The Poor White Sasquatch:
The Over Emphasis of Fragmented Inequality and the Most Unacknowledged Group in America
Three and a half years ago in a democratic primary debate Bernie Sanders doubled down on his assertion white people don’t know what it’s like to be poor, to live in the ghetto, to be harassed, and emphasized the need to end institutional racism and fix a broken criminal justice system.(1) I am returning to this assertion because it embodies the most prevalent discrimination in the United States against the most under represented group. The most under represented group in the United States is poor white people, and to a greater degree than white women, the heterosexual poor white male.
Why the heterosexual male? Obviously because the gay male has the benefit of belonging to the LGBT community making his problems, the problems of a group whose interests are over represented because the discrimination is exaggerated. Not only is sexuality discrimination exaggerated, but as a member of a group where public perception has been built to construe your group as being persecuted, members benefit from preferential treatment from the general public as well as opportunities that are exclusive to the group.
The promotion of discrimination is central to the purpose of the group and those who have adopted the group’s cause. The importance of the cause can be judged by the amount of impressions, not the number of incidents or even the degree of incidents. Which means it suffices to talk about homophobia generally, and discrimination against the LGBT community generally, to create the popular perception that it is a problem. It requires neither an example nor an explanation concerning what constitutes sexuality discrimination or homophobia. All it requires is the repeated announcement of the problem.
Andy Ngo investigated an alleged 15 homophobic attacks in the Portland area and found only one was reported to police. Following the social media, activist, and journalistic trail sources of these attacks refused to respond to his inquiries. Activists groups were encouraging people to anonymously report incidents, media reported on an unsubstantiated account from a self established victim who did file a police report, and many of the social media posts were the product of rumors with no verifiable source or police report. At the conclusion of Ngo’s investigation, he shared the details with Wilfred Reilly, a political scientist who authored a book based on the investigation of 500 hate crime hoaxes occurring primarily between 2013 and 2018. He doubted the authenticity of the attacks based on the likelihood that a victim of unprovoked violence would report the incident to the police. (2)
The definition is important as well as degree which is stretched. It is stretched because it relates to the promotion of the problem. The activist and group has an interest in finding discrimination. Anything that can be interpreted as discrimination is interpreted as discrimination and members of the group are trained to be paranoid.
Black people in the United States are probably the most racially paranoid group. Which has nothing to do with them being black and everything to do with the ideas concerning the prevalence of racism. People make mistakes frequently, and myself probably to a greater degree than others considers whether or not the person has inconvenienced me on purpose. Naturally I’m considering what it is about me that motivates a person to treat me less than they would treat others. I believe the first thing that comes to mind to many black people when considering the reasons for poor service or bias treatment, is am I being treated this way because I am black? This question isn’t asked from an objective place, this question is being asked in an environment where race is emphasized to the degree where it is the only explanation for bias treatment during interracial interaction. Racial motivation is probably incorrect more often than not, based on treatment that stems from honest mistakes and probably more so people who have a negative disposition towards people in general.
I attended a group in Kansas City I found through Meet Up. It is called Real Conversations on Racial Diversity. There was an older black woman in attendance who arrived prior to half of those who would attend. After I went through the questions the organizer prepared, the woman wanted to discuss an example of how she felt she was being racially discriminated against. She brought up that throughout the years white tellers she believed purposefully gave her the change of the worst quality and brought in examples of change she received recently. It was the most frivolous example of racism I’ve ever heard.
I didn’t argue against her for a few reasons. First I think most people recognized it was a frivolous example, although when she told the story of a teller handing her back a 5 dollar bill that she thought had blood all over it and refused it, an older white woman in attendance said she thought if she were in line would she have said something if she witnessed it, and hoped she would have. The second reason is I’m unfamiliar with this group and I had the feeling this woman probably had a history of these kind of assertions with the group, so it would have been distasteful and probably overshadowed the reason I was attending the group. Third, if she truly believes the change she receives is based on racial discrimination, her interpretation of these events throughout the course of her lifetime is unlikely to change based on my account of also receiving change that reflects the effects of circulation. This woman has decades worth of experiences she has interpreted as being racially motivated, and I have no way to objectively show that it hasn’t, only my own interpretation of events I didn’t witness, based on the fact that change is damaged in circulation and all of us have received change that qualifies as being disgusting.
