Friday, May 29, 2009

Religious blacks, spiritual SWPLs

I've made the observation on multiple occasions that in many ways black men have more in common culturally with conservative white guys than they do with male SWPLs*. The black guys I know mercilessly ridicule virtually everything SWPLs like, and my social circle is hardly unique in this regard.

The GSS provides empirical evidence lending support to that claim. In 2008, the survey aksed respondents to self-describe as religious and spiritual, religious but not spiritual, spiritual but not religious, or neither religious nor spiritual. Being spiritual but not religious is a SWPL staple--it allows for a connection with some higher power without adherence to any of the three major monotheistic faiths (think white liberal Buddhists or Wiccans). The following table shows the ratio of the religious but not spiritual to the spiritual but not religious. Because the question has only been posed once, sample sizes for Hispanics and Asians are too small for use:

Whites (all)0.94
White males0.98
White females0.91
White conservatives1.30
White liberals0.65
Blacks (all)2.04
Black males2.27
Black females1.86

Religiosity is the virile manifestation of supernatural belief. Spirituality is its more effeminate version.


* As the acronym SWPL phonetically rolls off the tongue as "swipul" and others in the Steveosphere have apparently adopted it, I've elected to retire "whiterpeople" as the noun of choice for the people satirized by Christian Lander.


clem said...

Religiosity is the virile manifestation of supernatural belief. Spirituality is its more effeminate version.

Religiousity is also the conformist and more inflexibly authoritarian, order-giving and -following side of that pair.

Women are more liberal than men on average, right? So you would expect the same psychology which makes them liberal, to also affect their religious/spiritual orientation. So just go down the list of "fundamental human needs for stability vs. change, order vs. complexity, familiarity vs. novelty, conformity vs. creativity, and loyalty vs. rebellion," and ask yourself which side matches up better with religion, and which with spirituality ... and which side you'd expect creative men to find more appealing.

Even on familiarity vs. novelty, it's well-known among marketers that if you can get a man "hooked" on a brand, he'll stay with that brand for the rest of his life ... while women will constantly be trying other brands even after they've found one they like.

Jokah Macpherson said...

My interactions with a close friend of mine seem to affirm your assertion that black guys (like my friend) have more in common with conservative white guys (like myself) than with SWPL's. Since in addition to being black he is also gay, he is the perfect Democrat on paper but he likes to make fun of SWPL things like Gaia-worship, vegetarianism, light acoustic guitar music, etc. The one area in which he does fit the SWPL mold is the subject of your post - he is "spiritual but not religious," although his aversion to organized religion may be more a function of his homosexuality than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of Kohlberg's stages of moral development. Scale 1-6. Men average level 4. Women average level 3.

Level 4 is rule oriented, ie. fairness, is it fair for all parties.

Level 3 is relationship oriented, ie. is it a good deal for me.

I forget all the details, but after he developed the idea, he constructed a test and gave it to people from different countries, however all respondents were male. Later, the test was given to females who scored lower. Naturally Kohlberg's notions were criticized as faulty because of the female disparity.

Audacious Epigone said...


Right--I would expect people with higher levels of openness to experience to be more likely to self-describe as spiritual than those with lower levels.

I've only seen one study showing a small difference between blacks and whites in openness scores (whites were a little higher), but the correlation between liberal political views and openness trend in the same direction as liberal views and spirituality-over-religiosity does.


Your friend sounds pretty close to a black SWPL, too! Mainstream black culture is in general even less tolerant of SWPL proclivities (except for liking Barack Obama--I've seen several baggy t-shirts of loony toon style with Obama on the front).


Having only a rudimentary familiarity with Kohlberg, it sounds like women would be at stage 2 and men at stage 4 based on your descriptions.

Anonymous said...

I think you've talked about it a bit in the past, but can you discuss people who like the stuff white people like but are politically conservative? Crunchy cons, I guess.

Anonymous said...


Yes, I think I mischaracterized it.

However, women did score lower with an average around 3. That is what caused Gilligan, a female psychologist to try to come up with a new taxonomy.

