Sunday, December 30, 2012

Race vs. class in the USA: poverty

"Four-fifths of us who work for salaries or wages make less than $20 an hour. This is a poor country. We're a nation of the working poor, and it's something that people don't want to acknowledge." —Dale Maharidge

For decades, I would've guessed the worst poverty in the US was in Watts, Appalachia, or Mississippi. Not true. From The Poorest Part of America*:
Virtually all of the 20 poorest counties in America, in terms of wages, are on the eastern flank of the Rockies or on the western Great Plains...
The race of the people there?
...it is largely white. The area does include several pockets of wretched Native American poverty, but in most areas the poor are as white as a prairie snowstorm.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cartoons for Social Justice Warriors

Sailorswayze: Social Justice League




Penny Arcade: Racist? Not racist?


Dinosaur Comics: Hey, That's RACIST!



Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Internet Arguments



Friday, December 28, 2012

Race vs. class in the USA: the death penalty

If you think the US is a classless society, race seems like an enormous factor in the death penalty. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, these are the racial percentages for the 1320 people legally executed in the USA since 1976:
BLACK: 35%
HISPANIC: 7%
WHITE: 56%
OTHER: 2%
The site has another interesting set of numbers, the races of the victims:
BLACK: 15%
HISPANIC: 6%
WHITE: 77%
OTHER: 3%
Someone who only considers race would conclude blacks murder more than whites, and blacks are more likely to get the death penalty than whites.

But there are other factors. At Race and the Death Penalty, John McAdams says:
...it is clearly the case that blacks who murder whites are treated more harshly than are blacks who murder blacks. This looks like racial disparity if you assume that the circumstances are similar in the two cases. Unfortunately, it's vastly unlikely that they are. Most murders are among people who know each other. Murders done by strangers are much more likely to be regarded as heinous than are murders growing out of domestic quarrels, drug deals gone wrong, and such. It might seem reasonable to compare the punishment received by blacks who murder whites with the treatment received by whites who murder blacks. Unfortunately, while black on white crime is relatively rare, white on black crime is even rarer. There simply isn't an adequate statistical base to allow us to generalize about whites who murder blacks, which pretty much leaves us to compare the way the system treats blacks who murder blacks with the way it treats whites who murder whites. When we do this, we find some fairly solid-looking evidence that the system is unfairly tough on white murderers -- or if you prefer, unfairly lenient on black murderers. But even this finding is one we have to be skeptical about. Is the average black on black murder quite similar to the average white on white murder? Or are there systematic differences?
So what might be involved in the systematic differences? Here's a hint: New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty FAQ notes "Ninety-five percent of defendants charged with capital crimes are indigent and cannot afford their own attorney to represent them."

The racial mix of Americans who live under the poverty line is 50% white, 25% black, 22% Hispanic, and 3% Asian. So, remembering that nearly everyone who's executed is poor, let's line this up:

Percentage of people in poverty who are white: 50%
Percentage of people executed who are white: 56%

Percentage of people in poverty who are black: 25%
Percentage of people executed who are black: 35%

Percentage of people in poverty who are Hispanic: 23%
Percentage of people executed who are Hispanic: 7%

Percentage of people in poverty who are Asian or "other": 3%
Percentage of people executed who are "other": 2%

The white and black poverty-to-execution ratio may be high because those populations are more urban and there's more crime in cities, while a higher percentage of the Latino poor is rural.

Looking for more evidence that the death penalty is more about class than race, I found a surprising supporter: Attorney General John Ashcroft gave this conclusion of a government study in 2001, "There is no evidence of racial bias in the administration of the federal death penalty." In this case, I don't see a reason to disagree. Bush and his cabinet (which was more racially diverse than any previous president's) were far more interested in money than race.

When I wrote about this in 2005, someone who identified himself as Carl left this comment:
For the past 20+ years I’ve worked in the criminal justice system – the past 8 years for a criminal defense firm, and the 14 years before that as a court clerk – I’ve done more death penalty cases than I want to think about (very few attorneys or judges ever want to do even one, and once you’ve done one, you never want to do another – they’re brutal on everyone involved), and can honestly say that in my experience (in California – your state may be different), the vast majority of DP felons (and felons in general) tend to be poor, poorly educated, and not very bright in general, with very poor social and coping skills. While there are occasional exceptions, they are damned rare.

The only notable exception I worked on was a wealthy woman who went even more psycho (she was bizarre at first, and went completely around the bend when her husband dumped her in favor of Next Year’s Model), and murdered the ex and his new wife in their beds. That one showed up on TV, both in the news and in movies-of-the-week, and she managed to avoid the death penalty, where poorer killers were far more likely to get Death. (Yes – you can probably guess the name).

In my experience (and hers, and OJ’s), money plays a far greater role than ethnicity.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Race vs. class in the USA: the drug war

You can find people of all races in US prisons, but you'll have to look hard to find anyone who wasn't poor. From Prison Legal News: "Most prisoners report incomes of less than $8,000 a year in the year prior to coming to prison. A majority were unemployed at the time of their arrest."

The part of the criminal system that most disproportionately targets poor people of color is the drug war. John McWhorter notes, "The primary reason for this massive number of black men in jail is the War on Drugs. Therefore, if the War on Drugs were terminated, the main factor keeping race-based resentment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist. America would be a better place for all."


The racial mix of Americans who live under the poverty line is 50% white, 25% black, 22% Hispanic, and 3% Asian. If prison simply reflected poverty, the figures would be the same for all crimes. But Drug War Facts gives this picture for drug offenses: "Of the 250,900 state prison inmates serving time for drug offenses in 2004, 133,100 (53.05%) were black, 50,100 (19.97%) were Hispanic, and 64,800 (25.83%) were white."

This might be because white poverty tends to be rural and black poverty tends to be urban, but I can't find the statistics to test that theory. Even when you adjust for class, the drug war seems racist.

There's another way to see whether poverty or race might be the major factor in a statistic. According to the US Census Bureau's Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005, the number of non-Hispanic blacks and whites in poverty looks like this:
White: 16,227,000
Black: 9,168,000
Since almost everyone executed in the US is poor, simply divide the number of blacks by the number of whites. In this case, you get .59, which is within tolerance for racial fairness.

But compare that with this, from Race, Prison and the Drug Laws: "Of the 250,900 state prison inmates serving time for drug offenses in 2004, 133,100 (53.05%) were black, 50,100 (19.97%) were Hispanic, and 64,800 (25.83%) were white."

Selecting just for blacks and whites:
White: 64,800
Black: 133,100
Do the math, and you get 2.05. That disparity can't be explained by anything except a drug war that targets poor black folks.

