Retrieved on July 16, 2008 from http://mzansiafrika.typepad.com/mzansi_afrika/2006/05/dear_mr_ms_raci.html
Dear Mr & Ms Racist
With reference to your behaviour in these past few years, I’d like to inform you that more and more people are waking up to the fact that the premise of your beliefs rests on scorn. For example, today more and more performing artists and others are spreading the message, and it seems to me that you’re more isolated now than you’ve ever been. One of your complaints is the practice of affirmative action, usually observed in places where you have recently been, like America and South Africa. You say that qualified white people are not getting jobs while unqualified minorities are. In America, affirmative action “can call for an admissions officer faced with two similarly qualified applicants to choose the minority over the white, or for a manager to recruit and hire a qualified woman for a job instead of a man” [www.washingtonpost.com].
One thing that’s clear is that as long as we’re physically different, racism and discrimination will never leave our world. Unless something enormous happens. Something more threatening than an ominous cold war or a murderous hot one, something bigger than a natural catastrophe, something deadlier than any killer virus or monstrous organisms, more unthinkable than any evil you can imagine. Wars and viruses have so far not been able to right the world, and I doubt they ever will. We could bring up “religion” at this juncture as a possible solution but frankly, “religion” has been one of the bigger dividers of men and remains so, even as I type these words.
The truth is that humans and most other animals are conquerors. Dogs piss out a territory; humans kill or enslave those they find on a territory. Throughout their history, those humans with more advanced technology were able to travel wide, and wherever they did, they killed or conquered other humans they found there. It is amusing that as we plod onward as a species we’re only just beginning to realise the value of protecting other species. Protect and feed the panda, but expose and starve Darfur.
In the face of adversity, folks have come together before. In Africa, villages would be foes and nations enemies; they would fight wars and struggle against one another until something big and unexpected came along, whether slavery, colonialism or apartheid. Then they’d suddenly come together as siblings, in Africa, America or the Carribean, one against a common enemy. That is why black people call one another “brother” or “blood”. No one else that I know of does. European tribes fought amongst themselves, too. They have just never had to deal with unimaginable adversity. Too bad Hannibal failed to make it all the way across.
In order to realise and thus combat racism and discrimination, humans need an unimaginable shock, right here, right now, something to pit earthlings against a common enemy, preferably one with more firepower and with nasty, malicious intent. Unfortunately for me I don’t believe in flying saucers and little green men. Not today. So I don’t think that kind of threat is on its way here. But I’m afraid it’ll take nothing less to knock sense into humankind. For a few weeks the East Asian tsunami had the world acting as one, for the benefit of other fellow humans. At that time, there had just been danger that was unpredictable, that was far superior in strength to humans, and that could potentially have hit any other human. So we bunched together.
Similarity of Whites and Blacks:
So, if racism and discrimination will never leave the world, you’re perhaps wondering what I am prattling about. Well, my potential friends, I happen to believe that all humans harbour discriminatory thoughts, drilled into them by culture and through other means. You’re not the only ones. However, the question isn’t whether or not to harbour such thoughts (all humans do, whether they like it or not), but how to overcome them. You’re walking down the street and you see this Latino spitting. How could you not think or say, “Dirty Spic,” like so many would? How could you be told by a black person that you smell bad and not think or say, “Fucking nigger. Needs to be put in his place,” like so many would? How could you hear, “We don’t serve your kind here, boy” and not think that “honkies” are all the same “fucking racists?” It’s hard, yet humans need to see other humans as just that: humans — and not as colour or as belonging to a group. People will always be outwardly different, which unfortunately puts other-feature humans in their vicinity on guard. With practice, this habit could go away, white ladies could stop switching their purse to the other side when approaching a black man.
There are more genetic similarities between blacks and whites than among whites themselves. Black people in one part of the world differ with those in another part in a significant way. And that gap is wider than it is between blacks and whites. Simply put, the criteria that you, Mr and Ms Racist, usually refer to when you distinguish race, are but skin deep. Is the place of origin sunny, snowy, windy or what? Is social life there calm, turbulent or what? These are what determines your criteria for distinguishing race.
“Race is a social concept, not a scientific one,” said Dr. J. Craig Venter, head of the Celera Genomics Corporation in Rockville, Md. “We all evolved in the last 100,000 years from the same small number of tribes that migrated out of Africa and colonized the world.” It is timely that scientists are now realizing what many indigenous people and our history have been saying to us. The scientists did not set out to prove the interconnectedness of us humans. They were searching for European greatness; they were searching for products to further exploit the sick, and this allowed for the unearthing of fundamental truths. www.trinicenter.com/sciencenews
Race is terribly relevant to life outcomes. The likelihood that toxic waste has been dumped in your neighborhood, your ability to get a home loan, the quality of your kid’s education, connections to job opportunities, whether or not you’re likely to be followed in a department store or pulled over by police, are all influenced by your race. Race does matter. Not race as genetics but race as lived experience, what sociologists call “social” race. Social race is an important variable for health researchers and epidemiologists. www.newsreel.org/guides/race
What Exactly is Racism?:
It is different things to different people. To see what I mean, think of the idea of terrorism. To one group it’s fighting for freedom, to another it’s terrorism. Racism is somewhat similar. Answers dot com says,
rac·ism (rā’sĭz’m) pronunciation n. 1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. 2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race. rac’ist adj. & n. [www.answers.com]
Notice that the definition does not declare as racism acknowledging differences among people. You can’t help that, and I know of no one who can. It is what you do with that acknowledgement that makes you a racist (or a non-racist, in other cases). An Arab job-candidate who thinks, “Uh-uh… white interviewer? Goodbye job” is a racist. No matter how many times white people have denied Arabs jobs on the basis of colour, those white people were individuals as much as the present interviewer. No individual can act for a group, and it is wrong to see what an individual does and think that others with the same physical traits would act similarly.
