Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Through the news and the social media, for the last one week, #blacklivesmatters have made people realize that racism is a major issue still in today’s civilized world.
The unrest throughout the US and then around the world started after killing of a black guy in Glynn County Georgia On Feb 23rd, 2020, who was deliberately and knowingly shot by a team of son and father, clamming the action is done in self-protection. They suspected him of stealing and vandalizing.
The movement paces up slowly and as it reached the high-ups, police had to arrest both of the accused, ironically dad was an ex-cop. Amazingly, at first, both of them were relieved of the charges, but re-arrested and were formally charged with first-degree murder. The defense attorney, while not finding any evidence for the accused, released a video on the social media, showing a black man breaking into a deserted house, whom he supposed to be the boy killed by the defendants.
People reacted in different ways to this horrendous incident of killing an innocent black boy, who was just going along his own business. On Reddit, I saw a video of a guy who was running shirtless carrying a device, seemed like a TV, and shouting, “why not shoot me, I am robbing someone!” The sarcasm in this video was that although he looked like a robber, nobody even looked at him, only because he was white. He staged it to show the numbness easily felt in “modern” societies.
Later, George Perry Floyd (another black man) was killed, by two police officers using excessive force, in Minneapolis Minnesota on May 25th, 2020, United States. Astonishingly, the court dismissed both of the police officers, the verdict was that he died due to preexisting health problems and not by the “Police brutality”.
Last year, on the CNN, I watched a story where a man from India, who was a grandfather and had newly arrived in the US to celebrate his grandson birth, was forcefully taken down when he was roaming in the neighborhood, just a few yards from his son’s home, although he seemed to be totally harmless and very fragile. He was paralyzed neck down due to excessive use of force and to show the authority.
While this movement of #blacklivesmatter paced up, other nations also started to open up. Some Canadian pointed out that a black person was killed by police shooting and they also have started the protest for this wrongful doing. In Berlin, in front of the US embassy, people protested over the unjust deaths of black people and the police brutality. In France and Turkey, people came out on the streets to show their solidarity. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, indicated that there is racial discrimination in his country too. The life of a colored person is different than the white. He further stated that we all should deal with this discrimination, not on Government level alone, but individually, and that we have to think about it and must change the attitudes.
I saw a tweet in which a 16 year was pinned down in Australia in a way that one will restrain an animal, later the kid was taken to hospital for broken bones, and he was charged with misconduct. The people got appalled by the way police officers (one man and two women) handled him. Some are saying it would be different if he were “white”.
I always wondered when did people start to quote themselves as “white people”, and what is the pride in it? So, as usual, I started my search and research and came across an authentic article on the internet. According to that, it all began within a Playwriting In 1613 by Jacobean Thomas who Invented this term. On October 29, 1613, in his Play “The Triumphs of Truth” an African King character first used the word “these white people”. The next year when a commoner John Rolfe of Jamestown Virginia married Algonquin princess named Matoaka, who is known to us as the Pocahontas, a literary critic Christopher Hodgkins reported to King James, and I quote, “I was not worried about the Rolfe pollution of line, but was worried about the pollution of Mattock’s”.
The historian Nell Irvin Painter reminded in The History of White People (2010) that ‘race is an idea, not a fact’. Middleton alone didn’t invent the idea of whiteness, but the fact that anyone could be the author of such a phrase, one that seems so obvious from a modern perspective, underscores Painter’s point. There’s nothing essential about them. As the literature scholar Roxann Wheeler prompted us in The Complexion of Race (2000), (there was) ‘an earlier moment in which biological racism… [was] not inevitable’. Since Europeans didn’t always think of themselves as ‘white’, there is good reason to think that race is socially constructed, indeed arbitrary. If the idea of ‘white people’ (and thus every other ‘race’ as well) has a history – and a short one at that – then the concept itself is based less on any kind of biological reality than it is in the variable contingencies of social construction.
