As mentioned previously, I’ve been studying race in relation to crime for the past year or so. As could be expected, I’ve come across a lot of data on other aspects of racial differences in America.
This morning I stumbled upon something about Obama’s cabinet, and went on a quest to find out the ethnic makeup of his “historically” diverse cabinet.
Perhaps i should preface this with a little bit of information. As of July 1st, 2005, the racial make-up of the United States was as follows:
TABLE NOTE: We could spend a large amount of time on debating the appropriate names for the races, but since what is “acceptable”
changes every few years, I’ve tried to maintain some simple titles, and apologize if you are offended by being called “white” rather than
While we’re looking at 2005, it might be interesting to note that in 2005, the incarceration rates for DRUG OFFENSES of the 3 largest populations (white, black and hispanic) were as follows:
At the time, it was believed that the decrease in blacks incarcerated for drug crimes and the increase in whites was related to the popularity of meth, and evolved production and dealing techniques for crack-cocaine. I don’t know how much of this is true … i have the quotes of the government officials that “said so”, but part of me wonders if the decrease in blacks being convicted of drug crimes has something also to do with some social changes (positive role models, ‘just say no’ programs, etc). i concur with the theory about meth being related to the increase in white incarceration for drug crimes. Two officials suggested that “with a lot of the criminals behind bars, there aren’t that many criminals left to commit crimes”. While that makes sense, its simplicity is somewhat suspect.
Another interesting bit of information here … when factoring in other crimes – particularly sex-crimes – whites actually made up 58.5% of overall prison populations. While still not a politically-correct match to the overall population percentages for the entire country (which would be 80.2%), the number is of incredible importance, as it illustrates the FACT that more whites are in prison than blacks and hispanics combined. This data seems to indicate that blacks and hispanics are caught committing drug crimes, and whites committing other crimes – not that minorities are unfairly rounded up into prisons.
This does present a problem for some of the conclusions i’d reached through other data … i believe that crime is a result of individual decisions influenced by upbringing, and not a result of genetic predisposition or government conspiracy, and to identify certain races of being more or less guilty of crimes involving addiction and substance abuse dangerously points a finger in the direction of genetic predisposition, but when one considers this data does not differentiate between producer, supplier or consumer, there really isn’t enough data to draw such a conclusion.
With the focus at this point on crime, we should examine an under-reported example of hate crime, and its relationship to “Post-Race’ America.
You might recall the video i posted a few months back, of Black-Panthers posted outside a Philidelphia voting place brandishing a night-stick and wearing panther uniforms, intimidating white voters. One of the panthers was quoted as saying “you better not come outside, because a black man is going to win this race, no matter what”. This was similar to a lot of the ‘race war’ threats in southern states around the election, where whites were told to “go home before dark”. In case you missed the footage of the panthers blocking the booth, here it is again, with additional Fox News footage during the arrest:
Government lawyers under the Bush administration pursued the case, and even had an affidavit from a prominent civil rights activist (Bartle Bull) who witnessed the confrontations, describing them as “the most blatant form of voter intimidation i’d ever seen … In my opinion, the men created an intimidating presence at the entrance to a poll … In all my experience in politics, in civil rights litigation and in my efforts in the 1960s to secure the right to vote in Mississippi … I have never encountered or heard of another instance in the United States where armed and uniformed men blocked the entrance to a polling location.” Bull also testified he heard one of the men tell a white poll watcher, “You are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker.”
When the government switched hands, new Attorney General, Obama’s Eric Holder, refused to enter the affidavit into the case, and two of the three men were dismissed with no penalty, while the third got an order that prohibits him from bringing a weapon to a polling place. (i.e. most people can’t bring weapons to polling places anyway, and this guy is still going to be allowed to vote).
It wouldn’t seem like a bias if all incidents were treated fairly, regardless of race. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Even while the obama administration, under the direction of Holder has ordered law enforcement officials to “back off” of counter-terrorism investigations into activities of radical black muslim converts, the same administration is stepping up surveilance of individuals (mostly white) who “stock up on ammunition, are anti-abortion, are returning disgruntled war vets, or who don’t agree with the policies of the administration”. In essence, if you’re black and want to brandish a weapon at a polling place, it’s ok to do it once … and if you’re angry and join a radical muslim group, it’s ok as long as you’re black … but if you dare be white and stock up on ammunition, or try to exercise your 1st amendment rights and speak out against abortion or any of the corrupt policies of the Obama administration, you could immediatley – without trial – lose your right to vote, to fly, to own a weapon, and possibly your right to walk as a free person in this country.
maybe i’m jumping the gun. lets go back to statistics.
