More racism among middle class people than poor or working class people..?

Credit Karma Johmy
Feb 16, 2018 35 Comments

Ok, the title is meant to be provocative, but I’m not trolling. I think the media portrays racism in a dangerously misleading way in the US.

It’s always treated as a problem of bigotry among poor whites... especially in some “other” region.

I grew up in a “white trash” area (majority white, but nonwhite folks too) and people said a lot of racist things are there was certainly some ugliness and resentment that turned to bigotry and scapegoating. So you’d hear racial slurs a lot, but also people just talked a lot of crude shit in general. But pretty much everyone also knew and saw how cops treated young black folks and Latinos. Nobody liked the cops in general.

But then when I started working I realized that a lot of better-off people had horribly racist attitudes—but just didn’t use slurs and weren’t obvious about it. A good chunk of them were kinda liberal too and many believed they weren’t actually supporting racist policies or attitudes because they wouldn’t dare use a slur.

Even Trump supporters who were portrayed in the media as “salt of the earth” bigots, had a much higher median income than average voters who in turn have higher incomes on average than eligible non-voters. Like to the media someone who has a million dollar local contracting business or owns a print shop or something is “working class” because of cultural signals like t-shirts and baseball caps.

But then there’s the alt-right. Mostly recruiting college students, most active in California (also home to the largest number of organized hate groups). Most of their leaders are fairly well-off people with education and probably used to be college Libertarians. Going back in history, the NAZI brownshirts were middle class former low-ranking officers in the military and - again college students. They made arguments that Jews were unfairly using hidden connections to excel at small business or the professions... just like the alt-right claims affirmative action or women or whatever are unfairly taking “their spots”... as in their chant “the Jews won’t replace us”.

I think the media shows a shallow representation of racism based on Archie-bunker type stereotypes. Instead of speaking about racism structurally, they just moralistically hold their noses about poor whites using “crude” language. Some do, but generally folks are just more blunt about opinions compared to middle class people who tend to hide behind politeness.

I think this minimizes the harm and dangers of racism and also allows savvy white nationalists to get media attention as “provocative” or unconventional figures (rather than the racist nationalists they are) simply because the speakers don’t use crude language and are well educated or cultured.

Just posting it because I’m tired of hearing people in the Bay Area talk about racism as if it’s something outside or something that “uneducated poor whites” in other regions are wrapped up in. And I’m curious if other people who don’t have a middle class background experienced anything similar.

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TOP 35 Comments
  • Compass / Eng
    Pwyu55

    Compass Eng

    PRE
    Google
    Pwyu55more
    I’d take overt racism over covert racism any day. I’d rather hear someone call me a name and know exactly where I stand than the alternative where you spend forever experiencing racism but never being able to pin point it.
    Feb 16, 2018 1
    • ClassPass Ixbi51
      Yes! My current company is 80% white. You really feel the covert racism over here (offices are in SF and NYC). When it first happens, you think it's just that person. But when it happens over and over with various people. It's definitely you.
      Feb 16, 2018
  • Google usurper
    The problem isn't "racial slurs" or personal bigotry as much as "systemic racism": the kind of racial bias that is built into our media, justice systems, and education systems.

    For example, making a racist comment like calling someone "white trash" might hurt the person's feelings, but that's vastly different than racism like police shooting unarmed black people, or pulling someone over for "driving while black", or judges systematically giving out harsher prison sentences to black people than white people who committed the same crime.

    There was a study once where researchers sent out resumes to hundreds of different jobs. The resumes were identical, except for the name of the applicant. It turned out that applicants with "black sounding" names like Omar or Latisha were called back almost 10x LESS than applicants with "white sounding" names like John or Mary. For the exact same resume!

    That's the kind of racism that we need to fix.
    Feb 16, 2018 5
    • Have you heard of something called "Statisitc" or common sense? If one has met 10 Omar that are not good workers then why should one continue to try another Omar?
      Feb 16, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      Hooliganss

      Amazon Eng

      BIO
      Engineer at AWS
      Hooliganssmore
      Emotion often flies in the face of behavior-based trends. This is one of those cases.
      Feb 17, 2018
    • Google usurper
      Umm because your name has nothing to do with your work ethic or skills? Remember, these were the exact same resumes. A job should evaluate a person based on their skills and experience, not their name or what they look like.

