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Post No.: 0874colour

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

‘Interpersonal racism’ occurs between individuals whenever racist beliefs lead to racist acts, like one person/group attacking someone’s shop merely because of the latter’s skin colour.

 

‘Institutional racism’ describes how ostensibly neutral-appearing policies within organisations can actually discriminate against one or more ethnic minorities, like screening past criminal records before hiring candidates when certain ethnicities may disproportionately hold more criminal convictions due to them disproportionately being raised and living in deprived areas where crime is often seen as the only viable way to make money.

 

‘Systemic racism’ is broader and describes how the effects of racial disparities from one institution or area can spill over into another, like unequal educational opportunities for certain ethnic minorities when young can lead to these ethnicities having less chance of entering higher educational institutions and consequently acquiring higher-paid jobs in the workplace.

 

‘Structural racism’ considers how all the above interact to compound the effects of historic and present racial discrimination upon those affected, like how racial disparity leads to economic disparity and in turn health and political disparity. This was what Post No.: 0819 was basically getting at.

 

Apart from interpersonal racism, it shows us how racism can perpetuate within societies without individuals needing to hold racist beliefs or individually committing racist acts. This could perhaps explain how even black police officers in the USA can treat black criminal suspects more harshly than other suspects.

 

On top of facing racism from the outside – ‘colourism’ mostly comes from within one’s own communities (e.g. in many South Asian, East Asian and African communities) and even one’s own families. So with colourism – even relatively lighter-skin-toned ethnically Indian people can discriminate against relatively darker-skin-toned ethnically Indian people, for example. Colourism is about discriminating people based on the shade of their skin colour, with (according to present cultural beliefs) people with lighter skin shades prejudged as socially superior, and people with darker skin shades prejudged as having no hope in life (from birth), no job prospects, and no marriage prospects.

 

It’s all relative. Hence this provokes some people with darker skin tones to bleach their skin through various methods – which is a case of where few people like or want this kind of prejudice on this planet but it perpetuates partly because plenty of people are being pressured to succumb to the tradition or culture of desiring to be lighter in skin shade and holding lighter people in higher social regard. It stems from old ideas of class/caste, is exacerbated by colonialism, and is linked to the external problem of racism too because to make oneself appear lighter can be an act of self-preservation – not just to improve one’s own chances of landing jobs or a partner but due to feeling safer on the streets, in a culture that generally rewards lighter-skinned people, and bullies or mobs darker-skinned people, for simply having their skin colour. Colourism and racism thus become internalised or accepted as a norm.

 

It would be ideal, or idealistic, for a few contiguous generations of darker-skinned people to all not lighten or brighten their skin but to show that they’re all proud of being their natural skin tone, in order to shift the cultural attitudes towards skin colour, but this requires the rest of society not discriminating against people based on their skin colour. As long as there’s such discrimination, the individual self-preservation strategy would be to lighten one’s skin if it is dark. Yet, as long as anyone lightens their skin for their own sake, the discrimination would appear legitimate because even dark-skinned people seemingly don’t want to be dark themselves. Thus the collective discrimination will persist. It’s a case of is it courage to not lighten one’s own skin if it’s dark so that one can show solidarity and collectively shift society’s attitudes towards skin tone, or is it foolish for one’s own prospects in life as an individual if one doesn’t lighten one’s own skin? It again most of all requires everybody, regardless of their skin colour or shade, to see past colour, yet not be ‘colour-blind’ to the real discriminations that exist due to skin colour or shade.

 

‘Racial impostor syndrome’ is when an immigrant (of any generation) or someone of ‘mixed race’ feels like they don’t have the right to claim to truly belong to any of the identities they’re associated with – as if feeling too x for y, and simultaneously too y for x. This could be because of not accepting oneself as having a particular identity, or because of other people not accepting oneself as having that identity (e.g. a second-generation ethnically Chinese person not being accepted as British even though they were born and bred in England), which could then lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

‘Stereotype threat’ describes when members of minority or maligned groups don’t perform well on tests due to anxieties around confirming the negative stereotypes related to their social group (although evidence of this effect in the real world appears small).

 

Some stereotypes may seem positive (like men are tough, women are nurturing) but if individuals don’t conform to these stereotypes then they’re considered ‘abnormal’ or ‘weird’ (like women who are tough and assertive are bitches, men who are nurturing and sensitive are weak).

 

‘Defensive othering’, meanwhile, describes how marginalised individuals may attempt to distance themselves from other members of their own group in order to align themselves with the dominant majority. Instead of challenging the dominant majority culture, their strategy is to essentially say ‘please pick on them (i.e. those who have an even closer proximity to the negative stereotypes, like those with darker skin than oneself) instead of me’.

