Women in Black & White

Leading a Mommy Wars discussion in Columbus, Ohio, I met a woman named Paula Penn-Nabrit, with whom I had a great deal in common: We both have three children, had studied at elite East Coast colleges, both worked in business, and each had written a book about parenthood. (And if Paula's name sounds familiar, it may be because On Balance profiled her experience homeschooling her sons a few months ago.)

Our primary difference is that Paula is black and I am white. But we discovered that this led to another commonality: We both had long wondered why candid communication and camaraderie between black and white women, at work, school and home, is unusual in America.

So we decided to do something about it. We developed the first national survey exploring how life, love, work, motherhood, money, sex, religion, and relationships differ for black and white women in America. This isn't to say that other distinctions -- racial, economic, cultural, religious, geographic -- aren't important, too. But given the long and interdependent history between black and white women in America, we thought it would be fruitful to give women a reason to contemplate and discuss our commonality and differences.

The "Women in Black and White" survey launches today. Completing the survey, which is anonymous and confidential, takes about 15-20 minutes. The questions are meant to be thought-provoking; you'll find them very different from standard market research. The survey is not scientific and it's not designed to be used to set any policies or draw any national conclusions.

The questions are meant to get us all thinking about the role race plays in our lives as mothers and workers, and to start an open conversation between black and white women in this country. The results will be released in 2007. Neither Paula nor I stand to benefit financially from the survey. It's also important to mention that no one at The Washington Post had anything to do with developing the questions or analyzing the data.

Does your race influence your work, where you went to school, your parenting style, your goals for your children? If you answer "no," think again, and take the survey. You may be surprised by how little you've thought about and talked about this fundamental aspect of American women's lives.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  November 1, 2006; 7:24 AM ET  | Category:  Research
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Comments

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The survey lacks one very important question (which should be #1).

That question is: Are you a woman?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 7:56 AM

Is this survey open to women who aren't black or white?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 7:57 AM

I took the survey and I am neither black nor white, though I am a woman. One of the first questions asks for your race, including black, while Hispanic, Asian, multiracial...maybe something else? Anyway. Take the survey. It's interesting.

Posted by: Mpls Mama | November 1, 2006 8:09 AM

You really should invest in doing a statistically sound version of this study. Not just a web based survey where people self-select, but a true study.

Also, you had a few leading questions in there.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 8:10 AM

FWIW, I would think interesting to consider race/cultural relations between the main demographic groups (from Wikipedia summary of 2005 Census Bureau Survey):

White American 74.7%
Hispanic American: 14.5% (included in race)
African American: 12.1%
Asian American: 4.3%
American Indian: .8%
Pacific Islander: .1%
etc

Cultural ignorance is bliss? The steortypes perpetuated in TV and media can be especially damaging IMHO.

Posted by: Fo3 | November 1, 2006 8:11 AM

There were leading questions on this survey, particularly the ones dealing with parents and their views on how race would shape their daughter's lives. Also, if you had been in a bi-racial relationship and it ended because ONE of the reasons had to do with race - you wouldn't know that from the survey. In my experience usually a relationship ends because of multiple factors.

It was an interesting survey and I look forward to seeing the results.

Posted by: cmac | November 1, 2006 8:19 AM

I realized while taking this survey how much reading this blog (and subsequently contemplating the various opinions and attitudes of people who post on it) has made me aware of issues outside of my own little world. I will be interested to see the results -- Leslie, I hope you post them!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 1, 2006 8:26 AM

Although I'm not an expert on survey research, I could tell immediately that you hadn't discussed the survey questions with anyone who actually develops questions for opinion surveys for a living. Please, go back to the drawing board and talk with some experts in the field before you continue administering this survey.

Posted by: randdommom | November 1, 2006 8:27 AM

OK, I am a statistician. I will take the survey later today and tell you guys what I think. The biggest problem off hand is that you did not choose a random represtentative sample. Web surveys are highly biased to begin with. Otherwise, I actually think the survey topic is interesting. But difficult to actually design and carry out.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 8:39 AM

OK, I am a statistician. I will take the survey later today and tell you guys what I think. The biggest problem off hand is that you did not choose a random represtentative sample. Web surveys are highly biased to begin with. Otherwise, I actually think the survey topic is interesting. But difficult to actually design and carry out.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 8:40 AM

OK, I am a statistician. I will take the survey later today and tell you guys what I think. The biggest problem off hand is that you did not choose a random represtentative sample. Web surveys are highly biased to begin with. Otherwise, I actually think the survey topic is interesting. But difficult to actually design and carry out.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 8:41 AM

We heard your the first time. LOL

Posted by: To foamgnome | November 1, 2006 8:46 AM

Yes, something weird happens when I think it did not go through. Sorry. I just took it and there needs some question rewording. Also there were some questions that were meant to follow if you answered yes to the previous but it did not make it clear. Otherwise, I am not sure what some of the questions were trying to get at. I know the one where it was asked if you ever dated a person of another race. The next three or four questions should only apply to the yes situation. Like yes I dated someone of another race. If you answered yes, then in that interracial relationship did race play a factor in the break up or whatever. Overall, I think the survey was not a bad first try. The biggest problem was the vehicle of respondents are biased. But the questions were not too bad for an amateur. I do think your CAPI ( computer assisted personal interview) needed a little work. Like the click buttons were not easy to see. It would be interesting to see the results. I am Asian and took the survey but some of the questions clearly did not apply. Also, I marked uncertain to some of the personal thought questions because I honestly don't know what white women or black women think about some of those issues. I like the topic though. I think if you put more time and more money into a survey on race relations, you would find some interesting results. Let us know what you do find. At least it would be interesting, even if it is not truly representative.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 9:02 AM

My husband is hispanic and I am white. When our daughters begin kindergarten next year, what should we "check" on the race box?

We've said we'll let them decide what they want to be considered when they're old enough. But school paperwork is going to force us to make a decision early. I'm curious what others think....

Posted by: white or hispanic | November 1, 2006 9:18 AM

I get the following error message. When I click on the link or when I cut and paste it into by browser.

This survey is not accesible due to any of the following reasons.


The survey is not started yet.
The survey is already expired.
You tried to access this survey incorrectly.

Posted by: mamacat | November 1, 2006 9:21 AM

Guys, Leslie made a point of saying the survey is NOT scientific and is not meant to provide concrete results. Yes, web surveys do not provide a statistically valid random sample; yes, questions designed by a professional survey writer can be more neutral (or not, if this is the intent as is the case with many political surveys). But Leslie is clearly NOT trying to do a statistically valid survey-- in her own words, the point is "to get us all thinking". FWIW, many academic researchers do preliminary, non-scientific surveys just to suss out the issues a little bit before going on to design a more rigorous survey-- perhaps an acedemic (clearly not Leslie) will decide to do a more statistically valid survey after this initial survey gets publicized. Meanwhile, instead of ignoring her disclaimer and flogging the stats issues to death, can we actually discuss her question?

Posted by: JKR | November 1, 2006 9:24 AM

Mamacat, I got the same error message. Leslie, what's up with the survey?

Posted by: JKR | November 1, 2006 9:27 AM

You can take the survey no matter what your ethnicity or gender!

To the statisticians and market research quant types -- full disclaimer that this is not a scientific survey, and is not meant to be scientifically representative.
People self-select to take the survey.

The point is to start a conversation. The questions are designed to get women (and men) thinking about these issues in a new way, and talking about them.

We will post the results (in early 2007).

Thanks everyone for your interest and feedback!

Posted by: Leslie | November 1, 2006 9:27 AM

I tried too and got the same error.

Posted by: br | November 1, 2006 9:39 AM

I got the error too.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 9:44 AM

To: White or Hispanic
You raise an interesting question. My husband is Brazilian and has African, Portuguese, and Native American ancestry. Since moving to the US, he has been alternately fascinated and annoyed by our country's insistence on classifying people as one race or another. He also finds it interesting that in the US, many people of mixed racial backgrounds self-classify as "black." In his experience in Brazil, most people with any white ancestry--even those with dark skin who would likely be considered "black" here--self-classify as "white." My husband also refuses to check the "Hispanic" box for his race, as he has no Spanish ancestry. We don't have children yet, but it seems to me that interracial relationships are becoming quite common, so in the future it will become increasingly difficult to categorize people as only one race.

Posted by: MKMS | November 1, 2006 9:45 AM

The last paragraph of your entry speaks volumes about the relationship between white and black women and the invisibility one feels in the United States. The question you pose and answer, assumes the readers are like you--white and a woman. As a black woman, this is a subject that confronts me in the morning as I listen to NPR, my work as an educator, through the end of my day when i am left to wonder why the white woman in front of me who used her credit card to pay for her purchases was not asked to show ID and I was. First step to understanding america, 2006, is to get over the notion that everyone is white, college educated and middle class.

Posted by: CCC | November 1, 2006 9:47 AM

I got the same error.

Posted by: ilc | November 1, 2006 9:50 AM

I got the same error.

Posted by: ilc | November 1, 2006 9:50 AM

Here is a link to an outstanding article in the current edition of "The Black Commentator" that discusses how black women and white women have different stressors and often react differently to stress.

For example, the article says that stressed out white women may become withdrawn and eat less; while emotionally assaulted black women may become visibly angry and agitated and gain weight.

The article uses references from the experience of black women in Canada; but the stories parallel the experience of black women in the United States.

"No Woman, no cry" by Ingrid Walter
http://www.blackcommentator.com/199/199_cover_no_woman_no_cry_walter.html

Beni Dakar
Duluth, GA

Posted by: Beni Dakar | November 1, 2006 9:52 AM

White or Hispanic what is you and your husband's nationality? Maybe instead of focusing on whether you are White or Hispanic you could focus on whether you are a German/Puerto Rican American, etc.

Speaking of identity last night someone ask my daughter if she was a fairy and she said no, I'm Irish.

I find the race boxes insulting, annoying and unnecessary. Why does it matter what race someone is? We are all people and that should be all that matters. I also don't like the overall blanket "white" box. That's just me.

I took the survey and I can tell you that in most inter-racial relationships the issue is race, but it is not usually a problem for the people in the relationship, but other people outside of the relationship. Unless you have experienced it first hand, you have no idea how hard it can be to be in an inter-racial relationship when people around you are not supportive.

I hate to stereotype here but the rest of the country is not as progressive as some of the bigger cities. Has anyone else had an inter-racial relationship that ended because of outside influences?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 9:59 AM

I like Leslie's comment about going to an "elite" college. Is that how you view yourself, Leslie?

I have to agree with some of the people on here that Leslie often takes a very upper-class view of everything, and this comment only cements that idea in my head.

Leslie, have you read any of Jay Mathews's columns here at the Post? If so, you'd realize that these "elite" colleges don't offer anything better than you could get at a "non-elite" (sub-par in your mind?) college.

Posted by: Ryan | November 1, 2006 10:02 AM

"If so, you'd realize that these "elite" colleges don't offer anything better than you could get at a "non-elite" (sub-par in your mind?) college."

Huh, who knew that an engineering degree from MIT was no different than an engineering degree from UMaine?

Posted by: Lizzie | November 1, 2006 10:07 AM

Maybe the woman used her debit card, maybe the cashier knows her, maybe the cashier forgot to check her ID, or maybe she was a racist.

There are a lot of maybes in this world and it's not always about race.

Posted by: to ccc | November 1, 2006 10:08 AM

I got an error message with the survey.

I also noticed the "elite" comment. I think Leslie didn't really think about how this would come off, but I get the gist of her point. Perhaps "ivy league" would have been better or putting it in quotes would have at least showed she was aware of the questionable nature of that descriptor. Sorry to nitpick Leslie!

Congratulations on putting together this survey -- sounds like a wonderful and creative collaboration between two professional and active women -- I like it!

Posted by: Rebecca | November 1, 2006 10:14 AM

It may not always be about race, but my black women friend's are much more concerned about their sons being out and about. The spector of being caught 'driving while black' isn't part of my experience but it is for theirs. Their reaction is to keep their son close to home. And I am aware of stares at us (and it may just be curiousity) when their son travels to the beach, goes skiing with us or whatever. The whole experience set is different and rather enlightening to me.

Posted by: dotted | November 1, 2006 10:19 AM

elitists don't care if they are obnoxious, because they think they are better than everyone else anyway.

Posted by: experienced mom | November 1, 2006 10:21 AM

Whenever I see those racial checkboxes, I can't help but be reminded of the various "racial purity" laws and ideas in the world.

In the part of the world where my grandparents immigrated from, the chances of any racial purity are pretty much zero so I always check the Other box.

Posted by: Rufus | November 1, 2006 10:23 AM

Hey, since apparently people are having trouble with the link, I want to ask people on here a question. I read a lot but don't post much, but it seems like people here are willing to be honest about hard things and that's what I need.

Do you think that men start to just view their wives differently after they have babies? My husband has just not been as interested in me physically since I had our daughter. We don't let her sleep in our bed so it's not a problem with opportunity. I am a little heavier now, but not by a lot - maybe 10 pounds. He says that's not it. But I wonder if it's just more generally that some of the mystique is gone - now he sees me breastfeeding and not always dressed well and not in cute pajamas because they are not practical, and all that kind of stuff. Does anyone else have this feeling? Men, what do you say, did your attitude change, can it change back?

I know this is sensitive and maybe it's not appropriate for this blog, but I don't know who else to ask. I guess it's a good thing to do it now in case they make it not anonymous anymore.

Posted by: feeling blue | November 1, 2006 10:26 AM

I took the survey and it brings up some interesting thoughts. However, I hope the questions about inter-racial neighborhoods and friendships aren't interpreted through the black white lens. I am white; the interracial friendships that I have had have been hispanic and asian in addition to african-american. The same holds true for neighborhoods that I have lived in.

Posted by: kep | November 1, 2006 10:27 AM

to "white or hispanic"

in grade school i always checked "other" on the race identifier, it just wasn't a big deal to us. It wasn't until i was in high school that i specifically checked the box that identified me as a minority.

Posted by: not a mommy | November 1, 2006 10:28 AM

The above comments are interesting and bring to mind some thoughtsl

First a few comments about the race question:

1) There are blacks in this country who so not consider themselves "African". One of my friends considers himself Jamaican American and feels that he is culturally different. The same for Haitian Americans.

2) The Latino/Hispanic issue is interesting too. My husband is Hispanic, but is so American that our kids (who look hispanic) don't consider themselves hispanic. Also, there are varying cultures within the hispanic population and these cultures are distinct with distinct customs and behaviors--there is Mexican, Central American, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South American...etc.

3) Generalizations about any ethnicity and culture is a bit of a slippery slope--it can inform or it can be harmful. All races and ethnicities should embrace their cultures and practices and pass them on to their children. It's sad to see negative stereotypes and generalizations portrayed in the media. We should be vigilant, but not oppressive in curtailing this (sometimes the fix can be worse than the offense e.g. school busing).

Funny story about stereotypes. Recently, one of my colleagues who is black told me a story about one of our supervisors who was brought up in a "wealthy" family. He was bragging to this black colleague of mine about how he went to this certain prep school and other (who cares) things about his priviliged background. He made a stupid comment like but you wouldn't have experience with that. Well it turns out this colleague of mine's father is a well known and very wealthy business person and my friend was brought up with nannies, in private school, etc and I would say very priviliged. Typically he kept this to himself. Anyway, in response, my friend effected a "ghetto" accent and said "sure boss, I's knows my place". We laughed so hard and of course we told everyone at work....

So things are never what they seem. It would be great to do away with these categories that people are increasingly not fitting.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 10:32 AM

I took this survey and I'm a man. The 1st poster was correct, you should ask if the person taking the test is a woman first.

Posted by: Dude | November 1, 2006 10:33 AM

"I also noticed the "elite" comment. I think Leslie didn't really think about how this would come off, but I get the gist of her point."

Don't let Leslie off the hook that easy. She is a writer after all, so am sure she knew what she was saying.

Posted by: babe | November 1, 2006 10:33 AM

I also got the error message. :(

Posted by: MJ | November 1, 2006 10:34 AM

I am also getting an error message. Any help is appreciated.
BTW, I think that this survey is a great idea. We need as many ways as possible to start constructive dialogues.

Posted by: Debra | November 1, 2006 10:35 AM

Can't get to the survey, either.

Posted by: Arl | November 1, 2006 10:37 AM

How old is your baby? Our kids are preschoolers now but we certainly found that both my husband and I had a big drop in libido in the first 6 months or so, especially after our first. We were tired, getting used to our roles as parents, getting used to our spouse's new role as parents, etc. For some folks it may take longer than for others.

Posted by: to feeling blue | November 1, 2006 10:38 AM

to "white or hispanic"

I am multi-racial (Asian Indian/European). When initially enrolled in school (1970s), my parents selected "Asian" because I look Asian.

Now, I usually try to select both (works more often than you would expect), but otherwise I either refuse to choose or choose "other."

Posted by: skm | November 1, 2006 10:38 AM

In college I was a woman's studies minor and remember the shock I felt when, after studying the women's movement for so long, we finally addressed the tension that came when black women were part of the movement and splintered the group, who felt trying to push for the rights of African Americans would hurt the overall women's movement. It became very obvious the African American women faced so many more obstacles than white women, even in the movement. Now, decades later it seems that the battles that most women face are still compounded for African American women. We talk about the issues of minorities (women, black, hispanic, handicap), but it seems so much harder to have two minority factors - that they almost compete for dominance as a defining factor in a person. I am anxious to see what this survey yields and the discussions around the issues.

