My friend and I were having a discussion about racism. He made a claim to me that he would never date a black woman, but that he wasn't racist. Now, to me, that seems like a racist comment. But he says that I am misunderstanding him.
These are his arguments:
"I do not find black women attractive, and so I would not date one. You might call me racist then, but if I said I didn't like women with brown hair, or women with gray eyes, does that necessarily mean that I am discriminating against women with those attributes? It would just mean that I wouldn't consider a woman with gray eyes or brown hair a prospect for a sexual relationship. Furthermore, I could say that you don't wish to have sex with men, and by your logic, that would make you sexist against men."
His arguments are persuasive, but I find something very wrong with them. It seems to me that if someone is otherwise compatible with you, it shouldn't matter what race they are (or, in fact, if they had freckles or blond hair, et cetera). ...
At the moment, I'm particularly concerned about the 'personal heresy' in philosophy. Recently, Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, gave a speech in which he quoted several racist statements by key philosophers of Western civilisation. David Hume, for instance believed that "of all the 'breeds' of man, the darkest breed was inferior.."(quote from Mbeki's speech) and it's also believed that Kant believed black people were 'beasts'(again, Mbeki's belief). Whether these quotes are accurate or not, it's indubitable that the milieu in which these philosophers formed their various normative frameworks was a deeply prejudiced one. If philosophy proceeds from deductivism, i.e a set of axioms are laid out, rules of inference determined, and from these various judgements made, is it possible that inherent within western thought is a kind of racial prejudice? And if so, is it possible to account for it, using some kind of 'personal equation' of the kind invoked by Gauss in his work with astronomy?
Does racism need to be legitimately harmful in order to be considered morally objectionable? Suppose that black men incite an admittedly irrational fear in me, so that whenever I see a black man in public I cross the street -- should I feel compelled to correct this phobia? Or how about this: I find black men unattractive, so I don't date them.
People equate certain qualities with femininity. E.g. soft, irrational, emotional. On the other hand, certain other qualities are equated with masculinity: e.g. hard, rational, analytical. Some feminists have said that this is an example of prejudice towards women: firstly, those qualities are largely viewed as negative, secondly, the 'male' qualities are held in higher esteem than the 'female' qualities. It seems to me that men can be just as emotional or irrational as women - but apart from this, is the connotation with those things an accident or is it purposeful and does it actually lead to prejudice? Some people also complain that words associated with blackness - darkness, black, etc, are used negatively and that is racist. Is that actually true or is it a stretch?
On the subject of race. Why is there a tacit assumption that all persons are white unless identified as some different race? Example: Maybe a guy is lost from his group at a big convention or something and he tells someone that he is looking for "these three guys... one of them is black, and one of them has a big nose ring?" Like black-ness is an unusual trait to be used to pick somebody out of a crowd or a police line up, like a scar or a tattoo.
I hope this made at least some sense.
If people of different "races" can have clear physical difference (appearance, or even immunities to certain diseases), could this not also mean there could be differences in ability to learn, or mental differences altogether?
What is racism?
- Read more about What is racism?
- 1 comment
- Log in to post comments
- « first
- ‹ previous