Sunday, November 15, 2015

Question 3: "Why Do People Act Like Sexism/Racism/Etc. Are Rampant, When Even Mild Jokes About Those Things Will Ruin Your Career Now?"

One of the big reasons for that upward spike in humanity on the line graph of the previous question is we started to figure out how to get the most out of humans. For instance, 1,000 years ago, if you were a genius born on a farm, it didn't matter -- it just meant you were going to be a genius who shoveled shit. Two hundred years ago, if you were a genius who was born as an African-American, it didn't matter -- you were going to live your life as a genius slave. A hundred years ago, if you were a genius who was born a female, it didn't matter -- you were going to be a genius who stayed home and changed diapers.

The upward surge in humanity has coincided with us taking down more and more of those arbitrary barriers because humanity realized it badly needs all those geniuses out in the field doing genius things. I don't even mean "Einstein" type geniuses -- humanity needs people who are geniuses at teaching, plumbing, repairing air conditioners, rapping, etc. And for millennia, we were arbitrarily telling 80 or 90 percent of our talented people that they had to sweep floors or dig ditches, purely because they weren't also born white male heterosexual Christians. Progress came when we started pushing for things such as universal education and literacy, along with rights for minorities and women to pursue careers and advanced degrees.

Sure, we framed this as "equal rights" and a heroic triumph of empathy over bigotry, but the system always secretly had this other, selfish motive. It's no coincidence that desegregation started happening after World War II, when lots of white soldiers came home from having served alongside blacks and realized these guys were capable of greatness when given a chance. It's no coincidence women were only allowed to join the economy after that same war forced industries to turn to them in an absence of males -- and found they could do all sorts of shit that had nothing to do with raising babies or ironing shirts.

All they needed was a chance. The advancement of society has, in fact, largely been measured in how good it is at giving people chances to be all they can be. And you can see where we are in that process by looking at what kind of chances people still don't have. (Hint: If you get shot by the cops at age 16 while committing a misdemeanor, you never had your "chance" -- giving people room to make youthful mistakes without dying is part of it.)

That brings us to the problem, which is that even though these changes unquestionably made the world better, the world still had to be dragged along kicking and screaming. The big flaw in humanity is that we always cling to short-term comfort over long-term prosperity (because we see ourselves as individuals, instead of part of a whole), and certain classes of people were benefiting from doing things the old way, even if humanity as a whole was not.

This is why there are still barriers up all over the place -- only 14 percent of top business executives are women, only 20 percent of Congress. A white person is almost twice as likely to have a college degree than a black one of the same age. You weren't born in the aftermath of the battle, you were born somewhere in the middle of it.

And that is the confusing part for most people reading this. All of those numbers in the above paragraph are, after all, way better than they were a century ago. We've clearly improved. So, when some white kid on Facebook starts asking why there isn't a White History Month, it's because, in his lifetime, he's seen that minorities and other marginalized groups have made greater gains relative to his own, without realizing they're still not on his level. He's only seen the part of the game in which these groups have scored the last five touchdowns, but is missing the fact that the score was 64-0 when that streak started.

And once again, it's for the same reason: That guy (and all of us, really) instinctively thinks history began with his own birth.

Original Article

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