Thursday, April 12, 2012

On Race, Minorities, and Social Change!

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman brought in new discussions on the underlying issues of race, minorities, and related social challenges.  For those readers outside of US, this is a hotly debated issue in United States for the past month and a half that in a way is disturbing the social fabric of the most open society in the world.

My intent is not to discuss the right and wrong on this particular incident. My intent is to share the views on the underlying social tension. Although dominant groups seek to define the social landscape, groups who experience unequal treatment have in the past resisted power and seek significant social change and continue to do so today. The sweeping changes happening around world including the “Arab Spring” is part of this fight against the social oppression.

Race is a social construction, and this process benefits the oppressor, who defines who is privileged and who is not. The acceptance of race in a society as a legitimate category allows racial hierarchies to emerge to the benefit of the dominant “races.” Racism is a doctrine of racial supremacy that states one race is superior to another. One CNN contributor commented, “Stating that there is no racism is the new racism”. We cannot ignore the reality, but need to work closely to address them.

Coming to minorities; a social minority need not be a mathematical one. A minority group is a subordinate group whose members has significantly less control or powers over their own lives than do the members of a dominant or majority group. Why minorities join as a block and typically forming vote banks?  This is part of survival instinct; a rule applicable around the world. The problem comes when some “messiahs” arrive as leaders of these minorities with nothing but self-interest and take advantage of the minorities and socially deprived. Hope many of my readers outside of US can relate the issues which are relevant to your own environment.

The need of the hour is a pluralistic society. Pluralism describes a society in which several different groups coexist, with no dominant or subordinate groups. People individually chose what cultural patterns to keep and which to let go. The two significant forces that are absent in a truly pluralistic society are prejudice and discrimination. For many, this looks like a distant dream, but human race has remarkable agility and the days are not far off when such dreams are realized!

I welcome your feedback and comments.

See you next week!

Saju Skaria


Ramesh Srinivasan said...
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Ramesh Srinivasan said...

Good post, Saju.
Racism is simply another expression arising from selfishness. This selfishness results in tension between groups; then after a while, fissures appears within groups and ultimately selfishness leads to tension between neighbours. The fountainhead of racism to me is selfishness.

Saju Skaria said...

I agree with you Ramesh. Pl read my forthcoming blog on positivity. It will provide additional insights in the topic.