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How Black Americans See Discrimination

What percentage of black Americans believe racism and discrimination against black folks exists in America?

Pice a number between 1 and 100 and read on.

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How Black Americans See Discrimination

We asked black Americans whether they believe discrimination against black Americans exists in the U.S. today.

How many do you think responded “it exists”?

92%.

Of the 802 black Americans we asked, almost all said they believe discrimination against black Americans exists today.

One of the paradoxes of racial discrimination is the way it can remain obscured even to the people to whom it’s happening. Here’s an example: In an ambitious, novel studyconducted by the Urban Institute a few years ago, researchers sent actors with similar financial credentials to the same real estate or rental offices to ask about buying or renting a home or apartment. In the end, no matter where they were sent, the actors of color were shown fewer homes and offered fewer discounts on rent or mortgages than those who were white.Image result for black american poll experience with racism

The results even surprised some of the actors of color; they felt they had been treated politely — even warmly — by the very real estate agents who told them they had no properties available to show them but who then told the white actors something different. The full scope of the disparate treatment often becomes clear only in the aggregate, once the camera zooms out.

And yet obscured as the picture may be, black Americans take the existence of discrimination as a fact of life. That’s according to a new study conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which asked black respondents how they felt about discrimination in their lives and in American society more broadly.

Almost all of the black people who responded — 92 percent — said they felt that discrimination against African-Americans exists in America today. At least half said they had personally experienced racial discrimination in being paid equally or promoted at work, when they applied for jobs or in their encounters with police.

Overall, African Americans report extensive experiences of discrimination, across a range of
situations. In the context of institutional forms of discrimination, half or more of African
Americans say they have personally been discriminated against because they are Black when
interacting with police (50%), when applying to jobs (56%), and when it comes to being paid
equally or considered for promotion (57%).

Additionally, 60% of African Americans say they or a family member have been unfairly
stopped or treated by the police because they are Black, and 45% say the court system has treated
them unfairly because they are Black. Blacks living in suburban areas are more likely than those
in urban areas to report being unfairly stopped or treated by police and being threatened or
harassed because they are Black.

In the context of individual discrimination, a majority of African Americans have personally
experienced racial slurs (51%) and people making negative assumptions or insensitive or
offensive comments about their race (52%). Four in ten African Americans say people have
acted afraid of them because of their race, and 42% have experienced racial violence. Higher
income Black Americans are more likely to report these experiences.

African Americans also report efforts to avoid potential discrimination or to minimize their
potential interactions with police. Nearly a third (31%) say they have avoided calling the police,
and 22% say they have avoided medical care, even when in need, both for fear of discrimination.
Similarly, 27% of Black Americans say they have avoided doing things they might normally,
such as using a car or participating in social events, to avoid potentially interacting with police

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But within that near-consensus, the respondents reported having different kinds of experiences with discrimination, which varied considerably depending on things like gender, age and where they lived.

Take, for example, the question of whether discrimination that was the result of individual bias was a bigger problem than discrimination embedded into laws and government. Among the folks who said that discrimination existed, exactly half of all respondents felt the discrimination that black people face from individual people was a bigger cause for concern. But younger people were more likely to say they felt that institutional discrimination was a bigger concern.

There was also a city-rural divide here, with people who lived in urban areas more likely to see this discrimination as driven by institutional factors as opposed to individual bias than those who lived in rural areas…Related image

There were some stark differences in the way people in different income brackets said they experienced discrimination. Just about 2 in 3 people who earned more than $75,000 a year said that someone has referred to them or black people with racial slurs; less than half of all people who made less than $25,000 said the same. The same trend was true when respondents were asked whether someone acted afraid of them because of their race: Fifty-five percent of people who made more than $75,000 a year or more said this was true, compared with 33 percent of those who made less than $25,000 a year….More

 

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Racism and Perception

Why do Police see guns in black men’s hands when there are none? Science attempts to explain.

Not sure I buy into the concept entirely, as many of the shooting situations were created by the Officers in the first place. That implies , differently from the science that perception may well have a component of pre-meditation.

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The shooting of Walter Scott involved no weapon in Scott’s hands. He was running away from the Policeman.

A neuroscientist explains how racism hijacks human perception

If you’re black in the United States, you’re more than twice as likely as a white person to be unarmed if you’re killed in an encounter with the police. Why? Some kind of racial profiling is at work, but the precise psychological mechanism is poorly understood. Investigations into police shootings show that the officers often perceive cellphones and other non-threatening objects as weapons in the hands of a person of colour. So do police officers misinterpret what they see, or are they actually seeing a gun where there is none?

