Pray For Barack Obama is a non-denominational ministry dedicated to lifting up President Barack H. Obama, his family, his cabinet and staffs in Prayer as they serve the USA (and the world).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sexism & Racism On the Campaign Trail

By Beca M.

During this entire campaign period there has been an alarming overuse of the words "racism" and "sexism" that have in essence diluted the true meanings of these two words, which in turn will end up diluting the seriousness of true racist and sexist acts and behaviors. It might be a good idea to try to pull back on the use of these two terms and try to define the issues at hand with more accurate terms.

As a general rule, in instances of racism, sexism, ethnicity, etc. the offending party believes the group they belong to is by far superior to the group they are offending, demoralizing, etc. Usually members of the oppressor group are those who espouse beliefs of racism, sexism, etc. against those of the oppressed groups.

Here is the definition of both racism and prejudice:

Racism: a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievements, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others. Based on this premise, the development of hatred or intolerance of another race or other races ensues.
Prejudice: unfavorable or unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, ethnic, or national group.

Given this, it is very difficult to be able to legitimately claim, if one were white (historically the oppressor) that a non-white person (historically the oppressed) was behaving racist against him/her. Certainly there could be dislike, anger, even prejudice coming from a non-white person towards a white person. Some of that carries a sense of ethnocentrism where non-white people go to feel a sense of humanity, a sense of being since, in general, the white society still does not fully embrace non-white people as equal members of society. Embracing one's ethnicity as an important part of who one is--it is not anti anything, it is not racism.

Clearly there have been many racist and sexist remarks, statements and comments made during this election period, however, there have also been many many remarks, statements and comments that have been labeled racist or sexist that are truly not. For example: someone who does not like Obama's personality is not racist; someone who wants to know who Palin really is nor sexist, especially if we know nothing about her. However, when someone calls Obama's self-assurance and exceptional intelligence as "uppity and arrogant" that just might be a veiled form of racism (have you ever heard that comment made of any male white candidate in your life-time?). Selecting Palin to be his running mate just because she is a woman and therefore, he believes all women will flock to his camp is sexism.

I know at times it's been hard to figure out what is and what is not either racist or sexist, but by overusing these terms we run the risk of minimizing the true impacts of these words, and hence dilute the need to have serious discussions on how to end such practices throughout our society. Perhaps some of the things might be better described in terms of prejudice rather than racism? Just a thought.--A mind, once expanded, can never be returned to its original dimensions- Anne Hathaway, 1556-1623 --Fear Keeps People Small.

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“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”- Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected president in 1932.