What is Racism?

Race riots

OK, so you’ll notice that my interface has changed … I did that so comments could be made easier … or at least, I think this is easier? I do think it looks easier to navigate. …  I don’t know … I’m really not that technologically advanced. BUT ….

With developments taking place across the country, I thought it fitting to write on the topic.

There’s also another reason to write about this … Generally speaking, I don’t think that an overwhelming majority of Americans fully understand what racism is, which is unfortunate. The view is an outdated one (like colonialism), and those who cling to it are really just looking for a return to nineteenth-century politics.

Racist approaches to politics, and in general everything, has led to some pretty awful stuff — to include segregation (essentially a softer form of concentration), terrorism, eugenics, and, in some cases, genocide (particularly in Africa).

I would say that this is a pervasive problem in the contemporary United States, and it’s a view that everyone should at least minimally understand — particularly if we want to abolish it, which, hopefully, a majority of Americans would like to see.

So, let me take you into the (faulty) logic of racism …

First, what is race?

Again, a concept not fully understood by Americans, in my opinion.

Hey everyone:

Race is a category that was completely invented … as in, made up, and it is simply a way of understanding and organizing people by way of VERY general, descriptive similarities. That’s it.

As such, any stereotype attached to race is a socially constructed monster.

Here is some stuff to conceptually understand about race:

1) Race is a HUGE category. Racial categories do NOT imply that the people in that category have anything in common other than very generalized similarities. Racial behavior is largely constructed socially; in other words, people and communities define behavior, and stereotypes stem from overgeneralizations of that behavior.

So if you grow up in Nevada, and your family hates people from California, then it’s normal to hate Californians … unless somehow you overcome that norm. Similarly, a child growing up in a family that emphasizes white supremacy is more likely to think whites are superior.

… This stuff is all socially learned and constructed, and it takes determined individuals to question socially integrated assumptions and behaviors … because questioning means not being part of the group. But, in the end, race is only a CATEGORY, and behavior within that category is dependent on LOTS of factors.

So race is largely determined by the individual, family, or community, and is hence constructed.

So I say I’m white. But, if I say I’m black (or my family says I’m black — even .04% so), then I’m black. Similarly, a Pacific Islander may identify racially as Asian.

A HUGE part of the racial problem is that people generalize and make claims about entire groups of people — undermining individualism.

2) Race is based solely on external features. The internal BIOLOGY of ALL homo-sapiens is the same. This means that race is ONLY based on external similarities like: skin color, appearance of hair, facial features, average bone structure or size, or some other external identifier (maybe language, but that’s more ethnicity). The only internal difference may be bone structure … but still, all bones are made of the same stuff.

BIOLOGICALLY, all people are the same … remember that.

For example: Asian races (and any racial subsets) have a human body that develops the exact same way a white person’s body would. Internally, all humans have the same organs, develop in utero the same way, and go through the same biological processes.

— There can be HEREDITARY differences, but the general biological process are the same — heredity and genetics are VERY specific subsets of biology, and are their own beast.

… if there is doubt on this, I invite you to consult Google or something …

So, nothing internal is different, only genetic or external appearances (stemming from evolution … for another day people; this isn’t a religious attack … and evolution isn’t a religious threat anyway because the God question still remains). Cells are the same, but the DNA is what can change, and external differences stem from evolution. … see how all these sciences interact with one another?


I mean really, people need to understand that all humans are from the same categorical species (homo sapiens) …. and I’m not 100% all people get this.

If you don’t buy this, you’re stuck in outdated ideas and you’re flat out wrong.

The Race-ism

Just like other isms, racism is a view of the world.

Racism emphasizes race as a way to understand the world.

While there are all shades of racists (like followers of all isms), they all share one thing:

— All subscribers of racism believe that some races are better than others, or some have more or less value than others. So, racists believe that there are particular categories of people (grouped together by external racial traits) that are intrinsically better, more-valuable, or more-intelligent, etc. than others.

This assumption is the basis for all racism and racist policies, and these ideas can spiral out of control very quickly.

— By grouping LARGE numbers of people together, racist arguments are awful … because you can’t generalize that much with that many people. It’s far too simplistic. But people do it all the time.

