Critical Reasoning in Action (Statistics)
The third part of “Race: The Power of an Illusion” which was entitled “The House We Live In” discussed how influential organizations or institutions in society fuel reality assumptions that veer away from the truth. Earlier discussion by interviewees in this particular episode emphasized how race is a myth that is detached from the truth. However, although biological studies have proven that the guidelines that form the foundations of race and racial classifications are not real, the reality of race in itself becomes real because society willed it to be.
The sociologist, Melvin Oliver, has conversed that although race is meaningless, it becomes a reality grasped by human beings not only because they have adapted the perspective of racial classification from their cultural backgrounds, but because influential public and private institutions in society exploit the concept of race to create seemingly valid truths. Central to this discussion is the role of public and private institutions in developing, implementing, and promoting public policies that cunningly emphasizes racial distinctions, consequently forming racial inequalities and injustices.
For Mae Ngai, a historian, the United States is a highly racialized country from the start, with the prevalence of the slavery of African Americans in the past, and consequently the White people’s colonization of the Native American Indians. Expounding on what Ngai has said, the concept of race and racial classifications have been a significant part of the American culture and it will be difficult to abolish the people’s established views on race.
The introduction of the American setting as a highly racialized nation sets the stage for further discussions on the role of public and private institutions in promoting reality assumptions about race. Aside from the palpable views that this episode was trying to convey, the issue of racial disparity is also evident on how public and private institutions try to organize and keep track of race in an effort to solidify the lines that divide the population in the nation.
Apparently, the general media is being utilized by these public and private institutions in order to use or abuse statistics to congeal race as a social and cultural construct. The remainder of this discussion will focus on three examples of statistics found in the general media tackling issues of race and class in order to determine how they are being used and/or abused by influential organizations or institutions in society. In 2005, the U. S. Department of Justice has released a report on homicide trends in the country with emphasis on racial differences.
The report constituted six charts detailing racial differences on homicide victimization from 1976 to 2005, homicide offending from 1976 to 2005, homicide type from 1976 to 2005, homicide by race of offender and victim from 1976 to 2005, and homicides by race of offender and victim from 1976 to 2005 with distinctions on the offenders and victims being strangers or friends and acquaintances. (U. S. Department of Justice, 2005) I believe that the information exposed by the U. S.
Department of Justice is an abuse of statistics because they exploit prevalent racial constructs, consequently leading to stereotypes that label people not only according to race, but to criminality as well. Although the statistics were posted by the Department in good faith, for the purpose of presenting reliable and valid data on homicide trends in order to provide the public relevant information regarding the criminal act of homicide, the data presented tends to misinform and distort the perspectives of the public on race and criminality, rather than lead them to significant assumptions.
We should remember that the motive for posting the information was to discuss trends. Trends are supposed to provide the public with insights on what, why and how events will take place in the future. Moreover, trends constitute tendencies that might influence assumptions of expectations. If the statistics are taken as what they were intended to be – that is, as trends – this means that the information presented implicitly means that the public should assume or expect that black people, as compared to white people, will more likely commit homicide in the future.
Since criminality is tied to morality, the statistics seem to rate the morality or integrity and righteousness of individuals by race. The data seem to imply that White people are more morally conscious than Black people. The statistics are entirely misleading, consequently creating assumptions and expectations that may not be entirely true to begin with since criminality is not tied to racial identities established by society, but to the strength of moral forces acting on man as an individual, and not as a member of a particular race or class.
The Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium or MAEC has released a series of statistics that convey educational achievements according to gender, race and ethnicity, grade level, and such. The surveys constituted information on the mean SAT scores, average NAEP scores for various subjects such as Reading, Writing, Mathematics, and Science. The first chart reveals the mean SAT scores in 2002, by race and ethnicity, as obtained by MAEC from the Profile of College-Bound Seniors.
In the chart, the educational achievements between Whites, African Americans or Blacks, American Indians or Alaskan Natives, Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islanders, Mexican and Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Latin Americans or South American, Central American or other Hispanics and Latinos, were compared. The results showed that there are no achievement gaps for the Whites. In contrast, other racial and ethnic groups displayed achievement gaps. (MAEC, N. D. )
The statistics released by the MAEC is another abuse of statistics since it creates distinctions on the academic capacities of individuals according to race and ethnicity. Among all the racial and ethnic groups listed in the chart, only the White population was identified as unbounded by achievement gaps. However, what we fail to realize as viewers of these statistics is the kind of standards or guidelines set to develop the SAT. We should ask whether the content of the SAT include subjects or topics from which the White population is at an advantage, such as the cultural and political landscape of the country, and such.
We fail to realize the familiarity of the White population on the issues and topics concerning their country, which readily puts other races at a disadvantage. Because of statistics published pertaining to academic achievements according to race and ethnicity, and even gender, individuals are categorized according to their race and ethnicity generalizing their intellectual capacities. This is clearly an abuse of the statistics since it also misleads the people into thinking that White people are superior in terms of intellectual capacities as compared to other individuals from different racial or ethnic groups.
The U. S. Census Bureau has published statistical information on housing patterns in the country. In the 5th chapter of the Bureau’s discussion, the residential segregation of Blacks or African Americans was revealed, focusing on the changes that transpired within two decades from 1980 to 2000. Overall, the statistics revealed that the segregation of Blacks of African Americans in over two hundred metropolitan areas in the country has slowly decreased.
However, although the information obtained by the Bureau has revealed significant positive and desirable changes in housing patterns based on race, the rate of changes were diminutive compared to expectations of societal changes and transformations regarding the matter. (U. S. Census Bureau, 2008) If the statistics presented by the U. S. Department of Justice and the MAEC represented a misuse of statistics, the U. S. Census Bureau displayed an acceptable use of statistics tackling issues of race and class positively and constructively.
The moving societal changes revealed by the Bureau’s statistics encapsulated by the decline of residential segregation particularly on Blacks or African Americans sends out a stimulating and inspiring message to the public. On one hand, interpreting the information from the statistics may encourage people to completely act on diminishing residential segregation, while on the other hand, it sends a message of hope for the Black or African American community of promising societal changes that might shield them from racial discrimination intensified by residential segregation. References MAEC.
(N. D. ) National Education Statistics & Other Equity Indicators. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from The Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium. Website: http://www. maec. org/natstats. html#sat U. S. Census Bureau. (2008). Residential Segregation of Blacks or African Americans: 1980 to 2000. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from U. S. Census Bureau. Website: http://www. census. gov/hhes/www/housing/housing_patterns/ch5. html U. S. Department of Justice. (2005). Homicide Trends in the U. S. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from United States Department of Justice. Website: http://www. ojp. gov/bjs/homicide/race. htmSample Essay of PaperDon.com