Hey, guys! One of my readers requested that I respond to this YouTube video by Shaun and Jen, and it’s officially spring break for me so I actually have glorious time to dick around on the internet. So I’m responding to it. It’ll be a bit difficult because the video is a response to a comment about Shaun’s response to another video. It’s kind of convoluted. From what I can gather, they’re talking about Milo Stewart’s infamous “ALL white people are racist, ALL straight people are homophobic, blahblahblah” video that blew up a while ago.
To avoid confusion, here is the YouTube comment that Shaun is responding to:
“You attempted to take a logical middle of the road stance here, but its clear you have a bias.
The problem is that Milo is consciously deciding to claim that an entire group of people (all white people) are subconsciously racist is racist itself and also flatout wrong. The definition of racism is
“the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.” To add to this, the other definition is “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”
therefore, saying ALL white people subconsciously hold this belief over another race from birth is flat out wrong and even prejudiced simply because of the sweeping generalization without citation. Despite your belief that society at large is indoctrinating people to hold racist beliefs, you seem to forget about people that grow up in household where they are NOT raised with these subconscious beliefs.
However, believing races are superior to one another ON AVERAGE in regards to certain things is perfectly reasonable and its fucking stupid to claim we are all perfectly equal in every way. We aren’t equal within our own race, how can we be equal across races?
On average Blacks make better basketball players, on average Asians score higher on the SAT. You cannot debate this.”
And now, I shall respond to both the above comment and what Shaun has to say in equal parts, because there are points where both of them could have done better.
* * *
To address the original comment first: I agree that Milo asserting that all white people are racist is flat out wrong on account of it being a sweeping generalization. I am also slow to accuse “society,” vague, amorphous term that it is, of indoctrinating people to hold certain beliefs, racist or otherwise. Blaming society always seemed like a cop-out to me because there’s really nothing to be done about the whole of society just being bad. That being said, it’s rather difficult to raise someone with subconscious beliefs. The whole point of them is that they are not explicit, so it’d be difficult to intentionally raise someone to subconsciously think something.
Here is Shaun’s point (note: parts of this are paraphrased, so if you don’t trust my shorthand, listen along with the actual video):
I don’t think it’s possible to have any sort of meaningful interaction with society in general and not come into contact with anything that might cause a subconscious bias. Excluding people raised by wolves or in fall out shelters or something, I think we all have some level of racial bias. But I will concede that it’s hard to prove if a subconscious bias exist or not because, by its nature, it’s hard to detect.
This gets me. It always fucking gets me. Can we please have a class, a world wide one that everybody gets in on, where we drill into people’s heads what the definitions and manifestations of certain terms are? Just drill them in. It would save everyone so much time. Shaun doesn’t do this as overtly as most people, so I’m not biting his head off. But it’s a topic that needs discussed.
“Subconscious bias” =/= “racism”
“Racial bias” =/= “racism”
The thing about subconscious biases is that they encompass literally everything. We have biases about clothing color, and height, and posture, and voice, and opinions, and things on the left, and things that come first, and things that come last; and all of those things are further effected by the temperature of the room and the color of the walls and whether or not you just got done jogging before having an interaction. “Subconscious biases” are everywhere.
They can be biases for something or against something, and it is important to note here that being biased in favor of one thing doesn’t mean you don’t like the other things. That’s a common mistake made. Society, in fact, does a pretty good job at mitigating and lessening inherent biases just as much, if not more than, it reinforces them, depending on the environment. So the kid raised by wolves in a fallout shelter would probably actually be more effected by inherent biases than someone raised within society, if I were to guess. You can’t escape these. Newborns have inherent, “subconscious” biases. Month-old infants who’ve never left their house have inherent biases.
This is why it irritates me so much when people talk about “inherent, subconscious biases” like they’re something wildly significant by default. Oh no, we have racial biases! Almost like how we have biases centered around pretty much everything else. What a surprise. Racial biases tend to be in favor of your racial in-group according to eye-tracking studies done with infants. In short, they prefer people who look like them, and this is true for all races, not just evil white people. They tend to see people who look like them as more friendly or less of a threat, which makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Your family is less likely to want to kill you. Even so, that bias is vastly effected by the society you live in (not what you see on TV and billboards, but the people you actively interact with). Children who frequently interact with more racially diverse groups lose the “other races are scary and inherently less preferable than my race” bias, for example. And even with that bias still firmly in place, it is mitigated by a far more specific subconscious bias in favor of people who agree with you. Infants and adults are more likely to have a positive bias for someone who likes the things they like and a negative bias against someone who doesn’t like what they like. And if the one they agree with is of another race than them, they’ll still prefer that person over someone of the same race who disagrees with them.
