One Kid’s View Of The Stupidity of “Race”

And the winner is...

I wrote last week about how proud my wife and I are that our son was doing a speech at his middle school on racism. Well he brought home the championship trophy. The teachers and judges said it was the best they had heard in years. So in honor of his victory I am publishing his written speech. Of course the written words don’t do justice to how he delivered it, which included the song “Where Is The Love?” by the Black Eyed Peas playing in the background, but at least you can see what at least one of the young generation thinks about where we are. So without further ado, the award-winning speech:

98% of us are racist. Of course, some more than others. But almost all of us are racist in some way. I’ll admit, even I’ve done some racist things.

By definition, a racist is someone who believes that someone’s ethnic background will determine how they act and how they live their lives.

I’m sure that many of you have used stereotypes before. Like, “Well all black people love Kool-Aid and fried chicken!!”

My friend Ryan is obviously not black, but he still loves Kool-Aid! Liam who is known for being British, loves fried chicken!! Does that make them black? Stereotypes are often times not true and very racist, like how you assume that all Asians are great at math! I’m not going to name names, but an Asian friend of mine has a C+ in Algebra. You see?

All of us have used stereotypes like these before, so basically, pretty much all of us are racist by definition. I’m sure that many of you assume that I love watermelon. Raise your hand if you think I love watermelon. Guess what, I don’t. If you raised your hand, don’t be ashamed, because, sadly, we live in a world controlled by racism.

Racism is an out-dated concept. Racism was mainly created for three reasons, fear, anger, and guilt.

Imagine you’re on a boat headed for antarctica, or some unexplored place.Then when you get to shore, you see some figures standing on the beach. Once you get closer, you notice that the figures are human, but they have green skin!! Now can you honestly say that you wouldn’t be kind of freaked out by that? It’s human instinct to be afraid of what we don’t understand.

Well how do you think Europeans felt when they first arrived in Africa? Or Columbus when he stumbled into America? To be honest, they were probably afraid at first.

The Holocaust. One of the most tragic events in Human History. 6,000,000 Jewish men, women, and children, murdered. The Nazis would actually pull up a flat-bed truck to a window underneath nurseries for babies, then toss all the babies and newborns down into the truck. All this hate, all this killing, all this anger, for what?

Well as I’m sure you all know, Germany was defeated during WWI. Because of this, citizens all over Germany were furious. They started to think of who to blame for their defeat. So Hitler said, “Hey all the Jews are traitors because they are different!” That’s not actually what he said but still,  did he realize that lots of Germany’s technology was created by Jewish people? So they started systematically killing Jews in Germany-controlled territory all because they were angry about losing a war.

What about the slaves in early America? Of course not everyone thought it was right. So they had to create lies to hide their guilt. So they started calling blacks, my ancestors, “inferior”! They didn’t even call us by our own names! Now was this right? Of course not! It just made slave owners feel better about themselves.

Now speaking of slavery, this is one of the main cases of stereotypes. They said, “Oh well all those slaves love working in the fields, picking cotton for 15 hours a day!” Really? Really?! Stereotypes are stupid and can be hurtful. Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Rothacher used Max as an example, saying he was a gardener. All the students in class started laughing and pointing at Max. Mr. Rothacher said, “Is Max a gardener or something?”

The class responded and said, “No! He’s Mexican!!” They basically said that because he’s Mexican, all he’ll ever amount to is a gardener.

But it’s hard for us not to use stereotypes with shows like Tosh.0, Family Guy, and South Park. By seeing stereotypes in these shows, we are thus encouraged to use them in real life.

Look, I’m not going to ask you all to just stop using all stereotypes this second. But instead, watch everyone else, whenever you see someone else using a stereotype, just say, “hey you don’t know that.”

We learn as children that everyone is different in their own special way, and it’s true. Someone’s skin color doesn’t have to determine how they live their life. Look around this room, no two people are exactly the same. We are all beautiful and individual in our own ways.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you, now ask yourself, Where is the Love?

Well written and delivered Son. The future is bright because there are lots more kids who think like this out there.

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4 thoughts on “One Kid’s View Of The Stupidity of “Race”

  1. Unamused says:

    It’s a well written speech. Unfortunately, it’s all wrong. I don’t blame your son at all, because most people subscribe to this sort of nonsense.

    It is all based on one colossal fallacy: that unless you can predict behavior from race 100 percent of the time, with 100 percent accuracy, race doesn’t tell us anything about behavior.

    For example: blacks have a lower average IQ than whites, who are lower than Asians. As your son pointed out, this does not mean that every single Asian is smarter than all blacks and whites (duh). It does let us make a prediction about Asians and blacks as a whole, though: in a fair system, we should expect African-Americans as a group to achieve less than Asian Americans…

    …which they do. Most people see that as evidence of discrimination against blacks, but it’s completely explained by statistical differences between the populations.

