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A question for Americans on the subject of racism

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posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 10:55 AM
Hello ATS.

I've been meaning to do this for a while now, because I simply gawk at some of the posts I read on here. Most of them are not even posted with malicious intent, which makes me gawk even more. This will not be sensationalist, there will be no pretty pictures or videos, this is just about me wanting some answers. This not an american bashing fest either, I'm mearly trying to get some facts straight. I am posting this in the global meltdown section, because I believe that what I have to say is connected indirectly to societal breakdown.

Anyhoo, so I checked out some online dictionaries, most of them american, and was equally baffled. I give you the definition of RACISM, according to the Free Dictionary by Farlex :

rac·ism (rszm)
1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.


Allow me a short digression here, to further my point.

Let us take, let's say, two RACES of the dog species. A Great Dane, and a Teckel, for example. It is fairly obvious that these two RACES have significant physical differences, of size, bone structure, color etc...

Let us now take a look at one single race of dog, the Retriever. The retriever race can be broken down into several types (note that I am NOT using the word RACE), namely the Golden Retriever, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the Flat coated Retriever, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever etc... These animals, while sporting some small differences in morphology or color, are fairely similar to look at.

Let us now take the human species. Is the human species composed of extremely different looking individuals, as different, for example, as the Bulldog, the Teckel and the Great Dane ? Obviously not. We do not have individuals who are ten times taller than others, with huge heads or tiny legs, naturally hulking torsoes, or extremly different facial structures.

Digression over.

Interestingly enough, when I looked up the historical definition of RACISM, I came up with something more along these lines :

"The belief that the human species is composed of different RACES."

Now pause for a moment here, and contemplate.

Because the definition I have just given also happens to be the modern europeen definition of racism.

Now I would like to point out, to further my doggy example, that modern science has PROVEN that there are NO HUMAN RACES. In fact, a quick visit to wikipedia will confirm this. Taxonomically we are all classified as the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens.

Now, my question here is the following.

Although many of you are not racist by your definition, you do come across as racist in mine. Because you are constantly on about the white race this, the black race that, the hispanic race so on etc... etc.. So do you actually believe that there are racial differences between you and say, an african, or do you guys actually realize that there are no human races, technically speaking, and "race" is actually just a sort of mechanical word that most of you use to describe people who are different from you ?

It's really puzzling me, and it's really kind of misleading to someone from a different culture. I mean I'll find myself agreeing with someone on one thread, and then sometimes on another they will come out with something that will really throw me, and I'll be like "whoa, this guy is actually a racist ?"

Anyhow. Enlighten me.

[edit on 26-3-2010 by Ismail]

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 11:24 AM
In reality words are defined by use and function and not by dictionaries. They didn't invent the dictionary before the language. The people who write the dictionary look at how the word is used and what people use it to mean, and then they try to define it appropriately. Race has a particular meaning in biological sciences which is technical and fairly well defined. It has a different meaning in common American parlance.

When most Americans say "race" - outside of biological science circles - they mean something more like ethnicity. The intended meaning is clear to the population that uses the word, and the fact that the common meaning is incongruent with the technical scientific definition is a trivial matter. The word simply has two meanings; the common meaning and the meaning in biological sciences.

When people talk about "races" of humans, the crux of the matter is certainly not that they are mistaken about the technical scientific definition of "race." They know what they mean by the word, and for the most part so does their audience. The word is functional and refers to a genuine phenomenon. I suppose that phenomenon is most similar to ethnicity, but "race" as it is used in America is as good a word as any to refer to this concept. American english is not as strictly formalized as many other languages, the general rule is that correct usage of a word is characterized by how well you can use that word to communicate whatever meaning you intend to communicate. If it works use it; "race" as we use it in America works to convey what we mean, so it's okay to use the term despite its inappropriateness in the technical sense.

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 11:29 AM
I think race is just a word used to differentiate the various characteristics on display between different groupings...there are whites, there are blacks, there are asians, native americans...etc.

To me, "racism" is exploiting those physical differences to promote one group above or below the other.

For instance, you have two is white, the other black...both have red trunks, both have last name Jones... how do you tell them apart..? Is it racism?

Racism would be to say one will defeat the other because of skin color.

