Black Lives Matter

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Re: Black Lives Matter

Post by Pe.A »

graham wrote: Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:56 pm
sejintenej wrote: Thu Jul 30, 2020 12:36 pm
Ahh.! so the Chump should ban the employment of whites????????? that is affirmative action but the hidden KKK would never allow it. A bit like a modern day Sherman marching through Georgia.

Incidentally, interesting to see that this conversation is being tracked by a US outfit.
No one is calling for a ban on the employment of whites. Affirmative action, properly implemented, does not prohibit the employment of any majority group. Rather, it provides a justification for the consideration of race / gender / etc... as an additional factor when assembling a shortlist from qualified candidates. If not enough qualified candidates are deemed to come from underrepresented groups, it provides a justification for deeming that the search has failed.

From your response, I get the impression you are broadly in agreement that Affirmative Action is a good thing. Is that correct? If so, I think you broadly agree with the motivations of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Which motivations on the BLM movement? The calls to defund the police etc...?
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Re: Black Lives Matter

Post by sejintenej »

graham wrote: Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:56 pm
No one is calling for a ban on the employment of whites. Affirmative action, properly implemented, does not prohibit the employment of any majority group. Rather, it provides a justification for the consideration of race / gender / etc... as an additional factor when assembling a shortlist from qualified candidates. If not enough qualified candidates are deemed to come from underrepresented groups, it provides a justification for deeming that the search has failed.
An employment agency told me that 80% of places are filled through word of mouth.
a) employ someone through an agency then you have to pay the agency - OK that is acceptable if you do not get someone another way
b) you have two applicants in front of you; one is recommended by one of your staff and the other has answered an advertisement / agency. Logically you are going to go with the one who is recommended by someone you trust.

In practice we used agencies because it so happened that staff seldom came up with possible employees. We thus got people with a wide range of ethnic and religious backgrounds; it went purely on how the applicants came over at interview and on their qualifications. In my own department we also gave them a simple technical test based on the job to take away and return by post. Quite a few failed on that - some didn't even return it.
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Re: Black Lives Matter

Post by graham »

Pe.A wrote: Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:44 am
You seem to view this in solely 'Black' VS 'White' terms - what about the others...?

Correction: We live in a world plagued by the impact of history in general. Groups in the US and the UK who, for whatever reasons, perform well, tend to focus less on the alleged racial inequity
You're absolutely correct, Roger. History shapes all we experience and that history has resulted in many different inequities that impact many different people in many different places. II don't deny those are problems and don't deny they require attention. I am focusing on the impacts of white actions on Black people for several reasons. First, I'm white and have benefitted immensely from the systems that were developed in the UK and USA, where I am from and now live respectively, in part on the backs of enslaved Black people and systems that explicitly prevented Black people from advancing in education, employment, housing, etc. I was not part of those systems but I benefit from their continued legacy and have some modicum of power to influence change. I want to be a part of that.

It's not just Black people that have been impacted. Indigenous americans were subjected to prolonged genocide over the past 500 years and still face challenges that result from failure to honor treaties, land grabs, and treatment as second class citizens. The latinx community (folks of Mexican, central American and indigenous caribbean descent, among others) have also faced tremendous institutionalized issues. I view these as important too.

You claim that some Black americans do not support the BLM movement as if this invalidates it. That you can point to a lone NBA player, among hundreds, who did not keel on opening day does not imply that BLM is some kind of minority exercise. I can point you to climate scientists who claim that human induced climate change is not happening, doctors who believe vaccines cause autism, and molecular biologists who deny evolution and promote creation. But none of these minority opinions invalidate the majority perspective. A recent Washington Post survey found that over 65% of Americans, regardless of racial background, support the BLM movement in general. I would encourage you to not speculate on how much support the movement has among Black people and, instead, to directly engage with Black people on this topic and learn of their perspectives and experiences directly.

