{ in·deed·a·bly }

adverb: to competently express interest, surprise, disbelief, or contempt

Complicit

Warren Buffett has often commented on his good fortune.

I’ve had it so good in this world, you know. The odds were fifty-to-one against me being born in the United States in 1930. I won the lottery the day I emerged from the womb by being in the United States instead of in some other country where my chances would have been way different.

Imagine there are two identical twins in the womb, both equally bright and energetic. And the genie says to them, “One of you is going to be born in the United States, and one of you is going to be born in Bangladesh. And if you wind up in Bangladesh, you will pay no taxes. What percentage of your income would you bid to be the one that is born in the United States?” It says something about the fact that society has something to do with your fate and not just your innate qualities. The people who say, “I did it all myself,” and think of themselves as Horatio Alger – believe me, they’d bid more to be in the United States than in Bangladesh. That’s the Ovarian Lottery.

The Ovarian Lottery was not the reason for his success. In 1930, there were approximately 1,137,000 white males born in the United States. Buffett was the only one of his cohort to become the world’s richest person.

He still had to do the work.

Cultivate a network of contacts and build his team.

Enjoy the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time.

Yet also have had the foresight to equip himself with the skills and experience necessary to act upon those opportunities when they presented themselves.

Succeeding isn’t easy for anyone. For some, it is just slightly less difficult than for others.

Winning the Ovarian Lottery does not guarantee success. But it certainly helps!

Ovarian Lottery

I too won the Ovarian Lottery.

I was born in prosperous western democracy during a time of relative peace.

The state provided adequate free education and healthcare to the majority of its citizens. Together, these key prerequisites for future success afforded most of the population with opportunities that would be the envy of many around the world.

Those opportunities only benefited those who were willing to help themselves.    

Some were left behind. Inevitable perhaps, but unfortunate nonetheless.

The smaller or more remote the community, either in terms of geography or size or importance, the smaller allocation of scarce resources they received. Economies of scale. Economics 101.

Our society is a complex system that generally relies upon a steady supply of commodity parts.

If you didn’t fit the mould, you either got ground down until all the rough edges were smoothed away to conform and eliminate friction, or were discarded as unfit for purpose. Written off as a sunk cost. Unworthy of further investment.

Which meant anybody who was different had to work harder than the norm, or risk finding themselves left behind. The disabled and the sick. The disadvantaged. Migrants. Non-native English speakers.

A few manage to thrive and succeed despite the challenges they faced. Some of the smartest and most successful people I know are first or second-generation migrants. They wanted it more.

Many more do not.

Failed by those health or education systems. Shut out of opportunities and the financial wealth those opportunities provide. Low wages requiring low-cost housing, typically located in disadvantaged neighbourhoods with poor schools and substandard healthcare. Consigning them, and subsequently their children, to another lap of the poverty cycle. One of the few genuinely self-perpetuating machines that humankind has managed to create.

My choice of parents was fortunate. Allowing me to travel through life with white skin. Straight(ish) hair. Fluent English. A name unlikely to be “randomly” selected for additional scrutiny in airports.

My parents saw their job as delivering their children to adulthood free of criminal records, tattoos, teenage parenthood, and baring relatively few scars. In this, they succeeded.

Unable to afford the price of admission for an old school tie and the membership to the old boys’ network that provides, they instead sought to equip us with some superpowers.

Common sense.

Applied problem-solving.

Research skills.

Independent thinking.

Self-belief.

The ability to determine right from wrong. The confidence to act upon that knowledge.

Like Buffett, my Ovarian Lottery win did not provide any guarantees. But as far as starting positions go, things could have been a great deal worse.

Civil disturbance

I have watched the civil disharmony playing out across the United States with detached interest.

Protesters airing some valid grievances. As their parents did after the Rodney King verdict back in the early 1990s. As their grandparents had in the late 1960s following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The underlying issues differing little across the generations.

Reactionary authorities ably demonstrating the legitimacy of those concerns live on television.

