The Project File Details
“…I see racism in stores being sold as cream, on television as movies and in church as baptismal name and many other places we all know but refuse to acknowledge. The labours of our heroes past have already gone in vain because our mentality has been colonized…I hope that either the world accepts us or we accept ourselves…”
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
According to Western State centre (2012), during the reformation of the 16th and 17th century, one of the key questions among religious hierarchy was whether blacks and Indians had souls and were humans. This was at the time when Europeans were freshly exposed to Africans and people from North and South America. The question brought a division between the catholic and the protestant. However, the catholic was the first to come up with an answer. The catholic agreed that Blacks had souls and therefore it became an offence in most Catholic colonies to kill a slave without reason, (Western State Centre dismantling racism project 2012). Due to the importance and necessity of slavery, religious was used to justify slavery and racism as people of color were classified as pagans and soulless. The conversion of a large number of people of color to Christianity and the eventual decline in importance and power of religion and religious leaders, the need arises to employ a new way to promote racism so as to justify slavery. This eventually led to the employment of biological, zoological geographical and botanical theories to promote and justify slavery and by implication, racism.
Europe in the 19th century became developed in sciences and social sciences like never before. It was during this period that Darwin (1859) published ―The Origin of Species‖, where he analyzed and explained the evolution process of man (as cited in Western State center dismantling racism project 2012). Although, it is widely believed that Darwin theory itself wasn‘t racial but philosophers and social scientist used it to promote, enhance and justify racism. It was later called Social Darwinism. JC Prichard (1838) during his lecture on the ―Extinction of Human Race‖ was reported to have said the savage race couldn‘t be saved because it was the law of nature for only the fittest to survive (as cited in Western State Center dismantling racism project 2012). His point was made clearer by W. Winwood Reade (1864) and I quote;
“England and France will rule Africa; Africans will dig the ditches and water the desert. It will be hard work and the Africans will probably become extinct. We must learn to look at the result with composure…law of nature that the weak must be devoured by the strong
(Cited in Western State Centre dismantling racism project 2012).
This strongly, but sadly points to how Africans were seen. Africans were dying of diseases, poverty but mostly hardship and hard labor not to mention slavery imposed on them by the white men and all they could do was to justify it by the law of nature (survival of the fittest).
Fredrick Farrar (1866), as cited in Western State Centre dismantling racism project (2012) during his lecture on ―Aptitude of Race‖, divided race into 3:
1. Savage (All Africans and people of color)
2. Semi-Civilized (Chinese)
3. Civilized (Europe, Aryans, ETC)
When the survival of the fittest theory could not really totally justify racism, it was time to forge another theory. A famous English anatomist, Robert Knox (1850) went way further to prove that people of color were intellectually inferior. It was later discovered that his argument was based on an experiment he conducted on the autopsy of only but one man of color (as cited in Western State Center dismantling reason project 2012). This time, it was based on intelligence. This theory in conjunction with other theories brought about the Eugenics –an effect to breed better humans by encouraging the reproduction of people with good genes and discouraging those with bad genes from reproducing. They were said to fight to keep racial, ethnic and regional groups separated. This was the true story behind the Holocaust perpetrated by Adolf Hitler in Nazis Germany, not to mention the United States which was said to have about 20,000 students focused on the Eugenics in 1928 (western state centre 2012).
When the concept of intellectual inferiority could no longer hold water, a new theory had to be developed. The third world which at first was a harmless term for all the non-aligned (mostly African) countries during the cold war between first world (NATO) led by USA and second world (Warsaw Pact) led by USSR became associated with the (underdeveloped) developing countries of Africa. Third world lost it initial meaning and became synonymous with Africa pointing to the underdevelopment, wars, poverty and crime many believe is an unbeatable part of the black continent. Third world which was Africa, was synonymous with poverty, backwardness crime and war and most countries claimed to be sending huge amounts of money to Africa as aids and over exaggerating and over publicizing wars, crime and poverty in Africa which triggers hatred among the citizens of those countries who believe their government is not doing enough for them but sending it to Africa.
Over the years, mainly the 16th, 17th and 18th century, people used different terms such as Caucasoid, or white for Europeans, Mongoloid, or yellow for Asians and Negroid, or black for Africans for geographical segregation (western state centre 2012). Eventually, Negroid was employed and become more popular than the others. More recently, the term African is used to refer to any person of color. In other words, all persons of color are racially believed to be from Africa, this is the practice in china.
1.1.1 Race and Racism have existed throughout history. In the article; A History: The Construction of Race and Racism, David and Moira (2012) claimed that ―race is a false classification of people that is not based on any (real) accurate biological or scientific truth. According to Benjamin Isaac (2003), Racism is ―an attitude towards individuals and groups of peoples which posits a direct and linear connection between physical and mental qualities. It therefore attributes to those individuals and groups of peoples collective traits, physical, mental and moral, which are constant and unalterable by human will, because they are caused by hereditary factors or external influences, such as climate or geography‖. Hart and James (2008) on the other hand, believe racism is characterized by explicitly racist attitudes regarding the inferiority of blacks or other minorities and overt tendencies to engage in unambiguously discriminatory behavior.
