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
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.