T Nation

Thinking About Your Race?


[i]*This may belong in the Politics and World Issues forum, but a) I don't venture in there very often, and b) I thought more people might see the thread here.

EDIT: This was originally in the Off-topic forum. Obviously, it has since been moved.

Yesterday I had the great fortune to hear a presentation by a highly distinguished speaker, Dr. Adewale Troutman. I won't go into everything this man has accomplished (that could take a whole thread). The presentation, however, was part of a diversity forum, partly given in light of February being Black History Month, and had to do with equity in health, public housing, problems with the health-care system, etc., etc.

One of the staggering facts Dr. Troutman gave us was that African-Americans suffer an average of 83,000 excess deaths per year (i.e. deaths that, but for negligence or other "non-sufficient" reasons, should not have happened). Over the last 40 years that has come to around 3.3 million total deaths. Another sad fact: studies have shown that the grocery stores on the west end of Louisville, which is predominantly a minority area, receives produce and other foods that are not as fresh as the stores on the east end.

This is something that really got to me and the real reason for this thread, however. At one point in the presentation, Dr. Troutman asked "How many of you never think about your race?" One hand went up. "How many of you think about your race once a month?" A couple more hands went up. "Once a week?" A few more hands. "Everyday?" A whole bunch of hands go up, including Dr. Troutman's. Then Dr. Troutman says, "Look at where most of those hands went up," and points to an area of the room where a majority of the African-American attendants were sitting. "Why is that?" he asked.

So...why is that? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Is it a good thing because it's a matter of pride for some people? If so, that' great. Or is it a bad thing, because some people still feel the oppression that exists in our society, despite the fact that we've made "progress" (I use that term very loosely here)? I would imagine, as in most things, that there's a bit of a gray area and it's a little bit of both. At any rate, I thought it was very interesting food for thought.

I could go on and on about all the stuff Dr. Troutman discussed, especially in light of the city of Louisville, but I thought I'd just stick with this for now.


I can see an argument being made for the less an induvidual thinks about his/her race, the more equal they feel socially. I think this can apply to any demographic (age, gender, disability status).

A person probably thinks more about their minority status the farther away they are from living the life of a...

37 Year Old, White, Brown Haired, Brown Eyed, 5'11, 200lb Male who earns $32,000 a year, drives a sedan, lives in the mid-west, and has no more than 2 children.

The farther away you are from being that exact person, the more you think about how you are different from that person.


I've said for a while now that the benefit of being rich isn't that you have money; its that you don't think about money.

Likewise the benefit of whiteness isn't being white, its that you don't have to think about race.


How many of those deaths were due to murder by another black individual? How many were drug or alcohol related? These statistics are meaningless by themselves and should not be interpreted as a sign of inequity in health care.

I bet the west end also has a lower median income, too. This has nothing to do with race, but plenty to do with wealth.

Because people have a tendency to look for ways in which they are victimized. They want the attention and reparations that come along with victimhood. Many want to blame their problems on race instead of taking responsibility for their own actions. In other words, they bring the oppression onto themselves.

Don't believe everything you hear. Personal responsibility could go along ways in fixing the problems that have been described. Do not let race become an issue when it does not need to be.


A fine post, sir.


The allocation of foods space, arrangement, and selection in a grocery store is determined by consumption.
Having built a couple of refrigetation systems in both Costcos and Save-A-Lots, I can tell you that the demgraphic targets of those stores are on opposite ends of the spectrum, as are their allocations of space, arrangement, and selection.

The esteemed speaker wasn't saying anything new there. It seems he was actualy creating a fallacious link between race and availability of fresh foods. The ADA has investigated this pretty thoroughly and determined that is has more to to with social class than race. People of a lower social class aren't spending their money on relatively expensive but not as filling foods, regardless of nutritional value. This has also contributed to the phenomenon of obese malnoursihment.


