Category Archives: Race and race relations

Graph of the Day: Maternal Mortality

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, by way of The Virginia Mercury

by James A. Bacon

When writing about “systemic racism” in health care, journalists routinely cite the disparity in health outcomes between White and Black Women. Here in Virginia, the maternal death rate per 100,000 for Black women in 2018 was 37.3 — nearly twice the rate of 14.9 for White women. The disparity has grown even wider since then. That disparity often is presumed, without the need for further proof, to reflect racism.

But could there be other explanations? Virginia health officials will be working over the next two years to understand the disparity by digging into the details of individual cases to get a clearer idea of the factors that might have contributed to the deaths, reports the Virginia Mercury.

Among other factors the team will examine is “noncompliance with appointment.” Is it possible that women who died from pregnancy- or birth-related issues were more likely to have missed their prenatal medical appointments? Could some mothers, for instance, have had difficulty accessing transportation to the doctor’s office or been unable to break free from their jobs? (Or could they have just forgotten about their meetings or otherwise blown them off?)

I’ve never heard this mentioned as a possible factor before. Depending on the findings, the inquiry could change the complexion of the debate. Difficulty in finding transportation is a very different problem than, say, physician racial bias.

Continue reading

“Our Life Is Always Threatened”

Insult to dead White man inspires outcries against racism by campus radicals. Photo credit: Daily Progress

by James A. Bacon

Last week an unidentified White man draped a noose from the statue of Homer at the University of Virginia. Without any evidence of the perpetrator’s motive, University Police and President Jim Ryan promptly proclaimed the incident a hate crime. Yesterday, a group of 60 or so students gathered near the statue of the ancient Greek poet to protest racism and White supremacy and The Daily Progress, Charlottesville’s newspaper, was there!

In the resulting 19-paragraph story, the newspaper gave full voice to the protesters’ rhetoric without a single dissenting view.

“For Black men and Black women here on this campus and in this country, our life is always threatened. There’s always a noose around our neck,” said one Black UVa student organizer. “This is nothing new for us. I was hurting, especially when it first happened.”  Continue reading

Remember When News Outlets Engaged in Fact-Checking?

by Kerry Dougherty

Dang it. The BYU women’s volleyball story had everything the corporate media salivates over:

A conservative Christian school and an alleged racial slur against an African-American female athlete.

Pity that like so many other stories that feed the narrative that America is just a nanosecond away from Jim Crow and that conservative Christians pose the worst sort of domestic threat, this story didn’t stand up to rigorous fact-checking.

Sadly, fact-checking has gone the way of typewriters and copy editors at most news outlets. Young, woke, inexperienced reporters sniff around social media looking for stories that fit their agenda and their bosses print or broadcast whatever they produce, often based on a single source.

The left-wing media saw an irate Tweet from the godmother of the alleged volleyball victim and went to town, shaming Brigham Young University and its racist student section, who reportedly heckled an African American standout on Duke University’s women’s volleyball team during a match against BYU in Provo on August 26.

Here’s a sampling of what passes for journalism in America right now: Continue reading

Can We Learn from the Lexington Outlier?

We can learn a lot from outliers. They draw attention to variables and correlations we may not have considered before. In researching the previous post, I came across this anomaly: in the City of Lexington, economically disadvantaged Blacks passed their Standards of Learning reading tests at a higher rate (83.3%) than Blacks who were not economically disadvantaged (69.2%).

This makes no sense. The conventional wisdom says that affluent students enjoy a huge educational edge over disadvantaged students. What’s going on? Continue reading

Where Black Students Outperform Whites

In this table a negative gap indicates that disadvantaged Black students passed their English reading SOL tests at a higher rate than their White counterparts. Among Virginia’s 132 school districts, there were five such counties.

by James A. Bacon

A major concern arising from the latest Standards of Learning (SOL) data is the fact that the racial divide between Asians and Whites on the one hand and Blacks and Hispanics on the other has gotten wider over the past three years. This disturbing trend has occurred despite unprecedented efforts to reverse the achievement gap.

Liberals, conservatives and woke progressives all want to close that gap. Before effective action can be taken, however, it behooves us to understand the underlying causes — not only why a gap exists in the first place, but why it got worse despite such extensive measures to reverse it. How decisive was the COVID-driven shift to remote learning? Was systemic racism to blame? Conversely, have so-called “anti-racist” policies made things worse? Does the quality of local school management make a difference? What role does the prevalence of poverty, family structure and cultural values play?

