Tag: racial profiling

Delusion Everywhere

It’s been just over a year since 62,979,636 Americans said, “Hey, you know that smug, narcissistic, mentally unstable billionaire who hates women and minorities? Yeah, that guy. Let’s all vote for him.”

And it’s been nothing but easy living ever since.

To be fair, plenty of Americans are indeed happy with Trump’s first year in office, even if by any objective or reasonable standard, it has been a complete failure, daily embarrassment, and horrific nightmare.

No matter, because as I wrote in my last post, many hardcore Trump supporters have abandoned all pretense of rational thought or even strained justification for their misbegotten votes. Instead, the working-class folks profiled in Politico insist that the human cringe factor masquerading as a president is a great guy, and that things couldn’t be better.

Well, I didn’t mention that the Politico article ends with a Trump supporter casually dropping the N-word, which might as well be a snapshot of what the 2016 election was really all about.

You see, study after study has shown that bigotry is a prime characteristic of many Trump voters. In fact, some experts insist that racism motivated Trump voters more than any other factor.

But as I’ve written before, Americans tend to dismiss the very idea that racism was even a minor variable in Trump’s election. We are determined to say that prejudice died in the 1960s, and millions of our fellow citizens cannot possibly be bigots.

Well, as the Atlantic recently pointed out, this kind of delusion has been going on for decades.

And it is not just Trump’s supporters “who were in denial about what they were voting for, but Americans across the political spectrum, who … searched desperately for any alternative explanation — outsourcing, anti-Washington anger, economic anxiety — to the one staring them in the face.”

The explanation staring all of us in the face is blatant racism, xenophobia, hate-filled rage — whatever you would like to call it.

What happened in 2016 was that “Americans, who would never think of themselves as possessing racial animus, voted for a candidate whose ideal vision of America excludes millions of fellow citizens because of their race or religion.”

It really is that clear.

Now, of course, it is inaccurate and offensive to label all of Trump’s supporters as racists.

But the vast majority who are not neo-Nazis and white supremacists were still willing to look the other way as they voted for a guy beloved by, well, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

The Atlantic article has gone viral for a very good reason: It is an astute and well-written attack on our national delusion. At the risk of checking out for the remainder of this article, I’ll just list some of the most striking passages here.

 

“A majority of white voters backed a candidate who explicitly pledged to use the power of the state against people of color and religious minorities, and stood by him as that pledge has been among the few to survive the first year of his presidency.… This all occurred before the eyes of a disbelieving press and political class, who plunged into fierce denial about how and why this had happened.”

 

“Supporters and opponents alike understand that the president’s policies and rhetoric target religious and ethnic minorities, and behave accordingly. But both supporters and opponents usually stop short of calling these policies racist. It is as if there were a pothole in the middle of the street that every driver studiously avoided, but that most insisted did not exist even as they swerved around it.”

 

“The argument for the innocence of Trump’s backers finds purchase across ideological lines: white Democrats looking for votes from working-class whites, white Republicans who want to tar Democrats as elitists, white leftists who fear that identity politics stifles working-class solidarity, and white Trumpists seeking to weaponize white grievances.”

 

“A peculiarly white American cognitive dissonance is that most worry far more about being seen as racist than about the consequences of racism for their fellow citizens. That dissonance spans the ideological spectrum, resulting in blanket explanations for Trump that ignore the plainly obvious.”

 

“A majority of white voters backed a candidate who assured them that they will never have to share this country with people of color as equals. That is the reality that all Americans will have to deal with, and one that most of the country has yet to confront.”

 

It’s a lot to take in. But a combination of data-driven research, psychological study, anecdotal evidence, and our own common sense all verify that this is indeed the case. Americans remain in deep denial about the crushing moral failure that occurred last year.

To justify their votes, Trump’s biggest fans combined “an insistence that discriminatory policies were necessary with vehement denials that his policies would discriminate and absolute outrage that the question would even be asked.”

The only thing more delusional than thinking that Trump is not a bigot is to believe that his die-hard supporters will ever become open-minded and tolerant. In essence, “these supporters will not change their minds, because this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of.”

