Saturday, May 26, 2007

Boxing Blogging Part IV

I missed most of tonight's Friday Night Fights card the first time around. My loss--I sat down just as Anthony Peterson (22-0, 16 KOs) was putting the finishing touches on a knockout win over Luis Ernesto Jose (27-4-2, 24 KOs). And when I watched the encore presentation, I got to see Peterson's older brother, Lamont (20-0, 8 KOs) get a relatively rare (and impressive) knockout win over 4-time title challenger John Brown (22-13-2, 11 KOs).

The Peterson brothers hail from D.C., and were fighting on their home turf tonight. The local factor definitely plays into their status as two of my favorite fighters. Another part is their incredible back story--abandoned and homeless as children, they survived on the streets before being discovered by a boxing trainer. They rapidly rose in the amateur ranks, both winning several national titles (Anthony fights at lightweight, Lamont at junior welterweight).

But far and away, the reason I like these two guys is because they can fight. Anthony has devastating power and fights to impress. Lamont is a slick and confident boxer who, as he showed tonight, can unleash some pretty vicious shots of his own (he was hitting an astounding 75% of his shots to the body against Brown). Lamont Peterson, by the way, is proof that one can have an exciting fight that doesn't end in a knockout, though he got one here tonight. He has extremely fast handspeed, stellar reflexes, and comes to fight.

Both Peterson brothers are setting themselves up for title runs, and I for one can't wait to see them against the elite of the division (though both could use a fight against at least one fringe contender type foe before really jumping to the big time).

Overall, I give them stellar marks for their performance tonight. Way to represent D.C.!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Guess the Speaker

A very well-known American, idolized by many and taken as a role model by several declared Presidential candidates, had the following views on immigration:
I . . . have thought of America as a place in the divine scheme of things that was set aside as a promised land . . . [A]nd the price of admission was very simple . . . Any place in the world and any person from these places; any person with the courage, with the desire to tear up their roots, to strive for freedom, to attempt and dare to live in a strange and foreign place, to travel halfway across the world was welcome here . . . I believe that God in shedding his grace on this country has always in this divine scheme of things kept an eye on our land and guided it as a promised land for these people.

40 years later, after a long career observing the political scene, his views had not changed. Still, he believed that America's immigration policy should make our nation open to people--of all backgrounds, colors, and creeds--who decided that wanted to make their new home in America:
I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.

Who was this man? Answer here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wow I'm Too Busy Roundup

Finals are upon me and I am not pleased. So instead of a post, you get a round-up. Huzzah!

A Nobel Prize Winner in the Senate? It could happen. Minnesota's done weirder things (where's "The Body" nowadays?).

Noam Scheiber wants to turn "Goodling" into a common noun (as in, "The Bush administration cleaned house at FEMA and repopulated it with a bunch of goodlings."). I kind of like it as a verb though, as in "that department was running fine before it was goodlinged hardcore."

Eugene Volokh is generally against hate crime laws, but he's unconvinced by the "a murder is a murder" line of argument.

Even though it seems to have led to a reasonably good compromise, this story still makes me sad. I have to think that if I had been the customer at this store and this happened to me, I'd have been devastated and/or furious. And I honestly don't know how I'd respond (see also The Washington Post. Maybe its local-ness makes it hit closer to home).

The Congressional Black Caucus' partnership with Fox News always seemed like a weird match. Responding to a grassroots revolt against them by a group called Color of Change, the CBC tried tar them as "liberal activists". Which is weird, because a) obviously these Congresspeople's base consists of "liberal activists", b) most members of the CBC also probably would be considered "liberal activists", and c) why on earth should "liberal activist" be considered some sort of slur?

Paul Butler has an interesting post up on the education of poor students.

As more and more DOJ employees testify on Attorney-gate, the number of possible explanation for who created the infamous lists of attorneys to be fired is dwindling to immaculate conception.

Did John Edwards really say he's "not comfortable" around gays?

