Because I am Ferguson obsessed

and yet too busy to blog as much as I’d like this week due to the start of the semester, here’s another.  It’s a Robert Reich status update that is basically a blog post that I wrote in my head but never got around to writing here:

Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri, is at least the fifth unarmed black man to be killed by a white police officer in the past month (along with Eric Garner of Staten Island, John Crawford of Ohio, Ezell Ford of Los Angeles, and Dante Parker of Victoville California). Most of the residents of Ferguson are black; almost all its police officers are white. Yet a new Pew poll shows Americans sharply divided over whether the shooting of Michael Brown raises an important issue of race. While 62% of white Democrats think it does, 61% or Republicans think it doesn’t, and that the issue of race has got too much attention in the shooting. On what planet are those who don’t believe race is at issue here living?

Seriously.  I would really like some follow-up questions with those who think the race angle is being overplayed here.

Tea Party and Ferguson

So, that last post about the NRA reminded me of something a friend and reader shared on FB earlier today.  What’s true about the NRA is far more true about the Tea Party.  From William Wilson:

I have an honest question. Where are all the constitution quoting, anti -government, tea partiers in Ferguson? I’m pretty sure there are a lot of rights being infringed upon. Yet, I havent’ heard a peep from Ron Paul, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Ted Nugent, or ANYONE! Isn’t the tea party’s whole purpose about keeping the government from doing EXACTLY what they are doing? Here is their chance to make a REAL stand, and prove that their cause is just and true, not racially or politically based. Their silence is deafening.

I’ve been told by my Tea Party friends (and yes I do have some) that the tea party isn’t about party or race. But about stopping the government from infringing upon the rights of US citizens. I’m looking forward to hearing them tell me why they aren’t represented in Ferguson. It’s been a week.

And let me be PERFECTLY CLEAR. I don’t think the Tea, Republican or Democrat party are racist institutions. But I do believe all three have racists in them; of the black and white persuasion.

It’s a real shame there has been actual violence, looting, etc., from among some of the protesters in Ferguson.  It makes it far too easy for those on the right to put this into their schema of dangerous, scary Black people that police can rightfully take any and all measures to protect them from.  Police certainly can and should use force when there is violence and looting.  Alas, that muddies the fact that, on the whole, the police have still been amazing excessive and amazingly unaccountable.


Where’s the NRA?

Love this from the Daily Beast’s Cliff Schecter:

The National Rifle Association has been warning us about the threat of a heavily-armed and dangerous government crushing dissent for decades. Their leader, Wayne LaPierre, even referred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as “jack-booted thugs.” 

Their dystopian nightmare sounds exactly like what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri.

Yet somehow, the NRA seems to have missed the whole thing with the SWAT teams and the tank-like vehicles and the snipers and the LRAD sound cannon and the tear gas and the rubber bullets being trained on unarmed Americans. Not a peep from LaPierre on this extended assault on citizens of Ferguson, at least that I can find.

If I were suspicious of their motives–and I am–I might point out that when I visited their 9 acres of militarized gun-fun also known as their convention in Indianapolis, I saw fewer black faces than in your average episode of The Dukes of Hazzard. I’d also point out that LaPierre blows just about every tune he knows on his dog whistle, when warning his membership of the horrors confronting them during this period when violent crime has fallen to its lowest level in a generation:

We don’t trust government, because government itself has proven unworthy of our trust. We trust ourselves and we trust what we know in our hearts to be right. We trust our freedom. In this uncertain world, surrounded by lies and corruption everywhere you look, there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want. We know in the world that surrounds us there are terrorists and there are home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers, and rapers, and haters, and campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all.

Besides making you wonder who spiked his drink with goofballs, what jumps out about that friendly little harangue? Who do you think LaPierre’s speech is meant for when he mentions “terrorists” and “drug cartels” and “carjackers” and “knockout gamers?” I promise you the hardcore gun fetishists he’s preaching to are not picturing Eric Rudolph or George Jung.

I was never actually expecting logical consistency from the NRA.  But nice of Schecter to lay out who they really want those guns to protect themselves from.

Photo of the day

From an In Focus gallery of Ferguson:

Demonstrators raise their arms and chant, “Hands up, Don’t Shoot”, as police clear them from the street as they protest the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 17, 2014. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Are professors racist

I seem to recall reading about this back when it came out, but failed to blog about it until a former student joking asked to see my sent mail folder in reference to this NPR story from Shankar Vedantam:

VEDANTAM: The bias has to do with how faculty seem to respond to these requests, David. Group of researchers ran this interesting field experiment. They emailed more than 6,500 professors at the top 250 schools pretending to be the students. And they wrote letters saying, I really admire your work. Would you have some time to meet? The letters to the faculty were all identical, but the names of the students were all different.

Let me read you some of the names and you can tell if you can pick up a pattern.

GREENE: Mm-hmm.

VEDANTAM: Brad Anderson. Meredith Roberts. Lamar Washington. LaToya Brown. Juanita Martinez. Deepak Patel, Sonali Desai, Chang Wong, Mei Chen. Do you see something, David?

GREENE: It sounds like a diverse group. I mean these are names that come from different ethnic and racial backgrounds.

VEDANTAM: That’s exactly what the researchers were trying to establish. And all they were measuring was how often professors wrote back agreeing to meet with the students. And what they found was there were very large disparities. Women and minorities systematically less likely to get responses from the professors and also less likely to get positive responses from the professors. Now remember, these are top faculty at the top schools in the United States and the letters were all impeccably written.

Definitely disturbing.  What bothers me most is that so many people were completely ignored.  Is it that hard to write a “thanks, but I’m just too busy” email?  Apparently, there’s a lot of self-important jerks among the professorate (not that I know any).   As to what my own answer would be, I’d hate to think it would depend upon the name of the student.  In truth, I’d be far more likely to make time for an NCSU Political Science major (or wannabe major), but that’s about it.  Actually, just found a page with the research, and here’s the key chart:

Whoa– watch out Chinese students.  Also, I can’t help but admit taking pleasure in this aspect of the study given my own biases regarding certain academic disciplines:

VEDANTAM: Milkman found there were very large disparities between academic departments and between schools. Faculty at private schools were significantly more likely to discriminate against women and minorities than faculty at public schools. And faculty in fields that were very lucrative were also more likely to discriminate. So there was very little discrimination in the humanities. There was more discrimination among faculty at the natural sciences. And there was a lot of discrimination among the faculty at business schools. Here’s Milkman again.

MILKMAN: The very worst in terms of bias is business academia. So in business academia, we see a 25 percentage point gap in the response rate to Caucasian males vs. women and minorities.

Well, hooray for Humanities (I’d also like to see how Social Science fared) and hooray for public universities.  Anyway, interesting and disturbing stuff.

Oh, and by the way, it really is amazing the number of people out there who just keep insisting that racism and sexism basically no longer exist.  Even in the overtly liberal halls of academia it’s still there, so imagine how bad it is out in the business world.

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