Posted by: Former Nova Mom | November 1, 2006 10:39 AM

I don't think anyone is saying beat the stat issue to death. But frankly, what is the point of doing a statistically invalid survey? You might as well just ask responds to write in comments about race. If your doing any sort of survey, you want to quantify your results and then present them. So it is not mute to bring up the point regardless of the disclaimer, she plans to use the data for some purpose. I think anything could get you thinking. As far as the Hispanic White issue, the answer is this. Hispanic is not a race. According to the government Hispanic is an ethnicity. White is a racial category. So you could be a Black Hispanic, Asian Hispanic, White Hispanic. Or someone could simply be non Hispanic. For example, I am an Asian Non Hispanic. A person of polynesian descent may be an Asian Hispanic. The issue is when someone is multiracial. Like Black and White. Then the government either provides a check all that applies or provides a mix racial category. Of course the very definition of race is up for discussion. There used to be three general racial categories: Caucasian, Negroid, and Mongoliod. But those names and categories have really been abandoned and expanded upon. Like now we have Caucasian (White), Negroid (AFrican American), Asian (Mongoloid), Aleut, Native American Indian and several others. Over all, race is an evolving definition and concept. Believe me, I have attend full conferences and sat through many meetings discussing race reporting in government surveys and censuses. What I can gather the government may ask all sorts of stuff but to cut to the chase, they are only interested in if your Black or White (sometimes Asian but not too often) and if your Male or Female, or Hispanic or NonHispanic. All the rest is for ancillary studies or just to appease the public.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 10:42 AM

Our daughter is 18 months. I thought things would normalize by now. But we have been through a lot of other transitions too. My husband lost his job and I went back to work, and we had moved right before that. I guess a lot of it could be stress, still.

Posted by: feeling blue | November 1, 2006 10:47 AM

There are blacks in this country who so not consider themselves "African". One of my friends considers himself Jamaican American and feels that he is culturally different. The same for Haitian Americans.

The government gets arond this issue by saying Black is not really equavilent to African American ( the true racial category). So when they use the word Black to describe people of all dark skinned non Asian origins (African, Haitians, Jamicians etc...) they use the lower case "b" instead of upper case B. So in the same paragraph, they will say Asian and White owned Businesses grew at x% while black owned business grew at y%. Funny little trick but it actually works.

As far as the elite college, I always took that to mean a great school but not technically the ivy league. Because if they went ivy, wouldn't they just say ivy. But I could be wrong about that.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 10:49 AM

not 'mute', it's moot.

Posted by: english lesson of the day | November 1, 2006 10:50 AM

not 'mute', it's moot.

who cares?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 10:53 AM

I care. most of you aren't using adverbs correctly either.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 10:55 AM

Maybe this blog is getting me more in touch with my feminine side... And that may not always be such a good thing.
Posted by: Father of 4 | November 1, 2006 06:54 AM

Fo4 posted this to yesterday's blog, and I've noticed that posting to the previous day rarely carries over.

Can you explain this statement?

My first thought, and I could be wrong, is that this is another paen to a veiled thread seen throughout this blog, i.e., women are catty, hate other women, women are the worst bosses, etc. It's noticeably sexist (and I brace myself for the barage of "they deserve it", "they did it to me first!", "this happened to ME when I was in college so it's TRUE!) :)

You read it in things like, "I go to parties and none of the women are interesting so I hang out with the guys." "I don't have any women friends, it's always a competition." "You can't trust women. You know where you stand with a man."

It's a firm belief of mine that you get the friends you deserve. If you're woman-bashing, male or female, you're not going to tap into the joy of knowing wonderful women because you're not interesting to them. Little boys and men are mean to each other too; having a feminine side or being feminine is not bad. Making cracks about it is.

My apologies to Fo4 if that isn't what he was implying, but I think Leslie might want to look at bringing this up as a topic.

Posted by: Ida, long-term lurker | November 1, 2006 10:57 AM

I care. most of you aren't using adverbs correctly either.

Go teach a freshman comp class then

Posted by: so annoying | November 1, 2006 10:58 AM

I just wish people would think about issues that may be different between women of differing colors in america (e.g., bringing up sons, possible cultural issues, etc.) instead of talking about typoes and the like.

Posted by: dotted | November 1, 2006 10:59 AM

i wanted to chime in about the accuracy of defining a person's race. i find it counter productive in a lot of circumstances, and highly innaccurate in others.

For example, have i ever dated someone of another race? i dated a guy who was 1/2 asian with an asian name, but looked caucasian. does that count? is it about looks, DNA, social upbringing, or something else?

also my grandparents were euro-mediterranean and were discriminated against as children (other kids weren't allowed to play with them because they weren't white enough) ... so is that enough of a social factor to make them a minority, and if so, what box would they check?

and i never understood why in this country we consider anyone who isn't "bright white" -as i'll call it- to be black ... there are plenty of people who identify as black who are whiter-looking than my mediterranean grandparents. and many black people in this country have mixed heritage anyway (anyone read that DNA study that showed 1/3 of black people's male-ancestor line pointed back to europe?)

it seems like the race question is only useful as (a) a DNA definition to learn about health issues or (b) a how-you-see-yourself definition to learn about social issues. but no one ever specifies this.

I can't wait until everyone is so multi-ethnic that we can stop checking ourselves into boxes.

Posted by: euro-mutt | November 1, 2006 11:02 AM

I actually had a white colleague who was 20 something come up to me and say that she did not think race mattered very much anymore. And all the Black people she knew did not feel it mattered either. I was wondering what planet is she living on? I am neither white nor Black and I can see we still have a ways to go. But I don't think all white people have that opinion. Most white people I know, still think racism is a part of our society. I guess my question is what do Blacks and Whites think about Asians?

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 11:05 AM

Another problem with the survey is historical inaccuracy. Consider, for instance, this question:

"Due to sexual relations between slaves and owners in the U.S. from the 15th -19th centuries , I am aware that I may be related to Americans biologically that are not of my primary race."

In fact, the first black slaves were brought to Virginia in 1619, just 12 years after the founding of Jamestown. That's the 17th century, folks.

Perhaps someone needs to read a history book?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 11:05 AM

Due to sexual relations between slaves and owners in the U.S. from the 15th -19th centuries , I am aware that I may be related to Americans biologically that are not of my primary race."

Actually, I thought this question was funny from a survey perspective. We all get what they are trying to quantify. But I checked strongly disagree. Because I was born in Viet Nam. I know my birth records back 100 years. I know I was not biologically related to someone of another race due to slaves in the US. I thought they should have had a previous question or a skip out if you emigrated to the US recently. Or have a N/A category. But JKR thinks that is a sticky statistical beef. But yes, we all understood what they were trying to get at.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 11:11 AM

I did not grow up in the US - how do I get past question 4 (If you grew up in the US where were you raised)? There should be a n/a alternative!

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 1, 2006 11:12 AM

The survey experienced some technological difficulties this morning. Those are fixed. Thanks for pointing it out.

Posted by: Leslie | November 1, 2006 11:12 AM

I am confused about the issue over using the term 'elite.' Some schools are more selective than others or are considered elite by academics, professionals. Some of those schools are not Ivy League (Stanford) so saying "Ivy" is inaccurate. the reality is that at least historically, the elite colleges are viewed as more selective, taking students with higher grades and test scores, and that those students have a good chance at success in the professional world (look where big I-banks, consulting firms and law firms recruit). It does not mean it's true, it just is how things are perceived.

I don't think that using the term elite necessarily means that the writer thinks the school is better. It is an acknowledgement of the way the school is viewed by people in the world. Universities gain and lose money over rankings and perception and they sweat them a lot. It's not all in Leslie's mind (and I am not white or upper class). I got an excellent, rigorous college education at what some may call an elite university (but not one of the "elites" in my mind). but it would be silly to pretend that my degree is viewed by others in the same way that a Harvard or Yale degree is viewed...and that's fine with me. It does not make me feel "less than" anyone else or not as smart or accomplished. What's the big deal-I really don't get it?

Posted by: elite question | November 1, 2006 11:14 AM

To White or Hispanic:

The problem with Hispanic as a designation of race is that it is a cultural designation, not racial. I am half Mexican and half American. In Mexico, just as in the US, you find a wide spectrum of race. In my case, all I had to do was look in the mirror to determine what race I am - white skin, hazel eyes, brown hair. But I am white AND Hispanic. It does not have to be either/or!

Interestingly, the people I got the hardest time from in college due to my background were other Hispanics in my class who felt that I "acted white" and was not a real Hispanic. Mind you, I speak fluent Spanish and spent two and a half months out of every year in Mexico while growing up. All of my mom's family still lives in Mexico and I have dual nationality. People generally are too quick to judge.

I still get asked, "what race ARE you?". I usually ask people to use their eyes instead of their preconceptions of what a Mexican American looks like.

Posted by: Mexigringa | November 1, 2006 11:16 AM

foamgnome-
good morning to you! Around here, asians are seen as being great students (by that I mean they take up more than their % in the gifted program in school). Their parents are typically more educated than average. Asians tend to not be 'from here'...but then neither am I. I would say, from comments I've heard from white parents, that asian parents are seen as being hyper-focused on success (e.g., mandatory japanese school on Saturdays).

The problem with racial discussions is that I am now laying myself open to being called racist....when I'm really attempting to converse openly.

Posted by: dotted | November 1, 2006 11:17 AM

"Due to sexual relations between slaves and owners in the U.S. from the 15th -19th centuries , I am aware that I may be related to Americans biologically that are not of my primary race."

This question bothered me, too. One of my friends is Persian; her parents immigrated in the 1970s and her family goes back in Persia over 3000 years. I'm pretty sure that American slavery has nothing to do with who she's biologically related to.

My dad's family came over from Poland 40 years after slavery was over and only started marrying non-Poles about 35 years ago. How should he answer a question like that?

Posted by: Lizzie | November 1, 2006 11:18 AM

the following post is rated for:
[X] ranting

[You can take the survey no matter what your ethnicity or gender!]

Yeah, but I'm blind and I couldn't tell what answers I selected. The technical design of the HTML source code descriminates against blind users because it uses a graphic based indicator to point out what answer has been selected. My voice synthesis software can read text, but not graphics. inside the government, This survey would be a blatent violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 508 compliancy.

but for the sited, I'm sure the graphic look nice and pretty, but this falls into one of those catagories where if you weren't blind, you wouldn't know. And isn't it ironic that a survey that attempts to minimize the misunderstanding between minority groups ends up discriminating against another?

Oh well, I'll just have to suck it up. I don't want to be perceived as another whining, troublemaking handicapper.

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 1, 2006 11:18 AM

Whether or not the school is elite is not the point - it might very well be, but what was the point in Leslie using the word other then to make herself seem superior? Think it is a very telling look into her character.

Posted by: to elite question | November 1, 2006 11:21 AM

You could just say thanks, instead of saying you don't care. You may have just been saved from an embarrassing moment where actually knowing how to spell the words you use is important. Spell check is not going to catch that one. Or maybe you didn't misuse the word 'mute', as that is what you think people should be when you make a mistake?

I noticed the 'elite' phrasing as well. She shouldn't advertise it; applications may go down.

To feeling blue: I'm jealous. I didn't even get 6 weeks off before my husband was making the moves on me. Stress can absolutely sap his sexual energy. Once you have kids, pressures like having a job take on much more meaning (you may be able to live in your van and eat Ramen, but the kid shouldn't). Have you talked to him about it? Finding out what he needs is a good first step.

Posted by: to so annoying | November 1, 2006 11:24 AM

To Dotted: I don't think what you said was racist. Because what you said was what people's perception of Asians is not what the reality is. Who really knows what the reality is? I think government surveys are suppose to get at the reality. But somehow it never actually gets there. Statistically speaking, Asians have higher education levels, higher median income, and higher business sales and receipts. The business stat has been fairly recently. Like the last 5 years. The income one was for several years and the educational one was for a long time. In short, education is profitable not being Asian. I guess I might fit that sterotype. I plan to send my DDs to Vietnamese school on Saturday. It is not for higher academic pursuits but to introduce them to Vietnamese culture and language. But I can see some people thinking it is because I want my kids to go to Harvard. Of course I do want my kids to go to a good school, but I see I only have so much control over that. Overall, I want them to be happy and move out of my house by the age of 30.LOL.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 11:27 AM

Checking the race box is not even required and most of the time the kids never see the paperwork that you're filling out anyway. I always check "other" for my kids and then write down "biracial" just so they have their little "statistics." I figure it's up to them (the form people) to decide what two races I'm talking about. (That's my own little obnoxious rebellion to having to answer the question in the first place). My kids know exactly who they are and that the box means nothing.

Posted by: race box | November 1, 2006 11:27 AM

I have to comment on the elite label -- I tend to think it has far more to do with how others perceive your alma mater and the opportunities it may or may not have afforded you. And from what I read lately getting into a state school these days, particularly from out of state, can be "elite".

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | November 1, 2006 11:30 AM

In response to your question about transracial relationships: I'm a white female and I've dated across the spectrum. I've never experienced any race-based problems with Asian or Middle Eastern men, but I have with hispanic and black boyfriends. A few guys have been absolutely wonderful in private, but as soon as we're in public, I feel as though I'm being paraded around as some sort of blonde prize or status symbol.

The main reason I've avoided dating black men recently is the unsolicited comments from others. I've received so many angry glares and rude comments from black women when out with a black boyfriend - the whole "why do you have to steal our good men" routine. Then there are the coworkers who love to gossip about who "went black" at the holiday party.

There are enough decent men of other races to date where I don't need to defend my relationship constantly.

Posted by: to 9:59AM | November 1, 2006 11:30 AM

Did anyone else find the question about Asian, Hispanic and other women not understanding the relationship between white and black women odd?

Perhaps because I am white, I don't feel any particular kinship or whatever the opposite of kinship is with black women more so than an Asian woman or Hispanic woman. I just thought that was a weird question.

To Hispanic/White lady with the kids -- I think it comes down to the kind of family you decide you are/want to be. My husband and I (asian guy/white girl) tend to be sort of homogenous -- neither of us celebrates any holidays specific to our ethnic backgrouunds - no Chinese new year, no Welsh Christmas -- and the only difference between my husband and I is that he eats a lot more rice (I prefer bread) and can speak Taiwanese. So I guess if we identify with anything we're white with asian flair. :) I think if either of us had strong traditions -- then we would identify more strongly as either white or asian.

So take a look at yourselves now and what you want your kids to carry forth and define yourselves that way.

Posted by: Danielle | November 1, 2006 11:30 AM

CCC wrote, "At end of my day when i am left to wonder why the white woman in front of me who used her credit card to pay for her purchases was not asked to show ID and I was."

My answer: All of us have been exposed to those stereotypes since birth, and they are deeply embedded in our subconscious. Even people who make a conscious effort to avoid stereotyping are horrified when those latent attitudes come out.

Here is an excellent piece by a black female doctor. She gets the "Are you really a doctor" reaction from everyone, even other blacks:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12011019/site/newsweek/

Posted by: Tonio | November 1, 2006 11:33 AM

If I am understand the blog posting and title correctly, the survey mostly is measuring black/white relations in this country. I know that we are currently a very multi-ethnic society, but I think it would be fair to say that the relations between blacks and whites in this country is a huge and complex part of this country's history. So if you are from Iran, Mexico, Poland or somewhere else, this whole dynamic may not be relevant to your perspective in this country.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 11:33 AM

Ida,
No Fo4 meant it the way you say. He is a woman hater big time.

Posted by: To Ida | November 1, 2006 11:43 AM

I think race operates on a less obvious level for whites/caucasions/the colorless--at least for those who've grown up as the majority race in their neighborhood and have some involvement with our predominantly white culture (i.e., politics & media dominated by whites). It's a hard topic to discuss--I already feel like I'm typing on eggshells here. There has to be a certain level of trust amongst those in the discussion that the other person respects you and there is always that gray area where both the possibility of dialogue and the possibility of verbal incendiary device dwell (e.g., certain phrases are acceptable when used within a defined group--like "CP time" or the N-word--but elicit hostility if used by someone outside that group; or certain topics are sure to be touchy: slavery, affirmative action, welfare, racism, etc.). As for how race influences my parenting, it's hard to say: I'm certainly more permissive with my son and more likely to be so in the future than if I had a black son because my son is less likely to be racially profiled and is not held to a higher standard (it often seems that minorities have to earn twice the respect a white person does having to overcome the initial stereotype and then be exemplary on top of that). I notice disparaging looks from black women when my child is unruley in a store--is this because I'm white, because I have different views on discipline, or because I just happen to shop where some grumpy, black women shop? I think it helps to be aware of the privileges or constraints race places upon a person. Race seems like an artificial distinction objectively, but a very real one socially (what did the women I mentioned above have in common other than they were women, looked disparagingly at me, and had skin a darker color than mine? maybe nothing, but suddenly they all act the same in my story). So, yeah, I think race plays a pretty strong role, but I think it's less obvious when you are part of the majority or class in power. I think Leslie's goal of having the survey spur thought and discussion is a worthy one.

Posted by: marc | November 1, 2006 11:44 AM

To White or Hispanic and MKMS and all others re: race definitions

My husband is white, I'm Asian. According to my husband, who is a cop, the law in the WI states that the race of a child is determined by the race of the father. So, while my kids are half Korean, according to the state of WI, they are "Caucasian." Interestingly, when they are with my husband, they simply look like white kids with dark hair and brown eyes. When they are with me, people tend to see their "asian" features (almond eyes, round faces) more than when they are with their dad.

Posted by: LM in WI | November 1, 2006 11:44 AM

I just realized that I didn't sign my post. That was me at 9:59. I also had some of the same problems when I date a boy who was half black when I was younger. I don't buy the "I'm taken your man spiel" even though after some thoughtful discussions with a friend who is black, I now understand where it is coming from. Most of our issues came from friends and family members who were not supportive of the relationship.

Posted by: Scarry | November 1, 2006 11:46 AM

I haven't taken the survey yet. It was broken this morning. However I will and come back post with my thoughts.
However, I did want to say that as a bi-racial mom (black/white)-- I have always when possible checked other when confronted with the race question. I also check other for my children (multiracial).

Posted by: downtown mom | November 1, 2006 11:48 AM

What's with requiring responders to indicate in which (one) area of the US they were raised? I daresay that most of us didn't have the luxury of growing up in a single region. I relocated from a northern state to a southern state at age 11. Both cultural experiences and influences are integral to who I am. What about army brats or others who relocated during the 4 - 18 years? If geographical information is going to inform, it needs to accurately reflect the experiences of more survey responders. Similarly, we don't currently live in a fully integrated neighborhood, but have done so for 10 of the last 13 years. Is the survey only a snapshot?