My interpretation of events on matters of race is not objective from my own perspective. Something I considered when I brought up what I expressed earlier in the article. When I experience poor service or poor treatment I consider what it is about me that provoked it. I commented that if I were black I would at least have to consider unequal treatment could be racially motivated. A few weeks prior to this meeting I met with a friend from Denver. I rented a hotel in Montobello, I think it was the Clarion off of I70, right next to the Taco Bell.
Before taking her home somewhere between 1 and 3am we went through the Taco Bell drive through. I pulled out of the drive through and she went through the bag and the order was missing two tacos. I went through the drive through and instead of the woman giving me my order she argued with me about the tacos being in the bag which they weren’t. We go back and forth and her manager said the store manager would have to check the cameras. I’m unpleasant about the situation and they closed the windows. I threw my ice water at the windows and left.
After explaining my story one of the black men asked what color were they? Black and Latina. I don’t know if it was racially motivated and at the time I thought they may have been jealous of two people laughing and enjoying themselves, but I didn’t even consider race until he asked me weeks later at this group. In fact I hadn’t considered race in any treatment nearly my entire life, which says something given the places I’ve been. The fact that I don’t consider race probably has a lot to do with the places I’ve been.
In Milwaukee, the county jail and the house of corrections (which is another county facility) consists of a black majority. Naturally the prison population is also a reflection of urban populations due to the concentration of the population being higher in urban areas. Rural areas are just the opposite, which is to say I’ve been in jails that were almost exclusively white. In an urban jail setting the racial stereotypes prevalent from black people about white people was generally along the lines that white people were soft, gullible, or corny. There are times in my life when these impressions caused me to react more aggressively with black people if I perceived any of those things in intent.
At the same time I didn’t experience a great deal of that towards me, because I exuded solid characteristics. Meaning the stereotypes lost their meaning with me because they didn’t apply. To a very significant degree. I remember playing cards and dominos with this group of older black people on a regular basis, one was named Al, and another Black, Black was a little younger and there were alternates who I didn’t interact with as much or who didn’t leave a strong enough impression for me to remember their names. They would talk about things with racial undertones, but Al would qualify it with me, we aint talking about you “O”, or that doesn’t apply to you “O”, not out of fear, but out of respect based in the acknowledgement that it wasn’t applicable.
I didn’t keep company exclusively with this group but interacted with a lot of different circles in respect to race and age. I also didn’t modify my behavior based on these stereotypes, my manner and behavior was the result of common values within that setting, and common superficial values in regard to style. I didn’t feel any sense of belonging nor did I try to belong. I’d incorporate things because of the value they held. Some superficially in regard to preferences of style, some for the value they had in communication, and some were simply general values that contradicted the white stereotype. I was never trying to “be down” with black people which is a key element of white gullibility in that setting. Some white people are trying to impress a black audience and become susceptible to being taken advantage of in an effort to earn the respect they already lost with their approach. Which isn’t to say only white people were taken advantage of, anyone who was soft or gullible was taken advantage of, but these characteristics were expected from white people.
I could go much deeper into it but it deviates too far from the purpose of this article. The point is, which is an important point in regard to racism, there are valid roots. If my behavior didn’t reflect my values which were semi-consistent with their values, I may be disliked not because I was white, but because they didn’t value my behavior
The aforementioned isn’t the subject of me being an exception to stereotypes. It begins as an explanation of why I don’t consider racism as motivation when I feel the treatment by a person of another race is below my standards or seemingly consisting of ill intent, and establishes a very fundamental truth about racism. Racism is illogical because there are always exceptions within the people of a race that are not consistent with the prejudices that serve as the root of racism. Yet the fact remains there are people whose behavior is consistent with the stereotypes. The stereotype exists because the behavior exists despite the fact the behavior cannot be universally applied to the entire race. There is validity to racism because it isn’t a dislike of people, it is a dislike of behavior that an individual assigns to a group. The assignment stems either from members of the group leaving impressions of this behavior on the individual, or something leaving impressions about the groups behavior on the individual. .
