Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Racism! What is it good for?

Yay! I've started to get some comments and questions, and needless to say I am excited. One question posed to me by my white friend Jeffro is, "Why do you think racism exists in this world?" This is a great question and one that I can only begin to answer here...

Disclaimer: This theory is not meant to explain why things like slavery and the holocaust happened. Those were both pretty messed up, and what follows is inadequate to help us figure out what they were all about. I'm talking about current day racism, whatever that means to you. Also, like any topic, it is possible that someone else has written down some incarnation of these ideas before, but I am not basing these ideas off of any particular previous writings. (i.e. plagarizing) That's just the grad student in me coming out...

Basically, I think racism exists because many people have low self-esteem. When a person doesn't feel good about themselves, they try to make themselves feel better by putting other people down. Like the bully on the playground--often that kid is living in a very chaotic and unloving environment. So how does he deal with his anger and frustration? By taking it out on someone else.

When you can use a derogatory word about someone else, or think that an entire group of people are dumber, lazier or less trustworthy than you--it makes your chest puff up a little. Of course, it is only a temporary puffing up, but it serves its purpose at the time.

Think about it--why would a person who was secure in him or herself worry about what other people are doing, or how lazy they are or aren't? It doesn't happen, because thinking about other people and the many ways that they don't measure up takes time and energy. Besides, people who are secure in themselves, recognize that their worth is not defined in comparison to others, whether they appear to be better or worse off.

So that's my short answer to a very complex question. I'm interested to hear what you think, and I want to send a special thanks to all the people who left me comments yesterday--it made me smile.


  1. But....the very fact that you are writing about racism shows that you are dealing with comparisson? Doesn't it seem at least logical that you can have both a healthy self-esteem as well as disgusting self-esteem and still live with comparing ones self to another?

  2. Could racism be something that replicates itself when we do not put it in its place when we see it?

  3. Anonymous12:07 PM

    to Jeremy- dealing with comparison yes, but promoting it? No. Her goal is clearly stated as giving all of us the opportunity to ask questions and discuss this basic problem with our interpretation of God's plan.
    In discussing comparison specifically she is not stating fact, only offering her opinion of what might be a source of racism.
    I agree with you that it is logical and absolutely normal to compare yourself to others- it is basic human nature. However someone who is healthy (whether with high or low self-esteem) will recognize that their comparing is just human nature and has no bearing on thier identity or status in society. I think myblackfriend is probably referring to those people who are not healthy in their self and world view.

    To myblackfriend- thank you for doing this blog- I think it is very important that we make every attempt to address this issue. Thanks also for commenting on my blog- great way to get people to look at your blog by the way...

    As for myself- I was raised in the south where there was some blatant racism left, but my parents were educated enough to teach us otherwise. I don't remember ever hearing the "N" word as a child. In fact, my parents shielded me from it so well that at age 19 when I heard my grandfather say the word it literally knocked the air out of me. I had no idea he was racist. Not sure now whether my parents did it right in shielding me from it so completely, but I am thankful to have never had the influence that someone like my grandfather might have had on me.

  4. I read your profile. Diverse interests to say the least. Racism or bigotry is there because we all come from, well, divergent cultures.
    Just a quick comment from the catfish. Look forward to reading more.