Race and the Wealth Gap

This Real News Network segment with law professor John Powell, Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at Berkeley, discussed the widening wealth gap between whites and other races and the underlying forces producing these shifts. Powell describes the pre-Nixon era policies and institutions that helped give the poor and minorities upward mobility and flattened income disparity. But new Fed data shows that the top 10% of whites possess over 65% of all US wealth.

More at The Real News

Powell argues that institutional arrangements play a big role in discrimination:

POWELL: So schools today are as segregated as they were in the 1960s. Elite schools–I teach at Berkeley. We have a very small number of African-American students. And it’s the elite schools in many ways that was the ladder to higher opportunity. And so all across the country we see a retrenchment for blacks, for Latinos, certainly for Native Americans. Asians are mixed. And the country simply is not doing anything about it. In fact, it’s trying very hard not to notice. And we now have racial segregation in schools. We have racial segregation in neighborhoods. And neighborhoods are the hub of opportunity. What neighborhood you live in determines what kind of park you have, if you have someplace to shop for food, where you go to school, is it safe. So the neighborhoods have been vastly retrenching in terms of segregation. And we had redlining. And so this whole mechanism of reproducing inequality is done largely through neighborhoods. There’s a saying that says in India they have the caste system, in England they have class. In the United States, they have zoning. And so when we look at what happened with the housing crisis, it was unevenly distributed, largely because of the segregated patterns throughout the neighborhoods.

PERIES: And also ownership. Particularly, if you own a house, then your ability for social mobility moves up as you become more eligible for loans because of the equity in your house. And so this kind of social mobility requires, under this capitalist system, a certain financial base which African Americans and people of color, Latinos, lack. And so can you elaborate a bit more about this particular issue of how inequity grows because of your race?

POWELL: Sure. So, in the United States we tend to be very individualistic, and so we think racial discrimination or unequal racial distribution is mainly a function of personal prejudice, one person to another. What we found, certainly since 1970, is two things, that a lot of the dynamics of inequality is driven through structures and systems and policies, not necessarily through individuals. So it may or may not be a prejudiced or biased individual at the heart of that, but the way we actually construct neighborhoods, the way we actually construct credit, the way we construct businesses. Those things matter, to some extent, more and more.

The other, of course, is we’re finding that a lot of things that affect our behavior, that affect policy, happens at an unconscious level. So there’s been an explosion in the mind science, and what we find is that America, Americans are very biased racially, even Americans who have egalitarian conscious values. So it’s those two phenomenas that are president.

The third thing that’s present is that a lot of inequality is inherited.

One indicator of the reversal of economic progress by minorities: the frequency of the use of the word “privilege” to refer to racial or class advantage. It was almost never invoked when I was a kid, and it is commonplace now.

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  1. John

    Obama must be breathing a sigh of relief now that he has laid out his ISIS war plan of attrition. Pushing the timeline to several years is a nice way to keep the war president mantra so other issues can become back burners. He can now get America’s focus away from deep rooted race problems which metsasized after the Ferguson flare up. Siding with the white 10%, Obama has not much empathy for blacks nor for Hispanics.

    1. Jim Haygood

      An essential element of keeping ’em down in the ‘hood is promoting minority-affiliated collaborators who can present a diversity-friendly face of fascism. Such as Jeh Johnson, our African-American secretary of Homeland Security. From Wikipedia:

      ‘In January 2011, Johnson asserted in a speech at the Pentagon that deceased civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. would have supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite King’s outspoken opposition to American interventionism during his lifetime.

      ‘Johnson argued that American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq were playing the role of the Good Samaritan, consistent with Martin Luther King Jr.’s beliefs, and that they were fighting to establish the peace for which Dr. King hoped.’

      Back in the 20th century characters such as Johnson, Obama and Holder were called Uncle Toms.

