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Until a few dozen years ago most cultures on earth were extremely racist, everything from colored bathrooms to slavery. But in a world where along with multiple races there are multiple species would racism overrule 'specism'?

There are 2 species in question here;

  1. Lorans; tall, slender pale humanoids that are similar to humans in every way, races include Loraic, which are equivalent to Caucasians and Sub-Loran which are shorter, darker, and more 'animalistic' for lack of a better word.
  2. Lokk; Short, broad and furred people with digitigrade legs, tails, and snouts. They don't have true races but instead have breeds (similar to cat breeds, very similar but still different).
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closed as primarily opinion-based by James, clem steredenn, bowlturner, Rob Watts, HDE 226868 Nov 10 '15 at 21:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ It depends. What's your world's history entail? $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 10 '15 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ This is a really broad question with no real right answer. It could be both. Loriac could look down on sub-loran as low class, and look down on the Lokk breeds even more. Or the Loriac and sub-Loran could treat each other as equals, but those dirty Lokks should be put down like the animals they are. Or the Loriac could think well of the Lokks as an advanced race with great accomplishments, while the sub-loran's are lazy shiftless leaches who should know their place... You really need to rewrite the question to give us more to work with. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Nov 10 '15 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ It's certainly the crux of the story in The Watchmen, that humans would band together against a different species. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Nov 10 '15 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ It is quite possible that since these species developed in different environments and therefore did not drive one another to extinction by competing for the same resources, they don't actually "see" each other as beings of this world. Consider that as each race achieved sentience, they would begin to encounter strange beings at the edge of the whatever different environment they evolved in. These beings are able to speak and communicate, and can be induced to trade. in reality, the difference between two intelligent species on the same world will be more like Humans and Dolphins t. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Nov 10 '15 at 21:37
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An example that comes to mind is sexism. On the one hand, men and women are equal, but on the other they most certainly are not interchangeable. Women require their own bathrooms not only because of modesty but because apparently men's restrooms get too dirty. Men's restrooms, on the other hand, often have urinals, which are not useful to women. Because of these and many more differences between men and women, the sexes have been segregated throughout history, and this has caused a fair deal of hatred and inequality. A culture may not always be racist, but I can't think of many that aren't sexist.

Thus, from this example, I would suggest that hatred and bigotry can exist in as many forms as there are differences between intelligent individuals. It may be important to note that hatred weakens by necessity; that is, I suggest that sexism has never reached the evils of racism because men and women need each other. Similarly, I've heard the argument that American slave owners were not nearly as 'racist' as their Northern cousins; the slaves were their property, not their competitors, thus there was no reason to hate them.

So I would say that the level of hatred between two groups is proportional to the threat or benefit they provide. If humans are at war with these species, they will hate them; on the other hand, if they harvest them for their pelts and meat, then they should be treated more nicely, if not more equally.

As for specism, though, there are differences between your species (and their respective races, for that matter); denying that would be stupid. So specism will be logical, and thus probably won't be going away like racism is, though people might find ways to be nicer about it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't it be stupid to deny differences between races? You really think racism is going away? The argument that slavery is less "racist" than not enslaving people is wrong. What makes you think animals we farm are treated nicely? You seem to have a very cheeky worldview, my friend. $\endgroup$ – djechlin Nov 11 '15 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ @djechlin I guess I tried and failed to imply a lot of things. For one, I have found that racial differences aren't anywhere near as reliable as sex/gender differences when making judgements about people. Secondly, yeah, my points about slavery are strange, I'm not exactly sure what I was aiming for, maybe I'll edit that part. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Nov 11 '15 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ I mean there are, for instance, Star Trek episodes that both explore 1) what a race-equal society would look like and 2) how silly "black/white" racial differences are. But arguing the other direction, that racial differences on this planet are somehow not that significant, is very alarming. $\endgroup$ – djechlin Nov 11 '15 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ @djechlin Could you give me an example of a significant racial difference? Maybe we're just using different definitions here, I was under the impression that I was arguing your #2 point. We certainly don't treat different races the same, but I think most of the differences racists point out are cultural, not racial, and thus shouldn't be used to judge or accomodate people based on their race. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Nov 11 '15 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ Unless djechlin is saying that there are biological differences between human races, or DaaaahWhoosh is saying that racial prejudice does not affect people's lives, it actually seems like you agree on that point. If one of you is saying one of those things, well, let me register my disagreement. ;) But,yes, it does seem like you are using different definitions of "differences between races." DaaaahWhoosh is referring to biological differences, which I hope we can agree are pretty discredited. djechlin seems to be referring to statistically different social outcomes, which are quite credited. $\endgroup$ – Obie 2.0 Nov 12 '15 at 7:07
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Racism and specism do not exclude one another.

What it would come down to is the history and psychology of the aliens you've created.

1. Racism AND Specism

Lorans are the only ones who are accepted into government/leadership positions, while sub-lorans are the manual laborers. They are treated unfairly, and hate the lorans / have tried to rise up against them a few times, with no success.

The Lorans meet the Lokk in the depths of space, however, and become enemies, as they compete for the same resources / the Lokk religion preaches the death of the other species (insert reason here). The Lorans may hate one another, but they MUST band together in the face of the Lokk invaders.

