I enjoyed reading the essay by Coleman Hughes at Quillette, “The Racism Treadmill”. Here’s a snippet:
In his controversial bestseller Enlightenment Now, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker notes a steep decline in racism. At the turn of the 20th century, lynchings occurred at a rate of three per week. Now, racially-motivated killings of blacks occur at a rate of zero to one per year.1 What’s more, racist attitudes that were once commonplace have now become fringe. A Gallup poll found that only 4 percent of Americans approved of marriages between blacks and whites in 1958. By 2013, that number had climbed to 87 percent, prompting pollsters to call it “one of the largest shifts of public opinion in Gallup history.”
Why can’t progressives admit that we’ve made progress? Pinker’s answer for what he dubs “progressophobia” is two-fold. First, our intuitions about whether trends have increased or decreased are shaped by what we can easily recall—news items, shocking events, personal experience, etc. Second, we are more sensitive to negative stimuli than we are to positive ones. These two bugs of human psychology—called the availability bias and the negativity bias, respectively—make us prone to doomsaying, inclined to mistake freak news events for trends, and blind to the slow march of progress.
But while psychological biases may sufficiently explain progressophobia on most other topics, our denialism about racial progress calls for a deeper explanation—an explanation in terms of widely-held beliefs about race and inequality.
I find myself without much to say about it other than a) Oh, to be young again! and b) I guess that stirring up a hornet’s nest is the way to get yourself noticed these days.
On the subject of racism I think that anti-black racism is real and it’s holding black people back in many ways. So is the counter-reaction to it. For the last century there’s been an ongoing debate between Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey. Garvey seems to have the upper hand now. Sadly, importing tens of millions of Mexican workers has rendered the persistent problem of anti-black racism intractable.