ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Racial vs. Racist

Updated on February 24, 2010

"Racial" is not (necessarily) "racist"

The word "racial" is used to describe things pertaining to the social category of "race". As such, surveys that track race-group representation in employment and higher education, or research that examines the effect of perpetrator's or victim's race on sentencing are clearly "racial" in nature.

Whether such surveys are also "racist" depends on how the information is used. If the information is used to oppress or otherwise deride a racial group or elevate a more powerful racial group, it is racist. In contrast, if the goal is to track racial data in order to ensure racial equity, then the racial data are not only not racist, they are, in my way of thinking, anti-racist.

I apply the same distinction to humor. Jokes that seek to put a racial outgroup down are, in my way of thinking, racist. Those that make fun of racial dynamics, racial stereotypes, or even racial inequality are not.

Not everyone agrees with this distinction. Racial neoconservatives (those that present a color-blind ideology) tend to categorize any acknowledgment of race as "racism."

From my perspective, this is a disingenuous and calculated response that is actually "racist" in nature, because its purpose is to obscure the racial inequity present in our society by making such record keeping taboo and silencing the activists that would bring such data to public attention.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • lyubansk profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Urbana, Illinois

      Daniel, if I had time, I'd write a longer blog about this, but the short answer is that I don't think Rather meant any harm but that yes, given the history, any link between African Americans and watermelons is likely to bring froth racist images and arouse a lot of strong feelings. I'm not trying to say anything about Rather's character (that's a much longer discussion), just that it was a very poor choice of words because it completely derailed almost everyone's thinking away from the main point.

    • profile image

      Daniel Harrison 

      8 years ago

      So how do you feel about Dan Rather's recent statement about Obama not being able to sell watermelons at a roadside stand even if he had the help of state troopers?

      Rather's critics are suggesting that to use the word "watermelon" in a sentence describing a Black man is inherently racist because of the old prejudice that African Americans like watermelon. But Rather didn't suggest that Obama had some preordained relationship to watermelons, unless I'm missing some overtone.

      Whadya think?

    • someonewhoknows profile image


      8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      So,do advertiser's.

      Have you read the back or even the front of the labels on foods these days. What does the word "natural" mean when you say "all natural" ?

      According to F.D.A.rules the word natural can mean anything,or nothing depending on what the advertiser intended.For example : the words "All natural antibiotics " or "No un-natural antibiotics" meaning they could be using hormones that are all natural,say from a cows immune system, but in order for the cow to produce that all natural hormone ,they may be given an un-natural synthetic hormone booster ,in order for the cow to be able to produce that all natural hormone that makes them produce more milk.

      Then there are juices that say all natural flavors .They tell you what natural flavor or flavors it has plus one that says and other natural flavors,yet it doesn't say what those other natural flavor or flavors are.

    • someonewhoknows profile image


      8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      lawyer's do it all the time.

    • someonewhoknows profile image


      8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      It,depends on the context in which it is used.A lot of words original meanings have been used out of context that word alone was ment to covey.when used in conjunction with other words.that change it's meaning.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I agree with your observations.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)