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Friday, February 14, 2020

Krazy Kat and more race riots

Through pure serendipity this week I came across a "Talks at Google" video of journalist Michael Tisserand discussing the life and times of George Herriman, famous for his comic strip Krazy Kat, from his book "Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White."  There's an excellent review here at the New York Review of Books.

Through his studies, Tisserand discovered more about Herriman's ethnic heritage, which was Creole from the free people of color community in New Orleans, although Herriman passed for white for most of his life and the "colored" designation on his birth certificate was unknown until 1971. Herriman died in 1944.
Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse

Tisserand discovered examples of Herriman's work, outside of his Krazy Kat strip, responding to racial strife of his time, including his response to the race riots that resulted when a black boxer, Jack Johnson, beat a white boxer in 1910.

One of the most important realizations I have had thanks to doing this Pinkerite blog is how many times since Emancipation white people have attacked black communities, killing and looting, and yet how rarely these incidents are reported or acknowledged. And here is another example - the hateful retaliation of the white majority against black communities over a boxing match.

Tisserand also makes the connection between Herriman's view on race and the Krazy Kat strip itself. Just fascinating stuff. I recommend you watch this Google talks video.

Meanwhile during this Black History Month 2020 I was surprised to see Steven Pinker tweeting about black history. The same black history that Pinker's friends, like Sam Harris and the gang at Quillette try to minimize as an explanation for the failure of African Americans to thrive post-Emancipation in favor of their claim that the fault lies with the genetics of African Americans themselves.

Has Steven Pinker turned over a new leaf, or is he using Henry Louis Gates as a shield for his own long-standing support for race science? 

We'll see how long it takes until Pinker once again promotes Quillette or another proponent of race science, as he did when defending racist charlatan Noah Carl just last month.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

African American History for race science proponents: high school v income

Originally posted on my personal blog February 15, 2018

So to recap: before Emancipation in the US black people owned nothing, not even themselves. Then once they were free they owned themselves but very little else. They've been slowly dragging themselves up out of this ditch of absolute poverty, in spite of the many roadblocks put in their way by the white majority.

The question isn't why are black people in the United States doing so poorly 150 years after slavery, the question is how have they come so far in spite of everything that's been thrown at them.

The Pew Research Center has some interesting charts comparing demographic trends for blacks, white, Asians and Hispanics.

This chart shows how black students are catching up with white students for high school graduation rates.

But their incomes have nevertheless stayed lower.

As Business Insider reports:
A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (indicates)... the amount of money people make is strongly predicted by what their parents earn. Up until a parent-household-income threshold of roughly $150,000, adult children tend to earn another $0.33 for every dollar their parents earn.
It is obvious that black earnings are lower because they started so much lower, and even increasing their "self-control" of finishing high school doesn't seem to help.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

African American History for race science proponents: black codes, lynching & riots

Originally posted on my personal blog February 14, 2018

Although conditions were generally terrible for freed slaves, the US government did try to assist them in making the transition to freedom. In addition to abolitionists and Radical Republican members of Congress there was an attempt to get land to the slaves. This mostly ended in failure:
The Freedmen's Bureau Bill, which established the Freedmen's Bureau on March 3, 1865, was initiated by President Abraham Lincoln and was intended to last for one year after the end of the Civil War.[3] The Freedmen's Bureau was an important agency of early Reconstruction, assisting freedmen in the South. The Bureau was made a part of the United States Department of War, as it was the only agency with an existing organization that could be assigned to the South. Headed by Union Army General Oliver O. Howard, the Bureau started operations in 1865. Throughout the first year, its representatives learned that these tasks would be very difficult, as Southern legislatures passed laws for Black Codes that restricted movement, conditions of labor, and other civil rights of African Americans, nearly duplicating conditions of slavery. The Freedmen's Bureau controlled limited arable land.[4]
Black Codes were the first of many institutional roadblocks against black people in the South, the most notorious of which were the Jim Crow laws

And then there were lynchings. The Smithsonian provides this interactive map of lynchings between 1835 and 1964. And please note that although the vast majority of the lynching were of blacks, other "races" are represented, including Italians.

The descendants of slaves had a constant struggle for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness:
As the prominent historian Eric Foner writes in his masterwork on Reconstruction, “Black participation in Southern public life after 1867 was the most radical development of the Reconstruction years, a massive experiment in interracial democracy without precedent in the history of this or any other country that abolished slavery in the nineteenth century.” 
But this moment was short-lived. 
As W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, the “slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.” 
History is made by human actors and the choices they make. 
According to Douglas Blackmon, author of “Slavery by Another Name,” the choices made by Southern white supremacists after abolition, and the rest of the country’s accommodation, “explain more about the current state of American life, black and white, than the antebellum slavery that preceded.” 
Designed to reverse black advances, Redemption was an organized effort by white merchants, planters, businessmen and politicians that followed Reconstruction. “Redeemers” employed vicious racial violence and state legislation as tools to prevent black citizenship and equality promised under the 14th and 15th amendments.

