Diversity training doesn't work — here's some stuff that does
Thanks for the kind words about my study with Josh Kalla. I agree with what you wrote regarding the fact that a) we haven't studied racial prejudice yet and b) this kind of canvassing is far too costly to scale nationwide -- and even if you did, although the effects are large by social science standards, they are not large enough to transform public opinion in any sense. I think the practical upshots of our studies are: a) some insights everyday people can apply in interpersonal conversations (e.g., don't lecture, have a two-way conversation), b) some ideas that might be able to be applied in more scalable mass communication (e.g., tell stories of individual outgroup members!), and c) a tactic that could make sense in small elections (e.g., there were some ballot initiatives on immigration and trans issues in small to mid sized towns where it actually is plausible you could try to canvass the whole electorate).
One theme in the literature on contact is that it really depends on whether the contact is positive-sum or neutral or negative-sum. Even neutral, shallow contact between groups seems to increase prejudice quite often (see Ryan Enos' work). Matt Lowe has a great experiment on the difference between positive-sum and negative-sum contact and as you might expect, positive-sum contact between groups really reduces prejudice but negative-sum contact increases it (https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.20191780). I think the corollary of these kinds of findings is not so much that integration is good per se, but that we have to pay attention to the kind of integration. An example of a win that is nicely consistent with your and my policy preferences: there's a doctor shortage in the US, so we should let doctors from other countries immigrate here and work in rural areas where there is a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment and also a big doctor shortage! That is going to do wonders for people's views towards immigrants -- and in fact, there is some research consistent with that intuition: https://www.pnas.org/content/118/14/e2022634118.short.
I agree with this post and with the SB crowd on most days. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the tone these days has drifted into outright hostility toward any and all forms of antiracist effort. Matt tagged Hakeem in his tweet of this post today, and Hakeem retweeted it. If Hakeem or his supporters read these comments, I’m pretty sure he’d come away feeling even more self-assured that Matt is just feeding the white racist trolls. Hakeem’s initial tweet was “why don’t the popularists condemn white racism?” It feels like a strawman to me as most people do in fact condemn what they consider to be racism, they just might not agree with Hakeem on what racism *is.* But as this group gets more and more comfortable throwing around inflammatory racial statistics without any caveats, and shows less and less interest in solving real problems, I dunno, it’s starting to feel icky. Is it just me? Can we keep our eyes on the prize which is finding ways to reduce racial animosity and severely adverse racial disparities at the same time?
It's a little surprising that Matt didn't link to this article in American Affairs which analyzes American racial issues from an outside (Canadian) view. https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2021/08/why-are-racial-problems-in-the-united-states-so-intractable/
It actually talks about many of the issues that Matt brings up.
The gist of the article is that America try's to split the difference between the Singaporean method which basically enforces integration right down to the neighborhood model and the Canadian method which is focuses on "process neutrality"
It also argues about how African Americans Descended from Slaves should probably be described more as an ethnic group within the the larger racial group defined as black.
The two passages that struck me were:
"First, there is the simple fact that the level of attitudinal racism among Americans is not that high compared to people in other countries. Americans think that other Americans are quite racist, but that is primarily because they take the persistence of the race problem, or lack of support for preferred policy responses, as evidence of racism. They generally fail to realize just how racist people are in other countries. By contrast, the United States is an outlier from other Western countries in a number of social, economic, and political respects that clearly contribute to the persistence of racial inequality. These include the lack of class mobility, inadequacy of the social safety net, poor quality of diet, extreme inequalities in primary education funding, artificial scarcity in elite postsecondary education, high levels of crime, especially violent crime, astronomical incarceration levels, high levels of police violence, widespread gun ownership and gun crime, and governance failure in the democratic system. "
Which as someone who does quite a lot of international travel, and lived overseas for much of there life strikes me as true. Many Americans aren't informed of the numerous racial issues that have cropped up in Latin America these days.
I do think that generally Western Europe and Canada are less racist, but I also suspect that their is a critical mass aspect of racism. With recent migration patterns from Africa and the Middle East into Europe, I can see it becoming a greater issue, though I hope not.
