Racism

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linguoboy
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Re: Racism

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-19, 0:43

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I could potentially give you a whole range of comments in this form which wouldn't be considered racist, depending on the background of the speaker, the listener(s), their relationship, and the context in which they occurred. Do you really not understand how context determines meaning, not even after nearly a decade of participation in a discussion group dedicated to language learning and linguistics?

Let's hear a couple of them (spoken by a white person).

I'm really not sure what you're asking for here. Field recordings?
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Re: Racism

Postby Yasna » 2021-02-19, 2:24

linguoboy wrote:I'm really not sure what you're asking for here. Field recordings?

Haha, no. Just the comment and whatever context you think is necessary.
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Re: Racism

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-19, 2:49

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I'm really not sure what you're asking for here. Field recordings?

Haha, no. Just the comment and whatever context you think is necessary.

To what end though? I feel like this is less a good faith attempt to understand contextual communication and more an attempt to play “gotcha” by taking a particular statement out of context.

Why would I think that? Well, because you’ve already done it once in this discussion. I provided what I thought was more than enough context for the generalisation my acquaintance made to me about the behaviour of white men to understand why I didn’t take it as a racist attack. Your response was to strip it of that context completely, and then to further distort it by saying “Now reverse the races.” But the statement only means what it does in the context in which it was uttered and when you remove that context it means something else.
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Re: Racism

Postby Yasna » 2021-02-19, 3:29

linguoboy wrote:To what end though? I feel like this is less a good faith attempt to understand contextual communication and more an attempt to play “gotcha” by taking a particular statement out of context.

Why would I think that? Well, because you’ve already done it once in this discussion. I provided what I thought was more than enough context for the generalisation my acquaintance made to me about the behaviour of white men to understand why I didn’t take it as a racist attack. Your response was to strip it of that context completely, and then to further distort it by saying “Now reverse the races.” But the statement only means what it does in the context in which it was uttered and when you remove that context it means something else.

I just went back to your original post and now see that the quote from Rí.na.dTeangacha which I was working off of wasn't an exact quote of what you originally said. Sorry if I misrepresented what you said.

But for the record I still think the statement as originally written, with all the context you provided, was racist. I can't imagine how anything roughly analagous with the races reversed would not be considered racist.
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Re: Racism

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-19, 3:53

Yasna wrote:But for the record I still think the statement as originally written, with all the context you provided, was racist. I can't imagine how anything roughly analagous with the races reversed would not be considered racist.

As with grammatically judgments, that’s more a statement about the limitations of your imagination than anything else.

But again, you’re changing the context of the statement and then telling me, “See, when you change the context, the meaning changes!” Of course—that’s how language works. It’s like saying, “If you take the statement ‘More white men die from suicide than Black men’ and reverse the races, then it’s a false statement.” You can’t just arbitrarily reverse two terms and hope to find something “roughly analogous” because of the particular history and contemporary state of this society.

Here’s a challenge for your imagination: What’s something a woman can ask a man in a non-intimate context that’s “roughly analogous” to “What colour underwear are you wearing?”
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Re: Racism

Postby Yasna » 2021-02-19, 5:28

linguoboy wrote:As with grammatically judgments, that’s more a statement about the limitations of your imagination than anything else.

But again, you’re changing the context of the statement and then telling me, “See, when you change the context, the meaning changes!” Of course—that’s how language works. It’s like saying, “If you take the statement ‘More white men die from suicide than Black men’ and reverse the races, then it’s a false statement.” You can’t just arbitrarily reverse two terms and hope to find something “roughly analogous” because of the particular history and contemporary state of this society.

Here’s a challenge for your imagination: What’s something a woman can ask a man in a non-intimate context that’s “roughly analogous” to “What colour underwear are you wearing?”

Women are biologically different from men in meaningful ways, so I don't expect such analogousness between the two sexes. Biologically determined racial differences between individuals are not meaningful in the vast majority of contexts, including the context of your acquaintance's statement, so I do expect analogousness. There is also the social context of race, but I find it strange when people interact materially differently with one another based on that, given that the goal (last I checked) is a post-racial society. But whatever, apparently it works out for you in your social circles.
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Re: Racism

Postby vijayjohn » 2021-02-19, 5:39

Yasna wrote:I find it strange when people interact materially differently with one another based on that,

but you've been consistently doing it yourself.

