Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'm a racist; and a pacifist

I'm reading a great book: "Nonsense: Red Herrings, Straw Men and Sacred Cows: How We Abuse Logic in Our Everyday Language". After learning about all of the wrong ways to make statements, I decided to take notes on what the non-abusive, logical way to speak.

One example is "name calling". The non-abusive way to call someone a name is to:
  1. Define what the name means.
  2. Provide evidence that the person meets the criteria of the name.
Let me now apply these rules to the title of my blog. I'll start with the less emotionally charged word.

Pacifist

1. The Definition
Pacify = "to bring peace"
Pacifist = "someone who loves to bring peace"

Note that the suffix "-ist" modifies the root word as "someone who loves ..."

2. The evidence
My mom was the first one to call me a "peacemaker" when I tried to get the neighbor boys to stop hurting their dog.

Racist

1. The Definition
Race = "the manifestation of inherited physical characteristics"
Racist = "someone who loves race"

Note: my definition is quite different from the usual definition.

2. The evidence
I was raised in the Mormon church, which historically discriminated against blacks in that they were denied ordinances beyond baptism. When I was 14, I read a book called "A Black Mormon Tells Her Story", by Wynetta Willis Martin. I was so impressed by this book that I wrote about it in my journal. This is what I wrote: "Reading this book has really changed my impression about blacks and our church. I now know that someday, blacks will be able to hold the priesthood...". A photo of my journal is below, along with an interesting entry a year later, when the Mormon church changed their policy on blacks, giving them full rights to all church ordinances.

My father worked at a family business in South Central Los Angeles. I would occasionally work Saturdays and when I got older, I would work summers. One of my first regular jobs was stock boy (before that I swept floors, cleaned, etc.). I worked alongside another employee, Delores, and we became good friends. Delores was also Mormon (and black) and her husband was one of the first black Mormon bishops. My next job was deliveryman and I visited hundreds of homes. This was a good way to break racial stereotypes that a suburban white boy might have developed. I met alot of very nice people (Most people are nice when you deliver a working refrigerator, regardless of what race they are).

When I turned 19, I applied to go on a mission for our church. I still remember telling my dad that I would like to have a black companion (mormon missionaries are always paired in companionships). Companionships are assigned, so you don't get to pick your companion. You learn alot when you spend every waking hour with someone who was previously a complete stranger. I have to admit that this was challenging; until I got my last companion. He was black. We had some amazing experiences and a lot of fun. He was also the most compatible companion I had my whole mission and our friendship raised the bar for what I looked for in a relationship.

Later, in graduate school I worked with people from Japan, Taiwan, India and Europe. Our lunches were multicultural exchanges. I loved it.

Years later, my best friend at work was Asian-American. He was a good friend at a challenging time in my life. He invited me to play in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at his church and I ended up being one of a few white guys (everyone else was Asian). I must say, yt was the friendliest basketball I've ever experience.

So in conclusion, I love race; therefore, I'm a racist.

My Journal Entries:



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