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Thread: Bigotry, Prejudice, Discrimination, and Narrow-Mindedness

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Bigotry, Prejudice, Discrimination, and Narrow-Mindedness

    I wanted to start a serious discussion thread about our own personal experiences with bigotry or prejudice, but have found simply defining the terms (and thereby identifying the real underlying problems) is not an especially easy task. There are many differing definitions out there and while most have certain similarities I’m not sure any entirely identify/describe the conditions/attitudes that cause humanity so much grief 100% accurately.
    Here are a couple of examples of definitions of ‘prejudice’:
    ”The act or state of holding unreasonable preconceived judgments or convictions. “
    “Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion.”
    Here are a couple I found for ‘bigot’:
    “One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.
    “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices ; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance”
    A couple for ‘discrimination’:
    “the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually b: prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment.”
    “treating people differently through prejudice: unfair treatment of one person or group, usually because of prejudice about race, ethnicity, age, religion, or gender”
    I’ll throw one more related term out that’ll probably resonate more with anthropologists than planners, but I think is useful in the context of this discussion – ‘ethnocentrism’
    a tendency to evaluate other people, activities, cultures,
    etc. primarily from the perspective of one's own as being
    ‘correct’ or superior.
    What in your mind constitutes prejudice or bigotry? If discriminating or showing contempt for others on the basis of age, gender, or race should not be tolerated how about discriminating or showing contempt for others on the basis of what someone thinks or believes – is that fair game?

    How often do you find yourself lumped in with a group and treated with contempt? We’ve heard it said that we are all somehow minorities – do you believe this to be true?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    My aunt's (now dead) was very racist. If he saw a bi-racial couple he'd walk right up to them and tell them they disgusted him.

    In a case of irony, my aunt's black co-worker made them the god parents to her daughter. Best. Church. Service. Ever.

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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    I've always found it interesting that we are applauded for having "discriminating" taste in subject matter but denigrated for being "discriminating" when we apply value judgements to people. The key words that I see in your definitions are "unreasonable" and "irrational". Those are value judgements themselves but are probably the best we can do. Unfortunately, they are also tempered by our education and experience. We have a rather infamous minority political figure in our area who asserts that no matter what he says about people in the majority, he cannot be a racist simply because he is a minority.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ofos View post
    I've always found it interesting that we are applauded for having "discriminating" taste in subject matter but denigrated for being "discriminating" when we apply value judgements to people. The key words that I see in your definitions are "unreasonable" and "irrational". Those are value judgements themselves but are probably the best we can do. Unfortunately, they are also tempered by our education and experience. We have a rather infamous minority political figure in our area who asserts that no matter what he says about people in the majority, he cannot be a racist simply because he is a minority.
    Excellent points. I was wondering who would be the first to 'discriminate' on the discrimination definition issue. All sorts of games get played with words like these all the time and inifinte shades of gray exist between layers of meaning. Take for instance post 9/11 how the Dept of Homeland Security came under heavy fire being accused of profiling while conducting security checks at airports and other locations. They were (and still are) giving more scrutiny to males from middle eastern countries than other national/ethnic groups. Is this unjust guilt by association? After all, the vast majority of people coming to this county from the middle east do not have explosives strapped to their person. By that same token, though, our resources are limited and should our security apparatus be scrutinizing Latvian women instead?

    Another example - anyone remember how the Florida state police years ago came up with a relatively successful 'profile' and began to selectively pull over certain folks and saw an increase in their drug busts as a result? Seems the profile included (among other things) hispanic males between the ages of 25-45 driving certain class of vehicle.... under the speed limit. Effective law enforcement or prejudice?

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Having grown up in the Deep South, I witnessed a lot of bigotry, discrimination and narrow-mindedness. I recall visiting my great-aunt's doctor with my dad and there were racially segregated waiting rooms - and this was the late 1970s.

