Racism is defined as the belief that race is the primary determinant of human capacities, a certain race is inherently superior or inferior to others and individuals should be treated differently according to their racial designation
1)Why does racism exist?
• A contributing factor to racism is social and economic status.
• People are often judged by where they live, how much money they make, what type of car they drive and so on.
• According to CNN, in 2004 the percentage of Americans living under the poverty level was 12.5%. In this same year the percentage of African Americans living under the poverty level was 24.4%, almost twice the national level.
• This tends to cause a feeling of superiority amongst some people over the African Americans. This also may cause people to generalize all African Americans as “poor” since the number is so high.
• Not all people who are racist are taught from their parents or an older generation. Sometimes it is the lack of diversity in the area in which one lives. Generally when people are unaccustomed to something they judge it. For example in Wallowa county racism is common due to lack of minorities in the area.
• One of the root causes is ignorance. Also, it is a lack of understanding, and false perceptions about others which amounts to a lack of knowledge, which once again translates back to ignorance.
• None of us see reality in its most perfect and purest form. We interpret what we read, we interpret what we hear, we interpret what we see and we call that reality when actually it could be the furthest thing from the truth.
• Throughout western education we as students are told to be competitive, that to succeed in life we need to be better than the rest, and here rests our problem.
• With competition, comes the mindset that equality is not an option, If we were to eliminate racism, than everyone would be equal, and if everyone is equal than life's competition is brought to an end.
• The teachings of Western society can be seen to echo in the very histories of the world that we rely upon so heavily in modern society.
2)Historical examples of racism(past situations):
a)Racism displayed by Westerners with regards to Black Africans
• During the past 500-1000 years, racism on the part of Western powers towards non-Westerners has had a far more significant impact on history than any other form of racism
• The most notorious example of racism by the West was slavery, particularly the enslavement of Africans in the New World, due to the belief that Black Africans were inferior to white Europeans and their descendants
• The white society considered blacks and other minorities as inferior
• Blacks are often seen more like beasts than men → subhuman
• This led to situations where blacks were relegated to the back of the bus, minorities were regularly excluded from public institutions, and seeing a black on a major league baseball team was a rare occurrence
• A significant example is South Africa under apartheid which was a system of legal racial segregation enforced by the National Party government in South Africa between 1948 and 1994, under which the rights of the majority non-white inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and minority rule by white people was maintained
b) Hitler’s idealogy of the supreme race
• Nazi Racism: For years Adolf Hitler, believed in racial "purity" and in the superiority of the "Germanic race" - what he called an Aryan "master race."
• His definition of an ideal "Aryan" was blond, blue-eyed, and tall.
• This traits had to be present if they wish to dominate the world
• Nazis began this ideology that the human race could be improved by limiting the reproduction of "inferior" races through performing forced sterilizations on ‘inferior race’ , so that they cannot have children
• The Nazi viewed the Jews as a poisonous "race," which "lived off" the other races, instead of a religious race
• They saw the Jews as a threat to them
• For example, Jewish and Romani (Gypsy) students were discriminated to the extent of the existence of ‘the principles of racial science’ which measures skull size, nose length and colour of pupils’ hair and eyes, just to determine the true “Aryan race”
3)Examples of Steps taken to fight racism(progress made):
a) Setting up of World Conference against Racism (WCAR)
• After World War II, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO), organised several World Conference against Racism(WCAR) to combat racist ideologies and behaviours
• The latest conference was the 2009 WCAR held in Geneva, Switzerland
• It evaluated progress towards the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, in 2001
• The Review Conference served as a catalyst to fulfilling the promises of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action agreed at the 2001 World Conference through reinvigorated actions, initiatives and practical solutions
b) Repealing of laws in South Africa
• In 1991, South Africa repealed the last of the laws that formed the basis of apartheid. Since then, racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa have been diminishing very slowly.
c) Leaders stepping in to fight racism
• Martin Luther King Jr. and several other civil rights leaders initiated a nonviolent protest campaign to desegregate public facilities in Birmingham, Alabama. City authorities turned fire hoses and police dogs on a large crowd of demonstrators—many of whom were children from local schools—and hundreds of protesters were beaten and arrested.
• President John F. Kennedy appeared on national television to proclaim his support for pending legislation that would forbid racial discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations
• Abandoning the use of race as a signifier of identity would liberate people from the societal stereotypes, divisiveness, and self-fulfilling prophecies attached to race
• Suppression of such information by banning the use of racial categories, argues former Justice Department attorney Alan Jenkins, amounts to censorship: “It bears noting that facts belong to no one group or agenda, to no ideology or political party. . . . Information and the liberty to use it . . . are hallmarks of a free society.”
• Efforts to suppress [racial] information gathering are threats not merely to the political left or right, but to the truth
d) Jew’s response to Nazi oppression
• The Jews fought with the Nazis and tried to protect their families, but a handful of poorly armed Jewish people were nothing to the German war machine. Thus, their efforts went down the drain
• Modern-day societies have drafted and enacted legislation to ensure that people “treat” each other with respect and dignity allowing one another their inalienable right to their pursuit of life and liberty.
4)Existence of racism in today’s world (limitations):
• Despite the various efforts made, racism is still apparent in our world today
• Countries may set laws which segregate people according to their nationality in doing business on their territory. This may be in the form of preventing the foreigners from buying real estate, especially land
• Modern racism domain is much larger than the usual perception of hatred that people feel towards others because of their skin colour
• In developed countries, individual or group hatred is replaced by institutional framework of restrictions and promotions
• To give resources and preferential treatment more to victims of racism than to people who simply suffer cultural and economic deprivations. . . . More and more racism was the lever one pushed to get entitlements and preferences, and cultural deprivation became more important as evidence of racism than as a problem to be overcome in its own right
• You can’t undo the discrimination against some blacks by some whites in the past by requiring new discrimination on behalf of different blacks against different whites. The solution to the discrimination that exists is not more discrimination. It is to enforce the laws we have and to stop discriminating
• Man’s actions can be legislated but their hearts and fears cannot.
• Thus, society continues to suffer from the disease. Forums, coalitions, and initiatives continue to be formed to foster unity, understanding, and tolerance.
• Racial prejudice perverts this uniqueness of the races and takes the view that these differences separate individuals further into groups, with one group being inferior to the other
• Countries/People facing heavy racism problems: Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican Americans, American Jews, Italian Americans, Arab Americans, and some other immigrant groups and their descendants
5)Reasons why racism still exists:
• There are no strict international rules on these matters and everything that hasn't been regulated internationally goes automatically to the state sovereignty domain
• We are so used to this subtle form of racism that we usually don't even consider such acts as racist per se believing that the governments better know what is and what isn't appropriate.
• Racism is a discrimination which can build up hatred, causing people to have the possibility of resorting to violence in order for their views to be heard. The violence may result in hostile relationship and tension among people and hence, causing more misunderstandings between them and worsening the problem of racism. Thus, this vicious cycle will be likely to continue.
• What may seem to be significant "racial" differences to some people - skin color, hair, facial shape - are not of much scientific significance. In fact, genetic differences within a so-called race may be greater than those between races.
• One philosopher writes: "There are few genetic characteristics to be found in the population of England that are not found in similar proportions in Zaire or in China….those differences that most deeply affect us in our dealings with each other are not to any significant degree biologically determined."
Special thanks to:
*and other articles which we may have forgotten to include
Done by: (10S15)
Goh Chang Jie
Jasper Ong Qing Xiang
Tan Li Xuan
Benedict Yeo Lehao