Today we live in a multicultural society, which means a nation is made out of several ethnic groups, with different cultures. But why was there xenophobia and racial hatred between peoples and why does it still exist? What really is “foreign”, and what effect does it have on young people and young adults. And the most important question is: What is racism? I will in the course of my essay examine these issues.
Firstly, I would like to define the term racism generally and talk about its characteristics: Racism is an ideology that uses real or fictitious differences between two ethnic groups for the benefit of the Prosecutor and for the detriment of the victims. Racism wants the victims to ascribe to all kinds of bad properties, to prove their negativity and shows the positivism of the prosecutor at the same time. Racism is an absolute ideology, because it explains the differences for definitive and in general. For example, all coloured people are for all time inferior to the white population in mental capacity. This attitude always causes, therefore, a hierarchy of the society. It justifies and legitimizes an injustice against the victims group.
We differentiate several types of racism. The biological racism relates, as its name suggests, to biological differences (skin colour, skull shape, etc.) A racist abuses biology to the devaluation of its victims. Cultural racism uses the cultural differences. It can be said that biological and psychological racism are always found in a combined form. This creates an absolute society of course. It should be noted that the term racism is in the context of its definition confusing and not correct, because it actually suggests that it is exclusively concerned with the devaluation of another race, but it is a devaluation of another ethnic group, regardless of whether they become a different race or not.
Racism in history, the crime in the black population:
Since the beginning of modern times, with the discovery of America, the great European colonies were formed. Particularly in Africa was a lot of land in possession. The mother country always made profit from the colony. It took her valuable raw materials to trade with other countries. In addition the dealing with human beings was booming at this time, predominantly black people were sold as slaves. They called the trade between Europe, Africa and America triangular trade. In the 19th Century, the mother countries themselves had a high demand for raw materials, which they got from the colonies. The coloured native population had to work as slaves on plantations and mines for the Whites. The question now is what the discrimination and degradation of these people warrants since the beginning of imperialism. The racists made the legitimacy of this injustice their target.
The term race was first used at the end of the 17th century. At that time, it was only to distinguish the people, but included no hierarchy. Only in the 18th Century, the different races, according to skin colour of black, red, yellow and white, were assigned to special characteristics. The coloured people were classified as a primitive culture, whose intellectual capacity in comparison to the whites was inferior. There were several theories to explain this fact. The anthropological theory was based on physical differences between black and white people, they compared the skull shape, dimensions of the facial angle, skin colour and hair and concluded that all these contributed to different characteristics and intellectual properties. Representatives of the mono genius (scientists, who believe in the biblical creation story) see the emergence of breeds as a result of a degeneration process, at which the blacks most and the whites least degenerates.
Followers of Poly genesis assumed that the individual races were created at various locations around the world, have no common origin and so don’t belong to the same species. A difference in treatment is therefore justified. Even Darwin’s theory of the Origin of Species was abused to justify the bad treatment of the black population. His theory implies that those individuals of a species, which are best suited to their environment, will win the struggle for existence, so they won against their enemy and therefore can propagate. After some time there will be better adapted lifestyles to the environment and the weaker original life form dies out. The racists designated the blacks as carrier of inferior heritage and therefore not as developed as the whites. It is therefore natural that the weaker culture got wiped out in the process of colonization by the stronger culture. Actually the blacks should appreciate that they are allowed to work for the whites.
With Darwin’s theory were also explained other social inequalities such as sickness and health, poverty and wealth. Transferring this theory to human society is called social Darwinism. Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton developed the social Darwinism to so-called eugenics, the science of the need for artificial maintenance of the heritage of a nation. Galton’s scientific finding was that the carriers of inferior genes reproduce faster than the carrier of superior. The scientists feared thus a degeneration of the total world population. He proposed the following measures for the protection of humanity: the increase of the number of children in gifted families while making infertile and limitation of marriage of inferior and physically disabled and mentally ill people, would help to create a better world. These measures fall under the concept of racial hygiene, which was also an essential part of the Nazi regime and finally reached its peak, genocide.
Let us now return to the inhuman attitude towards the black population, which was mainly a part of the so-called apartheid policy. The year 1948 was the birth of apartheid in South Africa. It was marked by the takeover of the Boer National Party, whose utopia it is to build a South Africa out of only white population, and so pushing the blacks because of racial hygiene out of the country, or to abuse them as workers. This venture is not simple and requires a certain development. It was not possible to deport the blacks, which were still integrated in the total population. They had to split them from the white population. This separation is expressed in different levels:
Firstly on the political level, there are the black’s and the white’s rights; the electoral law is not included in the Black’s rights. The 2nd Level is the separation of the country in predominately white and little black country. The education sector was also separated, while the black, in contrast to the whites, had bad institutions. As 3rd Level there is public apartheid in all sorts of public areas (sports, church, hotels, restaurants, the beach, in parks, etc.). The 4th Level of separation is the prohibition of sexual interaction between white and black.
