Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Racism in the world and fighting it

Related to our discussion a few weeks back on racism and affirmative action, here's an excellent article called 'Fighting Racism Globally' by Girish Mishra:


The article offers a high-level view of racism, the various kinds of racism ("individual, structural and ideological"), history of racism etc in various countries in the world, including casteism in India, and provides many examples of racism institutionalized in society even today. For instance,

a study prepared in 2003 that there was widespread discrimination against candidates for jobs on the basis of their names, which were perceived as "sounding black"

Also interestingly, some of the policies meant for affirmative action may infact achieve the opposite result if not correctly implemented. Policies adopted for prompt payment of loans and subsidies for black farmers ended up in extensive racial discrimination:

"In 1999, African-American farmers won a major civil rights settlement against the United States Department of Agriculture. They argued that the loans and subsidies they received were substantially lower than those for comparable white farmers. What made matters worse was the fact that Reagan-era budget cuts closed the U. S. D. A.'s civil rights office for 13 years, so most of the complaints filed during that time were never heard. To its credit, the department conducted an internal investigation and discovered that racial discrimination had not only occurred but had also been structurally and historically embedded in its operations.

Mishra then talks about the various efforts undertaken globally to fight racism, including UN conventions and declarations adopted, and the effects they have had. He also takes on some of the views of Samuel Huntington, currently leading barely-concealed racist theories against Hispanics, and shows how in general, the most successful societies have always been multi-racist and multi-cultural...

And argues that "
there is a close connection between the struggle against racism and the fight against poverty.and for social, economic and cultural uplift of the people at large", which implies that current neo-liberalization and globalization trends further aggravate racial disparities.

Worth a read.

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