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pshizzle's avatar

What's the deal with racism?

Asked by pshizzle (1100 points ) August 26th, 2011

We all share the space, it’s everyone’s air. Color is color. The black people don’t like what the white people did to them, but they do it back. Stereotypes. I don’t get how people can be rude to someone of their species, and think it’s ok.

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35 Answers

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’ve often wondered that myself and I don’t know the answer.

josie's avatar

For the record, and so there is no misunderstanding, what ever any white person “did” to a black person, it wasn’t me who did it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@pshizzle I could never figure it out either. I have enough people that I know and dislike, why would I spend the energy on disliking someone before I got to know them?

marinelife's avatar

It is all based on fear.

Blackberry's avatar

@marinelife But what are they afraid of lol?

King_Pariah's avatar

Ignorance, arrogance, superficial hate, xenophobia, and for a few deep seated hate from a terrifying event experienced first hand while still a youth.

ucme's avatar

It’s an unfortunate by-product of an intolerant culture, you know…......morons!

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I think they don’t like themselves or their lives.

It helps them to have some external ‘other’ to blame their problems on, and if other people are prejudiced in the same way, two racists can validate each others twisted minds that they are at least better than some other group of people.

thorninmud's avatar

There are very compelling and ancient brain processes behind racism, processes that probably developed long before there were marked racial variations. Even in cultures where people are all of the same color, people will still zero in on other differences and build their tribal rivalries around those. Race just happens to be a convenient and ready-made fault line.

Take the decades-long bloody battle between the LA gangs the Crips and the Bloods. The members of both gangs are black, both from the same part of LA, same economic class…same everything. But the Crips are from these blocks over here, and the Bloods are from those blocks over there. For decades they’ve been hating and shooting each other based on nothing more substantial than what block they live on. They even recognize how ridiculous and arbitrary that is; they recognize that they could all drop their blues and reds tomorrow and just let live. But there’s always one more score to settle, so it goes on.

I’m pretty sure that we all have that same primitive piece of software running in our brains that’s always looking for the hostile other. On that level, we’re all tribalists. But we have other, more recent neural tools, too: reason and compassion. Reason alone isn’t enough to counter tribalism. In fact, tribalism typically co-opts reason, recruiting it to justify tribalism. Look at the “research” of Nazi scientists in support of antisemitism as a prime example of this.

Really, it’s only our powers of compassion—the ability to see others as ourselves—that can overcome our tribal instincts.

Hibernate's avatar

Racism appeared when someone decided he’s way better than the rest. And the first few forms of racism were back in the good old days when someone owned some lands and decided it’s okay to treat the ones who got nothing with no respect.
Later it became much more difficult to spot. Religion/beliefs/ideas etc were all subject of racism and will be.

marinelife's avatar

@Blackberry Anything different or unknown.

wundayatta's avatar

Oh, it’s been around forever. It comes from the idea that there is us and them, and they are out to harm us. They want to knock on our heads and steal our stuff and our women. This has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years.

It has, I believed been evolved into us. We need quick ways to identify who the “other” is, because it’s a matter of life and death. Who is with us and who is against us.

The easiest way to identify other is someone who doesn’t look like us. They also may not sound like us or use a different language or smell different or act different. When we see them act different they are heathens. Uneducated. Dangerous. They want what we have.

This is true for any alien person. All they need is to speak a different language or act differently, or not understand our culture, or look different from the way “we” look, and they are people to be wary of.

Color of skin and language and culture are a huge set of barriers to look beyond. “Otherism” turned out to be useful for milleniums. Now it is no longer useful. But our minds think it is because it is built into us not to trust the “other.” We have to educate ourselves to understand that the other is not our enemy. We need to be willing to understand their culture and their way of talking and to see their standards of beauty. Few people do this, so even in the most advanced of people, there is a latent otherism.

At best, most people, I would argue, tolerate the other. Very, very few are actually willing to make friends with the other. And at worst, people unashamedly hate the other.

That’s the deal with racism and that’s why it is so hard to root out. Since it’s built into us, we have to educate ourselves to think differently. That’s a tough process and so few people actually get any education about other peoples. People know that racism isn’t cool, or they have an inkling of it, but inside, I think, most people are still racist or otherist because they don’t even try to counteract the way their minds work.