Still, you can't ignore class in the drug war. Prison Sentencing Study: Whites, Women, Non-Poor, and U.S. Citizens Are Given Lighter Sentences quotes this from a 2001 study by David Mustard called “Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the US Federal Courts":
Having no high school diploma resulted in an additional sentence of 1.2 months. Income had a significant impact on the sentence length. Offenders with incomes of less than $5,000 were sentenced most harshly. This group received sentences 6.2 months longer than people who had incomes between $25,000 and $35,000.
I also found this claim, which, alas, isn't footnoted, so it may sound right and still be wrong:
Among those entering prison in 1991, about 70 percent earned less than $15,000 a year when they were arrested, and 45 percent didn’t have a full-time job. One in four prisoners is mentally ill, and 64 percent never graduated from high school.
In 2009, White House drug czar, Gill Kerlikowske called for an "end to the war on drugs" and said the drug problem in this country should be a public heath issue and not a criminal justice issue. Maybe Obama will get to it when he's done with health care.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why some people see "other": the Other-Race Effect

Here's another post for people who think everyone's naturally racist:

Several studies have been done to see whether babies have a preference for faces from their own racial group, and to learn why many people are better at recognizing faces from their own racial group. The following results are from
Note: I've made some tiny changes to make the following more readable, but what follows is my edit, not my prose. Click the asterisk by each point for the original wording and context.

* Adults typically find it easier to recognize faces from their own racial group, as opposed to faces from other racial groups. This is commonly known as the other-race effect.

* The preference for own-race faces doesn’t exist at one month of age.

* The own-race face preference develops by 3 months of age.

* Babies raised with frequent exposure to people of other races don’t develop this early bias.

* One study investigated 3-, 6-, and 9-month-old Chinese infants’ ability to discriminate faces within their own racial group and within two other racial groups (African and Caucasian). The 3-month-olds demonstrated recognition in all conditions, whereas the 6-month-olds recognized Chinese faces and displayed marginal recognition for Caucasian faces but did not recognize African faces. The 9-month-olds’ recognition was limited to Chinese faces. This pattern of development is consistent with the perceptual narrowing hypothesis that our perceptual systems are shaped by experience to be optimally sensitive to stimuli most commonly encountered in one’s unique cultural environment.

* Although the face processing system appears to undergo a period of refinement during this time of life, it does not become fixed. This is attested to by the finding that Korean adults who were adopted by French families during their childhood (aged 3–9 years) demonstrated the same discrimination deficit for Korean faces shown by the native French population (Sangrigoli, Pallier, Argenti, Ventureyra, & de Schonen, 2005). This finding is highly indicative of a face representation that remains flexible throughout both infancy and childhood. Although the face representation emerges early in life based on differential experience, it appears to retain its plasticity until at least 9 years of age.

* A plausible scenario for the emergence of the ORE is as follows: Predominant exposure to faces from a single racial group leads to greater visual attention toward those faces that in turn produces superior face recognition abilities with faces from that group and poorer recognition abilities with faces from racial groups that are not frequently viewed in the visual environment.

* Over three decades of research on the cross-race effect (CRE) suggests a rather robust phenomenon that carries practical implications for cases of mistaken eyewitness identification, particularly in situations that involve a poor opportunity to encode other-race faces and when a significant amount of time occurs between observation of the perpetrator and a test of the witness’s memory. While the CRE has not generally been observed in the accuracy of descriptions for own-race vs. other-race faces, research has found that individuals often attend to facial features that are diagnostic for own-race faces and misapply these feature sets when attempting to identify and describe other-race faces. As such, theorists have proposed that encoding and representational processes are largely responsible for the CRE, including the role of interracial contact and perceptual categorization processes.

* Significant exposure to other-race faces can block the development of own-race preference.

Or, as it's put in one of the few Rodgers-Hammerstein songs that I like:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Poor whites in the USA

The redneck is white America's scapegoat. For centuries, rich whites promoted racism, first to separate slaves and indentured servants, then to separate workers. Jim Crow laws were not a demand of poor whites—they were promoted and enacted by the South's defeated rich who still wanted to justify the "peculiar institution" and thereby escape their responsibility for the nature of their wealth.

Jim Goad said in The Redneck Manifesto, "These days, we hardly ever see the redneck as anything but a caricature. A whole vein of human experience, of potential literature, is dismissed as a joke, much as America's popular notions of black culture were relegated to lawn jockeys and Sambo caricatures of a generation or two ago. The redneck is the only cardboard figure left standing in our ethnic shooting gallery. All other targets have been quietly removed in deference to unwritten laws of cultural sensitivity. Instead of Amos-n-Andy, we have Beavis and Butthead. The trailer park has become the media's cultural toilet, the only acceptable place to dump one's racist inclinations."

The Poorest Part of America:"Virtually all of the 20 poorest counties in America, in terms of wages, are on the eastern flank of the Rockies or on the western Great Plains... There are two unusual things about the deprivation in this region. First, it is largely white. The area does include several pockets of wretched Native American poverty, but in most areas the poor are as white as a prairie snowstorm. Second, most people do not think of themselves as poor."

Sherman Alexie alluded to that in Diary of a Part-time Indian. mentioning a place that's
...filled with the poorest Indians and poorer-than-poorest white kids. Yes, there is a place in the world where the white people are even poorer than you ever thought possible.
Dale Maharidge Interview: Covering The Economic Pain Of Real Americans: "Four-fifths of us who work for salaries or wages make less than $20 an hour. This is a poor country. We're a nation of the working poor, and it's something that people don't want to acknowledge."

Op-Ed Columnist - The Roots Of White Anxiety - NYTimes.com:
...which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.

This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications.
White, Poor and Ignored? | Poverty in America | Change.org:
If we assume that poor whites are more likely to populate these rural communities, statistics point to a disproportionately low amount of money being distributed to assist these areas. For example, The Ford Foundation, which purports to be active in rural development, made just $68 million in active grants and loans to rural areas in its fiscal 2006, out of $360 million overall in the U.S. Also, according to a study by the Foundation Center, North Dakota was awarded $3.3 million from foundations, South Dakota $3.2 million and Montana $10 million — compared with $3 billion for New York and $2 billion for California in 2005. While North Dakota may experience the lowest unemployment rates in the country, residents there still must deal with growing poverty and homelessness.

The poet Emma Lazarus once said, "Until we are all free, we are none of us free.
Possibly of interest: white trash names

Friday, December 21, 2012

black slaveowners, black millionaires, and the American myth

Listening to social justice warriors, you would think white = rich and black = poor, but the reality has always been more nuanced. Some black folks prospered from the earliest days of blacks in North America: In the 17th century, Anthony Johnson was the first black slaveowner; in the 19th, William Leidesdorff was the first black millionaire, and in the 20th, Madam C. J. Walker was the first female black millionaire.

transientandpermanent mentioned:
We discussed ownership of slaves by African-Americans. I dug up an old, but quite good, citation for you. Schwarz, Philip J. "Emancipators, Protectors, and Anomalies: Free Black Slaveowners in Virginia." The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 95, No. 3 (Jul., 1987), pp. 317-338.

