Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

April 20, 2018

Is everyone racist and I’m not aware?

Filed under: race,Racism — Razib Khan @ 2:36 pm
Me, proudly culturally appropriating

The expulsion of two young black men from Starbucks is in the news, and people are sharing their experiences. To be honest I’m not surprised that this happened to young black men. What I am surprised by are South Asians who express their own fear of being seen to not buy anything (in part to highlight the privileges that white people have).

I’m a pretty standard looking brown person. Most people realize that I’m South Asian (or “Indian”) when they meet me. Sometimes when I have a very close buzzcut I’m pretty sure people assume I’m a black American (when I got burritos at a Mexican place someone referred to me as the “black guy” in Spanish once when my head was shaved). And a reasonable amount of time people have wondered if I’m a Mexican American, though less and less over the years.

I’ve also spent a fair amount of time in Starbucks. When I’m traveling I always go to a Starbucks because it’s familiar (when I’m not traveling I rarely do anymore). Sometimes I’ll hang out for a while before someone shows up without buying anything. There have even been times where I never bought anything, but just met up with someone. I’ve never felt in any danger of being kicked out.

In fact, in the United States, my main worry about my race is in a very specific context: airports. Since I fly a fair amount I have a routine down. Always shave. Always get there way earlier. Prepare ahead so you don’t seem stressed or uncertain. It’s not super onerous, but I am conscious that I’m probably under more scrutiny.

All that being said I’ve never had a problem in American airports. I have had problems in Europen airports, after a fashion. An example might be a flight in Germany when security was stopping every young non-white male, whether black, brown or Asian before we got on the flight (after we’d made it through the checkpoints). And, when I was in Italy in 2010 on a trip the racism was more palpable. At one point I was denied service by a street vendor, and when I was at a bookstore my wife (then girlfriend) told me I was getting suspicious looks, and there was a misunderstanding with one of the clerks (I don’t speak Italian).  I definitely felt there was more racism in Europe day to day than I’ve experienced in this country, and I speak as someone who grew up in eastern Oregon.

And yet I’m not here to deny the racism that other South Asian Americans face. Their experience is their experience, and so is mine. What’s the difference here? Are people giving me dirty looks that I don’t even notice? Or are other people hyper-aware of what’s going on around them and perceive slights that might not be intended?

I should add that this tendency is common in my family. We don’t seem to perceive racism around us. Perhaps we’re just oblivious?

What do I think though? Honestly, I think there are different levels and types of racism. If you are South or East Asian you are not going to be under the same scrutiny as a black male. Certainly, there is white privilege in relation to being a brown person. Or at least I’m told there is…I’m not white and can’t pass as a white person, so I can only trust people like Linda Sarsour who are nonwhite by choice that life is a lot easier for whites.

I do a real good SJW impersonation because I have good verbal skills and “present” as nonwhite. But it always seems fake to me. I’ve experienced racism in this country, but it’s not pervasive. I felt under more scrutiny in the Middle East to keep to my lane, and that’s despite my “Muslim name.”

I’m curious as to other peoples’ experiences. The above are just mine.

April 28, 2017

Less intelligent people want to exclude racists from the public square

Filed under: Culture,GSS,Racism — Razib Khan @ 10:03 pm
Logit Coefficients 

It’s been a while since I’ve done much GSS blogging. Part of it is that I’ve got only so much attention I can devote to things, and most of my focus has been on the area of science that I’m interested in, and one or two non-scientific topics. The second variable is that I started blogging about GSS data a long time ago (~2008), and there’s only so much interesting stuff you can talk about.

But over the past few years there have been some controversies related to speech in public spaces, and what is and isn’t acceptable. There has also been some chatter that young people today in particular are intolerant of freedom of speech. I’ve wanted to address this, so here I go.

The toleration of racists is in today’s America is like testing a boundary condition. If you are willing to tolerate racist speech if you are not a racist, then you are pretty likely to be a free speech absolutist. I am not interested in rehashing arguments, I support free speech in an absolutist sense personally. Rather, let’s look at some data.