I also thought it was interesting amongst all of the questions about responders' goals for their child, that Leslie did not include the bombshell question: is it your goal that your child(ren) marry someone of your race?

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 1, 2006 11:49 AM

Thanks for sharing the article on the black women doctor. It was a really good article. To the WI residents, I can't believe them telling you that race is defined simply paternally. The Feds don't think that. Even in all race reporting, it is deemed self reported. So if someone is as Dark skinned as can be and tells you that they are white of British descent, the census takers are suppose to mark white and British. They can't write, that guy looked black to me.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 11:49 AM

For the sake of "honest" discussion, I want to share something about my own experience with race. I am white and was raised in an area where there was literally a single black person in my whole community (this is NOT an exaggeration). I don't have a single black female friend, and in truth didn't even really meet very many black people at all until moving to the east coast. I have Asian friends and Mexican friends and hispanic friends and Native American friends and absolutely DO NOT consider myself even a teeny bit racist. However, this is the first time I have lived in such a racially-integrated area of the country, and I admit that I have spent a lot of time thinking about race issues since moving here and wondering if I come across as hostile or insensitive or ignorant of others, especially blacks. I feel like I never really noticed skin color before but that I do now and worry that minorities won't like me or trust me because I'm white. I have wondered how the idea of "white privilege" plays into my fears. I find myself more intimidated by "poor" minorities as opposed to wealthy ones. I guess I haven't resolved my feelings about this issue, but thought my podunk experience might be interesting for someone who's spent their whole lives in major cities (which are more racially diverse, as someone else pointed out).

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 1, 2006 11:51 AM

Off Topic:

to Feeling Blue -

After our first child there was alot of adjusting to do. Our lives became very different and DW and I had less day to day activity to talk about. Everybody holds a pre-conceived notion/vision of what "family life" is going to be like, and coming to grips with reality vs the dream aint easy.

The way I explained it to myself, was we were off the Parchesi Board and unwittingly had been transported to the Monopoly Board of life once touching the homeplate of marriage and a kid. Where I had once been a fantastic BF, Fiance etc - I clearly was coming up well below expectations in the Husband and provider dept. That one BR on the west side was Connecticut Ave at best - and life was supposed to be Boardwalk or Park Place.

We had less couple time, the baby was the focus, and our relationship suffered. I did see my wife differently after childbirth, the honeymoon was over, and life together was um, work. Instead of "playing grown-up" we had responsibilities, obligations that went beyond our individual or marital goals as we focused on learning to be good parents. Sleep deprivation didnt help. That package of insecurities, coupled with cold turkey quiting smoking, career stresses, moving house, affording house, decorating house, affording decorating house etc etc etc all came down on us and tested us as a team.

Looking back on it I made mistakes, I was grappling with alot, as was DW, and some of my actions appeared selfish. My character, I tend to focus on actions/plans of action where I can affect change. As a result sometimes I am dismissive of plan/actions/complaints that I find futile/needless/wheel spinning. Makes me seem callous to the desires dreams of DW when I suggest there's no point in considering X until we have Y, lets focus on Y.

Did things come around and improve. Yes. Did the kids growing up help? Absolutely.

There is nobody in the whole wide world with whom I would rather argue than my DW.

Our love has changed, and we have each changed in important ways, but we are still the same people. She loves me for all my flaws I guess.

My DW is perfect as always and never made any mistakes if you were wondering. LoL and if you believe that, I got a bridge I can sell you.

Happiness is finding the ways one can make self improvement, learning and growing - forcing change or demanding change from others can be destructive. Much healthier to have those changes be self-realized.

Good Luck.

Posted by: Fo3 | November 1, 2006 11:53 AM

Father of 4 doesn't hate women just like a lot of the feminists on this board don't hate men. I am a woman and he likes me!

Also there are stereotypes about white people that black people talk about to, so it is not just a one way street.

Posted by: Scarry | November 1, 2006 11:55 AM

TakomaMom:
Thanks for being so open about such a hard topic. It's refreshing to see.

I should probably take the survey before I spout off anymore...

Posted by: marc | November 1, 2006 11:56 AM

Marc- your comment about 'typing on eggshells' hits a chord with me. It is hard to state an opinion about how race affects our parenting. good blog entry.

to LM in WI---interestingly, I get the same thing when I'm with my step-daughter. People think she looks like me...and when she's with her mom, I'm sure she gets the same comments...and her mom and I, while both caucasian, differ about as much in looks as african vs. european. People see what they want to see..plus those kind of comments really are just socially-good connection-type fly-by conversations.

Posted by: dotted | November 1, 2006 11:57 AM

Why is Hispanic considered a race?

When did that distinction appear?

Posted by: curious | November 1, 2006 12:02 PM

curious: The government does NOT consider Hispanic a race. They think it is an ethnicity. I think common folk use Hispanic as a race because it defines a group of people culturally, socially, and maybe even physically. It is like when people talk about Jewish people. Judiaism is a religion. But it certainly has a rich culture, language, and history. So people define people as being Jewish. Not that they think it is a race but they think it is a definite category of people. Am I making sense? I hope I did not offend any Jewish or Hispanic person. I don't mean to.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 12:08 PM

My aunt is white (I can't spell caucasion!) and my uncle-by-marriage is black. They have four kids, three of them married. One is married to person of hispanic origins, one to a white person and one to a black person. My aunt got a LOT of crap from black women about how she should not have married my uncle. I agree completely--not because he is black, but because he has cheated on her for years. I wonder if the women who berated her would have been so jealous if they had known. Not that cheating isn't known to every race, creed, sex, or any-other-subgroup-I-forgot.

Posted by: jane | November 1, 2006 12:16 PM

Scarry, sorry but he may like you personally but he has multiple times expressed his hostility toward women on this blog by calling them names and now, god forbid, he is worried about expressing his feminine side as if that is a bad thing.

If we were to call Fo4 names like he calls women names (feminazis, whiners, etc), he'd be up in arms. You noticed he complained about the survey "discriminating" against blind people people it wasn't set up using softward ameniable to his computer software. I'm sure Leslie wasn't aware of this obviously technical issue so accusing her or anyone else of discrimination is ridiculous. Why doesn't he get someone to read it to him--it's not like there is a disclaimer that says "No blind person is allowed to take this survey". He's a hypocrite and a hostile one at that.

Posted by: lurker | November 1, 2006 12:17 PM

I agree with NC lawyer... I had to stop taking the survey at question 4 - I had no idea how to answer it! I grew up on the east coast, the west coast, AND in the south. I also grew up in the southwest - does it belong in the south, or the mid-west? It really should have its own category in the question.

I also agree about the need for 1) "are you female?", and 2) "would you prefer your child marry within your race?" questions. Overall it's a nice idea, but the survey needs a good bit of tweaking.

Posted by: AF brat | November 1, 2006 12:22 PM

Hispanic/latino is not a race. There may be small similarities in culture and religion. They share the same language (except brazilians who speak portugese). They don't share physical similarities. I have met cubans with blond hair and blue eyes. I have met Dominicans that have dark skin and kinky hair. You don't know they are "hispanic" until you speak to them. Looking at them, one would categorize them as white and black.

As a black woman, I am very interested in the latino experience especially black latinos. I wonder how it feels to identify as latino only to be viewed as black in the american public.

I am also interested in how white latinos feel having to justify their latinoness white being viewed as white.

Posted by: TH28754 | November 1, 2006 12:23 PM

Re: race and sexuality

As an asian, I have always been uncomfortable about how men would view me regarding my sexuality. I once had a man ask me how much my husband paid for me, assuming I was a "mail-order-bride." I realize the survey is about white/black relations but the stereotype of the hyper-sexual submissive asian is a very prominent one. As asian women, I think we face this sexual stereotype more frequently than the "music/math geek" stereotype. That tends to apply most frequently to asian males.

I also grew up in a very caucasian community. I was the only asian person in my class. Having been adopted by a fairly prominent white family, I think our economic and social status protected me from most racism. I didn't really encounter racism until I went to college. My biggest frustration is that culturally, the depth of my asian cultural awareness extends to chinese food. I am, culturally, a blonde, blue-eyed caucasian girl of nordic ancestry (my family is decended from Vikings!) So, while I "look" asian on the outside, I am just as white as my husband on the inside. Our big dilemma is what to do with our children. We live in a crappy school district but have the opportunity to use an "affirmative action" program to get our kids into "white" suburban schools. So, do I use my race to the advantage of my children despite the lack of any authentic bonds to "asian" culture? I'm still torn, but I have until January to decide.

Posted by: LM in WI | November 1, 2006 12:24 PM

Too late.

Posted by: to Fo4 | November 1, 2006 12:28 PM

Marc, you are correct about race operating on a less obvious level for whites/caucasions/the colorless. As I see it, it's not just about race, it's about majority and minority.

Lenny Bruce once said that Gentiles who claim not to know when someone is Jewish are telling the truth. That's because growing up as a member of a minority makes you constantly aware of your minority status. And when you grow up as a member of a majority, you unconsciously think of your majority as "normal." We really don't have the language to deal with this kind of brainwashing. Even the word "ethnic" is often used in a way that suggests that white Christians do not have ethnicity.

And Curious, recently I was in Kissimmee, Florida, and saw people with all skin colors speaking Spanish. So you have an excellent point about Hispanic not being a "race."

Posted by: Tonio | November 1, 2006 12:31 PM

Back when I was dating, I received more negative comments from the families of my jewish boyfriends than I did from the families of my asian or black boyfriends. The Jewish families by and large did not like that their son was dating a shiksa and did not hesitate to let me know.

Posted by: sar | November 1, 2006 12:35 PM

It is ignorance that leads (led) me to name "hispanic" as a race - and not the willful kind. I don't know what race the people I'm talking about are ... my college roommate, who is Mexican, was always very adamant that Mexicans don't want to be called hispanics, they want to be called Mexicans - so I always call them that. But I had to call her when I moved out here because I didn't know what to call the non-Mexicans ... she said to use latino ... she and her family all call themselves "brown" and I got in that habit as well, but it's obviously not a choice in race checklists, so my honest response here is that I don't know what other word to use - when I personally use the word "hispanic" or "latino", I am talking about "brown" people who aren't Mexicans - I am truly not trying to get my words wrong, I just don't know the proper one - please set me straight.

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 1, 2006 12:38 PM

"I often feel marginalized based on my race."

Funny you should ask that in a survey that doesn't discuss anyone other than blacks and whites.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 12:40 PM

"I am confused about the issue over using the term 'elite.' Some schools are more selective than others or are considered elite by academics, professionals. Some of those schools are not Ivy League (Stanford) so saying "Ivy" is inaccurate. the reality is that at least historically, the elite colleges are viewed as more selective, taking students with higher grades and test scores, and that those students have a good chance at success in the professional world (look where big I-banks, consulting firms and law firms recruit). It does not mean it's true, it just is how things are perceived."

This is a good description of an elite school. I would add that certain people (affluent) choose to send their children to certain elite schools and wouldn't consider others. This choosing can be broken down by region, state, race or family history. I'd also say there's a difference between an elite school and an elitist school.

I have not taken the survey yet, but I plan to. I'm black, and have and have had black and white girlfriends. I've dated outside my race once. I find that having some common ground despite race differences helps with relationships among white, black and other women. And finding a way to acknowledge the historical baggage without minimizing it, or being overwhelmed by it, is key.

For me, I wonder what it would be like to be able to go into a store and not be eyeballed as a potential shoplifter. Or to be included instead of ignored by the white moms during soccer as they naturally seem to congregate in their own, separate group.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 1, 2006 12:42 PM

I wonder how many African Americans we have on this chat to begin with? It seems funny to have a conversation about race on a board focused on an issue that is typically limited to whites . If there aren't a significant portion of African American or black women on this group, this conversation is one-sided.

And I agree with foamgnome -- I am a social scientist -- if you plan to discuss the results, you need to do something more scientific. However, since it's only meant to generate conversation among this group, I don't mind the sampling as much in this instance . My bigger concern is the language in the items -- many aren't relevant to certain groups. We've heard some cases of that here -- and I have an additional one: individuals who have a parent that isn't around or alive (something that would be more common among African Americans). We can't interpret these responses, because they are so poorly written. So why generate conversation on something we can't understand? Saying it "Isn't scientific" isn't sufficient . . .

Posted by: Hmmmm | November 1, 2006 12:43 PM

Reading these posts has reminded me of some of the strange comments I heard when i was married to my ex-husband who was Mexican-American (I'm anglo). My mother used to ask me if my husband would eat American food or did I have to make him Mexican food for dinner everynight. When my son told my dad that he wanted to take German in high school, my dad told him to take Spanish since he'd be able to naturally pick it up as he's half Mexican.

Posted by: Melt | November 1, 2006 12:43 PM

hi leslie... would love to take your survey. however, i can't go beyond the fourth question. it asks if you were raised in the u.s., which region you were raised in. i live in the u.s., but i was raised outside the u.s. you may want to put in another option of "none of the above" or "not raised in the u.s." to open up the survey to those like me, who were born and raised elsewhere and bring their own gender/race/etc perpectives to life in the u.s. we are, after all, thinking, active women who are a part of and contribute to society in this country.

Posted by: nyc | November 1, 2006 12:44 PM

Non-Cuban Latinos share more than a common language. They have a shared experience of racism. Many African-American AND white folks resent the increased presence of Latinos, and cannot differentiate someone of Guatemalan ancestry from someone of Mexican or Puerto Rican ancestry. The majority cultures lump Latinos of different skin colors together into one category:"Hispanic" and subject all somewhat equally to the same racist attitudes. Perhaps I am alone in this, but, while I have had many close black friends of both genders, I have never developed a close relationship with a member of the Latino community and have not properly learned to identify cultural or racial origins in members of that community.

As I understand it, the "race" markers on forms are primarily so that the government can track compliance with various federal laws, e.g., non-discrimination in employment, government contracting, etc. As long as those laws exist, banks and other businesses must ask the question to prove compliance. As long as we think the goals of such laws have merit, or until we amend them, we will be checking the box on ancillary forms.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 1, 2006 12:45 PM

Tonio:
I remember an undergrad class in social psychology where we did a reading about how you are often aware of how you differ when in a group (thus, you would feel more mail were you a man among a group of women; or, as you state, more black among a majority of whites or white culture).

It helps that I've frequently been the minority in work/social settings (the lone man among women, or the lone white). I'm fortunate that I'm half-Italian and apparently have a slight olive complexion and somewhat different facial features than the average white guy--I say fortunate, because whites often generically "accept" me as white and minorites often "accept" me as not white from the start. Again, a generalization, but I notice black and latino women often seem much kinder toward me than my wife--I often wonder if gender is the main cause of this. It seems the natural level of distrust between some whites and blacks is taken to a whole new level among women--is it harder for white and black women to get along or find common ground than white and black men (in general)?

Posted by: marc | November 1, 2006 12:45 PM

Lurker, I think you may be confusing Fo4 with Mcewen or some of the other folks. If you can find where Fo4 called women feminazis or whiners, please give me the date and time, since I missed it.

From my experience on here, Fo4 has expressed frequent love of and respect for his wife, and seems respectful of women as well. Your mileage may vary.

Posted by: Neighbor | November 1, 2006 12:46 PM

How is it I feel more "mail" among a group of women?

I think you meant to type "male".

Oh, right. Thanks.

Posted by: to marc from marc | November 1, 2006 12:50 PM

One of the reasons that we're frenquently asked to check a block designating our race is that it provides a mechanism to determine if a particular group is being discriminated against. For instance if you wanted to know if hispanic soldiers are dealt with more harshly when they have disciplinary problems, you'd be able to find the answer because of the racial/ethnic group designations. It would be impossible to prove or disprove that type of discrimination otherwise.

Posted by: Melt | November 1, 2006 12:51 PM

I am particularly surprised, especially considering that she mentioned the 20/20 program in yesterday's entry, that the survey is front-loaded with demographic questions.

Any good survey construction puts demo questions at the end, because answering them up front has the potential to put you in a biased frame of mind for the rest of the survey.

Posted by: Survey Monkey | November 1, 2006 12:52 PM

NYC,

I guess I have a different perspective on latinos since I've had friends that are ethnically dominican, puerto rican, columbian, peruvian, ecuadorian, etc. They were all born in America however. I am rare in my group of friends that as a black person I recognize that people are from different places and I can sometimes guess their origin (I'm pretty could with Argentinians). Then again, I have always been interested in Spanish/Latin culture because my minor in college was Spanish.

That being said, I notice that racism has increasingly become a problem for latinos more recently because of the illegal immigration debate. There have always been tons of dominicans/puerto ricans in NYC, cubans in mexico,and mexicans in the US. I think as soon as lower skilled less educated latinos began coming to this country in increased numbers, the racism increased.

I wonder how those racists would feel if they knew how many US citizens are actually latino. Puerto Ricans even those on the island are US citizens but are not included in the census.

Posted by: TH28754 | November 1, 2006 12:53 PM

How is it I feel more "mail" among a group of women?

I think you meant to type "male".

Oh, right. Thanks.

Posted by: to marc from marc | November 1, 2006 12:53 PM

Marc, I think it's funny how you mentioned that different races have different views on disciplining their children and how Black women stare at you when your child is unruly. I am sure that you could find and old-fashioned Southern white woman who would do the same. But I can tell you that Black women are sort of expected to make public examples out of their children if they misbehave, or else others will think that they are bad parents. I've heard social theories on how this came to be, but honestly I don't see how this makes Black children behave any better than children of other races. All I have to say is don't feel like you have to play by their rules. And to Jane, I always have to hear both Black and White women make comments on Black men choosing White women. And frankly, character is all that matters as you pointed out. Men of any race can turn out to be a really bad choice for a mate. I, for one, am glad that I didn't marry OJ Simpson (no comment on guilt or innocence, but he wasn't a very nice husband.)So whatever color of a wife he had didn't matter to me. He wasn't a catch in the first place. I think of all the dimensions the race discussion can take, this one can sometimes be the most pointless.

