what they did. Now, it’s up to left coalitions to push forward a clear and deep understanding of how totally interlinked race and class are, how the two systems of oppression crucially depend on each other and how efforts against one rob the other of power.

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changemaking

Privilege Parable #1

Two men are digging holes. They both want to plant a tree to beautify their neighborhood and free their family.

One of the men looks at the other man’s hole when they take a break to grab some water and says, “Wow, that’s much smaller than mine. You must be slacking, dude”.

The other man says, “No, your shovel is better. I just grabbed the one I had and it wasn’t very good”.

The first man says, “Oh. That’s fair. Let’s try to get you a better shovel then”.

Neither man feels that their effort has been insulted. Neither man thinks that their family has been insulted. The first man doesn’t call the second man a lazy parasite. They both tried as hard, they just had a difference in terms of what advantages they had to work with, so of course one man did better.

This is, of course, how neighbors who love each other behave.

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politics

Rand Paul Is A Classist, But Worse, He Can’t Do Math

Rand Paul is making a grotesquely classist argument here. (It’s also racist, and sexist, and homophobic, as I’ll get to). He and other conservatives will then have the audacity to pretend that the only people waging class war are political progressives.

His idea, that effort is the differential that explains outcomes, isn’t just sociologically stupid. It doesn’t stand up to a moment of mathematical scrutiny.

Let’s imagine that we have a good society where people are paid by how hard they work. Lazy Jim wants to work 20 hours a week, at a really easy job. Let’s say that that job has a .3 effort multiplier. Workaholic Amy loves her job and she wants to work 100 hours a week at a really tough job. We’ll say that her job has a 1.0 effort multiplier.

Even these extremely different people, with really different levels of commitment and effort, should only be separated by a rate of 6 to 100. Lazy Jim should make 6% of what Amy does.

Not 1/100th. Not 1/1000th.

In the real world, nurses who work 24 hour shifts, coal miners, crab fishers, social workers with case loads triple what would be remotely manageable, and construction workers make far less than people who don’t work a single day in a year because they let their wealth make more wealth. People are born into wealth equivalent to what others spend a lifetime earning.

It takes a myopically classist, racist, sexist and homophobic person to imagine that a CEO’s effort really must be ten thousand times that of a cashier, courtesy clerk, or factory worker. Rand Paul and people like him literally think that it’s so much harder to sit down in meetings than swing a sledgehammer that the guy in the meetings should be paid a yearly salary that he could retire on. (And it’s much, much more likely to be “he” than she sitting in those boardrooms. And it’s much, more likely that that guy will be named Jim than Jamal).

The idea that people should be paid for effort is a great one. It’s a leftist idea, and yet people so often use it intuitively to try to shore up a defense for systems that are not at all based on this norm. The reason why it is a leftist idea is because, if you really think about it, there is no justification, collectively or individually, from a perspective of justice or from a perspective of incentive management, to pay two people who work just as hard at just at difficult of jobs different amounts. That means that the most inequality anyone could ever justify would be less than a hundred-fold difference (except, of course, for those who are unemployed, which also should be virtually non-existent in a good society).

There’s no need to get into how Rand Paul is ignoring how geography, structural unemployment, differences in education access and quality, differences in discrimination, the vagaries of real estate markets and predatory lending, and other cyclical aspects of poverty make it so that some people can’t even get the hours to prove that they can work hard. His own justification is so ignorant that it can only be accepted by millions of people uncritically because of the spiritual and mental poison of classism.

There is, however, a need to note that Rand Paul is pretending that women just work 24% less hard than men (and that there’s no good reason for that like the fact that they are usually also the people doing the bulk of the domestic work in their home), and that black folks really should have wealth that is a tiny fraction of white folks because obviously slavery wasn’t that hard of work so that the descendants of slaves shouldn’t have a ton of wealth, and that Asians and Hispanics must work less hard too given their difficulties with poverty and discrimination, and that the discrimination gay folks face in the workplace must be because they work less hard, so that he is being sexist, racist, homophobic, a chauvinistic jingoist, and above all an idiot.

