A common theme running through this board is that there are persistent disparities between the US black population and the rest of the population that exist only because of our US history–slavery…Jim Crow…institutional racism…whatever.
If the US is doing it wrong, and has done it wrong all along, who’s doing it right and where are blacks flourishing as full equals as compared to other populations–white or asian, say–who live in the same country?
I think the question is flawed, because there is no modern country with a significant population of Sub-Saharan Africans or their descendants where there has not been some sort of racism, either institutionalized or just pervasive. There is no control group. There are plenty of nations where those people the U.S. would consider “black” are highly successful, for instance most of the Caribbean, but there is still an overall disparity between black and white populations that is the legacy of slavery and colonialism.
I don’t have stats to back it up, but I have heard and read repeatedly, and this is in accordance with anecdotal travel experience, that the situation of the blacks in Cuba is pretty much equal, both legally and in everyday practice, as the situation of the whites. Of course this is mostly not because blacks and whites are equally flourishing, but because both races suffer from the same economic hardships and lack of personal freedom.
I suspect, though that in the Caribbean in general, the equality of the races has been accomplished pretty well. The majority of the population in Caribbean nations is of mixed ancestry anyway, so racism is not much of an issue there.
The Master himself, in this article, praises the lack of racism in Brazil.
Agreed. Add in instances where other races have shown up to “save” blacks, either through religion or technology, and you’re left with a handful of areas that don’t work well with more advanced civilization building, such as the deep Congo, where it’s not practical, food is plentiful and the environment dissuades populations from growing too large on their own. For the most part, this seems to be changing a bit, but even today it’s still more likely to find a foreign mission or business as a centerpiece or focal point of a community, rather than a black community free of outside influences.
Is there a particular Caribbean country for which I could find some evidence that the equality of the races has been accomplished?
"While overt racial hostility is virtually unknown in the country, there is a widely shared feeling that a light skin is more desirable than a dark skin.
For this reason, dark-skinned people make an effort to mate with lighter-skinned folks, with the result that the percentage of persons of pure-blooded African descent is small and in all likelihood steadily decreasing. On the other hand, the number of pure-blooded Europeans is sizable and likely to remain so.
The upshot of all this, some think, is that eventually Brazil will probably have a fair number of pink people, a whole passel of brown people, and not very many black people."
This is a paper examining data from three Caribbean nations (Dominica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines). It concludes:
But that’s not racism, that’s a matter of what is perceived as aesthetic, just as the attitude prevalent in many Western countries that a tan is more desirable than light skin. Cecil does mention the tendency that the percentage of pure blooded blacks is decreasing while the percentage of pure blooded whites is remaining constant, but again, I do not think that this is an example of racistb attitudes, it’s a demographic development. Certainly the tendency in Brazil is for the races to meld increasingly, while one common feature of racist societies is their tendency towards segregation.
Sort of like saying that the reality underlying why asians don’t play in the NBA is not related to their lack of talent but the fact that they didn’t play High School Ball…in any case, doesn’t sound like equal accomplishment to me.
So, out of all existing sovereign nations, is the answer that there is not a single one in which blacks have achieved parity with other populations?
Not in nations where they are the original peoples nor in nations where they are newcomers; not in nations where they are in the majority or minority; not in nations where they were enslaved against their will; not in nations where they were welcomed as immigrants; not in nations which have done nothing to help their population and not in nations which have made specific efforts to lift them to equality… ?
Why, then, this obsession in the US with blaming our specific history for the current state of blacks in America, and where have they done better (in terms of absolute income and accomplishment) than the US?
Got any examples of a nation that welcomed blacks as immigrants? (If you point to France or the U.K. I’m going to have to note that there was substantial mistreatment of those groups once they became large enough to be recognizable as groups. Earlier individuals could immigrate, be treated as “exotic,” marry into the rest of society and lose their “blackness” within a generation or so.)
Perhaps because we have this mystical “American Dream” with one significant group that does not appear to have been able to take part in it?
On the other hand, if we examine the poor black populations of the inner cities separate from the black middle class, we find that the middle class population is doing about as well as their white neighbors and the actual discussion should not be one of “black” vs “white” so much as what would help to change the conditions for the very visible, very poor blacks in the cities.
As to the rest:
The people who were removed from Africa were set at a significant disadvantage in every society where they were imported and those societies fall into two general catgories, those that remain segregated by color (regardless how we choose to define race) such as the U.S. and Brazil, and those that were pretty much “left” to the imported black populations because they did not have the resources to be self-sustaining such as much of the Caribbean.
The people who remained in Africa were subjected to the total disruption of their cultures followed by Cold War interference in their artificially created nations that has only begun to ebb in the last few years.
Well, but you need to be careful. What if someone argued that this disparity – the very lack of a control group – was itself a partial or total answer to the OP? I.e., that the inability of a population group to have at least one successful instance of resisting the imposition of slavery/colonialism/racism from outside was probative of its success-proneness (given that we can all agree that fending off being colonized or enslaved is probably a pretty good example of “success”)?
Going down the “no level playing field” road risks the retort: “the playing field is the whole of history.”
I don’t know much about African history, but I know there were plenty of clashes between various African populations and there must be a number of historic cases of one group fending off another that wanted to enslave it. If you mean a successful population is one that always managed to fend off outside invaders then I am hard pressed to think of a population that has been successful in this way. There are probably a few who no one ever attempted to colonize, but that hardly counts as success.
