Race has been a huge problem for humans over the years. Several events in history have brought the magnifying glass over the word “racism” for the real truth of its meaning. The Webster dictionary defines racism as, “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” This statement does not fully encompass how black Americans interact with racism.
Racism was created by white men to uphold black oppression. The second Webster definition is close to the true definition, but still not specific enough. It defines racism as “a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles.” For decades, the population has been living under false presumptions. It is time to understand the history of this word and why it will never apply to minorities as a whole.
Although black Americans have fought hard and gained their rights as time has progressed, racism is still an ever-present problem in the United States. Many claim racism goes both ways, from white Americans to black Americans and vice versa. Is this really the reality in the 21st century?
Racism occurs when one ethnic group holds power or forms a dominate superiority over a different ethnic group. For hundreds of years, white Europeans had the upper hand in the racial structural ladder and boasted themselves as superior to other races and minorities. It’s not the present race’s fault, but their ancestors.
Racism, in its truest form, started in the Renaissance and the Reformation. A PBS article about the historical origin and the development of racism states, “Europeans were coming into increasing contact with people of darker pigmentation in Africa, Asia and the Americas and were making judgments about them.”
In the 13th and 14th centuries, people used their power and supposed “knowledge” to prove people of a different skin color were meant to serve those who were above them. People with the lighter skin wanted to be looked upon as the superior race. It was a national crime and not one of the world’s greatest successful discovery of mankind. Those who continue to live thinking they are superior to other races are living selfishly and need to get a grip on reality. If they do not know it by now, we all bleed the same blood and breathe the same air.
Some claim black Americans can be racist just as white Americans can. This concept, commonly known as “reverse racism,” is a falsity. Sobantu Mzwakali, a blogger for Pambazuka News, wrote “Black people can never be racist — we never had the tools or power to institutionalize racial oppression.”
I admit there can be a few loopholes to this concept. Such as being prejudice or discriminatory, which are general terms and can be applied to anyone in the appropriate situation. The Webster definition of prejudice is, “injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights.” Prejudice and discrimination are not institutionally enforced by black Americans, and are not institutionalized racism.
Racism is the elephant in the room, but black Americans and other minorities were not the ones who put it there.
Kiana Naquin is a 21-year-old English sophomore from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.