The Race Relations/Diversity/Equality Thread

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The Race Relations/Diversity/Equality Thread

Postby neo-dragon » Wed Jan 30, 2008 5:50 pm

Hey all.

Consider this my contribution to the goal of sparking more meaningful discussion on pweb.

What is the purpose of this thread?

The purpose of this thread is to discuss matters relating to diversity and equality in society. I mean in terms of race, gender, religion, sexuality, whatever you want. We've had some good discussions along these lines in the past. On pweb II, there was a thread discussing the word "nigger" that may have been mildly upsetting to some, but I thought there were some really good posts in it. Just a few months ago I started this thread about the "scientific theory" of Nobel Prize winner James Watson, who proposed that whites are inherently smarter than blacks.

Where shall we begin?

On the second page of the thread linked to above we discussed the issue of of opening "afro-centric" schools in Toronto. I think that's a good topic to start off this thread with. Just yesterday, Toronto school board trustees voted 11 to 9 in favour of opening such schools (Link).

The following are some excerpts from the previous thread including my own views on the matter as well as others.
On the one hand this calls to mind that ugly time of segregation in the States, but on the other hand I think that intentions make all the difference. Black kids do drop out of school in higher numbers than white kids, and I believe that one reason for this is because many black students believe that they simply don't belong. Even in Toronto, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, there are surprisingly few black educators. How many black intellectuals are kids exposed to at all?

I'm reminded of something that happened when I was in teacher's college last year. On the last day of one of my 4 week student-teaching sessions, I was saying my good-byes to a grade 10 science class I had been teaching. This particular class was based on what's called a locally developed curriculum, which basically means that the kids had behavioural issues, poor academic skills, or both. After 4 weeks I didn't think that I had made much of an impression on most of them, or even taught them anything that they would remember a week after I was gone. Naturally, I was pretty surprised when a generally apathetic student who happened to be black looked at me and said, "Sir, do you think that they'll hire you here next year, when you're finished teacher's college?" I just shrugged and said that the school had enough science teachers so there probably wouldn't be an opening. I couldn't believe that he actually looked disappointed for a moment and then said with some annoyance, "But there aren't any black ones!" I didn't even know how to respond. I can see how attending a black-focused school could make all the difference in the world to some kids.

However, school is just the beginning, and it's not a black-focused world out there. School is also a place where kids learn how to interact with others, and I don't particularly like the idea of deliberately surrounding students with their "kind" in their formative years. I love the fact that the schools I attended were so very multicultural. I love the fact that if I look at myself and my 4 closest friends from high school, the 5 of us represent 4 different ethnicities. And I especially love the fact that we are all so comfortable with each other and care so little about the colour of each other's skin that we can make incredibly racist jokes in each other's presence and all laugh!

I think that there must be ways to reach out to students of all backgrounds in common schools, rather than give each and every at-risk group their own.
I think that if such a school is done in such a manner as, for example, a Christian school, where the adjectival modifier is just a common point, I think it could be a very good thing. Especially if such a community could strengthen the black community and help its members to feel accepted and a part of society.

Instead of creating separate schools, I'd be much more in favour of figuring out why there is a lack of black educators, and if the curriculum could be supplemented or changed to be less euro-centric.
That's what I'm thinking. It's easy to make separate schools, but I think that a more effective solution is to figure out how to engage these kids in the schools that they're in now.

Ironically, the relative lack of black teachers is probably both a cause and a symptom of this problem. Teachers tend to be people who were focused on academic success in school. So if few black teachers means that fewer black students are engaged in school, that means that fewer end up becoming teachers themselves.
Separate but equal doesn't happen, and it doesn't work. There's too much racism left in the world--the schools would get s*** funding, especially since it seems like the group that they would intend to motivate would be students who are currently unmotivated by school. Most of those in that group are probably poor, which also probably means that their parents are working too hard to make ends meet and are as a whole too uneducated to really advocate for their kids. Follow that to its logical conclusion and officials will get away with s*** funding, because no one's raising a fuss. And it happens--look at the South Bronx.

