January 21, 2009


Let's say the first car you ever owned was a Ford Taurus.

And you hated it. It broke down all the time and caused you all sorts of problems. To the point where you have since sworn off Ford for life. You'll never buy one again.

Based on one car.

Now, what if when you're young, you get beaten up by a black kid...


Anonymous said...

1) Fords are made on an assembly line with very little variation. Black children are not.

2) (Assuming this is written for a white audience,) why not ask "What if when you're young, you get beaten up by a white kid?" Is the response the same? If the kid who got beaten up carries racist attitudes with him into the future my guess is that they are grounded in more than just the fight.

3) Get over it. Buy another Taurus. You might even need more repairs, but you'll thank me later.

Eric Olsen said...

the goal of the post was not to defend racism by pointing out legitimate prejudice.

rather, it was to point out the likelihood of our other prejudices, based on the same faulty logic that most of us have abandoned in terms of the specific prejudice of race.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason the analogy didn't work for me was that a faulty car is less traumatizing than physical assault, and we take issues with people more personally than we do our issues with our cars. It's easier to think that Ford would produce 100 terrible cars if it produced one, because they're manufactured the same way.

I didn't think you were defending racism.

I also think that most cases of racism develop without an initial reason to resent a member of a given race. And that's something different that's worth discussing.

Maybe it would be helpful to think that because I stopped buying Fords, I could be missing out on other more improved Fords. It's helpful to think that I could be using that attitude on other things and am therefore missing out unnecessarily: I stopped eating sushi because it made me sick once, I hate Golden Retrievers because one bit me, etc.

It's a good discussion point. I just think racism is in a different spectrum.

Eric Olsen said...

"I also think that most cases of racism develop without an initial reason to resent a member of a given race."

I don't think that's true. While we are not extremely reasonable creatures, there is typically something behind our reasons, whether they be good or bad.

The analogy I'd use in that case is that even if I personally haven't had a bad experience with a Taurus, my father did, and his attitude toward them has rubbed off on me.

Anonymous said...

That still doesn't account for "I don't like Fords because I've only ever known Toyotas." Or, "I don't like Fords because I'm threatened by any car that's not like mine--sticking to cars like mine is the only way I feel good about myself."

I still think that many cases of racism don't trace back to a legitimate incident.

Eric Olsen said...

maybe not legitimate. but there's an incident. perhaps the incident was simply something that taught you to be afraid of anything you don't know. you're not born like that. toddlers grab everything.

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