A Philosopher's Blog

Positive & Negative Racism

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics, Race by Michael LaBossiere on June 12, 2008

Race has, obviously enough, long been a major factor in American politics. Obama’s success to date has served to show that American racial views have chanObamaged over the years. But, it also shows that race is still a major factor.

Traditionally, racism has been seen in negative terms. To be specific, racism of this sort involves regarding the race in question as inferior or lacking in some way. For example, a white racist would traditionally be seen as regarding non-whites as inferior or defective.

This sort of traditional racism has long been a factor in American politics. Minorities have long had a very difficult time in getting elected on the state and national levels because, many claim, of racism on the part of whites. This sort of racism has also come out in the contest between Clinton and Obama. Some of Clinton’s supporters, such as Ferraro, have made remarks about Obama’s race. Further, Clinton and her followers have been stressing how Obama cannot sway certain white voters-presumably because he is black.

Various polls have been taken about the effect of race in the context of Obama’s campaign. Not surprisingly, race is still an important factor. Whites who are concerned about race are less inclined to support Obama.

While people still admit to holding positions that could be taken as racist, one interesting fact is that people tend to lie on such surveys in order to appear to not be racist. While racism still remains, it can be taken as a good sign that even some racists feel obligated to lie about there racism. This indicates that they might feel a bit guilty about such views. At the very least, it shows that they know that most people do not approve of racism.

Racism can also be positive. By this I do not mean that racism is good. Rather, positive racism occurs when someone attributes good qualities to a person based solely on race It also occurs when someone supports a person because of his favorable views of the person’s race.

This sort of racism has also been around a long time, but is usually referred to in terms of race pride or ethnocentrism rather than positive racism. For example, when members of the Klan talk about the superiority of the white race, they are exhibiting positive racism.

Positive racism is having an impact in the current conflict between Obama and Clinton. Followers of Clinton have claimed that black people are supporting Obama simply because he is black-thus accusing them of positive racism. Meanwhile, Clinton seems to be quite willing to cash in on the positive racism of white voters.

Interestingly, the gender issue has helped to fuel racism. To be specific, the contest between Clinton and Obama has served to put gender against race in a contest over which is the greater source of victimhood. Gloria Steinhem claimed that “gender is probably the most restricting force in American life”, thus setting the stage for the conflict over race and gender. After all, if gender is the most restricting force, then it follows that race is not as important as gender. Because of this sort of view, many feminist supporters of Clinton were quite dismayed about the support Obama has been receiving from black women. Presumably, these feminists think that black women should be more concerned with gender than race. This attitude no doubt has led some, such as Ferraro, to make remarks that might be construed as racist.

So, on the downside, racism is alive and well in America. On the plus side, racism is being openly discussed and is being addressed. While it might be disheartening to see race in the news so much, it is actually good that it is being exposed to the light of inquiry.  After all, admission of a problem is the first step towards solving that problem.

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14 Responses

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  1. whatacharacter said, on June 12, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    yes, this is good, but definitely could/should be expanded upon. Too bad this is one of your shorter posts.

  2. carl said, on October 16, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Obama and Murtha – what a pair! Murtha is acting Bill Clinton-like; state what he feels deep in the heart and then pretend he doesn’t believe what he said, then making an apology that is a lie. I and many others in the great state of PA have been called a racist one too many times and Obama has now lost my vote. The ACORN debacle got me close – Obama’s reply to that was a joke….blame the fraudulent act on how hard it is to register voters (good example for the youth of the country- if something is hard it is OK to cheat and deceive to earn the buck!), and then minimize the fraud by saying what does it realy matter that there is fraud if the fake voters aren’t showing up at the polls! How the heck does he know that unless he was privy to the scam! I am done with him!

  3. LuLu said, on January 11, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Racism can also be positive. By this I do not mean that racism is good. Rather, positive racism occurs when someone attributes good qualities to a person based solely on race It also occurs when someone supports a person because of his favorable views of the person’s race….nice!

  4. moerch81 said, on October 31, 2012 at 12:23 am

    I am from Greenland, being positively racist are taboo here in Greenland. when stereotypes hear the word Racism, they automatically react to that in a negative way. since there is Inuit people in the arctic places in the north, people whom are not Inuit made Inuit people to numb about sertain things as racism. in some ways, this makes orther people to judge orthers as criminals (racist). yeah, I am a racist, this makes me to be an criminal… how negative is that? but, mentally, people are not that wise/cliver/well educated…

  5. akon said, on April 11, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    I am black, I always get picked on what to do I might just jump off a cliff

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 12, 2013 at 8:40 am

      That would be unwise.

    • Anonymous said, on November 13, 2014 at 11:39 am


    • Anonymous said, on March 16, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      Anyone that gets picked on can end up like that, “jumping of the cliff”.

    • ronster12012 said, on March 17, 2015 at 7:21 am


      You are black and get picked on you say. Is there any relationship between your blackness and your being picked on? That is the first thing to establish.

      Who picks on you? Are they white or black? In what way you get picked on? Do you contribute to that in any way ie. being an annoying arsehole and then using the race issue to cover up that fact? Not all blacks get picked on by anyone, white or black. Some blacks get picked on by both black and white just as the same as some whites get picked on too.

      Come back with some answers to the above and we can take it further….

  6. marilyn tomlo said, on May 29, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    I am a racist. I challenge the black race to stop rappers, to stay in school, to stop selling drugs, to stop having unprotected sex, men to be a supportive father to your children, respect black women, have higher goals than to become a rapper or NBA player, get rid of the ghetto language, go to college or a trade school, get rid of guns and stop criminal behavior. Please, made me a non-racist.

