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Can you "Become" Racist?

Can a person "Become" racist due to events and circumstances?


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Zyphlin

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Okay, brutal honesty here.

I find myself becoming more and more racist every day. However I can honestly say I've not always been this way. Let me explain.

Growing up in life I lived in a rural part of southwest Virginia which was fully and admittedly primarily white. This was not to say there were not minorities, in my class in high school we had a handful of asian, black, hispanic, and middle eastern individuals and there were others I knew within the community in various ways let alone just running into such in day to day life. However I honestly never thought much of any particular minority as a "minority", perhaps beause they were few and far between and generally just felt like another person.

This persisted as I entered college and moved to the coast of Virginia in Newport News, with the one difference of there being a significantly larger number of african american individuals around as well as a general increase of a variety of other races.

I can not remember having overly racist thoughts or views or feelings during these times. People were essentially people and I can't remember ever thinking let alone voicing a rant about "black people" or "hispanic people" or anything of the such. I can never remember myself simply getting angry at the very thought of such.

Then I moved to northern Virginia.

In the vast majority of service positions of any kind up here, white and even black individuals are far and away the minority.

In the 3 years I’ve been living up here I’ve found myself becoming more and more frustrated, angry, and simply prejudice against Hispanic individuals. Unlike any other time in my life there’s been moments where I’ve ranted about the ethnicity of people, annoyed if not angry, concerning it. My distaste has increased over the past three years more than I really realize at any given time unless I stop and think about it.

I’ve tried to think “Why has this happened” and the only thing I can think of is that a frustration about generalized things have extended out into a distaste based on race due to the connecting string between these incidents. Since moving up here the frustration from various incidents that I had never experienced in either of the two places of Virginia have been overwhelming.

I will try to explain the things I’m talking about and preface it by I know they should simply be minor things. However its stuff such as repeatedly having to come to a complete stop half in the street half in the parking lot of a 7-11 that was near the original place I was living whenever I was trying to stop there during the day because 10-25 hispanic individuals would be loitering in the parking lot with seemingly no care for the traffic coming in. It’d be repeatedly having to slam on breaks as one or multiple Hispanic individuals would randomly decide to cross the street at various locations other than the dozens of crosswalks that lined it. It’d be having to give an order at a fast food place 5 different times only to come around to pay and get the food to have it completely wrong. It’d be asking someone working at a Lowes where to find hollow plastic tubing of some kind to have them look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language (possibly because I was) and lead me to 3 different aisles as I try to explain again and again until I finally give up.

Or, the most recent, as me and my fiancé are trying to check out at the super market we notice a single jalapeno pepper ring up as being 2 pounds. We were using the reusable bags and the woman ringing us up had set the bag on her counter in such a way that it was leaning on the scale and thus affecting the weight.

It took us, literally, 5 minutes of trying to explain to her what happened (during which at one point she rang the jalapeño up again, another point tried to pull the green pepper we had previously had scanned back out to scan again, and finally decided to look quizzically at the bag itself for a few moments after we for the 5th time explained “I think the bag was sitting on the scale when you weighted the jalapeno”) before she finally managed to get a manger over who we then had to slowly explain what happened to twice.

(As a note, at about 2 minutes in I had got to the point where I didn’t give a crap about the few dollars the jalapeno [and what we discovered after it all finished was also a number of other vegetables scanned right before it] cost us, I was just frustrated and wanted to let it drop. The finace wasn’t having any of it though)

I know these are little things, I know they shouldn’t matter much, but they’re repeated over and over and over again. The latter ones are what truly get me, as there seems to be nothing that gets me hotter in recent years than people in a service industry who can’t provide service because they can’t understand the language that’s being spoken.

I’ve given rants about how if you can’t f’ing speak or understand the language don’t get in a service industry. I’ve cheered at the notion that I finally “found a person that speaks English” when last time in Lowes 50’s-ish black gentleman was the first guy to help me (and got me almost immediately to the three various items I needed including making a suggestion for what to get). I’ve specifically taken longer lines at various retail places because the shorter one has a person that appears Hispanic.

And it all makes me start wondering…

Is my annoyance and frustration at all of this turning me into a racist? Is it truly that I’m just annoyed with regards to service or common courtesy, and because it happens to primarily be occurring with a particular race that my venting is going towards them….ala people bitching about “damn teenagers” or other such things? Was I somehow deep down always like this and somehow the previous 24 years of my life were all simply a lie? And what does the fact that when people, including friends and family, make comments that to me just seem over the top racist do I feel embarrassed to be around/associated with them and chastise them for the action?

