Every now and then, I come across a news story wherein some person of the "wrong" ethnic origin is racially profiled or discriminated against in some international airport or in some other public place, and the media reacts with simulated horror and outrage at such practices. Even though such instances reveal the ugly mindset of racist thinking, I always remind myself of the state of human society some 100 years ago. Lest we forget, less than a century ago (which is a real short time in human history):
- A large number of Asian and African countries were colonies of European imperialistic powers with little or no individual political identity. Racial segregation was the norm, not the exception. Entire communities were forced to live separate from their racial "superiors", in some cases, in ghettos.
- Entire nations were denied education and jobs at the standards of their Colonial masters. Most of the colonized peoples were educated for employment only at lower level positions in Government and denied any say in the national policy of their own country.
- People were denied access to clubs, hotels, restaurants, railway coaches and other public places on the basis of their ethnic origin/skin colour.
- In some parts of the world, it was the official policy that certain races were inferior to others and that deportation/segregation/ethnic cleansing/genocide was the right way to deal with the problem.
- Westernization was imposed by a the majority of the Imperial powers in their colonies in varying degrees and entire societies lost touch with their native culture and traditions. Of course, Westernization also brought with it a lot of benefits, but those are besides the point.
- Inter-racial marriages were uncommon or frowned upon and in some parts of the world, outlawed. Even socializing between people of different racial origins was strictly controlled in many countries.
- Slavery was still quite common, although it was slowly disappearing.
All these have more or less disappeared in the space of 50 to 100 years but still remain in the conscience of the former Imperial powers.
Everything has a historical basis and a background. Racism is no exception. It may be too much to expect that human beings have evolved to a state of being within a century where race/ethicity no longer matters at any level of consciousness. While It is true that racism/racial discrimination has been outlawed and has slowly become unacceptable in many parts of the world, I just don't expect feelings of racial superiority in the collective subconscious of entire communities to be entirely obliterated in the space of half a century. Indeed, I doubt if it is possible to eradicate it entirely by external influences, without some kind of inner spiritual evolution in the individuals that make up societies.
Don't get me wrong. Racism is fundamentally evil and a scourge of mankind. Every instance of racial discrimination makes me angry in a way, but I cannot pretend to be shocked at its existence or simulate an outrage I don't feel when instances of racial discrimination rear their ugly heads every now and then in some parts of the world.