Whether it’s #OscarSoWhite, #BlackLivesMatter or other similar hashtags, there has been a lot of talk recently in the US about racism.
Wherever you turn, it seems to be racism this, racism that.
Though I don’t believe racism has been eradicated from our society, I do NOT believe it is as widespread as some may suggest. Below, are a few reasons I feel this way.
1. Hasty generalization.
We all remember the few bad interactions we have over the millions of good ones.
A few months ago, a friend of mine wrote a Facebook post about how a homeless person refused to take some of her money and called her the n-word.
My friend went on to use that incident to say racism still exists.
Needless to say, my friend was a victim of a phenomenon called hasty generalization.
Hasty generalization is a common logical fallacy.
It happens when one person uses a small sample size to draw conclusions about a larger sample.
It happens to all of us. It even happens to people like myself, who are aware of this fallacy.
I currently work in a business where I get reviewed for my performances.
Not to brag but for the most part, I get great reviews. Every once in a while, however, I get reviews that are not as flattering.
When I do, I often catch myself falling for the “hasty generalization” fallacy. I start thinking that customers (all or most) are awful people that hate me for no reason.
After calming myself down, and bringing myself back to a more rational state of mind, I always realize that:
- Of course, customers are not awful.
- This is just one bad review out of thousands of excellent ones.
This logical fallacy is wrong because it paints the picture of an overall group as “evil”! In reality, most of us (no matter what group we belong to) are good/decent people.
Here are a few more examples of this fallacy.
- Thinking ALL cops are bad or racists because a few have killed some black people.
- Thinking that ALL Muslims are terrorists because a few terrorists have committed terrorist acts.
- Thinking ALL white people are racist because back in the days a few white people committed atrocities.
- Thinking ALL blacks are criminals because a few black people commit crimes here or there.
- Thinking an entire community (Hollywood or the Tech Industry) is racist because they don’t hire as many minorities.
These beliefs are factually wrong, no matter who holds them. This fallacy leads many to believe racism is more widespread than it actually is.
2. White Privilege
The second reason I think racism is not as widespread is something called white privilege. White privilege is this notion that white people have it easier, and everyone else doesn’t. I call BULL****.
I once had a conversation with a friend of mine. She is one of the smartest, most beautiful women I have ever met.
On the surface, she should not have anything to complain about.
During our conversation, however, she told me how she can never have a conversation with a guy, without the guy wanting to be with her.
She told me that sometimes, she would like to be able to tell someone about her business ideas and have the person listen, without any ulterior motives.
Though those problems might not seem real to you or me, they are real to her. It’s an issue she has to think and worry about each time she meets someone (usually a man) who could help her in her career.
That’s why I believe white privilege to be a myth. NOTHING is easy. Being poor isn’t easy. Being rich isn’t easy. Being black isn’t easy. Being a woman isn’t easy. Being white is not easy.
We all have our own demons we have to battle with every day, whether others can see it or not.
I recently read an article that suggested that white people shouldn’t “dismiss” other people’s issues as non-issues.
I agree. No one should dismiss anyone’s issues as ‘non-issues’, no matter who they are.
So what if white people in America have it a bit easier?
African-Americans in the US have it easier than MOST kids in third-world countries.
Some kids in third world countries have it easier than some kids with down-syndrome in America.
One way or another, we all have some advantage/privilege over another group.
It doesn’t make African-Americans evil for taking advantage of the “African-American privilege”. Likewise, it doesn’t make white people evil (or racist) for taking advantage of any “privilege” they might benefit from.
Life isn’t fair. GET OVER IT.
Another reason I think racism isn’t as widespread as some may think is that I believe in progress.
This graph illustrates an uptrend in the stock market.
An uptrend “Describes the price movement of a financial asset when the overall direction is upward”.
If you zoom in on the graph (see pic below), you can easily find periods of time where the value of the market declines. It’s easy to panic when the market takes a small dip.
It’s also easy to think your stocks suck if you only look at those small “zoomed-in” periods when the stock is going down.
When you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, however, you can make a better and more accurate judgment of how well your stock is doing.
Same goes for racism.
It’s easy to look at small periods of time when things seem to get worse and panic. It’s also easy to look at those small periods of time and think “well, we’ve made absolutely no progress”.
Looking at the bigger picture, however, often leads a better, more accurate and more positive estimate of the state of racism.
Below are some examples of the progress we have made of the past few decades.
In the 50’s only 4% of the population approved of interracial marriages. Today, this number is at over 80%. That’s progress.
In the first 53 years (1928-1981) of the Oscars, there were a total of 8 non-white nominees for “best actor in a leading role”. In the past 34 years since there have been 20 non-white nominees for the aforementioned category.
In the early 1900’s most sports leagues did not allow black to participate in athletic events. Today, black people make up more of the NFL and NBA.
That is a sign that black people in this country are getting more and more opportunities. Way more than we were getting only a century ago.
Again, if you look at the smaller picture (today), you might think things are worst or not progressing. If you look back on how far we’ve come, however, it’s easier to see progress!
Focusing on progress doesn’t mean ignore problems.
Focusing on progress doesn’t mean ignoring the problem.
Focusing on progress simply means that we don’t falsely believe we’re doing worse than we actually are.
That kind of thinking can actually lead people to lose hope. Without hope, we’ve got nothing.
Yes, there is still racism. But it’s not as widespread as some of us might think.
At the minimum, it’s not as widespread as it used to be. It’s important to remember all the progress we’ve made, so we can remain hopeful and keep working on an even better future.
4. Racism vs. Capitalism
An argument that is often used to point to racism is that blacks are more likely to be arrested and convicted of crimes than whites. That does not imply racism.
First, crime and poverty have often been found to be correlated. This does not mean one causes the other or vice versa.
It simply means that often, when one is present (crime or poverty), the other is as well.
This correlation is not unique to the US. It exists in many countries around the world, including Sweden.
In the US, it just so happens that black people happen to be at the bottom of the socio-economic status.
To bolster this argument further, let’s explore the case of Asian Americans.
Asian Americans are a minority group, making up only about 6% of the US populations.
This stat further emphasizes the correlation between crime and poverty. It suggests that it’s not about race; it’s about money. Where there is more poverty, there’ll tend to be more crimes and arrest.
Attributing the high incarceration rate of African Americans to racism, causes us to ignore the real issue: income inequality.
Income inequality kills way more blacks everyday than racism ever could.
If we keep trying to solve the “racism problem”, we’ll keep missing the real issue: Giving the poor & the disenfranchised (whether it’s African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and even Whites) MORE economic opportunities.
5. Don’t Lose Hope
When I studied psychology in college, I learned that most of us do not make decisions based on facts.
Most of you will not look at the facts I laid in this piece.
Instead, you’ll stick to whatever feeling you had before you read the article.
For those of you who feel that we racism is still a HUGE issue (without facts), remember this: Feelings are important.
But if we base all of our thoughts and actions solely on feelings, then we’re no different than those FEW racists and bigots who feel that they are superior (without facts).
I’m not writing this piece to say that we should stop the fight against racism. Racism is still an issue. I’m writing this to give anyone reading more hope about the future.
Hope because most people (no matter what group they belong to) are good.
Hope because we’ve made tremendous progress over the past few decades, and we will continue to do so.
Finally, we need more hope for the younger generation. Especially the younger black generation.
If we keep telling them that nothing has changed in 400 years, and we keep telling them that there is no hope, they could eventually become victims of learned helplessness, where they completely stop trying to change their situation for the better.
I’d like them all to be aware of all this progress we’ve made, so they can be motivated to build an even better future for the following generation. That, in my opinion, is what matters most.