Charlottesville, White People, and Racism

August 16, 2017, 6:37 PM UTC

If you haven’t checked out Sam Sanders’ new NPR podcast It’s Been A Minute, now would be an excellent time.

Sanders and the It’s Been A Minute team just uploaded a special episode inspired by an extraordinary and heart-felt tweet thread Sanders posted Saturday night, while the events of Charlottesville were still unfolding. “How will you fight racism and white supremacy in your everyday life?” he began. The responses that pored in were both illuminating and encouraging.

It took some 20 hours to put the episode together, which includes an interesting twist. “We talked about Charlottesville, ONLY w/white people,” Sanders explained by way of another Twitter thread. “So often after events like Charlottesville, there’s this pressure on Black, or Latinos, or Jews, or LGBTQ ppl to lead nat’l conversations,” he continued. “But here’s the thing: what if the work needed after Charlottesville is a better convo abt race BTWN whites?”

You can listen to the episode here. (It’s about an hour, so put on your headphones and go for a long, well-deserved walk.) Guests include UVA history professor Grace Hale, NPR’s Sarah McCammon (who covered the Trump campaign for NPR and was on hand in Charlottesville over the weekend), and developmental psychologist Amy Roberson Hayes.

If you only have time to dip your toes in, I suggest starting at the 25-minute mark, when a radio listener named Keith calls in to share his story about a nasty exchange that happened with a dear friend who expressed strongly anti-Islamic views on Facebook. Kevin attempted to call out his friend on what he perceived were his bigoted sentiments. “I was doing my best to listen to what they were having to say,” said Keith, but the exchange devolved into insults, dueling talking points, and ultimately, a friendship interrupted. Did the artificial distance of online conversation inflame the already sensitive topic? “I don’t think talking things out over a beer would have made a difference,” said Kevin.

But the events of Charlottesville have given him a new resolve.

“I’m a stereotypical, 39-year-old heterosexual white male,” said the former military man. “What I saw in Charlottesville was a lot of young white men that I can serve as the role model for,” he said. “And I haven’t been doing that.”

On Point

PayPal boots Richard Spencer off the platformPeople looking to express their views in favor of "hate, violence & intolerance" with their wallets will no longer be able to do so on PayPal. The company will stop processing payments that advocate racist views, "such as the KKK, white supremacist groups or Nazi groups," senior vice president Franz Paasche wrote in a statement published yesterday. Want proof? The PayPal link on a National Policy Institute page now returns this message: "This recipient is currently unable to receive money."Fortune

The war on whites isn’t real
This Washington Post piece offers a handy review of data and research that purports to show that white people continue to have more wealth and opportunity and are less likely to be caught up in poverty or the criminal justice system than other racial groups. And while the plight of the white working class is real, the context is too. “Among Americans who have graduated high school but don’t have a college degree, whites have the lowest unemployment rate and are paid on average $150 more than blacks and $125 more than Hispanics every week, according to Labor Department wage data,” they remind us. Only 9% of white families live in poverty, compared to nearly a quarter of black families.
Washington Post

Federal courts declare Texas voter maps are racially biased -- again
Fourth time’s a charm. A panel of three federal judges ruled (again) that districts re-drawn by local Republicans intentionally discriminate against black and Latino voters. It also ruled the state can’t use current voter maps in the upcoming midterm elections until it fixes them. A panel of three judges has given the state three days to respond. Click through for the whole sordid battle, which has been going on since 2011. If the past is any predictor, the federal courts will have to redraw the maps themselves.

The killings of black men by whites is more likely to be ruled “justifiable”
A new Marshall Project analysis of 400,000 homicides committed between 1980 and 2014 finds that when a white person kills a black man, he or she is less likely to face charges. In almost 17% of cases involving a white civilian killing a black man, the deaths were ruled “justified.” Just 2% of homicide cases are ruled justifiable overall. The analysis also examines the ingrained prejudices that defines self-defense. “Self-defense decisions by regular people, much like those involving the police, are made quickly and with imperfect information,” explains The New York Times. “It contributes to the decision to pull the trigger because of the fear associated with the stereotype,” said one defense lawyer.
New York Times

The Woke Leader

The Larry Page memo to James Damore you wish had been written
Last week The Economist called for a “detailed, ringing rebuttal” of James Damore’s anti-diversity memo. While they are waiting, they wrote one of their own. It’s a brilliant, snarky read, and it makes a real and multi-pronged case. “Your memo was a great example of what’s called ‘motivated reasoning’—seeking out only the information that supports what you already believe,” they begin. “Here are a few psychological differences between the sexes that you didn’t mention. Men score higher on measures of anger, and lower on co-operation and self-discipline.” And it digs deeply into the culture of discrimination in tech. “The sole published comparison of competency in coding I am aware of found that women were more likely than men to have their GitHub contributions accepted—but if they were project outsiders, this was true only if their gender was concealed.”
The Economist

Other ways to think about the removal of Confederate monuments
Overnight, Baltimore quietly removed Confederate statutes, a sudden end to a long, drawn out debate. Mayor Catherine Pugh was on hand to supervise. For those who are struggling with the “many sides” of the Confederate monument removal debate, or wondering whether President Trump’s slippery slope concerns about the fate of statues of slaveholding presidents, Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, has published an op-ed that might help. “The argument fails because there are obviously relevant distinctions that can be made between Washington and Jefferson on the one hand and Confederate leaders on the other,” he begins.
Washington Post

To attract female talent, start with better interviews and introductions
This excellent piece by Katharine Zaleski, the founder of a diversity consultancy firm, she explains in vivid detail how the good intentions of executives who fund “girls who code” programs and put up booths at women-themed conferences don’t actually solve their pipeline problem. She ticks through a must-read list of small changes – include women in the hiring process, allow current female employees to speak candidly about their experiences, etc - that add up to a big difference. “They need to show they’re not places where attitudes like that of the now-infamous Google engineer who wrote a memo questioning women’s fitness for tech jobs dominate,” she says. (Registration required.)


The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild & melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy.
—Robert E. Lee

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