What Our Black Neighbors Believe


I found the result of this study from Pew Research distressing:

While many Black Americans view themselves as at least somewhat successful and are optimistic about their financial future, they are also critical of U.S. institutions. Most say several systems in the United States need significant changes to ensure Black people are treated fairly.

Black Americans’ doubts about the fairness of institutions are accompanied by suspicion. Indeed, most Black adults say the prison (74%), political (67%) and economic (65%) systems in the U.S., among others, are designed to hold Black people back, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of Black adults conducted in September 2023.

The survey also finds that most Black Americans are familiar with specific racial conspiracy theories about U.S. institutions and believe they are true.

Rather than wringing our hands about whether these “theories” are true, I would rather reflect on what so many black Americans believe they are true and the implications of those beliefs.

I believe these beliefs are held because, like most Americans, black Americans derive most of their information from television and social media and that’s what television and social media are telling them. Note, too, that most of the black population is urban or suburban—80% or more—and the cities in which black Americans live tend to have governments controlled by Democrats. In other words this is not a complaint about Republicans. It’s either a complaint about the “uniparty” or about Democrats.

It reminds me of what a black friend of mine told me many years ago to the effect that the same things may happen to each of us but we won’t have the same experiences from them. That’s the world in which our black neighbors live.

22 comments… add one
  • Grey Shambler Link

    I don’t think they get that from the tv.
    I just think it’s their lived experience and they are shifting the blame.
    But, the TV encourages them to do just that.
    Sorry, but I’m just too damn old to accept people’s excuses. I know better..

  • Janis Link

    I was just reading an article that phrased a particular hardship as bearing more on “people of low income and minorities.” Wouldn’t ‘low income’ serve well enough in that sentence? The article was about septic tank seepage in rural areas in southern rain storms getting worse as storms are more frequent.

  • steve Link

    You dont want to deal with whether or not they are true, but there are events that seed the beliefs. How long ago was it that the police were torturing people in Chicago, that you know about? There is lots of literature on how black people get stopped and cars get searched much more frequently than whites when the results of the searches dont merit the increased stops and the literature on blacks being disproportionately arrested, charged and convicted for drug abuses. Seems to me like it’s a fertile field PLUS people who are willing to use that to push false stories.

    Steve

  • bob sykes Link

    In a multiracial society, everything revolves around racial resentments. As Lee Kuan Yew famously said, “In multiracial societies, you don’t vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion.” There is undoubtedly a deep genetic reason for this, and it is incurable. Resentments are generated by mere contact.

    You might want to consider that Jews feel the same way. To them, the Holocaust is ever present, never fading into history. The genocidal rage that has consumed nearly all Israeli Jews and many American Jews ultimately comes from the Holocaust.

    And then there is Rwanda.

    As Chateau Heartiste once wrote, “Diversity + Proximity = War.” Peace requires strict segregation of different peoples, no interactions.

  • You dont want to deal with whether or not they are true, but there are events that seed the beliefs.

    I agree that there are “events that seed the beliefs”. But that does not translate to the generalization being true or systemic problems. The events related to Burge, which is what I presume you’re talking about here:

    How long ago was it that the police were torturing people in Chicago, that you know about?

    took place 35 to 50 years ago—between one and two generations. And that was in a single precinct not the entire CPD.

    In a country of 330 million there are going to be some bad people. Should we conclude that all 330 million are bad people based on that? Because there are some bad cops should we conclude that all cops are bad?

    I think that GS has it right. They have a basis and that basis is reinforced by the media and they are a way of making excuses.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    Not to critique only Black people, but the economic subclasses in general is that they don’t take care of problems before they get big.
    They don’t pay their car insurance, and get a ticket, don’t show up for court and get a warrant, warrant gets served they get angry and then resisting arrest and then they have a record.
    Or some other version of dripping failure, until they’re down so deep they can’t see up. Like Yogi Berra quipped they just keep making the wrong mistakes over and over again .

  • Drew Link

    “The article was about septic tank seepage in rural areas in southern rain storms getting worse as storms are more frequent.”

    Justas a side note, as this has been repeated so often it has become an article of faith.

    Serious studies have been done to document any increase in severity and frequency of natural disasters. I don’t recall all of them off the top of my head, but you can imagine: hurricanes, tornadoes, severe thunder storms, floods, wild fires, earthquakes. There is absolutely no evidence of a statistically significant increase in frequency or severity of these events………except one. It makes for good copy – clicks and such. But its bull.

    The one that did have a statistically significant change was……….wait for it………..wild fires. And they were down.

