Talk:Racism/Archive 4

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Draft Text of December 14

Racism has several distinct meanings in contemporary usage, but most of them are close to at least one of the following:

  1. discrimination or prejudice based on race;
  2. the belief that one race is superior to others;
  3. a set of beliefs that justify adverse discrimination against individuals based on their ascribed race;
  4. a set of beliefs that justify the differential treatment of individuals based on their ascribed race;
  5. the belief that race is the primary determinant of human capacities.

The word is usually used pejoratively, but some people believe that racism is legitimate and identify themselves as "racists"; others who oppose adverse discrimination but subscribe to some of the other beliefs mentioned above prefer the term "racialist". Peak 07:12, 14 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Draft Text of December 16

P0M 07:53, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC) With trepidation I offer the following draft text:
Peak: To atone for chopping it up, I have fixed some typos.
P0M This article is about racism in the sense of beliefs that pertain to races, and/or practices that are directed toward people on grounds of belief that those people belong to a particular race. The crucial element in any charge of racism is that characterists are imputed of an individual or individuals on grounds that are not objective ...
Peak: That excludes things like apartheid and laws prohibiting "mixing of the races".
P0M: I think both are consequences of the fundamental unfairness. Won't it work to mention both later in a context that points to the sentence that you started for me above?
... and therefore are unfair. The prototypical racist act is to label a person or people on the basis of one or more determinable feature (e.g., eye color) and to conclude on that basis the possession of traits for which there is no evidence (e.g., moral turpitude or saintliness). It would be manifestly unfair to act in any way pursuant to such an invalid judgment.
P0MRacism is sometimes distinguished from racialism on the grounds that the latter only argues from the presence of some traits that have been observed in some individual or individuals to the presence of other traits that have not been verified in the current instance but have been verified by objective study of the race. The latter view is strongly contested by those in whose judgment race is at best a statistical category and so can, at best, yield only probabilistic conclusions based on the verified observance of certain "marker" characteristics. They further observe that the more traits are checked and verified, the smaller becomes the remainder of individuals who actually fit the description of the race that has been offered, and that the possibility is always there that when an attempt is made to objectively verify the presence of the traits earlier imputed, it will be found that the individual does not fit the description of the race at precisely that point.
Let me chime in here. I think this is far too wordy for an intro. The racialism part in particularly goes into far too much depth; the validity of race probably belongs mostly on the race page. I also think this version is not too accurate. One of my goals in rewriting parts of this article is to get away from the "intellectual" interpretation which seemed to prevail in the text (scientific studies of race, (il)logical inferences from observed traits, etc.) to include more "gut-level" ones ("I hate those filthy Foobarese"). I think it's a mistake to emphasize the former so much because I think few "racists" think in those terms. -- VV 22:22, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I know there's a lot on this page, but I just want to weigh in quickly and say that the focus on perceptions of race stemming from the comment "The first sentence contains a logical defect" are rather removed from the central concepts and effects of racism -- even though I understand the logic of the approach. There are currently 1150 words on this page regarding that one "locical defect". Although it is logically consistent, it detracts from the information, in my mind, and begs the question "why is a distinction being made here, and what the difference is between 'race' and 'perceived race' -- since it's obvious to most people that the actions of others are invariably based on perception, rather than an absolute truth.
P0M: Something was fairly well said (in my estimation, anyway), got chopped down too far,... It shouldn't be so difficult. To get a new start, Peak suggested a new beginning of the first sentence. So I hope that we are past the "perceived" problem.
Also, racialism (at least in the U.S.) in used by very, very few people other than self-proclaimed racialists. In fact, I first learned about the term here at the Wikipedia!