      1. James Levy

        And, of course, these “operations” cost billions, money that if you said we should spend on free college for every poor kid who makes the grade people would laugh at and call “wasteful”, but is just fine being spent making craters in the desert and blowing up a truck here and there. Obama’s bombing campaign should be called “Operation Get Off My Back”, because that’s all it is, a sad attempted by a harried man in over his head to get the warmongering media off his back. That’s not to say Obama is not a warmonger, but I don’t think he has any stomach for this particular war at this time, and he’s probably been told by his “experts” (handlers?) that ISIS is not going to be bombed into submission this or any century. All this will do is kill a lot of the people we are purportedly trying to “save” and make the ISIS criminals look a lot less like fanatics and a lot more like defenders of the Islamic people against outside attack.

      1. timbers

        Hate to be stick in the mud with boring details, but Russia is noting that bombing Syria is like, illegal or something….

    2. Number6

      “There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
      “I am afraid that there is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public. “ – Booker T Washington 1911

  2. abynormal

    im reading ‘The Peregrine Spy’ Edmund P. Murray…before the Shah leaves he had this to say about oppositions “keep the oppositions divided and the tyrants will remain in office”.

    effective on every level, at any given time

  3. Jim

    All over the world the differences in social economic status between different ethnic groups are in close accordance with the differences in average IQ. This is true in Singapore for Chinese and Malays as well as in the US for Jews, white gentiles and blacks., etc. It’s essentially a universal pattern.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps IQ reflects what is required to succeed in a society organized the way it is organized.

      For example, if a society is organized upon the principle of violence-on-Nature, then the kind of IQ treasured by that society has to do with how talented you are at committing violence on Nature, at raping Nature.

      Or if to succeed in the society, it’s valuable to be able to use weasel words, and people are rewarded for it, then weasel-word geniuses will score high on the society’s particular IQ test.

      1. Jim

        IQ is very important for any society that is remotely “modern”. It may possibly be unimportant in a Borneo jungle tribe or on North Sentinel Island. We don’t know. However for anything like a “modern” society IQ is very important. If “modern” human societies are based on “raping” nature then “raping” nature is what evolution has produced in regard to the human species.

        1. Jack King

          Certainly IQ is a factor. Also good looks (Jennifer Lawrence), talent (Tiger Woods), hard work (you perhaps…not me), etc etc. In a country that lets you exploit your gifts, there is going to be expanded inequality. As Aristotle said:

          “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.”

          1. Yves Smith Post author


            What is considered to be attractive is race based. Tell me exactly how many supermodels are black, or A list actors. In Japan, pale (as in white-looking) skin is fetishized among models and actresses.

            1. Jack King

              Hallie Berry and Vanessa Williams have traded on their looks…and talent. But my point was about looks, not race. Men and women who are good looking are just simply going to have it easier in life. Is it fair? Probably not. But there is no sense in whining about it.

              1. JM Hatch

                Black women who look like white women with an ultimate tan. Wow you can pick examples to support your argument….

                What is attractive is mostly taught, and Madison Ave. knows how to teach that line.

                1. Jack King

                  Enough said?! The implication of your remark is that there are no good looking people of they are 100% black…which, of course, is the most racist attitude of all.

        2. different clue

          Industrial scale nature raping is a recent stage in human development. Much of North and South America pre-EuroConquest was non-rapishly terraformed and terra-improved by members of the various Indian Nations. That too was produced by evolution in regard to the human species.

    2. Nell

      The relationship between IQ ethnicity and socio-economic status is much more complex than your statement suggests and that is even before we consider what IQ means, how it is measured, whether the measures are biased or not and so forth. The association between IQ and socio-economic status is a two way street – higher IQ can lead to higher socio-economic status, but so can higher socio-economic status lead to higher IQ. And the difference in IQ within an ethnic group are factors greater than the difference between ethnic groups. From your statement I guess you are trying to go for the social darwinism argument. If you are, how would you explain the rise in IQ of an ethnic minority group when they move out of the country in which they are despised and live in a country where their ethnicity is not perceived? What is universal is that if you belong to a group that is perceived in a negative fashion it is likely that your group will on average score less on IQ tests. This has nothing to do with innate ability and everything to do with prejudice.

