Representation. Last blog I mentioned Eva Longoria’s foundation. The group has demonstrated areas in which Latinos are underrepresented. As I wrote, I was impressed with her response to underrepresentation. Rather than blaming others, she looked for ways to empower and take personal responsibility. Her work raises the very important issue of representation.
Activist are quick to point areas of underrepresentation for their causes, but the issue is not a simple issue. In my own thinking’ I have two important questions. Warning — careful reading may be needed to follow what I am saying.
When is above representation overrepresentation?
When is below representation underrepresentation?
Above and below representations for race/culture are reasonably easy to calculate. The approximate population breakdown from the 2020 census is: White 60%, Hispanic/Latino 19%, Black 13%, Asian 6%, Other 2%. Other breakdowns such as gender are also possible. Today, I will restrict the conversation to race as defined by the census.
Above and below are simply comparisons to the distribution numbers. Some people automatically assume if a culture is above or below their distrubition they are overrepresented or underrepresented, That assumption is aurtomatic more often if the above is a majority culture and below is a minority culture.
Whether an above representation is an overrepresentation of a race/culture is a complicated issue. Above representation is not always overrepresentation. Similarly, whether a below representation is an underrepresentation of that culture is a complicated issue. Below representation is not always underrepresentation. Overrepresentation and underrepresentation are more complicated because they have moral, ethical, political and even legal implications.
For example, in professional basketball Blacks are represented above 13% and Latinos and whites are below representation. Are Blacks overrepresented? Are whites and Latinos underrepresented?
In order to conclude above is not overrepresentation or below is not underrepresentation, the reasons need to be established. Once the reasons are given the intellectual issue can get very complicated because the reasons can now be applied to other cultures. The outstanding example would be — if (as some claim) Black genes produce superior athletic skills, then the possibility of genetic superiority in other areas in other cultures raises its ugly head. Most people do not make the claim of genetic athletic tendencies for that reason.
But the problem holds for other reasons. If someone argues Black representation in professional baskertball is not overrepresentation because of interest and time put into development, then that argument is reasonable for Asian success in academics and other cultures in other areas.
My point today is not to examine a specific situation for representation but to demonstrate the claims of over or underrepresentation are not obvious from simple above or below relationships. I will have more to say about specific situations in future blogs.
An aside. My brother worked for Frito Lay as a food flavor chemist for many years. My comments about Eva Longoria reminded my sister-in-law that before my brother’s death he learned Eva was directing a film — Flaming Hot. The film is a story about a Latino who moves from janitor to executive for Frito Lay. I plan to watch it on Hulu.
D-Day responses. I got nice responses to my D-Day comments. One friend reported he had an uncle who was in the infantry during WWII. So far as he ever knew, the uncle never spoke of his service the rest of his life.
However, the most interesting comment was about a retired Methodist minister who for more than fifty years has led the men’s group at a friend’s church. The minister was a part of the D-Day invasion seventy-nine years ago. My friend said last week the minister attended the man’s group the day after his return from France, where he participated in commemorative events in both Paris and Normandy. He will be 99 years old in September, and he is hopeful he will be able to return to France next year to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the invasion.
He was wounded in the invasion and for a time was a prisoner of German troops. The minister mentioned that the combat losses during the Normandy invasion exceeded the losses in any other battle during World War II.
I am impressed with surviving Normandy. I am also impressed with a 99-year-old who still travels internationally!!
Closer to home. His comment reminded me, I have a 97-year-old friend in my Friday luncheon group. He is very sharp. He still figures people’s taxes.
He was on an ammunition ship in WWII and served in the Pacific. I cannot imagine living for months on a ship, with the knowledge that one bomb, one mistake and the whole ship would blow.
Truly Heartwarming (these are some very good ones)