(Can you?) Defending Racism, "Culture-ism" and stereotypes.

Inspired by thisthread.

I don´t live in the US, but I have heard many of the same stereotypes regarding blacks, asians, arabs, jews etc.

I live in the Dominican Republic, which has its own fair share of racism and sterotypes. Our particular problem is that Dominicans (as the stereotype goes) hate Haitians. They take our jobs, flood our streets, etc.

I want to make myself clear here, I DO NOT accept or encourage any behaviour deemed offensive or violent. I´m merely curious to find out others perspective on these complex issues.

Stereotypes are based on a general observation that, given enough time, earns a certain group of people a (usually) bad reputation.

There are many exceptions, yes. But, for example, most of the thefts in the US are caused by African Americans.

The Quoran, for example, at its core, is quite a violent book, much like The Bible.

Certain cultures are not justified, in my opinion, to pratice the things they do just because of tradition.

**My point in stating all these generalizations is to ask the question to you, fellow Doper: can racism, “cultur-ism” or stereotypes be justified?

Why is it taken as a given that any of the above mentioned issues, are, at its core bad or ignorant?

What say you about these issues in general?**

(feel free to question me if any of the things I mentioned are not clear or seem out-right offensive. If it did sound offensive, it was not my intent)

Perhaps not the answers you were looking for, but here is my perspective on racism. This comes from heated arguments/discussions with my mom about her racism.

To me, it all boils down to a simple generalization (ironically, as you’ll later see): people are inherently lazy. People prefer for things to be simple. When things get complicated, it causes too much “work” for people to keep track of things.
Racism/stereotyping is little more than generalizing about an entire group of people for the sake of “simplicity”. Even the use of the modifier “most” as a means of not saying “all” (and sounding like a racist) is little more than a copout to this simplification.

The problem is when the statistics used to make statements about some undesirable behavior/trait attributed to a given race are used like a “warning label” or predictor of individuals. It’s when you cross the line from “most violent crime is commited by X” to “avoid all Xs because they’re violent”. Racism is all about distorting statistics to justify some unreasonable belief (“all X are violent”).

My mom was the greatest abuser of “sampling error” - drawing conclusions from too few examples. From a mere handful of encounters (encounters, mind you - not spending any significant amount of time observing), she would point out “they (X) are all <undesirable trait: dirty, snobby, cheap, etc.>”. And I would make it a point, had I also had experience with group X, to point out that that had not been my experience.
My mom’s conclusions about whatever race highlights the problem with any racism: there are ALWAYS exceptions. Even if statistically a group happens to spike some undesirable trait, it is unreasonable/illogical to extrapolate this trait to the rest of the population ! Just because there are more 10 cards (blackjack) in a deck does not mean that EVERY card is going to be a 10 card. Yet this same logic is applied with racism.

But what these conclusions provided for my mom was “simplification”. And as she has gotten older, and has more difficulty remembering things, I can understand the appeal for this desire to simplify. When meeting someone of race X, she didn’t have to bother to “learn” about this individual, she could simply rely on her “database” about race X. Every encounter that reinforced her conclusions about race X was an “aha, I was right”. And every example that was counter to her conclusions was discarded and forgotten (to be remembered would require more work to keep track of the exceptions). It is unclear if any number of counter examples would be enough for her to modify her conclusions (again requires work, and would undermine all those observations that went into making the conclusions in the first place).

Can you expand a little on this Haitians thing? Are you suggesting that hatred of them is justified, or that the stereotype that Dominicans hate them is justified? Or that neither is?

Well, we condone male circumcision, but condemn and declare illegal, female circumcision, cock-fighting, dog-fighting, smoking opium, honor killings of women, etc. Yes, we can tell other cultures to fuck off. We do it all the time, and I don’t understand when people get all uppity because we are.

I have no problem judging other cultures. Some are demonstrably better than others (when given a particular criteria). My own culture (whatever that is) deserves to be judged just as harshly.

That said, prejudging an individual based on their ethnicity or based on whatever culture they associate themselves with is most certainly not justified. If individuals are to be judged, they must be judged on their own actions. It is the prejudice that gets us in trouble.

No, I’m not stating that either is justified. It’s just what happens here.

Haitians usually take the low paying jobs most Dominicans would’nt work in. But the pay is miserable.

Having said that, there are some problems with having many Hatians coming over to the Dominican Republic. Too many of them come, and we have a darn poor country as well, so in general it dosen’t really end up helping either country.

I don’t have any issues with Haitians in general. It’s just another one of those thousands of stereotypes that each country has.

