The article came from an opinion piece in the New York Times, I would have liked to provide a simpler link. But, it was not possible. I think that this article below written by Mr. Janelle Bouie is both spot on and timeless, and explains my attitude in regard to this issue and countless others. The Surgeon General, a Jerome Adams, when asked about startling disparities in infection and death rates among Blacks, could only say to the African American community, " avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs". A perfect Trump style answer by a Trump appointed stooge, a black man in blackface. How that would look in the real world, I would not hazard to guess. But, I believed the actual answer was a bit more complex.
Here is Mr. Bouie's article:
We know that Covid-19 is killing African-Americans at greater rates than any other group. You can see this most clearly in the South. In Louisiana, blacks account for 70 percent of the deaths but 33 percent of the population. In Alabama, they account for 44 percent of the deaths and 26 percent of the population. South Carolina and Georgia have yet to release information on death disparities, but in both states blacks are more likely to be infected than whites. The pattern exists in the North as well, where African-American populations in cities like Chicago and Milwaukee have high infection and death rates.
Federal officials have tied these disparities to individual behavior — the surgeon general of the United States, Jerome Adams, who is African-American, urged blacks and other communities of color to “avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs” as if this was a particular problem for those groups. In truth, black susceptibility to infection and death in the coronavirus pandemic has everything to do with the racial character of inequality in the United States.
To give just a few, relevant examples, black Americans are more likely to work in service sector jobs, least likely to own a car and least likely to own their homes. They are therefore more likely to be in close contact with other people, from the ways they travel to the kinds of work they do to the conditions in which they live.
Today’s disparities of health flow directly from yesterday’s disparities of wealth and opportunity. That African-Americans are overrepresented in service-sector jobs reflects a history of racially segmented labor markets that kept them at the bottom of the economic ladder; that they are less likely to own their own homes reflects a history of stark housing discrimination, government-sanctioned and government-sponsored. If black Americans are more likely to suffer the comorbidities that make coronavirus more deadly, it’s because those ailments are tied to the segregation and concentrated poverty that still mark their communities.
What’s important to understand is that this racialized inequality isn’t a mistake — it isn’t a flaw in the system. It reflects something in the character of American capitalism itself, a deep logic that produces the same outcomes, again and again.
American capitalism did not emerge ex nihilo into the world. It grew out of existing social, political and economic arrangements, toppling some and incorporating others as it took shape in the second half of the 19th century.
White supremacy was one of those arrangements. The Civil War may have destroyed slave society, but the racial hierarchy that was central to that society survived the carnage and disruption of the conflict to shape the aftermath, especially in the absence of a sustained program to radically restructure the social and economic life of the South.
For the most part, before the war, blackness marked one as a slave. Afterward, it marked one as the lowest of laborers, relegated to sharecropping and domestic work, excluded from the mounting ranks of industrial labor. “With the coming of industry and the factory system, the social code which made manual labor a degrading factor was no longer of binding force,” the historian Charles H. Wesley wrote in his 1927 book “Negro Labor in the United States, 1850-1925.” “Work in the factories was honorable and it was to be considered the particular task of white workers."
Which is to say that, as it developed in the United States, industrial capitalism retained a caste system with whites as the dominant social group. This wasn’t just a matter of prejudice. As it did under slavery, race under industrial capitalism structured one’s relationship to both production and personhood. Whiteness, the philosopher Charles W. Mills notes, underwrote “the division of labor and the allocation of resources, with correspondingly enhanced socioeconomic life chances for one’s white self and one’s white children.”
It’s not that life was particularly good for white workers, but that blacks faced additional challenges, from the denial of formal political rights to social exclusion and widespread, state-sanctioned violence. If they lived in cities, blacks were relegated to the least sanitary neighborhoods with the most substandard housing; if they had a skill or knew a craft, they were excluded from the guilds and unions that would have given them a path to employment; if they possessed a formal education, they were barred from most middle-class professions.
The overrepresentation of blacks in institutions like the Postal Service is a direct legacy of this exclusion. Postal work was, historically, one of the few stable jobs available to blacks. “For years the post office had commonly been considered a ‘safe’ job for blacks because of exclusion by both white capital and white labor in the private sector,” the historian Philip F. Rubio explains in “There’s Always Work at the Post Office: African-American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice, and Equality.”
By the time we reach the New Deal era, the racial differentiation of capitalist inequality — divided labor markets, wide racial disparities in employment, income and education — was part of the pattern of American life, even in the midst of the Depression. And as policymakers in Washington worked to address the crisis, they built on that foundation and deepened those disparities, sometimes by accident, but often — because of direct pressure from the white South and its lawmakers — by design.
“By not including the occupations in which African- Americans worked, and by organizing racist patterns of administration, New Deal policies for Social Security, social welfare, and labor market programs restricted black prospects while providing positive economic reinforcement for the great majority of white citizens,” the historian Ira Katznelson writes in “When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America.”
Building on existing discrimination, federal policymakers further segregated Northern cities and created new geographies of disadvantage that separated black Americans from jobs and opportunity in the postwar boom. At the same time, policies like state-subsidized education, low-interest home loans and the interstate highway system helped turn a working class of ethnic Europeans into a middle class of whites.
Of course, my quick account of the history of racial inequality in America flattens a great deal of nuance. The mass of white workers may have been attached to what W.E.B. Du Bois called a “psychological wage” of racial entitlement, but it’s also true that racially divided labor suited the owners of capital, who took advantage of racism when it suited their interests. Despite this, the last decade of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th saw moments of interracial labor militancy and agrarian rebellion — glimpses of a different, more equal pathway for American life.
Aspects of the New Deal may have entrenched racial inequality, but African-Americans still made real economic and social gains under Franklin Roosevelt. That’s why, on the eve of the 1940 Democratic presidential convention, one black newspaper concluded that “Negroes have been given fairer and more impartial treatment by governmental agencies in recent years than ever before in the history of the Republic.”
There’s more: By midcentury the institutions of the labor movement had taken up the fight against Jim Crow racism, and in the wake of the civil rights movement, a black middle class did begin to take shape.
But if you look at the full picture of American society, it is clear that the structural position of black Americans isn’t so different from what it was at the advent of the industrial age. Race still shapes personhood; it still marks the boundaries of who belongs and who doesn’t; of which groups face the brunt of capitalist inequality (in all its forms) and which get some respite.
