Racism – Another Perspective on Racism

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Racism - A Root of Evil

Racism seems to be the root of all evil in South Africa. It seems to be the alpha and omega of all actions and inactions. Discuss any political and social issue and racism seems to be the main initiator and obstacle to overcome.

  • Crime – racism,
  • Over-qualification and/or incompetence – racism,
  • Political correctness and affirmative actions – racism,
  • Employment and/or unemployment – racism,
  • Wealth and/or poverty – racism,
  • Et cetera.

In South Africa racism is not only discrimination and a prejudice that prevents objective consideration of an issue, but acute, intense hatred, fuming like a foul fire in the souls of too many people.

In an effort to understand this phenomenon called racism, I have to categorize South Africans (again).

  • Avowed racist,
  • Silent racists,
  • The Colour-blind.

 "Multiracial Kids Holding Hands" by digitalart @ freedigitalphotos,net
"Multiracial Kids Holding Hands" by digitalart @ freedigitalphotos,net

The avowed racists are those rude and apparently ill-bred people. Via their words and actions they embarrass the members of their own race and infuriate the members of all other races. They attract each other, form clusters and regard the one with the loudest voice as their leader. Like bees, stuck to their queen, they make an alarming, frightening noise.

Silent Racists are people who never reveal their true thoughts. They treat the members of other races with respect and even allow them in their personal zones as friends and colleagues. But confront them with a serious matter such as marriage and adoption and see how they prove their preference for Self and Alike.

The Colour-blind comprises two subcategories:

  1. Those who are going out of their way to prove that they are non-racists. Just like the avowed racists they like to shock their fellow-man. Instead of trying to rescue their own out of the swamps of ignorance and intellectual poverty, they will illuminate the shame and disgrace of their own and deliver them to the world to be stoned by every Dick, Tom and Harry. They will betray and forsake their own, marry and adopt outside the boundaries of their own with a voluntary or involuntary urge to survive and multiply in a more secure and comfortable environment. To be seen as a hero and saviour by members of a foreign race, or as a victim delivered from danger, seem to be their secret mission.
  2. And then there are those who refuse to give racism a second thought. Members of this group prefer to live and let live. They don't pay attention to their primitive urge to be part of a group; they are free spirits; they are eagles, they don't catch flies. Just leave them alone, let them live in the cocoon of peace they have spun with their faith in whatever they have discovered while flying far above the mundane. Believe me, they are blessed. (I find myself to be happy in this group.)

Bodiam Castle from the south @ commons.wikimedia
Bodiam Castle from the south @ commons.wikimedia | Source

My perspective on Racism

I see racism as a form of emotional fortification. Like a moat surrounding a castle, we have dug racism to protect us against raids by whoever and whatever we are not acquainted with. We are not born racists; we have become racists while we have matured in a home/environment/race/culture that had given us the idea that we are safe and sound and free to survive and multiply.

People raised in a jungle by wolves will not be able to trust people they don’t know, or whatever they regard as predators. As they grow up in the safe environment established for them by wolves, they will become wolfists. Overcoming their wolfism will only be possible when they come to the conclusion that they are NOT safe among wolves and forced to allow a provider of safety to change their unsafe environment into a safe environment, or when they move themselves to a safer environment.

People who have left their country to establish a safer home in another country among strangers have overcome the fortification called racism, and so did people who have allowed a foreign provider of safety in their midst.

And this brings me to religion, and in particularly to Christianity. Ironically, the majority of racists in South Africa call themselves Christians. As if they haven’t allowed God to be their protector and the provider of peace and harmony in their midst. By being racists, racists demonstrate their disbelief and distrust in a god they regard as their saviour. They are demonstrating a total lack of knowledge, insight and vision and a total misconception of life and their purpose as humans on this planet. Their behaviour reminds me of the behaviour of spoiled brats in the home of incompetent parents – those children who are allowed to curse and hurt each other and all others. They have no clear concept of love and respect for themselves and others.

Africa's Big Five

@ commons.wikimedia
@ commons.wikimedia | Source

The Big Five of Africa

I use the Big Five of Africa as a metaphor in order to control my own tendency to be a racist whenever I feel threatened.

In Africa the elephant, the lion, the leopard, the rhinoceros, and the African buffalo are the most coveted trophies of game hunters. They are ALL animals. Beautiful animals. Each and every one of them are unique and each and every one plays an utmost important role in ecology. Does any one of them deserve more privileges than the other? Is any one stronger or weaker than the other? What about discriminating between Carnivores and Herbivores?

And on this trend I will eventually convince the children of racists that their parents are leading them into the dark, stinky swamps of racism where they will never be able to appreciate the entire creation of God.

Races are not like identical twins; each and every race has its strengths and weaknesses. Goodbye to those who prefer to deny the uniqueness of a race, or what uniqueness are left after ages of conjugation.

Imagine life without the amazing technical geniuses of Japan and China, or the physical giants of Africa who were at a time the most wanted slaves due to their physical strength and endurance, or the philosophers and scientist of Russia, Europe and America, who are forever discovering, exposing and utilizing what’s new or overlooked in the past. Today, most of us have acquired the strengths and weaknesses of all races. We are learning from each other and the decent among us have the utmost respect for each other.

I understand my own personality by identifying animal-behaviour inside me. I can see a leopard inside me, but not a lion, a rhino, but not a buffalo or an elephant.... (Mmm, maybe I have some elephant in me - I have not yet forgotten anything or anyone that have made me the person I am today.)

The point I want to make: I was/am and will always be able to overcome the fortification called racism. I have build bridges and I can build more bridges in order to be free and fearless while I have the privilege to live on this beautiful planet called Earth. I know by now that my survival is not secured by my Self and Alike but by a Power far beyond my comprehension.

Racism is an anachronism in my book, like those moats filled with water that were dug around ancient cities and castles by people who have had, just like us, a need to be safe and sound. And yes, I do classify racists as ancient people who have not yet obtained the knowledge and wisdom required for survival in the 21st century.



