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Author Topic: Interpreting actions through the lens of racism
LetterRip
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I was reading responses at quora to a question about racism that people had experienced - and noticed that a lot of big guys interpreted things women did as being caused by racism, as opposed to the fact that they were male.

For instance if you are a guy, walking down the street at night, and a women is walking down the street - she will often cross to the other side of the street.

Or if you are a guy sitting with his legs and arms slightly spread ('man spreading') on a bus, train, or subway - most women won't take the seat beside you.

Or if you are a guy walking towards a woman with a young child, she will pull that child out of your way.

[ September 19, 2015, 05:20 AM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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Mynnion
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I am not sure these examples are mutually exclusive. Race, sex, and size may all play a role in an individuals response. I am not sure you can point to these examples as misplaced interpretation.
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Rafi
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If the male is white, it's just an example of the fear and abuse create in our patriarchal society and is something that demonstrates how men should be shamed, preferably publicly, and perhaps even have their male behavior criminalized.

If the female is white and male is black, that's just simple racsim. I

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TomDavidson
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LR, you really need to stop fixating on this. It'll turn you into G#, and no one wants that.
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LetterRip
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TomD,

I've simply been doing a lot of research on the topic lately - trying to sort out the problems that are due to racism; problems due to socioeconomic status; problems due to legal structure or enforcement differences; and lastly problems are the result of misperception of universal phenomenon unrelated to race.

I only have one more topic of importance that I'm looking at - underlying causes of disciplinary differences in schools.

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Mynnion
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LR-Take a look at Wisconsin's incarceration rates while you're at it. The is a huge disparity in arrests by race but an even more significant disparity in sentencing.

Defining what is racism and what is socioeconomics or discomfort at cultural differences (language use, clothing, jewelry, etc.) is complex.

We really haven't spoken discussed much the impact culture plays on our views of African Americans. Speaking from my own flaws I would say I generally feel more comfortable around non-African American blacks or those African Americans who act the most "white." I would attribute this to specific cultural characteristics that present in the African American community that I am not comfortable with. Some of these would be socioeconomic while others would not be.

Either way I believe I have an obligation to make sure that inequities that exist are identified and addressed.

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kmbboots
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Seriously. You are wondering why a woman won't sit next to a man who is spreading out and taking up the seats next to him?

(I do, though, because I am old and fat and have decided they deserve a lesson about how to be polite on public transportation. )

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Fenring
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I like how questioning the party line makes a person G#. It's not like LetterRip is making random unsubstantiated claims.
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TomDavidson
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No, it's not "questioning the party line." It's justifying your resistance to self-examination by pretending to see through the flaws in methodology used by actual experts in the research in question. It's a pretty emotionally compelling trap to fall into, and we all do it. G# just does it way more than most people, and in more noxious ways.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
No, it's not "questioning the party line." It's justifying your resistance to self-examination by pretending to see through the flaws in methodology used by actual experts in the research in question. It's a pretty emotionally compelling trap to fall into, and we all do it. G# just does it way more than most people, and in more noxious ways.

Who says they are experts? At what?
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Greg Davidson
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I side with LR on this. While some people are treated poorly or differently because of racism at some times, there are also cases when they are treated differently for reasons other than racism and they wrongly diagnose the situation.

I remember when my kids were very little, and I would walk around with a baby in a sling, and there would be a very friendly response from everybody who passed by, even in the evenings. I could walk by the same place ten minutes later without a baby, and I would have people not make eye contact and sometimes have women walk on the opposite side of the street.

Or here's another example, a black Jewish woman I know once commented that when she went to high holiday services (one of the times of the year when the whole Congregation attends), she would have a lot of older white men come up and ask if she knew where the prayer book was, etc. Now, she was a regular, and certainly knew more of what was going on then those who came up to her. Her interpretation was that people people were treating her more as an outsider because of the color of her skin. I had an alternative interpretation, which isn't significantly better, but it is different: she's more attractive than 99% of the people in the room, and older men were looking for an excuse to talk to her. That is differential behavior, and I could understand how really annoying it could be, but in that instance the perception of racism was wrong.

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LetterRip
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Greg,

yep exactly.

Although I guess people often see things through the lense of 'people treat me this way because of X', when there are more obvious causes.

You see people who consider themselves smart, to frequently claim that people don't like them because other people are jealous of their intellect - when the reality is that the individual is a jerk or has other horrid personality flaws.

