What do deniers of climate change and institutional racism have in common? The short answer is nothing, as evidenced by a raging debate that took place Sunday on Twitter.
On a day reserved for worship, rest, recuperation — from a long night of partying the night before — and mindless meditation to prepare for Monday’s grind, Twitter had other plans. Of the morning trends, one of the hottest topics of discussion was centered on racial discrimination and all the nuances that accompany an inherently charged word.
History has shown that matters of institutional racism rarely — if ever — end in consensus and a Kumbaya moment; it’s no different than discussions about climate change — global warming, whatever suits your vernacular. I had no reason to believe the raging commentary — some that can be blamed on the a a a a a alcohol — and discussion about race in America would turn out differently.
Racism across institutions — like death and taxes — is not subjective; it either is or it isn’t. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that one of the inherent qualities of the human existence is bias. Based on zoological studies, hostility exists in the animal kingdom. Zebras hang with other zebras; lions thrive in prides; fish of the same species swim in schools — and, as the idiom goes: “Birds of a feather flock together.”
With that said, there are those (the institutionally racist side) who contend that if the animals exhibit bigoted behavior, racism on the face of it must be normal. I’d argue that there’s nothing “normal” at all about racism among humans. Rather, there’s ignorance.
A quick search for prejudice in Apple’s dictionary says that the behavior is a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.” In the spirit of Star Trek‘s Mr. Spock, racism is illogical among humans. The reason being is — here’s the “ah ha!” moment — animals, unlike humans, lack cognition. In other words, we should know better.
While animals display hints of “racism” against members outside of its genus, it’s not due to hatred, ignorance, or instinct. Instead, segregation is done out of survival of other animals that could do them harm or threaten their existence.
The difference here is — and this is a big one — humans have the ability to reason and should know better. Racists “decide” to see a person as a threat due to the color of their skin, their faith, the bathroom they use, or who they share their beds with.
Again, if you’re on the racist side of the argument, you may counter by saying, “We don’t practice hate; we just want to protect our race.” Don’t laugh; a member of the so-called alt-right recently said this. It’s tantamount to saying, “I’m not a racist; I have a black friend.”
We’re Sick of Racism
The fact people are blaming racism on minorities proves how much of a problem it is.
I am a white, middle class man who will fight racism with my last dying breath.
A line has been drawn in the sand and this is the time to make a stand. pic.twitter.com/V0yZZNX8dG
— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) November 12, 2017
We’re Sick of Racism
IT’S OK TO BE AN AFRICAN WOMAN
IT’S OK TO BE AN ASIAN WOMAN
IT’S OK TO BE A LATINA
IT’S OK TO BE A EUROPEAN WOMAN
IT’S OK TO BE A LGBTQ WOMAN OF COLOR
IT’S OK TO BE AN INDIGENOUS WOMAN
IT’S OK TO BE A WOMAN
IT’S MORE THAN OK…IT’S EPIC!
—????????BlueHumanity???????? (@BlueHumanity) November 12, 2017
This reminds me of Lorraine Hansberry’s film, A Raisin in the Sun, starring Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, and others, according to IMDb. There’s a part of the movie when a white representative of the neighborhood association makes an unannounced visit to the black family’s meager apartment as they pack ahead of the move to their new home in a white neighborhood.
Long story short, he offers to buy them out before they even set foot inside the home. Their reason: members of the [white] community believe they would be more comfortable — like them — with their own people.
And then, there’s Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s ill-fated attempt to use pragmatism to explain slavery. His take: A failure to come to terms on both sides was behind the institution of slavery.
During his interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, Gen. Kelly — the supposed “moderating force” in the White House — praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as “a noble man.” And similar to his boss’ “many sides” stance with the Charlottesville rallies, Kelly said the Civil War had honorable people on “both sides, according to Truthdig.
There goes that moral equivalence virus, again, that this president’s administration suffers from. Lee, an honorable man?
Since Kelly is a pragmatic man, let’s use this same approach to logic. The war Lee served in was responsible for 620,000 deaths, according to the Civil War Trust website. In comparison, the two world wars, and the wars in Vietnam and Korea, combined, had 616,640 fatalities.
My take: the Civil War erupted due to slavery — period; opposing sides were not merely being recalcitrant. The Confederacy embraced the institutional practice while the Union pushed back. Slavery and its inherent racism was not the byproduct of America’s failure to “compromise” (as Kelly suggested). Stop it!
In his 1775 essay, “Of the Different Human Races,” Immanuel Kant characterized race as “monogenesis,” or emanating from a common “lineal root genus.” If one endorses this belief, we’re all cut from the same cloth and race as we know it doesn’t exist. Furthermore, racism is irrational, citing a summary in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Racism and those who defend it as the “natural order of things” do so often without knowing why they harbor divisive feelings about another person or group. This conditioning or learned behavior is perhaps the worst because to reverse it is like teaching a person to unlearn how to ride a bike.
I often wonder why those who discriminate against blacks, for example, are angry when history shows that African Americans didn’t arrive here willingly. Rather, they were shipped here like cargo against their will, torn away from their native soil, stripped of their culture, and beaten — under the threat of death — if they tried to gain their freedom, much like a caged bird.
Yes, institutional racism exists and is — unfortunately — alive and well. I imagine that my analysis of a racist’s motive won’t sit well with those who, like climate change skeptics, don’t believe in the science that supports a warming planet.
They’ll be hot behind the collar over my “unqualified” take on Cultural Relativism. Naysayers will refer to my commentary as estranging. Still, others (the unaware institutional racists) will call my editorial “biased.”
As I choose love over hate, I’ll leave the institutional racist with this: We’re not a pride of lions — and we should know better.
[Featured Image by Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock]