Racism in the Comments October 30, 2010 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Question about racist comments

http://ask.metafilter.com/169067/Is-Phoenix-Latinofriendly

In that thread, peachy makes what looks to me like a really racist comment. I called her out on her racism, but my comment got pulled because I'm calling someone out, which apparently is a no-no. That's fine with me. I'm just wondering exactly how racist a comment has to be to be pulled by a moderator.

peachy's comment is uninformed vitriol. I'm no defender of Arizona's stupid law, but I'm smart enough to realize that it's not as bad as it was made out in the media, in that all it does is give local law enforcement the same powers federal immigration authorities already have (the whole issue of its not actually being implemented aside), but peachy seems hell-bent on painting the entire Arizonan public school system as a KKK convention where (I'm not joking, read her comment) Latino children are taught that they "do not belong in this country, are leeches, hoodlums, and the general scourge of society who must be kept out at all costs lest they destroy our country?" This is what Latino kids are taught in Arizona schools, according to peachy. (And forget all the other comments from Latinos or people who know Latinos in Arizona who say the place is just fine.)

I mean, just her "clueless and obnoxious Anglo behavior" comment is enough.

And this isn't something that bothers me because of "reverse racism" or whatever inane reason someone is bound to hurl back at me. It bothers me because it opens up the door to racist comments about non-whites, too. I mean, if some actual white supremacist did get on here and said something about "obnoxious black behavior," how would the hive mind be able to counter that, and say that that kind of thing isn't allowed?

So I really am curious. How racist does a comment have to be for a moderator to pull it?
posted by luke1249 to Etiquette/Policy at 4:01 PM (323 comments total)

I think the issue here is that you're coming across as a defensive, hostile, privileged and entitled person who is trying to use an accusation of racism to shut someone up whom you don't agree with. With that kind of dynamic, I think folks could probably get away with saying a lot around you and you won't be able to shut them up.

I'm just sayin'.
posted by kalessin at 4:06 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm sorry I wasn't clear in my earlier MeMails to you. Answers in AskMe need to help the OP answer their question, not just bitch out other commenters. Calling another commenter a racist is basically stopping a thread dead. If you think someone is speaking in racist ways or betraying some sort of prejudice, use your words, explain it and talk about it with an eye towards having the OP have a better understanding of the situation they're involved in.

We pretty much leave most comments unless they're using racial slurs or hate speech or appear to be tossing flames on a fire and/or obviously people being hateful to each other, not having conversations with each other.

And I guess I was and still am confused. Do you have direct personal experience with this, or do you just not like peachy's tone or approach?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:08 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't even find it racist. Maybe not the most politically correct, but the idea that someone of a different ethnic background might want to not live in the midst of the red neckery seems like a valid comment.

I've written tons of the AZ legislators about the immigration bill. Not one responded.

And she doesn't need AZ the teach her that hispanics "do not belong in this country, are leeches, hoodlums, and the general scourge of society who must be kept out at all costs lest they destroy our country." She need only turn on the TV.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:11 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm being defensive? Walk me through that.

Also, you agree with peachy's comment? Videlicet, that's what Latino kids are being taught in Arizona?
posted by luke1249 at 4:14 PM on October 30, 2010


cjorgensen: "And she doesn't need AZ the teach her that hispanics "do not belong in this country, are leeches, hoodlums, and the general scourge of society who must be kept out at all costs lest they destroy our country." She need only turn on the TV."

I had no idea Astro Zombie felt that way.
posted by gman at 4:15 PM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


You specifically asked about racism, which is the intersection of bigotry and power. You may feel peachy's comment is bigoted, but it doesn't seem to be coming from a position of power.

FWIW, I didn't think her description of Arizona was all that bigoted either. If you are white and you don't have a Latino family member, you would never be in a position to see all the real racism that Latinos in the U.S. face pretty much every day. From where I live (North Florida), peachy's description sounded painfully accurate, public schools and all.

Finally, I thought the phrase "clueless and obnoxious Anglo behavior" particularly apt - even white who don't mean to be mean, or who don't think they're racist, say really cruel, crude and inappropriate things to Latinos, all the time, and it's because nobody in authority ever corrects them. The fact that they don't even know any better indicates institutional racism.
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:16 PM on October 30, 2010 [20 favorites]


I think that accusations of racism against comments like peachy's (which didn't strike me as unreasoned or illogical or racist) seem to me to be derived from self-righteous anger, which in my experience of discussions of racism is never far from defensiveness.

Also, being as hostile and engagement-directed (as in not being able to let it go in the AskMe post and not being able to let it go here in MetaTalk - we sometimes call it fighty here) also seems to me to indicate that a person who is getting fighty is over-invested and over-committed to the cause. All of these symptoms point me to thinking that you're being fundamentally defensive about the topic.
posted by kalessin at 4:17 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also: you are presenting peachy's comment in a biased fashion which I find not okay, no matter what I feel about that comment.

Do you want her to grow up learning that people like her do not belong in this country, are leeches, hoodlums, and the general scourge of society who must be kept out at all costs lest they destroy our country?
This reflects some anticipated general attitude of "people" in general.

Do you want her to grow up learning that she can't feel proud of her ethnic heritage? Being taught in school that only White people/Anglos made any contributions noteworthy enough to be taught in school because HB2281 means that it's illegal to teach about the history of Chicanos in US Southwest?
This addresses the school issue.

When you use quote 1 to underline that peachy seems hell-bent on painting the entire Arizonan public school system as, that's definitely not reflecting the intent of the original any more. About "uninformed", nobody but peachy can judge.

And yes, your use of adjectives like "inane", before the fact of the "hurling back," speaks 'defensive' in big letters.
posted by Namlit at 4:19 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


jessamyn, I have Latino friends who live in Arizona, who say it's just fine, but don't ask me, look at the other people who responded in the thread. I don't think I'm living in some privileged white utopia (any more than 90% of the people who post here). There is racism. There are problems in this country that need to be addressed, and aren't being addressed.

But does that give people the right to accuse public school teachers of racism. So yeah, it's the racism in peachy's tone that I don't like.

cjorgensen, if you'd be willing to accept someone talking about "obnoxious Negro behavior" and not wanting to live "in the midst of the ghetto-ness," then fine. I'd be interested in knowing how Latinos are taught that they're destroying our country on TV, too.
posted by luke1249 at 4:22 PM on October 30, 2010


luke1249, I've said before that it is a very white assumption that it is possible NOT to be racist. I'm racist. You are racist. jessamyn is racist, Namlit is racist and so is peachy. We are all racist. The best antiracist activists are racist.

We all do our best to better ourselves, to articulate ourselves in ways that are least racist, or that defray the racism or that counteract racism where we can.

My sense of peachy's comment was (1) that I wouldn't have used the term "Chicano" if I had been writing it but (2) that it seemed pretty even handed and realist and pragmatic and on-topic, which is by far more important than whether or not it is scrubbed clean of anything that could possibly be construed as racist.
posted by kalessin at 4:25 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I deleted a line about how I wish some white people would stop making the rest of us look bad. The stuff I're read about Obama in the last three years. The tea party signs I've seen. The AZ laws and the political polls. I've given up on the idea that it's a few bad apples.

I find irony in that, just two years ago, there were discussions about how that now that we had a black president, we were in a post racial era. I'm 40 and I've never seen as much unquestioned bigotry.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:25 PM on October 30, 2010 [22 favorites]


Hmm. So. "Anglos" is okay for Metafilter, is it? That's an acceptable way to designate a certain - well, let's be honest, actually very uncertain - racial group is it? Okay. Noted. I'll concede it has a slightly cooler ring than "whitey".

By the way, this idea that racism is somehow okay or less bad when it's directed against a non-oppressed race is the rankest of rank bullshittery.
posted by Decani at 4:26 PM on October 30, 2010 [14 favorites]


Decani, do you have a different term you'd like to suggest?
posted by kalessin at 4:27 PM on October 30, 2010


For general enlightenment, I posted this question here on jessamyn's suggestion, not because I'm over-invested in this. (Psst, this is the internet.)

So let me get this straight. I think something someone posted is racist. I called that person a racist. That was against the rules. The moderator suggested I bring it up here, which I did.

I don't see how I'm fundamentally defensive.

And why can't we just talk about it, without worrying about my motivations? Let's just talk about the racism I saw in peachy's comment. If you want to discuss my motivations about wanting to talk about peachy's comment, then why don't you start another thread about it?
posted by luke1249 at 4:27 PM on October 30, 2010


Kalessin: sure. How about people?
posted by Decani at 4:28 PM on October 30, 2010


rac·ism
   /ˈreɪsɪzəm/ Show Spelled[rey-siz-uhm] Show IPA
–noun
1.
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2.
a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3.
hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.


Note the power implied in this word.

big·ot·ry
   /ˈbɪgətri/ Show Spelled[big-uh-tree] Show IPA
–noun, plural -ries.
1.
stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own.
2.
the actions, beliefs, prejudices, etc., of a bigot.


Note how this word is less dependent on power.

Please be more precise in your terms when arguing.
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:28 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am so very tired of discussions about racism. I am tired of 101 discussions. I am tired of 201 discussion and I am honestly tired of 601 discussions. I would like a rest. ON the other hand, I was okay talking about the meta-issues of discussing whether I thought you were right about peachy's comment being particularly more racist than your own assumptions. But you don't want to talk about that, fine. I'll move on. Have a good evening.
posted by kalessin at 4:29 PM on October 30, 2010


Decani, if you can get the other Anglos to stop using terms to differentiate groups of non-Anglo folks from themselves, sure then that'd be fair.
posted by kalessin at 4:30 PM on October 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


kalessin, I sort of agree with you, but there are degrees. I hope you will give me that. There are people who actually believe black people are less intelligent than white people, or more prone to violence, or whatever. I don't believe those things.
posted by luke1249 at 4:31 PM on October 30, 2010


Correctly pointing out the consequences of HB2281 does not amount to accusing public school teachers of racism. Suggesting that it does is disingenuous.

racism, which is the intersection of bigotry and power

Could we get that definition emblazoned across the night sky in orange neon, so that all the specious "what if a black man said that" crap would just shrivel up and die on the tongues of those about to utter it?
posted by flabdablet at 4:33 PM on October 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


Decani, if you can get the other Anglos to stop using terms to differentiate groups of non-Anglo folks from themselves, sure then that'd be fair.
posted by kalessin at 12:30 AM on October 31


You asked me if I had a better term, dude. I gave you one. You don't get to say my term is no good because everyone else in the world won't use it. Sorry.
posted by Decani at 4:33 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


How racist does a comment have to be for a moderator to pull it?
Three is pushing it, and four for sure.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:33 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


But does that give people the right to accuse public school teachers of racism.

Maybe it's just because I was in Phoenix somewhat recently and this stuff was all over the news, but I think it peachy's comment have been more directed towards the public school system which has been in the news for a bunch of problematic policy statements/decisions about how they deal with their increasingly diverse and multilingual population. Maybe I was being overly charitable.

And yes, Anglos is okay for MetaFilter.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:34 PM on October 30, 2010


toodleydoodley, I don't agree that there is power implied in racism, but I can see where you're coming from on that, so if it makes you happy, silently replace "racism" with "bigotry" in what I wrote above. I'll use "bigotry" from now on.

kalessin, I brought up the topic, I'm willing to talk about it. And if for some reason we have to talk about my assumptions when talking about peachy's comment, then could you at least explain to me why, instead of just acting like this is all so old and clear to you?
posted by luke1249 at 4:34 PM on October 30, 2010


racism, which is the intersection of bigotry and power

Could we get that definition emblazoned across the night sky in orange neon, so that all the specious "what if a black man said that" crap would just shrivel up and die on the tongues of those about to utter it?
posted by flabdablet at 12:33 AM on October 31


No we can't, because it's the purest woolly-headed soft-liberal bullshit. Racism is prejudice based on race. That . Is. IT. Period. The end. You treat or regard someone differently because of their race, you are a racist. That is IT.
posted by Decani at 4:35 PM on October 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


jessamyn, so "obnoxious blacks" would be okay, too. Got it. Thanks for the clarification.
posted by luke1249 at 4:36 PM on October 30, 2010


Okay, Decani, fair. But I don't think that "people" puts anyone at an advantage more than the folks who already have the power to ignore the term and use whatever term they want.

Since racism is partly about power, I think that arguing for fairness is relevant to the discussion. But you're right - you were only talking about terminology. My comments about fairness and power are ones you can of course completely dismiss as being irrelevant, if you like.
posted by kalessin at 4:36 PM on October 30, 2010


In truth, I don't agree completely with the formulation of race as:
race = privilege + power

Because it leaves out the instances of heinous bigotry that underclasses use against other groups. And the really literal antiracists believe that whatever that bigotry is is not racism, even if it's explicitly race-oriented bigotry. Which I think is also unfair.
posted by kalessin at 4:38 PM on October 30, 2010


luke1249, I've said before that it is a very white assumption that it is possible NOT to be racist. I'm racist. You are racist. jessamyn is racist, Namlit is racist and so is peachy. We are all racist.

I've heard this obnoxious argument before. Please speak for yourself. Thank you.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:40 PM on October 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


luke1249, it's kind of rude to ask someone like me who's already tipped his hand that he's part of the underclass to explain his predicament to the person who's having the misunderstanding. There are lots of on-web resources for you to use to self-educate regarding why your assumptions are relevant to your charges of racism in this discussion.

Would you like some pointers? I'd be happy to try to give you some links. But the fact is, it is all old and clear and very well hashed-out discussion that I'm really sick of walking Anglos through.
posted by kalessin at 4:40 PM on October 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


PareidoliaticBoy, are you addressing me?
posted by kalessin at 4:41 PM on October 30, 2010


And yes, Anglos is okay for MetaFilter.
posted by jessamyn at 12:34 AM on October 31


How about Ities? Is that okay for Metafilter? What about Wellos (for the Welsh)? Is that okay? Could you elaborate on why "Anglos" is an acceptable term for white people on Metafilter? Is it okay if we apply it to the white descendants of Celts and Gaels too?
posted by Decani at 4:43 PM on October 30, 2010


Ok, so then, just "white people"?
posted by josher71 at 4:43 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Decani, why don't you figure it out for yourself instead of asking jessamyn?
posted by kalessin at 4:43 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


josher71, white people aren't really white, though, are they? Maybe "pink people"?
posted by kalessin at 4:44 PM on October 30, 2010


The comment was vitriolic, but not racist, unless you consider white people in Arizona to be a different race from white people in Texas. The OP will have to wade through the answers himself and decide what's relevant. Peachy's concerns mirror his own, but obviously she doesn't live there, and probably isn't Hispanic.

This is generally true of AskMe. The poster has to try figure out who seems to know what they're talking about, what to take seriously.
posted by nangar at 4:45 PM on October 30, 2010


"Pinkberry people"?
posted by josher71 at 4:45 PM on October 30, 2010


Decani, why don't you figure it out for yourself instead of asking jessamyn?
posted by kalessin at 12:43 AM on October 31


Oh, you think I haven't figured it out for myself?

I'm questioning Jessamyn, because I don't agree with her position. See?
posted by Decani at 4:46 PM on October 30, 2010


Decani, so you're just being fighty with a mod because you're feeling fighty? That seems short sighted. But I admire your verve.
posted by kalessin at 4:48 PM on October 30, 2010


But I admire your verve.

Well, that makes one of us.
posted by josher71 at 4:50 PM on October 30, 2010


Ethnocentrism is ingrained in people, whether we like it or not. Even the best of us. To those who object to that, I am sorry, but all of us have blind spots, and it is foolish to think they aren't there. Having said that it is important to acknowledge people who are fairminded. That's really the best any of us can ask from anyone else, along with being fairminded enough to give others the benefit of the doubt that they are TRYING to be fairminded.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:50 PM on October 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


I realize that you Anglos have suffered mightily and that it is a terrible thing for anyone to use that word in any way.
posted by Dumsnill at 4:50 PM on October 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Just as any discussion of feminism must be turned to OMG HOW WILL THIS AFFECT MEN? IMPORTANT MEN LIKE ME!, any discussion of race or ethnicity must be turned away from stupid, boring, irrelevant questions about how minorities might deal with racial intolerance from the anglo majority, so that we can focus laser-like on the vital question of how discussions of racism make whites feel bad.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:51 PM on October 30, 2010 [107 favorites]


I'm questioning Jessamyn, because I don't agree with her position. See?

We've never had a single person complain about the term on MetaFilter, ever. I'm unaware of any negative associations with the term personally. If this is you actually lodging a complaint, get back to me with any sort of indication at all that this is something that is a problem that is larger than your personal objection. This is usually the drill when people have a "I'd like to protest that people use this word on the site" complaint.

Seriously, it's possible I'm missing something but I have no negative associations with the term except that it's one of those weird "these people are all the same because they're the same color" terms just like Black or Asian. But I'm not from your side of the pond and this may be one of those things that isn't registering with me because of presence or absence of cultural baggage/implications.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:53 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Kalessin: Would you explain to me how disagreeing with a mod is the same as being "fighty" with a mod? Perhaps you could throw me a few pointers about how one needs to adjust one's normal behaviour when disagreeing with a mod, as opposed to disagreeing with anyone else? Is there something about mods that means we should treat them differently from the way we treat other people?
posted by Decani at 4:55 PM on October 30, 2010


Man, this thread reminds me of this episode of South Park. You're saying people in Arizona are racist? That's racist!
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:56 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


white people aren't really white, though, are they? Maybe "pink people"?

Are you calling me a pinko?

Anyway, thanks to kalessin and other folks here attempting to fight the good fight. (Seriously.)
posted by bluedaisy at 4:57 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


To be clear, I have no problem with "Anglos." Zilch. Zero negative associations. It's what came before that bothered me.
posted by luke1249 at 4:57 PM on October 30, 2010


For the record, I'm medium beige.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:59 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Decani, the way in which you approached the discussion with jessamyn seemed to me to overly contentious and therefore fighty.

