Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Some thoughts on racism

Lately, thoughts about racism have been on my mind quite a bit. Watching politics as I do may have started the thought process. Add to that the book series I've been reading about the Second War Between the States (see my post here). Then, there was the death in June of a man that I know had some racist tendencies, but also could see through some of the fog.

But regardless, the reason, I've been wondering about racism and our nation. To start with, I needed to understand the real definition of racism. I found lots of definitions on the web: prejudice that one race is superior (or that another is inferior); discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race; the belief that each race has distinct and intrinsic attributes.

I also have been wondering about other -isms. Say for example a man treats women differently. He puts women down, calls them things like "bimbos" and refuses to hire women for "man work". That's as wrong as racism. This could affect men as well as women (As a college student, I was told I was turned down for a co-op position because I was male).

There are also regional -isms. Being a Southerner, there are some people that think I have an accent (actually, they have the accent). When they hear my voice on the phone, they may immediately start treating me differently. I may be turned down for a job, get a higher interest rate or in extreme cases, be targeted for violence because I don't sound like them.

So, with these seemingly random thoughts to start off, I will post some thoughts on racism over the next several posts, with some other subjects sprinkled in between. I invite your comments, but would offer some caution. There are some potentially sensitive subjects and I ask all commenters to be cognizant. If I deem some comments inappropriate, I will delete them or single them out. This is my blog and you have freedom of speech as much as I allow. That said, I invite contradictory ideas.


Chuck said...

I think one of the things that is facinating about racism is this notion that only whites can exhibit it. There has long been the argument that blacks cannot be racist because they lack economic power. This is confusing racism with discrimination. In my mind racism is treating someone different in any situation because of race, having prejudice. Discrimination is allowing your racism to effect how you interact with others in a transaction (housing, employment, etc)

As far as -isms, I have always found it amusing to work in a female dominated field as an RN. I have not experienced any ill effects from this, we treat as a joke.

"The Edge" said...

I think one of the best statements I ever heard on racism (or possibly reverse racism) in the job sector was from comedian Bill Cosby, speaking to a graduation class one year at a college (I think Washington).

The basic premise of what he said was that the black community cries "racism", but then does nothing to go out and stay employed. They wanted to have jobs handed to them, but then when the opportunity came along, they did not work hard enough to keep the jobs they wanted.

Not only do I think he was right in his opinion, but I also think this is the very reason I am against (in principle) EEO. I don't think there should be quotas or percentages of minorities hired (although I do think diversity lends to very robust work forces). I think that whoever the BEST qualified candidate for a position is (considering all aspects, including personality, work ethic, output produced, etc.) should get it. Period. In the end, I feel that hiring the best qualified will lead to a better return in the job sector, thus producing more products, thus requiring more workers to keep up with demand for the better product.

Randy said...

Chuck, I agree with you. Also note that non-white races can discriminate too, just not as much.

So, are you called Dr. at times? I'd bet few of the female nurses get that. This would be a sign of sexism and prejudice (pre-judging).

Edge, Bill Cosby is probably the toughest person around on blacks. If a white man said some of the things he said, there'd be trouble.

But even that comment shows racism. It's treating the black race differently from the white race. And Cosby does this a lot.

As for EEO, in a perfect world, every employer would be an equal opportunity employer. But the world is far from perfect and we must admit that racism and job discrimination take place. EEO was instituted to give blacks an opportunity that they had not been given for several years (or decades). Otherwise there was no opportunity for them to better themselves.

Chuck said...

I do get called Dr at times, especially by older people. I tell them that I'm better than a Dr, I'm a nurse. I also have people look at me when they are talking if there are several of us in the room