The Meeting Place

RACE - Do we make too much of it.

It seems to me that there are bugger all differences between the peoples of the world. Some only superficial differences are however fairly obvious.

On the one side people point their fingers to racial differences to explain characteristics they do not like and on the other people take this as a particular type of nastiness.

With little or no import in racial variation perhaps neither view is worth paying the time of day.

I say that as someone who has a partner of another race and children in between. Someone who grew up near a country town where the closest thing to another race was probably the Greek cafe owner...and that is not at all close. The point is that it is quite easy for me to say concern is all a lot of hullaballoo. I don't have to live with invective or differential treatment. Then, my kids feel none of it either.

Apart from the twisted superficially-focussed few who see themselves as black, white, yellow or brindle supremicists, what people would really be calling out relates to lifestyle, religion, belief even standard of living and occupation.

What brought this on is the recent news that administrative officials in France (originating in Reunion) have taken offence at octagenarian Brigitte Bardot's description of the aboriginals of Reunion as barbaric; that, guided by the "genes of savages" they treat animals disgracefully. Reunion took so much offence that they now seek to take Ms Bardot to court.

If any action was doomed to failure that must go close. Reunion doesn't have an aboriginal population. If a racist comment could have impact it would have to be directed at something real. Shouldn't this just be taken by all as hot air from the ignorant.

Perhaps all racist comments should be taken the same way. No reasonable person could be influenced by them.

Ms. Bardot of course is not talking about a people she is talking about practices. Talking in blundering fashion it is true but her real care is for animals and their treatment. This is a genuine care and whether reasonable or not is an acceptable area for debate.

If we were to ignore racist comment for the worthlessness that it really is would we lose anything? Firstly, by ignoring it per se we could concentrate in rational fashion on any matters there may be that the speaker regards as of real concern underneath.

Is it possible that laws banning racist speech actually encroach on liberty? Do people really take racist talk seriously? Cannot the effects of racist views be sufficiently dealt with so that real intent and action is what is measured for punishment rather than hot air?

Anyway, I throw it out there. Have a bash. 

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Arvo: "...does that mean that the writer is a racist?"

Well naturally it could Arvo. Who knows. There would be few humans who do not discriminate to some degree even if an infinitessimally small one. And while we still use the term race even if mostly in a highly confused manner then it is fair to understand any inappropriate behaviour or thinking in terms of the miss-use.  

I have said that I think the term 'race' should be dropped (essentially as I agree that it is a social construct.) however I did adopt the accepted 3 maybe four races to clarify a distinction between my partner and I. The greek cafe owner was meant to be tongue in cheek, whether or not you believe we should use the term "race" that owner is certainly within the same accepted race as I. This places me as growing up in, to again use the term, a racially uniform environment.  That section of the discussion placing my upbringing racially was intended to indicate that within Australia I am not likely to feel antipathy similarly to the way some others do and so, to recognise that there are other views available.

Note too that my children who look clearly "interracial" by the common definition would argue strongly that they have never felt any discrimination along the lines of that definition.

A later post reviews the definitions a little and I do agree, ethnicity is the far better way to handle any differences if they need to be discussed at all.

Must say I enjoyed reading your thread JAID :)

Too kind thank you Sophie, i like the way people have moved it into a more essential area than the specific one relating to Brigit Bardot.

No problems JAID,  we can continue this discussion in a place owned by Negro Cafe owner.

Not in the US you can't. Can't use Negro and Oriental anymore.

:-) Can they say "Negroid" and "Mongoloid" Abe? (references to our discussion of "race" as a supposed technical term)

Don't at all mind the idea of meeting up in a Cafe owned by someone of Negroid descent Arvo. Especially if they happen to be of Ethiopean origin and do their coffee traditionally.

:-) Can they say "Negroid" and "Mongoloid" Abe? (references to our discussion of "race" as a supposed technical term)

Don't at all mind the idea of meeting up in a Cafe owned by someone of Negroid descent Arvo. Especially if they happen to be of Ethiopean origin and do their coffee traditionally.