As I observed in a recent post, the size of the racial achievement gap varies greatly between Virginia’s 132 school districts — from devastating 30- to 40-point gaps in cities like Richmond and Charlottesville to a handful of districts where Black students out-performed Whites when measured by the SOL reading pass rates.

Instead of dwelling on the disaster zones, which are well known and widely reported, perhaps we should look at success stories where gaps are minimal — indeed, where Black students pass at higher rates than Whites. Continue reading

Why the Enrollment Decline at VMI? Look to White Males for an Explanation.

This photo, taken in 1997, shows a female VMI Rat, Megan Smith, undergoing a grilling by upper class cadets during Hell Week. The Washington Post republished the photo last week to mark the 25th anniversary of women entering VMI, effectively reinforcing the image of VMI as a sexist institution. Remarkably, when staff writer Ian Shapira tracked her down in southern France, where she now works as an attorney, Smith (now Megan Portavoce) said the photo was taken out of context. “I looked liked … I was scared. But I didn’t feel scared,” she said. “I think the photo is often taken out of context. It’s used as proof of harassment towards women. But it was equal opportunity harassment that day.” Male freshmen were verbally abused, too, she said. “Everyone gets yelled at. They just find something to needle you with, to get under your skin. It’s part of the system of testing everyone.”

by James A. Bacon

When the Virginia Military Institute re-opened for its fall semester Monday with its usual parade-ground pageantry, it counted only 375 cadets in the 1st-year class. That’s down 24% from 494 the previous year.

“We believe there are a number of contributing factors,” says VMI spokesman Bill Wyatt. “Schools throughout the commonwealth and the nation are dealing with similar declines.” Nationally, there are 1.3 million fewer first-time college students this year than last, so VMI is competing for a smaller number of applicants. Moreover, the COVID pandemic depressed attendance at VMI’s open house program, he says. Personal tours are critical for showcasing the military academy’s unique value proposition.

But others offer different explanations. A large alumni contingent has been unhappy with developments at VMI since The Washington Post and former Governor Ralph Northam painted the academy as a relentlessly racist and sexist institution. They point to the wave of negative publicity generated by a Northam-ordered investigation into racism and sexism that was amplified by the media. These alumni also charge that the infiltration of leftist ideology at VMI is turning off families who still respect its core traditions of honor, character and patriotism.

“If the public believes VMI is racist and sexist, not to mention now woke,” says Carmen Villani, a vocal critic, “who wants to send their sons or daughters there?” (See his column accompanying this one.)

In seeming fulfillment of the alumni critique, the Post last week published a retrospective upon the occasion of the 25th anniversary of women first admitted to VMI. It led with a photo of a slight 1st-year woman, Megan Smith, being shouted at by hulking, grimacing, blood vessel-popping males. The headline to last week’s story: “VMI’s male cadets were berating her. The 1997 Hell Week photo went viral.”

An honest accounting of VMI’s plummeting 1st-year enrollment would acknowledge that both VMI and its critics have valid points. Continue reading

Free Speech Discredited Racism Better Than Cancel Culture Ever Could

Photo credit: Cavalier Daily

by James A. Bacon

The attacks on Bert Ellis, newly appointed member of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors, continue without letup. The Cavalier Daily, the UVa student newspaper, has published an article resurrecting an event from the 1974-75 academic year in which Ellis, who led the University Union at the time, invited IQ theorist and eugenicist William Shockley to speak at the university.

The article follows a call by Student Council for Ellis’ resignation from the Board of Visitors for the offense in 2020 of thinking about using a razor blade to remove the infamous “F— UVA” sign from the door of a room on the Lawn.

The CD piece does not call Ellis a racist outright, but it invites readers to draw such a conclusion by recounting how he was instrumental in bringing a prominent racist to the university despite the vehement opposition of some African-American students.

What the CD article overlooks is that Shockley, who won the Nobel Prize for his contributions to the invention of the transistor, was giving numerous speeches and garnering widespread media attention at the time for his view that Blacks are genetically inferior to Whites. It also neglected to report that the Student Union also recruited Richard Goldsby, an African-American biologist who argued that race is a social construct, to debate Shockley.