Race, in other words, still answers the question of “who.” Who will live in crowded, segregated neighborhoods? Who will be exposed to lead-poisoned pipes and toxic waste? Who will live with polluted air and suffer disproportionately from maladies like asthma and heart disease? And when disease comes, who will be the first to succumb in large numbers?
If there was anything you could predict about this pandemic — anything you could be certain about once it reached America’s shores — it was that some communities would weather the storm while others would sink under the waves, and that the distribution of this suffering would have everything to do with patterns inscribed by the past.
As long as those patterns remain, there is no path to a better society. We have to break them, before they break us.
So, there it is in a nutshell, it is a discussion of inequity laid bare, something the conservative, rightwingers and even many white liberals just as soon not talk about. I find the explanation provided here as a reasonable one explaining these stark disparity outcomes resulting from the pandemic. But it is clear and quite evident to me, anyway. This idea of a merit based society is often times as much BS as it is considered fact.
Lots of truth to take in there, Credence. "As long as those patterns remain, there is no path to a better society. We have to break them, before they break us" is as good a closing line as I could imagine to that article. Concise and poignant.
I also think about the victims of systematic racism and the prison industrial complex during this pandemic. Once again, minorities will disproportionately suffer:
https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-des … ks-prisons
Thank you, Eastward, my advocacy for candidates like Warren and Sanders as interested to getting to the root of a form of structural inequity within this culture that will always make sure that the same groups always get the short end of the stick.
As you say, the depth and breath of the problem have no bounds and I continue to be of the impression that people really do not want to change the status quo and as long as they are not affected, why bother.
Thanks for the link......
You're most welcome, Credence. Thanks for the OP. I really hoped to see a progressive in the Oval Office this time around, but it looks like we'll have to wait on the presidency and focus on other avenues of change for the time being. If Biden wants to have any chance at beating Trump, he'd be wise to lend his ear to Sanders, Warren, and other backers of substantive policy.
Sadly, I agree that too many people don't want the status quo to change because they benefit from it. Their worldview doesn't extend as far as concern for the plight of others.
In the words of Martin Niemoller:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me
We speak of "social distancing" today. In reality it is physical distancing.
Social distancing has been ongoing for decades, centuries in the US.
The pandemic now only uncovers the trenches in society. Your discussion opener is totally spot on.
I would add, that the trenches are not only expressed in colour, but more so in social status. I read that 40% of Americans have no savings at all, depend on food banks. Poverty level is very high.
Poverty leads to bad health condition. Bad health condition leads to high fatality. Corona is not the equalizer.
https://www.peoplespolicyproject.org/20 … l-welfare/
This is not necessarily limited to the USA. Im Russia oligarchs simply set up their private hospitals and buy private ventilators in Corona times.
Thanks for your reply, Chris.
Thanks for the article.
The problem with America and the point I make is that low social status and poverty are inextricable linked to race in a manner that is unfair and unjust.
Apparently poverty has a colour in the US. However i did not anticipate this to apply mostly to afroamericans. I thought it were the hispanics in the first place.
And, by the way: being rich is also a matter of race? .. Asians..?
Yes, poverty has a color in the US. Several, in fact - white, black, yellow, red, brown and every shade in between all of them.
Is it not that way everywhere?
Poverty is no respecter of color. Poverty is not solely socioeconomic. it is a mindset & outlook. While there are poor people who need assistance such as the elderly, those who are challenged mentally, physically, psychologically, & emotionally, & those who have fallen on TEMPORARY hard time, there are those who are able-bodied who REFUSE to better themselves socioeconomically & educationally. The latter want the good life but refuse to assert any effort to do so. They whine, expecting the government to consistently bail them out. They are envious of others who are better off socioeconomically & educationally.
You see Chris, the American poor, for the most part, aren't angels. Many American poor are entitled. They want freebies & handouts. They believe that everyone should feel sorry for them. I feel that the American poor are that way because of unintelligent choices. I stand by my statement. Many Americans are poor because they ELECT to be so. If they didn't like to be poor, the WOULDN'T be poor. I know that there is racism but there are Blacks who use racism as an excuse not to do better(yes, I am a Black woman). I am just sick of the whiny excuses.
"Apparently poverty has a colour in the US. However i did not anticipate this to apply mostly to afroamericans. I thought it were the hispanics in the first place."
It does, every national statistic you care to look upon will confirm that.
If you look at the statistics, it will show where the money and we all know where the vast is concentrated. Yes, Asians, not all Asaians, but many have done well. I will come back to this with more research as to difference in experience of the Asian group verses every other non-white minority to fairly address your question in line with what is being discussed.
Here is my take on the difference between Experience as minorities in America and that of Blacks and others, for what it is worth.
https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch … and-blacks
My reply, if you wish to entertain it, comes in the form of an article:
When I was ten, my mother made me read Roots cover to cover, and she’d coax me to curl up beside her to watch old newsreels of black civil rights protesters being hosed, beaten, and dragged off to prison. We watched Norman Lear sitcoms, so I’d learn from Archie Bunker and crew what blacks had faced in the past. Later, she made sure I read accounts of black America before the civil rights movement. I learned of black lawyers working as office clerks, black classical musicians stuck orchestrating cheap stage revues, brilliant black professors trapped in threadbare segregated colleges; I read of the Scottsboro Boys, Emmett Till, and the assassination of Martin Luther King.
Such things filled me with horror—but then with relief, even triumph. After all, wasn’t the point of All in the Family that Archie was powerless in the face of his daughter and son-in-law’s racially progressive positions? Didn’t his black neighbors have the moral upper hand—and wasn’t it they, not Archie, who got to move to the Upper East Side? By my twenties, in the 1990s, I felt grateful and excited to live in times of bracing progress for my race.
Yet during the decade I came to realize that this feeling made me odd man out among most black Americans. In every race-related debate—whether over Rodney King, O. J. Simpson, the Million Man March, Ebonics, or affirmative action—almost every black person I knew, many with backgrounds as comfortable as my own, started from the fierce conviction that, decades after the Civil Rights Act, whitey’s foot remains pressed upon all black Americans’ necks. For most black Americans, the rapid increase of the black middle class, of interracial relationships and marriages, and of blacks in prestigious positions has no bearing on the real state of black America. Further, they believe, whites’ inability to grasp the unmistakable reality of oppression is itself proof of racism, while blacks who question that reality are self-deluded.
