Racism - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
The first recorded "English man" from ten thousand years ago had blue eyes, black skin and dark hair, skin didn't become more pale until later. So perhaps as we think of racism we can let those facts sink in. Black is actually the original skin colour of this island. We are all related, and for the most part, a lot more closely than modern culture teaches.
In a world of no laughter, there would be no word for laughter. Once there would have been no word for feminism, yet it was born after the realisation of society that prejudice against women was endemic. In a world that has no word for the anti-racist, other than words such as humanist that have many other applications, there is a serious problem - for language and culture are two sides of the same coin. Until we have a word for the anti-racist that feels positive and aspirational, that conveys the sense of "one-race" and togetherness, we haven't really begun to make real progress. We really are at the early stage of acknowledgement and the pathways to true redemption and enlightenment are still ahead of us.
Let us make it our purpose to listen deeply to those who suffer racism so that we may better comprehend what it is, how they feel and how we can build the society they need. It is wrong to become defensive, and right to open our hearts all the wider, to love and acknowledge that all are fully sacred. We are called to love, and the more we love each other the better our world will become.
The riders of the apocalypse don't ride alone, but come with wraiths. Seven of them are well known and have been called "the deadly sins," yet an eighth has been here all along too, and we call that wraith "racism." For, as with the others, they are often not deadly to the individual yet deadly to the world, and so belong to the horsemen.
Watching the third movie in the series, a subconscious fear of non-whites and of non-middle classed people becomes apparent. Upon the knight bus the only black presence is a shrunken black man's head dangling from a string, as if the subconscious felt the need to remove the body, to render it a helpless figure. Even disempowered in this way the black head is relentlessly upbeat as the slaves and "Uncle Tom's" were portrayed. Added to this the "shrunken heads" in the pub, the first non-white presence in the pub bring to mind voodoo stereotypes and such racism. Working class characters are also made degenerate in some way, socially darwinistic views playing out. Stan Shunpike looks as if he has some terrible skin disease, Ernie is of feeble form, and the welcomer at the inn is a hunch back. Filch, the 'working class' representation in Hogwarts is mean, physically unappealing, stupid and his name in British English translates as meaning "sneaky thief." Apparently, normal and safe is middle class white people. I can't bring to mind any significant character that is a non-white or non-middle classed person in a position of respect and power - unless we count Hagrid, who is made less threatening by "virtue" of reduced intelligence and competence. The upper class is feared too, for they are Slytherin, apparently born to become evil, children that are death-eaters in the making. When we look at word associations, "Sirius Black" sounds similar to "serious black," and the word associations with his character all go downhill from there. And in all of this our conundrum is that the author is stoically anti-racist and a public bastion of fairness in society. And so let this be a lesson to all writers, to examine the visual and word associations of their work, puns included, for all of us, even our very best, live in the same poisoned societies.
Racism and prejudices are the exhaust fumes of damaged egos.
Racism is a necessary step toward genocide; when members of one group perceive threat from the other (real or imagined) the war of words and imagery begins to both tie the "other" to the parts of the brain that deal with disgust and emotional indifference and to "rally the troops." It is an old technology to wire the brain for good or ill that we should speak of. The "other" can be any group that can be defined by the racist (and the same is true of religious intolerance and other warfare). The time to take high note of the words and pictures tied to sectors of humanity and how they alter our brain wiring, brain chemistry and behaviours is now.
The need to belong to a group is biological, thus when nationalism fails people flounder for a new identity, and the colour of skin is an obvious feature, as are clothing styles and religion. So xenophobia rises; recall that groups are not defined by who is in them, but by who is not. So in these troubled times we can fall down into the sewage mire of primitive fears or be intelligent about it and offer a new group to belong to. We are all humans of Earth. We belong to a group called humanity. You are born into it and membership is lifelong. We can be one tribe or fracture into vile factions that believe their own lies and bring war.