“We wanted the issues thrashed out,” says Ellis. “It was a true debate that was a sold out event. Richard Goldsby took him to task.” Continue reading

Systemic Racism Lives

Nathan Connolly and Shani Mott in front of their Baltimore home Photo credit: New York Times

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

For those folks on this blog who keep denying that systemic racism either ever existed or is still a factor in today’s society, I offer an incident reported in today’s New York Times as evidence that systemic racism is still alive and operating to discriminate against Blacks.

Last summer, a Black couple in Baltimore, Nathan Connolly and Shani Mott, decided to take advantage of low mortgage rates and refinance their home. They found a lender willing to lend them the money. However, the appraisal for the house came in at $472,000, only $22,000 more than what they had paid for the house five years ago. Keep in mind that home values had been escalating significantly over the past few years.

Dr. Connolly, who is a history professor at Johns Hopkins University, and whose special area of research has been the role of race in the housing market, thought he knew why the appraisal came in much lower that they had anticipated. Continue reading

Race As a Political Construct

by James A. Bacon

Race is a social construct, as the Wokesters endlessly remind us. It’s one of the few observations from the left that I mostly agree with… or, at least, I did agree with until reading, Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America, by George Mason University law school professor David E. Bernstein.

Now I’m more inclined to say that in the United States race is a political construct.

According to the U.S. Census, here’s the breakdown of Virginia’s 2020 population by race:

  • White (non-Hispanic): 60.3%
  • Black (non-Hispanic): 18.6%
  • Asian: 7.1%
  • Two or more races: 8.2%
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native: 0.5%
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0.1%
  • Some other race alone: 5.2%
  • Hispanic/Latino origin: 10.5%. (When categorized by race, Hispanic individuals generally are designated either White or Black.)

What does it mean to be “White”? What does it mean to be Black or African American? Or Asian? Or Hispanic? Who defines these racial/ethnic classifications anyway, and who decides how to classify individuals when disagreements arise?

Unelected federal bureaucrats and unelected judges make the decisions based upon a combination of evolving ideology, case law, and political pressure from racial/ethnic advocacy groups. The resulting classification system influences the allocation of billions of government dollars, and in so doing reinforces racial/ethnic constructs of how Americans think of themselves. Continue reading

Sorry, Can You Please Explain Again How Systemic Racism in Healthcare Works?

by James A. Bacon

The U.S. healthcare system, we hear with increasing frequency, is systemically racist. Here in Virginia, for instance, we hear that Black women suffer a higher rate of complications in childbirth than White women. But any theory of systemic racism in healthcare needs to explain certain inconvenient facts that I stumbled across recently when reviewing the Kaiser Family Foundation “Virginia Health Care Landscape.”

Perhaps the most meaningful statistic on healthcare status is longevity. The Kaiser numbers floored me. Hispanics — people of color who are widely thought to suffer from less access to healthcare — have the longest life expectancy of any racial/ethnic group in Virginia: 88 years. They are followed by Asians, who live on average 87 years. Whites live 79 years on average, and Blacks 75 years. If the system is racist, why do Asians and Hispanics live so much longer than Whites?

Why aren’t Asians or Hispanics the racial/ethnic yardstick for health rather than Whites? Why is the small, 4-percentage-point disparity between Blacks and Whites played up while the large, 13-percentage-point disparity between Hispanics and Blacks is ignored? Continue reading

Windsor Traffic Cops Broke No State Laws

Joe Gutierrez

by James A. Bacon

Town of Windsor police officers won’t face state criminal charges for pepper-spraying a Black Army lieutenant during a traffic stop, but they aren’t off the hook yet. Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell, named as special prosecutor in the Isle of Wight case, has asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office to open a civil rights investigation.

Joe Gutierrez (no longer on the force) and Daniel Crocker pulled over 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario on U.S. Route 460 at night on suspicion of driving without a license plate. Nazario had a temporary New York plate in the rear window but the officers said they didn’t see it. Nazario drove a mile before finally pulling over in a BP gas station. When ordered repeatedly to get out of the car, Nazario refused. Gutierrez pepper-sprayed Nazario and then forced him to the ground. Much of the encounter was caught on police cameras.

