Race and Racism, a fear developed among humans

by ArianShamal on September 11, 2016 - 2:51pm

After the 9/11 incident and following terrorist acts such as the November 2015 Paris attacks, people started to point out Islam as a bad religion “promoting” violent behaviour. Sadly, even today, some people when they hear “Muslim” they directly link it to the term “terrorism”. Luckily, although being a Muslim Afghan living in an area with mostly white people, I was never victim of huge racism. However, in my elementary school, due to my skin tone and my Afghan features that reflected I was clearly not part of “white people”, I always had a fear of getting excluded by my classmates (who were mostly white). I didn’t want to be seen different or based on my physical features or to be left out because of my religious beliefs. I remember asking my parents, why they decided to write my name on my birth certificate “Arian” instead of “Arianne” (the way usually we write my name in Quebec)? Or why is our last name “Shamal” not a typical Quebecois last name? The reason behind this was because in my first year class I was the only “immigrant” and whenever the teachers took attendance, they often hesitated and mispronounced my name and I remember not feeling blended whenever this type of situation happened. In high school, I wanted to wear the “hijab” but my dad didn’t allow me as he was scared I would get bullied and he feared it could affect my education. This is an example of the TedTalk video we saw in class when Smith mentioned about parents behaving in a certain way for our own good (Smith, 2015).

At the beginning of this class, we learned what was the true concept of “race” but also who shaped it the way it is today. As discussed in class, race is defined as a social construct that we species created. Something that was not so shocking for me in Jared Diamond’s article, was the importance and huge value we give today in categorizing people based on skin colour, eye and hair shape and colour. I personally find this preposterous, however, I don’t blame anyone except of the media who scheme such notions in defining someone’s beauty merely through their external features. Diamond mentions in his article how skin, eye and hair colour have a significant function in “sexual selection” (Diamond, 1994, para. 32). He also states how the outside beauty influences our perception on what is appealing and what is not in sex partner selection and once we choose based on their “attractiveness” the inside beauty comes after (para. 32). Also, the small exercise we did in class helps to confirm Diamond’s statement where we were asked to describe our “ideal partner” and we all had different thoughts from each other on how our love mate should be. Even though the concept of the race is something scientifically invalid, people still classify physical features into categories. I think the concepts of “race and racism” should be taught from the very young age in school as childhood behaviours can set patterns for a lifespan.

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Diamond, J. (2016, Winter). Race Without Color. In A. Nouvet (Ed.), Anthropology 381-101-LA: The Myth of Race and the Reality of Racism. Saint-Lambert, QC: Champlain. 

Link: http://discovermagazine.com/1994/nov/racewithoutcolor444


Smith, C. (2015, March). How to raise a black son in America. TedTalk video. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/clint_smith_how_to_raise_a_black_son_in_america


I enjoyed reading your post! I think it is very important in our society today to understand and think about some of the topics in this text. Although, I clicked on the link you provided at the end of the post and realized that the year of sample of that article dated back to 1994. Usually it would be better to use information that is more recent due to changing thoughts, information and studies, but with the topic of race and racism, I was unsure. Maybe the thoughts and information in that article are similar to those of today, but there may also be new opinions and views on race and racism that have come about recently. What do you think? Please feel free to comment back with your point of view.
Thank you,

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