Racism, also called racialism, is the belief that humans may be divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called ‘races’. It is also the belief that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality. Moreover, it’s also about intellect, morality, and other cultural and behavioral features. Some also believe that some races are innately superior to others. /*(The term is also applied to political, economic, or legal institutions and systems. They engage in or perpetuate discrimination on the basis of race. But that is not all. They reinforce racial inequalities in wealth and income, education, health care, civil rights, and other areas.)*/ Racism messed up our society and we might contribute to it, without even knowing.
What racism looks like
Racism can come in many different forms, from harsh comments to offensive actions. In more extreme cases, racism occurs in public spaces and comes from strangers, and can escalate to violent hate crimes.
Not all racism is public and obvious
Subtle or ‘casual’ racism can also appear in the form of a ‘microaggression’. This is an intentional or unintentional offensive message that targets a person. But how do they target a certain person? Entirely on them being a member of a minority group. Any form of racism is unacceptable. We’re talking about even a comment or an action that is subtle or occurs in a casual environment.
Examples of microaggressions include:
- intentionally choosing not to sit next to a person because you feel uncomfortable about the colour of their skin
- telling a person of a different race who was born and raised in Australia that they speak ‘good English’
- asking a person born in Australia what their nationality is or ‘where they come from’. Instead, you should ask them about their cultural background
- making fun of someone’s background, even if it’s disguised as a joke.
Racism was at the heart of North American slavery and the colonization and empire-building activities of western Europeans. This happened especially in the 18th century. In order to magnify the differences between people of European origin and those of African descent, the idea of race was invented. We’re talking about people whose ancestors had been involuntarily enslaved and transported to the Americas. The contradiction between slavery and the ideology of human equality seemed to demand the dehumanization of those enslaved. This is also accompanied by a philosophy of human freedom and dignity.
Let’s start with a few contrasting numbers:
- 60 and 2.2. In 1940, 60% of employed black women worked as domestic servants. Today, the number is down to 2.2%, while 60% hold white-collar jobs.
- 44 and 1. In 1958, 44% of whites said they would move if a black family became their next door neighbor. Today, the figure is 1%
- 18 and 86. In 1964, the year the great Civil Rights Act was passed, only 18% of whites claimed to have a friend who was black. Today, 86% say they do, while 87% of blacks assert they have white friends.
Progress is the largely suppressed story of race and race relations over the past half-century. And thus, it’s news that more than 40% of African Americans now consider themselves members of the middle class. 42% own their own homes. This figure rises to 75% if we look just at black married couples. Black two-parent families earn only 13% less than those who are white. Almost a third of the black population lives in suburbia.