What Is The Difference Between Prejudice and Racism
This came up at work recently. Interestingly enough the circle of people in this brief discussion contained a "white" guy (me), a Persian/Russian lady, an asian fellow and a black guy.
Paranoid guy I that am, I immediately wonder if listing the black guy last could be construed as racist.
And there in lies the unnecessary fears bled into our subconscious by an overly politically correct society laden with double standards and a very grey definition of what is racist and what is prejudice.
What Are You?
I am a Racist
What is Racism
So, here is the technical definition of racism...
rac - ism
1.a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2.a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3.hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
Who Are You?
I am prejudice
What is Prejudice
Now, let's take a look at prejudice...
noun, verb, -diced, -dic·ing.[prej-uh-dis] –noun
1.an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand orwithout knowledge, thought, or reason.
2.any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable orunfavorable.
3.unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of ahostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or nationalgroup.
My Take On This (Buckle Up!)
Both of these are conditions. I refer to them as a condition in the way you would consider a developing disease like emphysema or liver cancer. Looking at racism and prejudice as a condition is helpful because it implies that it can be avoided and also alleviated.
They are also learned traits. My opinion and it seemed to be the general agreement of the melting pot that is my office is that racism is learned early and taught as a doctrine whereas prejudice tends to be based on an experience.
The KKK or Nazis have specific beliefs about Jews and African Americans on a level that is taught to children from an early age. There's Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny and "oh yeah, don't forget little Adolf, the Jews control the media and that dark skinned man driving your school bus... let me know if that P.O.S. ever looks at your mother."
That's racism. It's ugly and makes no sense.
Prejudice on the other hand is learned from experience.
A waiter will make certain judgments about what is a good table to wait on based on tipping habits. Is it coincidence that certain groups of people don't tip well? Is it cultural? Frankly it's beside the point. The waiter will develop an opinion based on experience. The problem will eventually emerge as that opinion then eventually carries over into other aspects of their life where they pre-judge this group in other areas based on an experience.
Will a sales person make a decision about what specific customers to approach based on past experiences? Certainly, there are certain cultural and stereotypical belief systems that develop over time and mainly experience. Mind you it doesn't make it right or appropriate, it just is. It is also, learned from experience.
So, by my definition, racism is taught and prejudice is based on experience.
Will the two ever coincide? Yes.
- Racism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Prejudice - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Chicago Race Riot of 1919 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 was a major racial conflict that began in Chicago, Illinois on July 27, 1919 and ended on August 3. During the riot, dozens died and hundreds were injured.
- Reginald Denny incident - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Reginald Oliver Denny, then 33 years old, was a construction truck driver. On the first day of the rioting, Denny was attacked, pulled from his truck and brutally beaten, sustaining serious head and other injuries.
History Will Teach Us Nothing
In Chicago of 1919, a riot broke out that was considered a race riot because it was between black and white people. However, when you look at the story, it's clear that the "racism" was based more on sociopolitical issues rather than just based on the color of a man's skin. The Great Migration, after the Civil War, had African Americans moving out of the South and integrating into the North. This caused employment issues, neighborhood issues and territorial issues which in my opinion bread prejudice and not necessarily racism or at least the prejudice started the racism.
We, in the U.S. have a similar situation now with Latin America, especially Mexicans coming north to seek a better life. But as in 1919, there are issues that arise. Migrants work for less, they have a different culture, different traditions, and different behaviors. For many this can create resentment especially when you loose your job to cheaper labor or you have a culture move into the area that's been "yours" for so long. Humans with as much evolutionary development as we have, still find basic and primitive emotions guiding group behavior. We are still quite territorial. The difference is when you stumble into a wolf's territory, the wolf will just eat you. Human's have evolved into name calling, window breaking and cross burning. And we won't eat you either. You could get shot or beaten to death, but not eaten. Now that's Progress.
Sorry to make light of such a sensitive issue, but hopefully you'll see my point, which is a lot of prejudice and racism is in our DNA. Which brings me back to our glorious evolution. The wolf doesn't think about their behavior, they simply react. Human's have the unique ability to decide not to react and to be response-able.
Another case in point is Reginald Denny. Arguably, one of the most "famous" victims from the L.A. riot of 1992. Definitely, this riot will go down in history as a race riot. As the Great Migration moved African Americans from the South and into the North and Western United States, the country was forced to examine deeply where their morals lay. Not everyone was racist. But no matter where you go, that element is likely to rear its ugly head.
Reginald Denny, was 33 years old at the time. He was a truck driver. On the day the rioting started, Denny was attacked, pulled from his truck and brutally beaten, sustaining serious head and other injuries. As a result of the injuries he suffered during the attacks, Denny had to undergo years of rehabilitative therapy, and his speech and ability to walk were permanently damaged. All of this was caught on video.
Was this attack racist? Was it prejudice? Was he pulled from his truck and beaten nearly to death because...?
This is for you to assume. There is a certain irony in the defense attorney's argument. The defense began by challenging the video evidence and portrayed the attackers as a victim of poverty and racism.
And what then was Reginald Denny?
Vernacular: The "N" word and other verbage guaranteed to stir the pot.
SIDEBAR: Since we're opening this can of worms, racism and prejudice tend to create an entire vocabulary that will often evolve into all sorts of vernacular. And then we introduce political correctness into the equation and all hell breaks loose.