Posted by: dcp | November 1, 2006 12:55 PM

"Lenny Bruce once said that Gentiles who claim not to know when someone is Jewish are telling the truth." - I was always amazed when someone said that you could tell who was Jewish by looking at them. I always thought that Judiasm was a religion that people could be raised in or they could convert.

Father of 4 - I think a lot of people overanalyze your comments. Since you are a man, I am not the least bit surprised or upset that you don't care to become too feminine.

I am white and would prefer that my daughters marry white because mixed race adds another complexity to relationships that are already complex. Does anyone know the current divorce rate?

However, race isn't my only preference. I prefer that they marry good, kind, honest, honorable men and if the men they choose have all of those qualities and just happen to be black or asian or other, then I will accept them with open arms.

I really don't think that one race is better than another. I just don't want my girls on the receiving end of racism that they would be subject to in a mixed relationship.

OK - I guess I need to duck now.

Posted by: mj | November 1, 2006 12:58 PM

"CP time" or the N-word--

I know what the N-word is, but could someone explain CP time?

Posted by: huh? | November 1, 2006 1:03 PM

CP=Colored people time

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 1:05 PM

I also grew up in an overwhelmingly white area. There were a few black families -- I think maybe 5. One of the black girls was one of my good friends in junior high -- not my best friend, but close. I didn't really think about skin color or anything. When I was in my first year of college, a senior in my former high school (who was one of the black kids and in my sister's class) died tragically in a car crash. I had graduated and been friends with his brother, and my sister called to tell me and we cried together. The school closed for two days due to grieving (he was a very popular kid). It still upsets me to think about it.

I didn't really think about race until college, when I felt that it was essentially thrust in my face. There were black fraternities and sororities and that's what the black kids joined. They ate together at meals and did not seem to mix. I was very confused by this, but it seemed like it was a seriously sensitive topic and I didn't want to piss people off. When I became an RA, it got worse because I suddenly had to take "diversity" workshops so I could learn what a prejudiced person I was. The whole experience made me EXTREMELY wary of my relationships with black people. One time, my hall director yelled at me for making him a devil's food cake (he liked chocolate) because it was inherently racist. (He pointed out that angel food cake is white. I could not disagree with that.)

Posted by: To Takoma | November 1, 2006 1:06 PM

Wow, mj, I can see why you think you'd need to duck. I'm not the most aggressive person on this blog, so I'm going to leave it :) except to say that my personal feelings are nearly the opposite. My life has been so tremendously enriched through my friendship w/ afore-mentioned Mexican roommate that I seek out, and would encourage my son to seek out, relationships with people from other races. Also as someone mentioned earlier, I hope that over generations and lots of racial mixing we will remove the superficial "differences" and not even recognize races anymore. If racism from outsiders is a challenge to a relationship, I view it as one of the "good" challenges, and one I would encourage my child to take on.

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 1, 2006 1:08 PM

mj I went through what you want your daughter to aviod. It's hard to deal with because if you were raised, like I was to see people and not color, it's hard to be called names and deal with all the drama.

I see nothing wrong with your comments.

Posted by: Scarry | November 1, 2006 1:09 PM

to mj: I'm not judging you, but I've heard this argument my entire life and am baffled by it. IMHO, your girls could be, and likely will be, on the receiving end of various judgments over the course of their lives: that their accent indicates they are b**tches, or stupid, depending on the accent, that their career choices make them not good moms, or stupid, depending on those choices, that they are narrow-minded bigots, if they have strong religious beliefts, or part of the godless left, if they don't. The racism they might experience if they opt to be one-half of an interracial relationship is just one more area in which, (a) they'll discover quickly who their real friends are, and (b) they'll discover which of their beliefs or personal characteristics are worth prioritizing over the opinions of society.

Would you prefer that your daughters change their religious beliefs to accommodate what makes others more comfortable? change their accents so that they are not misjudged by strangers? If not, Why encourage them to approach their relationship options to suit what makes others comfortable?

just sayin'.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 1, 2006 1:11 PM

I had never heard of "CP time" either until I was in a group discussion in a class talking about racial differences and a white woman talked about how it was now OK for her to talk about "colored-people time" (CP time; a funny phrase used to comment on a more laid back and less punctual approach to life; I believe this is a phrase coined by "colored people" about "colored people") since her husband was black. I'd never heard the phrase before either.

Posted by: marc | November 1, 2006 1:12 PM

FWIW - I have never told my daughters my preference and they have friends of all genders and races. It's just the marrying part that troubles me.

Just trying to be honest here. I'm not a perfect human being.

There are many preferences that parents have that, maybe, they shouldn't. How many of you would prefer that your child not marry the person with no more than a high school education no matter how wonderful they may be?

Posted by: mj | November 1, 2006 1:19 PM

Regarding the 'elite' question--- I didn't think Leslie was trying to seem superior. She was acknowledging her priveleged background, acknowedging that her upbringing and education placed her in certain rarified world. It's just stating a fact-- what should she do, try to depend she's "down home" like George Bush (or, to use a lighter example, "street" like K-Fed) when she's not?

Posted by: JKR | November 1, 2006 1:19 PM

Another off topic, but it made me think:

There was an article (I think in the Post) recently about how childbirth can be very traumatic for men - seeing their wives in terrible pain, seeing something 'come out of there' and seeing breastfeeding and other 'momish' behavior.

Apparently for some men this can cause confusing emotions - "my wife was suffering" or "her body was built for motherhood" or "she's not my wife, she's the mother of my children" can all be attitudes that aren't exactly encouraging to engage in physically intimate behavior. Obviously talking it out is important and counseling may be very helpful.

Posted by: to Feeling Blue | November 1, 2006 1:25 PM

"One time, my hall director yelled at me for making him a devil's food cake (he liked chocolate) because it was inherently racist. (He pointed out that angel food cake is white. I could not disagree with that.)"

The solution to this conflict? Next time, bake him a German chocolate cake!;>

(shakes head. signs off before she gets "fired while blogging.")

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 1, 2006 1:25 PM

In the early 90s while stationed in Turkey, I went with a group of fellow GIs to visit a Turkish National monument in downtown Ankara (the capital). One member of our group was a tall, very handsome, young black sergeant. The rest of us were white, short, non-descript (we were all wearing civilian clothes). The monument was crawling with Turkish school children on field trips. Well, there aren't many if any black people in Turkey. The only black people most of these kids had seen were celebrities on television. The kids spotted this black man in our group, assumed he must be someone famous and started swamping him for autographs and photos. It was pretty cute. The guy was very gracious about it. He signed autographs for the kids and posed for pictures with them. This experience was one of the highlights of my time in Turkey.

Posted by: Melt | November 1, 2006 1:26 PM

"One time, my hall director yelled at me for making him a devil's food cake (he liked chocolate) because it was inherently racist. (He pointed out that angel food cake is white. I could not disagree with that.)"

The solution to this conflict? Next time, bake him a German chocolate cake!;>

(shakes head. signs off before she gets "fired while blogging.")

Why should she have to do that?

Posted by: to original mom of 2 | November 1, 2006 1:28 PM

Melt,
What a great story!

On the topic of parents wanting things (or having preferences) that they shouldn't for their kids, I would agree that this is a problem, but not a universal one. So far I have been chalking it up as a wealth thing, but maybe it is more insidious than I realize.

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 1, 2006 1:32 PM

"One time, my hall director yelled at me for making him a devil's food cake (he liked chocolate) because it was inherently racist. (He pointed out that angel food cake is white. I could not disagree with that.)

The solution to this conflict? Next time, bake him a German chocolate cake!;>

(shakes head. signs off before she gets "fired while blogging.")

Why should she have to do that?"

Hoooo boy.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 1, 2006 1:34 PM

kids know their parents preferences for dating and/or marrying even when they are not directly expressed.

and I married the under-achieving, brilliant, caring, creative ADD guy with the high-school degree (and three-years of an unfinished undergraduate major). My parents, for all their issues, were focused on whether his character and life choices indicated he'd be a good husband and father. As a Hax devotee, I encourage any parent to focus his or her evaluation on whether the intended spouse is likely to be a good spouse -- in terms of meeting your child's needs -- rather than whether their earning potential or race fit the choices of the parents' social circle. Climbing off of soap-box now.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 1, 2006 1:36 PM

I am a hispanic woman with the right to hold 3 citizenships: American by birth, Venezuelan because of my mother and Spanish because of my father. I decided not to pursue the Spanish citizenship because it required me to renounce my American citizenship, so I am officially a Venezuelan-American, with the full rights of a citizen in both countries (ya' gotta love elections season... it feels like I'm at the polls every 3 months). You can easily tell I am Hispanic, but with really light complexion. I married a white guy from Irish-German descent (in other words, really blond guy), and we have a little boy who doesn't look even the tinsiest bit the stereotypical Hispanic, and now that he's old enough to go to school, I am confronted with the "choose-a-box" dilemma. My original feeling was to always check Hispanic, if nothing else so that there would be a record that we intend for him to identify as strongly with his hispanic origins as with his caucasian origins, but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes to check "other". There are entirely too many factors playing in his background that it would be silly of us to make him "Hispanic" when in reality he is as much one thing as he is the other. Besides, it is our job to make sure he knows and identifies with his very rich cultural background. I know I do, so why not him?

Posted by: To be or not to be | November 1, 2006 1:37 PM

I guess the greater question is which is more of an obstacle: race or economic class? I am not sure what the answer is. My guess is economic class. Until a number of you post your race/ethnicity or religion, I can't guess it. But it is not too hard to figure out what a lot of people's economic class is on this board. People seem to get into fights about that daily here.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 1:38 PM

mj - I think you were just being honest on you wishes for your girls. Takoma Mom is just being honest too. However I tend to steer my children away from things that are controversial and I think inter-racial marriage is controversial for many people.

My kids are young and I would hope that in the coming 15-20 years when they are likely to get married that the "controversy" surrounding inter-racial marriages becomes non-controversial.

We have friends that were and inter-racial couple and so many of the stereo-typical things between a black male and white female couple happened that it was almost silly. They divorced after 8 years and their families had a lot to do with it - it was sad. I don't ever want to be that way with my child.

Posted by: cmac | November 1, 2006 1:41 PM

FWIW, I would think interesting to consider race/cultural relations between the main demographic groups (from Wikipedia summary of 2005 Census Bureau Survey):

White American 74.7%
Hispanic American: 14.5% (included in race)
African American: 12.1%
Asian American: 4.3%
American Indian: .8%
Pacific Islander: .1%
etc

Sum up these percentages and you will find it sums to more then 100%. Again, that is because the government does not consider Hispanic to be a separate race category. It actually sums to 106.5%. I am sure the subtraction of 100-14.5% Hispanic leaves a balance figure of other as 14.5%.

Posted by: to fo3: | November 1, 2006 1:45 PM

I posted the comment to Takoma Mom at 1:06.

To OriginalMomof2 and the other person who's posting about that, I must not have explained myself clearly. I would happily have made my Hall Director a cake of any flavor. I was upset because I was expected to know and understand that it would be in some way racist to give a devil's food cake to a black person. I felt like the intent of the gift (to give the guy a homemade cake on his birthday) was overlooked because to him it meant I was sending some other kind of racist message. I was 19 at the time. It was very discouraging.

Posted by: KMc | November 1, 2006 1:49 PM

We have one couple that we are friends with who are a black male and white female couple. I once asked the women if either family objects to the relationship because of race. She said his family (black parents) was very opposed to the relationship. When I shared that information with some other friends, who are all white, they seemed surprised. They thought it would be her parents (the white parents) who were most likely to object. Just an interesting observation about peoples perceptions.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 1:50 PM

I'm sorry but I think it was racist of him to say it was racist of you to bake that cake.

Posted by: Scarry | November 1, 2006 1:51 PM

I finally took the survey. I totally agree the survey would be better served by having an "N/A" option-- Leslie's results will be skewed by a lot of "Strongly Disagree" responses from people to whom the question just doesn't apply. But, c'est la vie-- Leslie obviously just want to put a feeler out there and get some idea for what people are thinking. Luckily, this blog provides her with plenty of feedback to improve the survey should she ever decide to refine it.

Personally, I think that for many white women (and whites in general) racism in this country (like sexism) is like wallpaper-- they don't even notice it because they're so accustomed to it. I'm shocked at the number of my white peers who think racism (and sexism) is no longer an issue or that race doesn't matter in this country anymore. I grew up in the South. I went to a high school were racism (and sexism) was pervasive. One of my parents is, I hate to admit it, pretty racist, thought not vehemently or violently so. My other parent just isn't very vocal one way or the other. I know this is not a dead issue because I've seen racism in action-- I grew up in an actively racist culture, and I know attitudes don't change over night. I also am very aware of the deeply written scripts inside my own head that tell me, for example, to be suspicious of black men or to assume that a white woman dating a black man 'couldn't find anyone else'. Even for a self-aware person who understands their privelege and understands that racism was embedded in their upbringing, rooting out and re-writing those scripts can be incredibly difficult. I try to be aware of that in myself, to notice my gut reactions and to think about why or how I'm having whatever feeling I'm having (negative or positive) when I interact with someone of another race-- I'm not sure what else I can do. Honestly, I think most white people just assume/insist they aren't racist and don't examine their attitudes at all.

Posted by: JKR | November 1, 2006 1:52 PM

to TakomaMom: I am sure you did not mean your comment that you believed that the issue of parental preferences for their kids is limited to the wealthy to mean that poor or lower-economic class parents don't care about the educational, racial or other background of their kids' spouses. I daresay the vast majority of parents of all economic backgrounds have a checklist of qualities/credentials they'd like to see in the spouses of their children. The issue is, what's on the checklist?

Let's make this interesting and ask how many bloggers would be happy or uncritical if their son says he wants to marry a single mom?

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 1, 2006 1:52 PM

I finally took the survey. I totally agree the survey would be better served by having an "N/A" option-- Leslie's results will be skewed by a lot of "Strongly Disagree" responses from people to whom the question just doesn't apply. But, c'est la vie-- Leslie obviously just want to put a feeler out there and get some idea for what people are thinking. Luckily, this blog provides her with plenty of feedback to improve the survey should she ever decide to refine it.

Personally, I think that for many white women (and whites in general) racism in this country (like sexism) is like wallpaper-- they don't even notice it because they're so accustomed to it. I'm shocked at the number of my white peers who think racism (and sexism) is no longer an issue or that race doesn't matter in this country anymore. I grew up in the South. I went to a high school were racism (and sexism) was pervasive. One of my parents is, I hate to admit it, pretty racist, thought not vehemently or violently so. My other parent just isn't very vocal one way or the other. I know this is not a dead issue because I've seen racism in action-- I grew up in an actively racist culture, and I know attitudes don't change over night. I also am very aware of the deeply written scripts inside my own head that tell me, for example, to be suspicious of black men or to assume that a white woman dating a black man 'couldn't find anyone else'. Even for a self-aware person who understands their privelege and understands that racism was embedded in their upbringing, rooting out and re-writing those scripts can be incredibly difficult. I try to be aware of that in myself, to notice my gut reactions and to think about why or how I'm having whatever feeling I'm having (negative or positive) when I interact with someone of another race-- I'm not sure what else I can do. I also plan to teach my children to understand and be sensitive to race issues in America and to make sure they have as diverse an environment growing up as possible.

Posted by: JKR | November 1, 2006 1:54 PM

Sorry for the double post-- the second version is actually edited at the end-- I pressed "stop" half-way through my submission to change the last few lines (to add one point and take out another (potentially inflammatory) one). So annoying that it posts anyway! Sorry for that.

Posted by: JKR | November 1, 2006 1:56 PM

To MJ

I certainly understand your feelings. Growing up in a mixed race family (through adoption) and being in an inter-racial marriage, I can tell you that it DOES lead to awkward situations. Sadly, people of all races and ethnicities can be profoundly biased. A very common complaint amongst the Asian community is that asian women prefer white men over asian men and are trying to deny their ethnic heritage. I know that black men and black women in interracial relationships have been accused of abandoning their race by being with white people. A common stereotype of white women with black men is that they are "slumming" to be with the "brothers." Until his death a few years ago, there was a white man in the Minneapolis MN area who would troll the engagement announcements for interracial couples and then write to them about how it was wrong for them to "mix" the races. It is all crap but unfortunately, that is the world we live in. The important thing to teach your daughters, IMO, is that finding a good person who will love and respect them is the most important. I wouldn't discourage my children to date outside their (admittedly mixed) race but I would let them know (when appropriate) that there are people who will not like their relationship and that those people are called bigots and the world is a better place without bigots.

Posted by: LM in WI | November 1, 2006 1:56 PM

I took the survey, and will be interested in seeing the results. I am a white woman who grew up in an overwhelmingly white town, but went to a large, well-integrated eastern university. I've never had many non-white friends, although it's not that I haven't tried so much as I work in a field without many non-white people, and live in a town that is mostly white and Asian. The thing that puzzles me is, why some black women are so hostile to white women? I often notice it at work. I work in a small company in New York City, with employees predominantly drawn from the five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island) but also from the suburbs (in my case, New Jersey). Of the 27 or so employees, three are black women. Two of them seem to hate me. I have never done anything to offend them (at least that I know), but they just act hostile to me. One of them ignores me completely, despite my attempts (when I started here a year ago, at least....I don't try anymore) to be friendly and say hello, start small talk, etc. The other one varies between completely ignoring me and asking me what I consider invasive questions (e.g., "how much do you pay your nanny?" "is that a real Vuitton bag?") with strange connotations. After a year of this, I can't stand her. The third one is fairly friendly but a little distant -- but then again I think that is because she and I are of quite different ages and also she works in a department in which I have no interaction at all...of the first two, one of them I work with from time to time, and the other (the invasive questioner) is our receptionist. So what is up with this? I have concluded that two of these women just don't like me for some reason --- and I have to wonder if it is because I am suburban and white, and a mother. They are all city people. And the invasive questioner is a mother too....the other two are not. Part of me couldn't care less -- it makes no difference to me; I am here to do a job, not make friends; and I don't care if they like me or not. But the other part of me feels a little ticked off that these women seem to dislike me and be so hostile.

