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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 06:00 AM   #1
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Racism?

A few posters on TF have been branded as racist. But the accusers haven't really given a definition of it.

So, what is racism? Does it require intent?

One thought (from http://racismschool.tumblr.com/post/...your-intent-is):

Quote:
Racism is not in your intent. Your intent is immaterial in how racist your actions are. This isn’t about you BEING a racist. It’s about you DOING A THING that is racist. Your intent doesn’t change it. Your ignorance of its meaning doesn’t change it. It’s got nothing to do with you as a person and everything to do with the meaning of your action in the context of sociocultural history.
I disagree. I believe intent is the deciding factor for any possibly racist action.

Any thoughts? Personal experiences? Please share.
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 06:20 AM   #2
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Re: Racism?



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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 06:20 AM   #3
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Re: Racism?

In my view, there are different types of racism(s). You have the vestiges of caste oppression in India, for example.

However, I argue that because of the global preeminence of Euro-American cultural, economic, and political hegemony, "white racism" best characterizes the way that racist oppression is experienced in the West. White racism is a system of white supremacy that sustains cultural, political and economic domination of whites over all other races, and justifies the diverting of material and symbolic resources towards whites to preserve this inequality. Being a structural force in an of itself, it has little to do with individual prejudices and intentionality. It is a system of oppression that is more than just the aggregate of individual agency and decision making of "intentionally racist" white people, although those micro-level actions are important to how white racism is sustained.
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 06:30 AM   #4
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How is intent not related to racism? Say, if a person makes a light hearted joke using the stereotype on people of a particular race. Is he a racist then?
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 06:38 AM   #5
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Re: Racism?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LBV. View Post
In my view, there are different types of racism(s). You have the vestiges of caste oppression in India, for example.

However, I argue that because of the global preeminence of Euro-American cultural, economic, and political hegemony, "white racism" best characterizes the way that racist oppression is experienced in the West. White racism is a system of white supremacy that sustains cultural, political and economic domination of whites over all other races, and justifies the diverting of material and symbolic resources towards whites to preserve this inequality. Being a structural force in an of itself, it has little to do with individual prejudices and intentionality. It is a system of oppression that is more than just the aggregate of individual agency and decision making of "intentionally racist" white people, although those micro-level actions are important to how white racism is sustained.
This seems to be an academic, technical definition of racism. What are your thoughts about layman definitions? Many think that racism is just simply hate or dislike of certain racial groups. Or that racism is just the view that certain races are superior or inferior. Or that racism is when you essentialize certain characteristics to members of a particular racial group. Most laymen believe that any race can be racist. Thoughts?
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 06:44 AM   #6
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Re: Racism?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xepher View Post
How is intent not related to racism? Say, if a person makes a light hearted joke using the stereotype on people of a particular race. Is he a racist then?
Yes. You have to look at the power of discourse, and how our words create our social reality. The reason why racist jokes are funny is that they reinforce base prejudices and reflect power differentials. Proof of this is the fact that there are very few racist jokes applicable to white people, but a multitude for every other group of people on Earth.
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 07:12 AM   #7
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Re: Racism?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xepher View Post
How is intent not related to racism? Say, if a person makes a light hearted joke using the stereotype on people of a particular race. Is he a racist then?
Yes, I think so

I once made a couple of harmless(imo) jokes and Jujubean(LBV) caught it and got real mad.

I then stopped making jokes that I'm not sure of.
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 07:18 AM   #8
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Re: Racism?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LBV. View Post
Yes. You have to look at the power of discourse, and how our words create our social reality. The reason why racist jokes are funny is that they reinforce base prejudices and reflect power differentials. Proof of this is the fact that there are very few racist jokes applicable to white people, but a multitude for every other group of people on Earth.
How do you explain jokes about Jewish people? Jews as a group are overrepresented in government, academia, elite universities, among the world's billionaires, etc.
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 07:19 AM   #9
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Re: Racism?

LBV made very good points, and I don't have much to add.

Basically I think how you phrased your question belies a certain bias in what you think racism is, i.e. you have already placed it within very strict bounds. As LBV mentioned, racism is a system of oppression which has the effect of preserving advantages, specifically for the majority race, which in most contexts is the white race due to the recent history of colonialism. (In Japan, for instance, the "Caucasoid" Ainu race is the one that was systematically discriminated against) When you ask whether "intent" is necessary, it shows that you are interested in blaming individuals who practice deliberate racist actions.

