Something I have noticed is that when an issue that is a problem with being poor gets raised solely as a racial issue is that poor white people see this as an attack on them - to them, it seems as though the message is "you deserve this, black people don't".

I'm sure that the white Repenters (who are obviously wealthy enough that the problem doesn't apply to them) aren't approaching it this way, but I do think that this is one reason why poor white people have moved towards the Republicans in the last decade or so.

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Sep 8, 2022·edited Sep 8, 2022

I don’t understand why some people think that folks hearing “this isn’t your problem” and therefore caring less is a sign of racism. It’s pure self-interest, runs both ways among all people.

Do you think the average poor urban black person gives a damn about Monsanto’s monopoly’s crippling effect on rural communities?

My not being the least bit concerned about monkey pox isn’t because I hate gay people, it’s because my chances of contracting it in a monogamous relationship with a woman are nil.

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So minor update from my DEI Committee work at my somewhat large corporation. I basically spend my time advocating that we as the committee should have the explicit conversations required to identify any areas where we might have real problems concerning discrimination in hiring practices, retention, promotion, communications, etc. From there I always argue that instead of loudly communicating whatever changes we want to make, we should just get approval from corporate leadership and quietly implement those changes. Keep salience low.

When we do want to communicate at company town halls or similar functions, I seek input from employees I know to be conservative, and just let them have their say alongside those more traditionally speaking the language of DEI. The conservative employees given the opportunity to speak will usually offer up the polite, neutral, well-meaning but pablum takes "I value difference of opinion, we should treat everyone fairly" and other such fare. If we must we often let the whitest white guys communicate the hardest DEI stuff, the stuff that sometimes veers in ti DiAngelo territory.

It's starting to work. What we're getting is the ability to make changes to genuinely iffy practices without tripping the backlash by keeping salience low. We hire interns of more diverse backgrounds, but instead of talking about their backgrounds, we just talk about what great students they are and let them get to it.

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I think injecting race into the issue of traffic cameras is a bit of a stretch. Just because introducing more traffic cameras would likely reduce racial disparities in outcomes doesn't mean that the reason people are against them is that they want to maintain those disparities. People want to speed, and if that means getting a ticket every few years, well, that's just the price of getting places faster. With a ticket based system, you can convince yourself that you can drive seven miles over the limit, because the traffic cop is looking for people going 10+ over. With traffic cameras, you just can't speed.

As a white guy, I've never gotten off with just a warning, and I'm skeptical that most other white people are confident that they could just talk themselves out of a ticket.

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So, basically, if you set off people's bullshit detectors too many times, they'll start assuming you are full of shit?

My wife reads Le Monde as her main source of news and they'd write up a big story about, say, how rural French voters are caught between the economic impacts of climate change and the economic impacts of Macron's climate policies and how the far-left and far-right try to exploit that tension. The NY Times would write similar story, but then go off on a tangent about colonialism and some nonsensical racial argument that might obliquity apply to Paris, but has not the slightest thing to do with French farmers.

At a certain point I start mistrusting all of their reporting; if they are making ham-handed arguments about equity and racism that have no basis in reality, how can I trust them to inform me about other topics without fudging or omitting details? This same phenomenon plays out in my professional life; our trade magazine suddenly started writing the same old stories about stressed-out grad students and postdocs, but with the LGBTQ, Black and Latinx sprinkled throughout.

For some, it is easier to recognize this coming from the other side, e.g., how MAGA defenders effortlessly reverse their positions (on, say, mishandling classified information) or find some nefarious connection between CRT and the price of cat food. At a certain point you just cannot take people seriously when they foreground their hobbyhorses and try to reverse-engineer coherent explanations based on moral clarity or whatever.

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In reality, a lot of liberals had an emotional reaction to Trump’s election and started lashing out. Much of our conversation about this in recent years hasn’t been about helping black people as much as it has been about calling people names and pointing fingers. I think it’s fair to say that this hasn’t been good for race relations, or material gains for much of anyone. This is at least what I’ve observed at the ground level.

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It feels like a lot of this weirdness comes from the fact that for most Black people, material issues are going to be most salient/most important, but for college educated Black people, especially writers and activists, the salience of post-material issues (which don't get me wrong, are still really bad!) is increased. And this is the subset white liberals (like me!) disproportionately have contact with!

It creates some peculiar argument structures, where the material issues are cited to give moral justification to action on post-material issues.

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The description of Repressers included the line: "They acknowledge the country’s history of racism as well as our huge racial disparities in outcomes, but they maintain that this is just an odd coincidence." The second part of that does not ring true to me. Outcomes are often different for different groups, and the mainstream "Represser" view is simply that this is not by itself evidence of racial animus. Nobody is arguing that the reason that Asian or Jewish Americans excel in many areas is either a coincidence or the result of some kind of anti-wasp systemic inequities.

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This stylization "(Black and white)" is the Latinx of people who complain about Latinx.

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Per Matt's summary of Bright, "[Repressers] acknowledge the country’s history of racism as well as our huge racial disparities in outcomes, but they maintain that this is just an odd coincidence."

Is there *anyone* who would describe racial disparities in outcomes as "just an odd coincidence"? It seems intellectually dishonest to claim so. I personally strongly suspect most "Represessers" view present racial disparities in outcomes as largely or even mostly the consequence of past racial discrimination, they just think removal of active repression is sufficient and that trying to implement efforts to fix past injustices -- especially when we're talking about multi-generational time gaps -- will just create new ones. It's why I would, for example, support some sort of reparations program for people denied loans under redlining programs (if they are still alive) or their first generation heirs (if the original borrowers are deceased), but would oppose reparations for slavery.

