Acts a Caucasian background with only 1% stating

Acts
of racism can be dated back as far back as biblical times. Throughout history,
out cropping’s of vile racist and inhumane acts can be found, whether it be genocide
or the years of slavery. Racism has been an integrated part of nearly every
society within history. However, the debate is what makes people racist? What
was the first source of racism, and what links does it have to today’s racist
behaviour? This paper will discuss the different explanations for the source of
racism whether it be a psychological, biological, historical or sociological
explanation.

 

I
conducted primary research in order to evaluate the degree to which ethnic
minorities have to deal with racism on a daily basis within my own community. I
discovered that 88.89% of participants that come from some form of
Afro-Caribbean background has at some point experienced some form of
discrimination and 77% had been called a racial slur. This contrasts greatly
with the data collected about those from a Caucasian background with only 1%
stating that they had experienced a racial slur and the rest no forms of
discrimination whatsoever. Contrary to the data that is presented by a lot of
reports, those from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds that suffer from racial
discrimination, but it is also those of an Asian heritage.  The data which I collected shows that 75% of
all of those that had answered the questionnaire and came from an Asian
background had experienced Discrimination and had been called a racial slur. It
is such data that I was presented with that influenced my understanding that
whilst some of the information collated from secondary sources have much
relevance, some of it can be questioned due to its inability to take into
consideration the reasoning behind the racism that Asian minorities endure.

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Historical and Religious Background

In
order to classify where the origins of racism lay, it must first be identified
where the idea of race originally occurred. Therefore, it must be analysed
where and why individuals began to classify each other into ‘ethnic groups’ ,
the idea of race is not something that was naturally applicable to other
species, therefore the question is why was it applied to humans?  Ivan Hannaford argues that in the years of
1684 to 1815 major writers began to toy with the idea that race was an
applicable method of organisation, ethnic grouping. He went to explain that
humans as a species were beginning to be classified based on “observable facts
and tested evidence”. It was from 1684 onwards that racial forms of classifications
were being used at an increasing rate. Examples of this that were cited in Ivan’s
publication include “race”, “especes” and “ethnic groups”. This was after Rene
Descartes, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, adopted Aristotle’s idea of genus and
species as a method of classifying not only animals but the human species as
well. Primarily, the ideas that were adopted from Aristotle and reconstructed
to fit the human species, was done with an intellectual and educational aim.
However, the introduction of classification in this form began to raise
questions of who should rightfully govern land and the correct order that
matched the published ideologies of natural history.

 

However,
Bernard Lewis argues that as primitive humans that an individual that are deemed
to be strangers and do not fit into the community are viewed with not only
suspicion but also a sense of hostility. He argues that at the primitive
development of the human species this ‘stranger’ can be viewed as a predator or
rival and thus a threat to their survival. Lewis makes a link to the religion
aspect of the racism argument displaying that with the development of Judaism,
Christianity and Islam, blood and kinship were no longer the only means of
identification, and such developments began occurring in other parts of the
world. It was such developments that resulted in some of the primitive
divisions within society, those that didn’t agree with the beliefs and cultures
became deviants. It is because of the hostility that was established as a part
of our initial primitive beings that response to those that did not agree with
or follow the values and beliefs where dealt with relatively similar ways
across the world, war or conversion. This aspect of war was established when
the first goal of conversion could not be reached, hence the countless display
of wars that have started on a religious basis such as the crusades, lasting
from 1095 until 1291 CE. However the question of how to deal with an individual
that remains present in the land but will not adopt their beliefs or
ideologies, someone who is part of the community but wants to hold on to their
prior beliefs. The answer to this until relatively recently, or perhaps still
to this day, was done through total rejection or possibly a degree of tolerance.
Whilst other societies found it best to expel the individuals. And, in some
societies the individuals was allowed to have their own belief with a degree of
limitation. It was from this that the perception of minorities was established,
their treatment and rights differed depending on the society. Bernard went to
establish the fact that racial antagonism displayed the return to a primitive
understanding and perception of identity and difference. Whilst a person’s
belief and language was capable of being changed, their race was not. He
further argues that modern day racism that is present within western societies
originates from two historical sources, the first being the 1492 Christian overthrow
and unification of the Iberian Peninsula.

