Race as a Bundle of Sticks

One of the very first things researchers need to do is define their terms, to develop “operational definitions” of the things they are studying.

When it comes to race, however, very few researchers have taken the time to do that very difficult, but very important, task.  Maya Sen and Omar Wasow have made that much easier with a recently-published article entitled Race as a ‘Bundle of Sticks’: Designs that Estimate Effects of Seemingly Immutable Characteristics.  (You can also read a synopsis and analysis at Vox.com.)

Their essential point is that race is a catch-all term that refers to many different things.  They are all bundled together into a single package, but it still is possible to tease apart the individual pieces–and essential to do that when you are using race as a research variable. Continue reading “Race as a Bundle of Sticks”

Symbols and Substance

So many responses to the tragic shooting in Charleston on June 17.  A surprising number of them thoughtful, by the usual standards of public discourse on race.

Kudos, first, to South Carolina Gov. Nicki Haley, a Republican, who in the wake of the Charleston shootings, suggested that the state move the Confederate battle flag off the state capitol grounds.  Most candidates for the Republican nomination refused to take a stand of any kind on the Confederate flag.  Gov. Haley stepped in, pointing clearly to the right way to go.The contrast between her truth-telling and their embarrassing, unctious cowardice couldn’t have been clearer. Continue reading “Symbols and Substance”

Peak-a-boo! I see you!

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday, 5 – 4, that Texas can ban the use of Confederate flags on its license plates.  Clarence Thomas surprised many observers by casting the deciding vote.

Wednesday night, nine people were gunned down in an AME church in Charleston by a young White man who hates Black people.  At the capital in Columbia, the South Carolina state flag was lowered to half-mast, but the Confederate flag was not. Continue reading “Peak-a-boo! I see you!”