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TomDavidson
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*laugh* Yeah, you can lump those people in with the "they hate me because I tell them the truths they don't want to hear", "I'm don't play their P.C. games", and "they just don't like me because I make them ashamed/resentful of their mistakes" crowds.
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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Seriously. You are wondering why a woman won't sit next to a man who is spreading out and taking up the seats next to him?

(I do, though, because I am old and fat and have decided they deserve a lesson about how to be polite on public transportation. )

I don't think anyone is wondering that. What I wonder is when it goes from midemeanor to felony.
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NobleHunter
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quote:
I've simply been doing a lot of research on the topic lately - trying to sort out the problems that are due to racism; problems due to socioeconomic status; problems due to legal structure or enforcement differences; and lastly problems are the result of misperception of universal phenomenon unrelated to race.
The word you're looking for is "intersectional". Black women experiences of sexism are different than those of white women; poor white women's experience will also be different from rich white women. Trying isolate a particular example to racism and another to sexism is not going to be productive. I think you're far more likely to over attribute to causes you find palatable than discover anything interesting.
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LetterRip
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NobleHunter,

while possible, that isn't necessarily the case. A lot of times when we correct for SES - racial disparities disappear. How much of assumed prejudice against AA Women is really just prejudice against obesity (AA women have nearly double the rate of obesity as non-AA women).

For instance dating sites there is a definite response bias against AA women - but the fact that there is double the obesity is an extremely important confounder - that alone could probably explain almost the complete difference in response bias.

Interestingly an opinion from an AA women who uses dating sites,

quote:
As a black woman who does fairly well online, I suspect the real reason for the low response rate for most black women is obesity. Four out of five black women are overweight or obese. Most men prefer women who are height/weight proportionate. In the real world, men will lower their standards in accordance to what is readily available, but online there is no reason to start a dialogue with someone you find unattractive. Not where there are plenty of other profiles to focus on.
http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/race-attraction-2009-2014/comment-page-3/

[ September 20, 2015, 11:51 AM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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NobleHunter
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Doesn't correcting for SES pre-suppose SES is not causually connected to race? I'd think you'd first need to establish that there isn't a connection before zeroing out SES effects.

I hope you don't expect me to find that anecdote convincing.

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LetterRip
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The anecdote was merely in support of the compelling data that AA women have 1.7x the obesity of non AA women, and that obesity is a huge factor in physical attraction.
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D.W.
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quote:
Or if you are a guy walking towards a woman with a young child, she will pull that child out of your way.
No matter what your sex or race is, please parents, don't make a conscious effort NOT to do this. We appreciate not having an oblivious kid walking into us.

We already have to avoid teens and 20 somethings with their eyes glued to smart phones and their headphones on. We appreciate your attentiveness and teaching your children proper use of a sidewalk or store aisle. [Smile]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
Doesn't correcting for SES pre-suppose SES is not causually connected to race? I'd think you'd first need to establish that there isn't a connection before zeroing out SES effects.

I hope you don't expect me to find that anecdote convincing.

I'd put it to just the opposite, actually- if you're correcting for SES, theny you'r assuming that SES is inherently connected to race- I.e: that black people are just naturally and fundamentally poorer that white people. It's an active assertion of racial inferiority.

If it's not linked to race, then the inequity not something that you correct for to prove that racism doesn't exist, rather it's a pointer to why there is racial inequity and bias in the system to begin with, and the fist step in asking what would be effective to help eliminate the systemic bias that puts black people at the short end of the stick.

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DJQuag
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Could the main cause not be that slavery and Jim Crow caused the higher ratio of blacks in poverty, and that since poverty tends to beget poverty, it's passed on to the present day? That it's more that then present day oppression?
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LetterRip
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DJQuag,

exactly - past actions - such as slavery and Jim Crow laws - resulted in larger percentages of many African Americans in poverty. Poverty is a 'trap' that is difficult to escape, so the larger percentage of AAs initially in poverty will have remained in poverty.

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NobleHunter
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Jim Crow's effects are probably still extant. It hasn't been that long since it ended. Otherwise, you'll have to hoped someone's found a comparable white population to run a longitudinal study with.
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DJQuag
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Unfortunately, we live in a viciously zero sum culture and society. Battles and resources can't go to everything at once.

To go back to my wall analogy, why not lift everyone at the bottom ten feet up rather then lifting one segment five feet? And that would avoid the inevitable animosity from the people who didn't get help.

I prefer pragmatism over idealism.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
DJQuag,

exactly - past actions - such as slavery and Jim Crow laws - resulted in larger percentages of many African Americans in poverty. Poverty is a 'trap' that is difficult to escape, so the larger percentage of AAs initially in poverty will have remained in poverty.