      It's a little frightening that you don't understand that's what "common sense" is.
      Feb 17, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      Hooliganss

      Amazon Eng

      BIO
      Engineer at AWS
      Hooliganssmore
      Perhaps alibaba was talking about culture fit. If that’s the case, they might have a point.
      Feb 17, 2018
    • It's a little frightening that you don't understand what "common sense" is. Remember no responsible people hire based on resume alone. Google's recruiting syatem basically practices the same principle but it's more subtle so no one can call it out. Stop fooling yourself being a SJW.
      Feb 19, 2018
  • Compass / Eng
    Pwyu55

    Compass Eng

    PRE
    Google
    Pwyu55more
    I’m mixed black / European jew, I was born poor, worked into middle and upper middle class. Went to public and private schools. And I’ve seen this so many times.
    Feb 16, 2018 0
  • Credit Karma Johmy
    OP
    I mean... the SF police had a neo-Nazi ring a few years back, there’s a guy who tried to shoot up the SF ACLU recently, Oakland cops shot Oscar Grant and were initially not charged and allowed to hang out in another state. Hunter’s point has been destroyed, the Mission is pricing everyone out, Oakland was the HQ for Northern California KKK in the middle of the last century, Orange County rich people basically invented post-jim-Crow style modern racist local politics in the 70s, Identity Evropa hangs Nazi-like signs on the Bay bridge just last month, a millionaire in SF stabbed a guy while participating in a NAZI rally in Southern California last year, CHP was found to have colluded with and protected a white nationalist group who stabbed people at the Capitol building about a year ago - they told the stabber that he could help them build a case against the guy he stabbed... and there’s a huge ass LEGALLY RACIALLY SEGREGATED prison system here.

    Hell, I work in a building named after a California governor who rose to power in the early 20th century by promoting explicitly anti-Asian policies.

    And middle class Californians sip their coffee and pat themselves on the back for being better then them damn uncivilized rednecks in “Trump country”.

    I think we have to look much harder here and not rest in thinking that it’s somewhere else or just “those people” that are racist and making life hell for people.
    Feb 16, 2018 11
    • Credit Karma Johmy
      OP
      I think it would not be much different if there were no cops. But the underlying problems would remain, not just magically fix themselves either from locking up people or doing nothing.

      People have to believe and see that there’s a future for them, people need to feel respected and experience respect generally all the time so they don’t have to be tough and demand respect through flashy-wealth or threat of violence.
      Feb 17, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      Hooliganss

      Amazon Eng

      BIO
      Engineer at AWS
      Hooliganssmore
      So just to be clear, you don’t think there’d be a noticeable increase in all crimes of law enforcement disappeared?
      And you grew up in a poor environment yea?
      Feb 17, 2018
    • Credit Karma Johmy
      OP
      Yup. Again, police didn’t do anything in the first place - not on any fundamental level anyway. They just manage the existing violence, don’t prevent it. No one gave a shit about the possibility of prison time.

      People are like: “I don’t give a fuck” - why not? Be tough out of prison, be tough in prison, what you got to loose when nobody cares anyway?
      Feb 17, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      Hooliganss

      Amazon Eng

      BIO
      Engineer at AWS
      Hooliganssmore
      I guess that doesn’t reflect my experience. The people I grew up with didn’t like police, but they also didn’t want to be locked in a cage and treated like trash.

      What areas of the world have no law enforcement? Are they desirable to live in?
      Feb 17, 2018
    • Credit Karma Johmy
      OP
      Well most people just go about their own business and don’t do anything wrong. And not being afraid of going to prison is mostly teenage boy bs posturing. BUT I can’t remember anyone weighing the legal pros and cons before a fight or getting too drunk.

      The cops -at best- manage the violence already here. Preventing crime would involve giving people respect and a life worth living for. Most people don’t do anything violent and it’s not because of cops or prisons it’s because they try and cobble respect and sense of purpose/fulfillment from combinations of family, friends and religion or hobbies.

      But when that doesn’t work, and it doesn’t work all the time, you’re not going to get respect on the overnight shift at Walmart. Might force people to respect you, might fly off the handle one day, might end it all like so many middle aged men are doing these days, might as well sell drugs and flash some cash for respect.
      Feb 21, 2018
  • Facebook / Eng ywn
    I used to be from a poor white conservative area. In college was surrounded by middle class. Now the rich.

