Seeking Liberty

Liberty is the Fruit from Which All Progress Grows

Racism vs. Prejudice: There is a difference

Newsweek has a new article detailing children and racism titled “See Baby Discriminate.”

The goal of Vittrup’s study was to learn if typical children’s videos with multicultural storylines have any beneficial effect on children’s racial attitudes. Her first step was to give the children a Racial Attitude Measure, which asked such questions as:

How many White people are nice?
(Almost all) (A lot) (Some) (Not many) (None)

How many Black people are nice?
(Almost all) (A lot) (Some) (Not many) (None)

During the test, the descriptive adjective “nice” was replaced with more than 20 other adjectives, like “dishonest,” “pretty,” “curious,” and “snobby.”

The main problem with this article is that it does not separate racism from prejudice or bigotry.

Racism is the belief that one race is superior to another.  That has to be taught, or developed as a cultural ideology (for example, the Spanish Reconquista, pushing the Moors out of Iberia, used race as a rallying cry).  The survey questions listed don’t cover the idea that one race is superior to another.  Rather, they ask about children’s perceptions based upon simplistic criteria.

Prejudice is different.  Prejudice is the pre-judging of a situation or person based upon less than all the facts.  Prejudice is a survival mechanism.  It developed to keep us safe: If you see a lion charging at you, you will automatically assume it is going to eat you.  It may actually be coming up to lick your face, but our assumption is that a charging lion wants to eat us.  This is prejudice, and it kept our distant ancestors on the African Savannah alive.  This is what the survey was really asking about.

And yes, left in a vacuum, children will tend to form prejudices based upon easily identifiable characteristics.  Without guidance to reinforce positive prejudice and discourage negative prejudice, such superficial prejudice will continue.

I am prejudiced:  If I see a man walking down the street with his hat on sideways, his pants halfway to his ankles, an over-sized athletic jersey and walking so “leaned back” he’s very nearly kicking the back of his head, I’m going to assume he’s a rough customer and check to be certain I’m carrying my pistol.  I would do that whether he were black, white, asian or purple with pink polka-dots.

I consider this a valid prejudice.  Why?  Because it is taking into account what the person chooses to show the world, not what he can’t help but show the world.  Wearing those clothes is an expression of, “I am a Thug.  I’m looking for trouble.”  It is not racist to discriminate against this person, but it is prejudice.  Justifiable prejudice.

I would have a very different reaction to someone walking down the street in a dashiki, in blue jeans (properly belted around the waist) and a polo, or a business suit.

Vittrup is probably right that these children are developing negative racial prejudice in the vacuum of their parents’ silence.  Skin color is an easily identifiable characteristic.  Our brains are wired to categorize things, and skin color is an easy category for small children to recognize.  Easier, even, than eye color or height.

For decades, it was assumed that children see race only when society points it out to them. However, child-development researchers have increasingly begun to question that presumption. They argue that children see racial differences as much as they see the difference between pink and blue—but we tell kids that “pink” means for girls and “blue” is for boys. “White” and “black” are mysteries we leave them to figure out on their own.

The assumption discussed above had to be wishful thinking, both on the part of researchers and those who propogated it.  Again, skin color is easily recognized and categorized.

The kids didn’t segregate in their behavior. They played with each other freely at recess. But when asked which color team was better to belong to, or which team might win a race, they chose their own color. They believed they were smarter than the other color. “The Reds never showed hatred for Blues,” Bigler observed. “It was more like, ‘Blues are fine, but not as good as us.’ ” When Reds were asked how many Reds were nice, they’d answer, “All of us.” Asked how many Blues were nice, they’d answer, “Some.” Some of the Blues were mean, and some were dumb—but not the Reds.

Again, this should not be surprising.  The same thing happens with varsity sports in schools and with professional sports.  The rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox is perpetuated largely by the fans, not the teams.  Similarly with the Universities of Georgia and Florida, Texas and Oklahoma, and Michigan and Ohio State:  All are fine schools providing excellent educations with strong athletics programs, however we see as fans deride each other, even get into fist fights or brawls over their respective school colors.

Focusing on race is counter-productive.  Whenever we begin talking about, “This race gets special privileges,” or “That race is keeping us down,” it merely perpetuates the stigma of race.

We cannot create a color-blind society.  It is unfortunate, but true.  Our prejudices follow us; they affect our thinking and our actions.  Properly reinforced, those prejudices can become bigotry and racism.  So the “color-blind, raceless” society is an impossible dream.

The early sections of the Newsweek article are distubring, for they characterize prejudice and racism as one-and-the-same, when even by the author’s own writing they clearly are not.  Later in the article, however, the author gets it right:  Frank discussion of the topic when appropriate and relevant is more likely to reduce prejudice, while forced discussion when it is not relevant is more likely to reinforce racial stereotypes and prejudices.

