Extreme Prejudice v. Racism: What’s the Difference?

WARNING: MORE CONTENT AND LESS PICTURES FOLLOWS

In a recent discussion with an elder, I was reminded of the difference between racism and prejudice–no matter how extreme the prejudice may be.  Considering we have a biracial (yeah I said it) president and so much vitriol is being hurled against this man and his supporters, now is a good time to distinguish between racism and prejudice.

Beginning with prejudice, as I alluded to earlier, I was recently confronted with an extreme version of it.  The gentleman was a retired older Black man (elder) running a small business.  I asked him how he got into the business he was in, and he spoke briefly of his investment, and then he began to express the sincerest disdain for Latinos, or Mexicans, in particular.  He complained that they were stealing from him regularly despite several different locks having been installed.  I suggested that larceny was probably a top-down phenomenon, which included the White manager.  He nodded in agreement, but his focus was on the “dirty,” “filthy,” sneaky,” “willing to fuck  [read: “steal from”] their mother, their grandmother…” Mexicans whom he regarded as the mud in his eye.  With a fiery boldness that slowly backed me against a wall, this 5’8″ elder made me nervous while listening to him recount a threat he gave to a Mexican man.  He talked about how easy it is to kill Mexicans in Southern California, especially those with tattoos because the police would “take one look at all his tattoos and say, ‘Oh well.  One less one'” (Actually, that summation is eerily true, but I’ll come back to that).  This rather demure looking fellow dropped enough MF bombs to cause Bernie Mack to roll over in his grave!  He talked about how he’d decided to stop killing back in 1965, but apparently, Mexicans were trying his patience.

And so I ask, is this man racist?  The answer is no!  No doubt, he is very prejudice against Latinos–as he lumps all Latinos under the umbrella of “Mexican,” which is like calling all Europeans “German.”  He is definitely hateful, ignorant, and rude, but the fact his, however much hatred he has for Latinos or Mexicans, in particular, he has no real power over them, and therein lies the difference between racism and prejudice.

Prejudice is nothing more than the prejudging of others.  Our prejudgments may be based upon an individual’s social categorization, organizational membership, or even something as simple as eye color; however, prejudice remains such until power puts one’s prejudice in play.  By power, I mean the ability to impose one’s will against the will the of others–whether individually or collectively.  On a micro level, we all have some power, but racism is largely a macro level social force with micro level implications.  Racism is a system of socially and politically codified and institutionalized prejudices based upon race.  It is the consolidation of bases of power for the purpose of regulating the very lives of a particular race or several racial groups.  It is a system in that racism (the institution) is comprised of interrelated parts in which a change in one affects a change in another.  This is exactly how our bodies work.

The human body is a system comprised of subsystems.  A change in the respiratory system causes changes in the circulatory system; a change in the nervous system causes changes in the muscular system and so on.  So it is so with racism.  We may clearly see, throughout the history of this nation, that there has never been a U.S. institution that was not racist.  Whether the change comes in law, polity, education, family/kinship, economy, or religion, a change in one causes changes in other, and in the case of racism, which permeates all of the six major human institutions, it is easy to see how a change in one can lead to a change in another.

Switching gears a bit in order to further illuminate the differences between prejudice and racism, let’s look at the issue of cultural nationalism.  Cultural nationalism is defined here as preference for the cultural character of one’s racial or ethnic group (these are not the same).  This may be simplified somewhat by trying to understand cultural nationalism as that most human of all phenomenona: in-group preference and out-group prejudice on the level of race and or ethnicity.  This does not mean that one seeks to oppress, repress, or destroy counter-cultures–indeed one can have an appreciation of others, but a sincere desire to keep one’s culture uncontaminated by outside forces (although few cultures exist completely free of outside influence) is a staple of cultural nationalism.

One of the most recognized symbols of "Black Power"--the rising fist.

One of the most recognized symbols of "Black Power"--the rising fist.

Blacks have had many culturally nationalistic organizations, and from Garvey to Malcolm, in each case, we have sought to reclaim our culture (including our ancestral history) in order define ourselves for ourselves in our own terms.  This is a basic human right in my view, and one which Blacks and Browns have been systematically denied.Brown Pride

While I cannot pretend to have followed it closely, I do know that there has been a wave of “Brown pride” amongst the Latino population in Southern California, and we see similar instances of Brown cultural nationalism in the Puerto Rican Day Parade.  In both cases–“Black Power” and “Brown Pride”–there is no air of hate for the out-group or White people, as many of them may assume.  Instead, cultural nationalism amongst Blacks and Latinos is largely a celebration of ourselves, and to be clear, “Black love” doesn’t mean Brown or White hate.  The same is true for Brown pride not being equivalent to hate of any other group.  However, we cannot say the same for the White Power Movement now can we?

