A trend seems to be rising on spotlighting a particular race for the purpose of reducing racial inequality. One example published recently by a very large retailer:
"Shop and support
I assume someone has put more thought into the idea than I have and that it potentially makes sense ethically in a way that I'm not understanding. Discussion about race, being a social issue, is often based on popular opinion and emotionally based thought. I sometimes wish I could find explanations of these topics framed in a more academic and formal manner. Could someone cite any studies on this or give such an explanation on the underlying ethics of this concept?
My very simplistic thought, looking at this advertisement, is that the whole idea behind fighting racial bias is to avoid distinguishing between races of people at all; to think of ourselves not as Black, White, Asian, etc people, but rather just as people. My thinking (again, lacking rigorous study of relevant literature) on this was inspired by an American actor's perspective on a similar topic, but I lack any academic or philosophically rigorous source to support my ideas.
On one hand I think of emphasizing race as a purchasing decision factor as an unethical and counter-productive approach to racial equality. It seems plausible that this approach could even be thought of as the manifestation of racism, since the unspoken half of "Shop and support
<race>-owned businesses." is "instead of
<other races>-owned businesses." given that purchasing a good or service from one company usually entails not purchasing it from a competitor.
On the other hand, I realize racism has affected and continues to affect purchasing decisions in the opposite direction, so this could be thought of as a balancing of the scales. But at what cost? it certainly seems a multi-faceted and complex issue.
Overall, based on my earlier premise, my own immediate conclusion was that this seems like a shift from the ethical principle of
"Racism is bad."
"Racism is bad except for when ..."
...which appears potentially counter-productive toward the goals of improving race relations, improving racial equality, and reducing racially-focused mindsets to prevent these biases in the future. Even if the scales are balanced, the principle used to get there seems to hold potentially negative long term consequences, perhaps building resentment between races rather than reducing it.
But I'm looking for alternative ways to think of it based on more well-reasoned thought than my own, even if not to resolve the conflict, to better understand the ethical considerations from a more philosophically rigorous perspective.