04.26.19 | Racism
When I saw the topic of last Member Monday lunch, I figured I better show up just in case the discussion gets heated and I need to remind folks City Club is a Securus Locus.
Over a 90 minute discussion, nineteen smart adults with diverse ages and backgrounds came to a general consensus that, in a way, each of us -- of whatever race, ethnicity, nationality, creed, culture, religion, economic standing or belief system -- can harbor some element of racism, but the real question becomes what, exactly, does that term even mean?
Perhaps it simply means humans have a natural tendency to initially see each other in terms of stereotypes. As a young foreign engineering student, I remember dropping an advanced calculus class because more than half the students were oriental, and though they weren’t any smarter, they worked 3X as hard, so I had no chance to get a good grade. I stopped doing business with Hasidic Jews in NY because time after time they proved to be better businessmen than me. And I stopped playing sports if there were more black players on the other team. So am I a smart survivalist, or a bigoted racist?
Jordan Peterson’s new book “12 Rules for Life” says we will exhaust ourselves if we require our neocortex to constantly calculate every risk we face, so all humans and animals necessarily develop a deeper sort of knowing called intuition in order to survive and navigate their world journey. The genius of our Founding Fathers was to create a legal structure where each citizen could feel safe knowing what the rules are and where they fit in.
Here is my final take on this difficult topic: We mature when our reflex is replaced by our ability to see others in their full humanity. We go from surviving to thriving when we can relax into who we are. If we compare our strengths and weaknesses to others' to determine where we fit in, it is called a survival instinct. If we categorize the strengths and weaknesses of others to determine where they should fit in, it is called racism.