While watching television the other day I happened to notice Alanis Morissette telling me to logon to Tolerance.org and learn more about tolerating my fellow human beings. Now I freely admit that the bitter lyrics of Canada's number one upset female are among my favorites. I have been a big fan since Jagged Little Pill. I had heard of Tolerance.org but I had never paid much attention to the popup ads and banners that streamed across sites. After all, I consider myself to be very tolerant. But Alanis was urging me to check it out, so I did.
Well the site itself is very professional and well maintained. The first thing the site says is Fight Hate, Promote Tolerance. A very noble aspiration and one I can easily agree with. Below this banner are navigation buttons for Teachers, Parents, Teens and Kids. The audience certainly sounds respectable.
Under this we get to meatier subjects. Under the title Tolerance Watch we have list of both "Hate and Tolerance in the News", "Tracking of Hate Groups" and ways to "Learn the Truth". It is here that things get a little confusing. Under "Hate in the News" we are offered a multitude of news articles that show examples of racism, sexism, homophobia and various forms of xenophobia. I guess that is all right, after all the title was "Hate in the News".
But when we move on to the title "Tolerance in the News" we find a multitude of news articles that show examples of racism, sexism, homophobia and various forms of xenophobia. The only difference in the two sections seems to be whether the article focuses on the crime or the victim. The articles under "Tolerance in the News" are, of course, dedicated to the victims of Hate Crimes with a sprinkling of announcements for Memorials and the occasional story about how wonderful Tolerance.org is. Maybe there isn't any news about tolerance itself.
Then we come to the Hate Groups Tracking Map. This is a very impressive collection of organizations across the United States that Tolerance.org's founding organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), has identified as promoting hatred or intolerance. One thing I noticed was a grouping called Black Separatists.
Tolerance.org states the following definition for Black Separatists:
"Black separatists typically oppose integration and racial intermarriage, and they want separate institutions -- or even a separate nation -- for blacks. Most forms of black separatism are strongly anti-white and anti-Semitic, and a number of religious versions assert that blacks -- not Jews -- are the Biblical ‘chosen people' of God."
I was impressed. Tolerance.org was admitting that Black on White hate not only exists but exists in such numbers as to need a label. But my newfound respect just as quickly crashed into the wall of reality when I read the very next paragraph. And I quote:
"Although the Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes that much black racism in America is, at least in part, a response to centuries of white racism, it believes racism must be exposed in all its forms. White groups espousing beliefs similar to Black Separatists would be considered clearly racist. The same criterion should be applied to all groups regardless of their color."
So, the SPLC must consider Black Separatist to be Racist even though it is just a response to centuries of white racism. They sound almost upset to have to place these Separatist in the same category as White Segregationist. Other categories include the Klan, Neo-Nazi, Racist Skinhead, Christian Identity and Neo Confederate, but none of them receive any apologetic remarks.
Tolerance.org asks the question "Are You Really Bias Free?" and offers several online test to find out. First you have to select a test, there is a list that includes many biases including racial, gender, homosexuality and age. I tried the test for Racial Bias called Black/White Adults.
The test starts out by flashing faces on the screen and you have to select whether they are European American or African American. Next the screen flashes words on the screen and you have to choose if they are bad or good words. The words included Evil, Horrible, Glorious, Happy, Hate and Love.
Next phase of the test flashes both faces and words on the screen and you have to select whether the face or word is European American/Bad or African American/Good. That's right, if the face is European or the word is Bad they both get the same answer. If the face is Black or the word is good it gets the opposite answer.
I have to admit I was a little shocked but I continued with the test. I found it difficult to do the test when I had to combine the answers of European and Bad for one answer and African and Good for another. It made for many hesitations.
This phase of the test was repeated and then a return to the previous phase of flashing the faces and selecting the answer according to race.
The final phase reverses the earlier mix. Now we have African American/Bad and European American/Good. I found this no less disconcerting. For me associating words like good and bad with race is intolerant to begin with.
Tolerance.org gave me a score of 48 percent strong automatic preference to white people. This was a surprise to me but I guess that is why it is considered a "Hidden Bias". People are racist and don't even know it. That is what Tolerance.org is here to help with, finding the hidden racist in all of us.
The Tolerance.org disclaimer has this to say:
In extensive evidence from online tests, a large proportion of white Americans show a moderate or strong unconscious bias toward, or preference for, whites, and almost even half of all blacks show an automatic preference for white.
Now I find it odd that nearly half of all blacks show an automatic preference for whites. It makes me wonder if the test itself predisposed to a certain result, namely, that anyone taking it will show a preference toward the white race? How else can you explain the fact that nearly half of all blacks that take the same test score the same as a so-called white racist? Are we to believe that white racism is so strong that is has caused minorities to hate themselves, or could it be that the test itself is rigged?
Go ahead, visit the site and take the test. But don't be surprised to learn that you have been a racist without even knowing it.