The General Social Survey has a question up from 2014 for the variable RACEMEET that asks:

Should people prejudiced against any racial or ethnic group be allowed to hold public meetings?

The question was asked in 2010 and 2014, and 2,651 individuals answered this. The answer was converted to ordinal, so I decided to probe relationships between variables and the score of toleration through regression. Some independent variables, such as political viewpoint (POLVIEWS), were recoded in an ordinal fashion (so that “extremely liberal” = 1, “liberal” = 2, and so forth, to “extremely conservative” = 7). Others, such as age, do not require any recoding. RACEMEET itself was converted to an ordinal.

The above results suggest that political ideology does not predict your response to this question much once you account for other variables. In fact, I did a query on ideological views first, and the results indicated to me what was really going on.

1: Should definitely be allowed39241715221720
2: Should probably be allowed12242421222215
3: Should probably not be allowed26201922192422
4: Should definitely not be allowed23324043373843

As you can see moderates are relatively skeptical of allowing racists to have a public meeting. All of my analysis of the GSS indicates that moderates are not as smart as more liberal or conservative people.

Let’s go through the variables which were significant predictors above. First, sex.

1: Should definitely be allowed2113
2: Should probably be allowed2221
3: Should probably not be allowed2023
4: Should definitely not be allowed3643

These results were expected. On the whole women tend to be more skeptical of absolutist free speech positions which allow offensive material to be promoted (women are more skeptical of allowing Communists to speak too in comparison to men, so it’s not because of the ideology of the speaker or viewpoint).

Then church attendance frequency:

Never attends churchMore than once a week
1: Should definitely be allowed202319142115131413
2: Should probably be allowed212127241316262220
3: Should probably not be allowed211720182824182423
4: Should definitely not be allowed373934443745434044

A modest difference.

Next, highest educational attainment:

No HSHSSome collegeCollegeGraduate
1: Should definitely be allowed714112632
2: Should probably be allowed1420232927
3: Should probably not be allowed2023211920
4: Should definitely not be allowed5943452621

The big gap here is between those with college and those without college educations.

Finally, we look at WORDSUM, which is a proxy for intelligence. It’s a ten word vocabulary test. Below in the columns are the number of answers a respondent got correct:

1: Should definitely be allowed8101216243036
2: Should probably be allowed13221824263433
3: Should probably not be allowed27202322211818
4: Should definitely not be allowed52484738291812

I combined those who scored below 5 out of 10 (0-4) into one class. You can see that as score on this vocabulary test goes up, the view that racists should be allowed to meet in public goes up. It’s almost monotonic. The smartest people are more tolerant than the next smartest people who are more tolerant than the next smartest people, with the dumb being the least tolerant.

I made the below chart to illustrate this:

Often when it comes to views associated with “smart” people when you put it into some regression eduction accounts for all of the difference. In other words, the less intelligent educated have the same views as the intelligent educated, and the more intelligent but less educated have the same views as the less intelligent less educated. There are more older people who are intelligent but not educated, so it could be generational too (though in this case age does not seem to matter). A plausible hypothesis is that in many cases it is social milieu. Even if you are not bright, being in college inculcates certain values.

And college is a predictor. But these data show that even if you account for college education the brighter you are, the more likely you favor allowing tolerance for views that most people find intolerable.

September 15, 2013

Miss America, Nina Davuluri, does not look like Miss India

Filed under: Beauty,Miss America,Nina Davuluri,race,Racism — Razib Khan @ 11:40 pm
Miss America 2013 is an Indian American woman, Nina Davuluri. This has predictably ushered in lots of sad and sometimes so-sad-it’s-funny (frankly) racism on Twitter. But there’s another interesting angle: a friend pointed out that Nina Davuluri is probably too … Continue reading

August 19, 2012

More racist: white liberals or white conservatives?

Filed under: Data Analysis,GSS,Interracial,Racism — Razib Khan @ 10:02 pm

Reihan Salam has a post up on the alignment of racism and political orientation. He begins:

Recently, Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s UP with Chris Hayes, made the following observation:

It is undeniably the case that racist Americans are almost entirely in one political coalition and not the other.

