Author Topic: What is YOUR definition of racism?  (Read 4973 times)

golden1

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What is YOUR definition of racism?
« on: November 18, 2016, 09:09:27 AM »
There are a lot of posts going around talking about whether Trump and his supporters are racist, but I think these discussions will continue to flounder, because we don't have a common definition of what racism is.  In fact, I think part of the divide that America is struggling with currently is because people don't have a true understanding of where the other is coming from when we talk about racism.  Some see it as a very specific definition while others view it much more broadly. 

I think that a lot of Trump supporters/conservatives think that racism = hateful feelings towards someone who is a different race.  Anything outside of that definition is not considered racism so when someone accuses them of being racist, they assume that the person is calling them hateful, so they get defensive and recoil.  They won't engage or debate, because they are already demonized in their view.

I think that a lot of liberals think that racism = a broad swath of reactions to other races beginning with cultural discomfort and misunderstanding and including hateful feeling towards someone who is a different race.  When many liberals accuse others of being racist, they don't necessarily believe that the person they are addressing is hateful.  Some liberals take it way too far IMO, and DO treat all degrees of racism as equivalently bad.  This is wrong.

Is part of the problem the language we are using?  Do we need better language for "mild racism"?  DO we need to come to an agreement of what racism is?

Or perhaps racism as a concept is itself evolving. 

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2016, 09:52:42 AM »
I agree that most people don't think they are racist. Example from a friend's father who is a farmer in an all white, very religious town in rural Indiana. He said he can respect a black man provided he is educated. He offered that as proof of his lack of racism. I thought it was the most racist thing I've ever heard, because it implied that he would respect a white man simply because he was a white man, with nothing additional needed. One is a person by virtue of existing, one requires education to achieve that same status.

Broadly, I define a lack of racism as: No one is any better than any one else. No one should be discriminated based on their race. I think most people would say they agree with this. I also go a bit further and say that diversity (in terms of race, culture, religion, political beliefs) is good, and should be encouraged.

How I put it into practice on a daily basis: I think racism has more to do with fear/distaste towards cultural practices that are different. Everyone uses visual and other sensory cues to make judgements about the people we encounter, and those cues are filtered through past experience and preconceived notions. However, to me, you are not racist if you are willing to change your mind when presented with evidence contrary to your preconceived notion. Basically, it boils down to, we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but we do. But I'm willing to open up the book and start reading anyways because I have enough life experience to know I might be wrong.

irishbear99

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2016, 10:30:33 AM »
You have a very good point that we all seem to use varying definitions of "racism." The most recent example that had me confounded was a news story about a woman from a small, rural town who posted on Facebook that she was happy that there will finally be a classy, beautiful first lady in the White House and that she was tired of looking at an "ape in heels." Of course, my poor liberal jaw dropped to the floor and my heart hurt for Mrs. Obama when I read that. Later, the woman posted an apology where she said she didn't have a racist bone in her body and just wanted to express her excitement for Mrs. Trump. When we (as a society) can't even agree that referring to a black woman as an ape is racist, I don't have any hope of coming to a consensus on what IS racist.

Kris

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2016, 12:17:07 PM »
Racist = not me, or anyone who thinks like me.

That seems to be the operating definition for most people.

marty998

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2016, 01:35:51 PM »
You have a very good point that we all seem to use varying definitions of "racism." The most recent example that had me confounded was a news story about a woman from a small, rural town who posted on Facebook that she was happy that there will finally be a classy, beautiful first lady in the White House and that she was tired of looking at an "ape in heels." Of course, my poor liberal jaw dropped to the floor and my heart hurt for Mrs. Obama when I read that. Later, the woman posted an apology where she said she didn't have a racist bone in her body and just wanted to express her excitement for Mrs. Trump. When we (as a society) can't even agree that referring to a black woman as an ape is racist, I don't have any hope of coming to a consensus on what IS racist.

There was a controversy in Aus earlier last year when a 13 year old girl was called out for abusing a footballer at a game using the ape term. Some people just don't understand the historical baggage behind that term and I believe society has failed if we don't properly educate people that it is wrong. Some people inherently are not going to learn that it is wrong unless you explicitly point it out to them.

I like the MLK definition. If you pre-judge someone (negatively) based on the colour of their skin rather than the content of their character, then you are a racist.

Johnez

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2016, 02:59:37 PM »
There really is only one definition of racism. Discrimination based on race. Most debate on this subject is usually focused on severity and various levels of denial.

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2016, 04:41:00 PM »
Folks, honest to god, it isn't that hard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrp-v2tHaDo

The entire speech is worth a watch.  Skip to 21:00 and then ask yourself how that sentiment was totally absent from HRC.

That speech still gives me chills.  If he'd been running against anyone besides John McCain I would have voted for him.

It isn't a problem with the definition.  It's a problem with being far too quick to identify coded language as racist, throwing that attack out first, last, and always.  Trump could have been soundly revealed to be an idiot, with bad plans, bad intentions, and no clue about how things actually work, without even once bringing up his race or anyone else's.