Then the author degenerates to this:

Preparation for bias is not, however, the only way minorities talk to their children about race. The other broad category of conversation, in Harris-Britt’s analysis, is ethnic pride. From a very young age, minority children are coached to be proud of their ethnic history. She found that this was exceedingly good for children’s self-confidence; in one study, black children who’d heard messages of ethnic pride were more engaged in school and more likely to attribute their success to their effort and ability.

That leads to the question that everyone wonders but rarely dares to ask. If “black pride” is good for African-American children, where does that leave white children? It’s horrifying to imagine kids being “proud to be white.” Yet many scholars argue that’s exactly what children’s brains are already computing. Just as minority children are aware that they belong to an ethnic group with less status and wealth, most white children naturally decipher that they belong to the race that has more power, wealth, and control in society; this provides security, if not confidence. So a pride message would not just be abhorrent—it’d be redundant.

And precisely why is “black pride” a positive thing, but “white pride” redundant and abhorrent?  Rather than suggest that “black pride” is a positive and “white pride” is a negative, why not accept the fact that pride in something one cannot help or change is redundant and abhorent?  Rather than  perpetuate the idea that minorities are oppressed and need special treatment, let us embrace the idea that people are created equal, but their actions and behaviors lead them to greater or lesser lives.  Proposing the “black pride” is good an “white pride” is bad only perpetuates the idea of white superiority and reinforces the prejudice and resentment that can become racism.

No, “white pride” is not productive.  Neither is “black pride.”  Both perpetuate a negative categorization and reinforce prejudice.

When we “celebrate diversity” by talking about it in adult terms–that is, by discussion minorities and ignoring white diversity–it perpetuates the idea among white children that whites are somehow different, somehow superior.  Children aren’t as empty a slate as we often credit them for being.  They perceive and infer far better than we like to think.  When we celebrate diversity but only talk about minorities, both white and minority children see this, and form new prejudices based upon it

Until and unless we celebrate all diversity, we will continue to perpetuate prejudice in America.  Until celebrations of Swedish, Polish and Italian culture is put on an equal plateau with celebrating the cultures of Mexicans, Nigerians and Indians, that seemingly imperceptible omission will be noticed, recorded and internalized.  It will reinforce new prejudices and, uncorrected, can become resentment and even hate.


Filed under: Prejudice, , , , ,

56 Responses

  1. […] Racism vs. Prejudice: There is a difference « Seeking Liberty […]

  2. And precisely why is “black pride” a positive thing, but “white pride” redundant and abhorrent? Rather than suggest that “black pride” is a positive and “white pride” is a negative, why not accept the fact that pride in something one cannot help or change is redundant and abhorent?

    White pride is abhorent because KKK and aryan nations co opted the idea of white as representing a whole culture rather than being a racial or phenotypic identifier. Whites come from many cultures, just as blacks do. However, in the USA when we say black it is more often synonymous with black american or african american or native born american of african ancestory.

    The confusion comes when people don’t realize that black americans have their own distinct culture within america. So when we say black pride or african american pride we are not expressing superiority over anyone but genuinely celebrating a unique culture. We cannot say the same for White Pride! which is the rallying cry for racist white supremicists.

    • fmaidment says:

      The confusion comes when people don’t realize that black americans have their own distinct culture within america. So when we say black pride or african american pride we are not expressing superiority over anyone but genuinely celebrating a unique culture. We cannot say the same for White Pride! which is the rallying cry for racist white supremicists.

      You’ve contradicted yourself. If as you say “black” is a generalized term, as “white” is a generalized term in your example, then “black pride” cannot be taking pride in a unique culture. Instead, it is in fact a statement of superiority based upon race. To say that “black pride” is positive and “white pride” is negative is non sequitur. If one is abhorent, the other must be equally despicable. Just as you say “white pride” was co-opted by the KKK and Aryan Nation, I could just as easily say that “black pride” was co-opted by the Black Panthers and Symbionese Liberation Army.

      • Poetess says:

        Wrong! Black has become a synonym for African American or native born black who was bought over in chains and created a unique culture in America. So in its historical context black pride absolutely is not the same as white pride.

      • fmaidment says:

        It’s been a long time since I’ve read something so entirely racially bigotted.

        Black pride comes from a unique culture based in its historical context of African slavery in the Americas. This makes “Black Pride” okay.

        So by this reasoning, white Americans who threw off the shackles of their European Overlords and came to America to create a new life for themselves should be able to celebrate their similarly obtained “White Pride”.

        I didn’t say it. You did. I just took it to the next logical step.