I tend to treat mods with more respect than anyone else I don't know. I know they work hard to keep the peace and are really professional about it. I would tend not to bring up a question like yours and certainly not in the impertinent tone you used with a mod (unless, perhaps, I was really exercised about it).

But this discussion seems really important to you, so please don't let me get in your way. I do still think you're being a dick about it, though.

FWIW, I just went a-browsing and both Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary seem to be virtually unaware of any derogatory use of the term "Anglo", though the first def on UD does say it's a derogatory term, it seems to be applicable as such only to grumpy old Caucasian men who make a big deal of out small things. Perhaps a use more applicable to you than you realize?
posted by kalessin at 4:59 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just to be clear, I'm talking about the part of the episode where the mostly-white Congress makes it illegal to refer to racist white people as "that [n-word]* guy" rather than addressing the actual racism.

*not comfortable enough to type it out, sorry if that makes me a liberal coward
posted by synaesthetichaze at 5:00 PM on October 30, 2010


It did occur to me that bringing up accurate color naming was going to bring us back around to sensitive offensive territory. For the record, I am a subtle mixture of light olive and light beige (primarily because I do not get enough sun). I will say that my skin tone does make it hard for me to burn, which is a good thing.
posted by kalessin at 5:01 PM on October 30, 2010


synaethetichaze, fwiw, in discussions I've seen of that particular term, folks around MetaTalk have appreciated self-censorship, for the most part, unless the obfuscation was interfering with functional discussions of spelling and syntax. So I think you're good.
posted by kalessin at 5:02 PM on October 30, 2010


Just as any discussion of feminism must be turned to OMG HOW WILL THIS AFFECT MEN? IMPORTANT MEN LIKE ME!, any discussion of race or ethnicity must be turned away from stupid, boring, irrelevant questions about how minorities might deal with racial intolerance from the anglo majority, so that we can focus laser-like on the vital question of how discussions of racism make whites feel bad.

Ding ding ding, we have a winner! I've totally stopped being surprised by it, but it's definitely both sad and irritating.

"Anglo" is one of those catch-all terms (like Hispanic, Latino, Black, etc) that sort of work -- in that people understand what is meant and at least for now the terms don't carry a lot of negative baggage -- but are also totally fictitious in that they lump all sorts of different people under one often inaccurate label. Until we genuinely live in a post-racial utopia, catch-all terms are going to have a lot of relevance; if you want to get rid of "Anglo" feel free, but please have a replacement term ready in the wings.

And these are tremendously culturally-specific terms and are used quite differently (and with very different histories) in the UK and the US, never mind elsewhere.
posted by Forktine at 5:03 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Could we get that definition emblazoned across the night sky in orange neon, so that all the specious "what if a black man said that" crap would just shrivel up and die on the tongues of those about to utter it?


The problem is that this definition is not universally agreed to among speakers of English. It's the majority opinion on Metafilter, to be sure that this is the "best" definition, but I'm not sure it's the majority opinion among US English speakers, nor world English speakers.

Now, of course, every time the word is used is, there's sure to be a callout that unless it involves the "power" element it's not racism.

"Bigoted race hatred" as an alternative seems pretty clear, since it has none of the suggestion if power. But I don't see how it's less nasty and inflammatory, so I don't know what's to be gained if you get someone to withdraw an accusation of "racism" on semnatic grounds, and replace it with one of "bigoted race hatred" instead.
posted by tyllwin at 5:05 PM on October 30, 2010


Racism is prejudice based on race. That . Is. IT. Period. The end. You treat or regard someone differently because of their race, you are a racist. That is IT.

If your stipulative definition of the word "racism" was in fact the generally accepted meaning, then being a racist would not be anywhere near as negative a characteristic as it's generally held to be. Racism is generally held to be a bad thing precisely because it has terrible consequences for the less-powerful.

Seems to me that your understanding of public discourse would be clearer if you were to relabel what you currently think of as racism as "ethnocentrism", and reflect on the idea that if all ethnic groups were in fact and in history equally empowered, ethnocentric bigotry would not cause anywhere near as much trouble as it does right now.
posted by flabdablet at 5:08 PM on October 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


Just because the truth offends you doesn't mean it's racist.
posted by polymodus at 5:08 PM on October 30, 2010


luke1249,
If you're going to cite a particular comment, it's common practice to actually link to the comment. This makes it easier for people to read the comment, rather than searching for it, and decide if your complaints have merits.

Also, it's common to leave a link to a MeTa thread in the original AskMe or Metafilter thread, to sort of steer that conversation out of the main thread and into MeTa. It's best just to make it a simple link, just using the word MeTa or MetaTalk. This lets people know, including the person you're accusing of being racist, that an issue came up from the thread and the simple link, without biased wording, leaves the thread peaceful and relatively undisturbed.
posted by nomadicink at 5:11 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anglos seems like a rather nice and appropriate word to use, but I haven't heard it used as much as White or European, which also seem like decent descriptive words. To be honest I quite like honky and whitey too but I never ever hear them in the UK. Mostly you just get called a kutti or whatever under people's breath when they think you dunno what it means. I don't mind that either really, being white means I don't have to take things personally or threateningly the way lots of people do. Sorry for not feeling very oppressed, I also own a vagina and am not much oppressed by that. I am working class though and sometimes people correct my grammar - I try to feel oppressed by that to make up for it.
posted by shinybaum at 5:15 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could you elaborate on why "Anglos" is an acceptable term for white people on Metafilter?

"Anglo" isn't an offensive term in the US. It's also not a general term for white people. It means a non-Hispanic white person in the US (Anglo-American as opposed to Hispanic American), and isn't actually used much.

I'm not sure why you're trying to pick a fight about this. It's not working.
posted by nangar at 5:15 PM on October 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


Jessamyn: I would never make a complaint because I don't do that. I don't make complaints. Complaining about stuff on the internet - if you actually expect it to result in change - is stupid and futile. I am simply pointing out that if one is going to accept complaints about certain over-generalised, racially-derived descriptors then one should recognise that "Anglos" falls into that category. White people are not all "Anglos" any more than black people are all "Afro-Americans". Not even close.

The point I am making is the same as the one that says if it is not okay to use derogatory terms based on female genitalia, then it should not be okay to use derogatory terms based on male genitalia. If it is not okay to use lazy, over-generalised nicknames for non-white racial groups then it is not okay to use lazy, over-generalised nicknames for white racial groups.

Me? I don't care. I don't give a damn. This stuff is trivia. It's the sort of stupid, self-congratulatory noise that only matters to people who don't have real problems to deal with. It is playground nonsense. It's the sort of playground nonsense that most of us learned to dismiss with "Sticks and stones will break my bones". To see the educated, smart, decent people of Metafilter constantly tearing skinny little strips off each other for being, ooh, you beast, a bit less than absolutely PC-right-on-magnificent all the time is pathetic, laughable and, above all, horribly sad. Metafilter has got itself into an absolute Gordian knot of sheer bloody nonsense over this stuff lately and it is time the sword fell. We are bickering about mere words while the Tea Party is winning votes.

What I'd like to see is for people to stop throwing a fit every time somebody says something a bit mean or less-than-right-on and instead concentrate their energies on fighting those bastards on the right who want to actually, no really, wreck our lives. To actually do something that makes a difference. But if people aren't willing to do that and would rather bang on about which words are or are not okay to say in decent, civilised and oh-so-politically-sound company then they should at least try to be consistent.
posted by Decani at 5:17 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


For the record, I'm medium beige.

Due to my Irish Catholic heritage and fondness for adult beverages, I'm roughly the color of the milk left over after you eat a bowl of Apple Jacks.
posted by jonmc at 5:18 PM on October 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


Decani, I apologize for saying I thought you were being a dick. It was a lazy use of an insulting term.

I should have said I thought you were being overly contentious about a subtle matter during a discussion where it's clear that folks should be giving each other a huge benefit of the doubt (in order to avoid flamewars) and I think you still would be better off if you dropped this line of discussion rather than continuing further conversation that's not actually doing anyone but you any good.
posted by kalessin at 5:20 PM on October 30, 2010


Decani, I apologize for saying I thought you were being a dick. It was a lazy use of an insulting term.

Dude, there is absolutely no need to apologise. I am very well aware of how much of a dick I can be. I have my good points too, though. :-)
posted by Decani at 5:22 PM on October 30, 2010


Also, so you know, I find the implication that you think I am wasting my time on sounding politically sound rather insulting.
posted by kalessin at 5:23 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


But if people aren't willing to do that and would rather bang on about which words are or are not okay to say in decent, civilised and oh-so-politically-sound company then they should at least try to be consistent.

Consistency is overrated and assumes a level playing field although I think some people think there's an uneven field when it isn't sometimes. In matters of race we're nowhere near being able to make equivalent decisions based on the percieved logic of fairness in all things. Life isn't a management decision making tree and if you follow the flowchart that says cunt and prick are the same and honkey and the n-word are the same you're going to be confused and deflated when reality disagrees with you.
posted by shinybaum at 5:24 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Could you elaborate on why "Anglos" is an acceptable term for white people on Metafilter?

I don't know that it's an acceptable term for people on metafilter, who are blue or green or grey, mostly. In the US Southwest in particular, it's a useful term in that it connotes non-Hispanic white people. Hispanic people, as the US Census is fond of reminding us, can be of any race, so if you say someone is Hispanic, they can be white, or black or Asian, or any mix thereof, in addition to being Mexican or Puerto Rican or Guatemalan etc. Someone who is Anglo is a white person who is explicitly not Hispanic. It's not a dig. It's descriptive.
posted by rtha at 5:25 PM on October 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


Also, so you know, I find the implication that you think I am wasting my time on sounding politically sound rather insulting.
posted by kalessin at 1:23 AM on October 31


And yet I am confident that you will get over the trauma. I feel you have the strength. :-)
posted by Decani at 5:25 PM on October 30, 2010


Decani, I feel that you are an old hand at flame wars. Know that I am too and I hope that you know that I know that you know that I know that you know that I know that there is a vast difference between finding something insulting and actually getting hurt by it.

But so you know, I'm not interested in making this into a flame war (out of respect for the mods) and I am not taking the insult personally, just informing you of the effect, so that you may use the information to your own ends.

I'd prefer that you used it to stop trying to piss me off, but of course I can't make you.
posted by kalessin at 5:28 PM on October 30, 2010


White people are not all "Anglos" any more than black people are all "Afro-Americans".

Yeah, I don't care if anyone calls me an "Anglo." (I'm a white Northern European, close enough.)

Me? I don't care. I don't give a damn.


You seem to care.
posted by Dumsnill at 5:31 PM on October 30, 2010


luke1249, what you seem to be missing is that (Jessamyn said, and you did not contest) your comment was not answering the question. In every ask.metafilter thread, all comments must answer or clarify the question. Maybe what you said was true, maybe it was profound. But it didnt answer the question anymore than any other true, profound non-question answering statement would be.

Did I mention answering the question? Because that's what ask is really all about.
posted by shothotbot at 5:38 PM on October 30, 2010


Okay, I'm really confused. What's supposed to be racist/bigoted about what peachy said? The only place s/he ever talks about white folks specifically at all is the "significantly higher levels of clueless and obnoxious Anglo behavior than what she's used to" thing-- I guess s/he could have just said "significantly higher levels of clueless and obnoxious behavior towards Hispanics than what she's used to" rather than specifying the ethnicity of the people engaging in said behavior. But on the other hand, when s/he's saying "more of the white people in Phoenix or Dallas than San Antonio are obnoxious to Hispanics," that doesn't sound to me like peachy's trying to say anything about what people of a certain race/ethnicity are like in generally, it sounds like s/he's talking about the culture and the atmosphere of certain cities-- exactly what the OP was asking about.

And while I'm sure many people could make well-reasoned arguments about the Arizona public school system in regards to Hispanic students to back up what peachy said, what does that have to do with racism/bigotry towards white people? peachy never said anything about "those Anglos running the school system" or "all those white teachers" or anything like that...
posted by EmilyClimbs at 5:39 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could you elaborate on why "Anglos" is an acceptable term for white people on Metafilter?

I always though that "Anglo" referred to a person's native language and not race. Anglo refers to the English language not English decent.
posted by octothorpe at 5:44 PM on October 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


It's racist to point out that living in a state that has passed laws targeting minorities will teach a Hispanic kid that people like her are unwelcome? Please. She's not accusing any race of having inherent, inferior qualities. She's talking about actual behaviors engaged in by some white Arizonians.
posted by Mavri at 5:45 PM on October 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


The fact is that words and their various uses are interesting topics to many people, decani. Coming in to those conversations and declaring them stupid, that's the real noise.

If you think metafilter has some sort of responsibility to fight the tea party and that conversations not dedicated to that end are nonesense, you're wrong.
posted by ericost at 5:48 PM on October 30, 2010


I spent two years of my life living in major where Latin people were the majority by a huge margin, and I heard the term 'anglo' used maybe three times. It didn't bug me much. This is like depating use of the word 'honky,' which I've literally never heard used unironically. I'm not saying that the topic, per se, isn't worth discussing, but we seem to be getting our terminology from 30 year old TV shows.
posted by jonmc at 5:50 PM on October 30, 2010


Decani, I don't understand your objection to the term "Anglo" at all. Isn't it just an abbreviation for "Anglophone", i.e. English-speaking, the exact counterpart of "Hispanic" or Spanish-speaking?

In Canada we refer to anglophones and francophones. I've never seen anyone declare that this is exclusionary or pigeonholing, and that we should only refer to "people."
posted by russilwvong at 5:51 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I've said before that it is a very white assumption that it is possible NOT to be racist.

Words have meanings. "Racist" is a particularly repugnant term, and I'd like like to reserve it for the particularly repugnant.
posted by malocchio at 5:53 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Decani clearly doesn't give two shits how anybody refers to people, but was merely wasting everybody's time trolling on the Intarwebs instead of wandering the streets with a pitchfork and torch looking for Tea Partiers to overwhelm with his ironclad physical logic.
posted by flabdablet at 5:56 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


In Canada we refer to anglophones and francophones. I've never seen anyone declare that this is exclusionary or pigeonholing, and that we should only refer to "people."

Decani cares about the term because he is sensitive enough to think of us non-anglophone white guys. We suffer too.
posted by Dumsnill at 5:59 PM on October 30, 2010


Me? I don't care. I don't give a damn. This stuff is trivia. It's the sort of stupid, self-congratulatory noise that only matters to people who don't have real problems to deal with.

Then why are you doing it?

The point I am making is the same as the one that says if it is not okay to use derogatory terms based on female genitalia, then it should not be okay to use derogatory terms based on male genitalia. If it is not okay to use lazy, over-generalised nicknames for non-white racial groups then it is not okay to use lazy, over-generalised nicknames for white racial groups.

It helps if the term you're complaining about is actually derogatory. At least "douchebag" and "pussy" are actually used as insults.

But you you're not "complaining," you're just ... bored on a Saturday night, maybe?

(I know. Don't feed the trolls.)
posted by nangar at 6:02 PM on October 30, 2010


What about Wellos (for the Welsh)?

We call them sheepshaggers around here.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:02 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


And they, in turn, burn out holiday homes.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:11 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm really confused. What's supposed to be racist/bigoted about what peachy said?

Emilyclimbs, if you don't know, then you are an even bigger racist than peachy- watch yourself anglo.
posted by TheBones at 6:12 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


malocchio, at the risk of repeating myself, as a non-Anglo living in the United States of America, my experience of the world is steeped in racism. At 42, and lucky enough to be half-Asian, half-Anglo (see the term "Honorary White Person" for more there) and very well assimilated, I have lots of good coping mechanisms for making it not suck all the time, but it's the objective truth of my experience that my life is steeped in racism and racist repurcussions.

Aside from thinking it's a white assumption that it's possible to not be racist, I also think it's a pretty white assumption that it's possible to live a life where racism is a repugnant, reserved term used for extraordinary circumstances.
posted by kalessin at 6:13 PM on October 30, 2010 [16 favorites]



I am so very tired of discussions about racism. I am tired of 101 discussions. I am tired of 201 discussion and I am honestly tired of 601 discussions. I would like a rest.


I hate when people say stuff like this, it really gets under my skin. Sorry, kalessin, but I feel it has to be said: nobody is forcing you to participate in the conversation. If you're so "very tired" of discussing it, then simply don't. I'm not saying you don't have valid points or anything (I have to go back and read the rest of the thread) but that's so frickin' irritating to read. You're not a mod, you don't have to read or participate in any discussion that you don't want to.
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:14 PM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


1000monkeys, after I said that, the discussion went back around to something I felt I could participate in. Sorry I irritated you with that statement, though.
posted by kalessin at 6:16 PM on October 30, 2010


I'm sad. This is sad.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:16 PM on October 30, 2010


Would you like some pointers? I'd be happy to try to give you some links. But the fact is, it is all old and clear and very well hashed-out discussion that I'm really sick of walking Anglos through.

This is pretty damn irritating and condescending, too. I was sort of on the fence about this, but seriously? REALLY, kalessin?
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:17 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


1000monkeys, could you do me a favor and skip ahead to the statements you found most offensive?
posted by kalessin at 6:17 PM on October 30, 2010


"Anglo" is something you hear in New Mexico and other parts of the south -- as in, Anglos, Latinos, and Indians. There's nothing offensive about it, per se. I believe the term distinguishes not only between non-Latino whites and Latinos, but also historically between Spanish, British and French settlers/colonists.
posted by yarly at 6:20 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Floodgates: Open.
posted by crunchland at 6:25 PM on October 30, 2010


Personally, I have no issue with the term "Anglos"--it is, to me, just a general category for English speakers. When it's used as a euphemism for white people, and then used to attack a group of people, then it could become a derogatory/hateful word. I don't think that was the case in peachy's comment. Perhaps she(?) has just had some bad personal experiences in San Antonio, or whatever, and is upset about them. I didn't find her answer offensive.
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:26 PM on October 30, 2010


1000monkeys, could you do me a favor and skip ahead to the statements you found most offensive?

