ONTD Political

Five myths about white people

12:55 am - 02/14/2012
For decades, trends in American life have usually been analyzed through the prism of race, with white Americans serving as the reference point - comparing black unemployment with white unemployment, for instance, or the percentage of Latino high school students who go on to college compared with white students. Those comparisons are illuminating, but they neglect how that reference point itself is changing. Our understanding of white America is subject to a number of outdated assumptions that need rethinking.

1. Working-class whites are more religious than upper-class whites.

This is a pervasive misconception encouraged by liberals who conflate the religious right with the working class, and by conservative evangelicals who inveigh against the godless ruling class.

Certainly, white intellectual elites have become extremely secular. However, as a whole, the white upper middle class has long displayed higher attendance at worship services and stronger allegiance to their religious faith than the white working class - going all the way back to the first data collected in the 1920s and continuing today.

Since the early 1970s, white America has become more secular overall, but the drop has been much greater in the working classes.  As of the 2000s, the General Social Survey indicates, nearly 32 percent of upper-middle-class whites ages 30 to 49 attended church regularly, compared with 17 percent of the white working class in the same age group.

2. Elite colleges are bastions of white upper-middle-class privilege.

It's common to assume that upper-middle-class white kids win more slots in top universities than middle-class or working-class students not because they're smarter, but because their parents can afford to send them to the best grade schools and high schools, pay for SAT prep courses, or make hefty donations to colleges.

There are two problems with this logic. First, ever since the landmark Coleman Report on educational equality back in 1966, scholars have had a hard time demonstrating that attending fancy elementary and secondary schools raises students' academic performance. And on average, those highly touted test-preparation courses boost students' SAT scores by only a few dozen points - a finding consistent across rigorous studies of test-prep programs.

Second, educational attainment is correlated with intelligence. (The mean IQ of white Americans with just a high school diploma is about 99; the mean IQ of whites with a professional degree is about 125.) And children's IQ is tied to that of their parents. How genes and environment conspire to produce these relationships is irrelevant; the relationships have been stable for decades. As a result, white parents with advanced educations - who are also generally affluent - inevitably account for a disproportionate number of the white kids with the highest SAT scores, best grades and other evidence of academic excellence.

If college admission were purely meritocratic - eliminating favoritism for the children of alumni, celebrities and big donors - upper-middle-class children would still be overrepresented. That's because the applicants who would be accepted instead would also hail overwhelmingly from the upper middle class.

3. Marriage is breaking down throughout white America.

Overall marriage rates are indeed declining in the United States: Just over half of American adults are married, compared with 72 percent in 1960. However, among white Americans, there is a sharp class divide on marriage.

The share of upper-middle-class whites ages 30 to 49 who are married has been steady since 1984, hovering around 84 percent. During that same period, marriage for working-class whites in the same age group has fallen from 70 percent to 48 percent. This is not a statistical artifact that can be explained by class differences in the age of marriage or the frequency of remarriage, nor by hard economic times for the working class. Marriage now constitutes a cultural fault line dividing the socioeconomic classes among white Americans.

4. White working-class men have a strong work ethic.

They used to, but not so much anymore. In 1968, 97 percent of white males ages 30 to 49 who had at most a high school diploma were in the labor force - meaning they either had a job or were actively seeking work. By March 2008 (before the Great Recession), that number had dropped to 88 percent. That means almost one out of eight white working-class men in the prime of life is not even looking for a job. This is not just an issue of "discouraged workers"; this rate of labor force dropouts rose in the boom years of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as rapidly as it did in years of recession.

Among white males ages 30 to 49 who do have blue-collar or low-level service jobs, fewer work full time. The percentage of them who worked less than than 40 hours a week increased from 10 percent in 1960 to 20 percent in 2008, rising in good and bad economic times alike.

Time-use surveys have further documented shifting behavior among unemployed men. In the early 2000s, compared with 1985, such men spent less time on job searches, education and training, household work, or civic and religious activities - and more time watching TV and sleeping.

5. White Americans are yesterday's news.

You don't need to see a young black family in the White House to understand that American demographics are changing. In the 2010 census, non-Latino whites made up 64 percent of the population, down from 69 percent in 2000, 76 percent in 1990 and 80 percent in 1980. In 2011, non-Latino whites for the first time constituted a minority of children under age 2 - the harbinger of a nation in which whites will be a minority. That's no myth.

Yet, 45 of 50 governors and 96 of 100 U.S. senators were still non-Latino whites in 2010. Whites also were 92 percent of the directors nominated for Academy Awards between 2000 and 2011. They were 96 percent of Fortune 500 chief executives in 2011. The numbers are similar for other influential positions in U.S. society. At least for now, the rhetoric about the fading role of whites in American life outruns reality.


source: Charles Murray @ The Washington Post

Just take a look at all that pseudo-science and hand-picked statistics...

