Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Help! I might be accidentally racist!
I love to blog, but my goodness, it’s the middle of Uni assignment time, so I pray you will forgive me, dear reader, that I am going to recount some interesting thoughts from a subject that I am just preparing for exams in. The subject was Global Migration Stories, and it was really a fascinating study of the movement of peoples across the globe since 1800, the reasons why people moved (some force, some by choice), and the impact that movement had on both the sending country and the receiving country.
During this subject we have had impressed upon us, with a high degree of enthusiasm, that there is no such thing as race; that the idea of race is merely a social construction, and that race has been the foundation for the insidious human practise of racism. What I found particularly interesting was the conundrum that developed as a result of these tutorial discussions: On the one hand it would appear that the idea of race has been a flow-on effect from Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection. An idea called ‘Social Darwinism’ evolved (no pun intended) that suggested the different peoples of the world as delineated by colour and physical features were different species. It further suggested that the effect of survival of the fittest would prevail and that the superior race would be the one left inhabiting the earth and being in control of civilisation. Unfortunately for me, the particular people group that embraced these ideas and consequently proceeded to colonise every land mass they found, were the British. There was a terribly arrogant supposition of superiority held by the British, and at this end of the historical discussion, I’m sitting there as the descendent of British settlers (or invaders depends on where you sit), and have had to bear the semester under the strident tones of those who decry the acts of racism that seem to be typically British.
Now while I squirmed as the representative of the despised colonial settlers, I was also aware that the Spanish, Portuguese and French also had a fair crack at ruling the world, and that brutal attacks on native peoples was not restricted to just the British. Be that as it may, let’s return to the foundation upon which all conquerors felt they had a right to invade, dislodge and even kill native people. The idea was that eventually these people, seen as less developed socially and intellectually, would simply die out and the fitter species would inherit the space and bring their brand of civilisation to bear. The worst part about this story was that the Christian Church didn’t seem to argue with this idea to any great extent. Here’s where the wheels fell off. Christians believe that God created all mankind equal – there is no race. There might be colour, culture and creed, but there is no race. This is proven biologically of course, and it should have always been obvious. But the idea of Evolution, and the following idea of survival of the fittest, had so infiltrated the modern world that the leaders of so-called Christian Nations allowed all sorts of atrocities to go on, not in the name of the word of God, but justified by a social theory.
There were gritty men of God who did stand up against some of the worst atrocities executed by White colonisers and slave traders. Men like William Wilberforce, who joined forces with others to take that ideal to task in parliament, and after a fight that lasted many years, managed to see slavery abolished.
But it occurred to me that things might have been very different if the church had stood up to the modern ideas that were being floated at the time Charles Darwin and company were gaining notoriety. Charles Darwin was making careful notes and charts of natural wonders such that all mankind could see how diverse and miraculous God’s creation was, but he suggested that God had nothing to do with it, and the whole world seemed to miss the miraculous nature of creation and grab hold of an idea that has undermined the foundations of faith. If faith in God, His word and love for people had been prominent in the Christian church at that time; if humility, kindness and grace had been being preached, I wonder if we would have seen some of the terrible atrocities that are now part of history with regard to the way white colonial governments treated native inhabitants.
But unfortunately, it is only now a matter for speculation and regret. I suppose from here on in, we should submit our hearts to God and allow the humility and grace that is ours through Christ and the Holy Spirit, to be our motivating force when relating to people of different cultures and ethnic groups. There is no room for racism, but a word of warning to the zealots – I detected a distinctly anti-white-British and American tone seeping through in a number of discussions this term. While they may have been largely at fault in the last couple hundred years, they are also human, or should I say, we are also human. Perhaps not yet, but there is the potential for the door to swing both ways.
I hope I pass the exam.
Author of drama romance novels including: Cora Villa; Mellington Hall; For All Time
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These thoughts were bought to you by Meredith Resce at 4:02 PM