What better way to physicall represent the truth behind the concept of "White power" than an actual edifest with the words boldly displayed in white?

What better way to physically represent the truth behind the concept of "White power" than an actual edifice with the words boldly displayed in white?

No.  We cannot say the same.  In fact, “White power’ has come to be nothing more than the ideological or philosophical justification for racism.  They go hand-in-hand.  White privilege, the philosophy of White power, and worldview of Eurocentrism are inextricable from the six major human institutions in the U.S.  This is true with such a degree of normality that most Whites are shocked to hear that they have privilege (lmao…I’ll debunk that in another post).

So what’s the difference between Black, Brown, and White pride?  It is the difference between preference (or prejudice) and racism–power!  I, like everyone else on Earth, have many prejudices; however, unlike even the lowliest White person in this nation, I have no power to create laws, policies, or social practices with any staying power–institutions–that would be able to hold sway over the lives of anyone I’m prejudiced against–EXCEPT FOR WOMEN!

Going back to the ease with which Black and Brown bodies are murdered, let’s never forget that there is a premium placed on the lives of Whites v. all other races.  This is the philosophy of White power and the reality of White privilege in play.  The murder of a Black or Brown person in the United States is as common as Tuesday.  The murder of an equally situated White individual draws more attention, on average, and the reason is because White life is considered so much more precious.

In the outstanding book, Two Nations, Andrew Hacker recounts an illuminating truth about worth and race.  When asked how much money it would cost for a White student to be Black in this country, the student’s opportunity cost for giving up his Whiteness was $50million!!!  We need to understand what that means.  On the one hand, we see that he values his White privilege so much that he would have to be compensated with an astronomically large amount of money in order to accept such a woeful state as being Black in the United States.  With no more institutions moving for the greater good of him or those who look like him, he would require some serious pay to feel comfortable with such a change.  On the other hand, this is how bad it is to be Black in this country.  It is akin to being $50million dollars in debt, and your creditors will come a knockin’!  In such a state, your prejudice is spitting in the wind.  Your hatred means nothing.  You hold no power even to determine your own life chances–let alone someone else’s–except for women.

You see, the fifty million dollars that the White student required is based upon how much more difficult it is to be Black in the United States v. being White.  And that difficulty is based upon a system.  That system is racism.

31 thoughts on “Extreme Prejudice v. Racism: What’s the Difference?

    • lol Whenever I need proof that it’s a waste to having a meeting of the minds with conservatives, you are there to help me out! Still, I don’t really mind it at all.

  1. Its not mainly that Im laughing at you because Im not. I would like it if you get off your soapbox and stop acting like everything the world is racial. But thats not really why I left a comment. There was this black guy named Stephen that commented on my blog about Earpiece. This guy has something against you two. I thought it was kinda funny, and so I made a comment. Its under my blog post about the FSU College Republican debate we just had. Feel free to look if you want.

    • Liberals don’t listen? lol Brotha, I suggested a site full of information, and do you recall what you told me? You said you didn’t want to read it because you’d already made up your mind–BEFORE–you had all the facts. On the other hand, I love to know what your plan is healthcare. I’m interested in what you think we ought to do about poverty, our abysmal education system, our high gini coefficient, and the fact that the U.S. is low on indices indicating social welfare and high on indices that indicate corruption, inefficiency, and a debased national culture. It’s easy to talk about what’s wrong with OTHER people’s plans. But, at some point, we all need to be progressive or at least proactive. When will republicans, conservatives, or YOU do so?

  2. That is odd isnt it? He said he was just looking around at blogs and came across mine. And I never said I made up my mind before I had all the facts. Or it doesnt sound like I ever said. If I did, it was an error.

    • Yeah I think that’s odd, but I’m willing to engage any serious-minded individual. Perhaps, he felt safer on your blog lol. Either way, let the conversation begin.

      Well, the last post I made on your page regarding you maybe liking Obama better if he had ties to the bin Laden family like Bush does never saw the light of your blog. In that string of posts, you simply told me that you didn’t see any reason to read anymore than you had. Let’s not shut down completely!

        • Ah man, I’m not gonna retype that. Anyhow, Jerry, my man, I would very much like to figure a way for us to have a meeting of the minds. Perhaps, you’d be willing to start a two-man book club. You can choose the first book. We’ll take a month reading it, and get back to each other to discuss the issues and themes of the book. We could possibly establish some common ground, and the work doesn’t have to be overtly political. I’m willing to begin anywhere here. What do you think?