The classic psychological account would ascribe these mistakes to a failure of executive control, provoked by some external stimulus. That is, the problem comes from the brain’s inability to resolve the conflict between an automatically activated stereotype, and a consciously held egalitarian belief. Seeing a black face might automatically activate the stereotype that black men are more dangerous, leading to activity in brain areas implicated in fear responses. But this automatic response, which could trigger a fight-or-flight reaction, should be suppressed when the fear is irrational. Yet the tensions between automatic and control processes are not always readily resolved, and result in errors.

New strands of work in psychology, neuroscience and philosophy of mind challenge this brain-centric orthodoxy. Researchers of ‘embodied cognition’ focus instead on the brain’s interdependence on physiological processes that allow an organism to sustain itself. From this point of view, the mind must be understood as embedded in a body, and the body as embedded in a physical, social and cultural environment. Reality is not simply out there for the taking, but is summoned via the constant fluctuations of our own organic matter. As the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote in Phenomenology of Perception (1945): ‘The body is our general medium for having a world.’

Among neuroscientists, it’s increasingly popular to think of the brain not as a passive organ that receives and reacts to stimuli, but as more of an inference machine: something that actively strives to predict what’s out there and what’s going to happen, maximising the chances of staying alive. But the body isn’t simply controlled top-down. Rather, its signals are constantly combining with the brain’s inferences to generate our perception of the world. Imagine you hear a door slamming: you’re more likely to picture an intruder if you’re watching a scary movie than if you’re listening to soothing music. You make that prediction (otherwise quite unlikely) because it accounts for your fast heart-rate and the sound of the door.

We still know very little about exactly how these processes might relate to the phenomenon of racism, but now we have some idea of where to look. If the predictive story of behaviour is correct, perception (including that of the police) suddenly seems a lot closer to belief, and is a lot more embodied, than we used to think. Recent studies highlight the influences of visceral signals across many domains, from emotional processing and decision-making to self-awareness. For example, scary stimuli are judged to be more fearful when presented during heartbeats, rather than betweenheartbeats.

At my lab at Royal Holloway, University of London, we decided to test whether the cardiac cycle made a difference to the expression of racial prejudice. The heart is constantly informing the brain about the body’s overall level of ‘arousal’, the extent to which it is attuned to what is happening around it. On a heartbeat, sensors known as ‘arterial baroreceptors’ pick up pressure changes in the heart wall, and fire off a message to the brain; between heartbeats, they are quiescent. Such visceral information is initially encoded in the brainstem, before reaching the parts implicated in emotional and motivational behaviour. The brain, in turn, responds by trying to help the organism stabilise itself. If it receives signals of a raised heart-rate, the brain will generate predictions about the potential causes, and consider what the organism should do to bring itself down from this heightened state. This ongoing heart-brain dialogue, then, forms the basis of how the brain represents the body to itself, and creates awareness of the external environment.

In our experiment, we used what’s known as the ‘first-person shooter’s task’, which simulates the snap judgments police officers make. Participants see a white or black man holding a gun or phone, and have to decide whether to shoot depending on the perceived level of threat. In prior studies, participants were significantly more likely to shoot an unarmed black individual than a white one.

But we timed the stimuli to occur either between or on a heartbeat. Remarkably, the majority of misidentifications occurred when black individuals appeared at the same time as a heartbeat. Here, the number of false positives in which phones were perceived as weapons rose by 10 per cent compared with the average. In a different version of the test, we used what’s known as the ‘weapons identification task’, where participants see a white or black face, followed by an image of a gun or tool, and must classify the object as quickly as possible. When the innocuous items were presented following a black face, and on a heartbeat, errors rose by 20 per cent.

Yet in both instances, when the judgment happened between heartbeats, we observed no differences in people’s accuracy, irrespective of whether they were responding to white or black faces. It seems that the combination of the firing of signals from the heart to the brain, along with the presentation of a stereotypical threat, increased the chances that even something benign will be perceived as dangerous.

It’s surprising to think of racial bias as not just a state or habit of mind, nor even a widespread cultural norm, but as a process that’s also part of the ebbs and flows of the body’s physiology. The heart-brain dialogue plays a crucial role in regulating blood pressure and heart rate, as well as motivating and supporting adaptive behaviour in response to external events. So, in fight-or-flight responses, changes in cardiovascular function prepare the organism for subsequent action. But while the brain might be predictive, those predictions can be inaccurate. What our findings illustrate is the extent to which racial and possibly other stereotypes are hijacking bodily mechanisms that have evolved to deal with actual threats.

