Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Racism is bad - a Barcelona centered reflection

I hope most of people reading this will not find "Racism is bad" to be controversial.

The problem is even if most (i'd hope to say all) of us think racism is bad, some of us are still consciously or unconsciously racist.

I am not going to speak about the Black Lives Matters movement, because it's mostly USA centered (which is kind of far for me) and there's much better people to listen than me, so go and listen to them.

In this case I'm going to speak about the Romani/Roma/gypsies in Barcelona (and from what i can see in this Pew Research article, most of Europe).

Institutionalized hate against them is so deep that definition 2 of 6 in the Catalan dictionary for the Romani word (gitano) is "those that act egoistically and try deceive others" and definition 5 of 8 in the Spanish dictionary is "those that with wits and lies try to cheat someone in a particular matter"

Here it is "common" to hear people say "don't be a gitano" meaning to say "don't cheat/play me" and nobody bats an eye when hearing that phrase.

It's a fact that this "community" tends to live in ghettos and has a higher percent crime ratio. I've heard people that probably think themselves as non racist say "that's just the lifestyle they like".

SARCASM: Sure, people love living in unsafe neighbourhoods and crappy houses and risking going to jail just to be able to eat.

The thing is when 50% of the population has an unfavourable view of you just because of who your parents are, or your surname is, it's hard to get a [nice] job, a place to live outside the ghetto, etc.

So please, in addition to saying that you're not a racist (which is a good first step), try to actually not be racist too.


Valorie said...

Thank you Albert! We can all do better in both word and deed.

dani said...

Thanks a lot for this post. Free software and antiracism is a marvelous combo!

Unknown said...

Call me crazy, but when I opened my Planet KDE's news feed I was expecting to read about... make a guess?... exactly, about politics!!!

Don't get me wrong. I think, in this daring times, it is extremly important to get blasted left and right with politically correct stuff... just non stop... from everywhere.

Albert, do you have a news feed specialized in politics that you could recommend? I will subscribe to it, now that I am unsubscribing from Planet KDE.

Albert Astals Cid said...

@Unknown, such a long comment just to say "I'm a racist".

Unknown said...

So, that's what you get from what I wrote?

I'll put it simpler for you then: "I want to read news about KDE in Planet KDE's news feed".

Anonymous said...

Planet KDE is not a place for politics.
In Poland we try to help Roma. But they are nomads. They don't want to live in one place. This is their culture. We can't help them against their will. We have to try understand them.

Nicolas said...

Planet KDE is not only for KDE content.

"The majority of content in your blog should be about KDE and your work on KDE. Blog posts about personal subjects are also encouraged since Planet KDE is a chance to learn more about the developers behind KDE."

If you don't like seeing this post in the planet then scroll to the next one. If someone constantly posts about politics in the planet *then* we have a problem, but that's not the case here: this is Albert's first non-technical post in all year.

Anonymous said...

Then again... when it comes to me, everytime I've interacted with a romani, he was either trying to steal me or con me.

I already sound racist just saying that. Let me clear your doubts: my judgement about new circumstances is based on experience from previous events. So yeah. I'm racist against romanis.

There's only one thing that can clear that up: having new experiences with romanis that don't end up being all about trying to take my wallet, or telling me stories to try and guilt me into giving money.
The wallet thing happened to me a lot, and succedeed the first time. My newly founded prejudice against romanis then prevented the next ones from escaping with my belongings.

It's a good thing you used romani as an exemple, precisely because it shows how complex the racism problem really is. Racism can be totally unjustified... but in that case, I don't believe it is. And I'm not saying it's fair: it isn't. But you can't act like the prejudices against romanis are baseless. And you can't get rid of those, because those prejudices are actually helpful to those who might get robbed or conned.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing to see racists try to complain by saying, "I just don't want to see politics here," whenever racism is rightly criticized and then immediately devolve into, "if that makes me a racist, then I guess I'm racist."

Yeah, we already knew that. You made it obvious from the get-go. People who actually aren't interested in the post just scroll on by. It's only ever the racists that go out of their way to stop by and make those kind of comments. It takes far less effort to scroll by a single post a year than to write out a comment or two.

Jos Poortvliet said...

As you say, we're all a bit racist. Or, at least, prejudiced. That is totally normal, in a way, it is how we make sense of the world. It is just statistics we have in our head - a dog is more likely to bite you than a cat. Do all dog bite? Can cats not bite? No and no, but...

Sadly, there are a few problems with these heuristics we use:
* often inter-personal variety is greater than inter-group variety. For example, women are on average slightly more intelligent than men. But that difference is too small to be relevant in day to day interactions - it isn't sensible to assume a women you see on a train is smarter than the man she is sitting next to, as that chance is barely 0.01.
* we learn these statistics more culturally than from experience. So if your culture says a certain group is X, it might not be true - you'll still have it in your head.
* And humans are complicated, more than animals or, well, rocks and stuff. One issue is the self-fulfilling prophecy here. A great example are 'fat people'. Our (western) culture generally regards overweight individuals as being friendly. Research has shown it is true. But not because a higher body fat percentage makes you nicer... No, because people believe fat people to be nice, they treat them as such. And guess how people respond to being treated nicely... Yeah. Similarly, how do you think people respond to being treated with disgust, distrust or getting locked up in ghettos? Right.

Anyway, I wanted to make two points. One - our brains are wired for prejudice, including racism. And our society tends to reinforce that and make something that has no inherent basis in biology, true.

You deal with it by being conscious of these things and trying to compensate for them. You won't ever not be racist/prejudiced at all, but you can limit the damage it does... And as society, we can educate people and of course stop doing stupid shit like enable police violence or set up systems that keep certain groups in disadvantaged situations that perpetuate the cycle of problems.

Jos Poortvliet said...

Oh, let me add - good post. Sometimes it is nice to think about this. And to share. And to show what a decent person is or should be. The people who object to that... well, it is revealing I guess. Sadly being emphatic ("not a dick") isn't appreciated by everyone. I'd blame the parents for failing to teach what matters in life.

James said...

Yes, racism is a very bad thing it can destroy nations. Everyone should give respect to others and live this life with peace.