  3. That would be something worth trying if I had the time. I am trying to read a book I got from the library two weeks ago on John Adams and am only about 80 pages in. Alot of school work and everything. I type responses to everyone and write blog posts in between me studying for everything lol you can imagine how it is, having been experienced it

  4. “The murder of a Black or Brown person in the United States is as common as Tuesday.”

    Damn!!! This will be my quote of the week. Great post Sun.

    On another note–and I hate to be the stoker of the proverbial flames–but dayum isn’t it interesting that you have asked Hosey for his proposals on several noteworthy issues significant to America’s immediate future, and he gave you absolutely, positively, not a got-dayum thang???

    What he did give you was a lame-ass excuse as for why he can’t “read” and take in new information. I love it. You ask specific questions, you get a metaphorical map around the mulberry bush, or a conflation of ideas you’ve expressed but don’t damned-well go together, or trumped up conclusions with no rational or logical basis.

    When I get a minute I’m writing a post on the frustrations of trying to create civil engagement and discourse with those on the right.

  5. There is nothing lame about that explanation I gave. It’s the truth. Not that I would expect you to understand what I said since obviously you didn’t spend enough time in English class.

      • What is it that sounds stupid? Me commenting on a comment that was a total grammatical error (That was what I was referring too), or a guy that attacked what I said even though it was logical and totally truthful. Lame ass excuse? Nothing about it was lame ass or an excuse. I would appreciate it if he would just not comment on anything I say unless its directed towards him.

  6. And take it easy when you are writing that post about how frustrating it is to create civil engagement and discourse with those on the right. I wouldn’t want you brain to overload with all those big words swirling around in your head lol

  7. It is indeed more difficult being Black in America than White, mainly because WHINING won’t fix anything. No matter who we compare ourselves to, there will always be SOMEONE who is WORSE off than we are. The difference in the results we obtain will depend upon what WE do to change things ourselves, not focus on whose fault it is.

    It doesn’t take fifty million dollars to figure that out.

    • Your argument is ahistorical buddy. Surely you know that at every turn, whenever and wherever that has been a Black individual who tried to improve him/herself there was a law, ordinance, organization, or something constructed in order to keep that improvement from happening. This is why successful Blacks tend to be entertainers, and those who aren’t are regularly considered to be lucky. They are not the norm. They are the exception, and this is due to they system I briefly described above–not any inherent cultural inferiority or lack of effort.

      Remember, White America (the dominate social category in this country) did not end chattel slavery of their own volition for the sake of moral-suasion. They did not end Jim Crow for the same reason–neither was civil rights legislation met with glee and eager hearts. Nope. We were murdered because we wanted to learn to read. We were murdered because we wanted to have our own religion. We murdered because we didn’t step off the sidewalk in deference to a White child. The Black Wallstreet was systematically destroyed by Whites. Black businesses faced challenges that White businesses never faced. And, even public education, the “great equalizer” has been wholly unequal. It is unfair and just wrong to starve one chick in favor of another and then chastise the smaller and weaker chick for being smaller and weaker–or for crying out for the same support heaped upon the favored chick.

      Every Black movement has been met with nothing more than animosity, and what’s most interesting is that Blacks have been the greatest trumpeters of the boot-strap mentality. It is historically true Blacks would have faired much better if Whites would have simply not tried to halt the progress we sought to make through laws, policies, de jure social practices, and so on. Or can we imagine how this country would look if Blacks were given equal protection?

      Have we complained along the way? Surely. And surely our complaints are warranted.

      Look into:

      “The Miseducation of the Negro”
      Anything by Jonathan Kozol
      Anything by David Roediger

      • No, I really DIDN’T know about all these laws that prevented me from succeeding. Can you be more specific?

        Blacks are only entertainers? What about Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Bob Johnson of BET, John Henry Johnson of JET, what about Jasmine Lawrence, 16 year old FOUNDER and CEO of EDEN BODY WORKS? Cathy Hughes, owner of Radio One. WHAT ABOUT BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA?

        Look up Alex Leidesdorff, Mary Ellen Pleaseant, Biddy Mason, and Crispus Attucks Wright just for starters. You can look up more blackmillionaires BEFORE 1960 than you can find AFTER. What happened?

        I wouldn’t say Blacks are less successful, only that proportionately there are less of us, and despite whatever drivel you may have heard from the self-victimization crowd here and elsewhere. I would NEVER say we are inherently inferior, but we disagree on the “lack of effort ” part.

        To say that we are not big businessmen and women because of Jim Crow laws or rampant discrimination is completely inaccurate. If we tried only to operate in a game where only whites were running everything you may have a point, but there are no laws preventing blacks from starting businesses in BLACK communities or serving only BLACKS.

