Kris Adams on Racism.
22-Sep-2015

Posted by in But Seriously Though

As a straight white guy, I have no practical racial, gender or sexual minority to personally speak against, but, being South African, have seen my fair share of racism to have an invested outsider’s point of view.

Racism (and other prejudices) sucks. I get that humans love finding superiority in differences (Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Country, etc), it’s just one of our flaws as a species, but it has such horrible consequences, you’d think we would be able to use our consciousness, which other animals don’t have, to overcome this flaw. Similar to how we frown upon killing someone who steals our parking space (our nature tells us to do it, but we manage to overrule our nature).

Here are two things that would be fixed if we made an effort as humans to wilfully abandon racism:

1. A black person wouldn’t be disqualified for a responsibility because of their skin colour. If you close your eyes, you can’t even tell that they’re black, so how does this have any relevance at all, really?

2. A black person wouldn’t be selected over a better qualified white person on the grounds of “diversity” or “affirmative action” or “transformation”.

In my opinion, those two issues are two sides of the same coin, and both are racist. Your skin colour should neither disqualify you for a job nor better qualify you for a job; unless that job has a valid reason to use skin colour as an important criteria for hiring (for instance, I don’t think of it as racist to hire a white guy as a spray-tan tester in the same way I don’t think of it as racist to hire a black guy as an underwear model [sorry, I joke]).

Unless you are actually racist, I think from either side of the argument, the only real issue everyone has is when skin colour plays a part in selection when it’s not actually a factor. If you’re black you don’t like that your skin colour puts you at a disadvantage and if you’re white, you don’t like if someone’s different skin colour gives them an advantage.

The sad part is that this is such a big problem, with such a horrible history, that you can’t just turn it off. Black people would get the worse end of the stick if we cancelled racism as of right now. Because of the past, they already have been disadvantaged, and so you can’t give back all the times in the past which have had a negative effect on their present (like if they weren’t selected for something in school cos of their colour that would have drastically bettered their life now).

And so, ending racism has an unfortunate “make up for the past” swing, or reverse racism. I remember in high school (in South Africa after Apartheid ended) a prominent university came to our school to advertise bursaries they were giving away, but said that white people shouldn’t apply because they weren’t being considered. I see the point, trying to “even the score”, but it’s still racist.

I absolutely think it will take time to move from a largely racist society (even if it’s cosmetically not claimed to be one) to a merit-based society, but that’s not a good enough reason not to do it. The sooner we start, the sooner we can begin to move in the right direction.