This is an honest question here and trying for a discussion. Can someone “become” racist due to circumstances and actions that occur around them or is this something you feel someone is simply born or predisposed into feeling and is simply bottled up until it comes out?
 

The Mark

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I think you are bigoted (and rightly so) against things that hinder the smooth progression of your daily tasks.

The fact that many of these things can be directly tied to poor communication skills and/or understanding of the environment leads you to a dislike of the persons who lack those communication skills and environmental understanding.

You may or may not have irrationally connected the overall Hispanic look/style/whatever with the specific Hispanic (or otherwise) individuals that have hindered said smooth progression.

In short, you are not racist against Hispanics, but more at incompetent Hispanics.


So no, I don’t really think you are racist.
 

d0gbreath

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I had a post, then, swoosh, it was gone. I screwed it up.

You cannot become racist. I felt the same as you 25 years ago. When the impatience of your youth tarnishes and you slow down, everything will be just fine. God willing, you will be incompetent, slow, and in the way in due time.
 

Goshin

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Okay, brutal honesty here.

I find myself becoming more and more racist every day. However I can honestly say I've not always been this way. Let me explain.

Growing up in life I lived in a rural part of southwest Virginia which was fully and admittedly primarily white. This was not to say there were not minorities, in my class in high school we had a handful of asian, black, hispanic, and middle eastern individuals and there were others I knew within the community in various ways let alone just running into such in day to day life. However I honestly never thought much of any particular minority as a "minority", perhaps beause they were few and far between and generally just felt like another person.

This persisted as I entered college and moved to the coast of Virginia in Newport News, with the one difference of there being a significantly larger number of african american individuals around as well as a general increase of a variety of other races.

I can not remember having overly racist thoughts or views or feelings during these times. People were essentially people and I can't remember ever thinking let alone voicing a rant about "black people" or "hispanic people" or anything of the such. I can never remember myself simply getting angry at the very thought of such.

Then I moved to northern Virginia.

In the vast majority of service positions of any kind up here, white and even black individuals are far and away the minority.

In the 3 years I’ve been living up here I’ve found myself becoming more and more frustrated, angry, and simply prejudice against Hispanic individuals. Unlike any other time in my life there’s been moments where I’ve ranted about the ethnicity of people, annoyed if not angry, concerning it. My distaste has increased over the past three years more than I really realize at any given time unless I stop and think about it.

I’ve tried to think “Why has this happened” and the only thing I can think of is that a frustration about generalized things have extended out into a distaste based on race due to the connecting string between these incidents. Since moving up here the frustration from various incidents that I had never experienced in either of the two places of Virginia have been overwhelming.

I will try to explain the things I’m talking about and preface it by I know they should simply be minor things. However its stuff such as repeatedly having to come to a complete stop half in the street half in the parking lot of a 7-11 that was near the original place I was living whenever I was trying to stop there during the day because 10-25 hispanic individuals would be loitering in the parking lot with seemingly no care for the traffic coming in. It’d be repeatedly having to slam on breaks as one or multiple Hispanic individuals would randomly decide to cross the street at various locations other than the dozens of crosswalks that lined it. It’d be having to give an order at a fast food place 5 different times only to come around to pay and get the food to have it completely wrong. It’d be asking someone working at a Lowes where to find hollow plastic tubing of some kind to have them look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language (possibly because I was) and lead me to 3 different aisles as I try to explain again and again until I finally give up.

Or, the most recent, as me and my fiancé are trying to check out at the super market we notice a single jalapeno pepper ring up as being 2 pounds. We were using the reusable bags and the woman ringing us up had set the bag on her counter in such a way that it was leaning on the scale and thus affecting the weight.

It took us, literally, 5 minutes of trying to explain to her what happened (during which at one point she rang the jalapeño up again, another point tried to pull the green pepper we had previously had scanned back out to scan again, and finally decided to look quizzically at the bag itself for a few moments after we for the 5th time explained “I think the bag was sitting on the scale when you weighted the jalapeno”) before she finally managed to get a manger over who we then had to slowly explain what happened to twice.