Brands, influencers, and megacorps spotting a bandwagon to jump on board.

Virtue signallers preaching “raising awareness”. Pledging support. Proclaiming solidarity.

Their words rarely matched by action, Nike’s vocal support of the Kaepernick “taking the knee” protest is a notable exception. Noteworthy precisely because it was so exceptional.

As ever, there is a lot of noise about the symptoms.

Yet little constructive discussion about how to address the underlying causes.

Plenty of hand wringing. Motherhood statements. Pithy tweets. T-shirt slogans.

Precious few tangible actions. A hashtag is not a plan for change.

Fewer logical next steps towards solving what is a truly wicked systemic problem.

Karl Marx once wroteOnly your small-minded … philistine who measures world history by the ell and by what he happens to think are ‘interesting news items’, could regard 20 years as more than a day where major developments of this kind are concerned, though these may be again succeeded by days into which 20 years are compressed.

Would this week of national protest contain one of those exceedingly rare days, where 20 years’ worth of progress appears to occur seemingly overnight?

I doubt it. They may succeed in toppling an unpopular authoritarian President. A trophy perhaps, but as with the mythical Hydra who once guarded the entrance to the underworld, chopping one head off the beast will see it swiftly replaced by another.

The grassroots level organisations of both the Republican and Tory parties having been captured by backers of the current incumbents. Ensuring that moderate and dissenting voices are not heard because they don’t get pre-selected to stand for election. If left in place, this forms another self-perpetuating machine: a production line of new heads for the populist Hydra beast.

Lasting change requires addressing the underlying causes of the issues behind the protests.

Electing representatives willing to make more equitable allocations of scarce resources.

Channelling investment into the education and health care systems, to ensure that the disadvantaged have similar access to the opportunities available to the privileged. This won’t guarantee success, but it will help ensure that the outcome is not contingent upon an Ovarian Lottery win.

Barack Obama had it right when he recently wrote that “… the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.

Finally, the more specific we can make demands for … reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone away.

President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and Prime Minister Johnson’s Brexiteer voter bases both largely consist of white folks from the poorer parts of the country who feel like they were doing it tough, being ignored, and had been left behind.

Easy prey for opportunistic populists to whip into a frenzy and transform into an angry mob.

Sound familiar? It should, because many (but not all) of the underlying themes affecting those communities are similar to those impacting the protesters.

Disadvantage.

Inequality.

Lack of opportunity.

Complicit

My detachment was shattered when my lady wife fired a salvo proclaiming that anyone who wasn’t vocally opposing racism was complicit in perpetuating it.

I opened my mouth to disagree. Paused. Goldfished a little. Then thought better of it.

Her statement sounded like one of those false dichotomies we frequently see play out in political press conferences and social media culture wars. “Silence is violence”. “You’re either with us or against us”.

I smelled a trap.

I don’t wear a t-shirt proclaiming my opposition to cancer. That doesn’t mean I secretly support it.

Nor does my Twitter profile boldly declare a deeply held tribal belief that Timtams are a superior chocolate biscuit. Would the lack of such a statement allow somebody to reasonably infer that meant I was pro-Penguin?

The dubious logic of my lady wife’s position left me somewhat puzzled, and more than a little wary.

To my simple mind, the determining factor is actions rather than (often empty) words.

Past experience suggested this was dangerous ground. Racism is a loaded topic. One that as a “privileged white male” I have often been told I am unqualified to hold an opinion about.

Not qualified

I reflected on that thought for a moment and concluded it was bullshit.

Long ago I married into a family from a cultural background very different from my own. My in-laws referred to me then using a colloquial derogatory term for white man, which literally translates as rancid meat. They still do today.

My children are mixed race. Part of three different cultures, yet neither fully accepted by, nor fully belonging to any of them.

I have had an immigration officer at a British airport throw my passport at me and declare “if I had my way Mr indeedably, we wouldn’t let people like you into this country!