Posted by: amnesiac | November 1, 2006 2:01 PM

The "I wouldn't want my child to marry interracially because it would be so hard for them in our society" argument is one you hear all the time in the South. It's usually prefaced by, "I'm not a racist, but..."

Everytime I heard this growing up I thought-- um, it seems like the people who think it would be too hard are often the same as the people who would be the ones making it too hard with their judgement. I think families often hide behind that argument (they say they "worry about the children") when the reality is they just don't want to deal with it themselves and deep down, they don't approve. Not saying this is the case with the poster who mentioned this line of reasoning originally, just saying I think it's common among those who do.

Posted by: JKR | November 1, 2006 2:05 PM

There have been a lot of comments today about other people's reactions to interracial relationships, and some people have said they would not want their children to be exposed to the controversy of it. I'm wondering if the stigma is greater for black-white relationships than for other types of interracial relationships. I am white and have dated Asians and Latinos, and as I mentioned before am currently married to a Brazilian of mixed racial heritage. I can't recall ever experiencing negative reactions from family or friends, or even from strangers. I wonder if this would be the case had my relationships been with a black man.

Posted by: MKMS | November 1, 2006 2:06 PM

to neighbor--the remarks were from a couple of days ago (I think Monday?), Fo4 and another writer were attacking someone calling her feminazi and other things. It seemed rather nasty personal so since I am new to this board, I only know from that day. Today's discussion seems a lot more civil.

Posted by: lurker | November 1, 2006 2:09 PM

JKR,

I think it is a broad generalization to assume that white people think racism doesn't exist. I am white and I have experienced racism myself. To say that I am used to racism like I am used to seeing wall paper is a bit of a stretch too.

Racism in this country goes all ways and everyway. I think that when we stop saying that racism is just a "white thing" we can move on as a country and truly try to start working towards inclusion of everyone.

Posted by: scarry | November 1, 2006 2:10 PM

My personal experience is similar to JKR's. I've come to the conclusion that deep down inside a lot of us are racist, or are fighting racism within us, but just don't realize it. I grew up in white Southern suburbs. Then, as an adult, for a period of time I lived in a mixed urban neighborhood, which was surrounded by high-crime areas. For a long time I felt uncomfortable walking around. I thought it was because of the surrounding high-crime neighborhoods (the neighbhorhood I was in was known to be an "island" of working middle class mixed with university types.)

Then after 6 or 7 months, I realized that I did not feel uncomfortable anymore. At that moment, it dawned on me that the real reason I had felt uncomfortable was because I was not used to being in the minority, which I was in that neighborhood. That even though I thought I wasn't prejudiced, I was prejudiced enough to feel uncomfortable if most of the people I saw in the local grocery store, walking down the street, etc. were black. So even though I can't put my finger on any conscious thoughts or feelings I have that are racist, I'm sure there will come a point in time when something else happens that makes me realize I have been, and hopefully I will become less so.

I put in here that I'm southern, but I really don't think that matters. My in-laws are northern, and are every bit as bad as my family. And some people in my generation from the north have expressed prejudice to me, though their prejudice was aimed at people who were Jewish rather than people who were black. One of my saddest experiences recently was when my daughter's two best friends told her they didn't want her to play with them because she's not Vietnamese like they are. It blew over, but it was still pretty sad. Unfortunately, I think prejudice of all stripes is here to stay.

Posted by: Sam | November 1, 2006 2:15 PM

Scarry, I agree. As I wrote about above, just a few minutes ago, I feel like I am somehow being judged in a racist way by these two black women (who, I should add, are pals...I should also add that they are the only black people in the company, but there are people of other races, specifically SouthEast Asian). What I ever did to these women is beyond me. I am white and commute from the 'burbs, and apparently that is enough to make them not like me. They're not particularly warm people in general - I don't think anyone in the office thinks that - but they really are quite cold to me. Whatever. I just think racism definitely goes both ways.

Posted by: amnesiac | November 1, 2006 2:17 PM

Lurker, I went back and looked at what Fo4 said on Monday:
"[Working Mother-- I would welcome another wave of feminist revolution. Screw the naysayers]

Working Mother, I might support you on principal if it wasn't for your attitude."

"Working Mother, even though you try to speak for all feminist, it is *YOU* with the attitude problem. any group that advocates "screwing" anybody, I simply will not go along with. Case closed! And if you catagorize yourself as a true feminist, in actuality, you are hurting the group of women that I'm trying to empower."

He was objecting to the "screw the naysayers" and suddenly got lumped in with someone who was calling people Feminazis. There is a big difference between calling for civility in discourse and being a misogynist.

Posted by: Neighbor | November 1, 2006 2:19 PM

Sam: I think you nailed it on the head. I think we all have a bit of racism or prejudice in all of us. I think living in integrated neighborhoods help ease that. Also growing up with diverse exposures can help shape attitudes and differences. No one wants to stand up in a room and admit they have some prejudices. But I think most of us know, we have some.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 2:19 PM

NC lawyer,
I don't know how long you have been following this blog, but I happen to be a single mother - as such, I hope my son would actually be the ideal type of man to marry a single mother - as someone who has mostly had his father absent from his life, I hope he will be the type who is able to open his heart to a child that is not his biologically. I absolutely would not be critical or unhappy if he wanted to marry a single mother who he was in love with.
I hope I don't sound TOO defensive (I admit that I am, a little bit, because it is painful to me that there are women out there who wouldn't want their "little boys" to marry me).
When I made the comment about wealth, I was referring specifically to preferences about wealth and education, which was being used as a justification for also having preferences about race. It is only the upper-middle class people I've met who seem to care so much about their children's partners' educational attainment and income. I apologize for not being more clear.

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 1, 2006 2:24 PM

amnesiac,

I am so sorry that you are experiencing this, but I want to let you know that they probably are the type of people who don't like any white girls from the burbs. Try to get along and do your job the best you can and make friends with people who are nice to you. I have had experiences like this, but I have also pretty much adopted my boss as a brother (he's black and an only child) There is no way that I can understand what it's like to be a black man, but he can't truly understand what it is like to grow up as an Irish coal miner's daughter either. The point is, that together we try to learn about each other and after a while it doesn't matter what color we are or where we came from. When we talk, we are just friends. Although we do discuss race issues because I think it is important to have a perspective on how other people feel.

Posted by: Scarry | November 1, 2006 2:24 PM

Racism isn't about an incident or two or five in a lifetime wherein an African-American was cold to you or said something mean. Racism is when many, many, oh say, a majority of people pre-judge one's capabilities on the basis of nothing more than one's race, and have the power or control to make those prejudgments have impact. Anyone can be prejudiced, but it takes power to be racist.

To amnesiac, if the two women at work were white, or if only one of them was white, to what would you attribute their coldness? would you assume they are acting as a unit againt you then? maybe each just doesn't need any more friends. maybe you've inadvertently annoyed each, for different reasons. You're talking about them as a block, as if they couldn't have independent reasons for not wanting to trifle with you.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 1, 2006 2:25 PM

With regard to why jewish families prefer their children marry other jewish people--

Jews make up less than 2% of the population. Fifty percent intermarry and many do not practice their religion and so don't pass it down. It is a matter of survival for the religion to promote marriage among Jews. I have conflicting feelings about this because I married someone who wasn't jewish but he converted and I am bringing up my children to be jewish. Even though I am open minded, this issue goes to my core and identity and I would prefer my children marry other jews. Not because jews are better or because I do not like non-Jews (this is obviously not true), but because of my concern for the survival of my people.

Now, I think it is rude for anyone to tell their kid's date that they are not liked or welcomed because of their religion. However, there is nothing wrong with a parent telling their kid of their preferences, but to tell the kid's girlfriend/boyfriend is just not acceptable (and the kid shouldn't tell him or her of his parent's comments either)

Posted by: why I want my kids to marry Jews | November 1, 2006 2:26 PM

I think it is important -- and good for our country overall - to speak openly about how race shapes our experience as Americans. This particular project is limited in scope to women who are black or white. But of course there are many other groups and issues that would benefit from open, constructive national discussion. I urge anyone who sees other issues as equally or more important than the ones addressed in Women in Black and White to get talking. Talking about supposedly taboo subjects can be empowering on an individual and national basis.

Posted by: Leslie | November 1, 2006 2:27 PM

It is interesting to see the issue of race from an "outsider's" perspective. Even though I am American born, I spent my formative years in Venezuela, where a large portion of my extended family still lives, and I can tell you that I was completely taken by surprise when I first came accross the issue of race in America. It was during my first few days in graduate school, when I was instructed to attend an introductory meeting for minority students. I thought that, coming from Venezuela, I'd need to attend the "introduction for international students" meeting, but I was told that as a Hispanic American, I did not belong there, and that I had to attend the "introduction for minority students" meeting. I was totally lost. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing there, and what our common experience as a group was.

Fast forward to the present, and some of that perspective has shifted somewhat. Now I do know what it feels like to be discriminated against, mostly out of ignorance and not malice, but still. It does annoy me when the white clerk at the beauty parlor assumes I cannot pay for a haircut because I look hispanic, therefore I must be poor... and it does annoy me when the black guy sitting next to me in the commuter bus insists on talking to me, very loudly, in broken Spanish, assuming I know no English, even though I respond to him in perfectly fluent English even if I do have a slight accent... I get it from all sides!

Posted by: To be or not to be | November 1, 2006 2:27 PM

I have a close friend whose adult son is gay and in a committed relationship. My friend is happy that her son has found someone to love and share his life with. She likes the son's partner. As a couple, and individually, they have dealt with a fair amount of prejudice. Because of what they have gone through, she would prefer that he not be open about his relationship. Does that make her homophobic? I don't think so, just being a mother bear protecting her cub. I think the same is true of a lot of parents who prefer same-race relationships for their children. Cross-burnings and beatings still happen in this country.

Posted by: me | November 1, 2006 2:29 PM

NC lawyer, I don't need to be friends with them either, nor do I need any more friends. But there is such a thing as common courtesy --- saying hello as you pass in the hallways, for instance. I think that is important in an office, especially one as small as this. No one else in the company acts like they (toward me, at least...I can only speak for myself), so therefore I have started to think it's a racial thing. And I would love to know what's behind the strange invasive questions, because while it could just be this person's personality, I think there's something unspoken going on here. But hey, like I said, I don't lose sleep over it - I just get
CURIOUS. Whether she's racist or not, I think it's also rude and inappropriate.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 2:30 PM

I'm dealing with this very issue as a parent right now. I think I am very much like Sam, fighting the prejudices that I have but don't want, and that I certainly don't want to pass on to my child.

My mother and my MIL are blatantly racist and make comments/tell anti-"other" stories/anecdotes that they believe support their views. I speak my mind whenever it occurs and make it known that I find the behavior abhorrent. My daughter is getting to the age where she will start to understand and internalize these messages. I've even "threatened" to limit her alone time with them if they don't promise to stop voicing these opinions. Short of that, do any of you have suggestions about how to deal with this with my daughter without saying "your grandmas are wrong?" Even though I disagree with them, I don't want to disrespect them.

Posted by: justhavetosay | November 1, 2006 2:31 PM

Tonio--thanks for the link--I remember that article from this summer. And to those who think being black is my only paranoia, i am also a lesbian and tall, so there are basketball playing references and bad fashion assumptions with which I must also contend.

My partner and her son are white and jewish. We live in 'progressive" diverse NYC one would think this was smooth sailing. It's anything but. I am a native washintonian who grew up in the 70's and 80's where being black,educated and gainfully employed were the norm. My siblings and I agree this is not the upbring for black children who then go on to live in other parts of the United States. Here in New York, I am completely unprepared for being the only black person who lives in our co-op building, one of three blacks on staff of 150 employees in a school or being mistaken for my step-son's nanny on a weekly basis.

Priviledge--economic, social, education-- all play a part in the relationships we navigate. And I think often the issues get confused. When I am upset most about people's assumptions, i realalize part of my umbridge has to do with being assumed to be--pick one--poor, uneducated, or working at a certain kind of job. The people who have not gone to college or are nannies or srub floors for a living are good people. From what am I trying to distance myself?

Posted by: CCC | November 1, 2006 2:33 PM

Thought 1) To why I want my kids to marry Jews: I am neither Jewish or Black. But I have heard the same argument from some of my Black friends. That if Black men marry white women or non Black women, then they won't be having pure black children. And thus will eventually die out. I think die out time period would be much longer then for interfaith couples because like you said Jews make up only 2% of the population.

Thought 2) I once stated that interracial couple and trans racial adoption was a way of bridging new understanding about race. But then my mother said that even though great strides will be made through interracial marriage, she felt saddened that the physical differences in the different race groups will be lost. And that diversity was a beautiful thing. So I guess there are two sides to everything.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 2:33 PM

Why would anyone tell their kids their preferences regarding their kids' partners? It's not your choice. It's theirs. Trust me, my parents let me know their "preference" (no blacks, seriously) in middle school - so for the past 12 years, I have NEVER brought a boyfriend home, regardless of race, and I blow my folks off as often as possible.

Telling your children something like that is just going to make it awkward if they end up falling in love with someone who is not your preferred race/religion/whatever, no matter how you say it. Is letting your kids know your preference in a choice that doesn't even involve you really worth endangering your relationship with them?

Posted by: what? | November 1, 2006 2:35 PM

I am a white woman. 10 years ago I had a job that involved traveling around the country with a coworker who was a black man. After the experience of having people react to the two of us together (we were often in situations where a casual observe wouldn't be able to tell the nature of our relationship), I can say with confidence that racism is alive and well. The worst area we visited was rural Florida, where we got ugly, hostile stares everywhere we went.
Having said that, I don't care about the race of my kids spouses. Regardless of the race of their spouse, I would encourage them not to raise their kids in an area where overt racism is common and tolerated.

Lm in WI:
I had no idea that race was legally defined, in the post Jim Crow era. I was born in Virginia, and have my race listed on my birth certificate (they don't do this anymore, but they still did in the early 70s), but my husband was born in the midwest, and his race isn't listed anywhere officially. He's so white he practically glows in the dark, but I don't know what would keep him from taking the label "black" or "latino". Of course he wouldn't do it just to mess with affirmative action or something, but are race labels really defined anywhere?

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | November 1, 2006 2:37 PM

NC Lawyer,

I disagree with you on this one. If someone of another race doesn't like me because I am white, how is that not racist? If you reversed amnesiac position and it was two or three white girls who didn't like a black girl many people on here would say they were racist.

The whole power thing also baffles me. Does everyone think that all of white America is powerful? Sorry, not where I come from.

Posted by: Scarry | November 1, 2006 2:39 PM

sorry...i spelled umbrage wrong

Posted by: CCC | November 1, 2006 2:39 PM

My daughter is getting to that age also. I'd welcome advice. What I've done is explain that her grandparents were raised not to like black people, that that's wrong, and she shouldn't believe certain statements they make or repeat what they say to her friends. But because I don't want to harm her relationship with them or make them look worse in her eyes than necessary, I do what I can to paint it as their not knowing any better because of what their parents did or did not teach them, not as being mean or malicious. The down side of that is I'm not sending the message that what they say is "bad," which it is. But I think that's necessary to preserve the relationship. It may be hard for others to undestand how I can call someone with these views "wonderful," but otherwise they are wonderful people.

Posted by: Sam | November 1, 2006 2:39 PM

I can totally relate to your post "to be or not to be". I was born in the US but raised in Africa by African parents(don't want to specificy country so it's not so easy for those who know me to identify me). I guess I am literally an African-American. When I came to the US for college I was not allowed to attend the international students orientation even though I hadn't been to the US since I was a preschooler! I think my perspective on race is more similar to first generation non-white immigrants to the US than to African Americans born and raised in the US. Having lived as a majority in one country and a minority in another I can see how those in the majority can be oblivious to how life really is for the minority. Now that I have a son I worry a lot about whether raising him in the US will be damaging to his psyche due to the prevailing negative stereotypes that are out there. I pray that my husband and I can impress upon him that he is his own person and can achieve whatever he sets his mind to.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 1, 2006 2:41 PM

BTW, these conversations between me and my daughter occur when we're away from the grandparents. Otherwise, they'd make a point to say even more.

Posted by: Sam | November 1, 2006 2:41 PM

Takoma Mom, I don't think you're being defensive at all, and you've made my point. There are so many valid reasons to select a spouses - reasons of caring and of character -- that I have great difficulty with those who select what I consider to be invalid reasons as markers for an uncomplicated life. The argument tends to go along the lines of, "I just want my kids' lives to be less complicated and easier, parenthetically, like it would be if they marry someone of our race, and our religion, and our politics, and our educational background, and, yes, I have heard from acquaintances before, without any dependents.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 1, 2006 2:41 PM

to Sam - wow, are we related to the same people? I really hate the "saying more" thing - it happens to me too and I feel like it is totally disrespectful of me - I'm painted as an idealist, etc., etc.

luckily, my FIL and father help when they are around and my husband respects my views and refrains from any of this kind of talk, even if he thinks it (that's another issue altogether)

Posted by: justhavetosay | November 1, 2006 2:44 PM

I have a question, kind of...

...what is the relevance of all of the questions at the end about whether or not the woman has her own money? (investments, checking acct., savings acct., home, etc.)

I sort of felt that by saying "no" to all of those questions - because I have them jointly with my husband - that I was somehow admitting inferiority or vulnerability as a woman - which I also feel is entirely untrue. I *could* have my own checking account, but I don't because I think it's a waste of time to have two in the family.

