Attack of the Racist Babies, Part 2

Why It's OK to Talk About White Prejudice Rather Than Prejudice in General

My last post was focussed on how white parents talk about race. The reason, of course, is that African-Americans and other minorities in the U.S. aren't in the same boat when it comes to these questions. Claiming that they are -- that we should talk about racism as if it's the same problem for all people -- is one of the false equivalencies of ``color blindness.''


Non-whites can't avoid the subject of skin color, because ``white'' is the default setting in American culture. Whites don't perceive that culture easily, any more than a fish could see the water in which it swims.

So images that seem neutral to whites are reminders to non-whites of their divergence from what was expected. This isn't the result of anyone's conscious decision to be hostile. It happens because people aren't conscious that they have a default setting.

For example, one study of 368 Time and Newsweek magazine covers published between 1990 and 2006 found that when a single person was chosen to represent all 300 million Americans, that photograph was much more likely to be a white person's than you'd expect from the nation's ethnic breakdown.

However, when a small group was used to represent the United States, then the percentage of minority faces was much closer to the actual proportion of nonwhites in the US population. (Sorry, no link right now, I am still searching for the paper. If you know it, dear reader, please leave a comment.)

The study of ``implicit'' bias is booming in social psychology. You can test your own unconscious biases here. Be warned: This isn't your conscious self expressing its principles, so you might be unpleasantly surprised. If so, or if you'd just like to understand the raging debate about the scientific validity of this test, check out this recently published broadside (pdf) from the skeptics.

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

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  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
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Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
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