Racism and Respect

One of the most controversial social issue in the present time is racism. Many claims to have experienced this but many seems avoid being reprimanded or punished because of this. Perhaps the main reason for this is that there exist an ambiguity of the concept itself. There seems to be a gray area and difficulty on distinguishing racism. This is the main objective of this article.

Generally, there are four questions that needs to be answered before considering a certain provocation either through words or actions racistic. Here are the following questions:
  1. Was there pre-judged opinion on a person's culture or race before full knowledge or evaluation?
  2. Was there under-appreciation as a result of prejudgment?
  3. Was there an intent to create unnecessary difficulty on a person either implied or expressed as a consequence of pre-judgment?
  4. Was there deprivation of social participation or human rights as a product of intent to create difficulty?

Should answers to these four questions are affirmative, then an action or provocation is considered racist. Should even one element is lacking then, the provocation could be less than racism. A table is shown below to make the differentiation.

In the table above, five concepts are differentiated. These are racism, antipathy, apathy, dissimilarity and respect. These concepts can be better explained in a continuum with respect as the absence of affirmative answers to the aforementioned four questions, while racism is its opposite. Furthermore, the table also shows that discrimination and prejudice are compared. Discrimination includes racism and antipathy, while prejudice encompasses apathy and dissimilarity.

Firstly, it would be appropriate to define discrimination. It is the act or thought of deliberately hindering a person from doing his or her social functions and practicing his or her human rights, in this case due to culture or race. Discrimination can exist as racism or antipathy. Racism is an explicit provocation to attain the objectives of discrimination, while antipathy refers to a deep-seated hate on something that yields the thought or intent to discriminate someone.

To make it easily understood, discrimination become racistic when it acted upon with obvious prejudice against another person, while antipathy results only when discrimination is merely thought, intent or expressed impliedly either through words or actions. Therefore, one can say all racist individuals discriminate, but not all individuals who discriminate are racists.

A racist would say, "He should not be allowed to do that because of his culture." On the other hand, a person with antipathy merely say, "He can not do it because of his race but he can try and do first this... this.. this.. and this." The second statement seems safe and non-discriminating but it is. Although it is not racistic, the nature of the statement would still make it impossible for one to do his social tasks, aside from the prejudgment that one can not fulfill the task due to his culture or race.

Secondly, prejudice is defined as a prejudgment of a person whether over or under what it is in reality, even full knowledge or evaluation has not been done. Prejudice is the building block of discrimination. All racists therefore have prejudice against someone with different race. In addition, once a person discriminates, he also manifests prejudice, but this is not true in the opposite.

Prejudice can be of two types: apathy and dissimilarity. Apathy is the lack of interest or reaction to something, while dissimilarity is the acknowledgment that someone is better or less even full assessment has been done. There is dissimilarity when one says, "He is better than me due to his culture" "He is less than me because of his culture." Although the second statement is considered dissimilarity, it is also categorized as apathy. Therefore, apathy is not just the lack of interest but it also refers to the action that results to it, such as under-appreciation. This is because when one does not care or show no interest to a person, regardless of how good a person does, the other will never appreciate its real value or worth.

Interestingly, dissimilarity shows no respect as well. Respect, on the other hand refers to regards to a person. It is giving regards on what is due to a person, not more or less. When one admires a person as being better, he does not necessarily respects the other. He shows rather dissimilarity if there is no proper basis for such. This is exemplified in colonial mentality when one race is perceived better than the other, even in reality, there are no empirical evidences to support this.

Now, there is a clear distinction for racism. Not all actions and provocations are racist, but perhaps most of them are merely prejudice specifically, apathy. Whatever it is, either racism, discrimination or prejudice, all of these forms of the absence of respect. Neither one must be continued. Everyone must have a conscious thought to avoid them to create a better harmonious society.


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