Systematic structural racism is not just a White-Black thing.  A Black man is less likely to be hired for a job with a community college degree than a white man who has just gotten out of prison. Those are not just words said to inflame some sort of anti-white sentiment.  They are statistics, which while prone to the usual vagaries, establish a pattern.  A pattern which matches with my own observations about my life and those around me. Yesterday in Minneapolis Minnesota a black man who was a licensed legal concealed carrier of a pistol was shot while attempting to comply with police orders.  Video from just after the man was shot is attached to this.   

Yes there are also statistics that talk of violent crime committed by black people.  That would excuse nervousness on the part of the general public.  Police officers need to be cool, calm, and objective in the execution of their awesome and grave authority to shoot people.


Police shooting during traffic stop leaves Minnesota man dead: family 

Some may wonder why I don’t write about things like the  Juno probe going into orbit around Jupiter, or the next interesting stellar phenomena.  The truth is right now I think my best contribution is to write about the things no one else is.  I like to highlight what is being kept in the dark but deserves more of the light.  Stay tuned for a careful review of an interesting paper by the noted theoretical Physicist Sean Carroll latter this week.  For now, something I and every person of any partial and visible African American descent have firsthand knowledge.


The statistical fact that informs what you will see in the video below is that a black man who tries to better himself by getting a two-year degree is about as likely to get a job as a white man coming out of prison.  I really wonder what the statistics are for a BS/BA, MS/MA/Mphil, JD/MD, and PHD/EDD. 

Once the individual applicant variables are added to the model, the evidence of a tester effect from the unconditional model disappears, indicating that differences between individual testers in the outcomes of the hiring process are accounted for by their race/ethnicity and the test conditions to which they were randomly assigned. Blacks and Hispanics are significantly less likely than whites to receive a favorable response from employers in the food service industry.

More specifically, black men’s chances of being contacted for an interview or offered a job are 21 percent smaller than white men’s chances, and Hispanic men are almost 15 percent less likely to advance through the hiring process than are whites. As expected, employers also are less willing to interview or hire male job applicants with a criminal record. On average, male ex prisoners seeking employment are 22 percent less likely to receive a favorable response from employers than male job applicants without a prison record.  Having a degree from a two-year community college did not significantly increase the likelihood of an applicant landing an interview or a job.

–  “Criminal Stigma, Race, Gender and Employment:  An Expanded Assessment of the Consequences of Imprisonment for Employment”, Scott H. Decker, Ph.D.,Cassia Spohn, Ph.D., Natalie R. Ortiz, M.S., Eric Hedberg, Ph.D. School of Criminology and Criminal Justice Arizona State University (PDF)


A black man with a community college degree has as much shot at finding a Job as a guy like Steven Avery of Making a Murderer (even IF Avery did it).  The colleges I work for try to sell the idea of "colleges to careers".  Thanks in part to decades of grade and credential inflation one can get a PhD in some fields and not get a career.  Even in STEM regardless of race.  We need to be honest and realistic with our students.   I am lucky in that I choose a education in STEM which also speaks to basic educational needs (mathematical/theoretical physics and astronomy).  I am lucky to have this platform at science20 in part because of that education. If not for that I'd likely be transgender call girl and/or have wound up with HIV or own a nail salon.  I almost went that route.

This is what occurred up in Minnesota. NOTE the officer involved in the below was supposedly Asian American*, not white. 


A nearly fatal confrontation similar to this occurred in front of my house and ended with the man being let go without incident.

I wrote in my stories about being #blackoncampus  about things that have happened to me even on a campus where I teach.  Including one campus police officer darn near drawing on me as I entered a faculty lounge area which has key carded access while holding a cold burrito I wanted to microwave.  Seriously I am a professor on that campus and still this kind of thing can happen to me.

Not to change the subject but I could talk about the really regressive gender and gender identity based discrimination I have experienced at the supposedly more cosmopolitan school I teach at.  A place where inspite of what ALL my ID except what my birth certificate says say female my records there say male.  Meaning I start every class outed to every student who arrives expecting a “Mr Farmer”.  I’ll save that for another day.  At least the suburban institution knows that these problems can exist in a college setting too and takes actions to correct them. I have never had a problem there. I wonder why.


This is part of the reality of being a black scientist in America.   This is the reality of simply being black.

America, a place where in spite of slavery and due to our hard work unfree and free we have become some of the most, if not the most powerful directly and recently African descended people. 

America, a place where we have fought and died for since the battle of Bunker Hill. 

America, a place where we invented things and contributed long before about 40% or so of the ancestors of most Americans came through Ellis Island. 

Our beloved America, in which we have sweated and bled in battle and by the whip where no one celebrates the American revolution with more fireworks and fervor this is what we get ?!

We are treated like strangers in a strange land in a place we have almost always been.  A land where we are equal in tenure to the settlers at Jamestown and second only to the American Indians.  The Indians, the one group that got the rawest deal in history. So thoroughly have they been driven into a corner here and there many of all colors don’t recognize the origin of my name.  (It was in a freaking Disney movie “Pocahontas”.  As inaccurate as that was … know at least that much history.  The first people here were not from Europe.) To be black is to be as unwelcome newcomers by the third and fourth generation relatively recent immigrants to this land.  They get to be just American, while things like the above incidents keep us black.

* The young woman in the video says “Chinese”, indicating an East Asian.   Possibly a somewhat racially insensitive way many in the US conflate Chinese with Japanese with Korean and even Vietnamese, Thai, from the Philippines, or  Cambodian.  Black people are not innocent babes in the woods but we seem to be the ones getting killed at a disproportionate rate in the USA.   As Josef Stalin said, “…only the unborn are innocent.”  


The killing of those police officers was a heinous act.   Some will ask why there will be no protest for them at least not compared to the protest over the shootings of black men like Philando Castile.  Here are the answers.

1.) There is no way that anyone who pulls the trigger on a cop will not got to prison for it.  In a case like Dallas life (if not the death penalty are likely).

2.) When black people like Philando are killed by the police no matter what the circumstances there is a whole system and a structure in place to make sure the police get away with it. 

3.) If Castile had a overdue library book we'll hear about.  If one of those police was dirty we will not. Castile will be called a thug no officer would be spoken ill of no matter what they could have been into.

Let me make it perfectly clear.  NOTHING JUSTIFIES KILLING THE POLCE.  This is not Nazi Germany and someone who does this is not some "Inglorious bastard" killing gestapo or something.  Whoever did this is just the regular kind of bastard.  They have provided those who would like to justify the killing of black men by the police with ammunition.  They have provided a veneer of rationale for the fear police and some others feel at seeing black skin.