  4. John

    Invoking ‘white prvilige’ is not something new. Blacks have been sounding the economic progress alarm for centuries. The problem has been government policies have done an excellent job at muting black grievances over the centuries. Unseen and unheard. In addition, the government has never had to atone for its sins and has fought vigorously to keep it that way. As a result, history becomes a blur.

    Example, did states like Virgnia fight a nasty civil war over slaves? Sure they did and were very clear about it but revisionists would have you believe otherwise so as to minimize the inherent ‘white privilege’ from such a policy. Or more recently, NY Times article on Mike Brown of Ferguson, informing us he was no saint. The article did its job in planting the seed of doubt in the discussion, while trying to obfuscate the underlining complaints the town had against the ‘system’ of caging in a black population to advance the economic well being of ‘white privilege.’

    To be clear ‘white privilege’ are government policies — slavery, Jim Crow, red lining, profiling, housing, judiciary, policing, schools, banking, GI Bill, New Deal, war on drugs, school to prison pipeline, etc — which promotes economic, social and personal well being of whites over blacks.

    1. Jack King

      The “school to prison pipeline” got my attention. Look, in recent years there has been an explosion of single parent households in the black community. This is a virtual guarantee of poverty, and a young male brought up in this environment surrounded by gangs has got 2 strikes against him.

      1. John

        I forgot to mention there are those who push bait-and-switch into discussions on race in order to sow doubt.

        Sorry, but you are using a Fox Noise bait-and-switch argument. Utter fail. The topic is ‘white privilege.’

        1. Jack King

          Bait ans switch? Not at all! If we are going to come up with solutions, we need to drill down to the specific problems. I’m not saying that single parent families is the only problem in the black community, but it, at the very least, a plays a major role. Yes, “white privilege” is a factor. That is why for decades we have affirmative action policies. But I see no policy that can turn around the single parent issue. Here’s a factoid to remember. 40% of single parent households are below the poverty line. Only 7% are below in two parent households.

  5. Brooklin Bridge

    PERIES: And also ownership. Particularly, if you own a house, then your ability for social mobility moves up as you become more eligible for loans because of the equity in your house.

    You have to give Banks credit for that at least. They work overtime with no regard to their image or sense of shame to siphon off all equity from middle class homes. Clearly a compassionate concern that all zones beneath those of the 1% become a brave new -and broke- uni-size for a true classless society. Their zeal and dedication to this effort can be seen in their largely successful and tireless efforts to change even the legal notion of ownership (everything now belongs to them) that’s burdened society for over 300 years.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      On the bright side, they’ve at least allowed us to keep paying the RE taxes. I should stop. As Jim Haygood says, “the tears are welling up…”

    2. Carla

      Actually, before the housing bubble burst, African American homeowners had, for years, been targeted by banks and mortgage companies for sub-prime loans even when they qualified for conventional loans with much better terms. Entire African American communities were destroyed by blatant mortgage fraud. The fine art of death-by-banks was honed there first, long before it spread to middle class white communities.

      1. Ulysses

        Very important point! Another reason that so many black families find it difficult to build any wealth is that they are so often the “last hired” during times of economic expansion, and “first fired” in times of contraction.
        Employment discrimination hasn’t gotten any better in the many decades since I was a kid. I still remember vividly one summer in the 1970’s, when there was hardly any unemployment problem at all up in Tompkins County. About a dozen of us kids, who were all friends together at the same junior high, went out looking for summer jobs. One of us happened to be black. While all of us white kids found work almost instantly, it took weeks for our less pigment-challenged friend to find anything. He had the same good grades, professional parents, bourgeois respectable manners, etc. as us. The only difference was skin color. This was the first time that I fully understood the intense reality of racism in this country.

        1. Jack King

          “they are so often the “last hired” during times of economic expansion”

          So affirmative action and racial quotas have had little effect?!

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Good point, but it supports the satire since however much blacks and other minorities were victimized and victimized first, the banks ultimately corrected -at least to a degree- for this error when they found asset value was being left behind. Greed will always pick on the weakest first and they are usually minorities, but that doesn’t stop it from overcoming racial bias when it sees loot left on the table.

