🎧 | Randall Kennedy and Yascha Mounk discuss how race has left its mark on American law
Randall Kennedy makes a lot of sense. How is Kendi so popular when a guy like Randall Kennedy exists?
Is America (the United States) systematically racist? There are a number of ways of looking at this, but they all yield the same answer. No.
1. The US and Canada have very different racial histories. However, the black/white income gap is remarkably similar. See “Black Canadians and Black Americans: Racial income inequality in comparative perspective” (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233008532_Black_Canadians_and_Black_Americans_Racial_income_inequality_in_comparative_perspective).
2. One clue is to look at societies where ‘racism’ (the white kind) hasn’t existed for a very long time. The Haitian Revolution was 217 years ago. If ‘white racism’ was really such a powerful force, then Haiti should be highly successful. That does not seem to be the case.
3. The per-capita GDP of Singapore is only 34X of Haiti. The US/white role in each country has been quite small. Both countries are removed from the USA and yet show disparities even larger than found in the USA.
4. In World War II, Japanese-Americans were interned in various camps and typically lost everything. Yet, by the middle 1960s, they were more successful than whites in America. Back then, racism towards Japanese-Americans wasn’t hypothetical or limited to the internment camps. See “ALIEN LAND LAWS IN CALIFORNIA (1913 & 1920)” (https://immigrationhistory.org/item/alien-land-laws-in-california-1913-1920/).
It should be noted that the Japanese-Americans in question were hardly elite. They were brought to America as farm laborers. However, even after the Word War II camps, they were highly successful. See “"Success Story, Japanese-American Style” (New York Times (1923-Current File); Jan 9, 1966)
5. It turns out that all of the most successful ethnic groups in America are non-white. Some are wildly more successful than white. Some statistics. Median Household income for Indian Americans ($107,390), Jews ($97,500), Taiwanese ($85,566), all Asians ($74,245) is greater than Whites ($59,698). As can you see, non-white ethnic groups are at the top and Jews earn (far) more than non-Jewish whites.
These numbers are real, but have two major problems. First, Asian households tend to be larger than non-Asian households. Using personal income provides a better measure than household income. Asian personal income is also higher than non-Asian personal income. However, the positive gap is not as large as the household income gap. The second problem is the nature of the 1965 Immigration Act. The 1965 Act favored (rightfully so) highly educated immigrants over less educated immigrants. The cliché Indian-American immigrant to the US is a doctor. Of course, that is a cliché. However, it is a cliché because it has some element of truth to it.
6. It turns out the school funding is not equal across the United Sates. New York state spends the most (over $24K per-student, per-year) and Utah spends the least (around $7K per-student, per-year). However, the results almost exactly the opposite of what ‘white racism’ theory predicts. Utah has higher test scores that New York state. Of course, ‘white racism’ theory would predict the Utah would spend more than New York state. That isn’t even remotely true.
7. Police fatalities are not equally distributed by race. In 2019, just 17 Asians were killed by the police. For whites the number was 406, and blacks 259. ‘White racism’ can not possibly explain the amazingly low number of Asians shot by police. For a typical factoid, in one year, two Japanese-Americans were arrested for murder. Not 200, or 200,000. Just two.
8. The Asian incarceration rate is 74.5% lower than the white incarceration rate and 95% below the black incarceration rate. ‘White racism’ can not possibly explain these astounding differences.
9. It turns out that schools discipline rates are tracked by race. See Figure 15.3 of “Indicator 15: Retention, Suspension, and Expulsion” (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/raceindicators/indicator_rda.asp). ‘White racism’ can not possibly explain these astounding differences.
10. That statistics for SAT scores, college enrollment/completion, arrests, etc. are all readily available by race. You can even find COVID-19 vaccination statistics by race. Invariably, you will find racial disparities and invariably Asians will be on top. So much for the mythology of ‘white racism’.
I prefer John McWhorter's take on CRT, wherein he refers to it as a new religion. After all, if all White people are always racist, it is analogous to all humans being sinners. The sins will always be there, but you can continually atone and be forgiven. So therefore, racism will always be here, but we will always be in a perpetual atonement for the sin of racism, because we are White. I can't support a theory that places all people of the same race in some category, especially in a morally or ethically deficient category. Additionally, do we then provide privileges to certain groups of people based on their race, because some of our ancestors held slaves or supported Jim Crow? The Constitution provides for equality for all, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity, which is to say, equality of opportunity, which I think what the original Civil Rights activists were striving for.
What is racism now anyway, as the word has been so overused, it is beginning to have no meaning other than an excuse to scare the "offensive" person off of an argument or point. For instance, why is it racist or misogynistic to criticize the Vice President because she laughs inappropriately, cannot string a coherent sentence together and also happened to be one of the least popular presidential candidates in her party? At the same time, the media and liberals can call people like Clarence Thomas or Tim Scott Uncle Toms or traitors to their race because they are conservative. Is there a rule that Black people can't be conservative?
Mr. Kennedy brings up John C Calhoun. In the early part of the 19th century, Calhoun argued that slavery was good for slaves because otherwise they couldn't handle freedom, they needed to be taken care of, almost like children. John McWhorter argues that not treating Blacks as equals in terms of responsibilities for crime, being held accountable for poor performance, and not holding up to educational standards is to the detriment of Blacks. Mr. McWhorter understands that with freedom comes responsibility, which should be a feature of good citizenship for all Americans.
In terms of identification or pride in one's race, I don't see a problem with solidarity with one's race or ethnicity, as long as it doesn't lead to fanaticism or supremacy. But I can imagine the chagrin over groups of Whites chanting "White Power" while Black people chanting "Black Power" is acceptable.
As a White American, I have no stake in holding back or being supreme over anyone who is not like me in terms of race, ethnicity or religion. On the contrary, I want to see everyone in this country have the opportunity to do and be the best they can as citizens. It makes this country more prosperous and safer. Let's try to make that work, by striving for a better future for all, instead of constantly atoning for past ills.
One other thought on supposed systemic racism. It is interesting that systemic racism is blamed on the ills of the Black community, such as crime, drug abuse and poverty, and yet progressive Democrats ( many of whom are Black) have been in the administration of many of these high crime and poverty stricken cities for years. How does this systemic racism perpetuate itself ?
From the article:
"And the Justice ruled against them [2 white firemen who claimed to be black], saying that based on the evidence (how they had over time referred to themselves, are they members of the black firefighters organization? Etc.) they really do not think of themselves as black. He came to the conclusion that they did not view themselves in good faith. They did not view themselves, honestly, as black people, and so therefore, he ruled against them."
I wonder if such a standard will ever be applied to issues regarding sexual/trans identity. Isn't the standard in such issues a simple declaration of "I am a woman" or "I am a man"? Fascinating that both skin color and gender are critical parts of identity, yet in one case it's de rigueur to see one as an absolute and the other as totally fluid.
Just brilliant. I thank Randall Kennedy for his thoughts.