So You Think You’re A Racist?
Stephen A. Peterson
The greatest bar to progress in the United States and much of the Western European world is the neuroticism that is determined to label every member a racial group a “racist” for any action, deed or word deemed unacceptable to persons of color and their supporters. On the other hand, persons of other racial groups who are defined as “out groups” are not nor is it possible for said persons in these groups to be racists. This, subsequently, raises a question: “Who are racists and what acts are, behaviors and statements are racist. Before proceeding further, the reader is asked to take a short, ungraded quiz. Which of the following statements are racist statements?
Yes No 1. “Stay out of that section of town! That’s where people from Iran live. They are
Islamic/Muslim and they’ll kill you if you are a man or they’ll rape you if you’re a
Yes No 2. “Italian men are great lovers and Italian women make great wives and mothers.”
Yes No 3. “If I was going to build a winning basketball team, I’d recruit African-American
players. They’re the best athletes among any group of people.”
Yes No 4. “Jews need to leave Palestine, if necessary, by force! Palestine is for
Palestinians not Jews!
Yes No 5. “Native American (Indians) should avoid alcohol at all cost. They just don’t do a
good job of staying sober whenever they drink and that’s that!”
Yes No 6. “Individuals of Mongoloid Asian ancestries are tremendous math and physics
teachers above any other group of people.”
Yes No 7. “Puerto Ricans are outstanding Tango and Rumba dancers. It’s because they
have wonderful rhythm. “
Yes No 8. “As a German, I can say with certainty that Germany is a better society than the
United States. Look at what Germany has given the world in comparison to
Yes No 9. “When I sell housing to Mexicans, I make sure I take them to a Mexican
community to live. They like it that way because they want to be with their own.
Yes No 10. “Guard your kids when Gypsies are around are around. If you don’t your kids
will turn up missing.”
None of the above statements is a racist statement. The statements, for those who hold such beliefs, are widely held as unacceptable today and reprehensible. But to refer to them as “racist” are neither accurate nor justified. The intent of this article is to dispel the misapplication and usage of the words “racism” and “racist”.
Current misuse, misapplication and abuse of “racism/racist”:
Throughout American and even in many Western European societies people will define persons “racist” as a reflex action. However, when asked to define what they mean, they generally are at a loss for words or elicit a plethora of definitions leaving one to conclude that anyone may be called a racist if I do not like you or what it is you say.
For far too many, “racism/racist” has become a vehicle as a means of:
• Getting back at a race of people who abused or they think abuse their ancestors.
• Achieving some satisfaction for a political, economic or social objective or goal was not attained (that is, not getting the job; home loan; college degree and so forth).
• Continuing racial conflict often for political or ideological reasons in the belief they will gain power thus leverage.
When the speaker cannot gain leverage in a discussion, debate or argument. Many will
revert to playing what is now described as the “race card”. Playing the race card (idiomatic phrase) refers to someone exploiting race against a person of another race for political reasons or during a debate in the hopes of being able to gain an advantage or submission of an opponent ( Merriam-Webster, 2010).
The race card user deludes themselves into the belief that they have won the discussion and, most importantly to them, embarrassment of their opponent such that their opponent will now see their way of thinking. Those who use the race card want no discussion. They want compliance. They believe they have the moral high ground in whatever the discussion if even the argument is weak or fallacious.
The race card, as its card game equivalent, is used to turn around a losing situation. The problem for its user is that it most always fails to accomplish its goal resulting in the loss the user desires to avoid.
What is being observed is the politicizing of the definition of racism/racist for purely political reasons. Racism has been re-defined in recent years not by physical anthropologists, human or primate biologists but by ideologues and politicians whose interest is not in social harmony among the races but derisions, conflict and to sustain what they hope to be their political power among the targeted racial group or gain new ones. When politicians sit on committees to accuse people of racism or being a racist due to difference in political or social perspective is abhorrent and must never be tolerated.
Definition of Racism:
Racism is the belief that there are innate differences in people's behaviors and intellectual capacities which are superior or inferior to persons of other racial groups. This superiority/inferiority is entirely due to their race and generally justify those people being treated differently both socially and legally. Those racial characteristics make some groups superior and other inferior. By separating people into hierarchies based upon their race, it has been argued that unequal treatment among the different groups of people is just and fair due to their genetic differences (Merriam—Webster, 2010).
Other definitions: (The following definitions are taken from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2010 edition)
In order to determine “racist” as opposed to “non-racist” attitudes and behaviors, it is necessary to have an operational definition of the term. Additionally, it is necessary to define words that are used interchangeably with “racism/racist”. These words are:
Bias is an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of (possibly equally valid) alternatives. Bias can come in many forms. Bias, as it relates to race, is holding positive or negative opinions of particular racial groups on the basis of their race.
