Everyone is a little bit racist:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliche,

Please comment on racism. Is it any different if motivated by hatred or
fear? It certainly brings the same trauma for the person on the receiving
end.   America has a history of dealing with racism — and of overcoming it. Sadly, it
seems to have been on the rise and holding in the last decade. It is particularly disturbing when even politicians vilify racial groups and are followed blindly by others.

Stereotyping and generalization make for easy exploitation; it is the perfect food for
racism. How can one remain focused on reality and avoid the vortex of
prejudice?

Thanks,

T.

 

Dear T.

Humans are territorial animals. There has been and will always be some sort of “us vs. them.” What makes a human unique is that we can describe our territory in more complex terms than other animals. We have even created the concept of intellectual territory.  This
is far niftier than pissing on the perimeter of one’s home.

One of the main problems is that the world’s economy runs on racism. From slaves to
child labor to third world impoverished nations, exploitation has been the backbone of economy. Who will work the cheapest and the longest to provide the profits that feed the economic machine? These people become the oppressed “other” for now.  If they come
to America they are still “the other”, for they will work for less pay and threaten the jobs of US citizens. Many nations have come upon these shores and many suffered two or three generations of assimilation pains; this includes racism. Eventually they do assimilate and the status of “other” moves on to the newest group.

It was never America that dealt with racism toward others. A country doesn’t deal with racism, individual people do. It was individuals who fought for and changed everything from slavery and internment camps to racial breeding programs.

Another way racism ties to the economy is through fear. Fear is the backbone of economy. You can manipulate an entire population by fear. It justifies, rationalizes or distracts from what could be a realistic level of understanding.

You can see fear as manipulator in the way it sells products. Fear feeds off underlying territorial instincts: if I don’t have that product I will be an outsider, or as in selling insurance –I will be in danger without this policy.

Even charity can be a distraction to justify racism and maintain the economic status quo. If we are helping “the other”, aren’t we wonderful, and we’re not asking why they are “the other” in the first place. We are led to believe it’s because they are savage or uneducated or unenlightened, not that they aren’t in the League of Nations. 

The world today walks on a tight rope- one side is globalization, a potential unifying but culturally cleansing force. The other side is individual culture and autonomy. The stakes are high and most of the bargaining isn’t including those whom it will affect. This game creates considerable strife and fallout i.e. what we call terrorism. The cleansing force of this game starves out some nations, sells some nations to others, works some to death and destroys all the natural resources of others. It also gives us Wal-Mart.

What is reality? And what are the facts? I do not believe territorialism is something we can eliminate therefore nor can we eliminate racism. As the song by Avenue Q says, “Everyone is a little bit racist.”

But that being said, great individuals have made a big difference. Let’s hope “we
all have a dream.”

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

 

The Granny Doctor says- I think that one of the things responsible for the growth of racism since the initial sweeping racial prejudice reforms is the infernal notion of “PC”, or political correctness. We all knew what it was acceptable to say and we all said it. But as Dr. Brilliant has often pointed out, feelings and behaviors are not the same thing.

Underneath the comfortable facade of PC, racism has flourished in much the same way that S&M flourished in Victorian England.

You can’t legislate morality. You can’t order anyone to change their inner thoughts. You can just teach them how to carefully protect their improper thoughts from scrutiny and exposure. Let’s all listen to Mel Gibson rant while drunk if we want to be reminded again of what can simmer under a carefully constructed public image.

But in regards to exactly what racism is… Granny is of the opinion that the territorial instinct that prevails amongst humans is different from racism.

Granny is going to be un-PC right now and remember a time when she lived in the south and heard a group of poor white trash men who could barely form coherent sentences sneer at a well-dressed, obviously educated black man who sat at the counter in “their” diner. OK, maybe he could qualify as “the other.” But at the time, Granny was also an “other”, being a sixteen year old hippy chick dragging a guitar around with her. But the
rednecks left Granny alone. They brayed and jeered at the black man until he collected his dignity and left the diner. Granny listened to them talk afterwards.

Their attack wasn’t about territory. It was the ranting of a group of asshole losers who could allow themselves to feel superior to someone else solely on the basis of skin color, with complete disregard to anything else. It was probably the only way they could ever feel superior to anyone. It was deliberate base stupidity and unfounded ego taken to a feculent level. That’s what racism is. Pure and simple. It’s ignorant shit.

And Granny doesn’t really give a rat’s ass if it is un-PC to say that.

 

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About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at dr.brilliantcliche@yahoo.com and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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8 Responses to Everyone is a little bit racist:

  1. T. says:

    Dr BC and Granny…thanks for your response. Two perspectives certainly clarify a point better!

    Dr C…I’m not too sure I understand the relationship between racism and economy – are you saying exploitation of the less fortunate is a form of racism? Isn’t it just exploitation, plain and simple?

    Granny…I don’t understand what you mean when you say PC has caused the growth of racism. Ideally, of course, we would all prefer to have no covert forms of racism either, but I think being PC is not so bad since it keeps a sociey functioning. Would you care to comment?