        Of course I am talking about the last 50-60 years, which is plenty of time for the black community to have OVERCOME all the obstacles that the bigots put in our path. We have not even TRIED as a people to meet these challenges, except for a few, which I named, whose existence only proves that we can do it if we work hard enough.

        “We were murdered because we wanted to learn to read. We were murdered because we wanted to have our own religion. We murdered because we didn’t step off the sidewalk in deference to a White child.”

        The above passage is about discrimination, not free enterprise. You can have both going on at the same time and survive one, succeed in the other.

        There are and have been black churches almost everywhere throughout American history. Are you saying that whites wanted us to worship with THEM instead? We probably have more churches per capita than any race on Earth.

        Even with all the murders and prejudice you describe, many industrious blacks became wealthy long before the turn of the TWENTIETH century. You are traveling the same road that I SAID too many blacks travel, focusing on the PROBLEM of why we are less successful instead of the SOLUTION, which is to make lemonade from the lemons that life threw at us.

        If the White man wouldn’t let us open a store in the White hood, open one in the BLACK hood. Madame CJ Walker became a millionaire during the very BIRTH years of Jim Crow. Sure, she had to create a business that did not compete with that of whites, but she became a millionaire anyway, the first woman of ANY race to do so.

        I agree that Black Wall Street was destroyed by whites, but the Irish, Chinese and even Cambodians have all come here and suffered occasional destruction of their enterprise systems, but they kept bouncing back. I know WE were at a greater disadvantage, but still our obstacles were not insurmountable.

        Besides, what does all this have to do with TODAY? I still maintain that the MAIN reason we are not one fifth of the economy is because we just are not working hard enough for it.

        I like your analogy of the chicks, but I also like MY analogy about the FISH in the BIG POND. When the big fish began to bully the little ones, the runts moved to the other end. when they got there, the biggest LITTLE fish became the bully and got fat eating the LITTLE ONES. Whe he got big enough, he could go back to the other end and the cycle would start again. Of course fish treat each other better than humans do.

        THAT is the law of business. Of course another analogy is the one about wolves. Two wolves is a PACK and one wolf is just a DOG. If enough black people got together and did something other than sing We Shall Overcome, we could accomplish a whole lot more than we do.

        While I agree that we as a people have been stifled at every turn, I still think we could do better than we HAVE done. I don’t know what our story would be if we were GIVEN equal protection, but I would venture we would be a lot better off if we had used the freedom that we did have.

        I spent the first 20 years of my online experience trolling for black business persons who would get together online and JUST TALK about starting and running businesses. It was during this period that I discovered that such activities were just not very high on anyone’s agenda.

        Winston Churchill said “Never have so many owed so much to so few”. He was referring to the debt the world owes to the allied military in WWII.

        Here, we are discussing another great battle but unlike “the big war” we are not winning, in spite of all the benefits and advantages we have been exposed to in spite of all the trials and tribulations the bigots have and are still throwing at us.

        I don’t want to sound uncaring or unfair, but “Never have so many done so little with so much”.

        • LOL Dude, did you actually read what I wrote, or are you so cock strong for an argument that you’ll disagree with me even if I told you that sky is blue?

          At no point did I say that ALL successful Blacks are entertainers. Reread my first paragraph. Everything that needs to be said to you is contained in that first paragraph.

          I’m not at all surprised that you are unaware of the mutlitude of laws, ordinances, organizations, de facto social practices that Blacks have systematically faced at every turn. I’m not about to detail these stumblingblocks that were purposefully placed in the way of Blacks, but I will empower you to do so on your own. Clearly, you disagree with me, but again, the research backs what I say and debunks your opinions. I don’t mind so much you offering your opinions. We all have assholes and opinions, but don’t let your lack of information require you to use your opinions as crutches and turn you into an asshole.

          I defy you to offer reputable scholarship proving that Blacks as a group have not progressed further than we have because we are simply “not trying.” On the other hand, I offer the following works as proof to my point and as opportunity for you educate yourself on issues that you “DIDN’T” know.

          Read:
          “Categorically Unequal”–Douglas Massey
          “Black Wealth/ White Wealth”–Melvin Oliver & Thomas Shapiro
          “Two Nations”–Andrew Hacker
          “White-washing Race”–Brown (et al)
          “Racism Without Racists”–Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

          If after you read these works, you still believe the heart of the problem for Black Americans is apathy, there is no need for us to converse any further.

          • OK, indeed I DID read your post, stem to stern, and your FIRST paragraph follows: “whenever and wherever that has been a Black individual who tried to improve him/herself there was a law, ordinance, organization, or something constructed in order to keep that improvement from happening. This is why successful Blacks tend to be entertainers, and those who aren’t are regularly considered to be lucky”.