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Re: Racism

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-02-19, 12:28

linguoboy wrote:So if there's particular issue you have to deal with, doesn't it make you more sensitive to the experiences of other people who have to deal with that issues, even if their experience isn't like yours in other respects? Like does being an Irishman living abroad only sensitise you to the issues faced by other Irishmen living abroad or does it cause you to take more notice of how all foreign nationals are treated where you are? And do you not notice at least some of the differences in the kind of treatment afforded to some of those foreign nationals based upon characteristics like country of origin?


What if instead of empathising with other foreign nationals, there were a subgroup of the native populice that had a similar experience to you in some aspect - would it be hard to imagine that as a foreigner who had perhaps experienced prejudice at the hands of the native population, you might just lump them all in together and be blind to the way in which that particular subgroup is treated within the native population? What if you had developed a bias that all the people of the native population hated you, and they all treated each other much better than they treat anyone who isn't one of them, would you still have the same sense of discerning between the various subgroups of them? I've seen many example of the opposite.

linguoboy wrote:I think you don't know much about the USA if you think that. There's an incredible diversity of given names here [...]
So there are a lot of unusual names among white people here. People of all races have a lot of experience dealing with them.


And yet white Americans struggle with Irish names, so apparently there's a limit to how strange a name can be before they are unable or unwilling to make the effort to learn it.

linguoboy wrote:What you're calling "racism" here I would call "racial animus". These do not describe the same phenomena.


I've never heard of such a distinction. Could you elaborate?

linguoboy wrote:He's absolutely right though. That is what white men tend to do in these sorts of situations.


This just means you're as racist as he is though.

linguoboy wrote:It's what you're doing right now.


So is being unmoved by your argument always "doubling down" or is it only when a white man is doing it?

linguoboy wrote:You are right now telling a USAmerican you know better than he does how racism operates in the USA


So there's no issue with a POC telling white people with unusual names that they know how they are treated better than they do, but I can't point out that you're being racist because I don't know how it works in America?

linguoboy wrote:and you're indirectly telling Black folks you're better at recognising racist behaviour than they are.


No, I'm telling you that I think I'm better at spotting racism than woke people like you and your aquiantance.

linguoboy wrote:"Wokeness" is not a cult, let alone some magical reality-distortion field.


Debatable.

linguoboy wrote:It's not even a coherent ideology.


Neither is Christianity, but that's equally cult-like.

linguoboy wrote:It's just a slang term for a loosely associated constellation of attitudes and ideas--so loose, indeed, that I have really no way of knowing what all you're grouping under this umbrella.


In this specific instance, I'm referring to a belief that white people are some sort of coherent, nefarious group who collectively have a bias against all people of other races leading to white people having a nearly unending set of privileges that hold true in almost all circumstances.

linguoboy wrote:Your argument at this point is pure Bulverism


Interesting, I've never come across this before. There's an important distinction between what I'm doing and Bulverism though - I'm not saying that I know your argument is wrong and proceeding to explain why, I'm positing an alternative possibility I think likely, and one which you admit you didn't even consider. The fact that you wouldn't have even considered the point I raised was where I think you went wrong.

linguoboy wrote:You hold the belief that "wokeness" is wrongheaded


Well, as I describe it above, it is a prejudice that many people hold against a specific race, so I suppose you could describe it as "wrongheaded", sure.

linguoboy wrote:Based on a few key phrases, you diagnose both me and the person I'm quoting as suffering from it.


In your case, it's based on more than a few key phrases. I did also add the caveat that I haven't read the thread, don't know what the person said exactly in the discussion with you etc. The point of this discussion was that if you believed by diagnosis of you and this person was inaccurate, you'd explain why.

linguoboy wrote:Then you use that as the basis on which to discount our testimony and our judgment.


I told you why I would be suspect of your judgment, and what my reasoning for that is. The fact that you are not skeptical at all of your aquaintance's arguments seems to me to indicate that you hold these biases as deeply as they do, rather than that there is no bias there to be skeptical of.

linguoboy wrote:...but you're not about to let that stop you from making sweeping generalisations about it!


