08 August 2012

Overcoming our Asian Privilege


"We swim in a sea of whiteness, it's the norm," Ellen O'Neill, one of the campaign  organizers, said. 
"If we're white we don't have to think about it, we don't see it. 
So the first step is getting white people to see it."

Headlines you may have seen recently:

Let us step into another mental world: that of the Blank-slatist.

In his universe,  all human beings are interchangeable, their differences only skin-deep.  If the U.S. population is 64% white, 16% Hispanic, 13% black, and 5% Asian, these same break-downs must apply in every area of human endeavor: Standardized testing, educational accomplishment, politics, the arts, the sciences, the military, criminal justice, sports, etc.  Anywhere a group is under-represented (or in the case of prison, over-represented), this reflects an attack on them by...

...well, by whom?

'Institutional racism,' some have said, and have spilled much ink over it since the late 1960s (h/t Audacious Epigone) :

But as we have seen, in a country where de facto quotas routinely push out qualified Euros in favor of less qualified Afros and Hispanics in both the public and private sectors, this argument has become a tough sell.

So the Blank-slatist has settled on a new culprit: 'white privilege.'

'What is it?,' we ask him.

     'It is systematic, institutional exclusion of non-Whites,' he says.

'But we have looked at the facts and figures, and found the opposite is true--today institutional racism favors Blacks and Hispanics,' we reply.

     'We swim in a sea of whiteness.  White is the "default setting." Minority groups suffer simply from being the minority.'

'But Whites are the minority in many places--Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Houston; even entire states like California or New Mexico, or countries like South Africa--and yet still show superior life outcomes to Blacks and Hispanics.'

     'None of that matters. The very fact of being white gives them an unfair advantage. Check your privilege.'

Taking him at his word, that this nebulous White Privilege beams out its rays twenty-four hours a day and forces Afros, Hispanics, and Asians to under-perform their Euro subjugators, let's fire up our privilege radar and see if his argument holds up.


We begin in the schools, where the effects of Privilege so often rear their ugly head. The 2011 NAEP report shows 8th-graders' math proficiency over the last twenty years:

The white children's privilege does not seem to have been much help against the Asians, the latter significantly out-scoring the former at Proficient + Advanced levels for every year measured. 

Our look at high school graduation rates is strangely similar:

And what of school discipline rates? The U.S. Office for Civil Rights has kindly compiled this data at the national level:

Averaging rates for all punishments (in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions single/multiple, and expulsions), we again face the troubling paradox that despite the decades of oppression and exclusion they labored under, Asians are 1/3 less likely than Whites to be disciplined at school.

The OCR breaks down only out-of-school suspension rates:

To be clear, these numbers are as a percentage of the total of each group.  That is, in 2009-2010, twenty percent of all black schoolboys in the country received an out-of-school suspension.

In a privilege-free world, of course, all these bars would be at the same level as that of the Whites. (7% for boys, 3% for girls).  In the case of Asians, though, this would mean them misbehaving more-- once again,  the power of White Privilege mysteriously confounded.

Our final OCR graph shows the fail rate for American schoolchildren in 2009-2010:

Again, we are forced to puzzle over the fact that Asian children are held back 1/3 less than their more privileged white schoolmates.

When looking at educational outcomes later in life, we see a strangely similar pattern with SAT scores:

College enrollment, heavily affected by soft quotas, is hard to pin down. However, in 1996 California voters passed Proposition 209, strictly prohibiting quotas in college admissions.  Ten years later, enrollment numbers look like this:

And finally, the total number of Americans with a college degree:


The 2005 Color of Crime report gives a breakdown of incarceration rates by race/ethnicity.  Their explanation of the charts that follow:

'Figures 9 and 10 show how many times more likely than whites various groups were to be in state and federal prison in 2001. The white incarceration rate is set at one for every crime. For every other race, a bar at two means people of that race are twice as likely as whites to be imprisoned for that crime; three means three times more likely, etc.'

Again we see the same pattern: It turns out that Asians are incarcerated at only 1/5 the rate of Whites.


When we delve into other evidence of privilege, such as median household income, we find:

 And on the West Coast, where Asians are most present?

Teenaged birth rates follow a similar pattern:

As do unemployment rates:

*       *       *

Arnold and Caroline Rose remind us of what the Chinese in particular faced earlier in U.S. history:

While the Chinese at first had an overwhelming concentration on the Pacific coast, when they lost their jobs as miners, farm hands, and railroad workers, they spread also to Eastern cities. The feeling against them was so strong throughout the country that by 1882 the United States passed its first law restricting immigration on grounds of race [the Chinese Exclusion Act], directed specifically against the Chinese.