© Martie Coetser

Why write about racism?

In my blog, where I am allowed to be more personal, I have explained why I had to write all of this about racism today - Why-write-about-racism-when-it-is-the-most-hackneyed-theme-on-earth?

xedos4 @ freedigitalphotos.net
xedos4 @ freedigitalphotos.net

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Comments 54 comments

HSchneider 3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

Very well said, Martie. Racism is a virulent worldwide disease that hampers humanity in all aspects. Most people in the United States try to ignore the problem until a major incident occurs. Flames of racism are then fanned but little is learned. Then the media moves on and everyone puts their heads back in the sand. We must learn to engage one another more often and more thoroughly so we understand the "others". You are quite right that racism is anachronistic and I believe younger generations continue to do better with this problem. Still I wish we would make swifter progress.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Martie,

Detailed, insightful and logical food for thought in this perspective essay on racism. I appreciate this issue even more thoroughly, after having read your previous hub and your blog posts, which are based on facts and your true, ongoing experiences.

Be safe and know how very respected you are for your open mind and big heart. Voted UP and UABI. Love, Maria


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Bravo to you for continuing to write about this social stigma and disease. The more awareness that is raised the better for all. It will be a long fight, as it already has been, but it is a fight that must be fought by all true human beings. Well done, Martie!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Oh Martie - This is magnificent, brave and so very well written. "We are not born racists; we have become racists while we have matured in a home/environment/race/culture ..."

I have loved and respected you from the first time I met you - but never more than right now.

In the past I have regarded racists as ignorant but now I see this disease as something much more.

Like a cancer that grows and becomes incurable, racisim needs to be wiped out. Will education help? I'm not sure. Clearly when it is taught in the home, I doubt it.

Will loving our brothers and sisters unconditionally? Yes. Is this possible? No.

Good for you! May angels watch over you and yours. ~ Audrey


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Everybody! Thank you for your supportive comments. I'll be back in a couple of hours with proper replies. Racism is such a sad and draining topic, depriving me of joy, peace and hope :(


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Hi Martie, racism is such an ugly thing from all sides of the spectrum, until we all learn to realize that unless we accept the fact we are all equal it sadly won't go away. We need to make sure that all the world admits that each and every culture has a racist element and not just one particular culture, only then people will be able to see the wood from the trees so to speak, well done for always explaining it so well and tackling such a difficult issue, nell


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 3 years ago from Texas

You have written some powerful words here my friend. Racism is a sad thing for sure ... we have so much to learn ... and tolerance is one of them.


Tom Mukasa profile image

Tom Mukasa 3 years ago from Lives in USA

'This one is of this race and that one is of that other race,' are some of the comments we all hear as we try to place our selves or be placed in systems known as 'citizenship.' We are pawns on a chess board. But the pawns include the queen, castle,bishop and others. There are efforts to change the way we look at ourselves and others. It is possible. We are on the right track.Humanity will one day understand that all it takes is respect and dignity. Thanks Martie..


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

@ HSchneider – Especially when people feel threatened they pull up the bridges and racism becomes like the moat around their castle/village, keeping friends in and safe and enemies out. Racism is mankind’s natural way to protect himself his next-of-kin as well as his descendants. I do believe that this was absolutely essential for survival in ancient times.

But really, we are now living in the 21st century, we live in a global world. Humans have become one mighty race, supporting each other by sharing their skills and accomplishments (trading), fighting aliens such as micro and macro organisms, viruses, bacteria together. We must realize that respect for each other as well as sharing is the way to ensure our survival. And not surviving like animals with no sense of beauty and wonder, but in peace and harmony. How difficult can this really be?

BTW, I am sure a survey will confirm my suspicion that 99% of all racists don’t even get along with their own parents/children and siblings, constantly in conflict with them, or simply ignoring them. I say it again: Racists are people who have no clear concept of love and respect, not even for himself. Only an idiot or psycho of a kind can be able to expose himself as a despicable racist at this stage of our existence.

Thanks for being first to comment, HScheider :)

@ marcoujor – I believe by now you have a clear idea of the atmosphere we South Africans are trying to make ends meet, and also of your own value in my life, my dear sista online. I would have been crazy by now if it was not for you and all my wonderful online fiends, keeping my brains and nose above water :)

@ billybuc, my dear friend, the last thing I want to do is to irritate my friends with this most common issue. (And this is why your comment makes me feel better.) This is the last article I am going to publish about this issue of the hoi polloi, unless something seriously incites me again. Every time I have to deal with racism, or injustice rooted in racism, and actually with any issue infected with hate, intolerance and human arrogance, I feel like one who was pushed into a river filled with fresh shit. Really, my skin feels dirty and you should see my face, twisted with disgust. Thanks so much for your continues support. Wonderful to have kindred spirits like you in my circle of friends.

@ vocalcoach – Ignorant, arrogant... I have so many words for racists. There is a saying that fits them perfectly: “No-one is as empty as the one who is too full of himself.” Racism can certainly be compared with a disease that goes from parent to child. Fortunately some children get cured in time. The remedy is a perfect mixture of Knowledge, Insight, Vision and Compassion. Have a wonderful Sunday, my dear Audrey :)

@ Nell Rose – I know some people reckon that only whites can be racists. They obviously don’t understand the word and its meaning. You know, we can say whatever we like, the meaning and value of all sayings and doings exist in the interpretation made by a human’s mind. Trying to convince a racist that his interpretation is twisted and deformed, is trying to get an elephant in his brain. They just can’t correct their pattern of thoughts. We are stuck with them; we can but only treat them like sh@t – close our nose, look the other way and move on as fast as we can. Don’t ever step in it! (OMW, and hope they can’t move!) Go figure, a turd with legs ?