(As a note, at about 2 minutes in I had got to the point where I didn’t give a crap about the few dollars the jalapeno [and what we discovered after it all finished was also a number of other vegetables scanned right before it] cost us, I was just frustrated and wanted to let it drop. The finace wasn’t having any of it though)

I know these are little things, I know they shouldn’t matter much, but they’re repeated over and over and over again. The latter ones are what truly get me, as there seems to be nothing that gets me hotter in recent years than people in a service industry who can’t provide service because they can’t understand the language that’s being spoken.

I’ve given rants about how if you can’t f’ing speak or understand the language don’t get in a service industry. I’ve cheered at the notion that I finally “found a person that speaks English” when last time in Lowes 50’s-ish black gentleman was the first guy to help me (and got me almost immediately to the three various items I needed including making a suggestion for what to get). I’ve specifically taken longer lines at various retail places because the shorter one has a person that appears Hispanic.

And it all makes me start wondering…

Is my annoyance and frustration at all of this turning me into a racist? Is it truly that I’m just annoyed with regards to service or common courtesy, and because it happens to primarily be occurring with a particular race that my venting is going towards them….ala people bitching about “damn teenagers” or other such things? Was I somehow deep down always like this and somehow the previous 24 years of my life were all simply a lie? And what does the fact that when people, including friends and family, make comments that to me just seem over the top racist do I feel embarrassed to be around/associated with them and chastise them for the action?

This is an honest question here and trying for a discussion. Can someone “become” racist due to circumstances and actions that occur around them or is this something you feel someone is simply born or predisposed into feeling and is simply bottled up until it comes out?
This is why we need a national language (English) and require every damn person that wants to work here to speak it.
 

The Mark

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I chose "Other" on the poll, because I do not think either of the other options are correct.

This is likely because I think the only thing that can make someone truly racist is a conscience choice.

An uninformed or misinformed person can exhibit racist-like thoughts and actions, but that doesn’t make them truly racist.
 

rivrrat

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I don't think you're racist or have anything even remotely close to a racist belief. Do you think hispanics as a race are inferior? Somehow I doubt it.

You're just [rightfully] frustrated at the ineptitude of many in the service industry. I'm guessing that if it were asians that were heavily populating the same service industry jobs, and were incapable of speaking english well enough to actually DO their job, you'd be just as frustrated.

When one experiences unpleasantness with something and can identify a commonality with each unpleasant experience, it's completely logical to make a connection and begin to avoid that identified commonality.

Look at it this way... if you went to Mexico, or similar country, would you be all aghast with the 'latinos'? Would you feel such frustration with inability to speak english? Would you feel such frustration with the differences in their social customs if you were in their country? I'd think not. Because YOU would be the one not speaking THEIR language, not adapting to THEIR customs.

Your frustration doesn't stem from them being latino, it stems from them being inept at their jobs, unable to speak english, and not recognizing or caring about, the social customs of the country they are living in now. You would feel this way no matter WHAT race the people were. It just so happens that in the area in which you live, it's hispanics that exhibit this unwelcome behavior.

I feel the same way as you, about ALL immigrants who refuse to learn our language and insist on working jobs that require it. I'm even more frustrated with employers who hire people who can't ****ing speak english. It really is THEIR fault. I don't care if they're indian, asian, hispanic, or whatever. It's just ****ing annoying as all get out.
 

d0gbreath

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This is why we need a national language (English) and require every damn person that wants to work here to speak it.
I'm canceling your vote.:2wave:
 

jallman

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I don't think you're racist at all, actually. I think you are "I don't want a bunch of inconvenience ****ing up my day"-ist. I am the same way. It just so happens that hispanics who refuse to learn the language and obey traffic laws are the biggest inconvenience to your day where you live. Mine happens to be asians that make driving a nightmare. It's not because they're asian. It's because they're bad drivers that happen to be asians. They can't even drive a shopping cart in the grocery store, I've noticed, without causing a pile up in the cereal aisle. Why it is, I don't know. Great people when not operating anything with wheels though.
 

Dittohead not!

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Everyone is racist, or at least has racist thoughts.

Racism is the natural human tendency to categorize other human beings, and to ascribe negative attributes to those who are different from themselves. Educated people are more able to understand their own racism and not act on it or actually believe in it.