Your characterization of virile religiosity brought to mind the idea of full blown religion complete with rules a and order. Spirituality to me implies an orientation less rule governed more about attitude, which reminded me of the disparity between males and females as measured in Kohlberg's stages

Chuck said...


interesting thesis.

i'll add one thing. it seems to me that black men and conservative white men act according to a common authoritative principle. they both live by the teachings of "the school of hard knocks".

many conservative men may not have a similarly impoverished up-bringing as black men, but they don't sugar-coat reality like SWPLs do. both black men and conservative whites know that the world is not a pretty place: black men by experience and conservative white men by observation and introspection.

i engage in some activities that could be considered SWPL. i like blues festivals, art exhibits, etc, and so do many conservative white males and even some blacks, but blacks view a lot of the activities of SWPLs as superfluous and corny. they are not tied to reality in a way, and blacks, more than anybody, feel that they are in touch with reality more than most.

blacks are not impressed by the altruistic efforts of the SWPL set. they view those people as suckers for giving up what is theirs, and therefore respect is out the window. blacks may not exactly "like" conservative males, but they at least can give them respect.

i don't know, these are just quick ramblings, but i agree overall with your thought.

Anonymous said...

I think there is also a masculinity component where they would see eye to eye. Conservative white males are about as masculine as black males, whereas SWPL men are basically women.

Audacious Epigone said...


That would probably be the closest working definition. Awhile ago, I started working on an evaluation of each of the 150 (now more) SWPL items as either positive/beneficial, neutral/inconsequential, or negative/harmful, but stopped because I figured it was too subjective. It'd be fun to finish it though, just to see. Self-styled HBD-realists on the right might be even closer than crunchy cons, although I suppose we're a pretty disparate group ourselves.


In my experience it's not just the activities but also many of the SWPL beliefs and habits (environmentalism, self-deprecation, etc) that blacks tend to have no use for.

The topic sounds like an interesting one for a post of its own--on what issues to blacks agree more with white conservatives than white liberals? I'll take a look--thanks for helping give me an idea.


Heh, I don't know if you're being facetious or not, but I'm not sure I would go that far, although the SWPL entry (which if memory serves is only in the book) on the guy-friend who wants to be more but won't push the issue because he doesn't want risk losing the girl certainly comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

Jesus, you people are worse than SWPLs.

"Sure a lot of male tendencies are going to show on the surface. These guys are young and are bursting with testosterone after all. But look at a lot of the other behaviors that are there also. Sitting on the stoop getting their hair braided by other girls. Long t-shirts that go down to the kneecaps and look like skirts. Colorful clothes. Obsession with fashion, shopping, shoes and accessorizing. Love of jewelry. Grooming obsessions that would put metrosexuals to shame. The more you think about it, the more you’ll notice and come up with your own examples."

Myth Of The Ghetto Alpha Male

Audacious Epigone said...


Ornamentation is huge among blacks (hairbraiding is not--it's a niche style among more popular ones, like the razor sharp straight hariline along the forehead). In aggregate, it's a set of status symbols that are directed to serve a very 'alpha' purpose.

Buying magnums, letting your girl do all the dealing with waiters, tellers, clerks, etc (often including paying), 'hollering' at a girl even when she is clearly with another guy and then ignoring him if she starts talking to you, voicing things that are disliked in a way that invites confrontation (no going along to get along), holding eye contact, laughing in another's face, etc are not effeminate behaviors.

Anonymous said...

"Buying magnums, "! Just as a heads up anyone can buy overpriced condoms that wants to (or say they do). If you need to brag about what size condoms that's really not a masculine trait either.

"hollering' at a girl even when she is clearly with another guy and then ignoring him if she starts talking to you"

So this happened to you?? Grow a set for next time bro then get over it.

Most of the other behaviors also arent very masculine...besides they're not all normative in ghetto areas by any means.

Bob said...

It's rather clear, especially in this post, you have an intense hatred of liberal whites, but a much higher view of blacks.

You relish recounting how "authentic" blacks you know share your disgust of liberal whites.

A pretty good illustration of Steve Sailer's frequent point that whites don't think of blacks much at all except it terms of their more important status competition with other whites.