Social Question

KatawaGrey's avatar

Where do you see "small" acts of racism?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21456points) August 5th, 2009

In this day and age, “large” acts of racism are considered horribly offensive and the people who commit them are condemned. But about the “small” acts? I was in Victoria’s Secret the other day and I bought a bra in a color labeled “nude.” Seeing as I am white, it certainly is the same color as my skin and I do appear nude when wearing it. However, there weren’t bras in varying shades of brown, which are also “nude” for other women who are not white.

I believe that one of the ways we can illuminate and eliminate racism is by recognizing the smallest things that are taken for granted but are actually racist. Another example: Bandaids. Unless they are brightly colored, they come in a light tan color, meant to blend in on someone’s skin. However, they do not blend in on a black or hispanic person’s skin. What other examples can you point out of “small” racism?

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99 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I see it daily, I live in Brooklyn, many races have to interact, many misconceptions and life is tough for many…I see it in the difference in quality of daycare and elementary schools…I see it in the way my neighbors look at me when I walk my kids around with my black friends or my Muslim “brown” best friend…I hear it in all the Russian stores and on the bus from the elderly we’re supposed to respect when they talk about these ‘black teenagers nowadays and these immigrants ruining our neighborhoods’ and I look straight into their old wrinkly faces and say ‘you’re a bigot and your opinions are no longer acceptable and it is you who is not welcome in my neighborhood’

Darwin's avatar

Selective birthday party invitations.

casheroo's avatar

@Darwin That truly sickens me. I don’t even want to believe that parents are teaching children to be that cruel. :( But, I know it’s a reality.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Crayola crayons came under scrutiny many years back because of the shade of their crayon color they called “flesh”. They later named that same color “peach”.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I want to know why I can’t buy bandages in more than one flesh tone.

dannyc's avatar

As soon as I hear the word “they” in a subtly, almost secretive derogatory fashion to describe a person..then my dannyc antennae start to discount the rest of the sentence.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

Whenever you refer to people you meet by their race.

Eg. I met this Indian dude the other day vs I met this dude the other day.

If race truly doesn’t matter in the context of that conversation, why should his race even be raised?

drdoombot's avatar

I forget where or when it happened, but I was at a party and walking around, popping in from group to group to listen to the conversations. One guy was telling a story and said the phrase, “He totally tried to Jew me!” I walked away from that group.

Is that considered a small act of racism or a big one?

KatawaGrey's avatar

@drdoombot: I put the word small in quotes because there is no such thing as a small act of racism. These examples are simply “acceptable” forms of racism. I’m not saying racism is acceptable, but people don’t notice what color the bandaids are or that they are using “jew” as a negative adjective.

DrBill's avatar

NAACP, Oval Office, Black (music) artist, etc. The native African people (by whatever name you like) are the biggest instigators I have seen, It appears as if they don’t want it to stop, if it did they would have nothing to rant about, so they make it a point to keep it going.

AstroChuck's avatar

Small acts? Everywhere. At work, at the mall. When I’m out with my bi-racial grandsons. Sadly, people you think you’ve known for years say things that expose how they really think. Many don’t even realize it themselves. But the people I really don’t like are the blatant racists who don’t even make an effort to change. Many of these people are the ones denying Obama’s American citizenship.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DrBill the ‘biggest’ really? i disagree.

Sarcasm's avatar

@Saturated_Brain Why designate gender? Why not say “I met somebody the other day”?

DrBill's avatar


I fully support your right to disagree.

Zendo's avatar

Reverse racism has made the white man the bottom rung of the ladder in terms of racial preferences…equal opportunity employment, scholarships, post office employment, civil service jobs…

illuminate and eliminate racism”...LOL…impossible, so long as we have different races…

peyton_farquhar's avatar

Generally speaking, people who preface racist statements with “I’m not racist but…” or some variation to that effect are kind of racist.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

why do these conversations always turn into ‘blarg, ‘reverse racism’ blarg, I, the white man, feel so (dis) un-empowered, blarg’...I know reality, I know systemic racism…it has not reversed

Sakimichi's avatar

Stereotyping people by which can be ironic or seriously insulting

Zendo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Because that’s what has happened. Awoman wouldn’t know anything about it. This is the white man’s burden. Perhaps he deserves it, but I never enslaved anyone, and I see this all the time, and have seen it ever since the 60’s.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Zendo you.have. GOT. to be kidding me. with that response.

eponymoushipster's avatar

i hate it when LPs are racist.

Zendo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You may have the corner on gender games, but you obviously know nothing of how reverse racism works in America.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Zendo Actually I have a pretty good background in race politics and intersections of oppressions and I’m still trying to get over the ‘woman doesn’t understand’ something comment..please forgive me while my brain cells whiz about helplessly trying to comprehend your ‘burden’

AstroChuck's avatar

Just what is reverse racism? Is there something white people are not getting? Reverse racism is like Mike Tyson saying, “It’s not fair, me always having to fight the heavy guys. From now on, I only want to fight lightweights.