I used to assume that knowledge of black ownership of slaves was not well-known because it was suppressed by politically correct and African-American interests. Nowadays, I'm not so sure. Much of the true pioneering work in this area has in fact been carried out by African-American scholars. So I think perhaps a more plausible explanation is that this history is not well-known at least in part because it was researched by African-American historians and concerns African-American history. If it had been done by whites and involved more whites, I think it would be better known, both inside and outside the academy. Just a theory, it's hard to prove or refute, of course.
I think the theory is sound, and I'll offer two additions:

1. Ivy League historians get the most attention in the US.

2. The Great Capitalist Myth has the sins of our history coming from racism and sexism, and there's much symbolic truth in the idea that US slavery consisted of white people enslaving black people. To people today who accept the mythic history, seeking a nuanced understanding of power in the US can seem like attempting to deny that truth.

I couldn't find a free copy of "Emancipators, Protectors, and Anomalies: Free Black Slaveowners in Virginia" on the web, but googling it brought up Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences: Unspoken Reality: "Black Slaveholders Prior to the Civil War" by Yuliya Tikhomirova and Lucia Desir. It's filled with information that goes against the American Myth:
Koger (1995) argues that a great many freemen became slave masters themselves for the same reason as whites, to make use of slave labor for the sake of profits. He writes, "by and large, Negro slave owners were darker copies of their white counterparts." His research led him to conclude, "clearly the dominant pattern of the commercial use of slaves recorded in the documents indicates that black slaveholding was primarily an institution based on the exploitation of slaves rather than a benevolent system centered upon kinship or humanitarianism" (p. 101).

...Scholars including Woodson, point out that up to the 1860's, having economic interests in common with the white slaveholders, black owners enjoyed the same social standing: attended the same churches, same private schools, and places of amusement. They frequently lived on the same streets as white families.

....Despite changes in the law, blacks continued to hold slaves through the Civil War. Koger (1995) refers to the fact that "in 1860, some 3,000 blacks owned nearly 20,000 black slaves [in the southern states]. In South Carolina alone, more than 10,000 blacks were owned by black slaveholders."

...According to Salzman, Smith, & West (1996, p. 603), "eight of the wealthiest antebellum black entrepreneurs were slaveholders from Louisiana who owned large cotton and sugar plantations." The trajectory of Marie Metoyer, also known as Coincoin, from daughter of African-born slaves to wealthy slave owner is a case in point. After being granted freedom from her white master, she established an independent plantation in Louisiana, expanding her economic assets by purchasing slaves and additional acreage. Her offspring expanded on her holdings, making them the largest African-American slaveholding family in American history with holdings of 20,000 acres of land and 500 slaves. The widow C. Richards and her son P. C. Richards owned 152 slaves and a large sugar cane plantation. Another black slave magnate with over 100 slaves was Antoine Dubuclet, a sugar planter whose estate was valued at $264,000, when the mean wealth of southern white men for that year was $3,978 (Grooms, 1997).
Some black folks prospered from the earliest days of blacks in North America: Anthony Johnson was the first black slaveowner, William Leidesdorff was the first black millionaire, and Madam C. J. Walker was the first female black millionaire.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

whiteness and poor whites in the 19th history

from old posts:

In some times and places, "white" just meant "American." From The great Arizona orphan abduction by Linda Gordon:
James Young, a black man at the Contention mine in nearby Tombstone, remarked "Si White and I were the first white men in Tombstone after Gird and Schieffelin."
• race and class for the Victorians

From a review of David Cannadine's Ornamentalism: how the British saw their empireWhy the Victorians were colour blind. In the 19th century, race mattered far less than social distinction: a West African tribal chief was unquestionably superior to an East End costermonger. By Kenan Malik:
Lady Gordon, the wife of Sir Arthur Hamilton-Gordon, the governor of Fiji from 1875 to 1880, thought the native high-ranking Fijians "such an undoubted aristocracy". She wrote: "Their manners are so perfectly easy and well bred . . . Nurse can't understand it at all, she looks down on them as an inferior race. I don't like to tell her that these ladies are my equals, which she is not!"
A LiveJournal discussion, race and class in Victorian England, has some useful links—and was refreshing after encountering the obliviousness to class that's exhibited too often in discussions of race.

The First Black Britons is a bit simplistic when it addresses class issues--"white" servants were also inferiors whose purpose could be primarily decorative--but it's got great snapshots of blacks in Britain, and includes this:
The black and white poor of this period were friends, not rivals. So much so, in fact, that Sir John Fielding, a magistrate and brother of the novelist Henry Fielding, complained that when black domestic servants ran away and, as they often did, found '... the Mob on their side, it makes it not only difficult but dangerous to the Proprietor of these Slaves to recover the Possession of them, when once they are sported away'.
Also of interest: Class, Gender, and Race: Chinese Servants in the North American West

• Frederick Douglass on poor whites
The impression which I had received respecting the character and condition of the people of the north, I found to be singularly erroneous. I had very strangely supposed, while in slavery, that few of the comforts, and scarcely any of the luxuries, of life were enjoyed at the north, compared with what were enjoyed by the slaveholders of the south. I probably came to this conclusion from the fact that northern people owned no slaves. I supposed that they were about upon a level with the non-slaveholding population of the south. I knew they were exceedingly poor, and I had been accustomed to regard their poverty as the necessary consequence of their being non-slaveholders. I had somehow imbibed the opinion that, in the absence of slaves, there could be no wealth, and very little refinement.
• class war in the Confederacy

from Heather Gray: A New Perspective on the Confederacy
The South realized with the election that it was not going to have its way with the Republican Party or with the northern Democrats. Karl Marx, as ever the profound analyst, wrote in the German “Die Presse” in 1861, “When the Democrats of the North declined to go on playing the part of the poor whites of the South” the Southern elite took their sword from the scabbard (Marx,1861).