I just read through the thread (sorry, didn't see your intervening comment between both of my posts). I don't really know what you mean by the above. Anyways, I don't disagree with you (except about the "everybody is racist" comment, which I think you wrote?), but it's more a matter of HOW you're saying it then WHAT you're saying.
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:28 PM on October 30, 2010


1000monkeys, the answer is yes, really.

Note that I am in no way affiliated with that blog's author. Found 'em via Google.
posted by kalessin at 6:29 PM on October 30, 2010


If you're going to cite a particular comment, it's common practice to actually link to the comment. This makes it easier for people to read the comment, rather than searching for it, and decide if your complaints have merits.

I think in cases where isn't a callout of a particular comment that the mods would rather you didn't link to the vitriol. If you do have a valid point it becomes much harder for them to delete it, since there is a record of the comment existing and discussion would then rely on the comment being left intact. In the event that the comment does rise to the deletion level the feeling is this is best done quietly.

Of course I could be wrong, and I am sure there's a simpler way to say what I wrote above.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:32 PM on October 30, 2010


Crap. First two lines above were a quote.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:34 PM on October 30, 2010


Again, kalessin, it's not that I disagree with what you're saying, it's the whole "I'm really sick of walking Anglos through [this]" part that bothers me. You see, in peachy's comment, she's not trying to paint a whole group with one brush (yes, there is some generalizations, but that's part of answering the OP's question), whereas your comment comes across as really condescending and annoying (not only do you "have to walk us through it", it has to be you that does it) and I feel that you're using the term Anglos in a more offensive way (i.e. as a substitute for "you white people") than peachy was using it (in a more neutral way).

I'm having a hard time expressing this, especially because I realize any time a "white person" does so, it's immediately seen as "poor privileged whitey" and I end up falling into a trap by simply trying to point out any "racist" undertones. Maybe you don't really mean it that way, but your statement comes across in a more hostile, "hateful" way (much too strong of a word, but you know what I mean) then does peachy's usage.
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:35 PM on October 30, 2010


1000monkeys, I've done my level best in this discussion (because it's important to me not to be the asshole) to be as respectful as I can be, and participatory as I can be, and as non-flame war-centric, non-contentious as I can. Deliberately. I've a stored past of not being nearly as supportive or non-combative as I have been today.

It hasn't kept me from calling it like I see it and from being honest about how I feel about what I'm discussing. I honestly am tired of basic anti-racist discussions.

Not for reasons that are simple or easily dismissed. It's actually rather complex. I have been an anti-racist activist, I still sort of identify with the anti-racist community, but because I have unpopular opinions within the community. And I am also not well-suited to anti-racist beginner stories, so it takes a lot of effort for me to participate in them with any semblance of graciousness, with or against either of the majority sites of such discussions.

So while I am sorry that you have issues with the tone of my discussion, I'm forced to say that I'm doing all I can to be a good citizen in this discussion, so I will be unable to do any better for you. And I'm sorry that I fall short.

But I'm not going to quit because of that.
posted by kalessin at 6:37 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ooh, I missed some words, sorry.

Should be "storied past".

Also, an incomplete sentence.

Should have been "... but because I have unpopular opinions within the community, I no longer feel like I am part of it." By beginner stories, I mean simplified stories that you tell and teach and listen to to try to get a grip on complex subjects, or college level or however you want to call it.

And "majority sites" should be "majority sides".

I'll proofread better next time, sorry.
posted by kalessin at 6:40 PM on October 30, 2010


kalessin: Set aside the whole "anti-racist" thing then. My main gripe is with your tone re: I have to take my precious time to show you "anglos" (i.e. stupid, ignorant white people) how ignorant and stupid you are. That's how your comments are coming across to me. It comes across as fairly "racist" to me. Replace the word "anglo" with any minority group and think about how you would feel if it was directed at you: Ugh, I can't believe I have to take the time to walk you [ethnic group] through this. Again.
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:45 PM on October 30, 2010


it's the objective truth of my experience that my life is steeped in racism and racist repurcussions.

That's a subjective truth, but one that totally aligns with my own. We live in a racist, sexist, homophobic society. Oh, hells yeah...it's evident everywhere I look.

My umbrage is only when someone insists that everyone is racist, sexist, and/or homophobic. Yes, I've had thoughts that I would consider all of those, but I'm not proud of them. I'm ashamed of the impulse, and I reject them upon reflection. But even if I can't help having the occasional racist thought, what good does it do to call me a racist when I consider and ultimately reject those thoughts?

I think actions and speech are more important than thoughts...they are the culmination of our thought processes. There is no person that should be proud of every thought they have, but thoughts, in and of themselves, aren't the measure by which we should be judged.
posted by malocchio at 6:47 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


1000monkeys, in my experience, that's a pretty accurate summary of how many people feel when they are expected to take the time -- yet again -- to wage some clueless but well-meaning people through the experience of their daily lives. Or as a friend of mine says "Ugh, is it my turn to be the Teaching Negro again?"
posted by KathrynT at 6:49 PM on October 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


WAGE some people? WALK some people.
posted by KathrynT at 6:50 PM on October 30, 2010


It comes across as fairly "racist" to me. Replace the word "anglo" with any minority group and think about how you would feel if it was directed at you: Ugh, I can't believe I have to take the time to walk you [ethnic group] through this. Again.

I take it that you feel that these "anglos" are a minority group in your country, and that these "anglos" tend not to be heard? That other groups successfully silence them in some important way?
posted by Dumsnill at 6:52 PM on October 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


1000monkeys, in my experience, that's a pretty accurate summary of how many people feel when they are expected to take the time -- yet again -- to wage some clueless but well-meaning people through the experience of their daily lives. Or as a friend of mine says "Ugh, is it my turn to be the Teaching Negro again?"

I totally understand the sentiment, believe me--as a gay dude, I encounter this every. fricking. day. But it's all in how you say things. Nobody "has" to take the time to explain things. Of course, they probably (and understandably) feel the need to do it, but I feel that there are ways to educate people on these issues without coming across like a jerk. People who might otherwise learn something get their backs up and get closed to your message. And then you're wasting your time while "wasting your time" explaining how things are. Does that make any sense?
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:53 PM on October 30, 2010


1000monkeys, Okay, so I retract my use of "Anglos". I am tired of having to teach any beginner what I see as the basics of contemporary thought about racism. There are plenty of online resources. The fact that folks participate in MetaFilter means to me that self-education is within everyone's grasp in this discussion.

The fact that a common tactic in racism discussions is for the members of the self-professed or accused racists to ask the folks involved in the discussion who self-ID as victims of the racism to explain themselves before their arguments are valid is a craven thing to do and I won't support it. I think it's rude and also that it perpetuates the racism under discussion.

I should be more direct, then, instead of talking about how I feel and making it personal? Forget about how I feel. I think that asking the minority to explain the offense is a rude, callous and cowardly thing and I think you're above that. I'd like to hope that all MeFites are, but obviously I'm wrong.

Also, I do not play the replacement game if I can help it. I see your point, but I don't think the replacement game is doing you any favors in this discussion. It may make logical sense but I think you are using the letter of the law or logic to bludgeon your way through an ethical situation that deserves more subtlety.

Also, just saw your bullshit snark at the end of your last comment. That's beneath you too and I think that though I may continue to participate in this discussion with other folks, I'm done talking with you about it.
posted by kalessin at 6:54 PM on October 30, 2010 [9 favorites]



I take it that you feel that these "anglos" are a minority group in your country, and that these "anglos" tend not to be heard? That other groups successfully silence them in some important way?


NO. And that's the pigeonholing that I was deliberately trying to avoid but knew would happen. I'm not saying "poor white people have it so bad". I'm just saying you can explain to a group of people how they are wrong/prejudiced (in general) without talking down to them like they're idiots and without painting each and every one as a racist. Is that so much to ask?

I often have to "take the time", as kalessin puts it, to explain to (some) "straight people" how their prejudices and misconceptions about "gay" people are wrong, harmful, offensive even ignorant, but I don't say "Do I have to walk all you straight people through this again?" and I don't have to pigeonhole all heterosexual people or offend them (by calling them "breeders" for example, which I really abhor).
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:58 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm with 1000monkeys. I feel like this thread is focusing on some kind of policy decision around the word "Anglo" and I don't feel like I have a horse in that race; I'm actually curious whether "clueless and obnoxious Anglo behavior", "clueless and obnoxious Hispanic behavior", "clueless and obnoxious African-American behavior", "clueless and obnoxious Asian behavior" aren't all the same thing. Context is key but with or without context, is it "okay" to use make blanket statements ascribing a certain behavior to a certain race? (That's not a "policy decision request" by the way, more a general curiosity.)

As a bright spot, at least clueless and obnoxious behavior knows not the bounds of race, which brings us together as mankind. Yay. Oh wait.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 7:01 PM on October 30, 2010


I think that asking the minority to explain the offense is a rude, callous and cowardly thing and I think you're above that. I'd like to hope that all MeFites are, but obviously I'm wrong.

Sorry, I don't really understand what you're referring to here.

Also, just saw your bullshit snark at the end of your last comment. That's beneath you too and I think that though I may continue to participate in this discussion with other folks, I'm done talking with you about it.

Huh? What bullshit snark?

Sorry kalessin, we seem to be not understanding eachother on this one. I'm not really sure what point you're trying to make here and I don't know what "bullshit snark" you're referring to.
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:02 PM on October 30, 2010


malocchio, as we get better at measuring incidental racism and its effects, the thought that there is a practical barrier between what we think and what we do and what effects our actions have upon the social canvas becomes less and less meaningful to me.

I do agree with you that there should be barriers and that we by no means need to be proud of the thoughts we have that are racist, but in my experience, that barrier is by no means automatic and that it takes a lot of intentional effort to avoid having our inner thoughts reflect somehow on our outer actions and social effects.

I think that's the conceit of the common anti-racist conceit that we are all racist - that if we are ignorant of the possibility that we might be we might not start trying to account for it and might ignorantly proceed with our privilege and entitlement and do a lot of unthinking damage.
posted by kalessin at 7:02 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


As an aside, I am distressed to say that I may be just over this discussion. We had a good run, but the downturn is getting pretty obvious to me and the rate at which we are all apparently slinging insults around is going way up.

So I'm burning out. I hope you all enjoy your nights, but I'd better go before I say something I regret.
posted by kalessin at 7:06 PM on October 30, 2010


???
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:07 PM on October 30, 2010


Is self-flagellating the new black?
posted by unSane at 7:13 PM on October 30, 2010


Come on. "Racism" pretty much can't happen to whites. I guess that's why I don't care about it, really.
posted by planet at 7:35 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just think if you're going to say we're all racists, we might as all well be Christians. Or Atheists. Or whatever, because your words have become all-inclusive. But I'm pretty sure there is something that differentiates you and I from the average KKK member.

They are fucking asshole racists. Hey, if you want to claim that mantle for yourself, be my guest, but please, for the love of Baphomet, don't claim it for me.
posted by malocchio at 7:37 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


FWIW, I didn't find peachy's comment to be offensive or racist, just a reflection of reality in a racist society.
posted by malocchio at 7:42 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anyone here ever been to Arizona? Do you know the educational statistics for the state? If you teach in the system, how about you tell us how you can't tell the difference in dropout rates between Latino and Anglo students? (The latter being a term of art, by the way, in education policy.)

peaches had it exactly right, and this callout is bullshit. I'd be embarrassed to be from Arizona, or to work in the Arizona school system, too. And sorry if you're an Arizona teacher, but you work for a racist school system in a state with a racist majority and a racist government. Working for an inherently racist system doesn't make you personally a racist, but defending the honor of that system certainly makes you an apologist for some appalling bigotry.

You want to tell us how every day Arizona teachers are fighting the good fight and resisting the tide of bigotry in their state, go right ahead. I am positive such people exist. I know a lot of people in Arizona who are not racists (and since many of them are Native American, that really takes some restrain on their part not to return a few hundred years of the favor of bigotrt). But I can show you statistically with outcome figures, per capita spending, curricular restrictions, or any number of other common metrics how "racist" Arizona's public education system is, so how about you prove it's a bastion of fairness and tolerance in spite of the facts.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:47 PM on October 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'm just saying you can explain to a group of people how they are wrong/prejudiced (in general) without talking down to them like they're idiots and without painting each and every one as a racist. Is that so much to ask?

No, and sorry for reacting in a slightly pileony way. I think the problem is that this has been hashed out so many times here and elsewhere that many will react in an "oh fuck, not again, do your own homework" kind of way. But we should be more willing to listen to each other.

(And I sort of miss Optimus Chyme. His reaction would have been less conducive to mutual understanding, but more entertaining.)
posted by Dumsnill at 7:47 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Or what malocchio said. The facts hurt, so deal with it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:48 PM on October 30, 2010


We are all racist.

You do not speak for me.
posted by archivist at 8:09 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


We are all racist.

I agree with this statement.
posted by josher71 at 8:11 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


it's kind of rude to ask someone like me who's already tipped his hand that he's part of the underclass.

Microsoft-Centric Systems Engineer and Architect
posted by Dano St at 8:17 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Link is borked.
posted by josher71 at 8:19 PM on October 30, 2010


We are all racist.

I agree with this statement.



I disagree with josher71.
posted by archivist at 8:20 PM on October 30, 2010


Link is borked.

I don't think so, though my ability to convey my meaning could well be borked. I am finding amusement in reading an IT professional living in the East coast megalopolis of the U.S. claiming underclass status to the extent kalessin has in this thread.
posted by Dano St at 8:32 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


nomadicink - Thanks for the tip.

shothotbot - Actually I did realize that. Sorry if I wasn't clear. But it's not so clear-cut as you make it out. People comment on other people's answers all the time. If someone gives an answer that they think is wrong, they tell them. That's what I was doing.

EmilyClimbs - All the talk about the word Anglo got us off track. "Anglo" is a totally inoccuous word to me. You say peachy never said "those Anglos running the system," but actually she did. She was talking about looking at the Anglo/Chicano ethnic makeup of the school.

Mavri - The law gives local law enforcement the same powers federal immigration authorities currently have. If there's a problem with Arizona, then there ought to be a problem with the entire country.

fourcheesemac - Ah-ha, we have something approaching actual statistics. Peachy's comment was utter bullshit, because the system doesn't teach Latinos that they're hoodlums. If you want to point to some kind of systemic bias, then I would be more than glad to look at actual statistics. Dropout rates aren't enough, though. I mean, I've heard lots of crazy arguments, but nobody's forcing kids out of school because they're Latino. If you want to argue that higher minority dropout rates are a symptom of a larger bias in the economic system, then I'd agree with you there. But that's hardly localized to Arizona. So, show me some kind of statistics that indicate that the Arizona school system is biased against Latinos, and maybe we can have a discussion.

And in general, it seems like there's a lot of people with axes to grind. Have you had experiences of racism? That's very sad. Does that counteract the fact that what peachy said was racist? Not the tiniest little bit. Most people here want to talk about everything except the topic I brought up.
posted by luke1249 at 8:37 PM on October 30, 2010


Dano St - Exactly what I suspected.
posted by luke1249 at 8:39 PM on October 30, 2010


Looks like someone recognized the truth in 1000monkeys' point about tone and invented a bunch of hurty so as to bail without acknowledging it.

Poor form; no surprise.
posted by breezeway at 8:44 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anglo is totally fine and not at all offensive or rude.

Where I grew up old people used Anglo and Spanish to refer to people who spoke primarily English and Spanish, respectively.

"White" isn't as descriptive because a lot of "Spanish" people are...white.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:50 PM on October 30, 2010


Dano St, going to peoples' profiles for "clever" ammo is really uncool.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:53 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"So, show me some kind of statistics that indicate that the Arizona school system is biased against Latinos, and maybe we can have a discussion."

Why don't you show some statistics that it's NOT biased, and then we can hav a discussion? You're the one accusing a fellow commenter of racism. Why don't you do the work and go find some statistics?
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:55 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


My contention is that peachy's argument is racist. I have all the proof I need. If someone is going to prove me wrong, they're going to have to either engage the actual words she used or bring in other facts.

That's how it works. The onus is on the naysayers. If you think I'm wrong, prove it.

But no one will touch her words with a ten-foot pole, because they're obviously racist, so the response has been to somehow indirectly curve-ball the topic into Racism In America or something about me personally, or something, anything, just not what I brought up.
posted by luke1249 at 9:02 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Me? I don't care. I don't give a damn. This stuff is trivia. It's the sort of stupid, self-congratulatory noise that only matters to people who don't have real problems to deal with. It is playground nonsense. It's the sort of playground nonsense that most of us learned to dismiss with "Sticks and stones will break my bones". To see the educated, smart, decent people of Metafilter constantly tearing skinny little strips off each other for being, ooh, you beast, a bit less than absolutely PC-right-on-magnificent all the time is pathetic, laughable and, above all, horribly sad. Metafilter has got itself into an absolute Gordian knot of sheer bloody nonsense over this stuff lately and it is time the sword fell. We are bickering about mere words while the Tea Party is winning votes.

Wow, that's an awful lot of words you used on something you don't care about.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:03 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I fundamentally oppose the concept that everyone is racist and do not understand how this became an accepted viewpoint, as I know manymanymany people who do not meet the definition of racist (posted above, conveniently) on any level.

Prejudiced, yes. Everyone is prejudiced. Even the Dalai Lama is prejudiced.

But not racist. Nor even bigoted.

Just sayin'.
posted by batmonkey at 9:04 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


luke1249:
peachy's comment is not racist.

It is activist. Maybe even militant. Buuuut, like "everyone", not racist.
posted by batmonkey at 9:09 PM on October 30, 2010


"If someone is going to prove me wrong, they're going to have to either engage the actual words she used or bring in other facts."

