The sub-heading is "The message conservatives don't want to hear about anti-Black racism", but I think the real audience for this article is the group who looks at any statistical disparity and attributes it to racism.

I agree with everything Matt wrote today. The shortcuts and heuristics (statistical discrimination) are especially hard to change. Automation like speed cameras and the like will help at the margin, but but I'd be interested in more follow-ups on this topic.

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“Disparityism” is an ok buzzword. In DC there are “equity” based policies brought about this notion. Like how the DMV cannot reject a license renewal for unpaid speeding tickets. That is how a woman with three DUIs and $12,000 in unpaid speeding tickets was allowed to keep her license and get it renewed. That woman killed three people in Rock Creek in March (DCist has an article on it.)

We can also look at fare evasion. The city council made it so there were no consequences for failing to pay fines since that was a disparity in who got tickets for fare evasion. This has hurt the quality of service and revenues. The city council has double down on this policy with the “free bussing” initiative. (Can’t have fare evasion if you have no fares.) Of course this policy is funded by taking money from capital investments like the H street tram and policies to make dedicated bus lanes.

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Jun 7·edited Jun 7

Great piece, and it hits on why, for all the obvious and clear reasons that modern DEI and Kendi-ism are idiotic the conservative side really has no clue how to turn the critique into much more than red meat for its base and an occasional small boost on normal thermostatic trends. Denying obvious realities is just as stupid when conservatives do it and people eventually pick up on the cynicism.

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Jun 7·edited Jun 7Liked by Milan Singh

So... besides for being the blue collar dude with way to many kids, I should probably mention that I was brought up in a multi-racial family. I have a black sister and Asian brother who were adopted as babies. We are all within 3-years of each other, so growing up it was just how it was. Luckily we grew up in Los Angeles which was more progressive that other parts of the country, but in the 80's multi-racial families were quite rare. These days, not so much.

So... the reason I bring this up is even though I am fairly law and order, follow the rules, broken windows type guy... my sister has been a victim of police racial stereotyping. Pulled over more times that the rest of us siblings, despite being a chill driver. So for no other reason besides for being black.

And wow... it pisses me off. I don't know what the answer is. I will let you guys in the comments argue it out.

And just in case anyone cares... here is me and my siblings.

Maybe one day I will write a post/comment on what it was like growing up in a "Different Strokes" family. It was so normal to us, but some people would trip out back in the 80s.

Better link. Edit.


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This is a good one! As a Gen Xer I believe that in most ways race relations are better than when I was growing up in the 80s. At the same time I think it was easier to have productive conversations and arguments around race then than it is now. I believe that Scott's issues of his personal experience certainly should be discussed. But we live in a tribal time where trying to understand different perspectives is seen as a sign of weakness. Which makes persuading people not on one's team difficult. Scott seems as much of a "happy warrior" as we have today (on all issues, not just race). Go Tim Scott!

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While I agree that the concern from the left about racial inequality is genuine and identifies serious issues the virtue signaling shows up in terms of what the left won't talk about/acknowledge. Specifically, the left (and academics generally) refuse to acknowledge some hard facts or the cases where the evidence is that it's not racism and that's basically giving up on convincing conservatives.

That's why I think it's so sad that people who expose the fact that some things that were posited to be racism aren't are so often critisized by the left for doing so. Yes, I agree Tim Scott's message was important but I think at a broader level the anti-racist activists need to recognize that convincing people that racism remains a problem first requires establishing your trustworthiness on the issue.

If even I as someone who does believe that racism is a serious and endemic problem can listen to the experts on TV and read journal articles and see that there is an obvious bias in what kind of results they will acknowledge or talk about to the point where I feel I had to read the original studies to understand the real facts what hope do they have of convincing conservatives.

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Jun 7·edited Jun 7

Matt's 5 point list includes "2. Men are more likely than women to be carrying illegal guns." but the conclusion doesn't mention gender "Therefore, police officers should set a lower bar for stopping Black drivers in order to optimize the use of police officers’ time."

It looks like men are more likely to be pulled over but I wasn't sure if that was a point Matt was trying to make.