Various forms of racism had been proffered by several authors, however those provided by Sandra Hinson, Richard Healey and Nathaniel Weisenberg (2011) at the Grassroots Policy Project, highlighted but a few, which are; Interpersonal, Internalized, Institutional and Structural. But the forms given by Adam R. Pearson, John F. Dovidio and Samuel L. Gaertner (2009) seem to be the most comprehensive for the purpose of this study. These are Dominative and Aversive racism as identified by Kovel cited by Adam R. Pearson, John F. Dovidio and Samuel L.
Gaertner et al. But most importantly, unconscious racism by Hart Blanton and James Jaccard (2008) is the most relevant for this study (see western state center 2012, Charlotte Reading 2013 for more history of race and racism)
1.1.2 Unconscious Racism is the presence of racial behavior or tendency but the absences of conscious knowledge. According to National Association of Social Worker (2007), there are three types of subtle racism, they are; Symbolic, Aversive and Unconscious Racism, but to some scholars, aversive and unconscious racism are the same. To get a full understanding of unconscious racism, one has to know what it means to be unconscious. Hart Blanton and James Jaccard (2008) elaborated 3 categories of unconscious with relations to racism. To paint a good picture, we have to borrow their definitions, they are as follow;
Unknown Effect: The first working definition of unconscious refers to individuals‘ lack of awareness of the effects of their own actions on other people, social institutions, and so on. When unconscious racism is framed in these terms, it draws attention to the unwitting ways in which one‘s own actions promote racial disparities. Such unconscious racism has been described in sociological theories that refer to institutional racism.
Unknown Causes: Another way in which people may lack conscious access to their racist leanings is that they may fail to perceive the factors that cause them to exhibit racial preferences. People are unconscious racists in this sense if they are unable to gain subjective access to the determinants of their own actions. A large literature on impression formation offers empirical support for this perspective. Psychologists have shown, for instance, that a shove given by one person to another might appear aggressive when the person doing the shoving is black, but that it
might seem playful when the person doing the shoving is white by Duncan (1976) cited by Hart and James (2008) et al.
Inaccessible Attitudes: Although it is feasible to argue that people lack knowledge of both the causes and the consequences of their actions, this set of observations alone does not provide a basis for claiming that people possess racist attitudes that escape subjective awareness. What is the evidence for this third type of unconscious racism—ignorance about the presence of racist attitude (as propounded by Hart Blanton and James Jaccard (2008).
1.1.3 CHINA, traditionally called Zhongguo in Chinese mandarin, is the largest country in Asia (the largest continent), and has the largest population in the world. It is believe to cover nearly the entire East Asia landmass, approximately one-fourteenth of the land area of the world and about one-fifth of humanity is of Chinese nationality Encyclopedia Britannica (2012). China is bordered by about 16 countries; Mongolia, Russia, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Pakistan, etc. China has 33 administrative unit directly under the central government; 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities (Chongqing, Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin) and 2 special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau) Encyclopedia Britannica (2012). China is home to 55 ethnic groups. Han Chinese make up 91.55% of the population and the majority of the remaining 8.41% are visually indistinguishable from their Han countrymen, so it is correct to say China is more homogenous than heterogeneous. For thousands of years, Chinese people speak in hundreds different dialects but use only one written system, Han Character (汉字), which makes the written communication and culture inheritance possible. The separation of the written and spoken forms of the Chinese language provides a tie that holds the Chinese people together while gives a space for different expressions in daily lives. A white foreigner is likely to be called a laowai, meaning “old foreigner” while a Black foreigner (Person of color) is likely to be called
heiren, meaning black person. It is a known fact that all persons of color in China are roughly classified as Africans; a continent believe to be very poor, uncivilized, backward and full of all sorts of crimes and most importantly a charity case for Chinese government which leads to resentment and or denigration and unfriendliness on the parts of the Chinese. Most Chinese people seem to inherit negative emotional reactions to persons of color from their culture or as we mostly read, from their early contact with the west but many do not realize it because their conscious belief conflict with them thereby making it difficult for them to recognize their racist tendency. The racial tendency of the Chinese people is most time classified as ignorance and sometime rudeness anything but racism. It is believed that the Chinese are not racism but unexposed to persons of color and some blame it on the west. Racism is said to be transferred to China from the west through their literatures or media reports or movies. The question now remains that, if racism was transferred to China from the West as we all claim, why then do we still say the Chinese are not racist but ignorant? Perhaps, by ignorant we mean unconscious racism.
My stay in China for almost a year gave me a clear picture and good understanding of unconscious racism. The Chinese people are the best example of unconscious racism because they are racist not because they want to be nor would they admit it in the open but because they unconsciously exhibit racial tendency unconsciously. I met people who claimed they hate racism and racist and claimed it was bad for any human to be treated the way racist treat people of color but carelessly say they cannot marry a person of color or unconsciously say blacks is ugly. Little wonder why most reports claim the Chinese are not racist; this is because they are unaware of their own racial tendency because it is buried deep down in their subconscious mind and can only be exhibited unconsciously. It is worthy of note to say that the Dominative form of racism;
the blunt type of racism, have been done away with as people are becoming civilized and exposed in this globalized world of ours. However, the subtle type of racism; the symbolic, aversive and unconscious type of racism still exist and it is even more harmful and dangerous than the former because only the people experiencing it knows what they are going through, the racist and perhaps those around them may not know.
