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talltim236's avatar

Why do people hate other people because of their race?

Asked by talltim236 (63points) January 11th, 2009

i mean why would you hate someone because of skin color. i could be purple and i would be the same person on the inside. Im not foolish enough to think we could all get along it would just be nice if we tried.

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29 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

Old stupidity, old animal-nature. Someday we’ll get past it, if we don’t all kill each other first.

queenzboulevard's avatar

In my experience people are just afraid of anything different than what they know.

squirbel's avatar

The reason people hate/dislike/are wary of different races is purely because they are unlike themselves. It’s xenophobia, in various degrees.

Of course, we here are all intelligent and realize that not everyone feels this way. Not everyone feels concerned with the next person’s skin color. In fact, you would be surprised to find that most people just don’t care.

When you think of it that way, it makes it simpler to disregard the opinions of those who do care about skin color. They are a close-minded, backwards minority and you should not allow their opinion to affect you.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

I think a lot of the blame also falls on stereotyping. Stereotyping others, particularly just based on their external appearance is wrong, for the most part, but playing into preconceived stereotypes about your own race, or what your race thinks or feels about another.

bristolbaby's avatar

it’s a learned behavior…children do not usually discriminate until they reach school age.

When 911 happened, and the government immediately blamed OBL, I knew there would be a backlash of hatred against Muslims. It is undeserved but not unpredictable.

Just listen to how John McCain still refers to the Vietnamese as “Gooks”. He should know better, but his excuse is “once a gook, always a gook”. It’s racist. It’s wrong. There isn’t much we can do about it except to point it out as racism if we dare.

bristolbaby's avatar

it’s not just race either. Gays are currently one of the most discriminated groups.

aprilsimnel's avatar

People tend to dislike and fear what they don’t understand.

Jack79's avatar

well obviously I don’t have any racist friends to ask, and yes, I also think it is stupid, especially since skin colour is the one characteristic that can change the easiest, just by staying in the sun too long.

I do believe however that it is not a question of colour exactly, even though it is easy to distinguish races based on colour. For example a black man painting his face white (or happening to have pale skin) would face the exact same racial problems.

The hatred itself stems from two misunderstandings, that racist groups perpetuate: one is that one race can be superior to another (every few decades backed up by various scientific studies) and the second that the “other” racial group can be dangerous to “us”, usually by “taking our jobs” and so on. It is no coincidence that most skinheads (in Europe at least) come from poor, uneducated backgrounds, with families that often consider themselves fighting over the same opportunities as their Turkish or Moroccan victims (regardless of the fact that your average Swedish teenager would never want to run a kebab shop).

Ok, I tried to keep it as uncontroversial as possible…

Terms to compare: xenophobia, chauvinism, patriotism, nationalism, gender/social etc discrimination, prejudice.

90s_kid's avatar

Um…I am not racist….It is one of my biggest pet peeves.

augustlan's avatar

I haven’t got a clue. Fear seems to be at the very root of it all. I sincerely hope that it’s something we outgrow sooner rather than later.

amanderveen's avatar

I believe that it stems from fear and ignorance. People can be afraid of what they don’t understand and feel threatened by anything that is different. Skin colour is just something easy to target. People with different customs are targetted very quickly as well, although it often seems to be their skin colour and/or style of dress that brings them to attention first. These “different” people typically aren’t doing anything to warrant the negative attention they get, but the racist individual will find things to blame them for, regardless, with emotion winning out over rational thought. So much for innocent until proven guilty.

Interestingly, I heard that genome studies have recently indicated that there is very little biological difference between “races”. Two particular Caucasians might be more biologically different than a particular Caucasian and Asian. Personally, I don’t like the term “race” to begin with since it has always struck me as rather arbitrary and meaningless. Then again, I was shocked at about age 14 to discover that the KKK still existed. Until then, I honestly believed that level of organized racism to be a thing of the past – I thought humankind had moved beyond that. Naive, but then again, maybe I can just count myself lucky that I lived somewhere where I could think that.

