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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Racism in an Authoritarian Government: It can get worse

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Race and politics

I always say that everything isn’t always about race, but race is in everything. It’s a fact. You won’t find one thing in this country that is not related to, impacted by, or created based on a racial platform or perspective. It is important to mention that race is a political ideology designed for the social hierarchy of economic exploitation. It’s important to note that race is not a biological or genetic category; rather, it is a social and cultural construct that has been historically used to justify social hierarchies and inequalities.

It begins with politics.

Politics are the activities involved in getting and using power in public life, and being able to influence decisions that affect a country or a society. That is how the use of racial identities both black and white were created and legalized in America. In our country’s early development, white was a racial classification of status that could be applied for by groups immigrating here, and inversely, Black was a classification legally forced on those groups considered unsuitable to be white and systemically treated accordingly.

That first systemic act of racism is known as the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

The concept of race has been widely criticized for its role in perpetuating discrimination, prejudice, and systemic inequality. Many scholars argue that it is more accurate and useful to think of human diversity as a spectrum shaped by a combination of genetic, environmental, and cultural factors.

This systemic behavior is quite ironic in view of the reasoning for the Declaration of Independence from the aristocracy of Great Britain on July 4, 1776.  America did so because it didn‘t have self-government; it wasn‘t free from the tyranny imposed upon it. Yet, when those early Americans stood up for themselves and established their own freedom; they didn‘t apply the same moral consistency in authentically living up to the concept of all men are created equal, equally to all men. Instead, they hypocritically employed a historically vile method of oppression, slavery. 

Slavery was built on the exploitation of human labor. Slaves were forced to work under harsh conditions without fair compensation, and the economic benefits derived from their labor were disproportionately enjoyed by slaveholders. Historically, slavery involves the complete denial of personal freedom. Enslaved individuals had no control over their lives, decisions, or destinies, leading to a profound loss of autonomy.

How does this happen in a land professing its political identity through the ideology of democracy, yet engaging in autocratic methods for its survival and thrival? And thrive America has, due to the exploitative nature of race ideology.  The bodies of the enslaved served as America’s largest financial asset, and they were forced to maintain America’s most exported commodity.

In 60 years, from 1801 to 1862, the amount of cotton picked daily by an enslaved person increased 400 percent.  All of this political and economic behavior occurred under an alleged government of democracy. A democracy is a system of government in which power is vested in the hands of the people, either directly or through elected representatives. In a democratic system, all the eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.  Key word, eligible. Race was the convenient ideology contrived to determine such eligibility. 

The current state of racism in our democracy: A Public Health Crisis

In our current theoretical state of democracy today, racism is declared officially by the CDC as a public health crisis. Imagine how racism would fare under an authoritarian regime. In our democracy today, racial disparities are at an all-time high in every social determinant of health i.e., health, public safety, education, employment, housing, and food access.  Proposal 182 is the official declaration of this public health crisis here in Indianapolis, In. Marion County, citing the associated disparities in all quality-of-life areas. Racial disparities always have the following three components in common, the third being the most relevant to the theme of this article:

1. They are always preventable.

2. They are always driven by racial bias

3. They are always a reflection of the system that is providing the service.

The ideologies of race and of aristocracy have a similar thread. An aristocracy refers to those designated as the highest class in societies. The term “aristocracy” can also be used more broadly to describe a social elite distinguished by wealth, education, or other characteristics, even in the absence of a formal aristocratic system of government. Race ideology is the belief that white people constitute a superior race and should therefore dominate society, typically to the exclusion or detriment of other racial and ethnic groups. Throughout history, race ideology has been used to justify practices such as slavery, colonialism, segregation, and various forms of discrimination. It has also been challenged and critiqued by scholars, activists, and movements advocating for racial equality and social justice. In contemporary discourse, there is an ongoing conversation about the impact of race ideology on issues like systemic racism, discrimination, and the pursuit of equity and inclusion. Studies show social intolerance correlates with authoritarian preferences. In theory, democracy is designed to safeguard the rights of minorities. Yet, the integrity of these protections relies on the strength of social norms of tolerance and political values that prevent illiberal behavior. Race ideology significantly hinders social norms of tolerance and increases norms of intolerance.

Here’s how it’s done:

Most would-be autocratic leaders today exploit existing tensions within complex societies in order to solidify their support.  In many places, fears of migrants and refugees have fueled resurgent nationalism, driving policies like U.K.‘s Brexit. In India, religiously based nationalism has maintained the power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Blaming external forces for a country’s problems, such as Hungarian leader Viktor Orban’s demonization of George Soros, a Hungarian-born philanthropist who supports democracy-building, is also common.  Here in America, we have a resounding surge in white nationalism in our political sphere. Political use of manipulative ideologies such as populism and nationalism is the legacy of the original divisions sown by colonial powers. Division is the whole point: Divided societies are more easily conquered by the authoritarian forces that care nothing for Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Latinos, Asians, or “other” identities. 

One day, we will have to move past the idea that over-funded military budgets, armed police forces, forced displacement of “the other” with impunity, and violence are the only means to peace and safety. We will arrive at basic respect and dignity of people. However, this dream will have no chance of actualization if people, and societies continue to believe in and perpetuate the irrational and proven unfounded notion of race used as political and systemic tool. If racism resulting from race currently exists at the level of a public health crisis in our democracy today, imagine how racism will thrive in an aristocracy tomorrow.  It not only can get worse, but it will.

The Solution?

The principal component of intervention necessary to empower us individually and collectively in proactive thought and behavior, is called Racial Deconstruction RD.  Racial Deconstruction involves examining and challenging the socially constructed nature of race and the ways in which racial categories have been historically defined, reinforced, and maintained. Racial Deconstruction involves questioning and deconstructing the assumptions and ideologies that underpin racial categories, exposing the ways in which they have been used to perpetuate discrimination and inequality. With this component we must use it to effectively address the social construct of race ideology. First, we must learn how to deconstruct race from our politics.  Tactics of racial priming and racial gerrymandering are just a few of the regularly employed political psychological strategies employed in the effort to manipulate the voter. Secondly, we must learn to deconstruct race from culture. Many of the current well-intentioned efforts at addressing inequity and inequality fail because they don‘t understand this difference. Lastly, we must learn how to deconstruct race from being American. Terms like majority, minority, white, Black, and bi-racial people serve no place in the stated constitutional value of equality.  A choice must be made between the two. We can‘t be American, and a color too.

Join the deconstruction movement, Racial Deconstruction. Click the link below:

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