P0M: I had never seen it before, either. It was originally brought into this article, as I understand the history of this article anyway, because there was a separate article on racialism that was not very well developed, and the article contents got moved here. But its inclusion here may have been providential because it demonstrates persuasively that certain characteristics are privileged by racists -- implied but not tested.
Peak Google gives 13,100 hits for "racialism", the first of which is "White Pride and Racialism". The third is a link to an article by Daniel Patrick Moynihan on "The New Racialism" (August 1968): In it, he defined racialism as "racial prejudice or discrimination: race hatred." Thus the attempt to define "racialism" in the sense of "racism minus the hatred" seems doomed.Peak 23:20, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Also, the section on the history of U.S. racism is woefully lacking (maybe I'll try to work on it), but that history begins with the relationships with and treatment of Native Americans, not with slavery. (I know that's not what you're talking about right here, but like I said, this is quick :-)
P0M: For what it's worth, I approve of presenting a discussion of racism that is comprehensive in the sense that it shows all sides of the phenomenon (although, obviously, it cannot go into infinite levels of detail), including what it is, how it has been presented by friend and foe, and what has been done with it. It will be painful for those of us who have benefited from injustices done to, e.g., Native Americans to tolerate an objective discussion of those injustices, but it should be done. Probably much of it will need to be "spun off" to specific articles, e.g., something on the charges of deliberate infection of Native Americans with smallpox.
Thanks, BCorr € Брайен 17:04, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC) (updated by BCorr € Брайен 18:34, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC))
Dear Bcorr: Well said! Welcome to the fray :-) Peak 18:03, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC)
*sigh* Another fray! :) -- BCorr € Брайен
P0M: I echo Peak's welcome, and echo with grand reverberations your sigh. The hope is that if the foundation is set up properly the rest of the structure will be beneficial to all interested parties.

16 December

Regarding the conflict between VeryVerily and Slrubenstein (sort of) -- I added a short paragraph after VV's. 1) I think it's accurate and pretty NPOV, and 2) maybe it can refocus the dialogue from the back-and-forth reverts... I'll work on the US History section later-- BCorr € Брайен 22:19, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC)

