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Author Topic: A Note on Racism  (Read 2884 times)

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Offline Black Howling

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Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2011, 05:47:02 AM »
I disagree for some part, because as part of medical science its sometimes required to take racial heritage into the equation, like my earlier example of those of african heriftage tend to be significantly more prone to sickle cell amnemia. Its a Observation that leads to saving lives by distrubting more resources to that vulnerable group.

Yes, like I said politics and science do not mix well. I never said that racial traits did not aid in the research, diagnoses and treatment of ailments nor did I say that it was a useless tool in science. What I was meaning was that the politics regarding racism did not mix well with science. Nobody likes to be labeled as a one size fits all. Such as to say that it's very common among them if fine, but to casually use your words in conversation to say "Oh, you're native to Africa. You should check your gene pool for any signs of Sickle Cell anemia." That's where the aspect of science and politics do not mix. That can quickly be seen as offensive, just like commenting that someone has  broad nose. It can be taken as saying that all Africans have big noses.

That was the point I was trying to make there. I guess it might have gotten confusing. >.>

Offline Zakharra

Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2011, 11:03:23 AM »


It's slippery when one starts with something that's a throwaway "fact statement" and slide towards ethnic generalizations. Like this one -it's an ironic send-up oif that very procedure made by a comedian from my country in the sixties, showing the easy slide (at the time, the n-word was a bit more accepted than now but already felt to be vaguely dismissive and in-your-face)

1, Some negroes are lazy.
2, Many negroes can't help appear lazy.
3,You'll find lazy people in this world, mostly negroes.
4, Most negroes are lazy all the time.
5, NIGGERS ARE LAZY.
6, What a lazy guy you are! Are you a nigger?
7, Man, that was one industrious nigger. Indeed, he must be white.

Not even the last one overtly, unmistakably implies that whites have to be stronger and more hard-working than blacks, although that's the real implication. It could still be defended, made to come out as being built on just "some niggers are lazy and some whites are honest and industrious people", you needn't define how many you think it is on either side. And it could appear (sophistically) to say that if you're a good black and work hard, you can be promoted to be seen as an honorary whitey, so the person saying this could claim he wasn't being racist at all.

  Here is my take on this, I added the numbers to make it easier to emphasize.

 1,2 are not racist. That's true about all people. 3 is starting to slid into it. 4 even more so (implying that blacks are lazy). 5. Definately, it's stating that blacks ARE lazy. Especially with the N word. 6 is borderline. 7, I would say yes it is racist.  It's more than implying that the black man, because he works so hard is 'white' and a not so subtle slam against black people.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #27 on: February 21, 2011, 11:16:48 AM »
  Here is my take on this, I added the numbers to make it easier to emphasize.

 1,2 are not racist. That's true about all people. 3 is starting to slid into it. 4 even more so (implying that blacks are lazy). 5. Definately, it's stating that blacks ARE lazy. Especially with the N word. 6 is borderline. 7, I would say yes it is racist.  It's more than implying that the black man, because he works so hard is 'white' and a not so subtle slam against black people.

Yes, that's roughly how I would see it too. About the N word, when I wrote that at the time (in the 1960s) that word was still reasonably current in Sweden, though seen as a bit derogatory depending on how it was used - and this goes for Europe in general I think - I was thinking of "negro", not the other variety which had been off limits a long time before that. And of course, in the example, "Nigger" enters precisely at the point when the phrases become hardcore racist.

Online Oniya

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Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2011, 12:04:15 PM »
Yes, like I said politics and science do not mix well. I never said that racial traits did not aid in the research, diagnoses and treatment of ailments nor did I say that it was a useless tool in science. What I was meaning was that the politics regarding racism did not mix well with science. Nobody likes to be labeled as a one size fits all. Such as to say that it's very common among them if fine, but to casually use your words in conversation to say "Oh, you're native to Africa. You should check your gene pool for any signs of Sickle Cell anemia." That's where the aspect of science and politics do not mix. That can quickly be seen as offensive, just like commenting that someone has  broad nose. It can be taken as saying that all Africans have big noses.

