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  • Hubert Marlin

The Genesis of Racism


In popular imagery people confine racism on the existence of superficial difference, and the refusal of what is not similar to themselves or their ideals, the fright of the unknown, which is the result of a subconscious will, imposed by the conditions of the environment in which they live. Far from being a fate on the humanity; racism, especially in its most perverted form did not always exist it is a relatively new phenomenon in the history of mankind.

The history of the contemporary world has always been marked by racial cleavages however it is interesting to note that racism such as we know it today find its foundations during the renaissance period in Western Europe.

In primitive societies there has always been cultural biases each ethnic group or tribe defining itself different from the others, by its language and beliefs the common method used has always tended to under estimate others by claiming the best virtues for itself. Thus, for the ancient Greeks the setting of their language is of divine origin and considered sacred, it mark their superiority over foreign peoples, who speak an incomprehensible language the Greek word “Barbados” attributed to these aliens is a perfect illustration. Biases related to language and beliefs, or in short, people’s culture will be the roots, the foundations of racist ideology. However it is important to note that racism was not always bipolar black versus white. Slaves in antiquity were of all colors in Greece the majority of slaves were the Greeks themselves. The crystallization of racism white vs black, came much later with the colonial expansion of Europe and the spread of the movement of thought as “la philosophie des Lumieres”. This movement of thought despite having produced some great minds who will question the old regime, and establish a more rational way of thinking, it’s generally proved that most of these philosophers were ignorant about Africa. The majority never visited Africa or encountered black peoples, and were certainly doted from bad faith when it comes to their propensity on the subject of races, in the shadowed will to mark their superiority over others groups. As a result they will vulgarize very wrong ideas about other races, that will spark the rejection and misunderstanding of other racial groups such as Africans, Native Americans, or Oceanians peoples; thus will follow a plethora of human tragedies. The first genocide actually dates back to this period. (E.g. The Beothuck a Native American Indians tribes went extinct in 1829). While scholars of antiquity, often demonstrated greater openness, such as Plato who conceded the invention of writing was done by an Egyptian God; Herodotus a great admirer of black peoples, who travelled to Africa several times wrote on Ethiopia, stating: "in this land of Africa men are the tallest, the most beautiful and live longer," referring to the system governing men, he will add that “in warm countries of the Southern Hemisphere Peoples are more intelligent but less courageous that is why they must be led by despots; the existence of kingdoms in this part of the world during ancient time may have been the reason of this analysis. He will continue by saying that: “in the northern hemisphere where it’s cold people are less intelligent and prone to war” the bloody history of europe can easily condone this theory, while the disorder that prevailed at the time of the Huns and others, before seeing the arrival of Genghis Khan who from the East (Mongolia, 12 th century) will submit these Nordic peoples and impose a certain order is a probing fact. He concluded that Greece located in a temperate region is more conducive to the building of a democratic, liberal and moderate society.

In ancient Rome we find the same openness of mind Cicero write, "men are different by their knowledge but they are all equal in their ability to learn, there is no race that pushed through reason cannot reach virtue " In light of this model of thinking it is not difficult to understand why one of the greatest Roman emperor of all time in the person of Caesar Augustus was an African, with his sister, they early lost their parents who migrated from Ethiopia to Roma, in an influenza epidemic that struck the eternal city in 98 BC . It's important to notice that, at this period Roma was already a multiracial and multicultural cosmopolitan city. At the age of 4 Caesar was adopted and brought up in the family of Octavia, a royal house which crowned several heads of the Roman Empire. The multiple royal bust which potray him as white were done just to promote the idea that he was the Divi Filius the direct son of God, and raised from the flesh of Jules Cesar. The system governing human life has always had an influence on the perception of individuals. The European Middle Ages opened a period of contemplation of the world; Christianity and Islam emerging as major religions, however, inequality and racial prejudice will be there to assert a new ground. The Christian identity was developed from the 11th century in the form of crusades against Muslims and persecution against the Jews. Before the various schisms of the Catholic Church over the centuries, will come to span the rejection of diversity and alternation. If the word racism appears only during the 20th century it is important to note that the real classification of breeds began around the late middle Ages with the rise of science, movements of thought, maritime exploration, the conquest of colonies, and the slavery period that followed. While the Egyptians the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans regarded slavery as a condition resulting from the war and its consequences, the so-called modern Europeans proud of their prestige could not perform the capture, purchase, sale and the exploitation in slavery of other human beings without a well-established ideology to reinforce this state of affairs.

