Racism is one of those things I will never understand. Basing personal judgements on the color of another person’s skin ranks right up there with judging another person based on the color of their shoes. It’s a characteristic that tells you nothing about the person’s character, which is what I give value to. With that said, there are times when a person’s race is a notable characteristic. Namely when you’re trying to describe a single individual out of the seven billion that occupy this planet. In such a case any physical characteristic such as height, weight, race, eye color, hair color, hair style, clothing, tattoos, physical deformities, overt injuries, nose shape, etc. are valuable criteria points. This is why I this request rather absurd:
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – School officials at the University of Minnesota are working with black student and facility organizations after they wrote a letter to the school’s president about the racial descriptions given in crime alerts.
According to the story the letter requested that racial descriptions be omitted from suspect descriptions given by campus security. The organizations that submitted the letter were concerned about racial profiling due to the racial descriptions given of robbery suspects near the University of Minnesota campus. While profiling is certainly unwarranted and should be actively fought the inclusion of race as a description of a suspect is not, in of itself, racist so long as it’s accurate.
As I said, there are seven billion humans on this planet. Trying to uniquely describe each one of us isn’t easy. Unless you have every available physical characteristic in hand you’re going to have a hard time. Race is a common description given by victims because it is an easily noticeable characteristic. With a quick glance we can generally note a person’s skin color, height, weight, and a vague idea of what they’re wearing.
When discussing social issues like racism and sexism we must keep in mind that there are legitimate reasons to note such features as race and sex. The important thing is to separate the legitimate reasons from the illegitimate reasons and work to fight the latter.