David Semitekol

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Media polls that identify us based on our skin color are forms of racism and segregation.

The media consistently displays percentage polls of what people think on several different topics and segregate our races into categories: Caucasian, African American, Latino and so forth. This categorization of people is a form of racism and segregation. Racism is the general classification of people based on their race and not on their individual self. When we categorize people based on the color of their skin we will continue to focus more on race than on individualism which means that we will never take the next evolutionary step of equality in our country.

Now is the time to tell the media, the world and each other that we will no longer be categorized based on the color of our skin. Percentage polls categorizing race should no longer be used. Together we are one and together we are individual persons and how we think and what we believe belong to ourselves and not to a group of people who just happen to have the same skin color as we do.

I don’t want people to look at a poll and think that a Caucasian or an African American thinks this way or that. It creates an “us” versus “them” mentality and says that we are different because our skin colors are different and we should point that out in a poll. The person standing next to me is a person, and while I care what he thinks, I don’t care what color he is and don’t want to say that he thinks that way because of his color since the last poll says that people of that color think that way.

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    Jul 22 2012: I don't actually have a great reason for my opinion but given our history I say No to this question. If we stirred everyone in the USA in a pot, we would get your theory. But people are not colours to be mixed and different lfie experiences create different opinions. For example, black people were seldom tested for high bllod pressure meds and race is one of the risk factors for stroke. So giving black people (I am Canadian so they are not Afro Americans here) some old white dude's meds was killing them and a recent TED talk illustrated that women are dying at a much higher rate from heart related illnesses too and guess what we did not test them either.
    So if we are physically different, and perhaps encounter differing stress levels or something, I think it would impact our opinions too. Would anyone have the audacity to tell you how you should express yourself here as someone recently did to me?
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      Jul 23 2012: That's a very important point there about black people vs. white people, and men vs. women on meds. This is another form of post modernism, and relativism, seeping into our sciences. If men and women respond differently... then not splitting them up, is stupid. There have been many studies on race and medication lately, which have proven that minorities which represent less than 10% of the population, respond very differently than the standard "random sample".

      If we decide it's racist to study differences, the consequences can be quite terrible.
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    Jul 23 2012: I would argue that most people choose to identify themselves as a particular ethnicity. All large cities have a Chinatown or Little Italy etc. Making distinctions along racial lines is only a bad thing if you are unfairly treating one particular group. Whether the percentage polls are of any use really relies on what the question is. You can divide people into groups in lots of ways which are relevant to some questions and not others. I wonder how Obama polls amongst people who are over 6 foot? Or left handed people? The media just use the easiest groups they can come up with because they think it makes the poll sound more scientific.
    Did you know that 87% of people over 6feet tall think the minimum distance between the seats on airliners should be increased? and 100% of caucasian males have zero chance of winning the 100m sprint in London?
    Its not really racism if you are making a valid observation, but with regard to most of the stuff in the polls it's irrelevant.
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    Jul 22 2012: Yes, I agree it is a way to categorize data, but do we need to? The main concern of course is the upcoming election, and how people focus so much on what a race will do in the country.

    I agree that for most purposes, categorization is important. However, when the only difference is skin color, then we must ask if it is necessary.

    The color of our skin should not change who we are and I think that at this point, it should simply be overlooked. The problem with looking at a skin color is that it generalizes us and our skin color does not determine anything about us. It fits us into groups, and when people are placed into general groups they tend to not feel like they are part of the larger group, America.
    • Jul 22 2012: I think there still is a need to categorize based on race. My reason is simple, these polls show different opinions. If a particular race has a particular stance on an issue, it should be noted. I actually think it would be worse if we didn't acknowledge that different groups had different opinions. I really think that these are still viable simply because they bring a new piece of information. If races did believe the same about an issue, the polls would all be the same. There would be no need for these polls, but that is not the case today. Different races still had different views on different issues. Why is bad that we simply poll it?

