Systemic Racial Inequity: Discrimination, Dehumanization and Destruction

“It is race, is it not, that puts the hundred millions of India under the dominion of a remote island in the north of Europe. Race avails much, if that be true, which is alleged, that all Celts are Catholics, and all Saxons are Protestants; that Celts love unity of power, and Saxons the representative principle. Race is a controlling influence in the Jew, who, for two millenniums, under every climate, has preserved the same character and employments. Race in the negro is of appalling importance. The French in Canada, cut off from all intercourse with the parent people, have held their national traits. I chanced to read Tacitus ‘On the Manners of the Germans,’ not long since, in Missouri, and the heart of Illinois, and I found abundant points of resemblance between the Germans of the Hercynian forest, and our Hoosiers, Suckers, and Badgers of the American woods.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Race must be viewed as a social construction. Human interaction rather than natural differentiation must be seen as the source and the continued basis for racial categorization.” — Prof. Ian F. Haney Lopez, “The Social Construction of Race”

Race is basically a physico-biological concept and this is obviously attested by the fact that people differ in terms of certain physical features courtesy of the genetic factor. By and large, we automatically distinguish the geographical origins of people though it is true that times are a-changing, so to speak, and many of them were born and are now residents in locations not originally of their ancestors’. Pakistanis and Indians in UK, black Africans in the US . . . Arabs in Spain . . . Chinese in Germany . . . Italians in Argentina . . . Southeast Asians in Italy . . . Filipinos in Arab countries . . . . The list could go on and on as the issue of migration has become commonplace in the modern world. With this development is the emergence of the issue of race that goes beyond the physico-biological. At this point, the concept of race becomes more of a social matter.

In a social context where multiple racial presence is a reality, problems in the area of cultural differences heighten the fundamental discrepancies created by skin-color distinction. However, it is always the dominant racial stock in such a society that assumes the standard-setting prerogative. In this condition, the dominant segment spontaneously claims cultural ascendancy over and above the rest. In the process, a hierarchical ladder–a racial caste system, if you will–is set up on the basis of how far removed the others are from the ascendant standard-setting race. This matter taken seriously could be construed as an undying extension of the ancient master-slave mentality though with all the modifications necessary to toe the superficial line of “decency” that defines what a modern society is supposed to look like.

If a dominant racial group in a society enjoys more benefits, privileges, rights and opportunities than the others, the issue of race as a concept becomes social. The general situation presents the superiority of the former over the latter. At this point, thinking people get curious and wonder why the former becomes more superior than the latter. We want to know what inherent genetic qualities does the dominant group possess that make it superior. Is it in terms of physical strength? Is it in the exquisite physical endowments their men and women have? Or perhaps in their unequalled intelligence? While contemplating on these, we could go on  and on thinking of other factors generally held by members of a race who consider themselves dominant and superior over the others.

In a lot of multi-racial societies that used to be colonies of white-skinned Europeans, racial superiority is reckoned in terms of physical appearance especially the facial features and the skin complexion. This concern is one important area of consideration to better understand what basically colonial mentality is. The closer one’s facial features and skin complexion are to those of the colonizers’ descendants, the more they are treated with special attention, appreciation and affection. An African American (or an African European for that matter) woman is considered pretty if she possesses certain caucasian qualities that make her far different from the typical African. In this context, aesthetic judgment–which is precisely social or socio-cultural, if you will–is thus heavily influenced by the caucasian standard. This matter is much more pronounced in beauty pageants, both local and international so that a southeast Asian contestant should have some caucasian features to qualify. And this is true across the board wherever we find societies that used to be colonies of white empires in bygone eras.

However, in another categorical consideration like when it comes to physical prowess as in sports, those of African descent have proven in various events their excellent talents. In US professional basketball alone as a case in point, African Americans have shown their superiority for several succeeding generations. But this could be mistakenly construed as a unilateral assessment if we are not aware of the fact that white European hoopsters are of equal talents, skills and capablities and all these have been witnessed in international campaigns like the world cups. Once realized on a balanced scale, the final analysis yields to us the conclusion that after all, race is a non-factor in matters of physical strength.

The same is true in terms of intelligence as it is an established fact that high-level intelligence is normally  possessed by people in all racial groupings everywhere. So long as we don’t make the Nobel Prize in various categories (except the peace prize)–where the majority of the awardees are caucasian–as the standard to judge the superior intelligence of one race over the other, we are on the right track to argue that intelligence transcends the racial divide. In the same vein, we likewise find stupid people everywhere so that nobody can ever lay reasonable claim to the notion that stupidity is one specific characteristic of some particular racial units.

Economic backwardness is therefore not a proof that a nation is inhabited by people whose stupidity is inherent to their racial roots . In practically all instances, these societies have long been victims of a series of politically generated setbacks that could be traced from the early days of colonization to the most recent mismanagement of governments run by incompetent and corrupt leaders while the more critically thinking intelligentsia are threatened and gagged by all possible means as well as hunted, imprisoned and even assassinated.

The worst case of racial issue as a social problematization that has hugged world news in the present dispensation is Israeli Zionism. It is based on a religious ideology which is purely mythical, even a blatant lie, that doesn’t  have any historical justification. It has laid claim over a geographical portion of the Middle Eastern region which is now called Israel by virtue of the 1948 implementation of the Balfour Declaration. The whole scenario that has developed through time since Israel was first inaugurated is the bitter displacement of the land’s original inhabitants: the Palestinians. The ensuing violence that has resulted to carnage and catastrophic massacres perpetrated by the Zionist Israelis is absolutely aimed to totally annihilate the Palestinians on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.



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Prof. Ruel F. Pepa is a Filipino philosopher based in Madrid, Spain. A retired academic (Associate Professor IV), he taught Philosophy and Social Sciences for more than fifteen years at Trinity University of Asia, an Anglican university in the Philippines.

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Articles by: Prof. Ruel F. Pepa

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