Re: META: Neanderthal Attitudes

phil osborn (
Wed, 15 Sep 1999 07:30:40 PDT

>From: "Elizabeth Childs" <>
>To: <>
>Subject: Re: META: Neanderthal Attitudes
>Date: Sun, 5 Sep 1999 21:49:06 -0700
>From: Kathryn Aegis <>

THE MOST BASIC PROBLEM that women face is the same that blacks face. In both women's culture - taken en masse, because there are always the individual exceptions - and black culture - with the same caveate (and of course, I'm speaking only about the U.S. in both cases) there is a virtually absolute refusal to look at their own problems and deal with them. Instead, whites or men or white men are blamed for everything, and any attempt to point out the drastic problems that are generated within their own culture is taken as an attack. Or, another perspective, neither culture has very much respect for the truth an sich. After all, concepts of truth and logic are all part of the Eurocentric male weltanshauung, and therefore inherently subject to doubt.

I have spent a lot of time and money doing volunteer work in the black community - providing computers and computer training mostly - and the people I helped out are very happy to have gotten that leg up, as their own community was utterly failing them. In the process, my life was in clear danger on numerous occasions simply because I was white. I don't know of any comparable situation in the general white community - where a black volunteer would be in danger of losing their life just because they were black.

When women or blacks en masse decide to make the simple truth the number one priority, then there is hope for them. Meanwhile, the smarter, rational ones will leave their respective ghettos as soon as they can.

The associated problem is that for both women and blacks there is an expectation of certain behaviors on the part of everyone. Blacks have about the same expectation of other blacks as whites do. I don't know about women, although I note that anyone elected was elected with the support of the 60% women voter majority - and most of the those elected are white males. Thus, I suspect that women also have low expectations for other women in general.

It only takes 10% of an identifiable group to screw it up for everyone. If 10% of black males can be expected to steal the store at the first opportunity, then store owners had better watch all 100% very carefully, because they can't afford to let that 10% through. Similar rational calculations apply to all identifiable groups - until you have enough information to deal with the individual.

The solution is probably some kind of smart card or simple identifier that puts the individual in a new group that avoids the stigma. Such an identifier - indicating reputation, bonding, whatever would make them trustworthy - could make race, sex, age, etc., pretty much irrelevant. Which is why Ester Dyson's ICAAN effort is so important. The Web is the place to start. A universal social contract may well evolve from that effort. Then we can forget about all the fights about group labelling, as the really important factors will be accessible to our interactions.

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