Call it a coincidence if you want, or see it as confirmation of bias against black people at structural levels within society.

new study highlights this gap, particularly with respect to social services. The result of the study’s findings: states with higher populations of black people are more likely to have less generous and more restrictive welfare benefits. 

State welfare policies subject all families, regardless of their race, to the same rules.

But the majority of black people live in states with the lowest proportion of families receiving cash assistance. African Americans are at a practical disadvantage as a result of that population distribution, [Heather Hahn, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and co-author of the study said].

“The effects of these policies are not race neutral because we aren’t geographically dispersed evenly by race,” she said.

Here’s how Welfare works: states get to determine the amount of cash assistance that they provide to families in poverty. Each state has differing approaches to supporting needy families. Color blind? Maybe. But consider that attitudes about poverty and the poor are shaped by stereotypes about race.

Learn more about the study described in the Washington Post here.

A new study puts a face on systemic racism by examining police interactions one at a time.  Using body-cam footage of traffic stops by Oakland police, Stanford University researchers demonstrated that police used more respectful language toward white people than toward black people. 

An analysis of 981 traffic stops made by 245 Oakland officers in April 2014 found that officers were more apt to use terms of respect such as “sir,” “ma’am,” “please” and “thank you” when dealing with white motorists when compared to black ones. They apologized to white people more frequently for having to stop them, and expressed concern, telling them to “drive safe.”

The study found that white people were 57 percent more likely to hear an officer say something judged to be highly respectful, while black people were 61 percent more likely to hear an officer say something judged to be extremely disrespectful.

The study doesn’t highlight dramatic, attention-grabbing abuses. It’s about constant, seemingly minor differences in the way people are treated that add up. One wonders whether the same differential would show up if you put body-cams on cashiers and waiters and doctors and teachers. One can imagine so. 


IMG_TK-Confederate_flag__2_1_JDB86S2U_L310756755     On Saturday, several dozen torch-wielding protesters gathered in Charlottesville’s Lee Park chanting “You will not replace us,” “Russia is our friend” and “Blood and soil.” It was a short protest, quickly dispersed.

It was a response to the Charlottesville City Council, which in April voted to sell the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that stands in the park. A judge earlier this month issued an injunction that prevents the city from doing so for six months. It’s part of a – well, movement is too sweeping a term – concurrent effort to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces throughout the south.

It’s hard to say how representative the protesters are of white Southerners today. The removal of the confederate flag from South Carolina in 2015 after Dylan Roof massacred black people in a Charleston church. Yet the fight over the flag hasn’t ended.

It’s easy for many to day, “you lost the Civil War, get over it already.” But to some – okay many, even most – Americans who see Civil War symbols as a reminder of slavery, to some, they’re something else (but don’t call these people racists). In banning the Confederate flag in 2015, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said that it could be displayed, but in a museum. Many others equated it with Nazi symbols, something you just don’t wear in public. Then again, one wonders how many people have both swastikas and Confederate flags in that venn diagram of white supremacist groups.

Right, we’re not supposed to call those who want to preserve Confederate symbols in public places racists. Just historians. Okay then. We’re actually not interested in debating that. What we do find interesting is this: the Charlottesville protesters chanted “you will not replace us!”

Replace hard-core Confederates? Replace white nationalists? Or replace… white people?

White Americans – north, south, east and west – are very touchy these days. In study after study, the idea that white people were losing ground – economically and culturally – was a main reason they voted for Trump.

Now, the latest research offers more evidence that it was fear of diversity – okay let’s just call it racism, mixed with xenophobia – that motivated Trump voters:

Sixty-eight percent of respondents to the PRRI analysis said they believed the U.S. was in danger of losing its cultural identity. Similarly, 65 percent responded that American culture had deteriorated since the 1950s. And more than half of white working-class Americans said that discrimination against whites was as big a problem as discrimination facing blacks and other minorities.

Discrimination against whites. So, we’re at a chicken-or-egg question. Did Trump stoke the fears that were already there, making white pride a thing? Or did he funnel all of the fears of white Americans into one convenient container: race?

You will not replace us: those projections that the U.S. will be racially plural in this century really, really have struck at the heart of white America.

According to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rates for black americans dropped substantially -  25 percent between 1999 and 2015, which narrowed the gap in the death rate between white and black Americans from 33 percent in 1999 to 16 percent in 2015.

The report didn’t explore why the gap narrowed so significantly but one of the report’s authors speculated that black people have benefiting from decreases in certain diseases, including AIDS and tobacco-related illnesses.