      • Contrarion71 says:

        I would also suggest the “Poetess” become more familiar with how the majority of white Europeans arrived on the North American content in the 17th century, that is as indentured servants or redemptioners.

        For a quick background review Wikipedia’s presentation or more some more in-depth stories of the time try reading: “Bound Over, Indentured Servitude & American Conscience” by John Van Der Zee

      • Rise says:

        I see your perspective, but respectfully disagree. The KKK’s sole mission is to promote white supremacy. The Black panther party was created to defend against the brutality of white supremacy. For over 245 years blacks endured slavery in North America. Let’s not forget, that were it not for the civil war, blacks would probably still be in slavery. It was black pride that caused so may blacks to rise up and fight for the very lives. The Black Panthers were born during the civil rights movement. Why, because the vicious, barbaric crimes against blacks were still the norm 100 years after the abolishment. Half of the city counsel and police force were KKK members. 238 years after this country were established we finally have a black President. If the schools teach the truth, the laws protect everyone and equality abounds, then black pride will not be necessary.

      • Jesi says:

        I thank you, for your well worded and descript response.

      • DamoclesSword says:

        “I see your perspective, but respectfully disagree. The KKK’s sole mission is to promote white supremacy. The Black panther party was created to defend against the brutality of white supremacy.”

        With all due respect, the KKK in its present form was born from an effort to “self-police” in the South during post-Civil War chaos before and in the early days of Reconstruction. As the chaos abated and order was restored, the need for self-protection abated and the group was taken over by white supremacists. In effect, the Black Panther party is on the same path…post-Civil Rights Movement, as the issues are worked out, granted more slowly than post-Civil War South, the need abates, and ultimately the Black Panthers have the potential to become the black counterpart of the KKK.

        The atrocities committed in the name of racial superiority are multiple and go back centuries. The only way to defeat racism, or cultural hatred of any kind, is to allow progress to be recognized and the hurt and anger from old injustices to pass away.

    • S says:

      What if they call it European Pride?

      There is indeed Asian Pride.

      I haven’t heard of Middle Eastern Pride but there is definitely Muslim Pride except they call it another name.

      There has not been an Native American Pride.

      • DamoclesSword says:

        What if we accept each other’s differences and call it “American Pride” again? And, if we know and are proud of our racial and cultural heritage, name it simply “Ancestral Pride” or something similar and allow it to cover us all as one unit.

      • Benito_Brigante says:

        There is native American pride there’s just not enough of us left for anyone to see it. Were very proud people and the most oppressed of all left in America

    • Da Organizashen Click says:

      Because of the vicious historical acts and organizations associated with white pride, that’s why.

    • Da organizashen Click says:

      In order to start winning black pride needs to become what white pride already is and stop apologizing and explaining to racist pricks.

    • Dadd99 says:

      All should be able to be proud of their heritage,without being called racist.

  3. Ericafd says:

    So by this reasoning, white Americans who threw off the shackles of their European Overlords and came to America to create a new life for themselves should be able to celebrate their similarly obtained “White Pride”.

    A few differences: 1) The “Overlords” and the white Americans were of the SAME race. 2) The white Americans CHOSE to come to American as opposed to the African slaves who were tricked by these same white Americans into coming aboard the ships that brought them to American and made them slaves for hundreds of years. 3) These same white Americans made laws to legalize their superiority over not only the original African slaves, but all of their descendants. Even though the the original white slave masters are long deceased, as are original slaves, their works continue to wreak havoc. Even though the laws have changed, racial superiority among white America continues to flourish. Why? Because it’s easy to change words on a page. Behavior doesn’t permanently change until a person’s thoughts and feelings change. That’s why members of the KKK can be seemingly nice by day and lynch/burn/kill people under the cover of white sheets and darkness.

    • fmaidment says:

      And none of that makes one better than the other. Either racial pride is okay or it isn’t. Historical context is irrelevant. I’m part Irish. My ancestors were discriminated against, laws passed to disenfranchise their voting rights, and fair-skinned redheads continue to face scorn and ridicule to this day.

      “Black Americans” aren’t still hurting. Some of them are, some arent. The reason there’s a disproportionate number of Black Americans still living in poverty has little to do with race and mroe to do with culture: Urban thug culture is predominantly black (though there are plenty of whites, hispanics and asians who follow it). It’s a culture of failure: Don’t study or work hard. Dress in a manner that turns off people who can offer you a job. Visible tattoos. Gangs. Violence. Disrespect. Unintelligible speech. If you follow that culture, it doesn’t matter what race you are you’re not going to advance in society except as a criminal. And like it or not, a disproportionately large number of African Americans are part of urban thug cutlure.

      The point of this article is that there’s a big difference between bigotry and racism, though discrimination can be driven by either one. And there’s no limit on who can discriminate or against whom discrimination can be levied. And while pride in one’s heritage can be healthy, “white pride” and “black pride” are just two sides of the same very destructive coin.