Bigot is a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs. The predominant usage in modern English refers to persons hostile to those of differing race, ethnicity, nationality, inter-regional prejudice, gender and social condition (homelessness, poverty and so forth).
Chauvinism is an exaggerated, bellicose patriotism and a belief in national superiority and glory. By extension it has come to include an extreme and unreasoning partisanship on behalf of any group to which one belongs, especially when the partisanship includes malice and hatred towards rival groups.
Discrimination is the cognitive and sensory capacity or ability to see fine distinctions and perceive differences between objects, subjects, concepts and patterns, or possess exceptional development of the senses. Racial discrimination differentiates between individuals on the basis of real and perceived racial differences,
Ethnocentricism is the tendency to believe that one's ethnic or cultural group is centrally important, and that all other groups are measured in relation to one's own. The ethnocentric individual will judge other groups relative to his or her own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with concern to language, behavior, customs, and religion.
Prejudice is a prejudgment, an assumption made about someone or something before having adequate knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy. The word prejudice is most commonly used to refer to preconceived judgments toward a people or a person because of race, social class, gender, ethnicity, age, disability, religion, or other personal characteristics.
Segregation is an act or process of segregating or the condition of being segregated
The policy or practice of compelling racial groups to live apart from each other, go to separate schools, use separate social facilities, and so forth.
Stereotype is an exaggerated, generalized, oversimplified belief or image, often concerning a group, an individual, or a form of behavior. Racial stereotype may be either (A) an overly-simplified representation of the typical characteristics of members of a racial group, or (B) a falsehood that has been repeated so many times that is accepted by many people as generally true.
Other Definitions Involving Race:
Racial occurs or exists because of differences between races or racial attitudes, behaviors or beliefs.
Racialism is the basic epistemological position that not only do races exist, but the notion that there are noticeable/observable and significant differences between them. Racialism does not discuss any notion regarding innate superiority of inferiority.
Ethnic group(s) or ethnicity) is/are groups of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy "...in general it may be a highly biologically self-perpetuating group sharing an interest in a homeland connected with a specific geographical area, a common language and traditions, including food preferences, and a common religious faith
Examples of Racism:
Two of the clearest examples of overt racism were the statements concerning race by Arthur R. Jensen and the late William Shockley.
Arthur Robert Jensen (August 24, 1923 — ) is a Professor Emeritus of educational psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Jensen is known for his work in psychometrics and differential psychology, which is concerned with how and why individuals differ behaviorally from one another; how and why they differ in the manner that they process information; and how and why they differ racially (Jensen, 1969; 1974; 2000).
Jensen's interest directed him to the extensive testing of African-Americans, Mexican-American, and other minority-group school children. The results led him to distinguish between two separate types of learning ability. Level I, or associative learning, may be defined as retention of input and rote memorization of simple facts and skills. Level II, or conceptual learning, is roughly equivalent to the ability to manipulate and transform inputs, that is, the ability to solve abstract problems. Statistical analysis of his findings led Jensen to conclude that Level I abilities were distributed equally among members of all races, but that Level II occurred with significantly greater frequency among whites and Asian-Americans than among African-Americans and Mexican-Americans (Jensen, 2000).
He was and continues to be a major proponent of the hereditarianism position in the nature versus nurture debate. This position concludes genetics play a prominent and significant role in behavioral traits, such as intelligence and personality. Jensen authored over 400 scientific papers published in refereed journals and currently sits on the editorial boards of the scientific journals Intelligence and Personality and Individual Differences.
For his past work, Jensen has been rated as one of the top-50 eminent psychologists of the 20th Century despite his positions that are deemed racist. Winner of the prestigious Kisser Award in 2003, Jensen remains a controversial figure, largely for his conclusions.
William Bradford Shockley Jr. (February 13, 1910 – August 12, 1989) was an American physicist and inventor.
In 1965 William Shockley, Nobel laureate in physics and professor from Stanford University, made a public statement at the Nobel conference on "Genetics and the Future of Man" concerning the problems of "genetic deterioration" in humans caused by “ reverse evolution". He claimed social support systems designed to help the disadvantaged had a regressive effect and subsequently claimed the most competent population group were the original European settlers in America which he claimed superior by virtue of the extreme selective pressures imposed by the harsh conditions of early colonialism (Epps, 1973). Speaking of the "genetic enslavement" of African Americans, owing to an abnormally high birth rate, Shockley discouraged improved education as a remedy, suggesting instead sterilization and birth control. In the following ten years he continued to argue in favor of this position, claiming it was not based on racism but "on sound statistics". Shockley's outspoken public statements and lobbying brought him into contact with those running the Pioneer Fund who subsequently, through the intermediary Carleton Putnam, provided financial support for his extensive lobbying activities in this area, reported widely in the press. With the psychologist and segregationist R. Travis Osborne as adviser, Shockley formed the Foundation for Research and Education on Eugenics and Dysgenics (FREED). Although its stated purpose was "solely for scientific and educational purposes related to human population and quality problems," FREED mostly acted as a lobbying agency for spreading Shockley's ideas on eugenics and population control of groups in question (Shockley and Pearson, 1992).
