We Can Beat Racism

We Can Beat Racism

Show Video

This video was sponsored by CuriosityStream and Nebula. The human race probably could not have thrived without learning to cooperate and show compassion for each other. Whether this was because of a genetic predisposition towards empathy, pragmatic necessity, or the moral guidance of a higher life form, It seems to be the case that humans have evolved a general inclination to some form of the so-called golden rule: “If it exists, there is porn of it.” Sorry, wrong rule.

Of course I mean, “Treat others the way you would want to be treated.” For most of us, on an average day, the majority of the people we interact with have no desire to harm us or screw us over. In my experience, most people on a day-to-day basis are actually fairly pleasant, until I check my Twitter feed.

But I’m sure it’s different depending on where you are. Of course, humans say and do terrible things to each other all the time and probably have since the beginning. And there are entire university courses you can take exploring why that happens. Despite the fact that humans are generally empathetic, there are plenty of things that can cause them to become harmful and cruel to each other. Culture, tradition, trauma, greed, fear, envy, ignorance, having a controversial take on a Disney movie, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, the nature of humans and human society seems to inevitably lead to some of those humans being not so great to the others.

And I’m not sure if this is a completely solvable problem. Now, we clearly can improve and progress, like I’d say there is definitely way more justice and liberty in the world than there was 500 years ago. But obviously we’re nowhere near perfect as a species. One of the ways that people are shitty to each other is racism and other forms of prejudice and bigotry. And those are things that I cover on this channel frequently.

So let’s do it some more. (whooshing and beeping sounds) Hi, I’m T1J. [weird voiceover] Follow Me! I wanna give a quick shout to my members and Patrons, including homies like Holunder, Lea Chinelo, JJ Ramsey, and organicgrains.

If you'd like to support the channel, you can become a homie yourself by clicking the Join button below the video or by checking out my page on Patreon. So, racism can be a hard problem to tackle, because it is so complex and can come in so many different forms. And in this day and age, it’s really hard to have a productive conversation about racism, due to the increasingly polarized nature of our political discourse. Discussions tend not to be about considering other people’s experiences or even how to solve racial problems, But instead they devolve into what I like to refer to as the Marvel Super Heroes narrative–the us vs them mentality.

I’ve said this many times now, but the whole purpose of this channel; and my entire online existence honestly, is to encourage people to be aware of important issues, But also to be compassionate and thoughtful in the way that we talk about them. I just don't think social problems are solved like the conflicts in a Marvel movie. We can’t just identify all the bad people, destroy them, and then expect the world to be magically fixed. These issues are simply way too complicated. Everything is f**king complicated.

I don’t like being cynical, but sometimes it feels like a lot of people aren’t even really interested in making the world a better place–they just like to fight. Some folks seem much more interested in dunking on their perceived opponents than actually expanding their perspective or finding solutions to the causes they’re concerned about. I understand this impulse, truly I do, but I try very consciously not to be like that. A lot of my videos highlight different social issues that affect my country, or sometimes even the world. And sometimes the point of the video is simply to say, “Hey, here’s an awful thing that exists in the world, let’s talk about that!” But I never want to sound like I'm ranting, or complaining, just to complain. I’m actually interested in figuring out what we can do going forward to put a dent into some of these problems.

And in most videos, I do offer some thoughts on some actions we could maybe take in order to do that. I don’t have any delusions that I’m going to single handedly change the world or anything like that, but I can do my part to spread what I think are good ideas into the world. Although I know it necessarily happens sometimes, I don’t want my content to make people angry or sad about the bleak state of the world. I would like people to be hopeful that things can get better, because we know that they can. We’ve seen it.

But we need to have a benchmark for what that even looks like. We need to think about what our goals are, and what steps we’re going to take to get there. I don’t want humanity to get caught in a loop of having the same conversations over and over again, I would love it if we were able to look back one day and say, “Hey look, we did it!”. So with regard to racism, how will we know when we’ve won that particular battle? Of course significant social and political change is usually very gradual and can take one or many lifetimes. But I’d like to do a thought experiment. If we were able to win the fight against racism, how are some of the ways that would look? Now as I said before, humans being shitty sometimes seems to be unavoidable.

