Tuesday, September 14, 2010

tuesday: race, equality, and a hate crimes question

• Red, Brown, and Blue

Ray Suarez, who I've admired at NPR, writes about "How our definition of whiteness has changed with each new wave of immigration—and how it needs to change again." It has interesting bits like:
Four pre-1917 decisions had ruled that Syrians were white, and three that they weren’t. Then came rulings that Koreans weren’t white; Afghanis weren’t white, followed in 1945 by a decision that they were; and that “Arabians” weren’t white, again followed by a Board of Immigration Appeals ruling (in 1941) that, because European civilization had originated in the Middle East, they were white.
I think Suarez overemphasizes what's racist and underemphasizes what's nativist, so in some cases where he says "white", I would say "citizen", but I generally like his take.

(Thanks, DairyStateDad!)

• Race and romance

I thought I'd blogged about okcupid's How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get, but I must've discussed it at another site, so I'm posting it here now. The satisfying part? White males get exactly the response they would be expected to get if race wasn't a factor. The part that makes me want to cry? "Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race—including other blacks—singles them out for the cold shoulder."

To state the obvious for anyone who might miss it, black women are at the intersection of class, race, and gender prejudice. The class factor may not be immediately obvious, so here goes: Some people are not racist, but they are classist. If they know a black woman is of their class or higher, they'll date her. But if all they have to go on is that she's black, the odds increase that she's working class because blacks are disproportionately working class.

That logic even applies to classist black men.

(Thanks, Nathan Long!)

Are hate crime laws effective?

Jay Lake's post made me ask something I haven't found an answer to: Is there any evidence that hate crime laws actually make anyone safer?


  1. I doubt anybody has done any research on the effectiveness of hate crime legislation. (Partly because it would be difficult to isolate it as a single factor, and partly because patterns of enforcement, along with the law itself, have changed since the original federal hate crime law was enacted in 1968.) You could always try asking around on a lawyer blog, though. I rather like http://blog.simplejustice.us/

  2. Ah, yes, "Evaluating the impact of hate crime legislation on deterrence, punishment, enforcement, training, and reporting." was specifically listed as a gap in the research as of 2005. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/topics/crime/hate-crime/research-agenda.htm

    I suppose somebody may have done something about the lack of research in the last five years, though.

  3. I'm not sure why Saurez would be incorrect to say that those issues are primarily about race rather than nativism.

    The court cases were not about nativism, for example, they were literally about whiteness (e.g., the next two sentences in Saurez's peice read "All this uncertainty has led to peculiar outcomes. Schrag tells of an appellate court in Alabama that overturned a miscegenation conviction involving a black man and a white woman “because there had been no proof that the woman, a Sicilian, was white.")

    And the eugenics stuff and the Bell Curve were entirely about race rather than nationality.

  4. serial, thanks!

    CC, Oh, the old cases were very much about whiteness. But I don't think what we're seeing now is a change in the definition of whiteness. I think we're seeing nativism rise as racism diminishes, which is why conservative whites, blacks, and HIspanics are uniting against illegal immigrants.

  5. I think it's hard to know where to draw the line between racism and nativism. I hope you're right about racism decreasing. At the very least, it has been driven underground.