Juvenile convicts at work in the fields, 1903. Library of Congress/John L. Spivak
By the early 1900s, nearly every southern state had barred black citizens not only from voting but also from serving in public office, on juries and in the administration of the justice system.
The South’s new racial caste system was not merely political and social. It was thoroughly economic. Slavery had made the South’s agriculture-based economy the most powerful force in the global cotton market, but the Civil War devastated this economy.
How to build a new one?
Ironically, white leaders found a solution in the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery in the United States in 1865. By exploiting the provision allowing “slavery” and “involuntary servitude” to continue as “a punishment for crime,” they took advantage of a penal system predating the Civil War and used even during Reconstruction. 
A new form of control 
With the help of profiteering industrialists they found yet a new way to build wealth on the bound labor of black Americans: the convict lease system. 
Here’s how it worked. Black men – and sometimes women and children – were arrested and convicted for crimes enumerated in the Black Codes, state laws criminalizing petty offenses and aimed at keeping freed people tied to their former owners’ plantations and farms. The most sinister crime was vagrancy – the “crime” of being unemployed – which brought a large fine that few blacks could afford to pay. 
Black convicts were leased to private companies, typically industries profiteering from the region’s untapped natural resources. As many as 200,000 black Americans were forced into back-breaking labor in coal mines, turpentine factories and lumber camps. They lived in squalid conditions, chained, starved, beaten, flogged and sexually violated. They died by the thousands from injury, disease and torture.
So a combination of violence and legislation were used throughout the 19th century against blacks and naturally contributed to black poverty.

I thought about the evo-psycho bros claims about blacks as I read about the Memphis riots of 1866. The "Memphis massacre"
...was a series of violent events that occurred from May 1 to 3, 1866 in Memphis, Tennessee. The racial violence was ignited by political, social and racial tensions following the American Civil War, in the early stages of Reconstruction.[2] After a shooting altercation between white policemen and black soldiers recently mustered out of the Union Army, mobs of white civilians and policemen rampaged through black neighborhoods and the houses of freedmen, attacking and killing black men, women and children.
The sight of black soldiers from the Union Army must have seemed terrifying yet ridiculous to whites in the South who were accustomed to treating people with any trace of West African ancestry like dirt.

John Paul Wright Professor of Criminology at the University of Cincinnati and one of the most blatantly racist of all the members of the Criminal Justice branch of the evolutionary psychology brotherhood said:
John Paul Wright from "Biosocial Criminology: New Directions" 
edited by Kevin Beaver and Anthony Walsh

The fact that there were not more incidents of former black Union soldiers clashing with the people who almost all supported their recent torment belies Wright's claim that black people, by nature, have "low self-control."

And white people have killed black people en masse for far less provocation.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

African American History for race science proponents: 40 acres and a mule

Jim & Huck from my adaptation of the Twain novel.
Lorenzo Scott and Nick Fondulis
Originally posted on my personal blog February 13, 2018
But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him agin in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me, and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had smallpox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he's got now; and then I happened to look around, and see that paper.
It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: 
"All right, then, I'll go to hell"- and tore it up.

~ Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain
Samuel Clemens, growing up in the slave state of Missouri in the 1840s had first-hand experience in the ways white people talked about black people during the days of slavery, as recounted by Hilton Als in a New Yorker article in 2002:
But, while Huck has to acknowledge his relationship with Jim, he can distance himself in other ways. First, he can call him a “nigger”—a word whose etymology Huck likely knows nothing about. Then he can fill the word with meaning, with the meanings he learned from his Pap: about the unconscionable lives that niggers lead; how their very presence can make a bad situation worse; and how associating with them can stain a good man’s whiteness. 
"It was according to the old saying, ‘Give a nigger an inch and he’ll take an ell,’ 
"Give a nigger an inch and he'll take an ell" is not something you'd say of a group of people who are congenitally stupid. It sounds like something you'd say of people who are forever calculating to get an advantage. Which is certainly an understandable way to be if you're forced to live in squalor and toil endlessly and be constantly under threat of rape or beating and have every cent of your labor stolen from you for your entire life.

There are many great things about Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, especially when Huck decides he'd rather go to hell than betray Jim and send him back into slavery. But Twain ruined the novel in its last third, in the section often referred to as "The Evasion." I wrote about it in this essay: What About Lil Lizabeth?

