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Why it's so hard to talk to white people about racism

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Good points in general. I think a major thrust of the approach being taken by persons on this thread must not be dismissed.

When the issues of racism are brought up by statists, collectivists, group-ists, the "dialogue" often is often colored with invalid concepts tied to the tribalist mentality of those collectivists, i.e. "we" "them" "your people". Insofar as "groupist" rhetoric is invalid, it CANNOT illuminate the problem of racism nor provide any moral solution to racism.

This is why responses to COLLECTIVISTS who raise the racism issue MUST be based in principle, on morality, and should not fall into the trappings of invalid collectivist posturing. An Objectivist should respond objectively, and in a principled manner which is based on the morality of rational-self interest.

..............

It would appear from the language of your posts such as "individualist rhetoric" and "white privilege" that you have a deeper dispute with what Objectivism holds are the proper role of government and what constitutes individual rights and what non initiation of force is.

What is you concept of "white privilege"? Could such a thing exist purely in the private sphere of a proper society? Should government "intervene"?

What is "individualist rhetoric"? If morality is rational self-interest, and the individual is the sole beneficiary of morality, i.e. that the good is the life of the a self-sovereign, how can speaking of such an absolute value as the individual amount to rhetoric? Is there "rationality rhetoric" or "happiness rhetoric" or "rhetoric about value" or "rhetoric about loving life" ?

Certainly erroneous statements can be made about anything which is precious and important... your phrase implies the individual is neither of those to you.

Translation: I didn't listen to anything you said, but only collectivists are allowed to "raise the racism issue" therefore you must be some kind of commie.

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The relation of "privilege" to rights is essential. The collectivist are always arguing that one mans "privilege" is a warrant for another mans "right" to something as a result. The Lee Hunsacker mentality of entitlement to the unearned is the AS concretization of this. His anger at Midas Mulligan is the result of this mentality. In the "Brothers Keeper" section of AS James Taggart expresses the sentiment "the privilege of strength" in another gives him the "right of weakness".

The pride in the unearned of racism is usually coupled to the message of unearned guilt of "privilege" (social or otherwise) by collectivist.

2046 said:

Yeah calling people racists in order to shut down debate is bad, and there are a lot of people that are against that when people try to do that sometimes. But usually when libertarians are getting called racists or labeled as ignorant of racial issues it's because they do things like use individualist rhetoric to deny actual historical and existing racism, or downplay the existence of white privilege, or just make tone deaf statements like some of the ones in this thread.

So then it's possible to acknowledge the existence of racism in whatever degree it exists without "wanting a people's republic of the US" then one should take that position, instead of denying reality altogether or putting your head in the sand. It's possible to be anti racism and anti statism, just because some anti racists are statist doesn't mean you go denying the existence of racism and it's modern day effects on the structure of society.

This is the latest in a long string of strawmen. (Despite your false attribution of same to others)Who here has denied racism? Concretize the "oppressive" "structure of society" and "white privilege" in a way that is consistent with Oist tenets and relevant to anything that someone here has made claims against. Specifically what are you arguing FOR as a consequence of these "structures" and "privileges"? What are the "privileged to do about these unearned possessions?

Your spouting of arbitrary generalizations like "Rush Limbaugh libertarians" does nothing to elucidate what in particular anyone here has actually said. Who here has sought to "employ individualist rhetoric in the service of racism,"? Don't make a strawman rephrasing to something no one is saying (as your entire # 22 post). Give specific instances.

The article can be summed up as collectivist rhetoric that complains that white people have the irritating habit of responding to unearned guilt trips by pointing out that "groups" are not super entities that act in a way that individuals do and they as individuals are not responsible for the actions of others.That is not a denial of racism. Given that no one here has denied racism exist, what is the point of your rant? Your whole point seems to be that people are uncomfortable discussing racism because they deny it exist and that is NOT the case here or in the article.

The article specifically states:

This erases our history and hides the way in which wealth has accumulated over generations and benefits us, as a group, today. It also allows us to distance ourselves from the history and actions of our group.