The southern elite also faced a growing poor white population that was becoming harder to control. Poor white voters were increasing and they were making more demands through their franchise. Some have inferred, including Williams, that one reason the South went to war was because the elite were more concerned about poor whites than anything else. “The poor hate the rich” was the cry from South Carolina planter James Henry Hammond, who went on to say that the poor make war on the rich “especially with universal suffrage” (Williams, 2008). The elite began to explore ways to control the vote through class-based restrictions on white suffrage. Placing this “class” antagonism and passion of poor whites into a war was certainly one way to control them and diffuse the anger.
• white trash, and the problem with one of Ta-Nehisi Coates' favorite quotes

Coates is fond of quoting Senator John C. Calhoun, who said 1848:
With us the two great divisions of society are not rich and poor, but white and black; and all the former, the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class, and are respected and treated as equals.
I left this note at Coates' blog:
The Calhoun quote is great, but remember that it was said by a rich man. Even slaves spoke dismissively of "white trash" who were never "respected and treated as equals" by rich whites.
From White trash:
The term white trash first came into common use in the 1830s as a pejorative used by house slaves against poor whites. In 1833 Fanny Kemble, an English actress visiting Georgia, noted in her journal: "The slaves themselves entertain the very highest contempt for white servants, whom they designate as 'poor white trash'".[4][5]In 1854, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the chapter "Poor White Trash" in her book A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin. Stowe tells the reader that slavery not only produces "degraded, miserable slaves", but also poor whites who are even more degraded and miserable. The plantation system forced those whites to struggle for subsistence. Beyond economic factors, Stowe traces this class to the shortage of schools and churches in their community, and says that both blacks and whites in the area look down on these "poor white trash".[6]By 1855 the term had passed into common usage by upper class whites, and was common usage among all Southerners, regardless of race, throughout the rest of the 19th century.[7

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

mobbing and Social Justice Warriors, a linkfest

When I wrote "the Social Justice Warrior cult", I left out one trait of cult belief systems from The Culture of Cults:
Psychologically damaging - when established members leave or are expelled, they may develop a particular kind of cult-induced mental disorder, marked by anxiety and difficulty in making decisions. The disorder exhibits similarities to (but is not identical to) post-traumatic stress disorder, and certain types of adjustment disorders. [ICD 10, F60.6, F66.1, etc.]
After reading the journals of several writers on the RaceFailers' "shit lists" and thinking about my own depression then, I realized it was relevant. Reading about cults and cliques led me to Mobbing.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Academic Mobbing: Is Gender a Factor? - Women in Higher Education:
What exactly is mobbing? According to authors Noa Davenport, Ruth Schwartz and Gail Elliott in Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace (Civil Society Publishing, 2004):
...Through innuendo, rumors, and public discrediting, a hostile environment is created in which one individual gathers others to willingly, or unwillingly, participate in continuous malevolent actions to force a person out of the workplace.
These actions escalate into abusive and terrorizing behavior. The victim feels increasingly helpless when the organization does not put a stop to the behavior or may even plan or condone it.
As a result, the individual experiences increasing distress, illness, and social misery…Resignation, termination, or early retirement—the negotiated voluntary or involuntary expulsion from the workplace—follows. For the victim, death—through illness or suicide—may be the final chapter in the mobbing story.
...At times mobbing is done as a bully revels in animosity, gaining pleasure from the excitement that it creates, giving the bully what Westhues (2002) calls “the euphoria of collective attack”.
...the target may find that he/she is less productive, creative, and self questioning. Mobbing can leave the target’s life in turmoil (Glass, 1999), feeling embarrassed, frustrated and untrusting. Symptoms may include crying, sleep difficulties, lack of concentration, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, excessive weight loss or gain, depression, alcohol or drug abuse, avoidance of the workplace, and/or uncharacteristic fearfulness (Namie & Namie, 2000; Davenport, Schwartz and Elliot, 1999). For some the degree of symptoms may become severe and include severe depression, panic attacks, heart attack, other severe illnesses, accidents, suicide attempts, violence directed at third parties and symptoms of PTSD (Namie & Namie, 2000; Davenport, Schwartz and Elliot, 1999). These symptoms may lead the target to feel who they are as a person is being stripped away.
...According to Leymann (n.d.) roughly ten to twenty percent of those mobbed in his study seemed to contract a serious illnesses or committed suicide.
Changes take place in relationships inside and outside of work. When the target fails to “bounce back” from the impact of being mobbed, family and friends may begin to abandon the target (Namie & Namie, 2000). According to Westhues (2002) “Not infrequently, mobbing spelled the end of the target’s career, marriage, health, and livelihood.”
From Workplace Mobbing, a Metafilter post, I especially recommend Mobbing and the Virginia Tech Massacre. It's easy to think the writer's taking the outsider's side too much, so I'll note this, from his conclusion: "This does not mean trying to excuse Cho's inexcusable crimes. Nor does it mean trying to shift blame and scapegoat somebody else. It means trying to get at the truth of what happened: empirical identification of the sequence of events, what led to what. Sound scientific explanation honors those who wrongly and unnecessarily lost their lives or suffered injury at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, and gives promise of preventing repetition of the tragedy."

Yankton Press & Dakotan > Mobbing Like A ‘Rape Of The Spirit’:
“Mobbing is like a rape of the spirit. It destroys a person from the inside,” Elliot said. “Before I found out about this, I used to wonder why someone would go into a work environment and spray the whole area with bullets. Why do people go postal? This is one reason why. You know who your friends are not, but you don’t know who your friends are. Everybody is suspect. These people become so paranoid. They can suffer extreme anxiety disorders and also, in extreme cases, post-traumatic stress disorder.”

It’s easy for people to become caught up in mobbing an individual, Elliot said. They want to belong and don’t want to become targets of abuse themselves. Elliot admitted that not only has she been the target of mobbing in the workplace, but she also engaged in the behavior herself on one occasion before she recognized that what she was doing was unacceptable and apologized.

“People think it’s funny, and they think it doesn’t have a lasting impact,” Elliot said. “Mobbers make fun of people behind their back. They spread rumors that are unkind. They get other people to gang up on someone. They humiliate someone and act like it is a joke. They withhold information the person needs to make decisions. They hold their targets to a different standard than they do everybody else. It’s engineered to confuse the target. It’s engineered to discredit.”
Bullies have harassed 14 percent of workers over past 6 months
The study shows that those aged over 45 are more likely to be the victims of such abuse.
'Mobbing' Can Damage More Than Careers, Professors Are Told at Conference - Chronicle.com

The "Bitch" Evolved: Why Girls Are So Cruel to Each Other: Scientific American:
Findings from this study indicated a clear difference in aggressive responses between the genders, with women overwhelmingly compelled to retaliate by attacking the offender’s reputation, mostly through gossip. This gender effect panned out even after controlling for participants’ evaluation of the social appropriateness of such acts. In other words, in spite of the fact that the women realized malicious gossip wasn’t socially appropriate, this was nevertheless their preferred first point of attack. Men, on the other hand, were more evenly divided in their response, but failed to show the same preferential bias for acts of “informational warfare”...
Women Really Are More Socially Aggressive Than Men (With Apologies to Jezebel.com ): Scientific American

When Digital Shaming Goes Too Far: Lessons From the Seattle Tip Stiffer - Media - GOOD

Bitter behavior is so common and deeply destructive that some psychiatrists are urging it be identified as a mental illness under the name post-traumatic embitterment disorder.
This makes sense to me. PTED isn't the only response to mobbing, of course, but it may be the most obvious one.

