Author: Shifa Qureshi
Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh
Racism has a strong negative and significant impact on economic development, quality of institutions, and education. Racism contributes to the construction of motives and justifications among individuals who commit acts of violence including lynching, hate crime, and police violence. In the second decade of the 21st century as all the countries are trying to develop, it has resulted in ignorance of such serious matters and hence the resurgence of overt racism. Racism can be expressed through stereotypes (racist beliefs) prejudice (racist emotions/effect) or discrimination (racist behaviors and practices). We need to understand that all the people are at last humans and they too deserve a right to live peacefully. We differentiate based on their caste, creed, colour, religion, ethnicity, etc. but fail to think of the effect it has on the person experiencing racism.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.” are the words of great leader Martin Luther King.
I would like to start by sharing stories of four different people with different backgrounds, countries, and each having a different experience.
1. Creuza Oliveira [a domestic worker in Brazil]
Oliveria began working as a domestic worker at the age of 10 in Bahia (in Brazil) and left studies in order to fulfill family needs. She shares that she was beaten and taunted whenever she did a mistake like breaking a thing and was hurled with abuses and being called lazy, monkey, and even a ‘nigger’ (a contemptuous term for a black or dark-skinned person). In addition to physical and psychological abuse, she was even sexually abused by the young men in the houses where she used to work and even was not paid most of the time. “Almost half a million domestic workers in Brazil are children and teenagers between 5 and 17 years of age – working without compensation, like slaves,”- says Oliveira. Oliveira who is now a President of the National Federation of Domestic Workers in Brazil says that that media, songs that diminish women and encourage violence, TV shows trivialize sexual abuse and depict black women as being ignorant, and use of images of black women in the tourism industry are some of the factors which normalize the racial discrimination by people and depict that it is something not bad.
2. Khalid Hussain [an Urdu-speaking Bihari in Bangladesh]
Khalid is from Bangladesh, a Bihari originally. “Everyone affected by racism has a story that should be heard,” said Khalid in a special event. He shared that since the partition of 1971 of Pakistan approximately 300 thousand people from Bihar had been forced to live in camps all over Bangladesh and that Urdu speaking Biharis are the most disadvantaged group because they are considered as outsiders and someone who are not one of them and as a result do not have access to any means of survival in society whether socially, culturally or economically. He was refused by a local high school to give admission and eventually had to study in a private school (with huge fees) where the students from Bihar were treated differently and were made to sit in a separate row. He believes “Intolerance on the part of mainstream civil society has increased. There has been very little interest amongst the mainstream human rights organizations, legal aid bodies, or women and children’s organizations…Voices need to be raised,” and further hopefully stated that he trusts “that one day we will see a world free of racism, racial discrimination, and intolerance.”
3. Elena Gorolová [a Roma in the Czech Republic]
Elena while the birth of her second son in Ostrava in 1990 was sterilized without her consent, and when she inquired she came to know that there were more women out there who have been involuntarily sterilized. She recalled while she was in labour a nurse asked to sign a paper and she did accordingly not knowing what was written in the same. She stated “They didn’t want any more Roma children to be born... I have experienced discrimination since I was a child... they just don’t like the Roma people.” Gorolova has launched a project name “You are not alone” for such women who have gone through involuntary sterilization. She is one of the events stated “Giving birth is one of the most beautiful experiences in the world but many Roma women have been deprived of this. For them, involuntary sterilisation has resulted in negative health effects and even divorce. We have to ensure this does not happen to other women and must continue the fight.”
4. George Floyd [an African- American man]
On 25 May, a store employee in Minneapolis, Minnesota reported a counterfeiting money case to the police, and the police in furtherance of this case arrested George Floyd who purchased a pack of cigarettes from the store. The police officer pointed a gun in order to bring him out of the car and after being handcuffed was pinned down to the ground and the point to note this violence was done when he wasn’t resenting the arrest. Floyd repeatedly said to the officer who placed his knee between his head and neck that he can’t breathe and pleaded for his life, begging for his life but in no vain, and then died due to asphyxiation. The incident happened due to law enforcement’s bias against the African American minority and is one of the examples of racially-driven police brutality.
These stories prove that Racial discrimination does exist in our society. The amount of education or technological advancement or including chapters for teaching students that racism is bad does not guarantee that such incidents won’t happen. These incidents have a very bad impact on many lives out there; some people curse themselves for being born and belonging to such a community or ethnicity.
WHAT IS RACISM?
Racism usually denotes race-based prejudice, violence, dislike, discrimination, or oppression. Racism is an action, practice or belief, or social or political system that considers different races to be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities. It may also hold that members of different races should be treated differently. And all so it is a kind of unidentified disease which exists everywhere in the world. It leads to social divergence, imbalance, inequality, and a wedge to divergence.
Nobody can claim that their country is free from this because from time immemorial Discrimination is prevalent in every community. Racial and ethnic discrimination is the more prominent form of Discrimination and affects virtually every country in the world. It is something which denies people basic human rights, which each and every person is entitled to, based on things that they are not responsible such as their colour, race, ethnicity, descent which includes caste of a person or national origin. Genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and more recently Rohingya people in Myanmar are some of the popular examples of large scale abominations of Racism. There was widespread discrimination faced by millions of Roma in Europe which included segregation from society, harassment, and forced evictions.
In India, there is a prevalence of the caste system which has remained dominant from time immemorial and is still practiced. Mostly people of the Dalit community are the victim of such acts by the members of dominant castes.
