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June 02, 2012


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What standards do you use to determine if someone is race baiting?

Calvin Massey

Why is it important to "encourage[e] racial solidarity"?

Brando Simeo Starkey

See this previous post:

Also, above, I intimate its importance: "If the black community, for example, minimized the amount of blacks who violated these norms in, say, the 1940s, the community would have better positioned itself to directly challenge Jim Crow. That is to say, adherence to these norms enhances blacks’ capacity to direct legal triumphs."

But to further spell it out, I'll paste this from my proposal:

"By marshalling support for certain goals, racial solidarity provides blacks a path toward legal gains. By itself, it surely is not enough. In concert with other tools, however, racial solidarity can be extremely valuable. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, the 1960s sit-in movements and Project Confrontation in Birmingham in 1963 are perfect examples of racial solidarity, in tandem with other tools, helping produce civil rights victories. And even when it does not lead to substantive legal gains as was true with the anti-lynching movement, racial solidarity, in any event, has provided blacks with a starting point from which to resist their subordination."

Eric Muller

On your view, is racial loyalty (of the constructive variety) a virtue for all races?

Brando Simeo Starkey

Only for subordinate groups.

Orin Kerr

Which groups are subordinate? Can you list them?


Hensen's behavior sounds pretty vile, independently of whether we want to call it racial treachery or not. (I think it says something important about an organization or group that would use such tactics.) But before I'd want to come to a conclusion about racial treachery, I'd want to see more about a distinction between a permission to engage in racial solidarity in certain situations, and an obligation to do so. A permission to engage in racial solidarity in certain circumstances seems very plausible to me, while an obligation seems much harder to establish. (I don't at all want to say that it can't be, but I think it will be hard, and will apply in many fewer situations.) If we only have a permission, we can still talk about treachery, but I think it will then require more to show it- it will require deceit, or perhaps taking advantage of undeserved advantages gained by the group with unreasonable behavior following (a sort of explicit free-riding and then back-stabbing), or something along those lines. I don't know enough about the particular case to say whether treachery could be established if we only have a permission, but from the fact here it seems, at least, not obvious. If there's an obligation to engage in racial solidarity the case seems easier, but of course the obligation is itself much harder to establish.

Brando Simeo Starkey

Orin -- my book is about blacks and because I haven't spent the requisite time researching and investigating other groups, it would be improper for me to open up discussion on which groups are in fact subordinate. So I certainly won't be writing a list. But the obvious other group that might find it useful to police fidelity would be gays and lesbians, i.e., maybe Ken Mehlman should have been severely ostracized, to the extent that he wasn't, for his role in the Bush Administration involving anti-gay marriage initiatives. In any event, this debate is heading in a direction well beyond the intended scope of this post.

Matt -- your response is very thoughtful and appreciated. I want to think about it further.

Orin Kerr

Thanks for the response, Brando. You're of course free to define the project as you want to, and I realize that your project may be designed to exclude consideration of people with questions such as mine. But it seems to me that every person is a mix of many groups, ranging from their (sometimes mixed) racial identity and background to their family background, nation identity, gender, sexuality, and political views. If everybody is a mix, and there is no clear identification of who is subordinate or on what grounds, then I don't know how we can tell who is guilty of "treachery" against a particular group.

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