I'm not an expert in these topics. I'm reading and talking and learning about experiences that I have not had and cannot possibly understand without some listening and some introspection. From your responses, I get the sense you do not believe there is a problem or, that if there is, it is being overblown by some overly sensitive types. Again, I encourage you to listen. Not to me, but to people who have been directly impacted by the inequities I'm talking about.
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Re: Black Lives Matter

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sejintenej wrote: Sun Aug 02, 2020 10:42 am An employment agency told me that 80% of places are filled through word of mouth.
a) employ someone through an agency then you have to pay the agency - OK that is acceptable if you do not get someone another way
b) you have two applicants in front of you; one is recommended by one of your staff and the other has answered an advertisement / agency. Logically you are going to go with the one who is recommended by someone you trust.
I quite believe this. Academia works in similarly nepotistic ways, either by hiring those who were trained by colleagues / friends or preferring those who went to fancy universities over those who came from smaller public institutions. I get that in many ways its practical. But it does propagate disparities.
In practice we used agencies because it so happened that staff seldom came up with possible employees. We thus got people with a wide range of ethnic and religious backgrounds; it went purely on how the applicants came over at interview and on their qualifications. In my own department we also gave them a simple technical test based on the job to take away and return by post. Quite a few failed on that - some didn't even return it.

This is a much better strategy. Research has shown that biases can still creep in here though. For example, people with "Black sounding" names tend to get fewer call backs when submitting the same CV but with a white sounding name. There's an idea that implicit bias is a big factor here - not conscious discrimination but some subconscious sorting of Black names into the "less desirable" bin compared with white sounding names.
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Re: Black Lives Matter

Post by sejintenej »

graham wrote: Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:47 pm . Research has shown that biases can still creep in here though. For example, people with "Black sounding" names tend to get fewer call backs when submitting the same CV but with a white sounding name. There's an idea that implicit bias is a big factor here - not conscious discrimination but some subconscious sorting of Black names into the "less desirable" bin compared with white sounding names.
I had certainly heard that.
For my department the requirements were pretty specific so the agencies soon learned not to send us trash. The big banks used to take uni leavers as "management trainees" who by year five realised that there was a glass ceiling and they were knocking their heads against it. We used to get a lot of them applying through agencies and soon realised that applicants would tell us that they were highly experienced at .... and ..... but when the test was put to them they had no idea; eventually we refused to even interview those "management trainees" from four specific major banks.
Thus any name which appeared to be skilled and did not come from those banks got an interview at least. Trying to think if I ever brought in a British person; certainly I interviewed and brought in a German, a Norwegian, an Australian, a girl from the Azores and a Mauritian though my boss(who left a few years after I arrived) was British. At the end I had approved an English girl but put her off because a takeover was on course. Amongst the staff we certainly had coloured staff as well is Indians
Amazingly, apart from the secretary whom I inherited (English) everybody in European HQ (which included us) was at least bilingual and at least two spoke five languages each (not sure how useful Maltese would have been).
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Re: Black Lives Matter

Post by rockfreak »

A timely book has just come out titled 'Caste, The Lies That Divide Us' by Isabel Wilkerson, an Afro-American ex-journalist with the New York Times. She argues that caste as opposed to skin colour is the problem. Her coverage takes in America, India, Nazi Germany and elsewhere. "Caste is insidious and therefore powerful because it is not hatred, it is not necessarily personal. It is the worn grooves of comforting routine and unthinking expectations, patterns of a social order that have been in place for so long that it looks like the natural order of things." She also makes the interesting point that whenever the "lower castes" have gained greater freedom in the past there has always been a vicious backlash; hence the explosion in racism and prejudice under Donald Trump after Barack Obama's presidency.
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Re: Black Lives Matter

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I would agree with that quote, the worn grooves of comforting routines and unthinking expectations.. The problem now is getting everyone to start thinking and get out of those grooves.
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Re: Black Lives Matter

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graham wrote: Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:22 pm
Pe.A wrote: Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:44 am
You seem to view this in solely 'Black' VS 'White' terms - what about the others...?

