White pride

To my aunt, the suggestion that “people in The North are racist” is an attack on her as a racist. She is unable to differentiate her participation within a racist system (upwardly mobile, not racially profiled, able to move to White suburbs, etc.) from an accusation that she, individually, is a racist. Without being able to make that differentiation, White people in general decide to vigorously defend their own personal non-racism, or point out that it doesn’t exist because they don’t see it.

The result of this is an incessantly repeating argument where a Black person says “Racism still exists. It is real,” and a white person argues “You’re wrong, I’m not racist at all. I don’t even see any racism.” My aunt’s immediate response is not “that is wrong, we should do better.” No, her response is self-protection: “That’s not my fault, I didn’t do anything. You are wrong.”

From: I, Racist

Read the whole thing. Please. This article sums up everything I didn’t understand until relatively recently about black/white relations in America. Especially black/white relationships in the supposedly enlightened North.

It sums up why every discussion of of structural racism online quickly stops being about race and starts being about some white person’s hurt feelings and wounded pride. Why polite black people are ignored, and angry black people are shushed for their “tone”.

This is also why I’m suddenly an “angry white person” about this stuff lately. Because once you start seeing this stuff, you can’t un-see it. It’s everywhere, and it’s infuriating.

I mean, just as an example: nobody taught me about redlining. As far as I can tell, most white people my age in American never heard about it. Hell, as far as I know, most black people my age probably never learned about it, even the ones for whom it is the direct cause of their being barred from the secure suburban dream that is supposedly every American’s birthright. And yet white people sit around on Facebook talking about “thugs”, and wondering what’s up with inner-city kids— kids whose parents and grandparents were systematically prevented from securing loans that would have enabled them to leave bad neighborhoods and give their kids a better life. And then 9 people are killed in a black church, and more black churches start burning, but nobody asks “why are white people so violent?”

I exist in a racist system. You exist in a racist system. There is no shame in looking around and acknowledging this truth. You want something to be proud of? Be proud of being honest. Be proud of the ability to learn and improve. Be proud of caring more about your neighbor than you care about clinging to a particular interpretation of American history.

Slurred speech

There’s actually a color-blind rule here that’s fairly simple: An insult can be friendly banter if it can be thrown right back at you.

Source: Slurs: Who Can Say Them, When, and Why | The Weekly Sift

This article is a wonderfully clear explanation of why and how slurs can be asymmetric, as well as how they differ from “curse” words. Also, why taboos are for children but you should still watch what you say. Well worth reading.

Today is a good day for liberty

Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” […] The identification and protection of fundamental rights is an enduring part of the judicial duty to interpret the Constitution. […] The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.


No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority of the Supreme Court of the United States. As always, the whole opinion is worth reading.

This is not unexpected by court-watchers, but it makes me very happy to see that the court didn’t go for some kind of state-by-state compromise decision.

I know this decision will come as a blow to many in our great country. To those who fear the consequences to the fabric of our society: I look forward to seeing your fears gradually put to rest over the coming decades. To the people afraid that this will endanger the immortal soul of our people and our nation: Jesus is on the phone, it sounds like he’s in the inner city somewhere and he’s saying something about feeding his sheep. To those who simply, spitefully want to see people different from you punished by being kept as second-class citizens: have fun simmering in miserable resentment.

To the people now granted an essential liberty most take for granted: happy Friday!

Mike Huckabee admits he’s a moral black hole

Huckabee: I Should Have Pretended To Be Transgender In School To ‘Shower With The Girls

This is the inevitable outcome of Christian (or any religion) “total depravity” thinking. “I am a moral vacuum without God and Uncle Sam to keep me in line, so all I can imagine is how I would have tried to abuse a system in order to get my jollies [and been promptly been disciplined for it, no doubt]. Therefore, we should do psychic damage to hundreds of thousands of struggling transgender kids because dipshit men like me can only think with their dongs. And it’s more important to make it hard for us to sin than to make it easy for other people to exist in the world.”

I wonder if he also objects to the fact that kids in schools were “forced” to be part of the “social experiment” of desegregation.

My disdain of sportsball is better than yours

Disinterest in sports among academics and the highly educated is, in my experience, far from passive. I’ve heard people almost compete to explain the depth of their ignorance in sports — one doesn’t even know the rules, one doesn’t own a television, one doesn’t know the first thing about the game.

via Cultivated Disinterest in Professional Sports | copyrighteous.

I’ve been guilty of this.

Colorblindness is not enough

They were taught by their elders, Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, about how to think about race and racism. The lessons Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers gleaned from the Civil Rights era is that racism is matter of personal bigotry — racists hate people because of the color of their skin, or because they believe stereotypes about groups of people they’ve never met — not one of institutional discrimination and exploitation. The history Millennials have been taught is through that lens, with a specific focus on misunderstanding the message of Martin Luther King, Jr. Certainly, a world where we all loved one another would be ideal, where each person is seen as equal, where “the dream” of children of all different racial backgrounds holding hands with one another without prejudice is a reality. But Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers generally decided to ignore King’s diagnosis of the problem — white supremacy — and opted to make him a poster-child for a colorblind society, in which we simply ignore construct of race altogether and pray that it will disappear on its own.

via White Millennials are products of a failed lesson in colorblindness.

This rings very, very true for me. I was brought up believing that racism was bad (duh), but that racism was a simple matter of hatred. That simply being colorblind and “treating everyone equally” would be sufficient to eventually erase racism.

This belief carried through as I began to leave the conservatism of my upbringing and lean more and more libertarian. I still thought that so long as we weren’t teaching kids to hate, and so long as everyone was equal under the law, racism would fade away.

What I didn’t understand was that inequitable systems can perpetuate themselves indefinitely even if no one involved in the system hates other races. Systems are robust that way.

What I didn’t understand is that society can be racist even without hate. A big eye-opener for me was being confronted with the science of implicit bias. The experimentally-demonstrable fact that the vast majority of people have subtle biases they aren’t even aware of, biases that go against their conscious beliefs. That these biases extend even to members of the biased-against group. And that these biases are born out in real-world consequences.

This has been shown time and time again in e.g. hiring studies where the same resume is submitted with different racial or gender markers. Or in quick-reflex tests of whether someone is perceived as “threatening”. And again, this doesn’t require conscious, intentional racism or sexism to still have real effects on real people.

If course, we still do have actual, honest-to-gosh hate. But its existence almost makes it easier for these systems of inequity to persist, because it makes it possible for us to say “See, that’s what racism looks like. I’m not a racist!”.

And this fantasy of equality makes space for all kinds of victim blaming: there must be some good reason she didn’t get the job. There must be some good reason he got shot.

Which is another experimentally-proven human bias: we reliably blame victims.  It is wired into our brains to do so. If someone is in a bad situation, we unconsciously and automatically start looking for a moral explanation of it.

I no longer believe colorblindness (or gender-blindness, etc.) is enough. I might think it’s “logical” for it to be enough, but the science is in and the science says I’m wrong. You can’t correct a systemic bias or an unconscious bias by pretending it doesn’t exist. Even more depressingly, you also can’t correct for biases simply by being aware of them. In order to neutralize a bias, you have to consciously, deliberately counter the effects of a bias, making the assumption that you have the bias even if you don’t feel like you do. (See Thinking, Fast and Slow for more on this.)

Which means we have to talk about race, and gender, and orientation. And that’s difficult for me, because I was raised not to do it.