Language and Discrimination
To discriminate means to make a distinction. Many people assume that when there is discrimination, one group of people is given more favorable treatment than others. This is not always the case. It is possible to have cases where it is not at all clear which group is given the more favorable treatment.
Example: A country is under attack during wartime. The war is so ferocious that 80% of the combatants are killed. A law has been passed to forcefully conscript males between 18-24 years of age into the frontline, but females are forbidden to participate.
Question: Who is suffering unfair discrimination?
There are three possible answers:
1. Males are suffering unfair discrimination. They are forced to participate in the effort which will result in a high probability of death.
2. Females are suffering unfair discrimination. They are prevented from participation in the war effort to protect their homeland.
3. Both males and females are suffering unfair discrimination.
Discrimination is a form of racism which has historically been defined as the belief that race is the primary determinant of human capacities, that a certain race is inherently superior or inferior to others, and/or that individuals should be treated differently according to their racial designation. Sometimes racism means beliefs, practices, and institutions that discriminate against people based on their perceived or ascribed race. There is a growing, but somewhat controversial, opinion that racism is a system of oppression.
Since the last quarter of the 20th century, there have been few in developed nations who describe themselves as racist, so that identification of a group or person as racist is nearly always controversial. Racism is recognised by many as an affront to basic human dignity and a violation of human rights. A number of international treaties have sought to end racism. The United Nations uses a definition of racist discrimination laid out in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and adopted in 1965:
...any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
Assuming that every individual's character adequately can be determined by racial or ethnic stereotypes is race prejudice, and granting or withholding rights or privileges based on such stereotypes is racial discriminatory prejudice. The term racism sometimes is used to mean a strong and persistent bias or inclination towards these activities.
In the 20th century, there began a growth of thought that theories of racial "superiority" and "inferiority" were inherently problematic and wrong. Much of the discourse relating to racial theory of this sort came out of the United States in the years after the American Civil War, while European thinkers began to think of people in terms of linguistic "nations" more than they did "races". The term "racism", according to the Oxford English Dictionary, emerged in the early 1930s as distinct from the "theories of race" which had existed for at least a hundred years before that.
A turning point in racial thinking came with the rise of Adolf Hitler's Nazism, which built much of its political agenda upon the rhetoric of anti-Semitism and overt statements of racial superiority and inferiority. Full opposition to these ideas did not begin until the outbreak of World War II, and a large part of Allied propaganda efforts were in labeling Nazi Germany as a "racist" state, and distinguishing their own states from them. By the end of the war, the association of racism with the Nazis, and the genocidal policies they undertook, thoroughly established the meme that "racism" was something to be opposed. In the United States, the experience of the Civil Rights Movement further emphasized this point. At the present time, "racism" is now seen as something entirely to be opposed by almost all mainstream voices, though there is little agreement over what is "racism" and what is not. It is worth remembering, when looking at examples of "racism" from the past, that our 20th-century notions of "racism" as a concept, and it being a bad thing, are a relatively recent experience. Many eminent scientists, philosophers, and statesmen appear "racist" by late-20th century standards, though the recognition of the historical nature of these judgements does not necessarily make them inaccurate or necessarily exonerate these figures or governments for their ideas or actions.
In the western world, racism evolved, twinned with the doctrine of white supremacy, and helped fuel the European exploration, conquest, and colonization of much of the rest of the world -- especially after Christopher Columbus reached the Americas. As new peoples were encountered, fought, and ultimately subdued, theories about "race" began to develop, and these helped many to justify the differences in position and treatment of people whom they categorized as belonging to different races. Some people like even argued that the Native Americans were natural slaves. In Asia, the Chinese and Japanese Empires were both strong colonial powers, with the Chinese making colonies and vassal states of much of mainland Asia, and the Japanese doing the same in the west Pacific. In both cases, the Asian imperial powers believed they were ethnically and racially superior to their vassals, and entitled to be their masters.
Racism may be divided in three major subcategories: individual racism, structural racism, and ideological racism.
