Friday, 14 November 2008

racism

I often struggle with this concept. I find myself feeling that on the one hand that its wrong, while on the other can see clearly there are differences in races and cultures making it obvious to me that things are not the same. I don't think I'm racist, but perhaps others may?

So do we deny the existence of the differences? I think that would be wrong and false.

I've recently re-found in my older readings list an interesting quote which I think sheds light onto this subject.

The author said that it is easy to define racism. Racism 'involves treating race as a distinguishing factor when it is irrelevant, or failing to take account of it when it is truly relevant.'

This sums it up nicely, and at the same time exposes the flaw (I'll get to that).

I see that discrimination is a human trait; when you are in the supermarket picking a product out do you grab randomly or do you have a favourite brand which you feel to be better? If you do, then your discriminating between the products. There is nothing wrong with this.

The change to the (perceived) negative comes when you pick based on what is irrelevant rather than the relevant. For example are you choosing the item because of the pretty package or due to known utility or quality?

Now its starting to submerge into murky water, as we've now introduced differing values. Who is to say that my values are more relevant than yours? Probably you don't think so.

I believe that this is what explains why some people in our society remain racist while others are not; the differing value judgment as to what is relevant and what it not.

Ultimately I don't think I'm going to solve this issue in 200 words or so, but perhaps I might get more people (including me) to think about "is this trait relevant to the issue"

:-)

1 comment:

Anthony B. Coates said...

It reminds me of the saying "one rule for the rich, one rule for the poor", which is actually a corruption of the far more powerful "one rule for rich and poor alike that stops them from eating dry bread and sleeping under bridges". The idea here is that many laws, in the past at least, were created by rich people so that those laws had no impact on rich people, but the impact on poor people could be devastating.
Similarly, at least one part of racism is to do with whether majorities, in setting up their laws, do so in a way that unnecessarily or inappropriately impacts the beliefs or lifestyles of minorities with a different cultural background. It's rarely an easy question, of course, as we all know.
Cheers, Tony.