Monday, December 17, 2012

US mass shootings don't fit race-based explanations

Some thoughts on Newtown shooting | MattBruenig | Politics: "According to Mother Jones, over the last thirty years, 42 of the 62 mass shootings have been carried out by white men (only one has been committed by a woman). So white men are the shooters in 67.7% of the mass shootings. This is a sizable majority of them, but it is important to note that — according to 2011 census — non-Hispanic whites make up 63.9% of the population. And this percentage has been declining, meaning it was higher during most of the 30 year period in which these shootings happened. So whites do not appear to be accounting for a disproportionate number of the shootings. Men do, but violent crime is pretty much an exclusively male thing anyways. This presents at least some difficulty for race-based explanations."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Regarding Metafilter's "privilege-checking and call-out culture"

I'm no longer a Mefite, so I'm responding to privilege-checking and call-out culture here.

Msalt, I love this:
So much energy is spent parsing terminology, including redefining words with non-intuitive meaning that will inevitably confuse readers. (EG "patriarchy" does not mean rule by men, but most people use it that way. "the male gaze" does not mean men lewdly staring, it's from an impenetrable 1975 essay of psychoanalytic film theory, but it's used to mean men staring 85%+ of the time.)

So you either derail on the mistaken uses of these words, or talk past each other and spin your wheels. It's a cancer.
Artw, more love for your explanation of "livejournally stuff":
...eternal circles of privlege shaming, counter shaming and shaming for not shaming enough.
ShawnStruck, though I love the above, this comment of yours is the reason for this post:
The fact that Will Shetterly is being listed as a credible source in this post really undercuts its legitimacy. He has a history of harassment, mostly against Women of color as the link shows.
That "history of harassment" is SJWspeak. It means I disagree online with the fans of Critical Race Theory. You say my disagreements are mostly with women of color, yet your link is to a post at a white woman's site compiled by two white women, Coffeeandink and Marydell, and one woman of color, Sparkymonster.

Your comment is also a fine example of what SJW's call white-knighting. Do women of color need special consideration when discussing race and gender? I think not.

There's also a curious suggestion that you think all women of color have the same identitarian politics. You should read Rev. Thandeka.

Martin Wisse, I'm amused that you claim I have a vendetta against Coffeeandink and offer as evidence the post where she and her friends, to use SJW rhetoric, "stalked" me as part of their "vendetta". (I assume in SJWspeak, "vendetta" means "intellectual disagreement plus hissyfit".)

And it's both hilarious and sad that you cited Verb Noire—whose organizers took the money and ran—as a "success" of Racefail.

Karmakazee, I never argued that "pussy" isn't gendered. I only said I don't hear it as gendered, wondered if that was a regional thing, and linked to Wikipedia's article. I'm sure some people use it as a gendered insult. I hear the insult in the sense of cowardly—"'fraidy cat", not "womanly".

ETA: How privilege lost its meaning, or The problem with Privilege Theory

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How ignorant is ACrackedMoon, aka Requireshate?

Never underestimate the ignorance of an SJW. In Mary Robinette Kowal and the “half-breed Cherokee” « Requires Only That You Hate, RH asks, "What the everloving fuck are “Native American Fae” anyway? Do they even have “Fae” as part of their mythos or is this just a case of whitey imposing their shit on everything?"

A teensy bit of googling would've brought her to the Cherokee "little people", the Yunwi Tsunsdi. But SJWs' idea of history and culture seems to have been shaped by Hollywood, something I first noticed when Coffeeandink displayed her ignorance about Jews in the West in the 19th Century.

There's a hint that you're dealing with a SJW when you notice someone getting angry who uses "Native American". American Indians like the folks in the American Indian Movement prefer "Indians" when you're talking about the larger group in English.

Whether Mary Kowal's story is any good, I don't know; I haven't read it. In the comments there, she says she wants to rewrite it. If she does, I hope she continues to listen to her Cherokee readers and ignores the SJWs. The loudest are rarely the wisest.

Falguni Sheth on White Privilege and Racial Injustice

Meditations on White Privilege and Racial Injustice « Translation Exercises: "The term “white privilege” is increasingly used for the public moral shaming of whites whose politics other whites disagree with. Not for that reason alone, white privilege is becoming an increasingly ineffective term."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sexy halloween costumes and social justice neo-puritanism, Parts 1 & 2

Part 1

Halloween is supposed to be transgressive, meaning it's supposed to be a time when a culture's norms are challenged. Which is why so many different groups fight to control it. In the social justice community, that's taken the form of criticizing sexy costumes.

Many of which, I grant, are ugly or stupid or both.

But the complaint of social justice warriors is that they're sexy. Given that when Halloween was first celebrated, the "costumes" were nudity and deshabille, that seriously misses the point.

Until the 1930s or so, Halloween costumes were only associated with the supernatural. My hasty googling doesn't come up with much in the way of early ghosts and demons, but here are some historical images of sexy witches from a blog that's very easy to google, Sexy Witch. (For the wage-slaves among you, yes, that site is generally NSFW, but this post will only have images that should be SFW, unless your boss is an extreme prude.)

Here's an 1855 illustration from Robert Burns' Tam O'Shanter:



Here's an 1895 illustration for a White Witch costume to wear to a Fancy Ball. Note that the bodice is shockingly low and the ankles are revealed in a very daring fashion:





They may not seem sexy to you, but they know what they're evoking as witchy women in the woods. Here's a Pears Soap label from the same decade:



The sexy witch costume may have begun to thrive in the Roaring Twenties. Here's a tally card:


And an ad:


From the 1930s, a Halloween witch, actor Nancy Carroll:


From the '40s, aircraft nose art:



And one of my favorite sexy witches, Dusty Anderson:



The 1950s gave us water-skiing witches:



And possibly the greatest pin-up painting of all time, Gil Elvgren's "Riding High":



Halloween is a time to play. If your idea of playful includes sexy, go ahead and outrage the neo-puritans. They're always happiest when they have something to be unhappy about.

Happy Halloween!

PS. I just googled "sexy puritan" and came up with a couple more images that, on first glance, appear to be fairly old.





Part 2

After posting sexy halloween costumes and social justice neo-puritanism, I did a little more googling for Halloween costumes. Here's the range of visible skin for men and women that's available to anyone with a credit card:




So when someone complains about skin-revealing costumes, remember that they're not complaining about not having choices. They're complaining about the possibility someone else might show skin.

I chose the picture of the people in buckskin because they were literally the first couple who came up when I googled for sexy costumes. At the site, the writer notes they're racially insensitive, but I doubt anyone in the universe thinks any American Indian ever dressed anything like that. And if you assume "buckskin = American Indian", all you know about Indians came from Hollywood.

