Black White Man

My mother is black, and my father is white. I walk among you.

Archive for October, 2007

Justice Department official says, laws that affect old people don’t affect Blacks, because we “die first”

Headline: Justice Dept. Official Regrets Remarks

John Tanner, the man in charge of voter rights in the Department of Justice, has been in a lot of trouble for saying that laws which require voters to show their ID before they can vote don’t really impact minority populations. This is, according to Mr. Tanner, because (a) the most likely people to show up at a polling location without an ID are the elderly, and (b) African-Americans “die first” and therefore, there aren’t many elderly black voters.

In a completely different speach (to the NAACP in Alabama), he said that minorities are more likely to have their ID, anyway, because they are required at check-cashing places.

In the last week or so, Mr. Tanner has been getting a lot of heat for these comments, and will probably be forced to resign. He’s publically apologized, but for the “tone” of the “way I presented” the information — and not for _what he said_. Basically this is more white racism trying to get by under the guise of facts and science, and then complaining of a the “politically correct” world we live in, when people get upset.

I’m not a statistician, and I can see flaws in his argument. This means that he’s not only bigoted, but also incompetent at his job.

1. Life Expectancy is an median average, and therefore doesn’t address distribution. We can’t say that, because African-Americans have a lower life expectancy, that there are proportionally fewer elderly. My gut assumption is that African-Americans who live to be 35, probably have comparable chances of living to old age as their white counterparts. Although there are differences in access to healthy food, exposure to cigarettes and alcohol, and so forth; I would expect that the youth-specific issues of AIDS and incarceration have a huge impact.

2. Several southern politicians are reporting that elderly black people vote at a higher frequency than elderly white people, in their districts.

3. It’s entirely possible that other factors affect the amount to which people carry a driver’s license. As a white-skinned guy, I’ve been pulled over driving without a license and let off with just a fine. If I were dark-skinned, that could have gone very differently. The process at the DMV can be very subjective; I have to believe that it’s easier for the average white elderly person to keep their ID as they get older.

4. The impact of a law which may or may not be unfair shouldn’t be rated merely in the number of people it affects!

Now I’m brainstorming off my head… so it’s quite possible that some or all of my points are wrong. But this guy should at least have the sense to brainstorm antithetical arguments and address them when he’s making a speech with inflammatory claims like the ones he made. On behalf of all the old black voters in my life (like my Mom), I’m pretty well disgusted.

Big dumb (black) jocks can’t be sarcastic

Headline: Crowder learns he won’t need a translator in England

Redux: Dolphin’s linebacker Channing Crowder was heading for an expo game against the Giants all the way over in merry old England. He made some quip about not knowing where that is, or whether he’d need a translator when there. Now the interweb is all abuzz with “wow, this guy is idiot.”

Gimme a break. The geography knowledge of the average American is absolutely abysmal, but Channing Crowder is not the average American.

First of all, he was one of those scholar-athlete types before he hit the big times. He’s from Atlanta, which is not known for excellent public schools. But he went to North Springs High School, which is a magnet school in one of the northern wealthier suburbs of Sandy Springs. I grew up in the same neighborhood. It’s the opposite of the “the hood.” And I seriously considered going to that public school, which is remarkable because I’m the definition of priviledged private school type. It’s a good high school. He then went on to FSU, where he earned a 3.5 GPA. He’s no dummy.

Second of all, he’s been fabulously wealthy for more than two years now. He probably freaking summers in Europe. He associates with Europeans all the time; some of the people he’s played with are English for crikes sake.

Here’s what jogs my chain. Seinfeld makes a crack like that and everyone laughs. But this guy cracks a joke and everyone is so sure he’s a dumbass. Now, more than half of him getting no respect is probably that’s he’s a big ass football player — but I’m sure that a large part of it is that he’s black. Isn’t it hilarious that the black guy doesn’t know where England is. Well, guess what. The black guy just made a joke that’s too smart for you. Suck on that.

Intelligence is not a vaccine against racism

This week a Nobel laureate in biology resigned over some of the most racist comments I’ve ever heard. James Watson, who won the highest honor in science for discovering DNA said:

… he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really.”

He also asserted there was no reason to believe different races separated by geography should have evolved identically, and that while he hoped everyone was equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.”

To think that one of the men responsible for discovering DNA would believe in eugenics is enormously troubling. We’d like to think that raw intelligence would help one to realize the Truth with a capital T. But it seems that’s just not the case. And, while you might chalk up the crazy ramblings of an old man to senility, I’m cynical enough to believe that senility only causes old men to say the things that young men only think. The assertion that divergent evolution might cause differences in intelligence, like it does with height and hair color, is so wrong and yet appears, chameleon-like, so logical. I have to imagine that lots and lots of people secretly harbor this belief.

Scary, scary stuff.