Moral Quandary of Race Essay
Moral Quandary of Race
In his book, “I am not a Racist, But…The Moral Quandary of Race,” Lawrence A. Blum, a professor of Philosophy and Liberal Arts, ventures into unrecognized and little known aspects of racism. His definition and analysis of racism and its implications, projects the vastness of the subject, which had generally been regarded as just a white attitude. Blum describes racism as antipathy towards individuals of a racialized group, stemming from “inferiorization” or the idea that the group is inferior in relation to other groups.
Blum considers a person to be a racist only when he intentionally makes racist comments or jokes, driven by racial antipathy. He feels that the moral significance of the term ‘racism’ seems to be losing its value, as it is being overused or too commonly used. Today, in practical life, any direct or indirect references which affect feelings of racial groups are considered racist. This not only dilutes the very meaning of racism but also weakens its power of ethical condemnation. The word ‘racism’ and its related terminology needs to be more clear, due to its relevance in personal racism, racist, racist beliefs at various levels.
The author feels the term ‘racism’ is being more used out of context, like black students intending to sit with other black students for lunch or white teacher being uncomfortable talking with the black parents, which are all regarded as racism. The book also emphasizes the need to report race-based statistical data with greater care and concern as they influence individual perceptions. The statistical differences among the views of racial groups must be projected without any overracialization (p35). Overstating the differences of such views would only reinforce A book review 3
an individual’s racist opinion and close them to persuading arguments or rational conversation. Opposing the general notion that racial groups have a common agenda with regard to their group, Blum emphasizes the need to recognize the existence of internal diversity within social groups. Racial groups with a sizable population cannot have a single opinion or viewpoint. Several factors including age, gender, religion, culture etc. influence the formation of a viewpoint of an individual (p55). Blum therefore attributes it to misrecognition or inadequate recognition rising from ignorance, when any single viewpoint is attributed to an entire race.
Although Blum feels that whites should not forget their relevance and association with racism, he adds that racism is not confined only to the whites. For instance Chinese, Japanese, and blacks too exhibit racist attitude to other colored people and whites. The belief of their racial superiority is developed by colored people, which makes them regard other groups inferior (p33). In this book, Blum indicates our hypersensitivity to the word ‘racism’ and suggests that racist insensitivity and subconscious racial intolerance are indeed acts, which need to be eliminated, but need not be tagged as ‘racist’.
Blum is of the opinion that racial prejudice is an unavoidable consequence of cultural diversity. Our view and way of life today is associated with racist ideologies, which we have inherited. The concept of race had developed from the sixteenth century, A book view 4 reaching its peak in the late nineteenth century. History holds the key for our present interpretation on human diversity in terms of similarity, differences and superiority among races (p109).
Blum explores the idea of doing away with the concept of race, but warns that it should be only after all associated wrongdoings are fully addressed. The book covers all vital aspects of racism including its history and, what we actually mean and think of race. It incorporates much useful information on the topic, carefully thought and reasoned, illustrated by suitable examples. “I am not a Racist, But…The Moral Quandary of Race” is indeed an important book not only to scholars but also to the common man in quest of understanding racism.