Someone else blogged about clothing and appearance forming our judgments of our fellow humans. The color of your skin and texture of your hair is far more basic than
your clothing. Unlike your clothing, you can’t change your race. Just
ask Michael Jackson. I was talking to someone I know who’s into marketing about the “segmentation” that goes in his field. Segmentation is a polite word for profiling. That means you take data about someone and start making assumptions. The example he offered up is another friend of his.
“So,” he asks me, “We have a person who eats organic yogurt and granola for breakfast. What do you think they are?” My immediate answer, “A hippie.” Then he asks me, “What kind of car do they drive?” “A Prius,” I reply smartly. “And what party do they vote for,” he goes on. “Democrat of course,” I say. “And you’re so wrong,” he grins, “The man I’m talking about is card carrying Republican who drives an SUV. He just likes to eat healthy. You really can’t make assumptions like that about people.”
So I’m blogging about political correctness or in short, racial profiling. This is my rant about what a fallacy it is. You’ve still just attached a label to someone. You’ve just
conveniently cubby-holed them. Now that they have their label, you’re
free to start making assumptions, attaching stereotypes, and
discriminating. All because you have that one peice of data. The trick is that now you’ve made it sound better so
that the person being labled accepts the label. In many cases they
pick it up and wave it like a banner.
Since LULAC has been particularly vociferous of late, we’ll take them as an example. The fact that they’ve been in the press lately means they just happen to occur to me as a handy case in point. It doesn’t really matter if you call someone a beaner or a hispanic or a latino. Let’s take stereotypes about hispanics. They steal. They’re lazy. They have big families. They drive slow. They’re not here legally. It doesn’t really matter what the stereotype is. It’s attached to the label. Once you get the label, you get the baggage.
The only difference is you said something that sounds more polite than “beaner” so the hispanics among us don’t protest it. If you said “beaner” to a hispanic, the person in question would probably call you down on it. They would reject the label of “beaner” and it’s attached stereotypes. They would also probably be quite offended by being labled in such a manner. However, because you said “hispanic” or “latino”, they accept that, even though its got exactly the same baggage as the less polite label.
My point with all this is that it’s the labels themselves that are divisive. Instead of coming together as a community and being “Americans”, we’re this or that or the other thing. IMHO, the only place where race belongs in a physical description. “Car 42, this is dispatch. The suspect is 6 foot tall white male wearing jeans, a black tshirt, white sneakers….” Other than that, we should try to get away from labeling each other at all. Educators stopped lableing kids because they found that this lowered the teacher’s expectations. The “learning disabled” label meant that the kids got graded differently, treated differently in class, and many were just flat out written off as a “lost cause.”
We stopped labeling the mentally ill for very similar reasons. In many cases, the label became a self-fuflling prophecy. Once the label was attached, people began to alter their perceptions of the labeled person’s actions. They changed the way people interacted with the labeld person, often causing them to alter their behavior so that they would begin to mesh with the label and it’s attendant expectations.
We’ve found over and over again that labeling is inaccurate and counter productive. I just don’t understand why we keep lableling. We know that it doesn’t work.