Racism: A term that’s proper definition has been up for debate between scholars of sociology, politics, history, and a number of other research disciplines since its traditional definition was thrown out in the kindling of heat of the pre-civil rights era. Acclaimed sociologist and expert on race, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, author of Racism Without Racists (a book I read freshman year that really opened my eyes to the functions of post-Civil Rights era racism), borrows Ruth Benedict’s definitions of racism from her own book Race and Racism.
“the dogma that one ethnic group is condemned by nature to congenital inferiority and another group is destined to congenital superiority”
So racism occurs when a group with power abuses those without, based on the former’s belief that the latter is naturally substandard; the abuse is lashed out by way of utilizing existing disparities between the empowered and everyone else.
So I want to speak my mind on what I think causes racism. I myself am not well-versed in the many theories of where racism’s roots are buried. I have heard answers ranging from “divine right” to “a mental illness”. What I believe and, to be honest, end up preaching [through discussion], is that racism is the product of miseducation and natural human bias, with a dash of social pressure. Most of the people that I’ve talked with who hold their ground on racial prejudice and preference are people who are stubborn to begin with. They often are just as stubborn on other issues like politics, class, gender, and so forth. People aren’t naturally racist any more than one race is superior to another. Though, historically, many have disagreed with this kind of thinking.
In my own experience, education has given me the opportunity and tools necessary to understand different cultures and people. That doesn’t mean that I know ALL about people in other places. Hell, most of us don’t know shit about ourselves or the people around us. I think that education’s main role is to help people understand that learning about something will make is less unfamiliar, and therefore less threatening or frightening.
Be brave and educate yourself. If you fear what you don’t know, get to know it. We’re all tiny sub-categories of the same essential core shared by all people; that core is humanity, being a part of the human experience.