Examples of individual racism include an employer not hiring a person, failing to promote or giving harsher duties or imposing harsher working conditions, or firing, someone, in whole or in part due to his race.
Researchers at the University of Chicago and Harvard University found in a 2003 study that there was widespread discrimination in the workplace against job applicants whose names were merely perceived as "sounding black." These applicants were 50% less likely than candidates perceived as having "white-sounding names" to receive callbacks for interviews, no matter their level of previous experience. Results were stronger for higher quality resumes. The researchers view these results as strong evidence of unconscious biases rooted in the country's long history of discrimination. This is an example of structural racism, because it shows a widespread established belief system. Other examples are apartheid in South Africa and redlining in the United States.
Apartheid is the policy and the system of laws implemented and continued by "White" minority governments in South Africa from 1948 to 1990; and by extension any legally sanctioned system of racial segregation. Apartheid was implemented by the law. The following restrictions were not (only) social but were strictly enforced by law:
1. Non-whites were excluded from national government and were unable to vote except in elections for segregated bodies.
2. Non-whites were not allowed to run businesses or professional practices in any areas designated as being for whites only. Whites were not allowed to run businesses or professional practices in any areas designated as being for blacks only.Every significant metropolis, and practically every shopping and business district was in a white area.
3. Blacks, being in excess of 60% of the population, were excluded from the two Boer republics and two colonies, unless they had a pass. Whites required passes in black areas.
4. Blacks must use separate equipment and transportation facilities from whites.
5. A pass was only issued to someone who had approved work; spouses and children had to be left behind.
6. A pass was issued for one magisterial district confining the holder to that area only.
7. Being without a valid pass made a person subject to immediate arrest, summary trial and "deportation" to the "homeland". Police vans roamed the "white area" to round up the "illegal" blacks.
8. Black areas rarely had plumbing or electricity. Hospitals were segregated, the white hospitals being the match of any in the western world. Black hospitals were seriously understaffed and underfunded and far too few in number to match the white hospitals. Ambulances were segregated, forcing the race of the person to be correctly identified when the ambulance was called. A "white" ambulance would not take a black to a hospital. Black ambulances typically contained little or no medical equipment.
9. In the 1970s each black child's education cost the state only a tenth of each white child's. Higher education was practically impossible for most blacks.
10. Trains and buses were segregated. White trains also had no third class carriages, while black trains were overcrowded and had only third class carriages. Black buses stopped at black bus stops and white buses at white ones.
11. Beaches were racially segregated, with the majority (including all of the best ones) reserved for whites. Public swimming pools and libraries were racially segregated but there were practically no black pools or black libraries.
12. Sex between the races was prohibited.
13. Cinemas in white areas were not allowed to admit blacks. Restaurants and hotels were not allowed to admit blacks, except as staff.
14. Membership in trade unions was not allowed for blacks until the 1980s, and any "political" trade union was banned. Strikes were banned and severely repressed. The minimum yearly taxable income for blacks was 360 rand (30 rand a month), while the white threshold was much higher, at 750 rand (62.5 rand per month).
15. A white entering a shop would be served first, ahead of blacks already in the queue, regardless of age, dress, or any other factors.
16. Until the 1980s, blacks and other non tax payers were always expected to step off the pavement to make way for tax paying pedestrians.
17. A white boy would be referred to as "Klein Baas" (little boss) by a black; a grown black man would be addressed as "Boy" by whites.
South African apartheid was condemned internationally as unjust and racist. Internationally, South Africa became isolated. Numerous conferences were held and the United Nations passed resolutions condemning South Africa, including the World Conference Against Racism in 1978 and 1983. An immense divestment movement started, pressuring investors to refuse to invest in South African companies or companies that did business with South Africa. South African sports teams were barred from participation in international events, and South African culture and tourism were boycotted.