    The same goes for crime rates. Anyone who thinks Asian Americans are just as likely to commit murder as African Americans is simply wrong — even if you control for socioeconomic status (poverty). There are few facts in the social sciences which are less debatable than that one.

    A person’s race allows you to make predictions, some extremely accurate, some less so. This has profound consequences for group social outcomes, the obvious example being black ghettos in the USA. Unfortunately, your son spoke in absolutes.

    • Earnest Harris says:

      I think you are missing the point of the speech. The point was and is that living in stereotypes is living on notions often derived from subtle biases and generalities. I am hoping you are not actually suggesting that we subscribe to stereotypes based on color or ethnicity and believing that doing so makes real sense. In other words there is no way you can predict the “average IQ” of a black person who comes from an educated family of professionals and assume their IQ is lower than a poor White in say West Virginia. That is the point of stereotypes, their fallacy as my son rightfully pointed out. They only take one general factor, outward appearance, and then assume broad things. I hate to tell you, but you would be guessing wrong if you did not account for the many other factors that determine IQ, crime and other things.

      I know there are people who prefer to simplify their judgements about different groups, but that is just what it is, a simplification. Fortunately and unfortunately, people and culture are much more nuanced than simply Asians, by simply being Asian are smarter than anyone else. Even Asians make that point and generally don’t like that stereotype. As a matter of fact, the second place winning speech was an Asian student who spoke on the fallacy of that stereotype.

  2. Unamused says:

    The point of the speech seems to be that’s racist to notice group differences, and that a prediction has to be right 100 percent of the time to be worth anything. It is certainly true that stereotypes aren’t always true, but the speech seems designed to shame anyone out of noticing that they’re often true.

    Your example is misleading. I suggested making predictions based on race, but you’ve added extra information: the black person comes from an educated family, and the white person is poor. Of course that has to be factored in.

    If you had said nothing except that one is black and one is white, and asked me to bet on who was smarter, I’d bet on the white person… and I’d make a profit, in the long run. If I read in the newspaper that someone had murdered someone else, and you asked me to bet on the perpetrator’s race, I’d bet on black for the same reason. (This sort of game has considerably higher stakes if you’re walking through a ghetto at night — unless you think Asians are committing as much crime as blacks?)

    Of course, as I said, this sort of prediction is not the important part, because we usually have additional information available, and not just race. The important part is predicting group performance. One very important example is that “in a fair system, we should expect African-Americans as a group to achieve less than Asian Americans… which they do.”

    Here’s the kind of “stereotyping” I’m talking about: A bunch of students in your son’s class turn in tests. The black students did worse than the Asian students. “Racism,” someone says. “The school is full of neo-Nazis. We need to get the ACLU down here RIGHT NOW.”

    “No,” some sane person says, “it’s because of the statistical fact (also known as a stereotype) that blacks underperform compared to whites, on average.”

    This has nothing to do with outward appearance, except that outward appearance comes from genes, and those genes happen to cluster with other genes that partly determine behavioral traits — in this example, genes that partly determine intelligence.

    • Earnest Harris says:

      Fascinating logic my friend. What’s amazing is it’s pretty obvious that you are not basing any of this on actual statistical analysis. Because if you really wanted to try to do a predictor of intelligence simply based on outward appearance it would be really easy to throw off your results and have you lose the bet. What you are wanting to do to to support your logic is just grab a random bunch of people, and then without any consideration of income, neighborhood, health, family history, just pretend that the results represent the entire group regardless of those factors. If you really want to consider such a test you would need to pull people from the same background, i.e. educated Whites and educated Blacks and see if there is such a thing as a smarter group based on outward appearance. But for some reason you are ignoring that point though you are pretending you want to look at a fair comparison. Proof of what you are doing for example is pretending it is more dangerous to walk at night through a black ghetto than an Asian one. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t feel safe doing either. I don’t know how many Asian ghettos or Asian gangs you’ve been around, but some are as nasty as those of other ethnic groups.

      In the end my friend, the point is it is indeed impossible to make truly accurate assessments of any group simply on outward appearance, unless other factors are taken into account. Stereotypes are not the answer. I know you wish it were that easy. But unfortunately it is not. Trying to judge an individual based on what you think of the larger group’s possible behaviors is not good for anyone including you. It would not be smart on my part to think I can predict your thoughts, behavior or intelligence based, for example, on what the average White person might think. Were I to do that it could lead me to some very erroneous assumptions. I choose to take in more information before determining what I think about a person than just their outward appearance. But hey, if it makes you feel safer and better to use less information than more, then more power to you.

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