Posted by: yemenia68 | April 9, 2009

Discrimination and Racism, why do they exist?

races

 

The other day at school, a friend of mine mentioned that the day I was absent, one of the other students started talking negatively about Arab-Americans. She didn’t go into details about what was said, but she did say that she was bothered by the fact that white people always seem to think that they are superior to other races. To be honest, this was the first time that I actually felt the negative effect of racism. Throughout my life, I’ve never experienced any acts of racism or discrimination against me. For the most part, people will stare or maybe even assume that because I wear a hijab, I’m an illiterate Arab woman who has no control over her life.

 

What I want to know is “why do people discriminate?” Why would any human being feel the need to express their hatred towards another race, sex, or religion? What is that hatred based on? This is not just about Arab-Americans, African-Americans, or any other kind of minority living in America; I’ve seen and heard about many types and forms of discrimination. I know for a fact that Arabs categorize people according to their social status. I’ve seen Arabs discriminate against Arabs from different countries. The list goes on and on. And yes, I do know that this happens everywhere, not just amongst Arabs. My question still stands “why do we feel the need to discriminate against others?” Why is it difficult for us to accept others in spite of their differences?

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Responses

  1. Simply the reason is fear, we fear what we don’t know because we don’t understand what the consequence of that alien entity will be on us.
    And usually the more intimate an enviroment is the less foreigners they interact with the more fearful they are of strangers …

  2. Indeed, discrimination is not just based on ethnic and cultural differences. I have to give Jordan as an example. I mean there is practically no difference between Jordanians and Palestinians, yet we see people from both sides who take things in a very unpleasant manner and urge other people to develop hatred towards the others.
    I read about that a lot, and I reached a conclusion that this is mainly based on the culture and environment that one was raised in. I realized that the most vicious and radical racist were people raised either in remote villages, or in refugee camps. Those people develop an image about the other side without actually getting to know any. So, when they go to the real life and go to universities they will apply the ideas they had developed in dealing with the others.
    It’s a very sensitive issue here in Jordan, and despite that people are getting more oriented to these false ideas, there are still people who worship such things.

  3. After so many times i became careless.

  4. Bambab, Ulysses:
    Yes, I also believe it is fear, but how do we eliminate the fear factor? What makes us cynical, sarcastic, pessimistic, skeptical and suspicious, when it comes to dealing with people from other races, religion, or ethnicities? We are not born with these feelings of hatred towards others. I know that for some, these emotions are instilled into them from previous generations.
    What puzzles me is the fact that discrimination is practiced within the same race, religion, and ethnicity sometimes. Is it the need to feel superior to others?

    Hamede: Sometimes when it is convenient, we do tend to feel careless towards that kind of behavior (as long as it doesn’t affect us directly), but there are times when dealing with this issue is overdue and something needs to be done about it.
    I believe one of the most important factors in eliminating racism and discrimination is making an effort in educating ourselves about other races, religions, and ethnicities.
    There is always a positive side to everything and everyone in this life; we just need to look beyond our misconceptions.

  5. When I was looking up the roots of the word “discrimination” at etymonline.com I found – amongst other things – the following quote:

    “It especially annoys me when racists are accused of ‘discrimination.’ The ability to discriminate is a precious facility; by judging all members of one ‘race’ to be the same, the racist precisely shows himself incapable of discrimination.”

    So I think discrimination is not a bad thing per se. It just means to see the differences between appearances, i.e. to have certain cognitive abilities.
    It get’s “wicked” when the values of the person who does see the differences projects his fears, values, hopes etc. onto people that appear to him as different. Then the discrimination gets mixed with judging. This judging (which often has the power of a conviction) makes what we see as discrimination: “Oh, she is a woman, so she can only do the house keeping stuff. Oh, he is a boy, so he must not cry. Oh, he is black, he will probably rape white woman.”

    IMO this judging, which is based upon the cognitive abilities and the values of the discriminator, says more about the discriminator then about the person who gets discriminated.

  6. Torsten:
    I know that to discriminate is to make a distinction, but in this case, I’m referring to negative discrimination. This is when people tend to judge or treat others negatively based on their differences.
    All I can say is, we surely can do without all the negativity and try to co-exist as equal human beings on this planet.
    Thanks for your insight 🙂

  7. fear and idiotdocy


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