According to this: https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/ascii/cpp05.txt, most races get stopped at similar rates but non-White people get searched far more. Men get pulled over more often and "Male, black, and younger residents more likely to experience force"

Gender tends to get glossed over in policing discussions even though it might be the most important demographic factor.

In general I often feel a bit confused by Matt's view that we should stop people to look for guns more by enforcing laws for smaller crimes. Those stops feel kind of pretextual if the real aim is enforcing gun laws rather than the fare jumping or whatever else the stop is "for".

Matt seems pretty in for stops for minor offences and surveillance. Is the idea just that in order to do those things we need to make people believe it's not being done in a racist way? Even the disparities that are going to arise how feasible is that?

It would also be interesting to hear about how conservatives/Republicans might be able to "reassure people that a robust law enforcement presence doesn’t mean “Tim Scott will get pulled over on spurious grounds.” And you need to reassure people that strict enforcement of the rules doesn’t mean “Tim Scott will get pulled over for real, but pretextual, violations that a white driver would be able to slide on.”"

Are there policy prescriptions that could help or is it a messaging problem? It seems like policy would need to change because it is a real experience people are having.

This sentence is sort of funny as it relates to other voters "Normal, self-respecting human beings are not going to put up with that."

Also, this stylization "white/Black" is still dumb and people should stop using it.

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Jun 7·edited Jun 7

I think by and large the reason the right doesn’t do much work on how to actually solve crime is that they think the solution has already been achieved in the status quo ante 2020. That’s why you are seeing so much reframing of 2020 as just rioting, emphasis on the ‘Soros prosecutors’ etc.

I don’t think it is a constructive or realistic position but it’s not entirely unreasonable. The left really did (successfully) push for a reformed approach to law enforcement and prosecution in the late 2010s and there really has been an increase in crime in the early 2020s. It’s not unfathomable that the conservative side thinks that simply rolling back the reforms will reverse the crime, even though I would argue (a) correlation =/= causation and (b) the genie is out of the bottle and crime is somewhat sticky.

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As much as I love the guy, I think Obama kick-started "Disparityism" in his second term. He did it in schools, and it has had disastrous consequences.

The idea was that suspensions and school discipline was biased against black children. (OF course, in that logic Asian students are systemically favored over white students).

We had a crazy form of "Defund the School Police" before the Trump era.

In order to avoid the discrepancies public schools pulled back from a lot of discipline. That way there is no paper trail of discipline.

I don't think Identitarian Left understands how much damage this kind of thought does to institutions and how much real life damage it has.

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“In a city like D.C., we know that the Black and white populations differ dramatically in their age profile, in their educational attainment, in the family structure of the households they are raised in, in their incomes, and in the neighborhoods they live.”

Yes, and many of these factors are downstream of America’s history of discrimination. I’m not sure how you can argue ‘It’s not racism, it’s X’ when X is itself a product of racism. It’s entirely reasonable to acknowledge the difference between taste-based vs statistical discrimination, but far too many on the right recoil at the idea that structural and historic discrimination has any role in contemporary disparities.

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The key implication for policing here is about standards of evidence. If the standard of evidence required to justify a search is low enough the incentive for individual officers is to maximize searches based on statistical inference instead. The only solution is to raise the standard to a place where that sort of discretionary inference is insufficient.

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“It’s irksome to Scott, an individual human being who has not done anything wrong, to be treated as presumptively criminal based on a statistical inference.”

It is also irksome to any citizen, white or black, to be robbed or killed by a citizen who could have been arrested through more efficient policing practices. Black men between 15 and under 55 are 2% of the population and commit roughly half of all murders. Imprisoning the 10-20% of 15 to 45 black men who are statistically most prone to violence would be a highly effective, if blatantly unconstitutional, crime control strategy.

I am not advocating preemptive, statistically based incarceration. However, the fact that black men are irked by being racially profiled is not necessarily a decisive argument. A good utilitarian would weigh the psychological harms of being profiled against the harms that can be prevented through more efficient policing.

Matt argues that profiling undermines witness cooperation in black neighborhoods. This is no doubt true, but does not tell us the magnitude of the effect. It seems significant that New York City achieved very low rates of violent crime during stop and frisk, which involved fairly blatant racial targeting. Any negative effect profiling had on witness cooperation was swamped by other things and did not prevent big reductions in crime.

