Monday, June 2, 2008

Censored data on race and gender

The oddly titled site, La Griffe Du Lion, presents the sort of data on race and gender that is usually omitted from discussions.

I believe an even-handed examination of these data is crucial if, as Barack Obama urges, we are to have an honest, full-dimension discussion of race.

Such a clear-eyed examination is especially important if we hope to develop approaches to race and gender problems that will be more helpful than the past 50 years of massive, well-intentioned, but ultimately minimally cost-beneficial efforts.

We owe ourselves, the taxpayers, as well as women and minorities the willingness to examine all the data, even when it makes us feel uncomfortable.


Anonymous said...

Not to discount "La Griffe Du Lion," but I don't think it will matter what the data says.

I do personally think it's worth looking at the data. I did scan one of the papers.

In general, however, we can't agree on what the problems are, or even if there are problems at all. If we can't do that, we won't even get as far as looking at data, which would probably be labeled as biased or tainted by some.

The only time data is considered useful in such a discussion is if the parties using it can do so to their advantage, thereby making it useful only to those parties. The article by Christina Hoff Sommers in one of your earlier blog posts has some examples of this.

I am a black woman, and I know and work with people of several different races. The black people I know, particularly my family, will talk about race, but only in a way that makes blacks look favorable. Other minorities I know might hint at it, but won't really say anything outright.

Whites I know will not even hint at it. They do their damnedest to avoid it completely, at least around me. The one white person I know that did bring up race around me told me that he was scared to discuss it with me, for fear that I will hate him for his positions. And that's a person I know well.

These are only my experiences. I can't speak for others. But I believe they are adequate examples of how emotions tend to dominate discussions of race, and as long as they do, objective data and facts will have no effect, and nothing will change. When we can get emotions out of the way, then an honest discussion is a possibility.

Anonymous said...

I just came across a quote that might be worth remembering:

"There is a class of colored 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."

This was said by Booker T. Washington, in 1911.

Know that most people are not like this. Also know that just enough are for this to remain a problem nearly a century later.


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