If we're assuming women who don't have "their own money" are somehow being controlled by the men in their lives, and then we compare white women's answers to black women's answers on those questions and extroplate "OMG, fewer black women have their own checking accts. than white women - the black women are being controlled by their husbands!!!", then I think we have a problem....there are many reasons that a couple might not have separate investments/bank account.

Posted by: momof4 | November 1, 2006 2:45 PM

Lurker,

[If we were to call Fo4 names like he calls women names (feminazis, whiners, etc), he'd be up in arms]

I invite you to visit the archives in September and read my guest kit.


[. You noticed he complained about the survey "discriminating"
against blind people people it wasn't set up using softward ameniable to his computer software. I'm sure Leslie wasn't aware of this obviously technical
issue so accusing her or anyone else of discrimination is ridiculous.[

I'm sure that Leslie is not aware of technical issues related to blind people; however, thanks for pointing the fact that minorities are systematically discrimenated against by those who are not remotely aware of how they are doing it. I thought it deserved mentioning.

[Why doesn't he get someone to read it to him[

this is my favorite. It is conparaeble to cultures where women are denied access to driver's licenses, and you are the one saying "Why doesn't she just get a man do drive her".

In my opinion, you did a poor job in your attempt to assasinate my character, but your are welcome to try again.

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 1, 2006 2:45 PM

To momof4: I read an another study that said Black women were more likely to sign their pay check over to their husband. Thus implying, they have less control over their financial resources. My guess is that is what that line of questioning is addressing. The other angle could just be socio economic. Like not having a checking acct in general may be an indicator of income levels. Having multiple accts may also be a marker of higher income levels. But my guess is it is more reason #1. Are Black women more or less controlled by their male counter parts.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 2:51 PM

momof4 - 'I sort of felt that by saying "no" to all of those questions - because I have them jointly with my husband - that I was somehow admitting inferiority or vulnerability as a woman - which I also feel is entirely untrue.'

LOL - I thought that joining money meant superiority and complete confidence in your man and your marriage as well as yourself.

Posted by: to momof4 | November 1, 2006 2:54 PM

"I guess the greater question is which is more of an obstacle: race or economic class? I am not sure what the answer is. My guess is economic class"

Given that race has historically controlled access to certain aspects of the labor market (i.e. black women resticted to domestic labor, Asians on the west coast restricted to agricultural or service work) can we really seperate race from economic class? I think not. History has a long reach and is still relevant today.

Posted by: jp deaton | November 1, 2006 2:57 PM

Interesting comments about the checking account question. I don't know where it comes from, but my assumption when I read that question was that black women would be more likely to be financially independent than white women.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | November 1, 2006 2:59 PM

Given that race has historically controlled access to certain aspects of the labor market (i.e. black women resticted to domestic labor, Asians on the west coast restricted to agricultural or service work) can we really seperate race from economic class? I think not. History has a long reach and is still relevant today.

Ok, just expanding here. How do Asians fit into your argument then? Because your argument is that historically minority races are systematically economically discriminated against and there for can not achieve economic parity with non Minorities (white). But Asians have not only achieved parity but surpassed the majority race (white) economically and educationally. So are you saying your argument only extends to Blacks versus Non Blacks or more accurately Blacks versus Whites?

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 3:03 PM

To NC lawyer,
Well said and I agree that I have difficulty with parents who think their childrens' lives should be 'easy'.

To Sam and the others with racist relatives,
I think this is very common and I would suggest that you do exactly as you propose - love the person and loathe the behavior. I believe your children will understand it just fine as they grow up. I found out my grandmother was racist when I was a teenager, and from what I can tell, that attitude certainly died with her, at least in my family. My mother never called her a racist, but we all understood she was wrong by my mother's own words and actions - and it also didn't stop any of us from loving her dearly.

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 1, 2006 3:04 PM

amnesiac,

Why do you assume they don't like you because you are white? I am black and used to work with two other black women in on a project with nothing but white people. They acted their normal way, talked when necessary, and didn't try to make friends with the people they worked with. Everyone thought they were mean. I had to put on my fake chipper attitude like my parents told me to do at work so that people wouldn't think I had an attitude. As a black women if we aren't smiling and happy all the time then we are mean or unfriendly.

It is possible that they are shy. It is possible that they are busy or not very talkative. But because they are two black women you have stereotyped them and assumed they didn't like you because you were white. But if they were white or some other race, you would have thought of another completely logical reason.

Posted by: TH28754 | November 1, 2006 3:06 PM

To Kmc: no I wasn't being clear, apparently. I was being facetious.

I don't call devil's food cake by that name. I call it chocolate cake. Also, I would not assume that anyone who was kind enough to bake me a chocolate cake was racist for choosing to bake a brown cake and somehow link that to insensitivity. In short, I thought that guy was silly. Then I thought, facetiously, what kind of cake would he be happy with? Maybe a brown cake that is European? There you have it, German chocolate.

I got what you were saying, all right. But did you really, really think I was saying you should have chosen one flavor over another b/c of some person's unknown "sensitivity"?

I don't think the guy was a racist, but I think he was way off base, and you could have called him on it.

To amnesiac and Scarry, yes those women do sound hostile at worst, extremely petty at best. But how do you know it's about white women from the burbs? It could be about women from the burbs, period? Just like cake boy. How did he know a chocolate cake was a racist jab instead of a kind gesture? He didn't ask; he assumed, and he became defensive, then he went on the offensive.

Amnesiac it may be interesting to ask these women why they're doing what they are doing. "Why would you ask me about what I pay my nanny?"

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 1, 2006 3:07 PM

I guess I might have interpreted the "own money" questions differently if I was single, because obviously (assuming I had any money to open a bank account) I would have my own accounts if I didn't have a partner. It just seemed sort of odd asking that - I felt like the surveyers are going to make the assumption that women with partners who don't have their own accounts are being financially controlled by their partner.

2:54 - "LOL - I thought that joining money meant superiority and complete confidence in your man and your marriage as well as yourself. "

Well, that's how I see it! My husband earns the money but he has no idea how much we have. And I don't earn it but I know exactly how much we have. Works for us - I trust that he will support us financially and he trusts me to spend and save the money wisely.

Posted by: momof4 | November 1, 2006 3:13 PM

"Well said and I agree that I have difficulty with parents who think their childrens' lives should be 'easy'."

There are people who get upset when their toddler children aren't invited to parties. I'm not surprised that they want to protect them from bigger life issues such as racism and intolerance.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 3:13 PM

There are people who get upset when their toddler children aren't invited to parties. I'm not surprised that they want to protect them from bigger life issues such as racism and intolerance.

I had to laugh at this one because I am guilty of this one. Last week, DD did not arrive home with an invitation to a birthday party that I know was happening. I immediately thought she wasn't invited because she attends speech therapy. It turned out she was invited and invitation fell out of the book bag. But for about a half an hour DH and I were trying to figure out why our 2 1/2 year old wasn't invited to the party. Seems silly now.


Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 3:17 PM

Prejudice usually operates out of some basis in fact and experience. When you have a people who have very low rates of college education, high out of wedlock birth rates,high rates of criminal involvement and high rates of HIV infection it is preposterous to act as if every person is just the same. Yet we all play the game (in public)that everyone is equal and know in our hearts that people are not.

Posted by: Laura | November 1, 2006 3:20 PM

"I sort of felt that by saying "no" to all of those questions - because I have them jointly with my husband - that I was somehow admitting inferiority or vulnerability as a woman - which I also feel is entirely untrue. I *could* have my own checking account, but I don't because I think it's a waste of time to have two in the family."

There can be excellent reasons for having a single, joing checking account. For most of our married lives, my wife has stayed home with our kids. When she did work, I made much more than she did. When we first married, we decided to have a joint checking account, and that she would manage it. In fact, I insisted on it - it was very important to me that she feel like it was our money, rather than my money.

Posted by: Older Dad | November 1, 2006 3:21 PM

Some background on Laura, other posters who remember better than I? Ignore or respond here?

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 1, 2006 3:28 PM

question. does any of you with only joint accounts have trouble with the spouse who spent money (large amounts) without informing you? If yes, did that change your attitude towards the accounts?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 3:29 PM

To "TH28754": Thanks for your thoughtful response, because it does shed light on the situation. I never knew that some black parents tell their adult children to act a certain way at work or people will think they have an attitude. Is that typical? Do you think all black people feel they have to affect a certain "chipper" attitude or act a certain way around white people in a predominantly white workplace? That kind of blows my mind. You have a point, and that is good food for thought. Maybe these two women have just decided to ditch the chipper attitude and act the way they want - not that there's anything wrong with that - but as a white woman I am not accustomed to it so mistake it as a reverse racism.

To "theoriginalmomof2": I certainly have no clue why she would ask those questions. But I responded honestly ($15 per hour was the answer), and she snorted and said, "What? That's crazy," to which I responded, "it's the going rate in my area," and she said that's out of control expensive. Well, I can't see what she gained from that conversation. Nanny pay rates are indeed tied to what the going rate is in one's area....she lives in Brooklyn NYC and I live in suburban New Jersey....clearly there are two pay scales here. I feel like she wanted to put me on the spot or something. It was so weird. I dropped it and have never brought it up since.

Posted by: amnesiac | November 1, 2006 3:30 PM

Discussing with my children the importance of our religion and its survival is not wrong in my opinion. Telling them that I hope they marry within our religion is not the same as saying "Blacks are inferior, don't marry one". My parents were not as open minded as I am about the issue (I am, I would never behave rudely to my kid's boy or girlfriends), but I understood their views even as I disregarded their advice about dating only within my religion.

Now with regard to "racial purity"--I bet there are no African Americans in theis country who are not in some way "mixed". Saying that someone shouldn't marry and have children with someone of a different race because you need to preserve the purity of the race is well, sounds very suspect to me.

And I was only try to explain why Jewish people tend to advocate for marrying within our own religion. If we don't, we could become extinct. But you should know that from an institutional standpoint, most of us do not shun people of other religions. In fact, most communities have classes to help the non-jewish partner understand the religion.

Posted by: To: What? | November 1, 2006 3:30 PM

ugh...

When you compare large groups the bell curves for the stats mostly overlap. While the differences in the averages might guide some global policy education inititiative - it is frankly idiotic to judge individuals that way.

A 6ft tall women is not short just because women are on average shorter than men.


Posted by: to Laura | November 1, 2006 3:34 PM

Mmm, my black supervisor made me a white cake for my birthday (I'm white). I would have preferred chocolate. Was there some hidden racial agenda in her cake choice? I made the red haired girl yellow cake with pink frosting on her birthday. What did that mean? Did the yellow cake represent her skin tone and the pink her hair color? I've got some angle food cake at home which I plan to eat with mint chocolate chip ice cream....The plot thickens.

Posted by: I like cake | November 1, 2006 3:36 PM

My impression of Laura from past blogs is that she's reasonable and thoughtful, though I haven't gone back to check to make sure I have the right person. If another name had been signed here (won't say which ones) or if the post had been anonymous, I would just write him or her off and ignore it.

But since it's someone whose name I recognize (assuming it's not another Laura) I actually find myself disagreeing with her, yet admiring her for being brave enough to make the post and attach her blog name to it. Maybe this is the "honest discussion" Leslie is talking about. Maybe we need to know that such views exist among those we can put a name (albeit a blog name) to, if not a face.

Posted by: Sam | November 1, 2006 3:36 PM

Laura:

I think this gets at the heart of the matter--it's not that we're all equal (we're not--some are smarter, some stronger, some bigger, etc.), but that we should all be treated equally (under law and social relations) and the individual should not be prejudged by their affiliation with a certain race, creed, club, etc.

Posted by: marc | November 1, 2006 3:39 PM

Maybe these two women have just decided to ditch the chipper attitude and act the way they want - not that there's anything wrong with that - but as a white woman I am not accustomed to it so mistake it as a reverse racism.

There you go, you let the other posters make you think it's all in your head.

Posted by: hmmmm | November 1, 2006 3:39 PM

"question. does any of you with only joint accounts have trouble with the spouse who spent money (large amounts) without informing you? If yes, did that change your attitude towards the accounts?"
Oh, yes. My ex-husband used to regularly clear out our joint account. I didn't allow that situation to go on for long. I opened a separate account and used it exclusively. He never did learn responsibility in regards to money which is one of the reasons he is no longer my husband.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 3:41 PM

If another name had been signed here (won't say which ones) or if the post had been anonymous, I would just write him or her off and ignore it.

This is a little rude.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 3:42 PM

To "I like cake":

Now you have given me a sugar craving! I'm heading to the vending machine. For chocolate! Thanks a lot!

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 1, 2006 3:42 PM

I agree with you. It illustrates how we tend to believe and act on generalizations about types of people. That's why we assume blacks are criminals, asians push academic achievement, jews are cheap, etc even though for most of these people, the sterotype is not true. If only we could fight against our prejudices and react to others in a dispassional, non-sterotypical way. I hope no one calls Laura "racist"--just misguided and lulled by the media's and our own stereotypes.

Posted by: To Sam | November 1, 2006 3:43 PM

I meant "dispassionate" not dispassional

Posted by: oops | November 1, 2006 3:45 PM

Foamgnome, good question:

The argument applies to any racial or ethnic group. To adress the points you raised about Asians specifically: I am hesitant to lump all Asians together as high acheiving, because there are differences depending on ethnic group, how long a particular family group has been in the U.S., etc. However, if you look at the history of Asians and Asian Americans in the U.S. you can see how they responded to the economic constraints put on them by race: they turned inward, forming their own economic communities. Family run businesses are a common way that dicriminated groups have attempted (and in the case of many asians) overcome racial barriers to economic success. Now, as you've noted, that intital economic foothold has given way to economic success in the wider world.

You might want to check out Amott and Matthaei's Race, Gender and Work : A Multi-Cultural Economic Histoy of Women in the United States, or Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor

Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor by Evelyn Nakano Glenn, both of which explore this argument in more depth than I can here. With your statistical knowledge I assume you have some social science background and would probably enjoy them

Posted by: jp deaton | November 1, 2006 3:46 PM

I don't see how what I wrote was rude. But I think it stands to reason that you give people a little more latitude if you think they've written thoughtful posts in the past. Whereas after a number of very negative posts from the same people, you tend to expect more of the same.

Posted by: Sam | November 1, 2006 3:47 PM

Laura,
My heart speaks a different language than yours. It says we ARE all equal - and maybe your public behavior is a game, but mine is not. The rates of all those things you mentioned are affected by individuals' access to resources - if not all individuals have equal access, the rates won't be equal.

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 1, 2006 3:48 PM

I am not misguided just pointing out some untidy facts. We have black cab drivers who won't pick up black patrons. Why? Are they institutional racists? Highly unlikely. These interactions between people are messy and too often polite society refuses to speak about it. That is what makes blogs so great, we can talk about it.

Posted by: Laura | November 1, 2006 3:49 PM

I don't believe that being female is a disability so your analogy is flawed. The laws in Saudi Arabia ARE discriminatory because a woman is capable, just not allowed. A flaw in your computer software is not the fault of Leslie and insinuating that she is somehow discriminatory against blind people is like saying Bill Gates and Steven Jobs are discriminatory because they invented PCs and obviously blind people cannot use them in the same way. Dumb argument. No one is preventing you from doing the survey albeit with some help. Let's take this further...is it unfair that you cannot drive? Must be discriminatory, carmakers, because blind people cannot drive their own car for transport.

Posted by: luker | November 1, 2006 3:50 PM

I think often the better predictor for children's troubles is multi-generational in-U.S. poverty. I am pretty sure recent immigrants of all races tend to do better.

Posted by: Guessing | November 1, 2006 3:50 PM

uh: what if you are both? wake up, america. bi-racial gen x'ers are now adults...with families, careers, etc.. and we will not be pigeon-holed.

Posted by: rainshiny day | November 1, 2006 3:56 PM

What you cite are not "facts". Untidy? I say racist. Black people can be racist too so if a black taxi drive won't pick up a black customer, it is racist. It is the same as the black woman doctor in the above cited Newsweek article discussed--the fact that even black patients did not accept her as a physician. And just because a person of the same race does it, doesn't make it right.

What you were describing as "facts" are stereotypes. Not something to base your behavior on.

Posted by: To Laura | November 1, 2006 3:56 PM

Luker:

The flaw is in LESLIE's computer software. There are standards for web designers which allow them to make web sites accessible to the disabled. If the site didn't work on macs, I'm sure people would complain about that too.

Why do you need to argue about this?

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | November 1, 2006 4:00 PM

amnesiac:

Maybe it's less of a race issue than a socioeconomic class issue.

Sounds like you think you are certainly from wealthier stock than them; perhaps that ranckles them a bit. Race might be part of it, but class and race are tied closely together in the US, with minorities more often than not being at or near the bottom of the class heap (either in reality or through perception).

Posted by: Chausti | November 1, 2006 4:01 PM

Laura, I guess I would say not all people are equal but everyone has an inate right to be treated equally. Meaning given two people are raised in the same circumstances, racial DNA does not appear to be a factor. So I guess to cut to the chase, if the disadvantaged group (Blacks) were given the same educational, economic, and cultural advantages as Non-Blacks, they have an equal probability on average of being successful. I hope you think that too. But I am not sure given your post. But I will give you the benefit of the doubt. And clearly the Law states everyone should be treated equally. Everyone has the right to be presumed innocent till proven guilty etc...

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 4:03 PM

"As far as the elite college, I always took that to mean a great school but not technically the ivy league. Because if they went ivy, wouldn't they just say ivy. But I could be wrong about that.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 10:49 AM"

Nah. If they went to Cornell, Columbia, Princeton, Penn, Brown or Dartmouth, they might say, "Ivy." If they went to Yale, they might say, "Yale." These are all Ivy League, non-Harvard schools. But if they went to Harvard (like Leslie), they would not say either "Ivy" or "Harvard," for fear of being thought boastful.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | November 1, 2006 4:04 PM

"What you cite are not "facts". Untidy? I say racist."

Um, unfortunately, some of them (high out of wedlock birth rate for one) ARE facts. You can deny it if you want, but that won't change reality.