Okay: nothing she said is racist. There, I engaged her actual words. You have seemingly failed to do so; instead you have inferred that his/her characterization of the Arizona school system (not a race, by the way) is racist and/or incorrect, or that Anglo is a slur (it's not as multiple people with experience of it have stated).

Or you're just upset that someone said that some Anglos have a certain kind of shitty attitude towards Hispanic people. Noting that some people are bigoted, nasty, ignorant, or otherwise prejudiced against Latinos is not racist. It's describing racist behavior.

"Some members of X group act shitty towards members of Y group" is inherently racist? Is that what you're trying to argue?
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:14 PM on October 30, 2010


But no one will touch her words with a ten-foot pole, because they're obviously racist,

No they aren't. You are way out in left field here. You are either misreading or misrepresenting what she(?) wrote, and you are throwing around words like "racism" as if they apply to what you are talking about.

She says:

Because if you're talking about Dallas --> Phoenix move, she would most likely be okay. But if you're talking about something more akin to a San Antonio --> Phoenix move, she can expect to encounter significantly higher levels of clueless and obnoxious Anglo behavior than what she's used to.

This is a comparison of Anglo behavior in Dallas, San Antonio, and Phoenix. It's cool to say "my experience is totally different; I found Anglos in Dallas and Phoenix much more sensitive to Latinos than in San Antonio." It's a lot less awesome to just call it racist without demonstrating either a different set of experiences or a better way to frame the question.

Do you want her to grow up learning that people like her do not belong in this country, are leeches, hoodlums, and the general scourge of society who must be kept out at all costs lest they destroy our country? Do you want her to grow up learning that she can't feel proud of her ethnic heritage? Being taught in school that only White people/Anglos made any contributions noteworthy enough to be taught in school because HB2281 means that it's illegal to teach about the history of Chicanos in US Southwest?

Only the last sentence is specific to schools; the rest might come from the school system or might come from the general environment, she doesn't specify. Again, you are reading more into this than she wrote, and finding the most uncharitable reading possible.

If you do decide to move there, be very very careful about neighborhood/school district. Find out the percentage of Chicano vs. Anglo students tracked into special ed courses versus honors courses, relative to the percent of students in the general population. See what the school policy is on name calling. Look at the ethnic composition of the teachers and leaders in her school. Do they reflect who she is (e.g., she sees herself as a potential leader)? Be a very aware and proactive parent so that you can protect her.

And this is just a set of concrete suggestions for how to compare school district policies between places. Nothing racist there, either.

So yeah, like I said, you are looking kind of angry and clueless, which is a terrible combination. I'm not saying that you need to agree with her -- but you are pounding away at this in a really weird way, and taking three steps back and rereading what she actually wrote (rather than what you seem to think she wrote) would be a good step.
posted by Forktine at 9:15 PM on October 30, 2010 [19 favorites]


I mean, just her "clueless and obnoxious Anglo behavior" comment is enough.

I'm constantly bothered by clueless and obnoxious Anglo behavior on this site.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:16 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I agree that everyone is (or is very likely) prejudiced. As someone who spent 5 years studying Anthropology, I have a hard time even using the term "racist" as I personally, and many Anthropologists, don't accept the term "race" since it is a social construct and not a biological one (ethnocentrism/ethnocentric seems to be more appropriate). However, I do understand that the term "racism" is a powerful symbol for a group of people who hatefully attack and/or mistreat a group of people based on their perceived label using the category of "race".

I do think it's important to point out that there IS such a thing of "racism" against white people by other "races". I'm NOT trying to make this into a "awh, poor white people who are so hard done by" thing, I'm just pointing out that it is indeed possible.

I find actions and words to be more important than thoughts. If we are all prejudiced (more or less, to some extent) then I think it's great that there are people who are able to overcome those inherent(?) or cultural prejudices and to treat people equitably, fairly, and with love rather than with hate. It is easy to paint a whole group of people with one brush because it's the lazy thing to do, and it's basically part of our psychological, linguistic, and cultural system of categorizing, identifying, and labeling the world around us. But those people, those individuals, who are able to see and to acknowledge that system and to step outside it, those are the people who are trying and who don't deserve to be labeled "racists". Those are the people I want to get to know.
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:22 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmm. So. "Anglos" is okay for Metafilter, is it? That's an acceptable way to designate a certain - well, let's be honest, actually very uncertain - racial group is it? Okay. Noted. I'll concede it has a slightly cooler ring than "whitey".

As a white, middle-class dude... I often fill out the "race" line of surveys with the answer "Gringo". I think it's funny. And, also, my ancestors were not the first people on this land. I'm, for all intents and purposes, the offspring of occupying forces.
posted by Netzapper at 9:27 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]




My contention is that peachy's argument is racist. I have all the proof I need. If someone is going to prove me wrong, they're going to have to either engage the actual words she used or bring in other facts.

What part of Texas are they currently in? Because if you're talking about Dallas --> Phoenix move, she would most likely be okay. But if you're talking about something more akin to a San Antonio --> Phoenix move, she can expect to encounter significantly higher levels of clueless and obnoxious Anglo behavior than what she's used to. Also, SB1070 did not change people's behaviors and attitudes. Rather, it's a REFLECTION of people's behaviors and attitudes. Do you want to live in a place populated by people who elected legislators who legislate this kind of crap?


Is this a reasonable way of informing someone about how their lives might change if they move? I don't know, and if you do then calmly explain to the poster why the answer is right or wrong or wildly oversimplified.

The same goes for the rest of the comment. But the "racist" thing of yours is weird, not because it mightn't in some technical sense be right, but because when I hear "racist," I very much hear "dominant ethnic group lording it over less powerful ethnic group." If by "racist" you mean any stereotyping of any group, well, then sure, I guess.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:27 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I ... do not understand how this became an accepted viewpoint,

Um, it's not. The PC myth that everyone is a racist is pure bullshit. Use it an excuse for your own racism if you need to, but jsut because you are a racist, you don't get to then project your failings onto others who more tolerant than you. This false canard would be laughable, if the results weren't so incredibly divisive. In point of fact, there really is no such thing as "race", per sé. As for this artificial social construct of "white" or "anglo", there is actually no such thing either.

People go on about how Obama is the first "black" President. Excuse me? Last time I checked, he had a "white" mother and a "black" father. But racists and other narrow-minded idiots refer to him as black, like the non-existent "black" genes somehow over-ride the non-existent "white" ones when he's a person, period.

It's like those dipsticks who ask me what sign I am in some pick-up joint. "Gee", I'll say, "it's a good thing that there are only 12 kinds of people on this planet, or else astrology would be completely meaningless."
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:30 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why isn't there a flag for silly?
posted by Brent Parker at 9:32 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, it's like race isn't an issue anymore now that you've pointed out that there's no such thing as whiteness!
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:34 PM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Within Texas, which is a largely Hispanic state (36.9 percent according to the US Census Bureau), "Anglo" is a neutral term for white people. Both hispanic and white people use it-- I do not directly know about people from other backgrounds. Like most people in Texas, I have people who are both "white" and "Hispanic" in my family.

I have heard and used Anglo all my life, mainly in Houston and San Antonio and in the small towns in between. The word is more commonly used by older people, and it is used to contrast white with Hispanic people. I am not sure if it is used elsewhere in the Southwest, but I bet it is.

I do not know if anyone else made this point in this thread-- I do not have the time to read it carefully this weekend.

I think that there might be some misunderstanding here about the term Anglo itself. It doesn't carry any negative connotations in any instance I've heard it used.
posted by vincele at 9:38 PM on October 30, 2010


Of course people can use the word Anglo in racist ways... but looking at the most recent comments I see the conversation has gone in a different direction from where it started so I shall bow out!
posted by vincele at 9:40 PM on October 30, 2010


Wow, it's like race isn't an issue anymore now that you've pointed out that there's no such thing as whiteness!

Oh please. Disingenuous, PC bullshit. Racism is an issue. It's ignorant, but it's an issue. But that doesn't mean that every frikken person on the planet is therefore a racist; and especially the ones who grasp that there is no such thing as race.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:41 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't have to pigeonhole all heterosexual people or offend them (by calling them "breeders" for example, which I really abhor)

As a non-breeding heterosexual, I thank you for that.
posted by flabdablet at 9:42 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


The law gives local law enforcement the same powers federal immigration authorities currently have.

The job of Federal immigration authorities is to man the border and check that everyone at the border, whatever their race, is either American or authorized by American law to cross that border.

The Arizona law was intended, among other things, to give police the power to stop Latinos throughout the state and demand proof of their legal status.

Do you see the difference?

The fact that the law, in the face of loud criticism, had to be amended to cut out the explicit right to practice racial profiling demonstrates the odious racism behind the law.

Does what I just wrote make me racist against racist laws -- am I now a "racist lawist?" Because that's the same claim you're making against peachy, who did nothing but suggest that some non-Hispanics hold anti-Hispanic prejudice, that institutional, anti-Hispanic racism also exists, and that there might be some ways to mitigate the pernicious effects of that anti-Hispanic bigotry and racism. You call that that racism. I call it speaking truth to power.
posted by hhc5 at 9:44 PM on October 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


luke1249: “Most people here want to talk about everything except the topic I brought up.”

How in god's name can the statement "children are taught racist things in school" be racist? It seems like you're assuming that every teacher in Arizona is white. Also, when people unfairly accuse other people of racism – which seems to be what you think is happening here – that doesn't mean that they're racist themselves. It just means they're wrong. Say what you think; don't confuse this with ridiculous accusations of racism that don't even make any sense.
posted by koeselitz at 9:49 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


"especially the ones who grasp that there is no such thing as race."

...race exists as a concept. You are not smarter than everyone else and therefore immune from prejudice.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:51 PM on October 30, 2010


The PC myth that everyone is a racist is pure bullshit

Seems likely to me that the only reason the statement "everyone is a racist" is contentious is because people who seriously make that claim are, perhaps unintentionally, misapplying the word "racist". I suspect that what's actually meant by it is "everyone is ethnocentric", which is to say that we are all hardwired to treat people who share our own ethnic background with more empathy.

If this in in fact the intended meaning, then the statement "everyone is a racist" is not an insult, and nor is it any kind of justification for racist behavior; it's a reminder that we all need to take account of and consciously put aside our inbuilt ethnocentricity if we want to deal fairly with people we don't immediately recognize as One Of Us.

I would be very interested to see a reasoned, data-supported defence of the proposition that an innate tendency to ethnocentricity is not universal.
posted by flabdablet at 9:53 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


That came off more rudely than I intended, but if you're going to be calling me disingenuous, you'd better come with something better than "race doesn't exist but DUH racism is still an issue".

And PC? What? You're not even using PC correctly.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:54 PM on October 30, 2010


You say peachy never said "those Anglos running the system," but actually she did. She was talking about looking at the Anglo/Chicano ethnic makeup of the school.

The only things she said about ethnic makeup of the school were 1) to check in particular school districts whether or not Hispanics are over-represented in special ed/under-represented in honors classes, presumably as an indication of how well specific schools serve the needs of Hispanic kids; and 2) "Look at the ethnic composition of the teachers and leaders in her school. Do they reflect who she is (e.g., she sees herself as a potential leader)?"-- i.e. keep an eye out for schools where despite many of the kids being Hispanic, most of the teachers and leaders are Anglo and hence the daughter might develop a view of society where Anglos are the leaders/the smart ones/etc and Hispanics are mostly just the janitors/lunchladies/etc. Perhaps you could say that peachy is being overly race-conscious here-- I don't think so, but I could understand that perception. But again, what is racist/bigoted about this? Maybe I just don't understand your definition of racist? (What is your definition of racist?)

Look, this just seems way off base. S/he's saying "I think many Anglos in Arizona tend to be prejudiced and obnoxious towards Hispanics." That's an opinion. You can disagree with his/her opinion, maybe s/he is wrong. You can say s/he is overgeneralizing. But is there anything in the post that would make you think that s/he is prejudiced about Anglos as a race/ethnicity/whatever, as opposed to it simply being that s/he has a different perception than you about a certain group of Anglos in Arizona?
posted by EmilyClimbs at 9:54 PM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yep, you nailed it, flabdablet. Socialization is key. Some of us were socialized not to be racists.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:57 PM on October 30, 2010


You call that that racism. I call it speaking truth to power.

As I wrote to peachy in a memail, I don't think speaking truth to power actually achieves much; power already knows the truth and doesn't give a shit.

Speaking truth to the chickens who keep voting for Colonel Sanders, though, is probably still useful.
posted by flabdablet at 9:57 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


This discussion makes me sad. Metafilter makes me sad a lot these days. I'm not sure if I need break from the whole site, or just Metatalk, but the sheer assholery and pointlessness of the discussions here lately are very depressing.

If anyone involved in this discussion is actually interested in facts, luke1249 was incorrect in thinking peachy was referring to Arizona HB 1070. That's not the only stupid racist law passed recently in Arizona, and FACT: peachy was instead referring to Arizona House Bill 2281, signed into law on May 11, 2010.

HB 2281 was a bill designed by the Arizona Superintendent of Public Schools to specifically eliminate one popular ethnic studies program in the Tucson school system that chapped his hide and had resisted his elimination attempts.

There is a lot of anger in Arizona about the border, and illegal immigration, and Arizona's terrible economy, and I get the impression that many of these angry people don't make much of a distinction between hating on illegals and hating on all the brown people, thus leading peachy to suppose that a little Hispanic girl growing up in Arizona could hear some pretty negative messages about her ethnicity.

Finally, peachy's advice to be very careful about choosing a school for one's child is pretty good advice for anyone moving to Arizona. FACT: our schools are the worst in the country! Ranked 50th in the nation. DUH, a parent would want to pick carefully in those circumstances.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:58 PM on October 30, 2010 [18 favorites]


And yet I am confident that you will get over the trauma. I feel you have the strength. :-)

ברוך אתה ה' אלוהינו מלך ה'עולם שלא עשני מנחה


It says, (according to Google translate since I don't speak Hebrew): Blessed art thou oh Lord our G-d, king of the world, for not making me a moderator.

It's loosely based on a very controversial and much debated Jewish prayer.

posted by zarq at 9:59 PM on October 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


"especially the ones who grasp that there is no such thing as race."

...race exists as a concept. You are not smarter than everyone else and therefore immune from prejudice.
posted by the young rope-rider


Huh? When did he say that he was? And when did I (since I also said that there technically is no such thing as "race")?
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:03 PM on October 30, 2010


No, but claiming that the fact that you are aware of the fact that there are no races makes you immune to racism is silly at best, wildly disingenuous at worst.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:06 PM on October 30, 2010


Not that you said that, but it was sort of the intended meaning of the original "no races exist" comment.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:09 PM on October 30, 2010



No, but claiming that the fact that you are aware of the fact that there are no races makes you immune to racism is silly at best, wildly disingenuous at worst.


Again: when did anybody actually DO this?
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:11 PM on October 30, 2010


But no one will touch her words with a ten-foot pole, because they're obviously racist . . .

I spent four months in Phoenix last year, beginning right around the time SB1070 passed. Nobody should need some white guy to ratify Peachys' statement, but it is dead on. Not only is there is a great deal of hostility toward Hispanics in Phoenix, especially those perceived to be poor (and therefore presumed to be undocumented), but this hostility is treated as completely normal. Like, so normal they keep electing Joe Arpaio by huge margins and writing nasty letters to the editor in the local papers. So yeah, SB1070 is a reflection of people's behaviors and attitudes. Those behaviors and attitudes make it less than a parade of sunshine and rainbows for Hispanic people in many parts of Arizona.

Peachy said something that was not flattering (but accurate) about prevailing attitudes of white people in Arizona. That's not the same as saying something racist. Don't presume that everyone agrees with your ridiculous misinterpretation.

Incidentally, has anyone let Peachy know about this insulting call-out?

An aside:
Last time I checked, he had a "white" mother and a "black" father. But racists and other narrow-minded idiots refer to him as black . . .
Racists and narrow-minded idiots like Obama himself? It's a question of self-identification. But even if it weren't a question of self-identification alone, the social construction of race via the "one-drop doctrine" (an informal social rule in some places and in the recent past, a formal legal rule in others) would make him pretty clearly black, and the social construction of his race as black by others' treatment of him as such would all push toward this identification.

While we're at it, the "race isn't real" folks are skipping a step.
In point of fact, there really is no such thing as "race", per sé. As for this artificial social construct of "white" or "anglo", there is actually no such thing either.
and
many Anthropologists, don't accept the term "race" since it is a social construct and not a biological one (ethnocentrism/ethnocentric seems to be more appropriate).

Race is a social construct, sure, but that's not the same as being "not real." We take lots of social constructs to be real. SB1070, for example. Families. Grammar. Gender (as distinguished from sex). And so on. (I know anthropologists reject the biological concept of race, but I assume they're similar to sociologists on social constructions, which they tend to acknowledge as real).
posted by Marty Marx at 10:14 PM on October 30, 2010 [19 favorites]


Not that you said that, but it was sort of the intended meaning of the original "no races exist" comment.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:09 PM on October 30 [+] [!]


No it wasn't. And you really should be careful in ascribing intent to someone. Why not simply ASK someone of their intent if you are unsure?

As I explicitly stated earlier, "race" doesn't really exist, however "racism" exists in that it's a powerful symbol for the mistreatment and persecution of a "perceived" category of people. Simply saying race doesn't really exist does NOT say that therefore there is no such thing as racism. Read what was posted again. Frankly, I don't see how you could have come up with that interpretation given what was posted. If I was to ascribe intent to you, I'd postulate that you have some sort of agenda here, because you seem to be creating arguments where they don't exist.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:14 PM on October 30, 2010


Oh please. Disingenuous, PC bullshit. Racism is an issue. It's ignorant, but it's an issue. But that doesn't mean that every frikken person on the planet is therefore a racist; and especially the ones who grasp that there is no such thing as race.

