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This Is My Racism (jonathanlipps.com)
10 points by jlipps 636 days ago | hide | past | web | 35 comments | favorite

>My point is simply that living in a segregated society from early on, and the early whispered conversations about Black people as a “they”, set in motion a force very much like compound interest.

Ta-Nehisi Coates' landmark Atlantic article, The Case for Reparations [1], helps explain how this segregated society came to be:

> The American real-estate industry believed segregation to be a moral principle. As late as 1950, the National Association of Real Estate Boards’ code of ethics warned that “a Realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood … any race or nationality, or any individuals whose presence will clearly be detrimental to property values.” A 1943 brochure specified that such potential undesirables might include madams, bootleggers, gangsters—and “a colored man of means who was giving his children a college education and thought they were entitled to live among whites.”

The federal government concurred. It was the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, not a private trade association, that pioneered the practice of redlining, selectively granting loans and insisting that any property it insured be covered by a restrictive covenant—a clause in the deed forbidding the sale of the property to anyone other than whites. Millions of dollars flowed from tax coffers into segregated white neighborhoods.

“For perhaps the first time, the federal government embraced the discriminatory attitudes of the marketplace,” the historian Kenneth T. Jackson wrote in his 1985 book, Crabgrass Frontier, a history of suburbanization. “Previously, prejudices were personalized and individualized; FHA exhorted segregation and enshrined it as public policy. Whole areas of cities were declared ineligible for loan guarantees.” Redlining was not officially outlawed until 1968, by the Fair Housing Act. By then the damage was done—and reports of redlining by banks have continued.

The federal government is premised on equal fealty from all its citizens, who in return are to receive equal treatment. But as late as the mid-20th century, this bargain was not granted to black people, who repeatedly paid a higher price for citizenship and received less in return. Plunder had been the essential feature of slavery, of the society described by Calhoun. But practically a full century after the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, the plunder—quiet, systemic, submerged—continued even amidst the aims and achievements of New Deal liberals.

[1] http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case...

> Millions of dollars flowed from tax coffers into segregated white neighborhoods.

Wait, wouldn't it be the other way around? Inflating property values would increase tax revenue. Even if they were subsidizing white home ownership they may have come out ahead.

It's one of the driving forces of gentrification: if investing X gets the city X + Y in tax revenues then it's an economically sound decision.

I think the point is that there was a de facto subsidy of segregated white neighborhoods in the first instance.

Perhaps a de facto or indirect subsidy, but the cost of moving into those neighborhoods went up while the cost of housing for those being excluded went down. It's also arguable that cities made money with these practices (it would take some work to figure out.)

So the subsidy argument falls apart. If it doesn't cost the city money overall and white people end up paying more both for housing and in taxes then the problem with redlining lies elsewhere. (I am not trying to defend redlining, by the way.)

Even if the cost of moving into the neighborhood went up, the white homeowners surely also benefited from higher home equity values which they can borrow against; realized gains from selling the homes -- for them and for their heirs; better public school systems; better public facilities.

So, no I don't think the subsidy argument falls apart.

Only if the market goes up enough vs the other neighborhoods and what would have happened. Which maybe you can argue it does. I'm not racist enough to believe that the presence of people with black skin is that detrimental to property values. It seems clear that redlining is about class more than race.

You still have the problem that subsidies are generally thought to cost money. If redlining makes the city money it goes from "this is evil and doesn't work economically" to "this is evil but it makes money."

Lost another 10 karma overnight for trying to join this discussion without going "hoo, haaa, obviously the whole world is racist and sexist and that disgusts me..." before voicing contrary opinions.

Yeah downvote that one, too.

I'm starting to interpret the "don't complain about downvotes" guideline as "don't shed light on how this community misuses downvotes to quietly marginalize contrary views while maintaining the illusion of civil discourse."

Amazing article, I'm a white male who grew up in rural north central Texas as well and can understand where the author is coming from.

"We’ve seen videos of innocent black citizens gunned down by the police that is supposed to protect them"

Really? Where are these videos. I think I only saw one video making the rounds where this was the case. The rest was speculation and mob mentality. "Hands up Don't shoot", for instance, never happened.

