So after assdef's post back in May, I bookmarked this page for a while, planning to answer, but kept putting it off. I realize it's September now, I really am an expert at procrastinating. I now looked at this thread with the intention to try and post something about the current European refugee/+/migrant crisis, but we'll see what I manage to cobble together.
assdef wrote:Do we live in a post-racial society? I realize the perspective on this likely varies significantly from country to country
First let me be pedantic because I'm terrible like that. Every time someone mentions "our society", I cringe a little at our apparently-still-strange global series of tubes that we use to yap at each other. Even as assdef makes it clear he realizes it's not just one society, it's sort of an afterthought, because the question itself is still phrased in the popular way. It's okay though. But I don't think there is a single human society. We're just too many for that. There isn't even a single online society. And no, there isn't a single Western society either, because there are many countries with Western or westernised cultures, all different.
But I don't know of any society today that I could consider post-racial, sadly.
I can try to give you an idea of what it's like in and around Hungary, very briefly. For this you need to have a general idea of our ethnic composition: there are few black or arabic people, many Asians (mostly Chinese tradespeople), and a great many gypsies. There are also of course people from neighboring countries, anything from brand new to many generations assimilated. Now, racially, the only ones that aren't white are the chinese and the gypsies. (If you don't know about gypsies, they basically look like people from India.) I personally haven't seen any serious racism against Asians here in my life, the worst of casual racism being mocking their accents. But even that is something most kids grow out of. And I think Hungarians treat black and arabic people totally normally, but there are so few of them I don't have a lot of experiences.
Now with gypsies, our Facebook relationship is "it's complicated". There is a lot of baggage to it.
I think Hungarians are only racist towards gypsies. (I certainly hope we aren't just about to extend our well-tended racism to arabic people, now that they're storming our gates.)
So the basic layout is, as you can expect, gypsies are mostly poor, often uneducated, and they have a slightly different culture (they like to have huge families with lots of kids in a single room, yell a lot, solve most problems in-house, etc.). Also, as you might expect, gypsy crime. They often pass the trade of stealing down in generations. So this naturally causes a lot of divide between the races. I don't have statistics on this, but I think the typical gypsy is either a manual labourer (in the shittiest jobs you can imagine), a musician (doing magic with a violin or a dulcimer), a full-time mother, or a thief (ranges from street thug to burglar). It is said that gypsies play the best Hungarian folk music.
There is a lot of prejudice, a lot of fear and hate. Discrimination in jobs and schools alike. The whole "second-class citizen" issue.
I don't know "the" solution, but it seems sometimes a solution can come from within the community. I've read an article a few years ago about a village that had a predominantly gypsy population, and lots of crime, disorder and poverty described the place. Then they got a new gypsy mayor, who was not only well qualified for the job, but also a true leader who understood his community perfectly. He may have used unusual methods (going to have lunch with families, sometimes yelling at them, slapping a thief in the face, etc.), but he turned the village around, eradicating crime and putting the people to work, most of whom were thankful to him afterwards. But I realize this kind of thing wouldn't work in an urban community.
From what I see about what's going on across the ocean, you guys aren't quite there yet either. Police seem to have some serious issues there..
For a bit of a taste about the "other side": I've just spent a month in Kenya, where it's relatively rare to see a white person. I didn't spend much time in the capital (partly because Nairobi is nicknamed Nairobbery), I spent most of my time in a rural area. What I saw I can't honestly call racism, but definitely not post-racial either. The way uneducated Africans think of the white visitor is that he must be rich, and American. And they call you "white one" in their language, everywhere, all the time. Not always in a friendly tone.
But I fortunately haven't gotten a close look into the issue of tribal conflicts, of which there are still many in sub-saharan Africa.
And if nobody else wants to continue this subject, allow me to switch to religious freedom and migration.
In light of recent events (both European refugee crisis and Ahmed the clock-builder's case in Texas), what scares me the most is Islamophobia.
(You could say that I have islamophobiophobia? heh)
Our prime minister said things like we don't want a lot of muslims in our country, on the basis of us being a mainly christian country.. this really didn't sit well with me. In fact, I think this kind of attitude even goes against christian values.
I've just seen Istanbul, a predominantly Islam, but truly multi-religion and multi-race metropolis, and I don't see what people are afraid of. Christians and muslims can and do live together in peace.
What do you think? Is the U.S. paranoid of Islam? Is Europe going to be? Feel free to share you opinion on refugee migration as well.
In any case, we certainly can't afford to help so many refugees, especially not the ones that throw rocks at our police officers (a vocal and active minority). Fencing our border is something that needed to be done, not to keep everyone out, but to manage the chaos and prevent illegal entry. We also have a responsibility as the border of the Schengen region.
But I think our gov't should've created some sort of a distribution center for refugees, later sending the bill to Bruxelles. But most importantly our humanitarian effort should be greater.
(And all this EU bureaucracy baffles me. They decide to meet next week about something that should've been done a month ago.)
I will stop rambling now.