I used to live in Oak Park, Illinois and the race issue was often in my head every time I went to do groceries on Harlem avenue, or took the L's green line east to the Loop.

Harlem Avenue in Oak Park is a perfect example of big differences in income levels and apparently race as well. East of Harlem you have housing projects along Lake street(black neighborhoods, drugs, alcohol, shams). West of Harlem, an affluent community with million dollar houses, private schools, clean streets, safer,organized, etc. One street within less than a mile length with two different realities.

What got me thinking all the time was not the fact that the disparities are between blacks on the east side and whites on the west side; but rather that a lot of the differences are between blacks on each side.

Quite a few number of African-American families live on the west side of Harlem in Oak Park. They own million dollar houses, send their children to private schools, are highly educated, live productive lives, etc.

So my question always was, how did those blacks on the west side of Harlem break the circle? How did they manage to do it? Why, if they are also black, are they able to have a better quality of life?

The answer may not be simple, and surely there are many elements contributing to their success; but at some point in the past, they decided to move forward and not hold the race issue against themselves.

Thinking about your race does not mean victimizing your race. It should mean embracing what your race is all about: Culture, traditions, values, history, contributions to society; and not a reason to manifest recalcitrant behaviours claiming that because of what happened to your anscestors in the past, society owes you something.


You all are speaking just like people who don't actually live in these areas and never have. The food in most of these establishments isn't just less fresh. Very often, it even COSTS MUCH MORE. I know for a fact that I wouldn't pick up fresh beef off of Martin Luther King street in South Houston. I know this because it will not only be less fresh than at the Randall's by the Galleria (even cheaper with a membership card), but it will often be more expensive. That goes for many other items like milk or even Pampers.

While you may argue that it has to do with social class, you would have to be pretty blind to act as if there aren't drastically larger numbers of minorities being effected by it.

It makes little sense for someone who experiences none of this to speak about what people in those situations should do or how they should act.


I do not know either of those things. But do they really matter? Do you not consider death by murder or death from drug or alcohol-related causes an unnecessary, excess death?

What difference does that make when it's the same chain of stores and the prices being charged for a lower-quality product at one store are the same as those charged for a higher-quality product at another of the chain's stores on the other side of town?

Agreed. But what happens when even personal responsibility will not suffice?

I'll give you another interesting fact to chew on that Dr. Troutman presented to us: a study was done in which white men, white women, black men, and black women all went to a group of doctors and presented to them the typical signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Guess who were generally recommended for treatment plan A, the "proper treatment", with a heart specialist? The white men. Guess who were generally referred to the improper treatment plan, to see a GI specialist? Everyone else (even the white women).

If those had been real cases of a heart attack, some of those people might have died. If those were real cases, what else could those people have done? Would they not be considered to have taken personal responsibility for their health and to have done the right thing? How would those people have been bringing oppression upon themselves?


I foresee this being a very interesting thread in a couple of days....of course it will become a "discussion" of how a particular race is always "playing" the victim.

Interesting that LankyMofo...and tedro share the same hindsight,considering past posts from the both of you that have come of as almost racist...but basically just uneducated bias.

Its hard to argue against issues that are a reality for a large percentage of people.


Of course they are an unnecessary death, but you must ask yourself why you see this happening amongst black people more than white. My point was the 83,000 figure is meaningless and we cannot draw any logical conclusion from it without some more information. It definitely should not be used to claim a health care inequality.

Any number of reasons could be attributed to this. One logical explanation is that the stores on the poor side of town have to deal with more theft, thus they have to raise prices to offset that. You also must remember that just because it is a chain, it does not mean it is not a franchise. Franchise owners may choose to buy goods from cheaper suppliers. They also may choose to have higher markups. Again, you cannot simply blame all of the disparities on race.

You quit providing welfare and let good ol' capitalism do its trick.

Let me get this straight, the doctors were "tricked" into believing that patients were having heart attacks, and you are trying to use this study to blame health-care inequality on race. I would have to see some more details of the study to accurately comment, but maybe white men are better actors.


