Wojtek Sokolowski sokol at jhu.edu
Thu Apr 29 08:36:12 PDT 1999

At 05:55 PM 4/28/99 -0400, Charles wrote:
significance of the Colorado shootings. Let me put it this way, the main interest we have in the Colorado tragedy is trying to prevent it from happening again. In that regard, if you were going to look around the country for signs that some other highschool students were going to do this would you look for high schoolers who hated jocks ? Or would you look for highschoolers with a Hitler/racist fetish ? The obvious answer is the latter.

To be honest - I'd look for neither. Instead, I'd pay more attention to the broader social environment - as for example personal histories (do those kids come from military families? do their families relocate quite often, thus meaking difficult for the youngstrers to establish lasting ties with their peers? do they live in seggregated bedroom communities? do they try to communicate their anger/frustration/alienation but are shunned by their peers/parents/significant others? and so on). But that is my "occupational illness" :). As a matter of principle, I refuse to accept that ideas guide actions and material reality in a ny signifcant way. Being determines consciousness, not the other way around.

As to the rest of your posting, I think I can agree with most of it, with some qualifications. I still think that you are confusing stereotyping with racism. There is a big difference between having stereotyped views of other social groups or even cracking ethnic jokes - and rounding people up in concentration camps, reservations, ghettoes, or separate but "equal" institutions.

I also think that many instances of inequality often cited as evidence of racism are in fact the effect of economic factors that have little to do with race. The prime example is urban development. I do not think that corporate bosses care about the skin color of their clients (whether they hold ethnic stereotypes is another thing, though) - they only color they care is green. Thus, they do not invest in inner cities when they do not see a potential for profit, but they do if that potential is there (e.g. ESPN -zone - one of the most overpriced restaurants/entertainment centers in Baltimore City targeted for sports fans, mainly blacks and working class whites).

On the other hand, the least cited example is inter-racial dating which in the US is very rare. That strongly suggests avoidance of such dating. My cursory observations further suggest that such avoidance is mutual, i.e. blacks tend to avoid dating whites and vice versa (the same holds true for other "races").

That might be the evidence of widely spread racism in the US. I use the term "racism" because dating is not about just personal tastes and attitudes, but above all - about informal norms, expectations and sanctions. I think there is a great deal of negative sanctions against "mixed" couples among both whites and blacks (c.f. Spike Lee's film _Jungle Fever_) - which may explain not only the low incidence of the phenomenon, but also the fact that such low incidence is NOT usually cited as evidence of racism.

Any comments?


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