Correction: We live in a world plagued by the impact of history in general. Groups in the US and the UK who, for whatever reasons, perform well, tend to focus less on the alleged racial inequity
You're absolutely correct, Roger. History shapes all we experience and that history has resulted in many different inequities that impact many different people in many different places. II don't deny those are problems and don't deny they require attention. I am focusing on the impacts of white actions on Black people for several reasons. First, I'm white and have benefitted immensely from the systems that were developed in the UK and USA, where I am from and now live respectively, in part on the backs of enslaved Black people and systems that explicitly prevented Black people from advancing in education, employment, housing, etc. I was not part of those systems but I benefit from their continued legacy and have some modicum of power to influence change. I want to be a part of that.
OK. But people from minority backgrounds have also benefitted from those same systems and opportunities in the US and in the UK. It's one thing to rail against how those systems came into being etc, but it's another thing to be blinded to the fact that those opportunities are open to all (?) I'm curious about the 'anomalies' which buck the trend. You seem to be viewing Black people as some sort of homogenous group. My favourite go-to group, Nigerians, in the US perform very well. Nigerian households earn more than the national average; 37% hold Bachelor degrees and 17% hold Master degrees, compared to 19% and 8% respectively for white people in the US. Then you have other minorities which perform well. What are the reasons for this? As more recent immigrants, can they see the wood for the trees when it comes to taking advantage of the opportunities open to them; do they have less/different cultural baggage etc? You're the academic, you tell me (it's a question I previously asked, btw).
It's not just Black people that have been impacted. Indigenous americans were subjected to prolonged genocide over the past 500 years and still face challenges that result from failure to honor treaties, land grabs, and treatment as second class citizens. The latinx community (folks of Mexican, central American and indigenous caribbean descent, among others) have also faced tremendous institutionalized issues. I view these as important too.

You claim that some Black americans do not support the BLM movement as if this invalidates it. That you can point to a lone NBA player, among hundreds, who did not keel on opening day does not imply that BLM is some kind of minority exercise. I can point you to climate scientists who claim that human induced climate change is not happening, doctors who believe vaccines cause autism, and molecular biologists who deny evolution and promote creation. But none of these minority opinions invalidate the majority perspective. A recent Washington Post survey found that over 65% of Americans, regardless of racial background, support the BLM movement in general. I would encourage you to not speculate on how much support the movement has among Black people and, instead, to directly engage with Black people on this topic and learn of their perspectives and experiences directly.

I gave a couple of examples (including the NBA player) just for brevity's sake. Even if you are right about 65% firm support for BLM in all of their aims (some which I consider b*llocks- like defunding the police), 35% is not an insignificant number - I chose my phrasing carefully. As for engaging directly with Black people directly etc, what makes you think I haven't? I've been having similar conversations for years. For me, it's never been a case of systemic racism holding people back, more one of class/culture etc. Yes, there probably are glass ceilings for all sorts of people, but i'm a believer that glass ceilings can be pushed back, it just requires weight of numbers. I can remember years ago reading a City based newspaper's interview with a Black guy who was asked whether he considered there was a glass ceiling in the City for minorities. His answer was unequivocal and stuck with me. His answer was "In my experience, it's not what someone looks like which is important, it's what someone sounds like". Comments by the UK politician David Lammy quite a few years ago echoed that.
I'm not an expert in these topics. I'm reading and talking and learning about experiences that I have not had and cannot possibly understand without some listening and some introspection. From your responses, I get the sense you do not believe there is a problem or, that if there is, it is being overblown by some overly sensitive types. Again, I encourage you to listen. Not to me, but to people who have been directly impacted by the inequities I'm talking about.
It's not that I think there isn't a problem with racism (whatever that word now means), but I think a lot of it is a symptom of the problems rather than the cause of them. What is clear to me is that the numbers of minorities in the UK, for example, are quite low with respects to the wider populations and that leaves the door open for stereotypes/ preconceptions to creep in as to how different minorities are seen to act/behave etc. The key is have people better informed about what opportunities are available etc. This is something that the current UK race commissioner, Tony Sewell is an advocate for. He doubts the existence, or at least the extent, of racism being systemic just because there are disparities, and wants to push more young people from Black, and other minority backgrounds, into more technical careers in STEM areas etc. It's basically concentrating on investing at a more grassroots level, and creating a better economic base to work from. And that's precisely the thing, it's not necessarily racism holding people back, it's more of a culture/class and economic thing underpinning the problems which manifest themselves in predominantly Black areas having problems with lower employment, higher than average petty crime rate etc. which then feeds into the disproportionate focus by law enforcement/profiling. All in all it's vicious circle but one which can be broken but needs better planning and leadership at national and community level.
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Re: Black Lives Matter

