30th June 2012
Steve Sailer points out that black parents do their kids no favors with these bizarre names.
Out of the corner of my eye while reading Williams’s essay, I saw a link entitled “Charles M. Blow: Trayvon Martin.” My immediate thought was, “Oh, good, Trayvon sounds like a black name. This must be about another intelligent African-American writing or doing something interesting.”
But my brain answered back: “Nope, it’s about a Trayvon, not a Thomas Chatterton. It’s not on the sports page, so it’s going to be messed-up and miserable. And because it’s in the Times, not the Post, Trayvon’s going to be the victim, not the victimizer.”
Was that stereotyping? No doubt.
Stereotypes arise because of observed patterns of behavior. No patterns of behavior, no stereotyping. Example: Both blacks and Jews have historically been widely hated and subject to derogatory stereotypes — but blacks aren’t stereotyped as bloodsucking monylenders, and Jews aren’t stereotyped as lazy, shiftless and stupid. Chinese aren’t stereotyped as religious terrorists, Arabs aren’t stereotyped as melancholy drunkards, and Russians aren’t stereotyped as parent-dominated workaholics. Think about why that is.
Trayvon had tried to fit the stereotype of young black males aspiring to the thug life, picking a Twitter handle based on a rap song featuring convicted killer C-Murder. Just as Zimmerman had worried, Trayvon likely had dabbled in burglary: Martin was nabbed at his high school last fall with a backpack containing women’s jewelry and a screwdriver.
The win-win solution against stereotyping is for blacks to stop living down to their profiles.
The way to dissolve stereotypes is for people to quit embracing the patterns of behavior that reinforce the stereotype. Unfortunately, the political fashion of Identity Politics is for stereotyped groups to embrace, rather than reject, their stereotypes. In an environment where academically ambitious black kids can be shunned for ‘acting white’, there really is no hope.