Friday, May 4, 2007

Not a good week to be brown

News iddn't lookin' good for brown people this week.

First, a study of the NBA revealed that referees call fouls on black players at higher rates than they call them on white players. NBA Commissioner David Stern denies it, but experts agree that the study looks sound.

Second, the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report showing that African-American and Hispanic drivers who are stopped by police are more than twice as likely as white drivers to be subjected to a search.
``Police actions taken during a traffic stop were not uniform across racial and ethnic categories. Black drivers (4.5 percent) were twice as likely as white drivers (2.1 percent) to be arrested during a traffic stop, while Hispanic drivers (65 percent) were more likely than white (56.2 percent) or black (55.8 percent) drivers to receive a ticket. In addition, whites (9.7 percent) were more likely than Hispanics (5.9 percent) to receive a written warning, while whites (18.6 percent) were more likely than blacks (13.7 percent) to be verbally warned by police.''

Finally, police officers fired a slew of rubber bullets at people attending an immigration rally in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Police Chief William J. Bratton said, "the individuals were there to provoke police. Unfortunately, they got what they came for." Nice.

So, the moral of the story is: if you happen to be a shade darker than pinkey-gray, there's a different set of rules for you. Good luck trying to figure out what the hell they are.


JB said...

The NBA foul thing has me intrigued. Here's why.

Don't advocates for choice to wear motorcycle helmets always say that more people get hurt wearing helmets than those that don't?

The main reason? More people wear helmets than those that don't, therefore there are going to be more injuries from a larger pool of motorcycle riders.

Now if I haven't lost you so far, I think you'll see what I'm getting at.

With more black players in the NBA than any other demographic (white, hispanic, Asian), it would make sense that more fouls are called on black players than white players just in sheer numbers alone.

Now, the article did say "black players played 83 percent of minutes, while 68 percent of officials were white"

That in and unto itself could give you a numbers issue that would prove the point of the study, however, like our fun little Title IX discussions on Ken's blog, numbers can show you whatever you want them to.

I think studies like this that incite talk of racial profiling for no good reason. Just to get some exposure with some numbers dorks.


Gender Blank said...

If you'd read the article (or the original study), you'd see that the study didn't just calculate number of fouls called. They calculated the number of fouls called per 48 minutes of play, which neutralizes your argument about the raw number imbalance between black and white players. They controlled for position, veteran or rookie status, home vs. away games, and a whole host of other factors and found that "otherwise similar black and white players had fouls-per-minute rates that varied with the racial makeup of the refereeing crew."

“Across all of these specifications,” they write, “we find that black players receive around 0.12-0.20 more fouls per 48 minutes played (an increase of 2 ½-4 ½ percent) when the number of white referees officiating a game increases from zero to three.”

I'll make you a deal. If you can study their raw data (link to paper here) and show me any other statistically-sound way to interpret it, you can argue this point on this very blog. Until then, you are kindly asked to refrain from any and all comments about how "numbers can show you whatever you want them to." It seems to be your fall-back argument when you don't agree with what the numbers seem to be showing. Sometimes the numbers actually do support uncomfortable truths.

JB said...

Former NBA player John Salley this morning called that study "bogus" -- If 83 percent of the NBA players are black and 60-something percent of the officials are white ... that only makes sense that the white refs call more fouls on the black players than other wise.

I don't need any stats to call out common sense. Just like our Title IX debate.

Apparently I'm trippin' if I think otherwise.

So much for my olive branch of reason here ... I guess the only comments you want are those that agree with you and not conjure up thoughts about my overall problem with Title IX and studies like this ... they LACK COMMON SENSE.

I found your other posts on your blog enjoyable, but run me off, you will?

jluw said...

I might be silly, but JB seems to say it all when he/she says, "I don't need any stats..."

Gender Blank said...


I'm not trying to run you off, but you must realize how your argument is not common sense at all because of the reasons I already listed. If the study reported only raw numbers of fouls, you'd have an excellent point. But it's not dealing in raw numbers. It's dealing in numbers-per-minute and then comparing apples to apples. In a non-biased situation, you would expect that numbers of fouls per minute would be equal even if more total fouls were called against one group.

That's not interpretation. That's math.

And why would you trust the opinion of a basketball player over a business professor and an economist when we're talking statistics? Salley can talk about his experience, but I doubt he has the statistical acumen to go toe-to-toe with these guys.

JB said...

When I read the story, the first thing that came to my mind was "of course."

What was the purpose of the study? FINDING racism by running numbers. That's what I question here in principle.

How many complaints of racism to we hear from the NBAPA on officials. Now the story did point out that the league is pretty hush-hush on things of that nature, but now, with the playoffs in full swing (I hate pro basketball by the way, free agency has ruined it, not to mention the lack of defense and full-court presses), this study will only give fans/coaches a belief that wasn't on anyone's mind previously.

Now, when white official A calls a foul on Richard Jefferson, it's racial, not because he hacked Steve Nash (hypothetically, of course).

Too much added controversy to a game that's seen better days.

Just my two cents here ...

EBuz said...

Of course the dominant ideology appears to its subjects as "common sense." That's exactly how hegemony works!