Examples of:

— Benevolent racists … “The Jews are a noble race … ”

— Unknowing racists … “Asians are the best at math … ”

— Inter-race racists … “Northern whites are smarter than southern whites … ”

— “Scientific” racists … “Because of their big noses, Jews can smell things better … ”

In the end, there are lots of ways to be racist, and all that needs to be implied is a valuation of a racial category of people.

How logic can spiral:

By lumping together ENTIRE races, you’re reducing the world’s complexity on the basis of external traits, and assume that an entire race (MILLIONS/BILLIONS) of people have unified goals … and that simply isn’t the case. In fact, each individual person wants different things.

— Racist world views drastically simplify the world, which is dangerous because the ideas can be easily consumed — particularly among people lacking education … in fact, it’s a terrorist tactic to recruit from uneducated and impoverished populations.

Back in the day, “scientific” racists decided that experiments could determine why some races are inferior to others. They did this a number of ways. Measuring brain weight or circumference, by examining internal organs, making theories about bone structure, and how the origin of the race weighs in on intelligence. Lots of claims with no substantial evidence. I mean people from all over the world have variations in structure, brain size, and genetics — that’s just the randomness of the human species.

Similar to religion, race is very easy to weaponize because it identifies two very distinct “sides.” If you can clearly identify those who are different, and provide some reasoning (no matter how elementary), people will buy into it — especially if there’s something to gain. It’s also easier to make up stories about how “they” want to take something from “us.”

Nazis tried to create a “super race” of blue-eyed, blond-haired, beautiful, strong Germans capable of re populating the world. They weaponized racial/ethnic concepts of “German-ness” as a tool to exterminate non-Germans. German-ness could even be redefined. This is a method used to eliminate political opponents.

How can this be done? Because race is entirely malleable, and, as said above, completely constructed in our minds, and are super-broad categories. So one day those with brown hair could be German, but the next day they could be plotting against Germans and hence put in concentration … if you have enough charisma, you can convince people to do lots of things.

In the American case, the black race was used instrumentally for free labor; hence slavery. Once they weren’t free labor, the people profiting from that labor were mad.

So these wealthy people who profited faced a crisis; there were lots of “freed” people who could vote. If slaves are poor and can vote, so they COULD vote in solidarity with poor whites (to form an economic majority) to try and challenge the wealthy classes. But what happened is that blacks were demonized as lesser people, segregated, and poor whites didn’t want anything to do with blacks — even though they could have voted together to actually fight for some form of political control (economic or otherwise). … Weaponizing race has occurred before.

Racist policies, in turn, can have violent reactions (think of the Black Panther movement). When things like this happen, a security spiral could ensure a firmly rooted, racial-motivated, divide. … The problem is systemic and comes from discriminatory policies.

So, after years of development, civil rights and militant black movements, protests, counter protests, and, more-recently, violent bursts of civil disobedience, race is still the only problem people see. That alone tells me that racist mentalities exist within communities, politics, news, movies, and all facets of American life.

Historically, majorities (in any society) have found pervasive ways to make life miserable for minorities.

FYI: There are backdoor ways that black Americans are treated sub-par. Prior to the housing crisis, bankers pushed variable-interest loans on black communities (some referred to the as “mud” loans). Gerrymandering (redrawing district lines) is a very common practice for political parties to remain in control … this is definitely the case in Georgia. And in some states (like Georgia) lines can be redrawn whenever, and you don’t necessarily need a census — to ensure party dominance.

Also, anyone who says that segregation is gone is lying to themselves. All over the United States, there are those “areas” of cities where black, white, Hispanic, or Asian races predominantly live. So, at the end of the day, races are still segregated to some extent.

What about statistics!? Case: black Americans

It’s true.

Black Americans have worst statistics than any other race in America. Higher infant mortality, lower education, lower lifespans, higher crime rates, higher obesity, etc … pick your statistic. And here is where a racist temptation comes in. The racist logic is that black people, as a race, are intrinsically inferior.

First of all, that assumes that all black people are identical not only in skin color, but also in intelligence and ability, which they aren’t. Second, that assumes that there are no issues other than race. Racist mentalities downplay any sense of history, collective development, public attitudes, and people downplay these things by saying stuff like: “slavery was 100+ years ago, get over it.”