Your friend is extremely generous Old Man

Thanks JAID ... interesting topic with considered comments.

It inspired me to at least check the definitions of race and ethnicity.

What is the Difference between Race and Ethnicity?

Race is associated with biology, whereas ethnicity is associated with culture.

Stand to be corrected if this is not correct.

As for the importance in my own life ... none really.

It just doesn't enter my head when dealing with people I meet in daily life to even think about their race, ethnicity or religion.

The only time I momentarily "badge" people is their dress or body art if it openly indicates they belong to a certain group ... and, it is momentary, after which I just get on with getting on, as do they in my experience. Mutual acceptance in circumstance I guess.
Don't think modern mainstream media makes too much of it either BUT some folk on social media, and as always, some political/tribal groups around the globe seem to make it their "raison d'etre", and have done for centuries.

It is probably worth adding that school seems to be out on definitions of race RnR. This would be due to the extreme similarity of the gene pool. Those throwing a classification across it therefor end up with very few races. Maybe 3, maybe 4.

This is not the way it crops commonly. Thus the value in eliminating the term. You comment on something you do not appreciate associated with a buddhist, christian or moslem, a southern italian, a french canadian or a peruvian, an IRA sympathiser, a KKK adherent or a jihadi and you could be howled down as a racist. You may deserve a caning but it is not about race. If you accept the common racial division, each one of those could be of the same race, just, as you suggest, the child of different cultural and other effects. 

Yes JAID, it was probably forgetfulness on the part of Michael Daley when he referred to 'our young children being replaced by young people from typically Asia with PhDs'  Or words to that effect. Racism appears to only exist when there is a political advantage in being offended. The statistics would back up Daley's statement to some extent. Similarly, the Victorian Police were reluctant to call the gangs "Sudanese" until blind freddy called it.   

I live in a country where there is racism its not in your face so to speak but you are diffinately the visitor you know this as they may think you dont understant thier language,I find it is the cultural misunder standings that can come to so called losing face of course Im talking about S.E. Asia racism is alive & well here but you just have to get on with it.

Im not aware of any racial laws here that we have in Australa.

Hi Bandy,

I have not lived in S.E.Asia but have travelled there reasonably extensively, have friends of there the area. My experience has not been of "racism" though I am sure some would exist everywhere. I do get  wry looks at times. Looks of the type "those Westerners, those whites. those tourists, those whatever - sure are odd" ...but friendly looks. A tourist is an odd being in its own right. It is delightful to me and reminds me of when as a teenager I first saw a really, really dark African, who knows what part they were from, I had difficulty taking my eyes off them, so black the light just seemed to dissapear into them. Very beautiful. It probably disturbed them and wasn't a very civil greeting but differences do create wonder just as they can the more negative responses. 

Good comments everyone. The thing is the term "race" annoys me. We all belong to the human race and as far as differences in features/colour goes, we all just sit somewhere on the continuum. Near the equator, people need darker skin to cope with the sun, broader, shorter noses to get plenty of air in quickly due to the heat, and thick, crinkled, dark hair to provide protection from the sun  whereas in Nordic countries, the noses are finer and longer because they are breathing in icy air and it needs to travel further inside the nose to warm a little before hitting the lungs, the skin is light, so they can absorb what little sun there is in order to get Vitamin D. Then there are the many gradations in between.


So, on one end of the spectrum, we might have a Somalian, moving further down we gradually lighten through Arab/Indian until middle is the Asian, then we continue lightening to the Swede for instance. We are just intelligent adaptions of the one mighty race, humans!


Where do you fit on such a continuum? 

Racism or any type of slur that is directed at a group should be deplored. And, yes, it has consequences both for the speaker who utters the words and the deranged listeners ready to leap into action of hate.

The recent short lived NSW Labor leader opened  his mouth and shut off any future career in politics. Once the federal election is done and dusted he will face at least two contenders for his temporary position. He is the speaker. Another one is Pauline Hanson in a similar vein many years ago about the same Chinese section of our population. 

