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Why is race such a taboo subject?

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posted on May, 23 2006 @ 03:42 AM
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First of all, Jack of Blades, I'd like to say welcome to the thread and thank you for your contributory post. I think you raised a good question on whether society would be more understanding if it accepted its multi-culturalism.

However, I would like to think about what you said a little bit more because I am trying to work your comments about these issues into an essay that I am about to post related to my two experiences on two different threads that dealt with issues of diversity.

However, I welcome in the meantime anyone else who would like to reply to Jack of Blade's concerns in his post and address his inquiries about whether if we removed all racialized terms from people, then would we have a better society. It's an excellent question about how to adress race-relations.

Any other takers?


[edit on 23-5-2006 by ceci2006]




posted on May, 24 2006 @ 10:31 AM
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Originally posted by JackofBlades
The actual concept of being politically correct around other races is in fact racist in itself. It promotes the use of terms which may be offensive to people.


Hear, hear! I used to be fairly politically correct because I thought it was the 'respectful' and 'right' thing to do. But then I did some research and study and realized how it actually contributes to racism (and other social ills) and now I have come to loathe political correctness.

If you can listen to PODcasts, this thread is truly (in my opinion) one of the best we've had here on ATS. It's a long one, so you may want to listen to a couple at a time.

My Rights VS Your Rights: How Political Correctness is infringing on our rights

I can't recommend it enough!

[edit on 24-5-2006 by Benevolent Heretic]



posted on May, 25 2006 @ 03:02 AM
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This past week has been really enlightening for me. More than you know. I participated in two threads that ended up into verbal brawls. Some might laugh because that is the way things are run on the PTS board. Ideas are central. One poster thinks that their ideas are better than the other poster's. And there are those who exist that think their ideas are so superior that they make others suffer the pain needlessly in order to gain that knowledge.

Oh yes. I was on the end of that one. I learned a lesson in true humility when in came to language, words and verbal expressions. The first thread was "Should English Be The National Language?" I argued that the Inhofe Amendment was racist and silly. Because I proclaimed my feelings about the topic, it transformed into a free for all. At first, it was started with the most earnest intentions. And then, I tried to play "Devil's Advocate".

Let's just say it didn't work out--even when I explained my true intentions. I was told that I was "screaming about race" and that my entire premise was "idiotic" and "full of crap". Not anything different from what other posters might get from time to time. But this time, most posters including the "Pro American" ones didn't truly understand that ethnicity, culture and heritage is a factor with language. What was truly ironic was that the posters who supported the "Inhofe Amendment" felt that I was keeping immigrants down, not to mention that English was the "unifying language of the United States". I did point out that if we truly did speak American, we would have to adopt the language of the Native American nations.

They didn't like that. Instead, they took a colonialist view, saying that the English settlers were the first to touch the soil and they brought language to America. Au Contraire, I said. If they were to adopt the "colonialist" line of thinking then, they would have to learn how to speak English, German, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Gaelic. In fact, I had posted proof stating as such.

"But can't you see?!?" The other side shouted. "English is the common language of America. How does it have to do with wiping out multi-culturalism?"

So, I wrote an essay about how effectively passing the Inhofe Amendment would be practicing language discrimination. And with practicing such bias in language, people could be fired from their jobs for speaking another language. Or, signs would be removed (this has happened in towns). Or that governmental pamphlets and services would only be conducted in English, which would jeopardize services (if not voting) for new immigrants not well versed in the language. I had also mentioned that language is the essence of a culture. If you take away their words, you might as well take away their customs, laws and other social practices that would express themselves.

But the other side was not having it. It all broke down into chaos until insults were thrown and I ended up being called negatively in another language. Then. It was not funny. But now, I kind of think it was interesting and macabre in its outlook. For the pro side, they could not understand why English would not be the official language. Yet, when we were engaged in verbal warfare, everyone knew a different language and expressed it as such. And when trying to verify their experiences about America, it was funny that the "pro side" mentioned European cultures and their use of languages. That was all right.

