What is racism?
We hear lots of talk about racists, but what does that mean? It is simple, really. If you treat similar behaviors differently just because of race, you are racist. If you do not, congratulation, you are not racist. You are not racist if you do not like things that blacks, whites or Asians are doing unless you would like such things if members of some other race were doing and your revised opinion was based on race.
Simple example - if you like a work or art, an activity or music and you find out that this was made by a member of a different race than you assumed, if you change you mind based on this new information, you are racist.
There is a lot of talk in academic circles about concepts like white privelge, Asian privelge or implicit bias. These concepts keep academics in businesses, but they really don't matter. Return to the simple test. It depends only on behaviors. What you think, what you really think, what you think you think or what others think you think is not important. Only what you do matters.
Some white people feel guilty for what they are. There is no basis for this. Some black people feel entitled to special treatment because of their race. They are wrong too. If fact, if you feel guilty or entitled because of race, and you act on this, you are racist.
Are we clear? It really is that simple.
Posted by Christine & John at November 18, 2016 7:39 PM
It is simple, really. If you treat similar behaviors differently just because of race, you are racist. If you do not, congratulation, you are not racist.
I do not think it makes sense to craft a binary categorization of “racist” and “not racist”. Everyone occasionally falls short of their ideals and judges similar behaviors through the lens of race when they shouldn’t. In other words, everyone’s a little racist. Instead of asking, “Is this person racist”? we should be asking, “Is that behavior/action/decision racist”?
All that matter is behaviors. Everyone is not a little racist. Everyone may have some attitudes that WOULD be racist, IF acted upon Indeed, we should be asking only about behaviors and perhaps you are right that we should characterize only actions and not people as racist. We should all avoid doing racist things.
If I am alone and in an unknown neighborhood after midnight and I encounter a group of African-Americans, I will sometimes behave differently than if I stumbled upon a group white people. I think the same can be said for most people.
You are simply acting according to statistical probabilities. Blacks are several times more likely to commit a violent crime. Not racist based on the information available. If you learn that it is a group of black Sunday school teachers and still maintain your opinion, you may be racist. Consider a similar walk where you notice a group of black grandmothers on one side of the street and a group of white teenagers wearing hoodies on the other. Which side do you take? Are you an anti-white racist for your decision?
It’s partly statistics and it’s partly racial stereotyping. The two sometimes get so thoroughly intertwined that it is impossible to tell them apart. These are times when behavior is a function of emotional reaction rather than rational proaction.
I think I told you this story before. I was in a bar and a black guy came in. A young guy turned to me. Why me? I don’t know. I didn’t know him. I guessed it was because I was standing next to him at the time.
Anyway, he turned to me and asked me, “What’s he doing in here?”. I asked him what the guy did to him. He thought about it for a second and then apologized. He realized he was being a racist.
Was he being racist or was he just ignorant?
He assumed a black guy didn’t belong in the place we were in. I see it a lot because there are a lot of racists in my town. It’s predominantly white and there are maybe 20 black people here, if that!
In a social setting again, a black guy came in to enjoy the atmosphere and an adult beverage. It was not a welcome sight. The word “cottonpicker” was used. It ended up outside. No violence occurred, but after the altercation there were many people asking him questions and trying to find out what the guy was like. It was like he was a novelty. It was like it was the first time they actually had the chance to talk at length with a black person.
Were they racist, or just curious?
You failed to mention what could be interpreted as racist in one area or situation, could also be considered normal or funny in another. It’s all subjective and determined by an individual point of view. Perhaps that’s why Jefferson and Madison insisted we have the freedom to speak as individuals and the freedom of speech was considered a priority, the first priority in our Bill of Rights.
I recently had a discussion with a person I know well. He was born during The Great Depression. He was able to read the newspaper during WWII. He understood what people who came home from that war told him. I’ve never known him to actually live with or near black people.
What was remarkable about this discussion was his use of the phrase “last 8 years” and the n-word. He used the n-word deliberately to emphasize he had no respect for what he knew of them.
There’s the rub! He’s never lived with them or near them and he still doesn’t!
Where did he get this opinion? I didn’t give it to him. I was just listening to him! Where could he have acquired the information he was using to base his opinion?
