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Thread: A world in which there are no racists, aka: very fine people

  1. #11
    New Member ATLglock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jeffrey View Post
    Would not someone who has such an unconsidered, automatic reaction be a racist - just one who does not think about it very much?


    Indeed, I have heard it asserted that only whites can be (and are) racist, and that non-whites cannot be. It was further stated in this conversation (which occurred over 10 years ago - while I was in law school) that it did not count as racism if the person holding the racist attitude had no power to use it to affect/harm someone else. It made no sense to me, and still does not. I still bristle, in fact, at being labeled "racist" just for being "white."
    Those people who say racism can only occur when people have power, abuse the term. It is no different when a conservative uses the term racist to describe someone that brings up race issues, or talks about racial events.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATLglock View Post
    Those people who say racism can only occur when people have power, abuse the term. It is no different when a conservative uses the term racist to describe someone that brings up race issues, or talks about racial events.
    In the end, the semantic question isn't that interesting to me -- whether or not you limit the term 'racism' just to those with power. But the underlying distinction is important and should be recognized. Behavior that would be harmless, good-natured fun when directed against someone with power, can be very damaging or at least very dangerous when directed against someone without it.

    Let's see if I can illustrate. I'm a white guy in a country where white guys rule the roost. If someone makes a wise crack about supposed racial deficiencies of whites, in this context, it simply doesn't have power to hurt me, nor does it have the weight of generations of prejudices behind it. But what if I moved to Japan? Then I'd be in a society where Japanese rule the roost. Suddenly, a racially-charged joke I might laugh off as harmless if it happened in the US (e.g., a Japanese acquaintance in the US joking about white people being lazy or bad at math), would have real force behind it. I'd be fighting the force of such prejudices day-to-day in my career, for example, if I lived in Japan. It would no longer seem like a harmless jibe.

    To use an example I have actual personal experience with, consider racially charged statements about the Irish. Today, in America, where people with Irish ancestry are fully integrated into power, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who'd get badly bent out of shape about a comment that trades on old anti-Irish stereotypes (e.g., the Irish being overly pugilistic, or drunks, or breeding like rabbits). Such stereotypes just don't have the capacity to wound any more, in this country, in this time. But if this were 1860 New York, or 1980 London, such statements would hit much differently.

    Now, as I said, I don't much care about the semantic question if you call one "racism" and the other not, or whether you instead call one "harmful" and the other "harmless racism." But whatever labels you apply, it's important to acknowledge how hugely important power dynamics are in what kind of impact these things have. There's a very legitimate reason society should have much lower tolerance for racially charged statements and behavior that are used by people with a lot of power against those with less. It is admittedly a double-standard, but a justified one.
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  3. #13
    Spock of Vulcan Ian Jeffrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arkady View Post
    In the end, the semantic question isn't that interesting to me -- whether or not you limit the term 'racism' just to those with power.
    Perhaps not important to you, but that is a rather important question, especially considering that there are those who consider people who look white to be inherently racist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arkady View Post
    [W]hatever labels you apply, it's important to acknowledge how hugely important power dynamics are in what kind of impact these things have.
    The power dynamics are not related to whether racism exists, however, unless one is attempting to legitimize a form of racism.
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  4. #14
    Flibbertigibbet Wonderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jeffrey View Post
    Would not someone who has such an unconsidered, automatic reaction be a racist - just one who does not think about it very much?
    I don't think so - not in the sense I'm contemplating it. Let me give you an example: Years ago, I had a case involving a man who was fired from his job at a car dealership after he went into the manager's office and started loudly swearing up a storm after he didn't get a promotion he felt he deserved. The manager asked him to leave his office and he continued yelling and swearing about it on the showroom floor, with customers present, at which point, the manager fired him. He sued for wrongful termination and discrimination. I was defending the dealership. During a phone conversation with the man's attorney, as we jousted about the strengths of our respective cases, I pointed out I didn't believe a jury was going to be all that sympathetic to a guy who mouthed off at his boss and in front of customers. The other attorney chastised me for my terminology. I was caught off guard. I've heard and used "mouthed off" my entire life and never once associated it with anything racial but, I came to learn, some people equate that with calling someone "uppity," (which I didn't do and would never have done.) In any event, I'd clearly said something that COULD be interpreted as racially loaded or insensitive. Am I a racist?

    Then, too, there's the question of whether one instance of a racially insensitive comment forever earns a person the label of "racist." Or is there a threshold? That's what I mean about the murkiness.

    Or, what about something as innocuous as "White Men Can't Jump"? Is that racist since it denigrates people based on their race? Or is that one of those areas where we (need to learn to) give one another an ounce of grace?

