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The danger of discriminating based on location

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • December 23, 2012

I’ve just read There’s A Bantu In My Bathroom by Eusebius McKaiser. Highly recommended if you’re comfortable with some unspoken truths in South Africa.


In one of his essays he discusses the difference between racialism and racism.


Racialism is a belief in the existence and significance of racial categories, and social and cultural differences among races.


Racism relates to unfair discrimination against members of other races.


These are two different things. For anyone to argue that racialism is wrong or does not exist is the height of political correctness, and makes it impossible to deal with racism because it applies racism is impossible (because there are no significant racial categories.)


I like this. It makes sense to me that we can separate the discussion of different races from the immediate assumption that we are racist to do so.


And now, onto something slightly different.


In my business experience, location is far more important than race when trying to determine the background of a person (


“Black man” reveals a fraction of what “Kayamandi resident” tells me.


Many businesses rely on location to provide relevant products. In fact, if you live in Alabama it is highly unlikely you will ever see a Facebook advert for Harvard University (see The Filter Bubble:


For me, based on Eusebius’ definition, this is “locationism” (i.e.: the belief in the existence and significance of location categories, and social and cultural differences among locations.)


Google is probably the most prominent and pervasive believer in locationism, using your location for almost every engagement (search, maps, advertising.)

There is nothing wrong with locationism per se, unless it slides into the realm of injustice.


For example, some banks have a history of not providing mortgages for certain suburbs, regardless of the creditworthiness of the applicant. That is unfair discrimination.


Locism. Same as racism, unfair discrimination, except based on location, not race.


Business should stick to locationism, stay away from locism.