Here she uses "our history" as a means of criticizing the individual who rejects the blame for the action of other individuals. (What a "group" actually is ) She specifically ties it to wealth. Inheritance is the perfect example here. One cannot control what they inherit. Especially when it is skin color....

Just want to add this:

Aleph said:

I would just like to put additional stress on the idea that racism is an attempt to claim value by group association

And 2046 responded:

Yeah no, stress on the idea of racism is an attempt to uphold individualism, (cause you know racism is bad) like the individualists of the past all opposing racism, before modern day alliance with right wingers and conservatives. Or I guess Ayn Rand is trying to "claim value by group association" when she wrote the essay "Racism"? Ayn Rand is a collectivist!!!, Ayn Rand uses Marxist epistemology!!!... says modern right wing Rush Limbaugh libertarians.

Aleph did not say "putting additional stress on the idea of racism is an attempt to claim value by group association". Your beating straw men.

"Why its so difficult to talk to context droppers who spout strawmen" could be a response to the claims made about the article.

Edited by Plasmatic

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3. Some of these effects can include benefits to white people today from the injustices done to persons of color in the past.

Let's get specific. I'm white. In what way am I benefiting from injustices done to persons of color?

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Why is it so hard to talk to white people about racism? First, I object to the premise of the question. There is no such monolithic thing called "white people". Second, when discussing racism one encounters the shibboleth of white privilege. In this way one is side-tracked down a dead-end of nothingness and avoids issues of real substance. Third, those who object to the meaninglessness are ridiculed and side-lined. unreality prevails.

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To answer the OP:

 

Two reasons:

 

1. It's a tough issue to openly discuss since public discussions usually revolve around the media piling on someone for saying something "not correct", and more importantly:

 

2. Guilt.  Original Sin is alive and well and the collectivists have made this the secular version of it. 

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Let's get specific. I'm white. In what way am I benefiting from injustices done to persons of color?

 

I made the mistake of returning to college to round out a degree and ended up in a God awful multicultural course that took this on.

 

Long story short - You have advantages because you never started out disadvantaged.  Those have not been subjugated as a culture are privileged.  

 

It's the same reason the book actually said that reverse racism is not possible.  Whites cannot be discriminated against since they have not been subjugated as a culture and are already ahead in life.  

 

Not making that shit up.  

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Spiral said:

It's the same reason the book actually said that reverse racism is not possible. Whites cannot be discriminated against since they have not been subjugated as a culture and are already ahead in life.

Yes, those with unequal (egalitarianism) advantage cannot be said to be injured because they are still ahead. The need of the subjugated gives them the right to discriminate (redistribute equally)....

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Historical subjugation and oppression as a standard of value is absurd. Okay, my ancestors were Pennsylvania Dutch--an oppressed minority that left Germany, sailed from Rotterdam and ended up in Penn's forrest (Pennsylvania) all to escape starvation and oppression. This may have contributed to some later ancestors' decision to desert the confederate army and join the fight against slavery by joining the Union Army. Does this history endow me with "white privilege"? As a matter of fact, it is completely irrelevant to me and who I am. It didn't help me an iota, nor did I know of it until a couple of years ago when I saw the military records of two brothers who fought on both sides of the civil war.

There are plenty of oppressed white groups. How do we tally the debt to those having subjugated ancestors? I'd like to pay my share now so as to never have to be bothered with it again. Unfortunately, whether "privileged" or not, and how do you prove or disprove it?, once labeled as privileged your debt is eternal. There is no absolution from original sin, and only the assertion of privilege is sufficient to damn you and yours forever. I say, "Get the Hell out of my way!"

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What is "individualist rhetoric"?  If morality is rational self-interest, and the individual is the sole beneficiary of morality, i.e. that the good is the life of the a self-sovereign, how can speaking of such an absolute value as the individual amount to rhetoric?  Is there "rationality rhetoric" or "happiness rhetoric" or "rhetoric about value" or "rhetoric about loving life" ? 

 

Certainly erroneous statements can be made about anything which is precious and important... your phrase implies the individual is neither of those to you.