Your description of frustration with Hispanic individuals is a good example. If you analyze it, your feelings are really directed at stupid individuals, not at a particular ethnic group. Your tendency to ascribe stupidity in general to an ethnic group is a natural human tendency. Not all Hispanics are the same, of course, and you understand that. We all know that the guys hanging out in the 7-11 who seem not to understand the need to get out of the way of cars don't represent any particular ethnic group, just stupid or lazy individuals.

You're no more racist than most of us.

The real racist is the guy who firmly believes that his or her group, whatever it happens to be, is superior to all of those other people out there, then acts on that belief. Racism of that description is based on ignorance. Since no one becomes ignorant, no one can become racist.
 

rathi

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You are being conditioned to associate an obvious trait with negative behavior. For example, many people get pissed about Indian accents because they associate them with the frustration of having a broken computer and dealing with tech support. The feedback loop effect makes it even worse, you are more likely to notice and remember every incident where you have a crappy Hispanic clerk because of your attitude, continuing into a downward spiral. My advice is to break the pattern. Find the Hispanic guy who doesn't fit the mold and notice the contrast. Or to make it even easier, find the idiotic store employee who isn't Hispanic and make note of what they look like. People may complain too much about how TV portrays a certain ethnicity or Gender, but you can alter someones perception by controlling their environment. Reinforce a stereotype enough and it can seem like the truth.
 

jallman

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You are being conditioned to associate an obvious trait with negative behavior. For example, many people get pissed about Indian accents because they associate them with the frustration of having a broken computer and dealing with tech support. The feedback loop effect makes it even worse, you are more likely to notice and remember every incident where you have a crappy Hispanic clerk because of your attitude, continuing into a downward spiral. My advice is to break the pattern. Find the Hispanic guy who doesn't fit the mold and notice the contrast. Or to make it even easier, find the idiotic store employee who isn't Hispanic and make note of what they look like. People may complain too much about how TV portrays a certain ethnicity or Gender, but you can alter someones perception by controlling their environment. Reinforce a stereotype enough and it can seem like the truth.
I don't associate indian accents with crappy tech support as much as I associate it with a lot of needless haggling chatter followed by a frivolous lawsuit.
 

Black Dog

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I don't think you are becoming racist, I think you are just feed up with a barrier that could be removed with just a little effort.

As far as a person become racist? Absolutely as I have seen it happen to a few people. I have also seen the reverse happen. It's like anything else, we are the sum of our experiences.
 

Infinite Chaos

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-- In short, you are not racist against Hispanics, but more at incompetent Hispanics --
I agree.
Zyphlin what I think you have to remember is that those you are annoyed and angry at would arouse the exact same feelings if they were white / the same colour as you.
 

Tucker Case

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In answer to the poll question: Yes, someone can become a racist. It's a learned behavior/concept, and people can learn things at any time in their life. People aren't born racist.

I do believe, however, that people are born with a certain natural inclination towards being anti-outsider. Stems from our days as hunters and gatherers and seeing another pack meant competition for food. Territoriality and all that. It's instinctual.

If you were in certain parts of Chicago, it wouldn't be Hispanics that bother you, it would be the Polish.

Same situations, different group. (The reason why I realize nothing has changed in the way immigrants assimilate, etc overall is because I encounter so many immigrant groups that aren't Hispanic which do the same things that everyone claims that only Hispanics do. It's a universal thing across immigrant cultures, with the only real exceptions being those that already spoke English as their primary language prior to immigrating, which means the Irish for the most part, but their papist beliefs were the big issue for them instead of language. The difference is that being in Chicago, I encounter non-Hispanic immigrants far more than most people in the country do. My neighborhood is practically a suburb of Warsaw)

So what you are experiencing isn't racism. It's a distaste for outsiders. Unless you start to extrapolate your natural inclination towards disliking outsiders and apply that to the race, including non-outsiders of that race, it won't ever become racism.
 

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I dont think a person can become racist, but when one encounters a lot of certain behaviours from members of a particular group, one can forget or not realise that all members of the group are not like that.

