No one is born into this world hating another person because of that person’s cultural background, skin colour or religion. This hatred towards other races emerges further down the line as we form our own opinions, which are shaped by our different circumstances and experiences. We were all born as equals with unprejudiced minds. When then, did our racial prejudices begin to form?
Racism springs from the lie that certain humans are worth less than other humans. It is a self-centred falsehood that corrupts our minds into believing that we have the right to discriminate against others because of their beliefs, skin colours or the circumstances that they were born into. Contemporary racism emerged during the Renaissance and Reformation periods, when Europeans enslaved people with darker skin colours. During the 18th Century, ethnologists began to believe that human beings were subdivided into races; consequently, there was an influx of writers who were committed to understanding the subdivisions of the human species that have resulted in the variety of different races that we see today.
Throughout history, there have been many examples of doctrines with racist ideologies. From Western Imperialism in Africa, to America’s struggle to defeat racial prejudice in the 19th century, and the systematic extermination of the Jews in Nazi Germany. These examples illustrate a variety of social customs that involved the teaching of racism, but they also serve as examples of out-dated and irrelevant regimes in today’s society. In the 21st century, we are finally developing a response to the ignorant condemnation that many of our predecessors once suffered.
The fundamental values of many religions are incredibly similar, despite how these values are portrayed. Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and many other religions share similar ideas about unity, equality, faith, love, spirituality, peace, friendship and relationships. However, people exaggerate and alter these basic principles to suit their own perceptions, and these unfair judgements give way to unnecessary conflict. Individuals are presented with an invalid excuse to discriminate against others because of their own self-manipulated and obscure religious views.
People are often blinded by significant figures that have given inaccurate representations of their race, and use these prominent figures to justify their use of stereotypes and racism. A prime example is Osama Bin Laden—founder of the international terrorist network, the al-Queda, and a key organiser of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centres—whose extremist interpretation of Islam gave him an excuse to terrorise others. Bin Laden’s actions have intensified the wrongful stereotyping of the Islamic people in Western society. On the other hand, Malala Yousafzai, defied the Taliban in Pakistan as a young girl, and demanded equal access to education for all children—regardless of gender. This resulted in Malala being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman. Luckily, she survived and continued to speak for gender equality and the universal right to education. Malala changed the social customs around her and serves as a positive representation of not only the women of Islam but also of women worldwide. As people, we are too stubborn to acknowledge and ‘prioritise’ the positive figures such as Malala, and instead focus on the negative outliers present in a group of people.
As I wrote at the beginning, no individual is born into this world hating another person. Racial beliefs are the result of the influences of those around you and only develop with age. It is important to realise race does not define you. As babies grow older, they are instilled with the misinformed ideologies of racism and prejudice, ideologies that should be avoided. If we–the current and future generations–become more educated about each other’s cultures and beliefs, then we have the ability to formulate our own opinions on individuals, based on their actions, rather than succumbing to learned racism, which assumes that one person’s beliefs speak for a whole race.
It is a race of sorts, a race to become a racially unified world, and to save ourselves from a prejudiced world full of unneeded hardships and hatreds.
Written by Tanvui Garimella
Edited by Wendy Lee