21 November, 2008

Of Race and Prejudice

No one is born racist or prejudiced; we are brought up, from birth, with time, and made to be so. From childhood, after being told over and over – that he or she is superior in one way or the other, one in the end believes in that. This can be in the form of indoctrination, which fascists excel in.

Time and again, racism or prejudice - have been used to subjugate or enslave; Nazi Germany, did it in a brutal and horrifying way, and so did the apartheid system in South Africa. Male chauvinists and masochists, in a way, by making women feel inferior, they subjugate them.

Some years ago, a newspaper did a questionnaire in one of the largest Arab cities; it went around asking men what kind of women they preferred for marriage. Their answers varied when it came to all the questions except one: on which ‘color’ of a woman they preferred – the men, overwhelmingly said they preferred lighter skinned women; the lighter the skin the more they preferred. They preferred so, not because lighter skinned women are more beautiful or attractive, but from childhood, after being told, in many ways, and it being stressed, over and over – that lighter skinned women are superior to darker ones. In the Middle East and most of Asia, and Africa - lighter skinned women are preferred. Decades ago, the feeling was the same in Western countries; until the 60s onwards, when 'tanned' and 'bronzed' became the fashion and the preferred complexion for women.

For years, black - was considered the 'color' for moaning and sadness. But with time, perceptions changed: with a little help from 'Black Beauty', the book, the series and the film about a handsome black horse and the allegorical lessons on how to treat people - ' black' and 'dark' stallions and horses became the most sought after. And with time, and a little inspiration from Giorgio Armani, men started considering being dressed in 'black', as the best.

It's very unfortunate and sad, but time and again - those being perceived as inferior, after being marginalized in education and material possession for long: end up, they themselves believing in that. Be it a race a tribe or a clan or a certain ethnic group of people or women - they, in the end, are fooled into believing that they are of a lower level.

Unfortunately too, many of those trying to break away from the chains and cages of prejudice - end up being just as prejudiced themselves; or take up wrong ways to try and emancipate themselves. Women and men are not equal: there are things that women are better in/at and can do better than men; and vise-versa. But in Western countries and in many developing countries, many women, by trying to be like men - have found themselves even more used, traded and commercialized than they were before.

Why do people become racists; or prejudiced against a certain people? They do so, mainly to survive; to have more. The Germans and the Japanese did so during WW II, because their leaders, then, believed they were actually superior and that they needed 'space' and had to expand; the South Africans did the same with apartheid, to enable them to loot, plunder and exclusively use the enormous wealth they found there; in the Americas and the Middle East, years back, Africans were enslaved and used to allow their 'masters' to gain and live in comfort. Today: people are enslaved, like in some African countries where Africans enslave their fellow Africans; or - people are trafficked and traded, to earn and make a living for their 'masters'. And maybe, for similar reasons, men have through the ages - subjugated women.

Interestingly, it's those who have 'superior' feelings and complexities - who have caused the most harm to others and the most destruction to Mankind and to life on Earth: racists and fascists, because of their warped up minds, have caused immense and horrifying misery to millions of their fellow humans; many prejudiced men, have through time, made millions of women to live in suffering and pain. Interestingly too: in many cases, those who racism or prejudice is directed against - on the defensive and to survive and live - become even much smarter and more cleverer than those claiming to be superior.

Though, we, Mankind, claim and many of us believe - that: we are 'Intelligent', most of us are indeed not. We can only claim to be so: 'Intelligent', only if we stop being racists or foolishly prejudiced against our own fellow beings; only if we judge each other and others by/for what they truly are, instead of using preconceived ideas. 'Intelligent' and enlightened, are those who treat each other and others with: kindness, sympathy and respect. Irrespective of what race or color or ethnicity or religion or gender, they are.