Of course the blacks did not endure that discrimination without any resistance. In the 50s civil disobedience campaigns were organised following the example of Gandhi. The system of apartheid was actually still left through the suppression of resistance. A law to that end was the so-called Communism Act, which was directed against anyone, who represented or promoted communist goals. Therefore all the movements against the regime were dismissed as “communist”. The system broke under the liberation movement, led by Nelson Mandela in 1994.
Racism in Germany
In the following I would also like to report on racism and xenophobia in Germany, explaining the causes, but also discuss the measures which have been opposed. Between 1991 and 1993 the Federal Republic of Germany had to take note of a rise of racist and xenophobic actions. I want to give two examples of that:
1st In Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern destroyed in August 1992 right-wing extremists, supported by more than 500 local citizens, an accommodation for asylum seekers, mainly Gypsies.
2nd In Berlin the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin-Tiergarten was destroyed on 30 August 1992 by a bomb.
Right-wing extremism is in the definition between racism and racist nationalism, because it contains both components. This ideology is on the one hand inspired by the desire that the nation, in this case the Germans, founds their own state, with no foreign cultures. On the other hand, there is the theory of the superior race, which should therefore not mix with the inferior nation because of racial hygiene. The question now is, why did right-wing extremism arguably re-occur, long after the Nazi regime? I want to mention in this piece of writing the reunion of Germany, which had a special effect particularly on the population of the former GDR. It made them crash into a situation of helplessness at the view of rising unemployment. They experienced the foreigners as competitors in the labour market, and thus as a threat to the process of improving their economic situation. Right-wing groups used their miserable situation to have another reason to hate the foreigners and to use it for inspiring others with their ideology. The many applicants who flocked to Germany because of the Yugoslavia crisis were a threat for the locals to their work and their living situation; of which the right-wing extremists took an advantage. But Germany wanted to return its reputation of being a democratic, peaceful and cosmopolitan country. So the following measures were made:
In March 1993 an information campaign took place that enlightened the people about violence, xenophobia and right-wing extremism. For this purpose brochures and other promotional products were also used. There was also a strict surveillance of activities of the extreme rights. Organizations, which acted unlawfully, were immediately forbidden. The population itself also took action against xenophobia. There were for example “garlands” for the protection of asylum seekers accommodations. In addition, demonstrations against racism and xenophobia took place.
Psychological explanations model for racism
I have already reported a lot about racism and thus the involvement of xenophobia. But the most important question is still unanswered up to now. How does this attitude arise and why are especially young people enthusiastic supporters of it? There are several reasons for racism, but you can say generally for nowadays, that it often appears, when the state is in any way unstable. But before I will come to speak about it, I would like to discuss what affect “foreign” has on us from earliest childhood:
For a small child, the family is the usual surrounding and everything that goes beyond this framework is treated as foreign, which is frightening. The unidentified strangers are attributed its own characteristics and are responsible for all “evil”. By “cleaning and holding their own soul” (mental health) and the identification and excluding of the alleged culprits you get your own security, you also speak about an inner stability.
When the child grows and is in the final stage of puberty, they call it adolescence, the youth begins to become self-critical, they see their own mistakes and do not blame the “foreign”. No, on the contrary, they even start to be interested in the environment outside their family and thus deal with it. The adolescence is in my opinion the most important phase in the life of a person, it ensures the survival of mankind and the development of a culture. Furthermore, the fascination of the “foreign” results in a development of a culture because they are influenced by another. Now my question again is why, especially in the adolescent, racist attitudes appear?
Now I have to go back to the sentence that I used as an introduction for my essay. We live in a multicultural society, anywhere, where we are, different cultures meet. The adolescent offspring experiences their own identity, but both cultural and racial nature are reduced to their family, it is practically atrophied. They cannot escape their family, because they offend otherwise a kind of cultural treason. To be bound to their family and because of the uncertainty of their identity make it infantile, they become practically a child again and the fascination of strangers is entirely abolished. Like any small child, they try by mental health, which is expressed in this case as racism, and by the exclusion of the stranger to obtain stability and internal security. The exclusion of the stranger is also a way to get your own identity. Actually, the whole process can play in an adult’s life analogy, but they have more internal stability as a juvenile. That does, of course, not mean that there is no racism as adults. The inner balance will be destroyed by other conditions such as a poor economic situation in which the stranger is seen as a competitor.
Defeat of racism by the integration of foreigners
Integration is not the complete assimilation of foreigners but it means to prevent the segregation between residents and foreigners. Any foreigner should have the same opportunities in the labour market and not just get poorly paid professions for which the residents feel too good for. Because of this financial inequality foreigners are only able to stay in poor accommodation, a kind of ghetto formation would be inevitable, therefore the native people find the foreign nationals as an even greater threat. In addition to this social integration is the cultural imperative. Of course you cannot reach the one without the other. Cultural integration is not the complete assimilation of immigrants but can be defined as accepting of cultural differences while agreeing on a common culture (common language, common education, …). At the end of my essay I would like to mention that we should all fight against racism. Through the isolation of an ethnic group from the other, we prevent that “fresh blood flows into this”. Therefore a degeneration process is inevitable. We should also battle against it, because racism is definitely against the top human rights and it is also a danger for the whole humanity.