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Before presenting this paper, I , like ragingmaxx, claim no responsibility for any
wrongdoings my particular ethnicity might have committed, and as such, will not tolerate any comments on whether or not I'm racist!
I also apologize for any kind of focus set on any particular ethnicity, it was not intentional. If you notice any, or find any kind of offensive concept please notify me, I'd like to be able to edit the paper to be more presentable. Because really, I'm trying to make a point! Furthermore, I'm trying to make one that will benefit society; not make people mad. Well here is my paper:
RACISM: The bastard son of conformity...
Racism has been the cause of some of the most heinous crimes to date. Of course, this is a subset of a broader hate, being "prejudice", which is easily one of the most sensitive issues our world can speak of. It has evolved through the ages to send Hitler into killing the jewish off in his tyranical genocide of germany, and sent otherwise "justifiable" murderers (the Ku klux Klan, in the beginning they killed off men who cheated on thier wives. I say justifiable, because those crimes are rarely remembered and in some cases not frowned upon.) into killing black residents of america. It is a powerful level of hate, and one so evil, discoursing it brings up very unsettling emotions.
Racism made it's biggest impression in the american mind not too long ago. When african americans were freed of thier owners, they were still given very little room to excell as humans. They had to live in a different world, and were seen as unfit to wander within the "american's" grounds. They had to eat in seperate restaraunts, drink at different fountains, and releive themselves on different comodes. They were ostrosized from american society.
Of course, there were many excuses given for this; one of which was of course the economy. Similar to accusations made of other racial ethnicities today, they were thought of as a menace to the job market. They would take the white men's working positions, and leave no room. African american businesses were driven out regardless of whether or not they actually imposed a threat to the local "white" business and In reality they didn't. It was an excuse to make the black man suffer, he was a scapegoat. No white man or women of the times would have done his or her shopping in a black owned business; there was too much at stake, and to be caught committing such a "crime" would ruin their reputation as a respectable member of thier society. In short, people were conforming.
This slowly but surely evolved into what we have today: Racial Equality. In my opinion, what we consider "Racial Equality" today is no less a crime than that of the KKK (This is hard to put into words, and it will take some time for me to explain, so bear with me.). The fact that we as a society imply that we should treat every man equally has set up modern day America to practice what I call "reverse racism". In as much as a man can't see with too much light or not enough, we have shifted from absolute hate to a over sensitivity.
This also effects development. Only recenlty, a doctor was called on his practices for simply implying that different treatments might be more effective on different ethnicities. He was accused of being racist, and he was stifled as soon as possible. His story hit the news, and it was met with all too much disdain. Why, pray tell, should we not use more effective medicinal strategies on different ethnicities? It is my opinion that there would be little benefit in using another treatment methodology for different racial groups, but what is really disturbing is that, had this doctor been right, we've already destroyed his ability to better society. We've ignored his implications based on his being “racist”. In all actuality he wasn't, but this proves one thing: We as an american culture are scared to death of being different and to allow some iconoclast MD to prove we are through medicinal technology is an atrocity of unspeakable proportions. Once again a stupid decision as a result of a need to conform.
I am a firm beleiver that we are different. Although the basics of what make up a human are shared, we are all built differently. This is a product of the way we evolved, and where we evolved. Darker skin allows for less damage to the body via intense heat, where as something as small as a different nose structure can change how comfortable a climate is. To elaborate the europeon nose is better for drawing in air and warming it on the way it, whereas the african nose cools air. Just the simple shape effects that, and that alone helps us live comfortably in our own climates.
Also worth noting: scientist's have discovered that the difference between humankind and the chimpanzee is 5.6 % on the genetic level. That means that for every one hundred genes, roughly six are different. 6 genes for every 100 makes up the difference between us and the chimpanzee! Based on those findings, scientists are trying to place the chimpanzee into the same genus as homo sapiens! If only six genes for every hundred determine the difference betwixt chimps and the modern day man, how many make the average Japanese man shorter and tanner than the white man? How many give the black man his brown skin and curly hair as opposed to the soft jet black hair of the chinese? I'd daresay enough that ridiculing that doctor's concept was folly. I'd claim enough that trying to blend every ethnicity into one greatly blurred mass of conformity is a mistake. Why pray tell is the concept of being different so frightening?
Why are we so afraid to be different? That is what all of this really boils down to: a fear of being different; a fear of not being able to conform. This can effect all too many people in their everyday life. Ever see a kid do poorly on schoolwork, and not because he can't do better, but because he doesn't want to stand out (Be a considered a nerd by his peers)? That is conformity in it's more destructive form, and in essence, the root of racism and prejudice. The need to conform has led us to not only ostrosize those different from us, but to conform to what seems the norm.
