What is racism? Where were its inception roots from?
Racism is a belief that humans may be divided into separate biological entities based on inherited physical traits, intellect, morality, personality traits, and other cultural and behavioral features. It was the heart of North American slavery and the colonization and empire-building activities of western Europeans, especially in the 18th century. The idea of race was popped up to magnify the differences between people of European origin and those of African descent whose ancestors had been compulsively enslaved and transported to America. The Africans and their African American descendants were characterized as lesser human beings by Americans, while portraying the United States as a bastion and champion of human freedom, with human rights, unlimited opportunities, democratic institutions, and equality. The ideology of human equality and slavery remained in contradiction and the accompanying philosophy of human freedom and dignity demands the dehumanization of those enslaved.
By the 19th century, racism is found deep-rooted among all people around the world. Even leaders of many countries began to differentiate their societies in racial terms and designated accordingly as “higher: and “lower” races. Those seen as a race of lower status are exploited for their labor. Discrimination against them became a common scene in many areas of the world.
Many conflicts around the world have been interpreted in racial terms since the mid-20th century even though their origins were in the ethnic hostilities. The deepest forms and degrees of divisiveness are reflected in the acceptance of racism. Many societies have begun to fight racism by raising awareness by promoting human understanding in public policies, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, set forth by the UN in 1948.
The brutality of the police in the United States
The unwarranted and excessive illegal use of force against civilians is quite often by US police officers. The forms of police brutality ranged from assault and battery to mayhem, torture, and murder against the blacks. Other forms of mistreatment encompass harassment (including false arrest), intimidation, and verbal abuse.
The majority of victims who have been subjected to police brutality in the United States are African Americans. The key factor explaining the predominance of African Americans among the victims of police brutality is anti-black racism among members of the police department who were mostly the whites. Though police brutality against blacks had become a serious problem in many urban areas by the mid-20th century, most whites were unaware of the happenings.
One such brutal happening in recent times was the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man by a white police officer. On May 25, he was arrested by the Minneapolis police officers when a convenience store employee called 911 and told the police that Mr. Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. In seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Mr. Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers with no sign of life. Mr. Chauvin, who is a white, immobilized Mr. Floyd to the ground with the knee on his neck. The officer didn’t spare him after Mr. Floyd lost consciousness. He did so for some time enough to execute or kill him. There were three officers in the crime scene of which two restrained bystanders from intervening the action while the other, Mr. Chauvin executed Floyd’s death, ignoring the onlookers’ pleas to remove his knee, which he didn’t do until the medics told him to, who arrived at the scene twenty minutes later.
This is a live incident that happened despite the combats against racism by spreading words about human rights that are on go.
Juneteenth: State holiday declared by New York
Juneteenth, the day named for June 19th, commemorated the end of slavery. The New York governor Andrew Cuomo declared Juneteenth as a paid state holiday. Virginia and Philadelphia also declared the day as a holiday, marking the end of slavery.
How can we stop the pandemic of racism?
The tragic death of George Floyd, who was a black man, sparked protests worldwide. These protests have moved the US lawmakers to introduce a new bill to end the excessive use of force by police.
The COVID-19 pandemic has its spread through the SARS-CoV-2 virus while the pandemic of racism has no question that it’s human-made. It originated from a delusional view of a group of people thinking that they are better than other people. The white European elites have used this view of the world to rationalize their imperialist, colonialist, and racist policies, proclaiming that they are culturally and biologically superior. Dark complexions are associated with low-grade labor while fair-skinned are associated with higher social and cultural refinement. In a more subtle and hostile way, the consumer society keeps the racism alive by beauty concepts and tend to celebrate the glamor of fair skin people.
It is both our individual and collective task to curb the pandemic of racism. According to Franz Boa, who is a socio-cultural anthropologist, culture is not something absolute and no one size fits all where the culture relates to this context. He gave a push for a democratic understanding of culture and race concerning differences so that no single group is considered as a jewel in the crown.
Overcoming racist perspectives and racist behaviors at an individual level starts with a change in our worldview. One must blur the concept of self and others, irrespective of their skin color, and simply treat everyone equally.
We should oppose the contemporary ideologies of scientific racism at organizational and community levels. For example, admissions at schools, public services, and corporations’ shouldn’t discriminate against people based on their color or race while organizations should actively support people who are oppressed due to racist discrimination and underrepresented in all areas of public life.
Finally, yet importantly, governments around the world should work towards lessening structural inequalities created by racist social hierarchies. All of us should deconstruct the old normal of white supremacy and move towards believing in racial equality in the view that every person has equal respect and dignity.