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Author Topic: A Question of Racism and What Defines It  (Read 1790 times)

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Offline Trieste

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Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2013, 11:00:35 PM »
Wealth gives and buys a lot of influence and power.  Let's look at Forbes' top 400 richest people.  Notice anything about just the top ten?

http://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/gallery

Yup, white.  And mostly male. 

Hey, I got less than a quarter of the way through before I hit an Asian dude, though! >.> (#47, Patrick Soon-Shiong)

And, as far as I can tell, the women who are in the top ten (or top twenty, even) got there not by working but being related to a rich white guy.  :-\ Out of sheer curiosity, I kept scrolling 'till I got to a black guy ... and then I fall over in shock because the first black person on the list is not a man. It's Oprah Winfrey at #151. This isn't counting others who might be not-white whose picture is missing, obviously. And there are some eastern European and Hispanic-sounding names in there, so it's possible, even probable, that there are non-WASP style rich white people before #151 but someone else will have to do the research to pick those out. If people care.

Winfrey is the only discernibly black person on the list. At all. At least, with a picture. There are several other shades of brown, though! Pierre Omidyar is of Iranian descent - he's #42.

(Impressively, their image of Donald Trump is surprisingly flattering. I think it might be the only moderately flattering shot I've seen of him, actually.)

I don't really have a point other than gathering the information because I thought it was interesting. Other folks can feel free to draw their own conclusions.

Offline Didact

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #26 on: May 20, 2013, 11:23:56 PM »
I've found the interpretation of the "privilege plus power" to be far, far too limited.

If, let's say, an Asian man walks into the wrong bar, and a black man stabs him because he doesn't like the cut of his jib, is it really helpful to say, "Yes, well, Bob, I know that stab wound hurts and you're feeling unwelcome in this community, but if you look at the number of black Fortune 500 CEOs versus the number of Asian CEOs, you'll recognize your privilege and know that it wasn't racism?" Of course not.

You don't have to be an ethnic minority to be harmed by racism, and you don't have to be a member of an ethnic majority in order to harm another based on race. What matters is the power dynamic. So long as you have the ability to harm another based on race - and this could be as complex as the money in your bank account or the knife in your hand - you've got the aforementioned "power." If you have no ability to exert your power over another - let's say, on an anonymous imageboard - it's only dangerous in the abstract, and not the practical damage that racism brings to mind.

A good example of this is Callie Del Noire's example. Despite being a part of the "privileged" race, non-whites were able to exert power over him, and thereby cause him harm. The harm is what matters, not the "institutionalization." The institutionalization of racism is merely the preservation of prejudice for posterity, and doesn't affect the character of the injury.

Now, of course there are going to be more instances of institutional racism from certain groups which have, in the past, clawed their way to the top. But it's almost always best to treat it as a case by case basis, rather than a racial basis. That way the proverbial Watchers can attempt to aid those who need aid and curtail all racial discrimination, and not just discrimination from one group.

Offline consortium11

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #27 on: May 21, 2013, 04:01:16 AM »
You are right and that has happened because:
1) The victims of racism fought for the right to determine for themselves what was affecting them.
2) The systematic nature of racial prejudice within institutions was found (like sexism ) to be endemic; the individual had invented an ideology based around ‘myth’ i.e some races were superior to others, thus finding its way into its culture.

I don't no, I think history will prove that wrong -- even though heavily criticised this Report is still very influential.[/quote]

My argument isn't that institutional racism doesn't exist; it quite clearly does. My argument is that there can be (and is) racism outside of the institutionalised form and "white people can't suffer from racism" style arguments only work if there isn't. If someone is attacked merely because of their race then they've suffered a racist attack. Telling them afterwards that it "wasn't really racism" because of the relative privilege of their race compared to their attackers is at best insulting and at worst a form of racism itself (as it reduces the victim to simply being part of one race)... while also flouting the first point you made above.

Offline Kythia

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Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #28 on: May 21, 2013, 04:41:58 AM »
Hey, I got less than a quarter of the way through before I hit an Asian dude, though! >.> (#47, Patrick Soon-Shiong)

And, as far as I can tell, the women who are in the top ten (or top twenty, even) got there not by working but being related to a rich white guy.  :-\ Out of sheer curiosity, I kept scrolling 'till I got to a black guy ... and then I fall over in shock because the first black person on the list is not a man. It's Oprah Winfrey at #151. This isn't counting others who might be not-white whose picture is missing, obviously. And there are some eastern European and Hispanic-sounding names in there, so it's possible, even probable, that there are non-WASP style rich white people before #151 but someone else will have to do the research to pick those out. If people care.

