Black men as "canaries in the coal mine"

I’ve been watching a lot of Karen Straughan (pronounced “Strong”), and I thought I’d throw something out there that I just listened to her say.

Cite: Q&A - Are Men Obsolete?

The paraphrased quote above starts at about 39:15. FWIW, she’s speaking off the cuff here (answering questions), and I’m (obviously) paraphrasing what she said. (Since I can’t copy and paste audio.)

If you’re curious, the prepared part of her speech is here: Are Men Obsolete? (It’s less than 25 minutes long.) FWIW, the Munk debate she’s referring to at the beginning of her prepared remarks can be found here: Be it resolved: Men are obsolete. (FWIW, “PRO” “wins”: men ARE obsolete.)

For context, I don’t have a quick summary of Straughan, but in lieu of that:

Anyway, watch more of Straughan if you want.

But the questions I wanted to ask are:

1.) Are men obsolete? Why or why not?

2.) Is the difference between sentencing of blacks and whites racism?

3.) Whether you think it is or not, what about the sentencing gap between men and women?

4.) If you have an opinion about Straughn, (meaning you’ve watched at least one of her videos) what is it?

Not gonna watch a 25 minute video.

  1. No, of course not. Question doesn’t even make sense to me.

  2. Yes

  3. Sexism

4 -

White people/men may become an oppressed minority but it would take a long long time for that to happen. 100 years? Even then, I doubt it will happen because any form of that type of racism or oppression is becoming very very unpopular.

The problem of men’s as well as other rights activism is that it follows the historical pattern while standing it on its head.

First we had African-American civil rights, which paralleled the women’s movement. They borrowed from each other (early civil rights struggles were waged in court, until they started marching like Suffragettes. Early feminists adopted “we’re an oppressed minority too” model) until every rights movement had its court/legislature/newspaper/street components.

Other movements like the gays, the Gray Panthers, Asians, and Hispanics in the United Farm Workers used this model, but after the 1960’s most of them settled into comfortable suites of lobbyists, TV pundits and star bloggers.

The men’s rights advocacy will never be able to adopt this model. For one thing it’s already dead. And the point in the OP looks to outside eyes like they are pathetically glomming onto somebody else’s legitimate Civil Rights movement. (remember the Chinese storekeeper in the Autobiography of Malcolm X who put up the sign during the Harlem riots “me colored too”)

Fair or not, that model is based on the White Guys as the Bad Guys, so even if society devolves into one special advocacy group after another forming a closed loop that parades over the Edmund Pettus bridge in an endless parade, the loop will never have a White Guy’s contingent.

  1. No. Men still have the majority of the power, money, etc., and while there are some encouraging signs of closer-to-equal treatment of women, we as a society are still a ways off. In short, men are doing great.

  2. Yes.

  3. Probably sexism, but I haven’t read a lot about it.

  4. Don’t really know anything about her. Not going to watch long videos, but from what you’ve written about her, I don’t have a particularly high opinion of her analysis.

Far from it. I realize that factually speaking, white men were proportionately better off decades ago when compared against other groups. But speaking as a straight white man, I can hardly imagine having it even better off than we do now. It’s just so great even in 2015. We’d either have to fall, or much preferably raise everyone up, a significant amount to even be at parity. That’s a long way from obsolete.

Of course.

Of course it’s sexism.

-This is a symptom of being poor. It’s not like this is a disease that started in the black community and is now spreading to whiteytown. Fatherlessness, unemployment, crime, drugs, gangs…you find this with any poor anywhere.

-Posessive “its” does not have an apostrophe.

  1. Absurd.
  2. Yes.
  3. Sexism.
  4. Never heard of her before this, but based on the OP I don’t need to know more.
  1. What the hell does it even mean for a person to be “obsolete”? I don’t even understand the question.

  2. Racism

  3. Probably sexism (I don’t know much about it)

  4. I haven’t watched one of her videos and likely won’t. The whole “I get messages all the time saying exactly what I want to hear” schtick is laughable.

I don’t get the impression that she’s saying whites will become an oppressed minority but rather that poverty, single parenthood and crime rates may eventually equalize. The stats I’ve seen show white poverty rates staying pretty flat for the last 40 years though (see link above).
I would think that the disparity between men and women’s sentencing can be partially explained by women more often being a primary caregiver. Eta: of course, that can’t be a huge factor if white women get the bigger benefit over black women, who are far more likely to be single moms.


No, because someone has to kill the big bugs.


1.) Are men obsolete? Why or why not?

This is a meaningless question by any traditional definition of the term “obsolete”.
*2.) Is the difference between sentencing of blacks and whites racism? *

Yes. This is also a much more complex problem that is the result of several hundred years of institutionalized racism.
3.) Whether you think it is or not, what about the sentencing gap between men and women?

I had actually heard it was the opposite. That women who commit crimes often receive much longer or harsher sentences than men who commit the same crime. Probably because people view it as a shocking anomaly. I do know that men definitely commit more violent crimes than women.