      • Junior says:

        Something in my gut tells me theres going to be someone responding to this comment very negatively, very soon. However, its quite true, and it sucks that its true. I was part of that culture for many years, and partly due to my hip hop affililiations, i still keep tabs on this destructive culture. The racial issues will only change for the good when both sides man up and quit with their respective atrocities.

      • APL says:

        I’m disregarding most of what you’ve posted in this post, but am responding as its most recent.

        Simply, you can have pride without being racist. Is that a hard concept to follow?

        White pride in AMERICA, please remember we are talking about America, but White pride in America is synonymous with racism and so it will be viewed through that lens. If you prefer, use your nationality (e.g., Irish Pride etc..)

        Black Americans have formulated their own culture within America and trust me what YOU experienced as racism is nowhere near what African Americans and other African-“insert nationality” have experienced and to try and equate the two is utterly ridiculous.

        Blacks living in poverty has a lot to do with being Black, and yes the hip-hop culture the way it is has a lot to do with some of the stifling

      • JPR says:

        “And none of that makes one better than the other. Either racial pride is okay or it isn’t. Historical context is irrelevant. I’m part Irish. My ancestors were discriminated against, laws passed to disenfranchise their voting rights, and fair-skinned redheads continue to face scorn and ridicule to this day”

        Historical context is never irrelevant. All things that have happened in the past have a tangible effect on the present and the future. Historical context is what differentiates “Black Pride”, from “White Pride”. Historical context is why “Black Pride” is synonymous with African-American. “White Pride” is not synonymous with any one race, rather the term “White” has developed throughout American History as a way to differentiate between who is the majority and who is the minority. These two terms “Black Pride” and “White Pride” are two completely different things, to say one is better than the other is a mistake. It isn’t about which type of pride is better, it’s the fact that “White Pride” does not celebrate the racial pride of “whites” (which is not synonymous with one race) and the struggles they went through in the past; this concept has instead historically degraded that of everyone who is not considered “white” through systemic racial discrimination. That is why historical context is paramount in any discussion on race or discrimination.

        For example, as you so pointed out, the Irish people who you are a part of, as well as the Jewish people and Italians, for a long time were not considered “White”. In fact, the Irish were once considered the “Blacks” of Europe, a horrible concept in many ways. They experienced racial discrimination similar to other minority groups up until the Reconstruction Era after World War II. During this era the GI Bill of 1944 was passed and created many benefits for returning veterans from. World War II and the future Vietnam War. This fundamentally acted as welfare for veterans. It allowed for many lower class people to elevate themselves up to middle class by providing them loans to buy housing or start businesses. It also provided veterans the opportunity to get an education, either through college or vocational school. To recap, this bill essentially was affirmative action for those of the lower class coming back from the war. It targeted education, housing and businesses and gave many the help they needed to have the opportunity to create a better life after the war.

        Now here comes the fun part. Due to the racial climate during this era, many of the bills benefits were denied to those considered minorities including African-American veterans. The bill was not written to explicitly exclude minorities, but the institutions that would provide the loans for housing or opportunities for education had the power to deny minorities these benefits. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs had a strong relationship with the all-white American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars which allowed it to become a blockade of sorts to stopping minorities from receiving their deserved benefits of the GI Bill. During this same time period where “White” veterans were unfairly gaining much more from the same bill, there was a huge housing boom. A huge shift from living in city or metropolis-like areas to living in suburbs (which back then were typically only enjoyed by the wealthier) took place. This housing boom was partially triggered by the invention (or at least first implementation) of the tract home by William Levitt. The town now called Levittown in New York and was the birthplace of modern suburbia and provided the affordable housing needed to create this housing shift. African-American veterans and other minority groups were not a part of this movement, but and this is crucial to understand, Jewish veterans and Irish Veterans were. Right then, the Jewish people and Irish people were now accepted as “White” and were allowed to receive the benefits of the GI Bill and move out of the city into suburbia.

        At that point in time, the conglomerate of races considered “White” increased, while the cities where minorities were basically left behind were crippled economically. Millions of American families had the opportunity to increase their lot and leave the city for a life in the suburbs which many logically took advantage of. This migration of people not only created the modern concept of suburbia we know of today, but has also indirectly triggered the fall of the metropolis. This crippling blow to city life would greatly increase the poverty level of many minorities left in the city. Businesses would fail and whatever minimal housing families had would be lost due to simply a huge movement of people leaving. As poverty increased, and the standard of living forcefully decreased, criminal activity naturally rose. Veterans of war, citizens of America the same as any person considered “White”, would come back home and find themselves typically worse off than they were before enduring the gruesome trials of modern war, while their “White” comrades enjoyed the same benefits they were unjustly denied.