I personally blame the cloud of political correctness for people doing stupid stuff. Take the Michael Richards incident a few years back. Stupid move on his part? Oh hell yes. Did he forget his ability to respond? Big time! Was he wrong? Absolutely, positively yes. Do I believe that he boiled over? That as a comedian and human being being constantly stifled by fear of what you can say or not say based on being judged and eventually pre-judged... did he pop? I say a resounding YUP!
Why, at the beginning of this article am I worried about putting the Black guy last? Why did I subsequently wonder if that was also a good place to make a crack about why there are no Hispanics in the office? (My wife's Hispanic, so I can crack Hispanic jokes on a technicality, right? Probably not!) Can you imagine if the racial banter of The Rat Pack was even attempted today what kind of s#!% storm that would produce? Yet Dave Chapell can get away with that video! Interesting to say the least.
Words carry some serious weight. The same word can instill fear, hate, camaraderie, and laughter. It's all in how it's used. Amazing, isn't it? And who's allowed to use specific ethnic slangs? I am a cracker, gringo, honky, peckerwood, yank, mick, paddy, pogue... I'm allowed to use these words to describe myself and fellow crackers. However, the only time I can get away with using the "N" word is if I'm quoting from "" and even that is shaky. So, I opt to not use it period. I find that word disturbing because of what if represents to me. My "people" made that word up and originally it was just a noun. But now it means so much more. I find it courageous that some members of the African American community have embraced it in a way that robs it of it's former power, yet it still has some strength left in it's context or out of the mouth from which it flows. Training Day
There's no need to quote Rodney King or Martin Luther King here, but what is important is that we all recognize that we are first and foremost members of The Human Race. JFK noted that we all breath the same air and we all bleed red blood. To make a judgment on fellow human being's worth simply based on skin tone is just ignorant. It should be pitied, compassionately rehabilitated and then eventually ridiculed if the first two don't work out.
And if you become a victim of racism, defend your self for the Human race. Not the "race" you just got assigned to. I got a buddy who's last name is of Scotch-Irish decent and who has some Native American ancestry, but when look at him... well... he's black. He looks more like an Eddie Murphy than Geronimo and there is nothing about his appearance to justify his last name. And there in lies the magic and sheer beauty of the American experiment and unity of the world. We are all God's creatures and part of a wonderful world where cultures can mix, sometimes violently, and create whole new ones.
Change and growth in nature is often violent and painful. As children we have actual physical growing pains. The Earth recreates itself with the violence of a volcano or earthquake. We humans are part of this nature. We are not separate from Mother Earth, rather we are an integral part of Her and therefor we too develop with a touch of pain and violence.
And What About YOU?
Where do you fall in this lineup? Tough question right? Now you really have to examine it, don't you?
As with all social and political issues this article is meant to explore and examine. In the discussion, there is no right or wrong. There's thought and opinion. All designed to further growth and unity. If you're not talking about it, it boils over, like Chicago and Los Angeles.
Can you come to terms with your own personal prejudices? Because that's really all there is now. At least as far as I'm concerned. If you think someone is inferior to you because of their color, you're an idiot. Plain and simple. Each member of the human race will have unique, God given talents designed to enhance their survival rate 10,000 plus years ago as we as a global community evolved. Survival depends on adapting to the environment. So yes we're going to look different, behave different, some can run father and others faster. Some are stronger, others smarter. Who cares? We're all humans. Let's enjoy the wonder of God and Mother Natures unique design.
I've got some prejudices. All of which come from experience. I've developed a few opinions. Also based on experience. Do I find it stupid to single out an 80-year-old lady and her 12-year-old Grandson at the airport to make sure they're not suicide bombers? Yes, I do. Do I believe in racial profiling? No, I don't. Do I support common sense over political correctness? Hell yes, I do!
In Isreal, if you're 22 years old, have a bulging backpack and are reading the Koran at the airport, you may need to answer a few questions and get your bag searched. In America, that's profiling. WTH? Prejudice? Common Sense? You decide.
If you're a cop in Watts, are you a racist cop because you only give tickets to black people or is it that mostly black people live in Watts and so it's really just a numbers game. What say you good people?
If you believe that in order to work and live in a country, you should become a citizen of said country, does that make you racist against those who come to said country and work illegally? Or does that make you a patriot? And why does the word patriot have a negative connotation now thanks to overzealous right wing conservatives and bigots which are really one on the same... or is it possible to be a right wing conservative and not a bigot?
Slippery slope? It's up to you. What are your prejudices?
For Further Growth
- The Museum of Tolerance
Recipient of the Global Peace and Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations, the Museum of Tolerance (MOT) is a human rights laboratory and educational center dedicated to challenging visitors to understand the Holocaust in both historic
- The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
Established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, The King Center is the official, living memorial dedicated to the advancement of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leader of Americas greatest nonviolent movement for justice, equality and peace.
- John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
The John F. Kennedy library and museum home page. Access the Kennedy Library Digital Archives, which includes 300,000 scanned documents, films, and audio clips with materials such as early drafts of the John F. Kennedy inaugural address. John f. kenn
- WELCOME TO MAHATMA GANDHI ONE SPOT COMPLETE INFORMATION WEBSITE
M.K.Gandhi, mahatma, Philosophy, non-violence, photographs of mahatma gandhi, Gandhi, Mahatma, Mohandas, peace, conflict resolution. Comprehensive site for Researchers Scholars Activists Students everyone. Includes a large collection of links on Gand