We already saw that america is 80.2% white, 14.4% hispanic, and 12.8% black. We saw that criminal incarceration rates do not follow these same ratios, though in a country where 80% of the inhabitants are white, over half of prison inmates are also white.
In a country where 80% of the citizens are white, the majority elected a (half)black man as president. That is certainly a step in the right direction, as far as ‘colorblindness’ and equality is concerned. After all, he is the only one of 43 U.S. presidents who have been non-white. That means, with Obama, 2.3% of the U.S. presidents have been representative of a minority. If, by number, the list of presidents were to reflect today’s racial makeup of America, 5 1/2 U.S. Presidents would have been black by now. The presidency has, thus far, not been a “politically correct” representation of all races of people in America. In this way, yes, regardless of actual merit, Obama’s election victory was indeed a historical election, and is certainly a step in the direction America needs to take.
We have to stop and consider, however, whether or not the value is in the color of his skin, or in the lack of bias in America over the color of his skin. Unfortunatley, he represents our first “affirmative-action’ elected president. Obama was not elected by virtue of his abilities, certainly not by virtue of some grand congressional record … but by virtue of his skin color, at least if we are to accept the indications from our children’s enthusiuasm. Children across America gleefully told their parents, “I hope Obama wins!” At dinnertables spanning the country, the response to the parents’ curious “why?” was the same: “because he’s black!”
So is this really “Post Race America”? Does reverse discrimination mean that we’ve moved beyond making decisions based on skin color? Absolutely not! In fact, i would venture to say that Obama’s success may usher in a revival of segregation and racism, of promotions and admission based on the color of a person’s skin, their gender, or their sexual choices. When we look at his cabinet, we see that “pro-diversity” (meaning “choosing based on skin color, gender and sexual preference to create the illusion of integration”) gives us an uneven “mix” of race and background. Of 22 officials selected by Obama to fill positions at “cabinet-level”, only 9 represent white males (40.9%). When looking at the wider scope of the Obama administration, the number is significantly higher – of 366 of the President’s decision makers, 52% are white (though when you remove those who are merely hold-overs from the outgoing Bush administration, the number is closer to 49%).
I guess what i’m getting at … is that we (the American people, of all races, creeds, genders, blah blah blah) need to quit fooling ourselves. There ARE differences between who we physiologically are (male, female, race, etc), there ARE differences in who we choose to be, and “birds of a feather flock together” – and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, if anything, there is something deeply wrong with forcing “integration” when it just isn’t there. (Hold on there! I’m not advocating segregation, i don’t believe in racial superiority or any of that!) i just mean we shouldn’t be spending money and using time to bus white kids on one side of town to the ‘black’ side of town, and vice-versa, because forcing people to “accept” being dragged across town from their home and family in the name of “political correctness”, “diversity”, “integration”, or whatever the catch phrase is, is really just weird. YES, people need the opportunity to associate with others unlike themselves, and YES, education is essential to create familiarity, destroy fear and promote understanding, but forcing it is different than promoting an environment that will allow natural curiousity to drive inner change. Sesame Street did more for racial equality than all the affirmative action programs combined … because it presented and didn’t force. Same thing with “The Cosby Show” … we weren’t constantly reminded that the characters weren’t white, and that there was this gigantic social difference or whatever … to all the generations after those who saw these shows as “groundbreaking”, they were just shows, and the people in them were just people … and we were watching for the plot and the content, and not for the social commentary that may or may not be there.
The most racist people i’ve ever known have been those who studied “race studies” in college, or who work for activist groups … and i’ve known a pretty diverse lot of people in my time! The common thread among these … is their constructed, intellectualized, plotted and scheduled version of “natural” versus true nature. They conjure up and point out the differences no one really cared about before. While it is important to take the good from a diverse number of life experiences, these people wanted to push diverse ideas down our throats, and when you choke, it’s harder to appreciate what you’re being fed.
In order for discrimination to end, we must stop discriminating.