The first racism I have found, with the word "race" being used, was "white on white." In the Victorian era the working class (about seventy five percent of the British population) and the Irish immigrants were spoken of as other "races." It was considered by many appropriate to employ them on low wage, rent a pig-pen or or other dirty and poorly built home for them to live in and sell them whatever poor quality and amount of food they could afford. The first day they didn't work was the first day they didn't eat. In Manchester at the time fifty seven percent of children died before they were five. Entire families lived in a single room and, for the Irish, twenty to a tiny two room house with people in a dank cellar was the norm. Disease and hunger was rampant. Their deaths were predictable and seen as removing surplus population of "lower races" - they were all white. Victorian society was "all against all" - all out competition, survival of the fittest... and perhaps against this background it is obvious that Darwin thought humans and nature were this way... missing that we are a social species, that cooperation, gentleness and emotional sensitivity is an intelligence and not the opposite.
In terms of generations this was recent history. Trauma travels down the generations. So the wealthy white people in America abusing and murdering black slaves, was a cruel and ignorant extension of a cruel and ignorant society. It should be said that there are always good people in the richer areas with privilege who do their best to rescue and create fairness, such as those who helped create the health service and welfare systems... and there are those who fight their way up only to abuse those that were once their kin... making them culpable for their own disadvantage. It is time for the "good" from all nations to rise and show love and empathy is our way, that we refuse to keep on with this Victorian invention that is racism and see the inborn rights of every soul.
Black beauty is not a horse; it is a skin colour that feels homely. It is the hue of the rich earth and the pillars of the breathing forest I love so much. For those who are blind to it I am heartbroken, because they miss the truth of being human - we are one.
The history of racism, especially in the United States, is enough to fracture any heart regardless of the colour of skin. The feeling of unity and love with other humans cannot be altered by their melanin, or lack of melanin. Instead it is hate, fear, greed, jealousy and envy that are the fuel of racism, with sloth and vanity the anchoring knives, holding us at the abyss. Yet love is our cure. For when we learn to cry for others from our souls and feel the devastation that such emotional indifference to the suffering of others brings, we all win. When we see one another as blessings, we become a blessing too. If every "I" battles for an inclusive and protective sense of "we," then we're home. Love has to win and it's on us all to make that so.
Racism is "false categorisation of a set of people based on erroneous perceptions and negative stereotyping instead of loving them enough to see their pains and needs and seeking to help in an intelligent way." We see this play out in our fiction, even fiction that is against racism and socially progressive - what has happened to the children of "Slytherin"? Are they not subject to "false categorisation of a set of people based on erroneous perceptions and negative stereotyping instead of loving them enough to see their pains and needs"? Are they condemned at age eleven to be fodder for Voldemort and future agents of torture and barbarism, to be segregated and untrusted by others in the house of the snake (literature "speak" for "house of the devil") - while all kids crave to be accepted into the house of the lion (God). Racism ends when we see everyone is on their own journey to be one of the lion-hearted, strong in some areas, working on others, and that when we see the needs of the other instead of feeling fear, selfishness a "right" to judge, well, that's when we all win, when the gates of utopia swing open.
Racism hijacks the fear centre of the brain - it hardwires the image of the one you are taught to fear straight into the same part of the brain that ancient man needed to run from, or fight, a predator. Yet we are no longer cavemen and the use of hate over love is something ugly and cruel. It is counter to our creator's wishes; it is against our duty to love and show compassion. So resist the call of fear and hate. Use your higher mind and the emotions that bring a sense of love; for with evocation of such love comes bravery, nobility and the right kind of pride. It is then we can feel as one national family in all our ethnicities and faiths.
"We didn't fight Nazi ideology just to let it in the back door. Fail to fight racism and Churchill will be spinning in his grave. Patriotic is looking after everyone right, loving everyone, pulling together in our communities as Brits do. I'm tired of this BS; it's not just mentally lazy clap-trap, messed up excuses to hate and take cheap superiority and entitlement rides, it's the first tip toe into evil and we've all seen where that leads."
I will never have to teach Darwin about racism. These concepts are meaningless now, but it's not because we're more enlightened. To cut off a trading prospect because they don't share your ethnicity is just dumb. To give someone unearned trust because they have the same hue in their skin is frequently lethal. It takes time to see a person's true nature. Sure you can get a good sense of it on a first encounter, but some people are just class acts. Unless they do something for you at a cost to themselves they are not your ally. We have replaced the notion of friendship with these relationships of convenience. It's probably what most of my friends were anyway, but I miss the close few, the three who mattered, the ones who would have battled by my side had they lived.
Found in Darwin's Ghost - first draft, authored by .
