Jun Dishes

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Racism versus Racial Discrimination

Racism is racial discrimination, but racial discrimination isn’t always racism.

Words have definitions but the meanings attached to them are from our own shaded views on life. If words like “minority” or “superiority” bother you when discussing racism, and you’re particularly sensitive to stigmas, then you’ll probably feel more uncomfortable as this blog progresses.

rac•ism n (1936) 1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race 2 : racial prejudice or discriminationWebster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

If you live by Webster’s Dictionary, then you believe that their definition of racism is all there is and let’s just forget about history and context in present-day America. In that case, everyone can be a racist and a victim of racism at the same time and it all evens out and rainbows fly out of everyone’s mouths and butt holes instead of ignorance and misinterpretations. That’s on you, and you’d probably rather discount arguments like this:

The essential feature of racism is not hostility or misperception, but rather the defense of a system from which advantage is derived on the basis of race. The manner in which the defense is articulated – either with hostility or subtlety – is not nearly as important as the fact that it insures the continuation of a privileged relationship. Thus it is necessary to broaden the definition of racism beyond prejudice to include sentiments that in their consequence, if not in their intent, support the racial status quo.David T. WellmanPortraits of White Racism, Second Edition

That’s a lot isn’t it?  Easier to go back and hang out at Webster’s? Maybe easier, or you go the harder route and acknowledge racism as historical and anthropological regardless of how passive or active you are when it’s happening in front of you. Racism in America, specifically, where roughly 70% of the population is white is has been a system from which advantage is derived from being white. I’m not talking about my white friends in grade school getting an extra cookie from the white lunch lady scenario (which I just made up so everyone keep calm) but historical and systematic oppression of non-white (and sometimes Jewish) people. This does not mean that if you’re white you are a racist, but you CAN by sheer population and power.

Every country has its structure of racism with the majority in number being at the top. In Korea it’s predominately the palest-skinned Koreans with the money and power and the numbers who are racist towards Koreans with sun browned-skinned Korean laborers, and other subgroups. In Belgium racism is experienced by Turkish and African people more than Asian.

I had several conversations via Twitter today, and conversations with my husband Davy off Twitter, and realized again just how many people do not understand that racism and racial discrimination are not the same thing. Racial discrimination happens to everyone in America, including white people, and is fucked up and wrong. Racism is systemic and goes back so far in history.

A white person in America who’s called a “honky” is not a victim of racism, but a victim of hate and racial discrimination. That white person’s child who gets beat up on a playground and called a “cracker” did not experience racism, but bullying and racial discrimination. The white person who is denied a job or college acceptance because of affirmative action is not a victim of racism, but simply part of a proven and privileged group in America who should understand that the existence of affirmative action at all speaks volumes. The white person in an inter-racial relationship or marriage who’s scoffed at by their in-law for being the “white devil” is not experiencing racism but deep prejudices, and unlucky draw of in-laws.

Similarly if my husband walks into a Turkish neighborhood here in Belgium and gets beat the fuck up because of his “whiteness” he is not a victim of racism. He’s a white guy who got beat up in a Turkish neighborhood for being white because of racial tensions stemming from actual racism to begin with. I would die a little inside seeing my husband beaten and bloodied, but I certainly would never cry that it was an act of racism. Acts of hate and acts of racism can be mutually exclusive.

I’m not saying white American don’t receive hate, every race does as Webster’s so simply tells us, but white Americans are not victims of racism. Reducing racism to racial discrimination is not only dangerous, but turning back time so generations that came before us can be disrespected and heartbroken once again even from their graves. Boys who cry wolf are bad enough, but irresponsible cries of racism defeats any purpose to fighting actual racism.

You can’t possibly, as a white person, try to take anything away from generations and this Big Brother 15 victims’ and families and friends who have to watch this, by telling them “Oh, everyone experiences racism!”

No way.

I’m sorry.

Racism is not something white people can have, because there HAS to be something us non-whites can call our own, right?

Always dishing,

Jun

P.S. Thank you to everyone supported the truth and did not jump into the shark tank today on Twitter. No need to feed the sharks.

Posted under: Big Brother, Reality Dishes, Reality TV Dishes

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26 comments

  • Marcus Robin on July 9, 2013 at 10:42 pm said:

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    I have white skin but have long been a proponent of the abolition of “The White Race” for a number of years. This confuses a lot of people as on the surface it sounds like a call to holocaust white people. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you speak of the historical context of racism opposed to modern day racial discrimination, you are hitting the nail right on the head.