  7. Chris N. said, on August 18, 2014 at 3:10 am

    I think it’s interesting reading this article. I am baffled why Marilyn decided her comments would in anyway justify her racism. The only way your comments would hold any real merit is if you can say you come from a race that does none of the things you mentioned. Or do you think it is OK for people of other races do all those things, just not Blacks? But this is the core reason I am an Intelligentist (a person who hates people who are just flat out unintelligent, A.K.A Racists) LOL. Your argument doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but that is not a huge surprise considering the source. Like all Racists (also called known as Humonous No-Brainous, “the scientific term, LOL)

    From what I can see you listed ten challenges, with only slight changes to the first comment, and the “NBA as a goal” (Not sure why promoting dedication, self-reliance and/or team work, as well as attaining your goals is an issue but I am not going to bother to explain why. That would only be a exercise in futility.) as to go with stereotype, not one of your comments could ever be said as solely a “Black issue.”

    So I am not sure what is your thinking……”Oops that was rude of me, I did not mean to imply you have such an ability, ” I should say;…..I am not sure where your complete absence of thought is coming from? Are you basing this on a ratio? # Good to # Bad people? If so I am curious what percentage is your turning point? Cause I gotta say you may find your own race has a lot more problems than you think. If you come across individuals of your own race who exhibit the same type of behavior would you then hate your own race? Oh, and although from context believe I have the idea you were trying to express, but from past experiences I have learned when dealing with Humonous No-Brainous, anything thing is possible. So I am curious, you listed “respect black women,” so is this to say that Black’s (I am confident enough to say you are referring to Black men) respect all other women except Black women? Cause it would be really sad to think that you believe this could not be said about people in your own race. Or again, do you feel it is OK for those of your race to disrespect woman?
    I am not going to bother guessing or wondering what your race is, but if this is your belief that Black’s are the only one’s exhibiting such behavior then being a Racist is not what you should be worried about. I think you need to wake up to the fact that every culture has its good and bad people. You also need to wake up to the fact that the “Media” focuses on what will get people’s attention not to mention what they are “suggested” to show, and so there are so many things they do not splash all over the air because they are not considered a “Hot Topic.”
    And so your arguments only show, as is always the case with racists, your complete lack of intelligence and understanding of the world. This is an unfortunate and dangerous problem.

    “Human intelligence is the intellectual capacity of humans, which is characterized by perception, consciousness, self-awareness, and volition. Through their intelligence humans possess the cognitive abilities to learn, form concepts, understand, and reason, including the capacities to recognize patterns, comprehend ideas, plan, problem solve, and use language to communicate. Intelligence enables humans to experience and think.”

    -Taken from Wikipedia

    On a separate note: I recently had a long discussion on the topic of “positive racism.” Here is the definition as given by The Oxford English Dictionary:



    1. The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races:
    theories of racism

    1.1 Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior:
    a program to combat racism

    I think the real issue lies in the question of positive/negative vs.right/wrong. Or subjective vs. objective.

    “…when members of the Klan talk about the superiority of the white race, they are exhibiting positive racism.”

    I really am confused by this example? Maybe the problem is in the definition of positive and negative? Subjectively this is positive to members of the clan. But is still does not mean that there is such a thing as positive racism. It simply does not exist. The talk of your own “superiority” is to say you believe you are above others.” And objectively this is negative. Is it considered acceptable when a friend or a co-worker or boss, or anyone for that matter looks down on people? When they treat others with disrespect out of the belief they are simply better, “superior”? Is this ever looked in a positive way. I can’t think of any examples. So to answer the question:”is there positive racism”, would be the same as to answer the question is the “N”(as used for Blacks) word good or bad, positive or negative? Subjectively it can have both a positive or negative meaning, But it is only subjective. Otherwise why else is it acceptable for Black people to use it, but not acceptable to used by a person of another race. Over time it has become a term that can carry the meaning of something like that of a family member or loved one. “What’s up my N—-?,” in that instance it maybe considered acceptable to the individuals involved but it does not mean it is a positive word. But objectively it is wrong! Racism is the same. Just because you are expressing the belief you are superior does not make it a positive.

    • ronster12012 said, on February 8, 2015 at 11:40 am


      Since you accept that there are different races, do you believe that they are all the same or do they possess different attributes?

      If you don’t accept that they possess different attributes then please explain their observable differences and behaviours.

      If you do accept that they possess different attributes then are those attributes equal?

      One of those attributes is IQ. Are there differences between various races in terms of IQ?

      In addition to IQ there are other attributes such as social skills leading to successful societies. Are all races equal in that regard?

  8. Anonymous said, on March 16, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    IQ… does not depend on the difference of race but on different individuals. no one chars they entire mind with anyone, we all have different ways to think

    • ronster12012 said, on March 17, 2015 at 7:37 am


      Do you have any evidence that there are no racial differences in intelligence? It is a very politically incorrect thing to say as current doctrine says that we are all the same and that there are no racial differences but where is the evidence for that?

      What would negate the historical record of almost zero advancement of human capabilities of some races ie. black Africans, Australian aborigines or New Guinea tribes who wouldn’t be any more advanced than they were 40000 years ago if it weren’t for white people’s innovations?

      As evidence of racial differences I would use Rome versus anything in Africa or pre European Australia. You could even use China instead of Rome and the argument still stands.


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