It is customary for me to add a “disclaimer” to any and all articles I do on the subject of “racism.” It looks something like this:
“I don’t believe in racism, because I don’t believe in race. Race is generally an arbitrary, non-scientific construct of convenience. Humans are all of the same species, regardless their heritage. That being said, I do believe horrendous acts have been committed in the name of the thing which in my mind, does not exist. They are just as wrong—maybe more so, considering the lack of race among men in my view. The real question is, ‘What drives those who commit these terrible acts?’.”
Having gotten the disclaimer out of the way, I want to discuss the idea “at the root of” what is termed (incorrectly, in my view) “racism.” I think it fair to define racism—at least in part—in this way, “Racism is a broken mindset, which causes inappropriate actions, based on the ethnicity of the person or people against whom the improper actions are committed.”
I’m certainly willing to entertain other, more precise definitions, but for the meantime, I feel the need to make certain observations, and issue some clarifications based on this definition.
To begin with, since a person can no more “help” his or her ethnicity, whence his or her family originates, than he or she can stop breathing, the practice of racism can pretty much never be seen as a good thing. Put simply, anybody who practices racism per the definition I have provided is inherently doing something that is bad.
This is, in my humble opinion, true whether the person is attempting something they perceive as positive, or something they intend to be negative. To “favor” or to fail to favor on the basis of familial ethnicity is wrong.
And to be clear, where I don’t believe the word racism is an “accurate descriptor” of the basis for the many terrible acts to it attributed, that does not mean those acts were not just as real. They happened, and I’m not trying to disavow their existence.
To be plain, I’m not trying to say either, that things that would be considered racist are not still happening, both abroad, and in the United States. It is my sad duty to acknowledge that they both are happening and will continue to do so.
Unfortunately, I cannot even report the good news that governmental or institutional racism has ceased to be, nor do I expect it to ever do so. We can certainly work to lessen its effect on an ongoing and continual basis, but I much doubt we will ever entirely destroy it.
The important thing is to continue down the path to its demise, or at least its minimization to the degree that its effect on those afflicted with it is as close to non-existent as possible.
This is, to me, the reality of racism (for want of a better word).
Now please allow me to address the fallacy. I cannot really even speak for the United States, except to express my feeling about things. I could dig up all kinds of statistics, but those who disagree with me can do likewise. I fear this is a “never ending game.” As such, I won’t dignify it with its use in this article.
My feeling is that most people I have ever met do not support the acts or attitudes that result in racism. That’s not to say I’ve not met some who did, just that most do not.
But this is only the beginning. Probably the more important point, is to “drive a wedge” between what people are and what they choose to believe and accept. To be clear, I’m not doing this in order to say people should generally be mistreated on the basis of their beliefs, but to make it clear that, as a rule, people cannot help what they are, but can change what they believe or support.
I should hope the reason for this distinction should be obvious. If a person is from The Sudan, from China, from India, native to Australia or the United States, or wherever, he or she cannot change this fact. If a person’s skin is darker than another’s, or lighter that’s not some horrible or bad thing. It is simply their reality. Counting them less or more of a person on this basis is, at best foolish, and at worst horribly dangerous.
On the other hand, if we talking about a person being a believing Christian, Jew, Muslim, Taoist, believing him or her self transgender or “gay,” or expressing or espousing any other belief, this is inherently not the same as a person having been born with some “outward manifestation,” or inward one expressed on the basis of knowledge.
Again, that’s not to say that a person should be punished on the basis of their beliefs. The only time that should happen in my view is if their beliefs are in direct conflict with reasonable and acceptable law, regulation, or similar. Granted, defining what is reasonable and acceptable is a challenge, but laws, regulations and similar must exist in each and every society.
What’s important though, is to realize that a person born in a different part of the World, biologically female or male, with only one leg, or with none, blind or deaf, or a person who loses some faculty in the course of their life, cannot be considered in the same way as someone who chooses to believe some thing or things.
Such a person cannot help what he or she was born, nor where his or her family were born or are from. This makes it so the person in question, if “punished for” such an attribute must be seen as discriminated against for a cause he or she cannot “change.”
When one talks about racism or sexism, or ageism or things of this sort, this should be the “standard for determination.”
If a person chooses to believe something—like that indiscriminately killing others is acceptable—he or she should expect to have his or her beliefs “challenged.” Further, he or she should probably expect some sort of punishment or other retribution if those beliefs are against formerly mentioned, laws, regulations, and even norms..
Okay, I hope I’ve made my point here.
Here’s hoping your time is good, and thanks for reading.