Redlining in the United States was the practice of denying or increasing the cost of services, such as banking or insurance, to residents of certain areas. In the United States, the practice is illegal when the criteria are based on race, religion, or ethnic origin. The US Government has imposed regulations that require all banks to provide a map to anyone who asks showing the locations of home loans they have made (so that individuals can help ensure that redlining is not taking place). The term "redlining" comes from the practice of actually marking red lines on a map, which banks would do in order to delineate areas they did not want to lend to.
Racism is usually directed against a minority population, but may also be directed against a majority population. Examples of the former include the enslavement of black Africans and repression of their descendants in the United States. The existence of the latter is often controversial, but agreed upon examples include racial apartheid in South Africa, wherein whites (a minority) discriminated against blacks (a majority); this form of racism also occurred during the former colonial rule of such countries as Vietnam (by France) and India (by the United Kingdom).
"Reverse racism" is a controversial concept; it refers to a form of discrimination against a dominant group. Some Americans believe that reverse racism exists in the United States, but that it is cultural racism, and not primarily systemic. For example, some African-Americans discriminate against white people -- this too can be called reverse racism. But some would argue that this is not racism (which they would see as primarily systemic) but actually personal prejudice because African-Americans lack the cultural, political and economic resources to systemically disenfranchise European Americans. In addition, some white people believe that political correctness has led to a denigration of the white race, through perceived special attention paid to minority races.
Racial discrimination is and has been official government policy in many countries. In the 1970s, Uganda expelled tens of thousands of ethnic Indians. Until 2003, Malaysia enforced discriminatory policies limiting access to university education for ethnic Chinese and Indian students who are citizens by birth of Malaysia. Russia launched anti-Semitic pogroms against Jews in 1905 and after. During the 1930s and 1940s, attempts were made to prevent Jews from immigrating to the Middle East. Following the creation of Israel, land-ownership in many Israeli towns was limited to Jews, and many Muslim countries expelled Jewish Arabs and continue to refuse entry to Jews.
In the United States, racial profiling of minorities by law enforcement officials is a controversial subject. Racial profiling is the use of race as one consideration in suspect profiling or other law enforcement practices. Some people consider this to be a form of racism. Some claim that profiling young Arab male fliers at airports will only lead to increased recruitment of older, non-Arab, and female terrorists (some terrorism experts disagree with this claim.). Many critics of racial profiling claim that it is an unconstitutional practice because it amounts to questioning individuals on the basis of what crimes they might commit or could possibly commit, instead of what crimes they have actually committed.
In 19th century Europe and America, some scientists developed various theories about biological differences among races, and these theories were in turn used to legitimize racist beliefs and practices. Much of this work has since been rejected by the scientific community as flawed and even as pseudoscience.
Today there are some scientists who claim that "race", in the general sense in which the term is used, is a social construct: the way in which individuals are classified into racial groups varies from person to person, and from place to place, and from time to time. These scientists say that superficial characteristics which are associated with racial groupings are poor predictors of genetic variability. There can be more genetic variation within a racial grouping than between two racial groupings. They also point to the lack of well-defined boundaries to racial classifications; for example characteristics such as skin colour and facial appearance can be shown to vary as a continuum from place to place. Other scientists counter that "sex" and "species" are likewise seen by some as socially constructed. After all, humans and chimpanzees (or males and females) are far more genetically alike than different. According to this view, categories need not be absolute in order to have scientific utility.
While Canada often depicts its society as being a very progressive, tolerant, diverse, and multicultural nation, Canada also has its own history of racism.
Starting in 1858, Chinese "coolies" were brought to Canada to work in the mines and on the Canadian Pacific Railroad. However, they were denied by law the rights of citizenship, including the right to vote, and in the 1880s, "head taxes" were implemented to curtail immigration from China. In 1907, a riot in Vancouver targeted Chinese and Japanese-owned businesses. In 1923, the federal government passed the Chinese Immigration Act, commonly known as the Exclusion Act, prohibiting further Chinese immigration except under "special circumstances". The Exclusion Act was repealed in 1947, the same year in which Chinese Canadians were finally given the right to vote. Restrictions still existed on immigration from Asia. In 1967, these restrictions were repealed and Asian immigrants were given the same rights as any other group.
