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Defining Racism

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  • November 2012
  • 510 Words
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In Malcolm Gladwell’s article “Defining a racist” he goes into detail and discusses the meaning of what a racist really is. He breaks it down into three criteria’s content, intention, and conviction. Content drives the argument by saying that the content of the situation can be more offensive than a racial slur. “To call someone a nigger is not as a bad as arguing that black people have lower intelligence than whites. To make a targeted claim is worse than calling a name”. Intention looks at the purpose of the comment “Was the remark intended to wound, or intended to perpetuate some social wrong”. Conviction drives the argument by saying that we all have some prejudice thoughts. If the reader was to reject one of Gradwell’s criteria they would miss one of the points that Gradwell is making to define racist. I find intention to be the most important criteria because I myself have friends of different races that I make racist jokes with and neither of us is racist. I call my close friends that, I hangout with” my niggas” and it has nothing to do with the color of their skin. Intention weighs the most in the three criteria’s. “I remember sitting in church, as a child, while our Presbyterian minister made jokes about how "cheap" Presbyterians were. If non-Presbyterians make that joke, it might be offensive. But a Presbyterian making jokes about Presbyterians with the intention of making Presbyterians laugh is fine, because there is a complete absence of malice in the comment” As a reader you must have some of the same assumptions as Gradwell. You might be able to joke around with a friend about race, but this doesn’t mean you can go around joking with everybody. Public behavior and private thought are very important concepts. You may feel a certain way but that doesn’t mean you have to voice your opinion. Alcohol and anger is a factor that comes into play with conviction. Gradwell’s informal tone makes readers relate more if he was formal when making his points...

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