- This article was originally published in February of 2006. Perhaps not as well written as it could have been, but the topic is still current.
Upon returning home after a stay in the Chinese countryside, I found in my email a letter from an American student. She wanted to know if I could help her with her school assignment on racism. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you her email and my reply.
Hi my name is Princess G-----. I am from Ohio, and in my English class we have to right reports proving or disproving something. the thing is we have to find facts to back us up. I've decided to prove that racism is particularly brought upon people because of the way they act. Not saying that this is the only reason for racism but this is one of the reasons racism will always be around. I was wondering if u could help me find things like information to help me prove my theory or disprove it. This is important to me because i am black and Mexican, every day i deal with people of my own race blaming other people for their failures. i want to try to show people that in today's world no matter if you are black, white, Asian, man, or woman you can achieve what ever u want. that racism is not the one factor that is holding them back from their goals, it is in fact their own minds filled with hate that is keeping them down. If u could help me please e-mail me back at ---hotmail.com. thank you - Princess G-----
Hello Princess (I feel like I am addressing my daughter)
Sorry it took so long to reply but your email arrived the same day I left on holidays and I have just returned today.
Firstly, I have to point out that I have done no studies in Racism - so at this time cannot direct you to any material.
When you write your report however, you should make sure that you examine the issue from a wide angle. I write about China and often get accused of Racism. Like yeah I'm Racist. I'm white, and my cousins are Japanese and Vietnamese, one sister in law is Philippino (as was my former son in law), another sister in law is Chinese, my grand daughter and niece are Chinese, my grandson is Thai, and my daughter in law is Indian (Indian continent ie. Black & Muslim). [Two sets of nieces and Nephews are indigenous Australians].
Political Correctness has hijacked some of the Racism issues and has made just about everything Racist.
But what is Racism? Firstly it is a word that originates from within a particular 'social perspective'. That is to say, that racism is defined by the mindset of those who invented the word. China is as racist a place as you will find, but there is nothing nasty about the Racism here. So you have to define what racism actually is, and then determine if that definition is really true?
'Birds of a feather flock together' is an old truism. Good people stick with good people, bad people stick with bad people, one religious groups sticks with others of the same kind, and this also extends to issues of colour and race.
Different races have different cultural values. Sometimes those values are too much for 'outsiders' to cope with, so they keep away. During my recent trip I caught up with a teacher friend. His nephew is dying of cancer. The boys father needed more and more money, and so because of culture and custom, my friend ended up giving the boys father 30,000 in local currency. This money will never be repaid. That is the custom. It is not the white custom.
Many behaviours of 'others' are different to our own and so we don't like those customs and have negative feelings about those people. We call that racism now. Frankly, if I know someone who is a thief, a liar, a drunkard, a foul mouthed person or a disrespectful person, I would not want that person around me or my family. Is that racism? By the same token, if like the Chinese, I spit on the floor at dinner, spit unwanted food onto the table and smoke at the table, would you want me in your house? Is that Racism?
When a 'non white' person or a homosexual is attacked and bashed or robbed in my home country Australia, there is always a big deal made about it, and the attack is labeled as a 'racist' or 'homophobic' attack. But if the person who is attacked is a white straight person, it is just reported as a robbery or assault.
Sometimes we see racism where it doesn't exist, and sometimes nasty people use racist language to abuse people who are not white people.[and vice versa] We call this racism. But what do we call it when those same nasty people attack and abuse religious people, or pro-lifers (anti-abortionists)? What do we call it when 'straight' people are abused because they don't like cross-dressers coming onto them. It is not called Racism.[or discrimination]
So we need to determine what is truly 'racism' and what is just plain 'nastiness' by nasty people who have no hesitation in being nasty and abusive to teachers, police, religious folk, straight folk, etc etc.
And in the final analysis, should people like us 'just because' we are different to them? By this I mean, if they can be nasty to their own kind, why should we feel sooooooooo bad when they are nasty to us.
So personally I would like to see racism either 'defined' or 'redefined' so that we can all know what it is.
In China, because I am a white foreigner, I get special treatment. Sometimes that treatment is really good, and sometimes, it is really bad. I can be taken to dine in restaurants day after day and be given many gifts because I am special and then again, I can be charged 400% more for things simply because I am a foreigner, or pushed out of a queue, because I am a foreigner who doesn't like pushing people around. I can be ridiculed, spat at, sworn at, threatened, and ignored, simply because I am a white man.