Is he racist?
Smoking isn’t a race, but we discriminate against them more than we discriminate against our pet dog!
In my state a smoker must be 8 feet from a door entering a public building. Workplaces refuse to accommodate smokers and force them into the elements to enjoy their break. They must sit outside and look into the window to the break room being used by one person, the nonsmoker. Entire work forces are sitting at picnic tables, outside, in the elements with no shelter. That’s worse than most people would treat their dog!
But nobody bats and eyelash in sympathy with them.
Is that racist?
Remember “An Officer and a Gentleman”?
His “girlfriend” couldn’t get served in the high priced clothing stores.
Is that racist? It’s certainly discriminatory.
Thank God and Jefferson and Madison for the First Amendment.
Even screaming “FIRE” in a crowded theater is acceptable in a society that is prepared for a fire in a crowded theater.
What is racism? I can’t define it but I know it when I see it.
Has President Obama tried to do the best he can in a difficult job(politics aside)?
Your answer may be indicative.
Anyone who did a “good job” wouldn’t have left their party in such disarray. Anyone who did a “good job” wouldn’t encourage people to riot in the street because they didn’t get their way.
They wouldn’t jump to conclusions and “act stupidly”.
Ww,you didn’t answer the question but thanks for trying :-D
There are lots of reasons to dislike the Obama results w/o reference to race. Recall that more whites voted for Obama than for Hillary and that Obama’s personal approval rating is higher than that of his policies, which would imply lack of racism or maybe even an racial advantage for being black.
J, still doesn’t answer the question. Leaving job performance or outcomes out, do you think he tried to do the best he could in a difficult job?
It’s a simple yes or no answer.
I think he tried to do his best, as did Bush, Clinton and all others, as Trump will do. It is not much of question. Every president of the United States has tried to do what he thought best for the country.
Can everyone agree that Richard Spencer holds many racist beliefs that have no business in any mainstream political discourse?
Didn’t know him before a few days ago and he is likely to have only a short moment in the sun. He seems a white version of Al Sharpton. So indeed, he is racist because he treats similar behaviors differently just because of race.
The media empire of the modern-day alternative right coalesced around Richard Spencer during his editorship of Taki’s Magazine. In 2010, Spencer founded AlternativeRight.com, which would become a center of alt-right thought.
It sounds like he has been in the rightists’ sun for a bit longer than a few days already.
I never heard of him and most people, most conservatives, could not have told you what the alt-right was just a few months ago.
I know you don’t read Brietbart, but many of your compatriots on Watchblog do.
I sometimes see these weird things on left and right. It is a bad habit on both sides to find the strangest things and make it seem like that is the determining factor.
Hillary courted BLM, a racists and sometimes violent organization. it would be unfair to characterize her as racist because of that. Obama invited Sharpton to the WH on many occasions. This is a horrible man, but he has some following so you need to sometimes talk to people like him. The BLM and the Sharpton folks are often a basket of deplorable, but not always and we cannot point to these things to call Obama or Hillary racist.
To repeat, only behaviors count AND only your own behaviors. Guilt by association is invalid and former behaviors may give hint to future ones, but redemption is possible.
You have heard my story about having meals in Iraq with men who might have tried to kill me only a few months or weeks before. We trust but verify.
It also depends on the roles. A guy like Sharpton, for example, can be very funny and can mobilize his follower for good as well as for those destructive protests that made him famous.
When did Al Sharpton suggest America ought to be for Black people and Black people alone?
The problem with your thinking is that you are lumping Richard Spencer and Al Sharpton into the same basket without any justification for doing so. One of those men men may be bad, but the other is 100x worse.
Interesting that the only two comments to my question both first answered with derision of our President although one clarified eloquently.
I can’t tell you what racism is but I do know I know it when I see it and I see a lot of it. It’s too bad so many conservatives can’t seem to grasp that but it is a conditioned response that allows many to claim there is none.
Al Sharpton is constantly engaged in race baiting. That is his whole act. And some in BLM have called for killing police.
And has this Richard Spenser guy been offered a post in the Trump team? Or invited to come to the WH and offer advice?
