The Source of Racism?

The Code

All things social have a source from which they draw information, ideas, customs, mores, rules, traditions, etc. Naturally, those roots affect the way people interact in a given situation—from an organized group to an aggregate of people.

In the US, we have a variety of value systems constantly connecting and adapting to provide perspective for each participant in the social dance to move in step. All interpersonal interactions rely on information whether it is true or false.

The misnomer misinformation should not exist since subjectivity shrouds the word. Information is information. Whether humanity considers good or bad depends on who receives it!

Code in the Culture

Cultural Versus Actual Truth

If information that is false permeates society, for exmpale the Earth being flat, the number of people who believe and promulgate the information determines if it becomes a cultural truth.

Cultural truths are ideas and processes that have lived in the hearts and the minds of people so long that no one challenges them. As mentioned before, the European Dark Ages provides the example of a flat world where people could fall of the edge. Millions believed it and touted it as truth including many of the esteemed institution of that society.

The actual truth, information based in fact, and cultural truth are constantly fighting for dominance. The war started when the first person started listening to an unworthy source of information, believing that source and promulgating it.

That leads me to the value system that I learned as a youth. It was discouraged for one person to harm another person unless in self-defense. Culturally, ethically and actually there is truth to that tenet. That is generally an accepted American and world tenet.

The sad thing about that moral code is under certain circumstances the values changed. Cultural truths tend to twist the ethics of that general tenet with the introduction dominant and minority status in every social construct. Within my racial and ethnic construct as a Black kid in a group of Blacks kids the harm-factor varied depending on a person's association to our social norms and ethnicity. We determined that if a person who rivaled our norms confronted us it was agreeable to harm him/her.

We agreed that if a person disrespected our customs and behavior we could harm that person. We took it further, at least mentally, stating other races required less respect and regard. We decided that it was agreeable to harm White kids because they were different and their ancestors possibly owned slaves (Which possibility did exist being that I resided in South!

Now, I am not trying to justify the mores that governed our youthful ideas, which changed as we matured to be more reasonable--especially since I joined a multi-racial church as a youth.

I bring this to light because all of our behaviors regarding what we are prejudice against or why we may have racist tendencies to one degree or another depend on tidbits of information programmed into our cultural experience and personalized to fit our perception of society.

Information or knowledge is power. The more of it that one has, the more decisions are influenced by the user to acceptable norms or the opposite. Remember, information is data relayed only. It cannot be evil or good in and of itself.

One particular puveyor of prejudice comes from the media. The media (newspapers, books, plays, etc.) has always driven culture. Now, media controls the culture of all those who allow it free reign in their homes, which is quite a few of us.

Cultural Bomb of Television: Racism Aide

I learned about homosexuality through television. I learned about harsh racism from television. I learn about sex through television and media. I learned about freedom and justice. I learned about most of my experiences through television. I am the product of the television bomb going off in my house.

I have had to cope with adjustments as an adult because unlike television, family problems take more than one 30-minute episode to fix. I wonder why divorce is so high now? Well, you be the judge if our daily entertainment affects our perception. Actually, I am going to tell you that it does!

Source

For many Black Americans, Alex Haley's Roots, was the first introduction to what occurred during slavery. Of course, we knew that it was hard for Blacks in the US since many Blacks felt the residual effects of the poverty and lack of education Jim Crow Laws caused. That series of movies the media presented to Blacks provided a connection between the poverty and past slavery! I learned that Whites tortured, killed, stole, bred and raped some of their slaves!

I recall my mother-in-law revealing being a youngster at the time when Alex Haley introduced his tale. She wanted to go and harm White people. She gained a deeper appreciation for wanting to hate Whites after the movie!

I do not blame media for all the ills of society. We choose to watch things or not.

I want to point out that we do not choose from where our experience comes. I have never been accosted by a White person to threaten my life. Yet, because of the movies I have seen and my life in the Deep South, I feared a group of Whites walking down the street if I were alone.

Cultural Fallacy

Where did I learned to fear Whites? I can count the movies! I associated those movies with the facts about history and made a connection based on a fallacy. I could be lynched if I went to Northern Idaho where White Supremacy groups I am told live--up in the panhandle.

TV taught me every American of Italian heritage is a mobster. Every officer in the city is an American of Irish descent. All Mexicans speak like Speedy Gonzales when trying to speak English. All Texans shoot people and chew tobacco. I learned all of this from the media and not personal experience. Most of this is a part of my cultural idea of America!

I lock my door when I see Black or White teens approaching my vehicle. I also lock my doors when I see Black men dressed in clothing associated with thuggish subcultures (Learned from personal experience baby! I will tell you about my brief life in Miami one day).

My point is: television, the media has helped to give me phobias that I would otherwise not have with just my personal experience. Together with my personal experiences, for which I am deeply to blame, the source code for my behavior and perceptions are warped!

Of course, television does as much good as it does bad. My life is a summary of my experiences and perceptions. What I have digested from the media makes some of those perceptions invalid, but the media is not known to be fair or impartial.

A misguided prejudice can lead to a full scale assault on a private citizen by a mob of opinion!

Ask George Zimmerman! Right or wrong, he is the butt of the media joke of 2012! The fact that he was found not-guilty changes nothing. Media has branded him the villain.

Source

Conclusion

Let us take stock of our ideas and feelings and see if they are based in facts and experience or deception and manipulation.

I own the fact that I have prejudice feelings. I can work on correcting things I know about and accept. By doing so, by judging each person based on his or her actions and not a general assumption from a questionable perspective, I lend to a more diverse and safe community.

Zion is the concept of coming together putting aside all differences and dwelling as one society under common decency--a mutual safety.

If I truly believe and want that, which I do, I start with picking apart the assumptions that separate me from my neighbors and bridging the gaps that would keep us apart.

© 2012 Rodric Johnson

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Comments 4 comments

50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 4 years ago from Arizona

Rodric, this is the very best hub or Message I have read while reading and commenting 2,500 times over 3 years plus on this site. We are tainted by media.

I commented on a hub by feenix I think that the 60's ushered war and racism into the USA via television at supper time for any who had a TV, and learned they could bend American minds by what they broadcast, I no longer watch the telly for now on a couple decades, I'm entertained by my God Yahweh, in the expanse of the Arizona out back, a magnificent area to live.

Blessings,

you are a wise man, and humble me,

Dusty


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

You know? It is not always easy to distinguish between what is real and what we perceive askew. In that bible that you mentioned, there is something about discernment being a spiritual gift. I am afraid there is only one way out of this maze.

Be a lamp unto my feet.


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

50 Caliber (Dusty), you make me blush--not that you could easily tell with my pigment! I an honored and flatter by your kind words.

I generally stay away from television. We cut the cable monster out and only allow Youtube, Hulu and Netflix in the house--not even broadcast tv. We want to control what we see. If we don't like it, we can shut if off.

Your profile image and your description of your past time reminds me of Johns the Baptist.


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks for reading WD Curry (and you to Dusty) I urnestly believe that only thing that can save this nation is to return to our spiritual roots. The best would be to turn to Christ. We need to learn to forgive and forget. Living in the past is hard work.

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    Rodric Johnson (Rodric29)185 Followers
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