I was once screened out of a freelance engagement shortlist because of my accent.

My firm has lost bids for projects because the prospective client only wanted to deal with “British” firms. Despite holding a British passport, I was deemed a “colonial from the antipodes”.

As a migrant who originated from Australia, witticisms about my supposed “convict ancestry” are a daily occurrence.

My experiences pale in comparison to those protesters who suffer an innate fear of the police. Or those who have legitimate reasons to fear their children may be stabbed or shot because of their skin colour.

Yet they do provide a small insight into some of the daily challenges faced by those who don’t fit the mould, meet expectations, or who happen to share an origin with a commonly held stereotype.

Free to choose

Long ago, I adopted a policy of equal opportunity discrimination. Treat everyone equally. No special treatment for anyone. Unless they are a dickhead or a bully. Those I have no time for.

I have little interest in where people originate from. What they do in their spare time. Whom they do it with. Or whether they seek the help of an imaginary friend during moments of doubt and uncertainty.

It is none of my business.

What is relevant to me is what people do. How they conduct themselves and treat others. The potential that they have. Their hopes and dreams for the future. The rest is mostly noise.

To my simple mind, if somebody makes any decision based upon a person’s appearance, beliefs, ethnicity, origin, race, or skin colour then they are failing to treat people equally.

That includes obvious discrimination like America’s history of segregation or South Africa’s apartheid.

It includes so-called “positive” discrimination like affirmative action or gender equality quotas. If everyone is supposed to be equal, then how can some groups be more equal than others?

It also includes less obvious forms of discrimination. Rewarding people for what they are, not for what they do.

If you frequent a store because of the nationality of the owner, you are actively discriminating against all other nationalities. Use your custom to reward those stores offering the best service at the best price. They have actually done something to deserve it.

Amplify voices  because their ideas are inspiring, insightful, or worth sharing. If you are only sharing because of the tribe they belong to, then you are discriminating against all those who are not members.

I reject the accusation of complicity. If a lasting difference is to be made, it will be through tangible actions not empty words.

Hypocrisy and virtue signalling just get in the way.


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24 Comments

  1. Dr FIRE 7 June 2020

    I am sorry to read of your own experiences of racism. But grateful that you shared.

    I think some form of ‘positive’ discrimination is necessary, partly to ‘correct the balance’ and partly to give role models to those from minority backgrounds. The obvious example would be the ratio of men vs women at the top level (or any level) in a company. If a woman never sees another woman in charge, that can serve to discourage her from even trying to achieve that top level. Likewise with black/asian, gay/lesbian/trans, etc. If an LGBT person never sees someone like themselves in a company or even a given field of work, that can serve to make them look elsewhere for employment.

    Of course, as a white British male, I can’t claim to have written the above from experience. Just a conclusion that I have come to over the years after talking to friends from different backgrounds about the subject. I do agree though, that the ultimate goal would be for a persons background to be a complete non-issue. I just think that is going to take (a lot of) time.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 7 June 2020 — Post author

      Thanks Dr FIRE. Being on the receiving end of shabby treatment is something we have all experienced and nobody enjoys. It is an unfortunate part of life, but an inescapable one. What we can take from it is the memory of how it feels and a determination to be better than that in the way we choose to conduct ourselves.

      Positive discrimination is a tricky one. A great idea in theory, but would you feel as good about it if you were passed over for a job because you weren’t gay enough, or one of your children missed out on a university place because the other candidates had more exotic sounding names?

      I favour hiring the best person for the job. Their skin colour or sexuality should be as irrelevant to that decision as their favourite colour or the sporting team they support.

      If not, then the job description was incomplete and the selection criteria were bogus.

      There are already way too many incompetent old white men on boards and in the C-suite. I would much prefer to see competence rewarded, rather than simply swapping an incompetent from one tribe for an incompetent from another.

      Fix things where they are broken. It will take too long to please many, but addressing discrimination against some by choosing to consciously discriminate against others seems wrong to me.