Conformity is a need to empathise, and in more cases blend in and not be noticed. To many, this need is not apparent, but go stand in front of a million people to read a paper you wrote - it'll hit you head on! Granted it's not recognized as conformity, but being noticed by a million people? The emotions you'll experience are a part of a need to be unnoticed; a need to conform.
Has anybody heard of the concept of cognitive dissonance? It states that, if a person were to do something contradictory to what he or she believes, they will either explain it away with excuses or change thier beliefs. A classic experiment made this very clear:
Test subjects were asked to complete a series of extremely boring tasks, and afterwards, were questioned on it. When asked whether or not the task was boring most claimed it was. Those who did were either offered one or twenty dollars (at random) to lie to the next subject, claiming the activity was fun and entertaining. Of those who complied, results show that after their conversation to the next test subject, those offered only a dollar felt the activity was fun. Yet those who got a twentyfold still remained steadfast on the tasks boringness. Why you ask? Cognitive dissonance. They either had an excuse, or they changed the way they thought:
Those getting a dollar most often beleived a dollar was not enough to lie for. So, they changed what they beleived to something that didn't conflict with their actions. On the other hand, wouldn't you say twenty bucks is enough to lie for? Now where do you think the concept of minorities being of lesser worth came from? Let's explore that:
Those owning plantations (and other work places in need of cheap labour) would buy the slaves, only to have to change thier views on things, because owning another man is innately wrong. Thus, they were lesser. Then there were those who just had to go along with it, because the slave owners were right, weren't they? “Of course they are, because I'm to scared to do anything about it, so I have to change the way I think so I can sleep at night.” Again, cognitive dissonance.
After so long, people began to realize that it was wrong, but they couldn't do anything about it. Law even enforced the inequality. How could they do anything about it? They couldn't, they had to just conform. It took violence, imprisonment, and rebellion amongst the masses to change all of that. People died to make the modern african american free! White and black alike were punished for even giving the impression that the black man deserved eqaul rights. If it wasn't hard to change the way racial inequality was, I don't know what is. For people to conform to the kind of power that the men and wmen in question stood up against is quite understandable from a psychological, and practical standpoint. To even imply that black people were as good as whites, could have gotten you killed. Thus is conformity, a need to fit in and be safe. Something that has destroyed lives all too much...
Conformity needs to be destroyed. Aren't we the culture that decided that to be an individual was a great thing? Aren't we the great American nation that expressed it's need to be different? Of course we are, but why on earth are we pushing this Racial Equality (A form of enforced conformity) thing, when it clearly does little more than make conformity the law. This more or less, puts us back to the days when we couldn't fight slavery and racism. I agree with anybody that says racism is not dead, look at what we call racial equality! Why are we forcing conformity when it clearly has caused so many dastardly deeds to be committed, and just within the last century!
We are different, why is everyone so afaid of the concept? It almost makes me cry. As a pastor of a local church once said, " I love different cultures! They are different and I love that. Different is not bad, think of grapes, when I go to the store to buy grapes, I don't just grab a bag of the green ones, there's purple ones too! And do they taste differently? Yes! They are flavoured differently, both equally great, but different! Why shouldn't we look at people that way too?" (By the way, this was a black pastor by the name of Hooker)
Why shouldn't I, or anyone else for that matter, love the fact that everyone is different? Why do we have to suppress it? Now, I'm not implying that because we are different, that our worth is different; no as a life you are just as worthy as any white, black, asian, or latino. You are a human and as such, a thinking breathing person capable of doing great things. Why should I then confine your abilities to a mold, or a "human stencil" that only allows you to be so different? No, you are different, you should be allowed to enjoy it. Am I wrong in believing that?
I understand that man does not want to stand out. Racial conformity prevents the need to do so, but just as much as a victim of abuse can often times steer clear of the gender of the abuser (most common in rape victims), they are preventing themselves from experiencing and or doing great things. Many great and wonderful things have been done outside of conformity, and that is one thing that cannot be said about those hiding amongst it. So why enforce it?
I leave you here. Is this what you want for America, an enforced and in many ways confining conformity? Or should we be allowed to live and love our differences (Not enforce the differences, but love them as we see fit)? It's up to you guys to make your decision, as you can see, I've made mine.
I should be ashamed of myself.
This post was edited by Aynjell on Feb 02, 2005.
I totally agree that conformity is a major social issue. It makes people feel uncomfortable being different, when as a society we should be celebrating what makes us individuals.
