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Matthew Li


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Can racism truly be eliminated?

In Australia we live in one of the most multicultural nations, however every once in a while there are those people who publicly and abusively insult people from other races. I know there will always be those ignorant individuals or people who are scarred from people of other races (e.g wars, personal events or negative child rearing ), but can we truly eliminate racism in our world?

Possibly include jokes or stereotyping into this debate, are light jokes about other races or stereotyping racist?

Also take into consideration the media in movies or simply news. Are they doing a good enough job to tackle racism?


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  • Jul 23 2013: No wont get rid of racism, and it's not solely; intellect,upbringing, learning, those are only factors - not reason.

    Understand psychology and dynamics of groups, as well as the fundamental impulses such as the flight or fight response. What you, and in fact everyone does is look at people who are different, firstly with suspicion, the reason for that is, as pack animals which we are, our very survival depends on spotting (eyesight design) threatening interlopers.

    We constantly differentiate our-self's from one an other, irrespective that 99.9% of us is the same. All we ever do is focus on that 0.1%. That 0.1% is the color of ones skin, the physical attributes, the religion we choose, the language we speak, the food we eat, etc.

    The reasons we have jokes and stereotypes, is to remind us that we belong to a successful group, ie we are not the victims. In fact that's why 'Every' group has them.

    We have flags at the Olympics, not to celebrate humanities achievement, but ours, (our countries success). At European football games, you often see violence spill out as the two groups battle each other. Individually they may not have, but the dynamics and psychology change when one is in a group. Same for right wing extremist groups, it should be clear and apparent what they are doing and why, people have to understand the factual causes, not the rhetoric.

    In every country including yours, I'd surmise that the immigrant population is one that is condensed into a certain area, again the reasons are clear and can be directly equated to life on the African planes, in that you define a territory which you (over) populate, to make it easy to spot interlopers into that territory, and thus feel safer because of dominance, even if you are the minority in general, in that locale - you are not.

    So no we wont get rid of racism, nor the way we all do it - sometimes extremely subtlety, until we over come many fundamental traits of the species.

    That's a long time coming.
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      Jul 23 2013: I dig what you said about group dynamics in the second and fifth paragraphs of your comment. I have a question concerning the third paragraph: The 99.9% versus the .1%, is that referring to the genetic variation across our single species of homo sapiens, OR are you implying something more along the lines of say, we might speak different languages, but that fact that we even have spoken and written languages and an instinctual sense of a universal grammar suggests its really language is more a large similarity, OR where the figures 99.9% and .1% being used hyperbolically?

      What about self-deprecating stereotypes and jokes. Those are everywhere and serve a purpose directly counter to reminding us we belong in the superior group, because they serve to humble us and remind us that it is possible to make jokes and stereotypes about everyone, ergo they can't really have anything to do with racial groups. When I make a joke about my own racial group that doesn't apply to me, doesn't that lead me to realize that jokes and stereotypes about other racial groups may not be accurate either?

      I made similar comments regarding how we've evolved to have biases and that having them has been beneficial to our survival as individuals and species. But can I predicate my answer regarding the future existence of racism on the assumption that, being something we've evolved into, it's not something we won't evolve out of?

      Isn't it possible that like the tails we longer have, racism is something we evolve away from? I mean, isn't there at least chance that racism could assume the largely innocuous and vestigial quality of tailbones? Or for that matter, of appendixes, wisdom teeth, erector pili, body hair, and male nipples?
      • Jul 24 2013: What about self-deprecating stereotypes and jokes, they implicitly are amusing, as long as it's the same racial group, because we know that -really- that is not the case.

        As for the 99 vs 1% that's actual, it's dna, not hyperbole, we don't like to focus on what makes us similar, but what makes us different, and any difference will do. It's the same reality that does not allow certain people to accept that man and are dna wise are just as nearly similar, if i remember it's about a 4% difference.

        To 'evolve' out of it, wont be driven by societies politically correct stance, that does not change the feeling, it just suppresses it, which can be far more dangerous - see going Postal - schools, cinemas, workplaces.

        Further what races, colors exist today, I dont see evolving away, unless there is a specific race virus, that wipes out a whole group, these do exist, but I've never heard of them being rampant, like SARS.

        What will eradicate it, probably only a change of us, with respect to understanding ourselves, where we have come, from where we are going, and a level of spirituality that is as far from the norm.

        Viz I say, that any change will be a long time coming, because at the moment we're not prepared for that change.
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          Jul 24 2013: We know it's not the case with our group and that allows us to see that the jokes we make of others are likewise not the case. At least there is the potential for that recognition.

          Concerning, genetics: We do not focus on what makes a similar, because the genetic variation between what makes one 'race' is greater within that 'race' than the genetic variation between that 'race' and another 'race.' To biologists, 'race' is an increasingly meaningless. And genetic drift eliminates genetic variants which reduces genetic variation.

          You made a mention of colors, but it is important to remember that race is can be defined using a combination of anatomic, cultural, genetic, ethnic, geographical, linguistiic, religious, historical and social variables.