The psychologist Lisa Barrett Feldman at Northeastern University in Boston coined the term ‘affective realism’ to describe how the brain perceives the world through the body. On the one hand, this is a reason for optimism: if we can better understand the neurological mechanisms behind racial bias, then perhaps we’ll be in a better position to correct it. But there is a grim side to the analysis, too. The structures of oppression that shape who we are also shape our bodies, and perhaps our most fundamental perceptions. Maybe we do not ‘misread’ the phone as a gun; we might we actually see a gun, rather than a phone. Racism might not be something that societies can simply overcome with fresh narratives and progressive political messages. It might require a more radical form of physiological retraining, to bring our embodied realities into line with our stated beliefs.Aeon counter – do not remove

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2017 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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Giant Negro Alert!

Apparently the infamous Giant Negroes of Jim Crow racism lore still walk among us!

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People see black men as larger and stronger than white men — even when they’re not, study says

Even if white and black men are the same heights and weights, people tend to perceive black men as taller, more muscular and heavier. So said a psychological survey, published Monday in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, exploring stereotypes about perceptions of male bodies.

What’s more, the study found, nonblack participants believed black men to be more capable of physical harm than white men of the same size. The results also indicated that nonblack observers believed that police would be more justified to use force on these black men, even if they were unarmed, than white male counterparts.Image result for Giant Negro

“Unarmed black men are disproportionately more likely to be shot and killed by police, and often these killings are accompanied by explanations that cite the physical size of the person shot,” John Paul Wilson, an author of the study and a psychologist at New Jersey’s Montclair State University, said in a statement Monday.

The psychologists noted that, in the wake of police shootings, the physical size of those killed frequently becomes a focal point. Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed on a Cleveland playground in 2014 while holding a replica gun, was described as “menacing” after his death.

“He’s 5-feet-7, 191 pounds. He wasn’t that little kid you’re seeing in pictures. He’s a 12-year-old in an adult body,” Steve Loomis, president of Cleveland’s Police Patrolman’s Association, told Politico magazine in 2015. “Tamir Rice is in the wrong.”

And in 2012, after George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, “images circulated depicting Martin as older and larger than he was,” the authors of the new study wrote. “In one notorious example, people widely shared a photograph of a man with facial tattoos in what was purported to be an up-to-date representation of Martin. In fact, it was a rap musician known as the Game who was in his 30s in the photograph.”

Wilson and his colleagues at the Miami University of Ohio and the University of Toronto conducted seven experiments, asking 950 online participants to gauge the physical and threatening characteristics of men, based on male faces and bodies.

In one of the studies, for instance, survey participants gauged men’s height and weights given only photographs of male faces. Of the 90 male faces, half of the men were black and the other half were white. The researchers used images of high school football quarterbacks being recruited to play college ball (therefore their height and weight data were publicly available to the scientists).

Those surveyed rated black men to be consistently larger — even though that was not, in reality, the case. Based on just the faces, they estimated that the black men were slightly taller (an average of 72 inches vs. 71 inches tall) and a bit heavier, at an average of 181 pounds for black men but 177 pounds for white men.

Another study asked participants to match the athlete’s faces to a series of illustrated bodies. These illustrations ranged from the depiction of a slender male body to a shredded physique, not unlike that of former NFL player, actor and deodorant pitchman Terry Crews. As in the cases of height and weight, participants rated black men as more muscular.Image result for Giant Negro

To gauge people’s perceptions of strength, the study authors created a pool of athlete profile photos from a group of black and white men who could bench-press the same weights, on average. Participants judged the black men (from “Not at all strong” to “Very strong”) as stronger.

“We found that these estimates were consistently biased,” Wilson said. “Participants judged the black men to be larger, stronger and more muscular than the white men, even though they were actually the same size.”

The psychologists asked participants to gauge the men’s capability of causing physical harm. The researchers also wanted to know, if the men in the photos were acting aggressively, whether participants thought police would be justified in using force while making an arrest. Black observers did not rate black men as more likely to cause harm.

But nonblack participants did. These participants also indicated that, if police were to use force to subdue the men, it was more likely to be justified in the cases where the men were black. That is, although black and white participants equally overestimated the strength of black men, only nonblack observers considered the black men to be more dangerous.