        To me, this may be one of the most crucial points in American History: the culture of failure that was mentioned earlier, the thug sub-cultures (improper speech, baggy clothes, piercings etc…), the mentality that education is worthless, the increase in the use of illicit drugs and then the war on drugs, the increase in poverty in minority groups, a decrease in minorities in higher education, a disproportionate amount of minorities on welfare, or in prison, or with a lower income, and worst of all the ingrained incredulous notion that, because you are not “White” you are lesser, all of this stems from the exclusionary concept of “White” and the racial discrimination it has caused throughout the years. This is a huge part of the society we live in today. The modern suburbia, the commute to the city, the heavy reliance on cars, and the separation of classes along with almost every facet of life has been affected by this simple yet complex shift from city to suburb. Not taking historical context into consideration is akin to being blind. Don’t misinterpret me, I am not taking the responsibility off minority groups to try and better their lives, but the system in which we live does not give everyone an equal chance. “Black Americans” are in fact still hurting along with many other minority groups and believing that race has nothing to do with this, believing that it is a cultural thing and that racial discrimination has no part in creating that culture anymore, and thinking that racism doesn’t exist in America anymore is a dangerously attractive, but blatant illusion. The debts of the past do not get erased as time goes on, but carry across not only different structures of our society (healthcare, government, education, housing etc…), but through generations and generations.

        We all have our individual prejudices, some of us most likely base them off race, but the elevation of “White Pride” and “White” culture, and the subsequent degradation, dissolution, and destruction of other excluded groups is racism. It is systemic, it is cross-institutional, and it benefits a particular group and degrades another. Race is important and inherently is not a wrong thing to have pride in. I don’t believe “White Pride” to be in this same category, because its base function is exclusionary. Have Irish Pride, Mexican Pride, Italian Pride, and English Pride. Have whatever pride you want to have about your race or races if you are from multiple origins. Have pride of where you are from and your culture and traditions. Have pride in it of itself, without comparison, without degrading others race, and without thinking yours as better. Race isn’t something you choose, it’s something you are born into, and it neither should make you any better or any worse than anybody else. The deceiving thing about the whole “White” concept is that it attempts to wash away the original racial pride you had, in exchange for pride in being considered the “Superior” group of “White”. In the end, if you live in America, be proud to be an American, but don’t confuse or equate this to being “White”. Irish-American, African-American, Mexican-American etc… the common denominator is that we are all Americans and should enjoy the same rights and opportunities as each other because we are part of a great country. It’s that balance and comingling of American with whatever other race you are that is such a beautiful thing. It’s saying that we are proud of who we were, where we came from, what we have endured and accomplished, but we are just as equally proud of who we are, where we live now, and all the great things we will accomplish in this world.

        -Jacob Patrick Ruiz

        P.S. I am not trying to say you think the things I wrote about, so I apologize if I come off as prejudiced to you. I simply was reading the article and then the comments and decided this was a good place to put up this little rant of mine. I do not mean anything personally and I do not pretend to know you or your brain. I do appreciate your intellectual discussions thus far though. Also, please ignore any grammar errors I may have made, I am at work and shouldn’t be writing this, much less editing it.

      • JPR says:

        Well this is embarrassing, please disregard my mention of the Reconstruction Era…definitely not the right time period. I don’t know why I wrote that. My apologies. If you read it as “up until World War II” and just erase my stupid mistake in your head that should do the trick.

      • j. canada says:

        The point of this article is that there’s a big difference between bigotry and racism, though discrimination can be driven by either one. And there’s no limit on who can discriminate or against whom discrimination can be levied. And while pride in one’s heritage can be healthy, “white pride” and “black pride” are just two sides of the same very destructive coin.

        This is the most sensible response that i have read on this thread yet. I’m a black man and I have met a lot of prejudice people in my life including myself, that just like to pre-judge things to avoid drama and negativity in one’s life. I’ve really never encountered a racist and heard their point of view before cause i’m prejudice, I think you got racial drama, “beep beep” prejudice alarm avoid avoid. Now what wrong with that? Race, organized groups, religion, government, social classing all of these things keep us divided. United we stand divided we fall, guess what we’re free falling.

      • DamoclesSword says:

        “This is the most sensible response that i have read on this thread yet. I’m a black man and I have met a lot of prejudice people in my life including myself, that just like to pre-judge things to avoid drama and negativity in one’s life. I’ve really never encountered a racist and heard their point of view before cause i’m prejudice, I think you got racial drama, “beep beep” prejudice alarm avoid avoid. Now what wrong with that? Race, organized groups, religion, government, social classing all of these things keep us divided. United we stand divided we fall, guess what we’re free falling.”