Later it was more evident when it became binary, as the scholar Kim Hall explains in Things of Darkness (1996) - as binary oppositions, ‘whiteness’ first needed ‘blackness’ to make any sense. The two words create each other. How arbitrary is it to categories Sicilians and Swedes as being ‘white’, or the Igbo and Maasai as both ‘black’? This kind of racial thinking developed as the direct result of the slave trade. Hall explained: ‘Whiteness is not only constructed by but dependent on an involvement with Africans that is the inevitable product of England’s ongoing colonial expansion.’ As such, when early modern Europeans begin to think of themselves as ‘white people’ they are not claiming anything about being English or Christian, but rather they are making comments about their self-perceived superiority, making it easier to justify the immoral trade and ownership of humans.
While I was watching “the Oprah Winfrey show” once, where a black person asked about the color of god, who was previously labeled as “white”, in the same show it was pointed out that black girls wanted to be white so they may be considered beautiful and acceptable. The most recent victim of this modern racism is the duchess of Sussex. It broke my heart when the photo of her boy was posted next to the chimp on Twitter. After they decided to step down as Senior Royals, I was shocked by the comments of people, who, between the Lines, were calling her not as worthy as Kate. On her Instagram, people gave lots of Thumbs down on her recent photos. It made me think that in a way you have become a convenient target if you are a feminist and black, though having a “white dad”.
Coming back to the core question, why the people are racist in the first place? In the past race was related to how one dressed, eat or live generally, it was a cultural identity, but as times progressed it has become an entity and a discrimination issue.
The psychology of racism lies in our evolution, us versus them. It is a group thinking, in which we feel comfortable when we belong to a particular group. Some Psychologist believes that we do this out of fear as a defense mechanism, self-belonging, self-projection, etc. Anthropologists believe that the “hunter and gathers societies” tend to exchange ideas and even marriages between different groups. There is evidence that racism may be a physiological reaction towards insecurity and anxieties, and as a defense mechanism we tend to associate ourselves to a group, but this, in turn, creates a lack of empathy towards other groups. The third one is the homogenization of individuals belonging to another group, which means that people are no longer perceived in terms of their personalities or behavior but terms of generalized prejudices and assumptions about the group as a whole
In a limited study In Physiological Scientist in the USA, a pair of 123 people, most of them white and black pairs, were studied. After filling the questioners and taking their saliva samples for blood cortisol levels as well as baseline ECG before and after the experiment, the researcher concluded that people experienced second-hand stress if the person they are interacting was showing signs of anxiety (including those with racial bias). The findings suggested that African Americans are more attuned emotionally to White Americans who are anxious than those who are not.
Racism is not a natural Phenomenon but a social one. Many movies have been made on that topic, like The HELP, TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, FENCES, THE COLOR PURPLE, MOONLIGHT, and The REVENANT, etc. In all these movies maybe the stories, situations, and timeline are different, but the baseline is the same, “racism”!
The way we interact with one another, and the personality we have, affects our communication in many ways. A girl from Georgia Atlanta has shared her experience with me on racism. A group of “black teenagers” called her very threateningly ”hey white girl” when she was alone. The experience stills haunt her, she says.
Another friend of mine once told me that usually they used to hire people from India as house assistants, and once they brought their domestic quarrels not only to her neighborhood but to her house. As people over there were older people and retirees, they got worried and scared, as a result, they stopped hiring them.
The experience of being of one race and the other is entirely different, it can be tackled by social segregations. We have to stop using the social practices which are for the advantage of just one race or stereotype depictions of race, like all Mexican and Latinos are criminals; blacks are loud; Asians are lazy and selfish, etc.
I was going through a tweet from a girl from Africa on #AfricaDay, and I read a remark on her post as “try not to turn like a white European woman”. I was appalled, and so was the girl, who asked him/her that ‘what do you mean by that”, no answer yet!
We started learning the norms of our group and culture at a very young age, and if we are denied our “child rights” one way or the other, it’s very easy for us to adhere to racist attitudes, sometimes justifying or even denying them.