You can go as deep as you want, but differentiating races is not the same as racism to me. One is a means to describe a group physically, the other is hateful, hurtful, and just plain iggnorant.

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 11:48 AM
reply to post by Ismail

The word "race",when used in this context, to me , is a mechanical word. Most people use the words race and racism for the lack of a better term. We are the "human" race. Whites, Blacks, Samoans, Japanese, etc.... are not different races of people in my opinion, they are different cultures.

I was about to blame this current generation for this misunderstanding because of their habit of not only making up new words, but re-defining old words to suit their needs.But then it dawned on me that I don't think people ever really understood the difference between race and culture, and people throughout history have been changing and upgrading language.

Have you noticed that people who live in close proximity to the equater have darker skin than the people who live in, for example, the Nordic countries?. Their skin acclimated to the fact that it was constantly being bombarded by the sun by giving it more pigments [ a coloring matter in an amimals skin tissue]. The more color the skin has, the more it protects itself from the suns' radiation. It's one of the many self-defence mechanisms the human body has.

Now, the people who don't understand this simple fact of life are the one's who use the words race and racism in the wrong context. If you were to ask them what the word culture meant, they would be at a loss for words because they are attribting the meaning of the word culture to the word race. They are not necessarily [sp?] ignorant people, they are simply ignorant of the meaning of the words.

And then there are, of course, the people who don't care what the words mean and they will hate and seperate people because that's what they do. Hate and seperate.

There is a thread somewhere in these ATS halls called "Words, do they matter". If you like my explanation here, check out that thread. It will give you even more insight.


posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 11:51 AM
It is impossible, at least here in the states, to not be a racist. Do I walk around and call black people 'n-word's, and asians chinks? Obviously not, i've been raised better than that. Society and the media have forced us to believe that a minority is inferior.

My favorite example of it was proposed by (I think) Christopher Hitchens:

"Although you may not consider yourself a racist, would you feel more comfortable waiting for a subway at 3 in the morning with a group of white people, or a group of black people?"

The answer to most people is obvious, whether you're a racist or not.

There are pockets of racists here in the states that would blow your mind. I live in rural western pennsylvania. 95% of the population here hunts, fishes, and drinks beer while watching nascar. I live in the epitome of what you would consider redneck country. This same population of people believe the confederacy will rise again, and flying the rebel flag is not an uncommon sight.

Believe me or not.

Here at college, we have people from all over. Some students who come from cities, other states/nations, or even the students from over by the east side of pennsylvania, are absolutely stunned by the level of racism present in our area.

Anyway, I hate for this to sound like a rant about pennsylvania, but thats what I guess it looks like.

But you are right, scientifically there is only one extant species of homo. I hate when people say, "don't call them black... call them african americans." To this I say HELL NO. Because there are plenty of african americans who are not black, they are white or arab. There are also blacks in australia that have natural blonde hair.

And at one point in time, not long ago, everyone was black.

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 11:54 AM
reply to post by OnceReturned

Thank you, OnceReturned. You have to understand that it is extremly weird for me to see the word "race" thrown around so much by americans, because where I live, the term is exclusive to extreme right wing groups, who are in their own words, racist, by both our definitions.

I do however wonder... could the liberal use of the "race" word create or promote the acceptance of real racism in places where people just don't receive enough scientific education ?

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 11:59 AM
reply to post by Taupin Desciple

Yes very interesting. I will check out your thread. I do get the feeling that in america, people equate "race" to culture, and sometimes mix the two up. This is really strange for me. But as I just said, it's interesting. Thanks for your input.

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 12:07 PM

Originally posted by Ismail
reply to post by OnceReturned

I do however wonder... could the liberal use of the "race" word create or promote the acceptance of real racism in places where people just don't receive enough scientific education ?

Maybe. But, people will always find some word to refer to people who are of different ethnic backgrounds. When someone looks around and sees white people, black people, hispanic people, and whatever else, that person will find some way to talk about these different groups. The word "race" works for now. Often times when a word developes a negative connotation it is "rebranded," so to speak, and replaced with a different term that means essentially the same thing but loses some of the negative connotation. For example "black" people became "African American" and "anti-abortion" became "pro-life." It's certainly possible that race and racism will be exchanged for terms that don't have the same negative associations but which essentially refer to the same differences is in ethnic background or appearance.