Chris is a good friend of mine, and we grew up in the same milieu. I can attest to the fact that the view he expressed is very widely held in the circles in which we both travel….

Salam then links to Alex Tabarrok, who uses party identification data to indicate that actually racism is split between the two groups, while John Sides suggests that there is a definite lean toward Republicans being more racist, using a few indicator variables. Overall I think Sides is about right, all things equal conservatives are more racist than liberals. At least in the modern context of the two ideologies.* I say conservative/liberal rather than Republican/Democrat, because my experience with the GSS data set is that ideology is a more powerful predictor of social views among whites. This holds true with the variables which Tabarrok and Sides query from what I can see; the gap between ...

June 8, 2011

A mismeasured Mismeasurement of Man

I would say The Mismeasurement of Man is one of the most commonly cited books on this weblog over the years (in the comments). It comes close to being “proof-text” in many arguments online, because of the authority and eminence of the author in the public mind, Stephen Jay Gould. I am in general not particularly a fan of Gould’s work or thought, with many of my sentiments matching the attitudes of Paul Krugman in this 1996 essay:

….Like most American intellectuals, I first learned about this subject [evolutionary biology] from the writings of Stephen Jay Gould. But I eventually came to realize that working biologists regard Gould much the same way that economists regard Robert Reich: talented writer, too bad he never gets anything right. Serious evolutionary theorists such as John Maynard Smith or William Hamilton, like serious economists, think largely in terms of mathematical models. Indeed, the introduction to Maynard Smith’s classic tract Evolutionary Genetics flatly declares, “If you can’t stand algebra, stay away from evolutionary biology.” There is a core set of crucial ideas in his subject that, because they involve the interaction of several different factors, can only be clearly understood by someone willing ...

June 3, 2011

Kala verboten!

Filed under: race,Racism — Razib Khan @ 6:39 pm

Pubs bar African nationals in Bangalore:

At most of these bars and pubs, blacks are generally frowned upon. In most cases, a group of black males, unaccompanied by women gets responses varying from a polite – “sorry, prior reservation needed” to the outright rude – “please leave”.

At one of the sports bars, which had the most number of complaints, the head of marketing said it was “security reasons” and not racism that made them discourage blacks from coming. Besides, the bar’s other clients were uncomfortable with black-skinned people around, he said.

One aspect of a globalized world, where African live in India and China, Chinese work in Africa, and Indians relocate to Australia, will be more racial conflict and friction. The New World has arguably the most developed attitude toward racial conflict and cooperation because it has had centuries to develop cultural responses and accommodations. In contrast much of the Old World has not had this experience, nor do they wish such an experience.

Here’s Mona Eltahawy on Egyptian racism against Sub-Saharan blacks.

May 5, 2011

Islamic nationalism as racialism

Filed under: Culture,Racism — Razib Khan @ 12:05 pm


I think it is a plausible model to argue that the Hindutva ideology which goes back to Vinayak Savarkar has a racial tinge, insofar as India was the land of Indians, who despite their differences are all of one race. As an empirical matter the posts on this website should make that somewhat factually true; South Asians, from the Pandit and Pathan to the Mala and Madiga have a quantum of “Ancestral South Indian.” But more broadly the culture of the Hindu nation is embedded in a concrete folk, the Hindu people, who are the people of India. In this framework those Hindus who go over to the Abrahamic religion are “race traitors.”

Reading comments on this blog and thinking moderately on the issue: I wonder if the Islamic nationalism of the Muslim League led by Jinnah is also best thought of as a racialist ideology. The Muslim upper classes could not conceive of being dominated by the Hindu majority, who were inferior kakfirs. It is natural to think of this ideologically. Many elite Muslims such as Muhammed Iqbal took pride in their upper caste Hindu origin. Jinnah himself was descended from Hindus of late. But I keep wondering about Jinnah’s famous irreligiosity. I know that he blew a gasket when his daughter, whose mother had been a Parsi, married a Parsi and her children were not raised as Muslim. Despite his lack of faith he had a strong communal cultural identity. The same was true with Savarkar, who was famously an atheist.