    Here’s what I have gathered so far:

    The concept of territorialism in relation to racism makes sense, but I also think the intrinsic competition, the need to be better than others plays an important role in racism – what Granny describes so well about a bunch of losers ” who could allow themselves to feel superior to someone else solely on the basis of skin color”. I believe if it’s not skin color, it can be religion, social status, sense of educational and intellectual superiority – or some such criteria that we feel we can find an edge in – that becomes our focus, and we view the world through it. We move in the same circles, (intellectual or socio-economic, religious group) depending on what we choose to be our main focus, and do not welcome an ‘intrusion’. That ties it nicely with Dr C’s comment about territorial instinct, I guess.

    While most of us simply refrain from being openly vocal about our choices, some public figures (like politicians ) who thrive on manipulation of the human psyche, and who are looked upon as poeple ‘who know better’ provide a platform for those who would otherwise remain in their own little PC world, to step up and ‘be counted’. There is always comfort in numbers, and like compassion, hatred/racism also draws strength for it.

    In conclusion, I would have to agree everyone is indeed ‘a little bit racist’, but we CAN learn to keep our less desirable instincts in check if we understand that everyone deserves their dignity and respect as much as we do.

    Regards,

  2. Dear T.

    Yes exploitation is analogous to racism as you usually choose to exploit those you consider “other.” Exploitation, territorialism, intrinsic competition, all fall under human nature as types of pecking order behaviors. From bullying on the playground to the caste system to the systematic elimination of specific groups these are all pecking order behaviors. Economics drives the pecking order and dictates just about everything our life.

    Thus today when we look at racism in any real depth were really talking economics.
    Now that being said, humans do have the ability to momentarily appease human nature in interesting creative ways like substituting football for tribal warfare.

    I agree with you the best way of sublimating our nature is via role modeling from our leaders.
    Unfortunately there are few role models amongst our leaders.

    There are all kinds of studies that show understanding doesn’t alter human behavior one bit. The actual pecking order has to be changed. Martin lather and Gandhi understood but it was the sheer volume of their followers that changed the pecking order thus human behaviors.

    -Dr. B.C.

    Granny says: Ouspensky once wrote that there are things which live in darkness that can’t survive the light of day.
    The thoughts of racism are dark, ugly thoughts, and they fester in the darkness and grow there.
    The problem with political correctness is that “you can write out the lines, but you can’t
    make the actors feel.” The fact that racism is constantly rearing it’s ugly head is a sure sign it is festering under there.
    If we knew what people really thought,
    we might be able to shine some light on it, and thereby change it.
    You can’t change anything that is hiding in the closet. You can just keep the door shut… until it opens.

  3. T. says:

    Dr. C…Thanks for clarifying the point for me. That makes complete sense now. So infact the old adage ‘Might is right’, and ‘power corrupts’ holds true – explotation of individuals and even countries is all a manifestation of pecking order behaviours.

    BTW, what is your opinion on PC that I have asked Granny to clarify? Do you believe in political correctness?

    Thanks,

  4. T.

    See above

    and G.D. adds:

    People don’t perceive racism as a problem because it doesn’t impinge on their own lives.
    we live in a culture where we all know what we are supposed to say.

    PC prevails, no one takes notice.

  5. T. says:

    Dear Granny, thanks for your reply.

    You say, “If we knew what people really thought, we might be able to shine some light on it, and thereby change it.” That makes sense but Dr. BC has said, “There are all kinds of studies that show understanding doesn’t alter human behavior one bit.”

    IMHO, political correctness helps a society function normally because open expressions of racism paralyse society. Since PC won’t allow even expressing the desire of lynching anymore, African Americans don’t have to be afraid of hearing such a suggestion. The law makes sure everyone’s human rights are upheld, but PC makes sure no one is made to feel unsafe. Similarly, politicians that abandon pc and call for ouster of Muslims are creating disruption of social harmony. There may not be any love lost between Muslims and non-Muslims but PC is important to keep the society functioning. The person on the receiving end is probably a better judge of how useful PC is. Freedom of expression rests on a delicate balance with being PC: surely, the freedom to extend one’s arm should end where the other person’s nose begins.

    Allowing racism or any negative emotion to fester is not good but allowing it space to showcase itself also doesn’t work, since others will derive strength from it. We can’t change how people think, but we can control how they act. In that case, isn’t being politically correct a good thing?

    Dr. BC… please feel free to add to this discussion, if you like!

    Regards,

  6. Dear T.

    I agree.

    -Dr. B.C.

  7. A reader made a very astute observation today:

    Dr. Cliché whenever a politician talks of racism in trying not to be racist their being racist. For example recently one was talking about how he didn’t want the Muslim Americans singled out. In just calling them Muslim Americans instead of Americans he is not only singling them out but being racist.
    Why does everyone only talk on peoples differences? Why not talk about their similarities? At a base we all want the same things.

    S.

    • Dear S.

      Life is a balance of self and others or individuality vs. the group. I had a bumper sticker that summed it up. You are unique just like everyone else. There is no answer for how to achieve balance only that the quality of your life depends allot on how you choose to do it.
      In a larger scale it is more of the same thing. There needs to be a balance between one group (nation) with all the other groups (nations). Again there is no one answer but the quality of life on earth depends on it.
      Dr. Brilliant Cliché

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