Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Judging before

In progress (or may be I'll leave it unfinished)

Some speculated, back in the early twentieth century, that racism would finally be banished from society as the different peoples of the world increasingly came together - both sociably and, more crucially, sexually - thus gradually erasing any superficially distinguishing racial features and, as a consequence, any judgements based thereupon. And this predication came true, to an extent, in hindsight. But what those earlier speculators did not - could not - factor into their predictions, was the exponential proliferation of fake tanning lotion, predominately amongst the more prosperous and visibly paler minority. Indeed, through some cosmic irony and the gradual osmosis of certain hitherto unknown toxic tanning agents, a genetic mutation occurred leading, together with interbreeding, to a universal tarnished cooper-bronze skin appearance. Now it is arguable whether, as a result, racism presently is any the less rampant than amongst our pre-millennial fore-bearers and this reading lies on untangling a certain linguistic confusion.

A racist is one who believes, due to some pseudo theoretical social-biological construct, that a specific subset of the world population are inherently inferior to others (it is interesting to note that those forming such theories are almost invariably not amongst the so-called “racially deficient” themselves). Actually, most people accused of racism are not in fact, strictly speaking, racists - lacking the prerequisite intelligence to form anything so sophisticated as a theoretic paradigm of racial inferiority - they are “merely” prejudice. Or, to put it another way, their prejudicial ignorance is often less egregiously formulated as that of the race superiority theorist. Perhaps this is merely a linguistic turn, surely the focus should be on the hateful and often violent consequences of such prejudices, no matter their ill-informed theoretical window dressing? And certainly that should be foremost in our minds. However, the subtly of prejudice - literally to “pre-judge” - often gets overlooked in the more crudely applied epitaph of “racist”. Understandably so, because, everyone is prejudice, to an extent, sometimes by force of circumstance given lack of knowledge, other times as a socially convenient (lazy) way of grouping and interacting with people. We are predisposed to look for differences; we also look for similarities. These attributes or social markers need not immediately manifest in terms of colour, race, religion, but as cues to social status, cultural mores, neighbourhood symbols of wealth - car type, the relative condition of lawn manicure, being a "respected" member of a select hierarchical group or organisation -

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