@ homesteadbound – Tolerance is indeed what we all need. We even have to learn how to tolerate racists. Thanks, Cindy :)

@ Tom Mukasa – I love your metaphor! My humble opinion: The people of Japan and China are now the king and the queen, the Arabs with their oil are the bishops, the Americans could be the castles.... I LOVE metaphors :)

I honestly believe that it is important to be proud of ourselves and our ancestors. One’s race is but only one’s extended family. Instead of getting hysterical when we feel threatened, cursing and screaming like hooligans, we should not lose our dignity. When dignity and integrity is the colour of our soul, it is a sign that we have conquered all the wild animals inside us. Your words are so inspiring: “We are on the right track.” Thank you so much for strengthening my hope :)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

A superbly written, candid and thought-provoking hub, Martie. I have learned one disturbing aspect about racial prejudices in human nature – they run deep. This is due to, in part, to what you so adeptly described, “ignorance and intellectual poverty.” Racism is tribal in its origination and is not inherited through some DNA strand; it is taught. “You are different than; I, therefore, you must be treated as an outsider that cannot be trusted or integrated as ‘one of us’.” There needs to be consciousness of thought about this, as well as understanding which your hub so brilliantly defines. This “disease” MUST end.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Keep shouting, Martie and eventually the world will hear you and all those who shout with you. As you say, we people are like the Big Five. We all have something to offer. We should offer construction and sharing not degradation and destruction. Well said, my friend!


Tom Mukasa profile image

Tom Mukasa 3 years ago from Lives in USA

Racism is the stack reality that humanity is made stronger by diversity. It is also true that there are systems and infrastructure that should be built to remind us of historical experiences in their entirety ( justices and injustices alike). These are used as reconciliation mechanisms as well as affirmative action platforms. I believe in affirmative empowerment. Today it is one of the new tools to redress what colonialism, imperialism and the one sided extraction of resources ( especially from Africa) did. Let us face it, the Bible, Christianity and the mechanisms built to remind us of the Holocaust point towards that too!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

@ Genna East – Sadly, we are still talking about ‘us’ and ‘they’, ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’, etc. And this after we will be “one rainbow nation’ for 20 years in 2014. I am still stuck in this racial trap. Fact is, whether we want to deny it or not, there are still too many differences to call everybody in SA ‘us’. The Jews, the Indians, (the Islam on the one side and the Hindu on the other side), the Blacks (and their many different tribes), the Coloureds, the Afrikaans-speaking Whites, the English-speaking Whites), the Chinese, the Pakistani, the Portuguese, the Italians, etc. etc. are all so very unique with clear characteristics, cultures and customs. In order to paint a clear picture of any event we need to state race and gender and even age. Now some people call this racism, so we journalists and writers are dancing on eggs all the time. However, I do remember that we were all ‘we’ and ‘us’ during the World Soccer Cup 2010, when SA was the host. Will racism ever end? If only we can get the hatred and the prejudice out of it....

@ bravewarrior – Your opinion means a lot to me. I wonder, what would the Americans be? The elephant, the leopard, the rhinoceros, the buffalo or the lion? I guess we need a at least a Big 50 to make this metaphor substantial, but only if we need to animalize each race :)

@ Tom Mukasa – Thanks for your profound comment. I can’t imagine a world with people who are all exactly the same. Go figure! I can clearly see the sense in affirmative empowerment, however, I do believe that the time will come when experience and qualifications will once again count the most. But perhaps this, too, may be regard as discrimination. Intellectual crimination? I know so many graduates (of all races) who are not at all able to DO what they have learned to do, and opposed to them non-graduates who are able to do the job thoroughly even though they have no ‘papers’. I really don’t know how we will ever have any affirmative empowerment without discriminating in some way or the other. One party will always believe that they were treated in an unfair manner. Fortunately, not in all sectors. The Holocaust, all those medieval Inquisitions, so many other tragedies and actually all wars are such proofs of human audaciousness. Human’s greedy urge to possess as much as possible and to have sovereign power over as many and much as possible, is sadly like a wild horse. To control this urge to the benefit of all, we’ll have to keep it tamed, groomed and saddled. Thanks again for your insightful comments.


kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Dear Martie, I know that this topic is the most painful for you now (or at least I assume, it is the most painful).

Hence the boiling emotions.

But racism is one of the sociological phenomena that are very persistent the in human society. It's here to stay for a long long time.

It's not an anachronism, it's quite the opposite. It always happens NOW somewhere.

I wrote an article "To Discriminate is to Recognize Differences" - the article was written as an essay for my "Sociology 101" in 2000. (You don't have to read, but maybe you'll link it to your perspective). This article did not age one day. ("Hell is other people")

http://hubpages.com/education/To-Discrimination-is...

Thirteen years later...

It goes like that (I am not sure of order) - discrimination - prejudice - racism.

There is ethnocentrism there as well (the thing that you call "wolfism")

You are right - we tolerate to a certain extent - the line is drawn at matrimony. If I am to marry again, I will be really careful - because you are not marry as much a person (with whom you are in love) as his family. And that another (racial, ethnic, ... religious group)... I don't need this in my life - the clashing cultures.

And the castles? The castles are certainly the thing of the past. Do you know why they stopped building castles - because canons were invented.

Barricading yourself in the castle is the worst war strategy. The enemy can just outwait you - no need to waste the effort, encircle the castle and wait until the last person dies from hunger...

Or if the enemy is impatient - and attacks - there is NOWHERE to run - the castle is a trap.

The best war strategy is called formlessness. You can never fight something that has no form.

In Canada - racism is not that much of an issue, but it is still there - maybe more of a racial discrimination.

The phrase "Chinese are bad drivers" is not even considered an offence. They are bad drivers. Once we moved a few streets up, where more Chinese live, our auto insurance went up. And auto insurance is not based on racial discrimination - it is based on statistics - how many accidents...

