The science of white fragility

According to Robin DiAngelo, a professor at Westfield State University, white fragility is: a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. David Brooks, a columnist for The New York … [Read more...]

How a subway step explains Ferguson

At Religion Dispatches, Andrew Aghapour has a great piece about the cognitive psychology behind our failures in blame. My favorite metaphor he highlighted (because those are important) is a subway stairwell that has one stair taller than the others, which person after person trips on. He links to the following video and writes: When the video was posted three years ago, it prompted this jewel of an observation by Metafilter user James Bording: “On its own, when you see one person slip, you aut … [Read more...]

What atheists still don’t get about racism and Islam

There's a fantastic post at Vox discussing the racial fall-out of recent controversies surrounding Ferguson and the SAE chant. It touches on a point I think many of us often miss, particularly in the atheist community. Jenée Desmond-Harris writes: Many people believe racism has to be spelled out or said out loud to be taken seriously or punishedRacist songs about lynching are shameful, and it's disheartening that people alive in 2015 think they're fun and appear to be thrilled with their un … [Read more...]

Elite degrees don’t protect black Americans from racism

The social sciences have been showing the depth of our racial prejudice for a while now, so I'm always surprised to see that some people find concepts like "white privilege" hard to acknowledge.A new study by S. Michael Gaddis, a sociology professor at the University of Michigan, goes even further to show how much harder black Americans have to work to get on the same level as white Americans. Black job candidates from even elite schools like Harvard or Duke only do as well as white … [Read more...]

Richard Dawkins still doesn’t really get the whole “race” thing

Happy new years from the NPS crew. I've had a lot going on (updates to come), but I couldn't resist a quick update in response to the latest Dawkins twitter scandal.https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/552542673748639744Let me try to pull a Daniel Dennett on this one:I take it the point of the tweet was to respond to a common criticism of new atheist writers---that they're Islamophobic and racist. Yet Muslims aren't a coherent racial identity and neither is Islam. To Dawkins, it … [Read more...]

“Serial” illustrates why prosecutors should not be allowed to invoke jurors’ prejudices

Like many others, I’ve religiously listened to Serial every Thursday for the past few  months. While I’m fascinated both by the story and the format, I do have some concerns about the journalistic ethics of the undertaking. For instance: do the advantages of highlighting problems within the criminal justice system warrant turning an actual murder case into audio entertainment?One underlying aspect of this case that has mostly been danced around, but has finally been made explicit, is the ques … [Read more...]

It will take more than body cameras to stop racism

When officer Darren Wilson wasn't indicted for the death of Mike Brown, the one thing well meaning white people always seemed to advocate for was the presence of mandatory body cameras on police officers. What mattered was the objective facts of the case, the logic goes, so we need objective evidence before we can conclude what happened. Only then can we hold police accountable and combat police brutality. It was celebrated when Obama asked for more than 200 million dollars to pay for additional … [Read more...]

Islam isn’t a race, and so what?

"It's gross, it's racist, it's nasty." This is how Ben Affleck recently described Bill Maher and Sam Harris's attitudes toward Islam on last weekend's Real Time with Bill Maher.We've argued a few times before that certain views on Islam can be bigoted, and in fact resemble many other forms of bigotry. What seems most controversial, though, is the suggestion that islamophobic views might be racist. When Richard Dawkins was accused of racism last year after the following comment on tw … [Read more...]

Islamophobia is a Racism

Here's a disturbing trend: with alarming frequency we are hearing stories of American people of color being murdered or assaulted for looking like Muslims. In a recent case, a Florida resident was shot repeatedly with a pellet gun outside of a Walmart. The victim, Cameron Mohammed, was actually armed with a real gun but chose not to fire. While his actions—or rather, inaction— could motivate an important conversation on forgiveness and ethical gun ownership, this event also characterizes a fun … [Read more...]

From the Archives: I’m Still Your Fag

Hey folks! Sorry this blog's been a bit barren this week -- I've got several very exciting projects in the works that have been keeping me extremely busy (not to mention I moved across the country this weekend). So, to hold you over until I'm able to return to full blogging form, I dug up this entry from my stint as a columnist for The New Gay. It's one of my favorites and I decided to share it because one comment I got from a reader here asked for more personal stories. Since I laud … [Read more...]