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A Perfectly Squiffy Jag

But I'M not a racist...

18.01.06 Wednesday
08:54 am - But I'M not a racist... Previous Entry Share Next Entry
This is being relayed second-hand from Katie and so the details may be off, but the concept should be consistent. Apparently it was MLK day Monday (who knew?) and NPR had a show asking the question, "Is racism still alive today?" (or something to that effect). The majority of the callers gave the standard line, "yes, but I'm not a racist". The usual scapegoats were named such as corporations or Southerners (fucking biggots).

Anyway, after a while this woman calls and says what (IMHO) every self-aware American (if not human) ought to say (paraphrased): "After thinking hard about this question, I have to admit that yes, I am a racist; I hold biases towards minorities and while I may not act on them I can't pretend they aren't there. If, for instance, I see an African American in a nice car I'm immediately aware of that it's not normal." She then goes onto say that by nature we notice breaches from patterns and implies that it's a pattern for there to be a correlation between race and income (for instance; which, of course, we all know to be true).

Kudos to her, right? I mean, until people become aware of their own biases, no matter how politically incorrect, how are we supposed to face them? Anyway, the radio host (and I'm not sure what show this was) completely misses the point and, apparently, chastises her with baiting questions like "so, if you were an employer, you wouldn't hire someone simply because they were black?". Because, you know, all racism is that overt, right?

This country is going to hell in a hand-basket but, you know, it's not because of me -- it's because of those {Southerners, Republicans, Rural-folk, Corporations, etc, etc, etc}. After a while the ignorance and broad generalizations of these statements starts to sound pretty comparable to "this area used to be nice, until the Mexicans moved in".

Speaking of Mexicans: In California, the Home Depots have institutionalized day labor by offering training and providing referral services to known illegal Mexicans. The California State Attorney General has come out in support of this concept, acknowledging that the state will not press charges against illegal immigrants. On one hand citizens are protesting; on the other, of course, they're hiring them to install their cabinets and carpeting and decks. I sure wish we had this program up here; it's much easier than having to proposition the crowds that pool downtown every morning looking for day work.


{int i; i=74; i++}

comments
[User Picture]
lazyangel [18.01.06::05:23]
Absolutely.
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gfrancie [18.01.06::05:27]
Also? It is Catholic churches that are organizing the day labor thing.
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tyrven [18.01.06::06:05]
Oh, that's fascinating. And makes a lot of sense.
gfrancie [18.01.06::06:07]
tyrven [18.01.06::06:47]
gfrancie [18.01.06::09:35]
tyrven [18.01.06::09:52]
herbaliser [18.01.06::10:28]
tyrven [18.01.06::10:36]
herbaliser [18.01.06::10:40]
gfrancie [19.01.06::12:33]
gfrancie [19.01.06::12:34]
tyrven [19.01.06::03:14]
gfrancie [19.01.06::05:07]
tyrven [19.01.06::09:57]
gfrancie [20.01.06::05:49]
[User Picture]
lormagins [18.01.06::05:33]
i find the woman's remark interesting because i know that there are different indicators of "not normal" for me - for example, potentially due to rap videos and whatnot, i don't think of a black person in a mercedes or (especially) a denali as abnormal; i don't think of a black person in a suit as abnormal - it's like, there's no change or reaction - i notice usually if they're hot or not. but, i do have a tendency to have classist issues, in that there often is a bit of an instant judgement of "criminal" in my head when i see people dressed in baggy pants, do-rags and sports team jackets or the like - in particular this exists towards black people, but i can't say i don't think it about white people as well who dress that way. although i do think that french rap is highly abnormal.

i think a lot of it comes down to your own personal experiences - i automatically dumb down anyone with a southern accent because i grew up with stereotypes of southerners as being rednecks who marry their cousins and thump their bibles and in general are in the shallower end of the gene pool. i have an internal reaction that goths are wrist-cutting, pill-popping death obsessives who have mass depression issues. to me, pink equals stupid, ditzy, dumb, etc. people wearing pink are dumbed down in my mind (i blame barbie and just about all girls toys for that one). i refuse to date guys with red or blonde hair (no reason, just don't like it) regardless of intelligence, body or personality.

