Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Racism is basic

Speaking and debating of race has been done to death, and then some. So I'm not trying to make any point with this entry. But I do have observations, which I feel I cannot pass up.

Racism has two very different meanings which cross over each other. One having to do with prejudice and the other with belief. That is an explosive combination at the BEST of times, and race isn't the only place this combination can be found. Religion, politics, typical work environment, my in-laws, the list goes on. I'll stick to racism this time around.

I've often said: "just becaused it's prejudice, doesn't mean it's not true". I still hold to this statement, in the sense that some of my own experiences with certain individuals of a self-appointed subgroup has conceived an unfortunatly negative notion in my own mind. In fact, it chagrins me greatly to say that insurance companies are the best, worst?, at actually putting a number, a monetary value, upon various individual groups. This is called actuarial analysis. The fact that these calculations work is proof positive that some prejudice is true, worse still, it is measurable!

What's even more funny is that, by this very vehicle, insurance companies victimize everyone indiscriminately: So those of you who have never felt the sting of racism against you, need only look as far as your insurance premium to get a very small taste. Doesn't feel very good does it?

In any event, prejudice is then an empirical, albeit negative, vehicle by which one can predict with varying degrees of certainty the actions of an individual which fits the given parameters of the prejudice in question. This is not a new concept per se. It is used, for instance, in the stock market where analysts will decree that a company is going to do well, or not, without knowing shit about what the company does, nor how. Need I say more?

Prejudice by this definition is oh-so very clearly fallible. The problems really kick in full gear when prejudice is taken as holy writ, as opposed to an empircal guess. This is where belief kicks in. I have found that some of the most dangerous people on earth are the ones which cannot tell the difference between their beliefs and facts.

An aparté: I just about pissed myself laughing when I read the Reuters article about how Rt. Hon. Paul Martin understood the Quebecer, in appointing the new Governor General. Firstly, it is my considered opinion that politicians don't actually know fuck-all about a given consituency, and furthermore, the media is worse. Note however, that the typical high-level politician is average to good at manipulating the consituency in question, and it's media. Anyway, A large segment of Quebecers have a racist streak a mile-wide towards, you guessed it, Haïtians. Don't get me wrong, Ms. Jean is well respected, even loved, by these same Quebecers, just as long as she, or her kind, don't move in next door! That's a statement and a half isn't it? My prejudice vis-à-vis my fellow Quebecer proves me 90% right, 18 times out of 20. At least she speaks french...

And thusly we come to the crux of the matter.

In years past, I honestly thought that racism (discrimination) was simply a matter of misunderstanding, or ignorance, through lack of exposure. I realize now that racism, in most of it's forms may actually be a basic and evil human element, and not anything so ethereal as prejudice run amok.

Certainly a lot of our racism has been passed down from our forefathers, yet one cannot to lay blame entirely on previous generations. One can, however, lay blame squarely on those that perpetrate the infamy, and worse, those that use it as a form of expediency. We can attest that people with lack of morals are of this ilk. But is it really lack of morals, or is it rather too much morals on speed? Some of the greatest racist epithets were commited by men of presumably higher moral standards. These examples of most unfortunate role-models bear an incredible influence on us all.

So what does it mean to us on the ground floor? It means that we all live this inescapable influence within our lives. Like Socrates, Plato et al. have given us modern western philosophy and scientific method, we are guided, just as strongly by the race imperative. It boggles the mind as to how insidious and entrenched racism is.

If we chuck all political correctness out the window, to even claim that one is not racist is a fallacy. We are all racist, such is the way our society is made. And there are no bystanders. What's worse, Political Correctness is actually making things worse, it's really hiding the problem as opposed to fixing it. If it avoids some pain and suffering however, it at least has that value.

I wish I had a decent answer for all this. Making our own little efforts in our daily lives just isn't cutting it! Either we need a Dr. Luther-King on a world stage, to effect a real and basic change or we might as well kiss our asses goodbye.

Maybe we should become prejudiced against racists, AH-HA!!! ... umm, nevermind, that leads back to kissing our asses goodbye.


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