rewrote the whole section (there was anb edit confict) so I have deleted Bcorr's point. But I want to stress that I though it was an important contribution. I think as such itis no longer necessary but if Bcorr differs I encourage him/her to put that material back in, Slrubenstein
The new version does not seem like an improvement at all. It attributes modern racism to colonialism, which is unbelievable, and again gives center-stage to theories of race (not well explained, either), which I don't believe were very influential. It seems to regard ancient ethnic hatreds as not actually racism. And it claims (POV) that Darwin was misconstrued. It also says modern races originated in the 17th century (??). And the print-capitalism (undefined) claim seems way out of scope. -- VV 22:30, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Peak Dear VerilyVerily: Many commentators write persuasively that the idea of "race" (as distinct from similar ideas about culture, ethnicity, tribe, barbarians, infidels, etc) are of fairly modern origin (since 1492) and the concept is specifically Western in origin; in fact, if you look at the word used for "race" in various languages, you may find that the word either came into use after 1492 or changed its meaning significantly to accord with post-1492 Western conceptions. I have done some research on this specifically with respect to China, which I hope to write up some time. In the meantime, though, some things are quite clear: one is that "race" has various meanings; another is that usage has changed over time (e.g. the modern understanding of evolution has greatly transformed people's understanding(s) of "race"). Of course, if you have specific evidence regarding these or any other points, please feel free to cite them!Peak 00:26, 17 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I've heard such commentators say such things, and they are welcome to their opinions. What I know of human biology is that there are loosely three "major" races — Caucasian, Negroid, and Mongoloid.
Peak: Unfortunately you are missing the point about the concept of race having its own history. (Actually, you may be missing another related point -- the one that Ann has been making elsewhere on this page - if you haven't read her contributions, it might help if you did.) Anyway, yes, it's obvious that white people came into existence quite some time ago, but that has nothing to do with the development of the concept of "race" (or more accurately, various concepts of race). Look at all the definitions of race that exist today. Some are based on genetics (a concept which did not exist until fairly recently); some are based on superficial appearance (and there have been different views about which physical criteria should be used); one common view is that there is but one "human race" -- but it all depends on what you mean. Which is really the whole point of the article on race. Even generally accepted concepts like "species" remain controversial in certain respects. Have you read a recent book on speciation? (One that comes to mind is "Frogs, Flies, and Dandelions: The Making of Species" by Menno Schilthuize (OUP).) By the way, what do *you* mean by race? Would it enable me to determine if there is a Japanese race? What about the Ainu? The Hunza people? Peak 09:54, 17 Dec 2003 (UTC)
That classification is of course well known, though dated, but other commentators have come up with different divisions, each reflecting different points of emphasis and different thresholds for making divisions (just as deciding what is a "phylum" and what is a "subphylum"). But in any case these differences date to about 30,000 to 80,000 BC by most estimates. No theory of human evolution says they date to the 17th century (!). It's true that the Age of Exploration brought people into contact with radically different racial types, so it may be true in the history of language that race in this sense was less talked about before then. But both major races and many "minor" races (finer subdivisions) long predate this discourse. -- VV 03:55, 17 Dec 2003 (UTC)
The problem is that races are defined by taking people whe we have already decided are the same, say people of the Mongoloid race, and then extensive studies were done to find biological differences, however slight or superficial, and then say that those diferences define the races. But all of these start with the premise that there are races, and then they "discover" what differentiates them. -- BCorr € Брайен 04:14, 17 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Hm, I don't think this works. If there were no differences, none would show up in research, and the null hypothesis would win out. But there are certainly distinguishing features of the Mongoloid race; indeed, by and large, almost anyone can distinguish them with very low error rate on sight. -- VV 21:28, 17 Dec 2003 (UTC)
P0M: Tossing off the work of serious researchers attempting to discover whether races can be meaningfully defined as though those researchers were "commentators" who express "their opinions" is not duly respectful of individuals who have done their best to elucidate a contentious subject. The main problem is that the best you can do is fuzzy categories that permit only probabilistic predictions. You can predict that individuals whose genetic heritage is primarily derived from Africa are more likely to get sickle-cell anemia than is somebody whose ancestors all came from an isolated island in the North Sea, but you can't any anything for sure about that individual unless you have determined it empirically.
First of all, re "commentators": If you look at the conversation again, you'll note that Peak used the term "commentators"; I used the same word when I was replying to what he said. Unfortunately, I remain skeptical of even serious researchers, having spent enough time in college to see that many distinguished faculty are largely partisans for their own ideologies. This doesn't apply to all researchers, just enough to make appeals to authority in politically charged issues doubtful. I agree these are fuzzy categories, as is almost everything outside of mathematics. This isn't so much a problem for non-charged issues, where correlations are routinely relied upon. Anyway, my point is only that there are multiple POVs, and the view that race was "invented" over the Thanksgiving weekend (give or take) must merely be considered one of them. -- VV 05:10, 17 Dec 2003 (UTC)
P0M: The Chinese term for race is not present in the 1892 dictionary of Giles, but it is present in the 1931 Mathews dictionary. It appears in the Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Chinese Language, but without a locus classicus and with a very Western sounding definition. (entry 25743.48) The 1936 product of the Chinese Ministry of Education, Guo2 Yu3 Ci2 Dian3 has an entry similar to the encyclopedic dictionary mentioned above, but it is a bit sketchier.
P0M: The Chinese idea, even in the two Chinese dictionaries mentioned, seems to be reflective of the idea of minority populations, outlying ethnic (nation) groups, etc.
P0M: The Thomas Aquinas of China, Zhu Xi (1130-1200) described members of "barbarian states" as "between humans and animals".
P0M: People who have written on these matters in the past have observed that ethnocentric or xenophobic ideas were rare in China before it endured two conquest dynasties, that of the Mongols and that of the Manchurians. (I'm depending on decades-old memories now, so don't quote me.)
I also don't think the near-total deletion of the previous information was necessary. -- VV 22:31, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC)
This is terrible. Brian's paragraph was an okay counterbalance once, but now? Is there any racism at all in the other world other than of those European colonial villains? -- VV 22:33, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Geez -- I didn't think it was that controversial! First, it only refers to its development. Second, I think your deeper question goes to the heart of the idea of what is racism -- discrimination/bigotry or a system that is broader than individual acts and specific situations... -- BCorr € Брайен 22:36, 16 Dec 2003 (UTC)