The way I thought of it is like this:

 

We are all responsible for ourselves and our outcome in life. All people need to do is pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, and all will be right in the world. Nothing else matters, and what society does has no bearing on me. So talking about racism is a waste - what other people do isn't your concern. Be self-reliant and don't associate with bad people.

 

None of that is false really. The problem is going on to ignore discussion about race where society does have bearing on your life whether you are self-reliant or not. We can't just stop at egoism and say we've found out all we need to be able to lead good lives. One thing to talk about is what sort of actions people have taken since the 60s to fix the mess of life and undo any repurcussion of racism. Some opt for government action. Others do literally nothing. Some are after social change. Extremists could go as far as Black Panthers. What should we as egoists do? Just state generalities without any details? If we do, we'd sound like the libertarians of Rand's day that she criticized for being philosophically empty. It's not like we'd say "All that matters is the NAP!", so we shouldn't say "All that matters is your own actions!" Sometimes, what other people do, even with good intentions, have a negative impact that we can't totally avoid.

 

The word "rhetoric" isn't necessarily a negative judgment by the way; so yes, there is rhetoric of all kinds. Speaking at all is rhetoric. What matters is if it's rhetoric that gets the whole picture, or is persuasive.

Edited by Eiuol

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The way I thought of it is like this:

 

We are all responsible for ourselves and our outcome in life. All people need to do is pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, and all will be right in the world.

If by being responsible and pulling ones self up by their own bootstraps you mean to think and act for themselves, that's pretty straightforward.

Nothing else matters, and what society does has no bearing on me. So talking about racism is a waste - what other people do isn't your concern. Be self-reliant and don't associate with bad people.

 

None of that is false really. The problem is going on to ignore discussion about race where society does have bearing on your life whether you are self-reliant or not.

What society does has no bearing on me./The problem is going on to ignore discussion (what others/society does) about race where society does have a bearing on your life. . .

Which is it? If society is a pseudonym for politics here, it does have a bearing. How can "What society does has no bearing on me." not be false without further contextual clarification?

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If by being responsible and pulling ones self up by their own bootstraps you mean to think and act for themselves, that's pretty straightforward.

What society does has no bearing on me./The problem is going on to ignore discussion (what others/society does) about race where society does have a bearing on your life. . .

Which is it? If society is a pseudonym for politics here, it does have a bearing. How can "What society does has no bearing on me." not be false without further contextual clarification?

That was the part that was wrong - it drops context of exactly the sort of society people live in. So that part is too ambiguous to mean anything. What other people has bearing on you, even aside from politics! I think you're agreeing with me. There's nothing wrong with explaining the state of society, and to say that some people aren't all faced with the same situation. Sometimes a whole aggregate set of events will leave some people impacted negatively, and all sorts of institutional and cultural reasons make it so on average, there are lots of economic divisions, and even strange cultural interactions.

 

For instance, I was reading about a psychologist doing research on elementary school teachers. His research suggests that black student's had their writing judged more positively, even though literally the only difference was labeling a piece of writing as from a black student. I'll show you the papers if you want. What does one do about little things like that? It's a real phenomena. The least we can do is talk about it. I don't think it's enough to just tell people to be self-reliant, as we'd want to get people to think more rationally, even if their irrationality isn't obvious or blatant.

 

I'd say that the original article here only makes racism hard to talk about. As I posted a bit earlier, the writer goes on about whiteness and "white people", and goes for tribalizing that way, as opposed to actually talking about race!

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That was the part that was wrong - it drops context of exactly the sort of society people live in. So that part is too ambiguous to mean anything. What other people has bearing on you, even aside from politics! I think you're agreeing with me.

I'm not sure if I'm agreeing with you, or you're agreeing with me.

 

When you stated "None of that is really false" presumably referring to the claim in your first paragraph  it led me to think that if it is not really false, it must really be true then, ie; that others have no bearing on you must be true. Then you followed with how others do have a bearing on you.

