Good news on race in America

The racial voting gap has disappeared. In fact, blacks are now voting at higher rates than white. As I mentioned in an earlier post, women are much more likely than men to attend college. The civil rights struggle is over. The good guys won. Time to stand down.

When undertaking a great task, it is important to define the boundary conditions and know when you have won. People long engaged in struggles don't like to give up, even when their reasonable objectives have been achieved. This is dangerous. In our imperfect world, it is always possible to find continuing problems, but at some point the cost in money, time, trouble and freedom becomes more than we should be willing to pay to get at the last vestiges.

This is what has happened in civil rights. We have done a great job over the past 40 years. Racism and sexism as operative concepts have been largely eliminated. But the good fight has created collateral damage. We have created large bureaucracies and bureaucratized even larger swaths of our society. This was necessary in the fight. It was like mobilizing during World War II. We disciplined society to an extraordinary degree in order to defeat a dangerous foe. It was necessary. But when the emergency passes, we should demobilize and stand down most of the forces used to address the extraordinary conditions.

We should continue to pursue individual cases of bias and we generally do. But the big fight is done. Our side won. America has become a very tolerant country.

We should be proud. The problem now is that many people don't want to problem to go away. Like the general who doesn't want to reduce the size of his army after the war, they want to protect their phoney baloney jobs. And they can think up reasons. So every time they find a case, they make it a bigger deal. And they expand definitions. In a country of 300+million you can find anything you want.

But let's talk about finding things. They say that you always find your keys in the last place you look. That is obviously because reasonable people stop looking after they find what they is looking for. It makes sense in general.

A brief digression - I was a Cold Warrior. I hated the Soviet Union and worked to destroy its influence. Then one day it just disintegrated. I was not as a happy as I thought. Suddenly, one of the defining truths of my life no longer mattered. But it was indeed gone and energy could be redirected to better uses. Some of my colleagues couldn't let go. They found continued conspiracies. It is doubtlessly true that some people would like to bring back the evil old empire, but they cannot succeed. You just have to move on.

Posted by Christine & John at May 20, 2013 12:28 AM
Comments
Comment #366244

You can point to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and its satellites in Eastern Europe, and say, “we don’t have that problem anymore.”

But racism and sexism? We’ve made significant strides, yes, but they are not nations that fall and then are lost to history. They are tendencies that can come and go, and I think we need to enforce some basic standards so they remain gone.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 20, 2013 3:19 PM
Comment #366256

Stephen

That is why we need to be vigilant about individual cases. We maintain basic standards.

But when blacks vote in larger percentages than white, it is unlikely we need be working on boosting participation. And when women attend college much more often than men, we need not boost enrollment.

Our side won, Stephen; we need not keep all the armies mobilized.

Posted by: CJ at May 20, 2013 7:17 PM
Comment #366294

All is not well in the neighborhood yet:

Latinos face discrimination when seeking voting information from local electoral officials.

Posted by: Warren Porter at May 21, 2013 2:17 PM
Comment #366298

Warren

Everybody faces some sort of discrimination. I have; you have. We should pursue individual cases. We no longer need the big national program.

Latinos are not identifiable as a race except by language. Just as Germans suffered significant discrimination a century ago because of their numbers and language, the same is unfortunately happening still today with Latinos. This will pass.

Re voting - blacks vote more frequently than whites. There is obviously no problem with keeping them from voting. Latinos may have language problems. These will pass when they learn English better.

Posted by: CJ at May 21, 2013 5:15 PM
Comment #366314

C&J,

Reread the study. The same email was sent to electoral officials; the only difference being the name on the bottom. Some were signed “Jose Martinez” or “Luis Rodriguez” and others were signed “Greg Walsh” and “Jake Mueller”. Emails signed by the former were more likely to be ignored entirely or supplied with unhelpful information.

This isn’t an issue of language ability. This is purely a case of institutional discrimination.

Posted by: Warren Porter at May 21, 2013 9:05 PM
Comment #366318

Warren

People do these studies. Sometimes they prove things that are not exactly true in reality.

In any case, we will never reach perfection. Germans suffered great discrimination 100 years ago. Many changed their name, with Schneider becoming Taylors. How the Poles suffered. My Hoynaski cousins became Hoyts. But we did nothing special for the Poles or the Germans. After a short time, things were fine. This is happening rapidly with Hispanics.

