Social Question

Arisztid's avatar

People toss the word "racist" around rather freely. What does it take for you to use this word?

Asked by Arisztid (7113points) February 26th, 2010

In this question, I am not asking for a dictionary definition. We all know that one. I am asking what it takes for you to use that word,

I see “he/ she is racist,” “all whites/ blacks/ minorities are racist” (I have seen all three), “everyone who voted for Obama did it because of his race,” “everyone who disagrees with Obama is racist” (yeesh I am sick of those two), etc., etc., etc.

I am of a dinky minority populace and know very well from personal and secondhand experience that it is rather prevalent, but the frequency with which this word is tossed around makes me shake my head in befuddlement. It seems more and more to be used as an insult or to derail an argument. When used to derail an argument I consider it to be a sign that the person using it lost.

Here is what it takes to make me use that word:

1) The person being discussed has to believe that other people are less than them because of their ethnicity (“race”) rather than some other issue, such as their behavior.

For instance, thinking that I am stupid/ an asshole/ etc. just because I am a “fucking/thieving/etc Gypsy” is racist. Thinking these things of me because you have come to these conclusions based on my behavior and attitudes is not racist. The first would be a judgment based on a stereotype which does not judge me based on my own attributes, both positive and negative. The second is a judgment based on me and me only. I see many times where people say that another person disagrees with them because of their ethnicity and cannot find any indication of this.

2) “Pride” does not equate to “racism” to me, thus does not meet my criteria for “racism.” Supremacy does and this is the main barometer for me to decide someone is racist. Pride does not equal supremacy because it is possible to be proud of [whatever] about yourself without thinking others are less for being different.

Oh, by the way, this question is a half rant. I asked it on the website I came from and, while lurking on various websites, see this come up again and again so I am asking/ranting about it here.

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75 Answers

DominicX's avatar

I agree with you. However, my definition or “racist” does match the dictionary. That’s just coincidental of course; the dictionary would agree with me. :)

For me, someone is racist when they believe that certain races are inherenly inferior/superior to others based on inherent differences that exist between people because of their race.

Me saying “nigga” is not racist. Me saying in Oakland, black people drop out of high school at a higher rate than white people is not racist. Me saying black people are inherenlty dumber than white people is racist.

Val123's avatar

When people make slurs or negative comments simply based on the person’s race.
@DominicX Right on. Good answer.

slick44's avatar

@Val123 Great answer. i think you have hit the nail on the head.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @DominicX GA. I don’t agree that simply using racial slurs is racist. It might be in very bad taste, but does not necessarily mean the person is racist. Plus the definition of what is a slur probably varies from person to person.

Arisztid's avatar

@DominicX Mine matches the dictionary but it is a bit more specific.

@Val123 I agree with you to a point but I have to take into account the intent behind the word. Some people are ignorant of them, stupid in using them, whereas some are using them willfully and with intent to harm.

For instance, have you used the word “gypped”? If so, did you know that it is an ethnic slur? If you have used it, you almost certainly did not know its origins and I am not going to call you racist because of it.

I have, more than once, called people on the carpet for using racist terms unthinkingly but it is me telling them exactly what they said, not automatically thinking that the person is racist… unless they continue or there is more to it than just using the word.

@JLeslie I agree.

JLeslie's avatar

@Arisztid OMG I have never thought about the word gypped, great point, When I moved to MI it was the first time I heard some use the word Jew for bargain, “jew it down.” When I pointed out to people what they were saying, some of them had no idea what I was talking about, they did not have the stereotype of Jews being cheap.

Out of curiousity I looked it up in a dictionary, and one of the definitons for jew was bargain, I could not believe it.

Arisztid's avatar

@JLeslie “Jewed down,” “gypped,” “Indian giver” are the kinds of slurs that have found their way into everyday speech itself. I have had people purposefully use the word “gypped” around me to annoy me but most do not know what it comes from.

Good on you for pointing them out. :)

JLeslie's avatar

@Arisztid I use jipped all of the time. I need to change that. I’m glad you pointed it out.

Val123's avatar

@Arisztid I agree. Once upon a time my husband’s 86 year old Dad was watching American Idol with us. Black girl got up to sing. His dad, born in 1922 (I think) said, “She’s awfully good. But her color is against her.” I about fell out of my chair! But….I don’t think that was an indication that he was racist. Just a throwback to the social attitudes he’s picked up for the first 50, 60 years of his life. (The black girl singing? Jordon Sparks! Who won that competition, for those that don’t know! Ha Ha!)

slick44's avatar

I think the word “racist” is racist

Arisztid's avatar

@JLeslie Thankyou very much… I appreciate it greatly. :)

@Val123 Good example. I would have to speak with the guy to establish if he is racist. I would interpret that, without knowing more, as referring to the fact that, back in the ‘day, her ethnicity would be a major strike against her. I also did not know about Jordon Sparks… I only watched that show twice before I had enough of it. :P

@slick44 How so?

