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How Not To Be A Racist

KazakaKazaka Registered User
edited October 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I don't really know how to preface this effectively. NOTE: I do not consider myself a racist. I do not hate, judge, or entertain preconceptions about anyone based on race (or gender or religion). I myself am 1/2 Cuban, 1/2 Cajun but I was, throughout my childhood, raised as white. I don't speak Spanish or otherwise identify strongly with my Cuban side.

However, I was browsing D&D like two days back and there was a whole thread discussing privilege. I started reading through it but found I could not stomach it and quit. No, the post weren't horrible or anything. I actually became physically sick contemplating race/gender privilege.

The week got worse. It was a one-two punch: guess what we're on in my Cultural Anthropology class? Yeah, race and racism. Awesome. Once again I got an upset stomach.

I don't know what to do. I'm experiencing a major crisis. If my whole culture has this white dominance "habitus" about it, am I somehow racist, even though I try extremely hard to behave in a post-racial manner? Furthermore, I feel like there's nothing I can do to change a whole culture's worth of attitudes of normatives - white, male, heterosexual, etc. And privilege. How do I forsake what I didn't even realize I was receiving? Do I receive privilege, or am I labeled Hispanic? I hate the idea of it, but I can do nothing to abolish it.

Plus there's an issue of perception of behaviors as white or non-white. I love rap. Is that some sort of cultural appropriation? Am I automatically a stupid white kid high-fiveing his bros to Li'l Wayne? What about the way I greet people. I greet everyone with an enthused " 'Sup dog?!" and a knuckle bump. When I do it to a black person, do they perceive it as racist? Should I instead say "Hello" and shake hands, or isn't that perpetuating a white public space, a white-as-normal one?

What the fuck?
(Also yes my stomach hurts even now.)

Kazaka on
... They ate, slept and worked. Some of them found uninteresting partners at work who they married and came home to. Sometimes they would half-heartededly thrust into each other and children were made. They lived a middle class existence until their deaths to heart disease and cancer.

Posts

  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Not to be too pithy, but if the thought having an ingrained privilege because of society's flaws makes you physically ill? You're probably not racist.

    If it makes you feel better, do some research, find an organization that promotes equality in a way you agree with, help any way you feel you can (NAACP is an example of such a group). Stand up for minorities, if you go back to D&D there's a variety of legislation stalled in the Senate in this vein that you could call your Senators/Representative about.

    Lose: to suffer defeat, to misplace (Ex: "I hope I don't lose the match." "Did you lose your phone again?")
    Loose: about to slip, to release (Ex: "That knot is loose." "Loose arrows.")
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    I don't know, act like a human being and don't judge someone based on their skin color. That's worked well for me. Most of what you read in D&D is all hypothetical bullshit. The motto "treat others how you'd like to be treated" is a good way to not be racist.

    As for the stereotypical behaviors, do what you want to do. If you prefer to knuckle bump, do it. You're your own person. Just because it's more common for (insert ethnic stereotype here) doesn't mean you're not allowed to do it or you're racist for doing it. Everything else is pretty much out of your control. Like workplaces, salaries, how crazy racist people see other people not of their race, etc.

  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Seriously, just acknowledging privilege exists puts you up on like, 90% of the population. The next step is just realizing that the privilege, through no fault of your own, brings around certain inequalities and that you should do your best to level the playing field whenever you have the chance.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Kazaka wrote: »
    If my whole culture has this white dominance "habitus" about it, am I somehow racist, even though I try extremely hard to behave in a post-racial manner?

    You cannot control ingrained racism (or sexism) therefore it does not directly reflect on your character.

    What reflects on your character are the actions you take and the words you speak. So if you endeavor to try to limit the effect of racism on your behavior, then you are doing what you can to be a good person in this way.

    Furthermore, understand that racism is a result of 'heuristics' - heuristics are ways that the human mind comes to quick judgments about people based on limited information. "I see a person in a wheelchair. That person probably can't walk" is an example of a heuristic. So is "I see a bunch of black guys in hoodies standing around a liquor store. They're probably about to rob it." Heuristics are convenient, quick, usually beneficial, sometimes nonbeneficial, sometimes correct, and often wrong. But we can't function without them, because we have to make most of our daily judgments in a limited timeframe based on limited information.

    So the important thing is that if you find yourself acting based on a heuristic, you should ask yourself, "is this heuristic valid? Are there possible factors that make your heuristic inaccurate? Are you willing to abandon that heuristic in the face of conflicting evidence? And are you using that heuristic only to the minimum extent of its usefulness?