Jim was lucky, in the book he was set free ahead of general Emancipation and was given cash to start out his new life. The slaves who were set free at the end of the Civil War had it much harder: they were dumped into the countryside with nothing, which led to predictable results:

After combing through obscure records, newspapers and journals Downs believes that about a quarter of the four million freed slaves either died or suffered from illness between 1862 and 1870. He writes in the book that it can be considered "the largest biological crisis of the 19th century" and yet it is one that has been little investigated by contemporary historians... 
...Downs has collected numerous shocking accounts of the lives of freed slaves. He came across accounts of deplorable conditions in hospitals and refugee camps, where doctors often had racist theories about how black Americans reacted to disease. Things were so bad that one military official in Tennessee in 1865 wrote that former slaves were: "dying by scores – that sometimes 30 per day die and are carried out by wagonloads without coffins, and thrown promiscuously, like brutes, into a trench". 
So bad were the health problems suffered by freed slaves, and so high the death rates, that some observers of the time even wondered if they would all die out. One white religious leader in 1863 expected black Americans to vanish. "Like his brother the Indian of the forest, he must melt away and disappear forever from the midst of us," the man wrote.
The Southerners would have been happy perhaps if all the blacks died off, especially because some of the former slaves fought back against a fate of homelessness, poverty and starvation with some help from abolitionists and anti-slavery members of Congress:

According to Henry Louis Gates, Jr.:
The abolitionists Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens and other Radical Republicans had been actively advocating land redistribution "to break the back of Southern slaveholders' power," as Myers observed. But Sherman's plan only took shape after the meeting that he and Stanton held with those black ministers, at 8:00 p.m., Jan. 12, on the second floor of Charles Green's mansion on Savannah's Macon Street. In its broadest strokes, "40 acres and a mule" was their idea...

...Stanton had suggested to Sherman that they gather "the leaders of the local Negro community" and ask them something no one else had apparently thought to ask: "What do you want for your own people" following the war? And what they wanted astonishes us even today.
Who were these 20 thoughtful leaders who exhibited such foresight? They were all ministers, mostly Baptist and Methodist. Most curious of all to me is that 11 of the 20 had been born free in slave states, of which 10 had lived as free men in the Confederacy during the course of the Civil War. (The other one, a man named James Lynch, was born free in Maryland, a slave state, and had only moved to the South two years before.) The other nine ministers had been slaves in the South who became "contraband," and hence free, only because of the Emancipation Proclamation, when Union forces liberated them. 
In areas where there had been a great deal of enslavement suddenly there were free black people who thought it was only fair that they be given some of the property that they had labored on for free for so long.

Which if course fueled white racist resentment since the custom of the prior three hundred years was to consider most black people livestock. Suddenly their former livestock wanted a piece of the pie.

Monday, February 10, 2020

African American history for race science proponents: The Political Legacy of Slavery

Originally posted on my persona web site February 12, 2018

In 2013 the University of Rochester announced a working paper entitled: The Political Legacy of American Slavery in which the authors wrote (I reformatted for greater readability):
Whites who currently live in Southern counties that had high shares of slaves in 1860 are more likely to identify as a Republican, oppose affirmative action, and express racial resentment and colder feelings toward blacks...
...To explain these results, we offer evidence for a new theory involving the historical persistence of political and racial attitudes. Following the Civil War, Southern whites faced political and economic incentives to reinforce existing racist norms and institutions to maintain control over the newly free African-American population.   
This amplifed local differences in racially conservative political attitudes, which in turn have been passed down locally across generations. Our results challenge the interpretation of a vast literature on racial attitudes in the American South.
The paper concludes (again I reformatted):
The years during and after the Reconstruction period saw whites coordinating to provide an informal social infrastructure (and to the extent legally permissible an institutional one as well) to maintain as much as possible the economic and political power previously guaranteed to them under slavery. 
As affirmative support, we showed that greater prevalence of slavery predicts more conservative (for many years more Democratic) 
  • presidential vote shares, 
  • higher rates of radical violence, and 
  • decreased wealth concentrated in black farms in the decades after Reconstruction. 
We also showed that the long-term effects of slavery are smaller in areas of the U.S. South that were quick to mechanize in the early to mid-20th century. 
Finally, we also offered evidence that parent-to-child transmission could be an important mechanism by which attitudes have been passed down over time. However, we do not rule out that Southern institutions may have also played an important role.
And as we saw, slavery was a huge source of wealth to slave holders.

Areas of the South that were less dependent on cotton had lower rates of racial antagonism and white resentment.

