Hello again Jeremiah,

To direct the conversation to the plight of black Americans I should get a people of color[1] thing out of the way. My wife is Southeast Asian (Thai with Laotian and Chinese mixed in at the grandparent level). The link in the footnote points out that the fuzzy name is a reference to shared experience. Darker than some black people she is not in a group with the baggage of slavery. As an aside, the king of Thailand corresponded with Abraham Lincoln and abolished slavery in Thailand in the same time frame as in America.

When my children were young I expatriated my whole family to Saudi Arabia where my children went to an international school with a student body of expats from a number of countries. My wife and daughters spent summers in Thailand when they were not in school. My daughters found that enriching. Since they are racially Eurasian (mixed European and Asian) they were often ambiguous. Some Saudis thought they were Arabs an people often think my number two daughter is from India. I mention all that because my family experience was what it was because of the POC thing, it was also very different in a number of ways and it invariably influences my thought. Something to keep in mind pertaining to my penchant for widening and narrowing focus in places that my differ from yours.

With regard to macro/micro focus, a long time ago my employer provided Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People training and a memorable part was about the circle of concern and the circle of influence[2]. That corporate training was a thing 25–30 years ago so if you are unfamiliar there is a link and I will lightly discuss. There are two concentric circles. The inner is the circle of influence, the outer is the circle of concern. I spoke in terms of micro racism because it is largely inside my circle of influence. The macro racism is largely outside my circle of influence but is inside my circle of concern. In my opinion, many of the woke[3] (micro insult to Buddhists) allies are a bit too stuck between the circles where they want somebody else (the government) to do something. As a classical liberal (libertarian), I am far more skeptical about the government fixing black people’s problems.

Years ago I worked for the government in Georgia. A friend, a black man, got a well deserved promotion to a supervisory position. Two days later there was a front page story in the local newspaper announcing the results of a class action lawsuit with the numbers of black people who would be getting promoted into management, supervisory and senior technical positions. His exact words to me were, “I’ll just be damned. It’s hard enough for a black man to get any respect around here and they did this now. I’ll be a token n___ in everyone’s mind.” The double edged sword of government affirmative action. How may years will it take for “Is he competent or an affirmative action doctor/professional” to go completely away. We both know that has not gone completely away. Improved over time, but still there. The government fixed the macro level but it must be fixed at the micro level. Anyway, that is largly what is behind my focus.

When I mentions privilege vs. advantage I wrote, “ I can’t justify it with logic, but I feeeeeeel that it is purposefully used with negative intent.‘ It may be that the word privilege has a subtle connotation with the fortunate sons who got deferments from being sent off to war or if there was a political future for them, a spot in a reserve unit that wouldn’t be deployed to combat. In my mind the privileged are far more advantaged than you or I because of our whiteness. I suppose I should and can accept something that could be a privilege that doesn’t confer advantage. I don’t have the burden of wondering why a cop stopped me, of a store employee follows me around being about race.

That brings us to what do we do? For one thing, and this isn’t passing the buck or blaming the victim, we must include black people in the solution. I put a link to a book[4] where you can look inside and also see my brief review. It points to the problem of the issues that make black people their own worst enemies. I won’t say any more about it, you can follow the link if you are interested.

The government has passed laws, established affirmative action programs. Universities and corporations give preference. What do you think can be done to influence at the macro level? I really do think at this point in time what is needed is a change of heart. Painfully slow but it is happening. The tsunami of articles in places like Medium about what a bunch of evil, privileged bastards we are because we are white are a setback. If you have white people, especially men, in your circle of friends who are not among the woke then I think you know that’s true. So beyond, we’ve got to do something, I ask what do you think is something actionable that I can do?

Kind regards and thanks for this conversation. It’s passed my bedtime so I hope there aren’t too many typos and incoherent sentences because I’m about to fail to proofread this.

Footnotes:

  1. People of color
  2. Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence
  3. Woke
  4. Black Culture Matters: Why It’s Time to Stop Pretending Racism is the Problem by Nick Pilgrim

Retired and living my golden years in a world full of angry people.

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