Religious leaders and leading thinkers of the time will debate the question of whether Africans Amerindians and other Pacific Islanders were endowed with a soul as it was done long ago when it came to women! (During the Council of Macon in 585 members of the clergy had recourse to a vote after the exception was raised by a bishop, with the majority of one count, recognition to women of a soul prevailed) If these people have no souls so they are not human beings and do not descend from Adam and Eve as preached by the church based on the monogenic thesis (God created Adam and Eve to found humanity).

Proponent of the polygenic thesis (God created different races), like the French philosopher Voltaire a great opponent of the Catholic Church which he saw as dangerous relegates the black race as mere animals he wrote, "Negroes and negress carried in colder countries always produce the animals of their species ... while his opponent and contemporary Montesquieux argued: "we cannot get into the mind that God a very wise being, has put a soul in a body wholly black " the outcome of the debate was that if these people have no souls their slavery is permitted, however, if they have one as they will finally conclude slavery is possible as well since these people have not embraced the true faith yet, the slavery channel will become a path to religious faith, divine light. Proselytism of Islam will employ the same principle.

The 19th century will in turn develop scientific theories to accept slavery and the old regime. Arthur Gobineau in his “Essay on the inequality of races”, affirm the hegemony of the Nordic race, about him it has higher virtues and should not mix with others to preserve its purity the concept of Aryan race was thus founded. The reaction of the Haitian anthropologist Antenor Firmin, with the

"Essay on the Equality of Human Races" is far from a knee-jerk reaction but simply a go-record straight by confirming that every human being regardless of its origin or race has the same qualities and same defaults “these allegation weren’t well taken at the time, his essay was echoed very unfavorable, this is understandable regarding the general conceptions of the 19th century.

The rationalism of the colonial empires, theories will be based on so-called scientists and will sometimes be tinted with suprematist humanism. Rudyard Kipling speaks of the burden of the white man's civilizing mission reminiscent of the so-called higher races towards the so-called inferior races. However, far from promoting the progress of other races, the colonial doctrine will work to create a kind of social Darwinism to keep a certain order of things. Social Darwinism will soon be put into test in the early 20th century following the report of the Carnegie Corporation which considered in a memo of 5 volume on the situation in southern Africa and the poverty of some member of the white race in the southern United States, that, there’s no doubt that if the black natives have the opportunity to access education and economic development they will be able to outperform low skilled whites, in the light of this report the apartheid policy will be created and implemented in South Africa to halt the progression of blacks in the region. Today social Darwinism continues to rage in a more insidious and subtle way. Runs by some white elitists it aims to destroy what does not comply with established standards; more by ideals than by what they call civilization, which normally must tolerate difference and alternative, as in the word civilization there is the derivative civility that normally inspires respect for others and their differences, meanwhile the concept of civility with due respect to lives and customs of others is not part of the agenda of the western civilisation while expanding. For example in 2011 the controversy of an advertisement of a cosmetic company that called black youths to re civilization shows the new face of racism in the 21st century. Today racism is still based on the division of races to bring to rein an order dominated by a supremacist ideology. Ethnic prejudice, religious, cultural, chauvinistic and xenophobic, continues to feed, racism although with the concept of the new world order we are assisting a kind of uniformity in the division with the principle that human beings of all backgrounds and cultures must blend into a model formatted by the elitist establishment of the so-called white race. Each member of this social structure exerting a predetermined function. It is not uncommon for some to say that some jobs are more restricted to certain individuals belonging to a certain race, social class are becoming increasingly linked to race and origin of individuals (Jews in the banking trade, Asians in manufacturing, Africans, sport, music, white Caucasian sciences and technology and so on.) the analysis of this professional profiling give blacks once again a negligible role it would not be far from thinking that when other races occupy key roles, blacks are confined to a role of king’s buffoon since they have to entertain ruling classes by sports or music. At the present time, to fight racism in all its forms including the racialism which is an outgrowth of racism under the guise of science, it is important to break some barriers , open access to knowledge and resources to individuals of all races equally, would be the appropriate solution, coupled with a healthy emulation of individuals and social groups. The development of new communications technologies should contribute greatly to building a more tolerant and peaceful society, promise of a sustainable wellbeing for all.

By Hubert Marlin Jr.

Journalist -Writer


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