I think this comes pretty damn close.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:15 PM on October 30, 2010


First part of that should be in italics
posted by Dumsnill at 10:16 PM on October 30, 2010


Race is a social construct, sure, but that's not the same as being "not real." We take lots of social constructs to be real. SB1070, for example. Families. Grammar. Gender (as distinguished from sex). And so on. (I know anthropologists reject the biological concept of race, but I assume they're similar to sociologists on social constructions, which they tend to acknowledge as real).

Right. And I acknowledged that. When did I ever say that racism is "not real"? I think there is a reading comprehension issue here. I would say that it was likely the way I phrased it, however, I think I made my point very clearly.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:16 PM on October 30, 2010


I, too, have always taken Anglo to mean "people who's mother tongue is English, not Spanish," rather than "white."

peachy's answer sounds angry, but angry with institutionalized racism in Arizona, and angry with the majority that voted racist laws into effect. I'm not sure why it's being seen as racist by the OP here.
posted by bardophile at 10:16 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dumsnill: you are confusing 1000monkey's comments with Pareidoliatic Boy's, I think.
posted by bardophile at 10:19 PM on October 30, 2010


I was responding to this:

Oh please. Disingenuous, PC bullshit. Racism is an issue. It's ignorant, but it's an issue. But that doesn't mean that every frikken person on the planet is therefore a racist; and especially the ones who grasp that there is no such thing as race.


Someone who just presumed to school us on the non-existence of race implied that people who grasp that there's no such thing as race are especially unlikely to be racist.

And called me disingenuous. And I responded more rudely than I intended.

I wasn't talking to, or about, you at all 1000monkeys. I respect the anthropological approach to race as a concept, or at least what I know about it from a modest anthro minor.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:20 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am not, he is confusing my references to his comments with his own comments.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:20 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh please. Disingenuous, PC bullshit. Racism is an issue. It's ignorant, but it's an issue. But that doesn't mean that every frikken person on the planet is therefore a racist; and especially the ones who grasp that there is no such thing as race.

I think this comes pretty damn close.


Oy. What I think PareidoliaticBoy is saying is that the people who understand that there is no such thing as race aren't likely to be the ones hating on people of a particular "racial" background, because they know that "race" (i.e. skin colour) has no actual meaning. Compare and contrast that with racist people who believe in racial constructs and then use those to persecute people of a (perceived) different race by attaching values to those constructs (i.e. X people are inferior because they have smaller brains--which was a popular, but majorly incorrect, "racist" assumption in the 19th century).

But nobody is saying that "racism" or "racist behaviour" doesn't exist. We're just (correctly) pointing out that race isn't a real, inherent, biological construct.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:20 PM on October 30, 2010


It's like the innate racism they insist I must have. It exists in their minds, therefore it exists. No nuances, no shades of grey. I get it. I'm a racist fuck. Not only that, but my understanding that there actually is no such thing as race makes my filthy racism even more abhorrent.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:21 PM on October 30, 2010




I am not, he is confusing my references to his comments with his own comments.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:20 PM on October 30 [+] [!]


No, no. I know you were directing that at Pareido....Boy (sorry, I can't remember how to spell it lol), but I was just pointing out that he hasn't said what you think he's said, unless I'm missing something which you haven't quoted here.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:22 PM on October 30, 2010


*my references to PB's comments with references to his (1000 mks) comments*
posted by Dumsnill at 10:22 PM on October 30, 2010


We're just (correctly) pointing out that race isn't a real, inherent, biological construct.
And arbitrarily assuming that only biological properties are real. "Being president" is a social construct, but we don't say "Presidents aren't real."

I normally wouldn't insist on this, but it is taking on a flavor of "I don't see color."
posted by Marty Marx at 10:25 PM on October 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Look, just because someone points out that there is no real such thing as "race" doesn't mean that they don't believe that "racism" exists. It does, simply because people DO believe in race. Obviously, PB didn't like the earlier throwaway comment by kalessin that all people are racist. Neither did I, which is why I tried to have a discussion with him(?) on it. And, frankly, those that understand that race doesn't really exist are in fact much less likely to be racists--not because "racism" doesn't exist, not because they don't think "racism" exists, but because they are (usually) SELF AWARE enough to understand what racism is and what race isn't.

Also, I really need to learn to preview. I don't know if that will ever happen though :)
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:28 PM on October 30, 2010


Well, at least we've cleared all this up for future reference.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:28 PM on October 30, 2010


"It's like the innate racism they insist I must have. It exists in their minds, therefore it exists. No nuances, no shades of grey. I get it. I'm a racist fuck. Not only that, but my understanding that there actually is no such thing as race makes my filthy racism even more abhorrent."

I don't think about you all that much. You make it sound like I'm whacking off to this or something.

"Race doesn't exist" is true in one sense, but irrelevant. No one here is saying that white people can't hear well because their ears are too small or they don't have good memories because their hippocampuses are smaller because they were stuck inside during those harsh European winters.

As someone who is mixed, who "passes" sometimes (but not all the time) as white, I know perfectly well that race is

a) arbitrary
b) real
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:29 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]



I normally wouldn't insist on this, but it is taking on a flavor of "I don't see color."


I can see how you would get that, and honestly I was worried that would come across that way. But I'm not saying that "colour" doesn't exist, but it is just a skin pigmentation and an expression of certain morphological features. Ethnicity is a social construct too. It does exist. But the concept of "race" has a long, biologically-linked history and baggage that "ethnicity" tends not to have (at least not in the same way). Also, though "race" doesn't literally exist, it is important to recognize and value how people self-identify.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:30 PM on October 30, 2010


Yes, but isn't that self-awareness the ability to recognize certain prejudicial tendencies within yourself and being willing to admit that you have them and work to minimize the harm they might cause others?
posted by Dumsnill at 10:30 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suppose if you define "racist" as someone who believes that people are inherently superior or inferior based on race, then, no, a lot of people on these boards are not racists. They may have unexamined prejudices and stereotypes, but they don't have an overarching philosophy that races have inherent characteristics that make on better or worse than another.

And this is why the "everybody is a racist" discussion is a dead-end. Because it turns people from discussing racism as an institution -- which still exists, and which we all are privileged or denied privilege as a result of -- into endlessly defending themselves against what they see as a person affront, an accusation that they share a worldview and engage in behaviors that they emphatically do not. The "all men are rapists" discussions go the same way. I'm not a rapist. I don't like being accused of being one, or having the potential to be one. But because rape works to keep half of the population terrorized, it's a tool of patriarchy (sort of the atom bomb of patriarchy), and I benefit from patriarchy. As reprehensible as I personally find rape, as a man I benefit from the fact of it, in some ways that are obvious to me and in some ways that may be invisible to me as a man

As a non-Hispanic white man, I benefit from prejudice against Hispanics. I certainly enjoy privileges they don't. I'm not likely to be detained as a non-American in Arizona. I'm not bundled in with a popular conception of rabid drug runners from Mexico leaving headless corpses in the desert. Demagogue politicians aren't pushing their political fortunes based on fear and hatred of me. I am privileged by the institution of racism, although I find it odious. And I can't unburden myself of the privilege -- it's conferred to me by others, without me asking. They're often unaware of it, and I am unaware of getting it, and the fact of it is only obvious to those who are denied it. And they might see me in this matrix, and see me benefiting from these privileges, and it makes sense that they would say, aha, there is racism.

But it's not about me. It's about the institution. And this is why I've decided it's not really a useful way to spend my time endlessly defending myself against perceived charges of racism, or sexism, or whatever. Because it's not personal. It's not me, personally, that's being discussed. What's being pointed out is that I benefit from a system, and it is the system that is the issue, and that's the discussion. And by making myself the discussion, I distract from the issue. Suddenly, instead of the institution of racism being the topic, which is an important topic, it becomes about my own personal feelings as a white man who feels he has been treated unfairly, and that's not an especially important topic. It seems important to me, yes. But it's a much smaller issue that a system that strategically keeps down an entire class of humans.

And this is why when these sorts of discussions become white people talking about being offended by the word Anglo, or men talking about how feminism affects them, it's not really a germane discussion. It's the majority steering the topic back to what affects them personally, and thinking that's the most important thing, when it isn't. It is, instead, an expression of privilege. You don't want to come off as someone who enjoys their privilege? Don't assert it every chance you get.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:33 PM on October 30, 2010 [63 favorites]



Yes, but isn't that self-awareness the ability to recognize certain prejudicial tendencies within yourself and being willing to admit that you have them and work to minimize the harm they might cause others?


Yup. Which is why I, and PB too if I'm not mistaken, said that we DO all have some sort of inherent or cultural[ly learned] prejudices. It's just not *necessarily* linked to "race" or skin colour.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:33 PM on October 30, 2010


Why can't we all just get along? Or all elect to use the term "asshole" when referring to one another. I'll accept either.

...public school system...where...Latino children are taught that they "do not belong in this country, are leeches, hoodlums, and the general scourge of society who must be kept out at all costs lest they destroy our country?

I'm sad to say that, recently when talking to a teacher in the Texas public school system, I found out that this may be an apt description. For instance, at her school, many teachers are pushing to forbid the speaking of Spanish in the hallways, and are characterizing it as for the "safety" of the school (as if two children speaking French in the hallways would be forbidden for "safety" reasons.)

There's absolutely a problem with Latino children being marginalized, and you can get your dander up about someone pointing it out all you want, but I can't imagine why you'd want to be part of the problem instead of the solution. Just sayin'.
posted by davejay at 10:34 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just copy and paste difficult nicks myself, 1000monkeys. And yes, you have perfectly grasped my point. Possibly because I too majored in anthropology, which is where I learned this stuff. We all see color, or identify "the other"; some of us just react to it appropriately. It has been my experience that people who are schooled in these things tend to not be racists. Not ALL, but most. I am not a racist, I won't tolerate it, and I sure as shit won't tolerate anyone insisting that it is a universally shared trait.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:37 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


(as if two children speaking French in the hallways would be forbidden for "safety" reasons.)

Now Arabic on the other hand...
posted by bardophile at 10:38 PM on October 30, 2010


"It's just not *necessarily* linked to "race" or skin colour."

Prejudice is pretty strongly and demonstrably linked to race and skin color.

I doubt that anyone mysteriously escapes both their individual culture and universal cognitive biases to emerge as someone who literally does not see race.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:39 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]



And this is why when these sorts of discussions become white people talking about being offended by the word Anglo, or men talking about how feminism affects them, it's not really a germane discussion. It's the majority steering the topic back to what affects them personally, and thinking that's the most important thing, when it isn't. It is, instead, an expression of privilege. You don't want to come off as someone who enjoys their privilege? Don't assert it every chance you get.


I totally agree with you here, AZ. And that was why I was trying very hard to point out to kalessin earlier that his attitude and tone, in trying to paint everyone as racists, in being condescending, etc. etc. wasn't helpful to the topic at hand and hurt his argument. And that's also why I was sort of semi-consciously shifting the conversation I suppose, since it seemed to be going off-track (and since most people addressed the OP's post), to a more general discussion of the concept of race, etc. because, well, it is something that interests me personally, and I was hoping that some sort of productive dialogue could come out of it (or perhaps I'm being naive--every time I try to have an intelligent discussion/debate, it seems people can't engage without making it into something dramatic and personal. Maybe that's my fault, I don't know).
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:39 PM on October 30, 2010


I doubt that anyone mysteriously escapes both their individual culture and universal cognitive biases to emerge as someone who literally does not see race.

Stop presenting arguments that haven't been made. No one has said that.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:41 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Prejudice is pretty strongly and demonstrably linked to race and skin color.

I doubt that anyone mysteriously escapes both their individual culture and universal cognitive biases to emerge as someone who literally does not see race.


It is linked, in the general population. But if you speak with people who have the philosophy that "race" doesn't exist, especially Anthropologists, you will not that very few (none that I've ever spoken to, anyways have openly been "racists") are racists. Perhaps it is because this is something we spend most of our time studying in school, and perhaps it's because early Anthropology was heavily linked to racism/Colonialism and so on.

You also have to take into account that people are raised differently, with different values and ways of seeing the world (worldview). And that worldview shapes how people see and interact with the world. For example, I was raised in a very multicultural area in Toronto where we celebrated different cultures (frequent trips to Kensington Market to try out foods from different cultures and areas of the world), etc. etc. Growing up, I honestly didn't "see" a difference value-wise between Chinese kids, White kid, Black kids, Indian kids, etc. Sure, people looked different (but people's appearance vary as widely within a "race" as they do between them), and Ming Lee ate different food from Sami Patel, or Aleisha Jones, or Joe Greenberg, or myself, but I was never brought up to think that any one was better or worse than the other.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:46 PM on October 30, 2010


You are saying that you're not racist even though you're the product of both a racist culture and a very human brain.

Being an anthro major surely you understand how thoroughly our culture shapes us, and it is a racist culture. Not only that, we have brains that are prone to cognitive biases.

So perhaps, maybe, possibly, do you understand why someone might say "everyone is racist"?

Surely you can understand that different people use terms in different ways and that when someone says "everyone is racist" they don't mean that everyone kicks little old white ladies down the stairs just for being white.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:49 PM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


the young rope-rider: I disagree, because there are very specific and obvious connotations with the word "racist" and I do not like to be painted with that term. Is society as a whole prejudiced? Yes. Is it "racist"? Probably--it certainly is imbalanced, and there are very clear power and socio-economic factors that favour one group over many others. Does that make me a racist? Hell no. If your boss is a sexist, racist asshole does that make you one simply by association? Of course not. Just because we live and work within a prejudiced/sexist/heteronormative society, does not make the individuals prejudiced/sexist/homophobic.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:53 PM on October 30, 2010


And, by the way, if you want to help someone who is not coming off well in an argument, criticizing their tone or the way they're making their arguments in front of everyone (and derailing the conversation in the process) is not the way to do it.

(I'm doing it right now! It's annoying, isn't it?)
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:53 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


And, by the way, if you want to help someone who is not coming off well in an argument, criticizing their tone or the way they're making their arguments in front of everyone (and derailing the conversation in the process) is not the way to do it.

Who said I was trying to "help" him? I was calling him out on his actions, which wasn't linked to an agenda either way. I don't think it was a derail when I was directly responding to his comments. I think that I have a right (as do you and everybody else here) to respond and to discuss things, and to call BS when I see it. That's pretty much what we do on MeTa.
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:56 PM on October 30, 2010


I'm a little flabbergasted that so many people are coming into this thread to protest the "everyone is racist" comment. I'm assuming this is because "racist" has become such a panic-button word?

We live in a global society which broadcasts messages about race and ethnicity at us from birth. Our media, our schools, our communities, our parents, our friends, EVERYTHING is teaching us that race exists, and that different races mean different things. These aren't always negative messages, but they are messages nonetheless. This stuff is taught to us before we're old enough to have any conscious awareness of it. And sure, we can fight it. We can struggle with the reactions and thoughts and tendencies and preferences that've practically been hardwired into us by the time we're old enough to think about it critically. We can make sure to treat people well and make an effort to live our ideals. But to pretend that you can grow up in society and not have ANY unconscious prejudices or preferences at all? I'm sorry, but that's absurd.

Forget the world "racist" if it's too alarming. What people mean when they say that is, "we are all unavoidably impacted by the racist society we've grown up in." When children in studies no longer vastly prefer light-skinned dolls to black-skinned dolls, we can have a conversation about how we've all put racial bias behind us.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:56 PM on October 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


But to pretend that you can grow up in society and not have ANY unconscious prejudices or preferences at all? I'm sorry, but that's absurd.

For the umpteenth time, nobody here (that I know of) has said that prejudices don't exist. Please show me where that has ever been said in this thread. Why do people keep bringing up this false argument?
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:58 PM on October 30, 2010


I disagree, because there are very specific and obvious connotations with the word "racist" and I do not like to be painted with that term.

If someone walks up to you and says "you're a racist" with no other context then yeah, defend yourself. But when someone says "everyone is racist" in the context of a larger discussion about systemic racism then no one is painting you with anything.

No one is going to read that and say "oh my god, 1000monkeys didn't respond to say that he's not racist...that means he IS racist! I KNEW IT! I'm going to think all sorts of nasty things about him now!"

It's not about you in any way.


Just because we live and work within a prejudiced/sexist/heteronormative society, does not make the individuals prejudiced/sexist/homophobic.

I disagree. I think that we're all prejudiced because we're human and we're products of our culture, our individual experiences, and our brains. We can't escape our basic humanity.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:02 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am not the product of a racist culture, the young rope-rider. Your assumption is false. The culture I was raised in abhorred it. Surrounded by it, but abhorred it.

And, yes, idiots misuse words all the time. The example here are the idiots who insist that all people are racists, if they actually mean that most people are aware of differences amongst groups.

Stop insisting that I'm a racist. I'm not, and its incredibly rude and offensive.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:03 PM on October 30, 2010


Why do people keep bringing up this false argument?

Why do people keep commenting in this thread with the sole purpose of insisting they aren't (even a teeny tiny inescapable bit) racist?

MYSTERIES EVERYWHERE.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:03 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why do people keep bringing up this false argument?

Near as I can tell, due to (a) failure to stick to a common definition of the word "racist" and (b) a general desire to Win At The Internets overcoming the desire to seek a non-confrontational reading of other people's words.
posted by flabdablet at 11:04 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Look, I know that prejudices exist. Of course they exist. I face them every single day of my life. I'm a member of a minority group that is, for the most part, unprotected (although I am fortunate to be Canadian, which gives me a LOT more rights and protections than I would have if I were American, though I wonder how long that will last). I am not classified as a "visual" minority but, for all intents and purposes, I am. I face prejudices when I apply for a job (and I can't even tick off one of the visual minority groups on job applications or scholarship applications--and for the record I am NOT saying that I'm against affirmative action or anything, and I'm not whining that I'm not covered by it, I'm just pointing out MY personal experiences). I have people make snide comments and rude assumptions about me. I also have people who have good intentions but still offend me (such as people, usually women, who try to be my friend because they want me to be their token gay friend, and assume that I want to hear all about their sex lives or go clothes shopping with them).