Beyond that... I don't buy anything anyone says about "the black community." The solution to inherent racism in a society is not to sequester all the kids being discriminated against into their own little school, and the solution is also not to give white kids an excuse not to deal with them. The college I currently attend is less diverse than I'd like, and I know some kids who have never been to school with black kids in their lives. It shows, and it shows in white kids who have been racial minorities in school before (like me). They're just more uncomfortable talking about race, and they're more uncomfortable with black people.

That's not the kind of culture I want.

And if we're comparing it to Jewish schools--well, how integrated are Hassids and Orthodox Jews into the general community?

They're not.

Diverse schools should be our aim, and improving inner city schools should be our aim. If we attack the problem of paltry education at its heart, more lasting and further reaching results are going to occur.
I hope that gets the ball rolling....
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Postby jotabe » Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:59 am

I have little to add to what anon said. The contact with "the other", meaning the one that is different, is essential, even if there is conflict, for children. A child who isn't in contact with the other is much more susceptible to adopt prejudgements and unsubstantiated beliefs about the other, because he has no reality to compare to. And those prejudgements will accompany them all their life.

Over here, in Spain (where there is rarely enough black people to form communities, and almost no black women), we enjoy what we call "black sit-coms": Bill Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, etc. But the situation represented is quite shocking to us: How is it possible that in the US there can be closed societies only for black people? How is that there is basically no interaction between black and white people? I think this can't be good. Is this reality, or simply a depiction of a "black Utopia"?
I remember fondly the episode where one of Will's aunties announces she will marry a white man. Will's mom hotly opposes. And i say i remember it fondly because it got me thinking: is this just a family conflict depiction? or is the opposition to mixed marriage real? If it is real, that episode has to be praised for denouncing it.
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Postby Janus%TheDoorman » Thu Jan 31, 2008 8:11 am

Please understand that The Fresh Prince, The Cosby Show, and Family Matters are nearly 20 years old now, and at the time, race-relations in America were quite a bit different than they are now for a number of reasons. Truth is, I was born around those times, so my own memory of it is sketchy at best, but race relations in this country aren't going to be measured in years, except perhaps after another fifty years or so, and until then I think it will be a generational shift.

My grandparents were born raised, and went through to nearly middle age when outright, endorsed racism was still common in this country, my own grandmother being one of the group that integrated the college she attended. I sat around with some members of my extended family this Thanksgiving, and truth be told, the degree to which they still viewed nearly everything through the lens of race-relations was a little unnerving. This is a generation to whom the race-class-divide was such an entrenched part of life that it's hard to let go.

My parents were born just as endorsed, enfranchised racism ostensibly ended in the mid 1950s, and they've seen nearly all of the veritable explosion of black culture into the American mainstream, as well as the ebb and flow of racial tension, running over in cases like the Watts riots, and more publicly, the OJ trial. They've seen the fallout, and felt the feelings that come with being thought of as second-class or inherently inferior, but I don't think the trauma of having it be an established part of the world they lived in affects them nearly as much as my grandparents generation.

For me and my generation, it's difficult to say, just because it's hard to evaluate a group you're a part of objectively, but I'd say that racism, while still a demon spectre that rears its ugly head every once in a while, is largely a thing that's not so much a part of our own lives as a piece of our personal history. Now, I'll admit that even today everyone's wary of racism, as, somewhat saddeningly exemplified by the dialog over whether "America's ready for a black President", but by the same token, despite whatever angle the media puts on it, Barack Obama has continued to do well not just in spite of, but indeed because of his support from a many and varied base of supporters.

Though I'm not one to vote because of the historical implications of things, and indeed I'm not terribly fond of Barack's platform, a part of me hopes he does win because I know that if he loses, it won't be because of his race, but that's what it will be blamed on, and to me that's the essence of racial tension in the country right now. It's like a disease, like smallpox or polio that's come and gone for the most part, but is still waiting in the wings, either in our own minds or at the end of a historian's pen, and the mere mention of its name feeds it and makes it stronger.