“Participants also believed that the black men were more capable of causing harm in a hypothetical altercation and, troublingly, that police would be more justified in using force to subdue them, even if the men were unarmed,” Wilson said. “Our research suggests that these descriptions may reflect stereotypes of black males that do not seem to comport with reality.”Image result for Giant Negro

The psychologists pointed out that limiting the photos to faces of football players — a sport that puts a premium on strong, large bodies — could skew the results, but they said they would expect similar trends in a broader sample pool of black and white faces.

The study authors also noted that these hypothetical scenarios and results do not necessarily translate into the real world.

“It would be valuable for future research to investigate whether the biases that we have observed here manifest in face-to-face interactions outside of the laboratory,” they wrote in the study. “Despite this limitation, we believe that the consistency of the effects that we have observed from multiple sets of face and body photographs is quite striking on its own.”

Across the United States, the average black man and the average white man are roughly the same height and weight. According to what data are available, such as information taken from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveys, the average white man older than 20 weighs 199 pounds. So does the average black man. Height averages for black and white men are within a centimeter of each other, with the average white man being slightly taller at 5-foot-10.

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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Giant Negros, The New Jim Crow

 

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The Well Dressed Man Makes a Comeback

In the area that I lived in growing up, the system for integrating schools started the first few years at the Elementary and Middle School level. I was one of the first black males to attend an “integrated” Junior High School (7th and 8th Grades) in my county.There were a whopping 2 black boys and 5 black girls that first year in a school of 1800.

My father took me out “shopping” before the first class, and purchased for me 5 white shirts, and several ties. My Dad was known by friends and family for always wearing crisp white shirts,a tie, and a suit to work every day. He was a strong believer in looking respectable to be respected.

Every morning he would check me to make sure I had my “uniform” on before school. Heaven help me if I stopped by on the way home for a game of baseball with the other kids in the neighborhood and got my clothes dirty!

As we got to know each other better, some of the white kids would tease me about always wearing a tie to school – and being the “best dressed” kid in Junior High. They would ask why I always wore a white shirt and tie – I just passed it off as a “Dad thing”.

I found later in the business world that how people perceived you, and how well your initial introductions went depended highly on how well you were dressed. A Sales guy in the company I worked for at the time taught me to always dress one cut above the client, and that the perception of being successful was just as important as the fact itself.

The goal was to look professional, and as I rose in the ranks, the make, quality, fabric, and cut of your suit and accessories indicated whether you “belonged”.

Look professional…To be professional Glad to see some youngsters have figured this out.

How the Well Dressed Movement Demolished Black Stereotypes

Kwame Phipps looking great at Syracuse University

Three African-American students at Syracuse coincidentally dressed up on the same day, and soon decided to form a movement to combat prejudice sartorially.

I met Kwame Phipps five years ago, at the end of his junior year in high school, through a Harlem-based youth development organization to help him apply to college. He was always neatly dressed and attentive to his grooming. So I am not surprised he would become a founder of the Well Dressed Movement at Syracuse University to promote better dress habits among his peers.

One reason I volunteered to mentor students like Kwame is that media portrayals of young black men have burdened them with numerous disquieting stereotypes. Like many stereotypes people affix to particular groups, they are highly simplistic and often neglect larger societal issues that produce and perpetuate misperceptions. Such perceptions prove harmful to nearly all black men. Young men like Phipps are often overlooked in such generalizations, so he and his friends have taken conscious steps to dispel negative myths.

Phipps, a 2016 Syracuse graduate, and his roommates, Joshua Collins and Elijah Biggins, started the Well Dressed Movement as a direct effort to counter some misperceptions. In 2014, their sophomore year, each had dressed up one day, but Phipps said, “It was random. I had an internship, Josh had a job interview, and Eli had a class presentation.” Unaware each had dressed up, “we left our apartment at different times and met later at the library for a social. Everyone saw us and asked why we were dressed up. We pretended it was intentional and said it was “Well Dressed Wednesday.” From there, they decided to make a Wednesday tradition of dressing up and enlisted their friends to join them.

They began the Well Dressed Movement in the wake of high profile killings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, and college campuses were rife with discussion about race. Syracuse was no different. Phipps said there was extensive racist dialogue in online articles in the school newspaper, The Daily Orange, and on Yik Yak, a location-based social media platform popular on college campuses.