Doubtless some black leaders mouth the ideology of victimhood for political advantage: “Confrontation works,” as Al Sharpton has calculatingly observed. But most rank-and-file exponents of the “racism forever” worldview really mean it. Their conviction rests on seven articles of faith, carefully passed from person to person at all levels of the black community. These beliefs, rather than what remains of racism itself, are the biggest obstacle to further black progress in today’s America. And all are either outright myths or severe distortions of truth.
One: Most black people are poor (and middle-class blacks are statistical noise). Almost half of the blacks surveyed in a Gallup poll supposed that three out of four black people live in inner cities. Yet in 2001 most black people are neither poor nor even close to it: by any estimation, middle-class blacks outnumber poor ones. And at last count, only one in five blacks lived in the inner city.
Two: Black people earn 61 percent of what whites do. Though accurate as a nationwide median in 1995, this figure is dragged down by the disproportionate number of single black welfare mothers. Black two-parent families earned 87 percent of what white two-parent families earned in 1995. Also distorting the median is the disproportionate number of blacks who live in the South, where wages are lower overall. If you look only at specific areas rather than at the nation as a whole, black household earnings in 1994 exceeded whites’ in 130 cities and counties across the nation.
Three: An epidemic of racist church burnings has swept across the South. There was never any such thing: about 80 black churches were burned from 1990 to 1996—but then over seven times that many white churches burned as well.
Four: The CIA created the inner cities by pumping drugs into them. This one pops up in pamphlet after pamphlet at leftist marches and gatherings; it is taught to many black college students. But the San Jose Mercury’s charges on this score proved false. Yes, some CIA agents aiding the Nicaraguan contras decided to look the other way and allow them to profit from some drug sales to California, but that’s hardly a plot to addict blacks in all of America’s inner cities.
Five: Because black men are disproportionately incarcerated, racism reigns eternal. This belief assumes that blacks do not commit crimes any more frequently than whites. But if black men make up almost 50 percent of the prison population, they committed roughly 42 percent of violent crimes in the 1990s, and many studies have shown that, when severity of crime and past record are taken into account, there is no bias against blacks in the criminal justice system. At its inception, the War on Drugs, often interpreted as a “War on Blacks,” had the strong support of the Congressional Black Caucus, whose members aimed to stem inner-city violence. If these black officials, who at the time exhorted Congress to “save our communities,” were racists, then the definition of this term is beyond my comprehension.
Six: Racial profiling is racism. It can be—but just as often isn’t. In some parts of the country, black men are so overrepresented in criminal activities that police officers, white and black, would be shirking their duty not to concentrate on them. Sure, sometimes profiling ends up detaining more blacks than their rate of conviction for the targeted crime justifies, as with drivers recently stopped and searched for drugs in New Jersey. But even here, officers generally have acted less out of race hatred than out of a pragmatic assessment that they can fill their quotas faster by focusing on a group that commits a disproportionate share of crime. Inappropriate, yes—and widely condemned as such: indication Number 674 that racism is on the wane.
I have always suspected that today’s profiling-must-stop contingent secretly believes that whites deserve black crime as retribution for oppression. But to halt all profiling would increase the number of blacks murdered, mostly by other blacks. And black leaders would cite this rise as further evidence of racism, as happened in New York in the 1980s, when cops turned a blind eye to a wave of black crime. Many of those crying racism about today’s New York City policing were sounding the same call about the Dinkins administration’s lax policing.
Seven: Excessive police brutality against blacks shows that racism reigns eternal. Certainly blacks have suffered greater police brutality than whites. But this constitutes not the prevalence of overt racism, but its last holdout; as Orlando Patterson argues, you’d expect racism to persist longest precisely among undereducated keepers of order working under conditions likely to spark impulsiveness. And most important, the police brutality situation is improving rapidly. For example, though I think Officer Justin Volpe would not have brutalized a white suspect as he brutalized Haitian Abner Louima, his expectation that the “blue wall of silence” would protect him proved false. In the Diallo and Dorismond killings, the undertraining of police officers to deal with chaotic, tense situations was much more at fault than white racism—and, of course, black officers have been involved in similar cases across the country, though such cases don’t get headlines in the liberal media.
These articles of faith add up to a deeply felt cult of victimology that grips the entire black community. Some subscribe to it fiercely; most accept it as a valid point of view, at least. The “serious brother” who launches into a tirade about the War on Blacks at a party sets heads nodding all over the room.
You’d think that a group committed to advancement would avoid such an obsessive focus on the negative, especially when the negative steadily fades from year to year. But blacks, inevitably, suffer from a classic post-colonial inferiority complex. Like insecure people everywhere, they are driven by a private sense of personal inadequacy to seeing imaginary obstacles to their success supposedly planted by others. Once the 1968 Kerner Commission report fueled that tendency by positing that American racism was an institutional, systemic matter rather than a merely personal one, black leaders and thinkers, haunted by the oppressor’s lie that blacks were inferior, worked obsessively to find evidence, often fantastical, of “the system’s” evil.
In the grip of this seductive ideology, blacks have made the immobilizing assumption that individual initiative can lead only to failure, with only a few exceptionally gifted or lucky exceptions. Yet many groups have triumphed over similar (or worse) obstacles—including millions of Caribbean and African immigrants in America, from Colin Powell to the thousands of Caribbean children succeeding in precisely the crumbling schools where black American kids fail. Indeed, thinkers such as Thomas Sowell and Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom argue that American blacks could have advanced—and were advancing—even without the civil rights legislation of the sixties and the racial preferences of the seventies, since black unemployment was at an all-time low in the mid-sixties, and the black middle class was already growing fast. But these facts can’t outweigh the almost narcotic pleasure that underdoggism provides a race plagued by self-doubt.