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 12:08 PM
reply to post by Schmidt1989

Well I guess that somehow, that's what I was wondering. It's like, you have a generic word for something, "race", and it can mean "culture" or "ethnic origin" or "geographical origin" and even "race. It strikes me as confusing, and I wonder how confusing that is to americans themselves. I mean obviously not to you guys, but to people who have a poor level of education and general knowledge, I wonder if this whole mix-up thing actually creates or enhances feelings of "belonging" to a certain "race"?

Because that would really be a foot in the door towards true racism. I suppose that in that case, and rather paradoxically, really racist people would actually originate from the poorer environements, and poorer ethnic groups, like blacks or hispanics.

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 12:41 PM
reply to post by Ismail

I am an actual explicit proselytizing white racist.
To say that "we are all one human race" or - my favorite - "people are people" does not extend so far as to entail that you can't tell the difference between your brother and/or your cousin and/or me.
I like myself, I like my relatives, I like my sweet fond native culture...(and assuming you are of the other) I don't like you, I don't like your relatives, I don't like your culture.
I believe in self-interest, and extended selfishness for the benefit of the groups I belong to, and white people are one of my groups.
I think this all obvious to anyone who isn't pretending to be too high-minded. This is actually how the world works, how people feel in reality.

Do feel free to question me further...I am polite, and reasonably truthful.

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 01:50 PM
reply to post by nine-eyed-eel

Well no, this is not how everyone feels deep down, if that is truly what you believe, let me assure you that you have at least one exception and you are talking to him. I believe in something called cultural irrelevance, because in the great scale of things, it is. Perfectly irrelevant.

I have two questions for you.

One. I am considered "white". I believe the contrary to what you believe, in fact, I believe that people who think like you are dangerous, and are the enemies of my species (i.e. homo sapiens sapiens). Being white, irrelevant of what I believe, you still consider me one of your own ?

Second. If you were the last man on earth, and the last woman left was black, would you repopulate the earth with her, or let the human species die out ?

[edit on 26-3-2010 by Ismail]

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 02:15 PM

Originally posted by nine-eyed-eel
[I believe in self-interest, and extended selfishness for the benefit of the groups I belong to, and white people are one of my groups.
I think this all obvious to anyone who isn't pretending to be too high-minded. This is actually how the world works, how people feel in reality.

Groups can be defined however you want to though. Some ways make more sense than others. Skin color alone doesn't seem to be that good of a place to draw a line. You could be a member of the group of all people named Bob, does that make you want good things for black people named Bob? You are a member of the group ATS, yet you don't seem to give that the same importance as you give skin color. You could be a member of the group of people who are 20 years old, or who are above 6 feet tall, or who are republican, or who were in your graduating class in high school, or who are of the same faith as you, or who like football better than baseball, or who have PCs instead of Macs, or who are in your same tax bracket. . . .

Do you see? You are a part of infinitely many groups, and you can define groups however you want. You can always make up a new group of people that you are part of(ie. people who are above six feet tall and who were born on a tuesday and who like football and ....) the list is literally infinite. It makes sense to want good things for the groups that you think are important, but how do you decide which groups are important? Shouldn't you sort out a good way to prioritize your groups? What method for determining group importance leads you to believe that skin color alone - the group of white people - is very important?

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 02:19 PM
reply to post by Ismail

As to number one, truthfully, no one is ever 100 percent one of my own (again, this is true of everybody - everybody hates everybody, to some extent, if they are paying attention)...but all you are suffering from is incorrect philosophy, presumably (although you might have some genetic predisposition to incorrect philosophy...but I am an optimist, we can talk for a long time before I decide you're hardwired unsuitable), and even if I can't talk you out of your viewpoint, you can still produce white children...So, you are enough of my own to get along with for a are not yet thrown out of the boat, no sir...

As to number two, my selfish interests would be more served by bad offspring than no offspring, that hypothetical.

And I think you do a disservice to human reason by labelling any ideas "dangerous"...if any ultimate truth exists, then all incorrect ideas must serve to bring forth correct ideas through the Socratic process of discourse, right?