 

As a partial aside, with the racism/tribalism aspect here, Young Conservatives (content in spoilers to follow) miss the broader picture in the following way with Freddie Gray saying:

Blacks riot, destroying black businesses, after a black guy dies in police custody, because of three black officers,

baltimore-meme-1.png

in a 43% black police department, under a black female mayor, with a black female state attorney, in a city ruled by Democrats for over fifty years,

baltimore-meme-2.png

so the first black female U.S. attorney, appointed by the first black president, blames racism.

baltimore-meme-3.png

(Illustrations from Young Conservatives link embedded in the spoilers following the captions.)

 

While absurd considering the use of race (of which humanity boasts five), the deeper tribalism aspect is glossed over.

A civilian (or more specifically, a non-police officer) dies at the hands of the police.

This essential reeks of the same characteristic: of judging a man based on the clothing he wears rather than skin color, a visually given differentia — a policeman's uniform vs. not a policeman's uniform. In this case it's a case of failing to recognize what the police occasionally have to encounter in their line of duty being sacrificed to the Rodney King line of "Can't we all just get along". I would have to respond to Rodney with "Not as long as we are unable to discriminate the crucial differences."

 

Edited by dream_weaver
added (or more specifically, a non-police officer)

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Probably would've been better to say "not quite true" rather than "not really false". It's better, if talking about race, to stay on facts first and think about historical development of race (to me, race is a psycho-social phenomena and should die out as a concept), and use individualism after that to make arguments about what sort of actions to take in response.

 

What are those images supposed to illustrate? It says nothing about the status of society or how it got the way it is. I mean, I'm not sure I missed a wider context you're getting at.

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Probably would've been better to say "not quite true" rather than "not really false". It's better, if talking about race, to stay on facts first and think about historical development of race (to me, race is a psycho-social phenomena and should die out as a concept), and use individualism after that to make arguments about what sort of actions to take in response.

 

What are those images supposed to illustrate? It says nothing about the status of society or how it got the way it is. I mean, I'm not sure I missed a wider context you're getting at.

Not quite true would have couched it better.

 

I mentioned five races of humanity. It would seem that that reference is disinitigrating with time. Here's one link referencing 3-5, while outlining 3, potential 4. Still the visual differences are pronounced enough that they are used to easily distinguish when encountered. Yes, individualism trumps this easily, but many still opt for the less mental work of classifying what remains as a visual difference.

 

The visual difference is what is being alluded to with the collection of images put together by the Young Conservatives group. The wider context I'm indicating is it is easy to point the finger at the visually recognizable figure of a police officer. The uniform, the gun, the badge make them stand out visually. It doesn't require much mental effort to determine you are looking at a police officer when you see one dressed accordingly. The rioting as a reaction to this situation does not address anything. It is senseless. It is devoid of reasoning.

 

It amounts to: Oh look. another (relatively rare occurrence) police officer involved in an incident which resulted in death (without acquiring all the facts into a proper context).

 

How does it get this way? Fair question. How do you go from the Thomas Paine's, Benjamin Franklin's, Patrick Henry's and John Adam's — throw in an organized tea tax revolt (read: proactionary) — to random targets of violence spurred by an unfocused anger (consider who the phrase "the man"  is used directed at: sometimes to refer to the boss in employment, or more generally, just about any authority figure; read: reactionary)?

Edited by dream_weaver

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to random targets of violence spurred by an unfocused anger (consider who the phrase "the man"  is used directed at: sometimes to refer to the boss in employment, or more generally, just about any authority figure; read: reactionary)?

But that's not all the topic is about... that there are rioters somewhere is only one piece of an entire topic. You missed talking about actual racists in the past who really did do terrible things to impact society in ways that didn't immediately go away after their ideas fell out of style. There is more to talk about than some irrational reactionaries. Unfortunately, I don't have a working thesis other than my idea of how laws against racism propogate the effects of racism rather ironically. It's also partially that  race shouldn't be a "thing" at all, it's like an invalid concept, and its use confuses things (as opposed to nationality to explain your family history or a cultural background). 3-5 original races is of limited use, as a lot can change in one or two generations. It's just a vague border.