The amazing thing is that if this is true then it is not an argument against racism - it's actually an argument against capitalism! Letting people try their best and fortune have its way is poison for the poor and this has been known for 150 years at least.

One thing I agree with Pyrtolin on is that capitalism as it is now stinks. While he might defend radical changes to capitalism as modifications I personally would call it scrapping the system in favor of something better. Where we disagree is whether the system must be scrapped with race in mind. I believe if modifications are made to combat poverty the rest will most likely attend to itself. To talk of anything else seems to me a band-aid at best, and a joke at worst. If the system systematically screws the poor then opting to help only certain poor people seems to me in poor taste, and especially so since those suggested fixes (such as affirmative action) won't actually end poverty but will perhaps just shift it around.

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DJQuag
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That's just it, Fenring. I'm a big fan of the economic theories that Pyrtolin shares with us here. But until the day comes when we actually live in a country like that, I think it's better to be pragmatic.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by DJQuag:
Could the main cause not be that slavery and Jim Crow caused the higher ratio of blacks in poverty, and that since poverty tends to beget poverty, it's passed on to the present day? That it's more that then present day oppression?

Poverty _is_ present day oppression in and of itself. And, again, because of network and familiarity effects, disproportionate representation of race in poverty means that poverty is disproportionately damaging to members of the race affects, especially when people use visual cues to associate a given race with poverty and act based on the basis that any given person of that race is more likely than not to be poor.
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DJQuag
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If poverty disproportionately affects black people, then I ask again, why not focus on helping people based upon their SES rather then their race? African Americans would still get more of the aid and assistance then the majority, proportionally.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
If the system systematically screws the poor then opting to help only certain poor people seems to me in poor taste, and especially so since those suggested fixes (such as affirmative action) won't actually end poverty but will perhaps just shift it around.
You're making a false argument by implying this is an either/or thing again, not to mention falsely implying a zero sum game with the notion of "shifting around"

That programs designed to correct racial inequities don't directly address class inequities isn't a huge surprise. You don't take bad tires off of your car and install new spark plugs in their place.

I'm not sure why you're so obsessed with somehow wanting to have a since magic bullet solution that fixes everything in one go instead of acknowledging that each kind of problem needs its own solution and working to advocate for fixes to everything that's out of whack without putting one over the other.

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DJQuag
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It is absolutely zero sum.

Getting left wing ideas of any kind, whether they're to do with making it up to the African Americans or alleviating poverty or anything else enacted in the US is near futile because of the culture and the right wing's grip on what is moral when it comes to social benefits and the like. And there are only so much effort, and so many people willing to push for things like that.

Politicians and activists push for things, but it seems all you ever hear about is race. Race race race. So yeah, having grown up poor, it rubs me the wrong way a little bit. And I find it a lot more likely that European socialist measures could be put in place, as incredibly unlikely as that might be, then it would be for every racist cop and employer in the country is going to be magically shamed into not being douchebags.

We can argue that one is more likely then the other, but I've seen nothing to imply that anything near the amount of attention and effort is going into breaking cycles of poverty that there is to "end" racism.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by DJQuag:
Unfortunately, we live in a viciously zero sum culture and society. Battles and resources can't go to everything at once.


Only due to political propaganda that pushed back against any reform in order to preserve power for those currently at the top of the heap. Meanwhile we live among squandered excess and forced unemployment/underemployment out of manufactured fears of fixing the system so that everyone benefits.

quote:
To go back to my wall analogy, why not lift everyone at the bottom ten feet up rather then lifting one segment five feet? And that would avoid the inevitable animosity from the people who didn't get help.
Because the segment that has a taller wall to climb will still be further behind- you'll disproportionately help the segment of the population that has a shorter wall, and, due to the nature of the way that investments grow over time once you're over the top, effectively end u stacking more wall for those that benefited proportionally less.

This is especially true when there are some actual limited resources, such as property, at play. The sooner you get over the wall, the lower your relative price for property is, the later you get over the wall, not only the higher the price, but the more benefit those how got there first make as you try to afford to get into the game. Access to higher education and good employment, both of which are as influenced by family and networks as they are by amount of individual merit, end up working similar, even if they're not technically limited. The sooner you get into the game and make investment,s the more your results compound across generations that server to lock those who've been denied access over time out, even if you make it nominally a little easier for them to afford to try to get in.