However:
1) Racism is bigger than that.
2) There are different degrees of racism. The unintentional racist is probably "less racist" than the intentional one, if that helps you psychologically in thinking about the issue. Most of us are racists to some degree or another. I read about some research recently that showed that even children as young as 6 months old are able to identify people who are like them, and discriminate against those who are not like them, based on criteria as arbitrary as the kind of cereal they choose in the experiment. So a very visual species like human beings would certainly do the same for something like skin colour.

When I entered college, I was sent this book, "Why Are Alll The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" as an orientation reading. The author distinguishes between racism and racial prejudice, and between active racism and passive racism. She compares the system of oppression that is racism as a moving conveyor belt; and even if a white person (who is the beneficiary of this system) does nothing, he will still be moving along on the belt. Anyway, I think that's a good place to start if you want to think more about these issues.
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 07:28 AM   #10
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Re: Racism?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Novichok View Post
This seems to be an academic, technical definition of racism. What are your thoughts about layman definitions? Many think that racism is just simply hate or dislike of certain racial groups. Or that racism is just the view that certain races are superior or inferior. Or that racism is when you essentialize certain characteristics to members of a particular racial group. Most laymen believe that any race can be racist. Thoughts?
In layman's terms, racism is a system of oppressive strategies employed by white people to preserve their cultural, political, and economic supremacy. Is that still too technical?
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 07:30 AM   #11
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Re: Racism?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LBV. View Post
In layman's terms, racism is a system of oppressive strategies employed by white people to preserve their cultural, political, and economic supremacy. Is that still too technical?
No, I mean that the common sense view of racism isn't at all like the technical one you provide.
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 07:33 AM   #12
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Re: Racism?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Novichok View Post
How do you explain jokes about Jewish people? Jews as a group are overrepresented in government, academia, elite universities, among the world's billionaires, etc.
Is that actually true, or is that just another racist/Anti-Semitic discourse that has permeated into our common sensical understandings of how the world works?

And while Jews are now considered white, they have not always been considered white. They faced much racism, discimination and oppression (they were lynched as well, alongside Blacks sometimes), and had to claw their way to their current social positioning through much of the 18-19-20th centuries in the United States before they "arrived" in whiteness.
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 07:38 AM   #13
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Re: Racism?

Quote:
Originally Posted by moby View Post
LBV made very good points, and I don't have much to add.

Basically I think how you phrased your question belies a certain bias in what you think racism is, i.e. you have already placed it within very strict bounds. As LBV mentioned, racism is a system of oppression. When you ask whether "intent" is necessary, it shows that you are interested in blaming individuals who practice deliberate racist actions.

But:
1) Racism is bigger than that.
2) There are different degrees of racism. The unintentional racist is probably "less racist" than the intentional one, if that helps you psychologically in thinking about the issue. Most of us are racists to some degree or another. I read about some research recently that showed that even children as young as 6 months old are able to identify people who are like them, and discriminate against those who are not like them, based on criteria as arbitrary as the kind of cereal they choose in the experiment. So a very visual species like human beings would certainly do the same for something like skin colour.

When I entered college, I was sent this book, "Why Are Alll The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" as an orientation reading. The author distinguishes between racism and racial prejudice, and between active racism and passive racism. She compares the system of oppression that is racism as a moving conveyor belt; and even if a white person (who is the beneficiary of this system) does nothing, he will still be moving along on the belt.
When writing the OP, I wasn't thinking about racism as a system but racism by individuals.

Yes, I'm inclined to believe that a individual racist action must have intent (hatred of a racial group, belief in inferiority/superiority of that racial group, essentializing certain characteristics to certain racial groups).
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 07:39 AM   #14
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Re: Racism?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LBV. View Post
Is that actually true, or is that just another racist/Anti-Semitic discourse that has permeated into our common sensical understandings of how the world works?

And while Jews are now considered white, they have not always been considered white. They faced much racism, discimination and oppression (they were lynched as well, alongside Blacks sometimes), and had to claw their way to their current social positioning through much of the 18-19-20th centuries in the United States before they "arrived" in whiteness.
It's true.
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Old Nov 30th, 2012, 07:40 AM   #15
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Re: Racism?

Another point: what do you mean by "intent"?

Because I doubt most overtly racist people think of themselves as bad people or even deliberately racist. They are mostly misguided people with old-fashioned views of race that they picked up somewhere or other. So ultimately, ignorance is the root of racism (and here, I speak of racism as "racial prejudice), and intent, or the lack of, is the result of that ignorance.
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