I’m a member of a few social networking sites. Myspace, Facebook, Atheist Nexus, and a place called OkCupid. OkCupid is an entertaining site as it mashes up a dating site like Yahoo personals or Match.com with a social network site like Myspace. I have some fun on there and have met a few entertaining people. But what sucks the hours right out of my day is the forums.
Just like any forum there are varied and sometimes quixotic topics ranging from “how many drinks would it take to sleep with the poster above you” to “critique my profile.” Today though, I was looking through the forums and ran across this topic titled “In the name of God…” It was started by a thirtysomething white male in response to a few emails he had received. Apparently the original poster (OP) specifies on his profile that he is only looking for a single white female. The person who emailed the OP inquired about this and wondered if he would be willing to “give up on all other races and possible love connections just because they are not white.” The OP responed to this by relegating his choice in skin color on his potential mate to the same level as hair and eye color, weight, or height. The woman emailing the OP brought in God and made the OP out to be a racist and herself to be more enlightened because she’s a God-fearing woman and the OP must not be. What followed has been a flurry of topic responses calling him prejudiced, racist, a bigot, and many others. There are plenty of responses that back the OP, but far more that denounce his choice of potential mates.
So I have been wondering, is this man’s exclusion of several ethnicities from his pool of potential mates based on racism or on a measurement of attraction he has no conscious control over?
Before we can answer that question, we need to define what it means to be a racist. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines racism in two ways:
- a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
- racial prejudice or discrimination
What behaviors would we have to witness in the OP to accurately define him as racist? If we believe Merriam-Webster we would have to believe and witness at least two things. If neither of these are fulfilled then the OP is probably not a racist.
- The OP would have to show racial preference
- The person must show a belief in the superiority of one race based solely on racial characteristics
Does the OP show racial preference? Yes. By his own admission he prefers white women to non-white women. Strike one.
Is the OP’s attraction to white women based on a belief that non-white women are inferior simply because they are not white? No. The OP describes his choice in skin color as merely a matter of biological taste that he can not consciously control. He does not think non-whites are inferior choices for everyone because they aren’t white, he thinks they are inferior for him. He prefers white women because he is not physically attracted to non-white women. He equates this to be as simple as being born gay or born strait. We do not choose to be gay any more than we can choose who we are attracted to.
This would lead me to believe that the OP is not a racist. However it does lead me to believe that he is prejudiced. Let me make this clear; prejudiced does not equate to racism. Remember both qualifiers have to be fulfilled before we can call someone a racist. Prejudiced views are a part of the equation but not the only part. He is prejudiced because he allows his strong attraction for white women to allow him to pre-judge a large portion of the population. This prevents him from meeting potential mates and shrinks his potential for gene dispersal. A foolish attitude at best and disasterous attitude at worse.
I wonder if we’re throwing around racist when prejudiced would do?
There is also the part about god that the original emailer brought up. How utterly silly to think that the OP’s biological urges can be fixed by some transient figment of someone else’s imagination. Just like the billboards say: “There is no god. Now stop worrying and get on with your life.”