Racism Doesn't Exist
Morgan Freeman's explanation on dealing with racism
It Wasn’t Always There
Charles Johnson and Patricia Smith wrote an excellent book called “Africans in America”. It details the journey of people of African descent from their beginnings in The New Word with the earliest settlers to Emancipation. Early on in the book I had a realization about the origins of slavery and racism in the United State of America. There is a passage that speaks volumes about our psychology as human beings. It said, “The first Virginia colonists thought of themselves as Christians or Englishmen, not white people. The word white was not yet used to refer to a type of person.”
How it Began
There were black people in this country from its very first colonial days. “Antonio a Negro”, who would later be called Anthony Johnson, was the first person to actually legally own a human being in the new colony. Indentured servants who were generally white, did not always honor their contracts, and because they could easily run away and blend in with other white people, they were not easily caught. Christianity was the criteria for deciding if someone could be a slave. If someone converted to Christianity, they could be freed. As the tobacco plant proved prosperous and more work was needed to keep up with demands, it became much simpler just to identify the dark skinned people as slaves, and continue to ship them in from Africa, since they weren’t Christians anyway. Identifying “white” people and “black” people was born out of a desire to easily distinguish who would be forced into free labor. Differences in perceived abilities, mental capacity, and morality were constructed later to justify what was nothing more than an economical decision. Anthony Johnson who had been a prosperous descendant from Angola, would soon lose his land, and his children and grandchildren would become slaves.
The idea that we are different “races” is a construct invented to justify these actions. Separating people makes them easier to control. It is part of the earliest Machiavellian strategies to gain power over large groups of people. The term is to “Divide and Conquer”. If someone is able to rationalize that someone is inherently different in such a way that makes them inferior, then they can gain the acceptance from the so called “superior” people to abuse them, control them, kill them, or own them. This practice dates back to the earliest origins of civilization.
Why It Is Without Merit
The scientific community has universally discredited the idea that biologically we are different “races”. There are not enough genetic variations between ethnic groups to classify human beings that way. DNA tests can indicate certain traits that are common among people of different geographical locations but, it’s the geography that dictates this, not genetic differences. Anthropologist Charles Loring Brace described our differences by using the word “clines”. It means that changes in physical human characteristics are geographical in nature but do not cause enough variations to separate us significantly. The word “cline” is actually a Greek work for “climate”. In short, our differences are literally, and factually, skin deep.
The definition of the word “racism” is this:
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
If we have established that there are no different races within the human race, the idea that someone else’s race is superior is impossible. Thus: “Racism” doesn’t exist.
Understanding this, accepting this, and embracing this is critical to our evolution as a species. Dismissing the word “racism” does not mean that prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry don’t exist, it just means that the reasons for them have less merit. We must begin to understand that seeing someone who may look different, doesn’t actually mean they are different. In the same way that seeing someone who may look the same doesn’t mean they are the same. Judging each other individually is more complicated than lumping and categorizing people together. It is easier for us to process other individuals by group, which is the reason dividing and conquering has been so effective. We need to evolve.
There is nothing inherently wrong with having different cultures. The diversity that does exist among mankind makes us stronger and more resilient. When the early settlers came to the New World, most of their seeds would not take to the soil. They went through a period called “The Starving Time” and were nearly wiped out. Eventually they were able to build somewhat peaceful relations with the Native population and were taught how to plant corn and other staples for their survival. One item that was of significant importance was the potato. The early settlers from Peru sent potatoes back to Europe to be sampled and cultivated. Europeans at the time dealt with wide spread hunger and malnutrition. The potato being a hardy and nutritious plant was a Godsend. It flourished in the European climate and was inexpensive to grow. The introduction of the potato to Europe was responsible for the robust growth that took place there after 1700. This sharing of information and resources is critical to our survival as a species. The cultural differences between us can be something that is used for the benefit of everyone.
We need to change the language used to describe our different cultures. “Race” needs to be dropped from our vocabulary in the same way we dropped “colored”. There has been quite a bit of politically correct language introduced into American Culture. Some of this I believe is frivolous, but this change needs to happen. I could accept being called “colored” if it meant there was a change in consciousness that made people understand the color of my skin was a negligible difference between us. If more Americans really understand that the tale we have been told about being “different races” is a lie constructed to manipulate us, the improvement in “race relations” that most of us have been striving for would take on new meaning. We don’t need an improvement in “race relations”, we need to grow in awareness that there are no “race relations”.
Morgan Freeman did an interview where he stated that one way to solve “racism” is to “stop talking about it”. I understand what he was trying to say, but I don’t think we are quite there yet. First we must educate people on its non-existence, then we can stop talking about it.
Unfortunately some people are making a living promoting these differences. There is a platform there that keeps certain people in the spotlight. Campaign slogans and news headlines addressing this grab attention. The history of slavery this country is built on cannot be undone. The disparities that exist between Americans who are descendants of slaves and Americans who are not can’t be ignored. What many politicians don’t want to say, is that there is very little that can be done to balance nearly 400 years of inequality. New laws can assist the process, but it will take time, patience is required. Politicians can’t knock on every American’s door and say “stop being racist”, but they can take part in raising awareness that “racism” is a mental construct. There are no different “races”, only the human race, just that understanding in itself will advance the evolution of mankind exponentially.
- Africans in America (with Patricia Smith, 1998)
- race". Oxford Dictionaries. April 2010. Oxford University Press.http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/race--2 (accessed July 31, 2012
- Bamshad, Michael; Olson, Steve E (2003-11-10). "Does Race Exist?" (PDF). Scientific American Magazine.
- McNeill, William H. "How the Potato Changed the World's History." Social Research (1999) 66#1 pp 67–83. Issn: 0037-783x Fulltext: Ebsco, by a leading historian
O'Brien, Jane (1 May 2013). "'Proof' Jamestown settlers turned to cannibalism". BBC News. Retrieved 1 May 2013.