    Advocating the abolition of the white race is distinct from what is called “anti-racism.” The term “racism” has come to be applied to a variety of attitudes, some of which are mutually incompatible, and has been devalued to mean little more than a tendency to dislike some people for the color of their skin. Moreover, anti-racism admits the natural existence of “races” even while opposing social distinctions among them. This is why I think, on the contrary, that people were not favored socially because they were white; rather they were defined as “white” because they were favored. Race itself is a product of social discrimination; so long as the white race exists, all movements against racism are doomed to fail

    Admittedly, it’s an extreme viewpoint!

    • Jun Song on July 9, 2013 at 10:45 pm said:

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      Very extreme but new to me so thank you for sharing! “Devalued” hit the nail on my head. Yes. Devalued. What a shame.

      • Marcus Robin on July 9, 2013 at 10:54 pm said:

        Excuse the length here but I think you’ll appreciate this point.

        I view the white race as a historically constructed social formation – historically constructed because (like royalty) it is a product of some people’s responses to historical circumstances; a social formation because it is a fact of society corresponding to no classification recognized by natural science.

        The white race cuts across ethnic and class lines. It’s not just people of European descent, since many of those classified as “colored” can trace some of their ancestry to Europe, while African, Asian, or American Indian blood flows through the veins of many considered white. Also, membership in the white race does not imply wealth, since there are plenty of poor whites, as well as some people of wealth and comfort who are not white.

        The white race consists of those who partake of the privileges of the white skin in this society. Its most wretched members share a status higher, in certain respects, than that of the most successful people excluded from it, in return for which they give their support to the system that degrades them.

      • Very interesting and true. White people have to go away to end racism because we will forever be looked at as the people with all the right doors opened for us, or the race that caused racism so just get rid of us to have peace. ( there is a little sarcasm in here so don’t flip on me)

  • Very well put. If anything good came come of the BB15 debacle I hope that the discussions and blogs like this will help to educate and open the eyes of those of us who are among the 70% to not only the overt forms of racist behaviors but also the more subtle ones that creep into all of us. As a white woman I can never truly know the effects of the racism that flourishes here, but I can learn from the victims of it.

    In the words of Maya Angelou: We did then what we knew to do. Now that we know better, we can do better.

    Thank you for a reasoned and reasonable dialog with us.

  • I was cutting the grass this afternoon, thinking a lot about this. I’m glad to read this blog, because I realized that we actually do agree on this topic. I, however, usually put the word “institutionalized” in front of ‘racism.’

    I am a middle-class, white, American, lesbian teacher in Ohio. I have experienced discrimination on several fronts, but not because I am white. (Lately, mostly as a teacher…from the state govt, but that’s for a different blog.). I think I understood where several of the white women were coming from, earlier, on Twitter, but also see your point as well.

    That said…I believe individuals within an American minority CAN be racist, due to the systemic oppression that has occurred over the past 250-300 years. Anger is a strong motivator…and when you feel the effects of generations of oppression, I believe that can spur a LOT of (justifiable) anger. That anger could be vented through “reverse racism,” so to speak. For that reason, I think a blanket statement saying that “White Americans cannot experience racism” is too sweeping…as most blanket statements regarding race are.

    I respect you, Jun…and am glad to have more than 140 characters to express my thoughts.
    Elizabeth

  • This is an absolutely marvelous analysis of the distinction between racism and racial discrimination. Couldn’t be clearer, right? Wrong. I’m afraid many of my fellow “whiteys” will not understand nor appreciate the concept of systemic oppression with its power differential and again revert to the ubiquitous favorite liberal claim: “I have black friends so I get it” and thus prove they don’t really fucking get it.

    Funny, as a mature Italian-Canadian, not too long ago I overheard someone at work say:”Are Italians white?”. I immediately took my “white superior” ass to Google to confirm my own race. Apparently we are from the white race but it is still a mind-fuck.

    Jun, as always, I look forward to your delicious Dishes!