It's not my style to look to Hollywood for philosophical insight to often, but Morgan Freeman I think said it best when he told us that it's only when we stop drawing the line at all, stop referring to each other as black, white, hispanic, etc. that racism will even really be wiped out, and that's only going to happen over generations, not because of singular events in our history.
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Postby Jayelle » Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:03 pm

What makes me frustrated with Toronto having afro-centric schools is that for Toronto, for Canada in general, it doesn't make sense. Toronto is very ethnically diverse - if you're going to make a school that is for black kids, then it seems like you should make a school for Chinese kids, Korean kids, Portugeuse kids, Pakistani kids, etc. It just doesn't make sense to separate out one ethnic group in hundreds.
Segregating schools into black vs. white seems, honestly, very American.

In the majority of Canada, the issue is not black vs. white. It's Aboriginal vs. non-aboriginal.
Canada ranks in the top ten countries to live in for standard of living, but if you are Aboriginal, it's about 70th on the list.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:44 pm

What makes me frustrated with Toronto having afro-centric schools is that for Toronto, for Canada in general, it doesn't make sense. Toronto is very ethnically diverse - if you're going to make a school that is for black kids, then it seems like you should make a school for Chinese kids, Korean kids, Portugeuse kids, Pakistani kids, etc. It just doesn't make sense to separate out one ethnic group in hundreds.
Segregating schools into black vs. white seems, honestly, very American.

In the majority of Canada, the issue is not black vs. white. It's Aboriginal vs. non-aboriginal.
Canada ranks in the top ten countries to live in for standard of living, but if you are Aboriginal, it's about 70th on the list.
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Postby neo-dragon » Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:46 pm


Over here, in Spain (where there is rarely enough black people to form communities, and almost no black women), we enjoy what we call "black sit-coms": Bill Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, etc. But the situation represented is quite shocking to us: How is it possible that in the US there can be closed societies only for black people? How is that there is basically no interaction between black and white people? I think this can't be good. Is this reality, or simply a depiction of a "black Utopia"?
I'm going to assume that America isn't that different from Canada (even during the time when these shows were produced) and say that black comedies represent a "black utopia", as you put it, more than reality. There are certainly black communities, but black sitcoms always depict a world that for some odd reason is 99% black. "Family Matters" takes place in Chicago, a major city in a country with, what, a 10-15% black population? And yet 99% of the characters who appear in the series are black. Strangely enough, "Family Matters" is actually a spin-off of the show "Perfect Strangers", which is set in the same city but everyone is white. "Fresh Prince" makes even less sense when you consider that part of the premise of the show is that the Banks family is supposedly living in a rich white community, and yet the majority of incidental characters are of course black. The bottom line is, the shows are made for a black audience, so they feature almost exclusively black casts.
I remember fondly the episode where one of Will's aunties announces she will marry a white man. Will's mom hotly opposes. And i say i remember it fondly because it got me thinking: is this just a family conflict depiction? or is the opposition to mixed marriage real? If it is real, that episode has to be praised for denouncing it.
It's real alright, but it's not always so straight forward. First of all, there are of course families of every ethnicity that are otherwise tolerant but would frown upon a relative marrying someone who's not "their kind". I disagree with this attitude whole-heartedly, but it's not always based on racism in the strictest sense of the word, so much as a concern for preserving cultural traditions. At least, that's what I believe.

