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Racism is so wrong.

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    I'm one of the opinion that we are not born racist in the sense that we harbor prejudices of fear of the "other". However, studies by psychologists of babies as young as 6 months old, suggest that babies can differentiate between the "other". The "other" in this case can be racial, gender or something else. While babies can differentiate the other, they do not necessarily suggest a "fear" element. The "fear" is something that is instilled both covertly and overtly by parents, relatives, peers, and friends as the child develops. The good news is that it is reversible as anyone you confronts their fears knows.

    Peter Jaret, Berkley Wellness, June 25, 2015: Are We Born Racist?

    The following are some extracts from the above article:

    "Familiarity breeds liking. The more often and consistently people experience one another through inter-group contact, the less likely they are to be influenced by stereotypes and prejudices. Some of our prejudices arise simply because we don’t have experience with other groups. We never have the chance to disconfirm our faulty stereotypes. People may hold on to all kinds of stereotypes about Hispanics, or African-Americans, or gay people, but when people spend time with them, they discover—imagine that—that members of the “out” group are a lot like members of the “in” group.

    "The discouraging news is that our society is structured against this kind of mixing of groups. We continue to be segregated by class and status, and it’s very easy for people to avoid contact with others who aren’t like them.

    "What can we as individuals do to become less prejudiced?

    "We can try to broaden our contacts to include people who aren’t like us. That sounds simple, but it’s not. It’s very hard because the structural barriers are so high. Let me mention an interesting finding from studies of young children. The most popular kids, researchers have found, have the most diverse social networks. They’re friends with everyone. But as those kids get older, they lose that diversity in their social networks. Why? Because there’s so much peer pressure."

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    I'll add my own opinion having lived and worked in foreign countries including Libya. My first overseas assignment at age 25 was initially full of fear of the other, in this case the media stereotype of Arabs. However, as my wife and I grew more comfortable in our surroundings, our perspectives changed, especially as we learned about their customs, their religion (Islam), and how the Libyan people have much the same goals in life as westerners...happiness for themselves and their children.

    I considered my overseas experiences a cultural reward, but at the same time I have difficulty conveying my experiences to others who live a more sheltered life style. We are all captives of our own experiences. I cannot make my experiences, your experiences.

    As the author writes, it requires hard work and commitment to face and self reflect upon our own prejudices...the fear of the other. Stepping out of our comfort zones and seeking out experiences to replace the prejudiced stereotypes is a first step...a kind of therapy if you like. Not many people are willing to do that. We prefer to live in ignorance and fear.

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    Yes Schmidt, you and I have similar world wide experiences; only few Americans can say that, because the majority never has been away from this island. So for them it is only the media and their surroundings which influences them. I did like to work in all kinds of countries; they were always eager to learn; sometimes I felt like Jesus surrounded by kids who kept asking questions like in Biak ( Papua New Guinea) . But anyway since this country is so diverse, you would think people would mix more, but the opposite happens to be the case. I think it is because the "white-ies" still think they can have slaves or treat them as such. As well the "have's" and "have not's" makes all the difference in this country as well the "herd" mentality; you either belong or don't to certain groups as driven by the churches etc..
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    Dutch -- Yes, we agree. But as you have pointed out on numerous occasions, the reverse is also true. Foreigners' perceptions of Americans are derived from the interactions that we have with them. If that interaction is one of goodwill (for example Lawrence O'Donnell's KIND campaign to provide desks for young children in African schools), then the perceptions can be positive. However, for so many, especially in the Middle East, if those experiences are of America guns, bullets, drones and bombing campaigns killing their friends and relatives, those perceptions will be entirely different. We are then the "Great Satin". We don't win friends with bombs or intimidation or repression. The cycle now often seems endless and hopeless as we keep feeding the same fires in the same militaristic way.

    The topic, of course, is racial prejudices, and one needs to ask if our military actions against the "other"are enabled and made easier by the American populist thinking (part of the American psyche) of the media induced Arab and Muslim stereotype...and our own self perception of exceptionalism and grandeur. The "war" against ISIS is just another chapter of the same ole, same ole.