“My friends and I are from inner city Philadelphia, Paterson (New Jersey), and New York City,” and they felt the sting of such commentary. Dressing up was a constructive response to address perceptions others might have about them. They took inspiration from earlier black pioneers who tackled social justice issues. The group’s motto, When you look good, you feel good,facilitated engagement with their peers. Their movement took hold and spread to other campuses, including Binghamton, Cornell, Howard, and Pace universities and Utica College, which validated their efforts.

Looking good takes money, however. As budget-conscious millennials, they shopped at H&M, Zara, local thrift stores, and they tracked sale items at Macy’s. It was worth the effort. Phipps said dressing up without a specific purpose elicited positive responses from those with whom he interacted, and it instilled a professional mindset in him.

“Dressing up on campus prepped me for interviews,” he said. “I already had the pieces, so I didn’t have to think about it too much. Because I had already experimented with different combinations, I can put on an outfit and be confident beforehand.”

Practice paid off: While still in school, he had internships and summer jobs at places like the Ford Foundation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington.

Phipps described his style as “trendy with my own personal touch.” A wardrobe necessity for him is “a navy blue suit, because you can dress it up or dress it down. It’s a suit you can match with other pants or jackets.” He added, “You can use it for going out, a job interview, to go to dinner. It’s a good essential to start with.”

 

Detailing with colors and accessories is his personal touch. “I like to incorporate hints of gold, if possible.” When it comes to ties, Phipps said, “I mainly choose neckties, because when you’re dressing up, you have more options. A bow tie is more extravagant and you’re making a statement with one. And not a lot of bow ties go with certain shirt combinations.” A final item for him, the pocket square, which “adds a nice touch to your outfit. You can find a set on Amazon or eBay for $10.” When he’s dressed casually, however, Phipps prefers jeans, Adidas, and Nikes. “I also like classic T-shirts and bomber jackets,” he added….Read the rest here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wRHBLwpASw

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2016 in The New Jim Crow, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Racist Commercial From China

Hmmmmmmmm….

Original commercial copied by the Chinese company from Italy…

 

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“Ya’ll All Look Alike To Me!”

That racial misidentification thing can get folks into trouble. I remember in Junior High School, in which there were 7 black students the first year (5 girls, 2 boys) of integration out of about 2,000, the Principal announcing over the PA System “BTx and/or Hobert report to the office.” Hobert being the other black male. Seems that Hobert had gotten into a tiff with one of his classmates, and the teacher claimed not to be able to tell which of us was which – so he called both of us down. That particular teacher was later fired when found to be failing every black student in her class, automatically giving them “Fs” on everything we submitted, including in my case a paper written by one of my white classmates, who had straight A’s when we did a paper swap to test her fairness. He got an A for submitting my paper.

She apparently knew “It was one of them black boys” in the scrap.

Not that I never did anything to get in trouble…So I, in truth, cannot plead total innocence to all Junior High Schooler stupidity.

I will admit to working hard to be able to tell the difference with some accuracy between Asian peoples.

Actress Lucy Liu (l), Journalist Lisa Ling(r)

Knowing a Southeast Asian from an East Asian visually, is automatic to many Asians I have met. But I have to admit, one of the things which made it harder was growing up in a community where there was exactly one Asian family. One of the things the Civil Rights Act did was to eliminate (or at least reduce some of the most egregious aspects) of discrimination against Asian peoples immigrating to America, resulting in very very small, homogenous populations concentrated primarily in various “Chinatowns” in major cities. That changed, and now Asians make up about 7% of the US population – meaning the opportunity to meet Asian people has increased, and hopefully our ability to recognize people. To be honest, I think I might still miss this one, if I had never met one of the women in question. Hairstyle, eyebrows, forehead, skin color (accounting for the different backgrounds), and nose are pretty close…

What do you think?

 

The Science Behind ‘They All Look Alike to Me’

The outcry was immediate and ferocious when a white New York City police officer tackled James Blake, the retired biracial tennis star, while arresting him this month in a case of mistaken identity. The officer mistook Mr. Blake for a black man suspected of credit card fraud, according to the police.

Racism, pure and simple, some said.

But was it?

RACHEL L. SWARNS

Does Condo look like Rachel?

Scientists, pointing to decades of research, believe something else was at work. They call it the “other-race effect,” a cognitive phenomenon that makes it harder for people of one race to readily recognize or identify individuals of another.