There's also the flip side to it. I know a number of black mothers (and it's always mothers. Fathers don't seem to care) who encourage their children to marry a white person. Why? I can sum it up with one quote that I've heard pass through the lips of many black mothers, sometimes in jest and sometimes not: "I don't want no nappy-headed grandchildren". Interpret that however you'd like...
What makes me frustrated with Toronto having afro-centric schools is that for Toronto, for Canada in general, it doesn't make sense. Toronto is very ethnically diverse - if you're going to make a school that is for black kids, then it seems like you should make a school for Chinese kids, Korean kids, Portugeuse kids, Pakistani kids, etc. It just doesn't make sense to separate out one ethnic group in hundreds.
Segregating schools into black vs. white seems, honestly, very American.
As I've already stated, I'm against afro-centric schools as well, but the argument is that black students have a significantly higher drop-out rate than most of those other groups. Then you have these drop-outs saying that they would have been more engaged in school if teachers and the curriculum focused more on their culture :roll:. Personally, I don't buy that. In my experience, what parents do (or don't do) at home makes all the difference. This cry for afro-centric schools is just the latest manifestation of the new trend in parenting to blame everyone else when your kid messes up. Blame television, blame music, and blame the schools and teachers. It's easier than taking the time to teach your kid a thing or two about the importance of a good a education and laying down the law when they slack off. Very few drop-outs will admit that they didn't finish school because they were slackers. It's so much easier to blame the white teachers who they just couldn't relate to. It also makes the kid sound like the victim.
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Postby anonshadow » Fri Feb 01, 2008 10:31 am

How is it possible that in the US there can be closed societies only for black people? How is that there is basically no interaction between black and white people? I think this can't be good. Is this reality, or simply a depiction of a "black Utopia"?
Well, like Janus said, those shows are set in a different time. The Fresh Prince and Family Matters were both late 80s/early to mid-90s, and the Cosby Show (I assume you mean this one, and not the Bill Cosby show?) was mostly in the 80s. If they were symbolic of race relations and reality then, they certainly aren't now. Beyond that, while I don't think they were particularly good representations of general race relations and society in the places they were set, I wasn't there. I was, however, in a predominantly black and Hispanic elementary school during the time that a lot of these shows were airing, and while there were some racial tensions, especially as we got older (I recall being called racist because I wouldn't loan someone my only pen during a test), a lot of it was stupid preteen drama more than anything else. My brother's grade, two years below me, certainly didn't have the same kind of problems.

These days?

It's complicated.

There are some communities that are segregated. Not institutionally, or at least not where there's a paper trail, but there are certain neighborhoods, especially in urban areas, that are full of impoverished black and Hispanic families. Some of the schools in those areas are 95%, 99%, 100% black and Hispanic, because the projects around them are 95%, 99%, 100% black and Hispanic. Do those schools get less funding than schools with more white kids? You bet. Are the kids taught differently? Without a doubt. Is it widespread enough that it's a problem? Absolutely. Is it representative of the majority of black and Hispanic people in the country? Probably not.

Now, a question to pose to all of you: Do you identify as any particular race?

I... don't. I don't identify as white, and I don't identify with white people.



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Postby Eddie Pinz » Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:32 pm

Now, a question to pose to all of you: Do you identify as any particular race?

I... don't. I don't identify as white, and I don't identify with white people.
I think you would be in the minority there. I do. I identify as white and with white people.

Now I have a question about a situation that happened in the golf world and I figured that here would be a good place for a discussion.

An an anchor for the golf channel, Kelly Tilghman, made a comment about Tiger Woods. Basically she said that the only way for other golfers to beat Tiger is if they lynched him in the back ally.

Now the word lynch sets off all types of racial alarms, and rightfully so. But, I don't necessarily think Tilghman is a racist. I think that she used awful word choice when making the comment and was suspended two weeks for it. In football, it has been said by numerous people that the only way for the Patriots to lose is if Tom Brady is kidnapped, killed, gets hurt, etc. I think this is what she was going for, but unfortunately used that word. What do you think?

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Postby neo-dragon » Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:19 pm


Now, a question to pose to all of you: Do you identify as any particular race?
Are you talking about in the literal sense, as in, which box would I check in a census? Or do you mean in terms of my own perceived cultural identity?
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Postby anonshadow » Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:02 pm

The latter.



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Postby Gravity Defier » Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:41 pm

Now, a question to pose to all of you: Do you identify as any particular race?

I... don't. I don't identify as white, and I don't identify with white people.