I began thinking of this line of thought by the clear racism which seems to exist in Pakistan, and which Zach and other commenters have hinted at. As an ethnic Bengali whose family spent some time in West Pakistan I can attest to this, though it was certainly nothing like the Jim Crow South! Rather, there was a subtle self-conception of West Pakistanis that Bengalis were just Hindus who became Muslim, while many of them had the blood of Arabs, Persians, and Turks (this is true, but that’s a minor component, and interesting that they leave out the African!). The tendency to characterize Hindus and Christians as “dark-skinned” and “low caste”, no matter the truth of both these, suggest some that secular Islamic nationalism has been a fertile seed-bed for racism.

April 21, 2011

Is “Game of Thrones” racist? Not even wrong….

Filed under: Culture,Fantasy,Fiction,Racism — Razib Khan @ 12:53 pm

One of the aspects of fiction is that it serves as a Rorschach test. Over at Slate Nina Shen Rastogi has a post up, Is “Game of Thrones” Racist?:

The Dothraki are dark, with long hair they wear in dreadlocks or in matted braids. They sport very little clothing, bedeck themselves in blue paint, and, as depicted in the premiere episode, their weddings are riotous affairs full of thumping drums, ululations, orgiastic public sex, passionate throat-slitting, and fly-ridden baskets full of delicious, bloody animal hearts. A man in a turban presents the new khaleesi with an inlaid box full of hissing snakes. After their nuptials, the immense Khal Drogo takes Daenerys to a seaside cliff at twilight and then, against her muted pleas, takes her doggie-style.

They are, in short, barbarians of the most stereotypical, un-PC sort. As I watched, I kept thinking, “Are they still allowed to do that?”

I wasn’t the only viewer who found the depiction of the Dothraki uncomfortable, to say the least. Time’s TV critic James Poniewozik, noting that the Dothraki seem to be made up of a “grabbag of exotic/dark/savage signifiers,” wondered if it was “possible to be racist toward a race that does not ...

March 21, 2011


Filed under: Culture,Prejudice,Racism — Razib Khan @ 10:44 am

On this weblog a few months ago Zach Latif mentioned that he worried about individuals transforming conventional South Asian constructs of racial/ethnic/caste hierarchy and making them even more concrete by using frameworks such as “Ancestral North Indian” vs. “Ancestral South Indian.” Thanks to the release of the Reich et al. data set, now that can be done. Dienekes has posted a plot of South Asian ancestral components (I am DOD075). Light green is ANI, and dark green ASI (light blue is East Eurasian, and dark blue is African):

I like genomics because it makes concrete the terms of debate of racial/ethnic superiority which are implicit. As someone raised in areas with very few South Asians I’ve been pretty insulated from this sort of stuff, at least in the brown context (I am more familiar with people who are proud of their Mayflower ancestry than their Brahmin ancestry). Only by knowing brown people in my adulthood and reading weblogs like Sepia Mutiny have I been able to read between the lines in terms of rank order of value. Here are some observations I’ve made (I am not sure of the generality of such observations). I’m skipping over the South Asian obsession with “fair skin,” since that’s self-evident and requires no deeper inquiry.

- There is a graded hierarchy from Punjabis to Malayalis/Tamils of racial worth. I infer this by the fact that I’ve noted multiple times individuals from Andhra Pradesh distinguishing themselves from “Madrasis.” These individuals will sometimes assert in contravention of scholarly consensus that Telugu is not a Dravidian language, but an Indo-Aryan one.