Blacks aren’t the only people who’ve sabotaged themselves through victimology. Take the eerily similar case of the Boston Irish, the target of contempt and discrimination in nineteenth-century America. By the 1920s, when anti-Irish bigotry had receded greatly, historical memory allowed Mayor James Michael Curley to maintain power by stoking Irish resentment very like today’s black resentment. Curley found “anti-Irish” sentiment everywhere: merit hiring systems were “anti-Irish”; “Anglo-Saxon” culture was fatally diseased. Even today, the remnant of this mentality still traps members of South Boston’s Irish community in crummy housing projects full of idle adults who have high rates of substance abuse and even speak a local dialect it takes a little while to wrap one’s ears around. In South Boston, as in South Central, a fatalistic skepticism that you can rise above your community and a deeply embedded wariness of mainstream culture thwart ambition even where opportunity is available.
The victimology cult has in turn engendered a cult of black separatism. Inspired by the Black Power movement of the 1960s, which violently rejected whites as terminally evil, today’s separatism, in the same vein, flirts disastrously with the idea that, because white racism ineluctably drives black people outside the bounds of civic virtue, blacks shouldn’t be seriously punished or morally condemned for criminal behavior. Black transgressiveness is understandable, even “cool.” A typical consequence of this view was the feting of the four black youths who maimed several people in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict, with the Nation of Islam setting up a defense fund for the “L.A. Four.” The most recent manifestation of the idea was Jesse Jackson’s intervention when a Decatur, Illinois, high school suspended for two years seven black teenagers who injured bystanders during a gang fight at a school football game. Jackson painted this response to thuggery as a racist attempt to deny “our children” an education.
The worst result of the sense that black America is a fundamentally separate realm is a widespread cult of anti-intellectualism. Consider the data: even in middle-class suburbs, increasing numbers of middle-class black students tend to cluster at the bottom of their schools in grades and test scores. Black students whose parents earn $70,000 a year or more make median SAT scores lower than impoverished white students whose parents make $6,000 a year or less, while black students whose parents both have graduate degrees make mean SAT scores lower than white students whose parents only completed high school.
Why? All through modern black American culture, even throughout black academia, the belief prevails that learning for learning’s sake is a white affair and therefore inherently disloyal to a proper black identity. Studying black-related issues is okay, because learning about oneself is authentic. But this impulse also implicitly classifies science as irrelevant, which is the direct cause of the underrepresentation of minorities in the hard sciences. The sense that the properly “black” person only delves into topics related to himself is also why you can count on one hand the number of books by black Americans that are not on racial topics.
The belief that blacks and school don’t go together has its roots in slavery’s refusal to let blacks be educated. But it gained strength in the mid-1960s, when black separatism rejected traits associated with whites as alien, and black students, in this spirit, began teasing their fellows who strove to excel in school as “acting white,” a much harsher taunt than merely dismissing them as nerds. When I was four—and this is my very first memory—a group of black kids in the neighborhood stopped me and asked me to spell a word. When I did, one of them directed his little sister to hit me repeatedly. I later watched a friend of mine treated similarly for answering such questions as, “How far is it from New Jersey to Florida,” and I’ll never forget being asked by one of his tormentors, “Are you smart?” in the menacing tone you’d use to ask, “Did you steal my money?”
The “acting white” charge—which implies that you think yourself different from, and better than, your peers—is the prime reason that blacks do poorly in school. The gifted black student quickly faces a choice between peer group acceptance and intellectual achievement. Most, out of an utterly human impulse, choose the former. Even if they open themselves to schooling in college or later, their performance all too often permanently suffers from the message they long ago internalized that “the school thing” is an add-on, not a mix-in.
The prevailing orthodoxy lays the blame on other factors, of course, but none of them withstands scrutiny. The fact that the children of working poor immigrants, including black Caribbean and African immigrants, often do well in school, disproves the claim that their working-class roots deny today’s newly middle-class blacks the “cultural capital” to teach their children to excel in school. The success of Southeast Asian immigrants’ children in the same terrible inner-city schools in which black students fail disproves the Jonathan Kozol gospel that it is the “savage inequality” of school funding that makes black kids fail. Though Kozol’s followers counter that immigrants are an inappropriate comparison because they are a “self-selected” population, rich in initiative, Latinos are also self-selected immigrants and yet lag behind in school almost as much as blacks—which shows that culture plays a major role among immigrants. Finally, educators often assert that white teachers are biased against black children, dousing their initiative early on and then tracking them away from advanced placement classes. However, studies repeatedly suggest that teachers track based on demonstrated ability—and, again, black Caribbean and African children do fine, despite presumably suffering the same treatment as native-born blacks.
Finally, what of Claude Steele’s influential argument that middle-class black students underachieve in school because fear of confirming the stereotype of black mental inferiority makes them choke up on tests? I know from my own experience that there’s a grain of truth in this argument. But a tiny grain: after all, college assignments are not composed to test racial abilities. And all these conventional arguments neglect the elephant sitting in the middle of the room: if black students who try to achieve in school get sharply teased for it and threatened with ostracism, why would we not expect this to be the main cause of their academic underachievement?
One well-studied case decisively confutes all the conventional arguments. In tony suburban Shaker Heights, Ohio, funding is generous, support programs aimed at black students (about half of the student population, not an alienated minority) abound, there is no ability tracking (students track themselves), and such racism as can be found is too intermittent to destroy the academic curiosity of a human being of normal resilience. Yet blacks there cluster at the very bottom of the school, and black students report that they come up against the “acting white” charge whenever they try to excel. One girl interviewed there knuckled under to this teasing and saw her grades plummet, while white students interviewed talked about how, in many of their cliques, doing well in school was “cool.” Districts all over the country, including Evanston, Illinois, Prince George’s County, Maryland, and Nyack, New York, report similar results.
Victimology, separatism, and anti-intellectualism underlie the general black community’s response to all race-related issues. The response to affirmative action is a case in point. Blacks see it as a policy that appropriately bends the rules for a people denied the opportunity to compete on a level playing field—a notion that in 2001, when middle-class blacks are a massive and thriving group in American society, can only seem plausible through the lens of victimology. The defense of affirmative action on the grounds of “diversity” is an expression of separatism. After all, since there are not enough black students to be admitted to selective schools on the same merits as the other students, beyond a certain cut-off point blacks are being valued as much for their distinct and separate cultural traits as for their academic accomplishment. This is a state of affairs, moreover, that requires a strong dose of anti-intellectualism to accept without discomfort. And the same anti-intellectualism rests content with the flimsy reasoning behind all defenses of affirmative action: that because black students are overrepresented in underfunded public schools, for example, it is immoral for colleges to require a top-quality dossier from the black child of a doctor and a corporate manager, or that, as William Bowen and Derek Bok argue in the sickeningly overpraised The Shape of the River, affirmative action ought be continued indefinitely because its first generations of beneficiaries didn’t mind it and are happy with their lives.