I studied only the basics of sociology and I know that racism is here to stay for a long time. I would be more surprised to see no racism, no discrimination, no wars.

And even, the prognosis on race is the Brownization of the global population (eventually we'll cross the boundaries and start cross breeding), there will be new reasons for discrimination. (More brown, less brown)

(and I am not talking about inequalities based on age, gender,...)

You know, Martie, all I wish is for the South African nightmare to be over sooner than later.


Tom Mukasa profile image

Tom Mukasa 3 years ago from Lives in USA


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Racism – Another Perspective on Racism, so interesting of the way you wrote this hub I have experienced racism in SA and so did my son but my son had to face this issue in a private school in the year 2000 that is sad to go through insults even at that time it is most difficult to handle when you have to explain to your child about how one is not accepted because of the color of their skin. Thanks for sharing this hub


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 3 years ago from Upstate New York

I'm very sorry that you were apparently subject to racism in your country. I recognize the forms of racism that you listed, right here in the United States, and I'm also very sorry that anyone in America is subject to this social illness.

I'm a "white" person. The fact is, the pigments in my skin are exactly the same colour as the pigments in a "black" person's skin. The "black" person merely has much more of this pigment, because their ancestors adapted to a tropical environment with a lot of sun; the pigment protects us from the sun's UV rays. My ancestors hail from the frozen north, where less pigment allows more Vitamin D production from a weak sun. You and I are both the same race. That's what's REALLY SILLY about racism.

I worked with a lady who became my friend; a very nice lady. I was shocked one day when we had this conversation: she actually believed that "black" people were "Sons of Ham" and condemned to be "hewers of wood and drawers of water", from the Bible. The so-called Christian defence of slavery. If you actually read the Bible, nowhere does it say the Sons of Ham were black as opposed to white. They were Jews from the Mediterranean, so they all had olive-colour skin. Also, this curse which God laid upon the Sons of Ham were limited by a number of generations which has long since passed in the history of the world. Go figure! I hope I convinced my friend that she is very mistaken in this idea and should abandoned it forthwith.

There is no social justification for discrimination based on the amount of pigment one has in one's skin. Some people have more; some less. We all (except for Albino people) have some. And all the pigment is the same colour.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

Martie, your article is profound. Thank you for describing the various kinds of racism, and that Big Five metaphor is something to think about. So is your last sentence.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thank you for creating this hub, Martie. Racism is a horrible disease that needs to be cured. Your analysis of racism was very interesting.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

I have not thought that racism has different forms. I felt the racial discrimation when I first arrived in Germany 32 years ago. Thanks God it has changed a lot since then. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this illness. Have a lovely weekend!


Tony Flanigan profile image

Tony Flanigan 3 years ago from East London, South Africa

This could get interesting. :)

I am white.

If I change my opening phrase to I am a white South African, perceptions will, in all likelihood, immediately change, and I become a bastion of racism - because I am old enough to have voted before South Africa became a true "democracy".

Let's take it a step further. If my opening statement was: "I am a white American" - would perceptions change? Many would say not. Many would say their perception does change.

Whatever the perception, I have white friends, I have black friends, and I have friends of mixed colour.

And I am South African, proudly so.

By the way, affirmative action has NEVER worked for ANYONE. There will always be a loser.

:) In years gone by my home language and culture weren't right, nowadays my skin colour is not right. I'll talk about, but, by God, I'm not going to scream, whinge, whine, cry, and beat my drum over it. I do my own thing, my way. That's all.

I'm aware of racism. I'm aware of discrimination. I live with it.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

@ kallini2010 – Thank you so much for your profound comment, and also for the link to your extremely interesting article about racial discrimination - http://kallini2010.hubpages.com/hub/To-Discriminat

It will take me hours to share all my thoughts with you – all of them in total agreement. But for now only something about your statement – “We dislike people who are different from us...”

Personally I will not use the word ‘dislike’. I find ALL people interesting and likable. Race and color have never stopped me from trying to like another person. I would rather use the word ‘distrust’ and only due to scraps of knowledge and perceptions I have managed to obtain during the course of my life. Let me be honest –

When I meet a ...... my first thought is:

Chinese person: “These people eat cats and rats.... I am NOT going to eat their food.”

British (English): “These people are snobs, reversed and not interested in strangers.... Let me rather ignore them before they insult me.”

American: “These people think they rule the world. Their arrogance has no boundaries. Let me steel my heart and keep to my principles.”

In my own country – and I have to emphasize again that my perceptions are illogical and based on impressions I have obtained -

The Sotho and Tswana people: “These people are peaceful and friendly. I don’t have to be too nervous among them.” (This was my 1st thought until Julius Molema (ex-ANC-Youth leader, currently trying to become our next president), started to incite his followers to kill a certain number of whites before Christmas. His outspoken hate for whites is repelling and frightening!)

The Xhosa people: “These people are thieves and trouble-makers. Don’t trust them!”

The Zulu's: “These people are warriors and seekers of power. They are able to pretend that they are willing to negotiate, but only to kill you the moment they get the opportunity.” And this perception of mine is based on historical events such as http://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/zulu-warri... ....

My fellow-whites, in particularly Christians: “Sunday morning at church they are all love and smiles, but first to judge, condemn and/or ignore anyone who is not exactly like them.”

Svetlana, I can add many more examples like this just to prove that discrimination is primarily rooted in distrust. ‘Dislike’ is a subsidiarity.

Yes, I do find racism painful. Embarrassing when practiced by fellow-whites and frightening when practiced by others. I also know that it was, is and will forever be practiced in some way or another by all humans, whether based on color, culture, religion, political views, region of birth, qualifications, whatever. In the past, among us white ‘Boere’ it was an amazing phenomena between people sharing the same surname. “You are different and not trustworthy because you were born and raised in the Cape Province and not in Transvaal/Free-State/Natal.... or.... I like you without any doubts because we are both descending from so-and-so from Wherever....”