        So very well-put. Thank you

      • damn son says:

        “Black Americans aren’t still hurting” pretty ridiculous statement from a self described Irish person, don’t you think? To presume you know what a minority believes is the pinnacle of white supremacist thought patterns, and your comparison to the “scorn” of fair skinned, red haired Irish to the oppression of African Americans is so deluded and ridiculous I can’t even imagine what being so ignorant must be like.

    • Pat says:

      You need to understand your history better. Black people were sold as slaves by fellow Africans. The highest bidders just happened to be white In Africa the “slaves” were either herdsmen or farmers, not warriors. White people came to this country because Europe was emptying their jails. People were given the option to stay and die in jail or come to “New World to live or die trying” That is your idea of a choice? People in Africa, to this day, are treated horribly by their own. They are beaten, locked in rooms, paid maybe $10 a day, but then charged room and board. Life for Black people in Africa is incredibly hard and downright nasty. This is why many black Africans come to the US. They have more opportunity here, though were not aware of the poverty and high cost of living. Many work 2 and 3 jobs to get by and many send money back home for their families. Americans in general can be very nasty and demoralizing to most who are not American. .
      “The people of Africa have an appreciation of life where Americans have an expectation of life”, “Only in America can you get some much for nothing and demand more”

  4. Ash says:

    I disagree that minorities are taught from an early age to have pride in themselves. I am speaking as a minority and I can tell you that I wasn’t. I always got from the media that being white is better, and my little sister even said when she was younger that she wished she could be white. When you are young, many times you realize the stigmas attached to your own race and sometimes these stigmas become internalized and you begin to feel inferior. That is how the “black pride” movement came about. I am not sure if it evolved into a black supremacy movement, but it begin as a movement for equality. However, I do essentially agree with you that everybody should be taught to have pride in themselves, but I think you are assuming that everything is equal and it isn’t.
    Also, while I do agree that the black people themselves are responsible for some of the problems among the black community, I do agree that some of it has to do with racism and oppression in the past. It has hardly been 50 years since segregation was made illegal. Even my parents were alive after this (in the 70’s) and experienced a lot of racism and lived in poverty. I’m not using the past as an excuse, but I am saying that the past does play some part in it. I hate it when people blame it on black people alone, and I also hate it when I hear some black people blame everything on the white man. I believe both factors are responsible.

    • Aprilis says:

      I think I agree most with your post. I am white and I went to Ghana. While there I was invited to a church and that day they were having a forgiveness celebration. The minister (a black African) stated that although the white people took the black people into slavery, it was partly the black peoples’ fault for participating in the capture and sale of their own. So then after that he stated that all needed to apologize for their ancestors’ parts. I was moved to do this and took the Ezra/Nehemiah route by taking responsibility for my ancestor’s very bad choices and asking my African friends for forgiveness. I also, repeated this when I returned to America. I am so sorry for what mine did to yours. We must accept responsibility for all our ancestors’ choices and move forward. I end this my reminding all that there is not a people group any where on this earth that at one time or another has not been subjugated or undermined by another. Living in the past prejudices and hatreds will never get us anywhere.

      • Pat says:

        I grew up in Africa (Kenya, Liberia and Alergia), there learned that Africans sold as slaves were sold by other Africans on West Coast to highest bidder who just happened to be white.. Another misconception is that many Black people in the US are aggressive because it is part of their heritage as warriors in Africa, but most of the people sold were not warriors but herds men and farmers

    • Gin WIN says:

      Thank you for post!…It exposes the weakness of this article. I agree with much of this article but as usual the writer fails to include key factors of the racial social dynamics that are particularly unique to this country. As a result, this effectively greatly weakens his premise.You are very clear and objective in your thinking. I would encourage you and all interested in racial disparities in the usa to read the book titled “The New Jim Crow” by michelle Alexander.. it will expose you to new data and analyses on this topic.

    • Pat says:

      media keeps the hate and racism alive.

  5. Jim4157 says:

    When I hear that a black (African American) voted for Barack Obama “because he’s black”, is that person racist or prejudiced?

    • Rex Ganymede says:


      that person is biased.


    • Since 1968, black Americans have voted decidedly Democratic:

      Lyndon B. Johnson (1968): 94 percent
      George McGovern (1972): 87 percent
      Jimmy Carter (1976, 1980): 83 percent twice
      Walter Mondale (1984): 91 percent
      Mike Dukakis (1989): 89 percent
      Bill Clinton (1992, 1996): 83 percent, 84 percent
      Al Gore (2000): 91 percent
      John Kerry (2004): 89 percent

      Source: Roper Center

      Basically, any Democratic is going to carry the black vote. The ironic thing is Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, arguably the most regarded former presidential candidates on this list, received the lowest percentage of black voters.