Winfrey is the only discernibly black person on the list. At all. At least, with a picture. There are several other shades of brown, though! Pierre Omidyar is of Iranian descent - he's #42.

(Impressively, their image of Donald Trump is surprisingly flattering. I think it might be the only moderately flattering shot I've seen of him, actually.)

I don't really have a point other than gathering the information because I thought it was interesting. Other folks can feel free to draw their own conclusions.

The Richest people in the world (as opposed to the US) is a little more diverse.  Hardly a rainbow, though, still.


Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #29 on: May 21, 2013, 11:22:51 AM »
"What is racism and can the people who are considered the "social norm" or those in "power" be the target of racism?"

Racism is bigotry or discrimination against other people based on their ancestry*. The theory that racism can only exist in the context of the social power it imposes over others is wrong, and anyone can be the target of racism... but that is not to say that everyone's racism is equally consequential. Typically speaking, the racism of the powerful gets and should get most of the attention, as it's able to produce most of the practical effects.

[Incidentally, one effect pointed out here is inter-generational. The degradation of the US elites' apparent capability to think and invest in the long term is probably at least partly a race problem: explicit and implicit racism are strongly linked to the older and wealthier demographics, whereas younger demographics are increasingly tolerant and racially diverse. A good reminder that racism doesn't necessarily just affect its direct target... it will also typically cut against anyone who is disloyal, in the racist's view, to their perspective.]

(* I say "ancestry" because racism actually tends not to be too fussy about the specific form of ancestry it's attacking. It's generally a primal impulse being rationalized after the fact; the fact that Judaism and Islam are technically religions and not races doesn't change the fact that many of the attacks on either are quite often racist, for example. The issue is sometimes confused by the existence of "scientific racism," which was once totally dominant and now is badly on the wane. Racism pre-existed "scientific racism" and survives it.)
« Last Edit: May 21, 2013, 11:51:10 AM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Oniya

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Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #30 on: May 21, 2013, 12:17:22 PM »
[Incidentally, one effect pointed out here is inter-generational. The degradation of the US elites' apparent capability to think and invest in the long term is probably at least partly a race problem: explicit and implicit racism are strongly linked to the older and wealthier demographics, whereas younger demographics are increasingly tolerant and racially diverse. A good reminder that racism doesn't necessarily just affect its direct target... it will also typically cut against anyone who is disloyal, in the racist's view, to their perspective.]

So - the older generation is refusing to invest in long term things because that would benefit people that don't think the way they do?

Offline Healergirl

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #31 on: May 21, 2013, 12:27:18 PM »
Oniya,

I think thee might be a great deal of truth in that quote.,  I don't think it is that simple, that the correlation is that direct.  but I do think the attitude is a factor.

Giving money to people who will use it in ways you don't approve of?  Lots of people would have problems doing that.

Offline meikle

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #32 on: May 21, 2013, 12:32:05 PM »
I think thee might be a great deal of truth in that quote.,  I don't think it is that simple, that the correlation is that direct.  but I do think the attitude is a factor.
"People will act against their own interests if it means hurting people of other races more" was at the heart of the Republican Southern Strategy, so Oniya's idea that people will act against future prosperity if it means punishing people for thinking differently from them doesn't seem too unrealistic.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2013, 12:34:41 PM by meikle »

Offline Oniya

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Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #33 on: May 21, 2013, 12:33:17 PM »
Oniya,

I think thee might be a great deal of truth in that quote.,  I don't think it is that simple, that the correlation is that direct.  but I do think the attitude is a factor.

Giving money to people who will use it in ways you don't approve of?  Lots of people would have problems doing that.

No, I doubt it's that simple, but it's the first time I've ever seen that connection even hinted at.  I wonder what the demographics of people who contribute to 'kickstarter' or 'crowd-sourced' ventures looks like.  Not just on race, but also on age and average income.

Offline Healergirl

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #34 on: May 21, 2013, 12:38:03 PM »
Oniya,

I've heard/read  it mentioned, but not often and only as one factor in people's thinking, not as a prime motivation.

And I would be fascinated by such demographic information.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #35 on: May 21, 2013, 12:44:50 PM »
No, I doubt it's that simple, but it's the first time I've ever seen that connection even hinted at.  I wonder what the demographics of people who contribute to 'kickstarter' or 'crowd-sourced' ventures looks like.  Not just on race, but also on age and average income.

That would make for some interesting points. I have seen a lot of older folks saying that they didn't understand why anyone would do a kickstarter or contribute to it.

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Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #36 on: May 21, 2013, 01:01:05 PM »
*nods to Healergirl* Yes, I think there is at least part of a truth there, though it's not something you can count on people saying openly very often in  public debate.

