Jusstice: I'm going to need another day at least to figure out how to even begin to respond to your post, because I legitimately have no idea what to do about this:
But what’s more likely to be called out as “racist” is if I put forward the question where the person came from, then maybe share stories of when I visited there, what food I ate, so on. Because how could I have concluded that the person is from somewhere else unless, god forbid, I notice that they are a different race. It’s as if acknowledging the existence of Chicken and Waffles is “racist”.
So, if I understand this correctly, your go-to conversation strategy when talking to a black person who is a complete stranger is to open with how you think he doesn’t belong here on account of his skin color, and then work chicken and waffles into the conversation?
And somehow he's the one who's being the problem?
Yeah, let me get back to you.
You’re muddling the issue with the words you’ve chosen to use. First, not "belonging" somewhere is completely different than not being originally from somewhere. Fact, Vermont is 96% White according to the census. Another fact, other states especially those in the South have a much, much higher percent of Black populations. Given those two facts, forming a preliminary conclusion that a Black person you meet in Vermont is likely from another state is completely warranted. As Mad Max has said, people draw conclusions, and we do so because it is superior from an evolutionary standpoint to not doing so. Thank goodness we don’t have to shut down the inductive reasoning part of our brain to stop being racist. But nowhere in forming the conclusion that being Black in Vermont is not typical do I see discrimination, or the insinuation that someone doesn’t “belong”. Fact is, US citizens have a constitutional right of travel freely within the states, and in that sense at least, they “belong” everywhere.
Also, who are you saying that I consider “the problem”. It’s not a Black person who might not be comfortable talking about their background. It’s when one White person talks to a Black person about their background in a way that’s perfectly acceptable to both of them, then a third White person isn’t comfortable with them doing it. That White person will raise the eyebrow at the other White person, as if to say, “How could you openly discuss differences like that? That’s racist!”.
In my experience in the US also, having a conversation about the place someone grew up is presumptively not unwelcome. But generally anyway, people are very good at having a sense of when another person is being genuine and is comfortable with them. If you are, it’s pretty unlikely that someone will perceive an honest question as needling you. And if you aren’t comfortable with that person, avoiding the acknowledgment of their race and background isn’t enough to get you an “I’m not racist” pass. To the contrary, they will probably see right through to the fact that your outlook is whitewashed.
Don’t want to take my word for it, go read what Black people in that kind of setting are saying about talking race with White people (http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/why-i-dont-talk-about-race-white-people). Basically, people are tired of White people approaching the issue with the exclusive goal of establishing that they aren’t racist. The White person who refuses to acquaint themselves with somebody of another race due to not wanting to possibly discover uncomfortable differences, that person is out to reinforce their private, individual sense of non-racism. And even if they aren’t racist, seems like Black people feel that them keeping quiet to justify to themselves that they’re race-blind supports a racist system with these silent biases. Better to realize you are a different race than somebody and go on trying to find common ground with that person than just trying to ignore it. If they’ve been tiptoed around or similar by other people of your race, yeah that’s too bad, people should be less uncomfortable with races different than theirs.
An argument does not magically become correct just because you hate black people. Emotion does not dictate what is factual and what is not.
Incidentally, I love how you're simultaneously arguing that there is reasoning and statistical basis behind racism to osiorb, but then you make statements about how you never said that you never said racism was rational and how it is purely based on emotion, but somehow that's ok because of you don't think the burden of proof should apply to you.
These are, of course, completely contradictory statements - something cannot have both rational basis and have no basis in rationality - but you're arguing them anyway. Either you have no argument or you do not yourself know what it is.
This idea is really misplaced that you can prove/disprove a political opinion if you can find an invalid logical construction for it. Again, grey areas. Inductive reasoning is about likelihoods and probabilities, not scientific falsification and air-tight logic.
Certain people also seem to confuse when someone is mentioning the fact that people have a certain rationale with that person actually advancing that rationale as argument. Mad Mat should be able to say that some people think X about Black people based on Y, without being understood that he believes that himself. After all, we are talking as the topic of the thread why opinions are polarized, which would probably necessitate raising the fact of there being a polarized opinion toward one side. But as soon as he raises that viewpoint for the sake of the fact that it exists, he’s bombarded with questions about how he could possible believe such a thing himself. Racist! Come on, people.