(And yes, this was written by that Charles Murray, the guy who has made a living out of suggesting that there is a genetic connection between race and intelligence...)
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executivehpfan 14th-Feb-2012 01:48 am (UTC)
A western country having white people as a minority? NOOOOOOO HOW COULD YOU? WHAT ARE WE DEVOLVING INTO?
sarahofcroydon 14th-Feb-2012 01:17 am (UTC)
Why do assholes like this get paid to print in major newspapers? It's like Bettina Arndt getting paid to print her particular brand rape apologism the other day in The Age; I was so mad all day you could have fried an egg on my face.
Mad to the point of challenging the newspaper for her position. Back in the day I would have called for a duel outside of HQ.

Maybe I still should...
valarltd 14th-Feb-2012 01:18 am (UTC)
I wonder if lessened working class attendance at Sunday services is a function of work schedules in a 24/7 society? Your Wal-Mart worker has to be at work Sunday morning. Your banker does not.
quizzicalsphinx 14th-Feb-2012 01:27 am (UTC)
Exactly what I thought. Most of the jobs I've ever worked can't even use people who can't work weekends.
cherrylng 14th-Feb-2012 01:21 am (UTC)
Skimmed through it, wished I can burn it.
comalies 14th-Feb-2012 01:25 am (UTC)
I want the ten seconds I took to scan this article back.
arisma 14th-Feb-2012 01:27 am (UTC)
briknowsbest 14th-Feb-2012 01:25 am (UTC)
masakochan 14th-Feb-2012 01:32 am (UTC)

squeeful 14th-Feb-2012 01:33 am (UTC)
A+ gif use with A+ gif.
bestdaywelived 14th-Feb-2012 01:39 am (UTC)
I used to work at Denny's in college. We were about 500 feet away from a church, and, predictably, we would fill up around 11:30 AM, after service let out.

You would not be surprised to know how many Christians laid into me about working on "the Sabbath". I pointed out that someone needed to be there, serving them breakfast ... but said it with a smile, so I didn't get fired. Ugh.
executivehpfan 14th-Feb-2012 01:49 am (UTC)
You're a better person than me. I would've said some shit that would've gotten me fired, escorted out by security and probably landed me in the news.
executivehpfan 14th-Feb-2012 01:46 am (UTC)
You don't need to see a young black family in the White House to understand that American demographics are changing.


Oh you poor sweet thing. Let me hold you to my biracial pansexual female working-poor bosom and let you pour out all your heterosexual cis-gendered upper-middle-class WHITE MAN woes to me.

Edited at 2012-02-14 01:46 am (UTC)
kaowolfie 14th-Feb-2012 01:56 am (UTC)
...this comment is amazing and you should feel amazing for writing it.
yeats 14th-Feb-2012 01:47 am (UTC)
rimpala 14th-Feb-2012 04:50 am (UTC)
How in the living hell is he able to move that much in a suit jacket?
baked_goldfish 14th-Feb-2012 01:57 am (UTC)
Needs the honkeyshines tag.
fishphile 14th-Feb-2012 02:07 am (UTC)
For decades, trends in American life have usually been analyzed through the prism of race, with white Americans serving as the reference point - comparing black unemployment with white unemployment, for instance, or the percentage of Latino high school students who go on to college compared with white students. Those comparisons are illuminating, but they neglect how that reference point itself is changing. Our understanding of white America is subject to a number of outdated assumptions that need rethinking.

This is a fantastic premise. Unfortunately, the article didn't deliver, but there needs to be more studies on white people, especially when it comes to culture. Often, white people are seen as the norm and when we get studies on PoC, while certainly helpful, they can sometimes veer into "look at the ways of these strange peoplez with their strange cultures and not quite American ways" territory.

I often get the feeling that not only do white people not know about PoC, but they have no clue about other white people. This fits into the narrative that white people are only individuals and that the actions of other people who look like them do not reflect on them.
roseofjuly 14th-Feb-2012 03:33 am (UTC)
There really don't need to be more studies on white people. Whenever there is a general study done on "culture" or demographics, the majority of the participants are white people - usually overrepresented in the sample, honestly. POC don't get to be the majority in a study unless it's explicitly a study of PoC. For instance, most of what we know about human psychology has been tested out on white affluent college students between the ages of 18 and 22. And before the 1970-1980s, they were men. White male psychologists did experiments with their students and then concluded that that is how everyone must be.

What needs to be done is that researchers need to be more transparent about the fact that their studies are mostly done on white people.
redstar826 14th-Feb-2012 02:16 am (UTC)
I thought the first point was interesting, as I do hear the 'religion is a poor people's thing' stereotype every so often. But, it sure went down hill from there.
bestdaywelived 14th-Feb-2012 04:21 am (UTC)
Seriously. I thought this article might have some interesting or useful information, but no dice.
kitanabychoice 14th-Feb-2012 02:21 am (UTC)
I'm not even sure the point #2 is trying to make.
youkiddinright 14th-Feb-2012 12:39 pm (UTC)
1- White rich people have it easier when it comes to getting into college partly because of the privilege of class.
2- The IQs of people with a medical degree is higher than the IQs of people with a GED
3- IQs are a matter of genes and environment
Thus; white rich people will have kids that have higher IQs and still have it easier when it comes to getting into college
Thus#2; college 'privileges' white rich people because of that.

