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Old 01-10-2012, 06:24 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW Washington
Posts: 441
Default Re: LOL

Originally Posted by badhatharry View Post
I'm quite sure there are racist impulses and perhaps even racist policies, even though I think most of them have been expunged. What I despise is the using of the charge as a weapon. And I also despise that there are some people who want to keep the practice alive for their own unsavory purposes.
This is a great discussion IMO. I've been trying to get a grasp on it in terms of my own views and this part of your comment gave me a kick - if you don't mind me using it as a jump off point. I'm actually commenting on both threads I think.

I see "racism" as a fear or animosity toward some racially (or often ethnically) different group. (Although it can also be an emotional affection for one's own group at the expense of others.) In that regard it is firstly (and essentially) an emotional reaction - and therefore can cause behavior. By observing someone's behavior you can get clues as to their underlying emotions - be they racist or not.

But it's not so clear cut. Every situation in our life causes several emotions to appear and some of those will compete. Behavior always follow the predominant emotional signals at any moment. That means . .

Someone could have some racist emotions toward certain groups but they could have a stronger emotional fear of being seen as a racist. And so any noticeably "racist" behavior or statements would be suppressed in most cases. Likewise if they had a strong emotional commitment simply to treating others charitable unless they show themselves to have animosity toward you.

Racist "views" are not the same as racist emotions (that cause behavior). When someone says they are not racist they are stating a view. That (stating that view) is itself a behavior. In our culture such behavior is typically driven by the emotional desire to be seen as a "good person" - regardless of any underlying racist emotions. i.e. It may or may not be an accurate reflection of that person's underlying emotion reactions to various racial groups - which is a separate thing.

In a forum like this we can only state our "views" about our own or others' supposed racism. For that reason such discussions are really about what we want others to see and believe about our views - and what they want us to believe about their views on the topic. This has almost nothing to do with any actual racism (or lack of racism) on the part of those discussing it - which are emotional reactions that they may or may not suppress in any real-life instance - or in their forum comments.


Long story short - there is a belief being expressed in most of these comments that a persons' supposed "racism" is something that can be known by what they say about it to others. The only thing that can be known by such statements is what the person wishes others to believe about them in that regard - which can be a very different thing.


Finally, we are all racists. Our brains are designed to notice any patterns in our environment that could affect our survival. For a few million years now other humans have been one of the greatest threats to human lives generally. And so we are especially sensitive to recognizing other humans (in identifiable groups of any kind) as either possible allies or enemies. Whenever we notice any human in an identifiable category our brain automatically tries to put them in the friend or enemy group. Knowing if they are a potential friend or an enemy makes us feel more secure than if we don't.

For example, if we have noticed - even say on TV shows - that black guys in gangs are often depicted in situations as dangerous to white guys in their hood - then if you were a white guy and found yourself by accident walking alone along a street in a black hood - you would experience a "racist" emotional reaction. You would experience some level of fear and your body would prepare to make a fight or flight decision. And no amount of thinking or "views" that you held about racism would be able to overcome those emotions.

But that's just how our brains are designed. Even if we believe ourselves to be absolutely not-racist - "racist" emotions , such as noticing differences in racial groups and trying to categorize them, can appear in any of us under the right conditions. That doesn't mean we are "racists" as most are using the term here. It just means we're human.

I reserve racist to mean someone who acts in a way to hurt others in a different racial group - simply because of their race and with no reasonable (defensive) justification.
Self determination for DNA

Last edited by Ray in Seattle; 01-10-2012 at 06:40 PM..
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