Race

X Marks the Bigot

I’ve never taken Ecstasy. My understanding is that it makes you breathe heavily and feel like having sex with whoever is dancing next to you.

ravers_baby

However, according to a recent study, “there might be a darker side” to the so-called cuddling chemical. Researchers have found that taking the oxytocin hormone “motivates in-group favoritism” and the “derogation of outsiders.” Scientists say that oxytocin has “a role in the emergence of intergroup conflict and violence.”

Basically, dropping E makes it more likely that you will behave like a racist jerk.

The researchers’ study had Dutch males choose imaginary people to join them in a lifeboat. Guys on Ecstasy discriminated against those “with Muslim or German-sounding names,” but “the men who were given a placebo didn’t pay attention to the origin of the names.”

Apparently, Dutch guys have some issues with both Muslims and Germans.

Now, I doubt that Ecstasy suddenly made these guys more racist, in the same way that alcohol does not inexplicably turn people into raging bigots. All these drugs do is lower inhibitions.

Drunk or stoned or otherwise altered individuals lack the capacity to think, “I better say or do what is socially acceptable.” As a result, they go with their gut instinct or true emotions, which are often prejudicial as hell.

Still, if I ever had a desire to go clubbing and pop pills with teenagers, this study has killed that flickering drive. I don’t want some woman dressed in neon colors and sporting day-glo bracelets to start shouting epithets at me over the drone of house music.

That would be the ultimate buzz kill.

 


Salute

Whenever I write about some subtle act of bigotry, I get comments that I am indulging in race-baiting, and that racism is more or less dead (except to agitators like me who keep bringing these issues up).

It’s much harder to make that claim when the act is overtly racist, especially if it occurred in the distant past. As such, I expect no slapdowns over the recent news that President Barack Obama gave the Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans, who “if not for the hue of their skin or their ethnicity…would have received the prestigious medals for their valor long ago.”

moh

Yes, it seems that back in the day, the US Army was riddled with bigots who didn’t take kindly to handing out the nation’s highest military honor to anybody but white guys. As such, these men — who displayed “gallantry above and beyond the call of duty for their combat actions in Vietnam, Korea, and World War II” —were denied proper recognition.

The Obama administration ordered a review of the records, which is how the US Army found that two dozen of its bravest soldiers were dissed. So the men are now receiving their medals, decades later.

Sadly, “only three of the soldiers are alive to receive the recognition.

The rest—soldiers with last names including Garcia and Weinstein and Negron—are dead.”

 


Winners and Losers

Recently, everybody’s favorite crazy uncle of old media, the New York Times, asked the loaded question, “What Drives Success?” The article pointed out that some ethnic groups are more economically successful than others, and it pinpointed three reasons for this. The first is “a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control.”

It’s an interesting thesis. But lost in the analysis and point-by-point explanation was this side note: “Most fundamentally, groups rise and fall over time. The fortunes of WASP elites have been declining for decades.”

In other words, nobody stays at the top or the bottom forever. And as the article points out, “The fact that groups rise and fall this way punctures the whole idea of ‘model minorities’ or that groups succeed because of innate, biological differences.”

dna strands

So for all the people who think Latinos are innately inferior, keep in mind that there are some “Hispanic groups in America that far outperform some white and Asian groups,” and that this trend is likely to accelerate.

The fortunes of groups twist and turn in a perpetual cycle. And one can choose to find that either comforting or terrifying.

 


The Ultimate Insult

I was at a wedding reception when I saw her — a blonde woman trying in vain to get down with Kool & the Gang’s Jungle Boogie. A man seated near me gestured to the woman and pronounced her, “the whitest person I’ve ever seen.”

We all knew what he meant, of course. She couldn’t dance. She was awkward. She was way uncool. And he summed up all that negativity with the single word “white.”

the-21-most-awkward-family-photos07

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Oy Vey

I’ve written before about the bond between Latinos and Jews. There’s even an official alliance to foster this connection.

And now we have statistical evidence that this bond is growing stronger. According to a study by the Anti-Defamation League  (ADL), anti-Semitism is on the decline among Latinos. About 14 percent of American-born Hispanics hold anti-Semitic views, which “represents a welcome decline” from 2011, when 20 percent of Latinos had issues with people named Goldstein and Silverman.

Of course, 14 percent is still way too high, but at least it’s moving in the right direction.

Now, if you had any doubts that Latinos and Jews are strongly linked, consider this related news story out of my home state of Wisconsin. Apparently, a few weeks ago, a severely inebriated man in Janesville exited a bar late one night and “overheard two men on the street speaking Hebrew. He confronted them, demanding they speak English.”

The drunk guy then hit both men “because he believed they were speaking Spanish.” This member of the English-only league has since been charged with two counts of battery with a hate crime enhancer.

No, it’s not an uplifting story. In fact, it sounds like an Onion headline. But clearly, to some Americans, it doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish or Latino — you’re marked for a beat down.

It’s a good thing, then, that Hispanics and Jews have each other’s backs.

mymexicanshivah


Alpha Beta Gamma

Because I so often write about the dark side of human nature, I thought I’d pass along some good news in America’s fight against racism. It seems that at the University of Alabama, “multiple African American women have accepted bids to join traditionally white sororities. The move ends the last bastion of segregation at the tradition-bound southern university.”