    It makes for good bar room talk, and propaganda. But the world is not ending. Anyone see the recent study out of Copenhagen about ice in western Antarctica? Stable to maybe, maybe, an increase in volume over the past century. And here I had been told Antarctica was going to all be water by now, and the oceans rise by 170 feet. Maybe next century……. (That’s why I moved to the mountains. Not going to see me living on a boat……)

  • steve Link

    I just choose that incident because you would know about it. There are many other instances around the country where police tortured blacks. LA, Philly, Louisiana, NYC, etc. In medicine the belief that blacks dont suffer pain like white people so they dont need pain medicines was still prevalent during my career and in studies we still see black patients undertreated. People concentrate on police shootings but if you look at the use of unnecessary force even the police in their own reports show it happens more often with black people. In your own writings you talk about how your city government colludes with gangs to not solve problems.

    Then at lower levels there is a lot fo stuff you just wont see because you are comfortably white. Lookout the recent David French piece. He was well supported in a nice white church. Then they adopted a 2 y/o black child. Church got less friendly. He became a never Trumper. Church got a lot less friendly. How did a lot fo that get expressed? It consisted of racist pictures sent to him and his wife. Kids telling them I couldn’t come to play because black people arent safe. (A 6 y/o black kid raised by white parents.) Then they had writings from a prominent minister in their denomination sent to them about how blacks were inferior and they were better off when they were slaves.

    French claims to have been shocked that this existed in his church, which recently canceled him. Probably not so shocking for black people.

    Steve

  • Piercello Link

    Race, while real, is a subset of Identity.

    But Identity, being simultaneously real (visceral) and constructed (abstract), is a far larger category than mere race.

    Our myopic focus on subcomponents of Identity–race, religion, intelligence, partisanship, and so on–precludes our solving societal problems.

    Why is it hard to fix?

    Because human decision-making (def: “the entire mindspace between inputs & actions”) universally blends Habit, Instinct, Reason, and Emotion (HIRE).

    The entire HIRE decision-making construct is invisibly shot through with, you guessed it, Identity!

    Habit intersects with Identity
    Instinct intersects with Identity
    Reason intersects with Identity
    Emotion intersects with Identity

    Unfortunately, Intelligence’s long association with Reason has blinded most of us to the inescapable presence of the other thee decision-making components.

    So everyone’s internet opinions end up shouting “CLEARLY I am more RATIONAL than YOU,” without factoring in their OWN Habit, Instinct, and Emotion, only that of their shouting targets.

    So in theory, rationally mapping the universal process of Identity construction, experience, and defense, mapping the shared mechanism by which we all experience the world, might give us just the sort of common ground we need to solve the actual problems.

    But, that is hard.

    So here we are.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    You know that the part about Black people, even those raised by white parents,being more dangerous is statistically true. Sadly so but true.
    One thing to stump for equality and fairness and inclusion, but when it comes down to the safety of your own family.
    You’ll vote with your feet like everyone else.
    Middle to upper class white people are very risk averse and will go to great expense to segregate.

  • steve Link

    “You know that the part about Black people, even those raised by white parents,being more dangerous is statistically true.”

    Show me the data on 6 y/o black kids raised by white parents being more dangerous.

    Steve

  • Piercello Link

    See?

    Existential worry = Instinct
    Bash the usual suspects = Habit
    Frustration w/other’s decisions = Emotion
    Response via written argument = Reason

    All four HIRE decison-making components are omnipresent (yay equality!), even though the individual decisions of what/what not to post (yay individuality!) are personally unique.

    The HIRE model of decision-making is useful because it brings:

    Universality (everyone has got all four components)
    Consensus (we can agree that everyone has got all four components)
    Self-evidence (you can see for yourself that everyone has got all four components)
    Invariance (none of the four components can be turned off)

    Yes, most internet argument is performative not persuasive! But that’s because the HIRE model is not yet widely adopted.

    And anyway, since performative argument is only making things worse, people might be up for a change.

    Sample HIRE tactics:

    Instinct: counter an existential w/ a bigger existential
    “If we don’t solve this together, civilization itself will die around us. Is that what you want?”

    Emotion: counter frustration w/ a better alternative
    “Everyone is frustrated. You here to help, or just throw bombs?”

    Habit: counter familiarity with novelty
    “That method used to work. It doesn’t anymore. What next?”

    Reason: court rational engagement with style (compliments) & substance (shared premises)
    “You’re smart enough to help us solve this. What are we missing?”

