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Racism - Society’s Cancer

Written by: Arvind Vijayan - 3rd year student of Hidayatullah National Law Univeristy, Raipur, Chhattisgarh
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Racism refers to beliefs, practices, and institutions that negatively discriminate against people based on their perceived or ascribed race. Sometimes the term is also used to describe the belief that race is the primary determinant of human capacities, or that individuals should be treated differently based on their ascribed race. There is a growing, but controversial, tendency to state that racism is a system of oppression that combines racist beliefs, whether explicit, tacit or unconscious, with the power to have a negative effect on those discriminated against at a societal level.

In 19th century Europe and America, some scientists developed various theories about biological differences among races, and these theories were in turn used to legitimize racist beliefs and practices. Much of this work has since been rejected by the scientific community as flawed and even as pseudoscience.
Today there are some scientists who claim that "race", in the general sense in which the term is used, is a social construct: the way in which individuals are classified into racial groups varies from person to person, and from place to place, and from time to time.

These scientists say that superficial characteristics which are associated with racial groupings are poor predictors of genetic variability. There can be more genetic variation within a racial grouping than between two racial groupings. Other scientists counter that "sex" and "species" are likewise seen by some as socially constructed. After all, humans and chimpanzees (or males and females) are far more genetically alike than different. Therefore categories need not be absolute in order to have scientific utility. George W. Bush, in Nova Online, notes that "Slightly over half of all biological/physical anthropologists today believe in the traditional view that human races are biologically valid and real."

Racism may be expressed individually and consciously, through explicit thoughts, feelings, or acts, or socially and unconsciously, through institutions that promote inequalities among "races". Although some speakers attempt to express a semantic distinction by using the word racism rather than racialism (or vice versa), many treat the terms as synonymous (see below).

Racism may be divided in three major subcategories: individual racism, structural racism, and ideological racism.


Researchers at the University of Chicago (Marianne Bertrand) and Harvard University (Sendhil Mullainathan) found in a 2003 study that there was widespread discrimination in the workplace against job applicants whose names were merely perceived as "sounding black." These applicants were 50% less likely than candidates perceived as having "white-sounding names" to receive callbacks for interviews, no matter their level of previous experience. Results were stronger for higher quality resumes. The researchers view these results as strong evidence of unconscious biases rooted in the country's long history of discrimination.

Racism is usually directed against a minority population, but may also be directed against a majority population. Examples of the former include the enslavement of black Africans and repression of their descendants in the United States. The existence of the latter is often controversial, but agreed upon examples include racial apartheid in South Africa, wherein whites (a minority) discriminated against blacks (a majority); this form of racism also occurred during the former colonial rule of such countries as Vietnam (by France) and India (by the United Kingdom)

"Reverse racism" is a controversial concept; it refers to a form of discrimination against a dominant group. In the United States, many people, mostly conservatives, criticize policies such as affirmative action as an example of reverse racism. They say that these policies are race-based discrimination. Supporters of affirmative action argue that affirmative action policies counteract a systemic and cultural racism by providing a balancing force, and that affirmative action does not qualify as racist because the policies are enacted by politicians (who are mostly part of the white majority in the United States) and directed towards their own race.

Some Americans believe that reverse racism exists in the United States, but that it is cultural racism, and not primarily systemic. For example, some African-Americans discriminate against white people -- this too can be called reverse racism. But some would argue that this is not racism (which they would see as primarily systemic) but actually personal prejudice because African-Americans lack the cultural, political and economic resources to systemically disenfranchise European Americans. In addition, some white people believe that political correctness has led to a denigration of the white race, through perceived special attention paid to minority races. For example, they consider the existence of Black History Month (February) but not a White History Month, Amerindian History Month, or Asian History Month to be de facto racism directed at the majority and non-black minorities. Yet again, others argue that the lack of a White History Month is due to the fact that much of the school year is devoted to teaching history from the viewpoints of white conquerors and slave owners.

Racial discrimination is and has been official government policy in many countries. In the 1970s, Uganda expelled tens of thousands of ethnic Indians. Until 2003, Malaysia enforced discriminatory policies limiting access to university education for ethnic Chinese and Indian students who are citizens by birth of Malaysia, and many other policies explicitly favoring bumiputras (Malays) remain in force. Russia launched anti-Semitic pogroms against Jews in 1905 and after. During the 1930s and 1940s, attempts were made to prevent Jews from immigrating to the Middle East. Following the creation of Israel, land-ownership in many Israeli towns was limited to Jews, and many Muslim countries expelled Jewish Arabs and continue to refuse entry to Jews.
In the United States, racial profiling of minorities by law enforcement officials is a controversial subject. Some people consider this to be a form of racism. Some claim that profiling young Arab male fliers at airports will only lead to increased recruitment of older, non-Arab, and female terrorists. (Some terrorism experts disagree with this claim.) Many critics of racial profiling claim that it is an unconstitutional practice because it amounts to questioning individuals on the basis of what crimes they might commit or could possibly commit, instead of what crimes they have actually committed. See the article on racial profiling for more information on this dispute.

