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Is every institution inherently racist?


Reaper
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I had a conversation over at dinner last night about this and the one conclusion that despite all claims and all forms of propaganda out there, most people and most nearly all institutions (e.g. colleges, corporations, governments, etc) seem to be inherently racist or intolerant to some degree.

 

For example, take the various "diversity" and other affirmative action programs upheld in many colleges. Though I am supported by such programs myself (and I know I probably shouldn't be complaining especially since I have a huge scholarship from those programs, but I'm not a person who takes things for granted or a person who believes in ideology), one observation I see is that "diversity" means everyone except white people.

 

And then I remember the conversation went into historical examples too, and the realization that before the 20th century racism was institutionalized by all major powers past. And the only reason it is more noticeable or more commonly associated with whites is that back in the imperial ages the European powers had the ability to crush everyone else. And it makes me wonder if the others would have done the same. China, for example, saw everyone else as barbarians. The Ottomans enslaved everyone who was not Islamic and committed genocide against the Armenians at one point, and I won't even go into the ideologies upheld by imperial Japan at WWII, or by the Mongols. And they all found some excuse to proclaim themselves superior and see everyone else as "sub-human".

 

And mind you, it doesn't have to be overly violent, most of the time it is expressed through favoring one group of people over others.

 

And it really doesn't end there. If you want a recent obvious example, one good one is what is happening in Israel right now and in Sub-Sahara Africa. And if you go down in the southern U.S., I've noticed (or rather heard) that racism is still quite strong down there even though it is officially condemned.

 

But it makes me wonder though, just how "tolerant" or "diverse" are we really? We go off to condemn racism in general and then turn around and display our own form of intolerance in some form or another.

 

I'm going to leave this open ended and see where this thread and discussion goes.

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I would say that's extremely open-ended. "Is every institution inherently racist?" How could that possibly be so?

 

Also (just so we have something to talk about), "diversity" doesn't, in most cases, mean "everybody except whites." It means diversity. The academic communities that favor affirmative action do so because, in theory, a student body with a broad spectrum of life experiences and perspectives creates a richer intellectual environment. It's not about favoring or punishing specific groups (although it does work out that way in practice), it's pushing students out of their own familiar and isolated sections of society, to everyone's benefit. That doesn't mean it's fair (it isn't), that it's the best way of achieving that goal (it isn't), or that it should continue (it shouldn't). But the fact is that it does work.

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I think everyone is inherently racist and intolerant. It is human to generalize, specialize. It is something we all need to be aware of and work on. It makes us feel good to think it is only "those in the South" or "those Germans" or the "Brits" etc, but truth is that anyone is capable without proper education and awareness.

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Probably getting out there a bit, but doesn't all of this really come down to in-group out-group psychology? I've always been fascinated with how humans group up, in all of their various levels. Seems to me if we aren't aware of our mental "grouping", then we would be more susceptible to instinctive, rudamentary decision making...Ie Black vs. White, Blonde vs Brunette ( btw whoever said blondes were more fun never had a brunette..)

 

But I'm not a psychology guy, just an observation. Interesting thread.

 

The main problem with the world is, really, is people who don't join SFN.

 

No kidding. If they were members like us, they wouldn't generalize and marginalize whole groups of people...what a bunch of idiots.

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I would say that's extremely open-ended. "Is every institution inherently racist?" How could that possibly be so?

 

It's possible. It was that way not too long ago as a matter of fact.

 

Also (just so we have something to talk about), "diversity" doesn't, in most cases, mean "everybody except whites." It means diversity. The academic communities that favor affirmative action do so because, in theory, a student body with a broad spectrum of life experiences and perspectives creates a richer intellectual environment.

 

I've never heard diversity refer to that. While I understand the idea behind it, the fact remains that it has, de facto, become just what I described. That's why I'm quite a bit skeptical in general about all the claims of "tolerance" and "equal opportunity", and so on.

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one observation I see is that "diversity" means everyone except white people.

 

That is your observation but I saw many pale people at university. Perhaps we need something more objective.

 

I think people are incurably "categorist". We place things in categories, and race just so happens to be a very easily visible category. And we are biased toward other people in our categories (in general).
It's like football teams. People like to wear the team colors, chant, etc, because it feels good. It feels much better to believe you're part of a group than to believe you're a lonely individual.

 

A study by Moses Shayo shows that in countries with more inequality the poor people are more likely to be patriotic because even though they are failures as individuals by being patriotic they can believe they are one with the ruling class and take pride for other people's achievements. See http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1002186

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