I mean, I put in caveats here for the exact reason that I'm trying to point out I'm not omniscient, does that mean I can't express my opinion at all? How much experience exactly do I have to have before my opinion is valid? Do you not think living a life embalmed in American culture via TV, books, the internet etc. is a decent amount to know about the US to even tentatively have a discussion about it?

linguoboy wrote:A name shouldn't have to be from your own culture for you to care about not mangling it. I think even starting from different definitions, we can both agree that holding that view would be properly called "racist", right?


Well no, I'd argue that it isn't "racist" as it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the person's "race", but it's a pedantic point because we both agree that it would be an odious cultural prejudice regardless of what label you want to apply to it.

linguoboy wrote:It's hard to overstate how important names are to the people who bear them. Getting them right is pretty much the basement when it comes to showing respect for another person.


I agree.

linguoboy wrote:POC are not exempted from the expectation that they will pronounce other people's names correctly, even if they originate in a different culture.


OK, I agree, though I'll ask you to bear that in mind going forward. I suspect, based on your politics, that you don't actually hold people to the same standards here. I have no way of knowing this for sure, but if you really do act this way then OK.

linguoboy wrote:YMMV, but, if anything, I generally find POC better at dealing with unusual names because they have more experience with this, often because they come from a culture where diversity and creative in given names is expected and because they're used to navigating a culture which is different from their own.


While I'm not sure about names specifically, from what I've seen the disinterest in anything to do with cultures that one isn't directly associated with is equally strong amongst POCs as it is white people, and among POCs who are "woke" in the way I mentioned before, there's a particularly strong lack of interest in "white" cultures which is stronger than their disinterest in cultures other than their own that are not associated with white people.
And I get why - if I learned that some group of people enslaved my ancestors and treated them like animals for centuries, I might not be quite so open to hearing about their wonderful, interesting cultures either.

linguoboy wrote:You can't easily separate the two in the USA. That's a pretty basic fact you need to understand if you're going to try to perform any kind of analysis our society.


The distinction is a pretty basic fact that more Americans need to understand. The main way in which your view and mine diverge is that you think of racism as this enormous, complex, culturally- and historically-bound systemic contextual issue that allows you to make all sorts of nice distinctions between the power dynamics of different groups of people which excuse racism in some contexts and infer it in others. My view is that racism is that act of treating people differently based on their "race". By my very definition, if you apply a different measure of racism in one instance than in another based on the race of the participants, that is itself racist.

linguoboy wrote:I'm not "making this about white people vs black people"; white people, through our behaviour, are doing that. Black people are pointing it out. And white people who don't like having this pointed out are doing what they always do and blaming the Black people for noticing what they didn't notice and/or don't want to have to acknowledge.


Or, alternative hypothesis: The history of white supremacy, together with the existence of current-day white supremacists, have (understandably enough) stoked a racial hatred toward white people among both white people and POCs, and this prejudice bleeds through in this case into attitudes towards the presumed privilege that white people must have in how much effort is put into the pronunciation of their names. Again, the issue here is that this potential explanation is something you wouldn't even consider, or at least wouldn't give due consideration to because you harbour that prejudice yourself.
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Re: Racism

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-19, 15:19

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Here’s a challenge for your imagination: What’s something a woman can ask a man in a non-intimate context that’s “roughly analogous” to “What colour underwear are you wearing?”

Women are biologically different from men in meaningful ways, so I don't expect such analogousness between the two sexes.

What "meaningful difference" between men and women is relevant to the fact that women get sexually harassed regularly in our society and men don't?

Yasna wrote:Biologically determined racial differences between individuals are not meaningful in the vast majority of contexts, including the context of your acquaintance's statement, so I do expect analogousness.

Why, in a society that has developed well past the point of satisfying its basic biological urges, would you expect biological differences to trump sociocultural ones?

There's no significant "biological difference" between the majority of monolingual American English speakers and the majority of monolingual German speakers. But this non-biological fact has a pretty significant impact on how they experience the world and interact with others, wouldn't you say? Biologically, there's no "meaningful difference" between me and my straight brother. I guess we've had people interact with us exactly the same our whole lives? For that matter, what "meaningful biological difference" is there between you and Jeff Bezos? The way other people treat the two of you must be basically indistinguishable.