It is hard to imagine that things like fear, manipulation, xenophobia, and prejudice will ever completely go away. It seems to be tied to human evolution and the way that we build societies. Human beings have been around for at least 300,000 years and we still fear change and the unknown, we are still easily influenced and controlled, and we still have a 7000-word Wikipedia article’s worth of irrational cognitive biases. So personally, I'm not sure that bigotry is something we can totally kill.

Our caveman brains just can’t handle it. It’s worth mentioning that some people think that by restructuring our society and changing what social and economic behaviors are incentivized, that people will become naturally more cooperative and less likely to become bigots. For example, one argument might be that a society with no economic inequality and no incentive to compete against each other for resources might result in a more harmonious human community that has no motivation for things like racism.

But this seems to imply that racism is mostly caused by external sources, which I’m not sure is totally true. I think humans can definitely teach each other to be racist, but those attitudes must originate from somewhere. I tend to think that it’s rooted in our fear and anxiety towards things we don’t understand, and also our inherent negativity bias, which causes our brain to highlight negative qualities and ignore good ones. And these are traits early humans likely evolved for their survival. Being cautious around unknown and poorly understood things could have been the difference between life and death for prehistoric humans.

But I’d love to hear more opinions on this from those with an expertise in anthropology or sociology. So we can continue to improve education and activism to limit racism and bigotry as much as we can, but I tend to think that some form of bigotry is here to stay. Unless we develop some kind of Matrix program that can just zap it out of our brains. So given that, what I would focus on is figuring out a way to form a society, such that people can’t utilize that bigotry against others in any systematic way. The first thing that comes to my mind of course is laws and regulations.

In many places in the world, racism and other forms of bigotry are literally written into the legal code. But in the United States and many other countries, legalized racism is generally frowned upon, or at least that’s what we say out loud. And we have taken great strides to get archaic bigoted laws off the books, as well as write new laws that promote racial justice. For example, U.S President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prohibit

racial discrimination in voting. Before this, many Southern states had laws specifically designed to prevent black people from voting. And after the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, there was a massive increase in black people’s ability to vote, it worked. And that’s just one of many legal changes we’ve made to combat racism in America. Some people claim that racism has already been defeated, pointing to the fact that racial minorities enjoy much more freedom and opportunity than they ever have.

We even had a black President of the United States. I mean my man played basketball, listened to rap music and everything. So it’s definitely true that things have improved to some extent. But of course, it’s silly to imagine that hundreds of years of racist laws and economic inequality can disappear in a matter of years.

And United States leaders seem to have largely rejected the idea of economic or social reparations for black Americans. So even if we did remove all of the racist laws, black people are still inherently starting from behind. And again, I’m not trying to complain for complaints sake, nor am I trying to “place victimhood” upon black people or whatever the f**k conservatives be saying. I’m merely stating an objective analysis of the historical data.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for black people to succeed or thrive, but again we’re talking about a group of people who, until very recently, were considered second class citizens and were legally oppressed. There are people currently alive who personally witnessed a era where people gathered in the park to watch lynchings of black people like it was a spectator sport. The effects of history don’t just go away overnight. And we can see these effects because every bit of data we have on economic and social outcomes supports this. Therefore, simply removing and reversing old laws is not enough to combat racism, we must also create new initiatives to compensate for centuries of inequality. But all that implies that racist laws have indeed been removed.

Which you’ll find is not entirely true in practice. The aforementioned Voting Rights Act has been severely weakened in recent years by conservative courts. And as a result, many states immediately began to take action to once again limit access to voting, pretty clearly aiming to reduce voting from Democrats and black people specifically. Hundreds of polling places were closed, most of which were in communities of color. And voter identification laws became more strict, again mostly in communities where black people were most likely to vote. And this is just one example.

Of course, these days, you can’t come out and say that you’re trying to prevent black people from voting. You have to make up an excuse, like the claim that you’re trying to confront the largely nonexistent problem of voter fraud. So even if it’s fairly obvious what you’re doing, you can give yourself some deniability. But the point is, there are still racist elements baked into the official laws of the land.