Sloane2024's avatar

I don’t know…. This very thing is trying to break apart my boyfriend of over a year and myself. He is an Indian (born in America) and I am a blond southern girl. His parents know about me, but not that we are in a relationship. Because of the secrecy and lies that haunt us daily, we’re beginning to feel the wear and tear of all the deceit. He’s risking everything to tell them about me, even though I told him I could never allow him to lose his freedom, education, and family for some girl. I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love him, but the racial discrimination his parents oh so brazenly manifest towards me will, if not altered, rip us apart forever….. and I’m scared to death of life without him.

augustlan's avatar

@Sloane2024 How old are the two of you now? How soon before he’s done with school? It seems to me that once he’s an adult, who he dates/marries should be his business, not theirs.

methymudkip's avatar

probably a tribal thing. it’s common for immigrants to stick together in their own communities and not really integrate outside that – that can lead to the actions of an individual being attributed to their race.

a friend once said to me that she doesn’t like black people “because they’re ugly”. puzzling really.

maybe anything you can hate a person for, you can hate a race for.

(i’d better point out that i’m not racist)

nocountry2's avatar

The stereotypes attached to race make it easy to separate “us” from “them”, and is thus a misappropriated outlet for feelings of fear and threat.

Sloane2024's avatar

@augustlan, We’re quite young, he 18 and myself a week shy 17, and it’s hard for others to understand how two people so young could possess so much love for the other given the stereotype of the average teenager, but we’re both extremely mature for our ages, and have been through a tremendous amount that has forced us to emotionally age prematurely. We are not a fling, and planned on being together all the way through undergrad, med school, and residency until we could get married. The problem now is, I’m not sure I can face being kept a secret for the next 14 years…. It makes it extremely hard to know that I, as an American, am considered a shame and black spot to the guy I love’s family.
Racial discrimination of any kind is irrational, unnecessary, and, sadly enough, socially acceptable in some cultures. It’s heartwrenching to be on the side of the fence where simply who you are will never be considered adequate, much less accepted.

stevenb's avatar

Fear, ignorance, and just plain stupidity.

Jack79's avatar

Sloane, having lived with an Indian once, I can say it is not a racial thing as much as a cultural. Indian society has different rules. The heart of your problem lies not in the colour of your skin, but the mere fact that he doesn’t really get to pick. It would be the same even if you were Indian but of a different caste. People traditionally find who they’ll marry through professional match-makers, and even when they do pick themselves, the family (and by this I mean even his second cousin’s mother-in-law) has a big say in one’s decision.

And all this is if you’re a boy, because girls simply don’t get asked.

So maybe be patient for now and see how it goes? Maybe his parents have mellowed down by living in America and will eventually come round.

Sloane2024's avatar

About 75% of my friends (most of whom are girls) are of Indian, Sri Lankan, or Bengali descent, and even they have more say in what they do than my boyfriend…. His parents are exceptionally strict, and according to my friends would be considered quite hard-nosed even if they lived in India. His family is the caste just below royalty, and, although my bf was born in America, despises being referred to as an “Indian”, and has tried to Americanize himself as much as possible, he still isn’t allowed to even date outside of his family. His parents are second cousins, for crying out loud. Some would say, “Wow. You’re an idiot for getting emotionally involved in a relationship that’s controlled with such a bigoted mindset,” but I didn’t know what I was getting in to…. now I’m too in love to imagine my life without him.

Was it the prejudice that ended your relationship?

Jack79's avatar

erm, sorry for the misunderstanding: the Indian in question was my landlady, we were not a couple. I rented one room in her 3-room-house in Coventry and we shared kitchen, toilet etc. But she did treat me like a little brother and we spent a lot of time talking about her culture and religion. She made me pretend I was her cousin when Indian relatives were over (because how could a single young woman explain that she had a single young man living under the same roof?). She was very traditional and highly respected in her community. At the same time she needed the rent money. Oh and there were strict rules (no smoking, no beef, no girls) which eventually led me to find a new place (after breaking all 3 first).

Jack79's avatar

As for my relationships I think almost all of my girlfriends have been of different nationalities. My mother was a little rude about my Lebanese girlfriend (you know, “all those Libyan terrorists…” sort of comments). Not that I cared. Other than that, my parents didn’t really bother about who I’d date, and in most cases it was also more or less ok from the girl’s side.

(there have of course been disagreements, but not based on race)

my ex-wife has also accused me of allowing our daughter to play with a black kid (who happens to be her best friend) and my racist mother once again made a comment along the lines of “there’s so many good white kids around she could play with”.

augustlan's avatar

Man people are fucked up.

@Sloane2024 Sooner or later your BF is going to have to stand up for his right to live his life. If they won’t pay for school, well then he’s in the same boat as tons of other people whose parents can’t pay for school. That’s what they make student loans for. There is no way in hell I’d agree to a secret relationship for that long a time. Good luck to you, girl!

Sloane2024's avatar

@Jack79: Your mom sounds a bit like his… When I look at people of any race contrasting to that of my own, I see them no different than I do when I look at myself. They are human beings with feelings. People need to realize this.

