Evan: Welcome back everyone. On today’s episode of “Yo, is this Racist” we will be hearing from a good friend of mine, Morgan, who will be sharing a scenario with us. Let’s hear more about what she has to say.
Morgan: Hey Evan! Thanks for having me today. The situation I wanted to discuss today has been taking place at my job. For the last few years, I have been working at a country club during my summer breaks. I have gotten to know who the majority of the families are and know who is a part of which friend group and who is not. There is one family that has adopted two African American little girls and they don’t come too often to the club. However, when they do come, many of the other little kids refuse to play with the little girls and oftentimes the parents do not interact with these parents. From what I have witnessed, I believe that these actions are racially motivated. What are your thoughts, Evan?
Evan: That is definitely an interesting situation and it seems as if this could be an example of racism. Before making any assumptions, let’s consult our definition of what racism is. The dictionary defines racism as “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to others”.
Morgan: Would you say that racism could be an example of Othering?
Evan: Would you remind me what it means to be the Other again?
Morgan: Yeah, I learned about the concept of the Other in my class. Basically, the Other is any person or group that is categorized as different from the One. The One is the person or group who distinguishes another individual as the Other based off of differences in power, wealth, race, among a variety of different factors. For example, I may set myself up as the One and categorize you as the Other based on different interests that we may have.
Evan: That’s an interesting claim. Based on your scenario given, I feel that not only are the African American children Othered by the other kids, but the parents are Othering the parents of these children as well.
Morgan: For sure. It is obvious that there are many injustices at play. For example, the country club operates on a prestigious level in recruiting new members. Any potential members must receive an invitation from a current member and then undergo an intense interview process. There is only one African American family that is a member at this club and they come only once a year.
Evan: Wow. That sounds intense and like there seems to be a particular status that the club and its members are looking for. Referring back to our definition of racism, we said that it involves the idea that one’s race is superior and has the right to dominate others of a particular racial group. Do you think that there is more to race that plays a role in who becomes a member at the club?
Morgan: Personally, I have come to believe that wealth and class have been the driving factors in how the country club has come to be. I think that perhaps race has just become another aspect that plays a role in the bias that the members seem to exemplify. Basically, I think many of the members have a perceived view of what an individual of high class and wealth should look and act like.
Evan: So you are saying that the key issues of wealth and class are the reasons for determining who gets invited in and why there seems to be injustices acted upon the family with the adopted African American little girls?
Morgan: Yes. I feel as if these factors are the key reasons for the bias against the other members.
Evan: Interesting take. I can definitely see what you are saying, and I too find it interesting that racism could potentially be fueled by other factors. I think that it is likely that these members associate wealth with a certain racial profile. That certainly does fit the definition of racism when it talks about “the idea that one’s own race has the right to dominate others of a particular racial group”.
Morgan: Mmhm. I think this is a never-ending cycle that will continue to persist at the country club. When the children of the members grow up to either inherit their parents’ membership or become a member of their own, I think that this bias will be engrained into who they believe a member of the club should look and be like.
Evan: Yeah, I could see how that could potentially be transmitted to the future generations at the club. I think your example is interesting in the fact that it could be representative of Hegel’s master-slave dynamic. The country club members may view themselves as the master and heavily relies on the slave, which is any member of a lower class, to validate the master and his status of wealth and class. However, I don’t see any example of having to “fight to the death” for either the master or slave here.
Morgan: Wow I did not think of just how many different ideals that this situation could fit into. Do you think that the wealth factor is the key to what is fueling the power relationships?
Evan: Most definitely. I especially think that when wealth is used in order to achieve a higher status or used to get what is desired, then the potential of power is directly correlated with the funds.
Morgan: So what do you think Evan, do you think that the scenario I described was representative of racial injustice?
Evan: After our discussion, I think that this situation resulted from the factors of social rank, wealth, and a bias of what an individual of these values should look and be like. Therefore, I do think that racial tendencies were present and fits the definition that we discussed earlier. The definition stated that racism was a “belief that inherent differences among various racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement.” In this case, I think that the achievement is the status of belonging to a country club and has the necessary funds to do so. You really do get to see first-hand how wealth can have such a widespread effect on others!
Morgan: Yeah I do! I couldn’t agree more. Thanks so much for having me and providing insight into what defines racism, further dissecting the concept of the Other, and seeing just how often these aspects can take place in our day to day life.