Matthew Yglesias is on fire:
But here's the thing: [Bernard] Lewis' views of Muslims are "quasi-racist" or whatever the appropriate term is for holding the sort of views about the members of a religious group that one would term "racist" were they held about a racial group. This is actually not inconsistent with the fact that Lewis is considerably more knowledgeable about the history of the Islamic world than I am, and my guess is that he knows more about this than Klein does as well. Colonial regimes in Africa were full of administrators who both new a bunch of stuff about Africa and also happened to be white supremacists -- both attributes were important job qualifications.

Meanwhile, Bush (and Podhoretz) aren't relying on Lewis to help them bone up before a Jeopardy appearance -- they're seeking expert support for their pre-existing commitment to the proposition that there's nothing wrong with U.S. policy toward the Muslim world that a little additional brutality couldn't fix.

You'd think that having a convicted robber as your predecessor in your post would make you look good by comparison. But you haven't met President Bush's Chief Domestic Policy Advisor, Karl Zinmeister.

And finally, I challenge you to be unhappy after reading about a gay Flamingo couple who just adopted a baby. Cuuuuute.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Boxing Blogging Part III

Tonight's fights were in Albuquerque, and in a rare happenstance the headline event was a woman's bout. Local favorite Holly Holm (17-1-2, 5 KOs) took on Chevelle Hallback (25-4-1, 11 KOs) in a bout that could set up a big fight between Holm and division champ Mary Jo Sanders.

But before that, we saw Clarence "Bones" Adams (42-6-4, 19 KOs) continue his comeback against a local of his own, David Martinez (17-2-1, 3 KOs). This fight was a relatively dry affair--Adams had far more experience and was able to use it to dominate the fight against Martinez, who, judging from his facial expression as the decisions were announced, seemed to think he had a shot at winning. Adams, who is only 32 but has a 15 year pro career, is looking to regain his position as an elite Lightweight. I'd say he still needs a few fights to work out the kinks (this is his second fight after a three year lay-off), but the potential is definitely there.

And Holm/Hallback? Holm won the fight handily (two cards of 100-90 and one 98-92, I had it 98-94). Hallback, who normally is an aggressive, come ahead fighter, was surprisingly tentative--all the more strange because Holm wasn't throwing her jab. As it was, Holm was able to use her superior reach and height to control the fight throughout.

And just as a general observation: The problem with women's boxing isn't any lack of talent, heart, desire, or even power among its participants. The problem is the ridiculous 2-minute round system. Why do they do that? Is it to protect the fighters? I'm sure they'd be the first to tell you, they don't need it. Hallback spars with top-ranked lightweight Nate "The Galaxxy Warrior" Campbell. She can handle herself. Two minutes just isn't enough to really develop the action. There were some good flurries in this fight, but at lot of good potential moments were sacrificed because the rounds were so short.

Friday we head to my home turf with the Peterson brothers (Anthony and Lamont) both fighting in Washington, D.C.. The brothers are a great story and even greater boxers, and I'm looking forward to seeing them again immensely.

Strip Tease

"Co-ed strips for her honors thesis, gets a B", shouts the CNN headline. No link to a story though, just a video pop-up (it's java, so I don't know how to permalink it). Stripping, of course, is too titilating not to do the whole video story. I had to dig quite a bit to find the actual story, which is here. That news station, by the way, filed it under "irresistible headlines."

The tenor of this story is obviously one of "crazy academics gone wild." Stripping? And she got a B? How dare they? Strippers should chastised for their sluttish ways, not encouraged in their sin with passing grades.

But honestly? Lay off. As her professor said, this is an important topic, and if someone is willing to do it, all power to them:
Her experience with customers and her fellow workers was guided and graded by professor Shireen Rajaram.

"I think it's a very worthwhile topic for us to look at," Rajaram said.

Rajaram applauded her student's courage. She said only through this kind of first-hand account can sociologists identify real issues and dispel stereotypes.

"I mean, it's a huge industry and so it's important for us as socio-anthropologists to shed light on the issues, especially the social injustices," Rajaram said.

Absolutely. Academic interest in this field is perfectly legitimate, and there is nothing qualitatively different her choosing this form of immersion study than anything else. I suspect that this thesis probably is significantly more likely to yield actual novel, useful insights than most undergraduate work, for the very reason that the topic is so stigmatized.

The Guest Worker Charade

So the Senate rejected an effort to strip the Guest Worker program from the immigration bill. Democrats tended to lean in favor of getting rid of the program, Republicans wanted to keep it.