Right wrong or indifferent, at this point, if the media is calling someone racist I automatically assume that is just code for conservative.  Much the same way nationalistic language by a GOP candidate is automatically assumed to be code for racism.

Calling half the country racist because they disagree with you is certainly a thing you can do.  But it's monumentally stupid.


StetsTerhune

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2016, 12:44:53 AM »
I think most white people fail to really consider context when talking about racism. I can talk stereotypes about white people as much as I want, and it makes no difference, because the white people who read it have never experienced any genuinely hurtful and destructive racism towards white people. It's just a meaningless stereotype, joke, whatever you want to call it.

But the same type of comments about a minority are in a completely different context for the people who have experienced genuine racial abuse. When someone make s a joke about (just a stupid example, obviously) someone liking watermelon, they're going to hear it in the context every negative stereotype they've ever experienced.  lazy, a gangbanger, stupid, on welfare, didn't earn anything they have.

I actually tend to agree that "racist" is used for too frequently an an end point to any dialogue. One side can't understand why the other is so "sensitive," because they are unwilling or incapable of trying to figure out what it would feel like to have lived your whole life as a minority. This (and of course what I'm talking any here is just one small part of a much bigger puzzle) is something that needs to get talked through on a real, person to person level.


Poundwise

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2016, 05:44:59 AM »
I was just musing that maybe a way to combat racism in one's self is to look at a person and instead of instantly seeing their skin color, to wonder what country or state they come from.  So instead of seeing a black person, you might think, that person looks like they are from Trinidad and Tobago, or instead of seeing an Asian person, you might wonder if they are from Hong Kong or Taiwan, or instead of seeing a white person, you might listen for a hint of Valleyspeak. In other words, replace a race stereotype with an ethnic stereotype.  It's a little easier than just seeing everybody equal... our brains want to see patterns and make a guess how a person will be, before we know them well.

One thing I have noticed about a lot of racists is that they don't seem to know (or care) about distinctions by country.  All Asians are Chinese or Japanese to them.

Zamboni

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2016, 06:16:29 AM »
I like the MLK definition. If you pre-judge someone (negatively) based on the colour of their skin rather than the content of their character, then you are a racist.

I'm going to agree with this one, except say that the pre-judgement can be negative or positive and still be racism. Also, I don't think it is just the color of one's skin . . . if you pre-judge someone based upon their name, or something "ethnic" they are wearing, and that can also racism and they might have the same skin tone as you have. 

In other words, if I see the a name on a job application and think it is a white man's name and I (probably subconsciously) think more highly of the job application a put it in the interview pile, then that is racism.

We ALL have some implicit biases . . . for a large number of us, that implicit bias includes some degree of racism and sexism that we have been ingrained with by our cultural conditioning. I would NOT call someone a racist because of this, because we all have some kinds of biases, and to me being a racist is much more aggressive. But, it seems to me that the most important thing is for each person to acknowledge that they have biases and try to figure out what those are and in what context those subconscious biases affect our thinking and judgements about others.

Unfortunately, most people won't even acknowledge that they have implicit bias . . . so that doesn't allow much room for personal growth. 

bugbaby

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2016, 08:02:54 AM »
Unfortunately, many stereotypes come from and are borne out by fact and real data.  Not really due to color /ethnicity, but due to the predominant cultural and religious norms within a certain ethnicity or nationality.  It's not racist to examine members of a group that is associated with destructive cultural/religious norms that are contrary to a society's values. That is Trump's stance, and I have carefully listened to his rhetoric. I don't deny many of his supporters many be racists or at least biased.  I say all this as a minority and an immigrant.

To try and deny truth and facts that belie a popular worldview leads to lies and cover-ups such as Rotherham, a classic case of reverse racism and a horrible atrocity.

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Kris

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2016, 11:10:35 AM »
I was just musing that maybe a way to combat racism in one's self is to look at a person and instead of instantly seeing their skin color, to wonder what country or state they come from.  So instead of seeing a black person, you might think, that person looks like they are from Trinidad and Tobago, or instead of seeing an Asian person, you might wonder if they are from Hong Kong or Taiwan, or instead of seeing a white person, you might listen for a hint of Valleyspeak. In other words, replace a race stereotype with an ethnic stereotype.  It's a little easier than just seeing everybody equal... our brains want to see patterns and make a guess how a person will be, before we know them well.

One thing I have noticed about a lot of racists is that they don't seem to know (or care) about distinctions by country.  All Asians are Chinese or Japanese to them.

Problem with this is, you are "musing" that anyone who is not white is not American. Which basically just marginalizes them in a different way.

Shane

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2016, 12:11:08 PM »
Recently, I had a discussion with a group of people who called themselves "Social Justice Warriors." My impression was that they considered any straight white male who wasn't willing to completely ignore his own self interest, drop everything and join them in the "fight" for social justice for blacks, latinos, Muslims, LGBTQs, etc., to be a worthless, bigoted, racist pig.

Apparently, in the minds of Social Justice Warriors, if you're a straight white male, it's not enough to just live your life peacefully and treat everyone you meet with respect and not discriminate against people of different races, religions or sexual orientations. It seems like they believe all straight white males are somehow guilty by association and need to redeem themselves by actively going out and "fighting" against social injustices being committed against a whole list of groups that they have identified as victims whom they believe need their help.