And removing those is the easiest first step to a post-racism world. But even if we achieve that, it still doesn’t completely solve the problem of systemic racism. I said many times by now that I believe no matter what we do, some people are just going to be racist. Some of them might be overtly hateful, but most of them will probably be people with implicit biases and hidden prejudices. Now, dealing with toxic people is a skill we should all probably develop, but some people’s toxicity reaches further than others.

A random person having a prejudice against black folks is unfortunate. But it’s a lot different than a police officer having a prejudice against black folks. Because the police officer not only has a wider influence, but also has further reaching consequences for their actions. Compared to an average person, an interaction with a police officer is much more likely to result in dramatic, longstanding changes to your life, and possibly even the lives of your family and community. And similar things could be said for other influential members of society like employers, judges, lenders, politicians, etc.

If we assume that the likelihood of being a bigot or harboring prejudice among those people is at least as high as it is for the general population, It should be easy to see why this is a problem, and how it can have, and has arguably already had, a ripple effect that permeates society as a whole. It doesn’t even require that many people to be racist, since powerful, influential people can directly and indirectly affect so many people all on their own. So there are a couple ways that we could confront this problem. Once again my entire argument has the premise that some people will inevitably be racist. But I’ve also acknowledged that society can progress, and attitudes can change.

If I didn’t believe that, I probably wouldn’t bother making these videos. And we’ve seen it before like the story of Christian Piccolini, a former white surpremacist who is now an anti-racism advocate. And I get messages all the time saying that my content and the content of some of my other YouTube colleagues has totally changed or opened up their minds. So perhaps we should allocate more time and energy towards making sure that people in positions of privilege and power are less likely to be racist than the average person. This could happen in many ways; like maybe more robust vetting before people are even given these positions of power, or requiring these people to undertake ongoing anti-bias training. We could also create harsher penalties when these people are found to have racial prejudice.

One of the issues with people in these positions is that they often lack accountability. But another, arguably more radical approach, would be to somehow reduce or remove the disproportionate influence these people have in the first place. For example, instead of an individual manager deciding whether or not a person gets hired for a job, what if all of the workers took a vote? What if all the residents of the community took a vote? Of course those voters could be themselves influenced by someone, but it’s a start, it's something to think about. What if other types of organizations outside of the armed police force handled problems that weren’t specifically dangerous or criminal in nature? Should investigating a murder, responding to a domestic disturbance, and handing out parking tickets really all be done by the same agency? Really seems like a lot of completely different skill sets. What if we decriminalized certain activities like drug use or sex work, potentially precluding the need for interactions with the police altogether. There are many many propositions that fit into this category.

But personally, I don’t think we ever get rid of systemic injustice while racist individuals, even if they are a minority; control the social and economic fates of so many people. And for the sake of discussion, I’m assuming that powerful, influential people are equally likely to be racist as the average person. But in some cases, there’s reason to believe they might be more likely, an example of which I discussed in my video about racism in the police force. So, say we implement some of these and no doubt many other ideas. How would we know if they're working? Obviously the first step would be simply to investigate whether the various racial disparities have been reduced or eliminated.

The National Urban League publishes a report called The Equality Index which measures how equal Black and Latin Americans are relative to white Americans in areas such as economics, health, education, and social justice. In 2020, they proposed that black Americans had a 73.8% equality with whites, which was actually a 1.3% increase from 2018. So, hey, movin’ on up. Now, while this number is based on real available data, they used their own subjective formula to determine it. I still found it pretty interesting, though.

And honestly it sounds about right. They don’t assert that this inequality is entirely caused by racism, and I wouldn't do that either. Notable downsides of the Equality Index is that it doesn’t include data about gender or income, which can obviously play a huge role in economic and social outcomes. But I would argue that more than 0% and most likely a decent portion of these issues are caused by racism, and if the effects of racism were reduced, we should expect to see a noticeable change in these disparities. Much like we’ve seen in the past with Civil Rights Legislation and social justice movements, that led to real, tangible change in our society. Martin Luther King Jr. was accused of hate speech when he was alive, but now is pretty

much unanimously considered a hero by people of all races. That is a dramatic and unmistakable shift in the attitude of society, which, probably led in part to a reduction in racial disparity, as more and more people realized, “Hey, maybe we f**ked up about that whole racism thing.” Now look, I understand this is super over-simplified, and maybe a little bit rambly. There are many forms of racism and bigotry in the world, and each one probably has its own unique solutions. And racism is but one of the many issues facing the world, and I don’t mean to imply that solving racism automatically means all the other problems go away. To be honest, we can’t really even tackle problems of race without also confronting things like gender, sexuality, class, and culture.