That was the point I was trying to make there. I guess it might have gotten confusing. >.>

Most doctors' offices that I've been to have a section where they ask about 'family history'.  This would be the safest place to ask about anything of a hereditary nature, be it sickle cell, Tay-Sachs, color-blindness, hemophilia, heart disease or diabetes.  If it's in the form of a questionnaire, and includes most of the common ones - particularly if not all of them could apply to any one person (Tay-Sachs tends to show up in Eastern European Jewish populations) - there is less chance of it seeming to be 'singling out'.

Offline Jude

Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2011, 01:05:35 PM »
Facts can't be racist.  If, using a scientific polling procedure without bias, you determined that blacks were significantly lazier than whites on average (which is damn near impossible since coming up with an accurate operational definition of objective universal laziness probably isn't doable), stating it like that would not be a racist statement even if people perceived it as such.  However, saying "blacks are lazier than whites" isn't equivalent to saying "blacks are lazier than whites on average."  One invites comparisons of individuals, the addition of "on average" makes it impossible to apply that information to any one person with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

Most of the differences between races can be attributed to culture, but as in the example of sickle cell anemia there are some which truly are genetic.  Unfortunately for white supremacists, the number of genetic variations is paltry in compared to how much we share in common, so large-scale deviations like intelligence are completely implausible.

Large penises however?  The jury's still out on that one!

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #30 on: February 21, 2011, 01:53:09 PM »
I disagree, Jude: laziness (or intelligence, musicality, language gifts etc) as a mean value in a large group of people, giving a cue to values in the toital population over time - and that's what would be needed here -  can only be determined as an index relative to other groups if all other factors except the difference in intelligence or laziness are equal. And that can't really be achieved. Many blacks have significantly worse living circumstances than the average (U.S.) white, have less good housing, are less likely to hold a job that matches their faculties and gifts, have less opportunities for physical exercise or recreation. There is really no chance tp arrive at "scientific" mean values for alertness or laziness that would be comparable for blacks and caucasians. Remember, the only thing we're interested in is a factor that might clearly be isolated from variable life conditions, ideally one coming from the genetic  pool within blacks or whites.

Offline Jude

Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #31 on: February 21, 2011, 07:21:41 PM »
I did a poor job of communicating my point, because I was trying to say what you just said much better. :P

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2011, 10:30:20 PM »
I did a poor job of communicating my point, because I was trying to say what you just said much better. :P

Smiles, let's say I missed the gist of your second paragraph which leaves no room for doubt. But between us I think we've made the point.


Offline Diablerie

Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #33 on: February 23, 2011, 12:18:53 PM »
What makes me lay these definitions out is some frustration with my last roommate.  I would mention the fact that he's Hispanic (note that we were and are still on good terms) in an offhand way - for example, Is that where your accent comes from then? - or refer to his skin color - Well, you are mulatto... - and he would take like I just ordered him to don a sombrero and clean the bathroom.

He was so incredibly touchy about his race and, this is what annoyed me, and yet so proud of it.  I asked him why he sleeps with his shirt off, even in the winter.  "'Cause I'm Hispanic; we all do."  Why do you like that brand of tequila so much?  "'Cause I'm Hispanic man."  He was, in a way, acting racist himself.  The message he was giving off was, "I'm Hispanic, which gives me unique defining traits like all races, BUT only I can talk about them and act like they're good qualities; otherwise it's an attack against me and my people."

Can I ask you one simple question: From where exactly was he from?

I am asking you this because, well being"Hispanic" myself (We like to use Latino American from where I am from; it depends of course with the person) it influences a lot. I admit that we are proud people and even though I can't talk for anyone, I can do give you a fair example of the culture I grew up with.