Val123's avatar

@Arisztid Meh. My husband is just addicted to it. I’d rather watch Nova. But we had 2 hours of Idol on Tuesday and Wednesday, but, thankfully, only one hour on Thursday.

JLeslie's avatar

Back to the original question, I think people being easily offended and throwing around the word racist, or assuming people are racist based on a imple sentence or word, and not really knowing the intent behind the words ahs screwed us up, has limited our conversation on racism in general. Once I realized these people who use jew down did not relate the word to Jewish people at all, I realized there was no mal intent or slur in their for them. Because I was willing to talk to them about it, instead of walking away in a huff and calling them racist, maybe they will change their behavior.

I had another incident in MI where I said hello to a couple while waiting for an elevator on my campus at Michigan State, and the girl turned to her boyfriend and said, “people here are so nice, at Michigan they are all a bunch of Jews.” Now, I would say she was for sure prejudice, definitely guilty of stereotyping or generalizing, and kind of stupid, but I would not think her a racist yet. Anyway, the end of the story is I looked at her and said, “be careful, I’m Jewish.” She looked mordified. I continued to say, “don’t worry about it, I am just trying to point out that not all Jews are unfriendly or whatever you think, and that you should maybe be more aware of what you are saying out loud.”

JLeslie's avatar

@Arisztid I had never thought of it because of how I spell it. Once you showed the real spelling it clicked instantly.

Arisztid's avatar

@Val123 You have my sincerest condolences. I have a television now for the first time since 2003 (my wife and I moved in with her sister and brother in law) and, in 2–3 weeks time, I have watched 3 programs. Idol is not one of them.

@JLeslie I agree. “Racist” has turned into an insult, one that people will do anything to avoid. I have been called racist a few times just like everyone else. My response is to tell them that whether or not I am racist is not pertinent to this discussion, now can you debate what I say? Usually by the time they toss “racist” or any other insult into the mix, they have lost the debate already. Insults are, to me, one of the prime indicators that someone has lost a debate.

I think that race and racism needs to be discussed… logically. The PC climate has removed logic from the topic in many cases.

When people say “gypped” (“jipped” and other spellings) to me or around me, I just tell them where the word originated and carry on. Most people react like you did. :) Even if they use the word to annoy me, they might not be racist, rather them being assholes and displaying that. Some do not give a damned about my ethnicity, just using the word to be insulting. I file them under “asshole” rather than “racist.” I say about gypped pretty much what you say about Jew. I also will point out to them what they are doing if they use Jew in that way.

Fred931's avatar

I use the term racist when someone talks or acts in a way out of malice that differentiates between different races of people.

Arisztid's avatar

@DominicX I did not catch this when I read your answer:

“Me saying “nigga” is not racist. Me saying in Oakland, black people drop out of high school at a higher rate than white people is not racist. Me saying black people are inherenlty dumber than white people is racist.”

Perfect example of what I am talking about. My apologies for missing that.

@Fred931 Bingo! Give that man a prize! Nicely summarized.

Fred931's avatar

Holy crap, that’s the first time I’ve been proud of an answer. Thanks, @Arisztid.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

In my opinion, a racist is someone who unfairly discriminates between people based on racial preferences with no basis in reason. There are racial differences that may be noted without being racist, but no one should make unfair generalisations about an individual based on their race. For example people with African or Islander heritage are usually great singers, but that does not preclude individuals of other races from having a good voice. To say that someone obviously cannot sing as well as a black person because they are white would be outright racist, because even though the generalisation may be correct it does not allow the individual to express their talent and treats them as part of a group rather than as a person capable of defining their own individuality.

Berserker's avatar

I use the word if someone presents strong ideals or even mentalities which seek to present a sense of superiority over other races, or as a means to belittle and mock them out of spite, whether their reasons are legitimate or not. (Whether it’s indoctrination on their part, or is of their own choosing.) And by legitimate, I mean if they actually did any study on who they hate, certainly not saying that any hatred or actions derived from said hatred are justified.

But as you say, the word is thrown around a lot, and being someone from France who’s shunned by French Canadians, I often don’t see that intolerance or hatred can really be categorized. It presents itself in so many forms, and I think racism is just a word that we use to compliment a severe and as subtle as a sledge hammer form of hatred.
That’s not to say that the Holocaust is insignificant; absolutely not…I just don’t think one has to be racist to slaughter a whole bunch of people, whether you select them or not.

People can say whatever, whether it’s out of ignorance, because they think it’s funny but words don’t always mean so much, so I’m a lot more worried about people’s actions when it comes to downright racism. Beating up someone from another race just because they’re that race, or beating the shit out of some poor Goth because they’re Goth, it makes no real difference as it all sucks.