Fact: A human being is a creature with prejudicial attitudes.....

“Barricading yourself in the castle is the worst war strategy...” – This is exactly how I see racism. The sooner one builds a bridge over their racists attitudes, the better. Whatever they lose in the process they will gain again. Maybe not in the same form, but perhaps even in a better form – if not, there will always be room for improvement. We whites down here are for ages no longer only Europeans. We have enriched ourselves with some of the customs and cultures of all races we have met down here.

The current South African nightmare is caused by corrupted political leaders and managers of various sectors and by brutal, heartless criminals. Thank you, Svetlana, for hoping with me that they will disintegrate soon.

I wish I could reply on each and every profound statement you have made. Thanks a lot for enhancing my hub with such a profound comment.

BTW, I was away on holiday and now back and ready to fall into the old groove again.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

@ Tom Mukasa – Thank you so much for the link to the ‘LOST FOOTAGE OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING’. We are certainly on the right track. If only we can dump the illogical racists among us!

@ DDE – I am so sorry you - and in particularly your son - had to deal with racism down here. Children are born with no concept of race, color, religion, culture, etc., and then they have to experience the most painful wide-awakenings created by short-sighted and obstinate adults. This is the kind of sadness we can prevent.

@ Paradise7 – Social illness is a perfect label for racism. There is surely no healthiness in it. I will even call it an infectious, destructive disease. That ‘Sons of Ham’ legend – any person who knows something about mythology, human genetics and evolution – to name but only a few subjects – will NOT use this to justify their racist attitudes. Since I was a child I was not able to believe this as I have known about too many white "hewers of wood and drawers of water". (Keep in mind that 90% of the Afrikaans-speaking whites down here were extremely poor until they have managed to overcome British Imperialism - http://www.sahistory.org.za/archive/chapter-3-poor...

Sadly, I have heard of even more ridiculous justifications. Too ridiculous too mention!

Paradize, you and I are on the same page; I agree wholeheartedly with you :) If people base racism on pigment they may as well base it on the color of eyes and hair and the shape of noses and ears. Same illogical justification.

@ MsDora – It is a habit of mine to use animals and their behavior as metaphors for humans and their behavior. After all, we are but only Primates (an animal order including lemurs and tarsiers and monkeys and apes and human beings). Thank you so much for your supportive comment.

@ AliciaC – Good to know you found my analysis interesting :)

@ Thelma Alberts – I do believe that we should be proud of ourselves regardless of our race. Just to survive as a human being in whatever circumstances deserve recognition and respect. Some of us have managed to overcome all obstacles while others have fallen in the gutters due to drugs, alcohol, incompetent parents and even mental and physical disorders. To discriminate on the grounds of anything is such a waste of precious time. Rather use the energy to make the best of our lives without jeopardizing another’s equal right to do the same.

@ Tony Flanigan – Truth is but only based on perceptions, perspectives, interpretations and opinions. I have an encyclopedia dated 1960-something, claiming that nicotine is not dangerous but only able to stain fingers and teeth. Today we have a total different perspective on nicotine, firmly based on our interpretation of new knowledge. Who knows what new information is still to be discovered? By now we know that racism instigates rebellions, revolutions, war and consequently acute emotional pain and death. I wish I could call myself PROUDLY South-African. Hopefully before I go west. BTW, it is hard not to scream and cry when you and your beloveds become victims of racism. I do believe that any normal person will hope (aloud) that justice prevails :)


kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Thank you, Martie, for your response. Just like you, I can add all the knowledge I gathered while crying on end and being depressed, but having time to take the Great Courses and reading books. (There must be an advantage to being mood-challenged).

There are so many reasons why this is happening, but you and I (alone) cannot change things. There are revolutions (read "bloodshed with uncertain outcome", most likely when things get really unbearable or political changes - a lot of theory goes into that as well - I don't like politics too much because I perceive it as clever (or not so clever) manipulation. But I've read "48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene - a big fat book written in small font.

To be a successful politician - one must be very "cool" (as in "cool-headed") and very-very-extremely clever. Another book by the same author "33 Strategies of War" is sitting on a shelf, waiting for me to wish to declare a war on myself.

And violence is never the answer.

Yes, for me and you there is one thing that can be a consolation - hope that humanity will overcome barbarism (which as any other things begins at home).

Just one little fact about discrimination (I am taking the course "The Spiritual Brain: Science and Religious Experience"). It is rather a departure for me to be willing to learn something about religion. (Mind you, from the perspective of neuroscience).

Oxytocine - a powerful hormone that is being released when we bond with loved ones (during breastfeeding as well) binds us together for the "IN-group" and at the same time makes us "hostile" to the "OUT-group".

We have an expression (in Russian) that everything important a child takes in while breastfeeding (with his mother's milk). And the "oxytocine" evidence just shows that there are always "in" and "out" groups.

Which, of course, does not mean that "out-groups" to be hated, exterminated and such. Religion (in theory) teaches the best values.

The reason I told you this (not to say that I am "righter" than anyone else), but to share my fascination how the brain works and how malleable it is. We don't have to be the way we are. There are many versions of us that we can become. We don't have to eat rats, to be snobs or racists...

The most surprising fact for me is (and inspiring) - spirituality is a quest for the sacred, for god or universe, one's soul, identity and such... but in finding such unity or oneness, one loses the feeling of self, thus becoming one with the universe. I felt it once and it is a powerful experience. But in small doses, it happens when we are "in the flow", when we work and stop noticing time, surroundings and anything extra, we are "in".

I kind of took a sharp turn from the topic of racism... but this new perspective is too much on my mind. Which is to say that education is one of the safeguards against violence.

Religion as well, if one takes it the right way. Religion has a lot of sense to it (but not the church).

And, yes, I realized you were away - I had a glimpse at your beautiful & happy pictures. I'm happy that you are happy! There must be a lot of oxytocine circulating in your blood - the more the better!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Kallini, thanks for another very interesting comment.