Bell, an African-American, conducted what he described as an “exhaustive review” of Virginia state law, according to The Smithfield Times. “The traffic stop alone was not a violation of law,” he wrote. Gutierrez’s use of force “did not violate state law as he had given multiple commands for Nazario to exit the vehicle.” Continue reading

Audit Skewers Arlington’s Virtual Learning Fiasco

Photo Credit: Thomas Park on Unsplash by way of the Sun Gazette.

by James A. Bacon

An internal audit of Arlington Public Schools’ calamitous virtual-learning program during the 2021-22 school year cut school leaders no slack.

“There was insufficient or minimal ownership, leadership . . . stakeholder input, planning, risk assessment, pilot study and progress reports,” John Mickevice told School Board members, as reported by the Sun Gazette. Among the key findings:

  • The school system “lacked a formal project plan” to implement the program;
  • Those leading the program provided “no timely feedback” to upper-level school leaders when things began to go south;
  • There was not sufficient time given for staffing the program and training that staff.

Continue reading

Blacks Don’t Always Think the Way White Cultural Elites Think They Do

by James A. Bacon

Governor Glenn Youngkin’s popularity in Virginia was the top-line story from a new Virginia Commonwealth University poll. The survey, published yesterday, found that 49% of Virginians polled approve of his job as governor compared to 38% who disapprove. It’s not surprising to see his popularity holding up so well. Virginians tend to be favorably disposed toward governors not caught up in scandal, and Youngkin is no exception.

The more interesting data from the poll was buried in the VCU press release. Two points stand out: attitudes of Blacks toward taxes, and attitudes of Whites toward Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Leaving the plantation on taxes. Youngkin’s tax cut on gas is more popular among African-Americans than the electorate as a whole. The three-month elimination of the motor vehicles fuel tax garnered a 58% approval rating from all Virginians but 76% from Blacks. (Elimination of the state portion of the grocery tax was broadly popular across the partisan divide, with seven out of ten Virginians in favor. VCU did not break out the results for Blacks on that question.) Continue reading

Debunking Another Junk Study from the Left

Source: The Prison Policy Initiative

by James A. Bacon

The Prison Policy Initiative, a group dedicated to exposing “the broader harm of mass criminalization,” has published data detailing the incarceration rate of communities across Virginia. Among Virginia’s 95 counties and 38 cities, 26 are missing at least 1% of their population to incarceration, finds “The geography of mass incarceration in Virginia.

Among the more notable findings: while the cities of Norfolk and Richmond send the largest numbers of people to prison, less populous localities — Martinsville, Petersburg, Franklin, Buchanan, Lee, Dickenson and Brunswick — are missing a larger share of their populations. Moreover, within localities incarceration rates differ widely by neighborhood.

The data is interesting and potentially useful, but the analysis that accompanies it is atrocious. If the numbers prove anything, it’s that “mass incarceration” knows no racial boundaries. The poverty-ridden Appalachian counties of Lee, Buchanan and Dickenson are overwhelmingly White. But the authors slight that obvious fact in favor of linking incarceration with “systemic racism.”

This passage is typical: “Decades of systematic oppression and divestment from these poorer communities of color — which we know are overpoliced — have left these historically redlined communities particularly vulnerable to Virginia’s modern-day reliance on mass incarceration.”

Where do I begin? Continue reading

Crime, Asians, and “Whiteness”

Source: Crime in Virginia 2021

by James A. Bacon

In his classic treatise on race in America, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Thomas Sowell advanced the argument that African-Americans inherited a cultural propensity to violence from the rural Southern, White-dominated culture in which they were immersed. When Blacks migrated to northern cities to escape Jim Crow and pursue jobs in the booming manufacturing centers, they brought that undesirable proclivity with them. So did the hillbillies of Appalachia, says Sowell. Locals looked down upon both groups with scorn and prejudice.

Southern Whites and African-Americans, traditionally at odds with one another, are far more alike than they commonly recognize. I am reminded of this every time I watch football, an enjoyable but indisputably violent sport, on television. I see a lot of Black football players and a lot of White football players. I rarely see a single Hispanic or Asian on the field, even though those two groups now comprise a quarter of the U.S. population.

Sadly, we can see this cultural brothers-by-a-different-mother phenomenon in the Virginia crime statistics. Yes, as many observers point out, Blacks commit a disproportionate number of homicides and aggravated assaults. But criminal behavior is rampant in Virginia’s White population, too. Though drowned out in all the discussion of systemic racism and White privilege, there is a large White underclass in Virginia in which broken families, substance abuse, and criminal behavior are widespread. Whites commit a majority of violent crimes in Virginia. Continue reading