#Article (Archive)

Discrimination: The overview

Sep 24, 2010, 12:36 PM

Decades have passed since the black racism was outlawed and discrimination deemed unlawful and yet we still ponder sometimes. What is racism? What exactly is discrimination and what do the two have in common? Before I started researching for this article I thought I knew everything there was to know about racism, turns out I was so wrong for racism in itself is so broad, one article alone could not do it justice. That is why I will endeavour to adequately cover different aspects of this topic (rthnic, sociological, legal, institutional and economic) over a period of time, not consecutively but alternately.

Among most schools of thought both ancient and modern, it has been agreed upon that racism is a strong belief that genetic factors which constitute race are a primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race to another or multiple other. Racism?s effects are called ?racial discriminations? .In The case of Institutional racism; certain groups may be denied rights or benefits , or receive preferential treatment due to their origins with special interest in the colour of their skin.

Racial discrimination typically points out taxonomic differences between different groups of people, although anyone may be discriminated against on an ethnic or cultural basis, independent of their somatic differences. According to the United Nations conventions, there is no distinction between racial discrimination and ethnicity.

Racialism is a related term sometimes intended to avoid these negative meanings. Whatever the reason, racism is a reality and no matter how hard we try to sugar-coat it, it is a cause for concern, and whether we like it or not racism is just another word for segregation. In our various works of life, every single day most people are at the receiving end of such discrimination and it's effects are gut wrenchingly painful and yet so familiar now that it is not exactly shocking. We just need to look around us to see the hold this disease has on got upon us. Personally, I am beyond infuriated when I witness acts of hatred from one man to another. Why can't we all just simply live in peace? Why do we always have to create a reason to hate each other after all we were all created by God and to discriminate against any one person or group of people for some shallow and superficial reason such as genetics is saying we do not appreciate our Creator .We have all been blessed richly and equally but differently and these gifts should be directed towards the making of more positive changes in one another's lives as brothers and sisters and at the very least trying to tolerate one another. For make no mistake, violence is and will always be the coward's way out.

Take the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King for example. he has left a legacy of unflinching and unfailing love behind, for when the African American activists were being hunted down like animals and were caught between a rock and a hard place, he, Mr. king persevered and motivated others in the struggle for basic human and civil rights to keep forging on, and in effect cemented a place in history for himself. This was due to the fact that he employed a weapon more powerful than any, words. And his message did get across loud and clear.

The UN does not define "racism", however it does define "racial discrimination": according to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,

the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

This definition does not make any difference between discrimination based on ethnicity and race, in part because the distinction between the two remains debatable among anthropologists.(6) Similarly, in British law the phrase racial group means "any group of people who are defined by reference to their race, colour, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origin".(7)

Four very famous quotes about and against racism and discrimination which have greatly inspired me greatly are:

"Racism is man's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason." (Abraham J Michael)

"Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty." (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King)

"In order to go beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently." (Harry A Black)

"In all manifestations of racism, from the mildest to the most severe, what is being denied is the possibility that the racializers and the racialized can coexist in the same society, except perhaps on the basis of domination and subordination."

Life is marred with mistakes on each of our parts, but it is never too late to change or at least make an effort to. And here is some food for thought before, we discriminate against anyone for any reason first put yourself in their shoes and imagine if only for a second what it must be like to be treated in such a degrading and disparaging manner, This should put us in a better frame of mind that will benefit us, The Human Race in the long run.

Its absolutely shocking that in every corner of the world there are acts of discrimination being committed everyday. In India, here is such a thing as the cast system which is still in existence to this day, a practice which is so archaic it should have vanished together with the dinosaurs. Because of something as insignificant as skin tone, but which certain individual deem insurmountably relevant, people are denied privileges they have an inherent right to. They are abused physically and emotionally and justice is rarely if ever accorded them. Racism is I find a vicious and deadly cycle, as the parent passes on it's negativity on to the child and so on and so forth. The very webs of distain we cast are the same ones that ensnare us and the generation that is supposed to define, restore and protect the future.