  2. FIRE v London 7 June 2020

    @indeedably – excellent post. We have, I think, both been under pressure in the last week to ‘be clear on what our position is’, and ‘join the conversation’. You have done both admirably.

    I am pretty horrified about your story about a UK airport border person treatment of you. When/where?

    I have a slightly more nuanced view than you on positive discrimination. If you accept that somebody has been discriminated against for the first 18 years of their age, would you not make some allowances in how you look at their A level grades?

    I have always found myself drawn to immigrants myself – for reasons I can’t really explain consciously, except that my mother is one – and thus so am I, on some definitions.

    I had bagels/cream cheese/salmon for lunch today. The salmon bought from a smart Jewish deli, and sourced from a Stanford Hill (Jewish) supplier. I thought – would my deli have sourced even better salmon, if provided by a gentile supplier? I know the answer, but struggle with the implications. This topic is a minefield.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 7 June 2020 — Post author

      Thanks for the kind words FvL.

      The passport incident was at Stansted airport about 15 years ago. It was pretty tame compared to what many folks who are guilty of “travelling while ethnic” endure every day. Singled out. Escorted to an interview room off the arrivals hall. Interrogated in a language they likely struggle to comprehend about the finer points of immigration laws they are likely unfamiliar with. Experiencing a very stressful day.

      I must confess I tend to ignore grades when hiring people. If a candidate has completed a degree, they demonstrated persistence to see a large undertaking through to conclusion. No school leaver or graduate possess much in the way of tangible skills, so my interviews tend to be conversations, and the things I look for are those same super powers my parents taught me.

      More often than not this approach has served me well. When it hasn’t, I cut my losses and bring things to a swift end.

      I see your bagel conundrum slightly differently. Did the product meet your needs and expectations? Was the service courteous, efficient, friendly, and professional? Was your lunch good value for money?

      If the answers to those questions were all “yes” then you were in the right place. If not, then you owe it to yourself to find a better supplier. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.

  3. Northern Lad 8 June 2020

    A fairly brave line to take. For what it’s worth, I largely agree with you, whilst coming to a somewhat different conclusion in some respects.

    Firstly, there is a distinction between being pro-Penguin biscuit vs pro-racism. One is a significant social ill that you might be expected to have a stance on; the other is mere personal preference (which is also devoid of a moral dimension). The importance of a question may make it easier or harder to hold a ‘silent’ position.

    With respect to positive discrimination, I also don’t personally mind if ‘levelling’ opportunities are given to minorities that I, as a white middle-class male, do not have. I use the word levelling purposefully here. Positive discrimination is often described in terms of ‘a lesser candidate getting the job’ but I think that’s a reductive description of what can be done. There are plenty of other ways to discriminate without resorting to appointing the lesser candidate:

    1) Taking more effort to advertise to, and encourage applications from, certain groups.
    2) Providing more learning and development opportunities to certain groups – including career mentoring by senior staff.
    3) Providing additional training in how to present oneself at interview to certain groups
    4) Providing a ‘free pass’ through early sifting stages for certain groups.

    None of these requires compromise at the point of selection. It simply increases the odds of being faced with someone appointable from an under-represented group at the end of the process.

    What I find most bothersome is loosely-targeted positive discrimination, e.g schemes open to all women. Although individual ‘privilege’ is impossible to calculate mathematically, my anecdotal experience is that it tends to be quite privileged women who benefit most from these schemes. I call bullshit when I see privately-educated, born-with-a-silver-spoon Oxbridge-grad women being given additional resource to progress when they are clearly more privileged than even the average man in my workplace – never mind those at the bottom of the intersectional pile. Unfortunately, my calling of bullshit is entirely silent, because questioning the diversity and inclusion dogma that awards them ‘victim status’ would cost me my job.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 8 June 2020 — Post author

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Northern Lad.

