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Since I live in the USA, it goes without saying that I live in a racist society from top to bottom. It's racist toward African-Americans and Latinos.

In Europe, where I've also lived, it struck me as absurd (being an American) that so much stock is placed in ethnic DNA.

The prejudices on either continent are different. People of learning find all forms of racism repugnant, so that any mention of the genetic inferiority of African descendants or Native/Aborigines, etc., would be immediately countered.

Yet, even in polite and learned company in Europe, I find an incredible ease in discussing ethnic differences within Europe. I've always felt uneasy with that ease. It is very common. In the USA, you rarely hear racial insults on the street, but I heard ethnic insults all over Europe. In newspaper columns, for instance, I've often heard the distinction between Ancient Greeks and contemporary ones with columnists pointing out that the Classical Greek bloodline has been so mongrelized that we now have a lesser strain. I shake my head in amusement when I read such things.

I'm not trying to downplay American racism since I think its unspoken coerciveness is still easily the more virulent when compared to Euro prejudices.

by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:43:27 AM EST
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Upstate NY:
In the USA, you rarely hear racial insults on the street

Spontaneous politeness? Or the fact that a relatively high proportion of passers-by might be armed?

it's the old joke : what do you call an eight-foot African with a spear?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:55:09 AM EST
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Could be both.

Consider, there is a great deal of defensive energy spent battling the racist label. Most racists absolutely abhor being branded racist. Only a few willingly claim it with pride. I think that's the reason racism in the USA is practiced, not enunciated.

by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:01:59 AM EST
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My experience with white Americans (not to generalise! but with a surprisingly big sample of otherwise-OK people) is that they lack empathy with respect to racism. That is : they cultivate a powerful sense of grievance about the supposed advantages handed out to blacks; and any claim of racism on the part of a black will be dismissed as "playing the race card", i.e. they (sincerely, at least in many cases) refuse to believe that blacks encounter discrimination at every turn in everyday life. And they will use this as an excuse for their own functional racism : "Oh we don't want one living next door, not that I have anything against them of course, but they are so full of resentment on race issues, it's sure to create unpleasantness"... Awfully pathological. A real minefield.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:32:36 AM EST
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Reminds me of Robert Jensen's writings on white privilege.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:33:51 AM EST
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That is how it works, in my experience.

I've lived in inner city America from the time I was 4 on except for 3 years in Europe in my 20s.

Recently, I had dinner with a Korean (woman) and African-American (man) at an Italian restaurant, and the waiter was from NYC by way of the Dominican Rep. The waiter launched into a circus of racial and ethnic stereotypes that had absolutely no one at the table unnerved. It struck me as the kind of easy labeling that an immigrant from the Caribbean to Brooklyn to Buffalo, NY could get away with, the sort of thing I often experienced in Europe. The lack of offense taken came from the power relations between the 4 of us at that table. This is precisely why those who deal in stereotypes have to be aware of the context in which they speak.

by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:52:20 AM EST
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