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    Schmidt Wrote:

    Dutch -- Yes, we agree. But as you have pointed out on numerous occasions, the reverse is also true. Foreigners' perceptions of Americans are derived from the interactions that we have with them. If that interaction is one of goodwill (for example Lawrence O'Donnell's KIND campaign to provide desks for young children in African schools), then the perceptions can be positive. However, for so many, especially in the Middle East, if those experiences are of America guns, bullets, drones and bombing campaigns killing their friends and relatives, those perceptions will be entirely different. We are then the "Great Satin". We don't win friends with bombs or intimidation or repression. The cycle now often seems endless and hopeless as we keep feeding the same fires in the same militaristic way.

    The topic, of course, is racial prejudices, and one needs to ask if our military actions against the "other"are enabled and made easier by the American populist thinking (part of the American psyche) of the media induced Arab and Muslim stereotype...and our own self perception of exceptionalism and grandeur. The "war" against ISIS is just another chapter of the same ole, same ole.

    Amen
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    To Amc; The verse you are quoting is from Matt:19. 13 thru 15, it refers to how one must be ,to be able to enter the kingdom of heaven, like a child, devoid of any burdens, humble, and committed .
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    Racism is a constructed subset of feelings. People are born with tendencies. Inate feelings that are ascribed to instinct or heredity or whatever reason to cover up our ignorance. We are destined by DNA to be either short, smart, charismatic, friendly or whatever that makes us who we are. None of which can be easily if at all changed. I know people that have never been sick a day in their life. Consequently they are confused by employees that have health problems. With the support of our government and society less productive people will eventually suffer not because of choice but because of birthright. By defining racism that gives a pass to solving other problems. Problems that are tendencies towards prejudicial actions. There can never be a solution to racism because there can never be a solution to innate prejudicial feelings. Just as the poor, sickly and physically challenged suffer will there always be racial discrimination. The human race has always had leaders, superiors, bosses. That provides resentment and that resentment may manifest in many ways including racism. Until it is recognized that every human life has the same right as any human life there will never be a resolution to prejudice. This world has all the resources to provide a good life for everybody, but so far not the will. Look how easily Hillary offers a conscientious objection but how few will fight for Bernie.
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    Chet -- From the various papers and articles I have read, DNA certainly determines several traits of our personality including intelligence, friendliness, etc. And of course there are degrees between the extremes at each end of the spectrum for each of those traits. However, as with the paper I referenced above, we are not born with an innate racial prejudice. Babies can certainly distinguish between race, but bigotry and hate is learned from one's parents, family, peers, friends, communities and religious tribes. A learned prejudice can be unlearned. It just takes commitment and critical thinking (self reflection). For example, a couple can be anti-gay, but as soon as they have a son or daughter that is gay, their perspectives can change...and often do, except for the real hard nosed cases that "disown" their children. Bigots are not born that way...they are made starting very early in life.
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    Schmidt, You are qualifying a feeling. I did not say racial prejudice is innate. I said feelings are innate. The social development of those feelings may develop into racism. Babies as young as two months have been observed reacting to visual simlulii. A person develops and learns through their innatess. Just as they do height, weight humor etc. People are different from other people but are locked in to their own basic tendencies. Socializing those feelings can be good, bad or indifferent.
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    Schmidt, Here is a good example of negative discrimination both pointed out and criticized but then passively aggressively condoned. Trump was criticized for mocking the disabled reporter. I felt that should have ended his candidacy. But it didn't because he is supported by people and a lot of people that didn't like the reporters physical appearance and motor actions. How many network anchor news reporters have visible and audible disabilities. How many people pray to have a baby that they can take care of versus how many people pray for a happy healthy baby. We outwardly profess our humanitarianism while inwardly hoping for above average. All entire system is about rewarding the best. Look how the conservatives happily relish cutting entitlements but yet offer no solutions for a system that is designed to reward based on economic productivity. A system based on cutting costs and reducing labor but then hoards the benefits of those actions.
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    As our world society continues to evolve, watching children play together is comforting and having no show of racism. As these children grow older they pick up undesirable traits that include racism. Then these children act out just like bigoted and racist adults. When you introduce "fear", such as the effect of human trafficking and sexual abuse, all bets are off and the child is damaged for a lifetime. Our society is in such denial on human trafficking, which this disease only propagates children and adults to fear others and continue the attitudes of racism and bigotry.

    You only have to reason issues, such as racism and bigotry and ask what causes these attitudes in people. As you think of cause and effects, it is easy to see why people cause these things upon themselves by making others fear and become slaves to intimidation and slavery. This is why human trafficking and the sex industry is so damaging to society and begs for wondering why people allow this to happen. If you have a race issue with someone, than you are most likely thinking how lowly that person. Than as the racist denies a person's freedom to live, the racist will subject the person to unthinkable behaviors (assault, beatings, intimidation, slavery, sexual perversions and ridicule).