According to the study, the change was most striking among those 65 and older. In that group, the death rate for black people fell 27 percent, compared to 17 percent for white people. Again, the researchers didn’t study why, but in various news outlets the report’s author has said that overall increases in socio-economic status of older black Americans – who were very young adults during the civil rights era – may have something to do with it.

All is not ideal for black Americans, however. Black Americans have an overall life expectancy that’s still four years less than white Americans. And younger black people are still developing, and dying from, major health problems that typically affect older people:  high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The authors concluded that there’s still work to do:

To continue to reduce the gap in health disparities, these findings suggest an ongoing need for universal and targeted interventions that address the leading causes of deaths among blacks (especially cardiovascular disease and cancer and their risk factors) across the life span and create equal opportunities for health.

Read the full report here.

Research gathering for the 2020 Census will soon begin – yeah, already – and Census Bureau researchers are already looking at new ways to determine who’s Hispanic or Latino in the U.S.

The issue they face in gathering this data is the way Latinos and Hispanics prefer to classify themselves. That is, not fitting into one of the Census’ defined racial boxes:

The “some other race” option is not an official federal race category and was intended to be a residual option for a small number of respondents in census surveys. Instead, it has grown to become the third-largest race group counted by the Census Bureau in the past two censuses. This group is mainly Hispanic: In the 2010 census, 97% of those who checked “some other race” and no other race were Hispanic.

Pew Research Center surveys also find that a majority of Hispanics don’t see themselves fitting into the standard race categories offered by the Census Bureau. In addition, when it comes to describing their identity, more Hispanics prefer to use their family’s country of origin rather than the pan-ethnic terms “Hispanic” or “Latino.”

To address concerns about a rising share of “some other race” selections, Census researchers are testing a combined ethnicity question for 2020. People would be offered all the race and Hispanic options in one place, letting them check a box to identify as white, black, Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander or some other race or origin. The second part of the question would be a line  under each category to supply more detail about their origin, tribe or race. Examples of this include: German, African American, Mexican, Navajo, Asian Indian and Samoan.

Any change in wording must be approved by Congress next year.


By now everyone should be familiar with the saga of David Dao, the Chinese doctor who was forcibly removed from a United flight due to overbooking (when it was not overbooked, it was learned later).

Setting aside the egregious and baffling “policy” that the cops were carrying out, and the big lawsuit Dao is likely to win – oh, and let’s not forget how some media outlets are digging up dirt on him, y’know, to provide that “he’s no angel” storyline – the issue of his race is salient.

China is a key market for United, both for Chinese nationals, and for Chinese-Americans. Well, it turns out United has done itself a world of damage among those demographics. Chinese travelers are boycotting United, and it’s based on this quote:

The outrage is China appears to have come from a media quote from a passenger onboard the flight, Tyler Bridges.

“He said, more or less, ‘I’m being selected because I’m Chinese’,” Bridges had told the Washington Post.

It was learned that Dao was chosen at random by computer for his ejection (and beating and dragging). But isn’t it easy to believe, based on the stereotype, that cops took a look around the cabin and thought, ‘hmmm, older Asian man, he shouldn’t put up a fight.’ Whether they did that or not, consider this another stereotype smashed. That might be the only good thing to come out of this incident. Except maybe for the lawsuit Dao could win.

There’s a story in the Washington Post today about how Trump supporters trust him to do the right thing on health care, no matter what the evidence shows them.

Near the end of the story is a telling anecdote that shows how easy it is for whites to blame non-whites for their economic insecurity. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. In this case a mom, Nancy Ware who has helped her 35-year-old son find an insurance plan and complains about the lack of competition in the exchange in Nashville making her premiums too high. Legitimate complaint. But who does she blame? Not the insurance companies or Tennessee’s political leaders who wouldn’t expand Medicaid. She points the finger at… you know.

Ware is a landscaper and often works near Section 8 housing in the Nashville area, and she becomes furious when she sees residents who “drive better cars than I do, they have weaves and hair color better than I can, they have manicures.” As Ware, who is white, waited in line for the rally to start, a group of young African American protesters walked by, and she yelled at them, “Go cash your welfare checks!”

“He gets penalized on his income taxes, while these people that don’t know how to pull their pants up can go get it for free,” said Ware, whose employer covers the full cost of her health care. “Make it even. Make it balanced.”

Anyone remember Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen driving a Cadillac” anecdote? Now that welfare queen has health care and a better manicure than white people, apparently.

We’ve been told again and again how the Trump vote was all about economic insecurity. Perhaps. But the blame for that economic insecurity, as it has been throughout American history, is cast on the most convenient scapegoat. In this case, the welfare queen with the better hair color has stolen a white woman’s health care. Because… just because.