The Social Justice Warriors I met bragged about how they were all gearing up for the coming holidays and getting ready to argue against racist and bigoted extended family members who might make disparaging remarks against Black Lives Matter or Muslims or LGBTQs or whatever. After the group "discussion" with these Social Justice Warriors, I PM'd a family member who had taken part and told him that after talking with him and his friends, if anything, I was WAAAAAY less inclined to support any of their "causes." Honestly, after getting attacked by those people for not being willing to toe their strict liberal line, I totally understood how 60MM Americans voted for Donald Trump on 11/8. If there were an election tomorrow, I think I'd vote for Donald Trump, too, just to piss off those asshole Social Justice Warriors. Fuck them and their social justice causes. :)

Metric Mouse

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2016, 12:17:50 PM »

Well, good news for you; Donald Trump has already been elected, and that can be rubbed in the faces of those that disagree with him for at least the next four years.

I wouldn't argue that is productive, but is an option.

bugbaby

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2016, 11:54:03 PM »
SJW are am extreme leftist group, usually young, very ignorant and unwilling to discuss issues on their own merit. They however see everything as a potential grievance against their pet oppressed minority groups, of which they understand so little. Remember the Kony debacle that went viral online. This has spread into churches and even high schools. (however I think this is peripheral to the current thread)

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Poundwise

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2016, 08:41:25 AM »
I was just musing that maybe a way to combat racism in one's self is to look at a person and instead of instantly seeing their skin color, to wonder what country or state they come from.  So instead of seeing a black person, you might think, that person looks like they are from Trinidad and Tobago, or instead of seeing an Asian person, you might wonder if they are from Hong Kong or Taiwan, or instead of seeing a white person, you might listen for a hint of Valleyspeak. In other words, replace a race stereotype with an ethnic stereotype.  It's a little easier than just seeing everybody equal... our brains want to see patterns and make a guess how a person will be, before we know them well.

One thing I have noticed about a lot of racists is that they don't seem to know (or care) about distinctions by country.  All Asians are Chinese or Japanese to them.

Problem with this is, you are "musing" that anyone who is not white is not American. Which basically just marginalizes them in a different way.

You're reading too much into the examples I chose.  I suppose I should have said, instead of seeing a white person, look for signs of Dutch or Slavic heritage.  I most certainly did not muse that immigrant heritage does not equal American.  I'm just trying to formulate an easy exit ramp for racism.  As a nonwhite American, I've personally encountered plenty of racism, both malign and unintentional.  There are a lot of people I have met who were racist but not bad people at heart; they just needed a slightly different way of channeling their need to categorize strangers. I'm not saying that ethnicity-based prejudice is great either, but it's a little better and could lead to a better understanding of other people.

Giro

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2016, 08:42:17 AM »
The direct, in your face racism, is easy to spot.  The indirect stuff is what needs fixed.  Most people want to be good but maybe they don't realize what racism really is.


I've been married twice.  My first husband and I were the same race.  My second husband and I are difference races.  I have been asked more times than I can count in this relationship if my spouse is my boyfriend.  On the surface, not a big deal.  I was practically a damn child when I got married the first time (19 years old) and was NEVER asked that question...EVER!!! 

I was also very recently asked, in front of my spouse, if the house was in my name exclusively.  What the bloody hell???  I tried to point out the problem with that question by joking "It's OUR house.  He even has good credit and a full-time job."  He served his country for 24 years and retired as a high-ranking officer, earned two masters degrees and has never been unemployed in his life.  It's insulting.

I think this type of racism, that people defend because they don't see it as racist, is the harmful kind. 

Poundwise

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2016, 08:45:33 AM »
While we're trading anecdotes, I'm tired of being mistaken as the nanny when I take my part-white children and their friends on play dates. 

Kris

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2016, 09:18:17 AM »
While we're trading anecdotes, I'm tired of being mistaken as the nanny when I take my part-white children and their friends on play dates.

I literally think that every time I see a woman with darker skin hanging out with lighter-skinned children.

Not that the woman is the nanny. I think, "That woman is obviously their mom just based on how they are interacting. But I bet she has to explain/justify/prove that shit every goddamn day."

Poundwise

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2016, 11:34:14 AM »
I don't get the assumptions when I just have my own kids, but it does smart a little when I'm taking another person's child out on my own time, dime, and goodness of heart, and people assume I'm paid for it. At any rate, no offense is meant when people make this mistake and I take no offense, a learning experience for all.

Anyway, I'm sorry, I didn't really answer the OP's question. My definition of racism is when you form a negative assumption about another person based on the fact that they are a different race from yourself. And maybe it also includes, giving favorable treatment to people of your own race over people of other races.

Malloy

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #20 on: November 28, 2016, 12:17:20 PM »
Recently, I had a discussion with a group of people who called themselves "Social Justice Warriors." My impression was that they considered any straight white male who wasn't willing to completely ignore his own self interest, drop everything and join them in the "fight" for social justice for blacks, latinos, Muslims, LGBTQs, etc., to be a worthless, bigoted, racist pig.

