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Is Segregation Racism?

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Coot, Dec 17, 2002.

  1. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    Aside from the decided racist overtones of enforced segregation and apartheid, is the act of people voluntarily segregating themselves racist?

    Here in Southern California, there are decidedly racial enclaves. They are generally lower income, but there are some developing middle income Asian communities.

    To be sure, a large number of minorities that do move up economically opt to move into more homogenized communities, but the lower income minorities virtually insist on entrenching themselves with people like themselves.

    The ones that do move into homogenized communities, at least the hispanics and the African Americans are offered hostility and derision by the lower incomed.

    Is it racism or is it xenophobia? Is it something else?

    Just something I've been pondering since the Trent Lott affair has taken center ring in the media circus.
  2. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    The Asian communities in SoCal are self-segrationary (?). Most Asians have a fear of being viewed as stupid for not being able to speak the language (English) very effectively, so as a result, they build their own mini-communities inside larger ones. Take a drive down Valley Boulevard and you'll see lots of traditional and simplified Mandarin characters more than you'll see English.

    But insofar as Asians go, at the very least, they've been doing this since day one. NYC's Chinatown has been Hong Kong USA for what, a century now?

  3. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Heh, I was thinking of posting something similar (you know how I like controversial topics ;)) but alas, you beat me. :)
  4. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    All people want to live where they are more comfortable. The day will come when what we call race will not be the factor that decides comfort.
  5. Frodo Lives

    Frodo Lives Luke, I am NOT your father!

    It is sort of like, "Birds of a feather, flock together." Many people tend to feel more comfortable around people of their own kind. It's not racism, just a feeling of 'common ground'.
  6. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    People wanting to live where they are more comfortable is understandable, but is it racism?

    A young fellow (late 20's) down the street is hispanic. He grew up in Pacoima, which is just such an enclave. His perspective on his heritage and his roots was a bit different. He saw that where he grew up was exactly where he didn't want his future kids growing up. No money for college, so he enrolled at LA Trade Tech and became a pipefitter. He worked for a few years as a plumber and saved and then started his own company. By availing himself of minority SBA loans and choice LA City contracts, he can now afford a fairly upscale home in an upscale community. His family won't come to visit him here and he is scarcely welcome in Pacoima. He is referred to as a "pocho", an epithet for a sellout.

    So, I ask again, is voluntary segregation racism? Is it xenophobia? Is it self imposed ignorance?

    If it's nothing more than a 'comfort' issue, when does it become racist? If there is hate being preached in these enclaves, is that the line?

    To be sure, low income whites have their own enclaves here also. Poor whites also gravitate towards their own areas. The same racial diatribes can be found in these zones also.

    At the risk of repeating myself, when does it cease to become a comfort issue and become a racial issue? Is the concept of race an underpinning of our genetic makeup?

    I don't have the answers to any of this, but I am curious as to the opinions of my friends.

    My own opinion is that at some instinctual survival level, there may be some genetic or instinctual predisposition to band with those like us.
  7. Frodo Lives

    Frodo Lives Luke, I am NOT your father!

    Every race of men came from a group (clan, tribe, etc) originally. The urge for separation is a defensive reaction that comes from a time when groups fought each other for the resources needed to live. It is something that is ingrained in peoples genetic makeup. The concept of non-segregation is still something that is very new. Racism I feel, is just the fear of dealing with the change. It will still take many generations to remove completely.

    If you don't think that outside forces can be an influence on instinct, take a look at Apes. A baby ape is curious about everything, like any baby, except snakes. All apes have an deep instinctive fear of snakes from birth. Even the apes born in captivity that never had contact with snakes, nor have their parents.

    Of course I could be wrong so don't quote me. ;)
  8. jamming

    jamming Banned

    There has to be something driving race, other than genetics as Ditch pointed out in another thread, race and appearance is really not based upon the genes we carry from the study in Brazil. But is there comfort in what is familiar, does it mean that we want to our friends to look like us. There is the famous "X and O" study of racism, that if people of a group are randomly thorwn together to interact over a period of time, the people start gravitating in small groups of homogenized X or O. Also, they seem to try and come up with theories that explain the differences in what unknowing to them was a random selection. the were told that they were selected for the group, but not how it was done. If most of the people of one group had haircolor of a certain type then it was assumed that was one of the reasons.

    An Interesting Study that I played out in one of my seminary classes on racism and discrimination.
  9. Coriolis

    Coriolis Bob's your uncle

    Good question, and one that is rife with gray, fuzzy lines.

    In essence, I think that segregation of a minority group is only truly racist when imposed or enforced by the majority group. Forcing blacks in South Africa, or Native Americans in the US for that matter, into enclosed communities is racist. It is racist because there is intent by a majority group to separate themselves from the minority, and presumably the motive is to avoid "polluting" the majority's society. The degree of racism is dependent on the motive.

    Self-selected segregation is not as clear cut. On one hand it is not racist, in the above sense, because, although the intent (on behalf of the minority group) may be similar, I believe the motive is different. Here, the motive is not to avoid polluting the minority society, but to retain a sense of community with the freedom to choose to do otherwise. Forced segregation does not offer this freedom. However, on the other hand, self-selected segregation can still be racist, if the motive is to avoid "polluting" the minority society (which also fits well with forced segregation, where it is the majority who self-selects segregation and enforces it on the minority groups).

