Fandango’s Provocative Question (5 August 2020)

Wednesday. Fandango’s Provocative Question once again. I did my charity calls this morning, and it is a nice feeling to know that the rest of my week is my own. /i mean, the calls are enjoyable (I am a volunteer after all) but I still breathe a sigh of relief when they are done, and I’m not beholden to anybody else this week. I try to do worky things, although because of all the calls, I usually write Tuesdays and Wednesdays off anyhow.

So, I looked in my reader and what should I see but Fandango’s Provocative Question, which this week is:

Do you believe that racism is an inherent human trait or is it learned?
Either way, are there actions that society can take to eliminate, or at least diminish, racism?
Or will racism always exist no matter what we do?

Hmmmm… racism… a minefield. They don’t come much tougher than this. Let’s briefly talk around this subject for a minute and we will hopefully tease out the answers to some of these questions.

In fact, I posted on here a month or so ago about a trailer I had seen on tv, basically a school was trying some social experimentation. In a mixed class of what looked like pre-10yos, they split the White kids from the non-White kids, and asked the question about what it meant to be black/white.

The White kids basically came up with an empty list. The Black kids came up with a list as long as your arm.

I mean, this said two things to me. Firstly that the difference was that White kids were able to take things for granted, a point which I made in my post. The other thing was that White kids did not appreciate the prejudice faced by the others.

Okay, a schoolyard example, but it is leading me strongly towards a conclusion that society is racist in all kinds of ways, that I (a White guy) cannot even hope to imagine. I see the same – discrimination against disabled people – because in that respect, I too am in a minority. Society pats itself on the back, when really it has done a terrible job.

Now, to clarify, I don’t think I am consciously racist. I hope not, anyway. But I have enjoyed quite a privileged life – healthcare, education, and so on, just by virtue of being British. So, like it or not, I have benefitted from things like colonialism and slavery, things which taught that the White man was superior. But I repeat, I don’t think I, or many individuals here, are consciously racist.

This is why I believe strongly in International Aid, by the way. It’s not my responsibility to give money to charities to help people’s plight, but I think it is the responsibility of our government to recognise that our country became so rich by making other countries so poor. Rich/poor, but founded on racism.

So, there is one way that “society” can help. By reducing inequality.

To talk about an “inherent human trait”, I believe it is someting that is ingrained in us. Not racism, per se, but just that belief that we are superior to somebody else (for whatever reason). That a Jehovah’s Witness, who will even call round to your house to tell you that their faith is better than yours. I’ve met religious people who have very patronisingly said that they would pray for me and my atheist views – again, the notion that their faith is superior to mine. So yes, I think we are inclined to think better rather than equal. I think we need to get some life experience under our belts in order to learn tolerance, and some of us never learn it.

I’m kind-of aware that this isn’t a brilliant answer, but hopefully there are a couple of thought-provoking points in here. I’m also conscious that I don’t want this post to turn into War and Peace, so I’ll stop now. Hopefully you got something from my ramble.


  1. I’m afraid people will not learn, history tends to repeat itself.
    That doesn’t mean that I’m not hopeful that things could get better for everybody. As long as we don’t realize that we’re all in the same boat (literally when the ice starts to melt due to global warming), it’s not going to change.
    People want power, money, territory …. they can’t drop their ego’s!

    Liked by 1 person

    • In addition to the inherent human trait: I don’t think small children are racist. It takes some years for them to even learn that a boy is different from a girl. They pick up racist stuff from the outside world.
      They will notice at some point that they are different from another child and will maybe put those differences into words (you have glasses or you’re small or you have ginger hair) and at that point they do need to be thought how to process those feelings and how to word them correctly. They need to be learned that being different is nothing to be scared about. So I would say some nature, some nurture.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think we learn about differences as we grow up, for example the differences between boys and girls, so to an extent some kind of some -ism is probably inevitable. But I agree, not something we have in the womb.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You are right! The society can help by trying to reduce inequality! That’s why things like this is important.. I mean talking about this and continuously raising awareness… treating people right and just being kind…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re notion of people thinking that they’re better versus equal is an interesting one. I’ll have to think on that, because isn’t thinking you’re “better” than someone else the same as thinking you’re “superior”? And isn’t one person thinking that he or she is superior to others based upon skin color exactly what racism is?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that’s what makes me think that it is ingrained. Sorry, I should have been clearer. It’s true to say that none of this happens in the womb, but somewhere on the way from childhood to adulthood, we learn to focus on differences. Not just racial, but something so basic as gender. I’m not sure that can be “untaught”.

      Liked by 1 person

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