Even highly educated people have and apparent tolerance that is often merely a veneer hiding latent fears and prejudices. I guess it’s good that people act as if they aren’t prejudiced, but it would be nice if people truly were not prejudiced. We can’t really afford it any more. We have to cooperate if we are going to survive the changes that we, as a species, are inflicting on this planet. Otherism makes it very hard to create that kind of cooperation.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Did I miss some period of history in which people of sub-Saharran African descent systematically enslaved Euro-Americans for economic gain for a few hundred years, enforce near-total cultural genocide, and then forced them into near-slavery for over a hundred years afterwards?

Blondesjon's avatar

Any more, I think our media and government perpetuate racism more than individuals do.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are intolerant assholes from every walk of life out there but in my experience, most folks get along just fine. The only time I hear about how rampant racism is in our culture it’s coming out of the mouth of one talking head or another and it’s usually during a slow news cycle or election time.

Believe it or not folks, most people are pretty decent. Most of us realize that we have to live together and we get up every day and go about doing just that. In the forty years I have been around, the intolerant assholes in real life have become fewer and farther between.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Brain washing of children. When you get them when they’re young they’ll believe anything you tell them. They’ll grow out of believing in Santa and the Easter bunny, but something as nebulous as hatred taught almost as a religion is going to stick, just like a religion that is taught to them when they’re young.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@incendiary_dan I’m just going to address your question blindly…I don’t know who you were referring to. All cultures have taken slaves throughout the eons. American Europeans weren’t the only race, or the first, to commit the atrocities you listed.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@Dutchess_III Actually, they were the first. Slavery existed, sure, but not in the systematic and racially motivated form that came out of the European invasion of the Americas, Sub-Saharran Africa, and parts of Asia. The slavery perpetrated by Euro-Americans was especially particular historically, and was far more severe in terms of human exploitation and oppression than most other forms of slavery.

What I was responding to specifically was the OP’s use of the sentence “The black people don’t like what the white people did to them, but they do it back.”.

Nor is it true that all cultures have taken slaves. Slavery is particular to civilizations/empires, which have existed only for 10–12,000 years. Humanity is far older, and our cultures go back that far.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think you hit the nail on the head in that the problem is within the brain-washing of children, specifically in a household. I’ve been witnessing this for years with my sister’s husband’s family. The BIL’s father is the most racist person I’ve ever met; the BIL isn’t much better. Many years ago when I was staying at sister’s house and put in their son’s bedroom, I found a crayoned picture of KKK members. The nephew was probably six.

In the big picture though, it seems that racism has died down a fair amount, at least in the US. Logic and activism have put laws in place, there are lessons focused on looking past color, and we’ve become more global. All of these have contributed to it being less of an issue. It is the vocal members that keep it alive.

It seems like the only way to combat it is to help people of one race make friends with another. A shared interest with a friend is more likely to break this chain than just words.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Actually, membership in hate groups has dramatically risen in the past few years. It’s not a dying trend.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@incendiary_dan Hmm, I’m not familiar with these groups, nor have I seen any statistics or posts saying that racism is on the rise. And please note, I did not say that racism was a dying trend. To clarify, it has just died down from what it was like when I was growing up in the US in the 60s and 70s. Clumps of people that join a group can be damaging, but not as much as the majority of society that views a person’s skin color as a need for segregation.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@incendiary_dan It only existed in the “systematic form” that it did in America because of the “New” technology of the time (transportation, guns, etc.) AND the huge population of the earth. If it could have been done before, it would have. And “genocide” has risen in this century because of the same technology.

And, yes, our cultures go back way further than 12,000 years, but only written records of the last 5,000 years exist. Prior to 5000 years ago, who knows? There weren’t enough people on the earth to be put into “slavery” in any large amount! I’m sure individuals were put into slavery, but there is no record of it.

Slavery is evil, but not a new invention.

@Pied_Pfeffer Well said….well said. Kids making friends will have more of an impact than brain washing, I think…hope. That’s what I’m seeing in the schools, anyway.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@Dutchess_III Umm, anthropologists know. :P

woodcutter's avatar

The“deal” with racism is that it often is fraught with double standardisms.

rooeytoo's avatar

It appears to me that a lot of racism is born from the fact that some ethnic groups receive special treatment paid for by everyone who pays taxes. What happened in the past is not good, but as @josie said, he didn’t do and neither did anyone else for a lot of generations. Opportunities abound, it is time to stop being a victim. As long as people say poor me and others say poor you, nothing changes and it is doing no favor to anyone.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@rooeytoo Exactly. I’ve said before, and this is just my opinion mind you, but I believe the main thing holding the “black community” back is the “black community” itself. I hear so much about “the black community needs to stand together” and “the black community is outraged” and so on… and it drives me batty! They’re doing themselves a disservice by continuing to seperate themselves from everyone else. As long as they keep playing the victim card and demanding special treatment because of it, and as long as they keep self-segregating, the racism will never die.