But when it came down to Spanish. No way. They all have to speak English. That's what I find ridiculous in this entire thing. Were they saying that it was all right to express themselves in French, German or Italian, but it wasn't all right to express anything in Spanish? See the dichotomy? If not, don't feel bad. I think the pro-side didn't either. They kept on their mantra that "English is the common language of the United States" and proclaimed that they were not going to argue with me, "the idiot". And sadly, I laid down my sword and knelt my head. I decided I had enough.

But before the last straw was pullled, a similar war was being waged on the "Tony Snow Tar Baby Comment" thread. The arguments were similar in many ways. "Tar Baby" in my entire experience was not used in a positive light. But, I had the "pro Tony" side remind me that it was a "Southern idiom" from the Joel Chandler Harris "Uncle Remus" stories.

Okay. Just because a slave tolerant of planatation life tells a tale about a black tar doll that's supposed to make it fine and dandy? But the "Pro Tony" side thought so. They thought I was making much ado out of nothing. They thought I had "issues", that I harbored "resentment in my heart for Whites" and that it was "sheer lunacy" to think this way. I told them that I didn't hate White people. And I certainly did not have issues. But the pro-side was not having it. They thought I should wait until "real racism" came up.

I asked the "pro Tony" side to define racism. No one could. But they sure could struggle to the death over saving a word that is considered negative in the African-american culture. It always was. And it always has been. Even when Toni Morrison wrote about it in her book, Tar Baby. When I expressed myself about this, no one listened. The "pro Tony" side kept on saying that I "had to grow up" and that I was wasting my time on this "non-issue".

When I told the story of these two threads to my sister, she laughed. And then she asked, "Are you kidding?"

I told her, "No. They honestly think tar baby is a positive word".

She sighed. "Well, not in my book," she answered. "It never has been that way."

And not in mine, either. In fact, when questioning my friends of color in the "real world", they nearly had the same reaction. They could not believe the audacity of people trying to rehabilitate the word "tar baby". They were shocked.

Are you? What do you think?



[edit on 25-5-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on May, 25 2006 @ 03:13 AM
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After that long tale, I have several questions to ask you:

1)Can you actually define what "real racism" is?

(No, I'm not joking. I've been told to concentrate my efforts on REAL RACISM.)

2)Do you think JackofBlades approach to multi-culturalism is a good way (removing all race-related descriptions of people)? Or would you still like diversity?

3)Do you think language has to do with race?

4)Are some people woefully blind about race?

(Now, this is not a trick question. Or a question to offend anyone. There are just some people that do not see the issues related to race. They think that "racism" does not exist in present society. I have my answer to this one, but I would rather hear yours in the meantime.)


And like always, don't be afraid to bring up questions! You can ask whatever you want! The door is wide open.


Coming up: More about Katrina and Barbara Bush and More thoughts on Dr. Rice.

[edit on 25-5-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on May, 25 2006 @ 06:51 AM
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Originally posted by ceci2006
You can ask whatever you want! The door is wide open.


How do you feel about whites in general? White stereotypes? When you discuss whites among your own race.. in what context is it in? It was apparent from the bias that you did not consider them victims of racism when you started this thread.. have your opinions changed on this matter?

[edit on 25-5-2006 by riley]



posted on May, 25 2006 @ 03:03 PM
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Originally quoted by riley
How do you feel about whites in general?


Hey riley,

Despite the experiences I have had this week, I will give you my honest opinion. I have never hated White people. It doesn't mean that I haven't had negative experiences with them. But mainly, I treat people as people. I have had many positive experiences in my life with White people due to my familial friends as well as my own. I have been raised around White people due to my schooling, neighborhood life and my parents' occupations and life experiences. So, I have been able to see the good and the bad of the entire race. It comes down to mutual respect and kindness.

I find that even though I have experienced prejudice, I still have the hope that people can get along. However, I have begun to discover that sometimes, people have a difference of opinion--especially about race. But sometimes, people see what they want to see according to their views. So, when explaining issues from my point of view, I try to point out differences in opinion. But it is not always understood or taken as part of a debate. That is what I tried to point out in my post "A War of Words".

