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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Letter to RedEye: Micro-Racism

Technically this is about Wednesday's articles, but since I didn't get to complete a response, I finished it today. I dislike doing that, because it leads to very disjointed arguments if I'm not careful. My arguments one day differ greatly from my arguments the next day - after they've had time to stew and mutate from my radioactive brainwaves or something...

Anyway, the articles were about Micro-Racism, and are available online at:
The racist in all of us
Micro? What about the macro-racism?
Racism on campus

(As usual, it's all in italics, and anything they actually print I'll put in boldtype later in an update.)

Micro-Racism on Whose Part?

So I read all of the articles about micro-racism, and while some incidents were truly signs of racism (with little "micro" about them) - a lot of these things seem like the racism was only in the victim's mind. The white guy cutting in from of the black guy at a reception desk - is that really about race? Which is the more likely scenario: that a white guy cut in front of a black guy because he thinks so much less of black people or that they "don't matter" enough to wait, or that one person is a jerk and doesn't want to wait in lines with other people? This is just one example of "micro-racism" that I'm pretty sure is only racist on the victim's part for thinking that racism was a motivation for an incident. Why can't the question "Where were you born?" refer to a state or city in America? Why does it have to be implied that the questioner was asking about an Asian country of national origin just because the questionee happens to be of Asian descent?

When will people learn that stereotyping isn't always an "evil racist menace" - because it's just a common necessity for our human brains to work? To the brain, a stereotype is just a simplified collection of all your opinions for a specific subject based on experiences, hearsay and logic. It's okay to stereotype an elephant as large and gray with big ears, isn't it? Unless you've seen elephants that are NOT large or NOT grey or with SMALL ears, that's just how you're going to stereotype them. If you were beaten up by tall and muscled kids during school, you're likely to stereotype all tall and muscled people as potential threats. It's not because of anything personal against them or what they look like or who they are - it's just what you're used to and what you've experienced. If you really want to tackle negative stereotypes, you'd have to get people to stop doing those negative things the lead to the association.

Of course, any attempt to stop groups of people from doing the negative things they are associated with would almost certainly be seen as evil stereotyping or "racism".

Aaron Samuels, 24, Bridgeport

Any thoughts from my readers? Am I wrong?

1 comment:

spookybathtub said...

You say, "If you really want to tackle negative stereotypes, you'd have to get people to stop doing those negative things the lead to the association."

Oh, really? Polish people are sometimes stereotyped as being unfashionable. To fix this, does every Polack in the country need to become more fashionable? Some stereotypes are based on nonsense.