Late in his life, Shockley became intensely interested in questions of race, intelligence, and eugenics. He thought this work was important to the genetic future of the human species, and came to describe it as the most important work of his career, even though expressing such politically unpopular views risked damaging his reputation. When asked why he seemed to take positions associated with both the political right and left, Shockley explained that his goal was "the application of scientific ingenuity to the solution of human problems." (Shockley and Pearson, 1992).
Shockley argued that the higher rate of reproduction among the less intelligent was having a dysgenic effect, and that a drop in average intelligence would ultimately lead to a decline in civilization (Shockley and Pearson, 1992).Shockley advocated that the scientific community should seriously investigate questions of heredity, intelligence, and demographic trends, and suggest policy changes if he was proven right. (Shockley, 1989).
Although Shockley was concerned about dysgenic effects among both blacks and whites, he perceived the situation among blacks as more problematic. According to 1970 Census, unskilled and skilled whites had on average 3.7 and 2.3 children, respectively, whereas the corresponding numbers for blacks were 5.4 and 1.9 (Epps, 1973). Because IQ is a heritable trait (Shockley, 1989). Shockley expressed concern that the black population would become progressively less intelligent, countering all the gains that had been made by the Civil Rights movement. Shockley's views on this topic, expressed in his publications and lectures, were based in part on the subsequently discredited work of Cyril Burt. Shockley also proposed that individuals with IQs below 100 be paid to undergo voluntary sterilization.
Herrnstein and Murray (1994) who supported the Jensen-Shockley explanation stated:
Genetics plays a bigger role than environment in creating IQ differences among individuals ... The bell curve for Euro-Americans is centered roughly around IQ 100; the bell curve for African--Americans roughly around 85 ... African-American 17-year olds perform, on the average, more like Euro-American 13-year olds in reading, math and science, with Hispanics in between.
African American IQ scores have long averaged about 15 points below those of Euro-Americans, with correspondingly lower scores on academic achievement tests. In recent years the achievement-test gap has narrowed appreciably. It is possible that the IQ-score differential is narrowing as well, but this has not been clearly established. The cause of that differential is not known; it is apparently not due to any simple form of bias in the content or administration of the tests themselves. The Flynn (a FREED researcher) effect shows that environmental factors can produce differences of at least this magnitude, but that effect is mysterious in its own right. Several culturally-based explanations of the African-American-Euro-American IQ differential have been proposed; some are plausible, but so far none has been conclusively supported. There is even less empirical support for a genetic interpretation. In short, no adequate explanation of the differential between the IQ means of African-American—Euro-American is presently available."
Merriam-Webster’s new collegiate dictionary. (2010). Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam.
Epps, Edgar G (Jan-February 1973). "Racism, Science, and the I.Q.". Integrated Education 11 (1): 35–44.
Herrnstein, Richard J. & Murray, Charles Augustus (1994). The Bell Curve: intelligence and class structure in American life. New York: Free Press.
Jensen, A. R. (2000). Testing: The dilemma of group differences. Psychology, Public Policy, & Law, 6, 121-128
Jensen, A. R. (1974). Ethnicity and scholastic achievement. Psychological Reports, 34, 659-668
Jensen, A.R. (1969), "How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?", Harvard Educational Review 39: 1–123,
Neisser, Ulrich et al. (1996), "Intelligence: Knowns and unknowns", American Psychologist 51: 77–101,
Rushton, J. P., & Jensen, A. R.. (2005). Thirty years of research on Black-White differences in cognitive ability. Psychology, Public Policy, & the Law, 11, 235-294.
Shockley, William and Pearson, Roger – Shockley on Eugenics and Race: The Application of Science to the Solution of Human Problems Scott-Townsend (1992) ISBN 1-878465-03
"William B. Shockley, 79, Creator of Transistor and Theory on Race". New York Times. 14 August 1989. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0213.html.
U. S. Census Bureau. (2011). Profile of selected social characteristics: Allegany County, N.Y. Retrieved January 25, 2011, from http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/QTTable?_bm=y&-qr_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U_DP2&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U&-_lang=en&-_sse=on&-geo_id=05000US36003
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