With people of color, race is contentious as well. There is in-fighting amongst us as well. However, it is not as much as a problem due to common experiences. But with White people, race is an issue that you have to tread lightly--especially if you are not of their race. Sometimes, it takes an intervention from someone of your own race to discuss issues prevalent to race-relations.



White stereotypes?


I'll have to get back to you on this one. I will have to think about it.



When you discuss whites among your own race.. in what context is it in?


Well, it depends on current events and social issues. There are usually stories that fall under the radar in mainstream culture that people of color notice. And although amongst my own race, we generally have an opinion about a particular story in its context. However, we talk about the racial implications of story and how it affects "the Community". More or less, we have two takes of the issue. And sometimes, the question comes up concerning how Whites would view the issue or how Caucasians would treat people of color in regards of the implications of the issue. And then, we discuss the said topic in comparision to other historical events related to Civil Rights--especially if it has to do with a certain person or a point in time.

However, it is important to note, that not all of us think alike about White people. These views and perceptions of race change by location, life experience and cultural surroundings.


It was apparent from the bias that you did not consider them victims of racism when you started this thread.. have your opinions changed on this matter?


I have to respectfully disagree with that perception. I did write at the beginning of the thread the victims of racism did not solely reside with one race. Racism happens to everyone, whether perceived or overt. I did know at the time that Whites have experienced racism as I do know now. However, I feel that no one should ever be put in a situation like that. I would not want you, or any other person to suffer the indignity that is afforded by prejudice. It not only is the humiliation that you feel, but also the anger and bitterness.

I have seen people torn up over what has happened to them. And it is not pretty.

Even in my most recent experiences, I get over the anger and the disappointment quickly. It is not healthy to harbor on the bad things in your life. And I don't. I take the insults and other injustices as par for the course. I try to seek redress if I can. Most times it works. Other times, it doesn't. But that doesn't stop me from living my life the way I want to.

Despite what happens to me, I will continue to be nice to people regardless. I will always continue to fight for their dignity, regardless of skin color. And I will always try to be fair despite the odds for or against me.

However, when discussing racism and sharing common experiences, it is good because people are being heard. There are some people who don't like to listen, however. But there is always a chance for someone who will understand, care and respond with kindness and support.

But, it is helpful to be honest when pointing out issues affecting race. That is why I welcome your words and respect your opinion. I am gratified that you came back here. It is better to ask it out in the open than try to repress your feelings.

I hope that helps.
Thanks again for your contribution. And ask more questions any time you want. Know that I will always welcome your opinion.



posted on May, 25 2006 @ 04:03 PM
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Do you not think that being labelled as "Coloured" is more degrading than being called by whatever heritage you actually are. For example, would you rather be called an Indian, or a Pakistani, CHinese, Black etc etc, or just be grouped with all non-whites in the coloured category.

The use of the word coloured merely serves to seperate whites and non-whites.
Any kind of official document that isn't specifically focussed on different ethnicities will mainly use two categories:

Whites
&
Coloured (non-whites)

My view wasn't actually to remove all racial lables, but to remove the 'Politically correct' ones.
Of course, the actual term for describing an ethnicity is subjective, which will lead to problems with being inoffensive.



posted on May, 25 2006 @ 04:27 PM
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What do you mean? Whether I would rather just be Black? Or would I rather just be a human being?

What do you mean by non-PC labels?



posted on May, 25 2006 @ 06:32 PM
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I mean the way we have to officially refer to any non-white as being coloured. Frankly, I find that term to be completely demeaning.
Black people are proud of their heritage and to be black (which they should be), and IMO to take away that pride by just labelling them as coloured renders them nothing more than a minority.



posted on May, 25 2006 @ 07:06 PM
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Well, the term "colored" has not been used in America for quite some time. Instead, the correct terminology for Americans of African descent has been either "Black" or "African-Americans" as far as I know. But older people (in their seventies and eighties, perhaps) remember and sometimes use the term "Negro". That term is still used sparingly, but not often.

I use either "Black" or "African-American" to label myself. And I am proud of my heritage. So yes, I do agree that such terms as "colored" need to disappear.