So let’s stop kidding ourselves.

 


Fluke of All Flukes

You so rarely hear about the benefits of racism — you now, the positive stuff.

That’s understandable, of course, seeing how bigotry and hatred have caused more death, destruction, and misery than any other single factor in the history of humankind. And that’s without even getting into how the soul-crushing, dehumanizing force of prejudice has held back our advancement as a species, and plagued every society that has somehow crawled out the muck, cobbled itself together, and declared itself “civilized” in spite of ample evidence that we are no more sophisticated than our monkey ancestors, who by the way, at least didn’t kill each other over the color of their fur. I mean, damn it, people. The monkeys don’t do this shit to each other — the damn monkeys!

But I digress…

In any case, Newsweek recently reported that the opioid epidemic that is savaging America has largely bypassed Latinos and African Americans. And the reason may be because “racial stereotyping is having a protective effect on non-white populations.”

Yes, racism has (arguably) protected Hispanics and blacks from getting hooked on the feel-good pills.

How can this be?

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It’s the Economy, Estúpido

Of course, it’s still too early to know if Trump will destroy the American economy the way that he has destroyed the lives of thousands of immigrants, portions of the environment, and America’s image and reputation.

But certainly it is a bit disquieting that for the first time in seven years, the United States is losing jobs. To be fair, much of that has to do with the devastation that a cataclysmic (yet somewhat predictable) series of hurricanes has inflicted on the country.

In any case, if one is striving to boost economic growth, it is not a good idea to piss off Latinos. After all, the “U.S. Latino GDP is growing 70 percent faster that the country’s non-Latino GDP.” Furthermore, Hispanics have higher rates of entrepreneurship than other groups, and remain one of the fastest growing demographics in America.

So a sane leader would look at those facts and say, “Damn, these guys are the future, and our nation’s economic growth is intrinsically tied to their financial well-being.”

But come on, we’re talking about a small-fingered, narrow-minded, black-hearted demagogue who doesn’t even understand basic economics. Therefore, it’s little surprise that he has continued to focus his ire on Latinos, with devastating consequences.

For example, “retail sales to Hispanics are tumbling, as immigrants fearful after the election of President Donald Trump stay home and hoard their cash.”

In addition, many labor market measures show that Latinos “have not totally recovered from the Great Recession.”

And when it comes to confidence (consumer or otherwise), keep in mind that “67 percent of Latinos disapprove of the job Trump is doing. By comparison… 54 percent of all adults in the country disapprove of Trump’s job in office.”

Taken together, we see a president who is determined to alienate Latinos, who are of course, crucial to the economic functioning of this country. And we see Hispanics unable to fulfill their true potential because they are too busy fending off the political and cultural assaults of a man so unstable that even his fellow Republicans believe that he is “unraveling.”

All of this could help to sink the economy. And we’re not even talking about the price tag for his idiotic wall that will never happen.

But don’t get me started on that.

 


A Subtle Hint

Clearly, our flaming oil spill of a president can’t go a week without lashing out at Latinos. That’s no exaggeration.

We are still struggling to process the pardoning of Arpaio, and how it illustrates nothing less than pure contempt for Hispanics.

But now Trump has ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also called DACA — which puts “an expiration date on the legal protections granted to roughly 800,000 people known as DREAMers, who entered the country illegally as children.”

Of course, Trump’s defenders insist that he hasn’t killed DACA, because there is a six-month phasing out of the program, and Congress still has the option of addressing the issue, and blah blah blah.

Let’s stop the foolishness.

This was a cruel, wrong, and inhumane action that has no discernible benefit to America (unless you count “a potential $60 billion loss in tax revenue to the federal government and $280 billion hit to economic growth” as a good thing). Hell, even many Republicans support DACA.

Obviously, killing the program cheers up Trump’s base of racists and hard-right supporters. But more than anything, it is a petulant foot stomping by a bigot who just doesn’t like Hispanics terribly much. It is the shrieking of a black-hearted man who sincerely believes that “most people aren’t worthy of respect” and who suffers from a “profound fear of his fellow human beings — at least ones who don’t resemble him.”

