linguoboy wrote:You've lost me here. I don't understand what your hypothetical example is supposed to illustrate. I used the example of "foreign nationals" because (correct me if I'm wrong) that's a minority group which you have direct experience of and I'm trying to get you to understand how direct experience of unequal treatment alters one's perspective.
I get that, I'm trying to get you to understand that that alteration of one's perspective doesn't always make you more empathetic to people in a similar situation to you if the unequal treatment you suffered biased you against the people whose situation is similar to yours and with whom you would otherwise be empathising.
linguoboy wrote:That's the point: they STRUGGLE. They don't just give up and say "This is too hard, I'm just going to call you something else." That happens to Quvenzhané Wallis; it doesn't happen to Saoirse Ronan. (In fact, quite the opposite: "Saoirse" is rocketing in popularity as a name for girls in the USA.)
I've said it before and I'll say it again as I don't think you actually believe me: I'm not ruling out the possibility that white people might try harder to pronounce "white" names that are unusual than "non-white" ones, I can even imagine a rational for why that might be the case. However, I also don't think it the impossible or unlikely even that the mostly black people you mentioned posting on the thread were motivated not by a fair and informed assessment of the extent of white Americans' willingness to grapple with Irish names by comparison to non-white ones but rather a belief that white privilege is so rampant that they can just assume it must be true in this case even if they haven't had all that much experience of it. Prejudices tend to work that way in clouding our experiences.
linguoboy wrote:I have already. My suggestion is that you go back through the thread, read what's already been posted, and rejoin the conversation when you're caught up to where everyone else is.
I searched for "racial animus" in the keyword search for this thread and the first time it's used is in the exact post I'm quoting. As far as I can see, this particular discussion kicked off when you posted about your experience with your acquaintance's thread and I can't see any post explaining what you mean by "racial animus" between then and now. If you explained it elsewhere in the 40 pages of this thread and didn't actually use the term, I'd need to read all 40 pages to find it, which I'm not going to do.
linguoboy wrote:How? How is this a racist thing to say?
Yasna answered you here:
Yasna wrote:Anyone who disagrees, feel free to provide an example of a comment in the form of "you don't [negatively perceived action] like most black men" which wouldn't be considered racist.
And before you say that you answered his answer, I found your answer unconvincing on the grounds that your definition of racism being context-dependent just seems like a way to excuse your racism.
linguoboy wrote:These POC are living alongside those white people every day and making observations. You don't live in the USA, you never have, you don't seem at all educated on the history of racism here. You're no kind of authority on this subject, but you keep insisting that you are. That's the dictionary definition of "doubling down [on a bad argument]".
It's not that I'm not educated on the history of racism in the US, nor that I'm insisting that I'm an authority on it, it's that we disagree on what constitutes racism. What you consider part and parcel of the very definition of racism includes all sorts of considerations based on it's history. I don't accept that that's what racism is, but rather those are the effects of racism. Racism is treating people differently based on their supposed race. It isn't the history of racism, nor it's effects, it's literally just the actual prejudice in your head.
linguoboy wrote:Why do you think you're better at spotting racism than the people most directly impacted by racism on a daily basis? Do you also think you're better at spotting sexism than women are? Better at spotting homophobia than queerfolk?
I think I'm better as spotting racism than people whose definition of what that is is itself racist.
linguoboy wrote:I was sceptical--that's how the whole account started!
Yes, but as soon as you were challenged on your skepticism it immediately evaporated, seemingly without a reasonable explanation, or at least it's one that you haven't posted here. I understand you don't want to divulge the details of a private discussion you had elsewhere, but the whole thing about this that made me suspect you weren't being objective enough was that you never explained how your acquaintance responded to the charge that the people in that thread were attributing an inaccurately large amount of charity on behalf of white Americans towards "white" names as opposed to non-white ones, other than that he basically said "trust me, everything is always worse for black people". And if you just accepted that uncritically, then I'd say your skepticism was pretty thin to begin with.
linguoboy wrote:If you're "embalmed" in something then you are, by definition, not living a life.
Fine, it was a poor choice of word. Take "steeped" then.
linguoboy wrote:No, I don't think just consuming American media is sufficient to gain a deep understanding of how American society functions, for a whole host of reason. For starters, you basically get to pick and choose what you consume and from whom; an American living in this society (particularly a member of a minority community) doesn't have that same liberty. I'm well-off and live independently, I could choose to watch only Irish movies and read Irish books if I wanted. But at some point I still have to interact with American government agencies, American police forces, American shopkeepers, American panhandlers, etc. (something I've been doing that for over 50 years now, btw.).
Well, I don't just mean media, I mean all interactions with Americans online and in real life too. Regardless, your opinion of how valid my knowledge and experience of American culture is in relation to this conversation isn't an objective measure we can argue about so it's pointless to pursue this any further.
linguoboy wrote:The issue isn't that you're expressing an opinion, it's that you're insisting I give your opinion the same weight as I would my own when the two aren't comparable at all.
The thing is that while my opinion has the defect of not having being born from as much experience as yours, yours seems to have the defect of having been biased in a way mine hasn't (which could in fact be precisely because
I haven't lived in the US). You can dismiss my opinion because I'm inexperienced, I can dismiss yours as being prejudiced and unobjective. I don't expect to win this argument by having you concede that I'm right, I'm just trying to point out to you where I think your prejudice is. Only you can know if you are actually being intellectually honest with yourself when you're making these judgements.
linguoboy wrote:Reread what you've just written and imagine what your reaction would be if someone said the same thing to you. Would it be a positive one or would you perceive me as talking down to you?