It is not bias or bigotry, the researchers say, that makes it difficult for people to distinguish between people of another race. It is the lack of early and meaningful exposure to other groups that often makes it easier for us to quickly identify and remember people of our own ethnicity or race while we often struggle to do the same for others.

That racially loaded phrase “they all look alike to me,” turns out to be largely scientifically accurate, according to Roy S. Malpass, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso who has studied the subject since the 1960s. “It has a lot of validity,” he said.

Looking for examples? There is no shortage — in the workplace, at schools and universities, and, of course, on the public stage.

Lucy Liu, the actress, has been mistaken for Lisa Ling, the journalist. “It’s like saying Hillary Clinton looks like Janet Reno,” Ms. Liu told USA Today.

Samuel L. Jackson, the actor, took umbrage last year when an entertainment reporter confused him with the actor Laurence Fishburne during a live television interview.

“Really? Really?” said Mr. Jackson, chiding the interviewer. “There’s more than one black guy doing a commercial. I’m the ‘What’s in your wallet?’ black guy. He’s the car black guy. Morgan Freeman is the other credit card black guy.”

Not even close!

And as a Washington correspondent, I managed a strained smile every time white officials and others remarked on my striking resemblance to Condoleezza Rice, then the secretary of state in the Bush administration. (No, we do not look alike.)

Psychologists say that starting when they are infants and young children, people become attuned to the key facial features and characteristics of the those around them. Whites often become accustomed to focusing on differences in hair color and eye color. African-Americans grow more familiar with subtle shadings of skin color.

“It’s a product of our perceptual experience,” said Christian A. Meissner, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University, “the extent to which we spend time with, the extent to which we have close friends of another race or ethnicity.”

(Minorities tend to be better at cross-race identification than whites, Professor Meissner said, in part because they have more extensive and meaningful exposure to whites than the other way around.)

“It’s embarrassing, really embarrassing,” Professor O’Toole, the director of the university’s Face Perception Research Lab, said. “I think almost everyone has experienced it.”

But as Mr. Blake’s case has demonstrated, the other-race effect can have serious consequences, particularly in policing and the criminal justice system. (None of the experts interviewed condoned the white officer’s rough handling of Mr. Blake. “He shouldn’t have been treated that way,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.)

Professor Malpass, who has trained police officers and border patrol agents, urges law enforcement agencies to make sure black or Hispanic officers are involved when creating lineups of black and Hispanic suspects. And he warns of the dangers of relying on cross-racial identifications from eyewitnesses, who can be fallible.

The good news is that we can improve our cross-racial perceptions, researchers say, particularly if there is a strong need to do so. A white woman relocating to Accra, Ghana, for instance, would heighten her ability to distinguish between black faces, just as a black man living in Shanghai would enhance his ability to recognize Asians. (Mr. Malpass believes that people who need to identify those of other races — in the workplace or elsewhere — are more likely to be successful than people who simply have meaningful experiences with members of other racial groups.)

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Black Self Help…Or the Blame Game

Go to any board where conservatives post on any topic tangential to race, and the “Moynihan Report” as justification for black-white inequality in almost any instance. The number popularized in conservative press by the usual Uncle Toms is that 70% of black children are born out of wedlock. And the result of those fatherless home is crime, and a continuation of pathologies which serve to keep the “black community” in the ghetto. Baggy Pants and Rap Music…

Never mind that the overwhelming majority of the black community doesn’t live there anymore, the 60 year old Moynihan report is the foundation and cornerstone of conservative racism.

Which leads us to the philosophical battle between lauded social commentator Ta Nehisi Coates and President Obama…

A passing of the Guard, President Obama greets Coates as Rev Sharpton looks on.

“Racial self-help” or “blaming the victim”?: 50 years after its publication, the Moynihan Report still provokes debate about the causes and cures of African-American in­equality

Excerpted from “Beyond Civil Rights: The Moynihan Report and Its Legacy”

In his 2006 bestseller The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama praised the Moynihan Report, which famously predicted that female-headed families would impede African American progress after the passage of civil rights legislation. Obama repeated a common account of the controversy sparked by the 1965 report: “Moynihan was accused of racism . . . ​when he raised alarms about the rise of out-of-wedlock births among the black poor.” Responding to the most famous criticism of the report—that it “blamed the victim”—Obama portrayed the uproar against Moynihan as a telling example of how “liberal policy-makers and civil rights leaders had erred” when “in their urgency to avoid blaming the victims of historical racism, they tended to downplay or ignore evidence that entrenched behavioral patterns among the black poor really ­were contributing to intergenerational poverty.”