Posted by: oberto | November 1, 2006 4:06 PM

to jpdeaton: I will definitely look those books up. Thanks for the information.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2006 4:06 PM

Thanks foamgnome I've been trying to respond to Laura but my posts have been a bit too strong so I've been refreshing and refreshing...
I'm a black woman with a masters degree, a child born after marriage, no criminal record, etc. Same goes for my parents. I believe my family background has a lot to do with how I turned out - my race, not much. Saying we are "playing the game that we are all equal" infers to me that you think black people are "unequal". That is just ignorant to say the least.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 1, 2006 4:10 PM

I went to De Anza community college. The most elite community college in Cupertino, CA. heehee.

Posted by: Just call me trailer girl | November 1, 2006 4:11 PM

foamgnome: no problem! I always enjoy your thoughful posts, and I'm happy to pass the info along, even if I did feel like I was sitting my comps again. :)

Personally, I think anyone should read those books (among others) before they start talking about race, class, OR gender. I'd love to know what kind of research Leslie and her partner did before launching this survey.

Posted by: jp deaton | November 1, 2006 4:11 PM

Sometimes stereotypes are simply an ad hoc way of playing the odds. Who's more likely to mug me - the 60 year old woman, or the 25 year old man? If I see both apparantly broken down on the side of the road at night, which am I more likely to stop and help? Who's more likely to mug me - the middle-aged man in a business suit, or the teenager wearing sweats and a hood? If I'm walking in the city at night, which one am I more likely to cross the street to avoid? Will all 25 year old men, or all urban teenagers, mug me? Of course not. Will my instincts sometimes be wrong? Certainly. Will my odds of being a crime victim be reduced (at least on the margin) if I pay attention to these gut level evaluation of the odds? Absolutely.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 4:15 PM

"Do you think that men start to just view their wives differently after they have babies?"

Doesn't that depend on why he married her in the first place?

"...the tension that came when black women were part of the movement and splintered the group, who felt trying to push for the rights of African Americans would hurt the overall women's movement. It became very obvious the African American women faced so many more obstacles than white women, even in the movement."

I heard it cut both ways: more obstacles than white women in the women's movement and more obstacles than black men in the civil rights movement. It seems that when groups A, B, and C are all disadvantaged in society then those disadvantages continue even within the groups (being B too and/or C too is a disadvantage for an A even among other As, etc.).

"There were black fraternities and sororities and that's what the black kids joined. They ate together at meals and did not seem to mix."

Something like that happens in graduate school, but it seems to be the Mandarin speakers who eat together at lunch.

"However, there is nothing wrong with a parent telling their kid of their preferences, but to tell the kid's girlfriend/boyfriend is just not acceptable (and the kid shouldn't tell him or her of his parent's comments either)"

I bet Jack Briggs is thankful that his wife Zena told him of her parents' opposition to her marrying outside her race (and opposition to her marrying outside her family).

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/femail/article.html?in_article_id=387845&in_page_id=1879

Posted by: Maria | November 1, 2006 4:17 PM

Sometimes stereotypes are simply an ad hoc way of playing the odds. Who's more likely to mug me - the 60 year old woman, or the 25 year old man? If I see both apparantly broken down on the side of the road at night, which am I more likely to stop and help? Who's more likely to mug me - the middle-aged man in a business suit, or the teenager wearing sweats and a hood? If I'm walking in the city at night, which one am I more likely to cross the street to avoid? Will all 25 year old men, or all urban teenagers, mug me? Of course not. Will my instincts sometimes be wrong? Certainly. Will my odds of being a crime victim be reduced (at least on the margin) if I pay attention to these gut level evaluation of the odds? Absolutely.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 4:18 PM

amnesiac,

This response is going to be all over the place, but the posts on this board have made me think.

I read the response that some poster said we were trying to make you think it was all in your head. I don't think we are trying to do that. These women could be racist or they might not be. The issue is we just don't know why other people might not like us. Maybe they are jealous because you are pretty and rich. Maybe you carry yourself in a way that they don't like and you don't realize it. Maybe they don't like you for no reason. Maybe they are racist. Or maybe they are just quiet.

As far as acting a certain way at work..it's more of something i picked up from my mother than something she specifically taught me. I never really realized I did it until a coworker of a different race became friends with me outside of work and pointed out the difference in my voice and my personality when I'm not at work. For me, I have the work voice and that at home voice. I do feel like I need to be more friendly than normal and smile more than usual. Go to the happy hour but only have 1 drink (enough to join in but not enough to get tipsy).

I'm 28 and I can honestly say that a lot of my perceptions and attitudes about how to act at work come from my parents who grew up in a very different generation. Sometimes I wonder when certain things happen at work (like people not taking me seriously) are they prejudice against my race? is it because i'm a women? is it because i'm young? or do they not take anyone else's opinion seriously.

One thing we have always been taught though is work twice as hard to get ahead.

Posted by: TH28754 | November 1, 2006 4:18 PM

Sometimes stereotypes are simply an ad hoc way of playing the odds. Who's more likely to mug me - the 60 year old woman, or the 25 year old man? If I see both apparantly broken down on the side of the road at night, which am I more likely to stop and help? Who's more likely to mug me - the middle-aged man in a business suit, or the teenager wearing sweats and a hood? If I'm walking in the city at night, which one am I more likely to cross the street to avoid? Will all 25 year old men, or all urban teenagers, mug me? Of course not. Will my instincts sometimes be wrong? Certainly. Will my odds of being a crime victim be reduced (at least on the margin) if I pay attention to these gut level evaluation of the odds? Absolutely.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 4:18 PM

Sometimes stereotypes are simply an ad hoc way of playing the odds. Who's more likely to mug me - the 60 year old woman, or the 25 year old man? If I see both apparantly broken down on the side of the road at night, which am I more likely to stop and help? Who's more likely to mug me - the middle-aged man in a business suit, or the teenager wearing sweats and a hood? If I'm walking in the city at night, which one am I more likely to cross the street to avoid? Will all 25 year old men, or all urban teenagers, mug me? Of course not. Will my instincts sometimes be wrong? Certainly. Will my odds of being a crime victim be reduced (at least on the margin) if I pay attention to these gut level evaluation of the odds? Absolutely.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 4:19 PM

FABWORKINGMOM, Your background and your parent's insistence on education served you well. It is not surprising to me that you did well with a family, insistence on education, antipathy to criminality and raised your child in the bounds of wedlock. The point is that when the reverse is true yiou cannot expect everything to turn up roses.

Posted by: Laura | November 1, 2006 4:21 PM

"For me, I have the work voice and that at home voice. I do feel like I need to be more friendly than normal and smile more than usual. Go to the happy hour but only have 1 drink (enough to join in but not enough to get tipsy)."

Well, now that's just good sense for anyone in the workplace.

As an aside, my wife laughs at me for being bi-lingual. Whenever I enter a hardware store, I revert to a very heavy southern accent. What really cracks her up is it doesn't matter where the hardware store is - if I go into one in Vermont, I immediately start talking like Jethro Clampett. (Of course, I like to point out that I've never had any problem being understood in a hardware store anywhere in the country - there seems to be a universal guy language that allows us to connect as fellow hicks, regardless of whether we're southern hicks, yankee hicks, or cowboy hicks.)

Posted by: Anonymous | November 1, 2006 4:24 PM

I was told by a black mother of teen boys that she and her husband had to teach their boys to NEVER forget their ID and drivers licenses and to always be respectful to police in their actions and speech (no slang/ghetto talk). She and her husband were successful in their careers and Dad had a nice Lexus. When the sons went out in Dad's car within the city limits, they were likely to be stopped for "driving while black". Sad, but true.

Posted by: xyz | November 1, 2006 4:38 PM

Fabworkingmom, my hat's off to you for composing a significantly more polite response to Laura than the 4 - 5 I drafted.

I'm going to focus on dismantling the two easy "facts" that Laura uses to suggest that African-Americans have some sort of genetic tendency toward immorality and flawed characters: (i) our federal government instituted a series of policies over the years that made it financially disadvantageous for poor families to stay together. to put it another way, financial survival encouraged divorce. Over time, the unintended consequence of this misguided government policy has been to remove the stigma against unwed parenting. Unwed parenting is just as big a problem in poor white communities as it is in poor black communities. This is an issue more tied to economics than race. (ii) With respect to "high rates of criminal involvement", anyone who is familiar with the concept of DWB (driving while black), of particular relevance to any black male who owns a red sportscar and routinely drives I-95 knows that the rate of incarceration has a great deal more to do with selective enforcement of the laws by both police and district attorneys than a statistically higher rate of criminality.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 1, 2006 4:40 PM

I've often heard black people say that they can't be themselves around white people. They have to be extra nice or whatever. Well, guess what? White people often feel like they can't be themselves around black people and have to be extra nice and careful not to say anything that could be construed as racist (or bake the wrong flavor of cake). What a shame but I guess that's the legacy that racism has left us.

Posted by: gt | November 1, 2006 4:42 PM

NC lawyer, that is simply ridiculous and playing the excuse game. Bill Cosby even touches on this. I don't think that there is anything genetic at all. I do think that there is a culture difference. When young black people think getting married is acting white and trying to further your education is uncool there is big trouble. Part of equality is equality of responsibility and creating children and not caring for them is inexcusable, no matter who you may try to blame.

Posted by: Laura | November 1, 2006 4:47 PM

Someone asked our backgrounds. Both my husband and I were born in Texas.

One thing no one has brought up is that by not checking the hispanic box, they will not be eligible for certain scholarships, educational programs (like those that encourage minorities to major in math and science).

Just something to consider. Here in Texas, it is very common to have mixed marriages and most people could care less.

Posted by: hispanic or non-hispanic | November 1, 2006 4:49 PM

GT,

For me it's not that I can't be myself around white people because I have friends that are white. It's more than I feel I have to act a certain way in the beginning especially in work and school situations in order for people to take me seriously. I actually think it's more necessary for black men (particularly tall black men) in order for them to appear less threatening. After we get to a stage where I become more comfortable with the person outside of work, then I start being more real. I have had conversations about race with friends outside of my race and we can be very open and honest. But I think on all sides so much has happened that people are hyper sensitive about what they say. Sometimes I think when people are extra careful about being PC it makes it worse :)

I have this conversation often...

Coworker: You should go talk to Tiffany
me: Tiffany? I don't know her. What does she look like?
coworker: She short, has short brown hair, brown eyes
me: well is she black, white, mixed, asian??
coworker: she's........she's....african american

Posted by: TH28754 | November 1, 2006 4:52 PM

I think it is a fair guess that on average those who attend "elite" schools are smart and hardworking. The admission is in large part decided on reasonable statistical markers such as SAT scores, High school rank, etc. - and the students who attend these schools have higher averages on these stats.

What Laura is doing is the equivalent of someone from one of these schools automatically assuming they are smarter than another individual who attended a "non-elite" school.

My (obnoxious) opinion is that Laura has revealed herself to be weak on logic and math.

Posted by: Analogies | November 1, 2006 4:54 PM

Laura, young black people don't think as you suggest and saying it three more times won't make it any more true. perhaps you've either been watching too much tv or consuming an excessive amount of angel food cake.

and now you revised your racist -- yes, that's what it is -- blanket, indictment of the black community from "too many black childrren are born out of wedlock" to include a new accusation that the black community is not caring for its children.

was the blog just too civil today for your taste that you have to insult 14% of the population directly and the rest of us indirectly?

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 1, 2006 4:55 PM

In my lifetime - colored, Negro, black, African-American - to me, each of these terms described what I now call "black people". I know that the "n" word has always been offensive, degrading, and insulting. As for the rest of the terms, they seemed to just be a descriptive term but over the years I've been in trouble with the PC police. I don't know what to call anyone.

Posted by: xyz | November 1, 2006 4:58 PM

"However, there is nothing wrong with a parent telling their kid of their preferences, but to tell the kid's girlfriend/boyfriend is just not acceptable (and the kid shouldn't tell him or her of his parent's comments either)"

This comment I believe was about religion - not race. The difference is when two people of varying religions marry AND have children you have to make a choice. You can be biracial but you can't be both a good Catholic and an observant Jew. Many people feel strongly about their religion and want to see their grandchildren raised in that religion. This isn't neccesarily prejudice as much faith.

Posted by: To maria | November 1, 2006 4:59 PM

"However, there is nothing wrong with a parent telling their kid of their preferences, but to tell the kid's girlfriend/boyfriend is just not acceptable (and the kid shouldn't tell him or her of his parent's comments either)"

This comment I believe was about religion - not race. The difference is when two people of varying religions marry AND have children you have to make a choice. You can be biracial but you can't be both a good Catholic and an observant Jew. Many people feel strongly about their religion and want to see their grandchildren raised in that religion. This isn't neccesarily prejudice as much faith.

Posted by: To maria | November 1, 2006 4:59 PM

I guess all those statistics are just part of some big conspiracy against black people committed by the CIA on behalf of the government. It is what it is. It is not racist to talk oabout problems despite what the PC crowd says. Goodbye for now.

Posted by: Laura | November 1, 2006 5:02 PM

I find it funny that you are so offended by Laura's posts, but you seem ready to say that white people can't experience racism. You have a bias too.

Posted by: to nc lawyer | November 1, 2006 5:05 PM

I guess all those statistics are just part of some big conspiracy against black people committed by the CIA on behalf of the government. It is what it is. It is not racist to talk oabout problems despite what the PC crowd says. Goodbye for now.

--------

No - abuse of statistics to justify prejudice is a sign of mathematical illiteracy!

Posted by: to Laura | November 1, 2006 5:06 PM

"For me it's not that I can't be myself around white people because I have friends that are white. It's more than I feel I have to act a certain way in the beginning especially in work and school situations in order for people to take me seriously. "

I think this is the case for everyone! Of course your first days on the job you're going to be ultra-professional until you get a real feel for the place. That's just life. And I don't buy the whole "you need to be chipper" with white people deal either because I don't believe that all black women are inherently aloof.

Posted by: Danielle | November 1, 2006 5:08 PM

xyz,

I can't say what some people like to be called....but I think right now we are back to black :)

I think people realized that African American is not completely correct because there are Jamicans, Hatians, black people from south america, black immigrants that aren't american...and the list goes on.

Posted by: TH28754 | November 1, 2006 5:09 PM

Quick tutorial:

Correlation is not causation...

It is not correct to extrapolate between a difference in AVERAGE stats between two groups to a characterization of an INDIVIDUAL from one of those two groups...

Another Analogy
If your daughter gets an A in math she is not bad at math because she is a girl.

Posted by: to Laura - part 2 | November 1, 2006 5:12 PM

to to NC lawyer: sorry, I must not have been clear. We, white people, can experience prejudice and bigotry, but not racism. Racism requires power and the ability to oppress. There might be an office or two where blacks have that power and ability, but it's uncommon.

ignorance has always offended me.

i'm biased in favor of legitimate disagreements about the world, supported by verifiable facts. References to unnamed statistics without a citation are not persuasive.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 1, 2006 5:17 PM

Danielle,

I am not talking about the initial few days at a job. I am talking about a place I have been for 5 years. I'm talking about my mother who worked at a major company for 30 years and is the global supply chain manager. And finally, I'm talking about my personal experience and that of my friends and family. I cannot speak for all black women because I don't know them. I am not aloof at all. I am a very friendly and outgoing person. On my first job outside of college, I put on this extra freindly act with the extra sing songy voice because I felt like I had to. Being at work every day became exhausting and I hated being there. But I noticed how much more I was accepted and included than the ones that were not as friendly and "relatable".

Now, I don't even try anymore. It's subconscious because I just automatically switch voices without even thinking about it.

Posted by: TH28754 | November 1, 2006 5:17 PM

I can't be myself around people at work (black or white) because I'm really very weird:)

Posted by: gt | November 1, 2006 5:18 PM

laura, i think class is much better indicator of a number of the "facts" you site rather than race. crime, out of wedlock births and incarseration rate can be tied to class. class can be tied up to race.

Posted by: quark | November 1, 2006 5:19 PM

gt,

glad to know i'm not alone! :)

Posted by: TH28754 | November 1, 2006 5:20 PM

To TH28754: I used to teach at a majority (but not historically) Black college, and I noticed my students doing the same thing you described when they interacted with me one on one (I'm white). I was teaching a class on race, so we discussed it. The mentioned a lot of the things you did, so I don't think you're alone.

Posted by: jp deaton | November 1, 2006 5:21 PM

You are right there are no black people in power and all the poor white people can still oppress even the richest of black people. You and Laura should get along great.

The crap about black people not being able to be racist is a cope out.

Posted by: to nc lawyer | November 1, 2006 5:24 PM


A new poll finds that the term 'Hispanic' is preferred

see link below:

http://www.hispanicblog.com/latinos/culture_cultura/hispanic_vs_latino/

Posted by: HISPANIC' VS 'LATINO | November 1, 2006 5:26 PM

Oh, and this one too. Very interesting.

http://www.hispaniconline.com/hh/hisp_vs_lat.html

Posted by: hispanic vs latino | November 1, 2006 5:27 PM

My observation is that pretending race is not an issue in this country, that we all need to strive to be "color blind," is unproductive. That fine hope gets translated into people being afraid of talking openly about the prejudices that we all face. Our country is multi-racial and regardless of whether your race is a majority or minority, we all have had the experience of people making assumptions about us based on how we look.

It's far more important to acknowledge that prejudice and assumptions exist and are normal -- althought obviously not good -- even in their mildest forms. For me it has been incredibly helpful to have an excuse (the Women in Black & White survey) to have conversations with women about race.

Posted by: Leslie | November 1, 2006 5:33 PM

"The difference is when two people of varying religions marry AND have children you have to make a choice. You can be biracial but you can't be both a good Catholic and an observant Jew."

Doesn't that depend on which religions? I heard that you can be both a good Buddhist and an observant Taoist. ;)

Posted by: Mary | November 1, 2006 5:43 PM

xyz: you wrote:

"I was told by a black mother of teen boys that she and her husband had to teach their boys to NEVER forget their ID and drivers licenses and to always be respectful to police in their actions and speech (no slang/ghetto talk)."

