Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Social Justice Bullies

This is a response to an article by Aristotelis Orginos, published in  The original article is here:

I thought the article had an important warning about speaking from an ideological entrenched perspective.  Yet some of the absurdities raised in the article flow from differences in terminology.  For instance, take the definitions of “Racism” used by the Unitarian Universalism Association, my religious tradition and that of the pistol-packing preacher, Theodore Parker.

Racism - An institutionalized system of economic, political, social, and cultural relations that ensures that one racial group has and maintains power and privilege over all others in all aspects of life. As such, racism is measured by its economic, cultural, sociological, and political outcomes rather than its intentions (i.e., its effect on both racially and ethnically marginalized groups and racially and ethnically dominant groups).

Individual Racism - Individual behavior, the outcome of which reinforces a dominant/marginalized economic, cultural, sociological, and/or political paradigm, regardless of the individual's good intentions. An individual may act in a racist manner unintentionally.

Under these definitions “racism” is not the same as “bias,” “prejudice,” or “racial hatred.” “Racism,” as defined above, refers to cultural systems which maintain power and privilege imbalances.  Viewed in this way there is no “anti-white racism” in America because the culture perpetuates white privilege.  People may be prejudiced against white-skinned Americans, but that is not the same as “racism” under these systemic definitions.

I tend toward the pragmatic and try to look for solutions based upon the problem rather than ideology.  On the other hand, when entering a cultural conversation about something like racism, it is necessary to commit to a certain amount of ideological translation in order to find a common-ground understanding of the problem at hand.