Catholics are the largest religious denomination in the US, but they're not excluded from the US's available sexy costumes:


A transgressive holiday will include something that will offend someone. Sometimes being offensive is the point. More often, it's simply because outrage junkies need to be offended by something. What they don't understand: Silly does not equal offensive. Sexy does not equal offensive. Stupid does not equal offensive. Mocking equals offensive.

Prudes say we should try to avoid offending people. As a principle, that's true. In practice, that's impossible. If you work hard enough to avoid offending anyone, you will let the most repressive people win.

In the discussion about my previous post at Google+, Sean McCrohan said,
Is your point that "it's always been this way" is an argument against objecting to something? Because I'd like to submit 'oppressing the lower classes, since practically forever' into the record in that case :)
He's completely right that tradition alone is a terrible reason for doing something. I focused on tradition because I had seen people talking about sexy costumes who thought they were a new development.

My greater argument is simple: people should be free to wear what they like. It's a free speech issue, which the people who are offended recognize. They think certain kinds of clothing send a message that they want to repress.

In the case of sexy clothing, the message is "sex is fun".

Some people really hate that message.

In the G+ comment thread, Kirin Robinson said,
...there's value to a not-actually-arousing sexual aesthetic (no matter your orientation) in mainstream visual culture that is a different thing from intent-to-arouse straight-up pornography, but frustratingly the pulchriphobes can't seem to tell the difference.

...credit for that particular word goes to the artist +Zak Smith and the "chainmail bikini wars" over here in the tabletop gaming world.
Zak Smith's word is lovely. I suspect I'll have cause to use it again. But I really hope I don't.



comments on Part 1: sexy halloween costumes and social justice neo-puritanism

comments on Part 2: more on sexy halloween costumes and social justice neo-puritanism

Monday, October 29, 2012

class and catcalling

This video about catcalling is both funny and a fine illustration of the ineffectiveness of Social Justice Warriors:



The advice? Men should talk to their friends about how women hate catcalling. The ineffectiveness? Catcalling has an enormous class component. The men who will talk to their friends about catcalling are not the problem, and neither are their friends. They're usually in a social class that doesn't catcall.

The problem is recognized in Catcalling and Connections to Class at Sustained Enthusiasm. The writer doesn't have room to explore the connection, maybe because exploring it calls for exploring US capitalism, bad schools, and the lives of men who don't have work. Some of those men catcall in the way poor people buy lottery tickets, knowing it won't work but, for a moment, being able to dream that it will. Others catcall because, for one brief moment, they're more powerful than someone else.

A proper study of catcalling would explore the class dynamics. Do poor women and middle-class women respond the same way to catcalling? Do they get the same kinds of catcalls? Do they get them from the same kinds of men?

I'll keep looking for answers. But right now, I'm glad I was able to find someone who saw the problem clearly enough to acknowledge that this is yet another issue with an enormous, rarely acknowledged class component.

Rebecca Watson (Skepchick) and "no means no"

From Sexism in the skeptic community: I spoke out, then came the rape threats.:
The audience was receptive, and afterward I spent many hours in the hotel bar discussing issues of gender, objectification, and misogyny with other thoughtful atheists. At around 4 a.m., I excused myself, announcing that I was exhausted and heading to bed in preparation for another day of talks.As I got to the elevator, a man who I had not yet spoken with directly broke away from the group and joined me. As the doors closed, he said to me, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting. Would you like to come back to my hotel room for coffee?” I politely declined and got off the elevator when it hit my floor. 
A few days later, I was making a video about the trip and I decided to use that as an example of how not to behave at conferences if you want to make women feel safe and comfortable. 
...My YouTube page and many of my videos were flooded with rape “jokes,” threats, objectifying insults, and slurs. A few individuals sent me hundreds of messages, promising to never leave me alone. My Wikipedia page was vandalized. Graphic photos of dead bodies were posted to my Facebook page.
I have enormous sympathy for Skepchick because I've gotten insults and death threats from haters online. But haters are the price of speaking on the internet—something that's triply true on Youtube, as anyone knows who has made the mistakes of reading comments there.

What fascinates me in her story is her interaction with the man at the conference. She's with a group at a bar at a hotel. It's 4 am. She's going back to her room. He's going back to his. He asks her if she'd like to come to his room for coffee. She says no and leaves. End of story.


Was he hoping for more than coffee? Probably. This situation has been and will be played out many times. Sometimes the man offers; sometimes the woman does. Sometimes it leads to sex; sometimes it leads to coffee and conversation. Sometimes it ends badly: men have been robbed and women have been raped when they accepted an offer from someone they shouldn't have.


But this man understood that "no means no." He offered coffee. She declined coffee. They went their separate ways.


And it should be acknowledged that he may not have wanted more than coffee and conversation. I've been in groups that broke up when I still wanted to talk. Coffee at 4 am in a hotel room can be exactly that, a chance for a private conversation with someone who seems interesting.

I don't plan to go digging into Skepchick's beliefs about sex—life's too ashort—but I'm curious. Does she think men should never make any offer that has the potential of leading to sex?

When I was a young would-be actor in New York City, I was hit on fairly often by gay men. Sometimes the timing was annoying, but I was raised to be polite. My response was invariably, "No, thanks." Some of the guys became good friends after learning I was hopelessly straight; others had no interest of any sort in me once they learned I had no sexual interest in them.

I've always believed that "no means no", whether you're talking about sex or anything else. It's a good standard for every sort of human interaction.

At least, I always thought so, until I read Skepchick's account.

Because some people have remarkably poor reading comprehension, I'll stress that I'm not condoning the response to her. Haters respond with empty expressions of hatred, and if you've had no experience with them, that's terrifying or infuriating or both.

But I must add, as someone who has gotten similar threats from women, that the online crap she's encountered says nothing about men. It only says that people who can't reason will fall back on threats and abuse.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'm not the only one who noticed slactivists fall for hate crime hoaxes

Bogus hate crimes all the rage - Salon.com: "But rumors, fueled by social media, started almost immediately. Internet posters speculated that the attack was a hate crime that had been carried out by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Several claimed, falsely, that Moffit, who is black, had been wearing an Obama T-shirt and that she had been sexually assaulted. Reporters from media around the world called officials in Winnsboro."

Sharmeka Moffitt and the gullibility of Social Justice Warriors

Sharmeka Moffitt told an implausible story: she was set on fire by three strangers who wrote "KKK" on her car. Social Justice Warrior sites like Racialicious reported it without reservation.

It turns out Moffitt lied.

To be fair to the SJWs, in my younger days, when racial issues were much tenser than today, I believed Tawana Brawley's story of being raped by white cops. When that turned out to be a hoax, I realized I'd been both racist and sexist in assuming a black woman would not lie about something that horrible. Now I try harder to reserve judgment until a claim has been investigated.