BTW - we all know that English is the world language and anybody American who doesn’t want is kids to learn English as their first language is just retarded. The idea that Spanish will or should persist into the third generation is racist.

Indeed, we should be careful to protect individuals. But there is really no remedy for the larger issue that is worth paying.

We (you and I) suffered for NOT being Latino. My daughter was born in Latin America and I have checked the “Hispanic” box for her. As an ordinary white girl, she could not get into the gifted program. As a “Hispanic” they invited her in. This is wrong and racist.

Posted by: CJ at May 21, 2013 10:35 PM
Comment #366323
In any case, we will never reach perfection.
But we should always keep it as our goal. The Constitution’s preamble states that its purpose is “to create a more perfect union”.
Germans suffered great discrimination 100 years ago.
Some groups faced discrimination in the past therefore it is acceptable for other groups to face discrimination today?
Many changed their name, with Schneider becoming Taylors. How the Poles suffered. My Hoynaski cousins became Hoyts.

So Jorge Martinez needs to change his name to George Martin before he can get equal treatment from the government? That’s completely absurd.

The idea that Spanish will or should persist into the third generation is racist.
I’ve never encountered a 3rd generation immigrant whose native language was not English. As I said, language is not the issue here.
We (you and I) suffered for NOT being Latino

I have had a privileged upbringing and many of the privileges that I had would not have been possible if I were Latino. For instance, both of my parents have graduate degrees; two of my grandparents and three of my great-grandparents went to college. This is not typical for a Hispanic family today. Perhaps in a generation or two it will be true, but we aren’t there yet.

Posted by: Warren Porter at May 21, 2013 11:42 PM
Comment #366327

I wonder what it cost your grandparents to go to college. Did they accrue a lifetime of debt to do it?

If you ask me, I think we’re all being discriminated against. Think of the waitress and cook that serve your fast food. They live from day to day. They pay their bills and there is nothing left. How are they to afford to go to college?

I’m not saying it’s the rich that are discriminating against the poor. I’m saying the government is discriminating against those who can’t pay the politician. I know you’re not going to want to hear this but if there was no 16th amendment there would be no discrimination from the government.

Posted by: Weary Willie at May 22, 2013 1:20 AM
Comment #366330

Warren

Re perfection - “But we should always keep it as our goal.” NO. We should not have perfection as a goal, at least in the sense that we think we can achieve it. I think when they wrote “more perfect” they recognized that perfection was indeed not possible. People like the Soviets & Nazis seek perfection. It gets lots of people killed. American seek what works and anticipate that today’s solution will need to be changed tomorrow.

Re Germans - I just point out that these very white looking people suffered similarly to the sort of brown ones today and that it is nothing new. I also point to history to show that such problem are transient. Germans are the biggest ethnic group in America, yet nobody notices or cares. They did in the past. Transient.

Re changing names - it depends. I don’t think that people should be forced to change names etc, but they might want to. I am lucky in that my name in “multi-ethnic”. But every country I go I pronounce it differently, depending on the local language sounds. My father used to pronounce it wrong, in a kind of Polish way. I fixed it for my generation in America.

We all must change and adapt to our surroundings. Latinos already are. They are losing Spanish in the third generation, at least as a fluent “first language.” This is good. Americans need to speak a common language first and that is English. It is also the world language, lucky for us. And in the third generation things are just fine. Often the third generations marry into another ethnic group and it is all American.

My sister in law is Norwegian-American. She had white blond hair as a young woman. She married a Latino guy. Their kids are a mix of this. They speak only the little Spanish they learned in school and have no particular Latino cultural affiliation, at least no more than they have Norwegian. This is how it should be.

Re privileges - Some Latinos had more privileges than you did, some less. Most of them would have had an easier time getting into college or getting a job if they had exactly the same grades etc at you did.

Both of my parent were HS drop outs. My father did not speak English as his first language. We never owned a car. Mine was the first generation of my family to go to college. These things are not limited to Latinos. Your privileges are particular, not racial or ethnic. The upward improvement is how America works.

I am not saying that “they” should suffer because I did, because I don’t think that I suffered. I just had particular advantages and disadvantages in life. There is a BIG advantage us poor kids have. We don’t have to live up to the accomplishments of our parents in education or income. I see this is a problem for my kids and it seems to hurt more than my relative deprivation.

Posted by: CJ at May 22, 2013 6:13 AM
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