Consider this a place holder for a response to come (read: when I get off work, I'll write something up)

ETA (a bit later than was expected):

I identify myself as white and native American/Mexican racially speaking, because that's what Mexicans are...a mix of Spaniard and natives, and I'm a Mexican-American. But that's just what I check on the box options of any official surveys.

Ethnically/culturally speaking, I identify more with white people than I do Mexicans or Mexican-Americans. Growing up, it was constantly impressed upon me that I couldn't be Mexican/Mexican-American because I don't speak Spanish. I thought maybe it was just a radical group of people surrounding me, but it's been everywhere I've ever lived. "You look Mexican, but you're not because you don't speak Spanish." That made for some really embarrassing and hard times when the areas I've lived in discriminate against people like me, often called Oreos (dark on the outside, white on the inside). I haven't faced that same discrimination from white people, who don't have a preconceived list of attributes and qualities that make or break the ability to be Mexican-American. They don't give me the "I pity you," look or worse, the "I'm disgusted by you," look.

Not to say I haven't faced some racist white people (one in particular, while I was in high school, made a point of telling me I shouldn't be in Honors classes because everyone knows Mexicans are stupid and others followed me around stores.)

I do tend to identify myself as an Arizonan as well, but not just the city I live in...the whole state.

Hmm. Not sure I expressed myself quite as well as I'd like, but that's what you get.
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Postby neo-dragon » Fri Feb 01, 2008 4:32 pm

I can't really say that I identify with black people, or any other particular ethnic group. It sounds corny, but I'm just me. I don't conform to the typical black stereotypes, and to be honest, I don't have all that many black friends. It just so happens that most of the people with whom I share similar interests tend not to be black.

But then, I think I'm a bit wary of anyone who strongly identifies with a certain ethnicity because they tend to see everything through a racial lens. I think that it's these people who end up pushing for unnecessary things like afro-centric schools. It's great to be proud of your heritage and where you come from, but at the end of the day, I think that we'll all be better off when people realize that the only race that being a part of actually matters is the human race. Again, it sounds corny and clichéd but I don't know what else to say.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Fri Feb 01, 2008 5:18 pm

I identify as Canadian. I mean, sure I like to joke about claiming clan membership in Scotland, but when it comes down to it, Tim Horton's and the maple leaf mean more to me than any "racial" identity. Is that ethnic? I've never felt like it was, but YMMV.
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Postby Rei » Fri Feb 01, 2008 7:21 pm

I identify primarily as Dutch, that being my dad's background and I grew up amongst a lot of Dutch immigrant farming families. After that I identify as Mennonite, that being my mum's background. And yes, I realise that that is a denomination, but different branches of it have their own cultures, and on her side we've been in Canada for five or six generations. Colour does not really play into it near so much as country or culture when it comes to where I come from. And now that I'm living in Ontario, I find I identify as being from BC more, because I find things very different here.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Fri Feb 01, 2008 8:12 pm

I've heard it said that Ontarians generally identify as "Canadian," whereas people from other areas of the country identify by province. So far I've found that generally true, and I wonder what it says about us all?
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Postby jotabe » Fri Feb 01, 2008 8:25 pm

I see that i am not the only here identifying oneself more as a national than as racial.
I can't help but feeling a pinch of proud when i see a gypsy* or a black person** speaking in Galician language.

In any case, i am glad to hear that the divide between black people and white people isn't as severe as the american cultural manifestations showed. I can understand that grandmother telling that to her granddaughter ;) It's a genetic imperative to favour the inclusion of a wider genetic pool in your DNA.

*Gypsies in Spain are mostly the carriers of 2 different cultures: one is the "romaní" culture, privative of the gypsies, whose language is the Romaní (or Caló), and the other one is the "flamenco" culture, representative of the south of Spain, whose language is the southern dialect of Spanish (it's similar to the Spanish spoken in America). Hence a Gypsy who speaks in Galician is a rare sight, and it means their family has settled down in Galicia, loosening the ties with the Romaní, society, becoming Galician.