i agree in the general sense that everyone's racist and should just freaking accept and get over it, but i think that it's actually different for everyone. i have my own racist issues and reactions which will be different to yours. although you can't deny how much the media plays into this, and how much groups and subcultures play into it. frankly, if you look at the media, most black people we see are BET-style. it's like chris rock said, there's a difference between black people and niggas. what we're usually exposed to 90% of the time is the niggas - and frankly, as much as you try not to let it, it does infiltrate and influence your judgement of a person.
[User Picture]
screed [18.01.06::05:49]
We all are the niggers.
djnancygirl [19.01.06::02:16]
tyrven [18.01.06::06:04]
[User Picture]
jerriblank69 [18.01.06::05:51]
You are a notorious racist.
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tyrven [18.01.06::06:42]
I'm sure. And if there was any doubt, I hope this post clears it up.
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herbaliser [18.01.06::05:56]
the woman should have said “Of course I would, just not to a Jew.”
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tyrven [18.01.06::06:10]
Ha! Totally.
[User Picture]
also I'm not sarcastic - meowlet [18.01.06::06:09]
I'm not racist, although some of my best friends are racist.
[User Picture]
Re: also I'm not sarcastic - tyrven [18.01.06::06:15]
My favorite is (and I can't remember where I saw this, but it's so ubiquitous that it doesn't matter): "She's really smart, but then she's Japanese. That's not racist, is it?" "No, because it's positive; racism is negative".
meowlet [18.01.06::06:19]
meowlet [18.01.06::06:24]
tyrven [18.01.06::06:38]
Re: - tyrven [18.01.06::07:04]
Re: - tyrven [18.01.06::08:20]
Re: also I'm not sarcastic - tyrven [18.01.06::06:15]
also I'm not decadent and time-wasting - meowlet [18.01.06::06:19]
Re: also I'm not decadent and time-wasting - tyrven [18.01.06::06:28]
meowlet [18.01.06::06:30]
Re: - tyrven [18.01.06::06:39]
meowlet [18.01.06::07:00]
Re: - tyrven [18.01.06::07:05]
[User Picture]
Additionally; - meowlet [18.01.06::06:10]
I agree with this post.
A+++, would read again!
[User Picture]
mcfnord [18.01.06::07:44]
awesome cat icon. would view again!
meowlet [18.01.06::08:14]
tyrven [18.01.06::08:16]
mcfnord [18.01.06::08:33]
[User Picture]
phunbee [18.01.06::06:13]
I love that that woman said that. I once wrote an article for an independent newspaper I wrote for in college regarding previously unknown bias that I discovered within myself when I decided to take a cab that happened to have a white driver because the cab ahead of him has a black driver who looked mean IMO. I wondered if an unknown racist bias played a factor in my decision to take the second cab even though technically the mean looking guy was first in line. The paper refused to print it because they reacted to it much in the way the radio show host did. It sounds like Tavis Smiley. That's the kind of topics he talks about on his show.
[User Picture]
tyrven [18.01.06::06:26]
I don't think it was Tavis Smiley, but it may well have been (it certainly sounds like his response). Acknowledging that I'm not the target audience, I get tired of the Tavis Smiley show because I think he tries too hard to tie issues to racial matters, sometimes.

I think your cab experience is probably pretty typical. How many times have you heard someone start off a story with "So, then this big black guy comes in..."; it's clear that the adjectives "big" and "black" are to imply some sort of threat. "Enters a big white guy" just doesn't have the same connotations. And, realistically, given the correlation between race and socioeconomic status and, in turn, the correlation between socioeconomic status and crime it may not be an unreasonable fear (statistically speaking). I think that's the complexity of racism.

Statistically, there are way more minorities in prison than whites, per capita. Is that racist? Probably. Is it because the criminal system is racist? Not necessarily. Even if the juries were unbiased, the socioeconomic position of minorities puts them in a position to prove the biases; it sets the community up for failure.
phunbee [18.01.06::08:36]
mcfnord [18.01.06::08:43]
tyrven [18.01.06::09:13]
mcfnord [18.01.06::09:24]
tyrven [18.01.06::09:28]
mcfnord [18.01.06::09:37]
tyrven [18.01.06::09:55]
mcfnord [18.01.06::10:01]
tyrven [18.01.06::09:40]
lormagins [18.01.06::09:43]
tyrven [18.01.06::10:06]
mcfnord [18.01.06::08:42]
tyrven [18.01.06::09:09]
chris [18.01.06::09:29]
tyrven [18.01.06::09:59]
phunbee [18.01.06::11:12]
chris [18.01.06::11:27]
tyrven [18.01.06::11:56]
[User Picture]
karinkarinkarin [18.01.06::06:33]
sort of off topic, but related to the illegal immigrant thing... there's a lot of debate about the matricula (and oh boy, if you do a google search, the first topic that comes up is "matricula consular - the mexican sham ID card faq") and whether or not it should be considered a form of identification.