Now, I’ve never understood why anybody would want to be a sorority girl or a frat boy, but that’s not the point. Surely, we can be happy that another pillar of institutionalized racism has been toppled. And I presume that Latina girls are now eligible to wear Greek-lettered sweatshirts in Alabama.

greek letters

Well, I should have stopped reading the news article there, because in the internet comments section of the story (always a disturbing barometer of what Americans are really thinking), I did not encounter the cheers and upbeat replies that I expected to see.

Instead, I saw a lot of apologists for bigotry. There were the people who said it wasn’t a racial issue, and that the sororities just have high standards, such as the woman who wrote, “I’m as lily-white as they come and had the same chance of getting into a UofA sorority as a black girl.” Well, actually, she had a much better chance, as evidenced by the fact that, according to the article, current “members of the traditionally white sororities said they were pressured by alumnae to keep black women from joining.” Well, if that is not overt discrimination, I don’t know what is.

But many people (and not just that lily-white girl) must have skipped over that line, because I also learned from readers’ comments that the University of Alabama Greek system was not prejudiced. Rather, it was just “the media and everybody else wanting to play the race card,” and those pesky minorities themselves, who keep “cramming [diversity] down our throats [and] keep the pot boiling and that is raging all over the country now.”

There were also the readers who insisted that letting blacks into a formally all-white sorority was a “politically correct situation,” and that minorities should “stop acting like the world owes it to you to be fair.”

And then there were the philosophical bigots, such as the gentleman who insisted that “if we want to reserve the right to not serve or admit a black person, or anyone else for that matter, we should be allowed that freedom.”

But my favorite was the straightforward racist, such as the guy who cracked that the white girls had better “keep an eye on their valuables!”

And at least one commentator saw grim overtones in the concept of black sorority girls, labeling the news as “more White genocide, cheered on by the mainstream media.”

Yes, this was the reaction that this unequivocally positive news story generated. I feel much better about America right now.

Don’t you?

 


Some of My Best Friends Aren’t…

In this great melting pot we call America, people of every race commingle and socialize routinely. Why, you can’t walk down the street without elbowing groups of hotties representing both genders and every ethnicity, all hanging out and being so very cosmopolitan and twenty-first century.

Peer-Groups-multiethnic1

 

Wait, that’s not real life. That’s a Gap ad.

In actuality, a recent study has found that about “40 percent of whites and 25 percent of non-whites do not have any close friends of other races.”

This means that large segments of American society still view other races as an exotic other. Specifically, the survey found that older, white, conservative women were the least likely to hang with someone who didn’t resemble them, while “younger Americans were more likely to say they have friends — or romances — outside their own racial group.” Also people on the West Coast “had the most diverse relationships while people in the South had the least.”

Yes, even in this mythical post-racial environment, a lot of us prefer to kick back with our own kind, if you get my racially coded drift.

But wait, the poll also found that “Hispanics were the most likely to have a diverse friendship network.” So once again, it’s Latinos who are on the cutting edge of culture.

Apparently, we will drink with anybody.

 


Hardwired

Blame it on the amygdala.

amygdala

 

This region of the brain, which plays a central role in processing fear and aggression, may be the source of one of the most insidious concepts to bedevil humankind: racism.

A recent study revealed that people’s amygdalas react differently when they see individuals who do not share their race. Furthermore, the “same circuits in the brain that allow us to see which ethnic group a person belongs to overlap with others that drive emotional decisions.”

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Loud and Proud…Or at Least Loud

Decades after James Brown first exhorted his brethren to say it loud (“I’m black and I’m proud), another group of oppressed Americans — gay people — adopted the idea and found resounding success in proclaiming their pride.

James+Brown+jamesbrown

But African Americans, gays, and (presumably) gay African Americans are not the only people who are proud of their culture.

Latinos are well-known for bursting with pride for their heritage. However, while such expressions of ethnic boosterism are practically required on Puerto Rican Day, or during Hispanic Heritage Month, or — Lord help us — Cinco de Mayo, such statements often come across as just empty phrases.

After all, do we have good reason to be proud?

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We Are All Spurs Fans

I admit that I’m not much of a basketball aficionado. I saw Michael Jordan play once, and that’s pretty much my sole anecdote about the NBA.

However, I paid attention when a young boy named Sebastien de la Cruz sang the National Anthem before an NBA final game recently. Apparently, “he was pretty awesome.”

sebastian

 

But of course, this is America, and somebody’s gotta be offended about something. So plenty of Twitter feeds exploded with outrage that a “Mexican django” (whatever that is) who was “probably illegal” was belting out the Star-Spangled Banner. And those were some of the nicer, less racist comments.

As we all know, the National Anthem only counts as a patriotic song if a white person sings it. Otherwise, it’s political correctness run rampant, or a sign of moral decline, or just plain icky.

Well, Sebastien de la Cruz found out about the controversy he provoked, but he refrained from slamming his attackers (all of whom are faceless cowards who think its edgy to gang up on a young boy via social media). In any case, the Spurs have apparently asked him to return for an encore.

The kid showed a lot of class, and since he has declared himself a Spurs fan, I’ve decided that I’m rooting for them too.

It’s not like I know who else is playing, anyway.

 


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