gnome wrote: ↑Tue Sep 04, 2018 12:37 am
. . . There is a semantic problem here but it's explainable.
The term "racism" is being used to refer to two different things. Perhaps the more commonly used meaning is what I'll call "personal" racism. This is what most people think of when the term comes up--as it's done by individual choice. Someone decides to discriminate, someone thinks an ethnic minority is genetically inferior, someone thinks their race should be legally privileged, or that someone else's shouldn't be trusted most of the time. This can absolutely go against or for any race at all.
The other meaning, and the one most likely to be referred to by the left these days, can be called "institutional" racism. This refers to systems of oppression in our society that have racial impact--it pertains to how power is used, rather than the nature of people's opinions, so it can be deliberate or implicit. Because it is intended to mean an abuse of power, that is why lots of people on the left bristle at the term "reverse racism"--because someone with little power isn't able to oppress a demographic even if they are personally prejudiced.
There's lots to argue about in the boundaries and significance of either term. But before you can get anywhere you do need to make sure you're talking about the same thing, and I see this over and over again. The common practice on the left lately is for default meaning to be "institutional" when they mention it. I've often argued that's a mistake, as most people are thinking of the personal meaning when they hear the term, so when they hear that "blacks can't be racist against whites," they think someone's denying their observation of a black person that was prejudiced--it contributes to the idea of the reality-denying leftist. What is really meant is that blacks don't have the political power in our society to successfully oppress whites as a group. Maybe that's so and maybe it isn't, but if people don't realize that's what you mean, you're not getting anywhere with a slogan like that.
Rather than try to carve out a specialized version and make it the default meaning, how hard is it to add the term "institutional" when talking about it? I think it would get more real conversations going and less defensive hostility.
Here's my understanding:
If a social institution results in disparate outcomes of certain demographics (whether explicitly or implicitly, intentional or unintentional, exclusively or only partly) on the basis of race
, then that is "institutional racism". But when a social institution results in disparate outcomes (whether explicitly or implicitly, etc) on the basis of other factors and not the result of race, then that is not racism, by definition.
More specifically, the mere fact that a certain demographic group finds itself at a systemic disadvantage does not automatically imply that the social system that put them there (or keeps them there) is racist. It is only racist if race is (or was) part of the motivation for that outcome.
It is not reasonable to stretch the definition of institutional racism to include social institutions where race is not why the outcome is what it is.
Many of the examples of so-called "institutional racism" are not
based on race and thus are not racist, even if the outcome affects one race more than another.
Meritocracy is one example of non-race based discrimination, and thus it is not racist, by definition, because it specifically does not use race as a criteria for choosing (neither explicitly or implicitly). And this is true even though sometimes it may seem that some races (or ethnic groups) experience a less favorable outcome.
Example: Are the NFL or NHL to be considered racist because the percentage of black players does not represent the population at large? Of course not. Their use of meritocracy in those leagues is not racist.
And this concept is not just my personal opinion. See for example:
Institutional racism was defined by Sir William Macpherson in the 1999 Lawrence report (UK) as: "The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin.
It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people."
In other words, if race is not part of the motivation or decision-making process (explicitly or implicitly), then it is not racism, whether by an individual or an "institution".
On this basis, I reject the label "institutional racism" being applied merely because the outcome seems to affect certain races or ethnic groups more than others. If that outcome is not because of race (whether in whole or in part), then it is not racist. Power is not relevant.
This is why I say meritocracy is not racist and why I reject the claim by professor Laurie Rubel (of Brooklyn College City University of New York) that meritocracy is racist.