The US began as a bunch of colonies. The British built the largest colonial empire the world has ever known, but only after a long history of being themselves “conquested” by all kinds of other people. In relatively recent times Russia has successfully resisted several invasion attempts, but it was ruled by the Mongols for more than a century.
I do get that, but the point is, why are some invasions/conquests to be counted as more “success suppressing” than others? The post I was responding to said (paraphrase) “black success can never be separated out from slavery/racism/colonialism-imposed disadvantage.” Okay – but where is the cutoff where external-factor-X always and permanently unlevels the playing field?
I responded to/questioned that line of argument because it invites the question “Is it the case that blacks were uniquely singled out for successful invasion/conquest/slavery, and if so, why did these attempts succeed?”
My post to which you just responded addressed only the second part of that possible question: “Why did no black population succeed in fighting off or thriving despite incursions, conquests, foes, or in wresting back control, through the modern era?”
Now, your response invites attention to the first part of my question – where it turns out that since the dawn of time, pretty much everyone has faced battles, invasions, hostile tribes – nothing unique about that for Africans, both intramural and from without – yet no one says “it’s impossible to evaluate whether the English are equally successful as the French because of the whole Norman Conquest, or the Blitz,” or “Naturally we need to apply a different scale of success to the Irish, what with being sold into slavery by Vikings and having their potatoes taken by the landlords in '47.”
Again, I just don’t know that the “no level playing field” notion is that helpful – there’s no neutral third party out there, and never has been, to create such a field, for anyone.
Ah, but your paraphrase adds the word “never”. I think everyone here has been speaking about the present day and immediate future, not everything until the end of time.
Let’s consider just the US. Slavery ended less than 150 years ago and the National Voting Rights Act didn’t come along until a full century later – only 43 years ago. This is hardly ancient history. There are posters here who are old enough to remember it. To say that the effects of this very recent legal oppression of black Americans can still be felt today is not at all the same as claiming that black Americans will “always and permanently” be at a disadvantage because of it.
Thanks as always for a careful and thoughtful reply.
I started this thread as a GQ and I’d like to leave it there. I suppose I might suggest Sweden as a country that welcomed black immigration but I’m sure you could find folks who were opposed to it. And it’s not where we should let the thread go.
I really was just looking for any data that says black populations are achieving equal success to other groups somewhere else in the world (and to some extent expressing a curiosity that the US population so readily accepts US history as being the culprit for under-performance here when the larger issue is universal underperformance). Slavery, Jim Crow and colonialism don’t apply to Stockholm and Oslo…
The “why” of sub-standard black performance is its own thread, and probably not one that will reach a resolution on this board. One camp (the most vocal one here at SD and probably the only one that will ever get a public voice in today’s US) says that it’s everyone else’s and every other circumstance’s fault. The other camp holds the view that there are differences among populations and that it’s fundamentally unfair to blame society for God’s blunder in differently enabling whole populations. For good or bad, the voice of the latter camp tends to be nitwit supremacists and for a scientist or social leader (or almost anyone else for that matter) to publicly espouse such a view is a career-ender regardless of how sincerely the belief is held.
Since, as you point out, capable blacks achieve equally in today’s society, it’s hard for me to accept the notion that there is some sort of skin color acceptance test that is very pervasive. But that’s a different thread.
I asked a similar question a very long time ago. Southern Louisiana and New Orleans in particular had (have?) a very complicated racial structure well before the Civil War. There were even wealthy black slave owners. You can still see parts of this to this day. However, it still skewed heavily white with blacks with whiter skin having disproportional influence and wealth.
There aren’t any large populations of black Americans anywhere but the US.
There’s a black American expat community in Paris, of approx 10,000 people. They do quite well, but then, poor black Americans can’t get over to France.
The Americo Liberians, black American in ancestry and culture, have been the dominant group in Liberia, but it’s impossible to sort out the Americo Liberian situation from Liberia’s relationship to the US and colonialism overall.
I specify “black Americans” because there is no such thing as a generic black person. Doesn’t exist. There certainly aren’t any generic black people in Africa. We’re talking over 2000 different ethnic groups, with more genetic diversity than any other continent.
I don’t see the point in entertaining a discussion that denies, a priori, the distinct history, culture, and genetic profile of black Americans. It also makes no sense to lump black Americans together with other groups of people who have a tremendous variety of genetic backgrounds, histories, and cultures.
Here’s an experiment:
We can subject Chief Pedant and all of his extended family to brutal subjugation at the hands of say, the Japanese, just for a couple of generations. Then we can deny them basic citizenship rights and equal treatment under law for a couple more generations. I’m sure they’ll come out of it just fine, with their All American can do spirit completely intact.
Well, I was defending your question against the guy who took your perfectly factual OP about the existence or non-existence of such highly successful populations and pronounced it “flawed” because he felt he had a compelling explanation for the (apparent) factual non-existence. But your squib above shows just how prone this question is to go off into GD (as you candidly admit and seek to avoid in a later post, I know).
I suppose U.S. people who feel bad about U.S. slavery, and feel bad about many U.S. modern day blacks lagging behind, and it’s understandable why one would, find it natural to link the two. It’s not that far-fetched – I’m not confirming or denying your premise that the outcomes are the same even in countries without U.S.-style slavery history or Jim Crow. Heck, no one’s mentioned Haiti, which has had its independence as long as has the U.S., and has f’d it up about as royally as could readily be imagined. But the point is – and Eurosnark sneering about American provincialism aside – most Americans never get around to thinking about Haiti, or Nigeria, or the Bahamas; they’re just not that interested in other places, and so they form a narrative based on what they know or have been told, which is mostly locally-oriented.