Only if you feel that it's talking down to you that I consider you to have a bias which clouds your rationality. I personally don't think of it that way; most people have biases and they rarely see them, this doesn't put them in a position of inferiority to which I perceive myself to be talking down to them. I actually think you're a smart enough person that there's a chance you might consider, in the privacy of your own mind, if what I've said has any merit, and even if I never know that you've changed you mind I'd like to try anyway. If I were truly talking down to you, I wouldn't be asking you to consider any of this, I'd have written you off as an idiot who should simply be opposed rather than engaged with. I certainly wouldn't spend this much time writing a response to someone who I had no respect for.
linguoboy wrote:So you know a lot of POC living in majority white societies, do you?
(Remember, I'm not talking about "anybody white people don't consider white" here, I'm talking specifically about people considered nonwhite living among a majority of white people.
I'm close to a few living here, my wife being one.
linguoboy wrote:The perspectives of a Brazilian pardo living in Rio and one living in NYC are not the same, not any more than the perspective of an Irishman living in Rio and one living in Dublin.)
Well yes, all four of those perspectives would be different from each other in meaningful ways.
linguoboy wrote:Which is why I don't find your definition very useful for talking about racial disparities or for addressing them. Quick question: How did the USA come to have an underclass of impoverished people of African origins? What makes you think this has somehow been rendered irrelevant in the present day?
What makes you think I think this is irrelevant? I just don't think it's part of the definition of "racism". It's an effect of racism, and is certainly relevant in explaining how the US got to be how it is today. I'm really not sure what you think I'm supposed to disagree with here.
linguoboy wrote:I'm not looking to "excuse racism"; I'm examining the impact of different acts in different context and focusing on those which cause the most societal harm with an eye to reducing that harm. I see you as being willfully blind to those distinctions.
But you're just reframing the downplaying/excusing of some kinds of racism as not "focusing" on them. You don't need to worry about your "focus", you need to worry about your principles. I'm as concerned about the harm caused by white supremacy as you are, you seem to think that pointing out any other kind of racism that crosses our paths as an attack on that. I don't think the underlying issues are different - the problem is people believing in the concept of "races" and judging people differently based on what "race" they think people belong to (or which one they think they belong to). The horrific outcomes of the practice of this mentality by generations of Europeans over the past few centuries has created inequality across these imagined lines, but what do you think we gain by continuing to pretend like the concept is valid? How do you think we're supposed to graduate from this paradigm if the nonsensical racial lines keep being underscored again and again?
linguoboy wrote:Okay, if that's a "hypothesis", how would you test it? What facts or observations would you consider sufficient to confirm or disprove it? Because if it's not falsifiable, it's simply a "just-so story".
Well, it's composed of the following statements:
1) White supremacy is a concept that existed.
2) White supremacy is a concept that still exists and has adherents.
3) Racial hatred toward white people exists among both white people and POCs.
4) To at least some extent, said racial hatred is a reaction to the aforementioned white supremacy.
5) White people are presumed to have privilege that non-white people do not.
6) The perceived extent of the privilege is affected by the aforementioned racial hatred.
I think we agree about 1 and 2, so I won't bother explaining how that can be proved.
I'd be surprised if you claimed 3 doesn't exist at all. A tricky thing to prove maybe, but a survey or a few psychological studies could be done perhaps.
4 is what I propose could be an effect of 3, and it seems plausible, proving it would be hard though. Detailed psychological analysis of the people involved? Trawling through their social media history to find any previous, clearer instances of a prejudice? I mean, how to you prove it in the case of white people? You don't, you just assume your observed reality is a reliable source of information.
I actually agree with 5, but it's where its limits are that I'm cautious not to exaggerate. Again, as we agree on it, I won't bother explaining how it could be proven.
6 is again my posited possibility, and would be proven much as 4 was.
Then again, I was probably just using the term "hypothesis" like everyone does and didn't mean it as a scientist would as this isn't a scientific question (nor a scientific discussion).
I actually had a really good discussion about this last week with a coworker who's the same age as I am and was raised in a very similar household (i.e. white, liberal, middle-class, both parents college-educated).
The end result was that I didn't have a context for understanding the racial disparities that I observed. I grew up mostly in St Louis, which is one of the most segregated cities in the USA. But I never learned why that segregation existed. If asked to explain it as a child, I probably would have said that Blacks were more comfortable living with other Blacks just like whites were living with other whites. (It wasn't until relatively recently that I learned this isn't true: While whites do express a strong preference for living in majority-white neighbourhoods, most Blacks say they would rather live
in racially-mixed neighbourhoods--and experimental evidence
bears this out.) Or I would have said that most Blacks in St Louis were too poor to afford to live in majority-white neighbourhoods, without going a step forward and asking why
Blacks had so much less wealth than whites.
I certainly didn't learn about the restrictive convenants
which produced the patchwork of "Black" and "white" neighbourhoods in the first place and still work to maintain them
. I didn't think to wonder why there weren't more than a handful of Black students in my private Catholic college preparatory. Again, if asked, I would have said that there weren't that many Black Catholics--never mind that the enrollment in my high school was 25% non-Catholic. Moreover, there are, in fact, a significant number of Black Catholics in St Louis. It was years after I left the Church before I even thought to ask why I hadn't ever met any. (Short answer: Because parish membership is local and we always lived in nearly all-white neighbourhoods.)
That's very interesting, I had heard of "colour-blindness" before and assumed that it was simply the idea that you would realise that the whole "race" thing was a terrible pseudo-scientific error and that you would try to live as unafflicted by that mentality as possible. I didn't realise it implied not actually teaching people what happened and how past racism explains how the current society is composed. I want to make it clear that I would certainly not be in favour of neglecting to teach the history of racism, it's incredibly important that people understand that to avoid exactly the kinds of misparsing of society you mention above.
I definitely will, thanks for the links!