      The question you need to ask is why black Americans voted for President Obama, rather than make unfounded assumptions and doing no research beyond numbers in an attempt to attack a group. It is very apparent you did not care to know black voting patterns prior to President Obama’s election, else the statement would not have been made.

  6. T.B says:

    It’s prejudiced, not racist that people voted for Barack Obama based on skin color. Racism is when another group of people expresses superiority over another based on skin color. It is also the act of denying a person their basic human rights because of skin color. It is also when that racial group does everything in their power to prevent the other group from progressing or succeeding. Racial inequality, segregation, and slavery are huge examples of blatant racism. Also going out of one’s way to cause harm to a person, whether it be physical, psychological, sociological, or financial because of skin color is racist. There is also covert institutional racism, which is a bit more difficult to spot. Prejudice/bigotry has the potential to turn into racism, because it starts of with the small things that we use to form skewed preconceived notions about another group of people. Yes, people say racially prejudiced things about one another, but it does not make the person racist. It takes way more than name calling, or someone just not liking you, to label yourself a victim of racism. Racism is a far more deep and complex societal issue than that. Prejudice may affect you as an individual, but racism affects a people as a whole. When you feel as though you have been denied something that everyone is entitled to, or treated inhumanely because of the color of your skin, then you can say you have been victimized. People are too quick nowadays to label people as racist for things that they say. Of course it is more likely that if you constantly say racist things that you are racist; but as they say actions speak louder than words.

    • Your Conscience says:

      Are you insinuating that prejudice isn’t a problem? It’s not racism? Well if an entire population is prejudged against by another entire population…. an entire population “not liked” by another population… do you see where this will lead?

      • Deeman says:

        I see prejudice as helpful or hurtful, depending on how it is used. Having said that, I think racism does involve prejudice in its negative form as a major component.

        But then again, I’m talking as a scientist, and a crummy one at that. So party on…

      • No, the person is saying there is stereotypes, prejudice, bigotry and racism. Unfortunately, the average person is uninformed on the differences and thinks all of these terms are interchangeable. That’s why you invariably run across someone who thinks calling someone the “n”-word is on the same level as Japanese internment camps and laws such as Plessy vs. Ferguson.

  7. Keshto Arya says:

    I guess I’m gonna need to look up a couple more things but this was a pretty good spring board.

  8. peppermint says:

    anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.

    The sooner Whites stop arguing about whether or not they’re racist, which is something that is neither demanded of nor done by any other race, the sooner Whites can ensure that we have a future.

  9. Your Conscience says:

    Having cultural diversity in America that includes white history defeats the purpose unless the history of whites only includes that not in America. Everyone is already aware of what the whites in this country have done. It’s apparent and it’s overtired. I wouldn’t might hearing about Italian diversity but why should I celebrate people who shacked and chained my ancestors? If we’re trying to get past “white is better than everyome” can we truly celebrate white culture in America?

    • Deeman says:

      Yes, we can celebrate white culture. It’s reverse racism not to be able to do it. Celebrate all that is good, so sayeth My Conscience.

  10. Robertinsa says:

    EVERYONE harbors prejudiced thoughts & racist behaviors; it is just a matter of degree. That is why I roll my eyes at all the politicians that shout from the rooftops, I am NOT a racist!!! Take a good, long look in the mirror before you start your rant on this one simple truth. This is the essence of human nature!
    I have noticed that people like Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton are 2 of the biggest racists alive- neither of them can say one paragraph, without uttering the words “black or white.” To continually focus on this one issue does a disservice to the causes that they supposedly are focused on; that is, equality for persons of color. Companies that they target their venomous wrath-on pay them whatever they want (extortion), just so they will move on to another target. These tactics sully the riteous cause of equality, when in reality, their actions just foster more resentment & fan the flames of covert prejudices, racism & discrimination.

  11. Cole Steele says:

    One should not be made felt wrong for feeling Pride. Pride is feeling strongly important of one’s own accomplishments and/or stature. If YOU have a problem with someone’s Pride, then that rests on you. Only you have control of your feelings. I am gay, and I have Pride in who I am. Not because of past history where gays (and currently are) were arrested, beat, and made felt less than others but because I, personally, could care less what others think. If you have Black Pride, kudos for you. If you have Latin Pride, same to you. There is nothing wrong with having Pride. If you want to dwell on history then you will never move forward. Let people have their pride and you concentrate on you and being equal. I will say this, though… prejudice will ALWAYS be there, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you will follow it.