- There is a secondary axis of value, top to bottom, from Punjabis to Bengalis, west-to-east. I infer this from the fact that I had a conversation with a woman who had married a Bengali man, who was quite clear that his family were not indigenous Bengalis, but rather originally from Rajasthan. The woman was of European American descent, and didn’t seem to place any value judgement on this, but it was quite clear that this centuries-old migration was very important to the family. This assertion of western ancestry/origin is one I’ve heard from many Bengalis. It is probably rooted in part on truth, but in part on attempts to distance oneself from the short dark-skinned Bengali peasant (the mass rapes of Bengali women by the Paksitani army was justified in some quarters as improving blood stock. A narrative which I note has reemerged in Darfur).

- Punjabis, Sindhis, etc., are quite clear that other peoples of the subcontinent are ugly, with ugliness proportional to distance from their own physical type. Other peoples of the subcontinent generally accede to this framework. I have seen many times people who are not northwest Indian recount that people have confused them for northwest Indians (which they’re quite happy about). I have never seen a Punjabi note that someone thought they were South Indian. From omission one can infer much.

- South Asians value a physical type as the aesthetic ideal which is actually typical for Iran, and not even Pakistan. For this reason I have stated that brown folk perceive ourselves to be an “ugly race,” since our typical deep brown skin, somewhat broader features and thicker lips, are seen as less than ideal.

- Brown people have an obsession with ancestry from the northwest. Muslims will prioritize Arabs and Persians. But even Hindus (e.g., Kashmiris, Kamboj, etc.) will allude to Persian ancestry (presumably pre-Islamic in this case). Groups such as the Chitpavan Brahmins, Jatts, and Nasrani Christians, will also suggest Near Eastern or Central Asian antecedents (i.e., Jews and Scythians). In contrast, there is generally total amnesia about eastern ancestry, which is relatively common in the Indian northeast, as well as trace but detectable levels of African ancestry in much of Pakistan.

- Brown people also have an obsession with caste, especially being “high caste.” If your caste of origin isn’t indisputably high caste, you recreate it as high caste (e.g., Kayasthas). Non-Hindus also take pride in high caste ancestry, multiple Nasrani Christians have told me that they are descended from Brahmin converts. I express some curiosity as to this datum, because their natural increase must be high indeed, as Kerala today has ten times as many Christians as Brahmins!

I’m open to disputes about these impressions, or elaborations. I tried to broach this general topic several times at Talk Islam, but it never got anywhere, probably because of lack of brown critical mass. I note a contrast between the Han Chinese, who take definitive pride in being autochthons, to the point where Han with clear non-Han ancestry will not acknowledge it (e.g., “Ma” is a Chinese Muslim surname, and there are a significant number of people with that surname, or variants of it, in the Han population, so clearly it indicates some descent from Chinese Muslims, ergo, Central Asians). In contrast, South Asians have a tendency to shouting from the roof tops a sliver of Arab or Persian ancestry.

Genomics will make concrete the hierarchies, and therefore I hope, challenge people’s perception of their validity. That’s a normative preference, not one that I think will necessarily describe reality. I am an individual with minimal group pride, so my own results have pretty much zero impact on my own self-worth, positively or negatively. But the reality that I have so much “eastern” ancestry which my family was unaware of did raise my own consciousness as to the blank spots in our Bengali ethno-cultural creation narrative.

March 13, 2011

Hierarchies of racism

Filed under: Celebs,Culture,Prejudice,Racism — Razib Khan @ 12:02 pm

Recently I had an online discussion with the blogger Eurasian Sensation. Our conversation began with the different sorts of immigrants which nations attract, and how that impacts the broader society. For example, I think the fact that the USA doesn’t have a “Muslim problem,” but Britain clearly does, has a lot to do with the type and mix of Muslims which the two Anglophone nations are host to, much more than their specific public policies (i.e., Britain seems more proactively multiculturalist than the USA). The Muslims of Britain are more deviated from national norms in educational and skills qualifications, and, they are broken into several large socio-cultural blocks. For example, the working class Muslim Mirpuri Pakistani identity in the north of England is substantial enough that individuals could make their own lives within the community. This is almost impossible in the United States, where there is a great deal of ethnic balance, and Muslims are geographically and occupationally diverse.