  6. MikeNY

    Nick Kristof over at the NYT has been waging a valiant campaign to try to get whites to see the institutional oppression of our political and economic system. Natch, it sounds like he’s mostly been talking to the wall. I’ve had these conversation with ordinarily decent people who also simply will not see it. It’s somewhat of a matter of pride, I think, that “if I can succeed, anyone can”; there’s also a reluctance to recognize the rottenness of a system by which you’ve prospered. It’s like you have to go through a conversion process, and the scales must fall from your eyes, before you can see it.

    In other words, this isn’t entirely, or even mostly, a rational argument.

    1. RUKidding

      Fox & Rush (and his cohorts) are in the forefront of pushing the ersatz “libertarian” meme of so-called self-reliance and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and all the rest of that nonsense. I monitor some rightwing sites, and those notions are pumped out routinely and relentlessly. Plus many churches have been infested by Doug Coe’s “The Family/Fellowship” ministers who push the Christian Prosperity meme, which essentially boils down to: if you’re not doing well, it’s all your fault bc you’re not a good Christian (or similar).

      A lot of Whites like to be true believers of these schools of thought bc it absolves them from having to really take personal responsibility for how “others” (whether minorities or otherwise) are treated in this country. White privilege remains very strong and has grown stronger over the past 3 decades. Some whites listen to Fox and their Ministers, nod their dittoheads, and go into denial about why it mostly HAS been easier for them to get and stay ahead.

      Lot of propaganda out there from various sources and institutions underlie this and is not accidental. Boils down to: Divide and Conquer.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      It’s stunning how powerful the meme of man=island/ personal responsibility used to obfuscate systemic corruption is, particularly as you follow all the tentacles of (self blame = machismo) that follow from the original Marlborough Man premise. The little grain of truth becomes a horrible black pearl to be extracted by the elite as the individual uses his/her better self over time to create layer upon layer of hard crusted self destructive ideology; namely, that the individual is entirely responsible -in every aspect of their lifestyles- for everything that befalls him or her. It’s self sustaining; to question the meme is to be a traitor to Mr. tough guy truth. And it reaches beyond self control into all manner of authority; to question anything authority does = automatic wimp. The more blatantly corrupt authority, the more zeal one must use to blame themselves.

      The other problem is how wide spread the phenomenon. If you think of it as a disease, we have an epidemic in the US that goes beyond imagination and is harder to pry loose from even one victim than the barnacles on a dock post ready to snap from the rot.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        black diseased pearl. Bad analogy along with unintended implications. Black pearls are the rarest in nature and thus the most valuable.

  7. barrisj

    “POWELL: Sure. So, in the United States we tend to be very individualistic, and so we think racial discrimination or unequal racial distribution is mainly a function of personal prejudice, one person to another”

    Surely this assertion is made only within the context of white people’s belief in an “equal-opportunity” America, which perforce requires disbelief in institutional racism which has existed North and South since Reconstruction. The notion that school segregation, neighbourhood “red-lining”, “separate but equal”, the “innate inferiority of the Negro”…well, you get the idea – could occur in some sort of societal vacuum is risible and self-serving. There is indeed an entire racial ideology adopted willfully or osmotically by the white majority in the US which has sustained in turn institutional racism for generations, and only a purblind fool could even imagine that in 2015 it’s really only a matter of “one-on-one personal prejudice”. And all the reporting post-Ferguson, which really cast the spotlight on race-based policies by white-majority municipal governments in St Louis County, gives eloquent testimony to how entrenched institutional racism remains in America; an assiduous examination of cities and suburbs across the US would reveal the same mind-set, wherever there are large concentrations of African-American populations governed by minority white officialdom and policed by an overwhelmingly white force. Please, let us dispense with retailing the same tired twaddle about how white people apprehend racial prejudice. Continued failure to recognise the nature of American racism only perpetuates the implacable barriers to a truly “equal-opportunity” society.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We need to go beyond ‘equal opportunity.’

