Skip to main content

Racism is denial of equal value

Wikipedia says: Racism is actions, practices or beliefs, or social or political systems that consider different races to be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities. [emphasis mine]

This definition is inadequate for two reasons:

1) It quells rational observation and discussion about race

Any time I want to make an observation based on racial/cultural characteristics, I am being racist. 

If I comment that Ethiopians, on average, make superior long distance runners because of their body type, I am being racist. 

If I observe that African American family formation in the United States is inherently inferior due to a high rate of out of wedlock childbirth, I am being racist.

If I brace myself for inferior driving when I go to Cupertino's Ranch 99 Plaza, I'm stereotyping Asians as poor drivers and am therefore being racist.

2) It's not helpful because it necessarily means we are all racist

Therefore anyone who makes a generalization about people of a certain race - and if it even remotely leans towards superiority/inferiority in some area - then I am a racist. If that's the definition, then everyone is a racist and if we claim otherwise, we are lying to ourselves.

Racial minorities are the worst. We make superiority/inferiority claims all the time about our own race but get angry when other races make comments about us. As if racism regarding our own race is acceptable but for other races to comment on us, it's wrong. That's a double standard if I ever saw one.

Racism is denial of equal value

This is why Amy Chua's books are so controversial because she is making observations about race and culture that she links to superior outcomes. Her stuff is based on research and her conclusions are logical but because she writes about racial superiority in certain aspects, BOOM - she's a racist.  

I would add two words to the Wikipedia definition. I would redefine racism as the belief that races are inherently superior or inferior IN VALUE. Racism denies equality in value between races. We confuse all the other stuff - athletic prowess, intelligence, etc. as indicators of value. But they are not the same thing.

The idea that races are different and superior in certain regards is biblical. The Jews are the chosen people of God. Salvation comes from the Jews (Romans 1:16, John 4:22).  God therefore must be racist for allowing Israel to have superior access to God. 

And yet God affirms that all races are equal in value before God. Each person, regardless of race, has equal dignity and worth because of Christ (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11). That is an important distinction and nowhere near saying all races are all equally good (or bad) at everything. 


Popular posts from this blog

A Dad's Review of Passport 2 Purity

[3,100 words, 11 minute read] The sex talk is one of the most dreaded conversations parents anticipate having with their children. To make things easier, an entire industry exists to help parents with sex education. Dozens of books have been written to help parents navigate this treacherous topic with their progeny. One of the best known among evangelicals is called the Passport 2 Purity Getaway package . It is produced by FamilyLife, a division of Cru (former Campus Crusade for Christ) and consists of a five lecture CD package including a journal and exercises designed as a weekend retreat for a pre-pubescent child and his/her parent(s). Passport 2 Purity was not my initiative. Our trip came about because Judy had heard from several home-schooling mom friends how they had taken their daughters on a road trip to go through the CDs. She even heard how a mom took a trip with husband and two sons to through the curriculum. So a couple months ago, Judy suggested we take our two older boy

Why Asians Run Slower

My brother got me David Epstein's book The Sports Gene . It is a fascinating quick read. If you're interested in sports and science, it will enthrall you.  I finished it in three days. Epstein's point is that far more of an athlete's performance is due to genetics than due to the so-called "10,000 hour" rule promulgated by books such as Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (both which are very good). The 10,000 hour rule states that any person can reach expert level of performance in a sport if they devote 10,000 hours of deliberate and intentional practice.  That's a lot of hours. Most people aren't capable of anywhere close. And that's precisely Epstein's point. Someone who devotes 10,000 hours of sport-specific practice is likely genetically gifted for the sport in extraordinary ways AND genetically gifted in their ability to persevere and benefit from practice. Therefore, a person who can pra

Unsolvable Problems in Marriage I: Lowering Expectations

Different expectations of conflict From a recent Facebook post: Working on a post about unsolvable problems in marriage: For those who have been married five or more years, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much expectation did you have entering into marriage that communication could resolve any conflict between you and your spouse? How would you rate that expectation now? People often enter into marriage thinking that most if not all their conflicts can be resolved. Women come into marriage thinking "I can make my husband a better man". Men come into marriage thinking, "My wife will learn to see things my way". This idealistic view of marriage does not survive contact with the enemy. Even for couples for whom the first years of marriage are conflict-free, raising children is its own brand of unsolvable problem. And then there's sickness and mental health issues, job changes, unemployment, moving, and shifts in friendships. Conflict in marriage is inevitable. A number