Feeling the pressure, and not having a powerful foreign government to back them, the Chinese gradually accepted a subordinate position and a voluntary segregation--but not until they had conducted a vigorous but dignified defense before the courts with little success.

[...] Propaganda against the Chinese became so "normal" and expected that it gradually was engaged in unconsciously. Chinese became the villains of the cheap magazines, the movies, and the comic strips. The "good" Chinese characters were loyal but somewhat silly servants. The crooked streets, the underground passageways in Chinese neighborhoods left from an earlier time when whites used them, the tong wars that carried over from a still feudal homeland, all gave support to the stereotypes of the Chinese as a man of mystery and sin. (1)

As for the Japanese, who first came to America in the 1880s, the imperialist actions of their home country led to harsh treatment in the U.S.:

Anti-Japanese feeling was so strong in California by 1907 that the federal government restricted Japanese immigration from Hawaii in that year, and from Japan in the following year (by the famous Gentlemen's Agreement). In California political campaigns used anti-Japanese slogans, the white public was urged not to trade with the Japanese, and in 1913 a law was passed that prohibited aliens ineligible to citizenship from purchasing real estate.

[... In 1942,] all sorts of rumors flew about, and were practically universally believed by the whites, that Japanese Americans were giving information to the enemy, were sabotaging our factories, were storing up arms, and so on. Fear and hatred of the Japanese Americans were so strong that the Army evacuated all of them, whether American citizens or not, from the West coast and placed them in inland camps. (1)

*        *       *

White privilege is tough to pin down.  Does it mean that Euro-Americans, by virtue of their race, enjoy advantages allowing them superior life outcomes, and that by noblesse oblige they should share their spoils with the less-white?  If such is the case, then whatever this unnameable quality is, Asian-Americans seem to have even more of it than Euros do.  This despite past exclusion which, while nowhere near that suffered by Afros, was on a par with (and often worse than) that suffered by Hispanics.

How to explain this paradox?  Are Asians creeping in at night and siphoning off the privilege from Whites' privilege-tanks?  Are they endowed with a force-field that resists the Euros' privilege-rays, ricocheting them back in a blinding flash that then cripples white performance relative to their own?

Whatever this quality may be, our White Privilege Experts would do well to study its source so that they can show Hispanics and Afros how they too can take advantage of it.  After all, we don't want our great-great-grandchildren's policy-makers to still be puzzling over these mysteries one hundred years in the future.

(1) Rose, Arnold M. and Rose, Caroline B., America Divided:Minority Group Relations in the United States. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1948.


Olave d'Estienne said...

Impressive work. This post will be on my go-to list for facts that disprove racial Marxism.

I have argued that "white privilege" is very real, in a sense, because while anyone can move to a White-majority neighborhood, it's mostly Whites who can have other Whites for family members. And by the "birds of a feather" principle, it's mostly Whites who possess the privilege of having White friends, and--this is crucial--of being able to relate in a relaxed manners, as equals*, to other Whites.

Naturally this is a completely different breed of privilege than any "institutional racism". Institutional anti-black discrimination is a fantasy of the deranged race-Marxist mind.

I took my toddler to the park the other day, in my hardly-wealthy, overwhelmingly White town. We go often. The hoi polloi were there in their legible clothes, with their crooked teeth and unrefined speech patterns. Sometimes I talk to other parents--it's not small talk, since it is about our children. They tell their little children to watch out for the baby and be gentle, but we let the children hold hands.

My toddler likes to play with hair, so there are always at least two adults telling the little girls, "The baby likes pretty hair. He might try to pull on it but he doesn't mean anything by it. You can just push his hand away." Tiny three-year-old girls no bigger than him are full of questions about what he's like, what's his name, does he speak, can he play on this structure, why does he have to go home so early. Other than worries about the baby toppling over or someone accidentally flailing a foot into somebody, there are no safety concerns. No needles or broken glass anywhere.

These folks may be janitors or waitresses; they may not be the slightest bit upwardly mobile. They may not know how to use a comma or balance a checkbook. Every one of them shows concern for children in the park. I hardly ever hear a voice raised in anger.

Real White privilege has nothing to do with the testable results that bureaucrats obsess over, as the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study showed. It is what makes our lives what they are are. It what makes our communities worthwhile, nothing more or less.

* No association built on affirmative action can ever flower into a relationship of equals. A broomstick, when thrust into the dirt, will not be come a tree.

Discard said...

I have begun re-branding "White privilege" as "White virtue". That forces the Multi-cults to defend their nonsense.

M.G. said...

