What is racism?

By Megan McArdle

In the comments to the previous thread, Freddie said something that got me thinking. Part of the problem with talking about race and gender in America is the definition of racism and sexism. Most of us use a working definition of racism and sexism that is something like "Holding (bad) false beliefs about racial minorities and women". But if that is our definition, everyone is going to fail a racism/sexism self-check: no one believes that their own beliefs are false. I'm sure that Tom Metzger's disciples mostly believe that their views about blacks are absolutely true, and therefore not racist.

This is why many feminists prefer to focus on institutional outcomes rather than how you, a successful member of the patriarchy, feel about things. The problem is, institutional outcomes have many possible determinants; even if there were no institutional discrimination at all, pregnancy would make outcomes different, in ways that are harder to make justice claims for remedy than cases of straight bigotry. But the other extreme doesn't work either.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2007/10/what-is-racism/2067/