Racism means you treat similar behaviors differently because of race. Everything else is just commentary.
Criticism of a president is not racist unless it has that component. Some of what Obama advocated is against my values. It is similar with Hillary and was similar with Kerry. It is not racist to oppose such things, just as it is not racist for you to oppose Trump.
The problem with using the racist meme is that it is way overdone.
The biggest and most persistent form of racism is preference and much affirmative action, BTW. Someday we will be ashamed of that too.
I linked to the news that Microsoft will give executives bonus based on their hiring fewer white men. Let’s turn that around. Is it racist to create incentives to hire fewer black men?
Wow C&J good post. Decent but broad definition of racism allowing for plenty of room to maneuver, IMHO. I have to disagree with you when it comes to affirmative action and preferences being racist behaviors. These are reactions to actions of racism not racism itself. Perhaps in the future that may change as these programs are a step on the way IMHO.
Using your Microsoft example I would suggest the goal of diversity in the workplace isn’t racism, sexism or “reverse racism/sexism”. I suppose there could be instances where it could be perceived as such which is why the broad concept of “behavior” is the only kind of racism may be wrong.
Racism to counter racism may just cause more racism. Maybe try not having racism.
If you treat similar behaviors differently just because of race, you are acting racist.
The permutation interesting in the tech world is that blacks AND whites are underrepresented. How are we going to justify discrimination against Asians as a “cure” for past racism.
C&J, Racism to counter racism? This is where your definition of racism falls apart. IMHO it is also rather flippant to tell us “maybe try not to have racism” as if the intent of affirmative action is to have racism.
SO perhaps if you were to add intention to your definition of racism. Actions and intentions would be a more comprehensive definition than actions alone.
The permutation interesting in the tech world is that blacks AND whites are underrepresented. How are we going to justify discrimination against Asians as a “cure” for past racism.
The issue here may be diversity in the workplace. It seems management recognizes the importance of diversity in the workplace as opposed to actively trying to stop diversity in the workplace. Probably boils down to money and a type of indentured servitude that motivates management as they can bring in H1 “slaves” at a lower cost.
So quaint to read comments from conservatives regarding their problems with affirmative action how terrible for you all. So inconvenient that you should have to endure such horrendous tribulations. Tell that to the people whose ancestors were brought here by force, made slaves and lynched for insane reasons. Oh I know today’s conservatives had nothing to do with those injustices and are only seeking justice for themselves today. To bad, suck it up crybabies.
I think employers would rather have an employee who works the same amount of time he gets paid for. I see a lot of business managers who are frustrated by having to pick up the slack of their employees who think they are there to smoke cigarettes and chat on their phones. A sloth for an employee is a sloth no matter what color he is.
There are two pole of affirmative action. The one is good. It is to “cast a wider net” and affirmatively seek diversity to take advantage of a variety of skills and characteristics. This is the one we all love. Unfortunately the one we usually see involves goals and identity politics, where we count and assume discrimination if there are differences between the stats. This is the one I hate and - yes - it is racist, no matter its ostensible intent.
Most managers recognize the value of diversity. I recognize it - TRUE diversity. That means a diversity of thought and ideas. It does not imply that my workforce is like the general one. If we choose those with the best and most appropriate qualities, we are unlikely to have a racially balanced workforce.
The NBA is probably the most UNdiverse large organization in the U.S. Would basketball improve if we made it “look like America?”
We cannot do justice in the past. It make no sense to reward or punish people for things they did not do and had no part. I have met slaves, people enslaved by communists more recently than 1865. Indeed, people need to get over it and look to the future.
You and I had no part in slavery. Nobody alive today was ever legally held as a slave in the U.S. nor has anyone alive today ever owned one.
In every definition of the word Racism (that I have found), there is a component of belief, and a component of action based on that belief. Both components can be individually defined by the same word. My concern is the suggestion that the component of belief (what you really think) may be summarily deleted from the definition without some form of clarification.
By your definition, what a person really thinks isn’t important, only their actions matter, and your further clarifications suggest that only the actions should be characterized as racist, and not the person.
Isn’t this, “Addressing the symptoms, but ignoring the disease.”?