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There was an interesting complaint about this recently, where real estate appraisers were caught in a sting appraising the same house higher when they thought it was owned by a white owner rather than a Black owner. I thought this was an interesting problem because I think it is reasonably likely that it is factually true that the same house would be worth more (defined as resale price) if owned by a white owner, or at least that a house being owned by a white owner is correlated with other factors that it would be difficult or impossible for an appraiser to identify that would cause the house to be worth more.

This sets up a wierd situation where it seems like appraisers may need to do their job poorly and lie to avoid being racist. It's particularly wierd because I don't think they have a mandate to do so.

Note this is somewhat different than the taxi driver refusing to pick up a Black fare or a bank refusing to lend. In those situations, we are basic telling the taxi driver or the bank that they can't use race to make statistical predictions to their benefit. They have to serve Black and white customers equally, and either pass the extra cost of serving Black customers on to non-Black customers or eat it, which is arguably fair. With the appraiser, the issue isn't that he is charging Black customers more or that he is refusing to serve Black customers. It's that he is doing his job correctly and that is resulting in his giving Black customers bad news. It's almost like if we were saying that it was racist for criminal defense attorneys to tell their Black clients that they are going to face a harder time at trial than a similarly situated white client.

Not only that, but the Black person may actually be hurt if the appraiser does a bad job. While the appraiser is usually working for the bank, helping the bank decide how much they will refinance the house for, borrowers tend to rely upon this information as well to determine if it is safe to refinance. This was a big part of the financial crisis, where banks were not properly underwriting mortgages, resulting in borrowers winding up underwater on their mortgages. If we tell appraisers that they have to appraise homes owned by Black owners as if they were owned by white owners, and racism means that a house owned by a Black person is worth less, then Black borrowers are likely to borrow more than they home is worth, leading to their being trapped in am underwater mortgage.

This isn't to say that there isn't something that needs to be done to make borrowing fairer for Black home owners, but it is to say that the idea thst appraisers appraisering homes owned by Black people for less was necessarily wrong and racist seems at least not a priori correct.

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Let me just add that this discussion also points to a paradox at the center of our beliefs about race and racism. Or at least an interesting theoretical point.

We want to believe both that racism is wrong simply because it is per se unfair to judge someone on their skin color rather than other features yet at the same time want to say that statistical racism is a problem in a way that statistical bias against descent from an impoverished background or any other kind of statistical fact.

The truth is that we don't treat race like other traits and I do think that's warranted. Race is explosive and matters to people's personal identity in a way that other statistical factors don't. But that has the interesting implication that what ultimately makes race correlated classifications more wrong than everyday unfairness (eg not hiring someone bc they have an annoying laugh) isn't some inherent unfairness but the psychological impact that learning about race based unfairness has.

Ok, but if we really take that seriously it calls into question the morality of work seeking to expose previously unnoticed kinds of racism. After all, if the reason it's worse that someone losses a job bc of their race than because of their height or annoying voice is the impact that belief has on society doesn't it also harm society to expose ways in which there is racial unfairness that would have gone unnoticed?

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Jun 7·edited Jun 7

If I change Matt's list to remove item #3 and update the conclusion (see below), does that anyone have much of an objection?

And is that actually happening? I've seen a few low quality cites (but no data, so salt required) of male drivers being pulled over ~15-20% more than women overall.

I should clarify that this isn't setting up an objection to the initial premise, so much as saying that, if we accept that premise it should be expanded to men in general.


1. People carrying illegal guns create a significant public policy problem.

2. Men are more likely than women to be carrying illegal guns.

3. MPD has finite resources.

Therefore, police officers should set a lower bar for stopping male drivers in order to optimize the use of police officers’ time.

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'We must take cognisance of statistical relationships between certain things, but without doing bad stuff like stereotyping.'

People have to make statistical inferences all the time in life, and the consequences for messing up can be terrible. Women have to discriminate against men all the time to avoid being victimised by violent or sexual crime. They do this not because all men are predators and all woman are non predators, but because men are statistically much more likely to be.

While the example I gave is extreme, the logic holds in other fields. Certain facts about the demography of violent crime lead people to certain patterns of behaviour.

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