Sooooooooooooooo . . . inherent biases are tricky. They are mitigated and strengthened and canceled out by a million and one things a million times over before you can act on anything. And those factors are not really something that you can just generalize across entire races, white or otherwise. They are also not the same as overt racism, and white people are not the only ones effected by them.
Shaun is right to point out that subconscious bias is difficult to detect. It’s actually much easier to do with infants too young to speak. For example, the infamous racial bias test that you can take from your very own computer that was used as an official research tool is not reliable whatsoever. If you’re interested, it tracks reaction time to see if you’re faster to associate bad words and images with minorities. I took the same test four separate times and got four wildly varying results. I believe I was biased in favor of minorities once, biased against them once, and got a neutral score twice. So the SJW tactic of telling people what their subconscious biases objectively and definitely are is laughable to me. “If you’re white, these are the biases you definitely have, and they are definitely not mitigated or in any way effected by anything else, either mentally or in your external environment! No question!” It is actually rather ridiculous.
We’re biased in favor of people with their hair parted to the right. Can the lefties start up an interest group lobby now?
That took a long time to respond to. Fuck.
I understand the argument “All white people are racist,” but wouldn’t personally use it. If I did have to say all white people were racist . . . I’d waffle a lot and lay a lot of ground work beforehand, and that just makes the statement lose all of its shock value, which negates the point of saying it in the first place.
Good. You’re saying you’d lay groundwork and further explain the situation like doing that is somehow a bad thing, like it’s “waffling.” No. Being hesitant to make sweeping claims is a good thing.
The argument to be had with the “All white people are racist” approach is one of efficacy. On the one hand, “racism” is a powerful word, and it draws a lot of attention to an issue that needs a lot of attention. But on the other hand, you are gonna get a lot of backlash saying something like that. Is the increased attention worth the backlash? It turns people off.
I don’t think it’s very effective. As Shaun himself pointed out, for everyone one person who decides to continue listening to you after you say this, you’ve got at least one other person who pissed off and decided to never speak to you again. And the backlash this “all white people are racist” sentiment gets is justified, not just because it draws a lot of negative attention. As he states, “racism” is a powerful term. Not only is it a powerful term, but it is an inherently negative powerful term.
I’m forgetting the guy’s name, and I’m too lazy to use Google; but there was a politician in the 1990s who was a staunch Democrat-was all in favor of social safety net programs and made uplifting the black community a huge part of his platform and service record. An upstanding guy. He said the word “niggardly” once in a press conference in regards to finances and got blacklisted from politics, reviled by his former voter base afterward, because a black person heard him say that word and thought it sounded too much like the word “nigger.” This is not a case of mishearing someone. He said “niggardly,” the black person heard “niggardly,” and decided to call it racist anyway because hey, close enough.
Calling things racist is a big fucking deal. Or at least it used to be. I have spoken about this before about how social justice seems very fond of overusing words to the point where they lose all value and meaning, and “racist” is one of the words in question. When you take the inherent human racial bias that is a simple in-group preference (no overt maliciousness) and call that racism, you devalue the term “racism.” When you say that simply having a racial in-group preference (totally ignoring that tons of other factors have a huge effect on whether or not this preference actually makes it to the top rung of things that actively factor into an individual’s higher-level thoughts and outward actions) is racism, you devalue the term “racism.”
You’re essentially damning people for having a thought crime that they may or may not personally approve of and may or may not act on in any capacity, that you don’t even know they actually have to begin with. That is a total clusterfuck. How is that helpful? How? How is accusing someone of being some awful thing and couching the accusation in terms that they are logically incapable of disputing a good way to go about things? This is made even worse by the typical tactic of saying that anyone who disputes the accusation of being “racist on the inside” is just proving that they are indeed racist on the inside “The insane man denies he’s insane” and all that. There’s no winning with this. And when one of your biggest points is one that can’t be argued against, congratulations, you’re in a religion!