Politically, the presence of the Guest Worker program appears to be a bit of a Catch-22. And I still lean in favor of passing the bill at large, if only because the status quo, miraculously, is even worse and I support anything that will get the millions of undocumented workers here on the citizenship track. But the really obnoxious thing about the Guest Worker program specifically is that it is a massive facade. Guest worker programs don't work. They never have, any place they've been tried. And why would they? When people move here and work for years, they understandably gain an affinity for America. All the more so when the alternative is grinding poverty in an unstable Latin American country. Why on earth should we be surprised that they're going to want to stay here rather than go home when their number is up? It's mind-boggling.

The only reason the guest worker program is in the bill is as a compromise so that Republicans can go home and not admit to letting millions of Latin Americans into the country with a chance to become citizens (gasp) and voters (shudder). From any objective standpoint (aside from pure partisanship--the GOP doesn't want tons of new minority voters entering the country, but it may not matter as they're on the verge of blowing the Latino vote for the next decade anyway), it is far better for everyone if immigrants can became stakeholders in the American dream. That requires the prospect of citizenship. It's better for American workers if immigrants can negotiate for wages and hours on a level playing field, something that indentured servitude Guest Worker programs almost definitely don't allow. And it's better for the entire country if we continue to move in a direction that celebrates diversity, immigration, drive, and ambition--the engines that have always and will continue to drive us forward to excellence.

The Guest Worker program will fail, because the same incentives which would drive someone to become a guest worker in America will also cut against them returning home when they're done. And since this program isn't exactly a historical anomaly, I have to assume every person voting in favor of it knows its going to fail. But what really aggravates me isn't that the law won't work, or that lawmakers are passing it knowing it won't work. No, what's really going to burst a blood vessel is when, in five or ten years, the same Republicans who demanded the inclusion of the provision use the utter failure of this bill as an example of why "amnesty" doesn't work or some other such non-sense. Crafting plans guaranteed not to succeed, then using them as examples for why the entire surrounding ideal is a bad idea, is a time-honored and repulsive tradition (Social Security privatization, anyone?). This is a train-wreck we can spot a mile away, and when the explosion comes don't let anybody let the GOP dodge its responsibility for the fall-out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cameron Crazies

Talk about a gaffe. The San Francisco Chronicle quoted anti-gay extremist Paul Cameron as a bona fide intellectual source--without even identifying who he really is. I cited referencing Cameron as one of my reasons for doubting the credibility of an academic anti-gay marriage article, and even though S.F. Chronicle shouldn't be held to the same standards as the University of Illinois Law Review, giving accurate background on Cameron shouldn't be that hard. Here's the quote from the article:
Focus on the Family's objection to same-sex parents is grounded in interpretation of biblical scripture and research by Paul Cameron, director of the Family Research Institute in Colorado. Cameron says gays and lesbians are unfit parents, are more likely to molest children of their same sex, switch partners frequently, have shorter life expectancies and cause their children embarrassment and social difficulties.

Sounds innocuous enough, no? But Cameron is not only discredited in the science community, he's a hateful bigot too.
He told the 1985 Conservative Political Action Committee conference that "extermination of homosexuals" might be needed in the next three to four years. He has advocated tattooing AIDS patients in the face, and banishment to a former leper colony for any patient who resisted. He has called for gay bars to be closed and gays to be registered with the government.

He was kicked out of the American Psychological Association, and his institute is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. There is really no redeeming factor to this guy.

The thing is, this is actually an important story. That a major Christian group like Focus on the Family is basing its claims about homosexuality on a man analogized by the SPLC to Nazis (and they would know--they spend most of their time tracking neo-nazi groups in the US) is something people should know. This is a data point that should be entering our discussions.

Since this is San Francisco,, hopefully there will be a reader response that might provoke a clarification. But, nonetheless, teaching moment: Focus on the Family and other major Christian organizations are deeply invested in using pseudo-scientific research to buttress their anti-gay agenda. In doing so, they align themselves with folks like Dr. Cameron, who believes homosexuals should be "exterminated." You can tell a lot about people from their friends.

