The Fear of Color: Racism & Xenophobia - 10 July, 2016

By Sanhita Saikia

Racism is the belief that abilities and characteristics can be attributed to people simply on the basis of their race and that some racial groups are superior to others. Racism and discrimition have been used as powerful weapons encouraging fear or hatred of others in times of conflict and war, and even during economic downturns. Racism evolved in tandem with European exploration and conquest of much of the rest of the world, and especially after Christopher Columbus reached the Americas. As new peoples were encountered, fought, and ultimately subdued, theories about race began to develop, and these helped many to justify the differences in position and treatment of people whom they categorized as belonging to different races.

Despite the progress in culture, science and technology, racism, tribalism, tiolism, colonialism and the caste system have been mainly responsible for the death of over 62 million human beings in the last 100 years. These numbers, however, do not tell the full story since no numbers are available for the colonial period. And one really cannot imagine the misery of so many millions who suffered through it although they were not killed. Today there are about 22 million refugees in our world who were forced  to abandon their homes essentially because of tiolistic war.

Racism has always been both an instrument of discrimition and a tool of exploitation. But it manifests itself as a cultural phenomenon, susceptible to cultural solutions, such as multicultural education and the promotion of ethnic identities. Tackling the problem of cultural inequality, however, does not by itself redress the problem of economic inequality. Racism is conditioned by economic imperatives, but negotiated through culture: religion, literature, art, science and the media. There is racism today all across the world; it is deep-rooted into the framework of almost every society on the planet. Once, they demonized the blacks to justify slavery. Then they demonized the colored to justify colonialism. Today, they demonize asylum seekers to justify the ways of globalism. And, in the age of the media, of spin, demonization sets out the parameters of popular culture within which such exclusion finds its own ratiole - usually under the guise of xenophobia.

India was always at the forefront of the battle against racism and intolerance. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela took inspiration from India and Mahatma Gandhi to fight racism and intolerance. In the United tions and other world forums, India spoke for suppressed people wherever they were in the world. As one of the first non-white tions to throw off the yoke of European colonialism, India was a beacon of hope for freedom fighters everywhere. Yet when it comes to accepting people from other races in our own society today we are showing that we are light years away from practicing what we have preached.

There's a xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment that's flashing up not just in Great Britain today but throughout Europe that has some parallels with what Mr. Trump has been trying to stir up in the US. From racial profiling to other issues such as affirmative action, police brutalized  against minorities and the history of slavery and the rising resentment against immigrants. Fear of Islam, immigrants and diversity are leading indicators of Dold Trump support in the 2016 campaign. Trump has clearly exploited and perhaps reinforced some deep-seated reservations about immigrants, Islam and even diversity more generally. This, of course, explains whys some of Trump's more controversial policy positions - building a wall along the U.S Mexico border, temporarily banning Muslim immigration and tracking Muslims in a database - have not damaged but instead bolstered his standing with Republican primary vote.

Racism is also evident in everyday European life. Recently, a Greek court acquitted Greek farmers that shot 28 Bangladeshi strawberry pickers. These were migrant workers who simply requested months of backpay that they were owed. Britons suffer a superiority complex given that at one point in history, they domited almost the entire world. Within Britain, there are verbal attacks on people from south Asia, against Irish people, and more recently, mostly due to government discourse and the media, against Muslim people. Institutiolized racism against darker skinned people is an issue, as is state-sponsored anti-immigrant sentiment.

A sector of Germany's population is extremely racist, while other Germans have organized to defend migrant and refugee rights, among others. However, over half a century after Adolf Hitler's effort to elimite all "impure races" from the country, ordering the genocide of millions of Jewish people, many Germans still believe in white supremacy. The Neo-zis still exist today and openly talk about anti-Semitic ideas. Despite the historic and monumental struggle of Nelson Mandela against Apartheid, daily discrimition against the Black majority continues in South Africa and less than one in five South Africans regularly socialize with people of other races.

Israel's decades-long war against Palestinians - murdering them, locking them up, bombing their houses and hospitals into rubble, and generally ensuring they live in a jail-like environment, makes it almost unnecessary to explain further why this country is on the list of most racist countries. Israel has a long history of also committing serious crimes against Israeli Arabs. Between March 2014 and February 2015, Israel's parliament, the Knesset, passed nine "racially discrimitory" laws, according to a report by the Coalition against Racism in Israel.

Racism has been a stain also on the soul of sports especially soccer for generations. A series of high-profile incidents in recent years has prompted calls for tougher action from football's governing bodies. Racism in soccer goes to show that discrimition in Europe extends far beyond its politics. It's disgusting that this still happens in the present-day.  Indeed, racism is a huge problem in Europe when it comes to football, or soccer. Players of color are often heckled by fans in Italy and Spain, among other places. Fans have been heard using racist slurs, monkey chants and have even thrown bas and peanuts at certain players.

Clearly, racism and discrimition are not unique to any single country or region. Oppression is a global problem that we must all address in unison. In this globalized world, it is inevitable that we will all find ourselves in more diverse societies, and it's imperative that we learn to live together. We are all human, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. It is a shame that we are still dealing with problems surrounding racism across the globe. Irrespective of its sources, racism is racism. Ignorance is no excuse. Insecurity is not justification.

Racism is a destructive and persistent evil that brings only harm. Sadly it is often a misinformed response to economic hardship. Rather than solving economic problems, however, racism fuels the fire of suffering by intimidating its victims and corrupting its perpetrators. Until more of us realize that we are meant to share this world, and that race is ultimately superficial, it seems that this madness may continue. We must uncompromisingly condemn and fight all forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. If we don't keep fighting these battles, we will lose all respect for the inherent dignity and well -being of the each member of the human family which is the psychological foundation of freedom, human justice and peace in the world.


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