    When I was a kid, I got the stink-eye from some white people for giving up my seat to a black woman on a New Orleans streetcar. When I told my mom about it, she said it was a nice thing for me to do, but maybe I shouldn't do it anymore.

    What must strikes me most as I think about this thread is the dichotomy I would feel about some of my relatives and friends. On one hand, they were nice people who had many fine qualities and I loved them. But on the other hand, often they believed things and said things about black people that I found abhorrent. Sort of like "hate the sin but love the sinner." I really did not want to throw a stink bomb into the family reunion, so I would bite my tongue - knowing I wasn't going to change any minds.

    Thankfully, things have gotten a lot better since those days. Attrition killed off the generation of the worst offenders, and 2,500 miles separates me from the rest.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    When, as a consultant to a township in my first gig, I mentioned that their minimum acreage requirements led to more expensive housing, I was told that people who didn't make enough money shouldn't live there.

    There's something else going on here too. We have a rezoning request for one residential to another. The concept plan shows single family housing, but the requested zoning allows for some multiple family housing. The neighborhood across the street, which happens to be zoned the requested zoning, has somehow come up with the idea that this is a conspiracy to allow Section 8 housing next to them.
    Back home just in time for hockey season!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I just remembered -- I have a friend that is gay, jewish, and black. We joke that the only way he can be more discriminated against was is he was also a woman i a wheelchair.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I like Ofos' points. I was thinking if there is a difference between having "discriminating tastes" about, say, Indian cuisine, and people identifying folks they want/don't want in their neighborhood. Both are opinions, yes, but since the lamb vindaloo (to take one delectable example) is inanimate, it has no rights that can be violated or, just on a scale of "niceness," opinions that deserve respect, regardless of whether you agree with them. With other humans, its different.

    To try and answer the original question, I think whether a particular opinion or action merits being labeled as "bigoted, racist, prejudiced, etc." has a lot to do with the nature of how it impacts others. If it discourages someone from buying a home, feeling comfortable in a neighborhood, marrying someone they love, exercising their legal rights, etc., then it is discrimination. Hell, if it just makes someone feel frightened and full of shame because of traits they cannot help, that's uncool. To me, it really doesn't matter if the perpetrator is consciously or subconsciously discriminating. Its the experience of those on the receiving end that matter.

    We still have an awful lot of "institutional racism" (a term I feel has more recently - like, since the 90s - come into our vocabulary) going on as well these days. This is the cumulative effect of the many biases and prejudices we carry around with us all the time. Its why, for example, African Americans are so disproportionately represented in prisons (IMHO). Yes, people may be more reticent to say "I just don't like XXXX people. They always do X, Y, and Z. And you just can't trust them" but that does not mean that these irrational fears we have about certain groups don't persist and color the very basic way that we interact with others.

    Personally, I can't really say I have been the victim of direct discrimination. I have lived places where I am in the minority (Like, Uganda for a year where I was a majorly visible minority, or m previous home that was in a 78 percent Hispanic neighborhood) but frankly, that is not the same as being the victim of discrimination. I have been targeted or insulted because of belonging to a particular group (Liberal, Irish, Planer) but, really, the kind of snide remarks and vague nastiness I received is not the same as actually having my rights violated or feeling like I am in danger of being beat up or something. I think it would be disingenuous for me to claim that I know what it feels like to be categorically targeted as a matter of course on a regular basis. As a White Man I enjoy a lot of respect, opportunity, and privilege - even in other countries! - and I am fully aware of that. A friend once said of people who claim reverse discrimination (intone sarcasm here) "You're taking away my special privileges!" It helps if you also stomp your feet. That's how I would feel in claiming that I have experienced this kind of thing firsthand.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  9. #9
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    Having grown up in the Deep South, I witnessed a lot of bigotry, discrimination and narrow-mindedness. I recall visiting my great-aunt's doctor with my dad and there were racially segregated waiting rooms - and this was the late 1970s.

