General Question

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

Is it inherently racist to be worried about the continuation of one's own race?

Asked by JeSuisRickSpringfield (5323points) May 22nd, 2012

Whatever you might personally think about race—that is, regardless of whether you think it reflects real taxonomic differences between people, is merely a social construction, or something else—some people find it important. One contemporary argument against miscegenation is that, while there’s nothing wrong with other races, everyone has an interest in making sure that their own race survives.

Personally, I could care less about races surviving—whatever they are—so long as their rise or fall comes about naturally rather than as the result of genocide, oppression, or the like. What of those who do care, though? Does the fact that they care make them inherently racist, or are they quite within reason to be worried about the future of their race?

In answering the question, please try to set aside the fact that most of the people who give this argument do not actually believe that there is nothing wrong with other races. That may be true, but I am wondering what people think of the argument itself and what it reveals about those who give it.

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28 Answers

Fly's avatar

I think this is more often than not more about the survival of cultures that are associated with certain races as opposed to the survival of a race in itself, though there are some people that are concerned solely with the preservation of race.

Cetaris paribus, I don’t think that wanting to preserve one’s own race is inherently racist. It is only natural to cling to what you know. However, I do think that an active pursuit of preserving one’s race often goes hand-in-hand with racism, particularly when people believe that their race is superior to others. Of course, believing in racial superiority is not mutually exclusive to being proud of one’s race and wanting it to continue on.

wundayatta's avatar

The focus on race is beside the point. What matters to all of us is the survival of our own genes. Well, maybe not all of us. Some don’t care about having their own biological children. But mostly people do care about the survival of the genes in their extended family group.

Which is where race comes in. Mostly, people in one’s family look like oneself. So it is the people who look like you that you want to make sure survive to reproduce, even if you don’t personally pass on your genes. People who look like you, well, they look like you. They are your family. People who don’t look like you are other.

And basically, that’s what race is. A social construction. It’s how we recognize who is us and who is other. It’s instant recognition, and it’s built into us, I think, and it doesn’t work in the modern world where our definition of “us” is now a lot larger.

I don’t think people really worry about the continuation of their race. They worry about the continuation of their gene pool. The way we relate to people who look like us is how the idea of race comes into existence. The idea of people who look like us are our race gets institutionalized and then racism sets in.

Racism, however, is dysfunctional. People looking like us doesn’t work any more, either. So it will change. People are practical, and while it may take a century or two, that is just a blink of an eye in human time, and then racism will be forgotten.

Bill1939's avatar

In a sense everyone is born a racist. Our instinct guides us to identify with members of our family and their clan/community. New faces immediately arouse suspicion, and the greater the apparent difference between those we know and those we don not know the more one feels mistrust. As young children, before we have established a sense of us and them, most are inclined to trust people, animals and plants. We must learn which kinds can safely be approached and which should be avoided. The immediate family teaches through their actions what is to be accepted—sometimes broadly in some societies and sometimes narrowly. As one become more experienced, they can become more conscious of their biases and choose to become more accepting of diversity.

ETpro's avatar

@JeSuisRickSpringfield I am even further in the corner of not caring about race. Personally, I will be delighted when we intermarry to the point race becomes impossible to determine, because only then will some stupid people stop making a huge issue of how much melanin your skin produces compared to theirs.

DominicX's avatar

I don’t think it’s racist unless you believe in preserving a race because it’s superior to others. Racism usually has to involve some sort of superiority/inferiority relationship among races. I still am a little judgmental of people who want to “save white people” or whatever race it happens to be (I’ve heard from Korean friends that it’s common for Korean parents to really want their kids to marry another Korean) because it often seems to imply that there’s something inherently special about that race and that sort of hints at superiority (which would be racism).

Nonetheless, I have a similar outlook when it comes to languages. I staunchly believe in preserving languages. I believe that people should learn the language that will allow them to succeed where they are, but I don’t want to see English replace all the world’s languages (it’s not really likely to happen, but even when English encroaches into other languages it bothers me a bit).

AnnG's avatar

It’s funny that it is almost always the White race that doesn’t care about race. If other races want to preserve their race,it is all well and good. But let a white person want the same, all hell breaks loose. It’s okay to fight for the survival of tigers and titmouses but not the white part of the human race.
Through guilt or whatever, whites have been taught/ encouraged to hate their white skin and their culture.
I don’t care what people may say, I’m proud of being white and I will work to ensure we stay that way. I know you will laugh at this, but I consider that a measure of your self-hatred. The racists of other races are laughing at YOU.

DominicX's avatar

@AnnG There’s no such thing as “white culture”. Nor any “race culture” for that matter. Russians are white and their culture is pretty different from Spaniards, who are also white…

And that’s issue: do you care more about preserving a culture or preserving a skin color? I’ll never understand why people are so caught up on skin color, whether that means being racist (as in the past), being obsessed with preserving it, or having the ludicrous idea that skin color and culture are the same thing.

