Can Racism Be Managed Away Cultural Studies Essay

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Fighting with racism and in order to manage it away requires knowing what it is. Nowadays people, organizations and governments are making every effort to manage the separation of people based on some biological and cultural characteristics and differences away and give them equal chances compared to others. But looking back in time racism came into existence several centuries ago, during the great geographical discoveries and the colonization of the newly discovered countries by the Great Powers. The interaction with foreign and different cultures during this period of time made the Europeans to confront with many moral dilemmas. For example, during the colonization of India in the XVII century the British faced unseen customs before - they saw how local tribes burned the women together with their dead husbands. Since those traditions were totally unusual for their own culture, the British did not accept them at all. Another example which concernes not accepting other cultures was during the Spanish colonization. Before establishing a huge empire in America, Spain defeated the native population of Aztecs and Mayans and began to exploit America`s land and local people, who became slaves. Not accepting the cultural differences, skin colour and many other characteristics of people is in general racism and this was seen before and is seen now.

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As I said above in order to manage racism away we firstly need to understand it. Today the word

"racism" has so many contradictory meanings that it takes on the aura of a myth and is, therefore, difficult to define (http://alaindebenoist.com/pdf/what_is_racism.pdf). Although, considered to be difficult to define it, according to the Oxford Dictionary "racism" is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race. The term "racism" describes the view and actions of an individual or a group of people sharing similar characteristics toward another group or individual with different ethnical and biological characteristic. The views and actions of that group are based on the idea that the two groups are distinguished by "race" and that the group with racist views believes itself to be superior to the other (http://www.multiculturalaustralia.edu.au/doc/mmateam_8.pdf). When one group of people from the same race believes that it is better than the other one, usually a separation, distinction of the other group from the society follows. In my opinion this can happen and happens in situations where the "better race" is the majority and has the political power to exert an influence over the other race turning it into a minority in the society. Racism can be intentional or not intentional human behavior, which is the result of disliking someone else and treating them negatively mainly because of their different racial origin.

Racism is individual or institutional, overt or covert. In addition there are some closely related forms of racism - individual, institutional/systematic.(http://academic.udayton.edu/race/2008electionandracism/raceandracism/racism02.htm). Individual racism can be both active and passive; moreover, it can occur not only at a conscious way but also totally unconsciously (http://www.colorado.edu/studentaffairs/initiatives/sadiversity/resources/Definition%20of%20Common%20Terms.pdf). This kind of racism can be expressed through everyday behavior. There are many examples of individual racism that came to my mind. For instance, when someone avoids contact with someone else based only on biological differences such as skin colour and also the fact that this person is from another ethnical group is an eloquent example of this form of racism. The second form of racism that I will observe is called institutional. It occurs when institutions such as governments, legal, medical and educational systems and businesses discriminate against certain groups of people based on race, colour, ethnicity or national origin (http://www.aboriginalhr.ca/en/programs/RFWS/nl4/2). Such behavior towards racial minorities has a negative effect on them. They are "legally" separated from majority of the given country, which has the political power to do so. That kind of racism puts some "legal" barriers to the minorities through policies and laws. For example, such groups of people are given different access and quality of health care and public services, while the "superior race" can use them at their full capacity and quality. Since much of systemic racism tends to be silent and hidden, it is important to look not just at the structure but also at the impact and effect of policies and practices on racialized individuals and groups (http://www.uoguelph.ca/hre/hr/docs/RacializationPamphlet.pdf)..

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When talking about racism it is of great importance to be pointed out that racism is specific form of prejudice. Such form which involves prejudicial attitudes or behavior towards members of an ethnic group (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/handy-psychology-answers/201101/the-psychology-prejudice-and-racism). Every human is different, is one of a kind, it is an individual who shares some similar characteristics with others and at the same time is totally different. All people have different physical features - someone has blue eyes others not, someone is taller than his friend, weights more or less, has a different skin colour. In addition, we all have different beliefs, qualities and also cultural and ethnical background. In my opinion those differences make the world real and at the same time richer; however, there are many situations all over the world when people who are different from the others are being treated badly. It is terrifying to know that in most of these situations the person who exerts violence, both mental and physical, over the other one does not know him. Such actions are based on prejudice.