The only way to change the mind of a racist is welcomed and repeated exposure that contradicts an individual’s stereotypes of the race. Everyone has prejudice based on the impressions left upon them by groups, which goes beyond race to other groupings, people who take the greyhound bus, people who drive pick up trucks, people who dress a certain way, talk a certain way, and so on and so forth. The difference between being racist and being prejudice which everyone is, is after interacting with a person that experience forms your perception of them, whereas the racist doesn’t acknowledge the interaction and maintains his prejudice despite experience to the contrary.
Just days ago Afro-Future Youth was hosting a rap concert in Detroit. (3) The group initially tried to charge white people double the ticket price to attend the show. The group changed the pricing after only one artist was offended enough to withdraw from the show and speak out publically, and a promotional website threatened to pull the event from their page. There are two things that are significant about this event. The first is the general culture where a group feels comfortable enough to charge white people more for the same experience. Which is the lesser of the two points.
The second is based on the groups explanation for the pricing difference. The group stated the pricing was based on white people having the ability to experience entertainment in any community they choose, and people of color only having the ability to experience entertainment in their own communities. Basically, the higher price for white people is intent on dissuading a white audience from attending to ensure there is enough room at the event for people of color.
This is at the core of the over emphasis of race inequality in this country, and speaks to how poor white people are excluded from American perception. In this groups mind, the same as Bernie Sanders, white people have the money to attend any event in any community and people of color do not. Being white is associated with having means when the two are not mutually inclusive. The same as being a person of color does not mean you were born into poverty.
There are two notable facts to consider the first is more solid than the second but the second is just as valid to people who do not have an interest in pushing a race based agenda. First, how do we define poor? I define poor as anyone in the bottom 40% of the wealth distribution.(4) The reason being is the bottom 40% of the wealth distribution has negative wealth which means two things. First, the obvious, they have more debt than they have assets. The simplest way to understand wealth is surplus income in all its forms, any money remaining after consumable spending (food, rent, fuel, health and beauty), and whatever is purchased with that money that retains value like a car, house, etc. If a people is without wealth or has negative wealth, this means their income isn’t sufficient to meet their necessary expenses. Which should be an objective way to determine if someone is poor.
It has proven notoriously difficult to find statistics on the racial breakdown of the bottom 40%. There is an abundance of data on the overall difference between income, wealth, and financial wealth between race, but nothing I’ve found that shows the percentage of people by race by quintile. However, it is easy to draw a few conclusions based on general population statistics. The population is 13% black, 18% Hispanic, and 60% white.(5)
The median wealth of black people is a little over $13,000.(6) Which means what? Which means less than half of all black people are in the bottom 40% of the wealth distribution and cannot be considered poor. Which means black people as 13% of the total population comprise less than 6 and probably in the neighborhood of 3 to 4 % of people considered poor in the United States. We’ll speculate with a high figure like 5% of people in the bottom 40% are black. It is difficult to know at what point below the half of black people who have $13,000 in wealth have no and negative wealth.
The median wealth of Hispanics is 6,300 dollars.(7) Meaning at least 50% of Hispanics are not in the bottom 40% of the wealth distribution. Hispanics are 18% of the population, and we will give generous representation and estimate that 7% are in the bottom 40%.
Asians represent 6% of the total population with a median wealth amount of $93,000.(8) The gradient to the bottom 40% is likely more prolonged and I will represent Asians as 2% which is still probably generous.
