Racism Essay, Research Paper
In this essay I will argue that the key to end racism is to understand race and ideology and how this two concepts relate to each other.
Appiah claims that race does not exist. He uses scientific methods to prove that individuals from different groups of people have no greater genetic differences between them than the genetic differences in individuals from the same group of people. He writes: “…human genetic variability between the populations of Africa or Europe or Asia is not much greater than within those populations…” With This he is trying to demonstrate that if there is no biological difference between populations, except for those differences due to the habitat in which a certain population has lived for many years. Therefore he proves that there is no accurate meaning of the word race.
Appiah uses in his discussions about race the writings of W. E. DuBois, his technique is to cite an argument made by DuBois, and give sufficient proof to refute it. He does this with several statements, and concludes that race is a misconception.
Although he divides the world population in races, and gives answers to racism, he does not give an explicit meaning to the word race. He uses history, culture and languages, to form several groups of people that he calls races.
Loewen’s discusses 12 American history books, and focuses in the fact that all of them try to hide racism against black people throughout American history. He shows that even the great forefathers of the United States were racist, that all of them owned slaves and that they did not consider Black people to be equal. He also writes about the many years of beatings and lynching that black people endured, even years after the Reconstruction.
Appiah and Brace use scientific data to prove biologically that is impossible to categorize humankind in races.
Later in the debate, Appiah says that the existence of racism does not imply that race has to exist, he mentions the Salem witch trials, in which witches were haunted down and sentenced to death because they were supposedly doing witchcraft, to prove his point; he says that although witches do not exist, they were persecuted for witchcraft. What he means by this cite is that although race does no exist, people are still being persecuted by racist individuals.
In another part of the debate, he also refutes the idea that race is a group of people with the same socio-historical background; he says that if that statement is true, then his family would have to be a race because they have the same socio-historical background.
The most important reason why people try to define race is to understand racism and to see if it is justifiable or not. Racism has been in human nature since the beginning of time and it is a constant problem in modern cultures, that’s why through better understanding of how it works, we might be able to finish the history of hate and violence that racism has produced.
Racism is the manifestation of the false belief that races are different. Or in the beliefs of a single person which ca be manifested when for example: some white people think that they are a superior race and they can treat others differently.
To better understand this phenomenon, we need to know what ideology means, since ideology is the basic source of racism.
Eagleton gives several definitions of ideology in his book “Ideology”, I will cite some of his definitions, and based on the corrections made to the definitions, I will formulate my own definition of ideology to better understand racism.
· “A body of ideas characteristic to a particular social group or class”: This definition is very accurate, but as history tells us, the greatest ideologists are the ones that defy the ideas and beliefs of the vast majority.
· “Forms of thought motivated by social interests”: It is true that everyone’s thinking is influenced by social pressures, but this definition implies that every belief is social-based, which is certainly not true.
Having said that, a new definition of ideology can be made by combining these two definitions. I would define ideology as the ideas and beliefs of an individual person based on his own social, cultural, religious and geographical background.
With this definition present, racism becomes a personal belief that emerges from the background of the person. This doesn’t mean that racism can not become a part of the ideology of a specific group (because it does). It means that every member of this group has his own ideology, but all have the common manifestation of racism. Also they don’t necessarily need to have the same reasons for being racist, since every person’s background is unique.
Furthermore, we can assume that racism is a belief that derives from ideology and the misconception of race, which means that if we fix the roots from where it arises, racism will disappear. This also means that racism is not and endless plague (although many people think it is).
We also have take into account that racism varies from culture to culture. In Costa Rica, the degree of racism against black people is much lower than in the United States. This difference may be due to the fact that in Costa Rica we do not have the background of slavery, or the history of beatings and persecutions that is so present in the United States history.
To remove racism from our society, we need to educate ourselves, for knowledge is basic in the understanding of racism. We also need support from the government, by the implementation of anti-racist policies that would protect people from racism, and would make mandatory to teach history as it really happened, without omitting parts of the American history that are as important as the Declaration of Independence. Also, we need to eliminate our concept of race, and for doing that we need to change the way things are taught in classes and promote the equity of all human beings.
One example of a misuse of race can be found in the review of the book “The Shape of the River”, written by Bowen and Bok, by the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/10/25/reviews/981025.25wolfet.html). In this book, we see that the author divides the college applicants according to the skin color. Although the author uses a politically correct form of writing, in which he clearly says that biologically there is no difference between blacks and whites, after reading the article we perceive how the author leads us to think that white people are smarter. He does this by showing statistics about SAT scores and intelligence tests in which the white people have a bigger ratio of good scores than black people show. Also, he denotes the fact that the best schools in their effort to diversify their student population have to fight over a few high scores from black people to fill the quota.
The controversial part is that he doesn’t show that this gap really happens because black people have been oppressed for a long period of time, and until the last one hundred years (or less) they have been able to develop culturally and economically, so they have a economic deficiency that prevents black people from getting the best education possible. In the other hand, white people have an economic advantage so their kids get a better education and a higher chance to get a better score. Also, this deficiency changes the priorities of a black kid, because he is going to be more interested in going to a technical school or community college so that he can be able to start working faster and help to maintain the family.
Concluding, I would like to say that race is a dangerous word.