JLeslie's avatar

This is sort of a hard question for me to answer. I don’t care about preserving my race. As I get older I do care about Judiasm continuing, which isn’t about race, but somewhat to do with bloodlines, and also has to do with my people having been opressed. If everyone was equal and there was no antisemitism in the world, I think I would barely care about it. It is a reaction to the situations of society. So, I could see how minority groups might care about their race going forward into the future, because it is probably an innate desire for our genes to go forward, similar to what @wundayatta said. My identity is more wrapped in my Jewish culture than my race. I don’t think about being white, except when I have a severe sunburn. But, easy for me to say since I am white, part of the majority.

As much a I say I don’t care about race, I also hate to see some traits end. Like I would hate for red hair to disappear, or for blond hair, the recessive features that are more at risk. I am not a red head nor blond, so it is not a desire to preserve my own traits. Hate is too strong a word really. My skin is very white, my husband is darker than I am, I would have been very happy if our children would have had darker skin than mine. I find it attractive and more practical.

ETpro's avatar

@AnnG I am pretty sure that we humans are just one species. We fight for the survival of tigers because they are an endangered species. Numbering at 7 billion and growing, humans are not an endangered species. White is not a species.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Nullo's avatar

I suppose that, technically, it would be racist. But I don’t think that this kind of racism is necessarily bad, either. The problem comes in when you use race as an excuse for being evil.

Like @Fly said, it comes down to culture more than race.
I do not like the idea of a universal melting pot, to be honest (I am content with the handful of local melting pots, since that’s another culture). I feel that such a scenario would result in serious loss for all parties. Presently I’m watching for the decline of Italian civilization as their birthrate drops and the holes in their society are filled in with non-Italians. This will eventually result in the culture being so watered down as to be considered lost.

@ETpro Race is not interchangeable with species. A race is determined, broadly, by its members’ common features. Dachshunds and pit bulls are the same species, but different races.

LostInParadise's avatar

I don’t care about the continuation of my own race, but I do find it disturbing that we are in danger of losing our diversity. Languages are disappearing at the rate of about one every two weeks. Languages represent cultures. Imagine a world where we have solved the problems of global warming and energy depletion. We create a uniform patchwork of suburbs occupied by people of a uniform mix of races speaking a handful of surviving languages, extending all around the globe, making it difficult to determine if you are in the U.S. or France or India or Kenya. I find that really cringeworthy.

Blackberry's avatar

I think people worried about non whites now having more kids than whites and immigrating to America are only worried about America’s culture going away. They may not be racist, but they’re definitely dicks with a superiority complex.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackberry LOL.

Actually, I think a lot of those people don’t like the idea of the races mixing. I am not saying that is the same as racist.

Blackberry's avatar

@JLeslie :)

@Nullo But that’s another question: Why does Italy need to preserve their culture? If we’re doing anything at all on this planet, we’re progressing whether we want to or not. There were so many cultures in the past that are completely gone, and most of them weren’t very beneficial to things like equality, health, and quality of life.

It’s just my opinion that things can only usually go up from here, and stuff like national and racial identity is causing more problems than it needs to at the moment.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackberry Regarding your response to @Nullo, when I was younger I used believe things, everything, eventually ends. That there are natural arcs or cycles to businesses, cultures, civilizations, religions, and even our own individual lives. Now that I am older I find myself wanting to perserve these things. The italians have a tradition of food, passion for life, beautiful language, and their own way of celebrating holidays, etc. I would not want to see all of that lost. What I do think is as we progress we can adopt and assimilate a variety of traditions and social norms from each other. I look at it as taking on more culture, rather than losing my own. Like how I now make some of the foods my husband grew up with in Mexico, and he and I have sort of moved towards each other in personality over time, learned from each others different cultural and familial experiences. But, some people do see it as a loss of ones own culture I guess as new people and new traditions are added in; or, I guess as a threat to their own culture.

Nullo's avatar

@Blackberry To keep it from disappearing. For me, it’s sort of a DLC for my own heritage, a part of my identity. I am certain that I am not alone in this.
Like I said, I feel this way about most cultures.

stuff like national and racial identity is causing more problems than it needs to at the moment. The problem here isn’t having a cultural identity, it’s being a jerk about it. That’s a people problem, and it won’t go away by scrubbing out cultures. They’ll just focus on something else.