I’m not mentioning natives because natives comprise only 1.3% of the population. Despite the fact that natives probably represent the greatest group proportion of people in the bottom 40% of the wealth distribution, I do not want to include fractional percentages in this illustration.
Black people represent at most 5%, Hispanics represent at most 7%, and Asians represent at most 2% of membership in the bottom 40% of the wealth distribution. That is 14% represented by these minority groups. Who comprises the remaining 26%? White people. Which means not only do white people know what it’s like to be poor, they are the majority of poor people in this country.
The secondary point is this. People of color who are born into money benefit from all the advantages that white people born into money. White people who are born poor, face not only the same disadvantages of people of color who are born poor, but additional disadvantages because not only are they without advocacy groups, they don’t exist in the minds of people like Bernie Sanders and other so called progressives. Judging by the attention they receive on the lips of politicians, social justice activists, the media, or from nearly any other source for that matter, no one seems to know poor white people exist. As I expressed in a comment recently, the greatest ally of the Trump election and campaign is progressives. Although Trump doesn’t represent poor white interests, he also doesn’t pretend to represent the interest of minorities which probably seems like the closest thing to representation poor white people can find.
Bernie said in 2016, we need to “fix the broken criminal justice system”. What is the common theme of people incarcerated that transcends race? The pre-incarceration median income for people incarcerated is $19,650 per year. $21,975 for whites, $19,740 for Hispanics, and $17,625 for blacks. (9) Roughly an $80 per week difference between the incarcerated white person verses the incarcerated black person in pre-incarceration income.
Gender inequality has to be the poster child for what I mentioned previously in regard to groups or advocates of groups interpreting everything possible as gender discrimination. The US women’s soccer team won the world cup and many media outlets are decrying the discrepancy in pay for a women’s championship team verses a men’s championship team. I was driving back from a job and heard the topic being discussed on NPR. My first thoughts were that women were paid less because women’s soccer doesn’t generate as much revenue as men’s soccer because it attracts less attention. I surmised that women’s soccer players are probably paid more as a percentage of overall revenue than the men’s teams, and when I googled women’s soccer revenue I found an article by John Glynn (10) that substantiated this hypothesis. There were other articles emphasizing gender discrimination with the omission of the obvious facts that it isn’t gender discrimination
The activist left is always on a crusade of irrelevancy, the champion of disadvantaged people who are not disadvantaged. They seek to make sexual harassment out of anything that can be misconstrued as sexual harassment. I’m not a fan of Joe Biden, but for substantive reasons based on his career in politics, not because of how he has been slandered by the extreme left media. It began with the woman accusing him of sexual harassment a few months ago for touching her shoulders and kissing the back of her head. An act that lacked any clear sexual intent, and how can a person know if something they are doing is making someone uncomfortable unless they are told?
In the absence of something more substantive, they attempt to make their case through sheer volume of frivolous accusations. Vox recently published an article implying that Biden is a pedophile.(11) They highlighted comments he made on the campaign trail and implied they were sexual in nature. He told a 10 year old girl she was good looking. This used to be called a compliment. In another incident he told the brothers of a 13 year old girl they’re going to have to keep the boys away from her. Again, it used to be called a compliment, intent on instilling confidence and affirming a person’s positive qualities. While obviously a hit piece it speaks to the broader culture of emphasis on women’s advocacy and creating the illusion that gender inequality is more of an issue than it actually is.
Are women being denied jobs because they are women? Are women being denied educational opportunities because they are women? Are women being denied opportunities for housing or services based on gender? Now replace women with racial minority or LGBT person and ask the same questions. The answer is a resounding NO.
Now ask the question are people being denied jobs based on class? Yes, many jobs require credit checks, or tools which some people are not able to afford. Are people being denied educational opportunities based on class? Yes. On more levels then simply tuition, as even public education requires a home possessed of means for the creation of an environment that is conducive to learning, and at the higher education level there are other associated costs with living and study that elude the means of capable people to take advantage of. Naturally, housing and service options depend on what one can afford, and what an individual can afford is determined by their opportunities to make money, which has a lot to do with where they start.