However, in the recent history of Canada, as most societies that see globalisation as progress, the country chose to proclaim itself as a multicultural nation, and hopefully in the future "visible minorities" will have even more representation in the government, mainstream media, culture, and in the social classes than it has today.
In colonial America, before colonial slavery became completely based on racial lines, thousands of African slaves served whites. In some cases for African slaves, a term of service meant freedom and a land grant afterward, but these were rarely awarded, and few black Africans became landowners this way.
Slavery in the Confederate states of America officially ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued in1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. Despite this, remnants of racism continued in the United States.
Nazism, or more correctly National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus, often abbreviated NS) is a political ideology promoting Germanic racial aspirations and a strong and centrally governed state. The term is most often used in connection with the dictatorship of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945 (the "Third Reich"). This ideology was held by the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, commonly called NSDAP or the Nazi Party), which was led by its "Führer" Adolf Hitler. Adherents of Nazism held that the German nation and the purported "Aryan" race were superior to other races. There were several separated races (in order of privileges):
1. Reichdeutsche (native Germans)
2. Volksdeutsche (Germans abroad)
Nazism has been outlawed in modern Germany, although remnants and revivalists, known as "Neo-Nazis", continue to operate in Germany and abroad.
The White Australia Policy, the policy of excluding all non white people from the Australian continent, was the official policy of all governments and all mainstream political parties in Australia from the 1890s to the 1950s, and elements of the policy survived until the 1970s. Although the expression “White Australia Policy” was never in official use, it was common in political and public debate throughout the period. It was a form of hidden Discrimination. The origin of the policy can be traced back to the 1850s when large numbers of Chinese immigrated to Australia during the gold rushes. The Anglo-Australian population resented Chinese who were undercutting white labour prices, and also disliked some Chinese cultural practices, there were several race riots. In response, the newly self-governing colonies introducing restrictions on Chinese immigration. By 1888 Chinese were excluded from all the Australian colonies, although those Chinese who were already in Australia were not deported. Prime Minister Edmund Barton stated that "The doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to the equality of the Englishman and the Chinaman."
The White Australia policy retained almost unanimous public and political support until the late 1940s. After World War II opinion began to shift. The deportation of Indonesians and Filipinos who had arrived during the war as refugees aroused protests. Some of the refugees were allowed to stay, and Japanese women who had married Australian servicemen were also admitted. The revelation of the crimes of the Holocaust in Europe had the effect of making racism less acceptable.
The White Australia Policy was related to the concept of Terra nullius. It is a Latin expression meaning "empty land" or "no man's land". The term refers to a 17th century doctrine that described land that was unclaimed by a sovereign recognised by European authorities and land that was not owned at all. The United Kingdom relied on this principle to claim possession of the Australian continent. This was, of course, a legal fiction (legal fiction - suppositions of fact taken to be true by the courts of law, but which are not necessarily true), as the continent was inhabited by native peoples – the Australian Aborigines.
At present, anti-Muslim sentiment in
Racism in one form or another was widespread in Britain before the twentieth century, and during the 1900s particularly towards Jewish groups and immigrants from Eastern Europe. The English establishment even considered the Irish a separate and degenerate race until well into the 19th Century. Since World War I, public expressions of white supremacism have been limited to far-right political parties such as the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s and the British National Front in the 1970s, whilst most mainstream politicians have publicly condemned all forms of racism. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that racism remains widespread, and some politicians and public figures have been accused of excusing or pandering to racist attitudes in the media, particularly with regard to immigration. There have been growing concerns in recent years about institutional racism in public and private bodies.
There have been tensions over immigration since at least the early 1900s. These were originally engendered by hostility towards Jews and immigrants from Russia. Britain first began restricting immigration in 1905 and has also had very strong limits on immigration since the early 1960s. Legislation was particularly targeted at members of the British Commonwealth, who had previously been able to migrate to the UK under the British Nationality Act 1948. Virtually all legal immigration, except for those claiming refugee status, ended with the Immigration Act 1971; however, free movement for citizens of the European Union was later established by the Immigration Act 1988.