But I think the authors of the Political Legacy paper missed another reason for the antagonism - the former slaves wanted - nay expected -  restitution. We'll talk about that next.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Happy Black History Month

Originally posted on my personal blog on February 13, 2019

I really like this New Yorker cover and it's perfect for Black History Month.

I was recently thinking about the movie "Hidden Figures" and it occurred to me that some of the more extreme evo-psycho bros might have issues with black women being presented as STEM career heroes.

So I did some Googling and sure enough, Paul Kersey in the Unz Review, home of Steven Pinker's buddy Steve Sailer and former home of Razib Khan had this to say about "Hidden Figures" 
Hidden Figures was made with the painfully-obvious agenda of delegitimizing the contributions of white scientists, physicists, engineers, mathematicians, project managers, aviation experts and rocket scientists. Instead, America’s greatest triumph evidently hinged on unknown black women manually calculating trajectories already confirmed by computers and a white man named Jack Crenshaw.

NASA's chief historian, Bill Barry, explains that the film, which has been nominated for a slew of awards, depicts many real events from their lives. "One thing we're frequently asked," he says, "is whether or not John Glenn actually asked for Katherine Johnson to 'check the numbers.'" The answer is yes: Glenn, the first American in orbit and later, at the age of 77, the oldest man in space, really did ask for Johnson to manually check calculations generated by IBM 7090 computers (the electronic kind) churning out numbers at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Bill Barry is a white man, it should be noted, he's cooperating with this apparent scheme to "delegitimize" contributions of white men.

"Hidden Figures" is a movie and not a documentary so I'm sure artistic liberties were taken to heighten the drama etc. But most people understand this.

More likely the source of Kersey's contempt is that, as a writer at the Unz Review, he can't let black women have even this little bit of time in the spotlight.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

David Reich and the hereditarians

Originally posted on my person blog March 28, 2018

I found it amusing to read Razib Khan suggesting that the work of David Reich is support for  Khan's own beliefs. In The National Review he writes:
Who We Are and How We Got Here then addresses the reality that large numbers of public intellectuals are extremely hostile to the idea that humans can be grouped together into distinct population clusters. In other words, since race is a pernicious social construction, population geneticists need to tread very carefully. Reich is frank that the time may have come to break the alliance geneticists have made with academics who declare that all differences between groups are trivial. He suggests that science is advancing at such a rate that we will soon understand the genetic basis of complex behaviors in exquisite detail — and that researchers should be prepared for the possibility that some findings will be discomfiting to contemporary sensibilities.
As always with hereditarians, Khan lies about "large numbers of public intellectuals" but then that's the purpose of straw men. Few people deny that there are ethnic differences but in order to paint the Enemy as anti-evolution hereditarians constantly conflate ethnicity and race. The only question is, are they too stupid or careless to realize that's what they are doing, or are they just weasels?

In any case, what Reich said in his NYTimes op-ed piece last Sunday is the opposite of what hereditarians like Khan believe:
At a meeting a few years later, Dr. Watson said to me and my fellow geneticist Beth Shapiro something to the effect of “When are you guys going to figure out why it is that you Jews are so much smarter than everyone else?” He asserted that Jews were high achievers because of genetic advantages conferred by thousands of years of natural selection to be scholars, and that East Asian students tended to be conformist because of selection for conformity in ancient Chinese society. (Contacted recently, Dr. Watson denied having made these statements, maintaining that they do not represent his views; Dr. Shapiro said that her recollection matched mine.) 
What makes Dr. Watson’s and Mr. Wade’s statements so insidious is that they start with the accurate observation that many academics are implausibly denying the possibility of average genetic differences among human populations, and then end with a claim — backed by no evidence — that they know what those differences are and that they correspond to racist stereotypes. They use the reluctance of the academic community to openly discuss these fraught issues to provide rhetorical cover for hateful ideas and old racist canards.
Razib Khan is on the record supporting both Watson and Wade:

But obviously The National Review wants plausible deniability for its long history of racism and hereditarians like Khan are happy to provide it.

And Reich agrees with what I've said about addressing hereditarian views: Reich wants scientists to fight against the Pinkers and Khans of the world:
This is why knowledgeable scientists must speak out. If we abstain from laying out a rational framework for discussing differences among populations, we risk losing the trust of the public and we actively contribute to the distrust of expertise that is now so prevalent. We leave a vacuum that gets filled by pseudoscience, an outcome that is far worse than anything we could achieve by talking openly.
The reason that scientists aren't fighting against hereditarian views is because most of them have dismissed them as nonsense. And scientists like Neil DeGrasse Tyson would rather not focus on it.

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