And through all this, I have to wonder about those Latinos who still support Trump.

What additional evidence do they need to realize that this guy is not their buddy? What are they seeing in Trump that the rest of us are somehow missing?

Does Jeff Sessions have to show up at their front door, demanding that they pack up and get the hell out of the country, before they will acknowledge how much this administration loathes Hispanics?

Hey, don’t rule anything out.


Shame Shame Go Away

The great state of Texas is underwater, and our president thinks that desperate, devastated Americans who have lost everything — maybe even a loved one — are coming out to cheer for him.

Unfortunately, this is not a surprise, coming from the sociopath in chief.

The previous non-shocker, of course, was Trump’s pardon of the infamous Joe Arpaio.

Now, there’s not much analysis I can add to the sorry spectacle of Trump’s shady, rushed act clemency that undermines the judicial system, upends presidential tradition, and shows contempt for both the Constitution and the very concept of law and order (which is supposedly a GOP value).

Because while Republicans play their usual song and dance about being outraged but doing nothing, the rest of us wonder if this a is a test run to undermine the Russia investigation.

At the very least, we all know that this is another example of Trump’s authoritarian tactics.

It might even be an impeachable offense (a phrase that has been ascribed to Trump’s behavior so often that I have lost track of his potentially criminal actions).

Furthermore, we know that Trump’s pardon sends a clear message to bigoted cops and prejudiced government officials everywhere that there are no — as in zero — consequences for even the most xenophobic and oppressive behavior.

We also know that Arpaio isn’t just a middling bigot, but is in fact “viciously racist” on a level we haven’t seen in public officials since the Civil Rights Era.

And finally, we know that Arpaio — in addition to being a hate-filled racist and scourge to Latinos everywhere — is also an incompetent cop and flat-out evil man.

So what do I have to add to the discussion?

Nothing, really. I just want to make sure that everybody is aware of all of the above.

And if you still support Trump, think about the company you keep.

 


Breakdown in the Break Room

Just about everybody is disavowing the alt-right… with one notable exception, of course.

But among the people who are telling neo-fascists to leave us all alone, there is James Damore, who recently got fired from Google for making the tiny faux pas of insisting that all his female colleagues were genetically inferior bags of neurosis who must bow down to his mighty intellect and sheer manliness.

My favorite part of Damore’s lengthy screed was when he said women couldn’t handle stress. Yes, for tips on how to handle stress, look to men, who never (and I mean, never) just snap under pressure and go on shooting sprees, or physically attack people who disagree with them, or drive their cars into crowds of people.

Yeah, men never do any of those things.

Ahem.

In any case, there are several bewildering aspects to this infamous memo (such as, “When did misogyny become a conservative value?”). But I’m also interested in something that Damore brought up only in passing.

You see, in between dismissing the abilities of women, he also protested the concept of diversity — while insisting that he was all for diversity. This sad sleight of hand has the feel of the uncle who begins a conversation with the phrase “I’m not racist, but…”

Apparently, many white men in the tech industry are pissed off that diversity programs even exist.

I know what you’re thinking. The tech industry has a well-documented shortage of ethnic minorities. For example, Latinos make up only about 3% of the techies at major companies, even though they constitute about 8% of computer science graduates (and about 17% of the nation).

And tech leaders point out that diversity is not just an issue of fairness, but of economic viability. An industry cannot sustain itself if there are few different perspectives, and insularity kills innovation.

So doesn’t everybody want more blacks and Latinos in tech?

Well, to be honest, not everybody does.

But even many non-bigots are likely to balk when it comes to, you know, actually doing something about tech’s abysmal level of ethnic diversity.

One reason for this problem is simple. Diversity programs, or initiatives to increase the presence of ethnic minorities, can make white men feel threatened.

Now, it’s fair to ask why this would be the case.

