By Alex Curthew-Sanders
Racism remains a hot topic in modern times, and with black history month passing us by, it had me thinking.
Racism is an act that everybody says they abhor, that everybody touts they stand against, yet it still exists today.
It’s an injustice that continues to plague the world, but why? Why, despite all the history that shadows its past, is it still committed time and time again?
I’ve always hated the word itself as well as the act. It implies that the Human race is not one race, but one that is split. The level of melanin in our skin is not race defining by any stretch of the definition.
Taking a look into our genome, the very DNA that makes us who we are. The National Human Genome Research Institute says that out of the 3 billion base pairs that form that DNA, only a tiny amount is unique to the individual. We are all 99.9% genetically similar.
Take the palest, Caucasian, man you can find, and he will be 99.9% genetically similar to a man native to Africa. Scientifically, it makes no sense to discriminate somebody as inferior simply based on their skin colour, because it isn’t true. Additionally, it’s even more ridiculous to affix the term “race” based on people’s skin colour.
But to move on from the science, there are more problems with racism intrinsically. In the past, it was defined by slavery, a time period in history that most would say is a blemish on not only a country’s history, but humanity’s in general. The slavery that everyone is used to hearing relates to the people from (sub-Saharan) Africa. Which we then define as discrimination against those with darker skin, but what about everyone else?
Countless times, you see inflammatory articles that seem to commit the same acts to those with lighter skin (not just “white” people, but also people of eastern Asian heritage), yet we see none of the same outrage as we do towards those that slate people with darker skin. Why must we create terms to further segregate ourselves from each other? It’s never made any logical sense to me. Why not just label them all as “people”?
I understand that this can tie into the debate surrounding “colourism” but to me, that’s cut from the same cloth as racism, albeit a sub-section of that cloth which I feel can also be mitigated by just ignoring what a person’s skin colour is.
This brings to me something that I believe should remain poignant to everyone today, like a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, which seems to have been forgotten: “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.”
The way I interpret the point of this is that perhaps affixing labels to each and every person such as “white”, “black”, “Asian” is an archaic system which feeds off of past injustices. We are more than what we appear as on the outside and yet we all get caught up on it. In reality, we’re all human. No matter our size, skin colour, creed, ethnicity, culture. All of us share the same genome. All of us belong to the same race.
In my eyes, the best way to stamp out racism is to make sure that we remember that at the end of the day, we’re all human. It’s not about fighting racism, it’s showing how flawed it is. We can’t deny its history, but we can acknowledge it, remember it and learn from it.
Our bodies all function the same, our hearts all beat, we all breathe oxygen. As Martin Luther King Jr. put it, it’s the content of our character that’s important, not the colour of our skin.