Whenever I feel really depressed about this, I just think of my Chinese American friends or the Black African friends, who not only get this treatment, but get treated not so generously as myself, because the Chinese don't consider them to be REAL FOREIGNERS - cause they are not white - or in the case of my Chinese American friends - because they don't speak Chinese.
We must see that the law is upheld to ensure that people are not discriminated against because of their colour, nationality or religion, and we must always act to punish those who physically attack anyone irrespective of colour, nationality or religion. But at the end of the day, we can't force people to 'like' anyone.
I've had a lot of bad experiences with white Americans in my life - enough so that I have no desire ever to visit America. The Black Americans I have met have been in nature and character, more like the type of Australians with whom I grew up. I find it very easy to get along with them. Is that racist of me?
But you know, what you wrote is correct. .." every day i deal with people of my own race blaming other people for their failures. i want to try to show people that in today's world no matter if you are black, white, Asian, man, or woman you can achieve whatever u want." This is very true. Of course if you become successful many nasty people will find a way to abuse you for being successful when they are not.
When it comes to the topic of Racism, it also helps to understand something of psychology and sociology and the reasons why people 'act out'. Many Americans are angry with the Government because it does nothing to stop the illegal flow of people across the Mexican border. If the Government continues not to act, the anger will be turned on Mexican people. This is called ...mmm I can't remember the precise phrase --- but it means that the anger is misdirected. They pour out their anger on people because they can't take it out on the government. In that case, you have real racial violence, even from people who normally would not be racist. This happened in Australia recently. It works the other way too.
This is a very long winded letter really just to say - the first thing to do is to define what racism is or should be and what it isn't or shouldn't be.
Tomorrow I will see if I can't find some interesting sites for you to look at that may help you.
After I sent my reply I did a little search on Racism and at the following address, I found some rather interesting material. Definitions of Racism on the Web: www.google.com.au/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2003-49,GGLD:en&q=define%3ARacism.
There were quite a number of websites and definitions listed, and if you go to that page you can check out the rest, but I will list just one here.
- The doctrine that race is the basic determinant of human abilities and that, therefore, the various racial groups constitute a hierarchy in which one group is properly regarded as superior to others. Racism has also been defined using the following formula: Power+Prejudice=Racism. Racism has also been defined as a "system of advantage based on race." www.unk.edu/offices/aaeo/index.php
Notice that in this definition that Power + prejudice = Racism and as applied, relates to the issue of race. But notice also that Power + Prejudice are not inherently race related. Such a combination exists in all stratas of society.
One of my beefs about 'political correctness' is that its' most fascist enforcers are people of power, with a prejudice against people who are not like them, and adding another word from other definitions of racism, the word 'superior', we can see that many people who feel superior, have power and are prejudiced, exert their influence to put down, punish, shame, or abuse others not of their kind.
So it seems to me that racism is nothing more than that common form of 'nastiness' foisted onto us by people who feel superior, with the exception, that when that nastiness is foisted onto people of their own skin colour or own nationality, it is no longer called racism.
I had a few nasty experiences while I was away [not forgetting some wonderful courtesies extended to me], about which I could write, but that would just set off another round of emails accusing me of being racist.
The interesting thing I find about people of this ilk, is that their viewpoints are philosophical. They are ideologues, and their remarks are not based in reality, but in a feeling of superiority. That superiority is felt not just toward me, but toward the Chinese as well. Because they feel that they are such excellent people, living such advantageous lives, and that the Chinese are 'lower' than themselves, they take it upon themselves to 'defend' the Chinese, even when that defense is made in ignorance, or unjustified.
What is clear from the Definitions of Racism as found on the page quoted, is that there is no standard definition.
Morons and low lifes (read intellectually and socially impaired) pay no attention to societal rules, and legislation has no effect upon them, other than the penalties imposed.
I have written before that I had never wanted to visit an Asian country. In today's supersensitive world, that qualifies me as a racist. In this article, I have written that I have no desire to visit America. Does this also mean I am Racist. If so, then how so? If not, then why not?
I had a young man in my house once who complained to some other people, that I would not let him spit on the floor. Let me ask you: 1. Was I showing my superior attitude? 2. Was I being racist? 3. Would you permit it in your house? Or 4. would you say that I should permit it in my house because I live in China?