If you google "hate crime hoaxes", you'll find that just as racists often say people of other races attacked them, social justice warriors often say racists and sexists attacked them. People who think they're supporting truth in the war against evil love to lie about the people they consider their enemies.

Possibly of interest: Nebraska Woman Charlie Rogers Faked Anti-Gay Hate Crime, Police Say - ABC News

ETA: Hate crime hoaxes present burdens, lessons for college campuses | Inside Higher Ed

Monday, October 22, 2012

C. S. Lewis understood Social Justice Warriors

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive...those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." —C.S. Lewis

Thursday, October 18, 2012

An update from Zathlazip about life after her outing

After I posted Social Mob Justice: The Outing of Zathlazip, I got an email from Zathlazip. With her permission, here’s what she had to say:

I saw that you put an analysis out there of what happened to me in 2008 with WisCon. I appreciate the parts about me being mobbed, because I do feel that's accurate.

As for the folks who contacted the university, that did happen, but my graduate advisor was very understanding. He actually thought it was funny, and he teased me about it for a few weeks, but I had a very difficult time seeing this as so entertaining. After one of the WisCon attendees went into my office, I was afraid to go into work, and I was so stressed that I ate very little. I eventually did have to go to a doctor about the stress and not eating enough.

I did have to contact the police about the harassment, and a very nice policeman who honestly didn't really know much about social media was as considerate as he could have been.

A letter was mailed to my advisor and to a dean at my school, and my advisor did show me the letter. It made some claims that I didn't agree with, and was written by someone claiming to be an adjunct professor who had authority in the academic sphere. I was never contacted by any dean or any member of the administration about it. It doesn't surprise me, because the convention was not associated with the university and I hadn't broken any laws. Some people have claimed that I had signed some kind of form saying I wouldn't harass anybody, and that that's the reason I should have been booted from graduate school? I don't remember any such form. It's generally school policy and decent sense not to harass people, but I just wrote a thing on a comedy forum and took it down when other people got mad; I never went after any of these individuals with intent to harass them. Anyway, story short, people at the university felt more sympathy than anything else.

To see what was still happening with my reputation, I checked the web every once in a while to see where my name was popping up. In 2009, I think, there was that issue of coffeeandink being outed with her real name. I generally stay far, far away from feminist blogs nowadays, but I found it because I had done a search on myself. In one of her posts showing how upset she was about this, she actually called me out by name, saying that the person who had done this to her was just as bad as [my full name]. I contacted her about the hypocrisy of this, and she did change it to only my first name.

This year, I was contacted by a reporter at the UK version of Glamour magazine doing a story on internet trolls. I told her that I still get panicky thinking of the harassment I received, but I agreed to do the interview nonetheless as long as she didn't use my real name. She asked me some questions, then wrote an article as if this was first person with me speaking. A few of the details were incorrect, like that it implied I joked about a transwoman going into a women's bathroom (which would have been a despicable thing to do) instead of the actual case of me being snarky about a transman going into the women's bathroom, but overall I believe it generally covered how things were going for me. The interviewer asked me if I felt like I was internet famous, and I said something like "No! Of course not! People forgot about this a week or two after it happened. But with internet caches searchable, I'm just hoping that I can get a job with this degree I've worked for years to obtain." I tried not to cry during the interview, but bringing up all these memories of what people tried to do to me was tough.

I'm not sure if this will affect my future job searches or not. So far, it hasn't seemed to, but in this economy I really wish I didn't have to worry about it. I don't think about WisCon or being terrorized every day anymore, thankfully. I don't like that I generally have to mention this thing when I start dating someone, because eventually they'll probably do a search on my name, but I guess a dirty internet past happens to a lot of people these days.

Another thing... I knew they had a panel about me and issues relating to what I did at the WisCon in 2009. At that same hour that that was happening, I skydived for the first time. If people want to be stuck in the past, they can do that, but I wanted to show myself that I'm about progress, moving forward, and making my own life better.

It may be four years too late to convince people I'm not really the boogeyman, unfortunately. I hope that my current optimism about my life doesn't make anyone think that what they did to me then was okay; getting over what people did, and what's out there with my name on it without my consent, was a struggle that I wish didn't happen to anybody who wasn't a public enough figure to have experience handling it. Without friends, family, and academic support through it all, I think the outcome could have been much worse.

I did get my PhD this year, and I'm so thankful that the work I've put in paid off. I've had a lot of support from my academic advisors and the administration at the university, and without them I couldn't have made it through. I'm incredibly thankful and honored to be able to say I do have a doctorate now.

In 2010-2011, I wrote a grant proposal to my university to bring in female environmental engineers to speak at my university about their path to professional success and what they recommend for mentoring female engineers in college and graduate school. Although the gender ratio is equaling out on the college level (less so for engineers than scientists, but there are still improvements), I've seen a lot of women drop out of graduate school, and I've seen others leave the possibility of going for an academic position to instead follow their male partners to wherever their postdoc or professorship position brings them. The grant was funded, and I got co-sponsorships from a couple other departments, and I was able to coordinate the trips of female professors to come here. It was a great experience.

Thankfully, no one who approved my grant proposal, and none of the professors I invited, took notice of the WisCon issue, otherwise I doubt this would have been so successful. It gives me a lot of hope that the Google bombing didn't reach the level where I couldn't even contribute to the furthering of professional women even if I had wanted to!

You're welcome to use any of this that you want, or not. I just wanted you to be a person who knew what happened after May 2008. Of course, please don't use my real name. I'm not planning on changing it, because I have a doctorate under it and am proud of who I am.

If anyone wants to help make this right, the solution is very simple. If you do a search for my real name, and your own blog pops up as a result, go to that post and change it to my user handle, Zathlazip, instead. It's likely that making this change will not much affect the interest or frequency of hits you'll receive. If you are the administrator of or contributor to a wiki that has my real name and personal information, such as what school I attended, change it to my user handle instead and remove or make more vague the personal information. If your blog does not give out my real name, but you are the friend of someone who does have a blog giving it, please ask them to change my real name to a user handle. Changing my real name to a user handle was done for the WisCon Chronicles and did not take away from the message of the book. It will help me, a real human being with a real life ahead of me, move forward, and it may help the community move forward too. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

anti-racist excess: the digest


1. Businessman arrested over 'anti-gypsy' email he did not even write: A businessman became the subject of a £12,000 police investigation after council officials accused him of being “offensive” to gypsies in an email he had not even written.

Maybe it's like an April Fools Day joke that I don't get because I'm not a local. But it appears to be real. The Daily Mail covered the story also.

I hope the gypsies get to keep their home. But I also hope someone changes the law that came into play there, because freedom of speech includes the freedom to be a rude idiot.

Brits may not have a constitutional right to free speech, but many of them do get the concept: We all have the right to be offensive.