If a person would normally be driven to protest/demonstrate with their own race, against societal inequalities perpetrated upon their race, is it racist not to protest/demonstrate with a different race if the societal inequalities were the same or similar?
We cannot tell what people really think. We often do not really know what we think and our thinking changes often and sometimes profoundly over even short time. If that is not enough, many of our opinions will be ephemeral and/or based on specific circumstances.
Consider that when you are drunk you will say and do things that are not normal for you. Is the drunk the “true man?” I don’t think so. Rather the drunk gives expression to passing impulses.
So, my long trip brings me to the point that the only thing we can judge is behaviors. The behaviors are the manifestation of the “disease.”
Few of us act on all our beliefs.
And, yes, there are racist acts more than racist people. If a person is constantly doing racist things, we may infer that he is a racist, but inferences are not absolute proof. And labeling an individual as racist, as opposed to his actions, would not change the useful actions we might take.
Imagine labeling a person as a rapist or murderer who has never actually raped or murdered anybody. The same goes for being a racist.
Re protesting - we are interested in things and people close to us (physically or socially). We cannot expect people to react equally to all problems of everybody else.
My opinion is that if your black neighbor has a problem and you do nothing but you hit the streets to protect your white or Asian neighbor with the same problem and with whom you have a similar relationship, you are racist. Otherwise not.
The use of appearance and broad cultural associations as prima facie evidence of a person’s character, qualification for rights and privileges of citizenship, employment, etc.
It doesn’t have to be deliberate, nor malicious.
And, no, it’s not giving people a certain level of special treatment when that treatment is a remedy for a fairly destructive past, where people were deprived of the advantages, the headstart that the people complaining about it had. Sink or swim approaches only make sense with a level playing field. Then, and only then is a person succeeding strictly on their merits.
If we talk about there being a statistically greater likelihood of a black person committing the crime, we need to talk about the question of scientifically analyzing causes.
It’s difficult enough when you’re doing a lab experiment. Let’s take the Higgs Boson. How do you know you’ve detected a Higgs Boson? Well, they did a bunch of analysis, and figured out that you’d get a particular spike in Gamma rays, electrons, and particles called muons, closely related to electrons. The issue, though, is that Higgs Bosons aren’t the only collision products that decay into these particles, just the way a Tsunami, or a storm surge aren’t the only phenomena that create waves in the ocean.
What you can do is account for these other causes, these other collision remnants, and create what you could call a null hypothesis: a hypothesis that supposes that you can expect this many electrons at these energies, this many muons at this energy, and this many photons at this energy, regardless of whether you find the decay products of the Higgs Boson or not.
Then, when the spike does occur, when the result deviates this much from what chance alone would yield, you can say that this was a big factor in the results.
In stuff like judging what role race plays in behavior, we end up dealing with any kind of confounding results. Abused people tend to behave pretty similar, and the consequences of racism confound the very causes of the differences that racists would point to in order to justify their attitudes. Poverty, drug abuse and population density can make white people screw up the same as black people.
So, a “chips fall where they may” colorblind approach might not fix the actual problem, just keep things where racism put them in the first place.
The long and the short of it is that there’s not much evidence that there is an appreciable difference in the brainpower of different races, or any other character attribute. There are the universals, I believe, of human behavior, and the response to being segregated, ostracized from the rest of society, from opportunity.
Blacks commit violent crime at a rate greater than whites or Asians. They are also victims of violent crimes at rates greater than whites or Asians. This is statistics, not racism.
Why is this the case. There are lots of possibilities. My own feeling is that it is the result of racism, but not current racism. Many of the habits and behaviors developed during racism are negative and pernicious. These have to be changed.
Is it racist for Breitbart to tag articles like this? They do not do the same for Whites.
No. It is provocative, but not racist to the extent that it relies on facts.
I thought it was racist to treat similar behaviors differently on the basis of race? White criminals don’t get a special tag on Breitbart.
He is just showing the crimes. The tag “black crime” is perhaps a racist slogan.
Why doesn’t Breitbart report on crimes committed by Whites?
Let me rephrase that: Why doesn’t Breitbart give White crime the same attention it gives Black crime?