Being ignorant or just wanting to be mean is certainly not relegated to racism only and doesn’t make someone a “racist” per se, so I will use the word when the behaviour seems to closely relate to the definition of such.

Hatred is universal though, and in an innate human emotion I believe, so I guess it’s easy to label certain things to it.

The biggest example ever is Hitler I guess. I mean he thought he was doing what he did for the good of Germany, which is a lot different than some Neo Nazis who aspire to his ideals as a mere conduit to release pent up hatred and anger. Hitler was a complete delusional prick, but he was far from stupid.

I don’t know where I’m getting at anymore, but I try to be careful with the word, despite my lack of faith in the power of words.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

My definition of “racist” is also the dictionary’s definition. I do not think it’s a word that should be thrown around as lightly as it seems to be now. And sadly, many people seem to be misinformed about what the word actually means. For instance, I can not tell you how many people I’ve heard say, “Only white people can be racist”. It’s unbelievable.

SeventhSense's avatar

Racism is a powerful means that people use to either belittle or invalidate another. It is as any generalization a means to control, manipulate or dismiss by attempting to contain someone in a way that is manageable without having to acknowledge their position or importance. Using race to express differences is equally as shortsighted since cultural differences should not factor into politics and since this just perpetuates racism. They go hand in hand. Cultural differences on the other hand are important and should be acknowledged and recognized but we are one race-human.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

DIscrimation or otherwise derrogatory action or expression based upon prejudice stemming from racial stereotypes.

filmfann's avatar

I only use that word when it is very obvious that racism is the problem.
Unfortunately, these days it often is.

Blackberry's avatar

I have to know the person is actually showing some type of malice towards me or the race. My friends and I joke around frequently, but of course we all know we aren’t actually racist.

JLeslie's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh but no one should make unfair generalisations about an individual based on their race GA for that. People many times seem to think people are being racist by stating true statistical norms about a group, but what matters is not pinning generalizations on an individual or assuming everyone in the group is the same.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Ooooo! This just got intersting.

By all means let’s hear what some of the statistical racial tendencies are.

JLeslie's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy Sociologists study these tendencies all of the time. Not just based on race.

Arisztid's avatar

@Fred931 That was a prideworthy answer. :)

@FireMadeFlesh Agreed. Genetics are not, to me, valid reasons to discriminate. I also agree that there are differences between the ethnicities.

However, I do not think there has been adequate study to prove generalized traits, like being good singers or bad, for any ethnicity. Finding out these differences would be nigh on impossible because it would take a multigenerational study with independent researchers producing the same results and all participants in that sudy would be lab rats, having everything, including culture, be identical. That way the individual trait alone would be studied. This could not, and ethically should not, be done.

I agree with what you say about expressing talent as an individual. My people are considered musically inclined and I am musically inclined. However, others of my ethnicity are not. Over my life I have had expressed to me the opinion that I am musically inclined because I am a Gypsy.

Generalization definitely removes individuality.

@Symbeline Indeed… superiority is, to me, one of the main keys. The thing about indocrination is people can choose to open their eyes or purposefully keep them closed.

Racism, to me, is just one form of bigotry and all forms of bigotry are equally vile. Homophobia is equal in vileness as racism and is the same as racism, just being hatred based on a different thing. These two, and so many more, are the same… bigotry.

Victims of the Holocaust were not selected only on the basis of their ethnicity. Homosexuals got it, antisocials, various religions, and more all got it. Religious pograms are hardly unknown and the WWII Holocaust is/was hardly the only one. Hitler and his Doo Whop crowd used pre-established hatreds as one of their tools to “unify” Germany… no, not a stupid man (so says a guy who lost part of his family and some 75–80% of his people in the Holocaust).

I always look at the intent and actions of the person in order to judge racism.

I am also very careful where I use the word. If I use it, I have bloody good reason to use it.

mollypop51797's avatar

I usually use it when people are strongly against people because of their race, and show their racism to the person’s face, and/or behind their back. Joking around is OK with me, but when it’s actually cruelly mean, I don’t like it.

Arisztid's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I have broken it down further than the dictionary obviously. I have had to break that thing apart, examine it, put it back together in order to handle my life.

The word “racist” has been tossed around as an insult and by people crying wolf for so long that it has lost a lot of its significance. I have heard “only white people can be racist” more times than I can count. I have heard the other two but the preponderance of that one is against white people.

@SeventhSense I do not think there is a problem using race to describe physical differences. Other differences are cultural or individual or… etc. The problem lies when someone uses the genetic complement of ethnicity as a means to judge. I consider that to be an invalid determining factor.