Every single one of the Republican candidates who did not call him out on this demonstrated that they are incapable of being the President of a diverse country. Make of that what you will.

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personal, politics

My Own Trajectory with Anti-Racism and White Privilege

When I bring up issues of white privilege, racial inequality, and discrimination, I often get negative responses, no matter how humble, specific or on-topic I try to be. This can be tough. It can lead all of us on all sides to be more arrogant than is justified. But as much as I do think these are matters of injustice, and as insensitive as people can get, I do get the negativity and the skepticism.

The average person who reads a lot of statistics that seem to undermine their worldview is likely to get angry. They’re worried that they may be being hoodwinked. They worry that some activist is trying to get their vote or try to make them support some kind of electoral politics that might harm their own interests by using guilt. They worry that they’re being insulted or attacked for things they had nothing to do with that happened decades before they were born. They’re afraid that their country and the people they love are being spat upon, even though every country has had its problems.

I understand that. It can be tough to keep track of the truth. It can be tough to sort out which statistics are relevant and which aren’t. It can be tough to listen to someone else who says something that is totally alien to your experience. I realize that, with all the writing I’ve done on this topic, I still haven’t discussed in one place my own history with this topic. I want to share this because I feel that I should be accountable to it. There was a time where I didn’t believe in white privilege or in racism as being a dominant social institution.

When I was in middle school and high school, I was pretty politically informed. My parents listened to NPR. I read lots of history books and political science books. As my friends started to get into Mumia abu-Jamal, Rage Against the Machine, the Seattle protests, and the other left strands in the 1990s, I found a lot of their arguments to be perhaps a little specious. They would point to the disproportions of black men in jail, for example, or disadvantages of sentencing. They would point to the poverty in ghettos and the ongoing residential segregation. My position until late into high school was that racism per se was of declining importance in America. (Growing up in a mostly white town and spending most of my time with people of left-leaning hippie persuasions, I was able to be unaware of black perspectives on this problem and how much people of color by and large report experiencing widespread discrimination). I viewed the state and corporations as being the dominant institutions, and saw that formal apartheid had been rolled back for what I believed to be long enough to have made it so that racist bias in particular was less important than usual. I viewed the problems that people of color faced in the U.S. as being primarily caused by an admixture of factors: Poverty due to prior inequality in the United States, the worsening of neo-liberal institutions that slammed the already poor, and individual acts of discrimination that, though only done by the minority of whites, still could block opportunities just enough times to lead all else held equal to people suffering disproportionately. After all, it only takes one racist DA to send a lot of people to prison.

So think about how poverty alone could explain a lot of the racial gaps that we seem to see if you don’t look carefully. Sure, a lot of African-American men are jailed, but being poor means you are less likely to have top-flight legal representation and that you are less likely to have political clout. Seeing the OJ trial, I found it quite clear that there was racialized resentment at play throughout the trial, especially with Mark Fuhrman. But OJ’s victory seemed to show that a black man with enough money and clout could indeed get away with murder, just like a white man with enough money. Because of my understanding of history and society, I could hold onto the idea that race per se was of declining importance and view race as secondary to resolving income inequality, brutal capitalism, and the damage being done by investor’s rights treaties like NAFTA.

In fact, a Chomsky book even helped contribute to this idea. Chomsky pointed out that a lot of sociology in the West takes into account race, but then cited a researcher, Vicente Navarro, who looked at class as a predictor of health and found it to be much more serious. (I should note Chomsky went on to make a very important point that stuck with me: “On the other hand, it’s certainly worth overcoming the other forms of oppression. For people’s lives, racism and sexism may be much worse than class oppression. When a kid was lynched in the South, that was worse than being paid low wages. So when we talk about the roots of the system of oppression, that can’t be spelled out simply in terms of suffering. Suffering is an independent dimension, and you want to overcome suffering”).