Every teenager should be taught to remember their ID and be respectful to Police Officers. Talking politely should be a must too.

Posted by: cmac | November 1, 2006 5:53 PM

Unfortunately, Laura's comments are reflective of what a lot of people think: "Well, look at them. The stereotypes are true." Or as my not-so-progressive southern parent says, "I grew up around 'em. I know how they are." (BTW, I too am struggling with how I'm going to explain my parent's attitude to my kids.)

As others have pointed out, this not only implies that it is logical/correct to employ these stereotypes when dealing with individuals, it also ignores the wider history and present day context these individuals operate in and from. Why on earth would anyone assume that after 200+ years of slavery (which, by the way, contributed mightily to undermining black family life as family members were sold off, often without regard to family ties) and nearly 100 years of Jim Crow that the institution of legal civil rights would change everyone's attitude, eliminate racism, and suddenly make the playing field level? Such notions ignore the fact that the odds are still very skewed-- just being born black in this country means that the odds are you will have less access to quality healthcare, education, and other services. The black social and family infrastructure has been damaged by literally hundreds of years of first slavery then continued poverty and racism. That's not an "excuse" it's just a fact-- the reality is being born black in this country means that, odds are, you are in for an uphill climb. Those odds, and the fact that white people as a group face radically different odds, are not related to the individual-- they're odds imposed upon the individual by society. Is the black 8 year old in an inner city school personally responsible for the fact that she never had pre-school, no one ever read to her at home and she goes to a crummy failing school? How is she, at age 8, supposed to bootstrap her way out of it? Is the black 30 year old Ivy League educated lawyer born to well educated and determined parents supposed to just suck it up and understand when she is more often than not mistaken to be a facsimile of the 8 year old's irresponsible/uneducated mother (by people like Laura)? That context and complexity is what is missing from Laura's comments.

I agree with the prejudice vs. racism comments from NC Laywer, i.e. that we all may have our prejudices but racism is inherently oppressive and oppression takes power. Yes, even poor whites do have power-- poor, dumb, murderous Susan Smith had only to say that a black man took her baby than a gargantuan search was started to find the scoundrel-- she was instantly believed (paging Harper Lee). If even a rich black woman would have claimed a white man took her baby, 99% of the time the police would certainly focus on questioning her first and airing their doubts as to her credibility. The fact that whites are more likely to take the word of a white over a black gives whites power; the fact that blacks must spend time and energy proving themselves (whether by being twice as good at what they do or by being nice and perky and speaking in a certain tone of voice) gives whites who can devote their energy to other things power; the fact that a black person has to rise to the level of Oprah or Colin Powell to be on the best-seller list or to be asked for their opinion (when there are a zillion low-level white blowhards on the best-seller lists and spouting their opinions on t.v.), that is an indicator of the power whites have.

This is just like the sexism discussion-- the fact that there are people who don't even get that there is a problem is mind boggling to me. No man is an island-- we live in this society together. All of us have to examine our individual behavior and the behavior of our cultural, business and government institutions if we want to create a society that is free of racism, sexism or any other -isms.

Posted by: JKR | November 1, 2006 6:49 PM

Father of 4,

I saw other people claiming to answer for you, you replying to others, but no answer to my question.

mj, et al, please read the post in question before commenting on it! :)

Posted by: Ida | November 1, 2006 7:33 PM

Hey JKR,

I wasn't going to tell this story again but here goes.

When I lived in DC and was 7 months pregnant a very large black woman tried to push me out of the way so she could get on the metro. Unfortunately for her, she tripped and fell, but unfortunately for me, she was headed straight for my stomach. Another man pulled me out of the way while my husband put out his hand to keep her head from hitting my pregnant stomach.

He caught her in the face instead of the arm. She immediately jumped up screaming he slapped me, he slapped me. Well, I guess a little slap on the face is better than a dead baby, but it didn't matter to her or the 6 black cops who surrounded me and my husband as we got off the train. She was being obnoxious and was trying to knock me out of the way, the train was crowded and me and my husband had waited twice for a train by the time we got on this one. She could have waited too and I would have gladly moved if there was a place to move to.

Anyway, long story short, the cops called my husband a white boy, intimidated him as best they could, and had me so shook up that I was having contractions all because someone couldn't wait for the next train and thought they were going to push a pregnant lady out of the way. So in this situation the black cops had power and they didn't care what me or my husband had to say, in fact, one of them even told me I wasn't pregnant.

So, when you and other people on this board dare say that racism doesn't go both ways it is very insulting to people who have experienced it. I would never say that black people in this country do not experience racism by SOME WHITE people, why do you and others feel the need to say that some white people have not been the victim of racism too.

Posted by: Scarry | November 1, 2006 7:36 PM

I pretty much agree with you - but I think you were reading more into their arguments (at least JKRs) than what they were claiming. They were drawing a distinction between racism and prejudice/bigotry. Some define racism as an institutional issue and prejudice/bigotry as a personal question.

It is clear the prejudice/bigotry (as your story demonstrates goes both ways). If you stick with the strictly institutional definition of racism the question of whether that exists against majorities is much more debateable.

As far as I can gather you are disagreeing on terminology rather than substance. The college admissions question would be a debate on the institutional side.

Dictionary.com seems to have overlapping definitions - but the racism definitions do focus more on institutional issues.
---------------------------------
rac‧ism  /ˈreɪsɪzəm/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[rey-siz-uhm] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
-noun
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
--------------------------------
prej‧u‧dice  /ˈprɛdʒədɪs/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[prej-uh-dis] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, verb, -diced, -dic‧ing.
-noun
1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.
3. unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, esp. of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.
4. such attitudes considered collectively: The war against prejudice is never-ending.
5. damage or injury; detriment: a law that operated to the prejudice of the majority.
-verb (used with object)
6. to affect with a prejudice, either favorable or unfavorable: His honesty and sincerity prejudiced us in his favor.
--Idiom
7. without prejudice, Law. without dismissing, damaging, or otherwise affecting a legal interest or demand.

Posted by: to scarry | November 1, 2006 8:05 PM

to to scarry: That's precisely the distinction I intended.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 1, 2006 8:14 PM

To the person who wanted to know if a parent would care if their future son-in-law or daughter-in-law had only a high school education, even if they were wonderful people: I wouldn't care if the guy had dropped out of first grade and joined the circus and had one leg! If he were a wonderful guy and I knew that they would be happy forever I would welcome him with open arms. I don't worry about my kid's education, emotional well-being or job satisfaction. I have been giving her the tools to get these since day one. But her most significant life relationship? I only hope she finds a mate as great as her dad is to me.

Posted by: jane | November 1, 2006 8:40 PM

Thanks Fo3 and others for your responses. Sorry I couldn't write back earlier, I got called into a long, long meeting.

I have talked to him about it a couple of times, but he is a bit evasive and that makes me think it is that he isn't attracted to me anymore and doesn't want to say that. At this point I don't want to badger him and make him feel like he has to do something to appease me, since I'm obviously feeling bad about it. I guess that's why I'm trying to get a sense of what I can do to bring us around to a more productive discussion. I do think some counseling may be needed, at the very least least on my part since it is triggering so much negative emotion for me.

Thank you again.

Posted by: Feeling Blue | November 1, 2006 9:00 PM

Scarry, the difference is racism versus prejudice-they are not interchangeable terms. One way to describe it is that racism is the institutionalized by-product of prejudiced views. The argument is that as a group, African Americans typically do not have the ability in the U.S. to adversely impact the lives of White Americans through legislation, law enforcement or judicially, in the same way that White Americans have impacted African American lives- slavery/Jim Crow/employment discrimination/police brutality, etc. This is not really an opinion; it's the way academics who study these topics define the terms.

Your story sounds like one of the rare instances where African Americans were in a position to act in a racist way (law enforcement using racially derogatory terms,etc). That sounds like a horrible, scary experience (especially while pregnant), and I hope you and your husband attempted to exercise your Constitutional rights after that. I also hope that your experience makes you more aware of how many of us feel everyday when our similarly upstanding, law abiding husbands, brothers and sons deal with that and other types of nonsense on an all too regular basis...and have far more than one such story to tell.

Posted by: lawmom (elite question) | November 1, 2006 10:39 PM

Scarry, I'm sorry that happened to you. Can we take that story a little further?

1. What were your feelings as this incident unfolded? Anger, vulnerability, powerlessness, a sense of unfairness or being victimized? I don't want to speak for you; use your words.

2. Now, imagine that you and your husband were black and the others were white.

What I'm trying to get at is for you to look at your story a different way. Not that blacks can be racist just like whites. But to absorb the feeling of being mistreated, humiliated and intimidated just by virtue of appearance, which black people have felt. I'm talking about an opportunity to understand and to empathize. I don't minimize your experience, but I hope you can use it to empathize with what I and others, minority and otherwise, have been saying today about racism.


Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 1, 2006 11:01 PM

Ida, what i think you essentially tried to do was hijack today's topic by taking my words out of context from a previous thread, posting off topic, and interpreting them in the worst possible way. If you have been lurking for a long time as you claim, you should have plenty of substance to draw from than just mere speculation about my opinions about women. Notice how anonamous and other unknown posters came out of the woodwork to call me a woman hater, hypocritical and hostile. Also notice how some of the well known, long-time members, females, offered respectful justification. . (And I thank you all for that!)

but to explain your question about the statement:

Maybe this blog is getting me more in touch with my feminine side... And that may not always be such a good thing.

It has been my experience that when one joins a group of people with common attributes, (females, children, minoritie, whatever), one begins to understand them on a personal level. this means, of course, that , recognizing their suffering and feeling their pain becomes part of the experience.

And that is exactly what Leslie and Paula are trying to do. Good for them! People want to see a more scientific evaluation of the situation between black women and white women, but first, a dialog between the groups is essential before we can bring them together.

Ida, I hope this clears things up between me and you. OK?

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 2, 2006 3:46 AM

cmac - it's true that all teenagers should be taught to be respectful. The point I was trying to make is that a white teenager driving Dad's nice car in a large city is seen as driving Dad's nice car, but a black teenager driving Dad's nice car is seen as driving a stolen car.

Posted by: xyz | November 2, 2006 6:02 AM

Oh Scarry, that was awful. I am so sorry that happened to you. I can actually imagine people pushing a pregnant person on the metro. People are just very rude sometimes.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 7:05 AM

"poor, dumb, murderous Susan Smith had only to say that a black man took her baby than a gargantuan search was started to find the scoundrel-- "

Do you really believe that there would have been no search if she said it was a white man?

I work for a large federal agency. I was in a position where about 50 people worked at desks in an open area (pre-cubicle). When the OJ Simpson verdict was announced, most of the black people CHEERED. The black woman who sat next to me lowered her head in shame. Even if you believed that he was innocent, this was nothing to cheer about - maybe a sigh of relief (Thank God an innocent man wasn't convicted). There were still 2 people brutally murdered.

There was an occasion when a black man was promoted and there was a general consensus that he didn't deserve it. I had a black woman tell me that she didn't think that he should have the position but "Your people got enough promotions they didn't deserve. It's about time one of ours did." While I will not pretend that there were no inequities throughout history, two wrongs do not make a right and never will.

I also get a little tired of hearing about the white man's injustice back to slavery days. My family came to the US in the 1900's. My family had nothing to do with slavery. We should learn from history, but I believe that I should be treated based on who I am today, not something that happened years ago that had nothing to do with me or my family.

My grandfather came here from Germany and he went through hell during the war just because he was German. The Japanese in America were put in interment camps after Pearl Harbor. Why is it we hear so much about racism toward blacks, but the Japanese don't seem to be vocal about the injustices done to them in the past?

Posted by: to JKR | November 2, 2006 7:11 AM

Fo4 what r u doin up at 3AM? Zoinks!

Posted by: Fo3 | November 2, 2006 7:19 AM

To JKR :1) Actually I was out to lunch with some of my fellow grad students at the time (now I am dating myself)the OJ Simpson trial was going on. Some of my male Black classmates were upset that he had to give back his Heismen (some kind of football award). I am not sure who made him do this. I wasn't sure how that worked in. Maybe the football people said you were a disgrace, give us back your award. Anyway, I replied, I can't believe people are concerned about a sports award. To be honest, I think that is a pretty light punishment for someone who murdered two people. Again, stating I am neither white nor Black. All the Black guys immediately stated he was framed by the White police. I retold the story to several other classmates who were white or Asian (generally forgein students-non US citizens). They said, no they were just kidding. They were playing with you. You just did not understand them. Of course they could not have really believed that OJ was innocent. But to this day, I really think those guys thought he was innocent. Just a serious divide between white and black in this country. 2) Again, I think there is a difference between the Japanese interniment and the Black slavery issue in the US. While both acts are really disgusting and as a country all our citizens share in the shame of the government and the thinking of the times, slavery did the most sinful act of all. That is to institutionalize the break down of the "family" and of humanity. I think it is one of the main reasons, that Black America has such problems with the basic family unit. We institutionalized the destruction of the very foundation in which civilization is based upon. As far as white citizens not of the same ancestory as the slave owners, that is hard. My guess is that looking at someone you have no idea who was or wasn't related to slave owners. Also, you have no idea who was related to slaves either. A lot of Black Americans are not descendants of slaves. They came from other countries and emigrated at a later point in history. But people can't tell when just looking at someone. Of course, you should give people the benefit of the doubt. But we all know we are quick to judge people. To be honest, slavery broke up families and left generations with out an identity. Even today, it is difficult for African Americans to find out exactly what tribes they descended from. It is really rather sad. My ancestors had nothing to do with slavery or the Japanese interniment or the number of things that the US government did that is considered unethical and unlawful today. But I think on some level I accept the good with the bad. So I share on some level their shame. You want to know shameful, look what the US did to the native American Indians. And on a closer note, look what we are doing in the middle east.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 7:53 AM

Fo4,
And I believe you interpreted my words in the worst way possible! :) Please listen to my post again.

I was not trying to hijack the topic, just suggesting a future one. The level of woman-bashing over the past few months has gone up ("rude female dogs", "catty", etc.), without much notice or comment from readers, and it has disturbed me. Both men and women have done it. Sexism is ingrained in our society, and just as you're trying to raise consciousness on handicaps, I'm trying to do it with this topic.

If we went back to your original post, you described an incident where a friend of your daughter's hurt another girl (and her mother). It was reasonable to infer that "And that may not always be such a good thing" referred to the previous paragraph, and was a reference to a girl being cruel. Then you apologized to anyone you'd left out of your friend's list, which I read as the next logical extension of that.

I asked you to explain, admitted I could be wrong, and apologized if what I wrote wasn't what you were implying. Right? I quoted a few words, but I believed they were not out of context, and your post was still available for anyone to check.

Thank you for your explanation. It's all I was asking for. :)

Posted by: Ida | November 2, 2006 8:13 AM

Fo3 - anxiety + DSt has me up around 2 am.

Here is a cute little office story. There was a new employee that came on board about 6 years ago. He had an Irish sounding last name, so I always pictured him as a white man. About a year after knowing who he was, 911 broke out and I found out not only was he very dark, but he was a Muslim too.

Today, he is my best guy friend at the office. Obviously, I'm color-blind too. I don't judge others by their appearance, I can't.

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 2, 2006 8:18 AM

Does someone think that Harvard is not an elite college? Please. The description is sound.

Posted by: Emily | November 2, 2006 10:35 AM

xyz: I know what you were trying to say about black teenagers driving - I was just commenting on the benefit the advise would be to all teenagers. I am a little prickly on the topic of illegal traffic stops - my husband is a police officer - so I didn't comment on it.

Posted by: cmac | November 2, 2006 10:49 AM

"The Japanese in America were put in interment camps after Pearl Harbor. Why is it we hear so much about racism toward blacks, but the Japanese don't seem to be vocal about the injustices done to them in the past?"

Perhaps because they were all "interred"?

I think you meant to say "internment" camps.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 11:24 AM

Or maybe it is because they aren't a bunch of whiner who live in the past.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 2:46 PM

Most people that are called hispanic or latino are really native Americans of some variety. That is not meant to offend, but lets get the issue out. Mexicans are of Aztec or Inca ancestry or some other native tribe at a minimum. some may have blood of the infamous white imperialist Spain. [Spain's blood lines are another story.] Same for the other central and south american cultures. The closest commonality I see is native american. if you argue the dominant gene for skin color, you child is native american. the father does not denote the race. the dominant gene does. look at all these blacks kids that are lighter skinned than many folks of non-black races, my self included. i could go into the slave master raping the slave but i won't. the bottom line is i am considered black, and i accept that. i know i have predominantly black and some native american blood in my family lineage, but i realize i obviously have white blood in my lineage too or i would not be this fair.

Posted by: U R native american | November 2, 2006 3:40 PM

I didn't get to the blog until today - is the survey over? getting the error.

Posted by: alexandria | November 2, 2006 4:16 PM

I'm surprised at your categorization of having attended an "elite" college. What does that say for those of us who attended "non-elite" schools?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 6, 2006 1:58 PM

I'm one of only a few black women in my office. In the beginning the white girls here were nice to me, now they barely talk to me. It seems like they've formed their own little clique. Its obvious they come from a more "white" background. They like alternative/rock music, went to majority white schools,etc, while I like urban music and went to an HBCU. I do have Asian female friends and they are the greatest. Also in my experience white women can be just as hateful towards Interracial relationshps as anyone else. I remember I was in line at a store and a white lady made some rude comment about this Hispanic woman to a white guy. It was something like you know their kind don't have manners. Imagine the shock on her face when she and everyone else in the line realized that Hispanic woman was the White guys wife. Priceless!!

Posted by: just me | November 7, 2006 10:28 AM

I really was looking forward to taking the survey but it still displays the message described above in the other comments. Please fix this, I have also recommended the survey to other women I thought would like to participate, but we're not able to access it.

Posted by: bagglade | November 25, 2006 7:09 AM

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