[edit on 26-3-2010 by nine-eyed-eel]

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 02:38 PM
reply to post by OnceReturned

It's not just skin color, though...but I run into a problem here because if I list or assert other typical genetic-based group differences on ATS I believe I will get thrown off of here for "hate speech" in violation of the T + C ... so I am just going to, sadly, evade further discussion with you on that one point, with apologies.

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 02:40 PM
reply to post by Schmidt1989

See.....a perfect example of "racism" right in your made sure to say n-word, but you typed chink out in full. There is a bias in this country when it applies to blacks that I can't quite comprehend.I' not calling you in particular a racist, just pointing out that whats acceptable for one race is not for another.

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 02:43 PM
Well I'm going to have to contradict you again. I hate your ideas, but I don't hate you. At all. Not one bit. I feel that your vision of humanity and people has been influenced by your own personal experience. I don't hate other people. I am not in denial here. I hate the environnement that produces them, but not the people as such.

Also, I was not truthfull when I said that I was white, so the chances of me having "pure white" children are limited. I am english, but fairely dark tanned, celt heritage from our Irish ancestors. For some strange reason people think that celts were white skinned and red haired. They confuse them with the germanic, norse and saxon invaders. Celts were tanned, and dark haired, such as those who still live in modern day-Gallicia.

I agree with your interpretation of Socrates, to a point. It all depends on how far you would be ready to go to defend your ideas. Also, it does hypothetically create a certain form of segregation in humanity, of which I do not understand the benefit. Especially genetically. You do understand that white skin color will eventually dissapear, and that in one thousand years, white supremacists will have to marry their mothers in order to preserve the "white race".

Funny thing is, my sister is very white skinned (we have the same father and mother in case you ask). This is a very strange question but I'll go ahead. Would you be attracted by her, with her brother being tanned and all ?

[edit on 26-3-2010 by Ismail]

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 03:19 PM
What I don't get is..

What this has to do with economics? I think you got the wrong forum mate.

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 03:30 PM
Hey RockPuck. Well, Global Meltdown also encompasses societal breakdown, I guess, and I suppose racism is part of that. I don't know. If theMods think this should get moved, may it be so.

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 04:26 PM
reply to post by nine-eyed-eel

Well, is "genetic-based differences" the correct term? I think "based" implies a causal relationship. Meaning that the genes that determine skin color also determine those other undesirable qualities. I don't think there's any evidence to support this claim, in fact, I'm sure that there is evidence to the contrary and that the mainstream scientific understanding is that such undesirable qualities are in reality not "genetic-based."

Although, a corrolation between the undesirable qualities and the skin-color related genes is undeniable. But, I think to figure out the cause you have to look at the cultural and socio-economic situation. I think that explains the undesirabe qualities(by which we really mean behaviors) far better than the genes which do nothing but instruct cells to produce certain protiens which color the skin or change the texture of the hair. And, I think in order to explain the cultural and socio-economic factors which influence the individual, you have to look at the history of the population in question. Notice anything that sticks out? Like that they were brought here as slaves, and were deeply segregated in a negative way until what? like 40 years ago? 30 years ago? Versus the history of cultural, social, and economic conquest and domination we find when we look at the europeans?

It's hard not to observe the disaster that is the majority of lower class urban america, and it's hard not to notice that most of those people are black. But, it would be a mistake to say things are that way because the people are black. A far better explanation - which is better because it makes more sense, and because there is no evidence for the alternative - can be found in the cultural and socio-economic environment of lower class urban america. We can draw a straight line from slavery and abusive segregation to the unsuccessful self-defeating culture we find today. And to the poverty. And, ultimately, to the qualities and behaviors which you abhor.

posted on Mar, 26 2010 @ 06:54 PM

Originally posted by adifferentbreed
reply to post by Schmidt1989

See.....a perfect example of "racism" right in your made sure to say n-word, but you typed chink out in full. There is a bias in this country when it applies to blacks that I can't quite comprehend.I' not calling you in particular a racist, just pointing out that whats acceptable for one race is not for another.

You should disregard that. I did type out the n word in full, but theres obviously a filter on it. I won't fool the filter to prove my point, but I want you to know that I did type the entire word out, and don't consider chink or wetback to be any more derogatory.

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