Racism: The Search for Answers
By: Errol A. Gibbs
The search for answers to racism has led us to the distinct conclusion that, from the perspectives of religion, science, and observation, we are not different from each other. In the quest for knowledge and understanding of who we are as a human species and where we have come from, many scientific disciplines have examined this question. The study of archeology is fascinating. Archeologists travel around the globe, painstakingly unearthing secrets of past civilizations. Are we really different?
They dig down through the depths of ancient ruins and burial sites to unearth tools of trade, weapons of warfare, and pottery for storage, cooking, and eating. Archeologists also attempt to reconstruct history through patterns of birth, life, death, and burial. They search through archives of ancient writings that can provide clues to the evolution of civilizations, arts, cultures, customs, and religious practices.
As disciplines, sociology and psychology blend scientific and humanistic approaches. Sociologists study systems made up of relations among people, such as families, formal organizations, ethnic groups, or countries and their politics.
These studies are an attempt to understand human relationships and the mechanisms that create, perpetuate, and maintain the social balance that maintains civilization. Social movements, legal and economic systems, institutions, organizations, and cultural forms are also the subjects of study in sociology. Have the goals of sociology helped us to unravel the mysteries of race and racism?
Sociology, psychology, and other studies in human behavior, whether scientific or observational, teach that the human species is a paradox. It is not that we are inherently good or evil, but that we are socially and ethically the most adaptable of all living organisms.
Furthermore, human beings are the only living species that has ‘free will’ and the capacity to change its environment to suit its purposes. Other species can only adapt to their changing environment or fail to survive. This human capacity to adapt comes from human intelligence, which is a gift from God to all human beings. We are free to use that intelligence for constructive or destructive purposes.
An understanding of the spiritual purpose for our existence provides us with a starting point for understanding the human species. A child that grows up Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist will display behaviors and customs that are characteristic of the family culture and religious heritage. Likewise, a child that grows up in an Indian, Chinese, African, American, Israeli, or Italian home will display behaviors consistent with the home culture and customs.
During our formative childhood years, we rarely recognized, understood, or preoccupied ourselves with color, race, culture, or physical differences. The social environment pointed out these differences for us as we grew. These conditions of human existence provide the background from which we develop our opinions of others, and these opinions often do not appear to diminish with age or reason. Ironically, one may attempt to reinforce his or her negative or positive image and opinion of others, as he or she grows older.
Racial prejudice has afflicted individuals and nations, and still frustrates the international community despite great efforts to contain its devastating effects on human survival. Throughout history, people of different racial groupings have had great difficulties accepting each other as equals. Paradoxically, inequality and lack of empathy exists within common racial groupings on the basis of class or color stratification.
This phenomenon leads to the conclusion that color differences pervade human relations to such an extent that any study regarding race and racism must necessarily examine the impact of color as a prime factor. Exactly what is it about our color that causes so much racial polarization and human misery?
Are we different and does being different physically, constitute a catalyst for conflict? To answer this question, it must first be accepted that human studies often speak more to that which divides us, as in physical characteristics and learning differences, than to the spiritual heritage that should unite us (Acts 17:26–27). Our twenty–first century has become a century of mass travel among races and cultures and across continents in a competitive arena we refer to as the global village.
Our experiences as human beings shape us. Within the limitations of our genetic makeup and natural propensities, all human beings are the product of religious, moral, social, racial, cultural, and physical conditioning and environment.
The race–conscious individual (of any race) may not recognize that if it were possible to eradicate race and color from society, our intolerance of others would shift to other differences such as religion, politics, intelligence, education, height, age, or social class.
A compelling argument could be presented that we have an inherent incapacity to tolerate differences without some legal and moral constraints. The real human dilemma then involves a “conflict of differences”. Wherever there are differences, there is a potential for conflict, whether the differences be inherent, such as race or color, or whether they be cultural or economic, such as social and material standing.
Rather than focus on that which unites us (our common human heritage), too often we preoccupy ourselves with that which divides (race, color, and culture) and creates communications barriers between us. These barriers lead to conscious and sub–conscious feelings of rejection or of being outside the mainstream of the human family.
This is the history of the long evolutionary development of human civilization that now demands greater accommodation, in the twenty–first century, by all races, cultures, and religions than in the past. Likewise, the consequences of breakdown in families, nations, and international relations will be greater, as was seen at the dawn of the twenty–first century.
—We are free to use human intelligence for constructive or destructive purposes.
Photo courtesy to blog.chron.com, blackgirlinberlin.com
Errol A. Gibbs, Author, International Motivational Speaker. Books: © 2011 Five Foundations of Human Development (FFHD) & Thoughts to Enlighten and Empower the MindTel: 905.875.4956/ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org/