And all of that totally ignores my opinion that it actually is a racist sentiment. Racism is awful. If it wasn’t generally agreed upon that racism is awful, then it wouldn’t be such a good word to throw around to get your way. You are fitting into the provided definition of “racism” like a glove: you think that one racial group is the only racial group capable of doing something that you and almost everyone else thinks is utterly deplorable. If that isn’t tacitly implying some kind of inherent moral inferiority on white people’s part, I don’t know what is. And if I’m getting this wrong, and that isn’t the intention, then this sure as fuck has been one hell of an unintended consequence of throwing this “all white people are racist” idea around like it’s just the fact of the matter.
Just for a thought experiment, imagine if I just came out and said that all black people were criminals in order to be “effective” and get people’s attention so I can talk about crime in black neighborhoods. I don’t think you’d like that one bit.
Moving on to him talking about the basketball/SAT topic.
There’re a few different lines of argument here. You need context. For example, I can say, “Dogs are larger than cats.” Is that true? Free of context, that statement is neither true nor untrue. If we’re talking about domesticated dogs and cats, it is true. Even the words “dogs” and “cats” need clarification.
Well, actually . . . *she said in the snootiest, most punchable voice humanly possible*
You actually don’t need context here. Or at least not the kind of context Shaun is refering to. Linguistically speaking, “Dogs are larger than cats.” is a sentence that can be understood in two different ways. “Dogs” and “cats” can either be single conceptual groups or they can be terms refering to every single dog and every single cat in question. In the second scenario, yes, you’d need the context that he provides in order to say whether or not it’s true or false. Conceptual groups, on the other hand, do not require that. For an easier example: “The dog is an affectionate animal.” “Dog,” here is not talking specifics. It’s not asking for specifics. It is making a generalizing statement that is agreed upon by others in the conversation to be accurate on a conceptual level. Our default idea of what goes into the stereotypical, concept-level dog has “affectionate” as a trait, the same way a conceptual dog is bigger than the conceptual cat, so further clarification isn’t necessary.
This is actually a tangent. This sentence structure doesn’t fit likelihood claims very well. We’ll move on.
So let’s talk about the term “Black people are more likely to be criminals than white people.” I see this sort of thing all the time, usually justifying a reported police bias against black people. Is it true?
Yes. He goes into this more, though.
By itself, it doesn’t mean anything. First off, we need a specific location. “In the USA, black people are more likely to be criminals than white people.”
This is the case. Black people are approximately 13% of the US population, and they commit around the same number of violent crimes as white people who are over half of the US population. To say that there’s nothing disproportionate there seems like Shaun is being a bit intentionally dense.
What does more likely mean? Are we speaking genetically?
No. I stopped here to address this point specifically because this seems to be the knee-jerk reaction of people. Not even leftists, just people in general. When you say “Black people commit more crimes than white people,” or “Black people in the US are more violent than white people in the US,” or any iteration of those ideas, people’s default understanding of it is to think you’re saying something about what black people inherently, genetically are. like. They then move from that to calling you a racist, because of course.
This is not a claim about the genetics or default state of existence for people with darker skin tones. It is a description of the reality of the situation, no matter how awkward and uncomfortable that reality is. Just making that clear.
Most people will say no, not genetically but statistically. Where do these statistics come from? Data taken from the police and court system. So, “In the USA, according to data gathered by the justice system . . . white people.”
And here he goes off for a while about how this is inaccurate because statistics about how black people commit more crimes affects policing strategies and leads to black people being policed more than white people, which leads to them getting arrested more, which leads to their data being added to those stats and making them go up, perpetuating the cycle of black people being targeted by the police.
I have many, many issues with this, but I’ll try to be concise and make some bullet points.
- For the police to go after specifically black people so much that they make it look like 13% of the population has the same crime rate as 60% of the population, that would entail a ridiculous amount of negligence that doesn’t seem readily apparent. American police forces are very arrest-happy. Even when you take into account our population, the amount of arrests made and imprisonments in this country is on par with some pretty depressingly oppressive places, and most of those arrests are of white people. Yes, I know, “population proportion.” But the implication that American cops are neglecting to apprehend white criminals en mass in favor of going after black people is at borderline conspiracy-theory levels.
