Racism: Good news
In my column on April 7, I provided examples of modern forms of racism, all of which were “bad and scary.” I also mentioned that there was some good and hopeful news. The first example of good news is from Detroit. The racial slur “n*****,” used in street talk in the US, was buried in a symbolic funeral ceremony on July 11, 2007.
Thousands of people of all ages attended this meaningful funeral ceremony. A coffin for the word was paraded through the streets and buried in the city”s cemetery. Speaking at the funeral ceremony, then-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said, “We are taking it [the n-word] out of our spirits and minds.”
The ceremony was organized by the leading advocate of equal rights for African Americans, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Another piece of good news came from the US, which had once imposed the harshest forms of discrimination against blacks, when South African President Nelson Mandela was taken off America”s terror watch list before his 90th birthday in June 2008.
US Sen. John Kerry said the decision to remove Mandela”s name from the list was one step toward “removing the great shame of dishonoring this great leader by including him on our government”s terror watch list.”
“Nelson Mandela does not belong on a terrorist watch list — period. The Senate”s vote today will help fix a problem that has caused injustice to South African leaders and embarrassment to the United States,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
These struggles proved to be successful and the continuation of these struggles enabled a man of Kenyan descent, Barack Hussein Obama, to be elected president of the US on Nov. 8, 2008.
The extent to which Obama will resolve racism problems is a different matter, but it is certain that his success has a strong symbolic meaning.
Positive steps are being taken in Europe as well. In September 2008, Sweden”s ombudsman against ethnic discrimination sued a cleaning company after it dismissed a Muslim woman who wore a long skirt for not dressing according to the company”s dress code. The ombudsman demanded the company pay $18,500 in compensation. The company claimed the Muslim woman was fired because her choice of clothing had made it difficult for her to do her job.
The lack of an intellectual reform of modernism and the absence of religious perspectives in certain areas poses an imminent threat of racism and hatred toward certain races and religious groups. The new form of racism will not be like fascism and Nazism. A more sophisticated, dangerous and refined form of racism may and most likely will manifest itself in a wide range of areas, including our political institutions, relations with other countries and in our simple thought processes and perceptions.
A typical example of this is the views of Nobel Prize winner Dr. James Watson, who said he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really.”
The 79-year-old geneticist apologized for his views later, saying, “There is no scientific basis for such a belief.” (Yeni Şafak, Oct. 21, 2007) However, his earlier words were a manifestation of his subconscious thinking and must be taken seriously.
The positive side of this event is that a Nobel Prize winner was forced to apologize for his racist views. When racists discriminate against a certain race, people from other races should not feel excluded from this discrimination because racists will most likely seek hegemony and may even try to annihilate all “other” races.
Therefore, the struggle against racisms requires cooperation and broad thinking that is not confined to races. The biggest threat today does not come from religions or religious groups but from rude and refined racists.