      You obviously don’t feel as strongly about the important issue of chocolate biscuits as I do! 😉

      Let me ask you a question to think about, I’m not expecting you to respond. How many times have you taken to social media protesting against animal cruelty? Marched through Westminster at a rally against pedophilia? Worn something symbolising your support for those opposed to the evils of smoking? These too are issues where there is a clear socially and morally acceptable “right” side. Yet rarely are people accused of being complicit in those issues because they aren’t signalling their opposition.

      On the positive discrimination front, I agree with some of your intent but not the methods. I believe that spending and investment should be directed to correct current imbalances in schools for example. Future students benefit from that investment, and their improved education means that they are more likely to find opportunities and success.

      However, I also believe that the past is the past. It isn’t fair. It isn’t nice. But it is reality. The analogy I’ll use here is the “grandfathering” of the building code, where it is understood that today’s high standards cannot be retrospectively applied from a practical perspective. For good or for ill, history has happened, and we can’t unring the bell. Instead, efforts are focussed on fixing forwards and doing better.

      When you think about it, your “born-with-a-silver-spoon Oxbridge-grad” had no more say in where she started life than the disadvantaged minority candidate. To actively discriminate against her is no different to the behaviours being protested about. We don’t get to pick our parents or our starting point, that is why it is an ovarian lottery.

      If two candidates are applying for the same role, both with identical skills and experience, then there is always going to be a subjective judgement to be made about who gets chosen. Character? Potential? Something else? What factors go into that decision are up to the hiring manager.

      To me, screening out the qualified Oxbridge grad in the early stages because they were not disadvantaged enough is actively penalising somebody for what they are not what they have done. Discrimination only goes away once those characteristics being discriminated against genuinely cease to be a factor.

      • Northern Lad 8 June 2020

        We agree that education is a better leveller than any of the mechanisms I mentioned before.

        For the rest, I guess we’ll agree to disagree. For me:

        1) There’s a logical disconnect in saying that just because we have no control over privilege, society ought not to correct for it. Maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t, but it’s a logical leap that would need to be filled in. Devil’s advocate: we do not choose to be born with or without life limiting disabilities. Unless you’re against disability benefits (are you?) isn’t that a bit similar? The past is not the past there, precisely because it has an ongoing effect in the present.

        2) ‘Screening in’ a minority candidate =/= screening out a non minority candidate. It just makes the shortlist more competitive for the non minority candidate. If they are good enough, they will still get through. It’s a leveller rather than a complete barrier – just as being born in a 3rd world country is a handicap rather than a complete bar to Buffet-like wealth.

        3) Grandfathering regulations is a matter of pragmatism rather than lesson in morality. Even so, I think the closer analogy in this context is that positive discrimination should not involve evicting privileged white guys (like me) from their existing jobs, but simply changing recruitment practices going forward. Your interpretation of ‘past is in the past’ seems to me closer to not changing the building regulations in the first place.

        • {in·deed·a·bly} 8 June 2020 — Post author

          I’m saying do invest to correct imbalances, so if a disabled person requires extra help to attain whatever society decides is the common baseline then help them achieve it. Such investment doesn’t guarantee their success, but it gives them a chance they do not enjoy today.

          Similarly investing more heavily in disadvantaged communities to address accumulated technical debt in the provision of healthcare and education services facilitates opportunity for those willing to do the work to act upon them.

          Change is required to achieve the desired outcome. My grandfathering analogy is saying that future decisions should be subject to a discrimination free approach. As you say, not seeking evict the incumbents or cut their already negotiated pay packets when there is an existing pay disparity between genders for example.

          The incumbents had their win, in the past under the old rules. In the future they would find their advancement blocked, not by positive discrimination, but rather by market forces. The Hollywood ending of the gender/minority pay gap being resolved by unfunded payrises lifting all remuneration up to the levels enjoyed by their white male colleagues is a myth. Instead, market salaries/day rates would fall to the levels at which those same previously “underpaid” workers were willing to perform the job. Essentially a continuation of the familiar outsourcing/offshoring story.