  12. Rex Ganymede says:

    one short thing i wish to mention: i believe that the actual sentiment which is being observed/enforced is, “feel good about the ethnicity that you are, and don’t feel like you’re worthless, in spite of what others say”

    i do hope that, in the intervening years since you’ve wrote this piece, you were since able to learn the difference between “black pride” (which not every black person observes, nor necessarily places a whole lot of importance in) and “white pride” — some of the comments had adequately went over this; and JPR’s post was really, really sexy, and a good supplement to the rest of your post

    i think i understand where you were coming from when you stated Black Pride is coming from.. ..only, i am not completely sure if you properly apprehended what it actually is?

    incidentally, i don’t really feel a need to express a “pride” in my ethnicity.. a matter of fact — i think i reckon that, with the way things are now, participating in the expression of pride for simply being of a particular skin colour should be stayed away from.

  13. Juan says:

    The article is well-written. It reinforces another conclusion I have drawn based on experience: It is not so much race that divides us but culture.

    The example of the “thug” walking down the street is a good example. If I see someone (of any race) who represents a gang culture or a ghetto culture or a counter-culture, I’m going to be understandably apprehensive, regardless of the color the person’s skin.

    If I work together with someone who dresses similar to me, shares my values, speaks my language, shares my interests and ethics, and fits easily into the world where I live, work and play, I will be very comfortable with that person, regardless of the color of the person’s skin.

    It’s not the race or skin color that makes me apprehensive but the behavioral and cultural things that are outside my comfort zone.

    It is natural for human beings to be leery of things that are different from the way we are accustomed to doing them. We are innately programmed to think that the way we dress, act, interact, speak, and live is the “right way” to do things, while anyone who does things differently is suspect.

    The more we are exposed to diverse cultures and different ways of doing things, the more accommodating and understanding we can become. Many times we will still retain a preference for a certain way of doing things and think it’s better. In many cases it actually IS better. In many other cases we can learn from others’ better way of doing things. This is how we develop the breadth of experience and exposure that helps us become well-rounded human beings.

    But the natural aversion to things that are different will always be something we have to strive to overcome. Learning to appreciate a different skin color is a relatively small thing. Learning to appreciate a different culture is much more challenging.

    • A says:

      You act like the minorities in this country Just got here and all of a sudden white people have to learn a new language. The way someone wears their clothing should not dictate how you approach a person. That’s just foolish. Anyone can wear anything. I’ve seen doctors sag their pants and cock their hat.

  14. Deeman says:

    As a biology major, I thought racism was thinking that races are different; superior in some respects maybe, deficient in others generally. While all races are different, the difference is something very interesting and very valuable. The world is better for it. So Asians being mathematically inclined, Blacks jumping higher because of more synapses in their legs, American Indians being good overall athletes, Whites having more skin problems, etc. doesn’t faze me. I can deal with racial differences. I like racial differences. But I believed there was no general superiority overall making any race the best and still do, because who can judge everything, and then do it correctly? For all I know everything is relative, Einstein. Being one race or another was/is not a bad thing in my book.

    But bigotry I took to mean that one supposed that his/her own race was superior overall, or at least the most important in the realm of things. I now know that racism is a bad, pejorative word that connotates nothing good, so I’m changing the way I see the word “racism.” However, I still think races are different in more than just skin color, and might even have hereditary influences in behavior, but I don’t think we can use the word racist to describe that person. Instead, we use the word racist to describe those who mentally limit a person of any color from the chance of achieving their full potential. That is not a good thing.

  15. Rahel says:

    Excellent article.

  16. ri ri says:

    I personally don’t believe in any differences. I love All people, even if they feel some type of way about me and my brown skin. At the end of the day, I will help anyone. Why would I not?! What’s makes us different? Where we live, money, what we drive? A woman gave birth to me, I bleed, I cry, and I can die. I assume that you all reading this can say the same. How are we different? Cancer doesn’t choose to spare lives due to the fact that I am black, nor will it skip anyone of any other shade. Cancer sees no difference. Why do you? Just how I feel… Carry on loves☺

  17. […] Are we ‘born racist?’ Expert suggests prejudice is hardwired into us all Racism vs. Prejudice: There is a difference […]

  18. Dadd99 says:

    1. 1st slave owner was black
    2.Largest slave owners in Louisiana was black
    3.1,000 black slave owners surrounded New Orleans to defend it.
    4.The emancipation proclamation freed southern slaves not northern.(Ulysses’s Grant ) held slaves in Missouri. Well after the war
    4. Most only believe what they here in schools or media. Rarely do they research for themselves.

    1st acting president of America was a moor named John Hanson. Back man. Research yourself.

  19. Blue Collar Blues says:

    WOW ! Most of the comments make good points and some really know their history. Working TOGETHER does seem to be the best option. It doesn’t matter what you do, there will always be someone who points their finger and says “you are part of the problem.” I try to treat all people how I would want to be treated. Just that would be a good start for many people.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: