Thursday, November 3, 2011

Arrogance and Racism

A man told me the other day that my arrogance is really quite similar to racism, and therefore I shouldn't be so quick to castigate and call out racists given my own failings.

That made me think a little bit.

After all, many people have called me arrogant over the years. Hell, my own daddy calls me arrogant, and says it's a hereditary trait. Teachers, friends, and enemies have all noted that I have quite the superiority complex.

I would be lying if I denied it completely.

But, is my arrogance, my personal belief in my superiority, akin to folks who believe that they too are superior because of their skin color. And that other people, because of their skin color are inferior?

This question is interesting. The simple answer, of course is "No." This is a clear example of people using the dictionary definition of racism and not one more grounded in the real world. The dictionary definition, which is really just a collection of popular thought, which means a collection of white thought, focuses on preferences and feelings as opposed to actions and consequences.

That's because for white people racism resides in the realm of feelings and preferences and they are often ignorant, willingly and unwillingly, of the power structures that augment and magnify the personal preferences endemic to all racial groups. In my definition of racism, stolen from a more erudite source, I see it as a system of advantage based on race. It's not about feelings, it's about results.

Basically, bigotry starts with a feeling, racism involves developing a system to validate and propagate that feeling. Everybody is a bigot to some degree. People with power, directly or indirectly, or racists.

My arrogance, when it manifests, is not part of a larger system to validate my feelings. People aren't denied housing or quality education because of my arrogance. My arrogance does not affect policing, healthcare or employment. My arrogance does not get people killed. Yes, it can make people uncomfortable and it can make them unhappy, but racism does so much more than that it's patently ludicrous to compare the two. Racism is not simply about individual slights, it's about the combination of those slights and a system designed to keep people at the lowest rung of society.

The willingness of this gentleman to compare my arrogance to his and the world's racism is telling though. It reveals the sort of mind that can rationalize and justify all manner of activities using the most flimsy of excuses. It is hard to have a serious discussion with that sort of mind because at every turn that mind is searching for a way to cling to its current beliefs. There can be no illumination because that sort of mind is quite content in darkness.

It's not a surprise those sort of people are the most bothered by my arrogance. After all, I'm terribly bothered by them too..



thinkinghard said...

I usually stop by to see what you are talking about but I had to de-lurk to say this was very well said. BTW,what's the difference between arrogance and self-confidence if it's not about someone else's insecurity,no?

MODI said...

What's up Big Man!

You are not "arrogant" if you are right! And you are definitely right on this one.

The thing is, as far as your blogging and commenting personality goes, I think that you are one of the least arrogant people I have come across. You are often introspective in your posts, and often gracious in pointing out the "other side" and its potential for validity. So I just don't see it...

Then again I don't know you in person and you can possibly be a complete arrogant ass! :-) One never knows!!!

In any case, this other guys problem is his, not yours...

B. Bombay said...

BTW,what's the difference between arrogance and self-confidence if it's not about someone else's insecurity,no?

It depends on who's giving you the definition.

By the way I'd like to add this blog to my blog roll

Big Man said...

Feel free to add me. I don't post as often as a I once did, but still get stuff up.
I'm less arrogant than I was. Still not where I need to be.

Thinking Hard
I think having confidence in your greatness is different from having a complete assurance of your superiority in every way.
One is arrogance the other is self confidence. Not all arrogance is bad, but it's tough to manage.

Holliday Vann said...

Arrogance and racism...Scott Raab is making the rounds selling his book The Whore of Akron. The problem is that the first thing out of his mouth is "LeBron James is going to hell." Supposedly, it's one man's search for the soul of LeBron James. The audacity! (This guy is Jewish. Last time I heard, they didn't believe in Jesus. So who's going to hell?) Using such a castrating, lowdown epithet to sell what is nothing more than his musings about his own lousy life in Cleveland is no more than a white man capitalizing on white hate for a black man (aka the runaway slave). Love or hate LB, that Harper Collins endorsed such a title is sickening. If the writer were of a darker hue and the athlete were white, no way this would have flown past the editors. Now that's the arrogance of racism!

Raving Black Lunatic