Causes and Effects of Racism
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Racism refers to the belief that a certain racial group is superior or inferior to another, which causes them to be discriminated against based on their various inherent traits (Shah, 2010). Racism has a very long history in the society, infiltrating every aspect of our lives. It is unfortunate that even today racism still continues to exist and shows no sign of declining in the near future. It exists in different forms based on the difference of skin color, religion, culture, economic status etc (Shah, 2010). A better understanding of racism requires a closer look at the core cause which is an institutional ideology. It is more than just ill-treatment of certain people, or hatred; it is a vice that is cultivated and sustained by governments and institutions (Shah, 2010). The initial evidence of racism emerged at the end of the 16th century with the slave trade in America and Britain. The rich and the powerful used racism to justify this inhuman and most atrocious treatment of black people to gain material wealth. Towards the end of the 17th century, racism had become an established and organized justification for degrading and mistreating slaves (Shah, 2010). When slave trade declined, racism took a new form in the 1940s to justify the ideology of imperialism which reigned more than a century. The “white man’s burden” concept was a trend started in England. According to it, British colonialists declared themselves as the father and mother of colonial children charged with the responsibility of their spiritual and material welfare. Colonialists used racism to justify their exploitation of the natives, stealing of their properties, as well as their capitalism expansion into various countries (Shah, 2010). This paper explores the causes and effects of racism.
Causes of Racism
The various causes of racism are discussed below:
Feeling of Unworthiness
A majority of racist people in the world tend to lack self-esteem and self-love, thereby making them feel unconfident. Consequently, they tend to venture their negative feelings towards people who are vulnerable and weak (Shah, 2010). It is important to note that people, who love and appreciate themselves, are in a better position to appreciate the feelings of others and understand them; hence, they are able to accommodate others more. Racists have a low-perception of themselves because they feel they lack the opportunities that others have, and, therefore, need to feel superior and exercise power over others, makes them treat others indifferently (Shah, 2010).
Ignorance is another issue that fuels racism. Children, who are taught that other people are less human, or inferior, grow up with the belief that racism is right and normal, especially when their peers demonstrate similar beliefs and conducts. Consequently, such people tend to see nothing wrong with their actions because they are validated by everybody else around them (Shah, 2010). Until they are aware of the consequences of their actions through education, they continue to remain ignorant of other people’s realities.
The failure to teach children about tolerance to different people has also contributed to racism. This is because, many schools are segregated based on gender, abilities, race, religion, culture, economic status etc. As a result, children grow up only used to interacting with other children whom they share common things with. When they grow up, they find it difficult to tolerate people who are different from them (Shah, 2010).
Effects of Racism
The effects of racism are numerous and varied as discussed below:
Racism results in segregation, and was the reason behind the segregation witnessed in the United States between 1890 and 1940, which saw Jim Crow laws being enacted to segregate the black community from the white Americans. Consequently, all public facilities were separated for whites and blacks. Numerous African-Americans faced brutalism, frightening, and even killing for enrolling in schools and voting (Shah, 2010). Lynching of the black population by the whites for insignificant reasons was a common and widespread practice during those days. In healthcare facilities, black people were denied the same quality of health care given to the whites, and several black patients often died due to neglect by medical staffs. Racism also led to the South African Apartheid that resulted in legal segregation of the Africans from the Europeans (Shah, 2010).
Racism also led to the mass killing of Jews and Gypsies by Hitler during World War II (Shah, 2010). Hitler’s genocide was systematically planned, and sponsored by the Nazi Germany Government, and was aimed to kill all Jews and Gypsies who had occupied the Nazi territory. It is reported that about two-thirds of the twelve million (9 million women and 3 million men) Jews who lived in Europe perished. The most famous factories were Sobibor, Belzec, and Treblinka, where handicapped (physical and mental) Jews and Gypsies were taken and burned alive, when naked (Shah, 2010).
Anger, Violence and Hatred
Racism results in violence, anger and hatred among people. People who are discriminated against for instance, based on appearance, lack self esteem and confidence. However, since there is nothing they can do to change their appearance, they tend to harbor hatred and anger towards others, which when not handled properly can lead to violence (Shah, 2010). Such people are exceedingly hot-tempered and can turn violent at the least of provocations.
Racism has existed since time immemorial and is still present in the current society. The past years of segregation, colonialism and extermination have all remained in our memories, making it difficult to forget everything and treat everybody equally. Though racism may be inevitable in the society, something can still be done to save the future generation from its effects. Education is the way forward. We have to explain to future generations that we share the same earth, so we must accept our differences, and learn to love and tolerate one another. Tolerance is the key word in the fight against racism.
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