      The color of a person's skin shouldn't influence a person's view. Nobody implied that at all. It should be noted that these polls do provide valuable information. It does help pollsters and politicians create their policies to attract a certain group. This is no different than a politician appealing to a certain religious group that is common in their district. I don't necessarily believe that placing people into groups separates them from larger groups either. I am a college-age student. Like many other college students, I have a rather socially liberal stance. This is a trait that is common in college-age students and should be polled.

      The main thing to remember is that these are polls. They simply ask people what they think. Not everyone in a group believe a certain way. These polls do not imply that every person in a certain demographic must have a certain view. They simply say "x percent of this groups believes this." These don't say anything about the validity of these views or suggest that a person must have this view to be part of a demographic. It is simply asking what people think. If different races do think differently, a poll that categorizes based on race seems valid.
  • Jul 22 2012: I hav never really thought of this, but you do raise a very good point. It does highlight racial differences, and I believe that could be seen as racist. I wouldn't necessarily consider them racist though. These polls are just reporting the opinions of different groups. Different groups tend to have different views on subjects, and it would be unwise if media companies and political companies did not account for these differences. These polls provide valuable insight into the status of different groups inside of the nation. For example, if 80% of a minority promotes a certain policy, politicians know that this certain groups on average favors this policy. I see these sort of poles as merely studying the status of a group in the nation. I see these polls no differently than a poll that categorizes based on sex, religious preference, or sexual orientation.

    That being said, I believe that people can use these polls to create racist judgements. If an individual immediately assumes another's political stances based on these types of polls, then that person is being racist. If people use these polls to support a racist notion, that doesn't necessarily make the polls racist. That is just people being racist and using the poll to internally justify a stance.
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    Jul 22 2012: Media polls on race are over used, and often in the way you describe. I think however, their motives are not evil. I think most of these classifications, began in the 1970's, as a way of seeing how African American life was improving in the country. This was then applied to women, and first generation immigrants... as a way of simply give the country a mild report card of how free markets were treating groups with historical wealth gaps.

    While most of this data is now relatively useless, there are times when demographic data informs a debate. For example, there is only one legitimate argument for not raising the social security retirement age... Technically, 2, but one is especially bad. African American men, because of past descrimination, and wealth inequality, still have a life expectancy of 67 in this country.

    Many Democrats, fight to keep the SS age artificially low, in an unsustainable way. They don't mention the main reason they do this, because it is such a sensitive subject. Society needs to decide, if it is going to have a safety net, designed to benefit all working people, should it be adjusted based on demographic data such as life expectancy.

    The same issue in general exists between men and women as a whole. Women live almost 10 years longer than men, should social security contributions be adjusted? The problem with both of these debates, is that what most smart people will tell you, is that this is the problem with government programs in general. They sound nice, but they don't necessarily benefit people equally. When you try to institute a national solution to a problem, there are often unintended consequences.

    When these issues are brought up in a polite forum, it often devolves into "Social security is a racist program designed to distribute wealth from African American men, to caucasian women" vs. "You want the life expectancy to stay low". It's really disturbing, hence no media coverage.
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    Jul 21 2012: Howdy David
    Yea they devide us up or segragrate us but they only do this to get some data to make there feible arguments look beter looking for those they are trying to sway in there direction.
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    Jul 21 2012: it is just a way to categorize data. That's all. You can have short people, tall people, people with blond hair. If these categories worked for understanding health data, those would be the ones we used.

    Race and heritage data simply helps us look at health data to see if there needs to be better/new treatments understanding there may be a genetic link we cannot specify at the moment.

    Same reason opinion, crime, and economic data is reported in the same manner. And you can cross reference if all the data is held in consistent categories.

    You're reading too much into media reports. And besides, it's media. They want to sell something/someone.
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    Jul 20 2012: I dont think they can be termed as racist or as supporting segregation. It is neither clear nor obvious that their intention is to denigrate, demonize or degrade any race or group.

    I dont think their motive can be faulted. Such polls do have impact on the society; but people would always have a choice and the media is one of the numerous inevitable influences that moulds a citizen.