RE: Definition of Racism (without rent-a-riot)

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Fri Aug 10 2001 - 13:22:06 MDT

Mike Lorrey wrote,
> I don't. Saying blacks have a cultural predisposition to like jazz music
> isn't any more racist than saying that Japanese people have a cultural
> predisposition to like sushi. Neither are racist statements, nor do they
> exclude the possibility that people not of those cultures could also
> like jazz or sushi.

I think that this is technically racist. It is may not be negative, it may
not be positive. It may be not true, it may not be false.

> I doubt anyone here would say my statements about jazz or sushi lovers
> are racist. It is only when such cultural generalizations are made which
> illustrate members of that culture in a negative light do people try to
> apply the 'racist' label to them. If it doesn't work for positive
> statements but does for negative statements, it's not racism.

I disagree. This is where some people get screwed up saying that unfair
discrimination is racist while affirmative action to undo unfairness is not
racist. Both policies are racist whether they are intended to help or harm.
Both policies are racist whether they turn out to be truthful or fictitious.
Decision-making based on race is racism no matter what.

This is where I strongly argue for objective definitions. The defense
against racism should not be "but it's true!". Or else any racist activity
could be defended as not racist. Hitler would claim he was not racist
because Jews really are subhuman. Is this a defense? I don't think so. He
was still evaluating a whole group based on their race not on their
individual merits. This is the definition of racism. Negativity or
Falsehood do no have anything to do with it. Otherwise, there would be no
discussion. Nobody would choose the side of negativity and falsehood.

> But what about actions that indirectly causes people of one race to be
> treated predominantly different than other races, for instance,
> geographic based discrimination (like 'risky zip code' restrictions on
> mail order deliveries to zip codes with high fraud rates)?

This is not based on the race of the person ordering the item. Therefore it
is not racism. It may effect more blacks than whites because of the racial
makeup of a particular zip code. But whites and blacks in that zip code are
treated the same. In fact, no one knows the race of the recipient of any
piece of mail. No decisions or even knowledge of race enter into this.

Harvey Newstrom <> <>

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:40:06 MDT