AstroChuck's avatar

—Chris Rock

Btw, I agree with both @Simone_De_Beauvoir and Chris Rock.

Zendo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Sorry Simone…I don’t think your 22 years of life on earth really is commensurate with 50 years here. I have seen this race game go on since the 60s. I don’t mind being a white man on the bottom of the equal opportunity ladder, since I believe most of the others (black [African Americans], Indian [Native American] Mexican [Latino] and yes, women) have indeed gotten the short end of the stick for hundreds and thousands of years. So I am glad they are getting a chance to be on top of the fiscal ladder.

And look at how quickly you take offense and try to make my remark sexist. I didn’t say ‘woman doesn’t understand’ ... I said Simone doesn’t understand.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

what a doozy…..... I’m still trying to figure out if he’s honestly serious….........

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Zendo It’s 25 years of life, not that that matters – to me, age doesn’t equal wisdom or intelligence…hate to break it to you but you are not on the bottom of anything in our society…and actually you said ’ a woman doesn’t understand’ which shows yet again how little you know what you’re saying since I don’t identify with a gender…but don’t worry, another 50 years on this planet and you’ll manage to see that my gender non-conformity has emasculated all the men in America

Zendo's avatar

Age = Experience.

I said, ”You may have the corner on gender games, but you obviously know nothing of how reverse racism works in America.” Sorry, dear…it may have been directed at a woman {you}, but I never said it to women in general. So now you have misquoted me.

You will never be able to emasculate men in your wildest fantasy. We are animals hellbent on maintaining that essence that makes us men. You will only be emasculating weak morons who wanted to be emasculated in the first place.

reactor5's avatar

I have an (I hope) relevant observation.

If flesh colored band-aids were available in other colors, would people say they’re “separate but equal”? Would it matter?

Aethelwine's avatar

does anyone have a recipe for a sweet dipping sauce?

oops. wrong question.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@Zendo experience, perhaps, but age =/= intelligence or common sense. your responses are clearly evidence of that

eponymoushipster's avatar

how about everyone stop being so damn picky? be glad you have a band aid.
it’s people finding fault with this miniscule, unimportant stuff that keeps the wheels spinning. get over it.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

[Mod says] Flame off please.

mally03's avatar

I am biracil, I can’t help but get my nose out of joint when ever I come across the What is youe ethnic group? question. most times there is no box to check for those of us of mixed race.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Zendo you do know I was joking about the emasculating thing? wow if you take that seriously we need to take a break here for a bit. have a good night

eponymoushipster's avatar

what flaming was going on?

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

The examples you gave me don’t strike me in the least as racism. I’ve not once been offended that my brown skin didn’t match my flintstone band aid .

IMHO, people are so touchy these days about “the small things” that it makes me a little sick to my stomach.. oversensitivity FTL.

I have friends of all shades and we often joke around with each other using racial terms.. no one gets their butt hurt and we drive on.. everyone in the group knows that no one is honestly being racist..

All that said, of course I disagree with true acts of racism.. what does someone’s melanin have to do with the content of their character? Umm.. nothing.

How could one live their life worried about such negligible things as the color of a band aide? I pity those who sweat such small stuff.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I just looked in the cupboard. The waterproof bandaids are much darker than my skin. I’ve used them for years an never noticed.
Oh, and I’m getting tired of being told I can’t jump.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater GA Lurve! Where I work I have witnessed what I consider to be racial double standards to a certain extent. For example there is a fun day for kids but only if they are “of colour” ie not white. I find that strange. A child is a child and they should all be allowed to take part in the fun day and mix in together.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Leanne1986 to a certain extent, yet, it shouldn’t be this way but there is something to gain from certain groups such as kids of color or adults of color or women in women only spaces in order to understand what it is they do or don’t have in common…now when they’re children, I don’t see it as relevant as kids are color-blind but it depends on the ages

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I see what you are saying but I don’t think it si a good thing to seperate people (of any age) by colour. If kids are able to mix with other kids of all colours then it will become the norm for them as they grow up. By seperating children of colour and white children it teaches them that they are different and when people think that way, racism can happen.

As far as the fun day that I am talking about is concerned. I found it extremely difficult explaing to a young white boy and his mother that he couldn’t join because it was only for children of colour and his response to that was “when will they have a day for children like me then?”. He went away believing he was the “wrong colour” and that it was the norm to seperate people in this way. Not right at all in my opinion.