So, if you drop the stupid shit about IQs from the equation, you can almost wish it was about explaining why being rich has so much with being born in wealth. But I'm not sure exactly what the OP is trying to mean either...

Edited at 2012-02-14 12:40 pm (UTC)
kalikahuntress 14th-Feb-2012 02:25 am (UTC)
Wow between this and the latest fuckery from FOX news my brain is broken.

lexiloumarie 14th-Feb-2012 02:26 am (UTC)
I feel like this article stumbled upon a few decent ideas by accident on it's way to wtf territory.
metropolis22786 14th-Feb-2012 02:42 am (UTC)
Is this the same Charles Murray that co-wrote The Bell Curve? Because if it is, I'd just like to state for the record that even though I (only) paid 2p plus shipping from Amazon Marketplace, I still wanted to burn that book.

Also, this entire article is just... wow. Fail.
baked_goldfish 14th-Feb-2012 02:49 am (UTC)
Yep, that's him.
rimpala 14th-Feb-2012 04:38 am (UTC)
Dammit Patrick take me with you!
roseofjuly 14th-Feb-2012 02:55 am (UTC)
2. Elite colleges are bastions of upper-middle-class privilege.


I'm getting my PhD at Columbia. I working for res life so I'm familiar with the demographics of the student body. 40-50% of them are "full-pay." Columbia has a very generous financial aid policy that gives aid to parents with incomes up to about $180,000 a year. Let me rephrase: if you make less than $180,000, you are not paying the full cost of a Columbia education. So 40-50% of the students are children of families with incomes of $180,000.

That alone would make it a bastion of UMC privilege, but think about the fact that then you still have families who make $150,000 and $100,000 getting financial aid to go to Columbia. I'm willing to bet that they make up at least another 30-40% of the student body - and 20-30% low-income families is a generous estimate. And since Columbia doesn't offer income-breakdowns of their students - only how many students are receiving financial aid (and in "financial aid," they include federal loans with things like Perkins loans and grants for low-income students), there's no way to know for sure short of working for admissions.

And here, a "low-income" family is one that makes less than $60,000 a year. That's the level at which Columbia promises to fully fund students with no repayable aid. I grew up in that income bracket. That's a pretty solidly middle-class family of 5! We weren't poor by any means. Even with my solid middle-class background, I feel out of place with these undergrads.

And lol at him using IQ tests. Really, his explanation is "Upper-middle-class white kids are privileged to have the best education since birth, and educated parents to help them succeed - so it's only fair that they are the ones at top universities"? He didn't even disprove his point!
thepuddingcook 14th-Feb-2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
I hate NYC. Wish we could move. 60,000 is definitely middle class--almost anywhere but new york, and as a single you can definitely live well on that. Even with two.
pandaseal 14th-Feb-2012 03:02 am (UTC)
kishmet 14th-Feb-2012 03:05 am (UTC)
At first I was like "Hmm, interesting premise, I shall read on..."

And then I read a pervasive misconception encouraged by liberals who conflate the religious right with the working class and I was like "uh-oh..." because "misconception encouraged by liberals" never leads to anything good.

Actually it sort of just lead me to confusion because I don't get point number two. Is he trying to say Ivy League schools AREN'T attended primarily by rich white kids? Wait, numbers three, four, and five are also confusing me- wait- what is he trying to-

Ohhhhhh read your note and I get it now. "BROWN PEOPLE TAKING OVER WHARRRGARBL"

mollywobbles867 14th-Feb-2012 03:10 am (UTC)
fishphile 14th-Feb-2012 03:14 am (UTC)
OT: Anyone watching "Slavery By Another Name" on PBS?

If you turn major trigger warnings for abuse and racism (lynching pictures have been shown so take heed).
redstar826 14th-Feb-2012 03:55 am (UTC)
I have it set on my DVR. I read the book it's based on, so I'm curious to see how they did the documentary.
amyura 14th-Feb-2012 03:17 am (UTC)
His whole house of cards falls once you realize that he's assuming that IQ tests and conventional measures of "academic excellence" actually measure either intelligence or academic excellence. Teachers have known for generations that the tests basically measure nothing but social class. I tutor for the SATs, and my students generally see a 50-point-per-subject increase on their tests, and I wouldn't say I'm a whiz-bang tutor.

The Bell Curve was a shit book when he wrote it. Twenty years later it's still a shit book.
jettakd 14th-Feb-2012 04:47 am (UTC)
As someone who has taken numerous IQ tests, let me tell you they are absolute bullshit for quantifying actual intelligence. And even then being highly intelligent doesn't mean anything if you don't have the emotional, psychological, and social benefits of being able to actually utilize that intelligence to help yourself.

Hell, even the gender divide on those things is pretty staggering, and when I got higher than the tester expected of me since I'd recently been diagnosed with an LD, I got accused of cheating. None of the men taking the test had that happen. Not a single damn one (and yeah, they were all white as well).

>.> I have a lot of feelings about IQ testing. Like how it needs to die.
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