Diet of Music Playlist

Some of my friends at Carleton are doing something neat. They're organizing a massive music swap. You make a mix CD, put it in the ringleaders mailbox, he (anonymously) redistributes them, and you get a bunch of new music. Then, after listening to your assigned CD, they reveal the author of the mix, and you meet up for a music-date.

I think it's a great idea. I don't know if my musical taste is any good, but here is what my partner will receive:

1) Same Direction – Hoobastank (The Reason): 3:15

2) Counting 5-4-3-2-1 – Thursday (A City By the Light Divided): 3:19

3) The New Transmission – Lostprophets (Liberation Transmission): 3:32

4) It’s So Simple – Saosin (Saosin): 2:48

5) Let Go Control – Saosin (Saosin): 2:58

6) The Artist in the Ambulance – Thrice (The Artist in the Ambulance): 3:39

7) Heaven’s a Lie – Lacuna Coil (Comalies): 4:46

8) Blow Me Away – Breaking Benjamin (Halo 2 Soundtrack, Vol. 1): 3:25

9) Vitamin R (Leading Us Along) – Chevelle (This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In)): 3:43

10) Feuer frei – Rammstein (Feuer frei – EP): 3:10

11) Evil Angel – Breaking Benjamin (Phobia): 3:40

12) Believer – Kill Hannah (Until There’s Nothing Left of Us): 3:46

13) Slipping Away – Trust Company (The Lonely Position of Neutral): 3:06

14) Famous Monsters – Saliva (Back Into Your System): 4:45

15) Genius – The Exies (Inertia): 3:49

Monday, May 21, 2007

Food and Loathing in Phoenix, Arizona

Following up on the Congressmen (Rep. Tim Ryan, D-OH, being the focus) trying to live on $21 dollars a week, to simulate the experience of living on food stamps, Hilzoy adds some excellent context to the discussion. Some folks had remarked that they had lived on similar amounts when they were in college or grad school. Duly noted. But there are still important differences beyond "pure" class that effect poor people in America and, say, the underfunded college student:
First, it makes an enormous difference that Rep. Ryan lives in DC, a city with decent public transportation. To experience the true joy of food stamps, one would need to go to, say, Phoenix. As one of the few people on earth ever to have actually tried to get around Phoenix on public transportation, it's pretty close to impossible: the number of lines is truly pathetic, they don't go to very many places, Phoenix blocks are enormous and walking to the (generally distant) bus station is a bitch, when I was there most of the busses ran around once an hour, making the experience of missing the bus incredibly frustrating, and to top it all off for most of the year taking the bus means walking and waiting in horrible, horrible heat.

Second, consider shopping by bus with children. Small children. The time I remember most clearly, I was shopping with someone who had four small kids. I honestly could not imagine how she managed on her own. (She had just left an abusive relationship, so help from the kids' father was not an option.) How do you carry the bags and hold your kids' hands? What do you do if one of them gets mischievous and runs off? Honestly: I have no clue what the answers to these questions were. I do remember thinking: Good Lord, she has to do this every time she wants to buy groceries?

This makes the absence of grocery stores in poor neighborhoods a much bigger deal. It's not just that heading out to the suburbs isn't an option (let alone taking advantage of the bulk purchasing possibilities of Sam's Club or CostCo, which absolutely require a car); it's that even a trip to the nearest grocery store can turn into something like the Odyssey. If the nearest grocery store requires a bus trip in a city with a lousy bus system and the nearest convenience store does not, it's not surprising that a mother with kids would opt for the latter sometimes. But if $21 is hard to live on when you shop at Safeway, it's a lot harder when you shop at 7/11.

If I was forced to live on $21 of food a week, it'd be really hard. But I'd have the advantage of being in walking distance of Econofoods, which would help immensely. Many people don't have that.

Hilzoy also remarks on a story about how the good Congressman lost his peanut butter and jelly--"4 or maybe 5 meals"--while going through TSA security, thus leaving him 33 cents and a bag of cornmeal for two days. Of course, most poor people aren't flying. But of course, as Hilzoy relates, "there are lots of ways for a jar of peanut butter to come to grief."
Your kid can eat it when you're not looking. Your grocery bag can break, leaving it shattered on the sidewalk. Similarly, the rats and roaches can get into your corn meal, or your wheat bread. There's just no end of catastrophes that might befall your $21 worth of food.

