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It’s Hard to Stay Racist One-On-One, Face-to-Face
Daryl Davis has made a point of meeting Ku Klux Klan members and 200 members have quit the racist organization after getting to know him.
It's often said that there's safety in numbers, and unfortunately, the bromide applies equally to people with hateful attitudes when they operate in groups. Racism, for example, is easy to maintain when surrounded by other haters, but a different matter altogether when a racist is alone with his or her intended victim. At that moment, it's much harder to ignore the fact that the object of hatred is just another vulnerable human being with the right to be treated respectfully and decently. Author Daryl Davis knows this, and as a black man has been disarming members of the Ku Klux Klan, one by one, since the 1980s by asking each one he meets, “How can you hate me when you don't even know me?" he tells the Daily Mail. He says he's gotten over 200 KKK members to quit.
Davis is about to release an updated version of his memoir, Klan-destine Relationships: A Black Man's Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan, which describes his experiences.
Davis cites Mark Twain in explaining how all the traveling his family did when he was young gave him a different view of racism, and an unusual patience with the ignorance underlying it: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
And Davis has certainly witnessed the damage racism causes everywhere, pointing out, “In Israel, it's Palestinian versus Jew. In Lebanon, it's Christian versus Muslim. In Iraq, it's Sunni Muslim versus Shiite Muslim. In certain African countries, the conflict is tribal. In India, we see a caste system based on the shade of skin color and classicism."
His approach isn't without critics who consider his kindness toward racists irksome. “Not all, but most of the criticism has come from black people. I have been called a 'sellout,' 'Uncle Tom,' 'Oreo' and a number of other terrible names." Davis feels, “This is because [the critics] are engaging in the exact same hateful behavior as they accuse the white racists. I can explain it like this, because I've seen it on both sides."
Davis is a long-time R&B and blues musician — he's played alongside Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, and was friends with the legendary, late Muddy Waters — and music has often been the key to striking up a friendship with a Klan member. “Once when I was performing in a predominantly white venue, a white man approached me on my break and put his arm around me and exclaimed, 'This is the first time I've ever heard a black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis.'" To many of us, it's almost unbelievable that anyone wouldn't already know the black roots of rock 'n roll, but such are the filter bubbles in which people live. “I quickly enlightened him as to the origin of Jerry Lee's music and told him that Jerry Lee had learned that style from black Boogie Woogie and blues piano players. The man did not believe me, despite the fact that I further told him that Jerry Lee was a good friend of mine and he had told me himself where he learned that style." Davis continues, “He was curious and wanted to learn more about me. Over time, he and I became good friends. He ended up leaving the KKK."
Davis' mano a mano approach is not without danger, certainly. “There have been some incidents in which I was threatened and a couple of instances where I had to physically fight. Fortunately, I won in both instances." He goes on, “At the core of it, although they won't at first admit it, [racists] express superiority, but truly feel inferiority and in order to elevate themselves, they have to push someone else down." For Davis, though, the risk has clearly been worth all of the minds he's changed slowly over the years.
As far as the immediate state of race relations in the U.S. goes, Davis, says, “What you are seeing is those people who were dormant racists, being given a new lease on life by the sentiments of our new President-elect. They celebrate his election. But, let me be clear here. Every racist I know, and I know a lot of them, voted for Trump. However, that does not mean that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist." So he remains hopeful about our long-term prospects: “There has always been a great deal of racism in the U.S. before and after Obama. However, racism in the US is down, post Obama."
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.
- Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
- As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
- The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
China moves to Russia and India takes over Canada. The Swiss get Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi India. And the U.S.? It stays where it is.
What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?
A recent analysis of a 76-million-year-old Centrosaurus apertus fibula confirmed that dinosaurs suffered from cancer, too.
- The fibula was originally discovered in 1989, though at the time scientists believed the damaged bone had been fractured.
- After reanalyzing the bone, and comparing it with fibulas from a human and another dinosaur, a team of scientists confirmed that the dinosaur suffered from the bone cancer osteosarcoma.
- The study shows how modern techniques can help scientists learn about the ancient origins of diseases.
Centrosaurus apertus fibula
Royal Ontario Museum<p>In the recent study, the team used a combination of techniques to analyze the fibula, including taking CT scans, casting the bone and studying thin slices of it under a microscope. The analysis suggested that the dinosaur likely suffered from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that affects modern humans, typically young adults.</p><p>For further evidence, the team compared the damaged fibula to a healthy fibula from a dinosaur of the same species, and also to a fibula that belonged to a 19-year-old human who suffered from osteosarcoma. Both comparisons supported the osteosarcoma diagnosis.</p>
Evans et al.<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The shin bone shows aggressive cancer at an advanced stage," Evans said in a <a href="https://www.rom.on.ca/en/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/rare-malignant-cancer-diagnosed-in-a-dinosaur" target="_blank">press release</a>. "The cancer would have had crippling effects on the individual and made it very vulnerable to the formidable tyrannosaur predators of the time."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The fact that this plant-eating dinosaur lived in a large, protective herd may have allowed it to survive longer than it normally would have with such a devastating disease."</p><p>The fossilized fibula was originally unearthed in a bonebed alongside the remains of dozens of other <em>Centrosaurus </em><em>apertus</em>, suggesting the dinosaur didn't die from cancer, but from a flood that swept it away with its herd.</p>
Dinosaur fibula; the tumor mass is depicted in yellow.
Royal Ontario Museum/McMaster University<p>The new study highlights how modern techniques can help scientists learn more about the evolutionary origins of modern diseases, like cancer. It also shows that dinosaurs suffered through some of the same terrestrial afflictions humans face today.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Dinosaurs can seem like mythical creatures, but they were living, breathing animals that suffered through horrible injuries and diseases," Evans said, "and this discovery certainly makes them more real and helps bring them to life in that respect."</p>
Join the lauded author of Range in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova!
UPDATE: Unfortunately, Malcolm Gladwell was not able to make the live stream due to scheduling issues. Fortunately, David Epstein was able to jump in at a moment's notice. We hope you enjoy this great yet unexpected episode of Big Think Live. Our thanks to David and Maria for helping us deliver a show, it is much appreciated.