How does racism work?
People do not identify themselves wantingly as racists but rather as realists. These realists see absolute truth in the idea of racism. We can distinguish three elements in which racism can be defined according to W. Thomas Schmid , namely its behavioral, motivational and cognitive features.
The behavioral definition follows the failure to give equal consideration, based on the color of the skin. Many examples can be given for this kind of demeanor, for instance, the fact that a person can be looked down upon because the color of his or her skin is dark. Secondly, there is the motivational part of racism which can be characterized as the act of unequal consideration, motivated by the will to dominate, based on the race of the person. (voetnoot invoegen) This can be shown by the many people whose rights have been overlooked due to the fact that they belong to a certain race. Lastly, the cognitive part is understood as unfair cogitation, out of a belief of superiority of another race. This can be translated into thinking one race might be better than the other. There are a lot of cases showing this kind of behavior such as the case against Lonnie Swartz . This border patrol agent fatally shot two Mexican teenagers across the border in Arizona.
Pierre L. van de Berghe, however, sees racism as a sort of class system: an attitude or theory that some human groups, socially defined by biological descent and physical appearance, were superior or inferior to other groups in physical, intellectual, cultural, or moral properties. Pierre argues that your physical traits determine your intellectual, cultural and moral properties. This surrounds the idea of racism. This means that the color of your skin, the elements of your face or even the way your hair looks, sets you in a certain class that we call ‘race’.
The English Oxford living dictionary describes racism as follows: Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. Researching how to define racism led us to discover that many people define racism in numerous ways. Frankly, each of those definitions can be used, but we define racism in a combination of Pierre’s and Thomas’ definition. Namely, we believe racism is a thought process leading one to certain actions. If someone joins this thought process that humans can be placed in certain categories based on human appearance, it leads them to conduct certain actions. These categories called race display a class system in which certain classes are superior to others. Conducting in this way of thinking leads one to believe they are either superior or inferior to the opposing person.
Racism vs racialism
Racialism means seeing different colors in people. Once people start acting upon those differences, we can call it racism. As we now know racism is a certain thought process that leads you to act a certain way and racialism is just acknowledging the color of the skin is different. We can see some connections but also very clear differences. The first connection we see is the clear segregation in both racism and racialism. To specify the Caucasian race is seen as the superior race in a racist point of view which means that there exists a segregation of class within racism. Racialism does not show a segregation in class but rather a segregation in biological elements. The second connection we see is in the identification of these ‘racists or realists’. They do not want to be called after their thought process but rather something else, similarly, both have other identifications with a realistic character.
The first difference we can see is that racialism comes from a more scientific perspective and racism is an entirely subjective idea. We wondered if racism and racialism are equally well known amongst people so we conducted a questionnaire in which 62 people took part, figure 1, 2, 3 and 4 display our results. As you can see in figure 1 and 2 the strong majority of people know what racism is and have also learned about racism in school and like figure 3 and 4 shows the strong majority of people do not know what racialism is and have not learned about it in school. We can conclude another difference between racism and racialism because of our little questionnaire. The second difference is the difference in popularity, the majority of society knows what racism is and how it works, however, society does not what racialism is and how it works.
Where did racism come from?
When Europeans discovered America, all the European countries started to claim as much land as they could on this new continent. When the Europeans started claiming this land they came across a new civilization, better known as native Americans. The Europeans did not care about this new civilization and wanted to take their land from them. This started wars against the native Americans. The Europeans won due to the fact that their military advancement was too high in comparison to the native Americans. The resting population of native Americans began working for the Europeans; this is how slavery began.
Later, Europeans started to bring Africans to America, so they could be slaves too. The class system started to slowly work its way into Southern civilization. The Caucasian male was the highest in the system and the African American race was at the bottom. Laws started to make its way into society, where people did not have equal rights.
After living in these circumstances for quite some time, the slave population has grown to be one-third of the population in Southern America. Thus a rebellion of slaves was a constant fear for the colonists. The first recorded slave rebellion took place in Gloucester, Virginia, in 1663: an uprising including Caucasian masters and African American slaves. After this revolt, it is estimated that around 250 rebellions have taken place, before slavery was abolished in 1865.