The other passage that dovetails nicely with what Matt wrote about integration is this"
"Of course, the integrationist ideal most often endorsed by white Americans is one in which every neighborhood, every business, and every school and college has a level of “diversity” that reflects the composition of America as a whole. The implication is that African Americans should be immersed in social environments in which they are constantly outnumbered nine to one. Unsurprisingly, this is an ideal that has much greater appeal to whites than to blacks. For whites, it allows them to feel good about themselves for embracing diversity while still remaining the overwhelming majority in every interaction. In democratic politics, for instance, it means always being the demographic majority in every jurisdiction. For blacks, it means being completely swamped and outnumbered by whites. This is what underlies the old complaint, voiced by Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton, that “integration, as traditionally conceived, would abolish the black community.” Children of immigrants are often happy to disappear into the general population in this way. Among African Americans, by contrast, not only would integration on these terms generate a cultural loss, it would also represent for many a capitulation to whiteness, and to white America, that would constitute a betrayal of the historical community to which they belong."
Current racial discord in America is something that is really counterintuitive with me, due to the fact that I was raised in a multi-racial family. While being raised in New Zealand, my parent's adopted my brother and sister who are Asian and Black. Basically, after moving to New Zealand, my hippyish American parents decided that after having me and my sister, they wanted to adopt.
Just a baby (which in New Zealand in the 70s was pretty much all white, except for Maoris but cross adoption was rare). Anyway, the Hospital called, saying they had a Baby available, but there was something my parents needed to know. My mother says, before they even told her she told them... we will take the baby, lol. Apparently my parents were low on the list, but my brothers birth father was Vietnamese, and multiple families had declined. My parent's didn't bat a eye, and thus I ended up with my Brother (who I love and we are probably the two closest middle age brothers you can imagine).
A little over a year later, my parent's got a random call from the Adoption agency. They weren't even on the list. Apparently there was a baby that was born to an New Zealand woman who had an affair with a Black American soldier, and was putting her up for adoption. Again they had no takers but they remembered my parents, and called them up just to see. I think my parents thought about it for maybe 0.2 seconds.
In 1980 we moved back to Los Angeles, which even though its racially diverse, we were quite an oddity as a family.
Growing up in that environment has maybe given me a naïve view on racial issues. I honestly don't think I realized that outright racism existed until I joined the USAF and moved to the East Coast. Even then, I didn't understand until years later when I moved to South Carolina.
To further complicate things, I spent 22-years in the military which is arguably the most successfully integrated organization perhaps in the world. The secret of which is that being brown, black or white comes secondary to being red white and blue.
We need more of that in our society.
Anyway, diversity training is totally cringe. I try and live my life by not being an asshole (which I regularly fail at miserably), but it is a goal.
We need to get rid of the part of anti-discrimination language that says (or implies) white people need to think real hard and feel real bad about what they’ve received for being white. It doesn’t do anything but make people defensive. It’s enough to try and change people’s behavior going forward, we don’t need to berate them for the past.
I say this as someone who thinks most people who get defensive about this stuff are babies, but they’re babies who vote, so operate accordingly.
If “extremely progressive content generates a backlash for racial conservatives” and “racial conservatives and moderates rate more progressive content as less informative, less reliable and more objectionable" then, applying Kendi's definition of "racism," promoting anti-racism on twotter is racist.
Without a working definition of racism, it’s hard to discuss this issue sensibly. Is it racist to think that blacks are more likely to be unemployed, drop out of school, go to prison and kill others than whites? Is it racist to acknowledge that, as a white Democrat in the deep south, I have almost no chance of being elected to Congress because minorities are packed into districts which are judicially engineered to produce black winners in Democratic primaries? Is it racist to fret that my chances of becoming a judge as a liberal in my area are probably hurt by being white? To worry that affirmative action will make it harder for my son to get into an Ivy League college and, if Democrats come to power in Georgia, might make it harder for him to get into the University of Georgia or Georgia Tech? Is it racist oppose wealth taxes that would blunt the material basis of white privilege and fund social services? Finally, is it racist to regret that the black prosecutors and judges who have recently gained power in Southside metro Atlanta are much less committed to deincarceration than I am and that the black middle class which put them in power is pretty conservative when it’s material interests or safety are threatened by “those people.”
