Definition of Racism

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When asked what the definition of racism is, I would typically reply “When a person makes a rude comment about someone’s skin color, offending that person.” It’s too bad that my definition of racism doesn’t even touch the real definition or define what a racist is. In the book God Bless America author Melvin James has his own definition as to what racist persons do. He states “Racist persons treat persons differently and negatively because those persons belong to a certain racial or ethnic background. Racist persons often posit alternative reasons for their ethics and actions.”(James 163). So exactly what is the historical development of the concept of race, in other words when and how did racism start and what is the impact on Black persons worldwide?

To understand the historical concept of race, one must know the intent of racism. According to God Bless America “There are three major components of racist behaviors.”(James 164). My friend circle is very diverse, and we all tend to make racist comments towards each other, even though we aren’t meaning it in a harmful way. Sometimes I wonder why we make racist comments towards each and laugh about it as if we didn’t know that the person only said it to demean us. Again, even though we are only teasing each other, the comment still exists and it was used in a demeaning way; to hurt. James states in his book that “the first of three major components of racist behaviors is that they are demeaning.” (James 164). In other words the behaviors are meant to make a particular race feel less of itself. The second is that “the actions or behaviors are discriminating.” (James 164). What he means is that racist behaviors present negative and harassing actions to the one who is being criticized. Last, James states “Racist behaviors are intended to dislocate, disassociate, and disestablish persons toward whom racist acts are promulgated. Persons become psychologically, sociologically, and physically displaced.” (James 164). James is saying that when people can’t receive attention that is shown more towards another group the group feels “emotionally displaced.”(James 164). Regards to it all, what is the fundamental intent of racism? James states that “The fundamental intent of racism is to punish persons because of their physical features or ethnic background….” (James 164). When I hear explanations like this, I wonder why someone would want to be racist or make racist comments. I was always taught that nobody is better than the next person regardless of race, skin color, height, weight, social status, or financial ability. Everyone has issues in some shape or form. Come to think about it, doesn’t the golden rule state “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” One person can’t be racist then get angry if someone makes a racist action towards them. Of course not every is going to follow the golden rule, and this is why racism exist.

In God Bless America, James states “It is impossible to comprehend the world if we do not comprehend the concept of race.” In other words, there is no possible way to understand what’s going on in Earth, if we don’t understand how race affects it. There are certain legal expressions of racism, for example in 1883 when the Supreme Court invalidated the Civil Rights Act that gave citizenship rights to Black and Blacks were considered non-human beings, is considered dejure racism.(James 165). Whenever sanction of law is involved it is considered dejure racism. This is the problem; dejure racism existed in the law so therefore many people thought that it was okay to be racist if the government was portraying it. One question that came to mind when initially hearing this was “Is demure racism over and how does it play into defector racism?” First of all briefly, defector racism on the other hand, exists when there is no legal statue or ordinances to enforce racism. (James 165). So technically since the statues of demure racism no longer exist, people find...
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