Racism

There is a discussion going on over at SayUncle about Racism and an “Implicit Association Test” created by some people at a little college called “Harvard University”.

I posted my own test results as a comment and I started to post this as a comment as well but it got too long and involved so I decided to dedicate a post to the subject.

The most correct definition of racism, as I understand it, is the belief that one race is inherently (perhaps genetically) superior to another.

By that definition, I am not racist at all. I don’t believe that color of skin, angle of eyes, texture of hair etc have any bearing on anyone’s capabilities or superiority.

Race does include some genetic predispositions of course, but the fact that Asians, for example, tend toward the small in stature doesn’t make them “inferior” as demonstrated by the historical ferocity of their warriors.

By that definition, I would say that the vast majority of people could not be categorized as “racist”. Most people have preferences in the physical charactaristics that they find aesthetically pleasing. Some of those traits are associated with racial makeup, just as some are associated with a particular gender, or a particular age group. If the test at Harvard has any applicability at all (doubtful as far as I’m concerned), the most it can claim is to identify preferences. Preferences do not a racist make.

I think that a much more common “ism” that is commonly mistaken for racism is “culturism”. I believe that there are superior cultures to others. I disapprove of the current “thug” culture prevalent in our inner cities, regardless of the race of the individual that ascribes to that culture. I disaprove of the culture of “liberalism” (i.e. socialism) in that I think it breeds dependency and narcissism. In some ways, I believe that many Asian cultures are superior to the one in which I was raised in that they tend to place huge importance on academic achievement and personal effort. In some ways, however, they place too much emphasis on those traits to the point that members of those cultures feel extreme pressure and anxiety as evidenced by the relatively high suicide rates in Japan.

I also see some benefit to the hispanic cultural tradition of the “siesta”. I know that my personal productivity is improved if I am allowed relaxation and rest time in the middle of the day. But does that mean that all people of Hispanic descent are superior to those of European descent, or Asian descent or African descent? Of course not.

One of my favorite columnists is Thomas Sowell, an economics professor and author. He seems to ascribe to the culture that I believe is superior to any other. The American tradition of hard work, personal responsibility, self-reliance, self-improvement, family values and good, old fashioned common sense. Were I a racist, I would dismiss his obvious positive traits due to the singular fact that Thomas Sowell is of African descent. Thus I would be ignoring his obvious intelligence and wisdom based on nothing more than my prejudices. That is racism.

Here’s the rub: there are certain cultural traits that are more commonly associated with particular races. I’ve mentioned some of them, the Hispanic tradition of the Siesta, the Asian work ethic, etc.

Having a preference for one culture over another, even if that culture is associated with a particular race, creed or color, is not racism. Culturism perhaps, but racism it is not.

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