People say/write some really dumb things in my presence. I debated writing about this but you know what… they need to learn. Plus, who gon’ check me boo?
Y’all… *takes a deep breath*
I have the enviable task of reading through research proposals and collaborating with scientists to help their projects move forward. For the most part, it’s all scientific jargon, “Prevalence this…statistical significance that…etc” But a few months ago, I stumbled across this gem:
“Race has shown an inverse relationship with poverty level since 2001″
For those of you who may not remember 9th grade math class, in an inverse relationship, as one thing goes up the other goes down.
So this mofo wrote that as race goes up, poverty goes down (and vice versa). Let’s reflect on this idiocy for a second.
My first thought when I read it was:
Let’s dissect this shit for a second.
1. Does this person thinks that race is this gradient-like measurement? So if you have a whole lot of it, then your poverty level goes down. Should we be walking around saying:
-“Oh shit, gotta get me some of that race stuff. You know that stuff keeps you from being poor”.
– “You think I’ll be able to find a jar at Trader Joe’s? I need to buy some organic almond butter, so I’d rather get some race while I’m already there.”
– “I’m pretty sure TJs is sold out, but I’ll get you an extra jar at the Farmers’ Market tomorrow.”
2. Or do they think that race is on a totem pole/ranking system? If you’re at the bottom, then you extra poor. How do you determine the middle?
– “What’s your race ranking?”
-“I’m not sure. What does 1 equal again?”
And if you’re multi-racial, are you parents’ rankings evenly weighted or population-weighted? Do they use the Current Population Weights from when your parents were born or when you were born?
Also, who does the ranking? Are the rankings constant across years or are they subject to change?
Example: If a Black person was a “3” in 2007, did they automatically get bumped to a “2” in 2008? You know, Black president, post-racial society and all!
But since B.O is bi-racial, do Black people get bumped a full-point in rankings or just half a point? Do White People get the other half? Who gets bumped down the ranks when one group gets bumped up?
So many unanswered questions….
Now as much I wanted to e-mail the person back and tell them:
That’s not enough. Their statement is IRRESPONSIBLE and as scientists WE NEED TO DO BETTER!
I think I understand what they were trying to say. “Due to complex societal issues such as structural racism, historically abused/disadvantaged groups are disproportionately represented in poverty.” I also know that they didn’t mean that the “totem pole” of race inferred that one race was superior than the other (or I hope they didn’t because that keeps me from wanting to punch them in the throat)
(P.S: Their advisor signed off on this bullshit. Now maybe the advisor missed the fuckery that is that statement or maybe, they also need to be checked. If that’s the case, this is for you as well boo boo. A PhD does not make you immune to stupidity)
But that’s not what they wrote. Their statement tells me that either:
– The more race I have, the less poor I am
– On the totem pole of race, those at the bottom are S.O.L. when it comes to poverty.
And as celebrities refuse to learn with their weak-ass apologies, IMPACT matters. Not just your fucking INTENT. I can’t read your mind but I can tell you how you made me feel.
Too many times in grad school, I sat in a class where we talked about race, sex or any other demographic as variables that you input in a mathematical model. Nothing more.
But they’re not just variables. My Black female self can tell you that.
Newsflash! Those words are describing people and we do a true disservice to the populations that we aim to serve when we only see their identities as these variables that we need to “control for”to build a robust model.