I have to emphasise your sentence, and this has nothing to do with race and colour, but with the mental and spiritual state of a human being - "..... for me and you there is one thing that can be a consolation - hope that humanity will overcome barbarism (which as any other things begins at home).

Without sufficient knowledge we are only glorified animals able to achieve much-much more than any other animal on earth. And not only sufficient knowledge to survive, but specifically knowledge about humanity even before Homo sapiens came into existence. Our life on this beautiful planet is so very-very short - why turn it into a hell with hatred, racism and all kinds of uncontrolled (animal) urges such as anger, possessiveness, jealousy, envy, revenge, greed, etc.

I believe Oxytocine primarily instigates the feeling of 'being safe'. We feel SAFE and secure with the people we know, starting with mother, father, siblings. This is the most important feeling we need in order to survive. A baby whose Oxytocine hormones are not triggered at birth will simply die regardless of any superficial feeding. We tend to label the feelings triggered by our hormones, using our most-inadequate vocabulary, labelling everything either love or hate, good or bad. Meanwhile we can understand ourselves (and other humans) so much better when we study the behaviour of animals who don't even have a concept of love and hate.

I missed the word 'harmony' in your comment. During our trip to the Katse Dam in Lesotho I have seen many people still living the most basic lives - in huts, each with a small piece of land in order to grow the basic edible plants they need to survive and a handful of domestic cattle (for milk and meat). They live in harmony with nature and the entire universe. Only hunger, thirst and greed can change them into a dangerous threat for other humans and nature.

I believe the mere fact that humans can think instigates their quest for answers of their most basic questions. Where have everything come from, why is the heaven blue and the earth brown/green/yellow/blue. Naturally all humans will come to the conclusion that their must be Someone/Something out there doing things no human or animal are able to do. And naturally some humans will take the lead and come forward with the most amazing and impressive conclusions they have made.... and there we go.... and here we are still going.... searching, searching.... Well, some are no longer searching; they have found peace in the answers that were given to them.... And now we are back to Oxytocine.... Breastfeeding is for the body, answers (knowledge) is for the brain and the feelings triggered by both is for the spirit/soul.

Ref. my sharing of pictures - I love to share my happiness and sadly also my grief. I know that both are contagious. The happiness and grief of others do affect us. We can be happy or sad through others. Even a mother without a husband can be extremely happy or sad through her children. Of course, we will always long for perfectness. Sadly, perfectness is not even available for the most happiest person. There is always something(s) missing.

Check my FB. I am going to publish a video of our road tour of the Highlands of Lesotho - where people seem to live in perfect harmony with nature.

Svetlana, I ALWAYS appreciate your comments! Thank you so much :)


Tom Mukasa profile image

Tom Mukasa 3 years ago from Lives in USA

Great article and follow up rebuttals. 'De-racism' is one tool to eradicate poverty. If only roads, employment opportunities, good resource use education, information, credit, safe drinking water, food, shelter and health care were made available to all. That is the best affirmative action to wish for all.


kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Dear Martie, thanks again!

I will tell you only this: the reason I am banging my head so hard on the Wall called "The Brain, neuroscience, emotions, lymbic system, hormones, neurotransmitters, brain (again), frontal lobes (the CEO which in my case is out to lunch), mind and mental health" is that my life is literally depends on it.

If not for the mood disorder, I won't go too much into something that makes so little difference in my life. But as they say, there are no problems, there are opportunities (it would sound painfully inappropriate to call racism an opportunity)... and that is where every generalization breaks into many sharp glass pieces...

Along the way I learn so many things just because I am on that path of discovery. There is nothing more mysterious than human brain/mind. The Whole Universe is within our skulls.

But history, sociology, culture are very interesting fields of study for our skulls come together and do things I wish they didn't.

“Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.”

― Edmund Burke

The whole issue of repetition is that every new generation arrives as a clean slate.

We keep repeating, and repeating... the mistakes our parents made. Our parents forgot how they felt when they were our age and the whole misunderstanding (the conflict of the generations) lies there and nowhere else.

But every generation...

That is why I think that every subject we touch, even a shadow of a thought, once we start unraveling it we come to the global proportions.

Some sort of a butterfly effect, you touch and it hurts somewhere around the globe.

====

and if you did not share your photographs, I would not be able to see that part of Africa. Africa would never be a part of my Universe (the one that is slightly OFF!)

I hope I make some sense. I am no longer sure!!!


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

I enjoyed your 'Big Five of Africa' metaphor, Martie, as well as your erudite discussion of your take on racism. And you are absolutely correct. Racism is not innate - we are not born with these prejudices, bias and hatred. They are learned! There are many causes but here are the most significant psychological motives:

1) Self-esteem. When it is threatened, often we gain more positive feelings of self-worth by exhibiting bias and hatred for those who are different.

2) Group identity. We like to be part of a group and we like to believe our group is important or significant. This may promote negative attitudes toward others belonging to other groups.

3) Structure. A world of constant change can cause great anxiety for many people. Prejudice may be a way to restore our rigid belief system about the way we want the world to be.

4) Since the days of our early ancestors, humans have competed over scarce resources: water, arable land, oil, etc. Prejudice could well be rooted in our basic motives for survival.

5) Dominance. Humans are hierarchical - to promote that evolutionary trait, there must be status differences between people. This is expressed by racism.

Hope you don't mind that I got up on my soapbox.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

@ Tom Mukasa – I agree wholeheartedly with you. Sadly, those in power tend to make their personal affairs their first priority, enriching themselves with luxuries. Referring only to South African municipalities and the OUTRAGEOUS salaries of mayors and managers, and that while the ‘business’ is in fact insolvent, not even able to pay the city’s service providers, such as the providers of electricity and water. Although it will not be insolvent when salaries and especially bonuses of top-management are cut in accordance with net profit. I honestly believe that most of these people in charge know nothing about budget-controlling. And I am not even mentioning fraud and defalcation and the doings of members of Parliament. Oh, all of this has nothing to do with racism, but it surely incites racism and revolution. Thank you so much for your profound comments.