The main goal is to segregate without mindset; but it’s not easy, as we all have our shares of burdens, believes, and shortcomings. I think “acceptance “will bring us to a better society, where people don’t call a person “white privileged man” or arrest an FBI agent, thought to be a looter during these protests, merely because he is “black”.
My mind is comparing it with the climate change. Data so obviously suggesting that man-made emission of greenhouse gases is a major contributing factor to it but the people are denying it. Racism is a self-construct thing, which became prevalent with colonization and now it is in everyday life.
A civilized person will hate Racism, most of us do, but what we are doing to stop it. I was reading a research in which the authors try to analyze and address the problem by comparing “traditional approaches” to “critical physiological approaches” and at the end concluded that the challenges are faced by Critical Physiological approaches to racism. While questioning the reality of race, critical psychologists have also examined the very real effects of racism. They have attempted to show how racism shapes the lives of people who are both privileged and oppressed by the operations of racism. Traditional approaches to the psychological study of racism have been important for naming racism and for attempting to understanding why it persists. Indeed, two major theories in psychology – personality and cognition – have been used critically to challenge racism. Critical psychological research on racism has sought to show that racial categories continue to matter not only because of their location within ongoing histories of discrimination and privilege, but also because we continue to ascribe value to them as ways of understanding or Interpreting the world. Discourse analytic research, in particular, has revealed how racism can be perpetuated in an everyday talk by people who perceive themselves to be non-racial.
These strategies of disruption can be applied in many different ways and at different levels of analysis. They needn’t involve a talk, but can be done by interrupting routines of activity. For example, people who live in segregated worlds have routines of commuting and visitation – places they go to and avoid – that maintain segregation. Breaking these can be personally challenging because they help people to confront their fears and concerns. These strategies can also be targeted at collective rather than individual levels of analysis.
Policies and laws that target society as a whole can be very effective in disrupting racist routines. The desegregation rulings, affirmative action, and other policies such as busing that have been applied in the US, South Africa, and elsewhere typically encounter fierce resistance from whites precisely because they challenge being taken for granted and racist assumptions about what is fair, just and right.
At the start of 2020 Chinese of all backgrounds were attacked on social media and even face to face in Europe and later in New York amidst the spread of the coronavirus. In New York, they teamed up to curb that, and the media was very vocal about it.
It is alarming how the protests turned into looting and later chaos. Many cities in the USA have to apply curfew. One young teenager, being so hyper, is justifying loot, as, according to her, if justice is denied to the black people.
If we want better societies, we have to make babies out of love, not out of necessity.
Those people who have created racism don’t belong to just one race. They were showing their fears or using others against people at large. Yes, it is hard to forgive and accept the realities of injustice, but anger is nobody's friend. It's ok to hate when you are hating injustice, inequalities, and someone despicable attitudes, but It is never ok to burn, snatch, and spread chaos.
The world can never be perfect, because out of this imperfection, humans have achieved enormous things. We have to make it better for us as well as for our future generations. This is possible if we become like the people on the boat in Christopher Nolan's movie ‘The Dark Knight”; they didn’t press the button to detonate the bomb in the other ferry being fully aware of the fact that it will be their last chance. The devil is in the details, just like J.K Rowling said in her famous movies Harry potter “In the end, we are their (evil, hatred, greed) biggest tool”.
Hitler, Genghis Khan, Timur, etc, and the people who were involved in slavery were people from all races and they were the real racists. It takes time to heal and recover from the wounds of time and history. We have to give that chance to each other, first by respecting ourselves and then we‘ll begin to understand the “true me/us”; otherwise we‘ll keep protesting and people will keep dying!
The Amazon, Xbox, and Google all are standing in solidarity with the victims of wrongful deaths. That’s in their power, what’s in our power? How we can make a difference? When we get the chance what‘ll we do? We‘ll keep protesting like Greta Thunberg (climate activist) peacefully and consistently or will we succumb to our anger, hatred, and prejudice? The ball is in our court, we should not give-up!