I say we should throw all kids in together and let them interact. Yes, there will be questions and comments that’s what kids do but that is not a bad thing (providing there is supervision). It helps them learn and hopefully by interacting with people of all colours (if possible) from a young age they will grow up believing that every colour is the “right colour” unlike the little boy above.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@Sarcasm Sure, you could. But then again, we do know that women and men are generally programmed to respond in certain ways, hence giving a legitimate reason for that separation.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I agree with @NaturalMineralWater people are too friggin sensitive about the little things. When I grew up, people used terms like ‘Jewed’ or ‘nigger rigged’ or ‘nigger fishing’ and a dozen other ethnic statements. As I became an adult, I found out those terms were offensive and stopped using them. There are plenty of racially oriented terms in American society. That don’t make them right, and I always try to look at things from a personal point of view. As in, how would I feel if someone called me that?

White rural types are often referred to as ‘crackers’, or ‘rednecks’ especially those from the Midwest and the South. No one complains.

I have Canadian friends, I call them Canooks and they do not think it is derogatory or insulting. Sure, there are always going to be people who use the term ‘nigger’ or ‘wetback’ or whatever in an insulting tone, I have no control over that. I can only control what terms I use and what I say to those around me. The only way to get rid of racism is to make everybody the exact same color. Humans are visual animals, we rely on our sight to define and find our way in the world. As long as there are different colors of skin, there is going to be ‘skin color’ judgements made. We can either be a bunch of oversensitive dipwads, or we can really accept others for their differences, and love them for them. A world of people all one color would be damn boring. Using the descriptor ‘black woman’ ‘asian woman’ or white dude’ is not in itself racially offensive, they are descriptors, quit being so goddamn sensitive!

And to focus on the little things is pointless and self-defeating. No matter how much you try to educate, there are always going to be certain individuals that just don’t get it. That’s life.

My problem is when people try to correct my behavior to the point that it makes me question whether or not I am doing something wrong. I asked a co-worker if he found the term Mexican offensive. He laughed and said of course not. Same with my Canadian friends, Canook is a term, not an insult among people that know each other, or are friendly towards each other. Canook is only as offensive as Yankee, which I am one.

And yes, there is a touch of reverse racism out there. It might not be epidemic, but take one look at Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton for evidence. They are always trying to place racism as the reason behind EVERYTHING that involves people of different colors. People will always have differing opinions, and to place race at the forefront of them all is racially motivated and antagonistic.

Here’s my favorite racial conundrum, If I think Joe Blow, a white guy, is an ass because he beats his wife, no one gripes. If I think Jimmy Joseph, a black guy, is an ass because he beats his wife, then I am a racist by default because I am white. This works in almost any context. If I don’t like my white neighbor for reason X, fine, I don’t like him. If I don’t like my Mexican neighbor for reason X, I am labeled a racist. They are both men, why is someone placing a difference on them? Oh yeah, because of race. Seems the liberals are just as racist as the rednecks, except backwards.

Works with music too. If I don’t like rap and hip hop, I am labeled a racist. this has already happened on Fluther once. So by default if I don’t like Swedish Death Metal, then I must hate all Swedes, too?

That’s is, in my opinion, friggin bullshit, and a double standard. And don’t think that is an out-of-the-norm ideal, because I’ve been accused of being a racist for disliking someone of color because of their actions, not because of what race they are.

Sorry for the novel length answer, but this is something I feel strongly about.

Darwin's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra“The only way to get rid of racism is to make everybody the exact same color.”

Those of us in mixed race families are trying to do that, but we haven’t gotten there yet. It’s hard to control the amount of pigment in offspring.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra Well that’s a very extreme solution you have there… Getting everyone to be the same colour…

According to your method, we’d be essentially really making literal the phrase ‘human race’. And to do that, we’d have to merge all cultures into one (culture is another factor of racism). Then we can say goodbye to multiculturalism and variations.

I’m not sure I’d want to pay the price for this peace (assuming we wouldn’t find something else to fight about)..

CMaz's avatar

In everything.

Once you apply betterment to something it can be interpreted as racists.

Removing wrinkles, New and Improved, final day of the sale, 2 for $2, your music it too loud, grass is not green enough, teeth are not white enough, you are not smart enough.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Saturated_Brain obviously you misinterpret my words. I didn’t say the solution was to make everyone the same color, since the practical aspects and logistics of such a thing is quite impossible; what I intended with that comment was to point out that humans are visually orientated. Perhaps you didn’t read the accompanying sentences after the highlighted one. =) And I stated if everyone was the exact same hue, skin wise, the world would be a boring place.

Case in point, I saw a lady the other day that had the most interesting hairstyle. She was black. Does that make me racist for pointing out her skin color? If it does to you, then you are one of those overly sensitive assholes that I have a problem with. Saying she is black isn’t a judgement call, it is simply an observation, and I had no idea what to call the hairstyle. I couldn’t ask her at the time because it would have seemed weird in that context to interrupt her socializing with her family to ask a stupid question. Saying she was black gives people a visual clue as to what hairstyle it might have been, due to the often physical differences between the hair of blacks and the hair of whites. We humans will never be colorblind because we are visually oriented.