"We’ve seen a community devastated by a terrorist attack that can only be described as pure, premeditated evil"

This sort of "evil" happens almost every day in the inner city. Chicago, for instance, had 7+ shootings in only one weekend. Why are we focusing on the one rare nutcase and someone making it into proof that an entire community of people are racist (ironic that this is exactly what we are trying to stop: judging an entire group of people on one person's actions).

How about the college event in Ohio that stated that only "African Americans" can attend and the guy (who was not African American" filming was pushed around and bullied??

How about the trans-gendered guest on the Dr. Drew HLN show that not only put his hand around the another guest's throat he was supposed to be debating, but threatened him with violence??

"It was only recently, when White-on-Black police brutality and terrorism began to surface in the news,"

How can you possibly call this "terrorism"?? In nearly all cases I've seen so far, the police offers asked the person in question to stop or comply..and they resisted, which resulted in a use of justified force.

"that I was turned on to a stream of different voices. Reading the #drivingwhileblack tweets"

Which is bullshit. I'm not black and have gotten stopped multiple times in my life for things I considered bullshit. If you give the cop an attitude, you will suffer the consequences. If you comply and are cool about everything the officer asks, he will let you go or write you a ticket.

You need to think about it from his/her perspective: If you overpower the officer, they could lose their life.

"I think we need to readily acknowledge that we are racist,"

Speak for yourself. I give everyone an equal chance, regardless of race. It's their actions later that determine whether I like them or not. I'm sick and tired of the thought police somehow trying to convince me that I'm racist.

If the majority of people in this country were really racist, we wouldn't have people of color in pretty much every position of power and occupation..including the presidency.

I think the key point you (and many people) are missing is understanding how much racist behavior is unconscious. I'm engaged to a woman who's half-black, and I still occasionally say something slightly racist by accident.

Check out the Implicit Association Test (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implicit-association_test) for an introduction to this line of research. You can still be doing/saying racist things while meaning well. The only solution is self-awareness and humility.

>If the majority of people in this country were really racist, we wouldn't have people of color in pretty much every position of power and occupation..including the presidency.

Funny. I take the exact same anecdotes and conclude, "Wow, black Americans are pretty resilient."

>Federal troops withdrew from the South in 1877. The dream of Reconstruction died. For the next century, political violence was visited upon blacks wantonly, with special treatment meted out toward black people of ambition. Black schools and churches were burned to the ground. Black voters and the political candidates who attempted to rally them were intimidated, and some were murdered. At the end of World War I, black veterans returning to their homes were assaulted for daring to wear the American uniform. The demobilization of soldiers after the war, which put white and black veterans into competition for scarce jobs, produced the Red Summer of 1919: a succession of racist pogroms against dozens of cities ranging from Longview, Texas, to Chicago to Washington, D.C. Organized white violence against blacks continued into the 1920s—in 1921 a white mob leveled Tulsa’s “Black Wall Street,” and in 1923 another one razed the black town of Rosewood, Florida—and virtually no one was punished.

>Having been enslaved for 250 years, black people were not left to their own devices. They were terrorized. In the Deep South, a second slavery ruled. In the North, legislatures, mayors, civic associations, banks, and citizens all colluded to pin black people into ghettos, where they were overcrowded, overcharged, and undereducated. Businesses discriminated against them, awarding them the worst jobs and the worst wages. Police brutalized them in the streets. And the notion that black lives, black bodies, and black wealth were rightful targets remained deeply rooted in the broader society. Now we have half-stepped away from our long centuries of despoilment, promising, “Never again.” But still we are haunted. It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear. The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us.

[1] http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case...

Thanks for your thoughts. The point of my article wasn't to deny that there are any counterexamples to my overarching theme. No argument involving society is going to be free of counterexamples.

I disagree with some things you've said here but will just say 2 things:

1. I'm grateful you give everyone an equal chance. I thought I did too until I uncovered what I now believe to be an ingrained sort of bias. If you're free from that, more power to you! Far be it from me to tell you who you are.

