June 14, 2011

Slavery in America … Eugenics … All of these things tie together in one way; they all have one thing in common; they all come from racism. Racism, the belief that a particular race is superior to another, is clearly wrong, yet it is prevalent in most of the world today. There is an antidote, a way to eradicate this problem, by first, understanding where it came from, second, seeing its affects and consequences, and third, learning how to prevent it in the future.

Where did racism first come from? How did we start thinking in the terms of ‘racist’ or ‘races’? The term ‘races’ didn’t really come into existence until Darwin published his Origin of Species. The full title of the book was The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. More importantly, however, the subtitle of the book was The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. Darwin may not have been the first racist, but he greatly fuelled racism by presenting it as science and this “gave racism a powerful boost in the scientific community.” (West) Darwin was of the opinion that there was a superior race and that there were some races that were inferior. This directly contradicts the true Biblical teaching that there is only one race. This theory of Darwin’s has led to many cultures being discriminated against. One culture in particular has experienced more discrimination then others because they were thought to have been the ‘missing link’ in the evolutionary fossil record. These people are the Aborigines. Because scientists were influenced by Darwin’s teachings, many people came to believe the Aborigines were the in-between stage of monkeys and humans. As a result, they were placed in zoos, their graves were dug up, and they were studied for evolutionary ‘science.’
One Aborigine in particular caught the attention of many in New York. After being exhibited in the 1904 world’s fair, Ota Benga was placed in a Bronx zoo. Since he was thought to have some relation to monkeys, he was kept in the monkey exhibit. Many people actually thought that it was funny to see such a strange being that in appearance looked much like his inmates and ‘few expressed audible objection to the sight of a human being in a cage with monkeys as companions.’ (Keller 1-3) Finally a pastor demanded that Ota Benga be taken out of the cage because of the cruelty. Ota Benga committed suicide later. How could this happen in America? It all started with the acceptance of Darwin’s theory and a bad mindset, which in this case was the idea that there are different and inferior races.

Racism has affected our society immensely. Because we have grown up distinguishing people of different people groups, most of us consciously or unconsciously have racist tendencies. Racism has been responsible for incredible discrimination, death, and sadness. One of the most obvious ways racism affected our country was through slavery. Had it not been for racial discrimination, many slaves would not have suffered the great injustices that took place, some of which we have still not overcome.
Another facet of racism that many people don’t know much about is eugenics. Eugenics also stems from Darwin’s theory. Eugenics is allowing some people to have children and not allowing others depending on their physical qualities, race and their usefulness to society. The purpose of eugenics was to better the races to make a perfect race. Does this remind you of Hitler? It should, because he and the Nazi regime practiced eugenics and sterilized over 450,000 people in one decade.
But this didn’t all start with Hitler. It actually began in the United States. The American Breeder’s Association, founded in 1906, was the first eugenic body in the US. According to its own documents, it was formed to “investigate and report on heredity in the human race and emphasize the value of superior blood and the menace to society of inferior blood.” (“Eugenics”) In the United States between 1907 and 1963 over 64,000 people were sterilized forcibly because they were seen unfit to continue passing down traits to children. Most of this stopped and fizzled out in the 1970’s but the laws are still in place in many states.

Just think for a moment; do you know anyone who is deaf, blind, or has a mental handicap? Do you know someone who looks different from you, perhaps someone with a different skin color? Some people in our world today see those people as unfit to live. So, how can we prevent all these things from continuing and happening in our future?
The solution to the problem of racism is simple, yet it requires great resolve. Had we been consistent in holding to a Biblical worldview and seen people as God wants us to view them, none of this would have happened. If we understand that, Biblically and morally, there is only one race … the human race … racism would not even exist. The Bible says in Acts 17:26: “He has made us from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the earth.” (NKJV Bible) In other words, we all came from the same people: Adam and Eve. Since all of us came from the same two people, how could we not be one race?

Although there are not different races, there are many different cultural and physical characteristics. For example, Americans are known for hamburgers and fries and Mexicans are known for tacos and burritos. We live life differently and speak different languages but that doesn’t mean that we are from different races. You may be wondering, “But what about different skin color? Isn’t that an indication of race?”
To answer this question we must first understand that the earth is an extremely variable place, in terms of geography and climate. We have severe freezing temperatures in Antarctica, and searing hot temperatures in Africa and other areas. The reason Africans and people from the country of India, for example, have darker skin color is because of a minor adaptation due to climate: darker color for protection from the sun. We all have the same coloring pigment in our skin called ‘melanin.’ If we produce little melanin, our skin will be light and if our skin produces a lot of melanin, we will be dark.

So what is the antidote I am proposing to try to rid the world of racism? We need to stop having a racist mindset and instead think about others in relation to their culture or people groups. One simple way we can do this is by stopping the use of the term ‘races’ since it Biblically shouldn’t even exist … there is only one race: the human race.
Racism has been a problem since early in our world since Bible times. And thanks to the acceptance of Darwin’s destructive ideas in recent history, the last century has been marked by some of the most extreme examples of racist problems. But that doesn’t mean it can’t stop. If we decide to change our mindsets and actions and share the truth with others, discrimination can be diminished. We need to explain to people where this concept of races really came from, how much it’s affected our society, and how we can change all of that for future generations. Just remember, there’s one race and many cultures.

The author's comments:
Racism has been more than segregation in our country. It's been the root of so many things that have happened that are wrong. The reason I wrote this paper is because I know that if we as teens will change our way of thinking now, it will make a huge impact on the world when we are the adults.

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