But that’s not what I want to talk about in this post. Eurasian Nation asked “is discriminating against the less intelligent (or more pertinently, those who don’t perform well on IQ tests) really that much better than discriminating against someone because of their race?” First, like diversity, discrimination has taken on too much of a uniform moral valence in polite society. I don’t think diversity is always good, and discrimination always bad. But setting that aside, not all forms of discrimination are considered equally bad. This is clear in how we reacted to the way South Africa treated its non-white, and in particular black, population, and the way that Saudi Arabia treats its women and Shia, today (let alone non-Muslims). We here being the West. Racial discrimination is considered to be particularly objectionable, for whatever reason.

To this Eurasian nation responded that:

…but it’s worth remembering that Sudan oppressed it’s black population for many years and the world didn’t care until it turned into a major conflict. The world sadly only really cares when there is a material interest at stake, or the atrocities reach a level at which they can no longer be ignored.

I’d also add that in Sudan, as in your hypothetical Saudi example, it would slip under the radar because Arabs are not really “white” in the way that Rhodesians and Afrikaners are. Sad, really.

President of Sudan

The first point is that Sudanese Arabs are referred to as abd, an insulting Arab term for black, when they go and work in the Gulf. So Sudanese Arab racism against the blacks of that nation is really more that of mixed-bloods against people of full Sub-Saharan African heritage. Additionally, the bigger variable is probably religion. I would be curious if a pure-blooded Nubian Muslim would be excluded from the elite simply on account of the lack of Arab ancestry?

The second issue, related to the first, is that no one considers Sudanese Arabs white (in fact, most people probably simply code them as black mentally). Racism of non-European peoples against non-European peoples presents moral and cognitive difficulties for Westerners. Consider the confused reporting of racially motivated attacks against black Africans in Libya. Many colored people know from experience that other “people of color” can be as racist, or more so, than white people, in large part because there has never been a proactive attempt to inculcate racial sensitivity in colored people.

In the USA there is a common saying which is manifestly stupid, but captures the spirit of the age. Race + power = racism. The implication is that since only white people have power, only white people can be racist. I think this is a remnant of 1950, which is shadowing us into the 21st century.

Finally, the photo at the top left is from a blogger who created composites based on available images. All four shots above are Indian, two of movie stars and two of average people on the street. I suspect you can infer which pair are which….

January 12, 2011

“Not our girls”

Filed under: Abuse,crime,Racism,Rape — Razib Khan @ 2:55 pm

Long and thorough piece from Eurasian Sensation:

The sort of young men of Muslim backgrounds who commit this sort of crime are certainly not acting out any religious or cultural imperative. Rather, they are cherry-picking whatever cultural influences serve their purposes in the worst way. The rebellious sociopathy of the gang lifestyle; the lure of easy sex and cheap titillation that abounds in Western countries. These things of course are totally at odds with the culture of Pakistan, Lebanon or any other traditional country. Yet by channelling that traditional perspective of female morality, and victimising only those they view as degraded and cheap, it becomes that much easier to justify.

The only thing I would say is that the author underestimates the widespread and pervasive justification of the exploitation and dehumanization of the Other baked-into-the-cake of most human societies. Both Muslims and Christians traditionally enjoined bans upon the enslavement of co-religionists, but not of unbelievers. Terms like “sociopathy” can be slippery. As I have noted before, soldiers are not murderers in the eyes of most cultures, because they kill the Other. Similarly, sexual exploitation of dehumanized groups may not even be sociopathic, because the reference for sociopathy is based on in group morality.

October 16, 2010

Female race consciousness as prudence

Filed under: dating,Interracial dating,Racism,Sex Differences,Social Science — Razib Khan @ 3:52 pm

Big Think has a post, Do Women Value Ethnicity Over Income in a Mate?:

The results are striking. An African-American man would have to earn $154,000 more than a white man in order for a white woman to prefer him. A Hispanic man would need to earn $77,000 more than a white man, and Asian man would need, remarkably, an additional $247,000 in additional annual income.