Apparently, in the minds of Social Justice Warriors, if you're a straight white male, it's not enough to just live your life peacefully and treat everyone you meet with respect and not discriminate against people of different races, religions or sexual orientations. It seems like they believe all straight white males are somehow guilty by association and need to redeem themselves by actively going out and "fighting" against social injustices being committed against a whole list of groups that they have identified as victims whom they believe need their help.

The Social Justice Warriors I met bragged about how they were all gearing up for the coming holidays and getting ready to argue against racist and bigoted extended family members who might make disparaging remarks against Black Lives Matter or Muslims or LGBTQs or whatever. After the group "discussion" with these Social Justice Warriors, I PM'd a family member who had taken part and told him that after talking with him and his friends, if anything, I was WAAAAAY less inclined to support any of their "causes." Honestly, after getting attacked by those people for not being willing to toe their strict liberal line, I totally understood how 60MM Americans voted for Donald Trump on 11/8. If there were an election tomorrow, I think I'd vote for Donald Trump, too, just to piss off those asshole Social Justice Warriors. Fuck them and their social justice causes. :)

This story is familiar, but I think you forgot the part about the Eagle named "Small Government."

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RangerOne

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #21 on: November 28, 2016, 12:42:44 PM »
I don't find it particularly useful to label a person as racist. I mean you have your neo-nazis(alt-right) people, they are all very clearly racist and should be labeled as such by the media.

I think we need to move past the trying to win an argument by jumping to calling someone a racist or sexist and thus invalidating all their ideas. If an idea or proposal is truly racist or sexist then you should easily be able to point out how that idea or proposal is bad.

Labeling someone in the moment a racist because they have expressed racist ideas, I can see why that might be frustrating for that person. People can make racist judgments simply due to a lack of understanding or exposure. The word racist currently carries too much of a judgment upon someones character to make the label appropriate in some of these cases.

syednaeemul

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #22 on: November 28, 2016, 07:42:45 PM »
Isn't this the simple "If I think it sounds racist it probably is racist"?

Kris

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #23 on: November 28, 2016, 07:44:38 PM »
Isn't this the simple "If I think it sounds racist it probably is racist"?

Clearly not, as so many people can't recognize so many acts as racist.

Metric Mouse

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #24 on: November 29, 2016, 04:33:59 AM »
And maybe it also includes, giving favorable treatment to people of your own race over people of other races.

This is tough. Because I struggle with bias towards familiar things - I'm more likely to feel comfortable around and get along with people who grew up in similar socio-economic conditions that I did, that have life experiences not vastly different from mine and an education level similar to my own. As some of these factors are skewed racially in the United States, this can make identifying with a person who holds vastly different values than mine difficult. Therefore I may sometimes struggle to not feel 'preferential' to people more similar to me. I make a massive effort to treat everyone I come in contact with in a respectful and friendly way, but I am still aware of my own bias.

I find it very difficult to not be 'preferential' in at least some interactions. For example; I could talk to person A or person B at a party - I'm more likely to engage in the person who seems most similar to me (in the areas above, which , as we more likely have more in common. I would feel that purposefully engaging with a person based soley on the fact that they're a different race than me would be a form of racial preference that does not fit with my values.

Kris

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2016, 06:09:57 AM »
And maybe it also includes, giving favorable treatment to people of your own race over people of other races.

This is tough. Because I struggle with bias towards familiar things - I'm more likely to feel comfortable around and get along with people who grew up in similar socio-economic conditions that I did, that have life experiences not vastly different from mine and an education level similar to my own. As some of these factors are skewed racially in the United States, this can make identifying with a person who holds vastly different values than mine difficult. Therefore I may sometimes struggle to not feel 'preferential' to people more similar to me. I make a massive effort to treat everyone I come in contact with in a respectful and friendly way, but I am still aware of my own bias.

I find it very difficult to not be 'preferential' in at least some interactions. For example; I could talk to person A or person B at a party - I'm more likely to engage in the person who seems most similar to me (in the areas above, which , as we more likely have more in common. I would feel that purposefully engaging with a person based soley on the fact that they're a different race than me would be a form of racial preference that does not fit with my values.

So, given two people who are total strangers to you at a party, one black and one white, are you choosing the white lerson because he/she "seems" to be more like you? Is that because you assume they are in your socioeconomic range?

That does not mean you are racist. But it does mean that you are swimming in the waters of institutionalized racism. Whch we all are, of course. This is just an example of it. and how it hurts people of color.

Metric Mouse

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2016, 06:22:14 AM »
So, given two people who are total strangers to you at a party, one black and one white, are you choosing the white lerson because he/she "seems" to be more like you? Is that because you assume they are in your socioeconomic range?

That does not mean you are racist. But it does mean that you are swimming in the waters of institutionalized racism. Whch we all are, of course. This is just an example of it. and how it hurts people of color.