I should note that I never gave much credence to the idea that black poverty was a cultural failing. Even in middle school, I recognized that, if a group of people are doing worse in a broadly sociological sense, it just can’t be due to some characteristic they share as a group. Sure, rappers singing homophobic and misogynistic lyrics, or people wanting to be on welfare rolls instead of working, or people resenting whites instead of working on their own problems, do exist. But while individual people can be lazy, or ignorant, or unintelligent, or criminal, people as a group aren’t any of those things. If a people with a cross-section of skills and backgrounds are encountering barriers, it’s not because of them but because of the society they live in. After all, plenty of white folks also listen to music with destructive messages, abuse welfare, commit crime, or blame others for their problems. But these people just never seem to have it as bad.

I also recognized that people’s traits don’t emerge in a vacuum. If a group of people are resentful of another group, there’s some kind of reason why that reason is taking hold, whether that’s due to internal elites in that group taking advantage of and blowing out of proportion simmering rivalries or due to an actual pattern of abuse. If a group of people are more likely to be criminal, it’s because the opportunities to join normative social life are limited. There’s a reason why people turn out the way they do, and it’s because of other people before them. That’s why it’s so myopic and destructive to blame them exclusively for their decisions and thereby refuse to extend help or second chances, like the universe only came into existence forty years ago. There are no perfect human beings, so we all owe each other some help and opportunity to do better and be better.

Still, I would reject those who pushed forward an idea of racism as being incomplete or looking only at a narrow slice of the problem. I won’t deny that there was great arrogance in that view, and that if I had bothered looking into it on my own, I might have come around much earlier.

It took not only the work of Tim Wise and other anti-racist scholars on the left (including actually reading Mumia’s work) but also taking sociology classes and seeing the sociological evidence to realize that I had been looking at only part of the picture. Specifically, my awakening to the idea that race matters was from Tim Wise’s careful decimation of David Horowitz in an e-mail debate. As a high school debater, I loved reading great debates. Tim carefully laid out source after source after source, referring to both conservative and liberal scholars… I highly recommend people read it, as it’s a good primer as to both conservative and leftist views on the topic of race.

But that fascination with watching a conservative blowhard get decimated didn’t last very long when I actually took multicultural studies classes and talked to other people. Sure, I was angry conceptually at the injustice that Tim discussed, that I subsequently read repeatedly in Z Magazine. But it’s one thing to be conceptually mad at racism in America and thereby attend a protest against Israeli occupation, and another thing to see the face of someone you like and know that they got hurt because they encountered something I read in a book. Then it became clear to me that, in fact, these issues really matter. I saw so many white participants in these multicultural studies come to deeply regret how they had lost so much of their culture over the years, from their language to their names. I saw Asian participants struggle with balancing their American identity with their Asian names and heritage. They literally had to choose whether to be Rex or Renjun, Amy or Chun.

Most importantly, I heard African-Americans talk about being pulled over by cops, watched in department stores, ignored in classrooms, treated one way on the phone and another way in person. I heard my black Professor talk about how a white girl assumed that he was a valet in a parking lot. And I kept seeing how angry white folks got when black folks said that. Like some other guy being a jerk said anything about them. I never felt defensive unless someone said, clearly, “All white folks are racists”, which I may have heard less than five times in ten years of engaging with people on these issues. It was obvious to me that some cop or security guard that was letting subconscious bias guide them didn’t say something about me.

See, when I try to figure out if a social institution exists, I see if there are pervasive influences. I can say that America is “capitalist”, whatever that specifically means, and thereby classist, because I can point to classist patterns in health care, electoral politics, employment, foreign and domestic policy, and everywhere else.

I can say the same thing about racism, discrimination and white privilege. The evidence does not just say that it’s better to be white if you’re pulled over by a cop, or go to a department store. The evidence is clear: Being white (whether that is specifically being perceived as white or actually being of a European racial background) gives a person demonstrable advantages in wealth and income, employment, the criminal justice system, health care, housing, media representation, banking, and virtually every other institution in life. I did not come to accept this because I read one author or one article. It is because I have looked at every part of American life and found conservative (and mainstream liberal) claims that racism, discrimination and white privilege are no longer operant or are of declining importance to be demonstrably false.