On another note Levdrakon, I agree with most of what you say. But why is smoking opium such a bad thing if an individual willingly chooses to do it, knowing the consequences of its abuse?

This was a huge sticking point in why I didn’t respond to the other racism thread. By many definitions, I would be considered a racist. I would consider myself however, a “culture-ist”. I live in Atlanta, GA, and a vast majority of young African-Americans I meet and talk to on a daily basis are the stereotypical xxxxl white-tee wearing, “thugged-out”, slurred speech black kids. That is an observation based off of my daily interactions. That’s not a generalization, or made up based off of TV or Radio, that’s fact. Unless the news is ignoring white crime, it seems like the majority of crime that occurs in Atlanta is perpetrated by African Americans. There’s a statistic out there about 1 in 10 Black males being in jail? Something like that, a fairly large number. Now say what you will about our justice system, but I’m pretty sure most people incarcerated have committed the crime they’re in there for. So what am I supposed to think? I don’t want to be a racist, so I don’t want to stereotype, but all I see is the stereotype. Obviously that doesn’t apply to everyone, and I’m nowhere near dumb enough to think that. I have no problems with black people, at all. You can tell me it’s a class thing, but that doesn’t explain anything. I went to a suburban high school here, split about 40:40:20 (White, Black, Hispanic), and there were maybe 2-3 black kids in any given advanced class of 20-30 people, and maybe 1 hispanic kid. I know that the black kids weren’t all lower-class kids who couldn’t get the same education, because obviously some of them did, and they all had the same opportunities I had. The school lunch was segregated, pretty much, but not by white kids choice. There was some mixing, and there were no problems with that, just most black kids wanted to sit with the black kids. There seems to be a blatant culture of anti-intellectualism here. And I wonder why? I don’t think its genetic. I think it’s entirely culture-based, and definitely possible to change. I feel it might have something to do with the feeling that there is no hope for college or something like that, but Georgia has the HOPE scholarship, so that college is free if you have over a B average, and that makes that theory lose some ground.

Look, I WANT to change my views. I do. Honestly. But I just don’t see how pointing out the obvious is being a racist, which in this uber-PC culture it seems like it is. This was kind of just a rant, really unorganized (I apologize), and I can delve further into the details of my views, and answer any questions anyone has for me. Demographic wise, in case it matters? I’m a liberal Israeli-born, suburban Atlanta raised college student who votes a straight (D) ticket.

Beats me. I’ve never known anyone who uses it. I think we’re concerned with its real or perceived effect on society. If you’re not driving under the influence, or coming to work stoned when I need you sober, and your habit doesn’t drain my tax dollars to support, or you’re not abusing or neglecting your kids, I don’t care if you smoke opium. Society does have the right to step in when we think you’re hurting yourself though, and opium users can end up needing food, housing, healthcare, etc. If they can’t support themselves, they become society’s problem. Also, because it’s addictive, people who just want to experiment can end up with an involuntary habit they weren’t prepared for.

I agree with you on many points.

My second roomate in college was black, from an African father and had visited Nigeria, and by all accounts he is a great guy and a great friend.

Most of his black friends are cool people too.

Not to mention that I live in a over-whelming mixed race (mulatto) country.

I just can´t stand those ridiculous long chains and golden rings and the rap music that continues to deteriorate in quality and morality.

My dislike of that particular section of African American culture has nothing to with skin color, it has to do with the attitude of the people who exhibit it. It just so happens that most of the gold-chain, bling-bling, money money, bad rap music happens to be predominantley a sub-culture of African Americans.

But there are whites with this attitude as well. Eminem, Collie Budz and a few others I can´t remember.

I’m not a racist, I think it’s silly.

But I have no problem being called a Culturist. I don’t respect certain aspects of other cultures. Hell, I don’t even respect certain aspects of my own culture.

When the Hmong first came to this country, they kept right on marrying 12-13 year old girls to 30-something males. When they got arrested and prosecuted for it, they cried out “But that’s our culture!”. Tough shit, you’re here now and we’re not allowing that in our culture.

When the Somalis first came here, they refused to accept women in positions of authority, whether Police or their supervisors. “But that’s our culture!” Tough shit, you’re here now and you’d damn well better adapt, because you’re going to lose your job if you disrespect or refuse to obey your female boss, and you’re going to jail the hard way if you act improperly toward a female police officer.

No, I don’t have to respect Criminal Cultures, those that advocate hatred or abuse, those that advocate ignorance or denigrate education and achievement. Telling me that I have to do this is disrespectful of MY culture and my integrity.