Edited by Eiuol

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Probably would've been better to say "not quite true" rather than "not really false". It's better, if talking about race, to stay on facts first and think about historical development of race (to me, race is a psycho-social phenomena and should die out as a concept), and use individualism after that to make arguments about what sort of actions to take in response.

 

What are those images supposed to illustrate? It says nothing about the status of society or how it got the way it is. I mean, I'm not sure I missed a wider context you're getting at.

 

 

But that's not all the topic is about... that there are rioters somewhere is only one piece of an entire topic. You missed talking about actual racists in the past who really did do terrible things to impact society in ways that didn't immediately go away after their ideas fell out of style. There is more to talk about than some irrational reactionaries. Unfortunately, I don't have a working thesis other than my idea of how laws against racism propogate the effects of racism rather ironically. It's also partially that  race shouldn't be a "thing" at all, it's like an invalid concept, and its use confuses things (as opposed to nationality to explain your family history or a cultural background). 3-5 original races is of limited use, as a lot can change in one or two generations. It's just a vague border.

Given that race is a perceptual distinction, upon which the conceptual differentiation is made, it is difficult for me to see how it is to either die out as a concept, or fall out of style and go away.

 

If you desire to invoke vague borders, where do you draw the line between red and yellow, or better yet, between red and orange, or orange and yellow? Can we do the same with yellow-green-blue or blue-purple-red? What about cyan-magenta-yellow?

 

Suffice it to say, we are not going to exhaust all of what the topic is about. Riots and rioting have just been one aspect manifesting itself of late of a related issue dealing with police and non-police - of which there have been (on the racial divide) more "white" than "black" that have died in the course of such actions, whilst the public outcry and "newsworthy reaction" have been disproportional along the same basis of consideration.

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Here is a question for those who think "race" is an unobjective social construct with no basis for a perceptually differentiated continuum of attributes serving as a basis of epistemic classification (essentialist method of classification); if the article and the OP was titled "Why it's so difficult to talk to humans of primarily European descent about "racism", how would that change the arguments made in the article?

Edited by Plasmatic

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Given that race is a perceptual distinction, upon which the conceptual differentiation is made, it is difficult for me to see how it is to either die out as a concept, or fall out of style and go away.

 

If you desire to invoke vague borders, where do you draw the line between red and yellow, or better yet, between red and orange, or orange and yellow? Can we do the same with yellow-green-blue or blue-purple-red? What about cyan-magenta-yellow?

But race is much too broad to be useful, it can't be done too well by looking at a person their genetics, at least when mixing is so easy and it's too broad to indicate where a person is even from. If it's strictly a term for a generalized percetual distinction, that's fine, but a lot of people don't refer to race that way. They use it to make some psychological distinction about a person's actions or beliefs. There are better concepts or ideas to accomplish both, whether it's being more specific about where an individual originates ("White" is a mess, "eastern European" is sensible and not how people think of race) or skin color, all without the usual psychological stuff.

So, I'm not saying it's necessarily a "construct", I'm thinking of it as a concept that can't do its job well. The -concept- is vague. I don't know if there's a word for that.

Plasmatic, changing the word wouldn't alter the article if I were the editor, as the problem would still be the writer having the same tribalized mindset. Well, a lot of the article would look dumber. It'd be more obvious she left out numerous other ways to think about a person's identity.

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But race is much too broad to be useful, it can't be done too well by looking at a person their genetics, at least when mixing is so easy and it's too broad to indicate where a person is even from.

This describes the basest form. If someone's attitude is "who cares" about their genetics, or where they are from, they look black, therefore they shun them or worse.

If it's strictly a term for a generalized percetual distinction, that's fine, but a lot of people don't refer to race that way. They use it to make some psychological distinction about a person's actions or beliefs.

If they use a perceptual distinction as the basis for making some psychological distinction about a person's actions or beliefs, this is just the reason they may give you for shunning, etc.

There are better concepts or ideas to accomplish both, whether it's being more specific about where an individual originates ("White" is a mess, "eastern European" is sensible and not how people think of race) or skin color, all without the usual psychological stuff.

