Sunday, February 22, 2009

America is the big refutation of the race idea

Not racism, because we're certainly still a racist society, but the idea that there are specific races out there who have different inborn capabilities and proclivities, that make them fundamentally unequal. Back decades ago it may have been easy to put down the capabilities of different races because either discrimination had prevented them from having the opportunity to prove themselves or they simply weren't present in the United States in any great number. But times have changed, and although we're still a racist society, a society that's in fact based on the oppression of several races, there are at least people both in public positions of power and in private positions of power who are basically of whatever race you can think of. It's pretty hard for people to dispute that there are successful black and hispanic people, and asian people, although they may try to invent fictions like the idea that the reason these folks are in those positions is because of affirmative action. Affirmative action is a bogey used to distract people from the fact of success of these groups. Affirmative action, the setting aside of a specific portion of either contracts, jobs, or college seats to people of color, is only in force within government entities or public colleges and universities. It's not this overarching thing going on all over, and my guess is that it mostly works to get people's feet in the doors of either jobs with the state or college education. With affirmative action out of the way as a mitigating reason for the success of some people of races that are discriminated against it becomes harder to dismiss these folks. Especially because as time has gone on there has been an increase in the number of people of color in important positions, strongly suggesting that it's the reforms of the Civil Rights movement that allowed people who otherwise would have been denied the opportunity chances to succeed. Increased opportunity leads to increased success, success that if the race idea had been correct would not be possible. It used to be common during times when racism was legally established to say that every once and a while there's an exception to the rule, someone of a given race who was uniquely talented, but it appears that there's no 'fluke' going on. Pure biological race as a factor is hopefully on its way out as something to evaluate people. This appears to be the case.

Unfortunately, semi-biological semi-cultural racist arguments are out there and probably represent an increasing amount of real racism. By semi-biological I mean automatically evaluating people by the color of their skin, something familiar; however cultural racism is something much less familiar as a term. Cultural racism is the belief that while there is nothing inherently inferior about blacks or other groups that culturally, in family life and in community life, they have serious problems that prevent them from achieving higher status and that as a whole the community is responsible for this state. Statements about not discriminating against blacks, but then talking about how 'they' act and justifying their views based on the behavior of a subset of people are cultural racism.

Anyways, I've gotten off topic here although maybe into fruitful territory for further exploration. Point is, I feel that race as the sort of concept that was used in the senses that 19th century thought and thought in the first half of the 20th century meant it has been objectively proven to not exist.

1 comment:

Tristan said...

Re: Cultural racism:

It is observable here in the UK that poor young black men are not expected to do well and eschew academia (to the extent that a black boy who does study is called a coconut (black on the outside, white on the inside) by his peers.

This is a cultural problem, although not (in my opinion) due entirely to their home culture, but also due to the culture of wider society with expectations that poor people cannot do well (as is often stated by statist leftist friends of mine...) compounded with a low level racist view that black men are not intelligent.

The higher level of poor black families probably serves to exacerbate this stereotyping...