Monday, August 15, 2016


There are lots of different kinds of prejudice.  "Prejudice" just means judging someone/thing without knowledge of them.  I for example am prejudiced against the taste of manure.  While I have never actually tasted any, I fervently believe that it tastes bad and I have zero desire to test my belief - in fact I will strongly resist any attempt to force me to do so.

There are two major categorizes of prejudice:

  • Intellectual
  • Emotional

My prejudice against the taste of manure is intellectual and organized.  I can give you a list of well thought our reasons, from smell, germ theory, how much effort my body took to eliminate the stuff, cultural bias, etc.

But I also have the other kind of prejudice - emotional prejudice.  Emotional prejudice is less organized - it's practically subconscious.  Even if you somehow convinced me that this particular manure smelled nice, had been sterilized and did not come from a human body, I still would not be willing to taste it.   In fact, studies have shown that people will refuse to eat chocolate if it is merely molded into a shape reminiscent of manure.  That is not logical, it is instead purely emotional.

Emotional prejudice lasts long after the intellectual prejudice is removed.   You can't teach it away, it is self -reinforcing. 

Most (not all) of American culture has removed the intellectual racial prejudice.  No one goes around talking about racial superiority anymore.    For this reason, if you ask people if they are prejudiced they say 'no' and get offended.

But the emotional prejudice remains.  Studies have found that unconsciously, people still have racist reactions.  People are more afraid of black men then white men.   Porn stars are considered tainted if they have sex with a black men.  The list of unconscious, illogical, emotional biases go on for a very long time.

The problem is that it doesn't matter to the victim of racism if their racism is organized or unconscious.  Blacks don't care if they are pulled over because the cop thinks all blacks are criminals, or if the cop simply thought "hm, he looks suspicious".   Neither do Mexicans care if you think Mexicans are rapists, murderers and thugs or if you just think that Mexico sends their rapists, murders and thugs to the US.   Jews don't care if you think they are crooked thieves, or merely good with money, it's still prejudice.

Nobody cares that you don't want to be a racist, they care if your actions reflect inherent bias. And yes it does matter.   Ask any short guy or overweight woman that can't get a date.  It doesn't matter if the bias is intentional or unconscious, it still stings.

That is the major problem conservatives and the Republican party in particular have failed to understand.  They get the intellectual racism and stand firmly against it.  But they refuse to admit the emotional racism exists, they refuse to admit that under the civilized actions, we still harbor unconscious biases.  So they let them run riot.  They let TSA and cops racially profile, they allow situations where black kids get rejected from colleges not because they were black, but because they were arrested by cops six times (and found innocent all six times).

As long as we refuse to have government fight back against the pernicious emotional bias form of racism, we will never achieve a race-blind society. 

It's not enough to reject the idea of racism, we have to ensure that it doesn't affect our choices even without evil intent.

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