For example the term you used, this one been "Mulato" it is actually a very derogatory term created by our old Spanish ancestors. Even though during the past of centuries this term has acquire different definitions, to many of us, it is still a racist remark, term, etc.

The "Mulato" term was actually given to the bastards who were born from the mix of Spanish and African descendants or Spanish and Amerindians descendants. They created this term because when they started to categorize the races in the new world (Which to them were: White, Black and Indian)they found that they didn't have any term to actually describe the "hybrids" that had come out from such relationships thus they name them "Mulato" or "Mestizo". It was a way to remind these persons on the place they held on society during that time, they didn't fit with all the others so they became outsiders.
Of course as time passed by the "Mulato" and "Mestizo" started to gain power and they actually became the second power class in different countries, of course like any derogatory term it was pass down to the future generations.

Our racism is very different from the "normal" one. It is more psychological and it exists even in the own family unit. It is sometimes done not knowing and well that's why it affects more. Our family have been pass down with these close ideas, that we (Latino American) used these terms sometimes on our own selves even though by geneological standards we are all "Mulatos" or "Mestizos", even if we don't look light brown skin.

I can tell you from numerous times I have seen this and have experience this, not only family wise but by outsiders, who like me share the same heritage.

I have family members who are of a darker skin color and whenever I go out with them I have had people or friends remark about how it is not possible that these family members are related to me due to my white skin, that I must be joking or playing a trick on them. It has also been done by friends of them or acquaintances.

I've heard since I was a little kid with my own grandmother (who is of dark skin color) tell me not to marry a black man because I would actually "destroy the race," which when I was a little, I didn't pay much attention to it until I got older and actually grasp what she meant. I could keep going on and on with different examples and situations.

We are proud for a reason because for some of us is a defense mechanism. I do admit we are touchy with our race because we have dealt with a lot of racism, but in general we dislike to hear others who don't know how it feels talk bad about it. We have a very, very difficult cultures to describe in my opinion as well as our language because spanish (Castellano) may be one language but if varies by country thanks to the dialects.

I hope you understood me well and if not please ask me to make my point again or message me with any doubts you may have ^.^

Thank you!

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Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #34 on: February 26, 2011, 11:28:55 PM »
wow intense debate.
I've always thought of genetics as a predisposition of physical traits.
for example, the british and the japanese both tend to be shorter than their mainland counterparts due to living on an island, the brits less so because of waves of immigration.
Nords, Russians and such tend to have more square sholders and bigger frames due mostly to their ancestor's rugged lifestyles.

Offline Jude

Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #35 on: February 27, 2011, 08:11:13 AM »
If someone described the entirety of my race as any mental characteristic, I'd be pretty irritated (and the same can be said for any controversial physical characteristics -- anything well established like higher risk factors for heart disease doesn't bother me).  It doesn't matter if the adjective they used was stupid, spiritual, ambitious, or proud:  I am irritated by the fact that the person making that statement (even if it was made about their own race) believes that they can identify a characteristic that individual members of their race do (or should) share.  That isn't to say description of statistical trends bothers me; only when these traits are ascribed with great confidence or certitude to the whole of the group without qualification does it bother me.

I'm an individual and I want to be viewed as one, not as a representative of some unimportant, increasingly irrelevant genetic trope.

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Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #36 on: February 27, 2011, 01:49:34 PM »
I think we're adaptable enough that mental traits aren't passed down, their grown through culture and development of one's life.
I'm using Euopeans because they have the most varied cultures, (27+ cultures sqeezed into euope then subcultures.)
for example due to their history of opression, persucution, and hard times, many Jewish families and communities DO have a tradition of being smart and careful with their money. that doesn't make all jewish people greedy moneylenders.
Itilians have a long standing family tradition because working class itialians they couldn't count on anything but each other since the fall of rome.
Itialians in italy have diffrent cultures and traditions that those that grew up in itilian communities in the US, on top of that every city is diffrent.
people from Rome tend to be religious and cathloic because the pope's right next door, but their not all cathloic, nor all religious.
see where I'm going with this.
Cultures can instill a tendancy towards this or that value, but it's not a sure thing even then.