 

We can therefore sometimes find a marginalised person from a minority group trying to harass another person from another minority group, or sometimes someone from seemingly the same minority group as themselves. This might be a strategy to try to side themselves with the majority group and therefore make themselves personally less of a target by members of the majority group. It might also be a displacement strategy i.e. projecting or misdirecting their anger or frustrations onto someone else – someone whom they think isn’t empowered to effectively fight back, which can mean someone from another marginalised group. (It’s kind of like when footballers receive a bad decision, they sometimes displace their vexations onto their opponents when really the bad decision was down to the referee because she/he made it – but attacking the referee would be severely costly so the opponents are attacked instead. Or, not quite so relevant here but, what sometimes happens is that ten people accumulatively test one’s patience, but the first nine of those will get away with it when the last person won’t, which is unfair on that last person – the response seems proportionate to the aggressor but it’s disproportionate to the recipient of that aggression.)

 

Racism can come from persons of any colour towards persons of any other colour. And when two groups argue, for instance, about who’s better between two basketball players who happen to be of different ethnic minorities or skin colours – the conversation becomes flawed if it somehow descends into which race is better than the other. Those players are individuals and don’t represent any race because there’s so much variance within, and overlap between, supposed races. Every ethnicity is full of diversity within their groups, not homogenous. The skills and attributes of those athletes don’t indicate that all people of the same corresponding ethnicity or skin colour possess the same skills and attributes. Yet some people will argue as if they do – they generally apply negative racial stereotypes to those who aren’t of the same supposed race to them, and apply positive racial self-stereotypes to themselves by basking in the reflected glories of their supposed ‘own kind’. But that athlete isn’t you, and the other athlete isn’t ‘them’. We can therefore see that BIRGing is related to racism as well as nationalism. If we lack some quality ourselves, we might point out someone we’re closely associated with who doesn’t lack it. (It’s like many children love to brag about ‘my dad is a better driver than/would beat up your dad’ or similar(!))

 

So we can form self-associations and self-stereotypes too. And we can often be overly ‘indirectly self-critical’ against those whom we’re associated with, like people of the same ethnicity or from the same birthplace as us, in contexts where they’re perceived to be representing us and our own reputations as well as their own. But again members of our own ethnicity, country or whatever don’t always represent us – those individuals should represent themselves as individuals, and we as individuals should represent ourselves as individuals, rather than reflect in each other’s glories or shames.

 

Although not to the same extent as stereotyping outgroups, some people even self-stereotype their own ingroups to make an excuse for their own behaviours, like as if saying, “Sorry but this flirty/harassing behaviour is just the way we men from country x are. It’s in our blood.”

 

Basically, until people stop assuming that a particular individual’s attributes or lack thereof necessarily reflect upon anyone else of the same skin colour, and stop assuming that the perceived stereotypical attributes or lack thereof of a supposed racial group must automatically reflect upon any particular individual who supposedly belongs to that group, then racism is still prevalent and present. In terms of skin colour at least, an individual doesn’t represent their supposed social group, and the stereotypes of a supposed social group don’t necessarily apply to all individuals who have the same skin colour, whether it involves negative (usually applied to others) or positive (usually applied to oneself) discriminations or associations.

 

Yet if we think that a few particular cars that come from a foreign manufacturer are crap then we might generalise, “That country’s cars are ****!” Yet if we think that a few particular cars that come from a manufacturer from our own country are crap then we might say, “That manufacturer’s cars are ****” or just, “These cars are ****.” It takes a lot before we’ll believe, “My country’s cars are ****!” Or we might say, “People from country x are/were all y” – even though we’ll never assume, “People from my country are/were all z” (e.g. a British person assuming ‘people from Great Britain are/were all a bunch of slave traders and cultural artefact thieves’!)

 

Everything we don’t truly understand gets clumped into one ‘homogenous category’ if they’re believed to be associated with each other whilst simultaneously being alien to us (e.g. if we condemn how a particular foreign country is being governed then it’s surely something to do their ancient philosophies, which we don’t quite understand either).

 

We mustn’t always jump to conclusions with accusations of racism though. When somebody designs a fictional character that apparently conforms to a supposed stereotype then it’s hard to say whether they’re intentionally relying on a stereotype based on that evidence alone. If they design an entire group of characters that apparently conform to that stereotype though then they’re obviously misrepresenting that social group.

 

If someone however designs a character belonging to a particular social group but this character doesn’t even represent a single person in that group (e.g. a supposedly Oriental character who yells like a Bruce Lee film character when fighting except whenever just trying to talk normally – not even Bruce Lee did this!) then this would be plain naïve.

 

Some white people assume that Japanese manga characters are mostly white – but that bias is like assuming that The Simpsons are white even though they’re yellow(!)

 

Meow. No one wants to believe they’re racist. But everyone should learn to accept that no one is perfect, and that’s okay as long as we strive to become better individuals. So being self-compassionate and kind to ourselves allows us to recognise our fallibilities without harsh self-judgement, rather than deny our fallibilities. This then gives us a chance to correct them.

 

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