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2. First read NBC Cafeteria Celebrates Black History Month With Fried Chicken Special (Update)

Then read Cook defends fried chicken choice for Black History Month menu and play the video. The cook's a black woman. She came up with a menu of what's been called soul food.

Anti-racists, I realize this is hard for you to understand, but fried chicken is not racist.

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3. MARTA "Yellow" Train Now "Gold": Atlanta Asian Community Pushed For Change:
The Metro Atlanta Regional Transit Authority, known as MARTA, announced the change Thursday. MARTA recently renamed its train lines with colors – yellow, red, blue and green.

The yellow line went to Doraville in the northeast suburbs, an area that has a large Asian population.
And the red line went to an American Indian village, the blue line went to a tree of Na'vi, and the green line went to Mars.

Dear anti-racists, the color yellow is not racist.

As you would expect, there's a Mixed reaction on MARTA's ‘yellow line' rebranding.
"What difference does it make if it's yellow, gold or black," said Gary Gung, noting that New York and other major cities use color coding to help commuters better navigate their transit systems. "Make the issue about the economy or something else more important."
and
Kenny Wong, manager of the Hair Capital salon, said such racial issues tend to be overly scrutinized in America.

"I heard about [the controversy]," Wong said. "It doesn't matter to me. Only racial people think about things like this."

His friend, John Nguyen, owner of Saigon Deli, took a different approach. "I don't consider myself yellow. I'm gold," he said, smiling.

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4. Russian Ice Skaters 'Aboriginal-Themed' Dance Controversy:
Russia's Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin Aboriginal-themed costumes and dance stirred controversy during the Vancouver Winter Olympics Feb. 21, 2010. Australian media cited aboriginal leaders as complaining that the routine contained inauthentic steps and showy costumes. "It's very offensive," Sol Bellear of the New South Wales state Aboriginal Land Council said. "We see it as stealing Aboriginal culture and it is yet another example of the Aboriginal people of Australia being exploited." Their coach, Natalia Linichuk, responded to the accusations, saying, "Aboriginal, it translates from Latin language, it's from the beginning. We try to represent a picture of this time when Aboriginal people start being in the world. It's no customs, no country, nothing." (Reuters)
Why are people who complain about cultural appropriation so quick to impose their concepts of racism on other cultures?

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5. White Sorority zeta tau alpha wins Sprite Step Off.



Their victory provoked charges of racism and a change in the official result. I especially liked this comment atYouTube - White Sorority zeta tau alpha wins Sprite Step Off!!!: "The only color is ego. We are all one."

'The bottom line was they didn't care if the girls were better or not, the people that were upset were saying white girls should not have won, period,' Antoine said. 'I think this is bigger than a step competition. Race relations in America still needs a lot of work,” he said.

Ironically, it was an attempt to foster unity that first brought Zeta Tau Alpha into stepping. The chapter at the University of Arkansas began participating 16 years ago in a Unity Step Show sponsored by the campus chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., an African-American sorority.� Through the years, the Zeta Tau Alpha teams learned a variety of steps as well as some history on the tradition of stepping, said Alexandra Kosmitis, a senior Zeta Tau Alpha who is a member of the current step team.
Even if Zeta Tau Alpha was best, I can't quibble with Sprite's solution: two teams got to win.

The comments at youtube are interesting. There are people who say they're black who say this team deserved their victory. And yet, it may've also been dancing bear syndrome--not that this team won because they're white and therefore better, but that they won because expectations were so low for a white team.

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6. Students Kicked Off Campus for Wearing American Flag Tees on Cinco de Mayo.

Yeah, the kids were probably being assholes, but freedom of speech has to include the freedom to be a jingoistic jerk.

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7. History is racist!

And now, the antiracist community is upset because a TV show is focusing on history they don't know about rather than history they already know about: racebending: I'm like, 'Where are the Chinese?'. All communities like having their preconceptions validated.

I get why they want more stories about the Chinese in America. I'm as frustrated as anyone that Hollywood ignores working folk of all hues. I hate the tendency to cast white folks wherever possible--I want to visit the universe where Bruce Lee got to be the star of the Kung Fu TV show.

But, to use identitarian terminology, why are they playing oppression olympics?

This is yet another example of identitarians being unable to engage with class issues. They have a vision of the 19th century that Hollywood created for them: all black folks were slaves, the railroads were built by Chinese laborers, women were either farmwives or whores... They are as fond of old Hollywood mythic history as any racist who rants about revisionist historians.

 Someone could as easily argue that people who want to focus on the Chinese crews want to "erase" the Plains Indians. Picking any point to tell the story is going to leave out someone initially. While I would've used a Chinese crew because I've always loved stories about the Chinese in the Old West, I can see an argument for choosing a setting that's not as well known and for making the story move from east to west, a direction that's symbolically very powerful.

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8. From Phillip Roth's An Open Letter to Wikipedia About Anatole Broyard and "The Human Stain":
“The Human Stain” was inspired, rather, by an unhappy event in the life of my late friend Melvin Tumin, professor of sociology at Princeton for some thirty years. One day in the fall of 1985, while Mel, who was meticulous in all things large and small, was meticulously taking the roll in a sociology class, he noted that two of his students had as yet not attended a single class session or attempted to meet with him to explain their failure to appear, though it was by then the middle of the semester.

Having finished taking the roll, Mel queried the class about these two students whom he had never met. “Does anyone know these people? Do they exist or are they spooks?”—unfortunately, the very words that Coleman Silk, the protagonist of “The Human Stain,” asks of his classics class at Athena College in Massachusetts.

Almost immediately Mel was summoned by university authorities to justify his use of the word “spooks,” since the two missing students, as it happened, were both African-American, and “spooks” at one time in America was a pejorative designation for blacks, spoken venom milder than “nigger” but intentionally degrading nonetheless. A witch hunt ensued during the following months from which Professor Tumin—rather like Professor Silk in “The Human Stain”—emerged blameless but only after he had to provide a number of lengthy depositions declaring himself innocent of the charge of hate speech.

A myriad of ironies, comical and grave, abounded, as Mel had first come to nationwide prominence among sociologists, urban organizers, civil-rights activists, and liberal politicians with the 1959 publication of his groundbreaking sociological study “Desegregation: Resistance and Readiness,” and then, in 1967, with “Social Stratification: The Forms and Functions of Inequality,” which soon became a standard sociological text. Moreover, before coming to Princeton, he had been director of the Mayor’s Commission on Race Relations, in Detroit. Upon his death, in 1995, the headline above his New York Times obituary read “MELVIN M. TUMIN, 75, SPECIALIST IN RACE RELATIONS.”

But none of these credentials counted for much when the powers of the moment sought to take down Professor Tumin from his high academic post for no reason at all, much as Professor Silk is taken down in “The Human Stain.”