Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Are you a racist?

Been thinking about being a racist. Not whether I should become one, but whether I am one. Part of the problem is that "racist" is a created category, like noir movies, and not a category that is inherent in existence. Thus, a racist is what the definers say it is. F'rinstance, there might not even be such a thing as race according to some thinkers. Humans are so closely linked genetically that suggesting some sort of division based on physical characteristics is specious. There is some merit to this. On the other hand, we are nearly identical to chimps genetically, but I wouldn't want my daughter to marry one. If the random hand of evolution has shaped some people with noses different from mine, and color different from mine, I am willing to accept that it has also shaped people with brains different from mine. Would that make me a racist? And that's the crunch. For although it is allowable to talk about genetic differences in color and dentition (because you can't ignore them), it is verboten to even breathe that there might be genetically determined differences in intellectual or spiritual makeup. This is an article of faith, not an empirically derived, data-driven stance. Any genetic difference in any intellectual capacity whatever (even a heightened ability in spatial consciousness) always carries with it the possibility that some people are (gasp) better than others. But what if it's true? What if some genetic groups are better at finding their way in the wilderness than others? What do we do if it's so? And does considering the possibility make me a racist?

5 comments:

bekkieann said...

I prefer the company of intelligent people. I think it makes me a snob. But I don't hate dumb people, so I think I'm not a racist (does racism imply hate?).

bekkieann said...

Oh dear, just thinking of (judging)some people as intelligent or dumb and, therefore, worthy or not of my attention, does sound prejudiced. I'm rethinking.

On both your houses said...

Are we not allowed any preferences? The one thing I didn't say about racism in my blog is that it's usually defined as thinking a person has a characteristic as a result of his/her race. The assumption is that the characteristic has somehow to be a negative. On the other hand, what if the characteristic is both demonstrable, not physical, and superior? What then?

bekkieann said...

I tried to think of an inherent, non-physical, demonstrable superior characteristic that isn't IQ (you've already addressed that issue earlier).

What about those considered "idiot savant" who have amazing memory, musical, and other talents, but not social skills. Their talents would certainly make them superior in one way, but would invite discimination from those who fear or don't understand the condition.

I still think it's prejudice and not racism as it's not really related to one's "race" per se.

So am I either racist or prejudice? I don't think so. I hope not.

On both your houses said...

If the characteristic is confined or largely confined to a member of a "race," then that characteristic is racist. Suppose, for instance, that we discover that Asians have an inhanced spatial awareness, an ability to always know where up is. This is not a physical characteristic, but would certainly help in situations such as diving (both in the air and in the water), acrobatics, and in situations where other inputs are weak or gone. This is a racial characteristic, but if I refer to it, am I racist? Some would think so.