The listener damage can be exemplified in the recent NZ tragedy. One can not argue that racism and religious vilification are different as they are not. They both come under the umbrella of hate speech that incites actions that result in harm to a particular group. Nutters are called to arms literally when their mental thoughts are applauded and sanctioned especially by people in high places like parliament.

Comments on Facebook and even this site demonstrate a third group who have the responsibility to not use hate speech and to call it out at every opportunity.

You should not even think that others are less or less worthy because thoughts become actions and views become words that incite or support negativity.  Adjectives like ‘leaners’ coming via parliament into the public domain should never be tolerated. ‘Greedy pensioners’ is another one. There are so many used on this site. We all need to start somewhere and it is by monitoring our own thoughts and recognising that words need never be used to put down or try to lessen another person.

Everyone is capable of being racist and we all need to monitor ourselves to make sure we keep reminding ourselves that we have to be vigilant in our thoughts, words and actions.

If you're racist, you're racist end of story. Freedom of speech is fine as long as it hurts no one. Hate speech does that, it hurts many people, so to use it encroaches on another's liberty.

Have a look at Isaiah Berlin's book on positive and negative liberty.


I agree with you, Ray, however there are folk who can find offence in the most vanilla comment and start screaming "racist".  I worked with someone like that and she nearly drove all of us dotty.  In the end we realised that she was the one encroaching on liberty by making us censor every word we spoke allowing her to feel all powerful.

Totally agreee Triss

Maybe Ms Bardot would see things differently if she were constatly referred to as "A Frumoy Old "Frog""

Who could take offence at that Mutley?

Old, a comparative thing but generally accepted as true for octagenarians. Frog, a frenchie, yep. Frumpy, purely a matter of opinion and your opinion is worth as much as mine. I think Triss is correct, people can be more sensitive than is warranted to ill effect. I think you are right though; true, fair or not there is no need to say some of these things.

Call me a white bastard and although the bastard doesn't happen to fit the definition no matter where we are when it is said there is no offence which need be taken. It does however have the potential to indicate something of the environment I find myself in. Gives fair warning. We cosset to our likely detriment.

So called 'hate speech' is invective designed to encourage an attitudinal environment condusive to hateful action. A sign of humans ill able to live in tolerant society; not acceptable at all. It does however alert us to potential that needs to be addressed.

The clamour for publicity that these self-righteous, bigoted, under-confidant, cowardly and heartless but deluded people crave should give responding society an edge.   

Within our society, the term "A Frumpy, Old Frog" would be considered pejorative, even if literally fairly accurate.

Under the mantle of Socio-Linguistics, a mate calling another mate "A bastard," even if technically inaccurate, is acceptable.  However, it would not be acceptable for the same person to use this term when visiting a doctor, nor for a doctor to call a patient so.

Yet, a doctor may use the same term to a mate.

A doctor would not  use medical language to a child.

Each section of society has its own "language", and each section of society uses the appropriate language within each specific group.

Very fair Twila, though I would still not take offence if a non-mate called me a bastard. Water off a duck's back. Many times there is no need for offence even if a degree of ill-will is involved. The problem is in fact the user's. At least they are alerting you as to how you may have to deal with them.

I had a friend of origin in another of those three or 4 accepted "races" while at school. In a later form we met up in Sydney. At Martin Place Station a middle aged character swore at him, called him a filthy little xxx, told him to go home and that he had fought a war to keep bastards like him out of the place while poking his finger at my friend's chest. I moved to stand between them but was quietly waved off. He said, as the fellow was going away, "You don't have to respect all his ideas to respect the person. Listening and respect are fundametal to learning." A 17 year old.  

I feel very blessed, very grateful ...

For many years during my formative period, I lived in Malaysia. 

Although a grim time due to the Malay Emergency, I experienced ... enjoyed, valued and respected... the multi-racial and multi-religious character of this society.

 Nothing can dimish this. 

And ... we are all the same within our core.

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