    I do think on average poor people are dumber and dumber ignorant people are more likely to be racist. If anyone thinks for a second that the bay area is as bad as some red states they need to get out more. And I mean into the south or Midwest because they haven't seen shit yet. You are correct when you say rich people just hide it more but I see it as rich people hate everyone more equally then the poor. If that makes sense? Basically rich people don't care about race they just view most of society as beneath them no matter the skin color.
    Feb 16, 2018 1
    • Facebook / Eng ywn
      While poor people really want to also look down on others so they readily support every thought that makes them feel superior even if they can't pay their cellphone bill.
      Feb 16, 2018
  • Accenture / Other
    obamacare

    Accenture Other

    BIO
    Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
    obamacaremore
    The worst racists I’ve ever encountered were wealthy, liberal swarthmore graduates living in Philadelphia.
    Feb 16, 2018 1
    • Amazon / Eng
      Hooliganss

      Amazon Eng

      BIO
      Engineer at AWS
      Hooliganssmore
      This. It’s actually quite perverse.
      Feb 17, 2018
  • Amazon LbnP88
    Media definitely paints it as a low income problem, when the most racist people start with the wealthy
    Feb 16, 2018 0
  • Amazon DdSF44
    Completely agree with your observation. And I think people in the Bay Area generally are clueless about racism. I’ve seen more racism here than I saw during my college years in the heartland. What makes the Bay Area especially bad is that we’re importing populations from places where it’s ok to be racist towards dark skinned people for instance.
    Feb 16, 2018 0
  • Lenovo / Product
    luckylass

    Lenovo Product

    PRE
    Lenovo, Symantec, Red Hat
    luckylassmore
    French. Revolution.
    Feb 16, 2018 0
  • Salesforce / Sales Ohana Man
    Dude, I think we spend way too much time talking about racism and race. People from all over the world want to come here. All colors and creeds. This is the most equal opportunity place on earth.
    Feb 17, 2018 3
    • Credit Karma Johmy
      OP
      This does not match the US experience I grew up in... not even for poor whites who might face elitism but aren’t weighed-down by racism.

      It also doesn’t match known economic metrics or the conclusions of most researchers:

      ““It’s becoming conventional wisdom that the U.S. does not have as much mobility as most other advanced countries,” said Isabel V. Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution. “I don’t think you’ll find too many people who will argue with that.””

      https://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/01/05/us/harder-for-americans-to-rise-from-lower-rungs.html?sq=mobility&st=cse&scp=1&pagewanted=all&referer=
      Feb 17, 2018
    • Salesforce / Sales Ohana Man
      Mobility is less than it used to be and that needs to be addressed, however it's a completely separate issue from racism. In fact, for mobility and inequality, racism is more of a distraction or deflection from elites in order to avoid the real issues.
      Feb 17, 2018
    • Credit Karma Johmy
      OP
      How can these issues be separated if at the time of “absolute mobility” (general mobility) in the two decades after WWII, redlining prevented blacks and Latinos in California from benefiting from an overall increase of mobility. Mobility only began reaching some people by the 1970s but by then the trend was reversing. Then auto manufacturing leaves Oakland, the port is automated and the small mobility gains are washed away leaving people more vulnerable when there is no longer a trend a inter-generational mobility.

      The RNC doesn’t even pretend to care. The DNC expects us to be happy if members of the small black middle class get exposure to high industry positions, but poor folks are left in the dirt and Bill Clinton punished poor people further just like Reagan (but more successfully because liberals didn’t make a peep).

      I think the problem is not that race is over-emphasized but that it’s not seen in an economic context as well. If politicians helped poor non-white folks to address neglect and structural racism, then poor white folks would also be better off - which would decrease some of the resentment and bigotry I did see from white people when I was a teenager.
      Feb 17, 2018
  • Microsoft Xhisia
    Some people are racists to you because they are ignorant, some people are racists to you because they know exactly who you are and they don’t like you.
    Oct 29, 2018 0
  • Twitch LDsM38
    I am East Asian. I found most white trash or stereotype Trump voters may be racist when first met but they are easier to become friends. While most WASP would discriminate anyone not WASP, including lesser whites like Southern or Eastern European. I could never changed their mind and they would always look down at me just because my skin color.
    Feb 21, 2018 0
  • 3M / Other uhgm57
    This actually explains Trump country quite well and the general animosity to the fakery of the coasts who dismiss the lower classes without attempting to understand them: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-trumps-rise-that-no-one-talks-about/
    Feb 16, 2018 0