rooeytoo's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate – no one would tell a child they are dumb and won’t get anywhere in life, but so many play into the you are a victim and you need special care and help routine. I have seen it ruin lives on a daily basis. Add to that being paid sitting down money. It is a recipe for failure, basically government funded alcoholism and drug addiction. Here the only answer that I can see is education and it is available but kids must be forced to attend. The only way I have heard to do that is by withholding welfare payments to parents for non attendance. People then scream that will disadvantage more, but there is a simple cure, send you kid to school! The other is jobs and that is more difficult, there are not many real jobs in the middle of nowhere, so people have to be willing to move and that again increases the difficulty. But if it is a question of move or starve, I know what I would do.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@incendiary_dan What? All anthropologists can do is make educated guesses about the evidence they find. Things like slavery would have to be written down for us to know about it.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@Dutchess_III The first writing was actually invented to inventory slaves. And you’re right, anthropologists can only make guesses about some things in prehistory. But we can also say categorically that certain aspects of culture always go along with others, such as the link between civilization and slavery. Hunting and gathering simply cannot breed slavery, and even in horticultural cultures it is rare and the cases are basically always cases that prove the rule. I can tell you without a doubt that those cultures that came before civilizations emerged did not practice slavery.

And as I said above, this is a particular and systematically racial form of slavery that we’re talking about, one that was unprecedented in cruelty and economic exploitation.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, we certainly have detailed written documents about that time period. But just because we don’t have that kind of documentation on other societies, such as ancient Egypt or Japan or China doesn’t mean they treated their slaves any differently than the south treated theirs.

Further, again, the population of the earth was higher than at any other time in the history of the world. The technology was better. The ability, unlike any other time in history, to create an en mass slavery situation, and abuses were greatly multiplied accordingly.

My point is, I’m betting that the treatment of the slaves in the south during that time was no better and no worse than the treatment of slaves in any other time in history, in any other culture. The treatment of a slave depends on the individuals who own the slaves. Just the word “slave” conotates “no rights,” and you are at your master’s whim. If your master was a sick-o, life was hell. Not every southern slave owner was a murderous, psychotic abuser. They were no different than any other man.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@Dutchess_III No. Just no.

Edit: Sorry, that sounds a bit curt. But I’m not interested in discussing a topic if you’re going to argue based on historically incorrect facts, not actually address my points, and basically not take the time to fully read what I’ve typed. Read some history, particularly critical analyses of traditional history, and maybe we’ll talk.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If you want to get into “historical accuracy,” send me to the data you have that shows that it WAS different in the past.

Further, I didn’t suggest that anything I said was historically correct. I’m just saying it’s common sense. They were just men. Some men are good, some men bad, and some are down right evil. The south wasn’t made up of some kind of new human being. A slave is a slave a slave owner is a slave owner.

And just because we have miles and miles of written history on that time, doesn’t mean it was any different than in any other time.

rooeytoo's avatar

Let’s face it, since the beginning of time, women have been enslaved, abused, killed, mutilated, you name it but they have managed to overcome and are actually seeking education and equal pay these days. They still haven’t quite reached the point of equal pay, I believe that is called sexism, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping them from seeking it. They are not sitting around calling themselves victims and wallowing in the wrongs of the past, and present actually in a lot of corners of the world.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@rooeytoo Good point.

@incendiary_dan OK, I’ve been thinking. I’m thinking that your thoughts that Southern Slavery was different that any other time in history was because the entire economy of the south depended on slave labor. Well…they could have done it without slaves. They could have paid workers, but the rich wouldn’t have gotten filthy rich what with having to actually PAY someone to work.

Rome depended on slave labor, probably for the same reasons. So the rich could keep more of their money. Would the Roman economy have collapsed without slave labor? I don’t know. Did the southern economy collapse after slavery was outlawed? Probably, for at least one generation…but they have a viable economy now, as far as I know, but without just a small handful of privileged few getting rich from it.

The other thing that was probably different was the fact that slaves in the south (btw…should “south” be capitalized when it’s preceded by “the”?) slaves in the south were of a completely different race, and very, very easy to pinpoint, and, human nature being what it is, very easy to stereotype. Slaves in Rome were of the same race as their masters.

So yeah, that is different, but racism has existed as long as there have been different tribes. So has mindless cruelty to others based on their social status.

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