Racism and Sexism

RACISM AND SEXISM

                   Racism and sexism remain major hindrances affecting development in the black continent. Racism is the denial of humanity to a certain group of individuals on the basis of color, language, place of birth or race (Gordon, 2008: p.61).  It is said to be the belief, attitude and actions that whites are supreme to other races. On the other hand, sexism is the belief that the male are supreme to the female (Douglas, 1979). This essay will focus on the two aspects and their impacts on the development of the black race with reference to the novel 'color purple' and 'Sankofa' and 'Bilal's' movies.

                   There is a reasoning that philosophy originated from the Greeks who are white (Asante, 2004). This has even occupied the principals of academia, including higher institutions of learning in both Africa and the western world. The reasoning is that Africans have religion and myths but not philosophy. The danger posed by this reasoning that Greeks are the creators of philosophy, is that the information is false. Philosophy is made of two words: 'Philo' meaning lover and 'Sophia' meaning wisdom hence the meaning of the word is 'lover of wisdom' (Asante, 2004). African philosophy represents ideas, arguments and theories that are related to African descent. These include African existentialism, post colonialism, meaning of blackness etc.

                     African philosophy's development in the twentieth century is both relatively recent and ancient. This is because philosophy itself is ambiguous. On one hand it is a set of reflective practices rooted in culture and reason, and on the other a discipline in the university, with a set of customs, standards and codes. For some, there can be no philosophy without the disciplinary structures, which makes African philosophy recent. For others, there can be no disciplinary structure without engagement in a life-world, meaning African philosophy exists in traditional Africa, which may form a model for philosophy for the rest of the world.

                     Racism and sexism go hand-in-hand and are always linked to personality. Sexism is linked to authoritarianism and leaning towards social dominance and inequality where a certain group considers itself the best. Racism involves the ideas that one race is superior to the other and therefore should be the one to rule (Camara, 2009). Some people in the black community believe that the white race should be the one to rule. The black liberation efforts have failed to be effective due to oppression which has been brought about by racism (Lipsky, 2012).

                     Racialism is one of the greatest forms of evil that is currently faced by the human race. Racial discrimination started with slavery of Africans in America when black people were kidnapped and sold into slavery and then treated in an inhuman way. They were separated from their children and families. This discrimination continued being powerful even after the slavery. Even to date this racial discrimination is seen in employment opportunities; where the white race is preferred to the black race. In some countries, there are laws which have been put up to fight this racialism but they are not followed.

                     There are two conceptualizations of racism; attitudinal and behavioral. Attitudinal racism denotes the attitudes and beliefs that look down upon individuals or groups based on phenotypic characteristics or ethnic group membership. Behavioral racism denotes biased behaviors of individuals or institutions that create barriers or deny equality to individuals or groups based on phenotypic characteristics or ethnic group membership.

                     Racism has been encouraged by individuals of the majority culture and institutions. The black community has been the victims of the racism such as oppression, abuse and exploitation. This oppression has always left the blacks subjected to mistreatment and even long after colonialism, the community has not been able to enact these patterns upon the oppressors. The result of this oppression has been fear, isolation and a feeling of despair and inferiority (Lipsky, 2012).

                     The greatest problem posed by racism is that some of these patterns of oppression are so universal that they are believed to be true part of the culture of the black community. These patterns have been there for a long time hence mistaken for reality (Lipsky, 2012) and therefore leading to mistreatment of the black people. Despite the challenge, a solution can be found since we already have the information, tools and power to end racism. Success has been reported in some fields and there is a significant difference in the institutions. There is therefore the need to develop firm policies that address racism and provide effective counseling to end the oppressive patterns.

                   A number of African countries have been at war or conflicts due to ethnical boundaries which were imposed during the colonial era. Racism has also been triggered by growth in technology; using internet. The number of hate sites that have come up in recent years is increasing at a high rate. As globalization expands, racism expands with it and this has led to inequality. Racism has been an instrument of discrimination as well as exploitation.

                     Sexism exists where one gender is oppressed the other, and especially the women. There are cultural beliefs that men are more valued socially and more competent in some cores as compared to women. There are certain activities that the society views are for one gender and not the other. Sexism is seen in many fields such as labor force, domestic violence, occupations and political ambitions. For example in the novel 'color purple', a man is seen as a lesser man due to the woman's strength and resistance.

                     In the African context, women are generally discriminated in terms of income and labor. For example many families tend to favor the boy child in terms of education, inheritance and skills training. The girls are given more domestic duties at an early age as compared to the b boys and this prevents them from pursuing their careers.

                     In the job market, women are seen as secondary income earners hence are given low pay or undervalued jobs.  Of late the governments in the African continent are coming up with numerous legislations that try to address the gender balance including employment equity, domestic violence and violence against women. This attitude that African men had against their women has for long held the black continent back.

                   Sexism perpetuates gender inequality. Male dominance is common among the blacks. It is seen that men are thought to be the leaders in almost all institutions and women have no say in the society. Studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between sexism beliefs and gender inequality (Brandit, 2011).

                     Sexism remains a major obstacle to economic development mainly in the developing countries. Though the situation is improving in most countries, there are some who still believe women have no say no say in the society. For example there are some countries which still believe that domestic violence is justified in some circumstances and marry girls at a very young age (12-18 years). Countries with high level of discrimination/ sexism are also the poorest level in economic development such employment and girl child education. Women the majority of the world's poorest people and the number of women living in rural poverty is high. They also work for more hours but earn less. Violence against women still prevails in many cultures of African countries.

                    There are some behaviors within the society that promotes racism and sexism. These include: paternalism which being overprotective towards someone. An example in the novel 'color purple' is the father not only beats up and rapes her daughter; he also forces her to marriage. Other behaviors are ignoring women when they speak, denying them opportunities, speaking on their behalf, etc.

                   It doesn't matter what has happened to the black community but there is still a possibility of understanding the world around them, being brave, and of contributing thoughts and efforts to the development and implementation of good policies for their own good and that of the world.

                     The realization of racial and sex discrimination is a global struggle which on based on human rights and the law. This requires we all unite to fight traditions, abusive cultural practices and all the other factors that discriminate us based on race or gender. This will make us all to live better at all times and all places. This translates into taking action to stop discrimination against race or gender.

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