By suggesting that African Americans take responsibility for their social advancement, Obama drew on a powerful interpretation of the Moynihan Report: urging racial self-­help. “[A] transformation of attitudes has to begin in the home, and in neighborhoods, and in places of worship,” he argued. As the first black president, Obama continued to echo the Moynihan Report. In 2014, he launched My Brother’s Keeper, a program that identified lack of father figures as a central problem facing young men of color. His comment in an interview that year strikingly recalled the report’s analysis of a “tangle of pathology,” interconnected social ills afflicting African Americans: “There’s no contradiction to say that there are issues of personal responsibility that have to be addressed, while still acknowledging that some of the specific pathologies in the African-­American community are a direct result of our history.”

Responding to Obama’s comment, prominent African American commentator Ta-Nehisi Coates was outraged that the president pointed his finger at African Americans rather than at institutional barriers to advancement. “I can’t think of a single credible historian of our 500-year tenure here,” he retorted, “who has concluded that our problem was a lack of ‘personal responsibility.’”  Six months earlier, however, Coates had appealed to an alternate interpretation of the Moynihan Report, one that advocated “national action” to address black male unemployment. To Coates, “Moynihan powerfully believed that government could actually fix ‘the race problem’” through jobs programs designed to make “more [black] men marriage-­material.” A half­-century after its publication, the Moynihan Report remains a contested reference point for debating the causes and cures of African American in­equality. The controversy endures because it elicits competing explanations for why African Americans, despite ostensibly having equal civil rights, experience a standard of living significantly lower than that of other Americans.

Officially titled The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, the report was colloquially named after its author, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s administration. Moynihan wrote at the dawn of a new era in American race relations: landmark legislation in 1964 and 1965 ended Jim Crow segregation, granted formal equality to African Americans, and discredited overt arguments for white supremacy. Yet Moynihan’s opening sentence warned, “The United States is approaching a new crisis in race relations.” The crisis, he wrote, resulted from African American demands that went “beyond civil rights” to include economic “equality.”  Moynihan responded to civil rights leaders who had long ­advanced economic reforms designed to ensure a basic standard of living for all Americans. The 1963 March on Washington, after all, was for “jobs and freedom.” Yet Moynihan worried that achieving full racial equality would be hindered by what he viewed as the “crumbling” and “deteriorating” structure of many African American families reflected in high numbers of out-of-wedlock births and female-headed families. Family structure stood at the heart of what he notoriously labeled a “tangle of pathology” evident in high rates of juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, and poor educational achievement among African Americans. Moynihan’s thesis produced conflicting notions about how to combat racial inequality. For liberals, it suggested the need to provide jobs for black men to stabilize families. For conservatives, however, it suggested the need for racial self-­help: for African American leaders to morally uplift blacks by inculcating family values.

The Moynihan Report sparked an explosive debate at the intersection of competing conceptions of race, gender, and poverty. The political dispute over the document was actually a short-­lived affair. Moynihan finished the report in March 1965. In June, it served as the basis for a major speech by President Johnson. In August, it became public. By November, the Johnson administration had disowned it in the face of mounting criticism. From the left, critics charged Moynihan with “blaming the victim”: by shifting attention to African Americans’ alleged family problems, he overlooked the institutions that oppressed them. Though the report lost direct relevance for public policy after 1965, intellectuals and political activists hotly debated it well into the 1970s. In the mid-1980s, the report witnessed a political and media revival that never fully dissipated. Even today, as Obama’s and Coates’s remarks suggest, it remains a litmus test for revealing an individual’s political beliefs.

Beyond Civil Rights diverges from prevailing accounts of the Moynihan Report controversy that focus on establishing the document’s intended meaning. Some scholars claim the report was a conservative document that reinforced racist stereotypes. Others defend it as a quintessentially liberal document, arguing that critics simply misunderstood it. In contrast, I argue that the report had multiple and conflicting meanings. It produced disparate reactions because of internal contradictions that reflected those of 1960s liberalism and because of its contentious assumptions about race, family, poverty, and government. Instead of focusing solely on Moynihan’s intentions, this book explains why and how the report became such a powerful symbol for a surprising range of groups including liberal intellectuals, Southern segregationists, civil rights leaders, Black Power advocates, feminists, neoconservatives, and Reaganite conservatives.