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rockfreak wrote: Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:12 pm A timely book has just come out titled 'Caste, The Lies That Divide Us' by Isabel Wilkerson, an Afro-American ex-journalist with the New York Times. She argues that caste as opposed to skin colour is the problem. Her coverage takes in America, India, Nazi Germany and elsewhere. "Caste is insidious and therefore powerful because it is not hatred, it is not necessarily personal. It is the worn grooves of comforting routine and unthinking expectations, patterns of a social order that have been in place for so long that it looks like the natural order of things." She also makes the interesting point that whenever the "lower castes" have gained greater freedom in the past there has always been a vicious backlash; hence the explosion in racism and prejudice under Donald Trump after Barack Obama's presidency.
Exactly. Although 'caste' is such an ugly word.
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Re: Black Lives Matter

Post by sejintenej »

Pe.A wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:53 am
Exactly. Although 'caste' is such an ugly word.
I cannot think of another word which denotes a grouping of members of the KKk or Church of ..... or Friends of ..... Hospital or the Republican (Democratic) Party or Freemasons or Society of St John of Jerusalem or ..... . At least we are moving away from colour which itself is a wide embracing concept which go from White through to every other shade
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Re: Black Lives Matter

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sejintenej wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:08 pm
Pe.A wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:53 am
Exactly. Although 'caste' is such an ugly word.
At least we are moving away from colour which itself is a wide embracing concept which go from White through to every other shade
Exactly.
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Re: Black Lives Matter

Post by J.R. »

I have purposely not commented on this thread.

'LIFE MATTERS' would be my train of thought.
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Re: Black Lives Matter

Post by graham »

Pe.A wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:49 am
OK. But people from minority backgrounds have also benefitted from those same systems and opportunities in the US and in the UK. It's one thing to rail against how those systems came into being etc, but it's another thing to be blinded to the fact that those opportunities are open to all (?) I'm curious about the 'anomalies' which buck the trend. You seem to be viewing Black people as some sort of homogenous group. My favourite go-to group, Nigerians, in the US perform very well. Nigerian households earn more than the national average; 37% hold Bachelor degrees and 17% hold Master degrees, compared to 19% and 8% respectively for white people in the US. Then you have other minorities which perform well. What are the reasons for this? As more recent immigrants, can they see the wood for the trees when it comes to taking advantage of the opportunities open to them; do they have less/different cultural baggage etc? You're the academic, you tell me (it's a question I previously asked, btw).
I think I also previously answered this question. Some recent immigrants might well perform better than the population average but the population that BLM is focusing on is very specifically African American (I speak of the US, where the movement originated, but one could also speak of Black British, I think).

I would make two other points here. First, I'd suggest you're mixing up arguments about equality and equity. I don't dispute that opportunities are open to all. I'm arguing that the systemic issues that very heavily impact Black populations over white populations mean that they are, on the whole, less accessible to Black folks. To use an analogy, it's like have two people run 100 meters - the same distance - on that old gravelly running track at CH but giving one person running shoes and making the other run barefoot. It's the same distance but one has a clear advantage over the other. Second,
one of the reasons that immigrant Black populations might perform better than African American populations is precisely because they have not had the multigenerational experience with systemic racism. But this line of questioning veers into dangerous territory. Once we start asking about cultural differences as if these are innate to populations, rather than a result of their experiences in society, we start making arguments that some people are just more driven that others etc. These arguments really do start becoming racist in the more traditional sense of the term.