I'm not trying to make myself a victim or have a pity party, I'm just saying that I am painfully aware of prejudices every waking moment of my life. And that is why I don't like it when people tell me that I don't know what prejudice is or that I don't believe it exists. I live with it every day, it's a fact of my very existence.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:05 PM on October 30, 2010


If someone walks up to you and says "you're a racist" with no other context then yeah, defend yourself. But when someone says "everyone is racist" in the context of a larger discussion about systemic racism then no one is painting you with anything.

No one is going to read that and say "oh my god, 1000monkeys didn't respond to say that he's not racist...that means he IS racist! I KNEW IT! I'm going to think all sorts of nasty things about him now!"


Dude, I have as much of a right as you do here joining in on the conversation. And as much as you say I have the ability to not join in, the same works for you. You don't have to agree with me, and I don't have to agree with you. But please don't dismiss my ability to speak up and share my own personal opinion. I haven't done that to you.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:07 PM on October 30, 2010


I am not the product of a racist culture

If by "racist culture" you mean an apartheid-like culture, then probably not. But unless you grew up in a bubble I don't see how you are not the product of a racist culture.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:08 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


"For the umpteenth time, nobody here (that I know of) has said that prejudices don't exist. Please show me where that has ever been said in this thread. Why do people keep bringing up this false argument?"

You stated that people aren't necessarily prejudiced just because they were raised in a prejudiced society, and that prejudice isn't *necessarily* linked to race.

If I'm misunderstanding you, then clarify: do you think that people can be completely "colorblind"?
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:09 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I got a letter in the mail recently that said I won the Internets. Do you think it's a scam?
posted by davejay at 11:09 PM on October 30, 2010


Nah, go for it!
posted by Dumsnill at 11:12 PM on October 30, 2010


"Dude, I have as much of a right as you do here joining in on the conversation. And as much as you say I have the ability to not join in, the same works for you."

My point is not "don't comment" my point is that even if you don't pop your head up and say "I'm not a racist", no one is going to assume that you're a horrible racist KKK member. No one is saying that about you. You don't have to defend yourself because no one is attacking you.

You're certainly welcome to defend yourself. The moderators haven't banned anyone on my behalf so I think you're safe there.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:13 PM on October 30, 2010



You stated that people aren't necessarily prejudiced just because they were raised in a prejudiced society, and that prejudice isn't *necessarily* linked to race.

If I'm misunderstanding you, then clarify: do you think that people can be completely "colorblind"?


I guess it depends on how you define colorblind (I mean, if we can't even agree on the definition of racism, how the heck are we going to agree to that definition). If you mean in the literal sense "I don't see colour at all" then of course not. I never said that I don't see differences in people of different ethnicities/ancestry/skin colour, I simply said that I don't place a value-judgment on those traits. Am I prejudiced? Of course I am. I've admitted that several times. I admit that I can be a bit of a snob, for example. I generally judge people who, barring a disability or other impediment, have poor grammar skills. I sometimes judge my friends and family members who tell me "I don't read, I just wait for the movie". I know I do it, I admit I do it, and I accept that it's not necessarily a nice thing to do. I guess I just have different ways in which I "evaluate" and categorize people, and my prejudices are based on those categories rather than skin colour. I value intelligence, humour, wit, common sense, decency, empathy, etc. rather than something arbitrary like the colour of one's skin. Don't you?
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:15 PM on October 30, 2010


If I'm misunderstanding you, then clarify: do you think that people can be completely "colorblind"?

NO. Get it? NO. No one has ever said that. NO
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:17 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I generally judge people who, barring a disability or other impediment, have poor grammar skills.

And I was just starting to like you.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:18 PM on October 30, 2010


My point is not "don't comment" my point is that even if you don't pop your head up and say "I'm not a racist", no one is going to assume that you're a horrible racist KKK member. No one is saying that about you. You don't have to defend yourself because no one is attacking you.

You're certainly welcome to defend yourself. The moderators haven't banned anyone on my behalf so I think you're safe there.


Like I said, of course I don't need to defend myself any more than you need to make your points. I'm trying to engage in a meaningful conversation, debate, discussion. That's what I do. That's why I like MetaFilter, because there are intelligent people on here with whom I can discuss and debate things. Sometimes I learn from others, sometimes (perhaps rarely), they might learn something from me. Sometimes neither happens, but I get to talk to interesting people nonetheless, and at the very worst, get to sharpen my mind and debating skills :)

Isn't that sort of the whole point behind a community? Otherwise, why don't we just post cute and funny links and thumb them up and down and never have another intelligent discussion again?
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:18 PM on October 30, 2010


I am not a racist, I won't tolerate it, and I sure as shit won't tolerate anyone insisting that it is a universally shared trait.

Seriously. I hate when people do that. They want to justify their own prejudices (or so it seems), so they use the argument "well its not that I'm racist since everyone is racist".

Not everyone has made ill connections in their brain that allow them to accept that some people are "less" because of the amount of melanin in their outer layer.

Also, P-boy...you wrote me a nice MeMail a few days ago. I was going to respond...but I wasn't able to since I'm on your block list. So yeah...I'm not ignoring you. You just talk-blocked me.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:19 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I generally judge people who, barring a disability or other impediment, have poor grammar skills.

And I was just starting to like you.


Heh. Well, I never said I was perfect. It's something I'm working on and have to be aware of. [I think that's the point though--to recognize our prejudices, as only by doing so can we attempt to overcome them. Don't you think?]
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:20 PM on October 30, 2010


"I am not the product of a racist culture, the young rope-rider. Your assumption is false. "

You fail to grasp the idea that people use the word "racist" differently in different contexts and you think that people who do grasp that idea are being stupid, PC, and/or disingenuous.

Given that, I don't think you even understand my assumption.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:21 PM on October 30, 2010


Don't you think?

I do think.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:22 PM on October 30, 2010


I blocked you, hal_c_on? Makes no sense to me. I suck at this internet stuff though.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:23 PM on October 30, 2010


I do think.

Uh, don't you think so?

lol.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:26 PM on October 30, 2010


You fail to grasp the idea that people idiots - MIS-use the word "racist" differently constantly.

FTFY. I don't fail to grasp this at all. It dilutes the power of the word, and enables behaviors that deserve our opprobrium, "because everybody does it". It's really frikken annoying, so I call pea-brained PC idiots on it when they pollute conversations with their sophomoric self-satisfied agenda.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:37 PM on October 30, 2010


"[I think that's the point though--to recognize our prejudices, as only by doing so can we attempt to overcome them. Don't you think?]"

Yup, which is why it's important that people keep in mind that they can, indeed, be prejudiced against someone based on their race.

That way, they can keep an eye out for behavior that perpetuates systemic racism and do their best to change it or avoid it, instead of ignoring it, denying it, or getting defensive because they "don't see color".

Think about it: you're prejudiced about all sorts of other illogical things, you are a product of a racist culture, and you have a brain that is a prejudice machine made of meat. Does it make any sense at all that you would be superhuman in this one, very specific regard?
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:38 PM on October 30, 2010


"It dilutes the power of the word, and enables behaviors that deserve our opprobrium, "because everybody does it"."

Of course, the secret goal of anti-racists is to make everyone be more okay with racism and racist behaviors!

Do you call people pea-brained idiots to their face, or do you just save it for the comfort of the internet?
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:42 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yup, which is why it's important that people keep in mind that they can, indeed, be prejudiced against someone based on their race.

That way, they can keep an eye out for behavior that perpetuates systemic racism and do their best to change it or avoid it, instead of ignoring it, denying it, or getting defensive because they "don't see color".

Think about it: you're prejudiced about all sorts of other illogical things, you are a product of a racist culture, and you have a brain that is a prejudice machine made of meat. Does it make any sense at all that you would be superhuman in this one, very specific regard?
posted by the young rope-rider


Look, you seem to keep repeating the same things which I've responded to honestly and in earnest. If you choose not to read my responses, misinterpret them, or pretend not to grasp them, then there really is no point in responding. I don't know what else to tell you other than what I've already said. I do NOT believe that "everybody is racist". As I've described in painstaking detail, different people have different value judgments--some are based on "race" or skin colour, some are based on ethnicity, some are based on class, gender, sexuality, religion, and so on. But not everybody's value judgments are based on every value.

Are you sexist? Are you homophobic? Are you racist? Do you judge people based on their religion or lack thereof? Are you classist? All of the above?
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:44 PM on October 30, 2010


I call pea-brained PC idiots on it when they pollute conversations with their sophomoric self-satisfied agenda

This strikes me as a fine example of (b).
posted by flabdablet at 11:46 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anglo isn't insulting, as numerous people pointed out, but merely a descriptor indicating a resident of the southwestern part of North America whose native language is English rather than Spanish; in case anyone is curious, the derogatory version of this would be "gabacho."
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:48 PM on October 30, 2010


"Are you sexist? Are you homophobic? Are you racist? Do you judge people based on their religion or lack thereof? Are you classist? All of the above?"

I've written multiple times that I believe that we're all the products of a racist culture, and we all have human brains, and that everyone is racist so...

How do you think I would answer those questions?

You seem to think this is a kind of "gotcha" but I'm not defensive about the fact that I'm a human being with human flaws who was raised in a severely fucked-up culture.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:49 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]



How do you think I would answer those questions?


I don't know, you haven't answered them. I'm waiting for your response. I wouldn't want to presume one way or another.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:50 PM on October 30, 2010


Dude. You're not helping your case.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:57 PM on October 30, 2010


Are you sexist? Are you homophobic? Are you racist? Do you judge people based on their religion or lack thereof? Are you classist? All of the above?

Probably all of the above.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:57 PM on October 30, 2010


Out of curiosity, Dumsnill, I just checked your profile and saw you were from Norway--is there a lot of ethnic diversity in Norway? (Serious question, if a little stupid.)
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:01 AM on October 31, 2010


the young rope-rider, for the satisfaction of my own curiosity: when you claim that everyone is racist, are you using the word "racist" to mean something closer to

(a) having a tendency, even though perhaps generally overridden consciously, to empathize less readily with those perceived as being of a different race than with those perceived as being of one's own

or

(b) saying and doing things to put down or disadvantage those perceived as being of a different race than would would say about or do to those perceived as being of one's own

or

(c) covertly or (d) overtly supporting social structures and processes that systemically entrench (b)

or

(e) something else?
posted by flabdablet at 12:01 AM on October 31, 2010


Sorry - s/than would would say/than one would say/
posted by flabdablet at 12:03 AM on October 31, 2010


Not so much when I grew up, more so nowadays (and this is a wonderful thing).

What I meant by my comment was simply: You asked a stupid question that was sort of a "gotcha" thing. You were daring people to declare themselves prejudiced, and you were daring them to do it in the most damning way possible.

"Yeah, but you're not a [bad thing that all sensible people, including me, agree are bad things]."

I'm only a racist/homophobe/sexist/classist in the sense that it is impossible not to be one to a larger or smaller extent, unless you are a robot. Admitting that you're human and full of idiotic prejudices and living in a society that is full of them seems like the only honest way of trying to defeat them.
posted by Dumsnill at 12:13 AM on October 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


What I meant by my comment was simply: You asked a stupid question that was sort of a "gotcha" thing. You were daring people to declare themselves prejudiced, and you were daring them to do it in the most damning way possible.

Nope. I was just "daring" someone to be honest with their answers, and to see if their logic works both ways or is flawed. the young rope rider painted him- or herself into a corner with their statements, and I was curious how they would get out of that corner while maintaining their "everybody is racist" logic. I seriously would like to hear their answer.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:18 AM on October 31, 2010


Admitting that you're human and full of idiotic prejudices and living in a society that is full of them seems like the only honest way of trying to defeat them.

I agree with this statement, which is precisely why I made that statement several times earlier, including recently in those exact terms. My point, again, is that prejudice =/= racism. I'll say it one more time: prejudice is not necessarily the same thing as racism. Everybody is prejudiced. I've said that several times, it's just that people base their prejudices on different values. I honestly don't know how much clearer I can make this statement, and I don't understand why you don't understand. You can disagree if you want to, but I just don't understand your logic.

I'm only a racist/homophobe/sexist/classist in the sense that it is impossible not to be one to a larger or smaller extent, unless you are a robot.

This is where I disagree. Yes, everybody has prejudices. Yes, you can indeed be all of the above. But just because you are or can be all of the above, doesn't mean every single human on the Earth is.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:23 AM on October 31, 2010


So it's mostly a semantic disagreement about what the word "racism" means, in this context, I think?

Plus, there are some exceptional people, and you might just be one of them?
posted by Dumsnill at 12:26 AM on October 31, 2010


luke1249: “peachy's comment is uninformed vitriol. I'm no defender of Arizona's stupid law, but I'm smart enough to realize that it's not as bad as it was made out in the media, in that all it does is give local law enforcement the same powers federal immigration authorities already have...”

What in god's name are you talking about? House Bill 2281 doesn't have anything to do with immigration. It bans ethnic studies. You seem ridiculously confused about what peachy was saying there. You're talking about a completely different house bill.
posted by koeselitz at 12:37 AM on October 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


So it's mostly a semantic disagreement about what the word "racism" means, in this context, I think?

Plus, there are some exceptional people, and you might just be one of them?


Well, I think it's more than "semantic", I think it's the fundamental definition and usage of the term. It's sort of like saying all Germans are Nazis, and then when someone objects to the term, you say "well, your problem with the "Nazi" label is a semantic one" when I'm saying, no--it's the fact you're calling all Germans Nazis. [Yes, I just Godwinned this thread, but it's an easy metaphor at this time of night.]

Plus, there are some exceptional people, and you might just be one of them?

I think there are more than "some" exceptional people to that "everybody's a racist" proclamation. And yes, I happen to think that I am one of them. I don't think I'm necessarily special in that regard, though. Yes, there are a lot of racists. Yes, there are a lot of people who are in a position of power over another--there are even groups that have a power-over position over other groups of people. But the fact that a particular society (or societies) give power to a particular group over another/others, doesn't make each member of that group a racist or whatever, it just means that there is a fundamental problem in that society that results in inequity, prejudice, some/lots of/widespread racism, etc.

I don't think it's helpful to paint everyone with one brush, either way. It's not helpful or "good" to paint all "white people" (for example) as racists, just as it isn't "good" to paint all members of a particular "racial"/ethnic/ancestral/minority group as inferior/unworthy/stupid/evil/lazy/whatever.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:38 AM on October 31, 2010


just because you are or can be all of the above, doesn't mean every single human on the Earth is

Seems to me that whether or not every single human being (or at least a high enough percentage to make "all humans" close enough for general use) is racist in sense (a) is an interesting question worthy of study in its own right, regardless of whether or not Dumsnill turns out to be the cause of it all.
posted by flabdablet at 12:41 AM on October 31, 2010


I agree in principle, flabdablet, but my point is that if people mean your interpretation/definition (a), then they are using the wrong term.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:42 AM on October 31, 2010


...and, more importantly, they are using the wrong meaning or concept behind the term as well.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:47 AM on October 31, 2010


Oh shit, I think Koeselitz has figured out the problemo.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:49 AM on October 31, 2010


Well, I think it's more than "semantic", I think it's the fundamental definition and usage of the term.

1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

2: racial prejudice or discrimination

Isn't it pretty obvious that I'm using the 2nd definition here, and that I think (yes, in full seriousness) that all people are susceptible to this. If you cannot honestly think of one single situation in your life where you have made pre-judgments about an individual based on nothing but a "racial" characteristic, well then I congratulate you, you are truly outstanding. If you have, then you were racist in this very limited sense.
posted by Dumsnill at 12:51 AM on October 31, 2010


MetaFilter: Being overly contentious about a subtle matter during a discussion where it's clear that folks should be giving each other a huge benefit of the doubt (in order to avoid flamewars)
posted by doublehappy at 1:00 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those definitions are really vague and I think they are rather weak definitions. It all depends on how you interpret it. I don't know where you got that definition from (where did you get it from?), but I think a better definition from Dictionary.com is:
rac·ism
   /ˈreɪsɪzəm/ Show Spelled[rey-siz-uhm] Show IPA
–noun
1.
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2.
a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3.
hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.


This definition is better because you can actually test it, logically.

Let's see:
1) Do I believe that there are inherent differences among the "races" that determine cultural/individual achievement, and that makes me superior over another "race" or have a right to rule over them? NO.

2) Doesn't really apply to individuals, which is sort of my point. There can be racist legislation, racist governments, and so on, just as there are racist people. That doesn't make all the people that are under those governments, etc. racist.

3) Do I hate or am I intolerant of another race/races? NO.

So, by that definition, I am not a racist. I'd be interested to know your responses to those questions/definitions.
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:02 AM on October 31, 2010



MetaFilter: Being overly contentious about a subtle matter during a discussion where it's clear that folks should be giving each other a huge benefit of the doubt (in order to avoid flamewars)


I get where you're coming from, but I don't think this is a flamewar (though I do think there has been some uncharitable readings of comments on all sides). I think we're having a pretty decent discussion/debate right now. I think my biggest pet peeve on this site is that it's too easy for things to get all fighty, or for people to cry victim when they cannot defend their position but don't want to change their position (in order to save face), so the mods have to get involved and then it becomes another topic that MetaFilter "doesn't do well". I think it's rather sad that there are topics we can, for all intents and purposes, no longer discuss because people get fighty or oversensitive or just can't see the difference between a debate and a fight. I think we all lose out when that happens, mods included.
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:06 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Merriam-Webster
posted by Dumsnill at 1:06 AM on October 31, 2010


I agree in principle, flabdablet, but my point is that if people mean your interpretation/definition (a), then they are using the wrong term.

My point is that people frequently use the "wrong term", and that if one is determined to leave the "rightness" of one's own set of definitions unexamined, one will have difficulty coming to an understanding of what is meant.