So, I'm not saying it's necessarily a "construct", I'm thinking of it as a concept that can't do its job well. The -concept- is vague. I don't know if there's a word for that.

There are better attributes to categorize individuals than the color of their skin, an accent, or a particular mode of dress, yes. But if you are not seeking to judge the individual based on rationality, or other virtues, how precise a concept do you need to lump someone into a vague category?

Edited by dream_weaver

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"This describes the basest form."
It's -supposed- to be a concept referring to more than physical features. Saying someone is white is a skin color description in the same way a cloud is described as white. But many people still mean some sort of cultural norms as well. If humans lived only on a few islands, race would make sense. Except we don't, so I don't see why a broad category like "white" works. I'm questioning that race makes any sense, since there are superior concepts. If you're ONLY talking about some physical features, I'd argue that it's a different concept than the concept in the OP. In other words, a form of equivocation. Even if I'm wrong on that, it's fair to say many people still use race to refer to more than appearance.

"If they use a perceptual distinction as the basis for making some psychological distinction about a person's actions or beliefs, this is just the reason they may give you for shunning, etc."
Rephrase this? I don't understand.

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"This describes the basest form."

It's -supposed- to be a concept referring to more than physical features. Saying someone is white is a skin color description in the same way a cloud is described as white. But many people still mean some sort of cultural norms as well. If humans lived only on a few islands, race would make sense. Except we don't, so I don't see why a broad category like "white" works. I'm questioning that race makes any sense, since there are superior concepts. If you're ONLY talking about some physical features, I'd argue that it's a different concept than the concept in the OP. In other words, a form of equivocation. Even if I'm wrong on that, it's fair to say many people still use race to refer to more than appearance.

The issue with racism is not that many people use race to refer to more than appearance, it is the fact that some folk ascribe the aspect of 'undesirable' to race, period.

"If they use a perceptual distinction as the basis for making some psychological distinction about a person's actions or beliefs, this is just the reason they may give you for shunning, etc."

Rephrase this? I don't understand.

Let's take the example of some folk ascribing 'undesirable' to a particular race.

If you ask them why they consider that particular race undesirable, they will respond with things like "you can't trust them", or "they're lazy" or "they're no good". These would be their psychological distinctions, not about a person's, but the group's (the singled out race's) actions or beliefs.

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'Redskins' debate misses the larger point of white privilege

Instead of teaching our students “the other side of the story” or “the right thing to do,” let’s teach our kids the real story – the story of whiteness. To be white and have white privilege is to stand up in a room full of people, look directly into the eyes of brown-skinned people and tell them what is and what is not racism. White people can ignore history. White people can ignore experts. White people can ignore their neighbors.

 

Using cultural sensitivity training as a means to address racism is misguided and does not work. Just ask Al Parker, the Tonawanda Seneca Nation representative who addressed mascot supporters and stated, “It is not an honor.” Or News columnist Rod Watson; he repeatedly gets criticized when he writes anything about race. The problem with multiculturalism and pluralism is that they present all cultures as equal. Whiteness is then seen as ethnicity.

 

This is a distortion. Whiteness is not a culture or an ethnicity. People who are white do not identify as white, unless they are in front of someone who is not white. It exists only in the presence of non-whiteness. Whiteness is a relationship. And it is a relationship of power.

 

 

 

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The issue with racism is not that many people use race to refer to more than appearance, it is the fact that some folk ascribe the aspect of 'undesirable' to race, period.

Yes. I was talking about race as a concept, and questionable concepts can easily lead one's thinking astray. It can lead people to be overtly racist, or be unable to talk about the topic completely rationally. At the very least, people often talk about whites as though there is some clear common identity between all whites. Even the writer of the article here does it. At best, the concept race has been abused by so many people in so many ways that when two people talk about race, they rarely seem to be talking about the same thing.

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Misuse of a concept does not necessarily invalidate the concept. Rand was particularly clear on this point regarding the concept of selfishness. People blame capitalism for results occurring under a mixed economy. In the use of either the concept of race or racism, or any broad abstraction for that matter, lack of clarity can easily lead one's thinking astray.

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