Also I think it's highly selective. Imagine if a political movement that mostly related to middle-aged and senior people wanted to aggressively cut state funding of sports and force down the amount of sports broadcasts on tv, lashing out "The hell with sports! All those puffed-up, egoboosted kids who think they're doing something on the track or the ball park - they're all just snooty youngsters and it's nothing our kind will ever excel at, or be able to identify with these days!" That would be political suicide...  8-)

Offline Hemingway

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #37 on: May 21, 2013, 01:17:40 PM »
Racism, as it's generally understood, I find too limited. Limited because where I'm from, there's a lot of what I would label racism directed against Romani. However, if you accuse people of racism, on the basis of their opinions on a large and diverse group of people based sometimes on the actions of a few and sometimes on nothing at all, they protest. The most common excuse, in my experience ( and this isn't just something people say to defend themselves, but also when they're making racist remarks but want to make it seem like it isn't ), is to say that it's not because of their race, it's because of their culture. We don't, in other words, hate them for their skin color, we hate them for their ... culture.

There's a lot wrong with statements like that. To say that it's in Romani culture to be a lazy thief is no different than to say all African-Americans are criminals. Well, functionally there's no difference. I mean, there's a very simple thought experiment you can do, which is simply to say to yourself that African Americans are lazy thieves not because of their skin color, but because it's in their culture, and see if that doesn't seem like a racist statement to you.

Maybe what I'm saying is perfectly obvious to everyone, but my attempts to convince people who have these opinions of this have been unsuccesful. Mind you, I don't think these individuals are lying, or anything like that. I have no trouble at all believing that they don't view their own attitudes as being racist. Which in turn is basically the essence of this problem: Racism, according to the dictionary, is just the view that there exist different races, and that people have different traits that are inherent to them based on their race. In practical terms, though, that definition is ... close to useless.

Offline Healergirl

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #38 on: May 21, 2013, 01:27:23 PM »
Hemingway,

It all boils down to xenophobia, but as I was told on an occassion I will never forget, "Xenophobia is an egghead term"

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #39 on: May 21, 2013, 01:33:27 PM »
Bias, such as racism, comes in a lot of set ups Hemingway. I saw a lot of this in my last Sociology class, which was in just enough depth to show that I dislike doing more. It depressed the hell out of me. I used to see a lot of that with the 'Travellers' in Ireland that I went to school with.  Folks would really give them grief.

Depressed me when I found out that statistically speaking almost half of the Traveller kids I went to school with back then is probably dead. (one study says their mortality rate is such that half don't live past 39 years of age). Yet you heard little or nothing about it.

There are a LOT of biases. You got the Japanese with the Ainu and ethinic Koreans as well as their own untouchable classes (the Burakim), the instution of the Caste system in India and so on and so forth. There are a lot of bias based systems still in place. Everywhere.

Hell, the ruling faction of Syria is a MINORITY, the Alawhites, which is one of the issues that led to the current civil war.

Bias, not just racism, is still sadly a healthy living thing in the human psyche.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #40 on: May 21, 2013, 03:11:31 PM »
Racism, as it's generally understood, I find too limited. Limited because where I'm from, there's a lot of what I would label racism directed against Romani. However, if you accuse people of racism, on the basis of their opinions on a large and diverse group of people based sometimes on the actions of a few and sometimes on nothing at all, they protest.

Of course they do. Bigots often know very well there's nothing very honorable in the impulse -- they at minimum know that there's some significant portion of society that frowns upon it -- and still want to be thought of as decent folk, so if there's an available smokescreen behind which to hide it, they'll avail themselves of it. Smokescreens (and coded language a.k.a. "dog-whistle politics" and other such obfuscations) can take innumerable forms and get increasingly convoluted as awareness of racism in a society grows.

Offline Scribbles

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #41 on: May 22, 2013, 06:06:15 PM »
"What is racism and can the people who are considered the "social norm" or those in "power" be the target of racism?"

Personally, I believe that everyone can be the target of racism, regardless of power/privilege or lack thereof. To me racism is simply an expression (or even thought) of hate or discrimination based on race.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 06:46:03 PM by Scribbles »

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Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #42 on: May 22, 2013, 06:34:50 PM »
Learnt a new word here: "dog-whistle politics" meaning a campaign employing slogans or statements that sound innocent, common-sense or laughably, self-evidently true to the general public (and can be defended from that angle) but are meant to emit a different, coded meaning, or a politically coded story, to the folks one wants to reach. Noticed the upsurge for that kind of talk, both from politicians and from people who pose as non-committed journalists, some years back, but didn't have a word for it: I've thought of it as part of the general PR-ification of political discourse.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 06:45:51 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Scribbles