Yasna wrote:There is also the social context of race, but I find it strange when people interact materially differently with one another based on that, given that the goal (last I checked) is a post-racial society. But whatever, apparently it works out for you in your social circles.

Long story short: We tried just ignoring racial differences with the goal of achieving a "post-racial society" and it didn't work. "Color-blindness" was the common wisdom in the 70s and 80s when I was doing my primary and secondary education. But it turns out when you don't have any meaningful conversations about race, then you don't actually solve any of the problems around it, and things don't just magically get better.
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Re: Racism

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-02-19, 15:52

linguoboy wrote:Long story short: We tried just ignoring racial differences with the goal of achieving a "post-racial society" and it didn't work. "Color-blindness" was the common wisdom in the 70s and 80s when I was doing my primary and secondary education. But it turns out when you don't have any meaningful conversations about race, then you don't actually solve any of the problems around it, and things don't just magically get better.


This is interesting - how did this actually play out? What was meant by "colour-blindness" and how was it actually practiced? What were the effects, and how did they not end up solving the issue? I don't mean these as rhetorical questions, I'm genuinely curious to hear what your experiences with this were and what your objections to it are.
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Re: Racism

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-19, 16:42

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:So if there's particular issue you have to deal with, doesn't it make you more sensitive to the experiences of other people who have to deal with that issues, even if their experience isn't like yours in other respects? Like does being an Irishman living abroad only sensitise you to the issues faced by other Irishmen living abroad or does it cause you to take more notice of how all foreign nationals are treated where you are? And do you not notice at least some of the differences in the kind of treatment afforded to some of those foreign nationals based upon characteristics like country of origin?

What if instead of empathising with other foreign nationals, there were a subgroup of the native populice that had a similar experience to you in some aspect - would it be hard to imagine that as a foreigner who had perhaps experienced prejudice at the hands of the native population, you might just lump them all in together and be blind to the way in which that particular subgroup is treated within the native population? What if you had developed a bias that all the people of the native population hated you, and they all treated each other much better than they treat anyone who isn't one of them, would you still have the same sense of discerning between the various subgroups of them? I've seen many example of the opposite.

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.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I think you don't know much about the USA if you think that. There's an incredible diversity of given names here [...]
So there are a lot of unusual names among white people here. People of all races have a lot of experience dealing with them.

And yet white Americans struggle with Irish names

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.)

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:What you're calling "racism" here I would call "racial animus". These do not describe the same phenomena.

I've never heard of such a distinction. Could you elaborate?

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.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:He's absolutely right though. That is what white men tend to do in these sorts of situations.

This just means you're as racist as he is though.

How? How is this a racist thing to say?

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:You are right now telling a USAmerican you know better than he does how racism operates in the USA

So there's no issue with a POC telling white people with unusual names that they know how they are treated better than they do, but I can't point out that you're being racist because I don't know how it works in America?

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]".

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:and you're indirectly telling Black folks you're better at recognising racist behaviour than they are.

No, I'm telling you that I think I'm better at spotting racism than woke people like you and your aquiantance.

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?

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:It's just a slang term for a loosely associated constellation of attitudes and ideas--so loose, indeed, that I have really no way of knowing what all you're grouping under this umbrella.

In this specific instance, I'm referring to a belief that white people are some sort of coherent, nefarious group who collectively have a bias against all people of other races leading to white people having a nearly unending set of privileges that hold true in almost all circumstances.

So, in other words, a strawman.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Your argument at this point is pure Bulverism

Interesting, I've never come across this before. There's an important distinction between what I'm doing and Bulverism though - I'm not saying that I know your argument is wrong and proceeding to explain why, I'm positing an alternative possibility I think likely, and one which you admit you didn't even consider. The fact that you wouldn't have even considered the point I raised was where I think you went wrong.

linguoboy wrote:You hold the belief that "wokeness" is wrongheaded

Well, as I describe it above, it is a prejudice that many people hold against a specific race, so I suppose you could describe it as "wrongheaded", sure.

linguoboy wrote:Based on a few key phrases, you diagnose both me and the person I'm quoting as suffering from it..

