Matt Yglesias on Anti-Racism
A comment into a post
I know I have been slacking Audrey, so I had some time this morning.
I just finished reading this article over at Slow Boring on anti-racism, and I posted a long ass comment, which I decided to just post over here as well.
It's a little surprising that Matt didn't link to this article in American Affairs which analyzes American racial issues from an outside (Canadian) view. https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2021/08/why-are-racial-problems-in-the-united-states-so-intractable/
It actually talks about many of the issues that Matt brings up.
The gist of the article is that America try's to split the difference between the Singaporean method which basically enforces integration right down to the neighborhood model and the Canadian method which is focuses on "process neutrality"
It also argues about how African Americans Descended from Slaves should probably be described more as an ethnic group within the the larger racial group defined as black.
The two passages that struck me were:
"First, there is the simple fact that the level of attitudinal racism among Americans is not that high compared to people in other countries. Americans think that other Americans are quite racist, but that is primarily because they take the persistence of the race problem, or lack of support for preferred policy responses, as evidence of racism. They generally fail to realize just how racist people are in other countries. By contrast, the United States is an outlier from other Western countries in a number of social, economic, and political respects that clearly contribute to the persistence of racial inequality. These include the lack of class mobility, inadequacy of the social safety net, poor quality of diet, extreme inequalities in primary education funding, artificial scarcity in elite postsecondary education, high levels of crime, especially violent crime, astronomical incarceration levels, high levels of police violence, widespread gun ownership and gun crime, and governance failure in the democratic system. "
Which as someone who does quite a lot of international travel, and lived overseas for much of there life strikes me as true. Many Americans aren't informed of the numerous racial issues that have cropped up in Latin America these days.
I do think that generally Western Europe and Canada are less racist, but I also suspect that their is a critical mass aspect of racism. With recent migration patterns from Africa and the Middle East into Europe, I can see it becoming a greater issue, though I hope not.
The other passage that dovetails nicely with what Matt wrote about integration is this"
"Of course, the integrationist ideal most often endorsed by white Americans is one in which every neighborhood, every business, and every school and college has a level of “diversity” that reflects the composition of America as a whole. The implication is that African Americans should be immersed in social environments in which they are constantly outnumbered nine to one. Unsurprisingly, this is an ideal that has much greater appeal to whites than to blacks. For whites, it allows them to feel good about themselves for embracing diversity while still remaining the overwhelming majority in every interaction. In democratic politics, for instance, it means always being the demographic majority in every jurisdiction. For blacks, it means being completely swamped and outnumbered by whites. This is what underlies the old complaint, voiced by Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton, that “integration, as traditionally conceived, would abolish the black community.” Children of immigrants are often happy to disappear into the general population in this way. Among African Americans, by contrast, not only would integration on these terms generate a cultural loss, it would also represent for many a capitulation to whiteness, and to white America, that would constitute a betrayal of the historical community to which they belong."
Current racial discord in America is something that is really counterintuitive with me, due to the fact that I was raised in a multi-racial family. While being raised in New Zealand, my parent's adopted my brother and sister who are Asian and Black. Basically, after moving to New Zealand, my hippyish American parents decided that after having me and my sister, they wanted to adopt.
Just a baby (which in New Zealand in the 70s was pretty much all white, except for Maoris but cross adoption was rare). Anyway, the Hospital called, saying they had a Baby available, but there was something my parents needed to know. My mother says, before they even told her she told them... we will take the baby, lol. Apparently my parents were low on the list, but my brothers birth father was Vietnamese, and multiple families had declined. My parent's didn't bat a eye, and thus I ended up with my Brother (who I love and we are probably the two closest middle age brothers you can imagine).
A little over a year later, my parent's got a random call from the Adoption agency. They weren't even on the list. Apparently there was a baby that was born to an New Zealand woman who had an affair with a Black American soldier, and was putting her up for adoption. Again they had no takers but they remembered my parents, and called them up just to see. I think my parents thought about it for maybe 0.2 seconds.
In 1980 we moved back to Los Angeles, which even though its racially diverse, we were quite an oddity as a family.
Growing up in that environment has maybe given me a naïve view on racial issues. I honestly don't think I realized that outright racism existed until I joined the USAF and moved to the East Coast. Even then, I didn't understand until years later when I moved to South Carolina.
To further complicate things, I spent 22-years in the military which is arguably the most successfully integrated organization perhaps in the world. The secret of which is that being brown, black or white comes secondary to being red white and blue.
We need more of that in our society.
Anyway, diversity training is totally cringe. I try and live my life by not being an asshole (which I regularly fail at miserably), but it is a goal.
p.s. I am so looking forward to seeing you for Christmas.