No. If the white person is dressed in hemp and suspenders and skinny jeans with a shirt that says "FUCK WHitey", with dreadlocks and red eyes; probably not very similar to me. If they are in the corner loudly bragging about how Trump is going to make Mexico pay for the wall or curled in the corner because Trump won the election - probably not very similar. The black person in a motorcycle jacket and riding boots is going to get attract my attention much easier. It's rarely ever perfectly equal; and to pretend that race is only difference in most real-life situations is immature.

I clearly left out race as a deciding factor of 'sameness'; I only pointed out that socio-economic class is sometimes intertwined with race due to various factors in this country.  It was a comment of how I don't seek out persons massively different than myself just to pat myself on the back. But perhaps that I could stretch my boundries a bit.

golden1

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #27 on: November 29, 2016, 07:38:46 AM »
Thanks for all your thoughtful replies.

I really think when the word "racism" is thrown around, people have a visceral reaction to it.  Because of our history, it is seen as almost as an irredeemable moral failing, which is part of the problem.  If someone is labeled a "racist", and there is nothing to be done about it, the instinctual reaction is to deny and become defensive without actually thinking it through.  It defeats the purpose of using the word in the first place.

I'm not sure what the solution is.  Is it for everyone to admit that they are probably racist in some way, reclaiming the word and ridding it of its stigma?  Or do we need better language for it that more people will embrace? 


ender

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2016, 08:09:53 AM »
People use racism to mean different things.

One is "actively acting out in prejudice based purely on race." An example would be not treating a black person the same as a white person or denying someone service based on their race.

The more subtle one is "subconsciously acting in prejudice based purely on race." An example would be feeling fear when you see someone of a different race, stereotyping based on numerically true demographics, your visceral reaction differing based on what race people are, etc. This is far more pervasive and subtle.

The problem results when people have one of these definitions and refuse to understand in conversation that others may be using the other definition. The SJW group absolutely has the second definition. But many people believe the former, which is why SJW have such strife and conflict happens and SJW people drive a lot of folks nuts.


ooeei

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2016, 09:20:31 AM »
People use racism to mean different things.

One is "actively acting out in prejudice based purely on race." An example would be not treating a black person the same as a white person or denying someone service based on their race.

The more subtle one is "subconsciously acting in prejudice based purely on race." An example would be feeling fear when you see someone of a different race, stereotyping based on numerically true demographics, your visceral reaction differing based on what race people are, etc. This is far more pervasive and subtle.

The problem results when people have one of these definitions and refuse to understand in conversation that others may be using the other definition. The SJW group absolutely has the second definition. But many people believe the former, which is why SJW have such strife and conflict happens and SJW people drive a lot of folks nuts.



It's also tricky that sometimes race is correlated with things that can create this uneasiness.  For example, the homicide rate for black people is 8x higher than white people.  Thus, it would make sense for someone walking out alone in a sketchy area to be more worried seeing a black person walk toward them than a white person. 

Is someone who gets nervous racist, or practical?  If the homicide rate for people wearing red hats was 8x that for people not wearing them, would you get a bit worried seeing someone with a red hat walking toward you?  I know I'd get more nervous seeing a man walking down a sketchy side road than seeing a woman, even though either one of them could rob me.  I certainly believe women can be robbers, but the statistics say they aren't very often.

This is not to say that discrimination is the answer, it's a very difficult problem to solve.  I do think that instantly chastising someone who gets a bit more nervous seeing a black person in an alley than a white might not be the best solution.  It's sort of a chicken and egg scenario, where the stereotypes feed back on themselves and are self fulfilling.

And I get the frustration with being thought of as a nanny, but how many white families do have minority nannies that watch kids?  If there are 10 minority adults with white looking kids at a park, and 8 of them are nannies, it makes sense that the moms would be mistaken for nannies.  Is it racist?  I guess so, but that's an extra tough one to solve.  Should we assume everyone who is with kids is their parent, even if they don't look very much alike?

I do feel the need to point out that it's also true that generally homicides are intra-racial, and black people are 6x more likely to be victims of homicide as well.

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #30 on: November 29, 2016, 11:27:08 AM »

Is someone who gets nervous racist, or practical?  If the homicide rate for people wearing red hats was 8x that for people not wearing them, would you get a bit worried seeing someone with a red hat walking toward you?  I know I'd get more nervous seeing a man walking down a sketchy side road than seeing a woman, even though either one of them could rob me.  I certainly believe women can be robbers, but the statistics say they aren't very often.

This is not to say that discrimination is the answer, it's a very difficult problem to solve.  I do think that instantly chastising someone who gets a bit more nervous seeing a black person in an alley than a white might not be the best solution.  It's sort of a chicken and egg scenario, where the stereotypes feed back on themselves and are self fulfilling.


Aye, for a similar reason I am racist against cars.  I won't drive a red or yellow car, not because I've seen hard data but because I heard growing up that you are more likely to get a ticket if you drive a red or yellow car.  My little sportscar was chosen for performance and then details like color were based on what would be as inconspicuous as possible.  As it turned out, what dictated how many tickets I got was how often I sped.  Go figure.

