Monday, March 24, 2008

Mickey Kaus and Bill Kristol want us all to shut-up about race

Kristol, in fact, "cringes" that Obama brought up the subject. But while my fellow white guys Kaus and Kristol (perhaps we need to find a third K?) think it is time to get over race, the problem is that many white people have yet to do so. Consequently, the best empirical evidence shows that while there is far less discrimination now than there was in the past, discrimination remains substantial, and arises from prejudice.

Here in an abstract from Zao, Ondrich and Yinger (2006):


This study examines racial and ethnic discrimination in discrete choices by real estate brokers using national audit data from the 2000 Housing Discrimination Study. It uses a fixed-effects logit model to estimate the probability that discrimination occurs and to study the causes of discrimination. The data make it possible to control for auditors’ actual demographic and socioeconomic characteristics and characteristics assigned for the purposes of the audit. The study finds that discrimination remains strong but has declined in both the scope and incidence since 1989. The estimations also identify both brokers’ prejudice and white customers’ prejudice as causes of discrimination.


Before any of us white folks who have never suffered meaningful discrimination or prejudice, or who have never even suffered the little indignities of being stopped by the police for no reason, or been followed by a security guard in a store, or been looked at suspiciously or altogether avoided on the street, tell the world that we don't need to talk about or think about race anymore, perhaps we need to try to walk in the shoes of someone who has suffered all these things.

Things are getting better. All I have to do is see how kids behave at my daughters' high school to know so; who knows, by the time my generation is dead, race may no longer be a problem. But we are not there yet. We are not even close. I think Obama's speech nailed where we are with remarkable precision.

1 comment:

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