Typically terrific piece but I'll quibble on Why We Tweet:
"It’s important, I think, to be mindful of the difference between expressing your feelings and influencing others in the desired way."
A one sentence digression might note that people tweet both to change minds AND show group solidarity. I'd guess that most content from both sides amounts to virtue signalling rather than an attempt to persuade.
As someone who has first-hand experience of this, I will say most normie Democrats are completely lost when the subject of DEI comes up. They think it is the "multiculturalism" of the 1990s. Things such as more diverse authors, more focus on contributions of non-whites, etc.
It is not that at all, so most of them are acting in good faith when they can't understand why Non-Foxite people object.
DEI in schools is something like this:
Tests are inherently racist and act to "Center whiteness" and "exclude black and brown bodies" from academic success. So parents, your 8th-grade child taking a vocabulary quiz is enacting "enacting white supremacy."
Grades themselves are racist. No student should fail.
Discipline has its roots in slave culture. So schools have almost all gotten rid of traditional discipline with predictable results.
There is enough anecdotal evidence that this method does nothing to actually advance non-white children's learning and is not even popular with black parents.
I have sat through talks like this.
I really think we need to get the idea that normie Dems are just clueless on this and hence react negatively when you talk about it Matt Y.
RIP Matt's Twitter feed if he were to discuss this, but isn't there studies that banning the box, i.e. not asking about criminal records actually hurts African-Americans.
Also, hasn't the War on Drugs disproportionally harmed African-Americans, such that decriminalization of marijuana would help to soften inequities.
DARE tends to be my go-to example of how messaging against some social problem can end up normalizing it instead and make it more common. But its something you see in campaigns against bribery, crime, sexual harassment, and all sorts of other places. A big problem is that activists will tend to be the people who have the most intense sense of how big some social problem is and also have to emphasize its size to get funding and volunteers. To then switch to messaging on the positive is hard even if it works better.
There not much racism to fight in the first place.
US approval of interracial marriage has increased from 4% in the 60's, to 94% now.
If you are ok with your son or daughter marrying someone from another race, I would argue that racism is pretty much dead except for a tiny tiny minority of people
I do agree that the left's focus on identity politics is making race a bigger factor than it is, and is causing backlash. This is especially true about all the white privilege
While I no longer agree with Jefferson’s conception of “white racism” being the root cause of the issues we likely both care about, I do understand what he’s referring to. And if I play along that he is correct, and (white) people who vociferously disagree with him are in fact racist, the obvious question is, are Jefferson’s efforts making that racism better or worse? Why does “impact matters more than intent” not apply to social justice activism?
Your persistence on this topic is valuable; thank you.
A difference between climate change and racism is that solutions to climate change pretty much inevitably do impose costs and inconvenience on people now, in a way that being less racist does not. There's little to no tangible personal benefit from being racist. Except....when when diversity initiatives create an environment where people feel, sometimes correctly, sometimes not, that promotions and career benefits will be given on the basis of race, in the name of diversity, rather than in a neutral, fair manner based on ability. Then there is a personal cost, and diversity initiatives run that way might be counterproductive.
I'm here for the William Julius Wilson content. If you're frustrated with the current discourse on race, read his books for a more solid form of wisdom. I sure learned a lot while reading them in the 1990s.
To note one place where the academics are doing research to find out what works, UC Berkeley did a deep dive into their academic hiring practices in 2019 with an eye on finding interventions that had a measurable impact on who eventually got hired: https://ofew.berkeley.edu/data-and-initiatives/searching-diverse-faculty
They find a number of things that didn’t seem to matter (interview environment), and a couple that do (framing the position in a wider social justice area, emphasizing the job’s public engagement, pushing into more-diverse specialties). Note, though, that some things no longer count as interventions at Berkeley (when they would elsewhere) because all their recruitments use them as a matter of course.