Blackberry's avatar

@Nullo @JLeslie Yeah, I see what you mean. : )

ETpro's avatar

@Nullo With 7 billion humans on Earth, you have no worry of being alone unless you seek out the solitude of the hermit. You are right that different dog breeds are all one species, and an analogy could be drawn between Dachshunds/Pittbulls and Whites/Blacks or Northern Italians/Sicilians. But dog breeds don’t declare war on one another. No dog breed has decided it is the Master Race and must purify the world by exterminating all “inferior” breeds not having the blood of the purest of its own breed. That humans are prone to such horrors all wrapped up in race and nationalism is why I want no part of preserving race or national heritage.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro I don’t think @Nullo is talking about being alone among 7 billion people. In my example it was about hoping the 14 million left in the world “like me” persist to exist through time. That we are not forgotten. Immortality is in our children, that is how we stay on earth. 14 million is nothing. We still have not returned to the numbers before the holocaust, and it has been many years. But, we start with a small number, so our culture and religion is in a more precarious situation than white people. I also don’t think Italian culture is in any jeopardy, because it is such a strong culture, and Italians feel a lot of pride associated with it.

What’s ironic to me is the Americans @blackberry mentioned who might be worried about the new statistics in America about the minority populations growing quicker than the white non-Hispanic population are some of the same white people I know who are clueless about their heritage, and only find a strong identity with being American. Around me it is being southern more specifically. The food they eat, their culture centers around southern tradition and food.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well, if you’re going to think about whether “your own race survives,“then, by definition, you think your race is different from any other. To me, that meas that your first caveat does matter whether people think there are real taxonomic differences because there aren’t and to perpetuate misinformation is problematic. Race does not exist other than to bolster racism so if you are worried about your own race and that means you think there are different races and we understand race doesn’t exist other than to support racism, then yes it’s inherently racist. But I feel like people who care for the continuation of their (usually white) race don’t care if others call them racist. I mean they might, for show, but they think they’re better.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

Nullo's avatar

@ETpro Dogs divide themselves differently than we do. They think on a pack level, and packs do compete amongst themselves. This is why dogs will be sweet as can be to you, but vicious to an intruder; it thinks of itself as part of your pack. And if my dog is any indicator, packs have politics. She recognizes Dad as the Alpha, but tries to compete with Mom for the No.2 slot; I’m on level with her, and my sister is the protected underling. Superiority complexes are off-limits only by virtue of their complexity.
The closest human analogy is the clan, or perhaps the nation-state. And these, left alone long enough, tend to settle on a pattern of common features, and hey presto, you’ve got a race/culture combo.

Now that I think about it, only a handful of outfits (the Nazis, the Klan, perhaps others that aren’t coming to mind) have, historically, had the extreme preoccupation with master race-hood I can think of plenty of conquesting or competing groups, but their motives were conquest or competition for resources. Plain ol’ self-centeredness, rather than an obsession with racial purity (I am lumping the Crusades in here too, since they were at their hearts about riches and glory and conquest rather than for anything really spiritual). IIRC, the “Master Race” thing was played up to hold the German people together, anyway, rather than being the natural tendency of the human heart. Anything can be used to justify an offensive war. Heck, this is a world where people riot over sporting events and favorite teams. If you seek to avoid all possible causes of human conflict, you’ll lead a bland life indeed.

Ron_C's avatar

I believe in evolution and if my race is being replaced by another, there’s nothing that I can or would change. I just hope my grandchildren meet a kind, faithful person of the other race.

Nimis's avatar

It’d be nice to date someone from a shared X background.
Technically racist.

I only date people from a shared X background.
Pragmatically racist.

ETpro's avatar

@Nullo It was your analogy, man—not mine. :-)

Let’s see, beyond the Nazis and the Klan, there are the current Skinheads and other White Supremacists, the New Black Panther Party, and Apartheid in South Africa. There was the brutal suppression of the indigenous people of the Americas and Austrailia. There are the Brahmans and the untouchables in India. There is the treatment of the Roma people (AKA Gypsies) and Jews all through Eastern Europe, Russia and its satellite states. And that’s just a survey of modern times

Nullo's avatar

@ETpro And you were the one who tried to break it. I was providing an example of the concept in a less emotionally-charged form. You tried to over-extend it.

I was particularly thinking of government policy. [Color] supremacists have the political clout of a wet rag; association with them is suicide.
IIRC the suppression of the indigenous Americans was justified with race, but was actually about conquest. I am unfamiliar with Australia in most regards; I assume a similar case.
The case of the Hindus is about social class, a related issue via discriminatory practice, but not -unless I am misinformed – motivated by phenotypical difference or phenotypical superiority.
Please remember that I am talking specifically about the notion that one race (yours, naturally ~) is superior to all of the rest, as demonstrated through government policy, particularly genocide.

ETpro's avatar

@Nullo Actually, the Brahmans are what became of the Aryan invaders of India. They are light skinned. Untouchables are dark. It’s all about race, as was South Africa.

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