The point isn't to disparage Rep. Ryan's efforts. He's doing a public service here. But it's amazing how, even with the handicaps he placed on himself, he's still a mile away from simulating the actual, lived experience of uncountable poor Americans struggling with the basic problem of feeding themselves and their family.

Long Overdue

My plea for more forays into law and pop culture is answered, as Christine Corcos has begun the new Law and Magic Blog. Should be fun.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Whiteness Candidates and the Post-Racial America

In 1993, Cheryl I. Harris wrote a pathbreaking article in the Harvard Law Review entitled "Whiteness as Property." In it, she articulates how Whites view their Whiteness as a property interest, something they sought to keep "as unadulterated, exclusive, and rare." Whiteness has properties as well and these properties are not static. The meaning of Whiteness has changed as well as its contours. Though we tend to ascribe a permanence to racial categories, the people considered to be White have also evolved. Though the poles of "Black" (at the bottom) and Anglo-Saxon (at the top) have remained reasonably stable, aside from that there is significant latitude for groups to move up and down the racial ladder. For example, Arabs used to be considered White, but today probably would not be. Jews and the Irish, by contrast, were originally "not White" but today are reasonably well-entrenched as White.

Why do the members of Whiteness change? What benefits do Whites accrue by inviting other people into the group? By investigating how and why Whiteness selects its new racial recruits, we may be able to elucidate important properties of Whiteness, as well as gain clues to the future of race relations in America.

Before I proceed, I want to note two issues. First, throughout this post I treat Whiteness as having such anthropomorphic qualities such as "interests", "properties", and "desires". This is because I believe Whiteness as a social phenomenon has evolved beyond the control of any of its constituent parts--it is its own being, not under the control of anyone or thing. Obviously, it can be influenced, but by and large it represents a structuring property to American life that tends to guide us more than we guide it.

Second, my description of a particular group as "becoming" White is not meant to be derogatory (or a nod of approval) towards that group. Some theorists have implied that in pursuing Whiteness, a non-White group is "selling out" or turning its back on their peers who remain at the bottom of the racial hierarchy. For my part, I believe that given the massive perks and privileges available to those that become White, compared to the oppression and dehumanization (up to and including murder) of those who are left at the bottom, I can't critique groups that wish to escape from that fate. This is similar to my view of Jews who have hesitated in proclaiming a strong and unique independent identity in the wake of the Holocaust--it may be better if they did, but given that this path appears to lead right back to Auschwitz, it is quite understandable that many Jews would rather lay low and try to avoid provoking those who have killed them so many times. This is one of Whiteness' greatest weapons when offering incorporation to a minority group--the implicit alternative, of continued degradation and suppression. Ideally, I'd rather that people of color gain equality without having to "become White," just like ideally I'd like for Jews to be able to articulate independent Jewish perspectives without the fear of being slaughtered. But since Whites remain rather jealous of their privileged position, I believe there is a strong incentive for minority groups to take the offer of Whiteness. Similarly, the discussion of what makes a group a good "candidate" for Whiteness is not a statement as to these groups' worth--intrinsic or otherwise. It is deliberately quite calculated--I don't claim that the machinations of Whiteness are moral nor just.

I. The Interests of Whiteness

To begin with, I'll articulate three "interests" possessed by Whiteness. These are the goals that Whiteness seeks to pursue or maintain while drawing and redrawing its institutional and social boundaries and practices. Ideally, Whiteness tries to maintain itself in a manner that secures all three of these interests.

1) Whiteness seeks to remain exclusive.

This plays back into the image of Whiteness as a property. Whiteness is valuable insofar as it is rare--I have it and you don't. This is why Whiteness doesn't simply allow everyone to be White--that would dilute the value. And Whites have resorted to extreme measures to keep its "racial purity" intact. The infamous "one-drop" rules, by which anyone with even a sliver of non-White blood was considered to be of color, helped put up a firm wall against encroachment by racial outsiders, as well as discouraging inter-racial relationships. Because of the exclusivity principle, the decision by Whiteness to allow new members to its ranks is, I believe, a very serious one. It is not something Whiteness does except under duress. Because of that, I believe that the incorporation of new groups into the White category is a signal of weakness in Whiteness, and is a prime time for anti-racist activists to move and exploit that weakness.

