Is racism in societies inevitable? Prejudice, discrimination, bigotry and sexism all are synonyms of “racism. ” Longman Advanced American Dictionary (2009) defines racism as “Unfair treatment of people, or violence against them, because they belong to a different race from your own, or the belief that different races of people have different characters and abilities, and that the qualities of your own race are the best” (p. 1298.)
People can work together to be cured from racism by scientifically reviewing the historical facts, sharing with other nations important human values and endowing the spiritual attitudes with modern interpretations. People can suggest new regulations and implement feelings of brotherhood. Through these actions, people could eliminate the social chronic disease known as racism. First of all, scientifically reviewing historical facts helps in reducing racism. Each nation has passed through incidents and events, with triumphs and tragedies.
For example, in an essay, which is called Reasonable Disagreements, a teacher of American literature and cultural studies at Penn State University, Berube (2003) wrote: “I mentioned that Powers has been criticized for apparently suggesting a kind of moral equivalence between Nazi concentration camps and US internment camps – since the latter, however outrageous and indefensible they were in a putatively democratic nation, were not part of a program of genocide” (p. 494.)
Some people think that when they compare Nazi concentration camps and internment camps that both of them were camps, but they do not share the same situations. They were completely different. A responsible and conscious interpretation for the history is the key to maintain the distortion of facts. Second, sharing important values, such as freedom and human rights, with people of other nations, minimizes the distances between societies and reduces racism. For example, helping other nations who suffer from dictatorial regimes to free themselves is a practical action against racism.
To illustrate, in the US’s role in liberation of Iraq in 2003, Americans were helping Iraqis to choose their own elected government after hundreds of years of military regimes. Most Iraqis thought that the advanced countries were selfish and these countries might choose a regime that does not care about Iraqis. After this, most Iraqis have changed their attitudes towards human values. Recently, most Iraqis have become more open-minded and optimistic about their future. Third, endowing the spiritual attitudes with modern interpretations maximizes feelings of brotherhood and that minimizes racism.
For example, Akbar (1996), a clinical psychologist at Florida State University, in the book To Heal a People: Afrikan Scholars Defining a New Reality focuses on the spiritual consciousness in healing people as he wrote: “Spiritual consciousness affirms that this is an orderly universe which moves toward the affirmation of health, ease and good. It affirms that dis-ease is not order, but it represents an alienation from the Order of the Divine which must be restored” (p. xix. ) Here, Akbar (1996) emphasizes the role of religions in achieving a healthy life.
For instance, historically, homosexuality was not accepted as a proper human behavior. In many religions, homosexuality is a sin. Some people who are homophobic may consider other behaviors, such as telling lies, robbing, or murdering to be worse than being gay. It would be better to focus on these social diseases than to be concerned about very personal attitudes such as the lives of gay people. Religions and homosexuality can be coexist. Fourth, suggesting new regulations to minimize the situations when people are asked about their race reduces racism.
For instance in a titled essay Levels of Racism, a research director on social determinants of health and equity, Jones (2002) suggested three levels of racism: institutionalized, personally mediated, and internalized. She gives the institutionalized racism the highest influence in societies, especially when she defines it as “Differential access to the goods, services, and opportunities of society by race. Institutionalized racism is normative, sometimes legalized, and often manifests as inherited disadvantages” (p.312. )
Even though institutionalized racism is sometimes legalized, normative and inherited, some regulations could positively affect in negating the differences between people. Reducing the situations that require the mention of race is one powerful strategy to help instill the idea that human beings are similar, with no differences that are caused purely by race. Finally, implementing feelings of brotherhood beginning in the earliest educational levels prevents racism.
For example, Berube (2003) wrote: “Racial separatism and identity politics are tearing this country apart; people have to realize that if they live in this country, no matter how they got here, they are Americans first, and something-Americans second” (p. 485. ) Here, Berube (2003) clearly shows how racism and discrimination inhibit any society from making progress and achieving a bright future. Educating children to tolerate differences helps in building integrated and united societies with no (or at least minimized) racism.
Opponents may think that reviewing historical facts manifests racism. It might recall the bad feelings of hatred towards a particular group’s past. This is possible, but on the other hand, the process of reviewing history is a healthy way to confess and not bottle up feelings inside which often lead to racism. By providing clear and reasonable interpretations for puzzling questions about critical events, people could contribute to reducing faith in the conspiracy theory.
Those who oppose may argue that participating in wars is totally bad, and may call the war in Iraq an “intervention” or an “occupation,” not a liberation. If that is to be the case, how could innocent people be defended and rescued when they suffer from cruel and isolated regimes? To illustrate, before 2003, Iraq was run by military regimes and more than three million Iraqis were murdered or lost just under Saddam Hussein’s regime alone. Hundreds of mass graves were made by Saddam’s terrorist regime only when those people protested against miserable situations.
Some reports mentioned that Iraq has lost 500 billion dollars as a result of Saddam’s policies. Other opponents may mention that no one can control other human beings as there will always be egotistical people who only believe in themselves with no consideration to others regarding race. Or, if a child is taught in school not to judge other people regarding race or color, but at home he has a racist environment, that child may think it is acceptable to be racist.
In this case, for this child, the majority of people when they behavior justly, he could be rescued from racism. Critics may argue that strengthening spiritual consciousness could not possibly reduce racism. Although many people around the world have been fighting one another for religious reasons, most religions call for brotherhood and peace. Basically, misunderstanding the main rule of brotherhood, and intolerance to others due to self-interest, causes disputes within the same followers of the same race.
For example, the American author, feminist, and social activist, in her essay Learning in the Shadow of Race ; Class, Hooks (2000) wrote: “I did not know how to respond to elitist black people who were full of contempt for anyone who did not share their class, their way of life” (p. 521. ) Here, a vivid situation reflects an African-American’s feelings towards black people from another class. This sort of thing could happen between members of a family when they focus on differences and ignore similarities.
In conclusion, although racism is almost impossible to completely eradicate, people have their own roles to play in minimizing it. Racism is a state, not a trait. Societies could reduce it by encouraging scientific review of historical facts, sharing with other nations important human values, revising spiritual attitudes towards modern explanations, and implementing feelings of brotherhood beginning in the earliest educational levels prevents racism. References Akbar, N. (1996). Preface. In E. Aqdal & E. D. Roberson (Eds. ), To heal a people: Afrikan scholars defining a new reality (pp.xv-xxii).
Columbia, MD: Kujichagulia Press. Berube, M. (2003). Reasonable disagreements. Course reader: Education, self & community (pp. 484-502). Pleasant Hill, CA: John F. Kennedy University. Hooks, B. (2000). Learning in the shadow of race & class. Course reader: Education, self & community (pp. 515-522). Pleasant Hill, CA: John F. Kennedy University. Jones, C. (2002). Levels of racism. Course reader: Education, self & community (pp. 311-317). Pleasant Hill, CA: John F. Kennedy University. Longman. (2009). Longman advanced American dictionary. (3rd Ed). US: Pearson Longman.