I concur that cultural differences should be acknowledged and recognized. Tolerance and recognition that not everyone is the same should be encouraged.

@Captain_Fantasy Agreed… but do you have any specific criteria?

@filmfann True, sadly. Unfortunately there is enough wolf calling that real racism is often passed over and ignored.

@Blackberry Me too. I crack jokes about my ethnicity all the time, as do my friends about theirs. With my friends we will crack jokes about each other’s ethnicity, mocking the stereotypes. I was actually called racist on a certain other site we both were on because I said that I crack jokes about my people. :P

It is definitely the intent behind the words.

@JLeslie How can anyone state true statistical norms on something that cannot be determined? Please see my reply to @FireMadeFlesh.

The problem that any study about specific traits other than physical by ethnicity cannot be done. The playing field would have to be level. The groups being studied would have to be raised identically, their parents would have to have had equal nutrition (this can affect the fetus, including born child throughout his/her life), they would need identical educations, they would need to be culturally identical, etc.

Basically the only variant that would be studied would be ethnicity.

@mollypop51797 Exactly… the intent. If I got bent and called everyone who used the word “gypped” racist, I would be a lonely, hate filled guy.

——————

The reason I use the word “ethnicity” is because, according to science, there are only 4 races of humanity… I have had it shoved down my throat that my people are not a “race” because we are not one of the 4 to the point where I use the word “ethnicity” instead.

JLeslie's avatar

@Arisztid I agree with what you said to @FireMadeFlesh about singing, I have no idea of any type of statistic has ever been done regarding this. But sociologists certainly do gather statistics on all sorts of things. Jews are more likely to be doctors. There are more doctors in Israel per capita than any other nation, and many in the US, although I don’t know the specific stats for the US. Jews have the stereotype of being stingy with money, to work in banking, because back in history they were the few allowed to lend money, and profit from lending, because other religions didn’t permit it, and Jews went towards businesses that were portable like money and Jewelry, because many times they had to move quickly. So, some of these stereotypes have reasons behind them, although they are less and less meaningful over time. It is a fact that blacks have a high rate of school drop outs, and children of single mothers, even Bill Cosby and the President are trying to address that. Asians are generally successful in school, and seem to do better than average in mathematics (but I personally have a friend who is Asian who hated math). There does seem to be more alcoholism among the Irish in America, although I am pretty sure other ethnicities are close behind. It seems to me, although I have no statistics to prove it, that southern Christians are more likely to think hitting a child is ok. MS public schools still have corporal punishment; which is shocking to me. But, as @FireMadeFlesh pointed out you can never assume an individual will posess any of these stereotypes. Each individual is just that, an individual. I trully believe we are all created equal. Our personalities are mostly affected by our environment I believe, it has nothing to do with what race, religion, or ethnicity someone is, and even then, people can overcome their environment (overcome is not the right word, sounds judgmental, which I do not mean to be).

Arisztid's avatar

@JLeslie Sociologists measure just that: society. They do not measure genetic proclivity. In order to get that quantitative measure, relatively large groups of individuals of the various ethnicities would have to be subject to the test I described above, in which the playing field is leveled. That would eliminate cultural emphasis on acadamia, socioeconomic problems that plague various ethnicities, adverse effects of malnutrition, drug use (legal and not), the clinical effects of discrimination and of privilege, etc. There is a huge problem with crime in Europe with my people, for example. However, what is going on over there is common in all long term socioeconomically disadvantaged peoples. Same with the problems you mention with black people.

All of the various observations of sociologists are based on the entire package, which includes all that I listed before and is not a controlled environment. To break it down into actual genetic proclivities would require that study I am discussing which is never going to occur. You would need to isolate the one thing being studied, and only that one thing… genetic proclivity. This study would need to be done via biology, not sociology.

As far as alcoholism, some of that can be linked scientifically to genetics, as is the case with Native Americans. They, genetically, cannot handle alchohol as well as the rest of us. My wife, the Google Goddess, is asleep right now so, if you want proof of what I say, I shall have to wait until she awakens.

I, actually, do not believe that we are all created equal. None of us are the same, which means that we are not equal. We have individual strengths and weaknesses. That being said, we should all have equal opportunity and should be judged on our own individual merit.

Your statement of ”Our personalities are mostly affected by our environment I believe, it has nothing to do with what race, religion, or ethnicity someone is” is also what I believe shapes things like the proclivities you describe above.

Battousai87's avatar

i don’t think that i ever really used the word to describe a person. usually i use it to describe a statement that a person makes, if they rack up enough of those types of statements from me. like if they say it in great excess when i’m around them, then i’d say that they were racist probably. it depends it’s hard to tell sometimes they say it as a joke, but you can tell when someone really means it. it’s just different, kinda like a slap in the face. idk, i don’t throw the word around, but i do tag comments and things as racist though as they come.