I also stated that people should accept others for their differences, whether it be cultural, racial, preference of sexual partners or whatever. I don’t care for the hip hop and rap that I have heard, but I do like African rhythms, and also Latin American music, and mariachi music. My musical tastes are all over the map. I have a CD of Japanese drumming that I listen to quite often. How not liking rap suddenly makes me a racist is truly astounding and utterly fucking stupid.

My point is, and was in that other thread, that simply because I think rap music sucks, that doesn’t make me a racist because the majority of rappers are black or of Latino descent. I thought I explained that clearly enough, but there are obvious some people that take any criticism of non-white culture as a total moral condemnation of said culture. Which is fucking bullshit. I don’t like modern country music, but no one ever accuses me of being anti-white and a racist towards country twang music makers.

People are always going to find something to fight about, whether they be another race, another religion, another culture, or whether they live in the hills or on the coast. I’m just saying if you are going to apply a label to something, you better know what you are talking about and not just having a knee-jerk reaction.

mattbrowne's avatar

Metaphors in our language. There are black lists, but white lies.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@mattbrowne don’t forget Indian giver, and dumb as a Pollock.

mattbrowne's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – Our only chance is to invent new metaphors and spread wisdom from diverse sources. Black is beautiful and remember: Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Affirmative Action.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

in this thread (head explodes)

Strauss's avatar

Reminds me of something that happened to me about 15 years ago. My wife (a black lady) and I (white) had just received custody of her sister’s 7-year-old twins (bi-racial, a girl and a boy). I was talking with a neighbor child (also bi-racial) who asked me, “What color are you?”

rooeytoo's avatar

I think racists come in all colors. Is there more evidence of it in one color of human or another? That is a difficult question and I am not sure how to answer it. Perhaps how you answer depends on where you live.

Where I live it is everywhere and it definitely goes both ways. And when one group is given something based on race and another race is not given the same opportunity, the chasm grows deeper.

Do black people really want black bandaids? I must admit I never thought about that and don’t know what to call it. Is it really racism? The last bandaids I bought were clear, so that solves that problem. They stick better too!

Strauss's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra I’ve gone to the store to pick up hair products for my wife. They’re sometimes displayed under the listing “Ethnic Hair”

LuckyGuy's avatar

I see it when I look at annual reports and see the supposed candid shots of small groups of people working in the labs or office. There is always a female, an Asian, a white, a black, and Hispanic. (I don’t know the correct ratios so please do not be offended.) But if the workforce in that company is 30% female, 65% white 11% Asian, 14% Black and 10% Hispanic, the odds of that shot just randomly coming together is what? 100 to 1? 500 to 1? (I’m sure there is a Flutherite who knows how to figure it out – I don’t.) And yet that combo pops up all over the report. It a miracle. I guess by having that combination sprinkled around the report we are supposed to think the company is colorblind.

tinyfaery's avatar

Ugh. These threads make me sick.

Poor men. Poor white people. Ignorance to the plight of the truly oppressed just makes you look like a total ass, and it’s the reason I have internalized hatred about my white side. Give me the experience of the Latina anyday. I’d rather be associated with being less than then associated with ignorant bigotry.

tinyfaery's avatar

Oh, and to answer the question.

I rarely see white people pulled out of their cars for traffic violations.

The schools in the city are tragically dilapidated and lacking resources compared to the nice, white neighborhoods.

When some people find out I am not white they immediately treat me differently.

CMaz's avatar

I would treat you different not because of your color or race but due to your bad attitude.


tinyfaery's avatar

I’d never associate with someone with your attitude. Don’t flatter yourself.

CMaz's avatar

Exactly! Apparently your ignorance is bliss.

Sarcasm's avatar


Saturated_Brain's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra Ahh… I get what you mean now. In which case, I do agree with you.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i always wonder about ‘nude’ coloured things that only come in one colour. i suppose it’s a matter of tradition, but certainly one that you’d think would have changed by now…

i hate when people call a neighborhood with a majority of a different race than themselves a ‘bad neighborhood’.

Sarcasm's avatar

What if it is a bad neighborhood?

Darwin's avatar

Then it will be a bad neighborhood no matter what skin color the people living there have.

