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Re: OFF: TAN: What does 'racism' mean to you? (was Re: Ebonic Xmas)

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Friday, January 14, 2000, 3:03
Tundra Slosek scripsit:

> racism = a pattern of behaviors or customs which is both specifically > intended to lower the worth, character, esteem or quality of one (broad or > narrow, but membership determined by brief visual observation) ethnic group > and which (pattern) plays a significant part in society
I agree with this. I will add that there may be socities in which the lighter-skinned are the targets of racism by the darker-skinned, but I can't think of any. The case of Haiti, where a dark elite dominates both a small light minority and a huge dark majority seems to me to be class-based rather than race-based.
> You seem to be making a distinction between race hatred or discrimination > and racism. To me, in simple terms, race hatred is a general very strong > negative feeling about a person/group simply because of membership in that > race. Discrimination is not about positive or negative feelings, but rather > about forcing certain actions based solely on race. Racism, by my > understanding of your definition is entirely about society acting in a way > to lowering a person based entirely on race.
Just so. Some blacks may exhibit race hatred against whites, or (in a limited sphere) discriminate against whites, but whites are not a target of racism in the U.S.
> Now, if I do get your meaning correctly, may I ask where you get your > definition? I don't mean that by way of 'I challenge you to prove that you > are right'; I only ask that you indulge me with the general source of your > understanding of the term.
Pretty much from listening to people using the word "racism" and other people objecting to its use. The definition above represents the consensus case: what both blacks and whites are willing to call "racism." Some people use "racism" as a synonym for "race hatred", but others will make a distinction between the terms that seems to me similar to the ones you and I have made. I have observed a similar distinction made between "racism" and "race prejudice". OTOH some people use "discrimination" only in the institutional sense, and deny that blacks discriminate against whites. I do not know what terms they use instead. By making these distinctions, we can find out what part of disagreements are merely verbal rathher than substantial: asking "Is there reverse racism [sc. against whites]?" cannot be answered until we know the relevant sense of "racism", e.g. -- John Cowan I am a member of a civilization. --David Brin