Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Racism-- what is it?

In the United States, there has been a lot of  talk about racism with three major situations leading to most of it. It isn't just about our country though.

Before I even get into the most recent events here, for quite awhile, there has been talk regarding sports team names, which are widespread in high schools but even major league teams like the Redskins. Racist? Bigoted? Just a sports name? 

Many natural features of land were named words that later had to be changed-- ie squaw anything. People only, in fairly recent times, began to think how that name was seen by others.  

In looking at what is racism, here is one definition:
Racism-- the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.
Does that help in looking at our two most recent incidents that were taken as being racist? One involved a man speaking in an interview. The other was a recorded private conversation allegedly leaked by someone who found his views to be distasteful or wanted revenge on him. 

The argument has been put forth that this was a private conversation and hence not as serious. That holds water only as long as you don't look at the man's personal life. I find it almost humorous how many charities have now said they will either return his donations or not accept new ones... Except he made his billion dollars as a slum landlord who has had numerous accusations made as to his mistreatment of the rentals he had as well as racist behavior. That apparently didn't bother the charities until it became public. Does the word hypocrisy fit some of this? I mean it was easy to find out who he was before they took the first donation, wasn't it???

Same with the NBA who has now banned him for life and wants to force him to sell his major franchise team. They knew who he was. Come on. The record was out there. So suddenly he's offensive for a private conversation that seemed to relate more to his mixed race girlfriend than anything else. He said (in the private message) that he didn't care who she had sex with just don't be with the guy at my games. Isn't that weird all on its own?

So what do we do about team owners who berate gays? If they leave their old wife for a hot babe? How about those who make their money from something we find objectionable-- raising beef, fracking, shady Wall Street practices, etc.? Did we really think all these team owners were exemplar citizens? Did anybody care until it became a public issue of dollars? ie sponsors were dropping out and there were threats of boycotts. Suddenly it matters.

The definition of racism doesn't appear to be proven in the case of what the team owner said (whose name I am deliberately not using because this is about more than one person-- it's about a cause or more accurately a philosophy of a culture). I mean we don't know that he thought blacks were inferior or even all the same. He just didn't want his girlfriend bringing them to sit by her at a game. Weird. Kooky. But racist? Maybe and maybe not. His behavior as a slum landlord, that's a lot easier to say is racist, and even what he said to defend himself with talking as though he gave his team good money and food, etc. That sounds like a plantation owner, doesn't it? so he probably is a racist.

The rancher in Nevada is ignorant, easily led, wants to believe in a religion that already assures him he can become a god and for many generations told their members blacks could not because they bore the mark of Cain. Ridiculous. Ignorant. Pretty much he's just a jerk. He did appear to put all blacks in one bag which would be racist.

Finally comes the more important of these issues-- the Supreme Court's decision regarding affirmative action in Michigan universities. To assure us we no longer need affirmative action because there is no racism is scariest to me of all since it impacts a lot more than one person's bigoted statement. It's about changing a direction when clearly we can see that racism is still very much a factor.

I get what Michigan said in that dollars make a better judgment as to who needs help getting into a university, but when you say racism is over, you are ignoring an important reality-- it's not. And it is about a lot more than minority races. It's about gender, ethnicity also. Now exactly what we can do about it... that's a little harder to figure out.


la peregrina said...

Rain, I have to disagree with you about Sterling's not wanting his girlfriend to bring black guys to any of his team's ballgames as not being racist. He specifically said black people not don't bring your boyfriends or don't bring you basketball player friends to the games. He went out of his way to point out race. That makes him a racist.

Rain Trueax said...

It's fair game to disagree. He specifically said black friends for sure. But since she's mixed racial, the motive is what we are talking about. She has said in an interview that they were not lovers and she didn't believe he was racist but what he said sure sounded that way. A lot of things he did though seem more that way to me. And the things he did by not maintaining housing properly by denying rentals to certain people, those actions mean more than a few words recorded in a private conversation. I wrote more on this as maybe you saw. I do not much like private conversations being used as this one was. It's not though necessarily racist for me to point out someone's race or color-- although we've gotten to where when a crime has been committed and they are letting the public know they are looking for a specific person, they often cannot say what color they are as part of the description. Sometimes PC goes too far.

Thanks for commenting. Dissent is always welcome when it's thoughtful as I know you always are.