What a very intelligent post!I agree, in part. I stated in another thread that "it’s actually quite rare that the starting point of racism is belief in the genetic inferiority of certain racial groups. More often, it’s related to perceived aggression or offense from a group of people highly populated by a certain race or ethnic group, with discrimination against that race or ethnic group then becoming a convenient mechanism for quickly and effectively categorizing them."
In that thread, we were discussing the allegedly racist attitudes of the Minuteman Project and border vigilantes. I first referred to the cognivite scientist George Lakoff's commentary on the social conservative's view of illegal immigrants and the violation of their moral values that such immigrants' behavior involves.
I then commented that "as illegal immigrants are viewed that way, and as most illegal immigrants are persons of full or mixed-blooded Indian descent, and given that most Americans incorrectly consider Mexicans a racial group and group Indians of Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, or Salvadorean descent (just to offer several examples) into the “Mexican” group, it’s not surprising that you hear Mexican jokes or slurs; “Mexican” identity has become a way to easily aggregate the people violating the social conservatives’ moral precepts."
Let's consider the example of blacks next, who are stereotypically regarded as being the greatest users of social welfare programs in the country. Apart from being inaccurate, since whites use more total welfare (because of their greater numbers), and there is thus a greater probability of encountering a white welfare user than a black one, welfare provision is regarded as another violation of the social conservative's principes. It is considered to be free provision of rewards to a person that has not worked for it, thereby undermining individual responsibility and self-reliance. (That this is misleading and untrue is irrelevant; the fact that social conservatives believe it to be true is the important part.) If blacks are regarded as the primary users of welfare services, then it stands to reason that blacks would also be regarded as uniquely irresponsible. Blackness then becomes a convenient mechanism for quickly and effectively mentally categorizing welfare users, with certain "urban" traits (speech in the black dialect, a certain style of dress and appearance, etc.) strengthening the categorization more.
This hardly stems from a pre-existing belief in black racial inferiority; it's just that black skin color is associated with welfare usage, high crime rates, and other aspects of "ghetto" life that social conservatives regard as profoundly immoral. And that can lead to racial discrimination, even if the offender is not aware of the exact nature of his or her conduct.
This sort of racial discrimination would be dismissed by most people as relatively innocuous, and I do tend to agree to some extent. It's not related to any significant social institutions that affect the average daily lives or conditions of blacks, and can thus cause relatively little harm. And more than anything else, it's symptomatic of a more racist socio-cultural environment than a direct cause of the illness. You've developed expectations of blacks based on the fact that their behavior patterns seem to deviate from those of whites.
At some point in the future, when differential treatment and conditions of whites and blacks ceases to exist, perceptions of very significant divergences in behavior patterns will also fade away. For example, I wouldn't expect you to discriminate between WASP patrons and "white ethnic" patrons because you've not been conditioned to expect different behavior patterns from the latter group, or even to be able to quickly identify them as distinct, as people were able to do in times past. I might have expected a waiter in 1910 to treat Italian patrons differently than the "Anglo-American" patrons, but I'd hardly expect it in 2010 because the WASP and Italian populations are similarly socialized now, with Italian ethnic background being a novel curiosity rather than a life-changing stigma.
You make me want to clarify. I'm not sure my stereotype is necessarily racist. I don't think there's anything inherent in "blackness" that makes somebody a bad tipper. It's quite clearly cultural.