Today, these three thought patterns impede black advancement much more than racism; and dysfunctional inner cities, corporate glass ceilings, and black educational underachievement will persist until such thinking disappears. In my experience, trying to show many African-Americans how mistaken and counterproductive these ideas are is like trying to convince a religious person that God does not exist: the sentiments are beyond the reach of rational, civil discourse.
After I gave a talk at a black bookstore outlining why the conventional explanations for black students’ underperformance don’t hold water, a matriarchal figure simply dismissed my argument by pronouncing that America is “set against” black students, period—to the applause of the entire room. Time magazine’s Jack E. White wrote a disparaging review of my new book, Losing the Race (“Come on, Professor”), which simply repeated the traditional explanations of what holds black students back, as if he hadn’t been able to take in my chapters arguing against just these points. During another talk I gave on the book, one black schoolteacher kept interrupting to insist, fantastically, that when black students accuse others of “acting white,” they are criticizing these students for not teaching their peers how to excel in school as well.
There was a time when fighting and decrying institutional racism was the main task at hand, and blacks of my generation owe a debt of gratitude to those who did it; our comfortable lives would be impossible without their efforts. Today, though, these people are well-intentioned relics of another era, an era they in their moment helped us to get past. Our main concern must be with new generations, who can fulfill their potential only in an America where victimology, separatism, and anti-intellectualism don’t flourish among black Americans. There are two main paths to this goal.
First, it’s time for well-intentioned whites to stop pardoning as “understandable” the worst of human nature whenever black people exhibit it. The person one pities is a person one may like but does not truly respect. Certainly whites must keep extirpating vestiges of racism, even within their own souls. But for David Howard to concur with his firing by Washington mayor Anthony Williams for using the word “niggardly” is condescension, not compassion; for Nathan Glazer to reverse his longstanding opposition to affirmative action because whites “owe” black people is to cast blacks as characters in a morality play, not to usher living human beings out of a historically conditioned wariness of school.
Second, it’s time for our selective educational institutions to eliminate affirmative action in admissions. This policy may have been useful in the 1960s in creating a black middle class. Today, however, the children of Bowen and Bok’s happy campers are hobbled from top academic performance not by poverty and residual bigotry, as their parents often were, but by a sense of spiritual separation from the whole endeavor of learning, an estrangement that set-aside policies and lowered standards cannot help. To achieve in any endeavor, people need incentives. As long as top colleges exempt black students of all classes from serious competition, their admissions officers shouldn’t wonder why so few black students submit top-class dossiers. Only without such a policy will parents, teachers, and school boards, genuinely alarmed at drop-offs in “diversity” in institutions of higher learning, start to help black children become truly competitive for selective schools. What happened after California ended legalized racial preferences in 1995 is a case in point. Programs exploded throughout the state to prepare minorities to be competitive and to eliminate their financial barriers to college.
Eliminating affirmative action will also help dispel black college students’ resentment-tinged anxiety that their white classmates dismiss them as affirmative action picks. It will promote richer interracial contact among students poised to become the nation’s leaders. The tacit understanding is that white students somehow ought not suspect that blacks got in under the door—but this is a hopelessly unrealistic fiction, given that in 28 selective schools in 1989 less than one in four white students with SAT scores in the 1250-99 bracket was admitted, while three out of four black ones with the same scores got in, as The Shape of the River reports. The black student who can confidently claim to be on campus for the exact same reasons that white and Asian students are there is less likely to embrace the myth, which many black college students cherish, that whites are all covert racists.
I believe the time is ripe for such changes. People often ask me how black people have received Losing the Race, expecting me to describe a fearsome litany of invective and condemnation. Sure, I’ve gotten some of that—one letter or e-mail a week, perhaps, along with the predictable tirades on black radio call—in shows. Doubtless plenty of blacks who don’t call in or write me also find the book repulsive. But almost all the letters and messages I’ve received from African-Americans from all walks of life all over the country have been positive. At last count I’ve heard from over 200 blacks, most telling me that my book says things they have long despaired of hearing from our so-called civil rights leaders. Black college students write, telling me that my book helped them understand the internal, cultural factors working against achievement. Older blacks write, agreeing with me that there was a crucial and damaging change in black ideology in the mid-1960s. I have even received three laudatory letters from black prisoners, all recounting how they subscribed to the party-faithful line in their youth but have rejected it since. I have also taken relatively little abuse on the radio shows: as one black man said to me calling into one of them, “Man, black people aren’t yelling at you because they think you’re wrong; they’re just mad that you’re saying it where white people can hear you.” My views, I’ve concluded, are really not so out of step.
Perhaps 20 years from now mainstream black thought will join me in stressing individual initiative and integration. And perhaps the national media will get on the bandwagon too. Today, when I’m interviewed on TV or in the paper, a disparaging comment from some black leftist inevitably is part of the story, though when a Derrick Bell or a June Jordan is interviewed, never do reporters feel the need to bring in Shelby Steele or Walter Williams for their “alternative viewpoint.” Let’s hope that in 2021, the networks won’t feel that any talk of black personal responsibility needs to be balanced by victimology from some fading anachronism like Ishmael Reed or Maxine Waters. That’s when we will know that we are past the coded fraud that passes for interracial discourse today and have made the kind of progress that yesterday’s civil rights’ leaders would recognize and applaud.
This was written in 2001, before Obama and Oprah and an additional 20 years of opportunity.
A thoughtful, well written and reasoned article.
Ken, an indepth and most interesting comment deserving a well considered reply in return. I will get with you on it in a day or two.
I look forward to it.
And if you don't mind, I would like to add a current situation for you to consider, or at least, the opinions of the person at the center of this story:
Georgia Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones announced Tuesday he is resigning from his seat after last week endorsing President Trump's reelection -- a move that quickly earned him backlash from Georgia Democrats.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jones told The Rashad Richey Morning Show, a talk show in Atlanta, that despite his resignation he would not be leaving the Democratic Party because "somebody's got to be in there to hold them accountable -- hold them accountable to how they are treating black people [and] root out the bigotry."
