The Difference Between Statistical Discrimination And Racism

It always annoys me when someone confuses true racism with statistical discrimination. VivirLatino gives a perfect example of that here. More on statistical discrimination here.

8 Responses to “The Difference Between Statistical Discrimination And Racism”


  • Hmmm I’ve read and reread your statistical discrimination post and the logic just doesn’t work. Isn’t picking someone out because they belong to a group, and in this case a group historically discriminated against because of who they are, racist? Seems like word games to me.

    Ay but you know us radical Latinos. We always take these things too personally, like when power and privilege are used against a race.

  • The difference is that Menchu fit the profile of a beggar first, and was removed because of such – a problem that I am certain 5 star hotels in Mexico have a huge problem with.

    In other words, they weren’t singling out a certain ‘group’, they were singling out a certain category of people (beggars) and Menchu happened to share many first approximation qualities with that category of people. I strongly believe that if they knew Menchu was not a beggar they would not have kicked her out.

    Lets use white people as an example, since statistical discrimination against white people is less politically charged. When I was growing up in Compton white people were so rare in the city that when there was one everybody assumed they were there to buy drugs. Why? Because based on every bodies prior experience, that is one of the main reasons why white people ever go to Compton (not so much now, but certainly in the late 80′s and the 90′s). Now granted, not all white people that go to Compton go there to buy drugs, but enough of them do to cause others to form statistical opinions that point in that direction. That is not an example of racism towards whites, that is an example of statistical discrimination, or “statistical differentiation” as others like to refer to it.

    Human beings are rational creatures and as such, whether we like to admit it or not, based on our experiences we form generalities, or “statistical differentiation”, based on many different characteristics – race, sex, and sexual orientation being just three.

    Whether Menchu intended to or not, she fit the profile of a beggar to enough of a degree that she was mistaken as one.

    Btw, I am not saying that “statistical differentiation” is good, I am just saying it is not the same as being racist.

  • Btw, I am not saying that “statistical differentiation” is good, I am just saying it is not the same as being racist.

    Wouldn’t it have been a good idea to state that from the begining? Just saying. ;)

  • LOL. True but I really do see the two on very different scales.

    Racism, and by racism I mean true blatent historical type racism, disturbs me on a far different level than any type of statistical discrimination. For example, when I get confused for a worker at a local car wash (where the only Mexicans there beside me are workers) I laugh and brush it off as an understandable misunderstanding. But that wouldn’t be the case if, say, they said I couldn’t work at the car wash because I was Mexican.

    The two are so far apart that it almost makes one right and the other very wrong.

  • Always picking on white people HP. Anyway, thought you’d like this comment thread. [via Revaz]

  • Yeah, I had seen that video before and the waves it was making.

    What people need to understand, IMHO, is that unless you first acknowledge that there exist a sub-group of people that fit that ‘stereotype’ and then repudiate that type of behavior, you are never
    going to change anything. As Thomas Sowell persuasively argued, shielding one from criticism only makes things worse.

    Cultural mores are the strongest forces against bad behavior – far stronger than anything government could do.

  • It’s one thing to discrimate based solely on “race” (whatever that is — apparent characteristics from your genes).

    It’s something else completely to discriminate based on behavior (voluntary choices you make).

  • We make certain broad judgments based on our experience, based on certain likelihoods… They are not rock solid, but they do give us a way to go.
    We absolutely must exercise caution in acting on that experience.
    When it comes to appearance, we can expect to have some personal responsibility in how we appear, what we can do to present a friendly appearance.
    There will be mistakes. We should act with the full knowledge that we might be wrong. As we approach, as we engage, we should become better informed.
    We should all speak softly and carry appropriate ID.

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