I am aware that I have an ingrained bias against taking seriously the opinions of people who use language in what I consider to be a sloppy fashion, which is why I will generally work hard to find a sympathetic reading of somebody else's text before reaching for the Internet tar and feathers.

I have yet to encounter anybody making a serious case that everybody is racist (b) (c) or (d), but I've seen a hell of a lot of people get all pissy and offended after rushing to assume that that's what was meant.
posted by flabdablet at 1:13 AM on October 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Huh. Well, no wonder I usually stick to good ol' Canadian Oxford. :-)

Okay, going by your (M-W's) definition, well...no. I'm trying, honestly, to see if that could apply. Using that definition, we would then need to unpack how you define "racial prejudice", etc. etc. And again, I don't personally believe in the construct of "race" so I don't categorize people that way. And again, that's not to say that I'm "colourblind" or whatever. It's just that I don't place a value on skin colour. Now if that definition were to include, say, nationality (regardless of skin colour or ethnicity), then I could give you that. I think most people tend to categorize others based on what country they're from. Not all people. And not all to the same extent. But do I sometimes generalize about a population as a whole based on nationality? Yes, I probably do. But I don't think that fits either my or your definition of "racism".
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:13 AM on October 31, 2010


Sure, if you deny that prejudice based on "racial" characteristics is one meaning of "racism," and you think that those Dictionary.com definitions are the true and only definitions, then this is indeed purely a semantic argument.
posted by Dumsnill at 1:15 AM on October 31, 2010


sorry, typing that while you were posting
posted by Dumsnill at 1:16 AM on October 31, 2010


I have yet to encounter anybody making a serious case that everybody is racist (b) (c) or (d), but I've seen a hell of a lot of people get all pissy and offended after rushing to assume that that's what was meant.

I agree with you there. But then the problem, which is what I've said, is in people using the wrong term, which can be quite dangerous. I think it's extremely dangerous to paint everyone or a group with the same brush either way (though I understand when it happens, intellectually speaking), but I think the onus is on those people making those vast, generalized statements to be careful, clear, and concise in the language that they choose. And I think that some people in this thread got caught up enough in their initial verbiage that they couldn't "back down" and either re-define or change their statements, and instead got caught up in the "I'm not going to admit 'defeat'" (or their own perceived defeat).
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:18 AM on October 31, 2010


Sure, if you deny that prejudice based on "racial" characteristics is one meaning of "racism," and you think that those Dictionary.com definitions are the true and only definitions, then this is indeed purely a semantic argument.

Sorry for the delay, I just noticed I had a schwack of MeMails. I wish there was a popup or something that notified me. Maybe there is and I just don't know how to use it.

Anyways, I think our responses overlapped a bit but basically, I still don't think I would agree that I'm "racist" based on your definition either because I don't really put a value (negative or positive) on skin colour.

That being said, of course I recognize that racism exists, and prejudice exists, and that it is a very real experience for people in their daily lives (as I said awhile back). I think perhaps it might be more productive to focus on that aspect: that racism DOES exist, that racist laws and legislation DOES exist, that racist states and countries DO exist, and how that affects people.

Maybe it would be a good idea for people who experience racism on a regular basis to share their experiences on the receiving end of racism (or prejudice, if that's not too general) because I think that would be more productive for us all, and (hopefully) make the discussion a little less contentious (and make this thread grow into something productive and perhaps even positive from something....not.).
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:38 AM on October 31, 2010


To get back to the original post here for just a moment... I think luke1249 may have misunderstood part of peachy's comment. He says:

peachy seems hell-bent on painting the entire Arizonan public school system as a KKK convention where (I'm not joking, read her comment) Latino children are taught that they "do not belong in this country, are leeches, hoodlums, and the general scourge of society who must be kept out at all costs lest they destroy our country?" This is what Latino kids are taught in Arizona schools, according to peachy.

But actually, the part that he quotes wasn't about schools. Perhaps he conflated it with schools because peachy uses the word "learn"... but we learn things outside of school — how to walk, and speak, for example, and of course we learn a lot from our environment, our friends and family, media, etc. Here's the first part of that section of peachy's comment:

Also, think about your daughter. Do you want her to grow up learning that people like her do not belong in this country, are leeches, hoodlums, and the general scourge of society who must be kept out at all costs lest they destroy our country? Do you want her to grow up learning that she can't feel proud of her ethnic heritage?

Here, peachy seems to be talking about Arizona SB 1070 ("Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act"), i.e. people of the daughter's heritage making "neighborhoods unsafe." This is something she would learn, but not necessarily in school.

and then peachy goes on to say the part about schools:

Being taught in school that only White people/Anglos made any contributions noteworthy enough to be taught in school because HB2281 means that it's illegal to teach about the history of Chicanos in US Southwest?

This is the part about the specific law (Arizona HB 2281) that now blocks ethnic studies in Arizona schools, which is something that would presumably impact the asker's half-latina daughter.
posted by taz at 1:47 AM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think perhaps it might be more productive to focus on that aspect: that racism DOES exist, that racist laws and legislation DOES exist, that racist states and countries DO exist, and how that affects people.

Well, one of the ways all of that affects people is by teaching them to be racist so that they will maintain the system. Racism is simply a tool for the dominant racial group to maintain their majority share of societal resources (whether or not they are a numeric majority, see South Africa). In order to prevent revolt and disorder, minority groups have to be infected with racism as well, against their own and against other minorities (best to keep them fighting each other). Racism in America is white supremacy. The mechanisms for infection are every institution within a given society, from the school system to the judicial system to the media and the city and the family.

If you believe, as I believe, that in a racist society every societal institution is used to maintain racism, then everyone who is exposed to those institutions in any way, at any point, will be exposed to racism. Everyone is co-opted into supporting the system, even if it is as simple as "not seeing" the results of all of this racism. And if you are a white Westerner, then you are at a disadvantage because you have a personal interest in maintaining the system (even if, shoot, especially if, you are not consciously aware of it).
posted by Danila at 2:41 AM on October 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


Anglo isn't insulting, as numerous people pointed out, but merely a descriptor indicating a resident of the southwestern part of North America whose native language is English rather than Spanish

Minor point: from a UK point of view it would relate specifically to England or English people (per Wikipedia). So it wouldn't apply to Scots or Germans etc, or their descendants (like I'm of Anglo-Scots-Irish-Maori descent). I certainly don't see it as pejorative though. Maybe just (from a UK point of view) misapplied slightly when used in the more general North American sense. [Which I'm NOT saying is wrong, just different]
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:12 AM on October 31, 2010


These people are wogs!
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:41 AM on October 31, 2010


1000monkeys, I believe it was kalessin who introduced the "everyone is racist" line into this thread, saying
luke1249, I've said before that it is a very white assumption that it is possible NOT to be racist. I'm racist. You are racist. jessamyn is racist, Namlit is racist and so is peachy. We are all racist. The best antiracist activists are racist.

We all do our best to better ourselves, to articulate ourselves in ways that are least racist, or that defray the racism or that counteract racism where we can.
Now it's clear to me, at least, that this is racism (a). Were that not so, the second paragraph would make no sense whatsoever.

So it seems to me that kalessin was in fact writing carefully, clearly and concisely.

Now, it's perfectly clear that kalessin means something different by "racism" than you do, and that you consider it "wrong" to apply the word "racism" to that meaning. So I suggest that it would pay you to ponder the following points:

1. After frequently being on the receiving end of racisms (b) through (d), a reasonable person might plausibly come to see those as the inevitable outcome of and therefore conceptually interchangeable with racism (a).

2. The person who wrote the dictionary entry you cite as authoritative was probably not one such person, and probably did not pay much attention to the usage of the term among such people before writing it.

3. Saying that the "onus" is on any other person to avoid using the "wrong" words for contentious topics could reasonably be construed as an expression of unexamined privilege and could therefore quite fairly be described as racism (a).

4. If you genuinely think that there is so little awareness of the draining, grinding effects of racisms (b) through (d), amongst members of the MetaFilter community that reciting yet another litany of them here would actually achieve a significant amount of awareness raising, then I suspect that yours is in fact a perfect example of the kind of attitude that makes kalessin tired. I'd expect that most of us take that stuff as read (with the possible exception of Decani, who is apparently just a cranky contrarian old cunt).
posted by flabdablet at 3:44 AM on October 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


I am finding amusement in reading an IT professional living in the East coast megalopolis of the U.S. claiming underclass status to the extent kalessin has in this thread.

Um. If you don't see how a transgender-identified person can be a lifelong victim of prejudice then I am not even sure what world you live in.
posted by elizardbits at 5:44 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dropout rates aren't enough, though. I mean, I've heard lots of crazy arguments, but nobody's forcing kids out of school because they're Latino.

I didn't say they were "enough." I just said let's start there. Are you going to deny that Latino dropout rates in Arizona are much higher than for Anglos?

Excuse it all you want, but it's a widely accepted baseline statistic for equity in education. And if you teach in the system, surely you know the problems extend all the way down to the early grades, test scores, teacher quality, school quality, and on and on.

The Arizona education system is systematically biased against Latino students (and Native American students) in ways that can be statistically proven. You can chalk that up to a "larger economic inequality," as you did, without excusing the school system. Because the school system is supposed to be responsible for ameliorating that inequality, and instead it perpetuates it.

I can't believe we're arguing about this. Have you not been following the news from Arizona this year? Those of us in civilized places have seen enough to form a solid judgment: Arizona is one of the most racist states in the US.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:53 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would like to say that the role Anthropology played in this thread was freaking hilarious. It's a new element, as far as i know, in the "I'm not a racist" discussion.

also, regarding this:

But nobody is saying that "racism" or "racist behaviour" doesn't exist. We're just (correctly) pointing out that race isn't a real, inherent, biological construct.

While I'm pleased that someone in Anthropology is teaching some version of sociological theory, I think you'd be interested in reading Berger & Luckmann's book on this topic: The Social Construction of Reality. It's not about racism, per se, and it is quite an old book, but I think it is useful to be familiar with its arguments if you like using the idea of "social constructs" or "social facts".

More on topic, I read the original comments, and in my opinion, this callout is groundless... In case we're supposed to be working toward a consensus on the vital "How racist is 'Anglo'?" question.
posted by ServSci at 5:53 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


The point I am making is the same as the one that says if it is not okay to use derogatory terms based on female genitalia, then it should not be okay to use derogatory terms based on male genitalia.

Ah ha ha ha. That old chestnut.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:14 AM on October 31, 2010


Fine, I'm going to start calling everyone 'nipple'.
posted by nomadicink at 6:19 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


metafilter: I hope that you know that I know that you know that I know that you know that I know
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:20 AM on October 31, 2010


Also:

I'd like to draw some posivite attention to Alia's insightful answer. I think she gets more than her fair share of criticism on the site, and so when she says something great that deserves recognition.

In contrast, Decani's crappy comment: Me? I don't care. I don't give a damn. This stuff is trivia. It's the sort of stupid, self-congratulatory noise that only matters to people who don't have real problems to deal with. Look, unless I am making some really poor judgements based on your photo, it looks like you are a white guy from the UK. Meaning that none of these issues of identity that you pooh-pooh are ones you're dealing with anyway. Sort of like saying, "I don't see why hungry people are always discussing the issue of food. As someone who is currently stuffed to the gills, frankly I find this obsession with eating to be a bit off-putting."
posted by Deathalicious at 6:23 AM on October 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


1000monkeys: And again, I don't personally believe in the construct of "race" so I don't categorize people that way. And again, that's not to say that I'm "colourblind" or whatever. It's just that I don't place a value on skin colour.

Pretty much everyone says this, and not so many of us actually live that life. Look at people's unwillingness to date/marry interracially. Look at the different success rates for job applications based on whether the applicant's name is perceived as "black." Look at casting decisions in film and theater. So while it's awesome that you personally have moved past these categories, I think it's pretty clear that societally we have not.

Maybe it would be a good idea for people who experience racism on a regular basis to share their experiences on the receiving end of racism

Uh, no. Or at least, geez, not this again. Those experiences have been being shared in the US since the beginning of colonization, and probably longer in Europe. There are dozens, if not thousands, of blogs about this, plus books, movies, memoirs, songs, poems... need I go on? If you are unaware of how racism and prejudice are impacting people's daily lives, then you need to step up and educate yourself. It's been discussed before on this website, so you won't even need to leave the site if you want to read those accounts.

I would like to say that the role Anthropology played in this thread was freaking hilarious

The weirdest part is the insistence on capitalizing it every time. I always thought of it as the Anthropology Department studies anthropology, just as the Physics Department studies physics. The capitalization reads oddly to me, sort of like a textual insistence on a/Anthropology's authority.
posted by Forktine at 6:50 AM on October 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


As an anthropologist, let me suggest that Berger and Luckmann have their place, but if you're going to read one book about race in American society from the social constructionist perspective (and assuming you've already read Boas' *Race, Language, and Culture,* whence the idea that "race" is a discursive rather than biological reality springs most directly, orig. pub. 1940), I recommend Omi and Winant's *Racial Formation in the United States.* (orig. 1986, updated in 1994).

Of course you should read more than one book. My highest recommendation is David Roediger's brilliant 1991 book *The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working-Class.*

Because that is what this is all about: divide and conquer the poor by denying them education and setting them at each other's throats over chimerical differences dwarfed by ignored commonalities.

We are all Arizonans now. (Americans, anyway.)
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:55 AM on October 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


Fine, I'm going to start calling everyone 'nipple'.

'man-nipple' has that extra soupçon of inherent uselessness, too.
posted by elizardbits at 6:56 AM on October 31, 2010


'man-nipple' has that extra soupçon of inherent uselessness, too.

I find it interesting that you went with that instead of 'women-penis', ELIZA.

Just another example of the woman trying to keep us barefoot, without the remote control and up on the roof, cleaning out the gutters.
posted by nomadicink at 7:06 AM on October 31, 2010


If you don't see how a transgender-identified person can be a lifelong victim of prejudice

I do not wish to revisit an ugly part of the thread that has since moved on to better discussion, so suffice to say that, yes, knowledge of such would have greatly influenced my decision of whether to hit post.
posted by Dano St at 7:06 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


nomadicink - Thanks for the tip.

I notice you still haven't put a link to this thread in the original thread. Have you, in any way, communicated to peachy directly that you are accusing them of being racist? If you haven't, then you should, in the interest of fairness.
posted by nomadicink at 7:23 AM on October 31, 2010




Substitute "tool-belted" for "barefoot" and I think you're on to something.
posted by elizardbits at 7:42 AM on October 31, 2010


racism, which is the intersection of bigotry and power

Could we get that definition emblazoned across the night sky in orange neon, so that all the specious "what if a black man said that" crap would just shrivel up and die on the tongues of those about to utter it?


That's ridiculous, rude, and ungenerous. I am sickened by the trend on MetaFilter to use academic distinctions to bully and scapegoat people in these arguments. In the minds of many people, racism and bigotry are synonyms. That doesn't make them bad people. Go ahead and point out that there's a difference between not liking someone because of their skin color, or the way they talk, and institutionalizing those differences to oppress the "other." Stop being so shrill about it.

Comments like this come off like, "See, that person didn't know the difference between the academic definitions of bigotry and racism, so how can I take them seriously? Jeez it's just bigotry!"

That's not a good way to encourage debate. Bigotry is bad. Racism is evil. Make your point.

Now, to the original question here - "anglo" is, as mentioned upthread, a pretty standard term to distinguish the Spanish-speaking members of a community from the English-speaking members, in a mixed community. Probably comes from Anglophone.
posted by Mister_A at 8:05 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


luke1249 has tossed a racism grenade into a sensitive discussion before. looks like he's getting exactly what he wants again.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:18 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am sickened by the trend on MetaFilter to use academic distinctions to bully and scapegoat people in these arguments.

Do you think the following false equivalence is bullying?

cjorgensen, if you'd be willing to accept someone talking about "obnoxious Negro behavior" and not wanting to live "in the midst of the ghetto-ness," then fine.
posted by ServSci at 8:32 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now I'm going to feel uncomfortable whenever I talk about the guy who invented Marvelman.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:41 AM on October 31, 2010


It could be worse. Mick Anglo's name at birth was Whitedevil Honkeyman.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:03 AM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


TrialByMedia: "luke1249 has tossed a racism grenade into a sensitive discussion before. looks like he's getting exactly what he wants again"

You might be right.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:10 AM on October 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh hey, it's THAT guy.
posted by nomadicink at 9:16 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I realize that you Anglos have suffered mightily and that it is a terrible thing for anyone to use that word in any way.

"Shouldn't have called me a cracker. Ruined my day. Brought me back to owning land and people!" - Louis CK

Seriously, I don't see the harm in Anglo. It's descriptive. You know what the person means when they say it. It fills a linguistic niche. And I see nothing particular offensive in it - sure, I may be Swedish/German and not actually Anglo-Saxon. Hell, I'm even half-Jewish. But if someone wants to call me a WASP, ok, fine, I grew up white and middle class in America in a Protestant community. The shoe fits just fine and I'm ok with swallowing the privilege that it entails.

I think the "obnoxious" part of "obnoxious Anglos" is more problematic, but sure, anyone can be obnoxious. That's not in and of itself a marginalizing statement to make. I may disagree with the statement, but "bad for MetaFilter?" No, I absolutely wouldn't go that far.

(Also: sure, I definitely benefit from - again, to paraphrase Louis CK - the "thoroughly goodness" of white privilege. I do my absolute best to never knowingly use this to my advantage and to y'know, smash the partriarchy or whatever, but do I benefit from racism? Yeah, unfortunately I do. I'll admit it. Am I personally a racist? I certainly try not to be.)
posted by sonika at 9:21 AM on October 31, 2010


Oh hey, it's THAT guy.

Ha! My exact response.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:23 AM on October 31, 2010


Yeah, when I saw this meTa I thought, oh, THAT guy. Oh boy.
posted by rtha at 9:23 AM on October 31, 2010


Peachy, I haven't taken on the race-trolling here (but thanks to those who have so patiently), but now that there's a link to here in the original thread, I just wanted to re-state what a bunch of folks did much earlier: it's ridiculous to call your comment racist. And I for one think that the sense of righteous anger in it made your advice better, not worse, given that it accompanied information and questions that were directly pertinent to the asker's anxiety.