          • Northern Lad 8 June 2020

            May have misunderstood your position on some things, I’m not sure, but I agree with all of the above. I’d characterise “investing more heavily in disadvantaged communities to address accumulated technical debt in the provision of healthcare and education services” as a form of positive discrimination, though, so perhaps it’s mostly a question of semantics.

            Also agree with your final, ‘be careful what you wish for’ paragraph. We might well find that equality means reduction to the lowest common denominator for most people. It’s the danger of thinking you’re a market maker when we’re almost all market takers.

  4. B0b 8 June 2020

    Sometimes I learn something so new that I reevaluate previous experience. Timtams? I had never heard of before but looking at the Amazon reviews they are worth a shot.

  5. weenie 10 June 2020

    An excellent post and I agree with much of it, including your stance on positive discrimination – the job should go to the best candidate regardless.

    Being a second generation immigrant myself, I too have encountered the occasional bout of racism in my life and will likely continue to do so in the future. The continued and escalating unrest caused by West vs China doesn’t bode well for my ethnicity, not when I have nothing to do with the Middle Kingdom.

    I had to put up with (initially) racism from my own parents and had to hide the fact that I had a white boyfriend. And yes, I have had the words ‘Go back to where you came from’ uttered in my face, a long time ago, by my neighbour no less. But my experiences are few and far between and cannot compare with what some black people experience and for that, I struck it lucky with the ovarian lottery too.

    Whilst I don’t intend to be shouting my support from the rooftops or wearing the #BLM t-shirt, I do resolve to educate myself more.

    I think It has been easy for me to dismiss racism when I haven’t suffered it so badly myself.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 10 June 2020 — Post author

      That’s very kind, thanks weenie.

      Your experiences with the hidden white boyfriend sounds familiar. The first three years my (now) lady wife and I lived together I was forbidden from answering the phone for fear that her very traditional and conservative parents might be calling.

      How did you respond to the asshole neighbour? Must have made street parties and bumping into each other at the corner store very awkward! Sounds like a case of backpfeifengesicht to me.

      I think your desire to further your own education about the issue is something we could all benefit from emulating.

  6. weenie 10 June 2020

    I think I must have mentioned reporting him for being racist (I didn’t) and he shut up. He and his wife were lowlife scumbags – neither worked, in their late 40s/earl 50s, slept late during the day, loud music at night, even during the week. It was during one of these sessions that I went next door to ask them politely to turn the music down.

    backpfeifengesicht for definite!

  7. Jim 13 June 2020

    Oh look, a white man saying he doesn’t think see the case for positive discrimination.

    Here’s a paper with “counter-arguments to the four main objections to positive discrimination: the failure to select the ‘best’ candidate, the undermining of meritocracy, the negative impact on the beneficiaries and the injustice of reverse discrimination”

    Conclusion: “positive discrimination provides the necessary structural conditions in order for radical, transformative change towards equality to take place.”

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 13 June 2020 — Post author

      Thanks for reading Jim, and for sharing the link to the interesting article from which you have helpfully copied and pasted some of the abstract. I trust the paywall that it sits behind didn’t prevent you from reading the whole thing, as the author does a good job of articulating what they believe.

      I notice that your objection appears to be my race rather than my line of reasoning. Also that you have shared Mike Noon’s views, but have not articulated your own perspective. That is a shame, because you write quite well.

    • Barack Obama Says 15 June 2020

      • {in·deed·a·bly} 15 June 2020 — Post author

        Thanks for sharing “Barack“.

        President Obama makes a great point about the difference between activism designed to elicit lasting change and “call-out” culture.

  8. [HCF] 15 June 2020

    “What is relevant to me is what people do. How they conduct themselves and treat others. The potential that they have. Their hopes and dreams for the future. The rest is mostly noise.”

    This will be the next entry for my “Best Quotes Ever” list.
    Thank you my friend.

