How does one define racism?
I believe the difference lies between being proud of your race and the impression that your race is better than another. Frankly I am of the opinion that whatever your individual racial label placed upon you either by your own hand or the recognition by others, you should be proud of your race. Similarly the ethnicity you claim within that race is yet another reason to be proud.
Sadly lacking in many folk is self pride. Is that a problem? I think so, because so many folk spend so much of their time attempting to impress upon others in various ways that they are proud of their race. The act of expressing that pride sometimes gets pushed out of the arena of self pride and into the arena of prejudice. And this is where racism comes into play. I feel like every race and ethnicity has reason to be proud of their heritage. The race of a people who are outwardly recognized as white is a woefully inadequate way to recognize the rich and powerful history of that race. There are Scott’s, Irish, Russians, Canadians, and more. But that s only the nationality. Looking within there are individual breakdowns with each of those. Blacks are not simply black. They are born of nations all around the world including those from the continent of Africa, also island nations such as Cuba, Trinidad, Haitian, and many more.
Race is simply too general a way to fully appreciate the beauty in another. I feel that the simple truth is that we as humans are basically lazy. Too lazy to enter into a true relationship with others. We tend to desire the easy road. The easy way to get through, by or around a subject. Look at labor saving devices. Telephones. We have for centuries communicated with others in various mediums. But to do so before telephones called for one to either get up, walk out of the home, go down the road, and enter into dialogue with that person face to face. Over long distances that trip may have involved boats, horses, dogsled, or anything else technologically available to hasten the passage of the miles between individuals. later someone said that if you write me, I will respond. So thoughts and words were placed on solid surfaces and transported by one means or another to the intended recipient. But then we got lazy. Or perhaps impatient is a better word. We chose to hasten the transmission of the written word by desiring to hear the voice regardless of distance. So in due time the telephone was created. It allows folk to converse whole thoughts, dialogue back and forth in real time without delayed gratification.
I do not mean to say the phone is a bad or socially degrading instrument. I am simply saying that it is an example of how we treat personal contact when it’s not quick enough to answer a given situation. The letter requires time to write, read, digest the intent of the words, then responded to. The phone eliminates the need for written clarifications after then thought is conveyed.
So what has laziness and impatience have to do with racism?
I feel that one possible factor in prejudice is the impatience we have for others who are not like us. I’d like to believe that we weren’t always so impatient. At the very least not with those of our own ethnicities. Within that group, it’s very likely that we offered a certain amount of latitude for miscommunication and unintended transfers of emotionally charged opinions. But once the confines of that ethnicity are explored I believe that folk didn’t have the intimacy of regular contact. The shared history and background to draw upon.
Think on this. If you ask a black person in America today to comment on the third king of a particular tribe within The Gambia, and his importance to the formation of his people, that black American would be somewhere north of puzzled. Ask the same question of a Gambian and his response would likely be filled with emotion and heartfelt conveyance of what that king meant. Intimacy. But the ethnicity though different would still not likely cause friction because there is at least common racial background. When the racial gulf is greater, the friction is palpable.
Ask a black American his opinion on the current president of the United States and you are likely to hear a very different opinion of him than you are of another race. Not necessarily a negatively different one, but the perspective would skew from the black Americans perspective. And after all, isn’t perspective one of the driving forces behind how we view one another?