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Jul 172016

As seen from afar, the USA seems to be having a problem with racial tensions – police shootings, protests, “Black Lives Matter“, etc., and racial inequality such as found at Facebook. Nobody with any sense doubts that there is racism in the USA – everywhere there are bone-headed bigots worrying about the colour of the dead stuff that keeps the squishy bits on the inside.

But we may be too quick to assume that it is simply racism; many of the symptoms could well be caused by wealth inequality and relative poverty.

The wealthy (and their children) are more like to succeed because of a number of factors :-

  1. They are more able to afford private education – either to supplement state education or to replace it with presumably higher quality private education.
  2. They are more able to afford higher education; even though it is possible for those who cannot afford it to get loans to pay for higher education in the USA, this will leave those in debt at a disadvantage.
  3. Social networks (the “old boy network”) that the wealthy have access to includes greater opportunities at internships at organisations that give their children greater opportunities.
  4. And internships themselves seem designed to favour the children of the wealthy – unpaid work in the hope of getting a better job at the end of it is something that is only a suitable option if you already have money to live on.

There are those who point at people from relatively poor backgrounds who have “made it”, and there’s certainly no doubt that exceptional people can succeed whatever their background. But most of us are not exceptional.

Relative poverty and lack of opportunity can easily lead to frustration with the system, and amongst the criminally inclined a tendency to resort to crime – those with more wealth or more opportunities will not resort to crime to the same extent.

So does the USA have a racism problem or a wealth inequality problem? I’m not sure what the answer is, but I would not be at all surprised if the answer is both.

2012-05-19-sheep standing guard.small

Jun 172010

I’m watching Malcolm X about the “black” civil rights activist; there is a point in the film where a point is made about colours in the dictionary – black is bad and white is good.

This is supposedly the result of some sort of racist conspiracy to persuade people that black people are bad and that white people are good. There may be some level of truth to that.And this little rant is not aimed at undermining the achievements of the black civil rights activists.

However I have my own dictionary which is somewhat more extensive that the one used in the film – the OED. This includes references to the earliest uses of the word black in various contexts. The first use of the word black in reference to something evil goes back as far as the 13th century; the first use in reference to people of a certain skin colour is in the 19th century.

The meaning of black meaning evil to some extent obviously has its origins in the fear of the dark at night. Everyone has walked home on a dark night and been a little spooked by what can come out of the darkness. Today’s dark nights are a lot less spooky than they were in the past – we have far more artificial lighting and even where it isn’t close, a little of that distant light sheds a little into the darkest corner.

Trying to change things so “black is good” just doesn’t work historically.

And when you come down to it, “black” people don’t have black skin at all – it isn’t even a good colour description. We all have chocolate-coloured skin … mine is like white chocolate; others have milk chocolate skin, and some have dark chocolate skin. But it is all chocolate-coloured.

Humans have chocolate-coloured skin. All of us; every member of the human race.

Sep 122007

I’m part of the human race and I’m mostly happy about that. We have a bewildering variety of members … tall ones, short ones, fat ones, thin ones, bright ones, dim ones; we even have two different sexes (which makes things even more interesting). We also have a wide variety of different shades of skin colour, and for some totally incomprehensible reason some people seem to get excited about this. The overly excitable people seem to want to divide us up into different “races” based seemingly on what colour our skin is, and use this arbitrary division to make assumptions about the person wearing the skin. As if the colour of the dead matter that keeps the squishy bits in, and the Sun (and rain) out is particularly important. Of course it is not just skin colour that matters to these people …

Apparently I’m white (although it being at the end of the summer, I’m not really sure I’m white enough to qualify). Which makes me a member of a certain “race”. I’m also English which makes me a member of a smaller “race”, and could mean I’m also Anglo-Saxon (another “race”). I live in a land called “Britain” which gives me a good chance of being a member of the “Brythonic” “race” as well. I live in the south of England so I’m also a “southerner”, and I live in Portsmouth so I’m obviously better than someone from Southampton. In addition I live on the south side of a certain road which makes me far better than those who live on the north side.

Well that’s obviously rubbish! And for the record, historically that last division (north and south of a certain road in Portsmouth) was viewed in that sort of way. If you look closely, what I’m demonstrating is that if we get hung up on differences then we can make smaller and smaller sub-divisions where the group we belong to is “better” and those outside are “worse”. And the factors that determine what sub-division we belong to (skin colour, ancestry, etc.) are the worst possible factors in determining someone’s value.

Apparently being determined not to recognise any sub-division of the human race as being valid makes me some kind of liberal wuss, which bothers me not at all … and those who criticise and call me a wuss for holding this position should sit back and think for a bit. It’s not liberal wusses that cause so much grief with their artificial sub-divisions of the human race.

I’m a rascist and fully prejudiced in favour of the human race … every single last one of them.

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