@augustian: I know. I’ve told him this numerous times, but he’s been raised to be so dependent on others to tell him what to do and when to do it, that it might be years before he realizes the importance of making his own decisions… And, what he can’t seem to acknowledge is that, I don’t know if I can wait that long… I’m young and in love, but not blind and stupid.

Thank you. :)

augustlan's avatar

I’m glad you have voiced your concerns to him. And that you’re not blind and stupid :)

Jack79's avatar

The funny thing is that she doesn’t really get it. She is not a racist per se, I mean she’s not in the KKK or anything. She’s always been nice to that boy, she’s never made him feel uncomfortable or anything, but she still doesn’t see why her granddaughter won’t have a white best friend instead.

My aunt once made a comment about her new house saying it was in a “nice neighbourhood, not where all those foreigners stay”. I am sure she wasn’t feeling nasty towards foreigners at the time, and she’d be more than proud to have a Saudi prince living next door. What she wanted to say was that it was an expensive neighbourhood. But imagine how a foreigner would feel hearing her.

Sometimes I think it is these people (rather than the outright racists) that are even harder to turn around, because they just don’t get it. My father who is politically conservative is the exact opposite in these issues. Go figure.

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Horus515's avatar

Some of these warm and cuddly answers stating that its old stupidity or animal nature or a learned behavior is a shortcut to thinking. Sure racism can be blamed partly on “stupidity” but for the most part its not an issue of a difference in melanin or looks at all, but cultural differences. Tensions rise between many groups of the same color because of differences in styles of living and the fear and aggression that rises from that. A more succinct answer to your question might be “fear”. But then the question must be asked, How often is the fear justified?

Jack79's avatar

Of course this is true Horus. But I think most people understand that “racism” refers to the way of thinking about other people, not necessarily along skin colour. And of course a white person who goes out in the sun and gets a tan (or paints their face) will not face discrimination as a result.

Fear is a key term here. I think there are different terms that are sometimes closely (or othertimes losely) related, and one or more of these can describe the situation better in each instance.

Xenophobia = fear of strangers, but used politically to mean fear of foreigners. Based on insinctive fear of the unknown. Compare this with the cinematic term “unheimlich”. This is the uncomfortable feeling when you’re English, walking down Oxford Street in London and everybody’s speaking Arabic.

Discrimination = unfair treatment based on (among other characteristics) skin colour. This is in reality the central issue, and the one that affects most people. I’d rather be called a ”!!@#$# $%#$^” and be given a job than be called “nice coloured person” and stay unemployed. This is often subtle and non-violent, but affects the everyday lives of millions around the world (racial discrimination is only one form of many).

racism/chauvinism = I’m putting them together because they’re based on the same logic, that people are born a certain way and that certain races/nations/genders etc are superior to others. White supremacy groups follow that line of thinking. It often leads to violence.

Prejudice = this is a milder form of discrimination, but can often spiral out of control. And even though we hate to admit it, we all have our prejudices. When people hear I’m divorced, they automatically assume my ex wife has custody, since women are supposedly so much better at raising children than men. They also assume I can’t cook, can’t change nappies and can’t make milk. They also assume that any black guy in a courtroom is the accused, or that the Albanian woman at the hotel must be the cleaner (I have an Albanian friend who got that a lot when she was on holidays). It is the reason my dad didn’t want his daughter to marry a farmer, despite the fact that he turned out to be quite an intelligent person and a very loving husband and father.

But even if we do grow up with these social assumptions (and they often do have a rationale behind them), it is important to be brave enough to question our own beliefs and perhaps adjust them where necessary.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Human beings are categorizing animals. This is a survival characteristic. It would be extremely hazardous to your health if everytime you saw a new animal, you had to stop and think, “Now is this animal capable of harming me?” By categorizing, we can instantly conclude, “Forward-facing eyes, long teeth = Predator!” Where the problem comes in is when we do this with our own species, where we tend to categorize people we don’t know based on their appearance. Since people with different-colored skin are easily identified, we tend to place them in inappropriate categories based on skin color.

The situation is further aggravated by the fact that some people with a very poor self-image and very low self-respect are tossed into the mix. One very human response to low self-resect is to find someone you can look down upon. Since people with different colored skin are an easily identified group, they often become the focus of those who need others to look down upon. The thinking ( if you want to dignify it as that ) goes: “I may not amount to much, but at least I ain’t a [ insert racial ephithet here ].”

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