I have argued that "white privilege" is very real, in a sense

Indeed. I agree with the Blank-slatists on the existence of 'white privilege.' What we disagree about are its origins. W. Europeans have in a sense won the genetic lottery, and the bouquet of character traits they evolved have allowed them to dominate planet Earth these last 500 years. These traits also make their societies uniquely livable and enjoyable, as evidenced by world immigration streams, most of which flow towards countries run by NW Euros. Was even true of South Africa during 'oppressive' white rule.

Real White privilege... makes our communities worthwhile, nothing more or less.

Your anecdote about taking your baby to the park sums it up perfectly. It also reminds me that while 'white flight' is lambasted endlessly by Right-Thinking People, its sister 'black flight' leaves them strangely silent. The truth they shrink from is that Whites want to live in majority-white neighborhoods....and so do Blacks. But because of our different genetic heritages, Euro neighborhoods cannot maintain their character when inundated with Afros. And the white flight / black flight / white flight merry-go-round continues...

M.G. said...

Yes. I also like to use 'white genetic privilege.'

'White virtue' seems a good rhetorical tool when asking why, if Whites are so dreadfully nasty, people from everywhere on Earth are trying to come live in their countries. (see also this.)

Mr. Rational said...

Discard, did you get "White virtue" from me or did you invent it independently?

Cochran and Harpending write about genetic advantages in inter-group competition.  It's a subtle but powerful refutation of blank-slatism; if everything was culture there would be no barrier to copying the winners and becoming their equals, but you can't copy a gene.  One example uses a statistic that I'd never heard before:  dairying produces 5 times the calories/acre than raising animals for meat, but this only works if you have the gene for adult lactose tolerance.

Discard said...

Mr Rational: I came up with "White virtue" by myself as far as I know, but it's entirely possible that I saw it somewhere's else first. In any case, substituting "virtue" for "privilege" aggravates the shit out of multi-cultists and forces the issues into the open, where we can cheerfully fight it out. .

bopberrigan said...

A number of comments: 1)Your figures are quite colorful and easy to understand. 2) There's little doubt that Asians have a high IQ. 3) However, in addition to that I believe they do well in the USA because they are a minority, and as such have a cohesive and helpful relationship between each other. I've had a few Asian graduate students and they were all hard workers. Given a defined research project they always got it done. Beyond that, unfortunately, they seemed to lack intellectual curiosity. Fortunately, northern Europeans have that characteristic in spades.

Mr. Rational said...

Discard, I'm happy to see the concept spread.  If it is such an obvious rebuttal to "privilege" that it popped up spontaneously, it has to mean that there's a LOT of fertile ground for it and the genocidal propaganda machine is teetering and ready to be blown over.

Something else you might want to use:  "You say White privilege, but what you mean is kulak."

M.G. said...

I concur. As we've seen before here, in cross-cultural values studies, East Asians tend to score very highly on 'Performance Orientation,' 'In-group Collectivism,' and 'Societal Collectivism.' They can be very driven to succeed, but it seems that individualism and 'thinking outside the box' are less valued there. There are clearly upsides and downsides to this, at both the individual and societal level.

Anonymous said...


Excellent anecdote and the real deal. Actual White privilige - not the BS fed to us by PC - is a different evolutionary history which on balance has produced the best overall outcome.

Olave d'Estienne said...

I'm glad you read my anecdote. I rarely get to write about something so close to my heart.

... And in response to a post full of colorful charts, no less! I love the righty blogosphere.

Unamused said...

Dis post be raciss yo.

jk it be awesome yo

More on the Asian sensation and its relevance to white ("white" (""white'")) privilege (i.e., die whitey die): http://unamusementpark.com/2012/03/motives-part-5-racial-disparities/

panjoomby said...

@Olave d'Estienne: that was truly beautiful. your observations could be expanded into an excellent book. by offering the phenomenological alternative to statistics, you create a more moving argument (& touch our positive side, whereas stats just make people angry:) & this is coming from a statistician - thank you!

Olave d'Estienne said...

Panjoomby, thanks for reading and commenting!

I have been rethinking my terminology in line with what Discard said. White virtue is what makes my town nice. It is my personal privilege to be a part of it.

And by the same token, the family that runs the Chinese restaurant has a similar personal privilege. Their family members aren't White but their families obviously suit them fine. The probably feel privileges I don't feel; Chinese babies are more stoic than White babies. If you were used to Confucian order in family life, White relations would probably seem anarchic. Etc.

So anyway, that is a minor change in word choice but perhaps an important one.