So do women value ethnicity over income in a mate? They certainly seem too. If income was the more important factor in mate choice these numbers would be small; it would take very little additional income to entice a woman to date a man of a different race. The fact that the numbers are so large suggests that a man’s race is significantly more important that his income.

And men? Well the problem is that men don’t seem to care about income at all. So even though their behaviour suggests they care less about their partner’s race than women do, the income needed to encourage them to make the trade-off between races is incalculably large. To really estimate how much men care about race you would have to find a different measure, like perhaps physical beauty.

First, there has been research controlling for physical beauty. So the white male disinclination toward black females can be accounted for mostly by the fact that they aren’t as physically attracted to them. When you limit the sample of black women to those which they are physically attracted to the discrepancy mostly disappears. In contrast, when you similarly constrain the samples of black men which white women judge as attractive the discrepancy in dating preference remains (the same when you do so for Asian men).

All this is not new. I blogged this two years ago, and have gotten bored with the topic (there a regular series of papers which confirm the finding in different circumstances). The sex difference in race preference in the dating literature seems relatively robust. Women care about the race of their partners far more than men, all things equal (in fact, much of the literature suggests men are not concerned about race very much when you control for other background variables). If a site brands itself as “Big Think”, it would be nice to add some value.

I’ll offer a hypothesis in keeping with Ann Althouse’s rule-of-thumb in regards to discussing sex differences in polite company: make sure to make it seem as if women are superior in some fashion. Perhaps women simply have a lower time preference? That is, they’re thinking of long-term consequences. Interracial divorce rates are higher, so women may be making implicit calculations as to the probable success of a relationship as opposed to the short-term benefits of a pairing which men fixate upon. Additionally they may be more liable to “think of the children.” Though I’m generally skeptical of the social science research in this area which indicate that mixed-race children experience stress because of their background, there are plenty of high profile media accounts of people of mixed-race and their “struggles” with their identity. This may shape perceptions of the quality of life of the children. In other words, women aren’t being shallow at all, race is an excellent proxy for all sorts of social-cultural variates which might effect the outcomes of a relationship success, and also the fullness of life which their offspring may experience. Women are then in this model being prudent by using a coarse variate, race, as a proxy for the multi-textured reality of how race is lived in America, and how it matters deeply in the lives of human beings.

To test this sort of model we need data from other societies. There are confounds in this analysis in the USA because Asians, for example, are a small minority who as a matter of necessity can’t really limit their dating pool as much as whites. Additionally, it would be useful to take a fine-grained look at Hispanic dating patterns. About ~50% of Hispanic/Latino Americans identify as white, ~40% as “other”, while ~10% a mix with a substantial number of blacks. The race preference may be mostly a function of perception of cultural values, in which case you’d see that Hispanics don’t exhibit any sex bias in race at all. Then it would not be a matter of women being more racist, but being far less cosmopolitan! Oops, I mean that the low time preference is not operating through a racial proxy but a cultural proxy which is correlated with race. In other words, women are culturally sensitive, while men are culturally insensitive.

September 7, 2010

How much more racist are white conservatives than white liberals?

Filed under: Culture,Data Analysis,GSS,Ideology,Politics,Racism — Razib Khan @ 11:05 am

A few weeks ago there were a bunch of stories on how white the audience was at Glenn Beck’s rally. That’s empirically true, and the Tea Party movement as a whole is overwhelmingly white. So is the American conservative movement. This in a nation which is ~65% white in a colloquial sense (i.e., white Hispanics are excluded from the class of “white”). It makes one’s eyebrows go up I suppose when you see a very unrepresentative set of people. But what irritates me about media observation of this statistical reality is that the elite media is also disproportionately white. Much of the elite media and the up & coming pundit class reside in a majority black city, but if you check out their Facebook photos or flickr accounts you would be totally surprised at the fact that they reside in a “Chocolate City.” Why are the social circles of elite media types, liberal or conservative, not representative of the city in which they reside? There are pretty clear reasons of confounds of class and socioeconomic affinity with race. The demographics of one’s social circle don’t necessarily lead one to prima facie accusations of bias, rather, they’re embedded in a set of causal assumptions and conditionals. So, from a liberal perspective the whiteness of the SWPL milieu is situational, while that of the right-wing milieu is essential. The demographics of conservative political movements themselves are interpreted through a particular historical frame of racism for most liberals implicitly. In contrast, the white demographics of elite liberals, including the Netroots, are often “contextualized” as emerging out of a whole range of historical and social processes, which if not just in and of themselves, are structural factors which elite white liberals are not responsible for and are attempting to change.

