Philosophy and Race

At AskPhilosophers “You ask, Philosophers answer.”

Explains the site,

There is a paradox surrounding philosophy that AskPhilosophers seeks to address. On the one hand, everyone confronts philosophical issues throughout his or her life. But on the other, very few have the opportunity to learn about philosophy, a subject that is usually taught only at the college level. (Why? There is no good reason for this and plenty of bad ones.) AskPhilosophers aims to bridge this gap by putting the skills and knowledge of trained philosophers at the service of the general public.

A recent reader question, timely because of recent events, maybe even prompted by them, was about race.

Why is it that when a white person says a racial slur, such as “nigger” it is thought to be the most heinous crime. However, when a non-white, in particular blacks call whites “crackers” it is dismissed as nothing. Why is there such a double standard in American society? Why is reverse racism rampant more than ever? Whites have to fear of being shunned for voicing their injustices, because if they do, they will be called a racist. If a white is mistreated due to race in the work place nothing occurs. On the other hand, if it happens to a black it gets mass media coverage. The politics are backwards, the NAACP, pushes racial equality for blacks, yet they are immersed with racism towards whites; not all are but it has been displayed. If a white were to make an Organization for the advancement of their race it would be an outcry for its dismantle. Shouldn’t all race Organizations be abolished since we’re under the same umbrella, the Human race? I too often experienced this firsthand, being of black decent. I’m perplexed by these occurrences.

Interestingly, whereas a typical question draws the reply of a single philosopher, this one drew three responses. The question isn’t philosophical, really, in any more common Meta sense, and seems prompted by the confused notion (inherently prompted by the etymology of the word “philosophy”) that philosophers are actually wiser than other people. It was the third answer that, while the most overtly political in its view, was also the most philosophical in affirming a fundamental standard of inquiry and argument – the requirement of well-founded supporting evidence, in place of anecdote or one’s general sense of the world.

The questioner makes a number of factual claims which seem to me to need rather a lot of support. In fact, I’m not sure that any of the factual claims the questioner makes are correct.

Who is it that dismisses racially charged remarks by blacks as “nothing”? What examples of workplace mistreatment due to whiteness does the questioner have in mind? Which of the NAACP’s leaders are racially biased, and what is the evidence of that bias?

Where is the evidence that “reverse racism” is rampant? Are whites being randomly stopped by black police when driving through black neighborhoods? Are whites suddenly more likely to receive jail time for drug crimes? or to receive the death penalty for capital crimes? Have dozens of studies shown that a job applicant whose details (e.g., name) make it clear that he is white is less likely to be interviewed than one who is clearly black, even if all relevant details of the CVs are otherwise identical? Have similar studies shown the same thing about applications for apartments?

Until some support is provided for these kinds of claims, I’m not sure there’s much to be discussed.

AJA

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