Arisztid's avatar

@Battousai87 I will use the statement in regards to a person if they meet the criteria I described above.

I openly use it to describe my upstairs neighbors, who are open and admitted white supremacists being proud of it. Oh the joys of living with them up above me. My wife, and her sister and brother and law (with whom we live), deal with them rather than me because we are trying to get them to move peacefully due to this . I faded into the woodwork when we learned about their racism in order to, hopefully, expedite their move.

It does take more for me to call someone racist than most people because I believe an accusation like that is a serious thing. I have to have very good reason to use that word.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Arisztid
Perfect example of your neighbors upstairs. They should also no more cling to terms like “white” or Aryan or any such divisive word. As long as they do it still doesn’t justify trying to show some point in opposition. In fact the point in opposition is what they seek. They want war. They are scared and frightened of the “other”. This is a psychological phenomenon more than a true belief system. Cold comfort to the one fixed in their cross hairs, I agree, but it still does not behoove us to act in concert with their agenda by feeding into it. i.e.- mixing of the races and other such nonsense. A majority would find they all have such a mixed bag of ancestors as to be impossible to separate anyway.

There were historically distinctions like Caucasoid and Negroid and recent studies have shown that there is really no simple genetic definition of any of these and besides this itself is an outdated concept. Furthermore there are persons within each so different than their respective category as to be indistinguishable from the other so race as a means to discuss humanity is by nature divisive and serves no purpose. If you want to say that certain groups like to live in this type of house or eat this type of food that’s fine but beyond that it is absolutely useless except to promote violence of one group against another.

JLeslie's avatar

@Arisztid I think we are agreeing. When I say environment I mean factors like poverty, nutrition, all of that.

My experience, among my closest friends and family pretty much none, or very few of the sterotypes display themselves. One of my most financially successful friends is black. He has an engineering degree from MIT, and is a senior executive for a pharmaceutical company. I have another close black friend who also has an amazing career in the medical field (she is not a medical professional). My friends in MI are almost all Polish, they are not stupid, not even close (that is a horrible stereotype that was never valid in any way shape or form in my opinion). The majority of my friends, and my husband’s family for that matter, are Catholic and all of them are for gay marriage, and about half are pro-choice. In my family, remember we are Jewish, we don’t have any doctors. My father grew up incredibly poor. I could go on.

But, if there are troubles within a group the only way to “fix” it, if the group wants the fixing, it is not for outsiders to decide what is a better life for another, is to identify the factors you speak of and discuss it. This is not racism, because the intention is in the right place.

One more point, back to what you mentioned about socio-economic status, I think this is the largest factor in determining any sociological conclusions we might draw from certain groups. So, I was thinking about this. Do you think we don’t need to mention race at all, that we could simply speak about the poor, no matter what color/race etc, they will be receptive and know we are talking to them, or trying to help them? I know I am not being clear. I don’t want it to come out wrong. For instance, I have heard black people say that you can’t send a bunch of white people to help black people. We had a question about MS recently and why it is so poor, and it was brought up that it has the most black people compared to other states. So, since these blacks identify black, it seems just talking about the poor would not help, we have to acknowledge how these people personally identify and be sensitive to it. Be aware of the subculture that has developed within the community Does that make sense? I have not really thought that through, so I did not articulate it well.

Arisztid's avatar

@SeventhSense Errr I am already mixing the races. My wife is white. We are just doing our best to have me not be terribly evident so we can get them out as fast as possible. When dealings have to be done with them, I am not the one to do it. I also am not going to limit my life in order to make a bunch of morons happy even if I were not married to a white woman.

I think that the “4 races of humanity” is vastly outdated.

@JLeslie I agree that problems within a community need to be discussed and fixed within a community.

In the cases of some of the poorest ethnicities, there are problems distinct to that ethnicity. In some cases the generic “the poor” could be addressed but not all. One of the issues is trust, then there is, in some cases, the language barrier, and the list goes on.

JLeslie's avatar

@Arisztid You really perfectly summed it up – TRUST – so true. I could go on about my thoughts, but I think it is unnecessary, because most likely we completely understand each other without explaining.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Arisztid
I would say you are marrying cultures.

JLeslie's avatar

@Arisztid You have stated you are a gypsy, but what country is your family from? You say you are a different race than your white wife, so I was wondering.

SeventhSense's avatar

@JLeslie
Good point. If he’s like most gypsies he can’t say for certain. Which is really not much different from most people, It just makes this whole argument even more interesting.

