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Racism: the big problem

Updated on October 28, 2016

What is Racism?

I'm sure we all know or at least have a fair idea what racism is and I'm sure it means something to everyone reading. Here is the dictionary definition:


Racism: The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

Race: A group of people identified as distinct from other groups because of supposed physical or genetic traits shared by the group.


You're different

Racism on my mind...

Personally as a white male growing up in Scotland Racism wasn't something that bothered me personally. The closest I came to racism was through seeing and hearing things that happened to friends of mine from an ethnic minority, but it was never a regular occurrence. So on that basis it was never something that I ever thought much about.
However upon moving to Brazil on the other side of the world and becoming an ethnic minority I have now experienced what it is like to be treated differently because of my background. While many people are interested in talking to me about where I am from and why I am here there is also negative attention I get. There is a belief in Brazil that 'white people' and europeans 'have money' Something that goes along with the idea that life in Brazil is tough (my article touching on some problems in Brazil) and in Europe or the USA everyone is rich and has a simple life.

To give some examples I have been aggressively sworn at and called stupid for leaving my good life in the first world to live here and also for not helping with my apparent riches. That are what? mere assumptions based on my skin and eye colour and my foreign accent? While these are things that I don't let get to me and have no effect on my day to day life, it is something that has brought race and racism to my attention. Making me seriously think about all sorts of racism, and looking at possible causes.

Racism and you

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Racism in Brazil

While I mentioned my personal experience of being a white european living in Brazil. In my years living here I have seen parents going through their teenage children for dating someone of black ethnicity. During a game of football I was once told 'go back to your own country, you white animal'. During the olympics I was told 'obviously Usian Bolt won gold because Black people run faster than white people' A statement that shocked me (why should colour be the main factor in someones athletic ability). In my experience colour is a very big issue in Brazil I often hear in passing and from the mouths of people I know comments about the colour of people for example questioning why they were in a certain place or with another person and/or what should or could be an issue about the given situation. I have also heard multiple comments about Brazilians and immigrants of Asian decent, disbelief to how they follow or possibly follow a different religion. Comments about how they always sell cheap things but are never good at sport. That and other comments and even laughter about their shape of eyes.

More of my experiences have been about skin colour, predominantly black an white but racism comes in many forms. I have mentioned examples that I have experienced and witnessed here, living in Brazil.

Something dawned on me

While reading about racism, something came to my realiseation. I was reading about racism in Brazil, while I have spent time in the past reading literature very similar in the past it was while I was reading these quick stats about racism in Brazil. They are as follows:

  • Among college graduates, White Brazilians out-earn black Brazilians by 47%.
  • Homicides rate have dropped for white Brazilians by 24% in the last decade. In the black population, the rate has increased by 40 percent.
  • Afro-Brazilians account for over 50% of favela residents in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Anybody remember seeing any black faces in the stands during the 2014 World Cup?
  • Despite being over 50% of Brazil’s population, Brazilians of African descent only account for 16% of the top richest 1%.
  • Black Brazilians aged 12-18 years old are 3x as likely to be murdered as White Brazilians in the same age range.

(note. I copied these stats. What sort of comment is 'Anybody remember seeing black faces in the stands during the world cup?' I went to a world cup game and I can tell you for a fact that there were a large number of people from all ends of the world there, obviously including black people)

So while reading this I am aware that these stats are possibly factually correct but I also pondered: Why is there so much analysis??

While some of these stats could be caused by racism (or racist themselves) there are many other factor missed out such as social class, education levels, education of immediate family.

The question I want to ask is Why are we being fed information looking at people differently based on the colour of their skin and/or their ethnicity? Can people not just look at others and just see a person? Not feel the need to see them as different or to class them in a group along with others who look the same.

Martin Luther King

Racism in the media

To me racism in the media is to do with facts and figures that separate for example, Black, White and Asian Brazilians. for something that is possibly to do with murder rates, income rates, education etc. When realistically whoever writes these stats is missing the big picture and saying that there are problems because, for example, income rates are not more even across ethnic groups or people with the same skin colour. When the real problem is in my opinion fueled by this type of literature in that it is training the reader (subconsciously) to group different races and consider them separately.

Most of my examples have been about colour, so why is that? Well through films and media where there is so much separation of black people and white people or for example in studying history I have seen/read/learned lots about Martin Luther King's influence on 'black rights' in America dating back to when black people had to sit at the back of the bus. Today we are in a time where things like that are unheard of. Things like this are a part of history, a very important part of history that has had a big impact on equality today and nothing will change that. These things in history need to stay as a part of history. I don't want to open a newspaper or my computer today to read an article published about current issues stating the differences in race and making conclusions based on that. At the end of the day it is biased information that at the end of the day is training me to consider human beings differently based on their race.

This applies to more than just racism

I have read about feminism and 'the wage gap' argument. While the wage gap is accurate it completely disregards the fact that women take time off work for pregnancy then frequently stop working to look after their child/children. Which then in-turn adds to this 'wage gap' which goes to show that this analysis is missing vital information. Not to mention the fact that more men aim for high earning stressful jobs than women do. I said more, let me give you an example. In an accountancy firm there are 18 partners 5 are women and 13 are men. While in a school there are 35 teachers 25 are women and 10 are men. In these stats the 18 partners of the accountancy firm earn much more than the teachers. Something that will add to the 'wage gap' Yet a choice of career is a personal choice which means that there is no need for comparison like this. just because everything is not equal doesn't mean that this is caused by racism or sexism.

We are in a time where we can turn on a computer and find anything we want, or don't want at a few clicks of a button. With that comes a desire with some people to over analyse everything in sometimes too much detail, which in itself is probably a bigger part of the problem than we think.

We are all just people

How to reduce racism?

I believe that we need to stop this constant public affirmation of looking at people differently based on their race. For a start anyway to stop sharing stats of people based on ethnicity. In the short term, realistically, this will have little to no effect on life but in the long term we will be raising children in a world where race is as separation less than it is today. This will reduce racism in jobs and have a big effect on 'casual racism'.

This is our world, we all share it. Lets help one-another and do the best for the most important race: The Human Race!

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