    Not sure if the above is clear enough... it's late. :nut:
  10. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    Lots of good answers in this thread. I will offer up the tired but true dictionary definiton of racism.

    Racism, according to Merriam Webster:
    Note one of the synonyms is discrimination, which really means nothing more than the ability to tell the difference. Another synonym is prejudice:
    While one popular definition of racism presupposes that it can only be practiced from a position of power, the actual definition would suggest otherwise.

    Now that I reflect on the impetus for starting this thread, it occurs to me that Joseftu was also instrumental in getting this idea rolling around in my melon.

    Racism, no matter who is practicing it and no matter the position it is being practiced from, has as its prime motivational factor, separation and suspicion. It would seem, at least on a practical level, that it's not going away anytime soon and as such, the very best we can realistically achieve is to limit the damage it does through awareness that it's a very real aspect of our society and to consciously choose to both recognize it for what it truly is and to freely and openly discuss it when the opportunity arises. Pontification and blustering and even apologies does nothing to stem it. Confronting it on the individual level rather than the group level seems to me to be our means of gaining the greatest advantage over it. Taking the wind out of its sails on a societal level through legislation was probably as good as the law can do. The rest is up to individuals as I'm pretty sure from here on out, to make any real progress, it's an inside job.
  11. FrankF

    FrankF #55170-054

    Your neighbor is not racist, but his family and friends who will not visit his home are racist.

    Other posts in this thread have pointed out that people generally like to hang with people they are comfortable with. It is human nature for people to gravitate toward others who are of the same race and/or who share similar cultural or religious beliefs, experiences, and backgrounds.

    Those who intentionally avoid people of other races, or who discriminate against others of other races, or who demand special treatment because of their race... are IMHO racists.

    I will always believe that the NAACP, BET, Rainbow-Push, the American Negro College Fund, Miss Black America, the [insert company name] Distinguished Black Engineer Awards, the MTV Black Music Awards, [insert company name] Latino Employees Association, Black History Month, and ad nauseum... are despite whatever PC means they use to convince me otherwise... all racist.
  12. Kangaroo

    Kangaroo Passed Away June 15th, 2009

    A gentle pride in the accomplishments of one's people, or an affinity for one's milk-language, or a prediliction towards same-looking or -sounding people isn't racisist or segregationist. As Coriolis said, being shoved into niches by society based upon the above is racist. Erecting walls around self-created niches is racist. Hiding in the niches is understandable fear. But a general cultural gravity well is enriching to those in it as well as those without.
  13. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    Voluntary, self-imposed segregation is not racism; it is merely the expression of a person to live amongst others most like themselves. We all do it, to some extent or another.

    However, this type of "benign" segregation is quite capable of creating and fostering actual racism. The danger lies when "comfort" becomes "normal" and "normal" then becomes "the only right way". The danger lies in attitudes that create labels such as "pocho"; there is a similar label for blacks but, I'm quite happy to note, I can't recall it at the moment. Strangely enough, I don't believe there is one for Asians.

    Punishing people for success, as compared to the racial background of their origins, is clearly racism.
  14. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    Stevent, I agree with much of what you say. But it occurs to me that labeling those that leave might be anger or frustration at the successful person not staying and helping to uplift the people in the area they were born. Understandable to a degree.
  15. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    I would understand that, except......let me skate on the thin ice of racism, here.

    Asian immigrants and the Asian community, in general, do not have that attitude. Coming here with nothing, hard work is applied, education is availed, success is rewarded, the family is taken care of, much money is even sent back overseas to support the extended family.

    Let me note that the same applies to all sorts of immigrants to Europe, from Africa, Indonesia, and other Third World countries.

    There is something in other ethnic communities that produces a different result, a different outlook. I do not say it is racism, but based on the general example of other ethnic communities, there is some difference that creates disparagement, rather than admiration, of the success of those who manage to "grab the bull by the horns."
  16. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    It is also a good example of envy. A group of people can feel that they are so oppressed that, when one of their own rises above and beyond the apparent boundaries that that group has perceived, they show hostility towards the achiever.

    When it comes to race related issues, few things upset me more than to see a black person accuse another black person of not being black enough or of being too white. In other words, if a black man is wealthy, educated or belongs to a country club, then he/she must be a sell-out. I guess these people are supposed to just sit back and live in poverty and bitch about it forever? Puh-leeeeeeze.

    This reminds me of a recent political campaign in New Jersey where one black man accused his black opponent of not being black enough. The media is all over Trent Lott's ass for something taken completely out of context, but it's ok to accuse a black man of not being black enough? Just IMAGINE if a white politician accused his opponent of not being white enough. OMG, the media would jump on the story, and Jesse Jackson would be there protesting in a heartbeat. Where was the outrage during the New Jersey election?
  17. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    I agree with your outrage at the dual standards. When they go away we may actually be approaching racial harmony. Nobody has ever explained to me how you achieve equality by reverse discrimination. How can your claims of wanting equality be taken seriously when your equality is only achieved at the expense of someone else's equality?
  18. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Is there anyone of color here? I'd like to hear it from the other end of the scale.


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