I lived in an area of Dublin, which was close to one of the roughest sections of social welfare houses in the city. After my house was broken into once and I had 3 cars stolen from outside my house and burnt in a nearby street, and had to walk past syringes, condoms... on the street regularly as I walked to work, I started to refer to the people in the social welfare houses as 'them' and apply unflattering characteristics to them, because of the sheer frustration of encountering so much crime done by some of 'them'. I literally would forget that they were not all like that. In fact, there were lots of friendly ones that I used to chat with when I was out shopping, or in the local cafes, just going about their ordinary everyday activities such as shopping, picking their kids up from school... There were also a lot of them in the hospital where my daughter was born, who were simply just mothers doing the best they knew how for their kids, and not involved in any crime at all.
 

Goshin

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I'm canceling your vote.:2wave:

Dude, I speak a reasonable amount of Spanish. Enough to get by anyway. But still, a nation needs a fracking common language! If too many people can't even fracking TALK to each other, national unity is going down the flusher.
 

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Yes you can. Basically it only takes a negative experience with said group whichever it may be and is reinforced with a social stereotype. People with a greater strength over their emotion via personal intellectual discourse, can over ride this by understanding that it was possible to happen with equivalent racial variety and it is mainly the stereotype that reinforces the racist sentiment. It is something that has to be kept in check regularly because the first thing that people see are obvious matters such as skin color etc.
 

Dittohead not!

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I agree.
Zyphlin what I think you have to remember is that those you are annoyed and angry at would arouse the exact same feelings if they were white / the same colour as you.
Yes, but you wouldn't be inclined to generalize that negativity to everyone who is white/the same color as you. It is stereotyping that supports racism.
 

The Mark

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Yes, but you wouldn't be inclined to generalize that negativity to everyone who is white/the same color as you. It is stereotyping that supports racism.
True.

Both are a natural human trait.

It is natural for humans to stereotype other humans (and animals, for that matter).

Thus it would seem to follow that racism, as a byproduct of stereotyping, is a natural human trait.
 

Dittohead not!

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True.

Both are a natural human trait.

It is natural for humans to stereotype other humans (and animals, for that matter).

Thus it would seem to follow that racism, as a byproduct of stereotyping, is a natural human trait.
Yes, it would, wouldn't it?
 

digsbe

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I think people can become racist. I don't know if this counts for anything or if it makes me racist, but I feel very uncomfortable and scared around blacks, Mexicans, and white guys who dress like thugs and curse a lot. This is due to the fact that while at a Sonic drive in, two black guys dressed like thugs and wearing black and white checkered bandannas over their faces came over and just started shooting up the place. They went into the kitchen area and just started opening fire without saying a word. I myself was shaking and ran straight into my friend's car. We then went around 90mph down the road and ran red lights (the girl who was driving was terrified). I was the one to call the police and deal with that whole aspect of things. I have no problem at all around minorities around any race, but anyone that dresses like a thug/gangster or wears a bandanna I feel very uncomfortable around. I just don't feel safe, and my initial reaction is to get as far away from them as possible.
 

Goshin

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True.

Both are a natural human trait.

It is natural for humans to stereotype other humans (and animals, for that matter).

Thus it would seem to follow that racism, as a byproduct of stereotyping, is a natural human trait.

To some degree it is a survival trait.

A scorpion stung me; it hurt and I was sick for days. Therefore I will avoid or kill all scorpions, rather than assuming there are some good and some bad scorpions.

It can, of course, be carried to counterproductive extremes.
 

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If you hate all hispanics because you think they are all stupid, slow, and inept, then maybe you are becoming racist, but I sincerely doubt this to be the case with you. As we grow older, most of us notice that different cultures and races have their own aptitudes, habits, and idiosyncracies. It's not racist to notice these things, but it is racist to hate them based on differences and actually desire or attempt to cause harm to them due to it.
 

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It's probably already been said, but I think you are taking frustrating circumstances and translating it into race generalizations.

In my first year in China I went through a period where I hated the Chinese intensely. All of them. I would badmouth their society and got so annoyed... but that was because I went through culture shock, had to adjust to all of their different ways of doing things, and suffered extreme annoyance in the process. Right now I'm in Vancouver, and similar things can annoy me, but any given person - whether they are white, black, chinese, etc. - can be irritating.

I think if you're surrounded by a lot of one particular race or culture that is different from you, you will start to attribute all of the bad things that happen to their race. That is just normal human thinking to want to categorize and label... but once you step into a different environment that is equally annoying but occupied by another race, the same thing can start to happen.

After being in and out of China, and now that I am back in a multicultural zone, I have a much more balanced perspective on the Chinese.
 
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