Not all measures may end up getting passed at once, but that's not a reason to discard any given set of inequities as second class in favor of just picking one to try to solve- because when you do that, you effectively declare the discarded imbalances as tolerable and increase the amount of effort it takes to put them back on the table as people declare them "solved" since they fell off the radar.

And even if you are, yourself going to choose to focus on one particular inequity, it doesn't mean that you must, for some reason, deny the existence of others when they're pointed out. Or try to coopt issues that are of higher concern to others as really being about your fight. You can still acknowledge the experiences of others and the particular injustices that they want to work to resolve without doing disservice to your own causes. In fact, you'll get much further by looking at the intersections of those inequities and finding common ground to advocate together for than you will by trying to invalidate their cause and tell them to support yours instead.

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NobleHunter
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DJQuag, I think I said this in a different thread but it bears repeating: racism represents a failure of the American Dream, classism would be a repudiation of it. Race dominates discussions of inequality because it doesn't challenge the primary ideology of the US. It's easier for people to consider that racism (even unintentional implicit racism) is wrong than the inequalities inherent in the American economy are wrong. It's easy to argue that no one should have a harder time because they're black than it is to argue no one should have a harder time because they're poor.

Canada does it to, though we obsess over language and avoid talking about the First Nations.

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LetterRip
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It is far easier to get individuals on board with and accept policies that target poverty than it is for affirmative action policies.

With affirmative action you will get a lot of push back from the non African American poor, and accusations of 'reverse racism' etc.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Politicians and activists push for things, but it seems all you ever hear about is race. Race race race.
That's no accident. That's part of how political dog whistles work. They carefully craft messages to make it feel like you're up against this or that other faction and put in your mind that they're getting more attention than you so that, instead of working together, you try to tear them down. The best way to tell an earnest advocate for a cause from someone trying to sow dissention is that the earnest advocate will talk in terms of their problems and the solutions they'd like to see, focusing on those who are currently empowered. The dishonest advocate will try to blame other advocates for disempowered groups for your problems and try to convince you to undermine their causes out of a false claim of the game being zero sum.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
It is far easier to get individuals on board with and accept policies that target poverty than it is for affirmative action policies.

No it's not, really- in large part because it's far easier to convince poor people that they deserve to be poor and should vote for policies that keep them that way than it is to convince racial segments that they should vote for their own ongoing oppression.

The number of poor people that I know that take active pride in keeping themselves poorer than they need to be by eschewing public assistance that would allow them to afford to earn, save, and invest more in their futures far outnumbers those of racial minorities that support more bias in policing, hiring, etc...

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D.W.
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Your company(1) has developed an antibiotic treatment which can cure a large spectrum of infections one of which is a specific STD(2), and another antibiotic treatment which cures only that specific STD(3).

You can invest in either or both antibiotics mass producing them.

What do you do?

Incase I'm not being obvious enough.
1: US Government
2: measures to combat poverty
3: measures to combat racism


Is there a chance the targeted solution may be more effective? Sure. Are you going to get more support to the more widely applicable and inclusive option? Sure.

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by DJQuag:
Could the main cause not be that slavery and Jim Crow caused the higher ratio of blacks in poverty, and that since poverty tends to beget poverty, it's passed on to the present day? That it's more that then present day oppression?

Except that version of history doesn't match the actual historical records and the economics of black families over time. Walter Williams is a good one to read on this. Prior to the over-emphasis of the welfare state, the trajectory of black families was upwards, afterwards that course reversed and they became poorer. Like I said in the other thread, correcting the marriage rate disparity could almost single handedly reverse the economic disadvantages that are complained of.
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DJQuag
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I've been posting for hours and need to run. I'll make a more substantive reply later, Pyr, but for now I'll leave this.

Poor white people don't have family connections or networks, either.

And when I said zero sum, I was referring to liberal politicians and activists. They only have so much time and effort to give, and it seems, the last couple of years especially, that their efforts have almost entirely been directed towards the race issue. Very little is heard about battling poverty.

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
Except that version of history doesn't match the actual historical records and the economics of black families over time. Walter Williams is a good one to read on this. Prior to the over-emphasis of the welfare state, the trajectory of black families was upwards, afterwards that course reversed and they became poorer.
It would be helpful to highlight the data in the argument that you wish to make, rather than just refer the reader to do their own research. Otherwise, I could counter your argument by suggestion that you read James Leeuwen and see how persistent racism had a huge and disproportionate impact on capital formation by African Americans until antidiscrimination legislation passed in the late 1960's and early 1970's.
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LetterRip
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Greg,

could you point me to a specific reference?

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