Offline Noelle

Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #37 on: February 27, 2011, 07:38:59 PM »
I think we're adaptable enough that mental traits aren't passed down, their grown through culture and development of one's life.

Mental traits aren't even really genetic; if we're talking a predisposition to being artistic or lazy or good at math, none of those things are genetic differences between races at all so much as they are encouraged (or not) through one's upbringing and environment.

Quote
I'm using Euopeans because they have the most varied cultures, (27+ cultures sqeezed into euope then subcultures.)

I have to question the accuracy of that; Africa is a huge continent with about 1500 different languages spoken, which means at least 1500 subtle variations in culture as well.

Quote
for example due to their history of opression, persucution, and hard times, many Jewish families and communities DO have a tradition of being smart and careful with their money. that doesn't make all jewish people greedy moneylenders.

How does this account for the other racial groups who have also had a long history of oppression? Certainly African-Americans have had a long and pretty well-known history of being exploited, but they hardly carry with them the stereotype that they're smart and careful with their money, and if you want to reach back as far as the slavery era, it would insinuate that they're also very hard workers -- but that's hardly an insinuated stereotype towards blacks at all.

I think you have the right idea that stereotypes do have an origin in certain places, but I also think that those things are similarly unreliable not only because it's damn near impossible to trace specific traits back to an era in time, but because you also can't just pick and choose pieces of history to go by. Roll back the clock a few hundred years and you could argue that Native Americans should typically be industrious, spiritual, and community-oriented, but instead you have the stereotype of a bunch of lazy drunks.

Offline Trieste

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Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #38 on: February 27, 2011, 08:02:49 PM »
Mental traits aren't even really genetic; if we're talking a predisposition to being artistic or lazy or good at math, none of those things are genetic differences between races at all so much as they are encouraged (or not) through one's upbringing and environment.

Ehm, actually the study of epigenetics pretty much says that people with a genetic predisposition to something will express it given the right circumstances. So just as it's possible to have a genetic predisposition toward alcoholism but never get the bug (possibly due to inadvertent aversion therapy in the form of a horrible childhood, but still) it's also possible that no matter how much Baby Mozart you play, your kid doesn't have the genes and ain't never gonna play that piano, yo.

So it is possible to say that there are genetic lineages that provide predispositions and whatnot, and considering we've expanded things like Tay Sachs and the like to certain populations, it would stand to reason that certain other heritable traits would be more likely in certain populations. What makes something racist is, as said before, seeing a person with, I dunno, curly dark hair and assuming they speak spanish because they 'look latin'.

Offline Noelle

Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #39 on: February 27, 2011, 10:16:11 PM »
Touche, I stand corrected. Is there a genetic predisposition that is linked explicitly to race, though? And what kinds of traits does it affect? I would imagine it adds more fuel to the racist fire to say "Look! Grumpy Uncle Science shows that your race is more likely to be fat and lazy and more inclined to drink inferior brands of beer! Sux4u!11" Obviously it's different to have genetic predispositions to conditions and diseases that vary racially, and that's something I already understand to be true (and it's been mentioned in this thread), but in terms of things like work ethic or tardiness ("black time" comes to mind), those typically come as byproducts of upbringing, as far as I know. I obviously don't have a great wealth of knowledge in terms of epigenetics, so maybe I'm shooting in the dark.

I guess I don't think it's too much of a stretch to wonder how much of predisposition is also influenced by factors such as socioeconomic status and the like. If you come from a family that doesn't place importance on education, your own chances of making it to college, if you even want to go in the first place, are probably pretty slim. If your family can't afford ballet lessons, you're probably going to have a harder time cultivating a passion for it.

