Monday, January 31, 2011

My take on American racism

Having grown up "black" in the American South as I grew up a black kid next to a farm in a small town in Georgia, in the United States, I have my own unique view on American racism, which is a subject on which I've given much thought.

Here I will present my own very peculiar and highly opinionated take on what most people in the United States think is American racism, which is wrong: they think I suggest that it is physical repulsion for someone because of their race.

Physical repulsion is key here to the wrong definition!

That's important as I've encountered American "whites" that I see as being very racist who claim they aren't! And it's like, they may put a hand on my shoulder as if that proves it! See? Not physically repulsed!--they seem to be saying.

But racism is not physical repulsion.

It's believing you're superior or that another person is inferior because of the color of their skin for the most part, as that is usually the biggest racial indicator that people use, though they also go with a variety of physical characteristics.

Surprisingly to some, scientists are not quite sure what race is, and a good introduction can be seen on, yup, the Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(classification_of_humans)

I've noted on this blog that I believe that racism is actually about class in the United States and is an attempt by some people to believe they're members of a nobility (without actually saying it).

Why? Because I believe, a lot of early American settlers came from England, and pretending to be nobility was kind of a bad thing to do, which could be punished. Americans are dead-set on not actually stating that they believe they are noble by birth, so American racism is a bizarre variant where they behave as if they are, while refusing to state they believe they are.

It is an attempt at a back-door into English nobility, in my opinion.

So yes, a white man who is racist can not only date a black woman, he might marry her! Because American racism is not physical repulsion. It is a feeling of innate superiority on the basis of "race". So a racist white man might marry a black woman because he feels he can dominate someone he believes is inferior. Just like a noble in Old England might marry a commoner. (Of course, women can find men who will marry them because they're believed to be inferior for lots of reasons of which race is just one.)

And a white racist can have black friends!!!

He or she simply associates with people believed to be innately of a lower class.

So why again the dodge? Why is American racism presented so often as physical repulsion as if that's all that matters?

Again, because America inherits a lot of its heritage from England, and pretending to be royalty is a major crime under feudal law!!!

Commoners are not allowed to pretend to be of a higher class.

In the South where I grew up Southerners would claim to be "gentlemen" and engage in a lot of pretend royalty behavior, which they would not admit was pretending to be actual English royalty in any way shape or form because that is forbidden under feudal law!

But that's what they were doing and still do when they engage in such behavior.

You see, they wish to be English nobles. They wish to be better than commoners. They wish to be royalty.

So they find some people to be beneath them and that is American racism, in my opinion.

So how racist then is modern American society? I'd say, not really.

Most Americans actually shirk from seeing themselves as innately superior to anyone, and really are not racist. But God help you if you run into one who is.

He may lie to you incessantly. She may calmly inform you that she is not racist and then just as calmly insult your intelligence to your face, because of your race. He may quietly inform you of bizarre things as if they were absolute facts.

My favorite such thing is the assertion that Asians do not like black people.

Living in San Francisco, I know quite a few Asians and haven't noticed much if any American racism from any of them.

But I'll end with a story that puzzled me for a while.

I was at a private party a few years back at a new nightclub that had been rented for the occasion. In the course of a conversation with a seemingly nice fellow where it's pertinent for the story to note that he was white, I realized he was becoming a bit agitated as he talked about having lived in Chinatown, and not getting along well with the Asian community there.

Inwardly I shrugged, not particularly caring, as I was half listening to him, but he got my attention quickly when he said to me like a confidant that he was sure I knew how Asians were, and that they really didn't like black people, even more than white people.

So yeah, end of that conversation, but what made the story fascinating to me for years was that I was actually eye-flirting with a beautiful Asian woman, which was why I was distracted while I listened to him! He'd not only reacted badly to try and convince me of the hopelessness of my interest I surmised later, he'd tried to smear the entire Asian race while so doing!

But why? Well, it occurred to me that it made him feel inferior for her attention to be on me, if he thought himself the superior male, by race, then he needed to convince me.

More than once in San Francisco I've been informed by whites that Asians don't like black people. Isn't that fascinating? In my experience, Asians seem to take you as you are, more than anything else, and to adjust based on how you behave--not the color of your skin.

Which is what we should all do, and I think, thankfully, most Americans do.


James Harris
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