Apparently, messages about the importance of diversity may provoke some white men to believe “that they might be undervalued and discriminated against.” Studies have found “widespread negative responses to diversity … among white men” and shown that these negative responses “exist even among those who endorse the tenets of diversity and inclusion.” Additional research has revealed that “white men are more likely to feel threatened when their employers trumpet gender-equity and racial-diversity policies.”

Yikes — that’s not exactly what the creators of diversity programs were shooting for.

To combat this backlash, “a wave of companies is trying to soften the process by removing the emphasis on rules and penalties and having other white men lead the sessions.”

Yes, that’s correct. White guys aren’t in charge of enough things, so now they’re even leading seminars about diversity.

Also, if you’re keeping track, diversity programs are yet another example of how American culture has to bend over backward to appease white men, many of whom seem to have an infinite number of things that infuriate, threaten, or disenfranchise them.

Maybe we need to create a program to look into that.

 


Full Count

We’re at the All-Star break, and my team is currently in first place. This is a major deal to me.

Yes, like a lot of Gen X Latinos, I’m a huge baseball fan. In fact, I recently achieved a fatherhood milestone when I took my 4-year-old son to see his first big-league game (he enjoyed it, even if he kept yelling, “safe!” and “out!” — usually at random).

I’m also a fan of science, which is one reason I’m not a Republican. Ha, just having fun there, my GOP friends… anyway…

Among my favorite science writers was the late Stephen Jay Gould. He wrote an intriguing essay titled, Why No One Hits .400 Anymore, in which he argued that while .400 hitters were fairly common in the early days of baseball, it’s become nearly impossible to reach that milestone today.

 

 

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Karma, Baby, Karma

So as I have mentioned before, my mom is my personal hero.

This is not just because she’s my mom, or even because she’s triumphed over serious adversity multiple times. While those are major factors, there are many other reasons why I admire her.

Among them it is this: The woman doesn’t take anybody’s shit.

You see, in the city where I grew up, my mom is (as the kids say) kind of a big deal. Until her recent retirement, she helped run the town.

During her closing days of wrestling with municipal politics, she interviewed candidates for key city positions. And she was commuting to City Hall one morning when she encountered that most American of moments: road rage.

 

A young white man took offense at her driving and — as young white men often do — decided he had every right to let everybody know exactly what he thought. So the guy pulled up next to my mom’s car and made several obscene gestures, punctuated with the shouted comment, “You fucking Mexican!” Then he drove off at an unsafe speed.

By the way, my mom is from El Salvador, not Mexico. But I digress.

In any case, my mom brushed off the guy’s idiocy (she’s very Zen about such things), and drove on to work. Later that morning, she joined the rest of her team in a conference room for a group interview with a finalist for a job.

You probably saw this coming, but yes, the person being interviewed was the asshole who cut her off in traffic and yelled racial slurs at her.

Now, he didn’t recognize her. Guys like him never notice any details about the people they harangue. They just move on to the next person to castigate.

But of course, my mom recognized him. She was perfectly polite during the interview. She’s a professional, after all. However, when it was time for final questions, she asked the following of the young man:

“Would you say you are respectful of other people’s cultures?”

The man smiled at such an HR softball of a question. He gave a practiced, interview-safe answer that just about anyone in a corporate setting would offer. It was all very, “Yes, I have the utmost respect for every creed, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, vegetarian or carnivore, smoking or non-smoking, tall, short, fat, and skinny example of god’s creatures, blah blah blah.”

That was all fine and good. But my mom had a follow-up question:

“If that’s true, then why did you call me a fucking Mexican this morning?”

I think we can all agree, this is not your standard interview question.

The man blanched and gasped. My mom’s co-workers were intrigued. But my mom just waited for his answer.

The guy denied it was him, said it was mistaken identity, then doubled back and gave conflicting, incriminating statements that proved it was indeed him after all. Then he tried to justify his road-rage outburst, backpedal on his previous comments, and wound up floundering so hard it’s amazing the mayor himself didn’t walk into the room to just shoot the guy and put him out of his misery.

But of course, it was all useless. Because let’s face it, there is no good answer to the question, “Why did you call me a fucking Mexican?”

The interview was over.

The guy didn’t get the job.