Some commentators believe that a huge amount of racism has been undocumented within the UK, adducing the many British cities whose populations have a clear racial divide. While these commentators believe that race relations have improved immensely over the last thirty years, they still believe that racial segregation remains an important but largely unaddressed problem.
Black Zimbabweans faced racism during white colonial rule (pre-1980). During the colonial era, inequalities existed. The greatest resource, land, was in the hands of the white minority. In order to economically empower the black majority, and restore the losses that indigenous Zimbabweans had suffered throughout history, land redistribution was the solution.
The caste system, although not currently officially sanctioned by their governments, is used by Hindus in India. It is based on four varnas, (meaning "colours"):
1. Brahmins (white-symbolizing Sattva), priests, teachers.
2. Kshatriyas (red-symbolizing Rajas), king, prince, warriors.
3. Vaishyas (yellow-symbolizing Rajas), merchants/craftsmen.
4. Shudras (blue or black-symbolizing Tamas), workers, farmers.
Sexism and Gender-Neutral Language
Gender-neutral language (gender-generic, gender-inclusive, non-sexist, or sex-neutral language) is language that attempts to refer neither to males nor females when discussing an abstract or hypothetical person whose sex cannot otherwise be determined. This most commonly means using gender-neutral pronouns instead of gender-specific pronouns. In Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages, male pronouns have traditionally been used when referring to both genders or to a person or people of an unknown gender.
One might state, "Tomorrow I will meet my new doctor; I hope he is friendly."; however, unless one is certain that the new doctor is a man, advocates of gender-neutral language generally argue that it would be better to state, "Tomorrow I will meet Dr. Smith, who I hope is friendly."
Critics argue that this creates an undue burden on the speaker by forcing him to change the structure of his sentence, with the result often being rather awkward. They would cite the above example as a case in point, as it seems rather contrived, since non-defining relative clauses are extremely rare in everyday speech. The person in this example would be talking like a book.
A business might advertise that it is looking for a new chair or chairperson, rather than a new chairman, which gender-neutral language advocates fell would imply that only a man would be acceptable for the position. Some advocates of gender-neutral language would see it as unobjectionable to refer to a man in such a position as a chairman, provided that a woman would be referred to by the equivalent term chairwoman. Others would claim, however, that the sex of the occupant of the chair is irrelevant and thus chairperson or chair are the only acceptable terms.
Likewise, if a woman of unknown sexual orientation states that she is dating someone; a system of gender-neutral language might deem it inappropriate to ask her, "Who is he?"; rather, one should ask, "Whom are you dating?" to allow for the possibility that she might be dating a woman, though this example deals more with assumptions about sexual orientation than the issues typically associated with gender-neutral language. Such language would be an attempt to avoid the perception of heterosexism.
Some terms, such as firefighter and singular they, are sometimes criticized by opponents of G.N. language-modification as neologisms. But supporters argue that they have a long history that predates the beginning of the women's liberation movement.
Some critics accuse advocates of gender-neutral language-modification of "re-gendering" language, replacing masculine in some cases by feminine terms that are equally sexist. Other critics argue that some phrases used in non-sexist language violate the rules of proper grammar and style.
Some critics claim that words like "he or she" are not real English words, for they only exist in print, not in speech. In print it is easy for an editor to employ rules of gender-neutral language, but speech is practically impossible to control. People simply don't use words like "he or she" in their everyday speech; instead they use "they" or "he". Only the most determined reformer would actually use "he or she" in a casual conversation, since it would sound stilted and affected to many people.
Please study the following websites and prepare to speak on the following topics.
(1) About the roots of racism:
(2) About sexism: http://www.answers.com/sexism in your country (give examples).
(3) About ethnicity and race (give examples):
(4) About genocide (give examples).