2. I do believe that racism is one of the hidden engines of society, and inhabits each of us more than we know for that reason. That's why I was proposing to move the dialogue from an existential proof of racism to a question of how exactly it has shaped us. It's not (or doesn't feel like) "pseudoempathy" as another commenter put it. It feels like moving past denial to a more productive mode of engagement with this gnarled issue.

It's unfortunate, but the GP will probably see these videos and feel vindicated in their belief that these cops are acting righteously, purely in self-defense. It works for both sides of the coin, but when presented with conflicting evidence people often double down on their beliefs. (e.g. Statements like "These videos prove that there are no systemic factors at play, this is pure self-defense. It's just a coincidence that these people are all black.")

Let me first state why I disagree with you, and then why I don't think you should be downvoted. (at the time I'm writing this, parent's post is light grey.)

Time and time again, studies demonstrate that we are all a little bit racist. Another commenter pointed out that the Implicit Association Test is a nice introduction to this research. You can take a test here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

Unconscious discrimination is a serious source of hardship for minorities and it's important to be aware of our bias. This is what the author of the article is getting at, and he is correct in the central point.

However, we live in a culture where racists are the scum of the earth, fired from their jobs, ostracized, hated universally. You can even be fired from your job if you defend someone that's a racist [1]

Given how hated racism is in our culture right now, debate about racial issues is skewed in three ways. First, we might not take the side of the privileged in an issue because we fear we are being unconsciously racist. Second, we might not take the side of the privileged in an issue because we fear we might be called a racist, and, if not immediately fired from ours jobs, at least shunned. Finally, we might not take the side of the privileged in an issue, because even if taking their side would be technically correct, the privileged already have enough privilege, so to say, and by speaking out in favor of them we might be weakening the forces which are working hard to eliminate racism from society as much as possible.

These biases can be just as unconscious. And they obscure the truth.

Parent is also speaking out of fear. He has come to believe that acknowledging the existence of implicit racism, is the same as always siding with the minority in every case. Even in cases where the minority is clearly in the wrong.

If you value truth, this is an abomination. If you value truth enough, it's something to get extremely angry about. By heavily downvoting parent's post, you are confirming these exact fears, while ignoring the true criticism hidden within. You are turning people away from the movement to eliminate racism, or at least making them less enthusiastic. And therefore you are doing more to slow the eradication of racism than posts like parent's ever would.

Can we upvote parent for his bravery in speaking out against the bias our culture currently has? And calmly and rationally debate his concerns? That would be infinitely more convincing than the downvote button.

[1] http://www.gamerevolution.com/manifesto/turtle-rock-communit...

GP post uses personal experience, but fails to understand that being white is a crucial detail. "Police are racist" isn't persuasively countered by "I'm white. They treat me okay". This is a point GP has made before. "Them black fellas would be fine if they weren't so uppity" is, not surprisingly, a touchy viewpoint.

(PaulHaugis does make some good points about lynchmods and bullying and it's weird that those posts get so heavily downvoted.)

Thing about lynch mobs is there's a bit of distance between being downvoted on an internet discussion board and dangling neckwise from a poplar tree.

Sure. Change the language - it's still a good point. He's not talking about a few downvotes either, he's talking about the huge numbers of people who get swept up into eg Twitter shitstorms. People lose their jobs after these campaigns.

Have you considered an anonymous account?

You should know that what you've said is considered totally racist these days and you'll have to write an article like the one you just criticized if you ever want to clear your name.

I'm not sure if this response is serious or not, but it's this kind of thinking that makes me lament the loss of reasonable discourse in this country.

"Reasonable discourse" doesn't start with denying that racism exists in the United States, as the grandparent post does. "We have a black president so we can't be racist" is a pretty damn tired trope.

I think people should be able to speak freely, but I won't lament systemic racism's demise.

>"Reasonable discourse" doesn't start with denying that racism exists in the United States.

Would you mind quoting the part of his post where he says that racism doesn't exist?

Let me rephrase: the original post denies that racism exists and/or plays a significant role in some very serious recent events, such as police interaction with members of minority communities and resultant citizen deaths, police interaction during routine traffic stops, and racially motivated mass shootings. Also, they off-handedly dismiss the experiential evidence of others while tooting their own horn about their experiences during police encounters.