In your case, it's based on more than a few key phrases. I did also add the caveat that I haven't read the thread, don't know what the person said exactly in the discussion with you etc. The point of this discussion was that if you believed by diagnosis of you and this person was inaccurate, you'd explain why.

linguoboy wrote:Then you use that as the basis on which to discount our testimony and our judgment.

I told you why I would be suspect of your judgment, and what my reasoning for that is. The fact that you are not skeptical at all of your aquaintance's arguments seems to me to indicate that you hold these biases as deeply as they do, rather than that there is no bias there to be skeptical of.

I was sceptical--that's how the whole account started!

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:...but you're not about to let that stop you from making sweeping generalisations about it!

I mean, I put in caveats here for the exact reason that I'm trying to point out I'm not omniscient, does that mean I can't express my opinion at all? How much experience exactly do I have to have before my opinion is valid? Do you not think living a life embalmed in American culture via TV, books, the internet etc. is a decent amount to know about the US to even tentatively have a discussion about it?

If you're "embalmed" in something then you are, by definition, not living a life.

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.). 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.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:POC are not exempted from the expectation that they will pronounce other people's names correctly, even if they originate in a different culture.

OK, I agree, though I'll ask you to bear that in mind going forward. I suspect, based on your politics, that you don't actually hold people to the same standards here. I have no way of knowing this for sure, but if you really do act this way then OK.

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?

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:YMMV, but, if anything, I generally find POC better at dealing with unusual names because they have more experience with this, often because they come from a culture where diversity and creative in given names is expected and because they're used to navigating a culture which is different from their own.

While I'm not sure about names specifically, from what I've seen the disinterest in anything to do with cultures that one isn't directly associated with is equally strong amongst POCs as it is white people, and among POCs who are "woke" in the way I mentioned before, there's a particularly strong lack of interest in "white" cultures which is stronger than their disinterest in cultures other than their own that are not associated with white people.

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. That's what makes "POC" a salient category in the first place. 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.)

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:You can't easily separate the two in the USA. That's a pretty basic fact you need to understand if you're going to try to perform any kind of analysis our society.

The distinction is a pretty basic fact that more Americans need to understand. The main way in which your view and mine diverge is that you think of racism as this enormous, complex, culturally- and historically-bound systemic contextual issue that allows you to make all sorts of nice distinctions between the power dynamics of different groups of people which excuse racism in some contexts and infer it in others. My view is that racism is that act of treating people differently based on their "race". By my very definition, if you apply a different measure of racism in one instance than in another based on the race of the participants, that is itself racist.

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?

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.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I'm not "making this about white people vs black people"; white people, through our behaviour, are doing that. Black people are pointing it out. And white people who don't like having this pointed out are doing what they always do and blaming the Black people for noticing what they didn't notice and/or don't want to have to acknowledge.

Or, alternative hypothesis: The history of white supremacy, together with the existence of current-day white supremacists, have (understandably enough) stoked a racial hatred toward white people among both white people and POCs, and this prejudice bleeds through in this case into attitudes towards the presumed privilege that white people must have in how much effort is put into the pronunciation of their names. Again, the issue here is that this potential explanation is something you wouldn't even consider, or at least wouldn't give due consideration to because you harbour that prejudice yourself.

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".
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Re: Racism

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-19, 17:07

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Long story short: We tried just ignoring racial differences with the goal of achieving a "post-racial society" and it didn't work. "Color-blindness" was the common wisdom in the 70s and 80s when I was doing my primary and secondary education. But it turns out when you don't have any meaningful conversations about race, then you don't actually solve any of the problems around it, and things don't just magically get better.

This is interesting - how did this actually play out? What was meant by "colour-blindness" and how was it actually practiced? What were the effects, and how did they not end up solving the issue? I don't mean these as rhetorical questions, I'm genuinely curious to hear what your experiences with this were and what your objections to it are.

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 or redlining 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.)