In fact, the term "colored" is rather demeaning--at least to me. It was used to distinguish such places as "water fountains", "bathrooms", "places in theaters" as well as other institutions in the United States by virtue of the "Separate But Equal" law passed in the United States. After 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was passed, these designations were disbanded. So the term "colored", for Americans is an antiquated figure of speech, a relic of the Jim Crow times.

(However, if you read my essay, "A War About Words" above, another antiquated, but racially derogatory term, "tar baby" is making a come-back, so never say never.
)

But I see what you mean. Are Blacks in the UK still called "coloured"? Is that why you ask?



[edit on 25-5-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on May, 26 2006 @ 12:05 PM
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No I was just curious. I think the way to beat racism is to become more liberal. Nowadays when we speak about people of a different ethnicity we tend to pussyfoot around and end up making things alot worse than they already are.
You often hear people say things like "And this Asian. Or should I say Indian? Or Sikh? Or are you Pakistani?" and the person you are reffering to will obviously end up feeling segregated.



posted on May, 26 2006 @ 01:04 PM
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Originally posted by ceci2006
So, I have been able to see the good and the bad of the entire race. It comes down to mutual respect and kindness.

I agree.
BTW. Whites are not really an 'entire race'.. otherwise you could say africans and Mouries [sp] are the same.

But with White people, race is an issue that you have to tread lightly--especially if you are not of their race. Sometimes, it takes an intervention from someone of your own race to discuss issues prevalent to race-relations.

Could you elaborate on this please? With africans [or any other race for that matter] it's an issue where people should tread lightly. I don't see any difference.



White stereotypes?


I'll have to get back to you on this one. I will have to think about it.

I'm surpised you haven't given I'm asking you the same question you asked before about blacks. This is what I mean about bias. You are willing to challenge people to be honest about how they feel about an entire race but avoid stepping up yourself.

Well, it depends on current events and social issues. There are usually stories that fall under the radar in mainstream culture that people of color notice.

Likewise with 'whites'.

And sometimes, the question comes up concerning how Whites would view the issue or how Caucasians would treat people of color in regards of the implications of the issue.

And what would do you base these assumptions on? To predict how one race would 'treat' another would require making a judgement on the charactor based on their colour. That is racism.

However, it is important to note, that not all of us think alike about White people. These views and perceptions of race change by location, life experience and cultural surroundings.

Likewise with whites.


It was apparent from the bias that you did not consider them victims of racism when you started this thread.. have your opinions changed on this matter?


I have to respectfully disagree with that perception. I did write at the beginning of the thread the victims of racism did not solely reside with one race. Racism happens to everyone, whether perceived or overt. I did know at the time that Whites have experienced racism as I do know now.

Even though you apologised.. you accused me to contributing to my own race attack before [[paraphrase] "something you may have said to provoke" are you going to be really honest now or do you want me to quote you?] you gave no explanation for the assumption so I still do not know whether you doubted my story, and therefore my charactor because of me or because of my colour. This wouldn't bother me but you have preached endlessly about race issues and NO-WHERE have I seen you doubt stories where blacks are the victims of racism. You can't preach against something and condone it at the same time. It's a shame that despite all your calls for honesty about how people REALLY feel about 'blacks' you couldn't do the same about whites. For example.. you were talking about NEW orleans and Katrina [and wanted to rehash it].. well there were whites who had there lives destroyed as well. Are their lives less valuable or relevent to these issues? What about South Africa? The tables quickly turned there.. did whites deserve it?

I'm sorry for sounding harsh but you keep steering the discussion to african-americans specifically, trying to trick people into being racist ex. "How do you really feel about blacks?" requires a generalisation and therefore a racist answer.. [many of your questions are posed in this manner] and re-hashing things that have already been discussed. If you want an honest discussion.. lead by example.

[edit on 26-5-2006 by riley]



posted on May, 26 2006 @ 04:10 PM
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riley,

That is good that you asked these questions. They are valid. I should lead by example. And I admit to you, I am not perfect. Nor, do I presume to be. So, you're right. I have a lot to learn about other cultures on this thread as well. I especially discovered that when I dealt with the "English as National Language" and "Tar Baby" thread. Even today, there are comments on the "Tar Baby" thread by people saying that my offense of the word is what they call "BS". So, this is all a struggle for me as well. And I apologize profusely if you got the opinion that I had demeaned your experiences in any way. Instead, take it as an opportunity to educate me about your attitudes too. And like I always said, I will listen and learn from you.

