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Racism is defined as, 'The belief that one 'racial group' is inferior to another and the practices of the dominant group to maintain the inferior position of the dominated group. Often defined as a combination of power, prejudice and discrimination'. From my research and knowledge I have identified three main key reasons that explain the persistence of racism. These are history, numbers and the psychology of whiteness.
The persistence of racism is attributable to the history of racism, where is commenced and how it developed. Racism began during the 17th century during the slave trade. Christian men led their life by following the bible. The bible condemned the enslavement of others so to escape this argument they suggested that black people were not humans but animals. It is believed by some that slavery was the result of racism. However Black historian Eric Williams said, "Slavery was not born of racism - rather, racism was the consequence of slavery." Slaves were treated poorly. They were worked from sunrise to sunset, were fed on fatty meat and corn flour , lived packed in small houses but they hardly dared to complain in fear of being punished, usually by getting whipped. It is from my knowledge and research about slavery that would cause me to agree with Eric Williams, that racism is a consequence of slavery. People saw the slaves as animals; they believed they had the right to treat them with no respect or humanity. When slavery became demolished in 1865 it fuelled the effect of racism furthermore. Black people were already seen as mere animals and people believed they were no use other than to be worked. With black people's new found rights people became angered at the thought that they were being measured as the same, to be called equals. To some the new law was correct. They had got to know the "slaves" as people, they taught them how to speak English, and some slaves became part of the "white" people's families. Black people had the same anatomy, with the only difference being of colour. However most people could not adjust, they refused to accept that they were now classed as alike after so many years of treating black people like animals, to do with as they wished. These angered, emotional people helped to fuel racism. They still hunted black people like they were animals and protested at the fact that they could ever be the same as them.
The persistence of racism is also down to numbers. When the slave trade began and black people were first introduced to white people as slaves and labourers there were few black people due to how many could be brought over by boat. The numbers slowly increased as the slave trade grew but it was always a predominantly white country even when the slave trade was demolished. As time went on people began to immigrate. In the 18th century there were 20,000 black immigrants. It's used to be a white majority and a black minority. Now it is no longer either. You have to include Asians, Latinos, Arabs, Muslims, etc. There are so many different ethnicities. However, with so many different ethnic people in the world racism has grown as well as changed. It's no longer just about blacks. Or even colour. As time went on after the slave trade there was discrimination about women. For many years women were discriminated towards jobs and the amount paid to them compared to men. As black people were seen as animals, women were seen as staying at home with then children. There has always been strong discrimination towards gays. It's seen as wrong to some people. Racism could be said to have started a war with life about everything that seems a bit strange or odd to us. If racism never began would we still discriminate against colour, women, disability, gays? But just as the number of blacks grew from a minority to a majority figure so will gays. Women have won their fight about being treated fairly. People just need to be given time to accept it. In the beginning it's seen as wrong, then some people begin to accept the change, soon it becomes natural, normal!
The persistence of racism is caused by the psychology of whiteness. The word "Whiteness" was created during the slave trade. When slaves were first introduced into society "whiteness" and "blackness" became terms in reference to racism, these words were the start of racism. It is poignant to see how two little words could create hundreds of years of fighting, anger and heart ache in the world. Franz Fanon once wrote, "Colour is the most outward manifestation of race." It introduced the theme of racial differences which created the emergence of 'white-skin privileges'. Even though slavery was abolished, racism was not as easy to overcome. Black people may have been legally seen as equals but that is not how the world saw it. Black people were not paid as much, they did not get good education, or first pick of jobs no matter how qualified they were. Black people were beaten up in the streets just for being black. White people did not want them working with their kids as nanny's or in their factories touching their products. It was a new world and yes things had changed for black people but not necessarily in a better way than it was before slavery was demolished. At least as slaves they had a title or a purpose. Now they were treated worse, like scum. This is when the word 'Nigger' was created. It is said to have been the worst insult in history. The word 'Nigger' suggests that black people were second class citizens, ignorant and less than human. Strangely enough today black people still use the word as a sort of greeting or acknowledgement towards each other but it is not acceptable for white people to say it.
Having discussed the key factors of the persistence of racism I am compelled to discuss racism in the world at the moment. Racism still exists. It's everywhere in the world. Immigrants are blamed for the high unemployment rates in the UK. They are even blamed for the low wages but really it's the government's fault that the minimum wage is not enough to live on. In our world today it is the few rich people that control all the wealth and because of their status they treat worse off people as scapegoats. In government only in the past few weeks Tony Blair was found to have used tax payer's money to pay for his TV licence and Gordon Brown paid someone £5000 of tax payer's money to clean his flat. So really if government MP's weren't spending tax payers money on their own luxuries maybe minimum wage would be higher and immigrants wouldn't be blamed. With modifications like this maybe racial abuse towards immigrants would decrease. Any good changes towards racism could help start the journey to the end of it. Just as blacks became equals, and women were paid the same wage as men, racism can be put to an end. It could be 50 years from now or 500 years, but hopefully one day the world will be a eutopia.
To conclude, racism is not so much all about being black or white nowadays. Any difference of skin colour or facial differences has become a cause for racism. In the society of which we live in racism has become the norm. We are flooded with racist labelling about blacks, Arabs, Muslims and immigrants every day. I for one know what its like. I'm Irish and people are always making jokes, calling me 'IRA' and saying "what you going to do about it, bomb us?" Even as jokes racism still finds a way into this world. It's sad that even now bullying is still happening. Were not kids, were adults and we still feel the need to intimidate and torment innocent people. What makes us any different to terrorists? Some say at least terrorist believe they have a cause that they are fighting for. What does racism achieve for u?