… This ignores segregation entirely (100+ years and still continuing).

Many black Americans (between say age 40-80) endured extreme segregation and discrimination, and their children (perhaps 20-60 in age), consequently, were raised in uneducated, poor, segregated communities (similar to poor whites), and similarly were probably taught to distrust whites. As said previously, it takes very determined people to break this constructed view of the world.

Only now do younger black Americans have the liberty go to schools and colleges (because of state-supported schools and federal grants). Why not go to college before? Because it takes a LONG time for a family to build any wealth, and, if we remember, slaves received no land or monetary reparations post slavery, and were left to fend for themselves in a highly divisive system following the Civil War leading all the way up to the 1970s.

Also, not every black American has the ambition to succeed to positions of power — in fact, very few people in general do, from any race. It takes very motivated people to move up even one class bracket, and it could take generations to achieve that. So, yes, a majority of black Americans live in poverty, and that pushes people to do extreme things.

But because of:

1) low education levels,

2) extreme systemic poverty (probably stemming from a lack of wealthy black classes — hence no economic stimulation),

3) segregated communities (isolated people with minimal transportation and no development),

4) the introduction of drugs (one of the only ways to make money in economically depressed areas — look at meth cookers or moonshiners in rural areas), and

5) a variety of other pervasive factors, black Americans are stereotyped, bracketed, categorized, and treated as second-rate citizens — similar to Hispanics or Asians.

In addition, there are black individuals capitalizing on the black condition (or perhaps resorting to extreme measures to make a living), and they introduce drugs, sell women or children, or steal. This, btw, happens in communities of ALL races … There are PLENTY of white, Asian, Jewish, Arabic, or other drug dealers and human traffickers who gladly take money from anyone.

— It isn’t racial blackness causing awful statistics; it’s a complicated web of failed racially charged policies, negative public stereotypes, a lack of schooling, and lingering segregation.

To all you Georgians out there: Look no further than Marta as an example of a failed project stemming from racist policies.

Alternatives to Racism:

There are other ways of arranging people into categories in order to understand the world.

Here are a few:

— Income levels. I find that people in particular income brackets have LOTS in common. Probably more so than racial categories. This one gets a negative spin in the United States, because Marxists evaluate the world in terms of class. But, really, interests overlap more between people with money over skin color —  money is color blind.

— Education levels. I find that levels of education are a great way of bracketing people … plus, education is typically tied to income level.

— Geographic location. Grouping people together by location is far more specific than grouping together along racial lines. Each region, state, city, district, and even block has it’s own way of doing things as well as emphasizes different values. Even in racially coherent communities each area has slight variances in what it cares about, and emphasizes. Maybe one district values the arts while the other values religion.

Is race a good category for anything?

Sure. It’s good for measuring progress of huge swaths of people who identify with very general similarities in order to identify patterns. I would say, most usefully, that racial-centric data helps identify political progress (or a lack thereof).

The MAIN thing that I think ALL people should understand is that racism is a pretty much dead approach to politics, and those who rally around racial superiority are outdated —  not to mention see the world in an overly simplistic manner.

The new “in” political suppressant is probably ethnicity — the categorization of people based on where someone’s “nation” is. This is different than geography, because your ethnicity is where YOU say your lineage comes from. … This can be weaponized fairly easily.

In the end, any categorization that pits people against one another can be used as a tool to achieve some policy. It’s happened MANY times in the past, and I suspect won’t end anytime soon.

If nothing else, hopefully this paints a more-clear picture of race.


22 thoughts on “What is Racism?

  1. Kate

    I don’t think that a discussion of disparity should omit the powerful effect of differential and systematic incarceration of large numbers of Black men in the US – or the concurrent trend in tightening of rules about hiring people who have done their time. Together, these insure that large numbers of fathers and potential male role models are absent from the community, and that their limited avenues of money-making once freed are dominated by further illegal economic activities. The net impact of this on children, poverty, and teen behavior cannot be underestimated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joel Raffety Post author

      True. I do think incarceration rates are huge problems. Although I would probably say the norm of arresting black males stems from racist policies. … But I think there are multiple other ways to look at it, from a criminal justice view.


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