**Black people in Galicia are a very rare sight, since being a poor region, Galicia doesn't receive too many immigrants. The ones we receive are usually temporary. So, an african becoming Galician happens once in a blue moon.
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Postby anonshadow » Sat Feb 02, 2008 2:37 am

That's actually really interesting. I identify as a New Yorker. (City, not state.) I don't even really identify as American--I live here, I have respect for the country, an interest in it, and even a lot of affection for it, but it isn't who I am. I am a New Yorker. I get a lot more pissed when people diss New York than when they diss the US, and I find it difficult, if not impossible, to be friends with someone who doesn't like New York. So that's not national, but I think that part of that is the nature of the city. We have so many immigrants that the New York identity is very different than a US identity.



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Postby zeroguy » Sat Feb 02, 2008 4:29 am

Well, like Janus said, those shows are set in a different time. The Fresh Prince and Family Matters were both late 80s/early to mid-90s, and the Cosby Show (I assume you mean this one, and not the Bill Cosby show?) was mostly in the 80s. If they were symbolic of race relations and reality then, they certainly aren't now. Beyond that, while I don't think they were particularly good representations of general race relations and society in the places they were set, I wasn't there.
Heh, it's interesting that I'm watching the Fresh Prince right now. I certainly "wasn't there" either, but not all episodes of those shows were all that happy. There were some dealing with racism/racial profiling that really seemed like they could have happened.

If you just focus on the fewer serious episodes, it might actually present a more realistic image.
Now, a question to pose to all of you: Do you identify as any particular race?
Scandinavian (not sure I consider that a "race"), though I've only been in that area once. But whenever I hear more about it, it just sounds more like "home".
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Postby jotabe » Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:39 am

and I find it difficult, if not impossible, to be friends with someone who doesn't like New York.
But is there people who doesn't like NY?
:D
Well, half joke, half serious: NY is a city that i thought got almost universally a feeling of benevolence from everyone, and i am talking even before the 9-11.

In any case, the "national" feeling is not really because it refers to a nation, but to a community with a sense of self. Galicia isn't properly a nation (we have no state of our own) and can create that "national feelings". And many cities that have a lot of peculiar personality can cause that feeling in their inhabitants. So i'd say feeling "newyorker" is about the same cathegory as feeling "american", "spanish" or "galician" (despite new york being part of usa, and galicia being part of spain).
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Postby Luet » Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:38 pm

Please don't pounce on me but I'm not a huge fan of NYC. Granted, I'm not a city person in general but I have visited cities that I prefer to NY - Boston being one of them. I live in upstate NY and have been to NYC probably 7-8 times. I like to visit it but would certainly NEVER want to live there.
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Postby anonshadow » Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:21 pm

To bring this back--

Okay, so most of us don't like the concept of afro-centric schools. What about schools for, say, Hassidic or Orthodox Jews? If we don't like public schools forming like that, well, what about community-funded private schools? Should there be legislation on the books regarding that?

And beyond that, if you identify with a certain geographic area--like NYC, for me--that doesn't make up its own country, what are the ramifications of that? My roommate, my afore-mentioned best friend, and I were talking about this last weekend, and she asked me what would happen if New York seceded from the US. (Theoretical question.) I said I'd side with New York. She pointed out that if everyone in the country had that sort of divided loyalty, the country would fall apart. I don't agree with her, necessarily, but it's an interesting question. Say, in the world sense, if you identify more strongly with one group or country, what happens if that country enters into an unfair war? Do you support what will do the best for your country?



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Postby neo-dragon » Sat Feb 02, 2008 4:04 pm

Like I was saying in my last post, I think the best thing for everyone would be if more people's first loyalty was to the human race as a whole. The problem is that expanding our own personal sphere of responsibility/loyalty doesn't seem to come naturally to us human beings, and we can probably thank evolution for that. For most people that sphere of responsibility includes at least self and family. For some it expands to community, or race, or country.

Anyway, getting back to the afro-centric schools; it turns out that the school board trustees can vote in favour of them all they want, but the provincial government has no intention of actually funding them (HA!).