      Equal opportunity at what? At out-sociopath-ing others?

      Success, here, is contextual.

      A truly ‘equal opportunity’ society, for example, that does not value compassion-geniuses or resource-sharing geniuses will lead to an ‘unequal outcome’ society.

      In fact, ‘unequal outcome’ is guaranteed, as we are all good at something, each of us, but not necessarily good at everything or those valued, which may change over time or age (e.g. Stone Age vs. Gilded Age) or may last quite a long time, by the society.

      And what we are good at, when young and healthy, we may not be good at when sick or old. So, ‘equal opportunity’ may not always sound so appealing.

      Perhaps it’s time to give ‘equal outcome’ some consideration.

      1. Jack King

        “We need to go beyond ‘equal opportunity.’”

        Perhaps you could be more specific. I realize that equal opportunity doesn’t result in equal outcomes. But what would you have us do? Certainly education is a key. With kindergarten now mandated in all 50 states, we now have 13 years of taxpayer funded education. Then we have the community college system which is heavily taxpayer funded. Then we have Pell Grants which 90% of community college kids qualify for. If it’s equality of outcome you want there are some countries where that is possible. But individual liberties need to be suppressed so that people who are smarter are held back. People who are prettier are suppressed, people who work harder are slowed, etc etc. Anyway, by “going beyond equal opportunity” what do you mean?

  8. Jesse

    I won’t have time until after work to watch this video. But doesn’t the wealth inequality in the US make the chart shown here less meaningful? In other words, the Gates family, Walton Family, Zuckerburg, Buffet, etc are throwing the numbers for whites?

    If 10% of whites own 2/3’s of wealth, then *90%* of them are jammed into the bottom third along with blacks, Latinos, Asians, and other minorities.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Racism is not exclusive to whites.

      The Chinese parents used to look down on their white sons-in-law (not sure about white daughters in law, as they were apparently popular in wine shops near the east wall of Chang-An, thus, concubine possibilities if not to be ‘official wives’) during the hey days of the empire (Tang dynasty).

      And maybe one day, when they are much richer, they will revive that tradition, in that tradition-bound Confucian society.

      In any case, to make the story short, equality will come from bottom up, not trickled top down, not matter how much sound and fury one’s indignation requires.

  9. nobody

    When I look at the data I don’t see the evidence for the supposed “widening wealth gap between whites and other races”; rather, I see a widening gap between the top slice (which is predominantly “white” but reluctantly sprinkling itself with darker pigments) and everybody else. Matt Stoller put it pretty well when he wrote, in “The progressive case against Obama”: “It is as if America’s traditional racial segregationist tendencies have been reorganized, and the tools and tactics of that system have been repurposed for a multicultural elite colonizing a multicultural population.”

    Just yesterday, there was a link here to “US Extreme Poverty on the Rise: Life on $2 a Day” by Dady Chery and Gilbert Mercier in which the authors report on a study that that “in mid-2011 and based on cash income, about 1.65 million households, with 3.5 million children, lived in extreme poverty” and that “[c]ontrary to popular perceptions, the authors further found, based on a measure of cash income, that about one half of the extremely poor heads of households were white and almost one half were married.”

    From the numbers I’ve seen, when the population of people living in poverty in the US is broken down into racial and ethnic categories, the largest group by far is “white” (about 50% of the total), with substantially smaller total numbers for “black,” “hispanic,” and “other.”

    A couple of years ago there was reporting on a study that found that life expectancy for “white women without a high school diploma [dropped] five years…between 1990 and 2008,” a “decline [that] rivals the catastrophic seven-year drop for Russian men in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.” Life expectancy for white women without high school diplomas is now lower than it is for black women without high school diplomas. The rate for the least educated white men did not drop as fast as for women, but the gap between them and their counterparts with college degrees or better is even greater: 67.5 years vs. 80.4 years.

