The Edmond Sun


March 29, 2013

Can Americans bridge racial divide?

EDMOND — Writing about or talking about race is a tricky proposition. There is a range of politically correct opinions and one who strays beyond that range runs the risk of being labeled a racist. There are areas of scientific study that are off-limits due to the potentially explosive reaction that might follow if results contradict approved rubric.

Currently, there is an onerous double standard applied to those who presume to advance opinions on the state of race relations in the United States. The shortcomings of “White America” are fair game to be explored, exposed, discussed, demeaned and broadcast by any commentator who cares to pile on.

White Americans are invited to acknowledge their collective racial guilt and stand mute as the sins of the fathers are heaped on the heads of a generation that took no part in the wrongdoing and wouldn’t tolerate the abuses of the past.

There are several recent news items that should cause us to spend some time putting off our racial weapons and armor and reflect on the situation in a fair and responsible way.

First, consider an article in the April 4 issue of The New York Times Review of Books. Leonard Mlodinow, a respected physicist at the Max Planck Institute of Physics wrote an article titled “Most of Us Are Biased After All.” Here, Dr. Mlodinow reviews a book by Drs. Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, both nationally recognized social psychologists. Their book “Blindspot: Hidden Biases in Good People” suggests there are widespread biases in people that operate on a level outside the realm of conscious mind. Dr. Greenwald is the principal creator of the Implied Association Test, which seeks to determine the existence of subconscious bias in those who take the test.

Here’s a summary of how it works. If you are given a deck of cards and told to make two stacks, as fast as you can, diamonds and heart in one stack, clubs and spades in the other, the process should flow fairly easily for obvious reasons. After all, it’s no great challenge to group the cards by color.

Now assume the two stacks are diamonds and clubs on one side, hearts and spades on the other. This will prove a little more difficult and thus take more time.

Now suppose you’re given a deck of cards with pictures of white and black Americans, and cards with positive and negative words written on them. You’re told to put the cards with black Americans and positive words in one pile, the white Americans and negative words in another — or vice versa. According to the test, the more time it takes to complete the task, the more errors you make in the process, provides insight into your subconscious biases.

I haven’t read “Blindspot” but Dr. Mladinow reports that 75 percent of Americans have an unconscious automatic preference for whites over blacks. This preference is allegedly played out across racial lines. This is where I leave the data in your lap and ask you to consider the following: (1) What is your visceral response to this information? (2) Assume these findings are incorrect, what does this error tell us about race relations in America? (3) Assume the findings are correct…?” (4) If the findings are correct, do we need to change something? (5) Are we justified in making a concerted effort to damage the image of white people if this is one way to erase the preference? (7) Are there ways to moderate the preference without using guilt or shame to get it done?

Unfortunately, discussions of race typically evoke aggressive and defensive positions that obliterate or constrict our abilities to speak to each other in the spirit of mutual understanding. Consider the example of the “Being White in Philly” article appearing earlier this month in Philadelphia Magazine. When the article appeared, the merits of the discussion were lost in a storm of racial charges and counter charges.

Consider also the case of Dr. Benjamin Carson, a noted pediatric neurosurgeon, who is the victim of a grossly offensive barrage of racial epithets because he expresses opinions that run counter to “the profile.”

Any reasonably conscientious social observer should acknowledge there are racial problems in this country. Any reasonably fair-minded commentator should know that heaping culturally approved shame and guilt on innocent victims is not a prudent solution even if it does furnish some short-term effectiveness. Knee-jerk name-calling, wholesale labeling and mindless dismissal of differing opinion is not the solution. Perhaps we can shake hands and agree to build a better future together. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is an Edmond resident and retired attorney.


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  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

  • Putting Oklahoma parents in charge

    Oklahoma’s public schools serve many children very well. Still, for various reasons, some students’ needs are better met in private schools, in virtual schools or elsewhere. That is why two state lawmakers have introduced legislation to give parents debit cards, literally, to shop for the educational services that work best for their children.

    April 11, 2014

  • Israelis, Palestinians are losing their chance

    Developments in the Middle East suggest that prospects of success for the Israeli-Palestinian talks, to which Secretary of State John Kerry has devoted countless hours and trips, are weakening.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teens might trade naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 11, 2014

  • Tax deadline and no reform in sight

    The annual tax filing deadline, which comes next Tuesday, provides a good opportunity for tax reform advocates to decry the current law’s increasing complexity and inequities, and to urge enactment of a simpler, fairer system.

    April 10, 2014

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 8, 2014


Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

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