"Turn the lights off, I have left the plantation," Jones said in a separate statement officially announcing his resignation, according to the Journal-Constitution. "Someone else can occupy that suite. Therefore, I intend not to complete my term effective April 22, 2020."
Jones' Atlanta-area district includes parts of DeKalb and Rockdale counties. Democratic parties in both counties planned to censure Jones for the Trump endorsement, according to the Journal-Constitution. Jones, after his original endorsement, told the paper that "President Trump’s handling of the economy, his support for historically black colleges and his criminal justice initiatives drew me to endorse his campaign."
Jones seemed to foreshadow this Tuesday resignation in a Monday night tweet.
"I’ve seen more Democrats attack me for my decision to endorse @realdonaldtrump than ask me why," he said. "They’ve used and abused folks in my community for far too long, taking our votes for granted. Black Americans are waking up. An uprising is near."
He continued: "More African-Americans, prior to this pandemic, were working more than any other time in my lifetime."
“I endorsed the White guy (Donald J. Trump) that let Blacks out of jail, and they endorsed the White guy (Joe Biden) that put Blacks in jail."
A link detailing the story:
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/20 … ns-after-/
My reply, if you wish to entertain it, comes in the form of an article
Well, Ken, you obviously went through a great deal of trouble to provide this information, thanks.
My question regarded why the higher death rates among Blacks infected by this Coronavirus, disproportionate to that experienced by other groups?
The answer appears to be, as a result of a little research, that it involved a population generally in poorer health, asthma, heart disease and other complications that could turn an otherwise case of the flu into a lethal event.
It involves a population disproportionately engaged in service type jobs that require a physical presence making them more susceptible to virus exposure in a public setting, i.e., bus driver.
It involves holding the kinds of jobs that more often than not, provide little or no benefits, i.e. medical insurance.
So, now that we have some answers, let's talk about what is behind it.
Ok, Ken who wrote the article?
First of all, television, rather than being a window on the world, is in fact more like a fun house mirror. The circumstances and situations in tv programming are manipulated and is not a reflection of the real world. I consider much of the content of commercial tv as I do much of professional sports as a distraction and an opiate for the people from what is really going on. There have been remarkable exceptions regarding programs that touched on race, they either found themselves canceled soon after or was the source of consternation and anxiety, I.e. Roots.
While "Whitey's" foot is no longer on the backs of our necks as it once was, the indentation of that foot and the fact that that foot kept you from something that you were certain to have acquired without it, is the point. Quite frankly, there should have never been a reason for White folks to have made so much trouble for us at such a depth for so long in the first place.
As for the 7 points
1. Yes, by 2001, look how long it took to get there? How long has whites enjoyed such status
overall, since 1865?
2 and 3. I have to research the data to verify this.
4. I never gave credence to such things as I have never really been able to prove it.
5. I take issue with the idea that there is no bias against Blacks in the criminal justice system. I say this even allowing for the fact that criminal behavior by Blacks may well be disproportionately high relative to rest of the population. I will check this.
6. There is no excuse for profiling. More firings and disciplinary actions toward law enforcement officers are in order. They had better make sure that there is reasonable suspicion or probable cause for other reasons outside of "driving while black" The Stop and Frisk policy was contrary to Constitutional concepts that prohibits police harassment and unreasonable searches and seizures. Extralegal solutions to a problem just complicates things for all involved.
7. Who is asking me to be patient with racist brutes on the PD, using lethal and excessive force against members of Black community, without justification? After a flood of lawsuits and high profile firings, perhaps some one might get the message?
After almost 350 years of terror, can you blame any of us for being reticent to stick our necks out and declare "that the coast is clear? Maybe, 'the pea' has just been moved to another shell? We, out of necessity, focus on what is here and the composite picture must include the negative along with the positive.
When I think about, AAs have been shackled by the nation's institutions, by law and by custom for well over three hundred years, with that Shroud finally being lifted through Supreme Court rulings, protests and agitation with much of that played out as a kid during my lifetime. Relative to all that "you all" have been free people. How much of a head start did you get while AAs were shackled? Fifty years is not long relative to 400 years. Look at all the time you had to your advantage relative to us? Yes, I am suspicious, and we are behind as every conservative expects that we pick of the baton and attempt to catch up while you are 9 laps ahead? And that is not our fault.
Proper consideration as to the role the past played in shaping the present as well as taking into consideration the present and favorable changes that can be applied to the future is looking the whole picture.So, none of us can afford to "forget" anything. No more than Southern Whites are willing to remove statues of prominent officers of the Confederacy.
So, who is saying that Kerner report is inaccurate? I would find it as a basis to condemn American society. Who wants to be subjected to institutionalized and systemic bias, condoned by a society that wants you to sacrifice your life in military service on its behalf? I was alive and well in 1968, so we're not talking about the "Middle Ages" here.
Immigrants are different, without a history of being tormented in the land they call home, otherwise they may well had decided not to emigrate in the first place. It is inaccurate to compare such immigrants with the experiences of Indigenous people, or those forced here as slaves and subjected to endless indignity abuse for a century afterwards.
I have heard many conservatives say that Blacks were better off without the Civi Rights movement. But, I ask them to recall an earlier period, late 19th century. The time of the battle between two intellectual titans, WEB DuBois verses Booker T. Washington. Washington who outstretched his hand to an openly bigoted South during that time made with what was known as the "Atlanta compromise". Which said that Blacks would forgo civil, political rights to focus on education and manual labor work skills. "As the fingers are separate it is connected to the hand denoting mutual progress", he said in 1896. That was also the year the Supreme Court establish the legal foundation for "Jim Crow". Dr DuBois was "my man" who recognized that without vigorous pursuit of Civil and Political rights any advantage obtained in the economic sphere would be fleeting, at best. So, the same could be said of any analogy one would apply to the 1960s.
The Irish were still White People and like many such ethnics, including Jews they were allowed to assimilate. Regardless, I don't believe any of these groups experienced the level and intensity of bigotry and violence compared with the Black experience in America.
I take issue with the issue of Black Separatism in the 1960s. We were already separate as not being fully included as Americans with all the appropriate civil Rights, social equality and political rights that one would expect. I have not advocated that anyone should not be punished for crimes that they commit, as long as that justice is equal and fairly applied.