Take a moment and look at the young people around you. Are they surrounded by crime, victims of drug abuse and drug abusers, dispassionate about violence and suicide that have poisoned their perspective? Are declining educational standards and increasing illiteracy part of the same disturbing package? Do your family members or your friends think or act defensively because of their race or beliefs? So-called ethnic cultures are under a terrible assault these days. We see it in modern industrial nations such as the United States, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as in less developed countries from Bosnia to Rwanda. The assaults are caused by a scourge which knows no boundaries and tolerates no diversity. The name of the scourge is racism.

Man has stood in racism's shadow from the moment someone recognized that not everyone is the same as everyone else. The result has been a legacy of hate, hardship, misery, and often bloodshed. The source of racism has been widely debated. Some say it springs from ignorance or the fear of what is different. Others analyze it in political, economic, or even territorial terms. Yet others ascribe it to some dimly understood genetic imperative. Whatever its source, there is no denying its effects: disintegrating cultures, poverty, ruined youth, turmoil and even genocide. Nor is there any denying that it is among the primary evils of our "enlightened" modern times.

And whatever racism's source, it persists. No matter how passionate the entreaties of our religious leaders, no matter how determined our politicians' programs, and no matter how dedicated the efforts of our teachers, racism persists. Why?

Again, there are a lot of theories, but our purpose is not to examine them. Instead, based upon our research, we intend to show the insidious racist influence of something that has destructively influenced our very thinking, something that has become so much a part of our modern life that few except its victims ever give it a second thought.


It is a profession that claims to act in the name of help. Its pronouncements fill our magazines and its spokespersons are regularly seen on our television screens. It is funded by our governments, studied by our educators and active among our poor and dispossessed. And, above all, posing as a science, it speaks with the seldom-contradicted voice of authority.

Its members are "expert" witnesses in our courts. They advise our educators, counsel our youth in schools, screen applicants for positions in both the public and private sectors, and influence the thoughts of large masses among our populations by promoting their message through advertising, entertainment and even literature. The profession is psychiatry. And its pernicious influence upon the perpetuation of the evil we know as racism is a story that has seldom been told.

If you believe the common image of the kindly psychiatrist, smoking his pipe and wisely nodding while his patient on the couch tells his life story, then what we are saying will shock you. But if you read these pages and examine the true activities and the real results of widespread psychiatric intervention in society you will understand more about psychiatry's role in continuing racism and why you need to act.

We are not saying that every psychiatrist on the face of the earth is a racist. Nor are we saying that every psychiatric practitioner helps propagate this evil blight on our society. Yet it is impossible to separate the seeds of the tree from the fruit it bears. The seeds from which psychiatry sprang did not have our best interests at heart. And the outstretched hands which offer help carry only the poisonous fruit of betrayal.

Psychiatry exploits man's desperate need for a workable solution to resolve spiritual travail. It has consciously used pseudo-scientific terminology and experimentation to secure a fraudulently obtained position of authority on the subject of the human psyche. It is a problem masquerading as a solution.
The result has been escalating crime, a rise in violence, an epidemic of drug abuse, plummeting education standards, religious intolerance, a widespread decline in morals, the collapse of the family unit and racism. In fact, every area of society in which psychiatry claims authority and influence has only become worse as a result of its presence and influence. Persistent statistics are there to make this an easily demonstrable fact.

Furthermore, documentation and evidence amassed by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) for several decades on the subject of psychiatric violations of human rights, clearly shows calculated psychiatric attacks on blacks and minority racial and religious groups, all of which have helped to create the troubled world in which we live. Let awareness begins to dawn among members of your community, that you fully retrieve your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that something is done about creating a truly free and safe future, without the destructive influence of psychiatry and psychology.

Comments: Racism - Society's Cancer, the article, is indeed an eye opener towards the problem faced in reality. Appreciations for the author. - Jasaswini Mishra (jazz_mishra@yahoo.co.in)

The author can be reached at: arvindalism@legalserviceindia.com / Print This Article

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