Repost: Views on Racism
Posted Aug 31, 2000
NOTE: This is a repost of an article I wrote. I originally wrote in back around 2000 or so. I'm transferring it here to keep it together with my recent writings.
Views on Racism
This article came about for an interesting reason. On March 20, 2000, the Discovery Channel ran a show called "How Biased Are You?"
Personally I love the Discovery Channel. I often tape many shows for future reference (The police have my permission to use this as an admission of guilt if I am ever accused of violating copyrights.)
The main point of the show was that racism is much more ingrained into society then we would like to admit.
This bothers me greatly and it should bother you too.
First off, let's define "racism".
My trusty Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus (1997 Edition) defines it as
- Belief in the superiority of a particular race; prejudice based on this
- Antagonism toward other races.
See also: Apartheid, Bigotry.
The good folks at InfoPlease.com has a similar definition
Let's look at this a little closer. Both available definitions describe a feeling of superiority for a particular race. This, by definition, includes a feeling of inferiority for all the other races. Is this a good or a bad thing?
Depends on who you ask. Those that are able to gain from the proposed actions under a racist movement tend to think it's a good thing. Those that it hurt are obviously against it.
Personally, I think it's a bad thing, even though I am a white male. My personal beliefs destroy any concepts of "This race is better than that race." I believe nothing good can come from that type of thinking.
The show also brought to light a test being done at the famous Yale University called the Implicit Association Test
. (You can take these tests yourself online) in fact they have four different tests analyzing your preference towards race, sexes, age, and of all things, political people. I suggest taking these tests to see how you do.
Some of the underlying information is rather interesting. The testing done on the show mentioned that whites who showed an unconscious preference toward whites viewed the information as negative proof of deep lying racism while blacks who showed preference toward blacks viewed the information as proof of their pride.
While it's not a bad thing to have pride in your heritage, this is completely different from viewing yourself as superior, as the definition states. We must be careful to not confuse pride with bigotry. Having and showing love for your race or heritage does NOT have to include derogatory actions, conscious or otherwise, towards others.
A perfect example is great sports heroes who, no matter how good they are, always compliment other athletes on their skills and/or personality because they know that when it comes to all that matters, there is no inventory on quality that can be hoarded.
What worries me most about racism isn't the fact that it exists, but how people try to reason it away.
One lady (a civil rights lawyer) on the show who took the test showed a high preference toward whites replied,
"I'm not surprised, (at my score) and I think it's because we live in an extremely racists society where messages are given to us in many different ways..."
Why would someone publicly try to blame "society" for their ingrained prejudiced? We all live in the exact same world. We are exposed to many of the same messages. Yet some are able to look at the information around and say "Hey, just because this answer comes up most of the time doesn't mean that it's the right answer."
And that's where the trick lies. If we grow up seeing and hearing mostly negative remarks, we can easily assume that this is the way things "should be" or "that's the ways things really are".
Do not fall into this trap. If everyone around you is giving you bad information about other races, than you should use this, not as an example of what to do, but as what NOT to do. Like they say:
"Some people's purpose in life is to serve as a good example of what not to do."
I already took the tests just to see how I did. Here are my scores.
- My IAT test for Gender-Science scored as such:
"Your Data suggest little or no automatic gender association with science or liberal arts" (out of 24011 respondents recorded before my test, 15% scored the same as me. 69% showed slight to strong association towards male and science.)
- My IAT test for Age scored as such:
"Your Data suggest a moderate automatic preference for young" (out of 29902 respondents recorded before my test, 14% scored the same as me. 83% showed slight to strong association towards young.)
- My IAT test for Race scored as such:
"Your Data suggest little or no preference" (out of 39775 respondents recorded before my test, 12% scored the same as me. 73% showed slight to strong association towards whites.)
- My IAT test for Political Candidates scored as such:
"Your Data suggest a moderate preference toward Bradley" (I decided to play with this test with Bradley and Buchanan, two political candidates that I know almost nothing about.)
Does this mean that I am better that the people who showed a high preference? Of course not. It is simply a test to let you see another side of yourself. You can take that information and decide you are happy with it, or you can decide to change yourself. It does take work but you can do it.
According to history, biology and science, no race, religion, age, or sex has the monopoly on goodness, intelligence, creativity, morals or any other benchmark that prejudice people base their beliefs on.
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