  • iamrealitytvlover (@babstheshopper) on July 9, 2013 at 11:45 pm said:

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    Jun, thank you so much for this particular blog post. Only someone who has been a victim of racist behavior can understand that the “majority” culture can not experience racism and this is something that doesn’t seem to be understood. My personal view has always been that it might be a subtle and not understood or deliberate attempt to distance themselves from the ugliness that racism is. In other words if a white person doesn’t personally subscribe to the racist behavior that we see here in this clip, I would imagine it is easier for that white person to want to escape the sense of being a part of that behavior by looking for examples where they can say, “see, racist behavior happens to white people too”. And somehow that false belief allows them to distance themselves from being too closely touched by the ugly that they see. And in this belief that they too can be victimized by racism all that occurs is that they effectively preserve the status quo.

    I have seen on some blogs a disappointment and expectation that Howard or Helen should be the ones who speak up and address these issues. Unfortunately it seems as if society still thinks those who are most affected by racism are the ones who are supposed to call people out on it. I never understood that logic. I have had to equip my son with the skill sets to ”handle” racism and I know you will one day have to equip your son as well. I see righteous indignation over the bigotry that has become BB15, and I even see houseguests who claim to abhor this behavior, yet they don’t feel a need to speak out about it and challenge the perpetrators But somehow, people sitting at home watching this unfold on their live feeds think lesser of Howard and Helen because they are not standing up and putting an end to this behavior.

    I have even seen people who abhor Aaryn Gries behavior talk about how they feel sorry for her as she will have to endure all sorts of negative repercussions after she leaves the show. No matter what Aaryn faces when she goes home, it will not even come close to the pain her words caused to all who had to listen to her rant inside and outside of the house. She won’t come close to feeling the pain that Helen, Howard and Andy feel on a regular basis.

    PBS has on their website the video called A Class Divided, a true story account of a very wise white 3rd grade teacher who wanted to teach her class of white students about discrimination after the assassination of MLK http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/etc/view.html. She effectively brought this lesson home to these kids with a simple experiment of brown eyes versus blue eyes. Sadly I don’t think this video would have an impact on some of the current BB15 cast but it should be mandatory viewing for the house, all could learn a little something from it.

    Thanks for dishing, this one took a lot of courage and had to open up some old wounds that get buried but never really heal or go away.

    • Adored_Reality on July 11, 2013 at 7:58 pm said:

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      Thank you for this link. I’ve seen this story years ago when the teacher appeared on Oprah. It was heart wrenching to see someone who wasn’t black finally ‘get’ and try to explain what it ‘feels’ like to be looked upon as different, lower class or not as good as because of the color of your skin. I hope PBS never removes these videos. Everyone should watch them at least once in their lifetime.

    • ” I have seen on some blogs a disappointment and expectation that Howard or Helen should be the ones who speak up and address these issues. Unfortunately it seems as if society still thinks those who are most affected by racism are the ones who are supposed to call people out on it. I never understood that logic […] But somehow, people sitting at home watching this unfold on their live feeds think lesser of Howard and Helen because they are not standing up and putting an end to this behavior.”

      I agree with what you’re saying but people are what they are nowadays: a unbalanced dose of political correctness and cowardice have made us quiet bystanders.
      As a black woman, I have been in Helen’s and Howard’s positions, many times. When I was in my 20s, I was living in Europe and, trust me, when I tell you that I was having shouting matches on the streets with people who called me the N-word to my face or when I was a victim of racial discrimination in shops. I even got twice into physical fights with men because of it. I couldn’t care less about the risks or the repercussions: I was young and hot-headed. Besides, do people even call the police for public brawls in France or Belgium (lol)? Then I moved to Canada, a country where everyone is so polite, so nice, so politically correct and law-abiding. I also hit the 3-0 so I cooled off in my reactions to some (very covert) forms of racism or racial discrimination.

      No one has ever called me the N-word to my face in Canada but I still have to fight racial prejudice and stereotypes. I must admit that depending on my mood, on the person making the insensitive remarks or on the setting, I very often say nothing. The reason is that with the years going by, I am just tired of explaining things to people (especially if and when they are college-educated adults) and I don’t wanna perpetuate the stereotype of the angry mad black woman. The other reason is that if the person is close to me, I am afraid to hurt her feelings even though she did deeply hurt mine. I usually don’t want her to feel like a racist but I also don’t wanna appear like someone who cries racism every time. So I shut up until I snap one day. I guess a part of me hesitates before taking firm stands for the sake of getting along with everyone. One thing is certain, especially nowadays: if you don’t stand up for yourself, no one will do it for you because people are more and more individualistic.

