Re: Is white racism nec. all bad?

David Rowland (
Thu, 27 Apr 95 20:20:57 GMT

In <> (Gerold Firl) writes:

>This ties in with the whole problem of stereotyping. Stereotyping is
>endlessly denounced, yet poorly understood. A stereotype is a *caricature*,
>which exagerates the deviation from the norm. Think of the caricatures in
>political cartoons. It takes a skillful artist to render a face so as to be
>recognizable, unless the features are caricatured. Caricatures are a useful
>device, and will continue to be used for that reason, even if they are not

S'truth; but, what stereotypes are supposed to mean, and what they
are taken to mean--or, to be more clear, how sterotypes are supposed to be
_used_ and how they are actually _used_ are not the same. These
"caricatures" as you call them are often used as justification for terible
crimes and discriminatory actions. But, more importantly (becuase youo can't
blame a word for the actions of a human, as I'm sure someone will try to
point out), stereotypes may be a causal factor in influencing belief--most
damagingly in young children. Children who are brought up and only exposed
to said caricatures are very likely to accept the "cartoons" as real life.
Especially if Mom, Dad, and the rest of the family insist that they are
true. Thus, stereotypes are potentially very dangerous because they tend to
be used in a damaging way--though, intrinsically they may have no tendency
one way or the other.


>Just as a stereotype will exagerate the true magnitude of the deviation
>from the norm, the processes you describe will boost the differential crime
>rate. But it sounds like you're making excuses here. We need to keep in
>mind that the ultimate cause of all the effects you describe is an actual
>disparity in the commission of violent crime.

And what, pray tell, is the ultimate cause of violent crime? If you
can't address and correct that, the probelem isn't likey to go away. the
problem is, of course, that causal mechanisms are anthing but clear cut. It
is practically impossible to trace any effect to a route cause, because, not
only are their likely to be billions or more partial causes for any effect,
but those causes may be circular. If I get arrested, and don't get punished,
then one could argue that the lack of punishment is a partial cause for me
getting arrested again, and again, and so on. We can't point to any one
thing, in most cases (particularly in sociological situations) and say "This
is the main cause. Remove it, and the effects will go away." Chaos theory
specifically deals with tis sort of problem in complex systems like human
societies. So, while we may be able to trace certain partial causes to
certain effects, having this knowledge does not necessarily imply any
action. A great deal more consideration needs to go in before you can, as
the ethicists say, "derive an 'ought' from an 'is'".

All the handwaving in the
>world won't make that go away. The black community will have to make a deep
>and serious committment to change, a change that comes from within,
>stemming from an honest appraisel of the true costs of criminality.
>American black culture has suffered deeply for the transgressions of their
>criminal minority. The police can't change that, and white americans can't
>change that. Only the black community can change it. But as long as they
>continue to deny this fact, and to place all the blame on others, it will
>be very difficult to make any progress.

First of all, what gives you the evidence that most, or even much of the
"black community" are denying anything? You are guilty, perhaps, of making a
correlation without any real evidence. Furthermore, what makes you think
"white people" can't at least help to change the way blacks feel about
themselves, or the police, or the government for that matter. While, I
assume it is true that I can't go into another human beings mind and
actually physically or spiritually change their point of view, I can, given
sufficient influence, create a certain situation which I feel will likely
influence persons to change their own. We certainly, as white people, and
government and police, created such a circumstance when we brought them over
as slaves. We did create a situation in which their was a psychological
tendency toward depression, subservience, perhaps violence. Would you say
that, since we didn't directly "change" their outlook but only the condition
in which the lived, that it was not our fault (at least partially) that the
resultant change in attitude occured? Once again, causality is far to
complex and poorly understood for you to make such a generalization as you
do and expect it to be adequately supported.
And, for your information, the "black community" is not "a community", but a
convenient socialogical construct. Community implies unity, and the blacks
in this country are anything but. Neither are the "whites", for that matter.
They are a loose conglomeration of a hundred different genetic subgroups,
and cultural background. The only thing they have in common is that their
skin pigment is significantly darker than most other people in this
country--and, that because of this similarity, many people have discrimated,
at times very severely, against them. We have labeled them because it is
easier for us to deal with them that way, not because such a label is
cuklturally or genetically justified. Remember that when you talk about "the
balck community" in the future. For instance, does it include black
immigrants who arrive here within the last ten years? What similarity's,
aside fromo the obvious color, would such immigrants have with indigant
"blacks"? Would they be part of your "community"? Why or why not?

>I agree. But I think the only way the cycle can be broken is from within.
>Farakhan has it right, in one sense: blacks need to do it for themselves.
>If his message wasn't tainted with racism and hatred, farakhan could have
>been a true leader, instead of a destructive demogogue. His advocacy of
>self-reliance and discipline is certainly timely.

Perhaps, but I would still like to see the evidence you have to
suggest that _the only_ way the cycle could be broken is from within. I
woiuld like to see your evidence that the cycle could be broken at all. I'm
not saying that it can't, just that you haven't made a convincing argument
for the idea that it can.

>It seems to me that many of your statements here, while well-intentioned,
>are not helping to resolve this problem.

I think this statement could equally well apply to your own

>Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
>me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
>=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf