Recently, I have been musing on the topic of racism, especially given the recent occurrences that have been attributed to this long standing human vice.
Such examples include Donald Sterling, the former clipper’s owner’s utterances with negative racial sentiment to his young girlfriend, which created quite a media and civil right storm and the recent enough occurrences of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, both cases of alleged misuse of force by civilian and police officer (respectively) with the alleged intent being racism.
As present as these issues may be, the reality of racism has been a historic one. Though we have come a far way since Jim Crow Laws of the South, enacted in 1890 to essentially be racial segregation laws.
Apartheid, a system of racial segregation instituted in South Africa in 1948, the history of Trans-Atlantic slavery - a reality that I, as a Jamaican, am very acquainted with, mostly because it has formed a major part of our history as a nation but also as Caribbean nationals, with the vestigial reminder of such atrocities before us in the form of classicism - where our society is segmented based on affluence, skin colour and the lack of equity in the distribution of wealth and justice.
Indeed, we have come a far way, where presently there is a black American president, a racial feature distinctly representing a minority group - definitely a watershed moment history. However, when issues such as Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown arises, it is indicative that the haunting spectre of racism has not been expelled at all, but is ever present…sleeping.
Why would this be? We have, after all, seen where Jim Crow has been abolished under President Lyndon Johnson, Apartheid abolished and even slavery abolished. I submit to you that the heart of the problem is greater than we think. The true battle lies not in systems –creating new and demolishing old ones- but in the very heart of man.
Miklos Nyiszli, a Jewish doctor who spent time as a prisoner in the concentration camp Auschwitz - the largest camp set up for extermination of Jews, prisoners of war and others under Hitler’s Nazi Germany, makes a salient point in his book Auschwitz: “If all men are good, there can be no Auschwitz”.
His point was simply such atrocities do not emanate from good will and my point is neither does racism. We have seen much change over the years, but maybe we need to look a bit closer on a bigger problem and what I believe to be the solution in parts 2 and 3.
Paul Lewis is a Staff Worker for Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship in Kingston Jamaica, where he also resides. He has aspirations of becoming a Christian Apologist and he loves reading especially topics like: History, Philosophy and Theology. You can follow him on twitter @VeritasDeiVinci
Paul Lewis' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/paul-lewis.html