Two Anecdotes on Race

I was talking with a friend from rural Pennsylvania last week. He said that he asked his sister about the election. She said something like, you know what evil back here think about Blacks, but they’re so fed up with the Republicans lying or years ….

Yesterday, I got a note from a very interesting student who took a number of my courses, including Marx. I guess that he had been in prison, judging from his tattoos. I believe that, in any case, he had a hard life.  He was very ambitious and exceedingly polite. Every day he would come to class with three or four books that I mentioned in the last session.The first day I met him he told me that he was a white racist and that he considered blacks to be inferior. We had a black student in class, was not quite prepared. He was smart and wanted to learn. He still writes me for recommendations for reading, but sometimes in class he would say things that were a little off the subject. My racist student never showed any disrespect whatsoever, but continued writing papers, arguing in terms of racism.

My own prejudices should have made me feel some antagonism toward him, but I never did. In fact, I regarded him as one of my favorite students.

He is very smart. He wanted to be a lawyer, but never got except to a satisfactory program, in spite of (or perhaps because of) my very positive recommendations.

In his note yesterday, he told me now that he realizes that everybody should be judged by who they are, not by race or ethnicity. He said if he could do anything for me in the future, he would be happy to do so. I told him that his letter was enough.

George Sigler said that anecdotes do not constitute data. He was probably right, but today I would like to think differently.

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