And Trump? He’s been doing what race-baiting politicians have always done. Except they used to do it in coded ways, dog whistles like “welfare queen.” The dog whistle is gone. The megaphone is here.


It happened again.

It has happened again. In Kent, Washington, a Sikh American was shot on his own driveway by a man who yelled “go back to your country.” This crime echoes the recent murder of two men who had come from India to live and work in Kansas.

Here’s the official statement from the Sikh Coalition:

“While we appreciate the efforts of state and local officials to respond to attacks like this, we need our national leaders to make hate crime prevention a top priority,” said Sikh Coalition Interim Program Manager, Rajdeep Singh. “Tone matters in our political discourse, because this a matter of life or death for millions of Americans who are worried about losing loved ones to hate.”

Here is assessment offered by Jasmit Singh, a leader of the Sikh community in the Seattle region, from CNN:

The Sikh community is shaken and very frustrated at the hate and rhetoric that is being spread today about anyone that looks different, who looks like an immigrant. Based on anecdotal evidence, more and more people are saying inappropriate things to Sikh men, the stigma attached to being a racist has been erased from the community. In the past — in Bush, Obama time — there was swift action and communication saying that this is unacceptable. We aren’t seeing any response from this administration.

The victim in Washington is “out of danger,” after having been wounded in the arm, according to his father. But this won’t be the last such shooting we’ll see in the next few months or weeks, sadly.

It’s Black history month, a time of year we hear from Angry White People about the need to have their own month. Aside from the folly of seeing these racial history months as a zero-sum game, this white grievance has reached a fever pitch since the rise of Trump, someone who gave voice to Angry White People who want to make America white, er, ahem great, again.

Now we see the big divide in who really supports White History Month in the U.S. Nearly half of President Trump’s supporters think there should be a White History Month, according to a  survey released this month by Public Policy Polling. The group reports that 46 percent of pro-Trump voters were in favor of such a celebration while 36 percent were opposed.

The PPP survey also showed that Trump supporters – this shouldn’t surprise you, should it? – are a little hazy on Black history, and on U.S. history generally. The poll asked participants about legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Trump seemed to imply Douglass was alive during some recent remarks: “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.” PPP says less than half, 47 percent, of Trump voters knew Douglass died more than 100 years ago, while 78 percent of Clinton supporters did.

Maybe there should be a U.S. history month instead of a white history month.

You may have suspected this already, but the Southern Poverty Law Center has confirmed it: 2016 was a banner year for hate groups in the U.S.

According to the annual SPLC report, the number of hate groups rose to 917 in 2016, up from 892 in 2015. The report shows that the most dramatic change was the enormous leap in anti-Muslim hate groups, which tripled from 34 organizations in 2015, to 101 in 2016.

Let’s see, what could possibly account for the rise in anti-Muslim groups? Who had the biggest megaphone in 2016? Oh, right.

Much of the increased hate, the report noted, could be attributed to the rhetoric and fear-mongering espoused by President Donald Trump during his presidential campaign.

“Trump’s run for office electrified the radical right, which saw in him a champion of the idea that America is fundamentally a white man’s country,” wrote Mark Potok, SPLC senior fellow and author of the report. “He kicked off the campaign with a speech vilifying Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. He retweeted white supremacist messages, including one that falsely claimed that black people were responsible for 80 percent of the murders of whites. He credentialed racist media personalities even while barring a serious outlet like The Washington Post, went on a radio show hosted by a rabid conspiracy theorist named Alex Jones, and said that Muslims should be banned from entering the country. He seemed to encourage violence against black protesters at his rallies, suggesting that he would pay the legal fees of anyone charged as a result.”

Elections have consequences. So do campaigns. Surely we can attribute some anti-Muslim sentiment to massacres in Orlando and in San Bernardino, which were carried out by Muslim men (and one wife) who claimed allegiance to ISIS (at least while the attacks were happening, though they had no contact with ISIS before then). But let’s be clear. The rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, and the rise in anti-Muslim hate groups was stoked and encouraged by one political candidate, one who is now President. Recall if you will how George W. Bush, days after the 9-11 attacks made a point of saying Islam is a religion of peace and that the hijackers were worshipping a perverted sham of that faith. He was right to say that, and his comments are credited for keeping a lid on anger and hate crimes against Muslims in the days and months following the attacks.

Compare and contrast the person in the White House now, who has signed an executive order banning people from 7 predominantly Muslim countries, an order being stalled in the courts, and who is being advised by people like Jeff Bannon, who have a long history of anti-Muslim statements.

Leadership matters.