What is Racism?
The recent shootings in the US have once again unmasked the evil face of racism. Just several weeks back, it was revolting to see a black man gasping for breath under the knees of a white policeman, eventually leading to his death. America went through a civil war over slavery. It saw a civil rights movement for dignity and equality of human beings. Yet systematic discrimination and violence persists against its black nationals.
Racism is on the rise in the western world. Racism continues unabated.
What then is racism?
The word “racist” is a tough little word. Initially, it was understood in its dictionary-style meaning: Prejudice. However, the word has grown and shifted overtime. The word now carries baggage beyond its meaning in the dictionary.
Racism is simply a developed sense of attitudes. It is antagonism based on the supposed superiority of one group over another. It is a systematic ideology. It is complex set of beliefs and practices that divide humanity into the “higher” us and “lower” them. There is this “colour line”. In theory skin colour should not be problematic; in reality an acute awareness of colour is almost always a symptom of racism. Racism becomes evident when one group of people exercises power over another on the basis of skin colour. Their actions are based on implicit or explicit set of beliefs and an ideology of their inherent superiority over others.
Does racism have a history?
Racism is not a modern-day phenomenon. It is centuries old. History is replete with examples of racism. When the First Fleet carrying British convicts landed in Australia in 1699, they set up their own rules and regulations. The White Australia policy was introduced. The legal mechanisms for the White Australia policy were tied to the widespread belief in the superiority of British civilization and the white race in general. In their colonial expansion, the British took over India which they ruled for about 200 years. They were no different to the Indians when it came to racism. Hitler’s extermination of Jews commonly known as The Holocaust was nothing but racial hatred. Then in 1948 when the National Party won elections in South Africa, its all-white government began enforcing policies of racial segregation. Under this scheme which came to be known as apartheid, the non-white South Africans who were in the majority, were forced to live in separate areas from whites and use separate public facilities, including the church.
Can racism be stopped?
The view amassed over centuries, an aggregate of mistaken beliefs “we are superior” just because of skin colour, needs to change. But much of the social structure, habits and practices of institutions also need to be discarded. The current justice system in some western countries that awards unfair advantage and privilege to whites, exemplifies this monster. True, dismantling racism is an uphill task. There is no doubt there exist multiple hurdles in dismantling racism. But steps need to be taken now. True effort both on the individual and collective level will chip into the old traditions and gradually cause the tower of hatred to crumble. The first step would be in using education as an effective tool. Good education would definitely dissipate the idea of superiority and inferiority. Teachers can instill tolerance from early childhood. A multicultural education system helps provide excellent measures to root out prejudice. Secondly, a peaceful movement with participants from all people irrespective of colour to end institutionalized racism could break the back of this evil. People should let go the view of “white supremacy” and move towards a belief in racial equality.
When people change the way they think and act and be prepared to challenge others to do the same, racism will soon become a thing of the past.
glb... I don't know where to begin...
I applaud your attempt to face up to a problem which pervades all cultures worldwide.
However, I fear that you missed the mark a little. Well, by quite a long way actually, in the same way an undergraduate tries to make an argument and believes themselves perfect.
Nowhere do you address the question of why, but we will get to that.
Your definition of racism as prejudice is correct and I can even allow the fact that the word has grown and shifted. I doubt you can show me relevant baggage that doesn't break down as more prejudice though. Unfortunately your definition then focusses on skin colour, yet when you get to the next paragraph you reference the holocaust. Now it is a long time since I studied the Second World War but I am pretty sure the holocaust had nothing to do with skin colour and was much more about religion. Admittedly the whole aryan race thing is race based but not the reasoning behind Hitlers hatred of the Jewish people and the subsequent genocide.
Again your last paragraph seems to focus on skin colour despite prejudice being prevalent in many aspects of life. It is also predominately focussed on white supremacy, which given your original statement is understandable. I would ask that people go and read about the genocides in Rwanda which was black on black or in the former Yugoslavia which was white on white both of which were prejudicial and undoubtedly fit the modern term of racism.
One thing I do take issue with is your use of "The current justice system in some western countries that awards unfair advantage and privilege to whites...". If this was an undergrad submission I would be marking you down for not citing your source here. If we remove the USA, who under their current Attorney General are so political and in step with the fascist regime currently in the white house, I don't know of a judicial system that works that way, western or not. I would love you to educate me on this if I am wrong.
Where we do agree is that education is the answer (nobody should be surprised to hear a lecturer say that I suppose) but where we disagree is that its not about skin colour... it should be much more than that.
Then again, as an old white guy from western europe, I have been told all of the worlds ills are my fault... so what do I know!!!
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glb .... Always spreads-out essays which are beyond his own comprehension ...... ...... It's like that only ..........
The 'race' all people on earth belong to is called 'homo sapiens sapiens' which translates into the 'wise wise man'. Unfortunately there are too many idiots around.