Yes, I agree we do have a problem with Black youth, particularly males, and a attitude of anti-intellectualism, a charge I direct toward conservatives, often. I was confronted with "peer group" issue during my time as a public school student. Good parenting was my guide to "select the latter over former", the wrath of parents would be far worse than the occasional fist fight.
See article links below.
The young men I spoke to had dismissed the possibility of opportunity out of hand. They believed that they would either not be accepted or would have to compromise Blackness and self awareness to fit in. Sports and entertainment celebrities do not have to "compromise" themselves in the same way.The successful ones were just fortunate enough not to have stepped on any land mines while climbing the ladder, as they say. I do not subscribe to that attitude. I have told many how counter productive that attitude is. You can "play the game" and still not sacrifice your culture nor heritage, if you have your head screwed on straight.
You are correct in noting lower test scores even when educational facilities were equivalent to to what white students had available. I will not deny that there is much within our own house that needs to be cleaned. I know that I never got away bringing home bad grades from school. I grew up in a time when there two parent families. How many families have the luxury of having one parent at home to watch the kids, these days, Black or White?
At the outset of the essay, in 1903, Du Bois writes: "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line—the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea". This issue has been one of survival for our people, so excuse us if we appear somewhat obsessed about it. There are at least as many Hispanics that are native born relative to the idea that they are all immigrants. As a white person, were you subjected to substandard schools and related facilities? It is easy to speak of how other people can make it under trying circumstances when most of you did not have to.
During my university days, I met many students from Africa and they were impressive as they made clear and were as focused as laser light on the objective of acquiring an education. We, African Americans, were wasting time partying. The Black Student alliance was supposed to be there to tutor our freshmen and sophomores, encouraging them to stay in school, but were too busy organizing parties. So, while I agree that we are responsible for much of our problems, I simply say that we are not responsible for them all.
While we bear responsibility for dysfunctional inner cities and educational underachievement, who is responsible for the glass ceiling? Time may be the factor that will convince us that our life chances are under our control, and the merit based opportunity society is real and just another trick from "the man". No, there are valid reasons why the Black community do not embrace conservatism nor the Republican Party, going against the very small number of Black conservatives who say otherwise.
https://hubpages.com/politics/One-Progr … ica-Part-I
https://hubpages.com/politics/One-Progr … ca-Part-II
Damn Cred, your comment makes be glad that I did not post the reply that came to mind when I first read Ken's post.
I thought there was merit in his quoted article. But, my first thought was that you would reply with some type of 'Uncle Tom' description of its author.
I am glad I didn't make that observation, I would have been very wrong. I liked your response.
Indeed Gus, especially from my perspective in the Deep South.
I am glad, too, that you did not make that observation. I just couldn't dismiss the quoted article out of hand, because much of it is true and fair is fair.
A strong reply that expresses your position.
What it says to some degree is:
'We have suffered for generations and we want justice/retribution!'
'Conservatives represent 'Whitey' and I will never trust them!'
That's what I read into it, I may be wrong, and I am not trying to diminish your response, but encapsulate it to the smallest most direct denominators.
I always try and redirect, don't look at the past, look to the future.
I don't have answers for the past, and I don't have very many for the future either, but I do try and look at things objectively.
I ask that you try to do so as well, in terms of considering what the Republicans/Conservatives offer compared to the Democrats/Liberals offer... TODAY... not the past.
Democrats in their debates discussed open borders in a variety of forms and extremes.
What does this mean for all Americans, especially less educated 'blue collar' types?
My Answer - It means more competition for jobs, which will lower wages and benefits for all Americans, and increase our taxes to support a larger population of people who need social services.
Democrats discussed confiscating "assault rifles" focusing in particular the AR-15. Why is that good/bad?
My Answer - Any infringement on the 2nd Amendment will lead to additional infringements, until the right to own weapons has been stripped from American citizens.
The AR-15 may be a focal point particularly because so many millions of Military Veterans and Retired Police are well trained with this weapon above all others.
The largest single threat to Martial Law and/or a Violent Government centralized take-over of America are those very Veterans and Retired Officers. They have the training, they are far more likely to be Patriotic and willing to defend the Constitution than other Americans.
For example: I hadn't fired a rifle in over ten years, one day I took mine to a Rifle range, and with my first magazine, using the manufacture set zero and factory sights put the entire group in a cluster smaller than my fist and six inches left of bullseye at 100 meters out.
I can still assemble and disassemble that weapon in the dark with no problem.
China... in regards to it all but being ignored until the final Dem Debate:
"We've had many debates previously and there's been very little discussion of foreign policy and not much of China," said Bonnie Glaser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. "So I was pleased to see that there was a question about China that a number of the candidates got an opportunity to emphasize the concerns."
Glaser is also a former consultant to the State Department and the Pentagon on China.
Actions speak louder than words however... and Biden has always had a very friendly relationship with China, so friendly in fact, that a prominent Chinese bank gave Hunter Biden's Investment firm 1.5 Billion dollars after he and Joe flew over to China to meet with high ranking officials of the CCP.
Are you concerned that so many Democrats have received large donations and contributions from China (IE - Clintons, Bidens) or that some even harbored Chinese spies on their staff (IE - Senator Dianne Feinstein)?
My Answer - I am extremely concerned about it, China's "favored nation status" has been championed or protected by Democrats for decades now. At least with Trump I can look back and see he was calling them out as a threat long before becoming President, and since becoming President has worked to reverse our dependency on them, and correct the trade imbalance we have with them.
This is how I look at things Credence... not for what was in our past... I break down where we are right now, and what it means for our (yours and mine... your kids and mine) future, as best I am able.
One last thing to consider... in what Trump's actions and antics have done the last three years... were his actions harmful or helpful to African Americans? ... Trumps attacks on politicians (or even the Democratic Party) are separate from this issue, some people don't recognize this because they are so entwined in their political party/beliefs.
"some people don't recognize this because they are so entwined in their political party/beliefs."
But not you Ken, am I correct?
Ken, no one is talking about retribution. We,as always, are talking about justice and I was talking about yesterday and will talk about it tomorrow.