Palindrome's avatar

where? fox news. that’s where.

dalepetrie's avatar

It is everywhere, I could (as anyone who reads my posts knows) drone on for pages, listing example after example, but I won’t. I just think you need to see it in terms of that everyone basically distrusts everyone else, the more unlike you the other guy is, the less you can relate to him and the more likely you are to use artificial criteria to put that person in another category where you can convince yourself you can understand them. I’ve had discussions on here about how it seems like every white person I know, even if I don’t believe them to have a racist thought in their heads, if they start telling me a story about someone they met, if the person was white, they’ll say “I was talking to this guy,” but if he was black, they’ll almost invariably say “I was talking to this black guy.” Doesn’t matter if the guy’s race has nothing to do with the story, part of that is conditioned. But the younger generation doesn’t seem to do this as much as people of my generation. I don’t think people are going to have to be completely homogenized before racism is virtually a non-factor, but I don’t think it will ever go away, neither will sexism, ageism or any other other ‘ism’ you can use to describe why one group makes a distinction between themselves and another group.

Now, I want to say one thing about reverse racism, and I don’t want everyone to get all huffy and get into the hundreds of years of oppression and racial profiling and all the other horrible shit that non-whites have to go through…I’m not crying boo hoo for white guys like myself…we’ve had a good ride, but we’ve done it at the cost of oppressing others, and I have refused to play that game insofar as I can. Which means if something is outside my control, then I go with it, but anything I can control I do. I teach my son to not identify people by their race unless it has something to do with the story, and that being a different color is just like having a different color hair or eyes, just a feature, and yes, real world experience does some times conflict with that message. My son, almost 8, has commented that black kids pick on him more than white kids do…well I know that they don’t pick on him because black kids have something inherently within them to make them thugs (though I still know a few people even in today’s world who would automatically draw THAT conclusion). I’ve come to think it’s a combination of a couple things….one is that he goes to a very racially diverse school, and may actually encounter more black kids than white kids. Two, I’m sure it has to do with upbringing…basically the more educated and affluent the child’s parents, statistically speaking, the less likely they will be to suffer the kinds of self esteem issues that would cause the child to pick on someone who is different from himself, and statistically speaking, blacks in our society are still less affluent and educated than whites, this is on average. And hey, right now, the playing field for my son and his classmates is equal on the school grounds, but the playing field very well might NOT have been equal between my son’s parents and the parents of the black kids who might pick on him. So, I think a lot of what passes as minor racism these days is either directly or indirectly related to socio-economic legacy issues…if we work hard enough on equalizing our society, not though meaningless quota programs, but through genuine efforts to give all Americans a helping hand to raise themselves up into a strong and bustling middle class, regardless of how low on the rungs of society they may have started, in a couple more generations, it’s unlikely that most kids would develop an impression that other races pick on them more than their own.

Now, for those who cry that reverse racism is a BS issue, let me give you a story of something that happened to me and my son about 2–3 years ago. We were at a Chuck E. Cheese, and my son came to me, I think he was about 5, and he was crying that some kids had pushed him. So, as a parent, I wanted to find the kids and talk to the parents. Turns out there were 2 girls, both black, one maybe 7, the other maybe 10, and what had happened was, they were playing together and they were both picking on him a little bit (the older one moreso, and the younger one was acting out by example), and one of the two pushed him, but he didn’t see who did it exactly. When he went to where these girls were, a couple women, presumably the mothers of the two girls were there. So, I confronted them and asked if these were their kids, and I stated that one of them had pushed my son. They asked which one, and I asked him which one. Well, he really didn’t even see which one did it, he knew ONE of them had pushed him because they were the only ones who could have, and he got very upset right away and didn’t really have the tools an adult would have to ascertain exactly what had happened…being 5, he was equipped with one defense…come crying to your parents. When he couldn’t immediately say which one, one of the black women said, “uh huh, cuz I know we all look alike.” I was offended, appalled, angry, LIVID. I did NOTHING to indicate any racism, nor have I ever in my LIFE even entertained such a racist notion, and here she was, so unwilling to believe that her precious child could have done something wrong that she’s willing to call me a racist to my face because I’m white.

And you know what…that’s when I found that racism just begets more racism. When I was recounting this incident to my wife, I heard this come out of my mouth, “if she doesn’t want to be treated like a nigger, she shouldn’t fucking ACT like one.” What I meant was that if you actually play into a stereotype for your race (in this case, the stereotype in question is that blacks don’t take personal responsibility, particularly when it comes to raising their kids, and blame everyone else for their problems), you sort of lose your credibility when you accuse someone of being a racist, because they’re not reacting to the stereotype, but to your actual real world actions. And if she had acted like the other mother who was actually trying to be productive and listen to what the kids were saying and actually get to the bottom of it the way I was, the N word would have never crossed my mind much less my lips.