However, BH, seagull, jsobecky and donwhite are White people. They have brought their perspective about how they view their own race amongst other people too. So, we have equally dealt with the experiences of White people (in relation to other races). Even more, they asked questions of me, Saphronia (another Black woman) and Harlem Hottie.

Danigirl1974 is Native American. She brought her perspective early in the thread. And I hope she comes back.

Unfortunately, as of yet, no Latinos, Asians or people of Middle Eastern descent have come forward. And I crave to know their perceptions of race as well.

I see your side of the story. Yes, sometimes the discussion has been steered to African-americans. That's because I am Black. Harlem Hottie is Black. Our experiences as Black people are ingrained within our comments. She had mentioned the comment of what the Former First Lady Barbara Bush had said about Black survivors of Hurricane Katrina. We also discussed Dr. Rice and Gen. Powell, both Black figures high in the Bush administration. Here too, when I introduced those topics--the main question was geared toward other Blacks because in the "Community" we have deeply divided opinions about how to see these two dignitaries.

Hurricane Katrina was an "equal opportunity" disaster. Everyone got affected by this. It is true that White Americans have also suffered in the Hurricane Katrina crisis. And in the scheme of things, I am very sorry about all the people affected. I donated to the Red Cross because of this. They are also among the dead. They are also among the dislocated. But, when the images of American television came about, they solely focused on Black Americans and they used biased images and terms to describe them.

And even though a percentage of White people were located in Houston, Texas amongst Black people, the news here especially focused on the issue of race and its dichotomy of how the government treated people from different walks of life.

That's the short answer to your questions. I would like to take more time to answer them in full and address your concerns. And no, you aren't being harsh. You're being frank. And I value your frankness. Even when we had our first exchange, I listened and learned from your comments because they are important. So don't be scared to bring it up.

This thread is not to condemn any race. We are here to talk about the issues regarding the different races. So don't be afraid of being critical.

Btw, the reason why I declined to answer about White stereotypes because I could not think of any off the top of my head. There are many. But, I'm on a learning curve too. At the time, I didn't know how to articulate the stereotypes that I have known over the years. So, I am sorry if you felt I avoided the issue. Be rest assured. I will answer your questions in full.

Thank you for your comments, as usual. And be patient with me. I would like to ponder your inquiries and address them as always.


JackofBlades, you also bring up some interesting things to think about. I would also like to take the time to think about what you said.

So hang in there, guys. I will be back with detailed answers to your questions! In the meantime, I thank you both for your contributions.






[edit on 26-5-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on May, 26 2006 @ 04:22 PM
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ceci, please pick one.

When Tony Snow used the term "Tar Baby", was his meaning:

1. the doll smeared with tar, set to catch Brer Rabbit
2. a derogatory term for a black person
3. a "sticky problem"
4. it doesn't matter what he meant, the term should never be uttered by anyone



posted on May, 26 2006 @ 04:28 PM
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Number three. I know what he meant. I've read over the transcripts, Benevolent Heretic. And seagull is right. Even though I felt the term was offensive, I picked the wrong battle.

So, I extremely apologize here as well. I have failings. But honestly, I have never heard of tar baby used in a positive manner. But as Tony Snow probably recognizes that the word has negative connations now, I realize that others use this as an appropriate term to describe a "sticky situation".

But, my point of contention is that for people who use the term, there is a denial that the word has negative connotations. That's all.

So, yes, I did learn a lot this week. I humbly acknowledge my failings. Will you forgive me?



[edit on 26-5-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on May, 26 2006 @ 04:51 PM
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Heavens! What in the world is there to forgive you for? Nothing!

I just honestly wanted to know what you thought about that. I wanted to bring it down to the brass tacks.

To be honest, I don't have the strength or desire to read through the entirety of that other thread. The negativity (from all sides) makes me a bit ill. I hate it when good threads 'go south' like that. It's so sad.