The question I have is this: what exactly is it that makes us individuals? Is it our genetic code? If so then twins must not be individuals (and I assure you that they are individuals, just like any two siblings). I think that there must be some other factor, probably many other factors, that make us different from all our brothers and sisters on Earth.
Maybe what makes us different is the way that we all interpret situations we encounter based on our past experiences. My brother and I have very similar DNA and have had very similar life stories (in a general sense). However, there are times when we disagree about certain topics and issues. Sometimes, albeit rarely, I can pinpoint the event in our lives that caused our views to diverge. This difference is something I treasure greatly, because my brother is quite the intelligent guy, and many of my views in life have been shaped and molded by the long arguments and discussions I am able to have with him. It is this diversity of experiences that allows the two of us to teach each other about life, and have thought-provoking arguments about the topics on which we dont agree.
Another thing that may add to our individuality is simply the early development of our brains. Many pyschologists believe that major aspects of our personality have already finished developing by the age of three. This could explain a lot of the early differences between me and my brother, as he was quite the trouble maker and I was the quiet introspective one.
I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I agree with you somewhat, Aynjell. I agree that conformity to poorly formed social ideals is a real problem in America, but I think that positive social ideals exist as well. For example, most people feel that is it wrong to cheat on your partner. Those of us that conform to this social ideal have a greater chance of forming healthy, lasting relationships in some cases. Conformity only seems bad to me when it seeks to replace human individuality with assimilation by stifling personal creativity, or when the social ideal is so badly formed that it propogates its own negative results.
One example of this kind of poorly formed social ideal is the idea of racsim and equality. Several factors probably contributed to this, including the fact that most southern slave owners and residents wouldn't have changed their minds about the morality of slave ownership just because they lost the civil war. There was no platform of racial tolerance back then, and it allowed groups like the KKK to form unchecked because civil rights hadn't even been invented yet to be able to combat these negative ideals. Consequently the idea of racial hatred became a social ideal in some areas where it has been passed down from generation to generation. This old hatred still exists in the hearts and minds of some people who have been forced to conform to racial tolerance. Furthermore, the emphasis on stereotypes that is constantly being feuled by popular media makes us subconciously think that it is ok to make assumptions about people based on broad observations of their specific social groups.
To blame conformity is probably not the logical conclusion, as it has benefited us greatly when the ideals attached to it are generally accepted as positive. While I don't agree with many aspects of Christian ideals, if it wasn't for conformity to these moral laws (the Commandements) I think our society would have formed in a more anarchistic fashion.
Also, blaming the idea of racial equality for modern racism seems like a huge jump of logic to me. Sure, differences exist between me (a white kid), and any black person that you can find. There might be far greater difference between two black people however, and those differences should be emphasized, or not emphasized, equally by society. Just because two men are black doesn't mean that they are similar in any other way. For this reason, we must celebrate the differences in our culture, but still treat every human as an absolute individual. In short, we should celebrate the dominance of people of African descent in modern sports, but we shouldn't then assume that all people of African descent are good at, or even interested in sports or fitness, or that they should be able to run fast and jump high. The ideal of racial equality should be to make sure that people don't make these connections between racial differences and individual differences, but the message has been botched somewhere along the way and now all we have is fear-feuled racism poorly hidden by a veil of sterile, "politically correct" language.
I wouldn't mind doing away with the damaged social ideal of racial equality, but only if it is replaced by the social ideal of individual equality. People are different, but they shouldn't be treated as such based on factors as arbitrary as race. I've spoken before about the fact that other, more logical divisions exist in human genetics, but these divisions have not been emphasized by centuries of social segregation, and thus people do not see them as logical divisions. This is a misconception that social differences between races have anything to do with their genetics. Unfortunately, it is a misconception that makes people, you among them Aynjell, believe that people should be viewed differently if they are part of a different race. The fact of the matter is that the genetic similarities between the human "races" far outweigh the differences, and it is the social differences where real division occurs. As you said, these differences (in this case social differences) should be embraced so that we can form a more diverse and beautiful society, but these differences should not, in my opinion, affect the way that we think of or act towards people in other social groups.
I like the Sun.
Excellent paper. Well thought out and well written. I agree that conformity is distructive, and I see more and more of a push to conform in ever facet of daily life.
Just walk into any fast food resturant, or any grocery store that is part of a chain, or any mall and it will scream at you from the time you walk in until the time you leave.
The push to conform is everywhere. The idea I've come away with is that if we are all the same and think and want all the same then we are easier to control.
It's even in how the goverment views us, and that is scary.