And, perhaps most importantly, for us to even begin to make such a large societal change, the citizens, the government and private enterprises have to want to do it. And it has to be more than a dream, it has to be a priority. And it can't just be some of us, it has to be most of us. Unfortunately, I don’t think we're there yet. But we have seen changes on a grand scale like this before, so we know it’s possible.

I just wanted to do a sort of quick thought experiment exploring the very bare minimum factors needed to say that we’re putting a dent in the problem of racism. I don’t want to just complain all the time, I want to actually think about what actually needs to be done to solve the problem. Even if it’s difficult or requires a large amount of time, organization and resources.

As I’ve said, I’ve made a lot of videos about race issues over the years, and I’ve definitely evolved as a person and a creator in that time. A lot of you have only been subscribed for a couple years or less so you may not have seen many of the older, cringier videos. So I thought it would be fun to react to some of those old videos, and see how much I still agree with, or what I would say differently if I was making it today. Like a video I made over 10 years ago called “Why White People Can’t Say the N Word.” Which still gets views for some reason, it's so bad. I’m gonna start putting some of those clips as well as other messages and outtakes at the end as a shameless ploy to get you to watch the whole video.

If you’d like to watch the full reactions though, I’m gonna start uploading them periodically to Nebula. Nebula, as you may already know, is a streaming video platform that’s actually owned by its creators, and features content from lots of great YouTubers you probably already love. I like to think of it as kind of like YouTube except filtered to only show you the good videos.

And you also don’t have to worry about ads or sponsors, so if that’s your preferred viewing experience, you may want to give it a try. But you can also find exclusive extras and bonus content on Nebula, like my reaction video which I’ll link to the description. As well as more ambitious, bigger budget projects from your favorite creators that may not work as well on YouTube, where views are king – and if you’re not getting the views, it really discourages you to try out these different ideas on that platform. That’s one of the reasons we made Nebula in the first place. We couldn’t do it alone though, and that’s why we’ve partnered with CuriosityStream who has kindly sponsored this video. CuriosityStream is of course an excellent streaming service with thousands of compelling documentaries and nonfiction titles.

If you’d like to continue thinking about what we’ve been discussing in this video, you can check out the provocatively titled “Are You Racist?” A documentary that attempts to use science to discuss whether racism is more a product of nurture or nature. But there are tons of topics you can explore on CuriosityStream, everything from science, history, technology, and so much more. It’s definitely a perfect fit for the smart content you’ll find on Nebula.

So we actually worked out a deal where if you go to curiositystream.com/t1j, and sign up using the code “t1j” you’ll also get access to Nebula absolutely free. And CuriosityStream is offering a special deal to my subscribers where you can get 26% off an annual plan, bringing the total to less than $15 for a full year of both CuriosityStream AND Nebula. And remember, by supporting sponsors like CuriosityStream, you not only get access to a great service, but you also support me and a whole community of awesome creators.

[past T1J] A lot of people think that even black people shouldn't say --- but I think that kinda misses the point that the reason that the word is bad has nothing to do with the fact that these particular sequence of letters is magically evil for some reason. It's the history of the word and the mindset of the people who use it and us not saying it is not gonna change any of that. [present T1J] This is something that still to this day is a debate among black people. I know a lot of black people don't like when black people say the N word.

Me personally, my personal opinion, and I can't speak for everyone. To me, what makes the N word--and this is kinda what I meant in the video-- What makes the N word offensive is when white people use it to disparage black people, that's kinda the context in which it is offensive. So I think that when white people use it , it has a very specific historical sting to it that I just don't think can be overcome. But for me personally, I don't really care when anyone else uses it. As long as they're not specifically using it to be disparaging because I feel like it's a different context.

2022-03-06 16:22

Show Video

Other news