  • Grey Shambler Link

    Six year olds you say? Since you went there:
    https://indrc.indiana.edu/tools-resources/pdf-disciplineseries/african_american_differential_behavior_031214.pdf
    Only disrupt the classroom, as access to cars and guns is limited due to age discrimination.
    You know you don’t reside among them yet you want to give the impression that you do, but I do live among them and there is no way to avoid the fact they commit the preponderance of especially violent crime.
    Six year olds, strawman.

  • Zachriel Link

    Dave Schuler: Rather than wringing our hands about whether these “theories” are true, I would rather reflect on what so many black Americans believe they are true and the implications of those beliefs.

    People hold those beliefs because some of them are true, at least in part. Black public officials: Birtherism. Police do little: Less effective police presence in Black communities, grabbing the usual suspects. Black people incarcerated: Growth of for-profit prisons.

    Dave Schuler: took place 35 to 50 years ago—between one and two generations.

    You mean it happened to your own father.

    Grey Shambler: Not to critique only Black people, but the economic subclasses in general is that they don’t take care of problems before they get big.

    Many behaviors of poverty are reasonable behavioral adaptations. Why do poor people buy big screen TVs? Because it’s a cheap form of entertainment. Why do poor people have trouble saving? Because money which could go to savings might be better spent on present needs, such as medicine, and whatever savings they have are often immediately eaten up by urgent needs. Why do poor people eat more processed foods? Because when working all the time, there is much less time for food preparation. Poor nutrition then leads to poor health, tiredness and early aging. These habits become ingrained, even when the need is no longer there.

    Grey Shambler: Or some other version of dripping failure, until they’re down so deep they can’t see up.

    Exactly. And if you have no vision of “up”, then there is no motivation to move in that direction.

    Combining the two thoughts, we have systemic racism. You are poor because your father was poor, and he was poor because of racist discrimination—even if, through some magic, racism were to suddenly disappear.

  • People hold those beliefs because some of them are true, at least in part.

    The difference between “true in part” and true is the difference between true and false generalization. Defending the holding of beliefs unless they are completely without evidence defends lots of untrue generalizations not just about people of primarily European descent but about people with sub-Saharan African descent as well.

  • You mean it happened to your own father.

    My father has been dead for well over 50 years.

  • Zachriel Link

    Dave Schuler: My father has been dead for well over 50 years.

    Huh? There are people alive today who lived through Jim Crow. There are people alive today who were denied an education because of their race. There are many more people alive today whose parents and grandparents were denied their rights because of racism. So, saying relegate it to the past means dismissing their own family history and all that entails in the current generation.

    Because of this, even if all racism suddenly disappeared, systemic problems would remain.

    Dave Schuler: The difference between “true in part” and true is the difference between true and false generalization.

    Again, huh? It just so happens the first Black president was subjected to a concerted birther campaign that helped propel Trump to the presidency. That was way back in {checks notes} 2016.

    Indeed, our main point was quite the opposite. Even if all racism magically disappeared, systemic problems would remain. But that magic trick has yet to be performed.

  • Piercello Link

    @Tastybits, I know, thanks. I just can’t leave it.

    “Us/them” thinking + exponential tech = MAD foom.

    Expo tech (attacks evolve faster than defenses can adapt) has already flipped the switch from “win-lose” to “win-win/lose-lose,” and most people would prefer not to notice.

    Gonna have to get a LOT closer to the precipice before our collective will to change can possibly manifest itself.

    (If only I were smart enough to frame it better)

    Ah, well.

  • steve Link

    Just so you know, the paper you cite actually says that black kids are suspended and punished more than white kids in schools, but it is not because their behavior is worse.

    “Summary. In summary, regardless of the source, there is virtually no support in the research literature for the idea that disparities in school discipline are caused by racial/ethnic differences in behavior. Studies comparing the severity of behavior by race have found no evidence that students of color in the same schools or districts engage in more severe behavior that would warrant higher rates of suspension or expulsion. Race/ethnicity remains a strong predictor of school punishment even after controlling statistically for student misbehavior.”

    Steve

  • Grey Shambler Link

    Well I’m poor too, and I won’t talk peace until THEY stop shooting.
    Six year olds you use.

  • steve Link

    One more story, these are not uncommon unfortunately, showing why black people might not trust police.

    https://www.themarshallproject.org/2024/06/16/police-minneapolis-beating-jaleel-stallings?utm_source=pocket-newtab-en-us

    Steve

  • Zachriel Link

    Note: Pew revised their article to eliminate the word conspiracy because many of the claims have elements of truth.

Leave a Comment