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Thursday, March 4, 2010

What is Racism? Part 2

The definition that I gave is not good enough as well. It does satisfy the conditions to be an acceptable definition but it does not go far enough. There are many examples of what I would like to consider racism but my own definition prevents me from doing that. Take for example, white nationalism or white pride. In general this movement would satisfy the definition I gave in the first part, so it would be a racist movement. But what if a person only has white pride? He does not consider non-whites to be inferior to him but he only has white pride? I would like to call that racism also but my own definition prevents me from doing that. Thus, the problem with my definition is that it does not extend far enough to cover all cases of what I would like to consider racism.

So we have to add something to this definition to make it more extended. Let us look at white pride again. Such a person is judging himself based on his race. But from part 1 we know that the definition "racism is judging people based on race" has problems with it. Because it all depends on what we judge. If we judge a person's likely medical condition based on his race then this should not be racism. So judging people on race is something which is sometimes fine to do and sometimes not fine to do. We need to be more specific and ask what exactly are we judging a person on? I think the way we get around this difficulty is by amending "judging" into a more specific kind of judging. The way this definition can be fixed is by introducing it as, "racism is judging the virtues of people based on race". Success. This definition is an acceptable definition for racism. First, it is a fallacy to judge the virtues of a person based on his race. Second, it is an evil thing to do. So this new definition for racism is an acceptable definition for racism.

The nice thing about this definition is that it extends what the first definition for racism was unable to accomplish. Let us consider a person who has white pride but who does not believe whites to be superior. Such as person is not a racist under the first definition but he is a racist under the second definition. Because being proud of the virtues of what the white people did does not imply that the individual has the same virtues. Likewise, black pride is racist also. One needs to be careful though. If a white person or a black person are only interested in their own history that is not racism. But if they become proud of their race without their own individual virtues then they are racist.

Both of these definitions are necessary. The first definition for racism does not always lead to the second and the second does not always lead to the first. The two definitions are independent and consistent. The first category of racism as defined by the first definition is more harsh than the second category of racism as defined by the second definition. So let us call "primary racism" the first category of racism and "secondary racism" as the second category of racism. This way we can finally define "racism" as either primary or secondary racism.

By these definitions it is a corollary that affirmative action is a racist policy. It is not primary racist, but it is secondary racist. If a person is decided into a college not by his own individual virtues but by his race instead then that is exactly what secondary racism is about. By these definitions it is a corollary that slave reparation laws are racist. Because the doctrine behind slave reparation laws is that black Americans need to be repaid for slavery by the non-black Americans. The obvious problem is that non-black Americans are not responsible for slavery on an individual level and that black Americans are not entitled for reparation based on their father's fathers. Deciding what a person should get based on his father's father rather then his own virtues (or vices) is secondary racism. However, Japanese reparation for the internment camps is not racism because those Japanese are still alive today, thus if we repay back the Japanese that we hurt then we are acting with respect to virtues on an individual level and not based on race.

The same generalization can be given to "sexism". But there is no need to go into this.

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