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I’ll have to read Bright’s piece. On the whole, I agree—the entire culture war and anti-racism debate is largely an intra-white phenomenon. One thing I think might be missed (or maybe it’s in the full paper, I don’t know) is that both Repenters and Repressers are fixated on whether current-day, individual racist attitudes are to blame for modern disparities. I think it’s a bit uncharitable to say that Repressers shrug and say “disparities must be a coincidence!,” but their biggest sticking point is the suggestion that their attitudes are to blame. Meanwhile Repenters find fault in their own unconscious attitudes even when it’s absurd, and interpret negative Represser attitudes toward them as vile racism (even though it’s intra-white). To your point, subtle (or sometimes egregious!) individual biases in favor of whites over blacks definitely still exist and have impact, but to what extent to they explain the racial disparities we see, compared to parental wealth or educational attainment, cultural biases, political partisanship, etc etc etc? Bringing up racial disparities and then failing to grapple with the rest of the potential contributing factors leaves the, for Repenters, satisfying suggestion that it’s the vile racist attitudes of Repressers (and subtle unconscious bias of the Repenters) to blame; Repenters are sick of being called racists so they automatically oppose whatever is being suggested.

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Sep 8, 2022·edited Sep 8, 2022

The problem with the transition from police stops to traffic cameras - at least in DC - is that people who want to can just ignore them, don't pay tickets, and nothing seems to happen. Popville highlights this occasionally- cars with tons of tickets that are still on the road. The other problem is that they sometimes are broken, like there's a specific road up in NW where the camera will always say you didn't stop at the stop sign. There are also a whole range of dangerous driving behaviors that there aren't cameras for, so without police stops they're basically optional to follow. Like, you can just hang out in the bike lane in your car, forcing bikers to go into traffic, and no one is going to ticket you basically ever.

So if you're trying to be law abiding, the price of that potentially went up for you because of broken cameras, and meanwhile the road is less safe, particularly for bikers and pedestrians, because people who are not trying to be law abiding are speeding like crazy and ignoring other traffic laws and they're not going to be stopped for it. It's not a good setup.

Edit: Also, apparently Maryland drivers really are the biggest problem: https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/transportation/drivers-owe-dc-nearly-half-a-billion-bucks-in-unpaid-tickets/2842158/

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What bothers me most about viewing everything with a racial lens, it is that it presumes that everybody sees themselves, first and foremost, as a member of their racial group, and is concerned about the group over the individual.

In reality, that way of thinking doesn't really pass the smell test. Everybody wants to be rich, but a poor white person gains nothing from knowing that they share the skin color of most rich people, nor does a poor black person who didn't go to college gain anything from the cancelling of student debt, simply because most of the cancelled debt would go to other black people.

Now, of course, racism does still exist, and people being intentionally held back because of their race should not be tolerated, but using affirmative action to "compensate" for such racial incidents doesn't work because a harm to person A doesn't get erased by a benefit to person B, just because A and B share a common skin color, even if aggregate statistics might seem to suggest so.

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Excellent article, Matt Y.

There is a satirical Twitter account called "Titania McGrath," an ultra-woke white woman (in reality a male comedian). "Titania" regularly tweets about how something innocuous is racist:

-"Pumpkin spice lattes are racist"

-"Jogging is racist"

-"Chess is racist"

-"Bird names are racist"


This mimics what a lot of earnest anti-racist activists do, and the problem with that is, when everything is racist, nothing is. Progressive activists have painted themselves into a corner, where racism is simultaneously this horrific, repulsive evil and something that white people do constantly without realizing it. Did you order a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks? Racist!!!

And, of course, this is completely unhelpful for actual poor Black people.

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The "psychodramatic" view you criticize can, I think, be characterized as a form of accelerationism: If calling attention to racial disparities causes white people to act more openly racist, then that is a *positive good* because it just exposes what white people are really like, and demonstrates that this problem is so severe that it can only be combatted through revolutionary actions. Conversely, simply tricking whites into acting less racist by depriving them of information and thus provoking them less only puts a band-aid on the problem and allows the root injustice to perpetuate itself indefinitely.

Like all other forms of accelerationism, this is a viewpoint that can only be held by people who are either privileged dilettantes or rage addicts. Radical ideology as a consumption good, as Noah Smith would put it. But even if you convinced them that factually they are only causing vulnerable people to get hurt, that wouldn't necessarily make them stop.

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It's weird to me because internationally racial attitudes are often worse. Many of the people we welcome here in a cosmopolitan attitude are more on average more racist. My boss is African, hates the racism here but says the ethnic issues are worse where he was born.

I would argue both that Americans are more racist than they let on, but at a very typical human level. I think we can discuss racial bias and raise awareness without without the white specific framing. I think "rational racism" needs to be confronted; when you interact with a black stranger there are a whole list of things which are more likely to be true based on stats. Black men spend disproportionally more on status indicators (cars and clothing) to offset the low income stereotype. This sort of thing is both rational, self perpetuating and fundamentally evil/racist/classist when acted upon. I feel it's more compelling to understand the logics of racism and rebut them then to burn strawmen

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