Using statistics to justify actions will lead you down a path with a false sense of security.  At the end of the day, you have to make good choices.  Something for everyone to keep in mind when they think avoiding black people will reduce their chance of getting murdered.  Something for Democrats to keep in mind when they think enacting policies based solely on statistics will solve problems.  Numbers, as it turns out, lie just as often as the humans presenting them.

ooeei

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #31 on: November 29, 2016, 12:04:36 PM »
Aye, for a similar reason I am racist against cars.  I won't drive a red or yellow car, not because I've seen hard data but because I heard growing up that you are more likely to get a ticket if you drive a red or yellow car.  My little sportscar was chosen for performance and then details like color were based on what would be as inconspicuous as possible.  As it turned out, what dictated how many tickets I got was how often I sped.  Go figure.

Using statistics to justify actions will lead you down a path with a false sense of security.  At the end of the day, you have to make good choices.  Something for everyone to keep in mind when they think avoiding black people will reduce their chance of getting murdered.  Something for Democrats to keep in mind when they think enacting policies based solely on statistics will solve problems.  Numbers, as it turns out, lie just as often as the humans presenting them.

So is your position we shouldn't use statistics ever?  Or are there certain times when it's appropriate?  I agree that putting too much stock in them is dangerous, but to suggest we not use them seems equally dangerous.  In either case you have to really do your analysis properly, and oftentimes conclusions have a very narrow path where they're applicable.

Of course there will be some other causal factor to homicide rate than skin color.  Perhaps it's income level, or education, or neighborhood.   I'm not trying to say that black people commit more homicide because they're black, but it's simply a fact that they do commit more homicide.  If I'm walking down the street and based on what I know about the statistics I have a 1/10,000 chance of being mugged by a white guy, and an 8/10,000 chance of being mugged by a black guy, and I have a choice of which to walk past, I'm going to walk past the one with the lower chance. 

Granted, if the crime rate is equal for black and white people in the same neighborhoods, then it won't matter either way and I'll do my best to avoid both (probably what I'd do anyway).  Maybe the crime rate is actually higher for whites in these neighborhoods, and my limited analysis actually made it more dangerous for me.

For myself personally, I'm probably going to be looking for a number of things about the person to judge them.  If they're wearing a suit or reasonably nice clothes, I'm probably not too worried about them.  If their face is covered in tattoos and scars/sores, I'll probably avoid them.  Both of these are judgments about the exterior of a person that don't give me a guarantee, but external features are all I've got to go on.  People don't walk around with their income or educational background floating above their head, you have to make the best guess you can with the limited information you have.  Whether we like it or not race is a feature that is easily identifiable, and has strong correlations with a number of different statistics.  As of now the stats I've seen say one group is more likely to rob someone than another.  I'm going to use that information as best I can. If I see different stats, it'll likely change my behavior.  Granted, I'm generally not walking around in places where I'm too concerned about this, so it's more a thought exercise than anything.

I realize I used homicide and mugging and robbing all interchangeably here, it's just for an example.  The rate changes slightly for different crimes, but the groups remain the same.

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #32 on: November 29, 2016, 08:32:54 PM »
Right, so, you've hit on something that bothers me about a lot of the arguments from liberals these days, particularly from those that believe their arguments stem from "facts."

Many of these things are not facts so much as statistics.

So you see a group of statistics that are combined to paint a picture.  And then that painting is presented as the only rational action a thinking person could do, and anyone choosing different is ignoring facts.  They don't know as much about the issue as you?

What if I told you that 100% of people walking past a black person on the street who pretend, at a distance, to know the black person:

"Hey Jerome! Man what's up I haven't seen you in...oh, shit my bad, you're not Jerome!  Keep it real man! *Does white person finger point, leg up knee bent* *biggrin* #whitefolks"

Aren't accosted in any way?

Lets say that was a true statistic.  Would it change your behavior?  No.  Your behavior isn't actually based on those statistics you cited.  You learned those statistics because of confirmation bias to support your racist actions.  You don't feel safe around black people or men or whatever because of deeply ingrained racial prejudices within your culture, and then sought out information to rationalize that.

It isn't a big deal, it doesn't make you a bad person.  It is, however, a blatant misuse of the statistics.  For exactly the reasons you yourself identify.  If you looked into the actual causes of the homicide within the black community, you of course find that it isn't a result of random violence.  You are about as likely to be accosted walking down the street as a result of random crime regardless of the race of the perpetrator.  In order to have the statistics show this though, you have to take out all sorts of other types of behavior you find among very poor, very urbanized communities in America.

The difficulty comes in just how hard it is to do this sort of analysis.  You can read the liberal arguments for these things and really think they are well informed, but then, as a rational thinking person, you think about how they could possibly have some of this information, and the answer is they can't.

Some things we can find, others we can estimate, but the circumstances surrounding why this random black kid got shot today?  Dropped off at the ER, died in surgery, we'll never fucking know.  The doctor guessed, the nurse guessed, the cop guessed, it is noise.

Our data is not good data.

You throw out bad data.