Everything seems large when viewed under a microscope.

I'm guessing this is a criticism? Well, it's a faulty one: much like scientists deepened the field of biology by looking both under a microscope and at the macro-scale (population studies, etc.), we can improve society for all people involved by both looking at micro-interactions (individual traffic stops) and macro-interactions (social forces and policies).

In another comment someone listed three micro-interactions [0] as evidence of a media narrative. So I'll provide three micro-interactions.

Dillon Taylor, Gilbert Collar, Christopher Roupe.

My criticism is about placing small, isolated incidents under a microscope. A seemingly large amount of evidence gets national media coverage - so it appears to be a bigger problem than it is. Ebola fear-mongering is a good example of that. There are local pandemics of much more immediate danger that receive far less coverage for far less time than ebola did.

It's confirmation bias at best and media propaganda at worst. The media is a business, people seem to forget that. They have no issues towing lines if it brings in more revenue. That also means they'll tug political ideologies that align closely with their viewers.

I also have no issue admitting that a problem likely does exist. But it's much smaller than the media would have you believe: they just put it under a microscope. So to you, it seems much larger. That's the problem with microscopes.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9971212

Then you misinterpreted what they said. The point was that white people don't get to run away from traffic stops and knock tasers out of cops hands without getting shot. But when a black guy does it it makes the cover of Time magazine because it's so racist.

>Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater i, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings.

The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.

One way of appreciating that stark disparity, ProPublica's analysis shows, is to calculate how many more whites over those three years would have had to have been killed for them to have been at equal risk. The number is jarring – 185, more than one per week.

ProPublica's risk analysis on young males killed by police certainly seems to support what has been an article of faith in the African American community for decades: Blacks are being killed at disturbing rates when set against the rest of the American population.

Our examination involved detailed accounts of more than 12,000 police homicides stretching from 1980 to 2012 contained in the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Report. The data, annually self-reported by hundreds of police departments across the country, confirms some assumptions, runs counter to others, and adds nuance to a wide range of questions about the use of deadly police force.

Colin Loftin, University at Albany professor and co-director of the Violence Research Group, said the FBI data is a minimum count of homicides by police, and that it is impossible to precisely measure what puts people at risk of homicide by police without more and better records. Still, what the data shows about the race of victims and officers, and the circumstances of killings, are "certainly relevant," Loftin said.

"No question, there are all kinds of racial disparities across our criminal justice system," he said. "This is one example."


This is a bit of a non-sequitor.

"21 times greater" is a great sound-bite but I honestly don't know what you'd expect. Take white males, make them 10 times as likely to be killed in general, 5-10 times as likely to be murderers, make them stronger, more likely to come from extreme poverty, give them a 50% high-school graduation rate, increase their rate of illiteracy, increase the rates at which they carry deadly weapons, increase how often they are violent in general, increase their sense of despair and hopelessness, break their family structure so many of them turn to street gangs for acceptance and give them a culture that openly glorifies violence against the police.

Now they're still white males, how much would their chances of being on the losing end of a violent confrontation with the police increase?

In other words there are many other causes and conditions that are at play here and assuming it's because cops are racist is absurd.

Which parts of that post were so extreme that it would be wiser to say then anonymously, in your view?

The fact that so called "racists" are unable to freely[0] express even a moderate opposition to the mainstream narrative on racism, is the best proof that this narrative is at best incomplete.

[0] e.g. without fear of losing ones job.

I don't think any of it's extreme, it's just an opinion. Still he might not want it coming up when a hiring manager googles his name 5-10 years down the road.

If HN let us delete our names and/or comments it would be different.

I guess part of my point was that when your post implies some implicit threat, you should be clear on whether you are merely warning of this threat or whether you think it's a good thing. Otherwise you might end to inadvertently supporting a system you don't intend to.

Yeah, if you associate with idiots. Hey check out my username, it's my actual name, too!

Basically this. This whole "I'm racist, you're racist, can the world ever forgive us?" wave of pseudoempathy is a load of nonsense.

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