Racism and indeed all of the “isms” are utterly arbitrary. We could believe, for example, that men who keep their hair are superior in intelligence to men who lose it. We could believe that tall people are smarter than short people. We could believe that people whose biorhythms make them early birds are superior to people who are night owls. We could believe that right-handed people are more intelligent than left-handed ones. And based upon those beliefs, we could enact social and economic policy that would either by design or effect, keep the “inferior” groups less well educated and less lucratively employed than the “superior” groups. As a result, the inferior groups would also live in “bad” areas and be virtually politically powerless.
But in reality, we don’t believe any of that foolishness…….Thank God! We know that all of those things are simply differences among us, and that none of those differences result in any of those groups being superior to the others. We know that as a group, men with hair are not more intelligent than men who are bald, that tall people are not more intelligent than short people, that early birds aren’t more intelligent than night owls, and that right-handed people aren’t more intelligent than left-handed ones. What a nightmare of a world that would be for men who have male pattern baldness, short people, nigh owls and left-handed people.
We could believe that blonde Caucasian people are more intelligent than Caucasian people who have black, brown or red hair, that blue-eyed Caucasian people are more intelligent than brown-eyed Caucasian people and that Caucasian people with green hazel, and gray eyes are just genetic oddballs. Under that theory, blonde haired, blue-eyed white people are then, the only "true" Caucasians and Caucasian people who have brown and black hair and brown eyes are obviously closer to people of color. A world in which Caucasian people with brown eyes and either black hair or brown hair, i.e., the majority of Caucasian people, are considered to be and in every aspect of life are treated as if they are inferior to blonde haired, blue-eyed Caucasian people, is simply unthinkable. Can we even imagine an American society in which there are schools for blonde, blue-eyed kids and different and entirely inferior schools for all other white kids?
In that society, based upon having received a superior education in those schools, only blonde, blue-eyed men and women would have access to the society's best and highest paying jobs. Based upon the salaries they are paid in those jobs, only they would live in the "best" communities. And because they live in those communities, (where the real estate tax base which funds public schools is highest), only they, blonde, blue-eyed white people, would have quality public schools for their children. Also, those who wanted to, could afford to send their kids to private schools. That quality education would, in turn, allow their children to get the best jobs, and as a result, live in the best neighborhoods, continuing the cycle of total social and economic advantage to the society's blonde, blue-eyed people.
Perhaps the society, recognizing that dark haired and dark eyed people’s current high school drop-out rates, poverty and other enormous social challenges is the direct result of over two-hundred years of slavery, followed by an additional ninety-nine years of discrimination, harassment and violence aimed at them, would put in place programs to help the dark haired/eyed people to catch up to blonde blue-eyed people in education, employment and housing. They might enact Affirmative Action programs and brown/black haired, brown-eyed set asides for them.
In this society, the dark-haired, dark-eyed Caucasian people would adamantly declare, "But this isn't fair…" Blonde, blue-eyed people are not better than us! They think they are because that's what they've been taught all their lives. It's what they want to believe and for the last two hundred fifty years, the whole society has been set up to their total advantage. That’s why their schools and neighborhoods are better. It’s not that they’re superior to us!” Undoubtedly, the blonde, blue-eyed people would say that the dark haired, dark eyed people should stop whining about the past and just pull themselves up by their bootstraps the way they all did. They’d say that the dark haired/eyed people should just stop whining and playing the hair-eye card. They would resent the programs designed to help the dark haired/eyed people and deeply feel that such programs are “reverse discrimination”. Despite the undeniable history of discrimination against, harassment of and violence toward dark haired, dark-eyed people, the vast majority of the blonde, blue-eyed people would, at least unconsciously, continue to hold the same view, that they are superior to dark haired, dark-eyed people and that dark hair, dark eyed people are simply not intelligent, lazy, crime inclined, and all around inferior to them.
But in even that society with its deeply entrenched hair/eye color prejudice, there would be some, a minority of blonde, blue-eyed people who would understand. They would understand how their history has put dark haired, dark-eyed people at an utter social and economic disadvantage. They would know that dark haired and dark eyed people are indeed their full equals, intellectually and in every other way. There would be a minority of blonde blue-eyed people who would be active in civil rights organizations and civil rights demonstrations on behalf of dark haired dark eyed people. Despite their best efforts, though, that minority of conscious blonde blue–eyed people would not be able to convince the majority of the other blonde blue-eyed people that their attitudes and beliefs about dark haired, dark eyed people is totally wrong. The unconscious blonde people would remain marred in ignorance, not knowing, (indeed being virtually clueless about), what they don’t know. What a nightmarish, hellish world that would be for dark haired, dark eyed Caucasian people.
We could believe that people who have dark skin, dark hair and dark eyes are more intelligent than people who have light skin, light hair and light eyes. After all, dark skin, hair and eyes are genetically dominant to light skin hair and eyes and genetic dominance is clearly superior to genetic recessiveness, right? What could be more obvious than that? Who but a fool would doubt that genetic dominance is superior to genetic recessiveness? “It’s just common sense”, we’d say. We could very easily believe that.
Or…….we could believe that people of color are inferior to Caucasian people, that their physical characteristics, their skin color, facial features and hair texture, are intricately tied to intelligence. On the basis of that belief, we could have a multi-century history of the enslavement of, discrimination against and violence toward people of color. We could……Obviously, that is our actual history. Despite the fact that the belief upon which that history is based is just as much a scientific fiction as is the belief that blonde blue-eyed people are genetically superior to dark haired and dark eyed people, we have for the past six hundred years, constructed our societies, the world over, on it. We are indeed living the present day effects of a past which was literally built upon it.
Through the wonders of technology, however, we are now aware of the fundamental fact that Africans are the parents of humanity and thus that as a species, we were born black. Further, we are aware that we all descend not from the same few African villages, not even from several people of one African village...