kerravonsen: Martha: "made of awesome" (Martha-awesome)
[personal profile] kerravonsen
Proposition: racism is a form of classism. Why? Because in Europe, Spaniards are considered to be "white", while in America, they are considered to be "coloured". Therefore it has nothing really to do with skin colour; rather the skin colour is a "class marker". Class markers are superficial characteristics which mark someone as being in a particular class, a way of lumping all those people together very quickly and with little effort. Other class markers are things like accent and clothing -- things that can be taken in at a glance, or as soon as someone opens their mouth. And they are often things which are difficult or impossible to change.

The thing about classism is that it isn't just lumping people together in a group, and it isn't just lumping people together in a group and being prejudiced against that group. The added thing with classism is that it is a hierarchy where the people lower on the totem pole are a threat, and they must be pushed down and "kept in their place", because otherwise they threaten the pecking order.

There is NOTHING inherently superior or inferior about any class. There is merely power, and the lack of it. Those with power use it to their advantage, and tell themselves that they are "naturally superior". We all know that's rubbish.

There is classism, which is a superior/inferior divide, but that isn't the only type of group-prejudice around. I'm thinking of the ally/enemy dichotomy too. That's where we get things like the "evil Hun" stereotype, and the "all Muslims are extremists" stereotype etc. I class this one differently because the threat is more explicit, and it isn't necessarily a superior/inferior thing... I'm not sure whether, in demonizing enemies, whether they are considered to be equals or not, or whether it is an attempt to make them seem inferior as well. But no, because the demonized enemies are not considered to be stupid or lazy, they are considered to be evil: equal in cunning, but inferior in morality. Enemies, after all, have equal power, or you wouldn't be fighting them, you'd be crushing them under your heel (or being crushed under their heel, depending). Less powerful enemies are either rebels (if they are within your sphere) or barbarians (if they are not).

Immigrants (as distinct from conquerors) tend to have less power, and are often seen as a threat, especially when they come in large numbers in a short time. A threat to the prosperity of their equals because they are rivals for the same resources, and a resource for the most powerful, if they can be oppressed and exploited from the get-go. (Gee, I'm being really cynical here, aren't I?) Because they are new-come, they are seen as "not-we", and therefore threatening in that way also. If said immigrants have some clear marker which distinguishes them from the locals, then there you have a recipe for racism in the making - with a socio-economic basis.

All that being said, I'm probably talking through my hat, because IANAS (I Am Not A Sociologist).

Date: 2016-03-22 04:14 pm (UTC)
watervole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] watervole
Same logic applies to bullying in schools. Anything that singles someone out can be used against them. It can be something as trivial as ginger hair, or the way their parents dress. These things clearly do not relate to brains or anything else, yet they can be made to label someone as 'not one of us'.

The sad thing with kids is that there doesn't even have to be a perceived threat to create that need to push others down.

Date: 2016-03-22 10:14 pm (UTC)
owl: Stylized barn owl (Default)
From: [personal profile] owl
Most/many Spanish-speakers from Central and South America are of mixed European and Native American (and African) descent. You're right though, what is also interesting is how the Italian and Irish immigrants moved from being considered not white or not really white. You don't get much whiter than your typically Irish person, in terms of skin pigmentation.

Date: 2016-03-24 09:57 am (UTC)
evilawyer: young black-tailed prairie dog at SF Zoo (Default)
From: [personal profile] evilawyer
Because in Europe, Spaniards are considered to be "white", while in America, they are considered to be "coloured".

American here (USA Latina, that is), and as such I say "Not really". At least, not among the USA Latinos USA around me, but then, we are all Latino Baby Boomers, so our perception is colored by our (and our parents) experience. Spaniards are, in my circle, from Spain and, therefore, "ethnically" European, Moorish invasion of the Iberian Peninsula notwithstanding --- it's all Eastern Hemisphere. Mexicans and, usually but not always in my circle's way of thinking, other Latinos are a mix of Western Hemisphere indigenous peoples and Europeans. Which translates to an East-West divide, but a real one that crosses hemispheres. The rest of the East-West talk that takes place in the Eastern Hemisphere is an intra-hemisphere, except that everything impacts everything else --- which today's world brings home more and more with all the bombings. But then, I move in a particular circle. Which, incidentally, "minority" though it may still be considered, still displays its own prejudices when it looks at low socioeconomic status Caucasians (what used to be called --- and probably still is somewhere --- "white trash") it has surpassed in inherent intelligance, formal education, and general desire to help all humanity instead of just one's own offspring. My circle's views are just that --- views.

Nevertheless, just wanted to point out that most Mestizos might not agree with your statement.

By the way, you are totally a sociologist. Never think --- or say --- you aren't.

Date: 2016-03-22 02:06 pm (UTC)
dreamflower: gandalf at bag end (Default)
From: [personal profile] dreamflower
I think you are right.

Another factor is that somehow, the human brain needs to sort things out and put them in categories for identification. For example, we will often "see" things in other things (shapes in clouds, faces in the patterns of rock or stone), it's one of the things that makes us able to make art. [I wish I could recall the fascinating article that explained this so I could link it.]

The problem comes when mere identification runs over into our other human tendency towards selfishness. We usually see ourselves as the "good" and the "normal". So people like us are also "good" and "normal" and the further away someone else is, the less "good" and "normal" they are. They are "other".

Add in all those other factors you've described and you have a recipe for thousands of years of human misery.

(And behind all of it is something else, as old as Eden, which no amount of mere human determination can overcome. And for that reason, there's still hope.)

Date: 2016-03-23 01:21 am (UTC)
ext_12572: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I disagree that it's those most unlike us who are mostly strongly "othered". I think it's those very like us but only somewhat different. Do you give much thought to the Yanamamo people in the jungle of South America? Probably not. They're quite exotic...but far away, too. But your German/Polish/Mexican/Laotian/whatever neighbor, who lives in the same country, in a similar home, who is more like you than different in many ways but is nonetheless different in some ways...that's the guy you hate or fear. Because he's a rival. Or a threat. Enough like you to be competition, but enough unlike you to make it easy to view him as Other.

Date: 2016-03-23 02:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is an truly excellent point that you and Kat are making, here, one which I had not considered before.

Date: 2016-03-22 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What you've said makes perfect sense to me. Another example of racism as classism would be the inconsistency with which Jews are treated; they're often dismissed as rich white oppressors (and therefore undeserving of the sympathy given to other minorities) by ultra-liberals, while at being treated as an inferior race by ultra-conservatives (including, ironically, the very rich white people whose class they're supposed to be part of).

Date: 2016-03-22 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion etc. seems to be equally popular with both sides: the radical liberals because it vindicates their view of Jews as unduly privileged and therefore the Enemy, the radical conservatives because they see the existence of wealthy Jews as an affront to the capitalistic ideal (how dare these upstart foreigners beat us at our own game! They must be stopped!).

Date: 2016-03-22 11:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Any sort of ism makes a schism, which is one reason why I dislike the tendency to stick labels on people. As soon as one group differentiates from another there tends to be inequality. Add wealth and power to the mix and the divide can become a yawning chasm that none is allowed to cross for fear of upsetting the status quo.

They divide can persist over centuries too. In Britain the wealth still lies with those of Norman names.


kerravonsen: (Default)
Kathryn A.

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