Even if you are right about 65% firm support for BLM in all of their aims (some which I consider b*llocks- like defunding the police),
Why is defunding the police complete b*llocks? You don't think it's at all possible that reducing funding for police departments that goes towards military grade equipment and investing that money in community organizations that provide job training, afterschool programs etc might actually help? Defunding the police is not about taking away their funding completely - it's about recognizing that a militarized police force with billion dollar budgets is not solving a problem but enhancing one.
As for engaging directly with Black people directly etc, what makes you think I haven't? I've been having similar conversations for years.
I apologize for implying this. That was not my intent but it was how it came across. I meant to say that asking me - a privileged white person will not give you the answers you seek and that talking with Black folks who feel this way will.
For me, it's never been a case of systemic racism holding people back, more one of class/culture etc. Yes, there probably are glass ceilings for all sorts of people, but i'm a believer that glass ceilings can be pushed back, it just requires weight of numbers.
Plenty of research disagrees with the perspective that classism rather than racism is a driver. For example, in this research article http://www-2.rotman.utoronto.ca/facbios ... cepted.pdf, the authors created resumes for fake Black and Asian candidates and then created "white washed" versions in which racial information was removed and names whitened. They found that white-washed resumes resulted in more than double the number of calls for interview than the minoritized resumes (nice summary here: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/minorities-w ... interviews).

I do not know what you mean by culture holding people back. I think it is a slippery slope to make such claims though.

It's not that I think there isn't a problem with racism (whatever that word now means), but I think a lot of it is a symptom of the problems rather than the cause of them. What is clear to me is that the numbers of minorities in the UK, for example, are quite low with respects to the wider populations and that leaves the door open for stereotypes/ preconceptions to creep in as to how different minorities are seen to act/behave etc. The key is have people better informed about what opportunities are available etc. This is something that the current UK race commissioner, Tony Sewell is an advocate for. He doubts the existence, or at least the extent, of racism being systemic just because there are disparities, and wants to push more young people from Black, and other minority backgrounds, into more technical careers in STEM areas etc. It's basically concentrating on investing at a more grassroots level, and creating a better economic base to work from. And that's precisely the thing, it's not necessarily racism holding people back, it's more of a culture/class and economic thing underpinning the problems which manifest themselves in predominantly Black areas having problems with lower employment, higher than average petty crime rate etc. which then feeds into the disproportionate focus by law enforcement/profiling. All in all it's vicious circle but one which can be broken but needs better planning and leadership at national and community level.
I find this funny, because what you describe (highlighted in bold) is precisely what systemic racism is - a system that results in, either consciously or unconscionably, the lack of investment and advancement within particular communities with no course correction and resulting disproportionate attention from law enforcement. And the solutions to this issue are exactly what you describe - an increase in attention on trying to get Black kids into STEM careers, increased funding and improving the economic landscape. I don't think you and I disagree on the issue or the solution, for the most part. You just don't want to call it racist.
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Re: Black Lives Matter

Post by graham »

J.R. wrote: Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:50 pm I have purposely not commented on this thread.

'LIFE MATTERS' would be my train of thought.
Haha, JR, I was waiting for this. Yes, life matters, but apparently many people seem to think Black lives matter less that white lives, so that's what we're talking about right now.
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Re: Black Lives Matter

Post by graham »

rockfreak wrote: Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:12 pm A timely book has just come out titled 'Caste, The Lies That Divide Us' by Isabel Wilkerson, an Afro-American ex-journalist with the New York Times. She argues that caste as opposed to skin colour is the problem. Her coverage takes in America, India, Nazi Germany and elsewhere. "Caste is insidious and therefore powerful because it is not hatred, it is not necessarily personal. It is the worn grooves of comforting routine and unthinking expectations, patterns of a social order that have been in place for so long that it looks like the natural order of things." She also makes the interesting point that whenever the "lower castes" have gained greater freedom in the past there has always been a vicious backlash; hence the explosion in racism and prejudice under Donald Trump after Barack Obama's presidency.
I have not read this book yet, but my understanding is that Wilkerson views caste as inherently linked to race, at least in US society, rather than as distinct from?
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