"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

How Do Racists Vote?

New studies reported in Sunday's Washington Post confirm once again what we Southerners have known ever since Lyndon Johnson reversed the traditional Southern Democratic position on race. Between 1964, when Johnson shocked Congress by ending his appeal for passage of the Civil Rights Act with "We Shall Overcome," and 1968, when Nixon's crowd completed the reversal on the Party of Lincoln, segregationists found a new home in the Republican Party. The South has been red ever since, and these new empirical studies confirm the reasons--here's a clip:
Nosek, Banaji and social psychologist Erik Thompson culled self-acknowledged views about blacks from nearly 130,000 whites, who volunteered online to participate in a widely used test of racial bias that measures the speed of people's associations between black or white faces and positive or negative words. The researchers examined correlations between explicit and implicit attitudes and voting behavior in all 435 congressional districts.

The analysis found that substantial majorities of Americans, liberals and conservatives, found it more difficult to associate black faces with positive concepts than white faces -- evidence of implicit bias. But districts that registered higher levels of bias systematically produced more votes for Bush.

"Obviously, such research does not speak at all to the question of the prejudice level of the president," said Banaji, "but it does show that George W. Bush is appealing as a leader to those Americans who harbor greater anti-black prejudice."
If "R" is not just for Red State anymore, then do these racial overtones and underpinnings show up in, let's say, educational research? In a new freakanomics-inspired study reported by Harvard economist, Ronald Fryer, and published by the propaganda tank, the Hoover Instititute, Fryer does several things that would make any red-blooded racist perk up:
  • While dissing ethographies in favor of quantititative studies, Fryer uses studies from the Manhattan Institute as a counter to the work of Signithia Fordham and John Ogbu on black academic performance and the phenomenon of acting white, or deliberately under-achieving in order to avoid peer sanctions;
  • he offers a solution to the problem of acting white that would put black and other minority students in segregated, private schools;
  • he blames minority communities for their own plight and never acknowledges income disparities, lack of opportunity, and racism as factors that shape identities and performance.
Ever wonder where the justification for segregated chain-gang teaching might be found? Well, here it is clearly delineated in this summary statement offered by Fryer, and it is sure to make every racist all fuzzy inside that he is doing only what is in the best interest of the black child who, in the end, will be ostracized and "provided an identity," all for his own good:
Minority communities in the United States have yet to generate a large cadre of high achievers, a situation as discouraging as the high incarceration rates among minorities who never finish high school. In fact, the two patterns may be linked. As long as distressed communities provide minorities with their identities, the social costs of breaking free will remain high. To increase the likelihood that more can do so, society must find ways for these high achievers to thrive in settings where adverse social pressures are less intense. The integrated school, by itself, apparently cannot achieve that end.

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