- This also implies that the initial data was also wrong and that majority black areas in question are just being “targeted” for no reason and the stats got bumped up out of pure racism. This once again seems like he’s being intentionally dense. Go ride around Oakland sometime and then come back and tell me that the LA cops calling it a high crime area are just talking out of their asses because they’re biased against black people. They aren’t being targeted, they’re being policed. And, yes, an area where more police are lurking around is bound to turn up more arrests than one where they have to be called to-location first, but Shaun seems to be willfully ignoring the fact that we don’t have caretaker cops that are just there to give us directions when we’re lost. We have cops that tend to stick around areas where dangerous crimes happen. Yes, this also means that they get people for more petty, misdemeanor chargers as well, but he seems to be saying that there’s no pressing reason for this cop presence and that petty misdemeanor charges are all they hand out which is just false.
- Murder in particular is a different breed of monster that is, in many ways, more accurately reported on. If someone gets killed, the chances of finding the person who did it are higher than in other violent crimes like a mugging or a rape. Murder tends to get reported (not just shrugged off as a lame experience like getting robbed), there tends to be more evidence, more mistakes tend to be made, etc. And the factor that Shaun will probably think is important is that murder is very homogeneous. You don’t get very many cross-racial murders. The amount of reported murders within black American communities–with black people doing the killing and black people getting killed and black people calling the police for help–is in the same ballpark as the number for the much larger white community. This isn’t arrests, by the way. This is just reports. The court hasn’t touched these numbers yet.The prison system hasn’t touched these numbers yet. So unless the black victims of these crimes are being biased when they call in about one of their friends getting hit by a stray drive-by bullet, making the argument that racist policing must be why the stats are so high doesn’t really work here. And if his argument isn’t “police need to stop policing these communities as much because that’s racist,” I’m not sure what it is.
- Other minority communities (read: Latino) that are policed and racially profiled just as much as black communities do not show this same pattern of hugely disproportionate crime. It’s almost as if they don’t commit as much.
That’s how you end up with black Americans being arrested more for smoking marijuana far more than white people even though they smoke at similar rates. And that’s just on the police end. The justice system isn’t perfect. Black people are more likely to be convicted of the same crimes as white people, and they receive harsher punishments than white people. “In America, according to the US justice system, black people are more likely to be found to be criminals than white people.” then.
First, I want to point out that Shaun is using “more likely” statements to justify his own mentality. Seeing as how this entire video is him picking a “more likely” statement that he doesn’t like apart for being too vague and not detailed enough, I just find it rather ironic that he’s perfectly willing to throw out his own “more likely”s about how black people are victims of things without dissecting them for details.
Yes, I agree that black people have been the main victims of overzealous drug enforcement, mainly because they are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are heavily policed. The large percentage of black people in prison can be, with some caveats, attributed to non-violent drug charges earning them stints in prison. I agree that that is messed up, but it’s not an argument against ghettos being heavily policed. It’s an argument against harmful drug laws. Now for some more bullet points . . .
- There is more to prison conviction than race. A huuuuuuuuuuge factor that no one talks about (which is rather infuriating to me) is the lack of competent legal assistance provided for low-income people. Also known as, the people who get taken to court for petty drugs charges, and the people who rob someone in an alleyway for some extra cash, etc. A judge isn’t looking at a black person and saying, “Because I hate niggers, you go to jail longer!” Black people are arrested in disproportionately large numbers thanks to their high concentration in urban areas. These urban areas tend to be high crime areas. These high crime areas tend to be judicially governed over by a very limited number of courthouses typically based on districts and jurisdictions. Governing over a high crime area means these courthouses are very busy all of the time. These high crime areas tend to be low-income areas where the people being taken to see the judge can’t afford a lawyer and/or don’t know how to effectively work the legal system. The courthouses are severely overworked due to their location, with a severe lack of financial resources due to their location, and a severe lack of publicly provided law representation–the publicly provided representation that low-income people depend on. This leads to people being given a very overworked lawyer who generally doesn’t have the time or energy to even look at their case for more than a few minutes before going to see the judge. This leads to the lawyer giving really shitty, default advice to just take whatever deal the judge gives them because they have no time to argue it any further. The low-income person agrees because the lawyer is supposed to be the expert on these things, and if they want better representation they’re going to have to use money and time that they don’t have to pay for it.