@ kallini2010 – You are so on the right track. I remember the time when I were in the claws of depression. In my involuntary efforts to survive I have studied so many subjects, and especially psychology and the workings of the brain. Knowledge is power. Once you are able to identify the cause of any disaster you have won 50% of the battle. Eventually you will be a winner and rich with knowledge you would never have gained if you were one of the happy-go-lucky chappies in this world.

You are so right: Every generation is ‘new’ – at the beginning of the same old road from Ignorance to Knowledge to Wisdom. Everybody believes that they will discover the shortest way to Wisdom. 99% of all people regard the knowledge and wisdom of their predecessors as ‘outdated’. But then, learning by trial and error is the reason why we are improving our civilized world all the time. On the other hand, how will you know you are busy to discover something new when you have no idea what was discovered before? We see it over and over again: New managements destroying the ‘wheel’ just to reinvent it again.

I love your thoughts, Svetlana, and also your sense of humor. BTW, knowing the worlds (circumstances) of others either helps you to appreciate your own more, or to improve your own to a level where it can be appreciated more.

@ drbj – Did you know you are my most favorite doctor-professor? Thank you so much for enhancing my hub with your very comprehensible summery of people’s psychological motives for racism. Each and everyone of them pure ‘normal human behavior’. Reminds me of anger – a normal human reaction on pain and discontentment. But because we are humans, we are able to control our reactions. I believe it is okay to be angry, but not okay to harm oneself and others with it. It is okay to be a racist – to feel happy and safe among one’s own people and unhappy and unsafe among strangers – but not okay to harm oneself and others with racism.

Drbj, I love you and even more when you are on your soapbox, sharing your expertise with all of us :)))


kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Dear Martie, you are right on the money!

When we met, I was high, at the beginning of 2012 I was too low, at the end of 2012 year when you did the French Horn hub, I was too low... Again...

But the tide is changing not as in there will be no low-low-low-high-low, but as in admitting that what other people say about me actually can be true. (The Horror!!! The Horror!!!)

The sense of humour (but true):

You have long legs (Bullshit! Actually I do), you are so tense (Bullshit! Actually I am), you are very strong (Bullshit! Actually I am), you will succeed in life (Bullshit!!! Where is the proof?)

But I really tend to stop questioning and start taking it for the face value...

which makes me a blind idiot that I did not do before. Not that I am not blind anymore, I just have a perfect double vision.

I guess you were right and I was right and we both were right and all we have to do to live in harmony is to see and listen and accept the ancient truths.

Maybe that is why I am no longer on HP - it was an important step stone for me and now I have to conquer a new frontier (Bullshit! I don't have to! especially, to conquer!)

I hope that at least it made you smile!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Kallini, and so we grow wiser and older. By the time we are mentally ready for life our body is no longer able to keep the pace. I am happy because your are still in CyberSpace where I can enjoy your thoughts and everything you are willing to share :)


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hi Martie. You sure stirred the pot with this one.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

mckbirdsbks, I think I were cursed.... to be a stirrer. Lol! Imagine this world without stirrers? Thanks for the visit and, again, for your comment on my blog :)


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 3 years ago from Minnesota

Really powerful article Martie. I plan on going to your blog once I'm done here. I see discrimination as fear of things one does not know. Ignorance, if you will. What a sad world it would be to have no diversity. I really appreciate your candor here and hope it can help educate those that fear differences.


Tom Mukasa profile image

Tom Mukasa 3 years ago from Lives in USA

I have given your essay another reading martie. I am so humbled. Racism indeed should not be with us. We know what it takes to get a rocket to the moon. Russia, Japan, China, USA, Europe and Canada have brought together 'internationauts' together. We know how to wipe out Polio. Am so happy there are collective structures enjoining us in dialogue on racism. Your story will go a long way as the matchbook that the 'hub' provides to ignite the racism tinderbox. Humans can rally behind Female Genital Mutilation, Trafficking and slave trade. I believe soon communities will have a de-racism exorcism initiation. A 'no to racism' pledge is in the making. YWCA is doing something, but a bigger event is called for. I give you my vote.


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi, Minnetonka, I do believe that respect for self and others will eventually kill racism. A person who think he has self-respect while he shows no respect to others should have a look at himself through the eyes of those he does not respect. Respecting bad people, such as murderers, is much more of a challenge than respecting people who are not from the same race, culture or tradition. Ìt is high time we bury the racism axe and stand together against crime and injustice. Take care, Twin :)


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Tom, we humans have conquered so many horrors, such as those you have mentioned; we are growing all the time. So I am positive; hopefully we will soon mention racism in the same sentence as slave trade - something of the past. Thank you for your vote :) BTW, I think snobism is even a more devastating issue - looking down at the poor and up to the rich, overlooking character, dignity and integrity.


molometer profile image

molometer 3 years ago

Ignorance is all around us Martie.

Knowledge, travel and even the web, is breaking down these false fortified castles of racism.

Interesting perspective on the animal idea. I wish I had a little more Elephant in me. My memory is terrible. :)


Tom Mukasa profile image

Tom Mukasa 3 years ago from Lives in USA

Great article that Martie. I only wish this hub continues to make us even sharper, wittier and ready to build a force of change in many areas, for the better. Once again, thanks for this article on racism and other ..isms!


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Molometer, communications with online friends all over the world certainly eliminates racism, assuring us that humans are humans regardless of the colour of their skin. Ñow let me find the animal in you..... I see a male lion :)


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Tom, I am so glad you enjoy this hub. Down here in South Africa people tend to be over-sensitive and subjective about the topic. One-two-three and the conversation becomes an unpleasant exchange of accusations, explanations and apologies. I believe if people really need to discriminate, rather focus on character :) I appreciate your support. Looking forward to read more of your hubs asap....


