Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Debunking the myth of "race"

It’s been long overdue and I’ve been meaning to open this kettle of stinky fish for a while. However I’ve been reluctant to because frankly I know how uneducated and ignorant your average South African is and I’d have taught and entire semester of sociology, anthropology, socio-biology etc by the time I’m done.

Because to have any grasp on the subject you need such a wide field of knowledge, I’m going to approach this by writing part by part. For today I thought I’d just write a little introduction before we get into the sciency stuff.

So what is the question ? What are we talking about here ?

In life there are causes to every effect. If we want to understand our world we need to look at something and find out what caused it. When we want to know what the cause is to peoples behavior we need therefore to ask ourselves what factors are involved in mans’ “decisions” ?

Assuming that man does not form his personality in a vacuum, when examining the source of his actions we will notice that there are two potential forces that help form them. One is his physical body/genetics or that which he is born with (or to put it another way : Nature) and the other are those things that exist outside his body. Things such as the environment and social forces around him (or to put it another way : Nurture).

For thousands of years this has been a question for philosophy. Known as the “nature/nurture” debate. The popular answer suggests that both play a role. Certainly the size of your brain and body will influence how you react to your environment. And obviously the things you experience everyday beyond your control have a massive influence on your perceptions and view of the world. There are however other more extreme views. One of which I’m going to introduce you to today : Racism.

Racism is a word you’ve heard a million times as a South African. But what does it really mean ? Let’s take a moment to think about what it actually proposes as a concept.

Racism is the belief that race is an important aspect in determining someone’s behavior, potential and sometimes even worth. Furthermore racism implies that one of the most important indications of a persons character is pre-determined to him by his race (genetics).

So for the first part I’m going to write a little history about racism.

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