About Pet Sins Webzine
Skip navigation and go to main content
Pet Sins January 2006

Is positive discrimination a form of racism?

I had a long-time co-worker from Southeast Asia. I liked her - she seemed like a nice person and she would never advocate treating anyone badly on the basis of their race. She generally liked children, and has applied the label 'cute' to children of various races. She also found men of various races attractive. I never thought of her as a racist. But sometimes, she made comments that seemed to indicate a special preference for the white Caucasian, such as:

  • "The Caucasian babies are so beautiful - they have very nice features."
  • "If I have a baby by artificial insemination, I would choose a Caucasian donor because Eurasian babies are beautiful."

She has never praised other races in such a general manner though she has spoken well of the beauty of *individuals* of other races. (BTW, she later did marry a white man though I have no evidence that her choice was in any way influenced by 'race'.)

I am curious if other readers would consider someone like her, who 'likes everybody, but just like some kinds of people more', a racist? And whether your answer is 'yes' or 'no', what is your definition of a racist?

L.M.
2004

Comment from 'CT, Japan'
I think for this Southeast Asian woman to praise Eurasian-looking children, it is just her opinion. If the author of the write up had turned the situation around and asked her friend for her view of Black/Asian or Brown/Asian children, what would her response be then? Would she be more politically correct and careful of her answer? I have seen children of Asian/Black relationships and they are gorgeous!

Comment from 'JD'
It is hard to tell with this particular individual since no one really knows what goes on inside someone else's head. I think individual preferences for certain kind of appearance may or may not be racist. But on a larger scale, that is, when we move beyond individual preferences to see what kind of look the majority of people prefer, it is hard to deny there is a racist trend. The vast majority of Asians I encountered find white Europeans more beautiful than black Africans. We can argue that the individuals involved may not be racist, cos' it's just their personal preference, but if you look the larger picture of the social phenomenon of a general preference for the European, it is hard to imagine the phenomenon has nothing to do with racism.