2) Whiteness seeks to remain dominant.

For virtually all of American history, Whites have been the dominant racial group. They like it at the top. It gives them privileges. And so, Whiteness has an interest in maintaining those privileges. The desire to remain dominant both encourages and undermines the exclusivity principle. It encourages it because it mandates sharp divisions between what Whites receive as dividends of their Whiteness (thus maintaining the value of Whiteness) and what non-Whites receive that marks them as discrete and inferior. This is related to what W.E.B. Du Bois and later David Roediger called the "wages of Whiteness" argument. Whites of all social classes receive a psychological wage by virtue of being White. No matter how oppressed or downtrodden they are, they can always look back and know there are people beneath them. Incidentally, this is an example of how racial hierarchy can hurt Whites too--if working class Whites weren't focused on insuring that there was always a class beneath them and consequently reassuring themselves that their position isn't that bad, they'd be more likely to forge coalitions with their fellows and press for structural reforms that would provide them real, tangible benefits (yes, I'm aware this is heavily Marxist in tint).

However, the desire for dominance can also undermine the exclusionary principle. This is mostly a numbers game--as demographics shift, Whites find themselves in a position where they might no longer be in the majority. Some Whites have managed to maintain dominance as a minority anyway, at least for a little while (think South Africa). But America's democratic instincts make that an unappealing prospect. Better to shore up the ranks by bringing in some new members. For example, the influx of Southern and Eastern European immigrants (as well as Irishmen) at the turn of the 20th century severely threatened the dominance of Whiteness, as these locales were not considered to be "White." There are scores of writings, speeches, and warnings from the late 19th century arguing why these people were racially inferior to America's Anglo-Saxon stock. Nonetheless, faced with the prospect of being swamped and rendered a (non-dominant) minority, Whites simply changed the contours of the race, and voila! Poles, Greeks, Italians, Jews and the Irish were all White. But note that the gates were not flung open entirely--at the same time that non-Anglo-Saxon Europeans were beginning to gain their White stripes, a series of court cases emphatically declared that Asians were not, in fact, White, and could be excluded from the privileges Whiteness entailed. This is the line Whiteness walks--carefully allowing some new groups in, but likewise careful to maintain borders and boundaries to preserve the exclusivist property.

3) Whiteness seeks to be colorless.

This is a more recent development, and probably going to be controversial, but I think it's true. In its least controversial form, describing the Whiteness' desire to be colorless merely states that Whiteness seeks to be the norm, the center, the measuring stick by which all other groups are based off of. However, I believe it goes beyond that. I believe that in contemporary, post-Civil Rights revolution America, Whiteness seeks to assure itself that it is not a racist hierarchy. It wants to believe that it is not a system of racialized privilege. That doesn't mean that Whites wish to give up the privileges they gain from Whiteness. They just want to believe that they are "earned", meritocratic, legitimate, and theoretically open to everyone who is willing to work hard and play by the rules. They want the guilt-release of being able to blame those on the bottom for their plight. The Just World Theorem dictates that, rather than radically restructuring society to become truly egalitarian, Whites will try and convince themselves that the status quo is an accordance with their ideals of justice, equality, neutrality, etc.. This is probably the weakest of the three instincts--throughout history, Whiteness has been perfectly willing to jettison every liberal value in the book if necessary to maintain its dominant and exclusionary character. Even still, I believe that if possible, Whiteness will seek to negotiate its position in a manner that allows it to at least claim consistency with prevailing liberal, democratic values.

They colorless instinct of Whiteness is obviously in tension with the exclusionary principle, and partially with the dominance principle as well. So my query is: How will Whiteness evolve in the coming years to satisfy all three of its interests?

