It’s with more than a little sadness that I report on what appears to be the demise of  Started in 2005 by Spencer Overton, a George Washington University law professor, along with eight or nine other black law professors, consistently provided a sharp analysis on race, law and culture.  For me, was a model for what was possible when Joe and I started this blog in 2007.

I visited the site a few days ago and noticed that it was fallow, something others had noticed as well, and thought nothing of it.  People stop updating blogs for a lot of reasons and then eventually come back to them.  And, that’s what I had hoped for at

Until today, when I went back there to check something in their archive and I got one of those nasty, this-site-may-harm-your-computer messages.  It seems that the pharma-hackers have attacked the site so that now you can’t even see the content of the site.

It’s seems an ignoble end to a long-running and quite noble effort, and a collective of voices that will be missed.  RIP

Racism in the USA – and in the other USA: Views of Professor Jonathan Jansen

Over at Inside Higher Education, Ben Eisen has an interesting interviewwith Professor Jonathan D. Jansen, a South African who after the end of apartheid became the first black dean of education at South Africa’s very racially conservative University of Pretoria.

In his interview with Eisen, Professor Jansen talks about living between two racial cultures and compares the USA to the USA:

Universities in South Africa and the USA were formed in very similar circumstances where racial formation played crucial roles in knowledge production as well as in patterns of racial socialization and racial segregation. The book produced by Spelman’s president, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? … resonates with the South African experience; and I believe Knowledge in the Blood reflects some of the same tensions and struggles in the USA. The big difference, of course, is that blacks hold power in the Republic of South Africa while blacks remain a minority in the USA, and this has implications for the transformation of these patterns of racial division.

The product description of Jansen’s new book, Knowledge in the Blood, is very interesting and suggests other direct parallels between whites, including white youth, in both countries:

This book tells the story of white South African students—how they remember and enact an Apartheid past they were never part of. How is it that young Afrikaners, born at the time of Mandela’s release from prison, hold firm views about a past they never lived, rigid ideas about black people, and fatalistic thoughts about the future? … Jansen offers an intimate look at the effects of social and political change after Apartheid as white students first experience learning and living alongside black students. He reveals the novel role pedagogical interventions played in confronting the past, as well as critical theory’s limits in dealing with conflict in a world where formerly clear-cut notions of victims and perpetrators are blurred.

So, many white youth “hold firm views about a past they never lived, rigid ideas about black people.” Sounds like the other USA?

Customers Choosing White Men

An article in the June 23, 2009 issue of the New York Times’ Science section discusses the results of a study to be published in a future issue of The Academy of Management Journal.

The researchers divided 86 college students into three groups and showed each group one of three video clips about sales clerks. The sales setting details in the clips were identical, with one important exception: the demographic characteristics of the sales clerks varied. In one clip the sales clerk was a white woman, in the next a black man, and in the last a white man.

There were substantial numbers of women and nonwhites in each group, but the students rated the white man’s performance highest.

The study’s lead author stated in an interview that

Everyone –white, black, men, women—think the white man is more valuable. Someone needs to call customers out on their biases.

It’s a noble suggestion, but in all likelihood the outcome will not be the one hoped for: Customers will be more cautious about expressing in public their true beliefs on sex and race.