So, I think that illustrates a lot of what passes for these minor examples these days. No, we don’t have lynch mobs or whites only drinking fountains these days, but members of every race of people will hide behind the artificial construct of race should the actions of the person of another race fall within the stereotypes for that race. It’s not the kind of racism where people think their race is superior to other races, but it’s the kind that is built on an us vs. them distrust of others. And by no means do I think I have it all figured out, but I think most of what remains has a lot to do with the fact that certain stereotypes exist, and they came about because of observed behavior which should have been attributed to the individual, but when it was observed repeatedly among a particular group. other groups began to ascribe those characteristics to everyone in the group to which the offending parties belonged. And likely the individuals acted in these ways out of a combination of cultural mores, individual parental upbringing, and socio-economic status. But today when one group observes a member of another group acting in a way that fits within the stereotype associated with that group, it serves to reinforce the stereotype. But because people have such a hard time understanding that correlation does not mean causation, they get confused, and racism persists.

The “bad neighborhood” is a perfect example. Again, statistically whites are more affluent than blacks. The cause has a lot to do with the fact that blacks couldn’t own property until a couple generations ago, so whites do have about a 500 year head start in inheritance first of all, and second of all, since it was the whites who controlled everything up till 45 years ago in this country, there have been many obstacles to achieving socio-economic equality. So, there are more poor black people than poor white people. Statistically there is more crime among the less affluent and less educated. Again, the root cause is most likely economic….dealing drugs as a way to make money is a much more appealing idea if you live in an area with few career options and all your role models are broke. It’s also a fact that location is the most important part of real estate…you just don’t have a lot of neighborhoods where one neighbor is rich and the other is poor. So, blacks, being more likely to be poor, are more likely to live in poor neighborhoods, which because they are poorer neighborhoods will tend to be less safe. It’s not a bad neighborhood because of all the black people, it’s a bad neighborhood because of all the impoverished people. But some will never get that, and that is where racism will persist.

Darwin's avatar

@Jeruba - Bandaids that I gave my teens for Christmas.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Jeruba – I’m definitely ordering some pickle bandages, I hope they ship to Australia!!!

Dr_C's avatar

The simplest answer i can come up with is this… the fact that a person notices differences in retail products, attitudes, or any other form of stereotype large or small shows a tendency to veer toward racism in an involuntary way. The fact that one can recognize a reacist attitude or believes that any little thing that doesn’t take EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON EARTH is inherently racist is so caught up in that train of thought that they themselves still see people as black, white, brown, yellow, etc instead of just as PEOPLE.

The second we stop seeing people as their color or looking for acts of racism (large or small) is when we’ll stop taking everything so personally whether or not it affects us directly.

end rant.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Wow, I leave for a few days and the thread explodes.

First of all, I would like to address what some people have said about being picky about things like the color of bandages and the like. It is the small things that do matter. We may not always consciously associate lighter colored bandages and bras with a white normative society, but if it really didn’t matter, why isn’t there more choice? Why don’t bandages come in white (the color not the skin tone) or gasp clear? Not too long ago relatively speaking having separate drinking fountains was considered a small thing as well. Eliminating racism to the best of our ability doesn’t just mean dealing with the big things. It means dealing with everything. It takes time and a lot of effort. Who knows, maybe in 50 years, kids will wonder why so many little things were only designed for white people.

Another example of racism: Obama is a black president. Why? He has a white mother and was raised by white grandparents in a place with a higher white population that black population. I make this distinction because culturally, and we all know that there are different cultures even inside the borders of this country, he was raised “white.” Yet, because his father was black, he is black.

Jeruba's avatar

@KatawaGrey, if you read his autobiography, he identifies with black simply because of his skin color. He writes that no matter who raised him, his white mother and grandparents were never going to know what it was like for him out there on the street. We know about his family background because of who he’s become, but he didn’t wear a sign as he was growing up and coming through school. He was treated like a black kid. One particularly poignant passage is the one where he says something to this effect about a moment, I think when he was a senator, when he gets on an elevator, groomed and polished and confident, in his Brooks Brothers suit and his stylish watch, looking very much the successful young professional, and the woman on the elevator still hugs her purse tighter, and he knows that all she sees is a black man.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Jeruba: That right there illustrates even worse examples of racism. No matter how well he was raised, what kind of people raised him, how he acted, his job, his college, etc., he is defined by the most negative stereotype that accompanies his general skin color. Did he choose to identify solely as black because he feels strong ties to his African heritage or was the choice made for him by a society that doesn’t like men to act above the station to which they were born? Obviously I do not think skin color defines station in life nor do I really believe that there should be any kind of station or class system in this country or anywhere. Unfortunately, class systems do exist and, even more unfortunately, they have close ties to race in this country.

Jeruba's avatar

I can’t answer that, @KatawaGrey, but I thought the elevator experience might be just the kind of “small” act you were talking about.

