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Sun Apr 29, 2012, 12:29 PM

Anybody Can Be Racist

White, black, brown, Asian, et cetera.


When I lived in South Florida I used to read the blogs by non-Cuban Hispanics that Cubans discriminated in favor of other Cubans when hiring. This isn't an indictment of the Cuban people whom I know many of and like but an indictment of human nature.


If you discriminate against, disrespect, harm an individual because of their race you're a racist.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 12:51 PM

1. If that's the case, I'd like to set the word aside and find a new one for systemic racism...

 

It's profoundly important to be able to distinguish between personal prejudices and systemic legal discrimination. If you want the word "racism" for personal prejudice, that just means that I won't use the word anymore. I need a word that refers to the systemic effect and distinguishes it from personal prejudice.

In particular, a racist system can force people who are not either racist or prejudiced into racist or prejudiced behavior. How do we talk about that?

Do you have a suggestion for such a word?

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Response to saras (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 12:58 PM

2. Systemic Racism Exists As Does Racism On A Individual Basis

Kind of like my example.

If a Cuban guy only hires other Cubans and a Puerto Rican guy only hires other Puerto Ricans they are both racists. Substitute white, black, brown, and Asian for Cuban and Puerto Rican and the same racism exists.

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Response to saras (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 01:00 PM

3. Before we can discuss 'systemic racism' (or 'structural racism'), I think a

 

solid definition of 'racism' itself needs to be established.

Here's how I define it: racism is the classification of people according to a non-essential characteristic (skin pigmentation). Now I'm on the horns of a dilemma, for I must define 'non-essential' as meaning not of the essence or unimportant, which then opens the question what is of essence or important? According to Aristotle, we need some way to classify phenomena in our existence because only through classification can we think about and consider reality.

So the real question is what is the essential way to classify humans? For me the answer is that I classify people according to their relationship to the means of production. People are either owners (capitalists) or workers (proletariat). For me, one's relationship to the means of production is far more essential than one's skin pigmentation.

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Response to coalition_unwilling (Reply #3)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 04:29 PM

12. There's no need to arrive at a single criterion.

Or for the criteria settled upon to be applied consistently.

Your key words are "essential" and "important" but few things are always essential or important. Essential for what? Important for what? In what context?

If I'm trying to find models for a line of make up I can properly consider race to be an essential factor. Language, however, becomes unimportant.

I'm I'm trying to find a reporter for my Russian-language newspaper, language is important. If there's a strong correlation between language and ethnicity, then making sure that the hires speak Russian fluently and natively will entail some ethnic differences.

If I'm trying to find a warehouse worker, language and race probably matter little (as long as there's enough communication between the worker and warehouse supervisor).

If I'm hiring a model for my line of trendy female swimwear, I'm going to be both ageist and sexist.

What's important depends on the function of the people involved. The classification has to be broad enough with enough categories to be able to identify the pertinent traits. Too often "race" is considered to be a required category and other traits are ignored. Often when you include other categories you find that "race" is correlated with the factor that's actually driving reality.

So my grad department was routinely accused of racism. Another one was never accused of racism. Both had very, very strong ethnic skews. But most of the people in each grad program already spoke the language involved or had some connection to where the language was dominant--husband, grandmother, etc. Almost all native Russian-speakers in the US are white. Almost all native or heritage speakers of Chinese in the US are, well, Asian. So my department was nearly all white; the Chinese grad program was nearly all Asian. The distribution wasn't racist. It was by language. But the reporting requirements raised a red flag for my department, which was almost entirely white.

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Response to Igel (Reply #12)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 04:40 PM

14. The title of the OP was "Anybody Can be Racist". Extrapolating

 

from your remarks, we could re-state the title of that OP as 'Anybody Can be Anything at Anytime".

The whole point of having words is that (logocentric though this may seem) they mean something. Otherwise, why use words at all when gutteral grunts or a binary system of 1 and 0 would equally suffice?

If you are going to talk about 'structural racism,' I think having a definition of 'racism' is the sine qua non of the discussion.