But this latest development is downright disgusting: "Trustees threatened following tough vote"

An excerpt:
After the vote, Payne, the only opposing black trustee, says someone told her: "Shame, shame, you should be f------ shot."

During the vote, Payne, in Matlow's hearing, was accused of being a "sellout" to the black community and "whitewashed."
I guess that makes me a whitewashed sellout as well, because I sure as Hell would have voted against.
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Postby jotabe » Sat Feb 02, 2008 9:40 pm

Well, there are a set of values that are connected with being an orthodox jew, for example. Orthodox judaism is a religion, after all, it's a "path", a viewpoint on life. It's, in essence, a ideology, that the individual might decide to adopt or not.

But there aren't, or there shouldn't be a set of values connected with being black, or white, or blue. Because if someone postulated values connected with being blue, for example, if we find a blue person who doesn't share them, he would be ostraziced for not being "a true blue person". It would be a meta-alienation, you are alienated from what you are.
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Postby Gravity Defier » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:27 pm

and I find it difficult, if not impossible, to be friends with someone who doesn't like New York.
But is there people who doesn't like NY?
I liked it just fine but having since been to Chicago and being able to really connect to a city in a way that was impossible for me in NYC, I think NY's reputation far surpassed its actuality.
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Postby neo-dragon » Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:17 pm


But there aren't, or there shouldn't be a set of values connected with being black, or white, or blue. Because if someone postulated values connected with being blue, for example, if we find a blue person who doesn't share them, he would be ostraziced for not being "a true blue person". It would be a meta-alienation, you are alienated from what you are.
No, there certainly shouldn't be, but some people seem to think that there are. Thus we have terms like "whitewashed" or "Oreo" (black on the outside but white on the inside). And it's especially unfortunate because these terms are almost exclusively used to describe black people who are well educated and successful. What does that say about the cultural self-image of the black community? Of course, some people use that as an argument for why there needs to be afro-centric schools. I say it's an argument for why having such schools will help nothing. All people need to learn to be successful on an equal playing field. Having afro-centric schools won't help because their graduates won't be going out into an afro-centric world.
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Postby KennEnder » Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:26 pm

It is telling (and very sad) that every day (or so it seems) I read about a new kind of American. There might have once been only one, but now there are dozens: (plain old) American, African-American, Mexican-American, Jewish-American...

I have not started hearing about German-Americans or French-Americans, or even generic Euro-Americans, but for a melting pot that is supposedly trying to be a closer society, we sure do draw a lot of pointless lines and generate a lot of diverse identities.

As noted, most other countries (and a few states) have strong national identities. Texans, Californians and New Yorkers do too. But Americans... I used to think we did, but as long as there is more than one "flavor" of American, we will not be able to overcome the racial divisions among us.

As for special racial schools: bad idea. Religious schools, okay. Southern Baptists can have all the schools they want... but let's not start opening Afro-centric schools, and let's stop teaching Euro-centricly; let's just teach a bunch of true-blue, red-blooded Americans that it's okay to have a common (mixed-up melting pot) identity!
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Postby zeroguy » Sun Feb 03, 2008 4:50 am

Thus we have terms like "whitewashed" or "Oreo" (black on the outside but white on the inside). And it's especially unfortunate because these terms are almost exclusively used to describe black people who are well educated and successful.
Doesn't that depend on your definition of "successful"? And are you contesting that being "well educated" is a universal positive attribute without respect to (ethnic) values?

Oh, and at least in my mind, thinking "americans like NYC" is about as accurate as "americans like baseball". Which is to say, not very accurate if you're thinking all of us do.
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Postby jotabe » Sun Feb 03, 2008 5:57 am

I was saying that people like NY in a worldwide way. I mean, most people, wether we have gone to NY or not, have a positive image of it. This happens, peculiarly, even among those who suffer hatred for the US.