After slavery was abolished, civilization thought African American people and Caucasian people could start living in peace, however, this was not the case, because they did not have equal rights. Society began its segregation. Caucasian people wanted to live with Caucasian people. This is where Caucasian zones began to appear. Some zones, some vehicles, and even some benches were only for Caucasian people. This segregation is now known as ‘apartheid’. Until a woman named Rosa Parks initiated a change in 1955.
On the 1st of December 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give her seat up in the bus for a Caucasian man. This action got her arrested and she received a fine for disobeying the law. Halfway through the 20th century, implementing laws to a specific state or location was possible, these were called Jim Crow Laws. These laws were the cause of racial segregation in parts of the Southern USA and extended to public facilities and transportation, for example, the segregation on busses. After that, all non-Caucasian bus drivers were fired, the bus was divided into two parts, a part for the Caucasian community and a part for the African American community. The African American people could not sit inside the Caucasian area, even if there were no more seats left in their area. This meant that the back of the bus (African American area) was often overcrowded while the front of the bus (Caucasian area) was entirely empty. However, when the front of the bus was full, and the Caucasian people had nowhere to sit, the African American people had to move so that he or she could sit, even if that meant that an African American had to get off the bus. This clearly displays that the class system a class system was in place.
As a result of Parks action, a boycott was created. A leader of the boycott stepped up: Martin Luther King. African American people stopped using the bus, this caused serious economic distress. They created their own way of transport through the city. This resulted in violence from the Caucasian community against the boycotters, which made the African Americans angry. Later, Martin Luther King gave a speech in which he said that the African American people should not participate in this violence because it was not the solution. King got arrested and was sentenced to 386 days in jail. Kings imprisonment got a lot of national attention. This resulted in an increase of cross-country pressure. The case eventually was brought to the Supreme Court of Justice as a cause of this nationwide pressure. The court ruled that segregation was not allowed on public buses and other forms of transportation. This was the first step towards the equalisation of rights. The ruling of the court caused a lot of chaos. Caucasian people started to fight back by attacking African American people, busses, churches and so on. The attacks eventually faded into the background and the success of the boycott led to a feeling of activism for equality.
After researching the timeline of the formation of racism we concluded that racism comes from two key moments in history. We think that these moments are: slavery and the inequality of rights that followed after the abolishment of slavery. To clarify, inequality started when the Caucasians colonized America and needed slaves. These slaves were people from a different race. The act of enslavement of another race is where inequality started and a class system was formed. Nonetheless, African American slaves got freed and the American community tried to live in peace. However, the second key moment is the reason why the class system was still in order, namely the law. At the time laws were not equal for all sorts of humans, as you now know. These many decades of slavery and unequal rights led to a certain way of thinking which is called racism.
Does racism still exist
Years later it was brought to national attention that law enforcement was killing unarmed African Americans in situations where they should have to. This resulted in many riots and angry groups of people, but this was not a movement yet. In 2013 social media became very popular and after yet another unnecessary shooting the #BlackLivesMatter started showing up on twitter. This started a movement which is now called the BlackLivesMatter movement. This movement shows that prejudice and racial thinking still exists in modern day society.
Affirmative action was first presented by none other then President John F. Kennedy nearly 58 years ago as a way to reduce discrimination . Affirmative action, often referred to as ?positive racism?, is defined as If a government or an organization takes affirmative action, it gives preference to women, black people, or other groups that are often treated unfairly. by the Cambridge Dictionary. Many people have different views on affirmative action. Some groups of people think affirmative action is not necessary any more, while others think it is still necessary to decrease the unfairness of treatment towards minorities such as women and people of color.
Positive viewers on this matter think affirmative action helps to level the playing field for minorities because it is harder to get a job or get accepted into a university for people of color then an ordinary Caucasian person. It is because of this policy that minorities have been given the opportunity to grow as a whole.