          'Race' as we speak of it in the modern world, is a social construct, a cultural category.

          A globalized society, growing increasingly interconnected and interdependent will further erode that already outdated use of the word and concept "race," hopefully to the point that racism is no longer the prejudice of choice. Not that it will be better if people are prejudiced in more particular ways, prejudiced against speakers of a certain language, or that hail from certain geographies, etc., but those people will find that 'traditional' racism is unaccessible and vague. They will look for a sharper distinction, (as you said, we focus on differences), something more demonstrable than a outmoded and hollow thing as 'race.'

          A major point of my argument here and in other comments I've made in this debate is that it is important to distinguish between racism in specific and prejudice in general and then to realize that 'race' on which the concept of 'racism' relies is very, very, very vague thing with myriad definitions, all of which are important to consider before beginning to address whether or not 'racism' can be eliminated.
      • Jul 25 2013: But Daniel, I think you're forgetting the reality of xenophobia, which is on the rise in many countries.

        And how an event like 9/11 further pushed it along. That's not only true for the Islamic population in the US and overseas, but for people's of alternate ethnicity.
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          Jul 25 2013: But Tify, I think you're confusing racism with xenophobia.

          "A xenophobic person has to genuinely think or believe at some level that the target is in fact a foreigner. This arguably separates xenophobia from ordinary prejudice. In various contexts, the terms "xenophobia" and "racism" seem to be used interchangeably, though they can have wholly different meanings (xenophobia can be based on various aspects, racism being based solely on ethnicity, and ancestry). Xenophobia can also be directed simply to anyone outside a culture. Basically, a completely biased opinion regarding foreign matters." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenophobia

          "In Part II, para 20, the VDPA urges all governments to take immediate measure and to develop strong policies to prevent and combat all forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia or related intolerance, where necessary by enactment of appropriate legislation, including penal measure. and also appeals to all States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to consider making the declaration under article 14 of the Convention." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vienna_Declaration_and_Programme_of_Action#Against_Racism.2C_Xenophobia_and_Intolerance

          And quoting directly from the U.N. Assembly's publication of that document, Part 1, article 15:

          "15. Respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms without distinction of any kind is a fundamental rule of international human rights law. The speedy and comprehensive elimination of all forms of racism and racial distinction, xenophobia and related intolerance is a priority task for the international community. Governments should take effective measures to prevent and combat them. Groups, institutions, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations and individuals are urged to intensify their efforts in cooperating and coordinating their activities against these evils."
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          Jul 25 2013: Note how both 'race and racial discrimination' are treated as similar to but different from 'xenophobia.' Xenophobia isn't a prejudice against people for their race, so much as it is against them for their foreignness and their strangeness.

          9/11 was a good example to use. After the attacks there was, unfortunately, a huge rise in anti-Muslim sentiments and Arab-speaking individuals, but the way that it was directed blindly towards anyone wearing a turban, or speaking with an Indian accent, or women wearing veils, this shows that it was xenophobia not racism. Americans felt a fear towards the foreign and the strange. And this fear of anything foreign and strange made them view whole subcontinents like India as possible terrorists if one such Indian from New Delhi were to get in line behind them at the airport. People that didn't have the prejudice before 9/11, but had one after, and then have slowly returned to not having one at all, signifies xenophobia and not racism, as well.
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      Jul 25 2013: Thanks to both you guys for your input to this discussion, this debate with you two was very in-depth. I like how you guys include DNA and genetics into this discussion its given me another perceptive into reason and factors of racism.
      • Jul 25 2013: It's a pleasure Matthew.

        I glad that you have gotten to take something away from the debate, it's why in my original post I tried to include as many legitimate factors, as well as where we have come from, our psychology, the very makeup and similarities and differences defined at the core level - dna.

        I think that if you can take anything away from all of this, and in general too, it's not to limit oneself when thinking about a subject, or try to over simplify it, based on initial gut reactions.

        Best with your studies.
      • W T 100+

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        Jul 25 2013: I have posted this on TED before, it is from a magazine article I read a while back.

        Discoveries in genetics have confirmed the fallacy of racism. Researchers studying people from different continents have found that the differences in DNA between any two randomly chosen individuals from virtually anywhere in the world amounted to about 0.5 percent. And 86 to 90 percent of those differences occurred within any one racial group. Therefore, just 14 percent or less of the 0.5 percent variation occurred between racial groups.

        Because “humans are genetically homogeneous,” says the journal Nature, “genetics can and should be an important tool in helping to both illuminate and defuse the race issue.”

        Such thinking is not new. Beginning in 1950 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization published a series of statements intended to combat racism. The statements were authored by anthropologists, geneticists, and sociologists. Yet, racism persists.

        But, then, the magazine article went on to state:

        "Clearly, an awareness of the facts is not enough. The heart, or the inner person, must also be reached. “Out of the heart come wicked reasonings,” said Jesus Christ.—Matthew 15:19, 20."

        Matthew, this is why, in my original comment I stated that "racism can be eliminated, but to do so humans must change. And, who can change a human?"

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