I’m not saying racism, sexuality discrimination, and gender discrimination doesn’t exist, but I am saying it is represented disproportionate to actual meaningful occurrences by a culture who is trained to manufacture incidents through faulty interpretations of events and exaggeration.
Popular perception asserts that all white people have advantages, the poor white male has to answer for his white privilege to minorities who began in circumstances advantageous to his own. He has to answer for slavery despite the fact his origins likely begin from the majority of the population in this country who did not own slaves, or who have migrated to the US within the last 150 years. He is bombarded by impressions of priority for group interests while the adversity he faces, he faces alone and in silence.
The exclusion of poor white people from existence is held in place by the propensity of human beings to interact with people at their own socioeconomic level. The same as there are few white people in black and brown communities there is few poor white people living in middle and upper class white communities, and few middle and upper class white people living or interacting with poor white communities. Meaning the perception of many advantaged whites is that all white people are advantaged, and the perception of many minorities is that all white people are advantaged. The reality is that white people are the majority of disadvantaged people in this country, the poor white male has no advocacy groups, and like the sasquatch, there are no credible accounts of his existence in the media, from social justice advocacy groups, politicians, or from any medium of mass impression.
1: The Week, 3/6/2016, “Bernie Sanders Criticized for Saying White People Don’t Know What Its Like to Be Poor”. (https://theweek.com/speedreads/610905/bernie-sanders-criticized-saying-white-people-dont-know-what-like-poor)
2: The New York Post, 3/13/2019, “Inside the Suspicious Rise of Gay Hate Crimes in Portland”, Andy Ngo (https://nypost.com/2019/03/30/inside-the-suspicious-rise-of-gay-hate-crimes-in-portland/)
3: CNN, 7/8/2019 “A Detroit Festival Charged White People $20 and Black People $10, Then They Got Hit With Backlas”. Amir Vera and Hollie Silverman (https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/07/us/afrofuture-fest-charging-wipe-people-trnd/index.html) From a marketing perspective, what Afro Future did was very intelligent albeit probably not intentional. In the racist and controversial pricing they have attracted a great deal of attention to their brand, and not everyone has a negative view of this move as the CNN article suggests. A Buzzfeed article on the event provided examples of people who supported white people paying more.
4: Wealth Distribution 2016 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/203961/wealth-distribution-for-the-us/)
5: US Census Bureau, (https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/IPE120217)
6: Forbes, 2/14/2019, “African American’s, Wealth a Fraction that of Whites Due to Systemic Inequality”. Christian Weller. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/christianweller/2019/02/14/african-americans-wealth-a-fraction-that-of-whites-due-to-systematic-inequality/#5510714b4554)
7: Prosperity Now, 10/16/2018 “Racial Wealth Snapshot: Latino Americans” Jose Macias. (https://prosperitynow.org/blog/racial-wealth-snapshot-latino-americans)
8: Prosperity Now, 5/10/2018 “Racial Wealth Snapshot: Asian Americans” Sammi Chen (https://prosperitynow.org/blog/racial-wealth-snapshot-asian-americans)
9: Prison Policy, 7/5/2015 “Prisons of Poverty: Uncovering the Pre-incarceration Incomes of the Imprisoned”, by Bernadette Raybuy and Daniel Kopf. (http://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/income.html)
10: The Federalist, 7/8/2019 Yes, “There is a Gender Pay Gap: The Women Make More Than the Men Do” John Glynn. (https://thefederalist.com/2019/07/08/yes-soccer-pay-gap-women-make-men/)
11: Vox, 6/13/2013 “Joe Biden Hasn’t Changed His Behavior with Girls or Women. For His Base that Might be Fine” Anna North (https://www.vox.com/2019/6/13/18663399/joe-biden-10-year-old-hyde-women)