Update: Yesterday at the park my toddler ran up to a blond girl, about four-year-old, and seized her in a hug. She sort of stepped back wide eyed. I told her he likes hugging anyone with pretty hair even if he doesn't know them. She was okay with it even though he was a stranger. Her adult female caretaker was tickled pink. He ran up to the same blond girl a second time, with the same result.

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder if, extensive as your breakdown of all the various facets of "white privilege is", you've also controlled for class? The average Asian American is way better educated than the average white American, so it seems reasonable that their unemployment rates would be much lower. If there is data to show that, for instance, Asians generally earn more than whites of similar educational background, I would like to see it, if only because all of the data I have seen thus far has been from ... Well, liberals, attempting to prove the exact opposite.

I also think that it hurts your argument to generalize that all Asians have better life outcomes than whites in the areas outlined above, because if you were to compare, say, Laotians or Cambodians as a group to native-born Caucasians, I'm not sure the numbers would bear you out. What you are actually saying is that South Koreans and Japanese do better economically than whites, which is completely true, but it doesnt exactly refute your friends the blank-slatists. After all, the Japanese and the Koreans are so absurdly well educated compared to the rest of the population that of course they're better off. The way to disprove the existence of white privilege is not to show that a select subgroup of Asians outperform whites on certain measures of success; that would be like saying that Africans dominate long-distance running. Obviously they dont; Kenyans dominate long distance running; nobody else on the continent is any good at it. "All the Japanese, Koreans and Indians" doesn't translate to "all the Asians." And lest we forget how we got on the subject of "all the Asians" in the first place, it was because you were using them as a counter example against the idea of "white privilege," but your counter example only works if all of the Asians are, in fact, outperforming the whites. Which they're not. I mean, i can tell you from anecdotal evidence that the Indonesians and the Vietnamese and the Filipinos? Defnitely not. And I think if you could plug the logical fallacy that comes from your overgeneralization, your overall argument would be a lot stronger.

M.G. said...

If there is data to show that, for instance, Asians generally earn more than whites of similar educational background, I would like to see it

As would I. Do pass it along if you come across it.

After all, the Japanese and the Koreans are so absurdly well educated compared to the rest of the population that of course they're better off.

Indeed, and how did they get that way? The first Japanese came here as unschooled coolies 130 years ago. Ditto the Chinese 150 years ago. Today both groups are 'absurdly well educated.' Why didn't they stay toiling in their ghettos?

...your counter example only works if all of the Asians are, in fact, outperforming the whites. Which they're not.

My counter-example doesn't need all Asians to out-perform all Whites. Only enough of them to push the group averages to a higher level. Which they have.

Were we to break out only NE Asians, yes, the gaps would be even larger.

if you were to compare, say, Laotians or Cambodians as a group to native-born Caucasians, I'm not sure the numbers would bear you out

I agree. But 'Asians' is a common classification used by the U.S. Census, survey-takers, and a slew of statistics-gatherers. That is why it is used here.

The way to disprove the existence of white privilege is not to show that a select subgroup of Asians outperform whites on certain measures of success

Sure it is. White privilege, its explainers explain, is supposed to disadvantage non-white groups in white societies. Particularly those whom Whites have oppressed in the past, such as the Japanese and Chinese. Yet both these groups outperform Euro-Americans on household income and college education today.

I mean, i can tell you from anecdotal evidence that the Indonesians and the Vietnamese and the Filipinos? Defnitely not.

Unquestionably. The article linked above, for example, breaks down indicators for some Asian sub-groups which seem to bear out your suspicion. But this post is a broad brush, and that's all it needs to be.

if you could plug the logical fallacy that comes from your overgeneralization

Overgeneralization does not automatically lead to logical fallacy. Nor does it in this case.

The purpose of this post is gross generalization. One could break down Asians into their Chinese, Filipino, Korean, etc. parts, as well as Euros into those of German, British, Irish, Polish, Italian, etc. descent, as well as Hispanics into their Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, etc. parts, and break those down further into 100% Amerindian, 50%-50% mestizo, 80 or 90% Iberian parts. It would be an interesting post. But it is not this post, and is not meant to be.

Perhaps in the future. Thanks for your comment.

M.G. said...

I told her he likes hugging anyone with pretty hair even if he doesn't know them. She was okay with it even though he was a stranger.

Love this. Who knows, maybe it will still work as an approach in fifteen years' time...

Shaunantijihad said...

It's hard to see racism when your a Jew.

Kion said...

Tan skinned Han Chinese male here.

Screw "privilege". Screw white guilt. Screw social justice and all its followers.

I was sympathetic to blacks and their struggle until I went to tumblr and saw how disgusting the whole thing is. Keep up the good work.