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Writer's Block: Free your mind

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Writer's Block: Free your mind

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Do you believe society will ever truly overcome racism?

I do. However, I think the answer to making this happen is roughly my approach to encouraging it: simply not voicing the racist bullshit that you grew up with, and letting it die with you. I may occasionally think racist bullshit- but I'd really love for it to not live longer than me, which is why I try to avoid saying it.

Here's where the tone argument comes in, I'm quite sure.
  • I will bring some gaffer tape with me when I visit, in case you say something inappropriate.
  • Although in many ways, it's difficult to avoid voicing racist bullshit, if one doesn't realize it's racist bullshit.

    The two big examples that leap to mind are if one says they were gypped in a deal, that's saying they were conned as if they had made a deal with Gypsies (those notorious con artists). Or if one uses the term "white trash", I'm pretty sure that's implying that the standard "trash" is non-Anglo.
    • PS: Pretend there's [sarcasm] tags around the parenthetical Gypsy comment.
    • (no subject) -
    • Or if one uses the term "white trash", I'm pretty sure that's implying that the standard "trash" is non-Anglo.

      Thank you. The term "white trash" has always made me a little uncomfortable, but I could never put my finger on why. Now that you've pointed it out, I feel silly for not coming up with it sooner.
      • And then there's a whole layer of classism on top of the racial implications. A lot of bad things have come from demonizing the poor. It's a double dose of othering.
  • I don't even see what the points of the tone argument have to do with what you said. As the 'tone argument' comes in when someone tells a minority to stop being so huffy and stop making a big deal out of how they're treated. Why did you even invoke that?
    • Not to mention a lot of racism doesn't even manifest in our language, though a LOT of it does and is perpetuated by it. But the fact you're thinking it at all demonstrates that it's still prevalent, because racism is soaked into our very fabric of society. The most harmful manifestations of it are in the institutionalized issues and situations, and there IS no easy solution to it. If we all learn to stop saying racial slurs, that doesn't mean racism is dead forever and we can move on. Slurs are just a symptom of the grander problem, a single person being dehumanized because their entire race is seen as lesser, disadvantaged, untrustworthy, socially kept in lower-class financial and social situations, etc.

      Just because racist thoughts are not voiced does not mean they're not getting out. The only way to defeat them is to dissect them, disseminate them and mend your ways. I'm finding ways that I've been affected and influenced by underlying and unassuming means of racism and never realized until I had it pointed out. We're not all perfect and it IS human nature to assume collectively about others that differ from yourself. Which is why undoing racism is such an uphill battle.
      • Although it does make me wonder.

        Ok, so you have the terms that started with a racist/sexist/whatever-ist origin, but your average Joe on the street has no clue that the terms started off with that, and is using them without any intent to vilify or degrade the original target group. I often hear (well, read) folks complaining about other folks using such terms with a "hate origin".

        But what about the terms that started off with perfectly neutral or downright complimentary origins, but have been down-graded into insults over the decades? If the origin is so important, based on the previous paragraph's example, why doesn't that give these terms some sort of pass (or at least, make them not so bad)?
    • Invoked it because people love to throw the tone argument in my face whenever I say anything about race/gender/preference bias.
  • I think not voicing it is a start, but I think really overcoming it is going to require that some of us stand up and say, "No, that shit does not fly," when we hear or see others trying to perpetuate racism.

    It's only enough to let it die if everyone is on board with letting it die. Given that there are some folks actively trying to keep it alive, that means the rest of us need to put in some work to negate their efforts.
  • Which society, and which racism? Racism as a coherent movement--with mission statements, platforms, official spokesmen, candidates for office, etc.--has been dead in the US for decades. Racism as in people hating people for stupid reasons, that's never going away, or not until we evolve much better pattern-recognition hardware, anyway.
  • That was my dad's approach. He knew the programing he got as a kid was fucked up and illogical. He made an agreement with my mom that there wouldn't be any of that crap in our house. He did his very best to try not to pass it on to us. He did a good enough job at keeping that stuff inside his head instead of letting it out, that it startled the fuck out of me when he melted down over me bringing a black boyfriend home. (After the young man left).

    I'm far from perfect, but I do think you can look at the way he was raised and the way I was raised and see progress. I can sure look at the kids I taught who literally could not understand Jim Crow because it made no sense to them at all, and definitely see progress.
  • It all depends on how you define 'truly overcome', of course.

    Cynic that I am, I think that racism will only ever completely die out when the hostile aliens(TM) land, because (like all the other -isms) racism is fueled by aversion against perceived Otherness.

    However, I do hope that (given enough exposure to "Others" of all types), racism and the other -isms will eventually atrophy, until they join the roster of bad habits that children are routinely socialised out of at an early age.
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