    What I see is a country where about half the population is poor by any common sense understanding of poor, another 30% are in circumstances where disability or job loss and extended unemployment will rapidly dump them into poverty (and many of whom will be or have been poor at some point in their lives), and where the high to obscene levels of income and/or wealth among the disproportionately white top 10% are used to paint false pictures of social reality in a way that keeps the majority resentful of each other instead of looking at the 0.0001% oligarchs who own everything important and run the show and the 10%-15% who are doing fairly well (at least for now) under the regime of the 0.0001% oligarchs, who know all too well how easy it can be to hire one half of the working & unemployed classes to kill the other half.

    1. Jesse

      I feel like you and I are making the same point – they’re gradually allowing women and minorities into their club, while doing everything in their power to plunder the rest of the population. There are more “types” of people that are allowed to hold power, but the economic power of the bottom 70% of the population has absolutely disintegrated.

  10. FederalismForever

    The “wealth gap” between AAs and whites may never be eliminated, and in fact is likely to increase further, especially if we consider Jews and Asians as “white” for this purpose. The sad and tragic fact is that whites in America have had such a tremendous head start that it seems unlikely AAs will ever be able to catch up.

    In thinking about this issue, it is imperative to keep in mind that the total wealth in America is not some fixed amount that remains the same, to be divided differently (more justly, perhaps) between whites and other groups, such that we could eventually arrive at an equal distribution. This zero sum perspective is completely false. Rather, we should think of the total wealth in society as an expanding balloon, which has expanded (and is continuing to expand) for certain groups much more than for others. Put another way, the only way the “wealth gap” will ever be eliminated is if the rate of growth for AAs substantially exceeds the rate of growth for whites over a sufficient period of time to enable the AAs to ‘catch up’ with the whites.

    But how likely is it that his could ever happen? Especially when roughly 75% of AAs are born into single parent households, whereas 75% of the groups they’re chasing (e.g., Jews, Asians, certain whites) are born into two-parent households? This 3:1 ratio is a new element that has only emerged in recent decades. In the 1960s, for example, a far higher percentage of blacks were born into two-parent households. Thus, the problem has only become more complicated and difficult. At a minimum, solving it will require policy-makers of a far higher level of talent and ability than has been demonstrated in recent decades.

    1. ChrisPacific

      The sad and tragic fact is that whites in America have had such a tremendous head start that it seems unlikely AAs will ever be able to catch up.

      Which is, in itself, an admission that opportunity is inherited at least to some extent. In theory if we had a truly equal opportunity society then any existing inequalities would vanish after no more than a generation.

  11. TheCatSaid

    I learned to understand white privilege after recently reading “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh. This 1989 short paper includes her original list of 26 race-related privileges.

    Short video of Peggy McIntosh explaining how she looked into this after comments by people where she worked. Includes a scrolling list of 50 race-related privileges typically unseen or unrecognized by those who benefit from them:

    I strongly recommend this paper & video to people of any race–but especially for white people.

    1. nobody

      The concept of ‘privilege’ is an incredibly useful tool in the neoliberal tactical backpack. I strongly recommend the following explicit or implicit critical interrogations of the concept for anybody who believes that privilege theory is useful for the concrete attainment of social justice ends:

      Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg, “Why I Am Giving Up the Word ‘Privilege’ “:

      Kiera Scriven, “On ‘Privilege’ “:

      Andrea Smith, “The Problem with ‘Privilege’ “:

      Adam Kotsko, ” ‘Privilege’ and the rhetoric of austerity”

      Thandeka, “The Whiting of Euro-Americans: A Divide and Conquer Strategy”:

      Adolph Reed Jr., “The limits of anti-racism”:

      1. TheCatSaid

        I looked at the links and haven’t read anything that changes my mind.
        Have a look at two excellent presentations by Tim Wise, who explains the issues very clearly:

        White Privilege, Racism, White Denial & The Cost of Inequality
        Mt Holyoke lecture, 2006

        Between Barack and a Hard Place: Challenging Racism, Privilege and Denial in the Age of Obama
        Villanova University
        He has a website http://www.timwise.org and there’s a thoughtful current essay having to do with issues around responding to a person who makes repeated prejudiced comments. I found his observations around intent and context of particular interest.