II. The Candidates for Whiteness

As you may have suspected, I believe that we are approaching a point where new groups will be incorporated as "White." There are two reasons why I think this. First, demographic trends are, once again, threatening Whites with minority status in the foreseeable future. Historically when faced with this prospect, Whites have responded by changing the boundaries of Whiteness so as to stave off the day, and I see no reason why they won't do it again. Second, the persistent presence of "model minorities", especially Asians, poses a severe threat to the dominance principle of Whiteness. It is not possible for Whites to indefinitely maintain their position at the top of the racial hierarchy when they are persistently being bested in academic achievement and test scores. Incorporating Asians into Whiteness would allow Whites to maintain their stance at the apex of American society, a prime interest of Whiteness.

So, what will Whites do? I believe there are two prime candidates for inclusion into Whiteness: Asians, and Latinos. Asians I think present a much stronger case (in fact, were it not for relatively small numbers in America I'd predict they'd be the only candidate), but both have their pros and cons.

1) Asians

a) Advantages

As articulated above, the "model minority" issue poses a legitimate threat to the dominance of Whiteness, one which I can't believe Whiteness does not wish to head off. Incorporation would solidify the White monopoly at the top of the social and academic sphere. It would also serve international interests by strengthening our ties with the growing East and South Asian powers (China, Japan, India, and the various tigers and dragons). The work of Derrick Bell and Mary Dudziak has shown that responding to international concerns can be a powerful motivator in domestic racial politics. Furthermore, my intuition is that there is relatively greater acceptance of Asian presence in the spheres normally reserved by Whites for Whites. Interracial relationships between Whites and Asians seem to raise fewer eyebrows than other racial pairings. The heavy enrollment of Asians at elite colleges and universities has both conditioned Whites to an Asian presence at the top circles, and forced Whites to accept Asians as, to some extent, peers. Finally, Whites have already sought to pull Asians into their political orbit and away from other people of color on several issues, most notably affirmative action. This seems like a first step towards inviting them to join the White club entirely.

b) Disadvantages

Numbers is the big one--there are not anywhere near as many Asians in America as there are Blacks or Latinos. Changes in immigration patterns could possibly fix that, but it's not guaranteed. Though it's a close call, my feeling is that the perception of Asians as a distinct and separate "race" is more deeply ingrained than it is for Latinos, which could make it psychologically more difficult to incorporate Asians into Whiteness. Finally, the growth of Asian powers--specifically China's emergent challenge to US hegemony--may allow Asian-Americans to resist the pressure to become White and maintain cultural independence.If this last scenario happens, it could cause a serious breakdown in the entire schema of White dominance. On the other hand, this potential prospect again might motivate Whiteness to try and strike before Asians can mount an independent challenge.

II. Latinos

a) Advantages

As I said, I think the primary argument for why Latinos will be incorporated into Whiteness is the numbers game. Latinos are America's largest minority group, so bringing them into Whiteness would remove the demographic threat for the foreseeable future. The immigration issue also could cut in the favor of Latinos--with the forthcoming amnesty, Americans will have to get used to the idea of millions more Latinos on the track to citizenship, and it might decide it is preferable to try and incorporate them (probably using our pre-existing positive immigration narrative from Ellis Island) rather than maintain the current hostile stance. Finally, Latinos can claim some historical link towards Whiteness (the connection to Spain), and are already classified as "White" in the census (in that I check my box as "non-Hispanic White"). So in that respect they've already got their foot in the door.

b) Disadvantages

The degree of hostility flowing towards Latinos dwarfs that directed towards Asians and is rising, not falling. In contrast to the "model minority" portrayal of Asians, Latinos face a bevy of mostly negative stereotypes (lazy, unproductive, dirty) that would seem to clash with the Whiteness' dominance principle. By this I don't mean to imply Asians don't have their own negative stereotypes, just that the ones for Latinos seem to be far more prevalent and controlling in the White public eye at this time. Right now, the language of political discourse has taken a definitive turn towards seeking to exclude Latinos from Whiteness (the exclusionary principle seems to be the operative one right now, in other words), we'd have to see that reversed for Latinos to stand any chance of becoming White.

III. Outcomes

My prediction is that Asians will be effectively incorporated into Whiteness in the near-to-medium future, and that Latinos will follow if the demographic threat doesn't dissipate. The advantages/disadvantages section hopefully explained why this move will occur to satisfy the first (exclusionary) and second (dominance) principles of Whiteness. However, what of the third (colorless) principle? That, I believe, will occur in the mechanics of the incorporation, and it strikes me as potentially a very revealing event.

