Racism and other spades

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  • In 1775, German physicist and anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach composed a treatise called, “The Natural Varieties of Mankind”, and proposed five major divisions: the Caucasian or white race, the Mongolian or yellow race, including all East Asians and some Central Asians; the Malayan or brown race, including South/Southeast Asian and Pacific Islanders; the Ethiopian or black race, including sub-Saharan Africans; and the American or red race, including American Indians. Blumenbach based this on the shape of the skulls of the people from these races, however, he did not give it a hierarchy or ranking. If Blumenbach had done this study today, he would have been dismissed as “racist”, despite his work, as most scientists and other professionals in the fields are debunked by social media and called names for revealing truth based on careful study.

    In this day and age, a lot of people don’t really know what the word “racism” actually means. My Grade 7 students call everything you say against what social media has established as “the truth” a “racist” remark, even if it had nothing to do with one’s origins. I have to give them Blumenbach’s explanation, and redirect, but can you imagine the damage that social media and some groups have done to our future generations by redefining vocabulary? I also tell my students a story of how I learned the different races as a child through a Christian song taught to us in Catechism that goes, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, are most precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world!” As a seven year old, I thought, “Well, I’m sure Jesus loves me, too, even though I am brown!” and as a child, you really don’t see “colour”. Now, however, because of our constant badgering of children regarding race, beliefs, gender, morality, etc. we have taken away their innocence, and their ability to decide and ascertain, based on truth, what really matters most, and what values their families are trying to uphold. People fear that if you say something against the popular notion, you are anti-this and anti-that, and this is what our children are now learning – they are learning not to speak up and stand up for what they believe in for fear of ostracism.

    US President Donald Trump is under fire (once again!) for not speaking against white supremacists right after the Charlottesville attacks, talks about racism in America being so blatantly alive is the talk of the town. It was pretty obvious that neo-Nazis were present during the protests, but it took Trump a few days before condemning the act by the group. He said that they staged their protests as a reaction to the removal of the statue of US Civil War General Robert E. Lee, who led the Southern insurrection  for state’s rights and slavery. Trump even furthered his argument by saying whose statue was to be brought down next, with both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, two other US Presidents, being slave owners themselves.

    One thing he said was true, though. “Where does it stop?” referring to the endless protestations about anything that irks the very nature of every human being. Whether we like it or not, it is the truth. When will it ever stop – the accusations that one thing is better than the other, that one’s rights is more important than another’s rights,  that one faction is more respectable than the other, etc. Who gets to decide on these things?

    I tell everyone that I’m brown, and I actually use the racial definition to describe myself. After all, we Filipinos grew up proudly speaking of our kayumanggi race. I tell everyone how old I am. I tell them I am overweight and that I’d rather be a size 8 than a size 10.  I tell them that these things are arbitrary, and I am not sensitive about these things because these are facts. This is how I tell people that I am secure about who I am, regardless of how people see me, and I don’t impose these things on other people, nor will I go to Parliament and change laws based on what I perceive things should be. I will not let long established laws and codes be changed because of my personal and selfish definitions. Imposing my beliefs on others is outrightly disrespecting their rights as individuals, and their right to live and raise their families as they fit. It is outright bullying, and therefore, unjust and a form of discrimination.

    We need to go back to accepting the truth, even though Jack Nicholson says,” You can’t handle the truth!” When one learns to accept that one is different, and that their difference is what makes them  unique, this is when forbearance happens. When one is able to endure and forebear, when they don’t need to insist that an entire system based on established science, nature and morality be changed so that they can be “accepted”, that’s the time that true tolerance happens. Race is an established truth, so let racism retain its definition as it is, without being confused with other ideologies that people and groups say is the absolute truth. Let’s go back to calling a spade a spade.

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