            Saying Whenever a black individual” is not the same as SOME black individuals. “Successful blacks” is not the same as SOME successful blacks. Am I now supposed to be like you, able teto figure out what you MEAN instead of what you SAY?

            And I’m not surprised that you think our problems were all caused by racism. My guess is you never owned a business either. As for all those laws that you will “empower me to research”, nice try. I have been in business for years and have yet to run across one of these laws. I will look again if you will just give me some hints.

            In spite of your predictable name calling as a substitute for actual facts, I can only say that this resarch that debunks my opinion would be clear to all of us if you could tell us where to find it. Your feeble attempt at producing such research looks like a collection of THESES by a group of PROFESSORS. Nothing wrong with that, but how many of THEM are business owners? You ask ME to prove a NEGATIVE. Can these professors tell me how to do that too?

            I can no more give “evidence” that blacks don’t work harder than you can that we do. All I can go by is the fact that the same systems that whites built and used for a hundred years has been available to blacks for at least 50 years. The rest is logical deduction.

            I guess this discussion is indeed over, because I still believe what I stated in the beginning. Only I am willing to keep going until maybe some business person reading these posts will enlighten the rest of uus about the truth of either of our statements.

            I can understand why YOU are not as willing.
            Regards

            • I cannot make this any clearer than this: your experiences, while informational for your private interests, cannot be blindly generalized to the public. Therefore, you may continue to offer up your experiences or lack thereof as evidence in support of your opinions, but that only makes you look foolish.

              If I follow the logic of your thoughts to their end, there is no need for any social science because we can all rely on our own experiences. Sir, that is a ridiculous notion, and one, that I hope you do not support.

              At this point, it’s clear that you and I simply disagree. You can either read the scholarship I’ve suggested and educate yourself, or you can ignore my suggestions and foolishly judge those works without knowing anything about them. Your apathy and education are in your hands. I have nothing else to add to you on this topic. We must deal with facts and not opinions on these matters.

              • My opinions are not MEANT for the general public, only for ME. I am not one of those people who think that we must all rise together. If that were the case none of us would rise because there are some that don’t really want to pull their load. Rather than help pull the wagon out the ditch, they spend all their time whining about why we got in the ditch.

                > Therefore, you may continue to offer up your experiences or lack thereof as evidence in support of your opinions, but that only makes you look foolish.

                I question almost EVERYTHING people tell me. You seem to BELIEVE everything people tell you. And you call ME foolish. I like that. Ya got MOXIE!
                >
                > If I follow the logic of your thoughts to their end, there is no need for any social science because we can all rely on our own experiences. Sir, that is a ridiculous notion, and one, that I hope you do not support.

                Nothing wrong with social science, as long as you know how to differentiate between fact and THEORY. Personally, I think Sigmund Freud was NUTS.
                >
                > At this point, it’s clear that you and I simply disagree. You can either read the scholarship I’ve suggested and educate yourself, or you can ignore my suggestions and foolishly judge those works without knowing anything about them.

                We both suggested “scholarship” How many of MY suggestions will YOU read? None? OK, I still won’t call you names. May arguments, good or bad, can stand up on their own. They don’t need insults to prop them up.

                >Your apathy and education are in your hands. I have nothing else to add to you on this topic. We must deal with facts and not opinions on these matters.
                >

                In just a few short paragraphs you have used such endearing terms as UNEDUCATED, RIDICULOUS, FOOLISH, APATHY. You rail at my use of Fox and Rasmussen and then post a litany of left wingers and I am supposed to take it as GOSPEL?

                We do disagree. I thought that was clear from the start. What is NOT clear is why you have so much trouble accepting that someone else disagrees with you.
                i’m not trying to be difficult. I just don’t like KOOLAID.

              • Your opinions are not meant for the general public, yet here you are in a public form offering your opinion as fact counter to well-documented research that you apparently won’t read because you assume the scholars to be liberal. I hope that works out for you.

              • You got me there. I just worded that wrong. I should have said my opinions were not for public consumption, only for public viewing, which means you can take it or leave it.

                I never offered one opinion as a counter to anything under the Sun. That may be the way you perceive them, but I can’t do anything about that. I offer my opinions to stand alone, without relying on anything or anyone but myself.

                I never assumed all scholars to be liberal. I just assumed the ones you listed were.

                The reason we argue so much rather than debate is that I want to and I do understand what you say and you want to but can’t understand why I’m saying what I say.

                Yes, this all works for me, and I am sorry it does not work for you.

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