    Indeed, I have heard it asserted that only whites can be (and are) racist, and that non-whites cannot be. It was further stated in this conversation (which occurred over 10 years ago - while I was in law school) that it did not count as racism if the person holding the racist attitude had no power to use it to affect/harm someone else. It made no sense to me, and still does not. I still bristle, in fact, at being labeled "racist" just for being "white."
    I've seen/heard that sentiment, as well. I do not subscribe to it. I understand that there is historical context which might make some of those murky areas even murkier. Again, I think that's where we would all benefit from extending an ounce of grace and benefit of the doubt.
    Thanks from Ian Jeffrey

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arkady View Post
    On the board I was posting at before this, there was effectively a rule that conservatives could call anything they want "racist," but if a liberal did so, it would result in a temporary ban. Thus, why I left. The result of that double-standard is that, for purposes of that board, "racist" meant "someone who brings up race in a way that hurts right-wing feelings," whereas actually asserting the inherent inferiority of non-white people had nothing to do with racism.
    I'm glad you got banned. Otherwise you wouldn't have ended up here and I enjoy reading your posts, your POV is unique and while I may not agree with you on all things, I think you're a great addition to the forum.
    Thanks from Arkady

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wonderer View Post
    I agree with this definition; might add someone who holds an animus toward an entire race, as well as someone who considers/contends their own race superior to others.

    Now I'm going to say something that might be a little uncomfortable: There absolutely are racists in this world -- people who meet the description(s) above and act accordingly. Further, there are "closet racists," as in people who meet the description(s) above but deny that they do and don't overtly act as such. Then there are people who don't meet the description(s) above but on occasion make a stereotypical observation, stick their foot in their mouth, or commit what we might call a "micro-aggression." Not out of animus or intent to cause harm, but because they speak before thinking. I think there are very few people who genuinely can claim not to be at all conscious of race and never to consider it one way or the other.

    I believe that the term itself is sometimes used too broadly (because it's a very effective way to silence/marginalize), and that murks up the waters a bit. I don't think many people relish being called a "racist," but, in particular, people who genuinely don't harbor animus toward people of other races but get lumped into the category of "racist" because they may align politically or on some issues with those who do, tend to bristle at the label. And then actual racism gets a pass while everyone argues over whether something which COULD be but really could NOT be, etc.
    Fair enough. I tend to think while someone may not be racist in the worst sense of the word, many are subconsciously biased which can have a big impact if you're say, sitting on a jury or calling the cops on someone for "suspicious" behavior.

    I'd consider it progress if everyone could just learn to question their own judgement of others to analyze where it comes from.

    A lot of what people call racism is scapegoating and rationalized by claiming the "culture" of particular groups is at the heart of their belief that they are more prone to commit crime or hate them first. Then the door is open to be mean to them without going through the trouble to judge them as individuals.

    And I don't have time to go into the roots of racism used to steal people's stuff. Colonialism, etc. Most white people aren't even aware of how their own history of exploiting natives in other countries has gone largely unaddressed and destroyed the culture.
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  7. #17
    Flibbertigibbet Wonderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blueneck View Post
    Fair enough. I tend to think while someone may not be racist in the worst sense of the word, many are subconsciously biased which can have a big impact if you're say, sitting on a jury or calling the cops on someone for "suspicious" behavior.

    I'd consider it progress if everyone could just learn to question their own judgement of others to analyze where it comes from.

    A lot of what people call racism is scapegoating and rationalized by claiming the "culture" of particular groups is at the heart of their belief that they are more prone to commit crime or hate them first. Then the door is open to be mean to them without going through the trouble to judge them as individuals.

    And I don't have time to go into the roots of racism used to steal people's stuff. Colonialism, etc. Most white people aren't even aware of how their own history of exploiting natives in other countries has gone largely unaddressed and destroyed the culture.
    Agree with most all of this. And Amen to the bolded.
    Thanks from Blueneck

  8. #18
    Junior Member Slartibartfast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BDBoop View Post
    Acts of violence against people of color has risen greatly since Trump started running his mouth during the campaign. "Well, if they are less than human" *he said animals, everybody cheered. He did not say until THE NEXT DAY that he was only talking about that gang.* - - - , we can talk to them however we want. If they are brown, they don't belong here. If they have an accent, they don't belong here. How shall we as a single individual treat someone who we don't think belongs here? They are less than. I don't have to be humane, because they're not human."

    And that's just one piece of a huge puzzle. That's the immigrant/refugee piece. Then there is the AA/black piece. Same thinking though. A million excuses for why a kid can get shot coming back from the convenience store, or a young man for using his cell phone in his grandmother's back yard, or a twelve year-old playing in the park. Death by a thousand cuts, only every cut is a death.
    But you don't make sense @BDBoop as Black, white, yellow and orange are colours. Black is out of bounds and mentioning black is racist. Trump being orange, you all laugh your heads off.

    Which colours are you referring to??

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kallie Knoetze View Post
    Ms. Boop,

    To a liberal, a racist is anybody who doesn't agree 100% lock-goose step with them.
    Nonesense. Yet another "fact based" post.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slartibartfast View Post
    But you don't make sense @BDBoop as Black, white, yellow and orange are colours. Black is out of bounds and mentioning black is racist. Trump being orange, you all laugh your heads off.

    Which colours are you referring to??
    I don't find the criticism of his spray tan to be constructive, but to many it represents an outward and obvious expression of his inner fakeness and desperate attempt at covering up supercial flaws while continuing to behave like an egotistical and ignorant asshole. To him, appearances are everything, and he doesn't hold back on criticism of women's looks without ever it seems, looking in his own mirror.

    The problem isn't his looks, it's his soul, or lack thereof.
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