So I just wanted to ask you "over here" away from all that. That's all.
Really.



posted on May, 26 2006 @ 07:45 PM
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we have a restaurant here in myrtle beach called "tar babys"
they have great pancakes and grits
just a southern folk tale
good to see Mr. Snow is well versed in southern culture
hahah



posted on May, 27 2006 @ 08:21 AM
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Originally posted by ceci2006
riley,

That is good that you asked these questions. They are valid. I should lead by example. And I admit to you, I am not perfect. Nor, do I presume to be. So, you're right. I have a lot to learn about other cultures on this thread as well.

Thankyou.. I respect your honesty .

owever, BH, seagull, jsobecky and donwhite are White people. They have brought their perspective about how they view their own race amongst other people too. So, we have equally dealt with the experiences of White people (in relation to other races).

I was extreamily disapointed with their initial reactions and their endless apologies for racism that they were never responsible for. As I remember.. someone even apologised and called themselves a racist for being 'too nice' to blacks.
People should apologise when they have wronged someone.. if it's just because they are white it is self depreciating. It seems however that the discussion has turned around and that political correctness is not always seen has fair to all races. Even the term 'race' is considered by some has a discription of anyone who isn't white. I'm not sure why but not too long ago someone said on another thread that whites don't have a 'colour' so are therefore not a race. Bizarre logic.

She had mentioned the comment of what the Former First Lady Barbara Bush had said about Black survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

Was that a comment where she inferred people were trying to make a profit from charities? I believe that was just directed at poor people.. not just black people. Correct me if I'm wrong [I can't remember the exact statement] but it was kind of the modern version of "Let them eat cake." IMO the woman holds only contempt for anyone born without a silver spoon in their mouths and has no idea how the real world works.. tragically it seems she's taught her sons the same ideas.

You're being frank. And I value your frankness. Even when we had our first exchange, I listened and learned from your comments because they are important. So don't be scared to bring it up.

I now have documented proof of someone saying they value my frankness! I will revise it often. I'm used to it being considered a personality flaw than a virtue so thankyou for the compliment.


[edit on 27-5-2006 by riley]



posted on May, 27 2006 @ 08:44 AM
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Originally posted by riley
As I remember.. someone even apologised and called themselves a racist for being 'too nice' to blacks.


Just to clarify this a little.

I think it depends on the meaning you attach to the word 'racist'. I was speaking as though the meaning is:

Treating someone differently than you treat everyone else soley because of their race. Taking note of a person's race and acting differently than you would based on race. Even if that 'acting' is is a good thing, which is the situation I was describing.

I wasn't self depricating, saying I treated other races badly... I was saying the fact that I based my action (whatever it was) on the race was a racist thing to do.

'racist' can mean just using race as the primary determinant of a trait. For example, Chinese people are smart. Black people are good dancers. Latinos are good lovers. These are all racist statements, even though they don't put anyone down.



posted on May, 27 2006 @ 09:12 AM
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Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
I think it depends on the meaning you attach to the word 'racist'. I was speaking as though the meaning is:

Treating someone differently than you treat everyone else soley because of their race. Taking note of a person's race and acting differently than you would based on race. Even if that 'acting' is is a good thing, which is the situation I was describing.

I think that is more 'bias'. Why should you feel guilty for being nice? If you are uncomfortable and so act differently.. at least you are making an attempt and not crossing the road to avoid a situation. Why should you feel more obligated to be nicer to one race more than another because of historical missdeeds? Do you feel that they expect you to be? The only really distructive racial issue I see there is cultural conditioning telling you that you should feel guilty. Thats kind of like blaming the new boy friend for the ex cheating. I'm not for a minute suggesting people not be nice.. I just think the whole 'white guilt' thing has been taken to the extreme.

'racist' can mean just using race as the primary determinant of a trait. For example, Chinese people are smart. Black people are good dancers. Latinos are good lovers. These are all racist statements, even though they don't put anyone down.

I don't think racial bias should be considered racism in it's traditional [negative] context. Ex. I think Antonio Banderas is pretty hot but just because he's a spanish cleshe archetype doesn't mean I should feel bad for liking him because he's an archetype.

[edit on 27-5-2006 by riley]



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