Little May sat on her Grandmother's knee listening to an old Bajan tale. Sometimes the old lady would get a twinkle in her eye and she would alter the story to make the child giggle and ask for more. From the kitchen came the steady clanking of pots as her parents washed up from dinner and from the wireless came quiet jazz music. Each person was busy and content until there was a thump on the door so loud that it reverberated around the little house commanding their immediate attention. At first no-one moved. It wasn't a friendly noise. Then May's father put on his suit jacket and straightened his white shirt. Before he reached the door there came the thumping again and this time May ran to he Daddy's arms. He scooped her up and took her to her mother before opening the door. In the blackness outside was not a man or two or three or four, but more than a dozen. They were clad in white with white hoods covering their faces. In seconds a burning cross lit the night and they jeered "Go!"
Nadya stopped trimming the brambles. There was a movement in the grass behind her. When she turned there were no less than twenty people assembled. To get that close without her knowing sooner they must have marched without talking to one another. To a man and a woman their faces were grim. These fine warriors of middle England knew that this was Romany land, and if she tended it she was a gypsy. A man in a stiff suit and shoes not suitable for long grass stepped forward into her personal space, he meant to intimidate. "You're not welcome here, this is a quiet village, we don't want your sort." Nadya made no response. Back in her home town she lived in a nice brick house with her husband and three kids. She was likely more wealthy than any of them due to the businesses she had built with hard work and determination. She had friends from many races. But right now she was scared and angry. Then a woman stepped forwards and in simpering tones offered her ten pounds to clean her bathrooms.
As Leah made her way through the crowded market more eyes turned her way than ever did back in the city. She was attractive but no super model, her only distinguishing feature in rural Sussex was the colour of her skin. She was black. She was proud of being black. She was strong and intelligent, she loved her family and was good to her friends but these eyeballs around her couldn't see all that, they just saw her deep brown hues. In awkward fleeting moments someone staring would inadvertently catch her eye then hurriedly look away. Their faces were etched with distaste, like it was her fault they felt offended and fearful. She kept the smile on her face and began to wait at the fruit stall. There was no queue, the vendor just kept tabs on who got there first. After a while she noticed that people there after her were being served first. She had been raised well and gave the benefit of the doubt, but then it occurred to her how conspicuous she was, he just couldn't have missed her.
In the post-dawn glow the girls returned from the well carrying not water but an infant. A bitter divide in the village flashed like summer fire. It did not fall neatly along generational lines, but more young folk argued to adopt her than the elders. She was marked an enemy by her brown skin and poker straight hair. Every nighttime story told to them since infancy decried these people as savage, dull-witted and violent. Now she cuddled into her saviours unaware of the protection they gave or what they risked to give it. A mob gathered around demanding the child pay for the crimes of her nation, she would be a poison to their purity, a spy and a traitor. They believed her a plant to soften their attitudes to their enemy and pave the way for the invasion of their culture. Some of the teens moves aside at the demands of the crowd, but most formed a tight circle with the child corralled in the centre, as unaware as only a baby can be.
A child bursts bubbles in the air-
Too young to vocalize his thoughts,
Too young to care.
A mere infant, unprejudiced, unaware…
Unaware that because he was born black,
He’ll always be labeled a criminal.
Unaware that his color classifies him “stereotypical”
Society still focuses on his pigment, rather than the individual.
A child bursts bubbles in the air-
Believes she’s a princess, a crown in her hair.
Completely oblivious to what the media blares…
It blares that if she’s overweight, she’s not good enough.
It blares she must starve herself to correct her “bluff.”
It will make this princess believes she’s ugly,
But the media won’t acknowledge that it’s corrupt.
A child bursts bubbles in the air-
Practically a baby, can’t comprehend what is fair.
This baby cries because his brother’s blood has been shed everywhere…
Everywhere his brother went, he was bullied for play.
His brother was ostracized because he was labeled “gay.”
His brother decided his life wasn’t worth it,
His brother committed suicide today.
Society will discriminate for anything you are.
No matter how well you’re doing
You’ll never be “up to par.”
Nearly forty year ago, a man “had a dream.”
To eliminate racism, change his current scene…
When then, in hatred are we still bound?
When will we tear the walls of discrimination down?