At least in this case, I really think it comes down to one issue: the definition of racism. The definition I use (and I think that Mad Mat uses) is: believing that one race is inherently superior to another. And I think Highroller's definition (which, to avoid confusion, I call racial prejudice) is: incorporating information about a person's race into your treatment of them.
This is the crux of it, really. And to borrow the prior analogy by osieorb with apples, pineapples, and pens, you certainly can have strong opinions on something without believing that thing is superior or inferior. Let’s say I have a pet that eats apples, and is poisoned by pineapples. Maybe a former pet of mine of the same species died of pineapple poisoning. My friend though has a pet that’s poisoned by apples, and eats pineapples. So, I don’t want pineapples in my house, but I would certainly not vote for laws prohibiting pineapples. And there is plenty of room for pens to be in my house, either way.
Odd that someone would bring up who is fit to be a judge and who isn’t, also. As I said before, confusion seems to be stemming from this precept that people ought to think like judges in their everyday lives, or that approaching issues of race, etc, with anything less than a judge’s impartiality is unfair. Fact is, the only real time where people are held to a standard of being blind to another person’s status is exactly that, a judge or jury in a court room. Sit down with drinks at party with someone and start talking about where their accent comes from, see how far it gets you to say something like, “Sorry, I’m not allowed to consider the fact of your national origin in my judgment of whether I enjoy this conversation, so I would prefer if we kept those facts out of it.” How absurd is that? And in the end, where is the benefit of diversity there? If people can’t hear the experiences of someone different without feeling uncomfortable that those differences might be influencing their opinion of that person, who benefits there? Way off base.
I’m leaning more toward Mad Mat’s take on this. I don’t think that just any preconceived judgment made along the lines of race is what is widely intended by the term “racism”. I think that a crucial element in the term is the belief that one’s own race is superior to others. Definitions from the interwebs:
Google – A) “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior. B) 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.
Webster’s A) a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.
So to borrow the example, if you are a woman in Cologne and you feel apprehensive about a group of North African men, it’s not conclusively racist. If you believe based on their perceived traits that they are more likely to commit a crime, also not necessarily racist, although probably unfair. But if you believe that their race is the primary determinant of those negative traits that cause you apprehension, and that those racial traits as a whole make their race inferior, it’s only then that’s it’s conclusively “racism”.
But, it seems like drawing any conclusions whatsoever based on race is identified by a certain segment as “racist”. In fact, I find that refusing to draw certain, obvious conclusions based on race is a pretty sure sign that a person is not comfortable with other races, and is likely to offend people of a different race. For example if I am in Vermont, it is a fairly safe assumption that the only Black person in the office did not grow up there. If I treat them as if they did, that’s insensitive. Worse, if I act out in supposed shock on discovering that they grew up in the South, very insincere and insensitive. But what’s more likely to be called out as “racist” is if I put forward the question where the person came from, then maybe share stories of when I visited there, what food I ate, so on. Because how could I have concluded that the person is from somewhere else unless, god forbid, I notice that they are a different race. It’s as if acknowledging the existence of Chicken and Waffles is “racist”.
I think also people confuse the standards that ought to be expected of them with the standard of equal protection that we consider fair under the law. Justice is blind, so they say. And of course if someone’s race is considered as “evidence” that they committed a crime, that’s illegal discrimination. It’s also wrong for a jury to consider as evidence anything that isn’t admitted as evidence, or for the government to enact law without what’s been defined as a “rational basis”. But holding people privately to a standard of race-blindness is a creation of politics.
Relating to politics as the topic, I personally don’t think Trump is any more racist than the average person of his demographics. I don’t find him as culturally sensitive as a president should be. I think a lot of his policy proposals would violate the Equal Protections and substantive Due Process clauses, as interpreted by the Supreme Court. I'm not thrilled to have him as POTUS. But, I don’t believe that he thinks the White race is superior to other races. And, I think a solid majority of the times that people have called him “racist”, they are being lazy with the term and actually mean something different.