Some years ago in a white-skin privilege I crisscrossing the Africa Continent with my better half and daughter on a two-year over land adventure of 85,000 miles.
Do I know anything about Racism. NO.
As far as I am concerned if we are good enough for God, we ought to be good enough for each other.
Ever since the European restructuring of the world from the 16th century on, racism has become affirmative action for whites.
Will there ever be parity? NO
It is the wrong assumption that the problem is color of skin.
There is nothing wrong with the color black, brown or yellow. It is not skin color that forms the basis for discrimination, but the negative meaning given to the color of skin. “Color is neutral;
It is not our gender or skin color that we have to change, but systems of oppression that benefit some groups at the expense of others.
None of us sees the world exactly as it is, for the reality that we see is literally an invention of the brain, actively constructed from a constantly changing flood of information we take into our minds, which is then interpreted through our experiences.
Though the image is in the eye, perception is in the mind.
What people actually “see” is not the reality of the image, but the reality of the perception. Thus, American writer, Anais Nin (1903-1977) is correct when she says: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Perception is reality! And however one defines the world, that is how it will be.
There is little difference between racism and sexism.
“All social reality is defined, [and] power comes from the ability to control the definition of situations.”
So was I conscious of my race. No I was not.
Not until we arrived in Ghana.
Here the forts and castles which started as European trading posts later becoming dungeons and slave auction areas are doted along the coast and are still there today.
It is estimated that from 1451 to 1870 between 10 and 12 million slaves were exported from Africa. Between 1620 and 1870, over half a million slaves from Africa were sent to the mainland of America.
From 1733 to 1807, the Gold coast supplied 13.3% of slaves needed by South Carolina. Between 1710 and 1769, 16% of what was needed for Virginia. In the total English trade, Ghana supplied 18.4% between 1690 and 1807. For the whole of the 18th Century, the Gold Coast supplied 12.1% of total Atlantic trade (Perbi 1995).
None of these statistics give the whole picture.
Race was created mainly by Anglo-Europeans, especially English, societies in the 16th and 19th centuries. “Race” is based on socially constructed, but socially, and certainly scientifically, outmoded beliefs about the inherent superiority and inferiority of groups based on racial distinctions (Montagu 1952, 1963; Gossett 1963; Bernal 1987; Bennett 1988).
The problem however was driven home by an American Black Tourist for lack of a better description.
Having just visited the Gate of No Return I white was standing outside to be confronted by this tourist who spat at me. Ignorance personified. This type of prejudice or “pre-judgment” is based on ignorance. We prejudge others on the basis of limited knowledge. The other factor is fear, and this one goes much deeper than ignorance, for its strikes at the root of prejudice, the issue of privilege and power.
Racism and prejudice has been present in almost every civilization and society throughout history.
Racism is a case of ‘misplaced hate’ and ignorance. It is based on the belief that one’s culture is superior to that of others. In prejudice people are basically defending privilege of position and thus stand to gain emotionally, culturally, socially and economically from an attitude of prejudice towards others.
Why does racism still exist in today’s world?
In its essence, racism is culturally sanctioned strategies that defend the advantages of power, privilege and prestige which whites have because of the subordinated position of racial minorities.
The fact that it still exists in today’s modern and so-called advanced world is because of inequality of opportunity.
As the 21st century nears, racism is one of the most important and persistent social problem in America and in the world today.
“[T]he word ‘race’ no longer corresponds to anything definite” (1995:569).
Durkheim further suggested that “race” was destined to disappear from modern society. However, here we are, 113 years after the first publication of The Division of Labor, and “race” remains very much a part of the organization of contemporary society. Catholics prefer to marry Catholics, the wealthy prefer to marry the wealthy, whites marry whites, and blacks marry blacks. Thus, norms of endogamy become a primary mechanism for the perpetuation of “races.”
It is on the rise in increasing ways. Even though biologically, there are no ‘races’, the social construction of race as a category is alive and well today.Racism thus refers to a systemic phenomenon. It permeates the values, beliefs, norms, attitudes and behaviours of members of the dominant society. It is a group phenomenon which translates into everyday reality through the actions of individuals. But it is not confined to individuals. It is present in the institutional and cultural matrix of a society.
White Americans currently hold at least 19 times the wealth of African-Americans. Yet, 61% of white Americans believe that blacks have already achieved equality, and an additional 22% believe that racial equality will be reached “soon” In other words, 83% of whites believe that we are living in a post racial era. Only 17% of blacks believe that equality has been reached. The United States is not only a multicultural nation, but also a nation in conflict with its values, values of freedom, equality, liberty and justice for all.