 

Many
of the racial issues that have been cited within contemporary society can be
seen to be rooted within religion. The Huffington post states that American
churches fall far behind any other institution within America, rather than
enabling racial integration, many churches are vital proof of the segregation
still very apparent within the religious aspect of society. Many have argued
that the Bible has acted as justification for slavery and segregation that have
been displayed throughout history. Genesis 4 depicts the story of Cain who was
placed with a mark, by God, for murdering his brother then proceeding to lie
about it. This description of a ‘mark’ was interpreted by many Christians as a
description of ‘black skin’ and thus acted as a justification for their vile
acts of slavery and racial discrimination.

 

 

1, 2,9

 

Sociological Explanation

 

Teun
A. van Dijk argues that as a mainstream social institution the media is a major
contributing factor in the issue of racial discrimination. Dijk presents
research that has shown that media that is particularly right wing,
conservatives, has been often displayed to re-establish and uphold racial stereotypes.
It has been displayed numerous times in conservative newspapers the resentment
that they have towards refugees and immigrants, and such negative headlines
increase a hostility within the British community towards those of an ethnic
minority. However, it is not the conservative media that contributes to the
everlasting issue of racism but rather, all forms, including those that are
considered to be more liberal. Rather they have opted to a denial to the issue
of racism and significantly ignoring their participation within the issue.
Although, Dijk argues that whilst the major media is not explicitly racist,
very few participate in the positive promotion of a multicultural and diverse
society.

 

When
television was first introduced, and was beginning to become established,
majority of those that worked in all of it sectors (advertisement, news and
entertainment) were white. Not only did this mean that there was a lack of
diversity within a specific job sector, it also meant that the content that the
public was exposed to was heavily ethnocentric. Luther et al 2012 argues that
within history, there have been numerous occasions in which the media has
heavily supported whichever group is determined to be dominant within the
society and presenting a negative image of the minority group. This not only
re-establishes racism, but it acts as a support mechanism for the injustice and
the unequal treatment of ethnic minorities. Luther et al further argues that
even within the film industry the media re-established the negative image of
minorities. For example, movies such as Birth of a Nation,1915, and Tarzan,
1932, Africans were depicted in a negative image, and established some of the
first racial stereotypes, such as being perceived to be ‘savages, ignorant,
thieves’ etc.  Negatives were further
affirmed when white actors painted themselves black in order to play an African
American role. It was such u=images that created the perception that not only
were black individual’s incompetent of playing themselves in movies but also
the ideology that whites in all cases were superior to their Afro-Caribbean
counterparts. This established the segregation between Blacks and Whites as
those of a Caucasian background believed themselves to be ‘too good’ to be
associated with the Black community.

 

3,4,5,6,7

 

 

Psychological explanation

JP
Rushton stated that in studies that those of Caucasian and Asian decent had
brain that weighed more than that of Afro-Caribbean background. And the
comparison between Caucasian and Asian found that the Asians had ‘heavier
brains’. He went to that the results and analysis of the US Collaborative
Perinatal Project showed that 17,000 white infants and 7-year olds had
comparatively larger heads than 19,000 black infants and 7-year olds.  However, JP Rushton makes the assumption that
the differences in brain volume translates to greater efficiency and thus more
intelligence. It was this belief that can be argued to be one of the major
reason there was a belief of superiority within the late 1900’s as people
believed that because they had larger brains that they had more intelligence
and thus higher on the evolutionary scale. Psychological studies have displayed
that if an individual is given power over another they will follow the
prescribed roles that the power gives them. This is not only displayed through
history with Nazi Germany, and many cases of slavery. A psychological study
that supports this theory is Zimbardo’s Stanford prison experiment where he
took average college students and assigned them different roles within the
prison, prisoner or the prison guard. He found that those assigned the role of
the prison guard treated the prisoners disgustingly and even resulted in some
having mental breakdowns. This can be linked to the idea that during he times
of slavery and Nazi Germany, it was not just their idea of superiority over
another race that made them willing to disregard basic human rights but also
the power they had because of such superiority meant that they wanted to be
able to manipulate another individual.

