kerravonsen: Martha: "made of awesome" (Martha-awesome)
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).

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Kathryn A.

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