personally, I'd rather have a piece of 'valid' identification from the mexican government, even if the person is an illegal immigrant, rather than a fake US ID. but then again, I'd rather give people the benefit of the doubt than having to think really hard about a topic like this. that's what happens when you've got a cold and took nyquil. blarg.

at least I have a top pot donut to cheer me up.
[User Picture]
tyrven [18.01.06::07:06]
That's interesting. Hope you feel better. I want a top pot doughnut too. Oh, man, like really bad. But my car key has been misplaced so I'm home-bound today.
karinkarinkarin [18.01.06::09:52]
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glitterus [18.01.06::07:02]
NPR is so far down the spiral it's failing to surprise me anymore when they completely suck.

The fact that we notice differences between ourselves and others (discrimination), make decisions based on these observations (prejudice) and that often the body of these decisions falls along cultural boundaries (racism/class-ism/etc) is elementary.

The more attention is directed towards matters of race and away from matters of class, the more the ranks of the lower classes can swell.
[User Picture]
tyrven [18.01.06::07:11]
This ties in well with the thread above (re: is it racist to say "He did poorly on the SAT, but then he's black"). It's difficult because there is such a strong correlation but that correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation. Even if the divide it is rooted historically in racism, it's arguable that today the primary causation is economics (and the culture of poverty).

A popular argument to support this (which I used in debating the lobbyist for the African American rights group) was the circumstances of neighborhoods like Southie, one of the poorest areas of the United States, and almost exclusively Irish. The economic and cultural conditions are comparable to, say, Harlem but the race is not.
[User Picture]
mcfnord [18.01.06::07:18]
I'm a bit racist, insofar as I do see people of various races or genders or ages even, and ascribe characteristics and traits which ultimately may be bunk. So I practice a sort of mental affirmative action... i go out of my way to unbelieve the stereotypes i hold. This seems to work.
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tyrven [18.01.06::07:24]
Bingo. I think that's the best we can do; and if we don't recognize those biases, then we can't do anything to put them into check. Listen to your body; if it responds with discomfort assess whether that discomfort is rational for the situation or just based on some bias that may not apply. At least you're being conscious about it, then.

I'm a big fan, in general, of trusting my intuition, but gone unchecked intuition is precisely where biases and stereotypes influence decisions.
rorotheclown [18.01.06::08:24]
[User Picture]
Most clowns act like clowns. - tyrven [18.01.06::08:30]
I agree with that. And in that regard, perhaps that's where the NPR host was splitting hairs. Perhaps racism is only a problem when we act upon it. Although I also think that denying this process of stereotyping, which is completely fundamental to how our brains work, prevents us from being able to challenge it (and thus allows it to be acted upon unconsciously).

Re: Racism in a nutshell (IMHO) - herbaliser [18.01.06::09:49]
Re: Racism in a nutshell (IMHO) - tyrven [18.01.06::10:08]
[User Picture]
huffines [18.01.06::11:10]
If anyone wants to actually ever deal with racial problems or prejudices, they must first confront their own. And they need to have a forum in which they can discuss it without being chastised by a talking head behind a mic.
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shinyobject [19.01.06::03:42]
Our lecture/discussion topic this week was Prejudice (for Mind, my Sosc requirement). I hate discussing racism with people, but this was nice since we had lots of studies and omg, facts. Like the fact that white people think this country's getting better (40% vs 20% saying it's getting worse), and black people say it's getting worse (39% vs 20%). The thing is, everybody has prejudices because judging things on a case by case basis is extremely hard. You know based on experience that, say, a child isn't going to understand details of finance, so you talk about Blues Clues. The difference is when you're given information that contradicts your prejudgment, and you don't change it.

The statistics come from situations where it's ambiguous what's racist or not. No one wants to appear racist, and will hire whatever person has the best qualifications. But if it's a tossup between two mediocre people, white people choose more whites and other races do the same thing. So the hirer doesn't think he was racist, but the non-hired person does.
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