So let me again say that I understand skepticism. I understand why people might view American history differently than I do. I understand why people may reject academics. I understand why people might be afraid to be bludgeoned by statistics, or may be afraid of being guilt-tripped. I can understand why it can be frustrating to be corrected by people about what one calls another group or about an opinion one has. It is absolutely possible to be skeptical about the existence and validity of white privilege without being a racist, or a jerk, or an idiot, or misinformed.

But there is something I cannot abide. Those of us who dismiss snidely the idea of white privilege, as if it were obviously false, are being arrogant. And they are dismissing the experiences of black people, and they rarely have any reason to do so. If you want to say, “There is no such thing as white privilege, get over it”, you are wrong and you are being a jerk. If you want to say, “Black people have no one to blame but themselves for their problems”, you are wrong and you are being a jerk. Well-meaning (i.e. non-jerk) people can disagree. But the idea that it is absurd that racism still matters in American life when we have just now elected our first black President to a second term even after African-Americans being in this country since before it was a country and when segregation and formal apartheid was a part of this country in the lifespans of a lot of still-living people is insane. It’s possible that America managed to really change incredibly rapidly in fifty years. But it is not so obviously the case that it justifies viewing others as obviously dishonest political opportunists for insisting that racism still matters.

Let me reassure you that plenty of scholars are very careful about what they say and don’t say. These issues are complicated. A lot of the people doing the work on this topic have no animosity towards whites; indeed, a lot are white. Researchers and activists in this field of all stripes struggle to find truth between the shifting sands of society. Those researchers who looked into subconscious bias using the Implicit Attitude Test, for example, were surprised and humbled to find out that decades of doing the work that they had done still didn’t make them less biased at a subconscious level.

And the reasons I have heard for why white privilege exists must be dismissed as laughably ignorant. They wouldn’t be offered by anyone with any intelligence, as they so often are, without a need to defend themselves. Like the claim, “It’s not a privilege to be white because there’s a lot of crime in my city”. (As if black-on-black crime didn’t exist). Or the claim, “Lots of black people are on welfare and don’t want to get off”. (As if white welfare abusers didn’t exist, and as if there weren’t plenty of middle-class black families that still lost their jobs in the 2008 recession or their houses and certainly weren’t welfare abusers prior to that while plenty of white middle-class families managed to weather the storm). Or the claim, “I see lots of white homeless people!” (As if there aren’t black homeless people, and as if a white homeless guy who cleaned up and dressed up wouldn’t find it easier to get an apartment or a job than a black homeless guy who did the same thing). In fact, I have yet to encounter a single claim against white privilege that passes muster. All of them were beating up a strawman.

So I ask that everyone, myself included, be a lot more willing to listen to other voices that they haven’t heard and be willing to do the research with an open mind to see if there’s anything to those voices. I hope that as many people as possible will pop over to Google Books or Google Scholar and look up “anti-black discrimination” or “racial discrimination in the United States”, and look at the bulk of the data. Don’t just cite the Heritage Foundation. (Or ignore it). Don’t just repeat memes you see on Tumblr. It is possible to look this data up and become informed. Because people who argue that white privilege exists don’t have to be totally right for it to matter to you. Maybe the only place that people of color still encounter discrimination is in housing markets. But if that’s the case, we should do something. Maybe schools and standardized tests are getting better about trying to deal with stereotype threat. But they should still be better about tracking blacks and Hispanics into remedial classes.

Living in a society that is striving to be free means we have to pay attention and learn. I fully suspect that in ten years I will have changed my opinions on a lot of topics, because I will have learned more and discovered more. Nothing stops you from being a conservative who recognizes that Hispanics aren’t all criminal parasites, or from being a liberal who recognizes that ostentatious consumption in the African-American community might be a pretty serious problem.

And let me close by pointing one thing out: However much of a problem we have with racism in America, it’s only us who can fix it, together. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American… We have to do a lot of work to forgive, to have truth and then reconciliation. And it matters. So I will hold everyone to the standard that they should care to make sure that, whatever they believe in, however widespread they view racism as being, they are sure that they are right beyond a doubt. I want people to have read the arguments, read the statistics, read the studies, and understood them. It’s just too important.

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