Racism has existed in the human history since the conception of human race itself to the current society and it influences people’s relationships and attitudes to one another. Racism is the complex belief that members of one race have characteristics and abilities that are superior or inferior. The different traits are believed to distinguish one race from another. Racism is normally seen in political arena and other social interactions (Lentin 24). Furthermore, racism arouses the feeling of prejudice and discrimination. The following conceptual clarification paper explores racism in terms of its complexity, understanding of the phenomenon, its history, legal framework put in place as well as social and behavioral features and implications.
The complexity of racism is represented by the idea that humans are divided into races. Races, on the other hand, are groups of people with similar or distinctive physical traits. The worldview of racism indicates that the concept is hard to define and it depends on one’s understanding of it. Therefore, racism is a complex multicultural phenomenon with various races struggling to respond to critiques of superiority or inferiority of their race. The culture and the identity are the core of the struggle, which defines the complexity of racism. Various forms and indicators should be analyzed to appreciate the complexity of racism. To unfold the multidimensionality and complexity of racism, it is important to understand racism.
Understanding of racism is grounded on the ideologies that surround the phenomenon. The ideology of racism is a practice which argues that human races can be categorized into distinct groups with different traits. The traits can be ranked thereby giving a particular group superior or inferior capabilities. The racist ideology is seen in the social actions of racists. Some of the social actions that are indication of racism include segregation, xenophobia, and otherness. Firstly, racial segregation involves categorizing human beings into ethnic groups in daily life. Such daily life activities include eating in different restaurants, attending different schools and using different public vehicles. Secondly, xenophobia is the fear of strangeness or foreignness felt by racial groups. Other fears include losing identity and aggression. The phenomenon of racism has been present in human history for a while, hence the history of racism can give us a better understanding of it.
The history of racism is as old as the human race itself. Racism came into existence following the pursuit of superiority in ethic groupings. Each race harbored a sense of highness when comparing themselves with other nations. The term race was first used in Middle Age French. In the 13th and 14th centuries, many people believed that Jews were associated with devil and witchcraft making other groups to segregate themselves. In 16th century conversion of some Jews to Christianity gave rise to discrimination and exclusion. The history of racism also goes back to the 19th century when many scientists describe racism as the belief of categories of human races. Europeans made contact with the black people of the continent of Africa, Asia and America during this period, since then judging them based on their skin color. The contact between blacks and Europeans lead to the enslaving of Africans but the whites used some pretexts such as the Bible to justify their social actions.
Racism struggles are the key feature of politics in many countries across the world. Politics and racism are two terms that often go in hand especially during political campaigns (Stolarek). Racism tensions arise due to the discrimination of one race by another. Some races consider themselves superior to others and hence prefer to lead others. The inferior race, on the other hand, struggles to gain access to power and control over the other race. Racism first ruled politics with the colonization of blacks by the Europeans. Furthermore, politicians use racism to raise political tensions, thereby becoming popular. Political institutions are based on social and racial segregations which show human discrimination behaviour. In countries such as American, selection of a black African American as the President is the symbolism of struggle between blacks and whites. The Americans therefore adopt policies that forbid discussion of the role of racism in politics of America (Lentin 30). Thus, politics plays role in social or behavioral feature of racism.
The social or behavioral features of racism can be discussed following the sociology of races. Sociology argues that racism is derived from identifiable biological traits that influence cultural distinction between races. Moreover, racism exists first at the individual’s level and then up to the society level. Racial beliefs originate from individuals’ conscience and influence their behavior, which eventually causes discrimination. The dominant or majority group in the community is the receiver of most of material and other kinds of privileges. Racists measure racism with the income and wealth inequalities. Therefore, racial identity raises detrimental emotions among the discriminated groups in a racial society. Sociology, on the other hand, argues that racial sanctions are more common in the western world than any other part of the world. The psychological implications of racism are worrying with many racists developing implicit attitudes toward it (Stolarek). The legal framework of most governments is still outdated, thus, it is crucial to consider the legal framework needed.
Legal framework developed by the government is needed to handle the issue of racism. Statistics indicates that governments have limited framework to reduce racism with some governments failing to recognize racism as a crime (Stolarek). The updated legal provisions are needed in order to prevent racists from committing racism related crimes. The first step to take is to recognize that racism exist in the society. The governments then have to pass laws that limit racial practices, racial violence, and racial segregations in the society. For example, some countries like Ireland in 2011, develop an organization fighting against racism. The organization focuses on the hate speech used on the Internet and other social media platforms that increase racism. United Nations agencies such as UNESCO have also come up with the declaration that race and racism is prejudice. It is clear that court systems view racial crime as any other crimes even though racial crime is characterized by uniqueness. It is also important to look at the major implications of racism at the individual, community, and society level.
The implications of racism have been one of the stresses of humanity. Firstly, the victims of racist crimes have suffered from discrimination pointing to the negativity of racism. During colonialism, racial discrimination lead to the enslavement of Africans and other blacks in Asia and America. The slave issue brought untold misery to individuals and communities as well. The black, remain in suffering conditions as the white enjoy the power. Secondly, racism causes violence and tensions in society which prompt killing or war between ethnic groups. Political campaigns which are characterized by racial hate result in violence caused by tensions due to hate speech. Thirdly, implications of racism are seen in social segregations of races. In countries where racism is practiced, daily life activities are differentiated in terms of race. For example, individuals of superior race attend good schools as compared to the minority or inferior racial groups (Stolarek). Racial discrimination is the worst phenomenon ever seen in human history.
Despite the above negative implications, racism is viewed as a source of difference in many global scenes. In society, there must be difference between the superior and inferior groups. The phenomenon of racism sets the class difference for an individual which is the reason to practice racism. Racism helps shape the political climate for those whose career is politics since politicians gain popularity through the use of racial speech. The political groupings in America have in the past been set up on racial lines (Feagin 45). Racial actions induce struggles in the society, thereby creating the emergence of activists and human right organizations. In addition, racism is the source of awareness which brings about national identity. National identity is the sense of belonging to a nation and a culture. National identity was the key to the strengthening of nations as well as superiority of nations witnessed during colonialism. Lastly, whites developed their own countries due to the exploitation of African, Asian and American continents. However, the above positive implications are limited compared to the negative impact of racism.
Racism is a cultural phenomenon with negative impacts on humanity. The complexity of racisms rests on our limited understanding of the issue. In order to understand racism, the derivation of race and ethnicity is the first point one should study. The history of racism shows that racism is as old as humanity, witnessed for centuries. Moreover, politics play role in promoting racism and the tensions caused by it. Behavioral and social features of human being are the best way to understand the phenomenon of racism. Finally, the discrimination, violence and enslavement of ethnic groups considered to be inferior have brought untold misery in the society as a whole. Racism is therefore the worst multidimensional and multicultural belief that requires strong legal framework in order to reduce it. The idea of racism should not be taken lightly as it is the source of suffering and struggle witnessed in continents with mixed races and underdevelopment seen in some continents such as Africa.