The subject of racism is one which for too long has been subject to political correctness and the stigma of don’t mention the elephant in the room. No fully open and frank discussion of the subject is allowed and facts are either hidden and hard to come by or dismissed as being racially derogatory. Why is this so? In many instances, because it goes against the prevailing current narrative and in others because of collective guilt burdened by the historical perspective (most often skewed) of the colonial past. Who exactly is a racist? Basically all of us with the odd exception, though we steadfastly refuse to accept this as fact. Why? Because it undermines the basis of our carefully constructed personal view of ourselves and the world we inhabit. This however limits us in terms of self knowledge and places limits on our personal growth and understanding.
To start with, we must acknowledge that like all life existent on planet Earth today, we are subject to a very fundamental biological imperative, one which we can consciously decide to rail against and subdue (and in some cases override) but which still rules us completely. The most basic drive of life is reproduction so that the genetic line or makeup is continued. That in essence means that we need to survive long enough to reproduce which in turn leads to competition. This in itself means that whatever presents, we will always try to come out on top with as much of our agenda intact in any situation so we can survive and reproduce.
Taking that as the starting point makes all our actions, conscious or not understandable as they are based on our prime imperative without exception. For us difference is a threat or a possibility to be exploited or undermined so that it does not threaten the imperative running us. That is the reason why we joke about other races like the British calling the French ‘frogs’ (the French call the British ‘roast beef’s)or the French saying that if one’s grasp of the French language is poor, then you speak it like a ‘Spanish cow’ (Vous parlez francais comme une vache Espagnol). All nationalities do this though mainly lightheartedly and with no real perceived threat to justify it. Subconsciously we big ourselves up to keep the terror of open competition and all it implies at bay. Though intrinsically there is nothing wrong with this, all too often it is barely understood and so leads to excess with profoundly unpleasant consequences.
Instead of accepting differences among people as resulting from culture, background and upbringing, we see them as either threatening or exploitable for our own ends. This most often has unfortunate ramifications as we bolster the ingrained stereotypical attitudes we all carry with no regard as to the effects on both us and those on the receiving end. This limits our ability to interact productively with others and move forward without extra unnecessary emotional baggage. We all agree that under the skin, all human beings are the same and though each of us in ourselves are unique (our DNA has the same basic makeup but it is subtly and individually different, otherwise DNA genetic tests would not work), we are the same species.
However our reasoning, logic, intellectual, emotional, sensory and cognitive faculties are not exactly the same but differ vastly from person to person. This is not negative and does not imply superiority or inferiority, just that because of our upbringing, education, cultural background, religious beliefs and our personal life experiences, we view and therefore react individually and differently to other people. Though we can reach consensus decisions when needed, all too often our discussions and conversations are prefaced by not only our own personal agendas but also the subconscious overlay of stereo-typical views and attitudes. This is one of the reasons why so many conversations go nowhere productive and we have to repeat the process several times before we reach an outcome acceptable to all the parties. Our constant overriding reproductive imperative though we are not consciously aware of it colours our cognitive process and gets in the way. When we add the layer we are more aware of that is racial and cultural difference and it becomes harder to be logical and objective.
One of the main problems we face in resolving this issue of race is political correctness which has led to hard facts and data concerning the issue being hidden, manipulated and all too often, shrouded in emotionally based personal accounts which though often true, detract and derail the process of reaching the truth of the matter as emotions surface. Yes the BLM (Black Lives Matter) and LGBTQ agendas are important but too often are focused on the negative and seldom include carefully thought through fact based data which not only bolsters the case but if needed, will stand up in a Court of Law (Like the famous Scopes Trial in the USA) further cementing the truth as fact.
Racist attitudes are most visible in times of financial/economic crisis when the food basket is empty and sharing with others not of your ‘kind’ becomes an issue because you realise you yourself and your family, are starving. With the flood of migrants into the UK and EU from Syria, Iraq. Yemen, Afghanistan and now Ukraine, when you take into account the global economic crisis caused by rising energy and food prices due to the sanctions illegally placed on Russia by the USA and European Union, we can expect outbreaks of xenophobia in these countries as the suffering of their native citizens increases and continues. The USA has the same problem facing it but its migrants come mainly from South America and the Caribbean. This is when open racism will rear its ugly head as it is hard cold fact that not all migrants come from war torn zones and are fleeing for their lives but those from other parts of the world are economic migrants wanting a better life. Who can blame them? It is something we all want whether we live in the so called ‘1st’world or not.