      • iamrealitytvlover (@babstheshopper) on July 12, 2013 at 11:42 am said:

        I do agree with you and that tough lesson is one I also had to teach my son, painful as it was. Each person has to ultimately make the choice of where and when they choose to take a stand versus when to walk away. Personally the outcome is still the same….you loose a little bit of your soul every time it happens.

  • KimmieO on July 10, 2013 at 12:06 am said:

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    Well said Jun! I remember when I first learned this difference. Sadly it wasn’t until my sophomore year in college in a Pluralism in America class. So many people confuse the two.

  • Lynda Perky on July 10, 2013 at 12:13 am said:

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    As a white person the best example I have ever heard about was some years ago maybe when you were 10 or so. I know it happened in some schools here in KC but think elsewhere also. An entire class was divided into groups each having different types of treatment. The top group was praised all the time where as the bottom group was ignored or told they were stupid and ugly. Hopefully you see where I am heading because if I go on this will be long. By the end of the week each group was affected by how they were treated. Top dogs confidence grew and sometimes became arrogance the middle group stopped working hard because they were ignored, and the lowest groups’ grades went down because of lowered self esteem and lowered expectations. Of course there was much more depth to this than I am sharing.

    Even though all the students knew this was an experiment they were affected deeply. The Confident, happy children moved to the lowest group became depressed, angry, and lost confidence in their abilities in many areas. Of course the kids in the top group excelled everywhere happy, confident, worked hard, and so on. The class would then discuss feelings and effects after the experiment was finished as well as how it related to racism.

    You need to know that there are those of us that know and understand what you say but could NEVER express these truths as wonderfully as you do. On top of that it must have to suck having to explain it when you have had to live through it.

    Please always keep writing.

  • Shannon Drew on July 10, 2013 at 12:23 am said:

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    Thanks for this Jun! You have a way of explaining things do well. Some people will never get it if they don’t “get” your breakdown of it here! I’m sorry I fed the sharks a bit on twitter today but I walked away lol before I got really angry. It was hard to not respond to the nonsense especially when they kept calling you racist. Craziness. I’m white & I totally understand that people can dislike me for being white,judge my marrying a black man & having two black/white children but it doesn’t effect my life/have any power. It’s just an opinion. I’ve seen my boys experience racism & they are only 7 & 13. I worry as they get older what they might encounter because people are still justifying racism & practicing it. They will be aware & educated about it along with having my love/support any time they need it.

    • Timoteo on July 10, 2013 at 3:14 am said:

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      This is so random but I LOVE inter-racial couples. I think they are so power ful to walk down a street holding hands. Screw the people who hate on you guys or your children. It’s 2013 by now all of us are mixed with something else. I wish you the best!

    • I was a white blond small girl that nobody took seriously. They didnt believe me nor did they expect me to do anything of value with my life. It is hurtful to be belittled when you cant change the way you were born. or how you look. I can see why she would feel it was hurtful. all the negitive things we say about someone hurts.

  • I cant watch this season. i dont even follow it on twitter like i did last year. These people are not interesting. they are too young and too shallow and I have more important things in my life this year. So I guess in my way I am discriminating against the young.

  • The dictionary is RIGHT… racism is discrimination based on belief of superiority… mostly intelligence but physical at times. Wellman’s definition of Racism is wrong… it is not limited to “system”… and anthropomorphic is not specific enough. Through out history every conquest ended with discrimination based on one “people/race” being superior over the conquered… racism… which is rare these days but exemplified by Hitler and present day KKK. The word racism is incorrectly used synonymous to racial discrimination… even the UN missuses it. It’s racial discrimination that is everywhere per your excellent examples. Good read. Thanks.

    “Racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour,descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life

  • This article was fabulous. I did not realize the disparity in the way people are using the word racism. Jun Song asserts that white people can be the victim of racial discrimination, but not racism, and implies that the Webster’s dictionary definition of racism is incorrect. This makes sense…a lot of sense…except for one thing–If racism is defined as explained by Jun Sing, there really is no word that can be used for situations in which a minority believes that white people are inferior, but doesn’t actually discriminate. What word is appropriate for this scenario?

  • “In Korea it’s predominately the palest-skinned Koreans with the money and power and the numbers who are racist towards Koreans with sun browned-skinned Korean laborers, and other subgroups.”

    Very interesting observation Jun. Pale people are rich because they pay other people to get the labor done so they don’t get tanned? Lol.

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