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #43 on: May 22, 2013, 08:56:54 PM »
Lol, it’s a new one to me too! Sounds like a synonym to “rhetoric” but I think I prefer the bite “dog-whistle politics” adds; it gives the appropriate “Grrr” I feel over seeing such tactics. In general though, I don’t like such keywords, I’ve found them far too often employed as arguments in themselves as opposed to presenting a proper counter.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #44 on: May 22, 2013, 09:21:43 PM »
Dog-whistles aren't exactly just rhetoric, though; the term comes from the use of double-meanings that are supposed to be invisible to outsiders. To take a common US example, "urban" as code for "black" - it's pretty much broken as a dog whistle these days, but a plain reading still sounds relatively innocent if you're unfamiliar with the context. (Hell, in my area, urban vs rural is actually a huge political divide - and we actually mean "urban" and "rural", so I have to consciously look for and translate this one when reading about US politics.)

Offline Scribbles

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #45 on: May 22, 2013, 09:27:55 PM »
Oh God, I hate that sort of thing even more! It drives me up the wall when I see people being "subtly" racist. It's usually obvious enough to get you riled up but not enough to actually call them out on it without coming off bad.

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Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #46 on: May 22, 2013, 10:10:31 PM »
Dog-whistles aren't exactly just rhetoric, though; the term comes from the use of double-meanings that are supposed to be invisible to outsiders. To take a common US example, "urban" as code for "black" - it's pretty much broken as a dog whistle these days, but a plain reading still sounds relatively innocent if you're unfamiliar with the context. (Hell, in my area, urban vs rural is actually a huge political divide - and we actually mean "urban" and "rural", so I have to consciously look for and translate this one when reading about US politics.)

The first example I remember being aware of was the wording "social competence" turning up in job ads, coach talk and corporate recruitment lingo. It's not as common now, but about ten years back it was everywhere in job talk around here, and at the time unemployment was high (as it is again now). It was casually explained as being "polite and ground-level reliable at work", sort of, someone who arrives on time, doesn't have piercings or strange clothing, has a nice handshake, replies if someone pulls them into a convo and doesn't act like a cypher. But if that was it, why would it have to be specifically stated as desirable if you wanted a low-level job? Most people are that way on the job as long as they think the job has some basic relevance, pays their rent and they're not peed upon.

But it dawned on me that this term had another, in-house meaning, especially in sales-related businesses, and these days lots of jobs include selling something: to insiders it actually meant, this guy has a smooth salesmanlike talk and knows how to push the customers, work them so there's likely to be a buy soon, and preferably some extra, fringe buys: spare parts, accessories, guarantees. He doesn't get lost in technicalities or admit drawbacks in what he's trying to sell. And when talking to other company people, or to the middle boss, he knows when to make a show of enthusiasm, when to laugh and when to keep silent, how to budge with a smile. That wasn't near as easy to say openly to the general public, or even to all jobseekers, students and their families etc - less easy, too, than it would have been in America - but the double meaning of the term made it carry anyway.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 10:22:01 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Scribbles

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #47 on: May 22, 2013, 10:30:53 PM »
Is it odd that I immediately took the second meaning to be the correct one? It just seems sensible that a specific request for "Social Competence" in a job means more than being on time, polite and tidy.

On another note, we might be veering off the topic of racism and such...

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Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #48 on: May 22, 2013, 10:41:03 PM »
Is it odd that I immediately took the second meaning to be the correct one? It just seems sensible that a specific request for "Social Competence" in a job means more than being on time, polite and tidy.

On another note, we might be veering off the topic of racism and such...

Yeah, but then it was meant to be read that way by *some* people, but by no means all people. Workplace culture around here is, or used to be, flatter than in the U.S., a bit more equal: it's been less taken for granted that the boss decides everything for himself and you go along with it or get out. And this term turned up at a time when that was changing, towards a more "standard" boss-oriented, hard-fisted style. Controversial in itself - so it wouldn't have been favourable communication to sell your company to students or prospective job seekers with "around here, you always smile at the boss's jokes and see to push as much junk as you can onto the customers - do that or don't bother to look for a job". But sure enough that was the attitude you were supposed to learn.

I agree it seemed a bit strange to hear it explained as if "to take an application seriously, we expect you not to behave like a neurotic or a douchebag, both at an interview and on the job if you should be our pick", but that reading of the term is so innocent and so commonplace that it's impossible to argue with as such.

Job ads and interviews with people who do hiring, those are not just factsheets for jobseekers, often they are also part of the running publicity effort of the company, you know - so the company wouldn't want to look like it was a Donald Trump-type firm.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 11:00:00 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline crabmouse003

Re: A Question of Racism and What Defines It
« Reply #49 on: June 01, 2013, 04:15:00 PM »
Simple answer: what xiaomei said.