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Bit of a Rant About the Term "Racist"

(125 Posts)
NotQuiteCockney Sat 23-Jul-05 00:39:17

There's been a bit of a scrum with people being called racist here today (after the whole bombings thing). It's bugging me quite a bit.

There aren't two big categories of people in the world, a racist one (with the BNP, Hitler, etc in it) and a not-racist one (all the nice folks). Racism is a continuum. At one end, ok, there's the BNP, Hitler etc.

At the other end, the completely not-racist one? There's pretty much nobody. Small children, who see skin colour as a human characteristic, like ear size and finger length. Probably some SN folks. I honestly believe that nobody here is completely and utterly not-racist.

Why do I say that? Because we see skin colour (and other racial characteristics) as indicators of people's behaviour. I am racist. I try to control it, but I make generalisations, based on what I hear and see, and apply them, unfairly, to people based on their colour.

Some of these are innocuous. For example, I find Black men are more likely to help me carry a pram up and down tube stairs than white men (some don't). I would expect a South Asian person to be more likely to know about a good curry house (some won't). I would be surprised to meet an East Asian person who was Jewish (but I'm sure some are, why not?). But these views are still racist.

Yes, Black people are racist. As are White people and everyone else, all to varying degrees. And who people are racist about, and how much, varies so much that it doesn't really make sense to call someone racist - calling an opinion or an attitude racist is probably fairer, although also very incendiary.

HappyDaddy Sat 23-Jul-05 00:40:22

Oooooh this will kick off in a minute...

Fran1 Sat 23-Jul-05 00:42:59

I am sorry but i disagree. Much of what you said is not what i would describe as rascist. It's more making an assumption, the same as assuming a health visitor knows all about breastfeeding. (sorry couldn't think of a better example!).

And so i don't consider you racist from what you say in that thread.

NotQuiteCockney Sat 23-Jul-05 00:44:19

No doubt. It was just bugging me far too much (on the other very very large thread) and I had to have a go at explaining why.

It's very frustrating when one group of people are using a word to mean "being like Hitler" and the other are using a word to mean "being prejudiced". Oddly enough, fights result.

There's a whole other rant about why it is both completely ridiculous and entirely understandable to be jumpy around certain people right now, but it's far too complicated for me to try to explain at this hour, I think.

NotQuiteCockney Sat 23-Jul-05 00:44:56

Fran1, what would you consider racist?

I think everyone draws the line somewhere on the continuum, but in a different place ...

NotQuiteCockney Sat 23-Jul-05 00:46:03

To clarify: I think I do my best to treat people fairly and equally. I try to raise my kids to do the same. I am not Hitler.

HappyDaddy Sat 23-Jul-05 00:46:08

By the way, NQC please ignore my stupid comment below. I'm tired and not taking anything very seriously at the moment. Apologies.

NotQuiteCockney Sat 23-Jul-05 00:48:09

Oh, HD, nothing to apologise for!

I should be in bed, too, this was bugging me too much for me to sleep, which is a sad sad state of affairs.

Fran1 Sat 23-Jul-05 00:51:10

Oooh gosh its a bit late to get this deep but i'll give it a go.

Racist - is a genuine dislike/hatred of another race/culture. This can be demonstrated through discrimination, abuse or voicing of opinions.

Ignorance is not racist. That is just uneducated.

Assumption is not racist as i said earlier. Assuming all black men have big willy's is not racist.

HappyDaddy Sat 23-Jul-05 00:51:17

Cool, NQC. Nighty night.

HappyDaddy Sat 23-Jul-05 00:52:27

Fran1 assumption is ignorant and stereotyping though. Which can be offensive.

Oh god, I'm definately off to bed now.

Flossam Sat 23-Jul-05 00:52:47

Too late for me too to say anything I can think through sensibly on this thread. I will try and think of something for you in the morning time NQC!

NotQuiteCockney Sat 23-Jul-05 00:53:34

But I'd say all racism is ignorant, or at least the really nasty stuff is. There are a lot of deeply racist people who've never really known anyone of another race.

And lots of people who think that Black men have big willies, say, also think that Black men are oversexed rapists. I think some people believe that one belief implies the other.

Fran1 Sat 23-Jul-05 00:53:45

I agree with your saying there are no two categories in the world.

But don't agree with how broadly you put racism either.

An old granny using familiar (to her) un pc language is not being racist.

Am i making any sense?

chicagomum Sat 23-Jul-05 00:54:29

NQC if i was one of those who aggravated you today and am causing you to fail to sleep i apologise, i've been dipping in and out of threads and some of my posts seemed to have been taking wrongly

HappyDaddy Sat 23-Jul-05 00:54:44

Fran, my granny used to use un pc language. She was racist too, though.

Fran1 Sat 23-Jul-05 00:55:35

hmmmm i knew ignorant wasn't the right word to use. And yes i agree with your statement there.

But still think there are lots of opportunities where people are not being racist even though they are being un pc or are simply uneducated.

NotQuiteCockney Sat 23-Jul-05 00:55:38

I agree that inappropriate language, used through ignorance, isn't racist.

I had a very strange conversation with an older man about borders, and what a hassle it was getting through them if you weren't white. He was making complete sense, and not being racist about this at all (I think), but was using some really rather alarming terms.

I don't think that my racist beliefs are equivalent to, say, thinking Black people are subhuman, or stupid, or that all Asian people are terrorists. But they're still racist beliefs.

Fran1 Sat 23-Jul-05 00:56:07

Oi i thought you were in bed!

NotQuiteCockney Sat 23-Jul-05 00:57:21

I think there is a distinction that can be made between racism that hurts people and racism that doesn't, but this has as much to do with how much power the racist person has, as with how racist they are. A slightly racist person with a lot of power (say, a university admissions person) can do a lot more damage than a very racist person with little power (one of those actually racist un-pc grans, say).

Flossam Sat 23-Jul-05 00:58:13

Hmm the bloke I shagged at uni was most definately not particularly well endowed... A bit of a dissapointment on all counts if I'm honest!

NotQuiteCockney Sat 23-Jul-05 00:58:34

chicagomum, it really wasn't any single person, it was the mass of "racist/not racist" conversation. And actually, it wasn't just this evening's worth, it includes a bunch of previous "racist/not racist" arguments on here.

Flossam Sat 23-Jul-05 00:58:41

I really should go to bed shouldn't I?

hunkermunker Sat 23-Jul-05 00:59:13

How about people who say things that could be construed as racist taken out of context, but in context, because they're meant totally as jokes and the two people involved know this, is this OK?

Or is this equally as offensive?

HappyDaddy Sat 23-Jul-05 00:59:16

I must say that racism is the one thing that instantly makes my dw see the red mist. She certainly would have no time for a debate with someone she considered racist.

To be honest, NQC, you sound as though you are trying very hard to think you are racist. I don't think you are, though.

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