I acknowledge the progress made in the last 50 years. And if the current rate of progress continues I would suspect that by the last quarter of this century after people like me with a deep sense of history and a long memory has finally swap his mortal coil for angels wings, the issues that are at the forefront today will become irrelevant. My niece and nephews can experience such a time when all the dark shadows of the past are considered in the same way witchs and warlocks and the Salem Witchcraft Trials are seen today.
But that time is not today. For right now, it can be said that those that do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
Looking at things objectively means considering the past, present and future.
And looking at the GOP ideology and record, the Democrats are still a better choice than Republican, for me anyway.
I break with the part of the Democratic Party supporting open borders.
I have not supported confiscating any weapons in respect to the 2nd Amendment, the problem with conservatives is that background checks regarding buying of a firearm is not considered any more significant than buying a ham sandwich.
Both parties are responsible for our dependence on China today. I am not going to absolve Trump from the "pies" he has had his hand in. Without further evidence, I am not going to condemn Democrats as traitors in regard to China.
Trump and his approach which includes a certain amount of race baiting, has brought to fore the ugly aspects of American life, in effect opening old wounds.
And of course, neither do I, so there is some common ground.
Thirty years ago, I was a Democrat, everyone in my family was. The Democrats represented working class Americans, the represented better regulations and insurance availability, etc.
This is no longer the case. Democrats now represent Globalization, which includes open borders, world agencies such as the WB, WHO, IMF, UN superseding American Sovereignty (and the Constitution) and of course the power of International Corporatism over American individualism.
And make no mistake, China (the CCP) is positioning itself to usurp America's position in the world, and as America's position diminishes so will the opportunity for American citizens to be prosperous, to achieve their dreams. ... and it is my belief the Democrats (far more than the Republicans) are just fine with this.
Whatever you choose to believe or accept... there is one thing more we are also in agreement on... it is a sad statement to how far America has fallen and how corrupt the system is, that the choice we have to replace Trump with... is Biden.
The article elucidates the point quite clearly. It is evident that Blacks are the MOST discriminated against in American society. They are demonized, if not marginalized in American society. Many are relegated to the worst neighborhoods where correspondingly there are inferior quality foods & health care. These factors exacerbate diseases which oftentimes have high &/or disproportionate fatalities.
Yes, Grace, but how does that fit in with your statements that people that are poor and in poverty are deserving their fate? Really?
I will further clarifying the issue. In the United States for the MOST part, many are poor because they prefer to act unintelligently & irresponsibly. You & I are middle-class, educated Blacks. There are middle class, upper middle class, & even upper class Blacks. Yes, there is a discrepancy in the legal system. Yes, there is racism; however, there are Black people who love to use racism as a ruse for their irresponsible & unintelligent behavior.
Many of the poor in ghettos exhibit irresponsible & unintelligent behavior. They possess a negative & passive mindset. They refuse to be accountable for their actions, instead blaming the system for the malaise they self-created. If one look at the inner cities, one will see parents who irresponsibly procreate, knowing well that they can hardly afford to take care of themselves, let alone additional lives. They refuse to better themselves socioeconomically & educationally, preferring instant gratification of their childish desires. C'mon Credence2, don't parrot the rhetoric of the oppressed poor. Let's do some deep inductive & deductive thinking- we create our own destiny most of the time. In other words we make our beds so lie in it or don't blame others, blame ourselves & take responsibility to improve ourselves. That is what I was taught by my parents. I was never allowed to be a victim. I was taught to take responsibility for whatever happens.
But, the racism is still here and you have yet to address my question. WHY the stark disparity in outcomes for Blacks in the area of infections and fatalities?
If it were an issue of social class, being poor, as Wilderness seems to imply, wouldn't those stark and dismal numbers not be correlated with race but be more associated with social economic status across racial lines?
I don't like taking the attitude of the house --------, having no consideration for those in the field and no desire to correct an unethical system at its foundation, but instead co-op with it for your own individual comfort. Did you read the article? You have acknowledged in an earlier comment the extent of discrimination against blacks and its structural basis that was presented in the article. Do you take issue with the article?
Yes, I hold the "system" accountable for much of what has happened in these communities. But if you never paid attention to the article, you of course take the right wing view that the poor and by extension, Blacks are solely responsible for their own degradation and I, for one, don't buy it.
I just came across this ACLU study, which supports the argument of system racism, disproportionate arrest rates, and the dangers of being imprisoned during the pandemic:
"Nationwide, Black people are 3.6 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana, despite similar usage rates. That’s roughly the same rate of disparity that existed seven years ago, when we released the first iteration of this report, The War on Marijuana in Black and White. In fact, since 2010 racial disparities actually worsened in 31 states."
https://www.aclu.org/news/criminal-law- … na-reform/
Try telling rightwing featherheads about an aspect as obvious as the air around them, but they cannot grasp its existence because they choose not to see it. They choose to deny the underlying truth that would be revealed about their precious "system" and by extension, themselves.
In the marijuana arrests what is the source of that disparity? Can it be attributed to some aspect of people of color that can justify greater harassment toward them? This example you gave is the tip of the iceberg and my agitation against this system will not end without meaningful efforts that are currently not fast enough nor go far enough....
PS. Thanks for the link....
There is a strong sense of denial in America to be certain, perhaps now more than ever as we slip in power and respect on the international stage (glaringly so during this pandemic).
One thing that comes to mind in the source of arrest disparity would be racial profiling. Police interact with people of color more and are more likely to harass them about something like marijuana. It's low-hanging fruit which is good for their personal and department stats. Somebody has to help hit the numbers on the for-profit prison contracts (*extreme sarcasm*)...
Stay agitated and keep doing what you can to fight for change. I'll do the same and we'll be on the right side of history.
And you're most welcome for the link.
Good evening mister credence2. I was reading an article about people with aids. The immune system is low. They have to take a lot of medication to survive. They are not strong to fight against corona virus. In the statistics a lot of black people have aids. It is not because they are poor. They are well taking care by the system. It is because they got the aid virus many years ago. It is sad. Who ever is not strong has a difficult time with the corona virus.
Well, Erorantes, yours is as good an explanation for the disparity as any and one that I did not consider. You are probably right to a certain extent. It may certainly be part of the reason. But the sheer numbers differences over so many areas across the country makes me believe that some other force is at play.
Okay mister Credence 2. I am looking forward reading your response.
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