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July 14th, 2012, 13:38
Originally Posted by Biff The Understudy View Post
The point i was making was that i believe we are pre-programmed to respond with hostility to anything different or foregin wich is where i believe racism starts.
Yes, and no. It is true that we are pre-programmed to respond with hostility to anything different and appearances we aren't familiar with will provoke a such reaction. We will react to fat, slim, tall, small, bald, an uncommon hair color, an unusual birthmark etc. We will also react to a difference in skin color. The question I ask, is this alone racism? It seems like cherrypicking one reaction out of many and treat that different.

To really make the point, compare the following:
Originally Posted by That's racist!
* Child: Look ma, that man is fat. Others: Oh, an embarrassing child.
* Child: Look ma, that man is slim. Others: Oh, an embarrassing child.
* Child: Look ma, that man is tall. Others: Oh, an embarrassing child.
* Child: Look ma, that man is small. Others: Oh, an embarrassing child.
* Child: Look ma, that man is bald. Others: Oh, an embarrassing child.
* Child: Look ma, that man have red hair. Others: Oh, an embarrassing child.
* Child: Look ma, that man have a red spot on his chin. Others: Oh, an embarrassing child.
* Child: Look ma, that man is brown. Others: Thats racist!
No. I say racism begin at a later stage, the mere reaction of the difference doesn't make a child racist. Note that racism isn't only pointing out a visual difference, it's interpreting that difference in a whole line of assumptions about the individuals character.

Using the examples above, the mother can in each case reply to the child something like "hush, do not point at people just because they look different". But what if the mother reacted like this?
to the fat man and instead replied "yes, he's fat because he have bad character" but "hush, do not point at people just because they look different" to every other case, including the "brown man"?

To really make the point, compare the following:
Originally Posted by The Fat Man
* Child: Look ma, that man is fat. Mother: Yes, he's fat because he have bad character
* Child: Look ma, that man is brown. Mother: Hush, do not point at people just because they look different
… or …

Originally Posted by The Ginger Head
* Child: Look ma, that man have red hair. Mother: Be warned, that means that the man have beastly desires and moral degeneration
* Child: Look ma, that man is brown. Mother: Hush, do not point at people just because they look different
… or ofcourse …

Originally Posted by The Racist
* Child: Look ma, that man is brown. Mother: Yes, negroes are brown, aggressive and criminal but they make good farming tools.
… or …
* Child: Look ma, that man is brown. Mother: Yes, that means that he is an engineer.
And finally…

Originally Posted by The non-racist
* Child: Look ma, that man is fat. Mother: Yes, he's fat because he have bad character
* Child: Look ma, that man is slim. Mother: He's probably anorectic.
* Child: Look ma, that man is tall. Mother: Yeah, and look at his shoes, they are enormous lol
* Child: Look ma, that man is small. Mother: Wait until you hear the dwarf speak, it's so funny.
* Child: Look ma, that man is bald. Mother: Yeah, don't that egghead look silly
* Child: Look ma, that man have red hair. Mother: Be warned, that means that the man have beastly desires and moral degeneration
* Child: Look ma, that man have a red spot on his chin. Mother: Probably lipstick
* Child: Look ma, that man is brown. Mother: Hush, do not point at people just because they look different
In each situation, the values of someone else either loads the noted difference with non-meaning or meaning and this is the vital component for racism. Note in my example of the racist did one example that mirrors negative cultural prejudices about black people and one example that is out of the blue. I did so because I wanted to point out the cultural and transferred component of racism. People do not go around and call dark skinned men "engineers", at least I haven't heard of anyone who does.

So we have the case where the mother teaches the child to disregard the difference as non-important, the case where the mother teaches the child all the cultural prejudices against dark skinned people and the case where the mother teaches the child a completely odd interpretion of the visual appearance. Only the middle makes the child into a racist and that's where racism begins. The last one is negative in some contexts and positive in others, beyond being completely false.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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