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.


Text Only
  • Welfare state grows as self-sufficiency declines

    For the past 50 years, the government’s annual poverty rate has hardly changed at all. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of Americans still live in poverty, roughly the same rate as the mid-1960s when the War on Poverty was just starting.
    After adjusting for inflation, federal and state welfare spending today is 16 times greater than it was when President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty. If converted into cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S.
    How can the government spend so much while poverty remains unchanged? The answer is simple: The Census Bureau’s “poverty” figures are woefully incomplete.

    August 1, 2014

  • Let laughter reign in Turkey

    This week, Bulent Arinc, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, verbally chastised Turkish women for laughing in public. Before we take a closer look at these remarks — in the interest of full disclosure — I need to confess a personal bias. I love to hear my wife’s laughter. Sometimes, when I review the day’s highlights, the most pleasant thing that comes to mind is her laugh — it’s frequent, genuine, pleasantly-pitched, melodious, appropriately timed, infectious and charming.

    August 1, 2014

  • Is English getting dissed?

    Is the English language being massacred by the young, the linguistically untidy and anyone who uses the Internet? Absolutely.
    Is that anything new? Hardly.
    Many words and expressions in common parlance today would have raised the hackles of language scolds in the not-so-distant past. For evidence, let’s look at some examples from recent newspaper articles.

    July 31, 2014

  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results