Monday, May 16, 2011

Is Racism Always Bad?

Clearly, some people think that racism, roughly defined as arbitrary ethnic discrimination, is acceptable, while others think of it as the scourge. I arrive at this question because racism seems more prevalent, or perhaps it is just more confidently peeking from the shadows. Is this because it is ‘not that bad’, or even essential (God forbid).

Every day we make acceptable choices based on race; who to date, whom to marry, or associate - and this all seems okay. We cheer for our favorite sports team, and disparage their/our opponents, and this is okay. So why is race off-limits? Some people surely wonder, quietly, what was so special about the slavery of the Atlantic Slave Trade, or the genocide of the Holocaust, that racism, a naturally occurring phenomenon, should be banished, absolutely. Besides, both Africans and Jews discriminate based on race, just like everybody else, do they not? As long as everybody has their equal rights, why such fusses about what people think, say, or, within limits, do?

Is judging someone solely on the content of his or her character realistic? Is this even possible? Is how we look ever an accurate indicator of who we are, or what we are up to? Are tattoos and sagging pants only fashion statements, and never warnings? Perhaps humanity has reached a plateau where social advancement is simply beyond our current reach, as constrained by the instinctive urge to compete and dominate each other.

On the other hand, the urge to compete also inherently defines and motivates our advancement. If we surrender it, will we trade some temporary Utopian pipe dream for ultimate stagnation, and our demise? So, the real question, in all of this, is whether racism is a bitter dimension of progress, that we should figure out how to accept (and manage), or the thing forever blocking a better road ahead.

James C. Collier


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BigmacInPittsburgh said...

I would really like for racism to be a thing of the past ,but I live in the real world and racism and it's ugly by-products ain't going no where anytime in my life time.
I allow you to be what you want to be as long as your behavior isn't disrupted to my life.

James C. Collier said...

I asked a co-worker if she thought racism was always bad, wherein she replied (with a laugh), "not if I'm the one making the comment. Seriously, everyone is racist, whether they admit it or not."

uglyblackjohn said...

Man... I'm racist as hell.
I tease my friends about being white, Asian or Hispanic all the time. We like and respect each other so when one goes too far the others let it be known that such comments or actions have done so.
I think the best we can do is to just manage our racist tendancies.

Dennis Mangan said...

I would distinguish between racism and natural preferences. As Jim says, when it comes to whom to marry or have as friends, racial preferences are normal and not usually disparaged. Racism I would define as hatred based on race - and even so, I don't think that we should try to peer into people's souls to see whether they have politically incorrect thoughts. It's only when they act on hatred that the state or the public has an interest.

ogunsiron said...

For a lot of people, racism is the ultimate evil. I was reading a comment thread on Marty Nemko's blog about the impressions of a white teacher at a black school. The teacher was probably racist. One commenter implied that the black kids would have been better off having a child molester teaching them instead of a "racist"! It sounded like parody but i'm sure that commenter meant it.
If I think back to when i was a child or a teen, i thought a little bit along those ways too. I remember being so outraged that the parents of a white female friend of mine might have problems with me and her being together. I was outraged i tell you ! Fast forward to 2011 and my values have changed :
I realize that people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds are, on average, different (in many ways).

I will judge whether a racist person is a good or bad person based on the context of the situation and all that I know about them. I've had experiences that have shown me that some people who are indeed racists can still be good people, ready to help their fellow man, even if they have no wish to sleep with or live in the same setting as their fellow man. Racists aren't all the same. One must discriminate between good and evil, even among racists.
I'm not saying that racists and racism can't be bad. I'm saying that it's not necessarily, intrinsically so, in my opinion.
I don't get outraged left and right about people having a racial or ethnic preference because it's their prerogative. I'm not very ethnocentric myself but that's just me and others don't have to be like that.
Not being obsessed with racism allows me to very freely interact with, among others, white people.
Basically I care very little about racism and i'm glad that I feel that way.
Some people look forward to a world free of racism and discrimination. I look forward to a world where black people won't care about racism because it will be totally irrelevant. A bit like how the japanese people don't care about racism from whites. It doesn't matter one bit to them and I bet they're glad they focused on being strong rather than on being "accepted" and "included" or whatever.

Anonymous said...

Looking back into history black solidarity and sense of purpose was high when racism(Mr crow, segregation) was strongest. Consumerism has mauled that penetrating even the church. There is racism that forces one to prove himself(good) and racism denies one that(bad)

Anonymous said...

My thoughts are that racism is always bad, terrible in fact.

Being racist denies one the opportunity to share another persons mind, their thoughts, point of view, experiences, culture, beliefs, food,customs,etc. There is so much to learn about other human beings!

And what a wonderful trip it is to share a conversation, have a meeting of the minds with another human being! To me, it's one of the best ways I can think of to spend time!

The racist is limiting him/her self to a small enclosed space with very limited boundaries. And oh how wonderful it is to explore and get to know the entire human population!!!

So, yes racism is very bad. It limits the individual, and a mind wasted is indeed a terrible thing ;)

Anonymous said...

Thrasymachus said...
"Everybody is racist. Racism is just basic common sense. Everybody knows the races are different, and in an anonymous urban society where we have little chance to get to know all the strangers we encounter, the race of a person tells you a lot about them. Black people are just as afraid of sketchy looking young black guys as anybody else."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Really? The "race" of a person can tell you if they're a doctor, lawyer, teacher, business owner, good, bad??? I do believe you've got race confused with what you call "sketchy" LOL!

The question asked was: "Is racism always bad" Not is "sketchyism" always bad. lOLOLOLOL!

Matt said...

Racism, in the absence of other vices and personality flaws, would be perfectly harmless. The problem is that everyone has other personality flaws (malice, pride, envy, etc), and these form a potent cocktail when mixed with racism.

It's been suggested that everyone on earth makes some sort of racial distinction and attaches emotional affect to it. If that is the case, why isn't everyone acting out against people different than themselves? I'd suggest that character and respect for the rules restrain such behavior in healthy adults.

James C. Collier said...

Anon 9:09, your one-sided argument, as you conveniently craft it, pales against the suffering and death delivered upon blacks by whites over 400+ years in N.America.