        I’m also reminded of one of the videos of a Jane Elliott workshop. She pointed out that a (white) participant, who was annoyed and left after experiencing what it was like being on the receiving end of setup “unfair treatment”, had the luxury of leaving–but black people can’t ever “leave” their skins because they don’t like how they’re treated.

        1. nobody

          I’m familiar enough with Tim Wise.

          “The same applies to another increasingly prominent advocate of neoliberal multiculturalism, ‘anti-racist educator’ Tim Wise who I wrote about here. Wise’s brand of high dudgeon activism is mainly conspicuous for its intellectual vacuity and juvenile pettiness. What is worth noting is his rise to prominence which was achieved by accessing almost the same media infrastructure as Harris-Perry. Beginning with an initial platform at ZMag, then moving onto the same three left organs used as stepping stones by Harris-Perry, Wise is now a frequent guest on MSNBC and has now broken through to the establishment center with recent appearances on CNN. While Wise is more likely than Harris-Perry to at least give lip service to core aspects of the left agenda, his major focus from the beginning was on ferretting out all and any aspects of racialized bias and insensitivity, including on the left itself. In so doing, as I pointed out, he provided the right with a cudgel by which movements addressing systemic economic injustice could be attacked on the alleged grounds of ‘white privilege’.”



          “Selectively sabotaging the education of black children, dispersing experienced workforces of organized black teachers connected to their communities sounds like an indisputably racist policy on its face. Chicago teachers sued in federal court on that point and won. Apparently Teach For America needs somebody to stamp the anti-racist ghetto passes of it missionary workforce as they pass through the ghetto, so they’ve put an ‘anti-racism’ educator and trainer on retainer.

          “So between now and July 18, we’ll be carrying a petition, asking anti-racism educator Tim Wise NOT to stamp the ghetto passes of Teach For America… We hope you will forward the petition widely and aggressively to all your friends and associates, lest Mr.Wise imagine that is just another unsurprising evil that black folks put up with, like pervasive surveillance… If this is how ‘anti-racism education’ works – giving cover to organizations and policies that hurt people of color more than anybody else, it might be time to re-think that whole contraption as well.”


  12. Jim

    “White privilege” vis-a-vsi blacks comes down to the one standard deviation in average IQ between blacks and whites. Upon controlling for IQ levels blacks actually outearn whites. There is of course no “white privilege” vis-a-vis East Asians whose average IIQ is higher than whites. East Asians in the US economy outperform whites and throusghout Southeast Asian the Chinese diaspora way outperforms indigeneous Southeast Asians whose average IQ is lower.
    The differences in the average cognitive level of different races and ethnic groups varies little throughtout the world. In almost any society where there are substantial numbers of blacks (individuals of Sub-Saharan African descent) together with other races the blacks are generally low in SES. In almost any society where there are substantial numbers of East Asians they tend to rise to the top of the SES hierarchy. Some startling examples of this are the Chinese in Jamaica and the Japanese in Brazil.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is garbage in, garbage out research.

      Early childhood diet has a tremendous impact on cognitive development. Blacks in the US have a much higher proportion of people living in dire poverty than other races, and Africa is the epicenter of dire poverty globally.

      And that viscerates your claim re Chinese in Jamaica, who are middle class, as are the Japanese in Brazil.

  13. Jim

    Chinese immigrated to Jamaica to work as labourers in sugarcane plantations. The original immigrants were extremally poor. By 1963 the descendents of these immigrants controlled 90% of the dry goods establishments and 95% of the supermarkets in Jamaica and also had extensive holdings in laundries and betting parlours. The Jamaican Chinese way outperformed black Jamicans as well as white Jamaicans.

    The economic success of the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia is nothing short of astonishing. In no way are Southeast Asians competitive economically with Han Chinese. Yet despite the success of the Han in Southeast Asia they have never had much presence in Korea or Japan. The Korean and Japanese populations have average IQ’s of around 107-108 so the Han have no great advantage in comparison with them while the IQ’s of most populations in Southeast Asia are about 90-95.

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