Whether we are talking about ethnic cleansings, group hatred or retraction of equity laws under the guise that these are unfair, the underlying issue is the same. One group, threatened by the perceived loss of power, exercises social, economic and political muscle against the other to retain privilege by restructuring for social advantage.
All of us tend to have prejudicial attitudes towards others. If you don’t believe me just look at the reaction in Europe to thousands of refugees fleeing Syria, and economic disasters in North Africa and else where, caused in large by us whites.
Most Whites have almost no conceptual idea nor first-hand experience of life in the African-American and Latino communities.
What is racism? What does whiteness have to do with either “race” or racism?
How are these ascription’s linked to the social and political significance of “race”and whiteness?
We must concern ourselves with the social construction of reality. This is because racial prejudice is the refusal to change one’s attitude even after evidence to the contrary. “Race” and whiteness are socially defined notions that have socially significant consequences for all of us no matter what the color.
“In the midst of profound demographic changes, it is time to question whether the Black/White binary paradigm of race fits our highly variegated current and future population.
We are guided not so much by any biological foundation as by the social meanings that are ascribed to them.
Whiteness and their social significance are intimately linked to the history of social organization in American society. “Race” is a social fact in which the social and political significance of whiteness plays a critical role. Interaction between the “races” is generally perceived in terms of hierarchical relations between blacks and whites.
Keeping the labor cost low allowed for the creation of wealth based on capital investment, the ownership of real estate, and the ownership of human beings categorized as property. The latent consequences of such an arrangement continue to be prominent in the year 2015 It manifests as low self-worth and low self-esteem for the descendants of those who were enslaved, while the descendants of the masters and overseers continue to enjoy, in general, the benefits of white-skin privilege.
While the rich get richer, poor and uneducated whites and blacks compete for the limited opportunities that exist in the new, information economy. Further, and equally damaging, is that among most descendants of the formerly enslaved, there continues to exist a social hierarchy based on skin color . . . the myth of light-complected people implying something better than, or above, dark-complected people
We must stop seeking to mold people after distorted human images and allow them the right to be born into the beauty of the World.
Racism is painful. It hurts our identity, suppresses our talents, and can lead to injury. Can We Have Capitalism Without Racism? No. The invisible chains of debt, a parallel practice of “colorblindness” arose that produces the invisibility of race?
Plays a critical role. Mediated racism functions in several ways. The most obvious is the association of particular groups of people with specific actions.
They provide us with definitions about who we are as a nation; they reinforce our values and norms; they give us concrete examples of what happens to those who transgress these norms; and most importantly, they perpetuate certain ways of seeing the world and people’s within that world. It promotes a notion of consensus – that there is a core group of which we are a part, a core that defines the social order, and that it is in our interest to maintain. That there is a common value system binding us, obscures the hierarchies that are present in society.
The mythical notion that all individuals are equal in society’s eyes, and that all possess equal access to institutions is and has not being addressed by Governments.
The barriers of racism, sexism, homophobia and class are all translated into individual actions. Social institutions that perpetuate these barriers are presented as being innocent of these actions. In fact, they are often represented as being too liberal in their intent. The media does not stand in isolation from the society on which they report. In fact, they are an integral part of society. They utilize the same stock of knowledge that is part of that pool of “common sense” which informs all of our lives.
This pool of common sense knowledge is a reservoir of all our unstated, taken-for-granted assumptions about the world we live in. It is filled with historical traces of previous systems of thought and belief structures.
The way in which the media positioned and represented Peoples who are different; different from what was considered acceptable in society. That difference covered the entire span of people’s – Aboriginal peoples, people of color, Jews, Ukrainians, etc. is bias to white culture.
People of color continued to be portrayed in negative terms. They are most often associated with crime, deviance and the threat of invasion.
The depicting of the Third World suffering in a manner which casually jettisons the historical, political and economic context that has produced such suffering.
Yet another commonly used technique on the part of the media is the labeling of whole groups of people as illegal immigrants and bogus refugees, as we see in the Mediterranean.
Racism is often presented in a personalized form, as emanating from the actions of a few extremists.
Rather than assume a moral tone in coverage of issues of racism, the media have to take an active stance against racism.
Perhaps the most unfortunate part of our legacy of colonialism and now imperialism, is that we tend to swallow the whole notion of white superiority.
In closing this litany of observations. It is impossible if not incredible to try to equate North-South relations, predicated on colonialism and neocolonialism, to the historical battle between communism and capitalism.
Unequal powers and unequal ideologies are not alike.