All this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you're interested, there's actually a lot of literature out there. Here's just a small selection:
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/color-blindness-is-counterproductive/405037/
https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/opinion-saying-i-dont-see-color-denies-the-racial-identity-of-students/2020/02
https://www.oprahmag.com/life/relationships-love/a32824297/color-blind-myth-racism/
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Re: Racism

Postby Rí.na.dTeangacha » 2021-02-19, 19:39

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).


linguoboy wrote: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 or redlining 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!
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Re: Racism

Postby Gormur » 2021-02-19, 20:14

For the record I don't get what you guys are arguing about. I consider myself a non-racist or race denier; except the human race, I don't deny that that exists. The rest just seems like political rhetoric to me. Maybe because I don't and have never seen racism. I guess one could say that that makes me a racist as if I were denying something about myself so that I don't see the whole picture

That's okay. I don't want to if that means I have to become a different person :)
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Re: Racism

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-19, 20:58

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
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.

If you don't understand that racism is the context that makes certain acts or statements racist, then this whole discussion is pretty pointless. I'm going to take a step back and let a man named Aamer Rahman explain how this works:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dw_mRaIHb-M


Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
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.

This is pure question-begging. Why should I accept your definition of "racism" as the only valid definition? I've tried to explain what I see as the shortcomings with it (and I'll try again below). Your response seems to be to keep repeating the same simplistic definition.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote: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.

Mate, if you think that your opinion is more "objective" and less informed by prejudice than mine, then all that tells me is that you're blind to your own biases and prejudices. This is an even more basic logical fallacy than Bulverism.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote: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.

I think you're in no position to judge my prejudices until you honestly acknowledge your own, and I don't think you've done that. In fact, you seem to be denying the very extent of them.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
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.

For starters, I think you have a poor understanding of "racism" if you consider enslavement of Africans just an effect and not one of the primary causes.

I guess in your mind what happened was that white Europeans saw black Africans, concluded that they were inferior (because they didn't have muskets or wear shoes or whatever), and decided on that basis to enslave them. What really happened was more complex. In the early modern era, Europe experienced a surge in technological progress which allowed it to survey, claim, and colonise much of the globe. They were able create and exploit political instability in Africa in order to kidnap Africans en masse and transport them to their colonies as a cheap captive labour source. Philosophically, this was difficult to justify, because at the same time their societies were developing ideas about natural rights and universal equality and so to solve this they formulated pseudo-scientific theories of racial inequality which justified treating the enslaved Africans worse than anyone else and created an entire racial hierarchy with white Europeans on top.

You can't divorce racism from that history, examine interactions between folks of different races in a vacuum, and then declare all of them equally bad to the extent that race is any kind of factor in them. "Racism", as we know it, has a very specific history; it was specifically created by white people in order to justify our monopolisation of power and resources. When you reduce to just "treating people differently based on their supposed race", you erase the history of white supremacy and deny the cause of present-day inequalities. By making it "something in your head", you make is something we can't really seek societal solutions to--the only kind of solutions I can see working.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
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

Honestly, I don't think you are, because if you were, you wouldn't espouse a definition of "racism" which helps uphold it.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote: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?

I've answered this before: Pointing out that this is happening is not what makes it happen. You seem to think that ignoring the racial hierarchy underlying contemporary inequalities will make them vanish. How? How does this work exactly? Everyone just pretends race isn't a thing and it magically ceases to matter? That's now how societies evolve.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote:
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 don't think we do. This seems to define "white supremacy" narrowly as a specific racist ideology. You've already said you reject the notion of racism as "this enormous, complex, culturally- and historically-bound systemic contextual issue". Well, I've got news for you about how I define "white supremacy".

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.

This is what I've been subsuming under the term "racial animus". And I do question if it really exists among white people. There is a certain subset of white liberals who talking about "hating" white people. But when a Black comic or an anti-racism speaker stands before them and asks, "Who here would give up being white if they could?" nobody raises their hands.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote: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.

Here, I'll make this simpler: How about performing an analysis simply to see if their perceptions are even wrong? Until that can be proven, the degree of racial animus that may or may not be harboured by any of these people is completely besides the point. It doesn't need to be invoked until you've demonstrated there's a distortion of their perceptions and you're seeking a cause.