On the website www.tealeafnation.com, Marketus Presswood (2013) posted “A Minority in the Middle Kingdom: My Experience Being Black in China”. I quote; “The Chinese media tends to focus more on the generosity of the Chinese government towards Africa-a sore point among the Chinese who feel their government is no doing enough for the Chinese themselves- and not on the valuable natural resources gained or access to lucrative growth market for cheap Chinese goods. Traditional standards for beauty in China have also shaped perceptions of black foreigners in the country. In China, “whiteness” is seen as highly desirable traits for women….” There is a saying in china that a beautiful girl is white, tall and slim; by implication, an ugly girl is black….
According to a CNN report (2012), titled “Tinted Prejudice in China”, Gabrielle Jaff claimed that reports of racism in china date back to the 60s when Africans where first welcomed into China to study. It recorded that in 1988, a group of 300 mobs broke into an African student dormitory at Nanjing University and destroyed their belongings while chanting “down with the black devils”. Although the case is slightly different now as there are many Africans schooling and living in china, however, in the report, Barry Sautman a professor of social sciences at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who specializes in the issue of race in China, claimed that even in cities where there are lots of black people, most Chinese still have little or no contact with them and rather allowing the media to shape their ideas about blacks. He went further to say
the media is not helping as they paint Africa as a “House of Horror, with a huge number of people dying from diseases, wars and extremely high crime rate” CNN (2012).
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Racism always create problems for the countries where they occur, likewise, Unconscious racism, it has had largely negative effects on China‘s relations with people of color but it mostly psychologically and mentally affect people of color (especially Africans). Racism seems to be a major challenge in China‘s effort to develop and the presence of unconscious racism has worsened the already threatening social situation of the country, this is because most Chinese believe they are not racist while in fact, they harbor unconscious racism. This is supported by Marketus (2013) claim that it is difficult to get a job as a person of color in China, and the undying love of the Chinese for whiteness, makes those with dark skin feel insecure and inferior or unaccepted. It is therefore important to prove the presence of unconscious racism in China and the extent of the impact of Unconscious Racism on China‘s relations with people of color, and select from the plethora of suggested solutions to the situation by various observers, the most effective strategy to be employed by the Chinese government, people of color and indeed the international community in countering the manifestation of unconscious racism consciously.
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVE OF STUDY
The aim of this study is to examine the impact of Unconscious racism on persons of color (mostly Africans) and on the relationship between Africans and Chinese. This is with the view to suggest measures towards improving the views of different people in the study area.
The objectives of this study therefore, are;
1. To examine Unconscious racism and it manifestation
2. To establish the presence of unconscious racism in China
3. To identify the most effective conscious tactic(s) to be employed by the Chinese government, people of color and the international community as a whole, in tackling unconscious racism.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What is unconscious racism and how does it manifest?
2. What are the evidence that there is unconscious racism in China
3. What are the necessary strategies to be considered for discontinuing unconscious racism in China?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
Since the ascendance of Barrack Obama into the Whitehouse, several scholars and writers are of the view that racism, in all its forms, have been finally laid to rest in the grave of history. My experience in China as a person of color, introduce me to a different kind of racism; the unconscious type. This type, I realize is more devastating and painful than the former; the conscious type. Having experienced it first hand, I am determine to expose this unnoticed form of racism and the devastating effect it has on those experiencing it as well as create awareness. The essence of this study therefore, is to infer from the understanding of the concepts that racism still exist especially in China in a subtle form, and to expose the evil of unconscious racism on people of color (Africans) and suggest the most effective and efficient measures which ought to be adopted by the internationally committee in its task of maintaining peace in the world by
putting an end to racism even in the subtle form, and the increasingly negative impact it has on people of color(Africans).
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS
This study focuses on Racism in China. The research will cover key areas in Africa-China relations which include the economy, political and cultural sectors. However, the research will be limited to the manifestation of unconscious racism in China in the 21st century.
The temporal scope of this study encompasses the Chinese relations with African and by implication, people of color in the 21stcentury; it has therefore limited itself to the study of unconscious racism experienced by People of Color (Africans in particular) in China. The spatial scope includes the entire China, although much emphasis is placed on Hangzhou city, a city in the Southeastern part of China. Hangzhou is the place where most of the research was carried out.
The main limitation of this study is the inability to gain access to many individuals, face to face, who have been directly affected, or fallen victim of unconscious racism. This is because, apart from the fact that unconscious racism is hard to be identify by the racist, which makes unconscious racist unaware of their racial tendencies, it is nearly impossible to see people who are willing to share their experiences-only for few close friends- because they think perhaps they were only being too sensitive and emotional. Another limitation to this study is that, as aforementioned, there are very little and conflicting data on various aspects of unconscious racism such as the: actual meaning of unconscious racism, if unconscious racism is the same as aversive racism or subconscious racism, if not what is the difference, and the best way by which unconscious racism can be stopped.
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