Racism is the Ottoman massacre of Armenians, it is slavery, it is the holocaust, it is apartheid, insults, cruelty, lots of cruelty, stupidity, cruel stupidity, cruel insults, and blind opposition to laws like affirmative acti
on. Clinton was probably right when he said of affirmative action, mend it, don’t end it. Following are some comments by various speakers on the subject of racism and discrimination. The aim of the passages here is to get you to see a variety of views, and to ponder the situation with a maximum of opinions before you.
“Black pride” is said to be a wonderful and worthy thing, but anything that could be construed as an expression of White pride is a form of hatred. It is perfectly natural for third-world immigrants to expect school instruction and driver’s tests in their own languages, whereas for native Americans to ask them to learn English is racist. [www.stormfront.org]
Of the many sorry things about the contemporary United States that the Katrina catastrophe has exposed, perhaps none is more depressing than what it showed about the abiding divide in American thinking about race and racism. The televised and photographed spectacle of Katrina’s aftermath in New Orleans in particular revealed that the vast majority of those worst affected were black, in numbers disproportionate even to the large percentage of blacks within the city. [http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org]
Today in the United States and most of the White world, as soon as a White child is old enough to understand language, he is told that he should feel guilt for the crimes of his ancestors. Guilt for finding, conquering, enslaving, and killing off non-Whites around the globe… and littering in the process. Guilt, not for his own crimes, but for the crimes of other people of the same race. But he is also told that he should feel no pride in the amazing achievements of his race. No pride in the pyramids and the Parthenon, no pride in the arch and the dome, no pride in White science and technology and medicine, no pride in the glories of European painting and sculpture and music, no pride in Plato and Shakespeare and Dostoevsky, no pride in the exploration of the globe and the conquest of space. Pride, not in his own achievements, but in the achievements of other people of the same race. [www.nationalvanguard.org]
You pass me on the street and sneer in my direction.You call me “Cracker”, “Honkey”, “Whitey” and you think it’s OK. But when I call you, nigger, Kike, Towelhead, Sand-nigger, Camel Jockey, Beaner, Gook, or Chink you call me a racist. You say that whites commit a lot of violence against you, so why are the ghettos the most dangerous places to live. You have the United Negro College Fund. You have Martin Luther King Day. You have Black History Month. You have Cesar Chavez Day. You have Yom Hashoah. You have Ma’uled Al-Nabi. You have the NAACP. You have BET. If we had WET(white entertainment television) we’d be racists. If we had a White Pride Day you would call us racists. If we had white history month, we’d be racists. If we had an organization for only whites to “advance” our lives, we’d be racists. If we had a college fund that only gave white students scholarships, you know we’d be racists. In the Million Man March, you believed that you were marching for your race and rights. If we marched for our race and rights, you would call us racists. You are proud to be black, brown, yellow and orange, and you’re not afraid to announce it. But when we announce our white pride, you call us racists. You rob us, carjack us, and shoot at us. But, when a white police officer shoots a black gang member or beats up a black drug-dealer running from the law and posing a threat to society, you call him a racist. I am white. I am proud. But, you call me a racist. Why is it that only whites can be racists? [www.snipeme.com]
In stark contrast to Martin Luther King’s advocacy of nonviolent resistance, the Black Panther Party believed in arming for self-defense against police brutality. While arming provided protection, it also led to incidents that ended in violent standoffs with the police. [http://afroamhistory.about.com]
I’m not standing here speaking to you as an American, or a patriot, or a flag-saluter, or a flag-waver–no, not I. I’m speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream; I see an American nightmare [www.socialistworker.org]
Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who Bush has praised as a hero of human rights, joined the chorus of critics by calling Bush arrogant and implying the president was racist for threatening to bypass the United Nations and attack Iraq. “Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man? They never did that when secretary-generals were white,” Mandela said. Most pronouncements of racism I can at least understand, though usually not accept. This, though, makes very little sense to me. Why did Mandela choose to call Bush racist, instead of one of the many other possible pejoratives which would be at least a bit more relevant to the topic of discussion? I don’t agree with most of the criticisms of Bush concerning Iraq, but if people are going to criticize him, I’d think they’d at least choose a criticism about Iraq. [www.discriminations.us]
France was Europe’s fourth largest slave trader after Portugal, England and Spain and transported about 1.25 million slaves. France abolished slavery in 1794, after a successful revolt by slaves in the island colony of Haiti. This has already sparked debate about France’s colonial past and immigrants from most of its former colonies. There is also a question of French citizens who are direct descendants of slaves who have felt they are being marginalised. However, these groups also feel that the commemoration is too little and too late. On 10 May 2001, France passed a law recognizing slavery as a crime against humanity. The law requires schools to include lessons about slavery as an important part of class curriculum. [www.andnetwork.com]
Today is the 10th of May. School children are not the only ones who need to learn about history. I look forward to hearing from you.
Retrieved on July 16, 2008 from http://mzansiafrika.typepad.com/mzansi_afrika/2006/05/dear_mr_ms_raci.html