A child bursts bubbles in the air-
Many years from now, with no more walls to tear.
The weight of injustice they will no longer have to bear.
Their world is a blank slate, to be filled by pure imagination…
Because we, as Americans, chose to end segregation.
Because we, as Americans, united as one nation.
The genocide had been coming like a slow motion train wreck. For years the fear and propaganda had been increased, just a little at a time. Nadine had made the connection between the current climate and the pre-world war II vilification of the Jews some time ago. It was easy to think of those Germans as evil, but such black-white thinking was dangerous. Those Germans were decent hard working family people made to hurt and fear, then supplied with a scapegoat and a final solution. It was people thinking themselves superior that allowed it to happen again. We were no better, no wiser, no smarter, just as simple to manipulate. First the "muslim terror" had been abroad and more heinous than hollywood movies. Then it came to our own shores in waves of attacks. Once the electorate started to think with their primitive survival brains all sympathy for the "enemy" was gone. They were inhuman after all, we'd all seen that on the televisions. With the coming "solution" came the resources grab...
The function of racism is to dehumanize, to cast the victim in a light whereby they deserve the maltreatment. It is always a harbinger of cruelty and callous behaviour. It is the permission slip the darker side of people's minds needs to take over their behaviours, suppressing any emerging empathy. We saw it in the slave trades, in Nazi philosophy and continuing in the treatment of Aboriginals, Romany peoples and refugees. The solutions can appear complicated, but in essence they are always the same; love without boarders, love without prejudice, be the people of our better natures. Work with open hearts and Love will find a way.
Through a swirl of sickening fears comes my mother's voice, casual and light. As usual, I can't hide my problems for more than a few seconds; but what can she do? Fight the police? Alter the minds of the masses? Help them see me just as I am - a teenager, a boy, stressed about homework, deadlines and making money at my part-time job. How can I tell her that my biggest fear isn't drugs or gang indoctrination, but those who swore to protect and serve? She's worked all her life to give us a good home, food and more. We've never been left wanting for hugs, smiles, laughter and acceptance in these four walls. But out there...out there I'm marked by my black skin and afro-hair. My white friends are envied for their physiques and I'm feared. Somehow my muscles threaten and theirs protect. What did I ever do? How can you prove a negative - that you're not bad? So I turn and flash a boyish smile, "Nothin' Mam, just thinking about math."
Arc finished her glass of wine before answering. It wasn't that she needed time to think, but there were times she began to feel like a scratched record being asked for the same song over and over. "When cultural guilt becomes submerged, it resurfaces as racism. The stronger the guilt, the stronger the abuse and prejudice that follow. Should there be a greed or power motivation to maintain the racism, then it becomes culturally reinforced and defended. Rare, induced or orchestrated occurrences of violence in the victimized population generate fear and the problem becomes entrenched for generations. But we can do better than that; we can choose to be fair and kind, to know that we are one species belonging to the Human Era. Don't look so glum, Cleopatra, welcome to the year 12, 017 - though in truth we've been evolving for far longer than that. After all, what is racism when seen in the light of evolutionary history? It's a crass excuse to be shitty to another person. Any idiot can be nasty, it's empathy that takes real brains."
My actions have brought you only good things, gifts of a human soul cracked open... and still you show cruelty, a cold indifference, born of some need for retribution based on the hue of my skin. Were I born with the skin of my father, I would be a sister; that I have the appearance of my mother I am to be "other," a "them." Perhaps you need help to comprehend that the gene for skin colour has no baring on any other, on my worth, or culpability for crimes of another generation. I help out of love for all humanity, to give a higher platform to all to leap from. Trauma populations come in all ethnicities, languages and faiths - it is right and proper to focus on their needs and give help. Yet the biggest problem we face is these false dichotomies, because they drain the mind as it considers so many divisions and the social importance of each, the fear closing off higher abilities. Willpower is a finite resource and these power struggles drain us, make us think in the primitive ways, lock us in to various "them" and "us" groupings. So I can tell you this - when you free your mind of such things, when you leave the arena of these dichotomies, you will be free to develop your intellect, creativity and empathy. We are human, with the same emotions and pains. The only way out is to love one another and look past these superficial markers. None can tell the content of the character by the skin colour, that is a story we tell with our deeds and... I'm here to help.