As I argued above, a significant shift in the interests of Whiteness in recent years is that it wants to see itself as egalitarian, liberal, fair, and not reminiscent of the Jim Crow hierarchies of old. This is not just me being idealistic--Critical Race Theorists have observed that there appears to be a genuine sentiment among White folks that racism is something bad, and it is bad to be racist. Unlike years past, the battle against racism, as Mari Matsuda notes, "has legitimating force." Since the majority of Whiteness' existence has been predicated on racism being okay and the key signifier of White dominance, this change requires adaptation by Whiteness if it wishes to maintain its dominance and exclusion. This is what I mean by "post-racial" America. I do not mean that racism is or will become absent, and I reject whole-heartedly that we are "post-racist." However, the press by Whites to try and erase race-talk and race categories (California, for example, is barred by law from even collecting data categorized by race) is highly symbolic--it articulates the sentiment that race is something dirty, a scary remnant of our darker past that should be buried away. This is misguided (the problem of the color-line was not the presence of race, it was the presence of racism), but a very active sentiment. And so, paradoxically, the oppression we are and will continue to be seeing in the future will, increasingly, be racism without race.

The relative absence of (and to some extent, social disfavor against) speaking in racial categories, ironically, may allow Whiteness to de facto include Asians without ever explicitly saying "you're White now." It will instead express the feeling that they "might as well be White, they're so similar." It would erase the difference in character, but preserve the formal distinction. Why? Because by incorporating Asians this way, Whiteness could stake a claim to the third interest (colorless) as well. This would turn Asians into the racial equivalent of what Derrick Bell calls "contradiction closing cases," that show "the system is not so bad after all," that the deck is fair and that anyone can "make it" in America. If someone argued that America is dominated by Whites, Whites could point to Asians as a counter-example, thus "proving" the neutrality of the system (while at the same time ignoring that Asians have been made effectively White). This would change Whiteness from a unitary category to somewhat of an alliance, but I don't think it would effectively change the dynamics of Whiteness, as the property is evolving away from biological essentialism and into a system of preserving and structuring the distribution of privileges. This, I believe, will be able to account for nominally different groups being placed under the same banner of Whiteness--allowing us to claim diversity (and with it, all the liberal ideals of fairness and equal opportunity) without really redressing the groups that are not accorded the privileges of Whiteness.

IV. Afterthoughts

None of this is inevitable. First, I could be wrong about the progress of true racial egalitarianism. We might turn the corner; racial equality may be right on our doorstep. In that case, happily, none of these predictions will bear fruit. However, this post also operates from the perspective of Whiteness; it is my understanding of what I believe Whiteness "wants" to do. As I noted above, the candidates for Whiteness have strong incentives to cooperate with the White agenda. But that is not the same as being inevitable. As I expressed above, Asian-Americans may move into a position where they will be able to mount a challenge to White supremacy--something that would throw the whole strategy for a loop. That may be extreme, but there is more that can be done aside from outright revolution. Historically, as Frank Wu has argued, Whites have conditioned inclusion into Whiteness on acquiescing to the system of White supremacy. However, I noted my belief that Whites seek the incorporation of other groups when they feel threatened or weak. The candidates, therefore, are in a temporary position of relative strength, they can leverage their inclusion into Whiteness to secure concessions by Whites in favor of the non-Whites that are not be included. This sort of infiltration strikes me as one of the best opportunities to really gain some ground--it is the cousin of my own belief that (current) White people should use their privileged position (and the "credibility" that entails) to press for real racial reform. However, Whiteness candidates may be better suited towards making that maneuver, as they are more closely tied to the oppressed and may thus make better and more informed advocates.

The preceding post may feel a bit grim, because it operates within a paradigm that Whiteness will remain dominant, that it will continue to pursue and maintain its dominance, and then seeks to predict what will result from those principles. Obviously, I'd be thrilled if my baseline assumptions turned out to be untrue. But even if they are, there are chinks in the armor that can be exploited. If people of color and their allies prepare well, they may be able to catch Whiteness with its guard down. And that could yield a genuine opportunity to undermine the system of racial superiority that has plagued American history for so long.