  • 4.) If you have an opinion about Straughn, (meaning you’ve watched at least one of her videos) what is it? *
    What I think, from the five minutes I spent looking at the audience full of limp-dicks in that video is that most of them should consider themselves lucky they don’t live in a “traditional male-dominated society”.

The fact is, our society is a lot “softer” than societies from even a few decades ago. Certainly more so than a hundred years ago. The modern man doesn’t have to plow the fields or hunt for his food. He doesn’t have to fight off barbarians or rival tribes. He probably hasn’t been in a fight at all. Most jobs don’t require him to pick up and move 100 lbs loads all day long. Heck, most jobs don’t require you to be particularly brave, smart or really have any qualities besides just doing what you’re told.

So what this means in practical terms is that there is less of a premium for traditional “maleness”.

What I also think is that certain people miss having that “survival of the fittest” sense of entitlement that comes from being part of a privileged class. That is to say, a lot of men miss (or think they miss) the days when you could physically bully anyone who didn’t agree with you. I think there are probably a lot of women who also miss (or think they miss) the days when all they had to do is find a man who they could marry and be taken care of.

My understanding of the OP is that men are obsolete in that the jobs of the future do not take strength and aggressiveness which are men’s comparative advantage, but rather education and conscientiousness, which are women’s comparative advantage. So there are fewer jobs manufacturing things and more jobs as healthcare workers. As fewer good jobs are available for men, more women opt for single motherhood. So the sense of men being obsolete is in that they are no longer needed as providers.
The sentencing differential is totally different and does not seem to be connected, except in a paranoid sense that because we no longer need men to provide we should lock them up to keep them out of the way.
Black men being the canary in the coal mine seems to mean that since black men tend to be less educated, the loss of the manufacturing jobs hit them first. Leading to the rise of single motherhood, crime, and incarceration.
There is a little bit of truth here as manufacturing jobs have been declining due to automation and globalization. Unskilled americans now have to compete against robots and chinese peasants and so wages have fallen. This makes family formation harder for the unskilled. Changes in societal mores have also removed the stigma from single motherhood, divorce, and fornication. These make single motherhood more common.
However, overall I don’t buy the thesis. Strength is not the only comparative advantage men have. As society has gotten richer we find that women want to spend more time with their kids rather than less. They also tend to gravitate toward fields which are people centric. Thus you have women congregate in jobs like pharmacist, which allow flexibility of scheduling and social work which deal with people and their problems. This leaves such fields as technology and sales for the men. You can see this in the subjects people major in. Women make up 80% of education and psychology majors but less than 20% of engineering and computer science majors. The future will still need engineers and computer scientists.
There is also overwhelming evidence that men are important in families. Children of single mothers are more likely to be poor, to be abused, to get less education, to be put in prison, and to make less money as adults. Thus as the financially reasons for men recede, the emotional reasons come to the forefront, and any woman who truly loves her kids would not choose single motherhood except in extreme circumstances.
So men are not obsolete, their role in society and the family has changed and continues to change but they are still as important as ever.

Since recidivism rates are higher for both black people and males, you would expect sentences to be longer for both groups and they are.

While I am sure there is a racism and sexism involved, both can be explained by a belief (whether or not justified) that men are more violent that women and blacks more violent than whites.

The real racism is that blacks are regularly arrested for “crimes” that whites hardly ever are. My sister used cocaine for a a couple decades and, as a middle class white woman, getting arrested never entered mind. I don’t think a black would ever think he (or even she) had nothing to worry about.

And then there is class. If you steal a loaf of bread you could go to prison for life (in a three strikes state), but if you steal a billion dollars, the most that is likely to happen is you get disbarred or banned from selling stocks. Yes there are exceptions (Madoff, a free-lancer), but the heads of all the banks that gave us all those financial woes, just got bigger bonuses when the rest of us bailed them out.

This is the patriarchy speaking. Feminism exists in part to fight this kind of sentiment.

  1. No (with derisive snort)
  2. Yes
  3. none

I beg to disagree. The meaning is perfectly clear. The question is absurd, and the answer is obviously “No.” But it isn’t meaningless.

I’m sorry, Slithy Tove, I don’t understand your post… I read it several times, but still don’t get it. When you say “that model is based on the White Guys as the Bad Guys” what model are you talking about?

Straughn is arguing against the social/media trope of “White Guys as the Bad Guys”. (Actually, she’s arguing against “men as bad guys”, but whatever.)

Anyway, I guess I’m just asking if you could clarify what you’re saying.

It doesn’t make sense to me to talk about a person being obsolete. It’s like saying “Is engineering purple?”

I’m not sure that’s what feminists are getting at when they say men are “obsolete”. And I’m quite sure Straughn would disagree that men are doing “great”. In addition to the prison gap, she’d point to education gap (more women are going to college) and the death gap (93% of people killed not the job are men), among other things.