Tom Mukasa profile image

Tom Mukasa 3 years ago from Lives in USA

On the Big Five and the Small wily Five of Africa: In my rebuttal you will note am using: crocodile, lion, elephant, hippopotamus and giraffe. For the small wily ones; chameleon, monkey, hare, tortoise and bat. You brought an allegory that is staple of African stories and sayings. In one of my hub ( am yet to publish it) I did talk about legends, myths, proverbs, maxims and folklore across time in the world. I am sharing this part of the script with you as my dedication to what you wrote about 'racism.' These are short versions. Note that 'it' was avoided in African tales. That third person only came about via the introduction of writing since most of Africa was an oral tradition. The elephant was invited by the hare to come and spend the night. While at hare's (mythical rabbit) house, the elephant kept wiggling its body until there was no space for the hare. The hare ended up sleeping outside! There is a moral hidden in the story which I leave to you and your readers to decipher. The lion befriended the tortoise and one day the lion fell sick. The lion asked the tortoise to lure animals into the den. These animals became the lion's food. One day, all animals were eaten and only the hare remained. The tortoise befriended the hare, lured the hare to become the lion's meal "How come I can only see the foot marks going in and non coming out?" inquired the hare. "My friend, you have tricked all those animals but not me," said the hare as hare run away. The lion missed a meal. One day, lion was so hungry. "Tortoise come here and I show you two important parts in my mouth I have always hidden from so may people," said lion. "But do not hide in your shell, you will not be able to see the parts," continued lion. "Am content with what I have seen about the world, my friend lion," said the tortoise. The lion never got to trick the tortoise and that way tortoise survived. The lion died of hunger. The hyena was said to be the longest running animal in the wild and had the prize to show for it. One day, the chameleon asked to contest the hyena in the coming race. "Hahahahahaha," was heard all over the wild for days and night. The hahahahaha went on and on. Chameleon was not perturbed. It took preparation, chameleon resolved secretly. On the day of the race, chameleon was ready. Hyena was all boisterous. At the end of the race, chameleon had won! Hyena was a very exhausted heap of spotted skin. One day the hippopotamus asked the bat a question. "Bat are you a bird or an animal?" The bat replied with another question to the hippopotamus. "Hippopotamus are you a fish or an animal?" From that day on the hippopotamus learned to mind the hippo business and not the bat business. The crocodile feasted on hearts of other animals but was told that of the monkey contained powers to remain young. "Monkey,I hear your heart gives life to all who eat it." "Sure," said monkey. "If you want my heart, you have to first give me yours," continued monkey. Crocodile went ahead and cut the crocodile heart out in the process crocodile died. Monkey looked on in bemusement. Monkey leaped from one tree to another and was cheered on by other animals. "Where does greed end?" asked monkey. This is dedicated to you MartieCoester


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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Tom, these are beautiful legends, each with a profound lesson. I hope you plan to publish it in an e-book? One of the best and informative books I have read was "My People" by Credo Mutwa, and also many others that have given me a deep insight in African cultures. There are not enough books on the International market about Africa and its people, like there is not enough about China, Japan, Indie, etc. And in particular fiction, in order for the reader to live life in the shoes of the main characters. Fortunately the Internet makes it possible for us to meet the heart/spirits of people from different races and culture, and so we learn that we are all having the same hopes and expectations, the same emotions. Only our circumstances may not be the same. The question is what/who would we have been in different circumstances.

Thanks again for sharing and dedicating these beautiful legends with me. Oh, I feel like doing something with it.... Mmmm, maybe I can publish an interview with you and use this to promote your hubs? What are your thoughts about this idea?

I plan to catch up with reading during the weekend, looking forward to read more of your work :)


Tom Mukasa profile image

Tom Mukasa 3 years ago from Lives in USA

Thanks. That interview is most welcome. Sure. I know you will do something with the big and small fives.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa Author

I will work this plan asap, thanks, Tom.


Mr. Stewart of Colin 2 years ago

I ended up here Martie through your foyer of Martie and thank you for your personal reflections and pertinent point of view. One is not born into racism per se but one is definitely taught about it along the way growing up - I was just complimenting Maria on her curiosity level and you are another writer who could easily fill a spot in a daily newspaper as an editorial columnist - always probing and asking questions and allowing your lucky readers to then think, debate and ponder. You are a highly provocative writer and Martie you always make me a better reader - you have one of the best BS detectors going - and I thank you for intrepid ways - the backbone I believe in good reporting.


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Dear Mr. Stewart of Colin, you know that I have always appreciated your most encouraging comments, because I know they come from your heart. Since we met 3 years ago we have become 'family'; I see you as an online brother who cares and who will always support me and - how wonderful - allow, even encourage, me to speak my mind. I hope you are fine. I miss you in Facebook!


Tom Mukasa profile image

Tom Mukasa 2 years ago from Lives in USA

MartieCoetser, hope all is well. Keep up the posts!


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Tom, I am not 100% fine, but still up and about, doing everything in slow motion. I visited your hub the other day - searching for specific information - and saw you had a score of 100. Wow! Congratulations!


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 2 years ago from london

Some thought-provoking ideas here. I also like your Africa's big five.


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MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Manatita, welcome in my corner. I wish we were like the Big Five - they seem to be happy and contented, sharing the same resort -:)


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 2 years ago from london

Deep and meaningful. Reflect on what you said. You know the answer.


dianetrotter profile image

dianetrotter 7 months ago from Fontana

Wow! This is very reflective and insightful. Than you for an excellent hub.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 7 months ago from South Africa Author

Diane, I believe that when we understand where racism comes from, and when we accept it as a normal human tendency, we will be more able to grow out of it and live, love and trust like people of the 21st century. Nice to meet you!

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