Prejudice is making a decision and forming an opinion about someone else or even a whole group of people without knowing anything about (http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=bg&lr=&id=HQvwqYayfzwC&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=racism+and+prejudice+&ots=XPbCgf1-ug&sig=uWn4hwHOSE_4z_fbtsSZPhes25Y&redir_esc=y). Prejudice is not a unitary thing, a constant attitude that can be studied as such, but consists of a combination of impulses and feelings - toward someone else - that vary with the situation (http://www.jstor.org/stable/2261769?seq=1). According to Herbert Blumer - an American sociologist - the main feeling in racial prejudice is usually a feeling of dislike or an impulse of aversion, however, racial prejudice is made up of variety of feelings that depend on the situation feelings such as hatred, resentment, envy, fear and many others. As far as I am concerned the main problem with prejudice, not only racial but all kind of prejudice, is the fact that it refers to the individual, who is a representative of the whole group and his characteristics, qualities and attitude is transferred directly to the whole group. For example, this occurs in situation when someone forms an opinion on a whole group of people based on his contacts with a member of this group. However, it can be vice versa, when the characteristics of the whole group are automatically transferred to each member of the group. After having read or heard something negatively for a specific ethnical group and you have build a negative opinion for this group, when you meet a member who is part of it, you immediately start to dislike him from the moment he says his ethnical background. Such attitude is based on prejudice and is completely wrong, because every human being is different and unique.

Racism and prejudice has been present in almost every civilization. According to the philosopher Joseph Raz a possible way, "instrument" to manage racism away is the "multiculturalism". Multiculturalism is a new term and its birthplace is Canada; and its origin is believed to be in the 50s of the last century. "Multiculturalism," means-among other things-the coexistence within the same political society of a number of sizeable cultural groups wishing and in principle able to maintain their distinct identity; In Great Britain there are two forms of it, the coexistence of four nationalities: English, Scots, Welsh and Irish who united together form the United Kingdom, and the other form is their coexistence with immigrants from different countries and with different cultures (Jozeph Raz). Multiculturalism is the moral challenge to unite with others based on democratic government, individual freedom, and also a market driven economy. In order to manage racism away we need to think of groups of people not as majority and minority, but as societies who live together in coexistence. In order to realize this, a lot of time is needed and solution to the problem of racism is not based only on policies and law; moreover and more importantly, it requires education, which leads to the change of attitude toward people who share different cultural and ethnical background.

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The main reason for the "racism" is not knowing the other one; it is the result of old-fashioned and narrow-minded way of thinking and understanding. Therefore, the education is a way to "go out" it is a bridge between the different cultural and ethnical groups. Again according to Joseph Raz the existence of a common education and of a multicultural syllabus which makes the cultures of all cultural groups familiar to all members of a society is essential to the spread of mutual understanding and respect. The education is the way the idea of multiculturalism to be implanted in peoples` mind. In order people to be educated in such way that makes the realization of multiculturalism possible, young people need to gain knowledge not only for their own culture and traditions, but also for the history and customs of the main different cultures in their country. Such way of educating young people aims to build in them respect and understanding of others. In addition, to this the foreign traditions and practices must be accepted within the limits of permissible toleration (Joseph Raz). But the solution to the problem "racism" will not come only from school education. From my point of view, there must be a place for different cultures everywhere around us; from the public spaces to air time on television, the existence of other cultures apart from our own should not be rejected. If they have the legal right to stay in our country, we should give them the opportunity to feel at home, as much as we do.

In my opinion one possible way of coping and managing racism away is the "multiculturalism". Mainly, because of the fact that at the heart of multiculturalism lies the recognition that universal values are realised in a variety of different ways in different cultures, and that they are all worthy of respect (Joseph Raz). We do not have the right to condemn and reject other cultures; we must accept them in their real form and do what we do with our own culture; namely, reject only its weaknesses and failings, rather than rejecting the whole culture. Isn`t it right? Because no one will reject his own culture. In order to do this we need more that education about other cultures, we need to understand them; we need sensitivity. The path of realizing the idea of Joseph Raz about "multiculturalism" is a long one, because it requires: firstly, understanding and knowing ourselves as personalities and also understanding of our own culture; not to take it as artificially inherited.