JLeslie's avatar

@SeventhSense Well, not exactly the same point I am making. I think of Gypsies as being from Hungary and Italy, and I am not sure where else? I know so little about it, and the only stereotype I have about gypsies is they travel around a lot. Anyway, Hungarian and Italian are considered white in the US, although I think there is an argument for saying Italians, well Southern Italians and Sicilians are a different race possibly. My husband is Mexican, so he is classified as Hisapanic, but he is ½ Israeli, ¼ Spanish, ¼ French, so I think of his “race” as being from the Mediterranian. Anyway, he is White HIspanic on American surveys, but if his grandparents had just come directly to the US, he would be white by “our” standards/rules.

SeventhSense's avatar

@JLeslie
It’s all ridiculous except to point out your tastes in food or clothing or what not. It immediately sets up these divisions. I’m Scottish and Norwegian and a little Swedish but who knows or who even cares what I am. Maybe I have some Swahili centuries ago but what does it do for me except to make me understand that maybe there’s a reason I like fish and wear horns on my head. It’s all bullshit.
although I am fond of pillaging and plundering :)

JLeslie's avatar

@SeventhSense I think some people find a lot of pride in their national background, which I guess can relate to race? Sort of, sometimes, not really. You are talking about the countries your family is from, I find it odd when people have no connection to that. So when I say odd, I don’t mean bad, I just mean I am not accustomed to it.

I find that a lot where I live now in Memphis, people who I guess have been here so many generations they are oblivious to it, or sometimes I think it is just a PC thing. Sometimes in the south I feel like people are overcompensating for having been racist for all of those years (I mean that in the abstract, not specific people). That is part of why some of my answers mentioned that people get offended too easily, worry about being PC, and in turn nothing can really be discussed or shared. This connects to the trust @Arisztid mentioned. Brilliant really.

In the Northeast and Florida we all knew where we were from, talked about when our families came to America, how, when, talked about the food that is related to our cultures and foods we love from other cultures. That is one of the big things I miss here in Memphis, good food from many different countries.

SeventhSense's avatar

@JLeslie
No but I do esteem them but not in the way that is in any way more or less significant than anyone’s ancestors. My grandfather would have never mingled with Irish Catholics and my Scottish ancestors were fiercely proud but much of this was a fear and clinging to forms. I don’t think the future will have these national identities because they are really the basis of war itself along with fear and greed. I think we’ll preserve the cultures like restaurants in a downtown district or amusements at Disney World and then we’ll just form different models of humanity based on real values of equality.

JLeslie's avatar

@SeventhSense You have a dream. It is a good dream, which lives in many of us as told by Martin Luther King years ago.

I don’t know. I have to think about what you said. I like the little quirks and funny things that make us all different, many times cultural. It feels as normal to me as Apple pie, part of being American, the melting pot. I agree pride can be bad at a point, and certainly I am not saying that one ethnicity is better than another. And, as we get more homogenized it will probably make things easier; easier to get along.

SeventhSense's avatar

@JLeslie
I think the quirks and differences will always be there. The future fear is that we’ll be walking around with shaved heads in lab coats but I think the homogeneity that we will have will only be in our common focus and agenda. Of course it might develop even further as we realize somethings we enjoy or find amusing are not in our common interest but it will probably be marked by fits and starts like all things. We may even find some of our technology as unnecessary and burdensome. I think the changes will start to become rapid though as we pass inner resistances.
you may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one..

JLeslie's avatar

@SeventhSense :). I think your ideas of the future are very interesting, It made me think of how technology developed so rapidly over the last 50 years, maybe these societal changes are the next wave.

SeventhSense's avatar

@JLeslie
Ya I think we have to play catch up.

Arisztid's avatar

@SeventhSense , @JLeslie My parents are from Romania (Rromani is an ethnicity, RomaniA is a country), I am very American. My neighbor’s objection is to my not being white.

My ethnicity (“race”) is Rromani Gypsy, which is a distinct genetic ethnicity, complete with identifiable and distinct DNA markers . We come from all over the world and we all have the same DNA markers. Ancient DNA has also been established , showing an about 1000 year old corpse as Rromani Gypsy based on genetics (we arrived there about 500 years ago and the article is about a corpse that arrived 500 years before our documented arrival).

Arisztid's avatar

Errr… my parents were from Romania. They are long dead.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Arisztid
Yes I seem to remember that Romania is the common ancestry of most that consider themselves Gypsies. But have also read of others that are not sure. I meant no disrespect by my statement just that among many different cultures they for one, are not as clearly attributed to a particular country of origin. Which in my estimation makes them unique and truly most able to lead a discussion away from race as being a basis of importance.

Arisztid's avatar

No, India is. We came either from India or through India, us leaving there at least 1000 years ago.

We did not come to Romania until later, we are spread so far over the globe that most of us have nothing to do with Romania. The commonality in name is an unfortunate happenstance. “Rom” means “man” in our language, which has origins in Sanskrit.