One prominent interpretation finds that the Moynihan Report pioneered using images of “matriarchal” African American families to undermine the welfare state, an effort that accelerated during the 1980s and 1990s with Republican attacks on welfare recipients, usually pictured as African American single mothers. For example, scholar Roderick Ferguson writes that the report “facilitated a conservative blockade of social welfare policy” through its “pathologizing of black mothers.” Historian Alice O’Connor depicts the report as a prime example of how liberal social science generated conservative welfare reform. However, the report was not inherently conservative. Ferguson and O’Connor conflate the report, a product of 1960s liberalism, with the late twentieth-­century attack on welfare led by conservative Republicans. By contrast, in the 1960s, many interpreted Moynihan’s emphasis on “social pathologies” to indicate the need for unprecedented “national action.” Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and socialist Michael Harrington both hailed the report; seeing it as inherently conservative makes it impossible to understand why.

Another common interpretation takes the Moynihan Report as an unequivocally liberal document. This view, first advanced by Lee Rainwater and William Yancey inThe Moynihan Report and the Politics of Controversy (1967) and stated most recently in James Patterson’s Freedom Is Not Enough (2010), correctly notes that Moynihan called attention to black family structure to push for jobs programs and other mea­sures to benefit African Americans. Interpreting the report as unambiguously liberal fails to explain its immediate attraction to 1960s conservatives such as William F. Buckley and long-­term appeal to neoconservatives and Reaganite conservatives. Moreover, even the report’s liberal call for job creation sprang from assumptions that struck 1960s liberals, radicals, and their present-day heirs as “conservative.” These included viewing African American culture as pathological, defending the patriarchal family, and relying on technocratic expertise rather than grassroots activism to generate reform…

Liberals nostalgic for a mid-1960s moment when government officials contemplated ambitious programs to redress African American in­equality have been especially drawn to the idea that the Moynihan Report was misunderstood. For them, the report marked a lost opportunity for reforms that might have been enacted but for the unfortunate response the report generated. Conservatives similarly explain the controversy as a misunderstanding by treating left-wing critics’ attacks as irrational. For them, the Moynihan Report controversy marked the onset of “political correctness.” Conservatives claim criticism of the report by civil rights leaders and liberals suppressed an honest discussion about race. In their view, Moynihan’s critics convinced African Americans to perceive themselves as victims without responsibility for moral failings and civil rights leaders wrongly focused on criticizing Moynihan instead of exhorting blacks to strengthen their families. There is no necessary contradiction between conservatives’ advocacy of racial self-help and liberals’ support for government efforts to redress inequalities. However, in national po­liti­cal debate, conservative appropriations of the Moynihan Report to call for racial self-help denied national responsibility for persistent anti-black racism and gross economic in­equality…

What lent the report its enduring salience was its maddening inconsistency on key issues. Was family instability primarily cause or consequence of racial inequality? Were the “social pathologies” of African Americans race-specific, rooted in the history of slavery and racial discrimination, or were they class-specific, based on the overconcentration of African Americans among the urban poor? Was patriarchal family structure naturally superior, or did racial minorities simply have to conform to mainstream nuclear family norms if they wished to advance? Moynihan also articulated two distinct notions of “equality.” On one hand, equality meant a guaranteed basic living standard for all Americans. On the other, equality meant “equal results”—a class distribution among African Americans that matched other American ethnoracial groups…

Read the entire article here.

My basic view of this is that a cherry-picked version of the Moynihan Report has basically become the handbook of conservative racism, and the principal defense against denunciation or even recognition of white privilege. My view is that the so called “breakdown of the black family”, is really focused on the poor black family, and utterly ignores the impact of the carceral state implement under the aegis of the “War on Drugs”. Which has been used both as a political tool to suppress black and minority enfranchisement relative to the vote, as well as to support white supremacy.

When you look at the incarceration numbers, whose victims are largely concentrated within 10 miles of a major urban center – and the fact that that urban population represents only about 7% of the black US community..It shouldn’t be very hard to recognize that in those urban communities, something like (and I estimate here) 40-50% of the men between 18 and 30 are incarcerated, largely on non-violent drug “crimes”, then the causality of the “single mother”, and “breakup of the black family” lies firmly in the hands of the racial justice system. A situation exacerbated by the major cocaine “epidemic” of the late 80’s and early 90’s facilitated in no small part by the Reagan/Bush administrations.

Ergo – if you break up the carceral state..You solve the “problem” of single motherhood.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Black History, The New Jim Crow

 

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