Offline Trieste

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Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #40 on: February 27, 2011, 10:58:20 PM »
The nature v. nurture debate is far too epic for me to be able to speak in an educated manner about social factors and the like. However, my knowledge of genetics tells me that it's not entirely impossible for behavioral traits (or the contributing factors to a behavior) to be linked to the genes that also control melanin proliferation.

Plus, the genes themselves don't necessarily need to be linked. Most genes have a little section of genetic material responsible for turning those genes 'on'. The genetic 'on' switch doesn't necessarily have to be located near the genetic sequence that it activates, either. Like, the following example is not fact, but it's not outside the realm of possibility that there is a gene that causes the overproduction of melanin, and right next to that gene is an activator for an enzyme that blocks dopamine receptors. If someone gets that particular gene sequence, they will then get the gene that gives them lots of melanin, and also a dearth of dopamine receptors, which has been linked to alcoholism and other addictive personality traits.

... I might have wandered off topic, though. >.>

Offline Diablerie

Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #41 on: February 28, 2011, 03:39:07 AM »
(No, please continue >_> I find this very interesting and actually I am learning something new.  ;) )

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Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #42 on: March 07, 2011, 11:11:48 AM »
Mental traits aren't even really genetic; if we're talking a predisposition to being artistic or lazy or good at math, none of those things are genetic differences between races at all so much as they are encouraged (or not) through one's upbringing and environment.

I have to question the accuracy of that; Africa is a huge continent with about 1500 different languages spoken, which means at least 1500 subtle variations in culture as well.

I admit I'm not fimilar with all the cultures and subcultures in africa save a few, but I grew up in an area with a small african population, and even then, they are african americans.
another example is the "all asians are good at math" steryotype, I think that stems from the interaction most americans have with the japanese post WW2. Japanese education focuses on the recitation of facts and figures, on memorization. I've looked it up, and talked to a few japanese people online about it, their school system provides no context. combined with the culture of self and social decipline. Tend to skew the average japanese person towards an ordered and organized mindset.
Which means a lot of people perceve them as smarter.
on top of that some people cling to that Eastern Mystique, which really isn't true, eastern cultures aren't more mysterious than any other culture.

the steryotype tends to grow like "oh that guy looks smarter than me, he must be smarter than me, so's this one, damn... their all smart... maybe I should ask them for help with math, oh he got it right, mental note, if I need math done ask an asian."
or for the stupid black=lazy one remember this is in the deep south "that black guy is just lounging on his porch, hey so's that one, why don't they have jobs? are they just lazy? I have a job, they must just not have put in the work. Hey that black guy at work is dosing in his chair when the boss isn't looking... they must all be lazy..."
you can see where this guy errs in his logic, in the old south they were probably were unemployed BECAUSE they were black, and the black guy at work might've just been an ass, but lines were drawn where there weren't any.
you can guess how thought processes like these cause problems even now, even if it's not about race.

Offline jewess

Re: A Note on Racism
« Reply #43 on: March 27, 2011, 02:32:10 PM »
Ooh, this is a topic that I spend a lot of time thinking about but not much time talking about (outside of roleplays, in which I basically take on the least intellectual position possible because that's where the fun is, for me).

But I think there's a difference between prejudice and racism that hasn't really been mentioned here. Prejudice is believing things about someone or a group of people based on, let's say, a stereotype. Like Jews are all good with money (I wish!). Racism is, I think, having negative feelings toward someone or a group based on those prejudices. Like - "I hate Jews because they're greedy and rich." That would be racism, but just believing that all Jews are rich would be ignorant and prejudiced, but not necessarily racist if you don't hold it against them.

Superiority/inferiority is another issue, and I think basically impossible to define in any meaningful way, but in terms of fantasies and roleplaying - and FEELINGS in general - it's something very deep and strong. But talking about it scientifically? I think probably impossible. So it's just easier to say "everyone is equal" despite differences, even if those differences happen to correlate across racial groups if you decide to look at them and compare them mathematically.

I'm not sure if that made any sense.