(I don’t think he identifies solely as black. But out in the world he is seen as a black man, was seen as a black boy. In his time and place, that meant social limitations that could not be offset by the fact that the face of his mother was white.)

augustlan's avatar

@KatawaGrey I just wanted to say that I agree with you. The little things do matter. Do I think people should be hopping mad about them? Not necessarily. But I do think we, as a nation, need to get rid of every last drop of racism that is within our control. Bandages and bras included.

Sarcasm's avatar

@KatawaGrey Yet, because his father was black, he is black.
No, because his skin is very dark, he is black.

If the tables were turned, and he was light-skinned, even though he was raised by black parents, etc. he’d be white. Get it?

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Sarcasm: With all due respect, I hope you’re simply living up to your namesake. I know that his skin color determines what his race is defined as. However, it is not even the darkness of his his skin that determines it. I know a number of light skinned people who are still considered black. What about people considered white who actually have darker skin than our president? He has brown skin which makes him black whereas a person considered white with dark skin, say, someone from Cicily or Southern Greece, is not considered black.

BBQsomeCows's avatar

race-baiting questions on forums

Darwin's avatar

@Sarcasm – As a consequence of the now illegal “one drop rule” being “black” in the United States has little to do with skin color. My daughter has light skin and my son has caramel skin. Both can be considered “black” for the purposes of the census and college scholarships, although only one actually has dark skin.

In South Africa the equivalent test was “the pencil test” (inserting a pencil in a person’s hair to determine if the hair was kinky enough for the pencil to get stuck). Members of the same family who had different hair textures would find themselves in different race groups as a result of this test.

Historically, because of the societal penalties for being considered “black” many who could pass for white did so. A several folks who may be familiar to you as “white” figures but who by US standards today would be considered black are Sir Peter Ustinov, Warren G. Harding, and John James Audubon

It is a cultural construct, however. In the United States, “If you are not quite white, then you are black.” However, in Brazil, “If you are not quite black, then you are white.” And in South Africa, depending on skin color and hair texture, you are black, coloured or white, no matter what your parents are.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Darwin – I didn’t know any of that, thanks for the enlightenment. And I guess that means Obama is not really the first “black” president.

Wouldn’t it be good if we were all just humans instead of black, white, male, female!

Dr_C's avatar

I haven’t been back to this thread in a while and find it kind of ironic. I watched a clip from “roots” on my iPhone last night and today i stumble upon a question about “small acts of racism”... Well, they looked pretty small on the screen last night. does that count?


I see subtle, “invert” racism everyday. Examples—-

When some bars and night clubs specifically ask Asians for ID at the door, and not their young white counterparts and accompanying friends. This happens quite frequently at some of the bars and dance clubs where I live.

There is this belief that just because you’re Asian, you must belong in some Asian gang. Although very discriminatory, many people here are complacent towards this unfair practice, and therefore it it is accepted.

The majority of people you see in commercials and on t.v. are white. You do see the occasional minority, but most of the time you turn on the t.v. and all you see are white folks promoting a product. I think a lot of companies shy away from using minorities because they think people of color will not help sell their product or make their product attractive to the mainstream.

Also, just because a person is not white and looks “ethnic”, doesn’t mean that that person can’t speak English, or was born outside North America. Many times when white people see me for the first time, they think English isn’t my first language, or they think I was born in China or Japan! Lol. Sheesh. They always ask “So where are you from?”, or “So where were you born?”—-not knowing that I’m a 4th generation North American born in America.

Another example is when I go shopping for clothes (eg., pants,designer jeans). Most of the sizes are huge, for example waist sizes starting from size 42!! It’s hard for me to find pants and nice jeans made for slimmer people (I’m size 34 waist), yet most of the buyers of expensive designer jeans are young Asian people. Retail stores continue to ignore this fact and order the very big and overweight sizes for the white population.

Jeruba's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES, not challenging your experience or saying it doesn’t happen, but are you sure that the requests for ID aren’t simply because they look young? Many Asians are blessed with young looks and look much younger than others of the same age (at least to Westerners)—even when they’re grandmothers.

I also have known plenty of white young people to get carded long past age 21. I was 36 the last time I got asked for ID in a bar.

rooeytoo's avatar

I have you beaten @Jeruba, I was in my 40’s! And it never passed my mind that it was the result of racism even though it was a blues joint with mostly black clientele. I figured it was because I was a scrawny little squirt who never looked my age, although I doubt that anyone would card me if I tried to get into a bar these days, heheheh!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES Some of the stuff you mention isn’t ‘invert’ racism, it’s just racism. Also, clothes for ‘white people’ arent oversized, it’s very hard to fit anything above a size 12..


