We received a varied response to our August 8th post “Should Gingerism Be Recognized As A Form Of Racism?” In the post, we wrote about a piece by Dorothy Dalton, entitled “Do redheads need to be a protected minority?” which described “the increased incidence of bullying and discrimination” of people with red hair, called “gingerism.”
A good number of respondents were of the mind of Stephen Levinson, a London employment lawyer, who commented: “I know this is the silly season but give me a break!”
Some folks were redheads themselves, such as Lyn Boxall, an attorney and regulatory specialist in Singapore, who was a little skeptical: “Mm, this is a new one for me. I was never a ‘carrot-top’, but I’ve certainly been accused of being a red-head for a good long time. Perhaps ‘brownish’ would be a better description, especially if I’m not standing in the sun. In any event, I can pop down to the hairdressing salon tomorrow and get the problem fixed, though it’d be tedious dying the eyebrows and eyelashes. Problem solved. No need to worry about discrimination.”
Or Lin Chambers, place unknown, who wrote: “I’ve never heard of it either and both my brothers are flaming red-heads. So are my oldest brothers’ kids. Most people I know favor red-heads. Must have something to do with ‘I love Lucy’; the most famous red-head of all!! Red-heads – a protected class???”
And others carefully considered the issue of discrimination, such as James Brashear, a general counsel in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, who said this:
“Red hair is a recessive trait attributed to a variation in the MC1R gene. The characteristics associated with that variation (red hair is one) are not a ‘condition,’ which makes having red hair sound like a disease.
Yes, there is discrimination against people with red hair. The South Park episode you mention is a reprehensible example. But there is discrimination against people for all sorts of physical characteristics. In the U.S., it’s common to discriminate against short people or unattractive people. In Japan, some people discriminate on the basis of blood type. This sort of discrimination isn’t morally correct or intelligent – even if it’s perfectly legal. No, we don’t need more laws to address this sort of stupidity. We already have the Golden Rule. What we need is more empathy and more education.
Racism is an unfortunate misnomer that describes discrimination against people for certain outward physical characteristics. There is no legitimate justification for categorizing people on such bases – whether it’s red hair, skin color or otherwise. There is no scientific basis for the concept of race. Myriad gene variations help make each of us a unique individual, but we humans are far more alike than we are different.”