If you go for numbers 3 & 4, then why do you permit foreigners to force their cultural practices on you in your home country?
I am going to admit here that I am racist, and that generally speaking, this is an attitude that I have developed since being in China. You see, I admire the way the Chinese refuse to let foreign culture override their own culture. In fact, the government has done a lot to try to restore some of it's lost architectural culture; lost, as people try to adopt western designs.
The Chinese are very proud people. They are proud of being Chinese. They are proud of their culture. They insist that foreigners abide by the general social rules, and that they do nothing to upset the social equilibrium. If you do that [upset the equilibrium], they will expel you. I agree with this mentality.
The Muslims who are up in arms about the depictions of Mohammed in the Danish Cartoons were not only to be admired, but are a good example for us. Threats of violence notwithstanding, we too should stand up to defend our religious and cultural icons. We should refuse to be changed into something that we are not. We should not passively allow our traditional religious and social cultures to be eroded. [This applies as much to American Indians as White folk or any others.]
That is not to say that we cannot learn from foreign cultures and practices. The Chinese are so good at this that they are often politely referred to as 'appropriators'. (I'm referring here to documentation about the new railway from Beijing to Shanghai).
Becoming a melting pot of cultures and customs is I think a wonderful thing. But that is something quite different to having one's dominant national culture being hijacked or held to ransom.
As the Australian Prime Minister John Howard recently said, "You don't demonstrate tolerance towards minorities by apologising for your own heritage. You don't win tolerant brownie points by pretending to be something that you're not".
Neither the Negro, the Mexican, the Indian, the Chinese or the White American should have to apologise for being who they are; and nor should they be expected to become what they are not. Nor should any of them 'act out' in a superior way.
But all are required to be 'one' people, obeying the laws of the land, and the laws of civility, decency and morality.
And all are entitled to redress under law for wrong doing directed against them.
Writers Journal Kingscalendar
P.S. On Chinese Culture
If you visit China during Spring Festival, make sure that if you visit any homes, to take with you a gift. Any supermarket will have a variety of gift boxed Alcohols (don't take it if you yourself don't drink), teas, medicines, fruit, candies etc.
If you invite someone to go someplace with you, you are expected to pay all their costs.
If you offer a Chinese person anything and they refuse, be aware that custom dictates 3 refusals before accepting.
Recent Articles by R.P. BenDedek
Self Publishing a Book: 'Terrible Reviews for Bad Writing'
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If you are writing a book, then you should have someone 'finding your faults' as you write. If you have already finished writing a book, then you need to find someone to review it - someone who will not feed you B.S. If you have already paid your money to a 'self-publishing' company, then pay the extra and use their editing services. If you are a first time writer and have a book that you want to publish, and you haven't yet paid the bill at a self-publishing company, you may feel free to discuss with us the possibility of a reviewer taking a look at it.
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Israeli A.D. Erving played professional basketball for four years before turning to coaching children. He told me that he spent a lot of time as a professional, sitting on the bench just waiting for a chance to get out there and play. He told me that basketball is a team sport which means not everyone gets a chance to star in the spotlight, and that this is sometimes a hard lesson for children to learn. Tomorrow I will publish a small article Amir wrote specifically on that topic.
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By R.P. BenDedek
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Muslim belief is that ultimately everything is Allah's will. Whether they approve or disapprove of the Kenyan massacres is irrelevant. It is Allah's will! Whether ordinary Muslims approve or disapprove of those terrorists is irrelevant. It is Allah's will! Whatever a Muslim may say with his lips, his true meaning is hidden in the back of his mind. It is Allah's will! Every Muslim, like every other true believer in every other religion, dreams of seeing the world converted to their god. For the Muslim therefore, every action that leads to the defeat or conversion of the infidel must be Allah's will.
R.P.BenDedek (pseudonym) is the Author of 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' (www.kingscalendar.com ), and is a guest columnist and stand-in Editor at Magic City Morning Star News. He is also the Editor of the 'Writers Journal' at Kingscalendar.com. An Australian, he has been teaching Conversational English in China since 2003.
Writers Journal Kingscalendar
"The King's Calendar" is a chronological study of the historical books of the Bible (Kings and Chronicles), Josephus, Seder Olam Rabbah, and the (Essene) Damascus Document of The Dead Sea Scrolls