    Entertaining heuristics past their shelf-life is what gets most people in trouble.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    to paraphrase Ben Folds:
    You're worried you might be a racist guy inside,
    but that you're worried, should tell you that's not right.

    The fact that you're having this kind of reaction is a pretty strong indicator of not racism. I think everyone else has pretty much said everything that needs to be said.

    steam_sig.png
  • GoodOmensGoodOmens Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    It's important to internalize this: the fact that you have a certain degree of privilege in your life does not make you a bad person, it's not something you need to feel guilty about. I was born a blond, blue-eyed, middle-class, hetero, basically healthy if you don't count hay fever and terrible eyesight, white dude. I'm Mr. Privilege. That doesn't make me a worse person than a disabled lesbian albino Eskimo, in the same way that it doesn't make me a better person.

    steam_sig.png
    IOS Game Center ID: Isotope-X
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    GoodOmens wrote: »
    It's important to internalize this: the fact that you have a certain degree of privilege in your life does not make you a bad person, it's not something you need to feel guilty about. I was born a blond, blue-eyed, middle-class, hetero, basically healthy if you don't count hay fever and terrible eyesight, white dude. I'm Mr. Privilege. That doesn't make me a worse person than a disabled lesbian albino Eskimo, in the same way that it doesn't make me a better person.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Yeah what Omens said.

  • KazakaKazaka Registered User
    edited October 2010
    Well, I'm certainly feeling a bit better now.

    I suppose it was kind of a reactionary freak out - my parents don't exactly share my stance so I've seen overt displays of racism as well as more subtle ones.

    I'll just try to do my thing, and acknowledge that society is what it is.

    ... They ate, slept and worked. Some of them found uninteresting partners at work who they married and came home to. Sometimes they would half-heartededly thrust into each other and children were made. They lived a middle class existence until their deaths to heart disease and cancer.
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    It was a different time kazaka. My grandmother, while one of the nicest people I've ever met, was probably the most racist person I've ever met too. That's no excuse but that's probably why you're observing it.

    Good for you for making the conscious decision to not be like that. That's all anyone can ask for. Also don't over-react to words. They're just words. If someone says or writes something that affects you negatively, walk away or stop reading it. Just my 2 cents.

  • BelketreBelketre Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    I find it somewhat sickening that the level of political correctness these days and the demand that white people feel bad and admit they have it easy has made somebody physically ill. It's something they have absolutely no control over.

    You don't need to feel bad.

  • CiSTM K0nFLiqTCiSTM K0nFLiqT Registered User
    edited October 2010
    My way of looking at racism is that everyone is just as bad as everyone else.

    If a person can think of any reason to hate to, for example, hate black people but love whites, its only because they aren't looking hard enough for things to hate about whites.

    When you get your head around this concept its hard to give a shit strongly one way or the other about any race or culture.

    I like your suit, love...
  • wogiwogi Registered User
    edited October 2010
    White privileged male here - don't worry about it. You're always going to be something to someone. There's no avoiding it. So, write those people off, and move on with your life.

    You could also always join the Americorps, you'd meet all kinds of people from all walks of life there, do some good for these communities, and you'd get to see first hand that you're really no different from anyone else. But that's a bit on the extreme end of solutions. I wouldn't recommend it unless its something you actually want to do.

    http://bit.ly/runshort
    -Current W.I.P.
  • DemerdarDemerdar Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Thinking way too much about this man. Do you have an irrational hate of mexicans, black people, white people, etc..?

    No?

    You aren't racist.

    The end.

    parabol
    nin_new2.gif
  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    My way of looking at racism is that everyone is just as bad as everyone else.

    If a person can think of any reason to hate to, for example, hate black people but love whites, its only because they aren't looking hard enough for things to hate about whites.

    When you get your head around this concept its hard to give a shit strongly one way or the other about any race or culture.

    Alternatively, you could not be a total misanthrope, and instead take Feral's excellent advice.

  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    There does seem to be this meme that privileged classes (read: white, male, both) are inherently racist and there is basically nothing you can do about it. I encountered this for the first time in a class with a title like "cultural anthropology" as well. They even gave us a laundry list of things that we might think make us not racist and explained that we were still racists. Maybe I don't fully understand the argument but it certainly seemed weird to me.

    For what it's worth, in the same class the TA asserted, straight-faced, that missiles were shaped like penises because they were made by men and not, for example, because of aerodynamics.

    Spoiler:
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    The problem is that lots of people hear a discussion about privilege and the thing they get out of it is "man those guys think everyone is racist."

    The idea isn't to not have biases, it's to identify them and account for them.

    edit: also, I think it's interesting that you seem to primarily be putting stock in the label "racist," as opposed to whether or not your behavior is actually objectionable.