  9. Seeking Fire 15 June 2020

    Jesse Jackson has tonight said racism is bone deep in Britain and America.

    Well not according to the following (i posted this on another blog)

    A 2018 survey being black in the EU found that the UK was one of the least racist countries in Europe with (a) approximately 80% of black people surveyed responding that they had not encountered any racial harassment in the past five years (figure 1) and (b) (summary) just 3% had said they had experience violence by racism in the UK. This compared to 50% of respondents in Germany / Italy encountering racial harassment and 14% of respondents in Finland encountering racial violence.

    Or perhaps the following as well, which indicated Prejudice against people of a different religion is very low in the UK (green dot, partially obscured between Australia and Sweden): under 5% would dislike having a neighbor of a different religion. In this, the UK is closely similar to the other Anglophone countries (blue dots).

    Prejudice against people of a different religionImage credit: Evans, M. D. R. and Kelley, J. (2019), “Prejudice Against Immigrants Symptomizes a Larger Syndrome, Is Strongly Diminished by Socioeconomic Development, and the UK Is Not an Outlier: Insights From the WVS, EVS, and EQLS Surveys”, Frontiers in Sociology.

    There is more to do. We should be aiming for a society in which racism does not exist. But we should also be proud of living in a country where relatively speaking, people of different colour, race or religion are by and large far more welcome here than they are in other countries.

    In fact if I had to think of any other countries, they would probably be Australia, Canada and New Zealand, which also, just happen to have very strong historic links to the UK. Can’t think of many others….

    Let us ensure that what we have worked so hard to achieve is not torn down, literally and metaphorically in a way, which will stoke the frankly abhorent hooliganism that was seen against the police at the weekend.

    We should call out racism where we see it and increasingly in society that is done so. We should seek to make changes through democratic consent. But we should not allow debate to be stifled nor should we be remotely ashamed of who we are or our past.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 16 June 2020 — Post author

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Seeking Fire.

      It is true that some places are less tolerant than others. Wherever we happen to live, we can all work to improve ourselves and the way we treat others.

  10. Banker On FIRE 18 June 2020

    An excellent post on what is probably one of the most loaded topics out there. Thank you.

    As first-generation immigrants, this is a topic my wife and I often struggle with. To an extent, we also won the ovarian lottery. Born in disintegrating countries – but ones with fantastic educational systems. Never experiencing war or famine.

    Most importantly, having parents who transplanted us to a G-7 country while we were still in our teens, young enough to adapt and thrive.

    And yet, despite having some of the best educational and work credentials out there, both of us have been discriminated against on multiple occasions. Most of the time covertly, though on certain occasions, people made an explicit point out of it. I’ve also had a fair share of airport incidents (though interestingly less so in the UK than in the US, where I’ve become well-acquainted with secondary screening areas).

    My approach has always been to work hard enough to more than offset any discrimination – and to go out of my way to help others who may be experiencing discrimination. Unfortunately, hard work only goes so far. Mentorship helps but also isn’t enough in isolation.

    I don’t have a good answer on how to “correct” a systematic issue like the South African apartheid. Agree these things take generations to play out. But is that the most optimal approach?

    I’ve long accepted the fact that I will never have the same opportunities as my peers – in the hope that my children do. Through a combination of skill AND luck, I’ve done well enough.

    But I can also see how that answer just isn’t acceptable to others.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 18 June 2020 — Post author

      Thanks for the kind words BoF, and for sharing your experiences.

      I’ve had the occasional bumpy ride entering the US, particularly via LAX and Logan. My experiences found that while the immigration authorities were sometimes mean, the real bullies were the customs officials who were quite content to shout, shove, and generally treat inbound travellers like cattle. Sample size of one though, so mileage may vary.

      Your observation about having to work harder to offset the biases of others is a familiar story. Mentorship may help you navigate through the system and avoid the worst of the pitfalls and traps, but is unlikely to be sufficient to provide an outsider entry into the club.

What say you?

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