    When we become less burdened by our own fears and attitudes on others, we will not treat others with racism and bigotry. Thus as scripture indicates.............we can become like children.

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    Schmidt, Dutch, Chet, Good stuff. Excellent points made. As I have previously mentioned, this topic as it relates to children was covered on a story on 60 minutes. Baby Lab 1 and 2. Yale

    Number 2 was encouraging as it showed much better choices by children when they got a few years older (8 - 10). For those who have not seen this, it was very interesting.

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    Chet -- When you say, "There can never be a solution to racism because there can never be a solution to innate prejudicial feelings," I took that to mean that racial prejudice is inherited, which it is not. Certainly all of our feelings are inherited, and fear, anger and hate are emotions that if misdirected against the "other" can qualify as "racism". It really depends on one's environment. Growing up in a tolerant mixed race environment, is not conducive to feelings of hate against the other. President Obama does not appear to be a racist, and I expect being raised by his white grandparents had something to do with it. Yet he can eloquently speak about racism and his feelings about being the target of racists. Despite the abuse, does he harbor feelings of hate against whites? I don't think so.

    I am not suggesting that there is not awareness of differences, and that some people are uncomfortable being in the company of the "other". But that doesn't mean they are racists. I am an introvert, and in my youth I was very shy around girls..."uncomfortable" is the word. But there was nothing sinister in my feelings, and I eventually overcame those feelings and got married.

    The point I am making is that there is certainly awareness of differences from a very young age, but awareness or uncomfortableness (a mild form of fear) do not translate into hate of the other unless one's environment is full of hate. Racism as such is learned.

    Individuals can overcome those fears, but it takes a lot of commitment and an open mind. Collectively, however, in whole communities where racism is rampant, the task is considerably more difficult.

    TJ - I wrote this before seeing your post. I'll respond tomorrow.

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    Schmidt Wrote:

    Chet -- When you say, "There can never be a solution to racism because there can never be a solution to innate prejudicial feelings," I took that to mean that racial prejudice is inherited, which it is not. Certainly all of our feelings are inherited, and fear, anger and hate are emotions that if misdirected against the "other" can qualify as "racism". It really depends on one's environment. Growing up in a tolerant mixed race environment, is not conducive to feelings of hate against the other. President Obama does not appear to be a racist, and I expect being raised by his white grandparents had something to do with it. Yet he can eloquently speak about racism and his feelings about being the target of racists. Despite the abuse, does he harbor feelings of hate against whites? I don't think so.

    I am not suggesting that there is not awareness of differences, and that some people are uncomfortable being in the company of the "other". But that doesn't mean they are racists. I am an introvert, and in my youth I was very shy around girls..."uncomfortable" is the word. But there was nothing sinister in my feelings, and I eventually overcame those feelings and got married.

    The point I am making is that there is certainly awareness of differences from a very young age, but awareness or uncomfortableness (a mild form of fear) do not translate into hate of the other unless one's environment is full of hate. Racism as such is learned.

    Individuals can overcome those fears, but it takes a lot of commitment and an open mind. Collectively, however, in whole communities where racism is rampant, the task is considerably more difficult.

    TJ - I wrote this before seeing your post. I'll respond tomorrow.

    People are different and unfortunately that difference can be mutated.
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    TJ -- The 60 Minutes program on how babies' brains are able to differentiate and show preferences as young as 6 months old should be considered carefully within the much broader area of neuroscience and the development of babies brains, from the prenatal to adulthood. Certainly we are all born with a set of inherited emotions such as fear, anger, happiness, and sadness amongst others, and certain emotions are more prevalent in some people than others (e.g. fear). However, we also have cognitive abilities (intelligence, intellectual curiosity...critical thinking) that keep certain emotions in check as they become more developed. Psychologists and neuroscientists cite the importance of the environment in the development of babies brains, especially in the first few years of life as neurons are being connected (synapses) based on stimuli.

    Baby’s Brain Begins Now: Conception to Age 3

    I am also highly suspicious when journalists "cherry pick" one aspect of the research to sensationalize. In particular, I would take issue with Leslie Stahl's use of the word "bigots" as being a possible inherited trait...or her words, "born to hate". I think that's a stretch that many psychologists would disagree with.