Disclaimer: This post will most likely piss many off. If this is a touchy subject for you, and you lack objectivity in any way, move on.
This may be one of the most divisive posts I’ve written. Everyone who reads this will have their own opinion already formulated as to how bad racism is, or that perhaps it isn’t as much a problem as people seem to make out. Whatever take you have on it, we must not push this aside.
Webster’s Dictionary defines racism as: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” With the definition as our basis, let’s take a look at this.
Many of us know about Hitler’s “superior” race, the Aryans. This is a sect that is still very much alive in the world today, filled with people who are filled with hatred for anyone who doesn’t have the same skin tone, or shaved head (a more recent development for some of those who define themselves as Aryan), or you fill in the blank. I’m sure you’ve seen them, or at the very least have heard of them. It’s the idea that they are superior that leads them to figuring out ways to set them apart, to show that they are better than those who may have color in their skin.
The Ku Klux Klan is another such sect. Started much earlier than the Aryan Brotherhood, this group of Democrats (at the time) were filled with resentment at the idea of freed blacks and were a terror group meant to incite fear and hatred for the black community. Theirs was as much a response to the changing government as it was to their superior ethos.
When it comes to subjects like slavery, we can go back to the beginning of recorded history and see that slavery has always been an institution. It still exists today, in terms of human trafficking and sex slaves throughout the world, quite prevalent in America today. But we’re not here to discuss slavery, we’re here to discuss racism. So let’s dive into this, shall we?
Racism is about one’s race. So let us just nip this one in the bud. While there are varying ethnicities, cultures, etc., there is one race. The human race. The idea of race is a social construct, and biologically, while there are differences between the different cultural and ethnic groups throughout the world, we are all still one race, one species. Aside from outward appearance – skin tone, nose shape, eye shape, hair – humans are basically identical to one another, with no discernable genetic differences. Certain diseases may be more prevalent to a certain group, but often those types of things are found to be due more to habitat, lifestyle and food available to them (which includes how they prepare their food, what types, etc).
Which brings us to the reality that what we have to combat is the social construct.
Let’s get personal for a second. I’m Hispanic. I was raised Hispanic in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, in a predominantly Hispanic town and went to a school where many of my friends were Hispanic. But I also grew up where there were gangs and with the drugs and violence associated with those gangs being around me from early childhood. Were the gangs and their associated illegal activities because of the Hispanic neighborhood? Was the “race” to blame for a proclivity toward this kind of behavior? Or was it more systemic?
These things, and more, I sought to answer as I got older. What I found was that the Hispanics that made up that particular gang were Hispanics simply because of the dominance of that particular group, in that area. Also, social issues like poverty and a distinct lack of parents at home (both parents working long hours) helped to lead to a need for the youngsters to feel wanted, and this led to the gang’s growth. These young men and women could find work, often in dealing drugs, and could, at least for that fleeting moment, change the circumstances they found themselves in.
Countless studies have been conducted on the nature vs nurture aspects of sociology, and every legitimate study I’ve looked at over the years has found that nurture is far more important to the growth of the mind and body. In short, it’s not about your genetics as much as it is about how you’re raised, and in many cases, where. City or rural? Inner city or suburbs? Section 8 housing or a mansion? Wise parents or parents who just don’t give a damn? These are the things that matter.
Biologically speaking, it is genetic variation that produces the strongest offspring. As such, the idea of a superior race is ludicrous, at best.
I have seen in my lifetime that people tend to gravitate toward others who are like them, which makes sense. But how do they determine what makes another person similar to themselves? Often times, it is skin tone first, then personal history. We almost don’t realize we’re doing it, but we automatically segregate ourselves based on who we perceive is the best fit for us, and is most often based on what we see first. That instant judgment we cast.
Then, the more time we spend with these individuals, the more like them we will become. You see, we are nothing more than a product of our environment. We turn into the things we surround ourselves with the most. This is the beginning of the problems we see around us.
Why does racism exist? Because we classify ourselves. Because we find people who we believe are most like us and we become that person. Because then, we decide we want to belong, and turn into a person we may or may not like. I call this effect reverse racism. It is important to distinguish what I’m saying here from the liberal take on reverse racism, citing it as simply another means of belittling an evident issue, detracting from the inherent problem we are currently dealing with. However, how else do we explain black groups who hate the whites for their skin color (they may claim “white privilege” but that’s not really it).
It’s odd. As I’ve watched the news and videos surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve noticed something ironic. It’s an air of superiority these particular blacks seem to have around them, as though they are better than the whites who are nearby, in some cases attacking them simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As I’ve said in previous posts, there is an idea that seems prevalent – that because my ancestry was slighted, so, too am I. This is wrong. I went on to make the point that we are nothing more than a cumulative sum of our choices. This is what is missing from the picture.
In 2008, the United States made history, electing its first African American president, ushering in hope and change for the United States. Except it was more of the same, and in those eight years of Obama’s term, he did some good as well as some not so good. But one thing that got exacerbated beyond all recognition was the topic of race. Obama was elected, in large part I think, because of his skin tone. Because so many were wanting to force the issue on America, to prove we had finally moved beyond our petty differences. A beautiful notion, to be sure, and I thought it was a nice symbol overall, even though I didn’t vote for Obama, and haven’t much cared for him as a president.
That being said, however, it should be noted that the racial divides and tensions, mirroring the political divides and tensions, have gotten really bad in the past eight years. Every bit of forward progress we had made up to that point seems to have been erased. And we did it to ourselves, through our own ignorance and stupidity.
There is no race. There is only us. The wrongs of the past are past. The wrongs of today, while present, are not what we make them out to be. We are prone to exaggeration, and because of that we make mountains out of mole hills, we make the issues more than they are. I don’t know, perhaps what we need is a little more perspective. Maybe what we need is less selfishness and a little more selflessness. Maybe we need to do is let go of our past, so we can make for ourselves a better future for us and our children.
We must never forget. But we cannot dwell.
One day, I would love for others to see us as I do. A tiny blue speck in a sea of stars and inky blackness. If the earth is literally nothing in the vastness of the universe, what then do we matter? As of right now, we are all we have. And right now, it seems we’re pretty set on stepping on each other and killing each other off in an attempt to be king of our nothing world. What matters, my friends, what truly matters, is not you, not me, but everything and everyone that surrounds us. Let us expand our minds, collectively, and rise above the petty nonsense that describes us best today.