Racism: My Confusion

AP Photo/John Bazemore

I would like to start by saying I don’t understand racism at all.

I will admit that I am a cultural snob, because some cultures are simply better than others.  Examples (bold face assertions):  The pre-Civil War south was a society that not merely tolerated but encouraged and honored the evils of slavery.  Nazi Germany extolled the values of racism, as did Imperial Japan.  Colonial India practiced Sati (burning widows on their husband’s funeral pyre).  Some cultures are evil and the evil should be purged.  Others extol vices like laziness, and those vices are detrimental to society.  I remember a summer I spent abroad in former communist countries.  People had some interesting sayings, like “we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us,” and “they can never pay me less than I can work.”  There are sub-cultures in America today that will extol laziness, greed, promiscuity, violence, and drug use.  Notice that I said “sub-cultures” as in plural.  Many of the same vices extolled in rap and hip-hop can be found in country music.  These are common sub-cultures throughout the US and are generally associated with poverty (since the acts themselves tend to destroy any wealth that has been saved).  So I will look at a certain culture and say “those cultural markers are bad.”  However, that is entirely based on vices/virtues and the race of the person is entirely irrelevant.

Trigger warning – analogy here.  I am not saying people are equal to animals, this is an argument along the line of “if this is true about dogs how much more for people?”

I know people who like dogs.  I find certain people tend to prefer certain breeds.  There are even people who like pugs for some reason (notice a personal preference there?).  People with a preferred breed may go on about the benefits of that breed, or why they like them.  People with hunting dogs may have very good reasons to prefer a particular breed based on their usefulness to a particular task, similarly shepherds will have preferred breeds.  That is extrinsic value, or “how well suited is this dog to this task?”  However, nobody I have ever met has said that one dog is a better dog simply based on breed.  When it comes to a “good dog,” or a “bad dog,” (it’s intrinsic value) it is always based on the behavior of the dog in question.  This is even true of “bad breeds” like pit bulls.  You will find people who will absolutely defend the breed as a whole and say that the poor temperament of some of the breed do not reflect on every dog.  The same holds true of horses.  Consider a breeder of race horses.  No breeder would ever set aside a horse based on color.  They would not try to race a Clydesdale, but the race horse breeder would reject the Clydesdale based on suitability to a particular task rather than color, and still decide on whether a horse was good or bad based on the horse’s individual temperament.

No we come to people.  If a dog’s breed doesn’t determine its intrinsic worth (good dog vs. bad dog), only its extrinsic worth (a bloodhound is useful for tracking), and a horse’s breed determines extrinsic value (good for pulling a wagon vs racing), how much more for humans?  Some groups may have characteristics that make them generally better basketball players or mathmagicians, but seriously, so what?  Your worth as a human isn’t based on those factors.  So seriously, I don’t understand racism.  Why is it that some people believe that “race” determines a human’s worth when the same people recognize that it doesn’t matter for animals?  It seems as logical to me as thinking a person’s hair color, or height, or number of freckles determines their worth.

I don’t get it.  If somebody has any reason that could help me out I would appreciate it.