Saturday, 14 January 2012

Are We Not All Racist?

ARE WE NOT ALL RACIST?
To make matters simply I will use the terms black and white to make points. 

Racism (meaning) - hatred or intolerance of another race or other races. 
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own races is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another races or other races (Dictionary.com)


With the  recent Steven Lawrence case, the ongoing saga about the Diane Abbott MP tweets (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8997510/Diane-Abbott-taxi-drivers-refuse-to-pick-up-black-passengers.html) and the never ending issues over footballers constantly making racist comments, the many wars against different countries, with each race fighting to get up the ladder, stepping on the other as they try to reach that crown. Are we not all a bit racist from time to time?

Back in the day when I was growing up, it seemed that I had a clear boundary line to knowing whether or not someone was either a racist or was making a racist comment. Nowadays, it seems that that line is somewhat blurred and every time particular words are used, people are automatically branded a racist, without thought. 

We once had a neighbour who was, what I would call a clear 'rascist'. This whole family of mother, father, brother, and sister made it clear to all on a daily basis that they did not like blacks, they did not  want to communicate with blacks, they wanted all black people to go home (wherever that was) and this family made endless comments against black people on a regular basis.  They even had the cheek to inform you that they were part of the National Front. This is what I call racist.

I clearly remember the days when it was scary walking on the streets at night as we feared bumping into the racist skin-heads that would literally chase you all the way home. If they caught up with you, there was no doubt that you would get a good beating. Why? because you were black. End of. This is what I call racism.

On the other hand, I then had friends who I would hang around with, go out to parties with, spend time with and on rare occasions when we came to hard points of disagreement or arguments that they could not win, in frustration would use the word 'black b******d, w*g or n****r in a fit of rage. I believe they made racist comments but I would not label them a racist. 
Is it possible that your friends or even colleagues are so comfortable when around you, that they can make racist comments without you taking offence, or even make inappropriate remarks without you jumping on the bandwagon. 

At what point should we accuse someone of being a racist?
How many times have you seen articles, watched TV, listened to the radio and heard stories about how the police 'stopped and searched' a person and found nothing? How many people are finding it hard to get a job? How many people in jobs are not being promoted despite hard work? if all the above people in question are black, then are those employers, police, etc racist? 

On many occasions I have heard black people refer to other black races in negative, stereotypical ways, and even use the N - word to refer to their friend. What about all this hip hop music vilifying the black man. Should this be tolerated? and if so, isn't it OK for a white person do the same?

I am quite confident of the steps I take when racism rears it's ugly head, whether it be with friends or colleagues. I also take a further step not to tolerate the music that I perceive as negative or racist, I simply switch it off. I believe that if everyone did a little something then those that are clearly racist for whatever reason will either have to change their minds or do it behind our backs. Promoting healthy open-minded discussions on the subject especially in the media could also be a good way of dealing with the issues some of us have. I'm fully aware of the importance of teaching children what is acceptable/unacceptable in and out of school. I'm also very careful not to let every word that has 'black' in it, become an offence, as political correctness is going mad.

For me, racism is like a bubbling volcano simmering away. Are we simply waiting for it to erupt, like the Jews did in Hitler's Germany?

15 comments:

  1. Alot of can be said on the issue of racism. It is clearly not as blatant as it was many years ago, Britain has come along way, BUT alot of work still needs to be done.
    I do however think that people mistake issues of race for issues of a) poverty b) social mobility. I have seen alot of comments on social networking sites and voices on the radio comment about how black people where the majority of rioters. Or how black people in majority cause gun or knife crime for example. These are not race issues but issues to do with poverty and social mobility. Yes if you turned on the news you would have seen alot of black kids in London, but stay turned and you see alot of white kids up north. The same with knife crime!
    It is no coincidence that crime is high in areas of low income, low investment, low educational standards... This is then viewed as a race issue when it is not. Then that follows people into life, so when it comes to getting a job interview, a taxi, stopped and searched... The false notion of race issues has a major impact on keeping the issues of racism alive.
    Furthermore, more responsibility needs to be taken by those affected by the above. You can not complain about racism, but your children is out on the street playing badman. Or complaining about the system but you have not seen your kids in months or years. Complaining about racism but you allow drugs to be dealt or used in your building. We can no longer have a victim mentality, even if we are. Take control, support your kids and their education! Keep them out of trouble! Provide them with a standard of morals and values! and in no time despite external influences a generation will rise up.

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    1. Marcus. Thank you for commenting on this article. I agree 'we can no longer have a victim mentality'.

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  2. Rum-Punch Drunk this is a 'sobering' article, you've written here.

    I think that the change described here between your childhood and the present situation is due to a change in the political climate of our society. People can't air racist views candidly any more... at least not without some serious repercussions.

    But that does not mean racism has gone away. People are cunning and like any other species, the racist has learned to adapt and survive. Talk the talk in public and keep your true opinions to your inner circle. And use whatever influence you have subtly... whether policing, judging candidates for an interview, deciding who you pick up in your cab... pursue your agenda quietly, without declaring.