 

Malpass
and Kravitz presented in 1969 the evidence that individuals find it harder to
distinguish between those that from a different group than someone within their
own group. They found that members of this ‘outgroup’ are perceived to be more
similar than those of the same group to that individual. This is described as
the ‘same-race advantage’, countless research has supported this theory
continuously such as Golby et al who displayed that participants were able to
remember the faces of those who were of the same race as them as compared to
those who were of a different race. From this it can be further deduced that
racism and discrimination is a result of biases and their inability to
discriminate between those of a different race.

 

Dr
John Paul Garrison presents the argument that those that participate in racial
hate groups do it in order as a need to belong to a group. He states that those
that are enable to form interpersonal connections often identify with
extremists and hate groups as a need to be an active member of a group. He went
on to say that the “us-versus-them mentality” allows to identify more closely
to the group they hold in such a high esteem.

 

8,10,12

 

Biological/Evolutionary explanation

 

Social
Darwinism presents the argument that European racism was a major part of
evolution and natural selection.  Herbert
Spencer argued that the Darwinist principles of evolution could be applied to
human societies, establishing the fact that our societies also follow the laws
of natural selection, such as competition. He stated that humans also have
evolved from a single homogenous form into differentiated beings, those
established to be incapable of competing, or too weak would not survive within
‘Natures Battlefield’. Greene (1963) makes the association between Spencer’s
theories and the evolution of racial discriminatory mindsets. Greene argued
that the behaviours that followed the theories that Spencer enforces the idea
of the stronger and more powerful having control of those deemed to be inferior
and less adapted.

The
ethnic difficulties and suppression was done in order to establish the
superiority of Caucasian individuals over those of an African, Native American,
Asians and Latin Americans. Through these struggles were done to further
determine the benefits of capitalism, colonisation as well as slavery.

The
material attainment that was gained as a result of racial domination,
re-establishes the perception of a superior race, and justifies the
pre-conceived ideas of the link that has somehow ben established between
ethnicity and an individual’s ability to carry specific tasks.

 

JP
Rushton presents the argument that favouritism for an individual own ethnic
group or ‘race’ may have been a result of the need to improve the family and
social bonding. He argues that in order to ensure that genes are passed down
efficiently they seek those that look similar to them.

 

John
Dupre stated that there is not only no genetic basis for racism but also went
on to state that there is no real genetic basis for race. He rejected the once uniform
perception that human are genetically homogenous species but stated there
plentiful examples of genetic diversity as well as countless evidence displaying
the diversity of behaviour between cultures. He went on to debate that whilst
there are many differences within the human species, there are many
complexities and layers of variation that will not be specifically dictated by
the term of ‘race’. He further stated that race was instead to be considered a
social and political construct that was dictated based on subjectively chosen
differences based on physiology and biological variations. Elaborating on his statement
that racism has no biological basis he argued that racism is a result of
environmental changes rather than those that occurred as a result of biology.  

11,8

 

 

Conclusion

There
is no distinguishing factor that is established as a singular source of racism.
Rather it is the grouping of various factors, starting from the primitive
behaviour of not accepting those that do not fit into the society, that was
then further established as distinguishable races. From this the ideology of
superiority was established, and those that were taken over and controlled by
the dominant were thus seen as inferior. However, in contemporary society,
these perspectives fail to hold true, therefore, the media and other social
institutions must thus take accountability for reproducing racism in a
post-modern society that has evolved from its original primitive state.