- The deal the judge gives them is dependent upon very many factors that Shaun has neglected to mention. It’s not just race, believe it or not! It’s location: if you come from an area known for organized gang crime, they’ll put you away longer. It’s affiliation: if you are overtly associated with someone who is a known criminal, they’ll put you away longer. It’s past criminal history: if you’ve been in trouble with the law before, they’ll put you away longer. And if you’re a black kid living in an Oakland ghetto, the chances of having a record before you turn 16 are very high, and so are the chances of you living in Blood territory and having a few friends who really like wearing the color red. Is this fair? Not really. But the very white methheads in ABQ don’t fare very well with the court system either for largely the same reasons–they come from bad, economically depressed, drug-riddled places, have toxic friends, and they got caught stealing one too many times as a teenager, and no one in the courthouse feels like lifting a finger to help them out because it’s just not worth the time.
- The cycle of poverty is a bitch, and it also effects Native Americans more than black people, btdubs, so if the special victimization points go to anyone, it should be to them. So I guess he should start making some delicately worded statements about how, “Maybe some sources claim that Native Americans have what they call higher rates of alcoholism, if that’s what you think alcoholism is.”
If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of his final watered-down version of the statement that seems less “detail-oriented” and more . . . “dodgy.”
A huge predictor: richer, better educated parents have richer, better educated children. There are black people who were alive or whose parents were alive during the time of segregated schools. They were forced to go to worse schools and get a worse education than white people. These sorts of things take a lot of generations to shrink to the point where they are statistically insignificant.
Fun fact! Black schools were actually pretty good, at least in cities. It’s actually really interesting. They weren’t given as many resources or resources of the same quality, of course, but grade schools in all-black neighborhoods (from the 1920s through the mid-1950s, at least) had incredibly high standards that actually led to them testing on-par with children from all-white public schools.
The reason behind this was that educated black adults would go to these schools in the city as the only places to get a decent paying teaching job, where they then enforced very high educational standards despite their lack of resources. The same goes for black colleges, which were genuinely good schools. This is also combined with the fact that the anti-intellectualism you find in many black communities now wasn’t there for the majority of the twentieth century, so black parents also had very high education standards for their children. Education quality for black people actually dropped after schools were desegregated in the 1960s. Coupled with the beginning of welfare in black communities (that legitimately did screw people over when it was first instituted because they had no idea what they were doing) and the rise of the anti-intellectual sentiment that led to many people placing less value on education than on other facets of life, black academic achievement essentially nosedived into the modern era.
All of that was to say: The idea that black people never had good education or chance for upward mobility within their communities is not accurate. It’s especially not accurate when you take into account the fact that the education boom for black communities was in the 1920s, a time when black people objectively were being systematically oppressed by an overtly racist society, unlike modern times when claims of plain, old systemic racism can even be argued against.
The majority of recent Asian immigrants have BA degrees, and their children and grandchildren are the ones taking the SAT. A bunch of impoverished North Korean farmers won’t be taking the SAT and they’d do shit at it. One good point of comparison is that young black children who are adopted to better on these kinds of tests because adopted kids generally grow up in richer, safer households. If you change the circumstances, you get different results.
There’s nothing all that objectionable here except for me pointing out that even low-income kids in East Asia typically get better scores than Western kids. I’d chalk that up to a cultural thing, though.
Some things are technically right. There’s a point to be made about technically being right. There were a series of tweets by Richard Dawkins where he was ranking how bad different types of rapes are. Even if he’s right, shut up. Shut up, Richard Dawkins. Being right isn’t an excuse for being a prick.
That Richard Dawkins thing is fucking random. Being right is an excuse for being a prick, though. When you have mainstream feminists refusing to discuss what even constitutes a rape, somebody has to step up and try to make these very important distinctions. We do it with everything else. We have different degrees of murder. We say that armed robbery is worse than pick-pocketing. Wanting to discuss the different levels of severity that rape can fall under isn’t “being a prick” because it’s a sensitive subject that some people are uncomfortable talking about. And Dawkins is right. Being raped at knife-point is more traumatizing than being roofied at a party: you’re more likely to develop PTSD, and in cases where both cases lead to PTSD, the overtly violent rape leads to more severe and difficult/longer to treat symptoms. Being exposed to brutal violence does that to a person.
That’s a pretty good way to end this, though, because it helps me make my point. Shaun doesn’t seem like a bad guy or an unintelligent guy, but he does seem like one who cares far too much about being sensitive. You can see it with him spending 15 minutes to talk about the finer points of a vague statement that he disagrees with but him not even addressing when he uses similar vague statements of his own. You can see if with him being very concerned with the nuances of individual situations . . . until Richard Dawkins says something straightforward about the nuances of rape, in which case it should just not be talked about because some topics are just nasty business.