If you look at the data we have that is good, or at least, reliable (understanding that throwing out bad data in and of itself forces you to doubt any remaining data as, at best, incomplete), it becomes clear that the following facts are actual facts:

1.  The causes of poverty are complicated.
2.  The causes of generational poverty are even more complicated.
3.  The solutions to poverty are, consequently, also complicated.
4.  The solutions to generational poverty, consequently, will be the most complicated.
5.  Poverty correlates closely with crime (but correlation isn't necessarily causation, and also this is a bullshit statement because crime is far too general a term, more appropriately, the crime poor people do is closely correlated to being poor, no fucking durr).

And so when liberals put together 4 statistics that blame poverty on white people and say the solution is to tax the rich and give money to the poor I am skeptical, if only because that is entirely too simple of a presentation of what is a massively fucked up situation.

Likewise when people on the right show up with no statistics at all and argue from an ideological perspective that it all boils down to choices, I can agree that they aren't wrong!  Because they aren't!  But it isn't something that's particularly helpful.

Scott Addams has a great post on pizzagate ( I fucking love the name of that gate, and am relieved it's likely a batshit crazy conspiracy theory and not some revelation re:pizza causes cancer ) where he makes this point about confirmation bias:

A mountain of evidence is indistinguishable from confirmation bias.  They look exactly the same.  As in, all the evidence available to you could point to a thing being true and it still not be fucking true.  If you don't think this is true, then you don't understand confirmation bias, and should stop talking.

Liberals are currently swamped with confirmation bias at every level.  I can't say the Republicans have that problem because they tend not to look for evidence at all.  I'm not really sure which problem is worse, and I was certainly happier before I realized it in exactly those terms.

So here's what I will say.

No statistic in the world will tell you anything about whether that person walking towards you is dangerous.  No statistic is useful in that situation.  Relying on them or using them is not useful in any way for improving your outcomes.  You hit on what your actual risk calculation is in this situation.

Do I have another option?

Nobody on the other side of the street?  Cross the street.

I submit you're probably going to cross the street if the other person is larger than you or outnumbers you.  I'm going to get mugged because I don't pay attention anymore.

You make that decision prior to any kind of rational thought process, that's something that has been proven scientifically.  There isn't a soul in the world that doesn't make that decision based on all available stimuli instinctively, subconsciously, and then all your thoughts about statistics or trying to understand consciously why you made the decision is literally your brain rationalizing the decision.  Your brain works this way, mine works this way, the few that don't are exceptions that prove the rule and likely appear so different to us we've incarcerated/committed them.  This is a fact.  Interestingly enough, given this absolute biological fact, the condemnation universally leveled against racists is an exercise in holier-than-thou moralizing that has heretofore been reserved for the "religious right."  In quite simple terms, we literally are all racist.

Where statistics are useful is in combination with rational thought and good conversations trying to understand our world.  They back up already solid arguments.  But they are inherently exercises in masturbatory confirmation bias.

http://tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations

Think of statistics like things that can be graphically used to illustrate real-world applications of theoretical ideologies.  The more humans are involved in the metric (per 100,000 people for instance) the less useful it is going to be.  Failures per 100,000 vehicles is a useful number.  Failures per 100,000 people is a fucking dangerous number to make decisions on.

"If my sample size is large enough, the individual variations drop out."

The thing about humans is, those variations simply do not drop out.  Any policy implemented based on statistical certainty by definition is trampling on any human outside a standard deviation of the policy targets.  So even if it's good policy, it's bad policy.  The "standard deviation" when referencing a population of humans is an entire fucking human.  Each of our stories is incredibly complicated and unique.  It's a "special snowflake" problem.  We don't have that with grains of sand or molecules of water.  It is arrogance to not acknowledge this.  Have some humility with the application of our feeble human tools.

So you look at all this, and you say, well you're just doubting all of everything and won't accept any argument.

And that's not what I'm saying at all.  I'm saying that having some facts that support your position doesn't make you right.  Science is not about certainty, it is about skepticism.  "This is the best theory I have for what is going on, but I am seeking any additional information."

Science.

"White people are to blame for this."

Racism.

It's fairly easy to spot, essentially whenever anyone is dismissive of someone else as "arguing both sides" or "ignoring clear facts" then that's someone who has confused arriving at a conclusion based on facts with science.

This statistic asserts this one thing.  Can I find a statistic that asserts the exact opposite?  Lets reconcile the two.  Lets talk about it.  Lets do an experiment.

Left and right have both decided to just declare victory and stop talking, and it's really fucking irritating.  It's fine to go forward with your "cross the street to avoid black people" policy.  It's OK to do that even knowing everything I just said.  What's important is that you maintain the awareness of why you did it, that you're doing it, and that you remain open to conversations about what you're doing and why.  If it is defensible, defend it, if it is not, change it.

Poundwise

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #33 on: November 29, 2016, 10:07:34 PM »
It's also tricky that sometimes race is correlated with things that can create this uneasiness.  For example, the homicide rate for black people is 8x higher than white people.  Thus, it would make sense for someone walking out alone in a sketchy area to be more worried seeing a black person walk toward them than a white person.