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    remember pluto? Once a planet but now a pseudo
    funny how information changes the facts that you know
  • RadicalTurnipRadicalTurnip Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Check out the IAT, it says that I am Strongly prejudiced against black people. Does that make me a racist? No, it does not. Racism is about what you do, not implicit prejudices inside of you. These prejudices can be changed, however...if you're willing to work at them. The most common way I've heard is to "Think of Martin Luther King Jr." Most people with implicit associations for white people and against black people don't have the same association against Martin Luther King Jr. Try to do exercises like this to get rid of any implicit associations you may have...

    At least, this is what I'm trying to do.

  • UnderwhelmingUnderwhelming myMomIsTheJam July 13, 2013 Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Sentry wrote: »
    Seriously, just acknowledging privilege exists puts you up on like, 90% of the population. The next step is just realizing that the privilege, through no fault of your own, brings around certain inequalities and that you should do your best to level the playing field whenever you have the chance.

    I like and agree with this a lot.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    DrFrylock wrote: »
    There does seem to be this meme that privileged classes (read: white, male, both) are inherently racist and there is basically nothing you can do about it. I encountered this for the first time in a class with a title like "cultural anthropology" as well. They even gave us a laundry list of things that we might think make us not racist and explained that we were still racists. Maybe I don't fully understand the argument but it certainly seemed weird to me.

    For what it's worth, in the same class the TA asserted, straight-faced, that missiles were shaped like penises because they were made by men and not, for example, because of aerodynamics.

    Wow. I thought that was an urban legend.

  • CoinageCoinage The man from the other side Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    bowen wrote: »
    DrFrylock wrote: »
    For what it's worth, in the same class the TA asserted, straight-faced, that missiles were shaped like penises because they were made by men and not, for example, because of aerodynamics.
    Wow. I thought that was an urban legend.
    Because if someone said it on the internet it must be true! ;)

    Everybody has already said their things, but I am baffled by the idea of "cultural appropriation" for music being a terrible thing, even if crossover music is insipid. Do some people really think that because I am a suburban American I can't listen to rap or ethnic folk music or incorporate it into my shitty music if I want to?

    coinage.gif
  • RaneadosRaneados Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    listen to what you like, never apologize for it

    you like what you like

    everything else is just wanking

    Dubh wrote: »
    Rane is the future of ancient greek tradition
  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    bowen wrote: »
    DrFrylock wrote: »
    There does seem to be this meme that privileged classes (read: white, male, both) are inherently racist and there is basically nothing you can do about it. I encountered this for the first time in a class with a title like "cultural anthropology" as well. They even gave us a laundry list of things that we might think make us not racist and explained that we were still racists. Maybe I don't fully understand the argument but it certainly seemed weird to me.

    For what it's worth, in the same class the TA asserted, straight-faced, that missiles were shaped like penises because they were made by men and not, for example, because of aerodynamics.

    Wow. I thought that was an urban legend.

    So did I. Then I was there, sitting in a room, watching this happen firsthand. It was a little surrealistic. The school I went to did not have any sort of reputation as being one of these schools where such opinions are widely held, and it was not Port Chester University. I was taking mostly CS classes and did not spend a lot of time in the Social Sciences, so I don't know if this was an isolated incident or what.

    Some of the guys who didn't immediately realize that they were in a hopeless situation protested (I'm paraphrasing here, it's been about 10-15 years):

    "Wait, so you are actually saying that missiles are shaped the way they are because they were made by men in the image of their penises, and not because that shape is aerodynamic." "You think there aren't a million other shapes they could have used that are equally aerodynamic?" "Uh, no, I don't." "Well that goes to show what you've been taught."

    "So you're saying if women made missiles they'd be shaped like...vaginas?" "No, women would never make missiles. That's not how they solve problems."

    Additional fun in the same class: one of the professors wanted to compare dark-skinned people who lived in Africa and who had ancestors from Africa to dark-skinned people who lived in the Caribbean with ancestors that did not come from Africa, but the Caribbean. I suppose all our ancestors came from Africa if you go back far enough, but she wasn't talking about going that far back. She stated:

    "So there were two independent groups, the, uh, African African-Americans and the Caribbean African-Americans." The fact that the latter group had roots in neither Africa or America and had likely never been to either place did not present a problem of cognitive dissonance for her as it did for me.

    Spoiler:
  • NartwakNartwak Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    funny this story usually begins with Fwd: Fwd: Fwd:
    which I think would lend that air of credibilty your telling needs

    Spoiler:
  • Void SlayerVoid Slayer Very Suspicious Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Yeah, I was in a political science class where they were discussing how the pyramids might have been built, I brought up slave labor as a possibility rather then UFOs and got alot of sour looks.

