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« Obama's VP text/e-mail announcement and faith in the next generation | Main | For the self-righteous, hypersensitive moron in us all... »

August 15, 2008




Well now you have quotable evidence from a NYT study that says you're like, omg so super hot.


That's true. Perhaps the study is just a Craigslist Casual Encounters post masquerading as a serious report. :)

Hank Williams

As I commented a week or two ago, there is at least a bit of irony here. You are upset that they have done a piece of research that ascribes certain general problems (and at least one opportunity) to mixed race kids. But you have no problem yourself generalizing about black men, and really most importantly, making life long dating conclusions and decisions largely based on that generalization.

In my view, in this particular case, this type of research (which you have only apparently read the blog summary of) is incredibly valuable and comes from people with impeccable cred in terms of benevolent intent as well as academic rigor.

Specifically, I tend to have a lot of respect for Levitt, but I have enormous respect for Roland Fryer, a brilliant young black behavioral economist from Harvard that has dedicated his career to trying to figure out how to analyze and fix problems associated with black underachievement, and particularly academic achievement differences.

This kind of work is truly important, and, of course, cannot be fully exposed in a blog post. I strongly suspect (without of course knowing) that if Levitt summarized it the way he did, it is because the conclusions he describes were statistically decisive. The fact that he is very self deprecating in the blog post regarding the ability to draw correlations from some of the findings also suggests that he is in no way overstating the results. He states clearly that there is more work to be done and that many conclusions *can't* be made based on the research. I suspect he highlighted a few conclusions that definitively could be made.

Your desire, as a mixed race person, to disassociate yourself from the findings is understandable, but I think is over sensitized, since no research could ever encompass the life experience of every individual. But it is, nevertheless, important research to do.

As far as attractiveness, there are indeed highly scientific ways of measuring perceived attractiveness, and if I am not mistaken (getting old, memory weak) the subject of measuring peoples perceptions of attractiveness is pretty well covered in the Levitt & Dubner's Freakonomics book. In short, it is a pretty easy thing to research. And given the fact that we *know* again through research, that attractiveness unfortunately effects all kinds of things in our society in very important ways, looking at this subject from a behavioral economics perspective is indeed important and useful.


ryan, you've been schooled.


Hi Hank,
I read all 45 pages of the report. From the start, I found the data set to be thin – as I mentioned in my post. And, in fact, judging by the number of times the authors mentioned the lack of concrete data (about 5 or 6 times – they could only find one viable data set to base their study off of), they did too.

I read Freakonomics as well (can you believe it! She reads BOOKS too!). And I’ve always had an issue with the mindset to which the authors approach socio-economic issues in terms of race. I remember reading the section on African-American names and thinking to myself, “Okay. African-Americans are creative baby-namers. But isn’t it the problem of our culture to blindly judge based on a name? Why should African-Americans be the ones at fault?”

But I digress. The real problem here: my post on CNN’s Black in America/dating white guys really hit a nerve in you. I already addressed your concerns on that thread, but apparently to no avail. We can go back together and, for a third time, re-read exactly what I said in the post (which you very badly misrepresented here). Or, you can go through the post again on your own. Only this time, put aside your impetuous objection to my pre-adolescent point of view and actually read the words I typed. Then process the post (in its entirety) for a minute or two. I think that’ll help.

And you over there? Zoe? Time to head off to bed and let the grown ups talk. Good girl!


yeah, this paper really rubbed my hide the wrong way. (and not just because i'm biracial.) there's something about the initial question, the sample, the methodology and the conclusions that scream 'problematic' to me.

i'm about to do a deep dive on my blog, as well as Bitch Ph.D about it. hope you have a chance to visit.



I don't mean to throw more fire into the argument, but I kind of see Hank's point.

You chastise the study based on the same type of constructions and logical progressions you use in your post to justify why you date white guys.

You kinda want to have your cake and eat it, too. You don't like conclusions based on sweeping over-generalizations, but you seem to think yours are a-ok because you caveat them with a one-off disclaimer stating that not all [certain group of people] do [certain behavior]. This is a slippery slope, and can be construed as intellectually lazy. ("omg jews are so greedy! well i mean not all of them, i know, but the ones i've met, totally. That's why I shy away from them now").

I see how there is value in the study, just as I see how there is value in your post. But, just like the study might prove offensive to biracial people who don't "fit" into the conclusions of the study, your life as seen through your eyes only, which details an early experience with only a certain segment of the black male population--which does seem to be a segment that falls into the usual stereotypes--might prove disheartening to some.