Rí.na.dTeangacha wrote: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 think there is a scientific question here. We have a testable hypothesis: That the type and degree of effort people put into correctly spelling and pronouncing personal names varies according to the race of the person in question and the perceived race of the bearer of the name. Maybe you're right, maybe some of the people I've been talking to are exaggerating the degree to which this happens. Maybe the fact that what they report coincides with what I've observed myself is even more reason to be sceptical of drawing conclusions without evidence. If you were arguing for that, this discussion would have been a lot shorter. But that's not what you've been doing and I hope you can recognise that.
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Re: Racism

Postby Gormur » 2021-02-20, 7:03

Should I assume you guys believe in Evolution? If that's the case this makes sense because for me it seems ridiculous to think of separate races since I don't. It just seems like it's easy to believe in Christianity and to be a racist while it's basically impossible to be a Jew and be a racist; or at least it's politically incorrect to call a Jew racist

Isn't it weird how the world works? Not really :whistle: :hmm:
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Re: Racism

Postby linguoboy » 2021-02-20, 11:12

Gormur wrote:Should I assume you guys believe in Evolution? If that's the case this makes sense because for me it seems ridiculous to think of separate races since I don't.

Biological race and the social construct of “race” have almost nothing to do with each other.

If you’d like to participate in this discussion, you should do some remedial reading first. I’ve already explained all this to you once in this thread.

Gormur wrote: It just seems like it's easy to believe in Christianity and to be a racist while it's basically impossible to be a Jew and be a racist; or at least it's politically incorrect to call a Jew racist

Jews can be racists as easily as Christians can.
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Re: Racism

Postby Yasna » 2021-02-22, 2:30

linguoboy wrote:What "meaningful difference" between men and women is relevant to the fact that women get sexually harassed regularly in our society and men don't?

That's easy. The greater average promiscuity, physical strength, and aggression of men.

Why, in a society that has developed well past the point of satisfying its basic biological urges, would you expect biological differences to trump sociocultural ones?

There's no significant "biological difference" between the majority of monolingual American English speakers and the majority of monolingual German speakers. But this non-biological fact has a pretty significant impact on how they experience the world and interact with others, wouldn't you say? Biologically, there's no "meaningful difference" between me and my straight brother. I guess we've had people interact with us exactly the same our whole lives? For that matter, what "meaningful biological difference" is there between you and Jeff Bezos? The way other people treat the two of you must be basically indistinguishable.

Given a difference between individuals, the question is whether it is inevitable and/or desirable for us to treat each other differently based on this difference. If two people don't share a language, it's inevitable for them to interact very differently than if there were a shared language. I would argue that it is not inevitable and also undesirable for two people of different races to interact with one another in a materially different way solely based on their race. This doesn't mean everyone is going to succeed every time in following this principle. But just like other principles where humanity sometimes falls short such as avoiding violence, speaking respectfully to one another, or indeed treating people the same regardless of their wealth, the principle is still a solid one worth pursuing.

Long story short: We tried just ignoring racial differences with the goal of achieving a "post-racial society" and it didn't work. "Color-blindness" was the common wisdom in the 70s and 80s when I was doing my primary and secondary education. But it turns out when you don't have any meaningful conversations about race, then you don't actually solve any of the problems around it, and things don't just magically get better.

Hold on a second. Ignoring racial differences during social interactions does not preclude having meaningful conversations about race. Furthermore, a lot has gotten better. Racism (what you call racial animus) has steadily decreased, interracial relationships of all types have proliferated, and African Americans have risen to the heights of American society, whether in medicine (Ben Carson), business (Robert F. Smith), or the political sphere (Barack Obama), to name some of the most prominent examples. Despite the remaining problems, the racial landscape of American society was transformed for the better during the time when color-blindness was the common wisdom.
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Yasna
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Re: Racism

Postby Yasna » 2021-02-22, 3:41

vijayjohn wrote:
Yasna wrote:I find it strange when people interact materially differently with one another based on that,

but you've been consistently doing it yourself.

Excuse me?
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

vijayjohn
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Re: Racism

Postby vijayjohn » 2021-02-22, 4:44

Yasna wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:
Yasna wrote:I find it strange when people interact materially differently with one another based on that,

but you've been consistently doing it yourself.

Excuse me?

When linguoboy accuses you of arguing in bad faith, you at least say sorry and try to excuse yourself. When I point out a pattern of behavior on your part that several people on this forum have already acknowledged, you just act puzzled.

Btw for whatever it's worth, I'm not sure men don't get sexually harassed regularly as well.


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