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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Root Of Racism

There is a new emphasis on discussing racism today. The conservative Christian churches are discussing it with one denomination officially apologizing for its racist past. In addition, some see Donald Trump's campaign as bringing out racists into the open--some of those racists are supporting him. And we also have the Black Lives Matter movement that is bringing the subject of racism to the forefront.

But the root of racism is the same as the root of nationalism and Capitalism: that root is seeking to become superior to others. This was stated in the movie Mississippi Burning when the one FBI agent was telling his superior about his father and why his father was a racist. He basically said that his father did racist acts to show that he was better than somebody. 

That belonging to a superior group is where some seek to find significance in life. And while the claim to superiority is most evident in nationalism and racism, it resides in our consumerism as well. For consumerism is not just about the consumption of things for the purpose of pleasure, it is about achieving significance in what and how we consume. We want to consume more or the best of what is on the market while displaying a certain style to prove ourselves. And if we cannot be the best, then we must find some group that is not as good as our group to show that we are not the worst. For last place is the only place in which there is no significance.


One of the results of finding our significance in the superiority of our racial identity is that we work/fight to keep our racial group as pure as we can to show our group's superiority. We should note that mixing the races is the ultimate threat that those who find their significance in their racial identity face. That mixing the races eliminates all competitors by making the participants more and more alike.

We should not look to our culture in finding a respite from this search for significance by proving ourselves over others because competition is everywhere in our culture. It is in our economic system as well as our sports and entertainment world. What is lacking are activities that teach people in how to find significance in other ways than showing one's superiority over others. What we need are more activities that teach people how to find significance in being personally connected to others or in helping others. This finding significance outside of being superior to others is what our culture needs to emphasize and teach more than it teaches us to compete and win. Yes, we can keep our sports and we have to allow for some competition in our economic system. But until we deemphasize winning and being the best as the way to feel good about ourselves, we will look for our significance in either becoming superior or at least in not being in last place. And for as long as looking to be superior to others is an important part of our national psyche, that drive to be better than others will promote racism in our nation.



 

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