Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Culture is key; Racism, a cop-out

Jonah Goldberg at NRO:

The report, which emphasized the feelings of anonymous female professors, found that discrimination manifested itself in a "stealth-like" way at MIT — which is generally PC code for "I'm not going to provide any evidence." The supposedly convincing evidence was kept secret, while the official report explained: "Discrimination consists of a pattern of powerful but unrecognized assumptions. Once you 'get it,' it seems almost obvious."


I've noticed that as well. "Covert" or even "institutional" discrimination and racism are sometimes cited as reasons that blacks are underrepresented in colleges and in the workplace. As Jonah points out, the beauty of this view is that it can't be proven. Covert discrimination is just asserted; it's assumed that since no other form of discrimination can be discovered, that there must be some undiscoverable source. In this view, covert racism sits, almost magic-like, a leering specter of hate holding back minorities through its malevolent presence; undetectable, yet permeating all levels of society.

Creating "covert" racism as a politically correct reason for underrepresentation allows for the protection of delicate liberal sensibilities, but, alas, it hurts the minorities on whos behalf the phantom is created. As Shelby Steele points out in his magnificent "A Dream Deferred," white liberals use affirmative action as way to assuage their guilty consciences over America's troubled history of race relations. Instead of looking out for minorites, white liberals merely want to show that they are not guilty of the sin of America's past; they are willing to give of their academic positions and elite university spots in order that they might be expunged of the stain of racial injustice--a behavior that stems from the mindset that Steele calls"moral self-preoccupation."

The real question that we must ask ourselves once we get over our hysterical, affected guilt and pretentious moral vanity, is why are minorities underrepresented in Colleges? Racism? Genetic differences [gasp! I can't believe you wrote that! You racist monster! -ed]? Cultural differences?

First, is it racism? Although it cannot be denied that racism exists, it is ridiculous to assert that racism leads to systematic black underrepresentation, for a myriad of reasons. (The following info is taken from Dinesh D'Souzas excellent book, "What's So Great About America.")

For starters, Black immigrants--West Indians, Haitians, Nigerians--are all darker than African-Americans, yet they have nearly achieved income parity with whites. At Harvard, 2/3 of blacks are West Africans. Also, Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans are OVER-represented (according to proportion of population). They consistently score higher on objective tests such as the SAT and ACT. Are American's racial prejudices limited solely to black people... and not the black immigrants mentioned above?

Also, assuming racist reasons for low College enrollment is saying that college recruiters are racist. This is hard to believe, to say the least, coming, as they do, from the Ivory Tower of Liberalism and enlightenment. In fact, I would assert, there is probably an anti-racist bias among recruiters, aside from Affirmative Action.

So, could there be genetic reasons for blacks to seemingly underachieve? I highly doubt it. Biologists have long held, with much evidence, that race is not a very good genetic distinction between people. From my Antropology book, Humankind Emerging:

The arguments against the conintued application of the biological race concept among humans rest on accumulating evidence that such units are neither easily identified nor monolithic, and actually account for only a small part of our species' overall genetic diversity. [...]

In fact, even such multivariate approaches to subdividing humanity have failed to work because there is so little concordance of occurence (repeated and similar clustering) of humans' genetic and physical features. [...]

To make matters even more confusing, a second multivariate analysis--this time using fifty-seven meaurements taken on males' skulls--appears to split humans into three biologically linked groups: Europeans by themselves; Polynesians combined with Native Americans and East Asians, and Australio-Melanesians and Africans. [This "make[s] matters even more confusing" because it differs from the way the races are grouped if the grouping is based on blood type.] [...]

Ironically, while these studies have failed to identify human races, they have succeeded brilliantly in the other direction: that is, multivariate investigations, particularly of genes, have provided seemingly unequivocal proof that human races do not exist in any biologically meaningful sense. [emphasis added]

[More such evidence here]

Who said taking Physical Anthropology was a waste of time [you did. Repeatedly. Today. -ed Who's side are you on, anyways? - Grant]?

Race is simply not an intelligible, coherent biological concept. If anything, it is a social construct, as Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom explains:
TODAY, HOWEVER, we recognize that there is no such thing as “black blood” or “white blood,” [biological differences among the races - ed] and so in order to account for our perceivable differences—in order, that is, to continue the project of racial identification—race theorists have sought to turn the essentialist project ["essentialist" meaning "biological," here- ed] of racial identification into the anti-essentialist [not biological - ed] project of racial construction. In short, the “racial” has become the “cultural,” and the “cultural” has become the supposedly anti-essentialist foundation for group identity.
Jeff Goldstein goes on to argue (and you should read the whole thing--'tis good), convincingly and rightly I think, that race as a cultural construct doesn't make sense either (and, on top of that, I think that considering race a cultural concept is inherently racist--but that's a topic for another day). Still, it is inarguable that there is a certain culture associated with blacks in America--not all of them, but enough to constitute a recognizable black subculture within American culture.

This is where the problem of black academic underachievement lies: within the culture of many African-Americans (as opposed to the immigrant blacks mentioned earlier). I must emphasize that to criticize "black culture" is not to criticize blacks, and is not racist (unless, of course, you consider "race" a cultural construct, I guess--in which case, let me show you to the door.) Despite the mantra of cultural relativism drilled into college students, cultures can (and should) be judged.

Now, here you might expect me to dig into Hip-hop or Nelly or somesuch; but I will go in a different direction. In fact, I will eschew pointing out a single cultural cause, I will only point out what is undeniably the result of factors of that culture--the black illegitimacy rate. This rate, one of the biggest scandals in America today, is at nearly 70 percent! Bascially, two parent structure has disintegrated (which, despite the beliefs of many Liberal feminists, is a bad thing).

This is unacceptable, and undeniably not the fault of racism. Obviously such a high rate has a deleterious impact on the rest of black society--not to mention society at large--by leading to an extremely high black crime rate. Also, according to a study entitled "Ethnic Differences in Adolescent Achievement," which appeared in American Psychology, (and which I found in D'Souza's book mentioned above):
In general Asian-American students devote relatively more time to their studies, are more likely to attribute their success to hard work, and are more likely to report that their parents have high standards for school performance...In contrast, African-American and Hispanic students are more cavalier about the consequences of poor school performance, devote less time to their studies, are less likely than others to attribute their success to hard work, and report that their parents have relatively lower standards.
Only once we accept the true cultural problems behind minority underreprentation and stop hiding behind the cop-out of invisible, "covert" racism, will we actual begin remedying the problems flowing from it. Or, you know, we could just keep on expiating our racial guilt via affirmative action, even when it has a proven negative net affect on those that it purports to benefit. Whichever.


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