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Do I Have Racism Wrong?

March 21, 2010

It occurs to me that I might be completely messed up.  My idea of racial equality is that everyone is treated equally.  That is, if I treat someone differently because of a genetic trait over which one has no control, I’m racist.  However, if I treat everyone the same based on what they can do (as opposed to what they are), I am not racist.

But maybe that’s wrong.

Should I favor a member of a historically disadvantaged “race?”  Give them advantages I wouldn’t normally give just anyone?

I’ve always been of the opinion that to end racism, you treat everyone as individuals according to their abilities.  The promotion goes to whoever does the job best, not to, say, a black fellow because he’s black even though the white woman is better suited for the position.

I’ve been following a black writer, however, who clearly thinks blacks should only buy from other black people and that the government should put together programs that elevate blacks over other races.  If I did that, it would be racist; he does it and he’s not?  Now, I have an Hispanic friend whose company is aimed at the Latino market, which is fine… segmentation is a time honored technique (unless you’re white); there seems to be a difference between national/racial pride without edging over to racism.

What brought this up is that black unemployment is ridiculously high; the roots of which probably are racist (though not necessarily; the drop out rate for black teenagers is also much higher than other races, which is going to impact employment).  I’m against quotas and affirmative action, but I’m not against a government program that would teach trade skills to uneducated individuals who realize that dropping out was a mistake as long as there was some sweat equity involved.

Also, I’d designed a book cover with a student scratching his head in confusion (in coordination with the text beneath the photo).  The student was black and so the cover was seen as “racist” by some people.  It’s stereotypical to show black people confused.  See, I considered him a confused student, not a confused black man.  So who was the racist?

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