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Racism and Prejudice

3 December 2018

The other day I came across a question on Quora: What is the difference between a black man and a white man?

How would you answer that question?

I thought about it for a while, and looked at the other answers that had been given. None of them seemed satisfactory. Eventually I wrote an answer of my own, short and pithy. It was one word: Albedo.

I could not think of any other answer that would not manifest racism or prejudice or both.

We are told there are two men, and that one is black and the other white. And that is all we are told.

To assume anything else, beyond the information given in the question, is prejudice.

We are not told, in the question, what country the men live in, or whether they live in the same country or different counties. We are told nothing about their age, wealth, education, occupation or marital status. We are not told about what language they speak, what religion they are, or their cultural background. .

To make assumptions about any of those things is prejudice.

The only difference between the black man and the white man, on the basis of the information in the question, is albedo.

If you answered in any other way than with Albedo or a synonym, perhaps you need to ask yourself another question: How racist are you?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Hugh Pawsey permalink
    3 December 2018 3:54 pm

    Well that’s an interesting way of ending a conversation and polarising attitudes. The debate has moved on, Steve; the bigger problem is how to liberate people from fossilised opinions, and how to keep channels of communication and understanding open.
    The fact that I agree with many of your prejudices doesn’t shift the core problem. Us. Them.

    • 3 December 2018 7:00 pm

      That’s more or less what I said in the linked post “How racist are you” — us/them.

  2. 4 December 2018 2:27 am

    Based on the simple question without any further information my answer would be; skin colour.

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