Racialism

Please read carefully. You don’t want to stumble over the rest of this post. I wrote it carefully because I didn’t want to stumble either…

We often hear people being accused of racism. Or things being referred to as racist. Both are deemed wrong and unacceptable. A great deal of writing and speaking, as well as legislating and litigating, is done to eradicate this. Time will tell whether it will be successful, though I have my doubts when this might be achieved entirely.

But how about eradicating – or at least reducing  – racialism. That’s what I call the all-pervasive concentration upon race and upon ethnic matters so that it becomes the pivotal point of all thought and behaviour. Not just seeing black and white things as black and white, but deliberately turning down the saturation on the rest of the world so that there is nothing to see but black and white.

Don’t believe it can come to that? I have heard people make a racial fuss about sandwiches, numbers, and hair styles. I have heard people make a racial matter out of the choice of a colour scheme for a new car. God knows what they would do if someone asked them to buy a non-racist, non-sectarian, gender-neutral water pump.

I can even do it. I can look at certain teeth in certain jaws and even if I cannot see the rest of the person, I can tell you whether it’s likely they come from Beijing, Leeds, or Dresden. ( Though I was fooled by Cyril von Shanghai once…)

The main effect of racialism upon me is boredom, and a feeling of dread. It is an indication that the conversation will be directed to take a decided turn for the worse at every possible opportunity. That every pathway will be a political one and none of them will be worth treading. It will as if the old bolsheviks and their fellow travellers had risen and gained traction again. The brave black – and white – banners will be flying and it will only be a matter of time before they break out the bayonets and the marching songs.

Bah!

( Not baa, or baa baa, because that would suggest black sheep and we would get nasty notes from the NAACP, the Farmer’s Federation, and VMF 214… I could stand the first two but the thought of Boyington’s ghost terrifies me)

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The Question Of Race, Including The Pit Stops

It turns out that if a question is poorly asked, it is poorly answered.

Take the business of black and white. Black people and white people… There are some humans who are really very close to black and some very close to white, but they are a very small percentage of those who are described with these two words. Most of us are either pink, tan, or brown, or a combination of the three. Doesn’t quite have the graphic impact of black and white, but is demonstrably true using a Macbeth colour chart…or our own two eyes in the sunlight.

Or the business of conflating two sets of information to describe someone…and making a horrible set of generalisations while doing it: ” Korean – American ”  to describe someone whose parents were born in Korea or ” African – Australian ” to do the same for someone with parents from Africa. The latter is marginally better than the former on  a pure land mass vs country basis, but not by much. It becomes even weirder when we look at ” Euro- Australian ” or ” Asian – American “. If the last-named has any semantic legs at all it should cover the native American tribes as well as all the peoples who eventually pushed on down to South America. After all, we’re not limiting our classifications to last week, are we? Ice Age is ice age…

And can we footle with the words when the air fares are advantageous? There used to be a classification of ” Eurasian ” that was used to be mean to people in both Europe and Asia by making them feel like they were strangers in their own lands. Now that the luggage and the parrots in cages are going the other way, are there ” Asiopeans “? ” Asiamericans “.

How about ” Afropeans “? ” Asiafricans ”

If the Inuit ever take a fancy to move to Madagascar via the West Indies is it all going to go to hell in a linguistic handbasket?

I vote we all do like Morgan Freeman says and just drop the multi-state-continent-race thing and just refer to people by where they live. I’m an Australian. Not a  Caucasian Germano-Hebraic-Americo-Canadian-Australian.

Just plain Australian…I pays my taxes and obeys the law. Nothing much before my emigration really affects me except for my prairie figures of speech and a deadly hatred for Edmonton. And that seems to be common on all continents.

If nothing else, reducing my classification to just one thing will save a bundle on Dymo tapes for the name tag.