In July, I asked:

Could someone provide some concrete examples of “systematic racism” against Blacks at Williams College? I want something specific which is being done by a Williams person and which Maud could, presumably, fix.

Yesterday, Quick Search provided this intelligent reply:

“The Town, however, did admit to a 2014 incident in which a WPD dispatcher said the N-word while a Black Williams student was touring the police station. The statement did not deny two allegations – that a photograph of Adolf Hitler was hung in a WPD officer’s station locker, and a 2011 incident of sexual assault allegedly committed by a WPD officer – but it did dispute McGowan’s characterization of the 2011 incident.”

Town denies allegations against WPD chief, admits 2014 racial harassment incident

That’s just one of the Record’s current stories. There are no shortage of similar specific examples that have been shared over the past ~5-10 years, including on Ephblog, nor is there a shortage of students at Williams who have attested more generally to personally experiencing uncomfortable moments at Williams or in the Williamstown area as a result of their race.

I’m glad you brought up the statistics issue, too, because you’re not wrong — but you’re also not right. There have been numerous statistical analyses of these issues by people who really do know what they’re doing (who don’t make what you describe as cause-effect errors), which repeatedly find racial disparities that can’t be explained by other variables. You’re not likely going to find a sophisticated analysis like that at Williams for two reasons: (1) they’re difficult to do; and (2) you need a large study population to account for other variables, and the Williams community isn’t big enough.

If you’re just looking at the evidence with a clear eye, it’s pretty clear that there’s systemic racism — as the term is most commonly defined by the academics who study it — in the U.S. Is there systemic racism at Williams? I don’t know for sure. But a lot of signs point to yes: Williams has a lot of the same sort of macro outcome-level differences that you see in the larger studies, and Black Williams students recount a lot of the same sorts of personal experiences of discrimination that you see in communities in which the more sophisticated studies show systemic racism.

Finally, it’s worth also pointing out that the reason why there is little room for discussion about this in academia — which is unfortunate in a lot of respects — is because so much of the push back to the existence of systemic is rooted in poor and obviously pretextual critiques. There are legitimate criticisms of the research that’s been done on this subject, but most of what you see are bad attacks levied by people who don’t really know what they’re talking about. The result has been that academics have become increasingly wary of criticisms to the point that it often appears that criticism is not welcome (an attitude that has trickled down). It’s not actually entirely different from what you see in the context of global climate change, albeit with very different stakes.

1) As usual, much of the best content on EphBlog is in the comments.

2) I certainly agree that there are useful parallels between systematic racism and climate change, but perhaps for different reasons than Quick Search . . .

3) Worthwhile for me to address this point-by-point?

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