    In this situation whites can be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. "What racism? I'm not a racist and none of my friends are. I don't see gangs of skinheads, lyncings or people being spat at in the street." but at the same time the answer could be "That's not how it works nowadays. And you don't experience the way it does work because you're not a target" - there is an extent to which a person not affected by something has to take another person's word for it. He who feels it knows it.

    It's good that overt racism has been driven from the public square, but a law of unintended consequences has kicked in. This new underground racism creates a climate of suspicion all round... was that person of another race rude to me because of our difference or would they have been just as ignorant towards another black, asian or white like themselves? Because people don't just come out and declare everyone is kept guessing.

    It also makes people shy to speak the truth and speak their minds. A lot of people have mistaken perceptions around issues of race, but will never have those views intelligently challenged and deconstructed because they are too afraid to speak. So we as a society don't grow to full maturity.

    Of course it's great that young people can grow up without being exposed to disgusting racist stereotyping and language. I can't see any other way forward. But one result at present seems to be that open dialogue is often stifled for fear of bringing the unacceptable out into the open.

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    1. Shiloh. Yes, unfortunately this 'new underground racism' has created suspicion. Unless people are willing to honestly speak out and say exactly what they mean, I guess we may never know the real truth. Thanks for your comments.

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  3. Marcus, this is a thought provoking response to an article which raises some profound questions.
    As social scientists say 'correlation does not prove causation'. The fact that two things go hand in hand may not mean they are related. There may be a third factor which is causing both of them.

    I also agree with your observation about the 'victim mentality'. When power victimises a group they are liable to rebel and challenge that authority, potentially becoming more cohesive and organised. But if instead they can be convinced that they are a victim, the job is done.

    Power can safely turn it's back and leave them to their own devices with nothing to fear. Once they have internalised that victim dialogue they will play out that role, acting the victim and victimise their own selves.

    Example: "Don't expect me to be a good parent. My dad was never there for me."; "Of course I'm going to end up in prison. Most of my friends have done time."; "Why bother try at school? I'm only going to fail anyway"; "I'm afraid someone will use a tool on me, so I carry."

    When we add to this considerationthe preponderance of black on black violence, the game takes on a deeper aspect still.

    The system may well favour one group above another, but acting up only plays into the hands of the 'cepetto', pulling the strings while you dance like a puppet.

    Marcus, you avise people to take the hard way, but as far as I can see it's the only road to progress.

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  4. Are we not all racist... Well, no. Sorry. But racist is a rather strong term about believing negative stereotypes and wanting to keep a race down due to your own races superiority. Sorry, but NO not everyone is racist.
    Sometimes I feel people become over-zealous in their hunt for insidious racism. For example, shopping at wall-mart with a friend of mine. We get to a line with two registers, the lady who was next to serve us closed down her station and said, "Sorry she will serve you next". My friend was convinced it was because we are black. I could think of a dozen other reasons. Perhaps she was on break, or her shift was over. Perhaps the announcement over the system called her, and she was needed elsewhere. Maybe she was racist. Does it matter? Why victimize yourself?
    Use of the word nigger (yeah I said it) in rap. Well, a lot of that rap is directed at kids in very racist areas. If hearing the word nigger in a positive and brotherly way, if it takes some sting and hatred out of the vile word and turn into well, just a word, than that is a good thing. I come across this in the gay community when people try to stop others from using the words faggot or dyke or tranny because of negative ways those words CAN be used. Yes, but the can be used as words of love, acceptance and ownership for something others perceive as negative.

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    1. @Jamie
      Sometimes people do cry racism extremely quickly when there was not an issue of race. Was the lady who was supposed to serve your friend racist? We shall never know, and you are right that she could of left for a dozen other reasons.
      You do have a point. But for me the word nigger should not be used for any reason. It is a derogatory word. I fail to see how it can be used in a positive way.
      Thanks for your response Jamie.

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  5. Interesting perspective you have there, Jamie. I'm not sure I agree with you entirely. I think some terms are intrinsically derogatory and don't deserve redemption. All they deserve is to be consigned to the dustbin or history - as envisaged in the film Blade Runner, set in the future, when the narrator says "He's the kind of cop who back in the history books used to call black men niggers" ie. a bigot.

    But I have to agree that by crying 'racism', 'homophobia' or what have you every time someone does something we don't like, or doesn't like us, or there is a clash of personalities it cheapens the concept.

    It becomes like Aesop's fable about the boy who cried wolf. When at last there was a wolf the kid had exhausted his account in the bank of credibility.

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  6. No word or term is intrinsically anything, as we are the ones who put the meaning, both negative and positive in any word. And can words change? Yes, and they do. Can the dreaded "n" word? I am of the opinion no. But here is hoping I am wrong. BUT if everyone stopped using the word to dustbin it, are the racist going to go along with that? No. So in reality it would just give the word more power, as it would only ever be used in a derogatory way.
    Just an FYI, no generally I do not use the word, for the most part I think in my city, it is used by gangsta posers. We do not face racism on a daily basis, and to tell you the truth I have not heard the word negatively more than a handful of times in my life. I think that would generally be down to a very small black population, and high immigrant population.

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  7. Of course we are all racists, even when we get angry with beloved persons, we can call them "idiots" which marks us as racists, since we segregate idiots from us!