And well, i'd say that being well educated is a universally positive value, as it enables you to learn more, and being able to do more things. An uneducated person is limited in what they can do. An educated person can do all what an uneducated one can, and much more (you'd be surprised to learn how many people with university degree coming from the subsaharian Africa are illegal aliens in Spain, risking their lives to cross the strait on a boat, only to work as cheap labour in fruit collection).
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Postby Gravity Defier » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:45 pm

It is telling (and very sad) that every day (or so it seems) I read about a new kind of American. There might have once been only one, but now there are dozens: (plain old) American
I don't understand.

When has there ever been only one kind of, let alone 'plain old,' American?

When Native Americans were alone on the North American continent? When Europeans started moving over and pushing the Natives out? When more Europeans started moving over and were treated horribly by the first Europeans (thinking of immigrants in Chicago and NYC in 1800s and 1900s, specifically)? When women couldn't vote? When minorities couldn't vote? The only 'American' in my mind that has always been a plain old American has been of the white, rich, male variety and they have been a subset amongst other types of Americans that existed and were largely mistreated or ignored for not being white, rich and male.

I think that what makes you sad hasn't been lost, it has only ever been an illusion.

As for the grand melting pot...I have never much been a fan of the idea. Why can't people retain their differences (the Mexican, the African, the Jewish) while still being proud of or being able to claim they are also American (that would be the binding force among us all, the similarity)? I mean, sure, deep down we're all people and so we shouldn't try to highlight all the differences. But we're also not all the same, not even amongst races/ethnicities, so why should we try to 'overcome' that by trying to pretend we are? I don't want to jump in the melting pot and become just like that white person over there and that black person over there, or that Mexican person right next door. I want to be proud that I'm Mexican-American, show that pride to the degree I'm comfortable with and also be treated legally (by that, I mean in terms of rights and such) the same way other people in this country are -or at least the way we all should be.
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Postby KennEnder » Sun Feb 03, 2008 4:44 pm

PG-

Sorry about the lousy post I made; I was very tired and my muddled brain doesn't do anything well.

In reality, I think that having a variety of cultures is EXACTLY what makes America great! In fact, I am more often peeved that people choose to forget their heritage, and I love visiting other parts of the world precisely because I like to be immersed in those different cultures. If a person wants to dress in Native American clothes, I say "Go right ahead!" Want to speak Spanish at home? Please do!

In fact, as I think I've said earlier, I frequently lament that there is so LITTLE (pracital) diversity in the US. Almost every city/state is a copy of every other one, what with all the franchise-chain stores around. It's somehow difficult to find any real "character" in many places, especially in the suburban malls, except for the overwhelming "Forget character and go for big bucks." Oh sure, there are landmarks, and there are some broad differences from East to West & North to South, but...

Heck, even now I don't know how to explain what I think I wanted to say. I guess I simply wish "we could all just get along" and accept our differences, call it "American" and rejoice in it.
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Postby Gravity Defier » Sun Feb 03, 2008 4:52 pm

I can drink to that. :)
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Postby neo-dragon » Sun Feb 03, 2008 5:37 pm

Thus we have terms like "whitewashed" or "Oreo" (black on the outside but white on the inside). And it's especially unfortunate because these terms are almost exclusively used to describe black people who are well educated and successful.
Doesn't that depend on your definition of "successful"? And are you contesting that being "well educated" is a universal positive attribute without respect to (ethnic) values?
As far as what I was referring to above, successful tends to mean a black individual who has achieved middle, or upper-middle class socioeconomic standing or better without being a professional entertainer or athlete, and of course, without earning income illegally.

And I can't really think of a reason why being well educated shouldn't be a universally positive attribute.
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Postby Jayelle » Sun Feb 03, 2008 5:39 pm

I remember learning in elementary school that America has a melting pot, like all the crayons melted together, whereas Canada strives to have a mosaic, with all the crayons colouring side by side.
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Postby neo-dragon » Sun Feb 03, 2008 5:52 pm

And what do you get when you blend every colour in the visible spectrum together...?

White. :? :roll:
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Postby KennEnder » Sun Feb 03, 2008 7:47 pm

And what do you get when you blend every pigment color together?

Black.
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