Denying that race is a factor is just as insane as acting as if race alone is why you aren't succeeding.


The same arguement can be made on the topics of abortion, slavery, or even women's rights in third world countries.

I've never been involved in slavery, never been to a third world country, and obviously cannot bear children, so by your logic I am not qualified to discuss any of these topics.

This is a poor way to claim expert status on a topic.

Have you ever been to a predominantly white midwestern town, with a large redneck population but also an affluent white community? Same story.


Such as?

You can't accuse me of sounding almost racist without citing examples.


Please. You are just as unqualified to speak on the hassles of dealing with menstruation as any other man. You may be able to discuss the actual issue of having a period, but you don't have first hand experience at all and as such should speak to a woman if the goal is full understanding. People like you believe this is unnecessary as if your world view is perfect and needs no interruption from "those people". I tend to think of people like you as blind and blissfully ignorant.

Uh, I'm from Texas. I live in Texas. I have lived in mostly white and mostly black neighborhoods. Any more questions?


This thread began with the premise that race is the only factor. Am I going to claim that racism doesn't exist? Of course not. I do believe that it occurs much more on an individual basis than as an entire business or corporation being racist, though. I will also claim that white people are just as often the victims as black people, not necessarily in the same type of incidents, but they are discrimated against none the less.

To simply say that prices are higher in areas with a large minority population because of racism is absurd and goes against all of the principles of a free market.


From "Happy MLK Day" thread:

CentralGuy wrote:
regardless of his plagarism, he got the job done. Thats what is important in the bug rat race. Happy MLK!

tedro wrote:
Actually he did not get his intended job done. What he wanted was much more socialism than we have now.

And the job he did get done was not as great as it is made out to be. Affirmative action, reverse discrimination, indoctrination.... these are not things worthy of praise, let alone a holiday.

Ok...maybe just that post you made came of that way. Maybe not racist,but obviously biased and uneducated more than anything. You seem to be doing a good job of proving that in this thread....Professor X has touched on it already...I'm sure he will see relevance of the above mentioned to the comments you've made so far.


Menstruation. Abortion. Menstruation. Abortion. What are we talking about here? I don't think there is anything wrong with a women menstruating every now and then. Abortion is a different story.

Keep in mind that Roe v Wade was decided entirely by men. As they are obviously unqualified to decide such a case, I motion that the case should be redecided and we should appoint an all-woman court for the case. Nevermind the innocent life, I don't have anything in common with it.

You are fast approaching a very slippery slope.

Very good, then you should also know how poor whites are sometimes treated.


No corporation with any sense would even approach business in this day and age with a glaring issue with race. Racism in America today, considering how far we've come, is hidden and no where near as easy to spot as it was decades ago. It may be hidden in food costs or the quality of services in areas with disproportionately higher numbers of certain racial groups. Either way, it is amazing that this is NEWS to anyone.

I grew up experiencing the problems with grocery stores in black neighborhoods. That is why this discussion highlights the problem...because it was never an issue with you before. Hell, did you even know about this before reading it here? How has poorer quality and higher prices in black neighborhoods affected you? Not at all?

Do you think that this could have far reaching health issues?

Do you think that increased numbers of minorities with health issues are a problem?

Do you not see the connection?

Does this mean that someone is saying that "Kroger's" is a racist entity? No. It means that we are acknowledging the unbalanced racist effect of actions that have gone on for decades and still continue.

Can you even understand the difference?

On such a decreased level that it is not a national or even state-wide concern and never has been.

That isn't all that is being said. That is simply all you can see.


Speaking out against affirmative action, reverse discrimination, and indoctrination does not make one racist. I would argue the exact opposite, actually. Those FOR these types of things are racist, by the very definition of racism.

I could have made the exact same arguments against Hillary Clinton, but I suppose that would make me a sexist, then again, she doesn't have her own holiday.