War instantly crystallizes societies into a ‘them and us’ situation where most often wrongly, the nation hosting immigrants coming from the country of their enemy resort to inhumane enforced containment of these immigrants (In the USA, the Japanese living in America were kept in abysmal conditions in internment camps in WW2).Ukraine went a step further and with its Nazi based ideology as the ‘reason’, killed, tortured, raped and committed barbaric acts on the Russian speaking citizens purely because they spoke Russian, thereby practising state sponsored racism on their own people. There are countless examples abounding today let alone throughout history and no country, nation, race, religion or dogma is exempt from being rightly accused of racism. Today it is mostly hidden, kept well under wraps and like homophobia or religious intolerance, rears its head in individual actions with only some countries allowing it to gain full sway, usually when there is conflict involved with other racial groups or tribes or open warfare. It is the main reason given for ‘ethnic cleansing’ by the proponents of such actions (Ethiopia, Yemen and Ukraine) and is also behind religious intolerance (Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Syria) and the untold justification for the systematic genocide of the Palestinians by the Israelis.
So how do we tackle this problem which will only get worse as the competition increases for Earth’s finite resources due to a burgeoning population, approx. 8 billion +/- and rising? Obviously education is the answer but this is a long term solution even if we start the process today. Legal frameworks are already in place but are only sporadically used (in high profile or public interest cases) correctly and most importantly, transparently. Those on the receiving end of racism know this to be true quite clearly and have little faith that the Law will come to their aid. Societies have a moral duty to fully address this problem and stop the unnecessary financial burden it imposes on the economy taking just the costs of the legal, medical, health, therapeutic counselling into account. Like the negative impact of drug addicts on a society (the UK cost per addict is approximately 1 million Pounds per year which the taxpayer’s have to bear), we can no longer put this issue to the side to be dealt with later as the pie is getting smaller and the income is not being generated as easily. As our economies shrink (and they are contrary to the prevailing ‘data’) less and less will have to divided between growing populations in most countries. Conflict will arise.
This requires a major re-appraisal of how all the government agencies, NGO’s and private organisations deal with this issue. There is the much touted idea that they work together but in reality, there is no cohesive overall framework in place ensuring all are reading from the same page and there are no gaps in the system. All too often, the victims of racial abuse are let down when those in charge lay the issue to rest assuming it has been dealt with. The prevailing view is that if it is not presenting, then out of sight means out of mind which means all is okay. All too often the victims are silent for fear of encountering further abuse or being subjected to the oft touted idea that they are responsible and brought the problem on themselves. Racial victimisation is just one of the many harmful impacts emotionally (and the rest physical, mental etc.) that we deal with daily on all levels but has been the often overlooked factor that underlies the systematic erosion of what we take for common courtesy, the civil if reserved interaction between people for whatever reason. It impinges on every action and response we take as it flavours the result most often negatively leading to yet more personal dissatisfaction whether we are on the receiving end or not. Our continued feeling of unease has led us to blame and demand answers but has not addressed the issues which have propelled us towards increased ‘diversity’ following Legal impositions to ‘level’ the field in public while increasing resentment, envy and violent hatred are festering in private and personal circles of ‘like minded’ people.
Though what we all face in the increased scramble for resources, work and survival has many factors which influence the way it plays out, racism in its many forms has a dehumanising effect on those meting it out, on the receiving end and those observing the interplay. The reality of the fact is that there are literally no nations on this earth bar a few very minor exceptions where there is not a mixture of races, cultures and religions present in the society on a daily basis and where the differences are blindingly obvious because they are neither hidden nor downplayed by prevailing social mores. Unless we are ready to deal with the consequences of increased overt racism and the unending rise in its usage as a ‘reason’ for our discontent due to collapsing living standards and the disappearance of the safety margin between living and survival, we will only muddy the waters so badly that the beast in us will come out more so than now. Before we can tame it and put it back in its box, we will have not only destroyed the lives of countless numbers of people but destroyed ourselves as well when the realisation of our innate barbarity towards others is such that to call ourselves ‘civilised’ is a complete non starter. ‘The veneer of civilisation is skin deep’. There are many versions of the same).
We are staring into the abyss and have begun the long downward journey into the depths of those areas of our minds we blithely refer to as the reptilian, ego, id etc. Their constant overlay of most of our actions and thoughts is such that unless we fully address the issue of racism, we will be faced with having to admit to it after we instigate events driven by economic extreme hardship and global poverty that we will be so ashamed of, that it will be impossible to ever square the circle.
What is not written does not exist.
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