There are two ways to read this poll. One is that a little less than half of straight people feel comfortable describing themselves as LGBT in the workplace, i.e. gay voice. Let’s hope that’s not how they understood the question. The other interpretation is that straight people have an idea of how safe it is to come out in their own workplaces, and it’s a lot sunnier than how their actually LGBT coworkers see it. Now is a good time to remember that online polls do not reflect broader trends. A full 27% of the respondents to this one identify as LGBT, which is about seven times the national average in the United States. That’s what you would expect from a poll about how you feel about describing yourself as gay. Gay people are more likely to click on that.
Yet a substantial number of straight people clicked on it, too—about three times as many as the LGBT respondents. Already, we see that we are sampling the opinions of a certain kind of straight person. They are not LGBT in their workplaces, but they feel like they know how it would go. Again, I guess it’s possible they didn’t read the question as a hypothetical and mean that they comfortably fake being gay at work, but one hopes a plurality of respondents aren’t doing that.
It’s likely respondents to this poll are imagining the experiences of their LGBT coworkers. More of them imagine that experience to be comfortable than report it as so. This result is similar to the result of this survey on blacks’ and whites’ views of racial discrimination. More white people say police are fair to black people. Fewer believe in blacks experience discrimination in stores and restaurants, or in that socioeconomic crucible we all know and love, the workplace. Black people and white people consistently disagree about the experience of black people by large margins.
When you put it that way, it seems obvious whom to believe. Maybe neither side is right. It’s probable that black respondents’ perception of discrimination against themselves is influenced by self-pity. That’s definitely been going on with white people. But at the risk of treating a premise like a conclusion: People who aren’t members of a particular group underestimate how much discrimination that group faces. Either that or black and LGBT people are just being babies. Somehow, that does not strike me as the likely explanation.
Rachel Dolezal as a teenager, at Bellhaven University, and during her suit against Howard
I think my favorite new internet micro-genre is pictures of Rachel Dolezal looking white. There are a lot of them, and I’m sorry we could not include knee-length dreadlocks by a tree in the composite above. Someday this story will end, but yesterday it continued on its natural course: Dolezal resigned from her position at the NAACP. That predictable turn came with the less predictable news that in 2002, she sued Howard University for discriminating against her because she was white. That must have been the old Rachel Dolezal, because the contemporary one told the Today Show she identifies as black. Video after the jump.
Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal now and in the late 1990s
By now you have either quit Twitter or heard about Rachel Dolezal, the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP who identifies as black but whose parents insist she is white. It’s not my job to say what races people are, but Ma and Pa Dolezal sure seem to be right. A professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University, Dolezal says in her faculty bio that she received an MFA from Howard and has been the victim of “at least eight documented hate crimes.” That’s a weird item to put in your CV. But everything about the Rachel Dolezal story is weird, from her parents’ estrangement from more than one of their children to her refusal to simply say she is black. Again, it looks like she isn’t. But who gets to decide?
If you watch Hulu, as I do when my Critique of Pure Reason is broken, you have probably seen Grand Marnier’s “blend out” commercials. In the one above, everyone at the club is kind of bored by a jazz combo, until a young man reinvigorates them by mounting the stage and beatboxing along. Grand Marnier: drink a bunch of it and interrupt a public performance, probably to broad acclaim. It’s pretty much your standard alcohol-commercial excellence fantasy, (q.v. Heineken) except everyone in the club is black, and our beatboxer is white. Surely there’s a reason for that—but what?
The video above shows a 16-year old woman in London being knocked out by an unknown assailant, ostensibly as part of a new game among teenagers called “knockout.” The way knockout works is you arbitrarily choose a person and try to knock him or her out with one punch. Or the way knockout works is you gather together a bunch of news stories about street violence involving young black men, and you present it as a disturbing trend along the lines of wilding or flash mob robberies. It’s hard to tell.