I am painfully American, my neighbor’s objection to me just being that I am not white.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Arisztid
So fuck him. I’d just keep a wide berth but definitely move elsewhere.
They sound like serious trouble.

Arisztid's avatar

@SeventhSense They definitely are. It is a husband, wife, 4 children, and some friends up there. I would be doing things like popping my head out, waving at them with a hearty “hi there!” but we want them gone to solve the noise problem. I will not move for cretins like that although this noise is going to cause me to snap if I have to live with it endlessly… they have toned it down a lot though. I have no dealings with them to de-escalate the noise battle. My wife just keeps her mouth shut about the snide remarks about me. As far as serious trouble, I stand 6’2” and hold two blackbelts. :)

SeventhSense's avatar

@Arisztid
Best of luck with it.

Arisztid's avatar

@SeventhSense Eh I have dealt with this before and shall again. Supposedly they are looking for a larger place… we shall see.

JLeslie's avatar

@Arisztid Wait, so from India to Romania. So, on a government document like the census do you consider yourself Asian? Or do you fill in other? If you write Romanian, I think they would consider you caucasian. Sorry if I did not follow your explanation well. Would you consider your skin to be dark? Your neighbor is an a**hole.

@SeventhSense I thought about our conversation above. As I have gotten older, my Jewish background is more important to me. When you grow up Jewish a very consistent phrase you here is that surviving is our way of getting back. All of those people who want to kill us off or enslave us, have never been able to finish the job, not in over 5,000 years. There is only about 14 million Jews in world, less than 1 quarter of one percent of the worlds population, and we do not multiply fast. At the time of the Holocaust we were about 18 million knocked down to 12 million. At that rate we migh make it back to 18 million in another 100 years or so. People talk about the 6 million (6 million Jews, there were about 3 million others I think), but what is so significant is that it was 30% of the total Jewish population. I digress though, back to my point. I think minority populations care more (care might be the wrong word) about keeping parts of their culture alive. Don’t get me wrong, on many threads I have talked about how important I think it is to conform to a certain extent with society to be successful, but we can have both, it is not mutually exclusive.

I was thinking about an email joke I posted on a thread about why people answer a question with a question. The joke was about how Jews talk, part of which talked about answering a question with a question. The joke was on the spot. I like when I hear the familiar phrases of “my people” (New Yorkers in general also tend to talk the same way) I like that Jews can laugh at themselves, see the humor in every day life, another thing that seems to be part of our culture. All of this PC has also meant that people have lost their sense of humor.

Arisztid's avatar

@JLeslie Actually, from India spreading out to all corners of the globe. My family is Kalderashi, having ended up in Romania. Others have never passed through Romania. Romania was not a part of the main migration. It is just one of the places we wound up (willingly or not… not due to slavery), or passed through to go somewhere else.

I put in “other” on the forms. When I have to go further, I put in Rromani Gypsy. I use both words because there are more than one type of Gypsy.

My people tend to be medium dark skinned. We are generally about the darkness of Mexicans or a bit darker. Of course, our skin color varies, some of us pale, some of us as dark as a relatively dark black person I, myself, am a pale specimen of my people, due to being ¾ blooded. I am as dark as a tanned white guy after the winter and after the summer, I can get as dark as my avatar unless I burn. If I burn I do not get this dark. My father, halfblooded, was darker than I am.

My neighbors are, indeed, a grade A assholes. The sad thing is they are raising their children to take a fall by 1) raising them racist, 2) neglecting them so they behave like animals (the “mother” sits on her butt all day, letting the children run like animals), 3) the mother is physically abusive (yes, we have reported them and, yes, CPS is involved… the father was complaining about this to my wife’s sister, not knowing that we are the ones who did it), 4) the mother, I know, is a drug addict, do not know about the father. If they do not remove these children from that “family,” those children are really being raised to take a fall later in life.

Arisztid's avatar

@JLeslie and @SeventhSense I see that you two are discussing pride in racial/ cultural identity.

I asked a question about this awhile ago on my old site and answered it with my own beliefs. If you are interested, here it is.

I might ask that one here.

I also see that you are discussing the future. Personally, I hope we never become homogeneous. That would be quite boring. <dream> I would be very happy if such things as ethnicity were not considered a valid reason to judge </dream> but I would not want ethnic differences, or other differences, to vanish. The first part of that is just a dream because it shall never occur and I know it.

@JLeslie there were a lot more than that exterminated in the Holocaust. My people were obliterated to the tune of about 80% of our population, our dead were in the millions not hundreds of thousands… yes, I can back up what I say with facts. Gypsies (Rroma and Sinti) and Jews were the two peoples targeted in the Final Solution itself. There were many more than Gypsies and Jews. Then there are the unrecorded ones shot dead into ditches that were not tallied, inaccurate or destroyed records at the Camps, etc. (Nazi Germany tried to hide the evidence). I would be hard pressed to come up with a sum total but it is vastly more than 9 million. My people and yours, alone, surpass that.

