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THE TRUTH ABOUT RACISM: Solving the Problem Starts with Defining the Terms, Pt 1

by E A Coleman
Clash Daily Guest Contributor

Western culture in general, is in the midst of a huge struggle that leads to death, destruction, and despair. If you think that is rhetoric, think of the Ferguson riots. We all see the struggle all around us, we know it exists and there are many different explanations and reasons floated for the troubles we face, but most often it gets labeled as racism, but is it really?

To explore racism effectively, we must define it. Definitions abound but Google gives us one that is pretty widely held:
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.”

Other sources give fairly similar descriptions:
Racism: “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.”
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/racism

Racism: “the belief that races have distinctive cultural characteristics determined by hereditary factors and that this endows some races with an intrinsic superiority over others.”
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/racism

So, if what we are dealing with truly is racism, then, by its very definition the difficulties arise from inherent differences and include intrinsic superiority of one race over another. But, setting aside personal opinions, what scientific support is there for that belief in inherent differences and intrinsic superiority? Actually, very little, if any. Here are four eye-opening quotes from a wide range of resources.

From the US National Institutes of Health:
“The proportion of human genetic variation due to differences between populations is modest, and individuals from different populations can be genetically more similar than individuals from the same population.”

RationalWiki.org:

There are many problems with racialism, the chief of which is that race is not “real”; races are social constructions based on arbitrary agglomerations of visible physical genetic traits, such as skin color. In fact, the most genetically diverse peoples on Earth — who race realists pretty much all regard as a single homogeneous group — are all dark-skinned Africans

In a August 22, 2000 New York Times article, Pulitzer Prize-winner Natalie Angier wrote:

Scientists have long suspected that the racial categories recognized by society are not reflected on the genetic level. But the more closely that researchers examine the human genome … the more most of them are convinced that the standard labels used to distinguish people by “race” have little or no biological meaning.

ScienceDaily:

skin color is determined by the amount and type of the pigment melanin in the skin.” While many opinions have been tendered as to the superiority, inferiority or even just differences in humans based on ‘race’, there is no scientific data to support those positions or that can point to any feature or factor in humans that is always present in one group and never in another group.

(Italic emphasis in all the above quotes is emphasis of this article’s author.)

For racism to exist, for a person to hate another based on race, there absolutely HAS to be at least two different races AND there has to be an unbridgeable, unchangeable, uncontrollable racial difference between himself and the one he hates or the one who hates him. If there are not two different races, then whatever the problem, and as serious and real as the problem is, it is NOT Racism.

If the preponderance of scientific data does not support there being in humans an inherent difference or inherent superiority, what IS the cause of our problem? To use the metaphor of cancer, inaccurate naming of the problem is a major barrier to solving or curing it. A diagnosis must be specific and accurate and the treatment must be targeted to a specific type of the disease. As with specific medical treatment for a specific kind of cancer, we need to get specific and accurate in our efforts to rid ourselves of this horrific problem so often mislabeled as racism. If you treat the wrong problem, you fail in healing the patient. If you are trying to fix something that does not exist, no matter how many times you try, you will never succeed.

Lets look at this subject from different aspects.

First, is to ask from where the concept arose. Some point to Darwin as the first to introduce the idea. He does talk about FOUR races, each one representing a different level of evolution. He seemed to believe that the blacks were least evolved, then the brown skinned people, then those with yellow skin, topped off by “whites”, whom he felt represented the highest level of evolution. He hinted at this “hierarchy” in the title his first book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

Darwin did not publish on this idea in any detail until The Descent of Man. He opens the first chapter with:

He who wishes to decide whether man is the modified descendant of some pre-existing form, would probably first enquire whether man varies, however slightly, in bodily structure and in mental faculties; and if so, whether the variations are transmitted to his offspring in accordance with the laws which prevail with the lower animals

(1871, p. 395).

He seems to address his own question in a later chapter titled “On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man”: “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world.” (p. 521, emp. added).

To Be Continued …

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/perpetualplum/3864724077/

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