It seems a pretty robust social science finding that white liberals have less racialist sentiment than white conservatives. My main beef, as a non-white conservative, is that a quantitative difference of degree gets collapsed into a qualitative difference of kind. Transforming a quantitative variable into a dichotomous categorical one totally changes the inferences one makes from facts. The whiteness of conservative movements and classes then entails the casting of particular aspersions, while the whiteness of liberal movements and classes tends to go under the radar as having a sociological cause out of the control of white liberals.

To explore the quantitative, as opposed to qualitative, difference between white non-Hispanics of varied political stripes I decided to look at the GSS data set. There are a variety of questions on racial issues, though I focused on the ones related to white opinions/attitudes/relations with blacks since they are more numerous. For example, in 1974 23% of white liberals and 36% of white conservatives favored a law banning interracial marriage. In 2002 the values were 8% and 13% respectively. In both cases you can see that white conservatives have more racialist feeling, but the difference is not dichotomous, but one of degree. Below is a table of responses to a set of questions by white non-Hispanics in the 2000s. I broke out the data set by liberal and conservative, and Democrat and Republican. Additionally, in addition to the raw frequencies I also calculated absolute and relative differences between liberals and conservatives and Democrats and Republicans.

ResponseLibConDemRepubAbs GapRel GapAbs GapRel Gap
Favor law against racial intermarriage

Black person over for dinner recently

Would vote for black president

Whites hurt by affirmative action?
Very likely14.52215.921.8-7.50.7-5.90.7
Somewhat likely48.15049.252.4-1.91.0-3.20.9
Not very likely37.42834.925.

Close relative marry black
Strongly favor17.99.514.
Favor 11.812.712.512-
Neither favor nor oppose50.337.443.841.712.
Strongly oppose9.720.616.217.4-10.90.5-1.20.9

Have conditions improved for blacks
Gotten worse4.
About the same35.223.731.722.611.

Has most in common with
Equal in common to all21.213.219.9138.
Nothing in common with any4.

Number of blacks one is acquainted with
More than 1024.516.617.

Number of blacks one trusts
More than

Number of blacks in neighborhood
More than 10103.810.

Number of black family members
More than 101.7030.31.72.710.0

Number of blacks in voluntary associations one involved with
More than 109.913.413.213.1-

Number of blacks in current or previous work
More than 102120.918.924.10.11.0-5.20.8

To replicate:


Column: POLVIEWS(r:1-3″Liberal”;5-7″Conservative”)  PARTYID(r:0-2″Democrat”;4-6″Republican”)

Selection Filters: RACE(1) HISPANIC(1)

For those who don’t know the GSS URL: http://sda.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/hsda?harcsda+gss08

The question of Hispanic or non-Hispanic status was only asked starting in the year 2000, so  the data are all constrained to the aughts. I know tables are kind of hard to read, but I wasn’t sure as to the best way to visualize the results. But if someone wants to try, or has some ideas, here’s the data as a csv.

I’ll let readers engage in interpretation, but be warned that if it’s obvious you didn’t read the table your comment may not be published, or, I’ll just delete it. The only thing I want to add is that it isn’t a surprise that the political party division is narrower than the ideological one. Republicans are the conservative party, but there are wealthy social liberals within the party, while Democrats have some downscale socially conservative types.

Note: Sample sizes are small in some of the cases above, so don’t necessarily draw too much of an inference if the absolute value difference is marginal. That’s why I looked at a lot of questions.

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