The late tragic and criminal events between races has made me again think of their rationale. I am a believer that nothing happens without a reason, even such abhorrent events as these; I think that there must be an underlying cause and effect.
I have made this journey before, and every time I visit these lands, I start by asking myself, what can make this possible.
Started by considering the terms that inevitably are used as possible causes. Racism, defined as the prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior, and bigotry defined as, intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself, come to the forefront.
We all know, or have heard these terms used together or interchangeably, but what I find most fascinating, is that we do not examine the reasons why these exist. I would like us to consider these questions, maybe it is not that these concepts exist, but that they not only exist, but that they perpetuate.
Their existence is unquestionably, and trying to find out their origins may prove more laborious than I would entertain here, suffice it to say that, they go a long way back. Their perpetuity is a far more perplexing issue. As most or all things that enjoy some perpetuity, such as water turning into gas, then to snow, ice or rain, retuning to water, these elements perdure.
It may be easily argued, that since this is a human affliction, it may be man made. Noting that, it is a concept and nothing more, it lives in our communal consciousness, and it affects, if not all, most human beings. By accepting this, we could also argue that it is cultural like a hereditary trait, meaning that it is passed by word of mouth from one generation to the next.
If we can accept these premises, we can then contend that by its nature, being man made and passed down form our elders, that it may be malleable, not set in stone, therefore, revisable. As society has experienced, concepts of the unknown, which still abound, have been met with mainly inadequate explanations. Very few of humanities beliefs remain unchanged, such as, ideas on the center of the universe and more mundane ones, as the precipice at the end of the ocean’s horizons.
Racism like most concepts is not immune to the passing of time. Proximity to new races, provided by advances in travel, have presented humans with other humans somewhat, or as some would pose, very different, and inhuman. When we lived in a somewhat homogeneous group or tribe, we only knew that, meaning that anyone outside our scope of knowledge was considered foreign or alien.
Segregation, naturally occurring, such as defined by geographical areas where different races evolved, or forced as created in ethnic neighborhood, ghettos, or concentration camps, did not advance the understanding required to lessen or the elimination of racism. The question remains as to why is this concept perpetuated.
We may be consider that concepts that perdure, owe their resilience to some element of conservatism, which tends to guard and maintain its beliefs, sometimes in the face of considered outdated and proven erroneous. Many examples abound. Some of the most entrenched concepts in the human cultural fabric share one common ingredient, it appears that fear is at the essence of their strength.
Fear is a natural, and some say, a very essential human feeling that has allowed the species to survive and even flourish. But fear of the unknown, is like fearing fear. When the unknown becomes known, we cannot fear it anymore, since we have seen and conquered it. When the unknown remains unknown, by choice or by ignorance, fear is quite a motivating element.
Finally, when it comes to deciding what to believe, we have two major options. One is to believe what all has been taught to us, or by picking and choosing concepts that we can understand and embrace, which is what most of us do. As to the concept of racism, as many others, we also have been given the same choice.