2. Specism Only

The Lorans were once racist, but outgrew it as a race. The Loraic and Sub-Loran live in perfect harmony. However. The Lokk are a barbaric species employes by the Lorans simply as manual labor, and are barely even considered a sapient species, let alone equal to their own.

The number of possible scenarios is endless.

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  • $\begingroup$ Definitely endless. It is also possible that the Lorans could look at the Lokk as equals based on their accomplishments and culture, but look down on the sub-lorans as unprivileged, low class laborers. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Nov 10 '15 at 20:16
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It would depend on whether there was a distinction drawn between race and species. Many real-world racists openly state the position that other ethnic groups are genetically diverse enough from their own that they are different species. In our real world, that's ludicrous, given the litmus test for two animals to be the same species (able to freely interbreed in any combination, producing offspring that can also freely interbreed). There are millions if not billions of examples of fairly diverse ethnic groups producing viable children and grandchildren.

In many fantasy worlds, there's a wealth of "half-human" species hybrids such as the half-elf. Most of these are assumed capable of passing down their information to a future generation by mating with a pure human, pure elf or another hybrid. If that's true, by definition, everyone's the same species, they just have marked genetic differences due to segregated populations, and thus your form of "speciesism" is really just racism.

If, in your universe, a Loran or Sub-Loran is sexually or genetically incompatible with a Lokk, then things get a little more interesting. By definition, these various intelligent beings are different species. Most humans in the real world typically do not consider any other animal to be their equal, and that's considered OK (the exception to this line of thought being various tiers of environmentalists, conservationalists and vegans), so in this fantasy world, at least within a group of one species, intolerance of others may be encouraged and even enforced. However, humans are the only known sentient race on the planet Earth (there are other highly intelligent animals but homo sapiens exterminated or interbred with any other sentient species long before the rise of civilization), so it's kind of hard to speculate based on human prejudices alone whether it would be considered acceptable to discriminate against another sentient nonhuman species.

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I vaguely remember reading about a study done years ago. I'm sure I'm remembering the details wrong, but it went something like this: test subjects were shown pictures of people of different races, and their reactions (spikes in brain activity) were measured, but one group was shown pictures of people in normal clothes and the other was shown pictures of people in color-coded sports team uniforms. Test subjects in the latter group reacted much more strongly to their fictional team divisions than to racial divisions.

This leads me to believe that in your scenario, the Lorans and Lokk would feel much more visceral distrust of each other as species than they would against their own subgroups. Not only is there a larger, more obvious visual difference, akin to the color-coding of the study, but there's also the whole "unite against a common enemy" theme.

That said, blankip raises a good point about how pervasive and how long ago racial tensions were for each species. I still think the species tension would be stronger than the racial tension in almost all cases, but the degree of difference may vary widely. You could still have very strong racial tension if a species is still in the grip of extreme racial prejudice; their union against the opposing species may be a very reluctant alliance.

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The world is still VERY racist and note that the racism flows in every direction imaginable - not just the ones that the media likes to play up and portray.

A few years ago the NBA had its referees investigated. After a lengthy statistical analysis they found that white referees were more apt to call a violation/foul on a black player and less likely to make a call against a white player.

No big surprise right? Exactly what the media portrayed. There were even initial coverage that basically called the white referees racist. They were right?

Except they forgot to read the whole report.

The black referees were THREE times more likely than the white referees to react to the black players vs. the white players. They called 3 times the percentage difference of violations/fouls against the white players.

The reason why I bring this up is that going back in history there has never been anything else. I would expect both of these species to act like theirs is superior and treat the other species different (lessor). It really doesn't matter if the Lorans have some genetical advantage or some sort of population/governance/historical advantage. The Lokk will still harbor interest in their own species over the Lorans.

I will note that the way you are describing them doesn't matter. You are describing them from a human's eyes. We have no idea what we think they think of themselves or what traits they find dominant.

The question for you is how wide of a gap is this specism and how much of their existence is affected by this. Is it subtle as most things are today or is it war and slavery? And don't be fooled thinking that African slaves thought they were inferior to the Europeans. They were just out flanked.

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    $\begingroup$ This seems like more of a rant than an answer to the question... $\endgroup$ – James Nov 10 '15 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ @James - I am saying that each will look down on each other - no matter what. Do I need to be more clear? $\endgroup$ – blankip Nov 10 '15 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ @blankip No, you need less thinly veiled racism. Besides that, you appear to have gotten nearly all the facts wrong. The NBA didn't investigate their refs and though white-vs-black racism was found, the reverse direction was not as bad: "a corresponding bias [was found] in which black officials called fouls more frequently against white players, though that tendency was not as strong." $\endgroup$ – Samuel Nov 10 '15 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Samuel - That was just one study. The correlation was announced by the NBA (really it was Mark Cuban pushing it) at the SLOAN convention. The NY Times was one of the outlets pushing out the erroneous information. $\endgroup$ – blankip Nov 10 '15 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ @blankip Ahh, I see, it's cover-up conspiracy. I'm not sure why I didn't see it at first. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Nov 10 '15 at 21:12

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