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5 types of racism 5 types of racism
by Joseph Gatt
2020-08-28 08:20:33
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I've identified 5 types (roughly) of racism. Let me break those down for you.

Religious racism: Or religious bigotry if you want to call it that.

Religious racism is the idea that the religion we belong to is correct, and that all other religions are flawed. Thus, people who belong to other religions should either be ignored, fought or harassed.

raci001_400Ethnic racism: Ethnicity is a very vague concept. I've discussed this before.

Ethnicity is a “racial” or “national” or “tribal” or “color” group that you belong to. Culture is the way of life, behavior, taboos, norms that you adopt.

Many “ethnic” groups have a “culture” that goes with it. Many many individuals can be from one “ethnic” group and yet have a completely different set of values.

I've discussed before how shocked I was to see my fellow ethnic French Jews adopt cultural norms that I thought were rather “weird.” To me Judaism was always about openness, open networks, friendliness, open communication and joy of life (simcha).

Yet when I encountered my French Jewish counterparts, a lot of them were cold, distant, hid crucial information from me, and were trying to manipulate me into fighting weird causes that borders with bigotry, when I wanted to kind of Judaism that celebrated the holidays in peace and in harmony.

Point is, ethnicity and culture is not always the same thing. Some people can belong to the same ethnicity, yet adopt completely different cultural norms and values.

So ethnic racism is the kind of racism that believes that people from certain ethnic groups should be ignored, harassed or fought. I find this despicable.

But having worked with racial supremacist groups (I had to, that was in my job description) one way I would try to calm their “bestial racism” was by trying to explain that people who belong to one ethnicity don't always have the same cultural values, and that some members of minority ethnic groups could have values closer to your people than what you think.

That is Korean extremists tend to believe that non-Koreans adopt different cultural norms, values, cuisine, behaviors, attitudes and so on.

The way I used to work with Korean extremists was by trying to use examples of non-Koreans who would perhaps fit in very well to the Korean model, and whose values closely resembled that of Koreans.

I failed at that for many reasons. First off, Korean extremists tended to have rigid racist beliefs, and refused to acknowledge the truth when presented with the evidence and the facts. Second of all, Koreans were not interested with the evidence and the facts. Third, Korean extremists were comfortable with their set of beliefs and were not interested in lectures contradicting their beliefs.

Cultural racism: Now I've worked with Korean extremists who were not ethnically racist, that is who did not feel the need to harass, intimidate, persecute or ignore people from other ethnic groups.

But those Korean extremists had deep-held “cultural racist” tendencies. That is they expected “foreigners” to conform to “Korean culture” and those who did not conform were abused, tortured, fired, harassed, pay was withheld, in some cases they were expelled from their universities and so on.

I did notice quite a lot of cultural racism in Europe as well, and I'll use the French example. In France, some won't mind being in the presence of Arabs or Africans or any other ethnicity, and won't directly persecute minorities.

However, the French can be very judgmental, if not harsh, with those who harbor “cultural quirks.” That is those who behave in certain ways or have a certain attitude about life tend to be punished in some form or the other. 

Descriptive racism: In some circles, ethnic minorities are tolerated. But the way they are described by local people and the media tends to be condescending.

That is ethnic minorities will be allowed to exist, but will receive little or no flattery. On the contrary, they'll be criticized for who they are and what they do. 

Prescriptive racism: Some call it the “colonial” mentality. That is ethnic minorities are allowed to exist in their “ethnic form” but are expected to behave in ways that conform the local country, society or culture.

That is those ethnic minorities that don't behave the way locals do will be ordered to start behaving in ways the locals do.

The way I would frame the “racism” and “cultural tolerance” debate: Personally, I don't really categorize people by ethnicity or culture or religion. I've met Zen Buddhist monks, I've met Buddhist monks who seem to have read Mein Kampf rather than the Dhammapada. I've met Korean “flower boys” and I've met Korean “Taliban Dog elders” (that's what they call them).

So to me, everyone should be allowed to behave in ways they deem appropriate. I believe that in social settings everyone should be allowed an equal voice when it comes to setting up social rules, and that consensus should be what sets up the social rules.

I believe in social disagreement. Social disagreement can be frustrating, and we can't all agree when we belong to certain societies.

An example of this is I remember we had to choose between Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for our physics test to be held. This was in grad school. I tried to argue, rather forcefully, that Thursday night we had a school party we were all invited to, and that would involve drinking and dancing, so Friday should be off the tables. I also argued that Thursday we should all be preparing for the party, so Tuesday was the better day.

But I was the only voice. Everyone, almost in unison, had the mentality where “tests are more important than parties, so we'll skip the party and give ourselves more time to study for the test.” Friday it was.

But I don't agree with people who hire (or befriend) people of certain ethnic groups and ditch people of other ethnic groups, or with people who would harass other people because of “cultural differences” or “belonging to ethnic minorities.”

When I worked with Korean extremists, I used to tell them: if you're going to hire an American for your global marketing campaign, you know the American is going to ask you a lot of questions. You know the American is going to try to chat with everyone in the group. You know the American will call everyone by their first name. And you know the American is not going to fit in, unless his profile proves otherwise.

Sorry guys, but there are few (if any) “White Koreans” that you can use as decoration to show company visitors that you are a “global” company.

But, like for the physics test, not many people will agree with me.

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