We can say that racism is a relatively recent fact and may have its origins in the processes of industrialization, accelerated urbanization, immigration and population mixing; and especially in colonialism.
Racism is any theory that imposes an inherent superiority or inferiority of racial or ethnic groups, grants some the right to dominate or eliminate others who are perceived to be inferior, or makes value judgments based on racial difference. This is how it is defined by the 1978 UNESCO Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice.
As can be seen, the declaration gives the concept a very broad content, close to the vulgar concept of exclusion or rejection of “others”.
If we consider racism as a phenomenon resulting from the association of biological, genetic or physical traits with the moral or intellectual character of a group, we can say that racism is a relatively recent fact and has its origins in the processes of industrialization and accelerated Urbanization might have immigration and population mix; and especially in colonialism.
Although most historians claim that it began at the time of European discoveries, the phenomenal progress of the phenomenon is undeniable in the second half of the 19th century, when, in the heyday of sciences such as physical anthropology, quantification and measurement of skulls became fashionable and bones as well as determining the color of skin, eyes and hair. With all this data, racial qualifications were made that determined a people’s social, cultural, and even moral development.
There were works in which, for example, an attempt was made to scientifically justify the inferiority of the black man on the basis of skull measurements, specific weight of the brain mass or psychological or physical characteristics derived from them.
These ideas spread not only in the dominant sectors of Europe but also in the colonialist countries, where they quickly became popular; and racism was paternalistically justified as a mission for the white race to fulfil.
Let’s go back to the explanation
Having defined racism, he adds that it includes ideologies based on racial prejudice, discriminatory behavior, structural provisions and institutionalized practices that cause racial inequality, and the fallacious notion that discriminatory relationships between groups are morally and scientifically justified.
From this aggregate it can be deduced that racism is expressed in different ways, namely:
a) Prejudices: This is one of the elementary forms of racism. It can be observed in conversations of everyday life, it is common to hear the use of the impersonal form “they” or “those” to refer negatively to people or groups of people.
In Argentina, for example, the massive immigration that began around 1880 worried the Creole elite, and some of its members wrote literary classics expressing their racial prejudices, such as “Sin Rumbo”, “En la Blood” or “En la Blood”. “The pocket”.
A poll conducted in April 1993 found that one in five Argentines think there should be no equality for Koreans, 7 percent think the country would be better off if Paraguayans and Jews didn’t live here, and 18 percent think the country would be better off. 100 would oppose their son marrying Paraguayans or Koreans.
b) Discrimination: consists in the inferiority of the other in terms of rights or benefits. This differential treatment can even lead to humiliation. Examples of discrimination include restrictions on access to public places, schools or workplaces.
In Western Europe, many invoke ethnic consciousness to justify their racism. The massive immigration that began in the 1960s and the general migration of people led to racist and xenophobic attitudes in the host societies.
c) Segregation: implies spatial separation. It expresses itself in keeping the racialized group at a distance. The most notable expressions of racial segregation are the ghetto and apartheid.
d) Violence: represents the extreme form in which racism manifests itself. This violence can come from individuals (more or less isolated violence without political content) or from the state itself.
Up until the Civil War (1861-1865), the major problem in American society was the heavy presence of the black slave population, who, once freed, remained subject to the Ku Klux Klan. This resulted in the black population being largely concentrated in segregated spaces.
The problem still manifests itself today in the form of segregation, discrimination and racist violence. A clear example is the case of black motorist Rodney King, who was brutally beaten by four white police officers after a brief chase. Although the whole world saw the beating on TV, these four police officers were acquitted in Los Angeles in 1992.
Another example of racist violence, but this time monopolized by the state, was apartheid in South Africa.
We must not forget Nazi racism, the most extreme experience of the 20th century. The state institutionalized this racist violence, turning it into a political program of annihilation and destruction. Even today, young German extremists carry out sporadic attacks on foreign immigrants and Jewish cemeteries.
These forms of racism do not necessarily follow one another, as has been seen in the previous paragraphs; And they can be provoked by social and economic problems, religious beliefs, feelings of anxiety about threats to community identity, and so on.
Today racism is presented as a real threat and this is due to the increasingly rapid progression of the economic and social crisis, unemployment and structural unemployment and the disorientation of values that have affected the integration model between society and the state itself. This time we face a racism crisis, a symptom of profound societal change.
In this context, it is important to promote tolerance and respect for what is different. We have the elements for this: different actors such as the family, the media, religious institutions, associations and schools that work together in internalizing attitudes, values, judgments and stereotypes about coexistence and relationships with other peoples, cultures, religions and races .
*By Vanesa G Esposito