    But English is the most obscure and deceptive language (here I am being racist!), although not the only one, and from my viewpoint, which is not too valuable, anyway, I think that there is a need, economical need, to create those nonsenses such as s/he and the complement of 'their' when in a singular sentence.

    But all these things are born with the human being, USA is one of the most segregationist country in the world despite their cry of freedom, Spain is a kind of collage of people where nobody loves nobody, and I will cut it short here because of time and space since there is no place on the world where we can point a human being and say (here we go again) S/He is not a racist!

    Racism as lying, and many other evil things, are our heritage, we can bury them into our "civility" but they are inside us and are showing more or less depending on our education and our (patriotic, economical, state of mind, et al) needs.

    The preposterous things, we can realiz(s)e [here you have another kind of racism, which is right 's' or 'z'?, oh yes, we can call it cultural break!], are when we start to change the name of a "blackboard", not to offend... the boards?? or change our pronouns to be "universal".

    Up to some years ago, we could use safely some words, plain words with common meaning. After these last years I have found that we developed NGOs around the world dedicated to save, protect, and help those people separated from society for any kind of differences, and even we found we created a new way to mention people not to... offend them? Why is it necessary to create these institutions?

    Because: WE ARE RACISTS, and worse not only race separate us! Any kind of "activity challenged person" is a prospect segregated dude! (I am using mixed slang here, it seems!)

    As a corollary of this I can mention that in Malay, Indonesia and many of the countries in the South-East Asia, the supposedly white people, are called with an aftertaste of scorn: putih orang, that is "white people" or the derogative form used in the West.

    So there you are: The answer to your question is a rotund YES! :)

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    1. I do not know what dictionary you use to define racism, but I will thank you not to talk with knowledge about what is inside MY heart. I often think people saying everybody is racist are excusing their Own prejudices as normal or natural.

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    2. Hi jamiessmiles!

      It is nice read, and learn, from you!

      I am not using any dictionary to define anything, only using the experience our hapless planet gave me in all these years I am treading its path.

      Of course, I am not pointing to anything inside your heart, it is your Sanctum Sanctorum where only you can sort your knowledge.

      I am expressing what I think "may" be true, risking to repeat an experiment I did some years ago, namely: Looking for Truth. To make this short:

      Reading around I learned "Truth lives at the bottom of a well" (the sentence is attributed to many people, especially from Old Greece), so I decided to fill the well with clear water and rescue Truth for Humankind, what I accomplished was to almost drown Truth forever.

      So I started to doubt even what is in my heart since it is not sure it is clean, knowing as I know how I am easily influenced by environment and hormones. But then again it is my belief, and in no way it points, with knowledge, to other human beings' beliefs which I respect dearly.

      I can understand your feeling that there may be an accomplished racist in the Ego that think is ME and is trying to excuse its guilt, but on the other hand, if Ego is such a racist, it needs not to justify something it thinks is right!

      Moreover, I never tried to offend your feelings, if it was so, I apologize and hope to deserve one of your smiles next time!

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  8. Reason I asked about your dictionary was this:

    Of course we are all racists, even when we get angry with beloved persons, we can call them "idiots" which marks us as racists, since we segregate idiots from us!

    Uh, not unless you consider idiocy a race. I call my bf an idiot, he calls me a dumb ass. He's an idiot not because of the colour of his skin any more than I am a dumb ass because of mine. He's an idiot at times because he acts like an idiot.

    I do think it is dangerous to count racism as natural, and therefore nothing wrong with it. There is absolutely nothing natural about hate. It is learned behavior.

    And you did not hurt my feelings. I simply love a good spirited debate;)

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    1. Hey jamiessmiles!


      Maybe I should have made clear that I consider racism anything that segregates one person (animal, or thing) from another, not only by skin color in people, and several different reasons in the rest.

      With this premise "idiocy", as much as "brilliancy" and others of these little selection we use to qualify, or grade things and people are a kind of racism. We need them to keep a sane place for ourselves in a too mixed up world. But this is nothing but an idea, sustained by my experience, and is not a rule to be accepted by anybody else.

      It is dangerous to count several things as natural, as killing in wars, or the certainty about dumb blonds, :) but if you make a poll around you will be surprised as how natural people think many, many of these bad things. I am not saying that majority is right, only there is a majority who think so.

      And again I must disagree with you about 'hate', unfortunately it is the back side of the coin 'love', and humankind must have made some huge mistake in its history to have mint that currency. If we think hate is not natural, then love isn't either, and there we have a kind of oxymoron, then the fatal conclusion is that both are "natural". :)

      Happy to learn I didn't hurt your feeling and of giving some other points to develop any spirited debate!

      Thank you for you smile!! :)

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    2. Quite correct about the hate. I mispoke. What I meant was hatred towards a group is not natural, anymore than love towards a single group would be. Hate like love is natural when based on the action, feeling, etc from one individual to another. Thanks for pointing out my error. Damn iPhone, I don't get to see my whole post at once and so lose my point at times. Yyyyyeeaaahhh, we'll blame it on the phone;) Or I'm a dumb ass, either works.

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