Just wanted to say that in case you came back to your computer, found this thread, and jumped to the end before seeing the supportive comments.
posted by Mngo at 9:29 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pretty sure that Blazecock Pileon has some Wello blood in him.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:38 AM on October 31, 2010


Nah dude, that's just some Arnzt.
posted by nomadicink at 9:45 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


So seriously, can we get back to how luke1249 might totally be misunderstanding the issue peachy was alluding to to make this whole callout in the first place? That several people have tried to point out throughout the course of the thread? Which got subsequently ignored because everyone was to busy to run in here and argue the semantics of "What the hell do YOU mean calling everyone a racists?" and "We need more teaching moments" talking points? This whole conversation is so far gone from what it was supposed to be about to begin with that it's depressing as hell.

For people who don't understand why minorities get frustrated when talking race issues, this thread right here is A plus example. Whether on purpose or not, attacking tone and semantics always ends up being common smoke screens to actually debating the issue, and you get tired having to argue five different points when all you made was one statement about a situation.

This thread is another reason why people need to watch Jay Smooth's video on calling out prejudiced behavior. This video gets linked to so many times, I'm starting to wonder if it should automatically pop up whenever someone starts typing "R-A-C-I-S..." into the MetaTalk field or what.

The what you said is racist and you are racist are two different things and is exactly how this entire thread has been going. I know this comes up here all the time whenever someone presses the "racist" button, but it's a good video for a) letting people know why the "racist" panic button isn't a catchall button (and I'm looking at luke1249 here, because this doesn't just work towards minorities "pulling the race" card as some people like to say), but also because it helps people understand that racism can mean a lot of things depending on who you talk to and to talk about the issue from that point accordingly, not make it a fucking pissing match about whose definition of racism is right and how I don't see racism. Like I don't understand how fucking numerous comments along the lines of "Everyone is racist. Hey I'm not racist. Who you calling racist. I actually understand how some lifeforms may see racism, but it's just a social/pigmentation construct. Everyone is NOT racist" is actually germane to the nucleus of this callout and the issue that luke1249 is bringing up. Even more puzzling are the people who admit that they know people have different perceptions of what the word racism means yet continue to derail (yes, derail) the actual talking points at hand because they really need to prove to the internet they are not racist and not everyone is racist.

I'm not accusing anyone of putting up racist talking point smokescreens on purpose, but really, if you can't see how selfish your own need to be right on the internet is, I don't know what to tell you. And before you whine that I'm trying to silence, you there's a difference between telling someone to shut the fuck up and telling them to look at the wet spot in the carpet and contemplate what they did and how maybe you should think about that before you try to do it again next time.
posted by kkokkodalk at 9:46 AM on October 31, 2010 [10 favorites]


When it comes to topics like race that tend to set many people off for many reasons, I find that I tend to fare better if I focus on describing actions, behavior, effects, impact, etc. rather than labeling people.

So in the AskMe, I probably would have said one of these:

"clueless and obnoxious behavior"
"clueless and obnoxious Anglo-centric behavior"
"clueless and obnoxious Anglo-favoring behavior"
"clueless and obnoxious racist behavior"

The word "Anglo" is fine, and the phrase "clueless and obnoxious behavior" is fine, and the only reason I think a few people are frothing at the mouth over peachy's combination of them is that they see it as implicitly connecting cluelessness and obnoxiousness to being Anglo. I don't read it that way or think peachy intended it that way, but somebody already approaching the topic defensively probably would.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:47 AM on October 31, 2010


Also kudos to luke1249 for so expertly ducking behind a whole slew of other issues when actually called out on the shortcomings of his arguments rather than actually engaging in a genuine argument and trying to keep things on track if he really wanted a discussion about the topic of his callout. No, really, bravo. No matter how odious the skill, I'm not above admitting someone got mad skillz.
posted by kkokkodalk at 9:54 AM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think it's a difference in how we parse phrases, FelliniBlank. I mean, I tend to parse phrases like that from folks like peachy who strike me as fair-minded and thoughtful charitably. So when I read peachy's "obnoxious Anglos" I parsed it as "the subset of Anglos who are obnoxious" but clearly a lot of folks parsed that phrase as "Anglos, all of whom are obnoxious".

I don't think just more careful, more precise wording gets us beyond this bias in interpretation. I think that we all have a responsibility to be as charitable as possible when parsing phrases in discussions like these.

And no, I'm not claiming to be a paragon at that.
posted by kalessin at 9:55 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I think I've learned so far is that if you identify as "not PC", it entitles you to be violently offensive, not just to and about people who disagree with you, but also by throwing around racist epithets just to make the point that you can, because the wouldn't-Nanny-disapprove thrill doing so confers is far more important than how it might make anyone else feel. In this way "the PC" are sort of like "the Viet Cong", or "the forces of Sauron" - extreme measures and innocent casualties are justified in fighting them, because the consequences of their victory would be so terrible.

Also, that it makes sense to assert that one doesn't care about any of this, and that one doesn't complain formally about anything over the Internet, because it's a waste of time, but to complain informally until one's little face turns blue. Also, that you can be an expert on the racial harassment suffered by white people while having so few examples that you have to make up terms like "Welloes".

I haven't learned a lot about Arizona, but as far as I can tell peachy was using a perfectly accurate term to describe the English-speaking segment of a state with a large Spanish-speaking minority, and it was appropriate for luke1249 to accuse him/her of racism neither in the original thread nor here.
posted by DNye at 10:11 AM on October 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


We call them sheepshaggers around here.

Not all of us can be Hugh Grant.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:15 AM on October 31, 2010


And now, tonight's music guest! Let's give it up for TOKI WRIGHT!
posted by nomadicink at 10:26 AM on October 31, 2010


i'll tell you what i love is white folks pitching a shit-fit whenever anyone says anything that could possibly be construed (with sufficient contortion) as denigrating to the white race and then not even stopping to consider, even for a femtosecond, what it must feel like to have that shit happen to you all day every day.

love that.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:57 AM on October 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


luke1249

I see what you did there.
posted by doublehappy at 11:19 AM on October 31, 2010


I know that luke1249 has already said that there's no biblical meaning to his username, but here's (ironically), the New International Version's version of Luke 12:49:

I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

Which strikes me as a rather interesting portent of the flame war.
posted by kalessin at 11:46 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


....what it must feel like to have that shit happen to you all day every day.

OH WHAT BULLSHIT.

There are bathroom breaks.
posted by nomadicink at 12:15 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh man, it's that guy, who flipped his shit over the AIDS eulogy? That makes this callout real rich considering the nature of his gripe there.

The patience of the moderators astounds me.
posted by cj_ at 12:16 PM on October 31, 2010


Forktine:
So while it's awesome that you personally have moved past these categories, I think it's pretty clear that societally we have not.

I think I've made it perfectly clear on numerous comments here that racism, whether race is a social construct or not, happens all the time. I never tried to diminish or deny it. I even shared my own experiences with prejudice on a daily basis. To try to even hint that I was saying otherwise is not only uncharitable, but pretty disingenuous.

If you are unaware of how racism and prejudice are impacting people's daily lives, then you need to step up and educate yourself. It's been discussed before on this website, so you won't even need to leave the site if you want to read those accounts.


I think you're purposefully trying to be irritating here and to cast me in a role which I'm obviously not in. Where on Earth did I say that I don't understand how racism and prejudice impact peoples lives? Again, I've already shared how prejudice impacts mine. This wasn't a "quest for knowledge", it was an attempt to try and steer the conversation to something more productive and to try to get at the core of the issue--that racism DOES exist and DOES affect people (I said that as well, which you conveniently skipped to make it appear as though I was somehow denying the existence of racism, and frankly, that ticks me off).
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:32 PM on October 31, 2010



flabadablet: Now it's clear to me, at least, that this is racism (a). Were that not so, the second paragraph would make no sense whatsoever.

So it seems to me that kalessin was in fact writing carefully, clearly and concisely.

Now, it's perfectly clear that kalessin means something different by "racism" than you do, and that you consider it "wrong" to apply the word "racism" to that meaning. So I suggest that it would pay you to ponder the following points:


I don't agree with you that anything is clear. If kalessin had simply said that everybody was prejudiced, then I wouldn't have disagreed. I don't think it was a fair or correct label. When I pointed that out, kalessin had ample opportunity to either a) define their usage of "racism" and/or b) modify their statement to say "Yes, what I meant here was prejudice", but instead took their toys and went home without engaging any further. Of course that's within one's right to do so, but when you have the opportunity to clarify and instead get defensive and leave, then others are left to interpret your comments on their own.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:39 PM on October 31, 2010


To clarify, I don't mean using the term "prejudiced" as a homonym for "racist". I mean using prejudiced because it encompasses all sort of biases, not just race, because I don't think every single person in the world thinks that they are superior to people of other races, but I do think that we can all agree that everbody does make judgments about people based on different values, such as gender, race, sexuality, nationality, class, etc. etc. And racism not only implies value judgments based on skin colour or other morphological features, it also implies a feeling of superiority over (or right to rule over) those "others". I don't think that every person on this planet has those feelings or value judgments.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:49 PM on October 31, 2010


*homonym=synonym

I should really have coffee before I post upon waking.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:50 PM on October 31, 2010


Something else I've learned here: if you are convinced of your personal non-racism, you are statistically more likely to call people disingenuous than if you believe that everyone's a little bit racist. Is "disingenuous" a shibboleth here, like "PC"?
posted by DNye at 12:55 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know that luke1249 has already said that there's no biblical meaning to his username, but here's (ironically), the New International Version's version of Luke 12:49:

The first Google result for "luke 12:49" is: "Disturbing the peace".

---

RE: Racism/bigotry, I probably have lots to say, but I'm too busy enjoying the phrase "reverse racism".
posted by doublehappy at 12:58 PM on October 31, 2010


If you are convinced of your personal non-racism, you are statistically more likely to call people disingenuous than if you believe that everyone's a little bit racist.

Speaking for myself, if you take my comments out of context and then reinterpret them to make them into something I didn't say--yeah, you're going to get called disingenuous. And that's if I'm feeling charitable.
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:03 PM on October 31, 2010


by throwing around racist epithets just to make the point that you can, because the wouldn't-Nanny-disapprove thrill

It's true. I don't enjoy racist epithets. However, my disapproval is less than thrilling. You'll just have to go and wait for mommy and daddy upstairs in your room unless you want to apologize.
posted by sonika at 1:03 PM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, this discussion has made it clear to me that while I view the term "racist" as being equivalent to "prejudiced, per ethnicity and appearance", not all MeFites agree. So in future discussions I may choose to use the term "prejudiced" instead of "racist".

But as much as it is important for me to see and respect how, for instance, 1000monkeys defines "racist", I think it is just as important for 1000monkeys to see and respect how I define it. Because validation of each other's definitions and viewpoints is a common and well understood sign of respect. And respect is the way through a discussion like this to mutual understanding.

Toward mutual understanding, I still think that I should make it clear that I feel luke1249's underlying behavior in the initial post and followup replies was entitled and privileged. I will stop short, in this comment, of saying that it was racist. I don't know if I was right in calling it that.

But the kind of silencing accusations that are typical of the rhetorical approach luke1249's been using are inherently disrespectful. They make me disappointed in luke1249 and I still think he could do a lot better.

If he's trolling, he did a good job. If he's actually trying to make a point, then the amount of vitriol involved in luke1249's accusations really didn't do his argument any justice and, to be honest, did a lot to detract from the arguments of those who chose to side with him.
posted by kalessin at 1:26 PM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


P.S. 1000monkeys, you can feel free to use the conventional masculine pronoun to refer to me. That's just fine with me. Using the third person plural pronoun has always struck me as being woefully awkward.
posted by kalessin at 1:28 PM on October 31, 2010



P.S. 1000monkeys, you can feel free to use the conventional masculine pronoun to refer to me. That's just fine with me. Using the third person plural pronoun has always struck me as being woefully awkward.


Yeah, sorry, I just haven't clicked on your profile and didn't want to make any assumptions. And then someone mentioned transgendered (which I just went back and saw), and since I already didn't know how you self-identify, etc., etc. I guess that made my gender-neutral pronoun sound even more awkward, sorry.
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:31 PM on October 31, 2010


No need to apologize. I really appreciate the effort you made to be careful.
posted by kalessin at 1:39 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


1000monkeys, that said, though I know that my taking my toys to my bed and getting some sleep was a withdrawal that upset more folks than just you, that's all it was. I needed some time to myself, not to feel like I was constantly clarifying and answering for myself. I've also been running short of sleep and am very aware that when I'm not well rested I don't reason or articulate well.

Finally, I did observe that we were all slipping with respect to being at all respectful to each other, and felt I should get out while the getting was good. You'll note that I did return to the discussion when I felt like I had positive contributions to make.

The vociferousness with which you and others came after me when I felt I had had enough for the night and needed to go have a rest was pretty damning.

If nothing else, it gave me an excellent view into your psyche, including an apparent requirement that you be able to get your licks in before the pinata comes down.

Honestly, I wouldn't comfortable airing that dirty laundry in a public forum.
posted by kalessin at 1:47 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]



If nothing else, it gave me an excellent view into your psyche, including an apparent requirement that you be able to get your licks in before the pinata comes down.

Honestly, I wouldn't comfortable airing that dirty laundry in a public forum.


Well, I suppose this is where I disagree and where you play the victim. So I'll just leave it at that.
posted by 1000monkeys at 2:10 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Er, I am unclear on how my behavior could be fairly characterized as playing the victim. From my point of view I've been pretty candid and aggressive about it.
posted by kalessin at 2:39 PM on October 31, 2010


You can go to hell in Minecraft now.
posted by Splunge at 3:41 PM on October 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


One of my most favorite forms of procrastination is coming back to a MeTa post and reading the last comment!

You can go to hell in Minecraft now.

No way buddy, YOU can go to hell in Minecraft now!
posted by hal_c_on at 3:54 PM on October 31, 2010


Oh I will. I will...
posted by Splunge at 4:15 PM on October 31, 2010


I suppose this is where I disagree and where you play the victim

Smooth move, ex-lax.
posted by flabdablet at 5:31 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Minecraft Hell. No it's not me. Haven't been to multi for a while. These guys are a bit, um, interesting to listen to. Enjoy. Muhahah and all that. Happy Halloween.
posted by Splunge at 5:54 PM on October 31, 2010


That video was fascinating, and I don't even understand Minecraft.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:40 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


And racism not only implies value judgments based on skin colour or other morphological features, it also implies a feeling of superiority over (or right to rule over) those "others". I don't think that every person on this planet has those feelings or value judgments.

1000 Monkeys, I've read through this entire thread, and I almost agree with you in that I think the word "racist" is so loaded with it's attachment to the evils that racism leads to, that it is sometimes useless in terms of discussing the problems that the very concept of race present for all of us, regardless of intent, character or belief.

Unfortunately the world we live in is rarely interested in conforming to the logic we want to place on it. Until there is zero racism, that's the word we have, and that's the one we use. It's not a binary construct. It's a spectrum for which we have no zero value, and on the high ends brings out the very worst of us.

While I agree that your ability to be value-neutral on terms of race is admirable, but I've experienced plenty of racism that didn't involve superiority or value judgements. It's not the effect or the intent of the racism that brings offense to humanity. It's the very existence of the concept that stains our perception of the world. I'm not making an argument as to intent or value or goodness or badness. I'm saying that the evil of racism is it's ability to taint all who lay eyes upon it. Because at some point in your life you're going to have to classify yourself in relation to it. willingly, unwillingly, consciously or unconsciously. To not do so is to exercise a privilege given to you by the thing you wish to avoid.

I understand why we want to reserve the word racist to only speak to negative intent. Of course the vast majority of us have no desire to do harm to anyone along those lines. But to simplify it in such a way makes it too easy to deny the possibility of it in all of us. I think that's a careless approach (which I am not ascribing to anyone in this thread, I see this as a discussion of ideas, and not character)

So maybe it's better to say that we all have the capacity for racism. Even when we don't express it, we are forced to be unwitting hosts to it. If that sounds shitty. it is. It's why I truly believe that the only way to confront racism is to internalize the belief that racism isn't something one group of people does to another group. It's something that humans have done to themselves.
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:15 AM on November 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


For what it's worth, this discussion has made it clear to me that while I view the term "racist" as being equivalent to "prejudiced, per ethnicity and appearance", not all MeFites agree. So in future discussions I may choose to use the term "prejudiced" instead of "racist".

and for this, huge thanks. Because if we can't agree to terms, how can we argue reasonably about the same thing, and finally, know when we're done?
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:34 AM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


So maybe it's better to say that we all have the capacity for racism. Even when we don't express it, we are forced to be unwitting hosts to it. If that sounds shitty. it is. It's why I truly believe that the only way to confront racism is to internalize the belief that racism isn't something one group of people does to another group. It's something that humans have done to themselves.

This. A thousand times.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:56 PM on November 1, 2010


Just wanted to say that I agree with billyfleetwood's comment 100%. I don't like the idea that every single person in the world is a racist, but I can definitely agree that everybody has the capacity for racism (just like everybody has the capacity to do evil). And just because someone isn't a racist now, doesn't mean that they are never going to, unfortunately, become a racist in the future. It's something you need to be aware of, to question, to check your internal "temperature" regularly, and to fight against, both internally and externally.
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:23 PM on November 1, 2010


It's the sort of playground nonsense that most of us learned to dismiss with "Sticks and stones will break my bones".

If political correctness is to achieve anything, it should ban this phrase. Words can really hurt people, more so than a punch or a kick. I don't remember the times I was physically attacked at school but some of the words still make me feel small and angry today. I don't want others to feel that way with careless choice of language.
posted by mippy at 6:00 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


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