I don't talk about racial issues face-to-face. Even when I discuss them with people I know in real life, it is nearly always via email. When I first began to notice things about IQ in the 1980s, I did speak quietly to two testing psychologists about how much was genetic (it was not popular to suggest any number above 10% at that point, but they both wincingly copped to about 60%), and whether the racial disparity was real. One hemmed and hawed but eventually said yes, there was something to that, though he didn't think think the full standard deviation gap was going to hold up, while the other (older and from New York City, if that's pertinent) told me it was entirely true, but not to get caught ever saying it out loud. Other than that, I don't think I ever discussed race and IQ at work, at church, at Bible Study, and certainly not with people I barely knew. It did come up in correspondence and the newsletter of the Prometheus Society, but even there, seldom.
"Noticing things" about the racial disparity in violence did not occur until decades later. Up until about 2000 or even later I was aware of a cultural difference, in that the New England states had had lower homicide rates since colonial times, but did not even ask myself if it were racial. I don't bring it up in live conversation anywhere. It comes into a couple of my email groups, but even there it is entirely responsive - only when someone brings up the suggestion that it might be gun ownership or some other possibility for which we have good counterevidence do I go into my standard rant about it. For the record, even though it looks to me as if genetic explanations have the inside track on that one, I very much hope it turns out to be culture, or some epigenetic phenomenon of being exposed to violence or living in an adrenalised, cortisol-activated environment activating a suite of behaviors that might somehow be avoided if we only knew how. My rant is mostly about people not acknowledging how enormous the difference is, and offering solutions without thinking that through. I'm not fussing about causes.
I don't bring these up live because these would unnecessarily hurt people's feelings. Though I have noted several times I don't think it is less hurtful to say "Sure you have the ability, it's just that the culture of your people sucks," or "You start on the same plane of abstract reasoning as everyone else, so you just must have poor character and don't work hard or pay attention." I would think that would be worse, myself. But I note empirically that African-Americans prefer those latter explanations, perhaps because they believe they are not universal and are more fixable - and usually, that they themselves are exempt. But you can see why the explanation "No, it has to be racism, somewhere, somehow" looks attractive. In online discussions, I am now at the point of challenging by saying "Be specific. What are the racist things that are still happening?" Ross Douhat, who I often like, just had one of those "Well it just must be something structurally racist" a day or two ago. The evidence that he cited is that slavery existed for a long time, and then oppression, so it's just overwhelmingly likely there's still some structural racism going on. Could be. But where is it? What is it? I agree it sounds likely. But said the pieman to Simple Simon, "First show me your money."
So there is this huge discrepancy between my online and my live conversations, with email threads running somewhere in between, but closer to online. I can't be the only one. This strikes me as a very large cultural difference from the world I grew up in. The alternative to public conversations were private ones, sometimes whispered and secret ones. Yet even in my private conversations I don't discuss race. If it were the old world I grew up in would my live conversations both public and private be different? If I had read things or learned things about testing and violence would I just have to find someone to talk about those things with?
An additional note: I believe these conversations could be had face-to-face, but they require a lot of context and explanation. Those take time, and they take a willingness to hear and understand careful distinctions. The one time the racial gap in school testing came up at work I agreed that it was real and that "a lot of" the environmental explanations had come up empty. But I also quickly put in the point that the discussion was complicated, and everyone seemed to want to see only what they wanted.
This does remind me that I did discuss male-female school issues with moderate openness at work, largely because it was a mostly-female environment that kept insisting that schools were biased against girls, which I felt I needed to smack down whenever it came up. I would often take the frustration that some mother was feeling about how her son was being treated at school as my entry point. "Yes, the women of my generation were always told how prejudiced schools were against them. Then they had sons and learned the opposite. Schools had some poor attitudes toward girls, and probably still do. But they are designed by women for girls, and boys get crushed." Often, the penny dropped, because it was their boy. Arguments ensued, but I didn't much mind in that instance. (The opening data, for those who doubt this: Girls average nearly a letter grade higher. They make the honor roll twice as often, and high honors three times as often. Unless you think they actually are much smarter than boys - show your work - then it must be that other qualities are being measured. And they are, beginning with conscientiousness, which is a nice thing to have, but not the only thing we expect from a school. Even now, schools as designed are harder for those with attentional problems, which seem to be predominantly boys.)