The term racism today has been received with multiple and antagonizing interpretations which are used in a variety of ways. Based on this fear the concept of racism remains a frightening topic to discus in society today in a clear and straightforward manner for fear of judgmental opinions that may arise as a result. However, racism can be defined in clear simple term as the belief which defines all members of a particular race to have certain peculiar characteristics and abilities which are specifically attributed to that race and that they distinguish it as either inferior or superior to another race (Hoyt 225). While racism is on a decreasing path, it is also important to acknowledge the fact that it still exists The main focus of this paper is to look at the origin of racism from the last few decades, its current status, and generally the impact that it has on society today.
Today many scholars and researchers have worked hard to look at the origin of race as a single entity that has brought about a lot of discourse in the world. According to Charlotte, the concept of race never existed until Europeans started colonizing other continents. (1). In fact, it said that until late 1600s ones religion or language rather than their races determined identity. (Charlotte 1). The classification of humans into distinct race came in 1684 when Bernier, a European scholar, published a book that classified humans into several distinct races. The aspect of race hence can be related to the advent of colonialism.
Talking about the concept of racism, specific terms that are often in the discourse can be left out. This includes terms such as prejudice, which is basically the preconceived opinion among some group of people, which is not based on some reasoning facts or experiences (Hoyt 225).
Racial prejudice was witnessed as early as the first and second world wars when Chinese, South Asians, and Japanese Canadians were not allowed to be in the armed forces. This is basically because they were perceived to be inferior and hence could not fit into the Canadian society. Canada becomes a very good case study as far as racial prejudice is concerned because it dates back to the beginning of settlements in Canada. The concept is clearly seen between the aboriginal people and the European colonizers in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Europeans viewed the aboriginals as savages and barbarians who could only be used as servants for economic development. ()
In America, racial discrimination is seen to be more prevalent in the region more than any other place in the world. Racial discrimination and ethnicity in America existed since the times of both the slave and the colonial eras. Research in the recent years indicates that racism still exists in the United States in a mild manner. A survey conducted by the ABC news in 2007, revealed that a larger part of Americans admit that they hold discriminatory view points against other races which exist in the US today. In the survey, Hispanic Americans and Arab Americans have been major victims in the racial discrimination discourse.
Many facts have been brought about in support of development of racism. However the most interesting and paradoxical proof is that racism was brought about by religion. It is indicated that during the reformation period in the 16th and 17th centuries, Christians debated whether the blacks and the Indians had souls or rather if they were humans. () This is because during this period is when the Europeans were mostly exposed to indigenous people of north and south America and the Africans who were not civilized by then.
The Protestants and the Catholics then had differing opinions about the humanity of these groups of people. While the Catholics admitted that they were humans, the Protestants never agreed to that fact, which led to racism, witnessed in the church then. Conclusively, it is therefore agreeable that racism emanated from the West and even though major steps have been covered to curb the situation, racism still exists in the Western countries.
Racism in the World Today
The year 1963 is remembered in the world histories as the pivotal year when the war against racism reached its peak. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights activists took to the streets of Birmingham in a peaceful demonstration to protest against segregation that existed in the region. () The staged protest that came along just a few days after election of new leadership was into power saw King confined in jail for a violent action.
The violent circus and commotion, which was all over, the world news media made the world to come to realization of the actual brutality that existed between the racial processors and the oppressed Negroes. In retaliation to this, President John Kennedy came out to support the legislation that would forbid racial discrimination in work areas, residential houses, and public accommodation areas.
To aid in championing this, many civil rights activists came out to stage various demonstrations in America that saw racial discrimination abandoned by law. Many countries, especially western nations, have since followed suite and are said to be on the path against reconciling different racial groups. According to an article known as the American Civil Right Union in July 2014, America was on limelight on the United Nations agenda for the recent killings that were attributed to racism such as that of Michael Brown (bhatnagar, 2014).
Canada on the other hand was in the UN Racial Discrimination Committee in 2012 to answer its records on racial discrimination cases. () This implies that with the development of such international organizations, checks are able to be made which reduces issues of racism in the world.
Based on this, racial discrimination in the world today is said to have reduced immensely. Guided by international human rights laws constructed by activists in the United Nations, many countries across the globe are complying with the set regulations that aim to protect immigrants from being racially discriminated.
Impacts of Racial Discrimination
In 1960, four stools at a Woolworth’s counter in Greensboro hit the world media, which led to many world sit-ins across America. () The impactful influence that the four African-American students had during the civil right movement era is recognized on many platforms, which include the black history month. However, it is disheartening to note that people do not recognize what they had to go through both psychologically and physiologically.
It is therefore worth noting that racial discrimination may have effects that could be physically short lived or one may remember such situations for life, which often leads to depression.
A correlation and cross tabulation research to determine the strength of relation between health, gender, and racial discrimination indicated that students at higher levels of studies such as years eleven and twelve would experience racism among their colleagues hence leading to lower health scores attributed to depression. The study indicated that the health scores would even be lower for the female students as compared to their male counterparts due to their biological makeup. () Racism therefore is said to greatly affect the health of the victims due to the depression status that come along with it.
Racism would further lead to the drop of cultural diversity. Suppose one goes to a country where he feels he is racially discriminated, that person would not love to share or practice their cultural heritage in the foreign land considering they would be judged based on that. In addition, racial discrimination leads to economic drawbacks, which lead to poor living standards.
For instance, in a State where racism is prevalent, many immigrants would not be granted high paying jobs regardless of their technical and academic qualifications. This causes them to always be in the lower income bracket; hence their living standards are poor because they cannot grow economically. *()*
Having been a common disease in the early pre-colonial and colonial periods, racism is thought to be on a decreasing path due to the strong emergence of human rights activists and international organisations. The United Nation became one of such bodies that champion for the well being of humans across the globe. The well being of humans is therefore attributed to the physical and mental impacts that people face when subjected to discrimination against their race.
Bhatnagar. “America Civil Liberties Union”; The U.S. Record on Racial Discrimination is on the Whole World’s Agenda (2014). Web. 23 July. 2015.
Hoyt, Carlos. “The pedagogy of the meaning of racism: Reconciling a discordant discourse.” Social work 57.3 (2012): 225-234.
Larson, Ann, et al. “It’s enough to make you sick: the impact of racism on the health of Aboriginal Australians.” Australian and New Zealand journal of public health 31.4 (2007): 322-329.
Thompson, Vetta L. Sanders. “Perceived experiences of racism as stressful life events.” Community mental health journal 32.3 (1996): 223-233.
Williams, Charlotte. “Connecting anti-racist and anti-oppressive theory and practice: retrenchment or reappraisal?.” British Journal of Social Work 29.2 (1999): 211-230.