Corey Robin sure is strange

But for me, it’s as vivid as yesterday. I still remember Clinton pollster Stanley Greenberg’s American Prospect article (reposted in 2005), which claimed that the Democrats were “too identified with minorities and special interests to speak for average Americans.” Black people not being average Americans, you see.


African Americans are the largest racial minority, amounting to 13.2% of the population.

No, maybe not average then.

10 thoughts on “Corey Robin sure is strange”

  1. You horrid racist. Denying African Americans their right to be mean, median and modal is imperialist white supremacism of the most abhorrent grade.

    You are summoned to a month long Star Chamber where you will be required to prosecute yourself for you manifest crimes against decency.

    In order to ensure you are properly and fairly represented, Arnald has been appointed your defence barrister, with Prof R Murphy as the court appointed joint expert.

  2. It’s possible be a minority and yet average; perhaps the first requirement is to pull your weight economically rather than resting on your oars.

  3. In all probability “the” average American (on pretty much every metric you can think of) is white, but there’s standard deviations of voters around that. And “Average American” is going to be a self-defined (rather, like “hard working families”, “the super-rich” and so on a rather nebulous and semi-mythical) demos.

  4. But, BiG, calculating the standard deviation of discrete variables is hard.

    Even before you add in the (statistically limited) effect of “absolutely, clearly, utterly white. But identifies as /minority/ therefore must be treated as precious” such as Warren or Dolezal.

  5. @ SE
    You mean qualitative – discrete variables can still be expressed meaningfully in numerical form, whereas there is no meaningful set of numbers to classify African-American, Arab, Chinese, Indian, Inuit, Jewish, Melanesian, Native American, and “White”.

  6. What’s your argument Tim W? Everyone in the USA is part of some minority of 13% or less of the population. CR’s argument is that that doesn’t mean that no one can be an average American, so it doesn’t mean that African Americans can’t be average Americans.

  7. My argument, such as it is, is that it’s a rhetorical flourish which doesn’t work. If blacks were average Americans, with average incomes, average wealth, average career paths, average treatment, access to hte average education system and all the rest then we wouldn’t actually be distinguishing them as a group, would we? That we do distinguish, that we do concern ourselves (and yes, even I do, myself I blame in the inner city education systems) over their relative lack of success in the current society means that they’re not average, doesn’t it?

  8. @ SJW
    No, not everyone in the USA is part of a minority *according to their definition*.
    The definition of “White American” is so broad that the category comprises a majority in 49 states (the exception being Hawaii where the indigenous population still outnumbers immigrants). The slightly less used (and less well-defined) definition of “non-Hispanic Whies” is still broad enough to be a majority in 46 states.
    However there is one jurisdiction with a “black” majority – Washington DC. So media spokespeople based in the capital have a disproportionate regard for “black” concerns.
    The wiki graph shows that “Blacks” have the lowest average household income of any group, so it is reasonable for liberals to focus on their needs – financially they are very far from average. On some leftist definitions the group as a whole is in “poverty” with less than two-thirds of median income – little more than three times that of Mexico (or Latvia or Lithuania) and only eight times that of Albania (the ratio is less on a PPP basis, but most Americans don’t understand PPP) so they are less likely to sympathise while their own incomes are shrinking.

  9. Plumbers, for example, are a small minority of Americans. No doubt there are problems they’re unusually likely to encounter – plumbers’ elbow, perhaps. But that doesn’t mean an individual plumber can’t be an average American.

  10. @ SJW
    But plumbers are (generally) Republican.
    When (some) Democrats are focussing on “Black issues” they aren’t looking at those “Blacks” who are average but those who are “oppressed”.

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