And my mom got back to work.

 


We’re All in This Together… Aren’t We?

Well, this is depressing as hell.

You see, with all the debates over authenticity and intersectionality and mutual struggle, one idea is largely unstated but heavily implied. And that is the concept that all ethnic minorities share a bond. After all, we are united against the bigotry and xenophobia of Trump’s America.

But like myriad other political and cultural assumptions, this one may not be true.

One only has to point at George Zimmerman to see that some Latinos are just as terrified of black males as your most racist white person. And even if we dismiss Zimmerman as an anomaly —to the point of insisting that he’s not really Hispanic — what do we make of Jeronimo Yanez?

You know him. He’s the cop who shot Philando Castile, an African American motorist, for the crime of… well, for basically doing nothing wrong. Yanez just opened fire because (and this is the cop excuse for just about everything) “he feared for his life.”

Yanez — who is positively, one hundred percent Latino — had the same reaction that so many white cops have when they encounter a black man: fear. And this fear has provoked many cops to do some very bad things to African Americans.

Clearly, this reaction of pure terror — based on racist assumptions — afflicts many Latinos as well. It’s obvious, then, that we are not always there for our African American compatriots.

Another societal ill, Islamophobia, has also leaked into the consciousness of some Hispanics. We all know about Nabra Hassanen, a Muslim teenage girl, whose alleged killer is a Latino man. The crime is being portrayed as extreme road rage.

But come on.

Does anybody think the girl’s headscarf had nothing to do with provoking this guy’s fury? Furthermore, does anyone believe that all the hatred aimed at Muslims hasn’t infiltrated the minds of at least a few Latinos?

We cannot assume that the simple fact we are often the targets of bigotry somehow means that we ourselves cannot be bigoted.

It just doesn’t work that way.

 


Bang and Blame

So I just got back from a conference in amazing New Orleans (always one of my favorite cities). The conference featured lots of breakout sessions where the presenters encouraged us to seize the day and live our passions and grab the bull by both horns while seizing your passion every day and so on and so on.

In any case, I noticed something odd about the breakout sessions. For the most part, during the short Q&A portion at the end of each presentation, the women would raise their hands and ask questions. In contrast, the men pretended that they were asking questions, but most of them just made statements.

During session after session, the women seemed more interested in having an expert answer their inquiries and/or engage in a conversation. The men seemed more interested in asserting their expertise, contradicting the moderator, and in general just declaring how super fucking awesome they were to a room full of captive strangers.

 

On the penultimate day of the conference, some lunatic shot at several congressmen in Washington D.C. Much has been made of the fact that the shooter wasn’t a right-wing nut job. He was ardently anti-Trump.

Sadly, I wasn’t too surprised at this. You see, a pro-Trump man with anger issues has less reason to open up on Congress, because his guy is in charge right now. Oh, he might consider taking a shot at a leading Democrat or a pesky journalist, but ultimately, he will likely decide that it’s not worth it. After all, Trump will have all those traitors thrown in jail soon enough, right?

Now, if Hilary Clinton had won… well, let’s just say that one of the few pluses of Trump’s appalling victory is that we may have been spared from even more violence than we see now, most prevalent in the form of surging hate crimes. Yes, it could have been even worse if Trump’s fans felt robbed and ignored, rather than smug and empowered.

This brings us back to the loser who opened fire on people playing softball. You see, he was a guy who felt victimized, and like many men, he decided that violence was the obvious solution.

The only difference between him and many of his peers is that he correctly identified the people who were fucking with him. He knew it wasn’t immigrants or gays. It was the rich guys who rigged the game.

But other than this insight, he had the exact same reaction as do so many other old guys with access to firearms. He didn’t believe in looking at his own life decisions, or working to improve the system, or helping out his community. No, he believed in punishment and fear and hatred and searing rage. He insisted that, as a white man in America, people were going to listen to him, damn it. He was going to make people pay, and everyone would know how great he was.

That’s what he was thinking. That’s what many men are thinking.

And the objects of their scorn may vary, but their solution is consistent. And that is fucking terrifying.

 


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