I just want to jump in to point out that I think your stat is misplaced.  From the FBI data below, it looks to me like a white person is much more likely to be murdered by another white person than by a black person.  Now, I'm too lazy to find the data for more than one year, but let's try to adjust for percentages. It looks like though blacks are a little over 12% of the population, they made up 13.6% of offenders  against whites (409/3005) in 2013.  Aha, bad blacks! But wait-- whites made up 83.5% of murderers (2509/3005) although they are only about 80% of the population (including Hispanic whites). Bad whites! If you're thinking statistically, maybe a white person had better cross the street when approached by another white person.  And maybe a black person had better avoid other black people.

https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2013.xls

Now, of course these stats may not be properly applied to the nervous white person walking in a black ghetto.  Probably it would be better to find stats on property crime or violence against strangers.  Maybe the relevant (but probably unavailable) stat you want is the probability that a stranger walking in a poor neighborhood will be robbed. At any rate, it's a good policy for everyone to take a hard look at their own prejudices from time to time to see if they really make sense. 

I personally would cross the street if I were alone on a street except for a strange man or group of strange men, whatever the race.  But that's just being sensible. ;)
« Last Edit: November 29, 2016, 11:14:56 PM by Poundwise »

ooeei

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Re: What is YOUR definition of racism?
« Reply #34 on: November 30, 2016, 07:03:31 AM »
Lots of words.

Agree on pretty much every point, that's a very interesting analysis, and well articulated.  I do remember from psychology class in college that many (most?) decisions are made before being consciously thought about, so to extend that to a snap judgment about someone seems fairly natural.

I do think that it's fair to say statistics (or movies, or previous talks with friends, etc) will have an influence on those unconscious decisions, even though at the moment that's not what you're thinking about.  People tend to seek out sources that agree with them, but that cycle has to start somewhere does it not? 

In a real world situation I'm going to try to avoid whoever I can in a sketchy situation.  It's fairly likely there will be some other deciding factor besides race that would tempt me to choose between two people.  It's pretty rare to see two identical people out in the real world, in identical positions where the choice literally is only about race.  Body language, distance from my walking path, eye contact, clothing, all sorts of things could play a factor.

I really just wanted to figure out whether making a decision based on race, even if that decision is made based on your (incorrect) honest interpretation of data, makes someone a racist.  There's a difference between a Klan member hanging people and a person who crosses the street because they saw a feature on 60 minutes saying they were 10x as likely to be killed by a black person.  Maybe there needs to be a new term or two to talk about what kind of racist you are.  Racist shouldn't only mean someone who wants to kill the other race, and in the dictionary it doesn't, but that's the image that instantly pops into my head (and likely many other people's) when I hear the term.  I do grasp the irony of discussing how the term "racist" can be hurtful to a racist.

For example, I'll support equal rights for women whenever I get the chance.  I understand that women can do just about anything a man can do, and vice versa.  I also won't worry as much if I see a woman coming towards me in a dark alley as a man.  Does that make me sexist?  I guess so, but there needs to be some way to differentiate that type of sexism from the type that doesn't allow women to drive or vote, and punishes them for being raped. 

It's like if we didn't have separate words for different types of criminals, and called them all murderers.  That almost dilutes the term murderer, as someone who steals candy from a convenience store is called the same thing as someone who killed 5 people.  You'd likely have more people rising to the defense of "murderers" because the group now contains fairly innocuous people as well as killers.

I just want to jump in to point out that I think your stat is misplaced.  From the FBI data below, it looks to me like a white person is much more likely to be murdered by another white person than by a black person.  Now, I'm too lazy to find the data for more than one year, but let's try to adjust for percentages. It looks like though blacks are a little over 12% of the population, they made up 13.6% of offenders  against whites (409/3005) in 2013.  Aha, bad blacks! But wait-- whites made up 83.5% of murderers (2509/3005) although they are only about 80% of the population (including Hispanic whites). Bad whites! If you're thinking statistically, maybe a white person had better cross the street when approached by another white person.  And maybe a black person had better avoid other black people.

https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2013.xls

Now, of course these stats may not be properly applied to the nervous white person walking in a black ghetto.  Probably it would be better to find stats on property crime or violence against strangers.  Maybe the relevant (but probably unavailable) stat you want is the probability that a stranger walking in a poor neighborhood will be robbed. At any rate, it's a good policy for everyone to take a hard look at their own prejudices from time to time to see if they really make sense. 

I personally would cross the street if I were alone on a street except for a strange man or group of strange men, whatever the race.  But that's just being sensible. ;)

I am aware of that, and tried to allude to it in the last sentence of my first post.  Homicide is almost entirely intra-race.  Then again, many American cities are fairly segregated, so that could possibly be explained largely just by who is close to who.  If that is the case, the neighborhood is really what you should worry about, not the individual.

I think most homicides happen between people who know each other, similar to rape.  My post was more to flesh out a topic that was interesting to me, not to argue that one race is more likely to kill you walking down the street.  I do understand why someone with limited knowledge who's only heard the basic statistics I quoted might make that decision, assuming they made it consciously and not subconsciously.  Most people don't have a really in depth grasp of how statistics and experiment results should/can be used.  I don't necessarily think that makes them racist, it just makes them practical (although they are likely incorrect).