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Why We Profile: Racial Profiling Is A Species Of Statistical Common Sense
“M.G.” over at the blog titled “Those Who Can See,” subtitle “Human Biodiversity meets humane, sensible public policy,” doesn’t post much (eight posts so far this year) but it’s always quality stuff.
M.G. points out, as I have done elsewhere, that racial profiling is a species of statistical common sense.
We all live our lives based on probabilities. This gentleman's Afro father, for example, got itchy feet and decided to abandon life in beautiful but tiny Antigua (then under British rule). Though he had the choice of over thirty Afro-run countries to emigrate to, he opted to take his chances in chilly white-run Canada. Why? Easy: Statistically speaking, Euro-governed countries provide a better quality of life in nearly every way—rule of law, lack of corruption, solid infrastructure, plentiful white-collar jobs, generous welfare state, a cornucopia of material comforts. Mr Gomes took a chance—and was right. Can we fault him that?
We can't speak for Canada, but chance is also the reason U.S. Whites lock their car doors, clutch their purses, and cross the street in the presence of Blacks. There is a folk knowledge culled from 400 years of disproportionate black crime in North America. It can be seen in the statistics, in the anecdotes, in the earliest colonial writings.
Statistical probability is the wellspring of stereotypes. It is what pushes us to avoid snakes, spiders, and scorpions; it is why Swiss clocks, German cars, and Jewish lawyers are so sought after; it is why the global South continually tries to emigrate to the global North. Past performance is no guarantee of future success, warn the experts, but from our experience, we know it usually is.
So in response to Mr. Matthew Simmermon-Gomes, “Why are Afros profiled everywhere they go?” is a question that has concrete answers. Here they are . . .
Read the whole thing at Those Who Can See.