I will not broach response to your sadly pathetic remarks to me, as they have no foundation or meaning.
I would, however, like to discuss the actual issue, please. First of all, levitt’s usage of the word plight is ironic. I resent overly defensive, illogical self-righteousness; it is self pitying and embarrassingly moronic. There are scientifically proven statistics that have been recognized in the article and to ignorantly deny these facts exacerbates racism and prejudice. It is overwhelmingly frustrating that we as a society cannot discuss race without being attacked by selfishly hypersensitive morons who live on the defensive at the jeopardy of knowledge and advancement.


Hi Juan, my friend :)
As an 11-year old girl, perhaps I stereotyped a bit. I'll give you that. I was a kid, just beginning to make sense of the world.

Now I'm a woman who makes it her mission in life to throw stereotypes by the wayside. Juan, you should know that. In the post you and Hank are referring to, I never once said I've closed myself off to dating black men - or any kind of man, for that matter. I'm a biracial woman who has deigned to date outside of her race. And somehow, by trying to dissect and understand why my dating patterns are what they are, I end up defending myself. How unbelievably sad.

If you and Hank feel so strongly about the issue, please, by all means, write a post about it on your own blog. I'd love to read it.

Manny Stevens

Zoe, I think you're missing the point.

The data in this article indeed doesn't jive with what we see in real life. Having lived both in the burbs, as well as low-income housing I've met many people of many races. I've also met many interracial people. I've seen absolutely no trend of interracial / fatherless, low income homes. When's life experiences contradict a study, one can't help but wonder where the study got its data set.

Zoe, next time, follow this recipe for success:
1. Think critically
2. Put thought into what you say
3. Come up with original points rather than regurgitation

Follow these 3 simples steps and (I can't make any promises, but) you may have a shot at coming off as intelligent rather ignorant and defensive.


Zoe - While I love debate and differing opinions, you seem to have no back up to your disagreements. It's rather embarrassing to read your comments, on a topic, so important to Ryan, and many of us, and yet you have no substantive remarks to add.

Get it together. It would be nice to engage in an actual discussion, not just listen to your drivel. It's boring, immature and unnecessary.


More on topic, now. First, this study does a disservice to those of us who are mixed race. The reason why it is so hard to define, through identity, through sociology, mixed race peoples, is because the mixing creates an unknown. Genetically, it's certainly obvious, and, sociologically, the factors are so many, people have a hard time pinning all of this down.

While I understand the desire to study this, they seem to be trying to herd cats. They also tried to shove everyone together and needn't bother actually defining the mixed races they studied. Guess what? That's kinda important!

The oversimplified a topic that just can't be boiled down so simply or small.


Oh & slightly off topic of Freakanomics. JPastor - People are allowed to date/love whomever they want & shouldn't have to apologize or explain themselves. I don't give a shit & neither should anyone else. Skin color doesn't make the person.



Don't get me wrong, I applaud your honest conversations and refreshing views on race, sexuality, and even (I can't believe I'm saying this) politics, in fact, I admire it.

And I do NOT think you should explain why or apologize for who you date. However (and this is more in response to rosaparks), you were the one who decided to (bravely, I must say) blog about it, perhaps making it seem to some (Hank?) that you felt you had to explain it or justify it.


Manny, you begin with what ‘we’ see in real life and then proceed to talk about where ‘you’ have lived and the people ‘you’ have known. The fact that ‘I’ am biracial and have lived/been all over the world is just as irrelevant to this conversation.

Rosa, you question the ‘back-up’ to my statements. I did not realize that I needed ‘back-up’ to such a simple, obvious and general statement; there are countless research-driven studies on race that anyone in this conversation should be privy to. But, more to the point, we are discussing a specific article and a specific book that have already been discussed above by hank. What exact ‘back-up’ are you looking for?

It’s irritating that the moment someone blatantly disagrees with the premise to this discussion, everyone resorts to unfounded condescension and unnecessary and irrelevant personal attacks.

I find both of your arguments directed towards me incredibly emotionally-driven and hypocritical. Although I disagree with ryan, at least she defends her opinions with reasoning, rather than just spouting empty remarks. Do you either of you have any direct points that you want to make about race? If you would like to discuss actual data and research I would be happy to partake.


Rosa, in response to what you said to jpastor: Jpastor was clearly pointing out how ironic it was of ryan to state that she generally dates white men. For you to respond by saying ‘skin color doesn’t make the person’ makes absolutely no sense. I’m baffled by how this discussion, aside from hank and jpastor, has circled so far away from sense. This situation, interestingly, is representative of the most recent race for our democratic candidate; it’s a losing battle.


You've been schooled is your idea of a thoughtful & intellectual conversation? Really? Huh.

Emotional? You don't know me, so you have no way of knowing what the state of my emotions are. Stick to the topic, please.


JPastor - your comment just now makes more sense to me. Thanks for the clarification. I think I was confused by the idea that dating whomever is ironic...

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