    My basic advice from the OP is not to give debate and discourse alot of thought. People use extreme examples and hold radical positions there as a matter of course.

    Don't forget about the ideas and issues though, just keep thinking about them and what you can do. The key is not to stress too much over it and just try and live your life one day at a time being aware of these things.

    He's a superhumanly strong soccer-playing romance novelist possessed of the uncanny powers of an insect. She's a beautiful African-American doctor with her own daytime radio talk show. They fight crime!
  • CiSTM K0nFLiqTCiSTM K0nFLiqT Registered User
    edited October 2010
    Hachface wrote: »
    My way of looking at racism is that everyone is just as bad as everyone else.

    If a person can think of any reason to hate to, for example, hate black people but love whites, its only because they aren't looking hard enough for things to hate about whites.

    When you get your head around this concept its hard to give a shit strongly one way or the other about any race or culture.

    Alternatively, you could not be a total misanthrope, and instead take Feral's excellent advice.

    Yeah because time and again people in general prove themselves to be just so wonderful!


    That wasn't my point anyway.

    My point is that everyone is a little racist to some extent. Everyone has a preference for what they know to be normal, what they grow up with, you'll find the cultures of others to be strange and discomforting. This is pretty normal I think.

    Now on the other hand there's being a supremacist, and when you hit this stage is where you have a problem. My original advice addressed this problem. If you look hard enough for the flaws you'll see that no one culture is really any less shitty than another. I suppose I'm talking more about xenophobia here though.


    If the problem we're discussing here is actually straight up racism, i.e. hating someone just because they're black, white, brown, yellow or whatever and for no other reason. Then I'm stumped. I can't fathom that kinda stupidity.

    I like your suit, love...
  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    My point is that everyone is a little racist to some extent. Everyone has a preference for what they know to be normal, what they grow up with, you'll find the cultures of others to be strange and discomforting. This is pretty normal I think.

    This is pretty much Hachface's point, too - this is a pretty lousy way to look at things. I'd call it disingenuous at best, since it's one of the classic apologies for thinly veiled contempt, it was used very heavily at one point along with others like "I don't hate ALL black people" and "There's good ones and bad ones." Note I'm not saying this is what you're doing, or what most people who make the statement these days are doing, but it's a tainted argument from the outset.

    You're basically saying all people are people, that makes them racist. The reason he said to take Feral's example is this (this is not from Feral's post, but it's shorter and more to the point):
    The idea isn't to not have biases, it's to identify them and account for them.

    Having biases doesn't make you racist. It's literally the same thing as saying all scientists are crackpots because they have bias, but most of them are ok crackpots because they're careful not to let their bias influence their research.

  • PaperPrittPaperPritt Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    GoodOmens wrote: »
    It's important to internalize this: the fact that you have a certain degree of privilege in your life does not make you a bad person, it's not something you need to feel guilty about. I was born a blond, blue-eyed, middle-class, hetero, basically healthy if you don't count hay fever and terrible eyesight, white dude. I'm Mr. Privilege. That doesn't make me a worse person than a disabled lesbian albino Eskimo, in the same way that it doesn't make me a better person.

    Because i cannot say it better myself, and because it bears repeating and emphasizing again, and again, and again.

  • CiSTM K0nFLiqTCiSTM K0nFLiqT Registered User
    edited October 2010
    Hevach wrote: »
    ..."I don't hate ALL black people" and "There's good ones and bad ones." Note I'm not saying this is what you're doing...

    Actually that's exactly what I'm doing, but with every race and culture, my own included.

    I like your suit, love...
  • ceresceres Just your problem OooModerator mod
    edited October 2010
    Guys. Advice to the OP. Not debate with each other about your world views.

    I've got my own life and I've got my own plans
    I hope you understand, and like the way that I am
    Dear Satan...
  • CiSTM K0nFLiqTCiSTM K0nFLiqT Registered User
    edited October 2010
    In that case, my work here is done! Let me sum it up:

    Preferring what you were brought up with is human nature. Don't feel ashamed about the life you were born into.

    If you can't think of numerous reasons to hate all people, then you aren't looking hard enough.

    I like your suit, love...
  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    OP if abstract cognitive dissonance is making you physically ill you might want to pursue some sort of meditative or therapeutic course. Gut twisting anxiety over class material is probably a realer problem in your life than inadvertent use of invisible privilege.

    and lord don't take one of those iat things. they're terrible.

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