@Jeruba Yes, I know that a lot of Asians do have a youthful appearance, but no this isn’t the case, because often accompanying the Asians would be their young friends with the same youthful appearance and dress. My older nephews relate these experiences to me all the time. Because of the increase in Asian gang activity in recent years here, the media and security people in clubs, restaurants, etc., have been unduly focussing on this problem, when in fact there are gangs of other races in the city too. What these bars and nightclubs are doing is racial profiling, and because it hasn’t been explored in the media, it often goes overlooked, even accepted.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir, for us Asians, the clothes we normally find in most retail stores “are” over-sized! I once asked a salesperson at a FCUK store why they don’t stock sizes that would fit most Asians, and she remarked “Cause’ we focus primarily for the white mainstream here”. I told her that a lot of trendy young Asians buy from chic shops like hers, and they represent a very significant part of their buyer market, yet they’re not the “white mainstream”. That’s racially bias and erroneous thinking on her part.

rooeytoo's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES – maybe it has to do with profit and not racism. If I had a clothing store I would cater to the mainstream so I can make the most money. To stock sizes that sell only to a small minority and then having to put the majority of that stock on sale at the end of the season because it hasn’t sold does not help the bottom line and that is why people go into business, to make a living.

When we were in Seoul my husband who is a big strapping bloke forgot his winter jacket and was freezing. We could not find a store that sold anything large enough for him. It never occurred to me at the time but judging by your standards that was racist!

I am a size 6 or 8 and I have a terrible time finding clothing to fit me, unless I shop in the surf shops that cater to skinny young girls. Apparently most adult women here are much bigger than I. So I guess that is racist as well, they are discriminating against scrawny American women.

If you look hard enough and your definition is loose enough, you can find racism everywhere but is it really racism?!


@rooeytoo You may be right about that. And it stems from the fact that a lot of white people are fat. I hate to say that, but it’s true. I don’t mean that in a derogatory or racist way, but it’s just reality. Sit in a mall in America and watch 10 white people walk by. About 8 or 7 or those people are really fat. Now count the next 10 Asian people walking by. Most of them are slim and fit. Perhaps only 1 or 2 are fat. Sorry, but that’s reality.

Yeah, who can blame the clothing companies? They gotta make big clothes for all the fat people out there. And to that end they make money.

Enough said. So long. ;)

KatawaGrey's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES: I don’t think that it is racism that clothing companies in the US cater to slightly larger people, I think it is size-ism. I am about as white as they come and I cannot find pants that fit because I am so short. Out of all the stores I buy clothing in, I have only found one that sells pants that will actually fit someone as short as I am. There are plenty of stores that sell pants that claim to be for short people but these are often still too long for me and I either have to get them hemmed, roll up the cuffs or trip on them.

Also, how is it racist for a store to sell clothing that fits most of their patrons and not racist for you to say that all white people are fat? “Bigger than you” is not synonymous with “fat.” From what you’ve said and from your profile picture if that is a picture of you you are a small man by American standards. I am a relatively small woman and I have a 34 waist as well. The majority of men in the US are larger than you, just as the majority of women in the US are taller than I am. It does not mean either one of us is being discriminated against, it means neither of us fits in the normal, physical range that most mainstream stores sell. Now, if those stores are located in a predominantly Asian neighborhood and all the clothes are for larger people then, yeah, I most definitely think that’s racism.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am surprised you can’t find size 34, that is not all that small. If you said 28 or 30 I might be able to understand it, but not 34. You must be pretty hefty for someone of Asian descent.

@katwanagrey – I have the same problem with length, I am 5’ and always have to hem everything even the so called petite sizes are for someone around 5’4”. I guess that is heightism!

Dr_C's avatar

@rooeytoo try finding pants in size 38 waist in anything above 32 or 34 length. I’m 6’8 and have a hell of a time finding pants that don’t look like I sprouted an extra 10 inches over-night.

It goes both ways.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Dr_C – more incidents of heightism, we should group together and revolt! Another example for little squirts such as myself is why the hell do they put the petite sizes up high where even a guy like you would have trouble reaching????? Another reason to revolt!

Palindrome's avatar

@rooeytoo & @MRSHINYSHOES Coming from my perspective, it seems as if yalls previous comments on racial sizing kinda plays into the accuracy of stereotypes. Idk.
It’s undeniable that various ethnicities have their own genealogical attributes, but then again simply stating that majority of whites are fat just doesn’t seem to be so politically correct & as I said before it seemed to concur with racial stereotyping.

rooeytoo's avatar

Here is a small act of racism but you will not see it labeled as such. In the local paper a black man who was convicted of a crime called the jury “white rednecks.” If that were in anyway reversed, it would never have been quoted in the paper.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Where I work we have had a week especially dedicated to black and ethnic minority families. We provided coaches for the kid’s sports and one of the team leaders from the group complained that we had no black or ethnic coaches (I wanted to tell them that one of our lads is actually half Malaysian even though he doesn’t necessarily look it but I kept that nugget of info to myself). It seemed wrong that we supplied our most talented coaches and they were only worried about the colour of their skin.

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