Debate - There's no such thing as Racism

Uncle Gizmo

Founding Member
#1
I would like to propose the notion that there's no such thing as racism, it is in fact a natural Instinct designed to protect us, and what we perceive as racism is in fact bullying.

The reason for this post is that was watching the latest episode of Star Trek, and I noticed a strange looking alien creature on the bridge of the discovery. The creature was completely alien, with a "spiky face". However I didn't perceive her as alien, because she was wearing a Star Trek uniform! I was quite amazed at this acceptance of this weird creature as being one of my own, my equal, without questioning it. It made me realise there's a lot more to what people term racism that actually meets the eye. So I wondered if we could debate the issue and see what we can thrash out.
 

The_Doc_Man

Founding Member
#2
I think I'll take the other side of that debate, but I have to agree that racism stems from an instinctive behavior.

Back in the day when we were not yet evolved to primates (i.e. we were still lizard-brains), the dinosaurs protected their nests against any and all that were different. When we became primates, that primitive saurian protectiveness was retained to lead our distant ancestors to form packs. I.e. we inherited a gregarious nature - but only with our own kind. Fast-forward to Homo sapiens and we distrust those who do not look like us because we are so inbred in our little tribes that many of our people look alike. We can easily spot the interlopers.

I say that racism is merely a trait designed to protect the purity of the tribe from outsiders. And we haven't completely learned how to grow out of that distrust of others.

Bullying, on the other hand, is the behavior of those trying to become the Alpha of the pack. Not as an outsider, but an insider. The Alpha cannot allow other pack members to get out of line because that would mean they would get things that the Alpha wants for himself. Which is, of course, an affront to the Alpha's position. Racism and bullying, because they stem from different impulses, are not the same. Even though dominance is based on instinctive behavior, its form depends on the goals of the activity. Racism - to protect the tribe; bullying - to attain status.
 

Jon

Administrator
Staff member
#3
I kinda agree with the Doc here. I always look at this through an evolutionary lens. Racism is essentially a distrust of those who look significantly different to us. But then there is a sliding scale. If people look just slightly different, there is only slight distrust. So, there is difference based on ethnicity. But that is not all. Differences in culture, adornments from different tribes, music and so on. Take heavy metal. If you like your classical music, you may have an inherent evolved discord with the heavy metal brigade. A group of bikers may be viewed upon with distrust. They are "different" to us. Someone's language is different. They speak French, so you trust them less. Even accents make a difference. If you live "up north" in England yet you have a "southerners" accent, they make treat you less kindly.

I view racism as just one subset of prejudice. There are many subsets as described above. To me, prejudice probably evolved as a survival mechanism where it was better to be prejudicial than not. Those who took the risk were less likely to survive and their DNA fell out of the gene pool.

If you are white and lived in a white rough area, but you went alone into Harlem, your life expectancy goes down since the risk goes up. Just your skin colour was the determinant of possible danger, since you are going from one rough area to another. Gotta control the variables! :D
 
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#4
Sad but true that even an accent sets you apart. The Deep South accent (web search "Jeff Foxworthy" and just listen) makes some folks think you are "goobers" (a little nut). Which is why I learned a long time ago to slide my accent around. I was born and grew up in the greater New Orleans area, but my accent throws everyone off. They swear I either have NO accent (actually not possible) or a bland, Midwestern accent. When I visit my wife's family in south Louisiana, I slide into a slight Cajun patois. When I visit my mother's family in Alabama, my southern drawl broadens. When I speak to a larger group, I clean it all up. I can also move into an uptown neighborhood accent which is often mistaken for a Brooklyn accent. So I guess you could say that when it comes to blending in, I'm a verbal chameleon. Like you say, Jon, gotta control the variables.
 

Bee

Founding Member
#7
I also tend to agree with Doc, but for different reasons.

Racism is learned behaviour. We are not born racist, we learn to be through experience, environment and culture. Comparing racism and bullying is like comparing shoe sizes; not meaningful at all. It is possible to be racist and never act upon it.

Children repeat what they hear.
 

Jon

Administrator
Staff member
#8
I think it is hard to establish the truth over whether racism is learned behaviour or innate. The backlash for tackling any scientific experiments about racism that does not give the "correct" answer, ironically leads to accusations of racism against the scientists themselves. I can hear them saying to themselves, "Just don't go there. It's not worth it."

Honest reporting of empirical results is not enough to protect your integrity. Social agendas, narratives and conflating truths override rational discourse. That is why we need impartial AI bots to establish the "truth". Having said that, there is plenty of evidence that self-learning bots have biases too. Perhaps we can get around that with more advanced algorithms, but for now we have to accept that certain topics are just off-topic.

My personal belief is that both nature and nurture play a part. Perhaps nature has inherent racism (or I prefer to say adaptive behaviour) that starts out small. But over time, this natural distrust of something or someone "different" leads to behaviour that reinforces itself over time. Then it becomes more entrenched.

I say I prefer the term "adaptive behaviour" because it is descriptive in that we evolved to survive as best we can. If that meant sticking to the familiar, then those who didn't adapt ended up, on average, dead!

Clearly, there can be an environmental part to the equation. Look at Nazi Germany. I don't think that this generation of Germans were inherently evil. That would be racist to think that, right? Instead, the culture from the top down had a huge influence. Likewise, it may also be possible that someone is racist with no environmental influence, just based on inherent distrust.

Mueller ought to do a report on it. Take two years and find "No nurture impact, cannot make mind up on nature. " :p

We are heading towards a society where some truths become lies, and some lies become truth. Do not vilify the messengers. I also understand that some answers may be unpalatable to the recipients and this becomes a rather unfortunate and difficult matter. I have no solution for it.
 
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