Diary of a misEducated Black Man


The Doc Rok Special Edition; Whoopi or Beyonce?

So, one of my oldest friends in the world and avid blogger, the tremendously talented  (don’t believe me check him out at http://djdocrok.wordpress.com/) DJ Doc Rok dropped me a line today.

I got a topic of discussion for ya – Is discrimination the natural state of the human race? It would seem as long as you look back in human history, someone has always got the short end of the stick, whether the discrimination is based on race, social status, gender, orientation, etc.  Then there’s the more insidious studies that show that “good looking” people are more likely to get raises, be successful, and (just this morning I heard on the radio) more likely to be acquitted at trial. This sort of discrimination isn’t “institutionalized” in the way that Jim Crow, or anti-gay marriage laws, or Arizona state laws are, but at the same time its institutionalized through society, making it perhaps more pervasive and less likely to be subject to change.
What do you think?

Well Doc, lets first look at it through a scientific lens first.  Darwin would say of course, discrimination is the natural state of man, if it weren’t we’d still be apes.  Got it.  Scientifically it makes sense because  in order to survive and evolve we must discriminate against the weak.  In a modern context it turns ugly, literally.

Now lets say for instance, in your office downtown Doc.  You are looking for a receptionist.  Pretty standard need for an office.  You hire the pretty girl because it’s better business, is it not?  You have two evenly matched candidates, one’s Whoopi and ones Beyonce…to the left, to the left you go Whoopi.  Of course that’s discrimination, and it’s illegal if you can prove it.  But is it wrong?

If the better looking receptionist causes your clients to want to sign with you just because they’d rather look at her everyday than look at Whoopi down the street.  Its better business. As a business man are you wrong for making a better business decision?  Well, yes and no.  Your discriminating yes, but like the Neanderthals your doing whats best for you, your business, and your family. I can’t blame you, I’d do the same thing, except I’d hire her so I can look at her.

Somehow it always comes back to capitalism, which in my opinion is also a natural state of man.  Thats going to draw some strange looks from people I know.  But, if you can get past this overly idealistic thinking that before Europeans ruled the world, we all broke bread in a circle, got along and sang hymns, you’ll see what I’m getting at.  Man has always been about feeding him and his.  Man is a beast-like, warmongering animal.  Capitalism is the perfect fit for such a species.  You think cavemen got along with their neighbors, who competed for the same four wooly mammoths that happened to walk by one day a year when sun was highest in the sky.  I doubt it.  And when the mammoth was slaughtered, they bartered the meat and wool.   We havn’t evolved much from those days now that I think of it.

Capitalism forces us to be discriminatory.  It is highly pervasive throughout our society and vastly different from institutional racism which can also be tied to capitalism in another 10,000 words that I’m not writing.  I’m no socialist, but Stevie Wonder can see the flaws within our current system.  To be brutally honest, I can’t blame a guy for discriminitory business practices, as long as the goal is to make money, not hate.  Discrimination is what evolved our species.  However, for a pretty chick to get acquitted in court over an ugly one is just wrong.  Now that just makes me mad.

So in the end, discrimination isn’t necessarily a bad thing to have innate to our species.  The question more or less is, is the discrimination hate based, or business/evolution based?  Does it matter?  I dunno, I’m just a guy still waiting on my little chunk of the Nobel Peace prize.

Thanks for the topic Doc.  I love it, appreciate it, and encourage more of the same…from all three of my readers.

…check please…

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5 Comments so far
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Your welcome, and you’ve ventured to a few of the places I was hoping you might, ones I might not want to have gone myself first. I think you open a slippery slope when you suggest that discrimination is acceptable for the purposes of profit. After all, slavery is very profitable, and initially was entirely based on profit motive, not racial bias. It also suggests that well, if you want to draw an entirely white clientele to your country club for the sake of profit, then keeping blacks out is an acceptable method of maximizing your profit (there are, of course, many many real life modern day examples of this sort of thinking in corporate strategies). The raw dog capitalism you point out as a natural state of man also suggests that those unfortunate to be born without productive use to society should be sterilized, euthanized, or dealt with in other ways, as we used to do in the 1800s with the mentally ill and similarly handicapped individuals.
This is the progression of profit for the sake of profit. Greed has no morality. As long as capitalism is the law of the land, or the species, discrimination will remain endemic.
I’m not the first to say this, of course, this was in large part the argument socialists and communists made to the working class in the last half of the 19th century. But with these two issues so closely mired together, I don’t know if you can have it both ways – are you a pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps advocate, saying that capitalism is human nature, and that discrimination is ugly but to rise above it cements your position for future generations, or do you think that there is a different option?

Comment by Ben "Doc Rok" Garlock

Great insight. Now this causes me to rethink things a bit because the line is so blurry. I never considered the country club scenario. The owner may not hate the Black guy but the owner knows that by letting him in, his white clientèle will bail. Hmm…I’m not sure there is an answer to this question. Its got to be on a case by case basis. And is it just me that feels that discriminating based on looks isnt as bad as discriminating on race, gender, and orientation.

Interesting topic, hopefully others chime in. I’m gonna post this on some of red state friends pages and see what happens hehe.

Comment by diaryofatiredblackman

Think you’re onto something there. Got to your site through that ‘Blogged’ link you left today.

I’d heard about similar ideas of the origin of social inequality a long time ago. Some ivy league pointy heads are publishing stuff to the effect that the invention of farming technology was the first big development of social inequality. The idea is that farming requires large-scale, intensive social structures that almost demands the imposition of an arbitrary elite.
http://www.vernonjohns.org/vernjohns/rnagric.html

So your idea seems fundamentally correct to me. Maybe it also explains why societies in the Americas particularly seem to have race problems. Historically the main drive for European settlement of those continents was driven by commercial considerations. Even Puritans of New England were actually sub-contractors of a big corporate concern.

(BTW, I’m not trying to discredit those academics, the pointy heads, just trying to emphasize that their point of view may be more informed by abstract, academic research rather than for-real, lived experience).

Comment by Neddie Eoin

Great comment. If you would, expound on the idea of the Puritans being sub contractors. That sounds fascinating and I’m not to familiar. Thanks for your comment

Comment by diaryofatiredblackman

The Puritans’ didn’t fund their own expedition. They signed on, I think around 1618, with a corporate venture funded by the London Virginia Company–same crowd that set up Jamestown down south.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Virginia_Company

The deal was supposed to be that the Puritans (among others) would settle in Virginia and farm cash crops for the corp to export home for $$. The idea that the corp would allow them certain religious tolerance was almost an afterthought as far as the corp was concerned. Just a cost-effective concession for cheap labour.

But on their way over the ocean, some fumblenards in management got them lost, and they ended up landing not in Virginia, but hundreds of miles north of target, near Plymouth rock in modern Massachussets.

Some clever dealers among the Puritans realized that this was their golden chance to re-negotiate the contract. Since the corp wasn’t gonna follow through and settle them in Virginia, strictly per the contract, the Puritans were effectively released from the most exploitative terms of that contract. This became a huge row, and eventually the two sides settled it with an entirely new contract–the Mayflower Compact. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayflower_compact

I think it’s not entirely accurate to say that the Puritans coming here was all pie-in-the-sky idealism. A good part of it was corporate greed for cheap labour. Some of it was good business sense, so far as forcing the renegotiation was concerned. But a good chunk of it was just dumb luck.

So I think you’re definitely on the right track about how social inequalities like racism are at least partially motivated by greed. To me it makes intuitive sense that a dodgy stockjobber might prefer to see people fight each other over stupid b*s* rather than have them look closely at the company accounts.

Comment by Neddie Eoin




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