Racism, Why It Happens

The human race has come a long way over the years with radical movements for equality and human rights. But, it’s no secret that humanity still has a long way to go. Racism is a global problem that is expressed in many forms, and leaves many victims in its path. Though this has always been a problem, it has surfaced in a large way again when Trump came into the picture. Even before he took office, he was widely known for his racial slurs, ignorant thoughts and intolerant behaviour and rants. But it’s more than Trump, and that was reflected when he was elected into office. What does that say about the beliefs and true feelings of a country, when they’re willing to elect a leader who has built himself up by putting down and isolating others based on something as ridiculous as ethnicity. Honestly, it’s frightening.

But where does this hate based on race come from? First off, it needs to be said that nobody, not even Trump, is born a racist. It’s not an argument of nature vs nurture, no baby, or even young child for the most part defines and separates people by their races. There are arguments that racism “is part of human nature,” and while that may seem true, there is still no such thing as racist genes or DNA within a person that makes them develop these ideas of hatred. (Alex Taylor, 2002) So more than anything, racism is the direct result of environment, and the ideals of those around you. Racism is learned. Racist options heard from ones parents, neighbours, co-workers and even classmates are contribute to the development of how one views others. If everyone had happened to grow up in a world based on equality, and there had never been a divide between ‘us and them’, then there is a chance racism may have never occurred. But unfortunately, thats not the case. The minute we can divide people into ‘us and them’, we can’t go back from it. Racism is a learned set of beliefs, that can start from something as simple as an joke based on racial stereotypes that put one group in a bad light. The problem is, it’s an idea that a starts with a spark, and turns into a wildfire.

Speaking of this wildfire, and how a small comment or idea can rapidly become out of control, we need to look at one of the largest examples of human divide, which occurred during the holocaust. Hitler, believed that the Aryan race was superior, and was quick to point out who was not. Many individuals who had not been overly racist before, were quick to turn on their neighbours and friends, some out of fear, some out of the pressure of the group. Humans are animalistic at the core, valuing survival as the most primitive and basic need, so when it becomes a choice between themselves or someone else, humans are quick to join a majority to preserve their own lives. “Darwin’s notion that evolutionary progress occurs mainly as a result of the elimination of the weak in the struggle for survival,” highlighting that you need to be on top to survive, so if one can survive by banding together with others to eliminate someone else, they will. (Dr. Jerry Bergman) Though it’s dark, at the core it’s human nature to look out for ourselves. ) It’s very easy to become caught up in racist ideas and movements, when everyone around you is involved, especially when it comes down to survival.

Racism is all too often expressed through our particular views or beliefs about something, and very seldom on facts. For example, it’s been long known that America and Cuba have had some tension over the years. One traveler expressed that he had always heard bad things about the way Americans were treated when visiting Cuba, so he already had the idea that he too would face aggressive and negative behaviour, based on his country of origin (America). . This in turn, can cause a person to already have a dislike of a certain countries people, just based on the belief that they don’t like you. Much like children on a playground, when you hear that someone doesn’t like you, most times, you begin to dislike them without any real reason. This is how most racism is, hatred for no real reason behind it. When many are asked why they don’t like a particular race of people, they just reply, “Well, because we don’t”. But when this traveller arrived in Cuba, he reported “I have never encountered nicer, more genuine people than Cubans. I couldn’t believe how nice they were to me, especially after discovering that I was an American.” (Jacob G. Hornberger) This shows that if we just approach people with tolerance and kindness, there doesn’t need to be this hatred just because we come from different places. It’s when an individuals approaches others with these negative ideas and stereotypes already in their mind that racism occurs. It can form a negative cycle of discrimination and hate between people very quickly.

Racism largely effects our world, social interactions and how we think and feel about those around us. But it is not something that we are born with inside us, it is learned from our environment. Those who we surround ourselves with shape our beliefs and views on those we share our world with. I could talk about this topic for a long time, and provide many more examples of how racism is a learned trait, but for the sake of blog length, I will be wrapping it up here.







3 thoughts on “Racism, Why It Happens

  1. Super interesting read!! I Found this article that touches on some reason on what being racist does for a person.
    It can boost an individuals self-esteem. In some people it has shown to reestablish their respect for themselves, when they have felt attacked.
    Positive Distinctiveness, as people like to view their group as being the best. This can influence individuals to look at other groups in a negative way. For example, if an individual is different (appearance or characteristic wise) other individuals may view them in a negative way, because they believe that that individual belongs to another group. People are more excepting if they share a common identity with another.
    There is also this idea of survival. As people have evolved to live in groups, and groups fighting with other groups over resources. Today there are countries fighting with one another, over land, water, oil, and other things.
    Individuals view life with meaning. Religion, beliefs, and views give people something to follow. Some of these views can influence racism and may cause some people to believe that their race is better than others.



  2. Racism isn’t a good thing, and a study I read that was performed by Rodney Clark, Norman B. Anderson, Vernessa R. Clark, and David R. Williams found that perceived racism can cause stress in individuals, specifically African American individuals. The stress can in turn change the persons health status. So not only is racism and bigotry a terrible act, it can also have adverse health effects for individuals. It’s sad to see that such class systems have developed, and though they are improving over time its unlikely that they will ever be abolished.

    Clark, R., Anderson, N. B., Clark, V. R., & Williams, D. R. (1999). Racism as a stressor for African Americans: A biopsychosocial model. American Psychologist, 54(10), 805-816. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.54.10.805


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