SeventhSense's avatar

I guess I’m tired of making my point any simpler. This from that thread makes it plain:

“I don’t understand why anyone is proud of their race. People so easily confuse culture with race. And, I’ve said this before but there are bad and good people in every race, each gender, and every country. People are people.”

Racial difference is the basis of racism. Cultural differences are not.

Arisztid's avatar

@SeventhSense Uhm… if that is to me, you are preaching to the converted. Another thing confused is nationality and race.

JLeslie's avatar

@SeventhSense I really do understand your point. If someone is proud of their race it is probably because society has classified them that way over time. Race is an accident of birth. I think that is what you are saying, it does not define who we will be.

But, I think it is what or how the individual chooses to idenitify themselves that is important. I identify ethnically Jewish, I don’t feel it is my race, but some do. I am not religious, although I guess it is my religion. I have argued with flutherites about this, other Jews and non-Jews. I would say the Sephardic Jews are a different race than me, and they also have some cultural differences. The truth is there is no right answer in my opinion. Black Americans might identify as black, some might not, I have no idea I cannot speak for them. But, I don’t think an outsider gets to take it away from them if they want to identify that way. If there is no racism it doesn’t matter that we acknowledge someone’s race.

SeventhSense's avatar

@JLeslie
Yes but aren’t these the same ideals that would esteem some “chosen” and with inalienable rights to grounds and sites and make others less worthy? There can’t be a sentiment that has some as chosen, some damned, some civilized some savage, some worthy and some unworthy. How can there ever be a chance for world peace if the nations of the earth hold such prejudicial nationalistic sentiments.

JLeslie's avatar

@SeventhSense I know. Look at Hitler wanting a superior race, disgusting. I think it is really very complex. I would also argue that cultures can feel superior, very ethnocentric, and I take issue with that too. Jews pass around emails about how great we are all of the time. I don’t know if other ethnicities do that? It is not to say we are better, it is just to say that we feel good about our “group.” We also admit to our own behaviors that might work against us. Do you think that is bad?

SeventhSense's avatar

@JLeslie
The problem is we all have a schizophrenic relationship with these ideas. Like at what point does pride become hatred? When is policy itself racist? How can we both be planning for and preventing war as Einstein said? We like to think that we’re all equal or right but some maybe just a little more right or equal. That little bit is all it takes to spread the gap to the width of the Grand canyon.

JLeslie's avatar

@SeventhSense Exactly, there is a line we have to walk I guess. Or, you might say we don’t have to walk it. The little bit might be ok if we are willing to share it with everyone, and not hold it as a way to have power over others, everyone has the opportunity to be like the people in my ethnic group, they can take the good parts and incorporate them into their own lives, their own culture. You do not have to be born into it (I am not talking about the religious stuff), there are no secrets. It is up to the individual. It is being an American I think. The melting pot. And, I wanted to add that the Jews do not believe we are born better at all, I have never heard anything like that ever said. I have never even heard a Jew say we are the chosen ones, which comes out of Christian’s mouth all of the time. I am not even sure what that means. We believe we work hard for our accomplishments, and anyone who works hard can acheive the same.

prude's avatar

I don’t toss it around freely. I usually only use it w/my s.o. telling him I am tired of hearing “racist” comments from him. In general, because it is “tossed around freely” I tend to explain what happens around me, to me. then people understand, it is not just me “tossing racist around” but I am actually telling them about something that is really “racist”.

Arisztid's avatar

@prude I will use the word, but I have to have very good reason to do so. By the time I have used the word, the person knows exactly why.

Val123's avatar

Some acquaintances ran into my hubby and me at a restaurant and insisted we eat with them. I didn’t want to, but oh well. At some point the conversation turned to an article in the paper talking about this crack head women leaving her four young children alone for, like three days, cause she was out partying. Well, she happened to be black, and the acquaintance husband just said the worst things regarding the fact that she was black, as if a white crack head wouldn’t do the same thing. The stuff he said I don’t want to repeat. Made me sick. THAT was racist.

Arisztid's avatar

@Val123 Gee, sounds like my neighbor, who is white and who does not have enough money for the kinds of parties you describe. Actually, my neighbor manages to get the crack thing down and the racist thing down. <<cough>>

mattbrowne's avatar

Making general judgments about large groups of people instead of individuals. A while a ago someone on Fluther talked about eurotrash countries for example.

prude's avatar

@Arisztid yes, that is what I was trying to say:)

Arisztid's avatar

@mattbrowne Yep and I have seen the eurotrash comments somewhere, I do not remember if it was here or somewhere else.

@prude :)

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