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Some thoughts on racism

Ecurb Noselrub

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Some thoughts on racism
« on: July 29, 2020, 03:08:52 PM »
When the USA was founded, Thomas Jefferson wrote that "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."  This idea was the foundational concept of the nation, the one that justified rejection of totalitarianism, monarchy, religious oppression, and every other kind of inequality.  But, as we know, we never have lived up to that concept. Jefferson himself owned slaves, as did Washington and other founding fathers. Our innate tribalistic tendencies, ingrained in us through evolution, have made realization of the lofty ideal of equality very difficult.  Tribalism is why most people simply feel more comfortable around those who are like them. In the USA, it grew to the point where we tore each other apart in a civil war.  In his attempt to bring us back to our foundational principles, Lincoln reminded us that our founders were "dedicated to the proposition that all men were created equal." 

It is, I believe, the act of personal "dedication" to the principle of equality that provides the path forward toward actually achieving the ideal.  It should be what identifies a US citizen more than anything else - not race or religion or ethnicity or language or socio-economic status.  Without it, we cannot achieve our other foundational principle - liberty - as if we do not treat each other as equals, it is inevitable that we will limit the liberty of others.

So, what does "dedication" to this principle look like?  We start from the biological and psychological truth that tribalism is innate to our being.  If this is not overcome by conscious effort, it develops into racism.  Apparently, there are a lot of us who have not dedicated ourselves to this task.  A first step is to recognize the confirmation bias that goes into our view of others.  I am, by nature, more likely to take the crimes of blacks to confirm my tribalistic biases and to overlook the crimes of whites. Like an alcoholic that needs to recognize his own own disease, I must recognize my own tribalistic tendency toward confirmation bias. Learning to see things from the point of view of others and to understand their experiences is another step.  My point is that it take effort to overcome one's basic nature.  I think I've gone a long way, but I have a long way to go. 

Does anyone here have any thoughts on overcoming the inherent bias that comes from tribalism?
« Last Edit: July 29, 2020, 05:24:45 PM by Ecurb Noselrub »

xSilverPhinx

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Re: Some thoughts on racism
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2020, 03:32:27 PM »
So, what does "dedication" to this principle look like?  We start from the biological and psychological truth that tribalism is innate to our being.  If this is not overcome by conscious effort, it develops into racism.  Apparently, there are a lot of us who have not dedicated ourselves to this task.  A first step is to recognize the confirmation bias that goes into our view of others.  I am, by nature, more likely to take the crimes of blacks to confirm my tribalistic biases and to overlook the crimes of whites. Like an alcoholic that needs to recognize his own own disease, I must recognize my own tribalistic tendency toward confirmation bias. Learning to see things from the point of view of others and to understand their experiences is another step.  My point is that it take effort to overcome one's basic nature.  I think I've gone a long way, but I have a long way to go. 

I agree with this. :this:

Flexing metacognitive muscles goes a long way in realising we have all sorts of biases and are tribalistic by nature. The more you think about your own thinking process, the more (hopefully) you will learn where and when you are less rational about certain topics and strive to fix that.

It also helps to widen one's horizons. If you're racist, interact more with people of a different ethnic groups. If you're a fanatical nationalist, talk to people from different countries. Shutting ourselves into our microcosms of existence doesn't help to fight the confirmation bias we're all wired to have. 

It helps to understand not only the 'other' but ourselves as well. However, some people are wired to be more open to new experiences than others. If the more fearful and conservative among us don't want to test new waters then how can the world ever change?  :-\

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Ecurb Noselrub

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Re: Some thoughts on racism
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2020, 05:22:59 PM »
Agreed. The problem is that giving in to one's own biases "feels good" and you feel justified and righteous.  The more you go down that path, the more racist you become, and there is, it seems, a point of no return.  You've sealed yourself off in a world that totally confirms and affirms your feelings, and you don't "dedicate" yourself to getting out of that box.  The deeper you are into that shuttered reality, the more difficult it is.  That's one reason it is so hard for Americans in the southern states to break out - they've been getting confirmation of their biases all their lives.

Legislation does help, as it forces people to act a particular way, to a degree, and that at least gets you on the right path. But that won't do the whole job - there has to be a personal commitment, which is why Lincoln's words in the Gettysburg Address are so important for US citizens.  He also had his own biases and harbored some racist feelings, but at least was able to rise above those to act properly, in the end.  You have to start taking steps in the right direction.

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Re: Some thoughts on racism
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2020, 08:09:00 PM »
Hating everyone is so much better!

It doesn't matter where you're from, what color your skin is, what sex you are, what sex you're attracted to, what invisible friend you have, or even how much money you have, if you're an asshat, you're a fucking asshat. Plain and simple.

Ecurb Noselrub

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Re: Some thoughts on racism
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2020, 08:24:47 PM »
Hating everyone is so much better!

It doesn't matter where you're from, what color your skin is, what sex you are, what sex you're attracted to, what invisible friend you have, or even how much money you have, if you're an asshat, you're a fucking asshat. Plain and simple.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that everyone is an asshat?  A new nation - the United Asshats of the World?  It would be interesting to see what that nation's version of the Statue of Liberty would be.

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Re: Some thoughts on racism
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2020, 08:31:18 PM »
Humans are more alike then they let on.

At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.


Italian proverb