    When I was a kid, I got the stink-eye from some white people for giving up my seat to a black woman on a New Orleans streetcar. When I told my mom about it, she said it was a nice thing for me to do, but maybe I shouldn't do it anymore.

    What must strikes me most as I think about this thread is the dichotomy I would feel about some of my relatives and friends. On one hand, they were nice people who had many fine qualities and I loved them. But on the other hand, often they believed things and said things about black people that I found abhorrent. Sort of like "hate the sin but love the sinner." I really did not want to throw a stink bomb into the family reunion, so I would bite my tongue - knowing I wasn't going to change any minds.

    Thankfully, things have gotten a lot better since those days. Attrition killed off the generation of the worst offenders, and 2,500 miles separates me from the rest.
    I'll second this last statement. Being raised and living in the south since the early 1980's, I find racist tendencies largely absent from the culture. I think the south's having to face it directly, head-on greatly aided the integration and solution to the problem, and this idea is reinforced when I visit relatives in Chicago, Milwaukee, and other scattered midwestern locales and see the large degree of de facto segregation that still seems to run rampant throughout that part of the country.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Bear's Experiences

    My Dad was a bigot. He constantly complained about blacks, Latinos, Arabs, Jews, yadda-yadda..... Odd, when he owned and operated his various restaurants and bars he always had "those" folks working for him and he got along just famously with them. He would give them the shirt off his back if they asked but when he was back home, out came the comment barrage.

    Our suburban ranch house in west Toledo was sold because ".....we gotta get away from those xxxxing Jews.....". You can imagine how a 12-year old boy feels when he hears his Dad say something like this.
    _____

    When I worked all those years at the manufacturing company, the owner of the company (when it was still a small family-owned business) would give me lectures on the type of person to hire. His instructions included no blacks and no women. He also strongly pushed for "only" young men who had experience working on their parent's farm.

    Proud to say that as the company grew and I knew my position was solid (and respected) I changed the hiring practices.
    _____

    I am always surpised (and shocked and dismayed) when people in high and visible positions (in industry, in commerce, in government) show their racist tendencies. One of those folks actually always used the phrase "the element" when talking about neighborhoods or urban issues.
    _____

    Narrow-minded folks are a real drag. I know tons of them, have partied with them, work with them, vacationed with them. I struggle, because I like them and like being with them......but when certain topics come up and they show their intense narrow vision of the issue, I try to change the subject. They are not going to change their mind.
    ______

    This thread is a bit of a downer.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I was just telling RJ tonight... if my mom was lucid she would be going nuts over this election. She would be a staunch McCain person, except she wouldn't vote for him because of Palin. Mom didn't think women should be ministers, doctors, or politicians (she is 92). On the other hand, she would not have voted for Obama because he is black.

    That always made me feel weird since my dad kept saying I needed to have a career and be able to support myself no matter what, but Mom thought women were inferior to men.

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    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Truly, this is not meant as a troll bait: Sometimes I find some of my liberal friends to be the most racist and biggoted people in my life. They think _______ group can't make it because I'm _______ and people like me are _________. Whatever! I don't give a damn who you are, or what you stick where, and what language your "O-Face" is expressed in. Please Just get a job, work hard and obey the law. We'll be fine if you just leave me alone and don't expect me to suffer (progressive income tax) to ensure you have a shot at the American Dream.

    Also, please keep your damned kids off my lawn.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Society is funny. No one in civilized society is "racist" anymore, but somehow towns and schools are just as segregated as they were 50 years ago (in the north anyway).

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    ZG Your mom and my mom (R.I.P.) must be related.

    El Guapo I can't agree with you more. For once

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    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    I was raised to believe that when you (I will use the word prejudice, although this is not the word my dad used) thought or displayed prejudice actions, how would you like it if you were that persont that was the target of these actions or words. If you did not stand up for some one when prejudice actions or words were used, than at some point, you would be the target of prejudice actions or words. I was very fortunate to be raised with this belief. And I still believe in it and raised my children to believe the same way.

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