IMPACT OF RACISM
The Act of Racism Inequality not only affects only an individual or some particular individuals rather it affects the outcome of many things such as GDP, Per capita income, Education, Social Capital, Institutional Quality, and Conflict in different ways. But the most prominent effects or consequences of this form of discrimination are mentioned below.
1. Economic Impact
The most prevalent form of racism can be dominantly seen in Agricultural, Labour, and Personal Service and are usually forced to work in brutal conditions without any safety equipment or anything. There exists a stark and persistent racial disparity that exists in jobs, wages, benefits, and almost every other measure of economic well-being, this difference exists due to racism which prevents minority people from obtaining employment opportunities as others get, limiting their ability to earn living wages. This eventually affects the economy of the whole country due to decreased GDP or per capita income.
2. Impact on Education
Name-calling, teasing, exclusion, verbal abuse, or bullying are some of the common forms of Racist attitude in school. It not only hurts the individual but also creates disturbances in the learning and working environment, generating tension that narrows the educational experience of all students. It affects Student behaviors, School-community relations, school climate, individual happiness, and self-confidence, and lastly Educational Outcomes.
3. Impact on Institutions
Racism in different institutions affects differently, it affects the quality of services provided by an organization. It even affects the health factors of an individual who suffers. The chronic condition of stress and other chronic diseases are very common in them. The most visible impact resulting from the experience of racist behavior is ‘feeling angry and frustrated’ and feelings of ‘not belonging to the local community’. Racism is the root cause of the extreme socio-economic and health disadvantage experienced by people. If certain people are excluded from public services due to racial bias it results in a lower quality of services. Racism affects institutions indirectly by affecting the level of de facto power of the different groups in society. Further all these different factors affect the quality and efficiency of an organization or institution or society as a whole.
4. Impact of racism on conflicts
Racism brings hate towards other races which leads racist people to accept and promote violent actions against members of other races. These conflicts could escalate into larger-scale aggression because victims might respond with violence. Therefore, racial resentment could facilitate the outbreak of inter-racial conflicts and civil wars.
HAPPENINGS IN WORLD
1. Prejudice against Minority groups
In Britain, tensions between minority groups can be just as strong as those between minorities, and the majority population. In Birmingham, there have been long term divisions between the Black and South Asia Communities, and in Dewsbury, a Yorkshire town with a relatively high Muslim population, there have been tensions and minor civil disturbances between Kurds and South Asians.
2. Muslim vs. Jews.
In France, home to Europe’s largest population of Muslims (about millions) as well as the continent’s largest community of Jews (about 600,000), anti-Jewish violence, and property destruction racist language has been increasing over the last several years.
3. African American vs. Mexican American
There has been long-running racial tension between African Americans and Mexican Americans. There have been several riots in California prisons in which Mexican American inmates and African Americans have specifically targeted each other based on racial reasons.
4. Anti-Racist movements
Anti-racism includes beliefs, actions, movements, and policies adopted or developed to oppose racism. It promotes an egalitarian society in which people are not discriminated against in race. Movements such as the African-American Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Apartheid Movement were examples of anti-racist movements.
5. Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement encompasses social movements in the United States whose goals were to end racial segregation and discrimination against black Americans. The movement was characterized by major campaigns of civil resistance.
6. Anti Apartheid Movement
The Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM), originally known as the boycott movement, was a British organization that was at the center of the International movement opposing South Africa’s system of apartheid and supporting South Africa’s non-whites.
INTERNATIONAL LAW RELATING TO RACISM
In 1965, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in order to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination formed a resolution adopted by the UN and agreed by many countries. It is the most followed convention and was signed by 150 countries. According to this convention Racial discrimination refers to a situation when a person or group of persons are treated differently due to their race, colour, descent, national origin, or ethnic origin and this kind of treatment hinders the human rights and fundamental freedoms of such persons.
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, was brought up in the year 1966 which includes the regulation that every individual should be provided with education and shall be free to participate in the activities of the society. It even promoted tolerance, understanding, and friendship among racial, religious, and ethnic groups.
Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1963) encourages government and individuals to eliminate racial discrimination in all areas of public life, especially in education.
In 1978, in order to deal with the role of mass media in order to counter racism, the UNESCO Declaration on Fundamental Principles concerning the Contribution of the Mass Media to Strengthening Peace and International Understanding, to the Promotion of Human Rights and to Countering Racialism, Apartheid and Incitement to War.
In the year 1978, the UNESCO Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice was adopted which specifically deals with the rights of people in order to develop and maintain the different cultural identities.
Slavery, colonization, neo-colonialism, cultural imperialism, and exploitation of resources of the developing world (predominantly non-white) have resulted in the wealth of the developed world (predominantly white). Within societies, the distribution of wealth and resources is different from one group being privileged and the other groups deprived. Inequality and discrimination will persist as long as domestic and international laws are inadequate for addressing issues of institutional racism.
The central government of every country needs to get rid of discriminatory laws which bring a feeling of distinction among groups and protecting each and every individual from discrimination and violence. Introduction of laws and policies which promote inclusion and diversity of all the people. For a long time, the human rights of these people have been neglected but it is a time we all understand the situation and do our part and not promote such activities. We should take action to tackle the root causes of such racial acts of discrimination and challenge the stereotypes (racist beliefs) to change the situation from its roots.
Shodhganga Inflibinet, <https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/175900/9/09_chapter2.pdf> (last visited on 26 June 2020)