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Response to saras (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 04:37 PM

13. "It's profoundly important to be able to distinguish between personal prejudices and

 

systemic legal discrimination."

= +1

One of the most disappointing things about what remains of the civil rights coalition is the extent to which it's turned into an exercise in attacking individual "racists" and focusing on speech to the exclusion of the effects of policy decisions with much larger repercussions.

Like how black teachers and public workers are hardest hit by the attacks on public workers. Like how black auto workers took the earliest and hardest hits in the attacks on the auto industry.

To my mind, angles with much more important ramifications (& real ties to the larger struggle of labor generally, ties that unite rather than separate) than focusing on how joe blow is a "racist".

"a racist system can force people who are not either racist or prejudiced into racist or prejudiced behavior. How do we talk about that?"

we don't talk about that. most people barely recognize it.

or the same phenomenon with regard to class.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 01:03 PM

4. Except, Cuban is not a race.

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Response to Quantess (Reply #4)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 01:05 PM

5. I Know. I was just using it as an example of a person or persons making invidious distinctions.

.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 01:14 PM

6. Why isn't it racist to ask for race as a piece of information?

 

Why isn't it racist to base statistics on race?

Why isn't it racist to say that Obama can gain Hispanic votes by stopping deportations?

Why is race given as such a large influence in all types of marketing and targeting and yes profiling?

Every time race is mentioned in a story or in a conversation it differentiates people. The only way to erase its effects is to erase its usage and the consequent implied assumption.

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Response to dkf (Reply #6)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 01:26 PM

7. There's A Difference In Recognizing Racial Differences

There's a difference in recognizing racial differences, though I think they are overemphasized, and catering to them and being a racist.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 01:27 PM

8. so if I own a little bookstore

and hire my nephew or niece over other applicants, that makes me a huge racist?

So the NAACP and the United Negro College Fund really are racist, just like the rightwing says?

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #8)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 01:30 PM

9. And Jewish scholarships, too.

Funded by jews, for jews.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #8)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 01:41 PM

10. That Would Make You Guilty Of Nepotism

But if you only hire people of your own race that would put you on the wrong side of Title V11 of the Civil Rights Act Of 1964.


As to the NAACP and the UNCF if you can't see the difference between organizations designed to help previously disenfranchised groups and organizations designed to do the opposite there is nothing I can do to disabuse you of that notion.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #10)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 04:16 PM

11. but in some sense, I bet Cubans are one big family

Is it bad for favor the child of a cousin over the rest of the world? What about a second cousin, 3rd cousin, 4th cousin once removed? In my studies of family history, it seems clear that I am distantly related to most white people now living in the United States. For example, it turns out that one of my classmates is an 8th cousin on my mother's side. Even more hilariously, one of my sister's ex-boyfriends from Junior High is an 8th cousin on our father's side.

And that's only what I have been able to find out. If more people knew more of their ancestry, we would find distant connections between all of us.

As far as disenfranchised "groups". If my nieces and nephews and children of my first cousins do not get jobs and/or educations, they could easily slip into poverty. You specifically said that helping only those of one race is racism. Whether the race has been disenfranchised in the past or not does not seem to matter in that definition. As far as Cuban Americans goes, it would seem to me that a group of immigrants is probably trying to climb up from the bottom. So your example of Cuban racism seems to fall right in to the same category as the NAACP.

To me, trying to help your own "kind" or feeling more affinity towards your own "kind" is not racism. That's a positive thing, and the lack of a positive is not a negative. It does not turn over into racism until you start feeling hostility towards other "types" of people. Not that I am going to pick Cubans over others, but that I am not going to hire others even if no Cubans are available, because I think that "others" are somehow sub-human.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #11)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 04:57 PM

15. which means you're related to most cubans. you're also related to everyone in the world.

 

i doubt many of the cubans in the US would welcome fidel into their businesses with open arms.

for all that they are "cousins" (sometimes very literally). lol.

and btw, no one cares if you hire your family for your little business. not the government, not your neighbors, nobody.

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