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If there is only one human race, then why are humans still racist?

[Jakarta, LTTW] We are today, as a globalized humanity, plagued by hate among fellow men, hate upon each other. One form of this manifest hate is fueled by a fear and loathing of those who are of different ‘races’ to us.

But what exactly is racism? For example, sometimes Indonesians in Jakarta refer affectionately to white-skinned foreigners as the ‘bule’. Truth be told the term can be considered derogatory when we trace the term’s original meaning which can be translated more or less as “sickly pale”. But Indonesians may argue that ‘bule’ is a ‘term of endearment’. We do not mean ill when we use the term ‘bule’, in fact we love our ‘bule’ neighbors and we call him/her ‘bule’ because we are so close to each other. ‘Bule’, the argument goes, does not contain any  negative/pejorative meaning.

And yet many scientific research efforts into human genetics have basically concluded that all humans of different “races” are basically genetically identical; that there are, in essence and scientifically, only one single human genetic race. Here in this article by columnist Adam Rutherford, it is argued once again that there are no scientific basis for racism. With links to contemporary genetic research and opinions from evolutionary research pioneers Charles Darwin and others.

When we think about it, racism is not the only issue where human behavior runs contradictory to scientific facts. For example in the case of environmental damage caused by how humans throw away their waste without care. And still we regularly throw trash into our rivers, causing flooding in our own neighborhoods.

So what do you think? Why are humans racist? Is there any such thing as “different human races”? And also, why do we keep failing to apply scientific learning in our daily lives? Feel free to publish a comment below if you feel otherwise.



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Aussie Bob
Aussie Bob
6 years ago

CHARLES R. DARWIN ON RACE We see the value set on animals even by the barbarians of Tierra del Fuego, by their killing and devouring their old women, in times of dearth, as of less value than their dogs. If the country were open on its borders, new forms would certainly immigrate, and this would also seriously disturb the relations of some of the former inhabitants. Let it be remembered how powerful the influence of a single introduced tree or mammal has been shown to be. He who believes in the struggle for existence and in the principle of natural… Read more »

Ferdi Zebua
Ferdi Zebua
7 years ago

Hi Heikki! Thank you very much for dropping by 🙂

You’ve raised a good point there that there might be evolutionary/biological/scientific basis for racism as a (human) behavior, in that this behavior might be ingrained in our biology as a survival mechanism. I also must confess that I’ve never read Hirschfeld, and I feel that I must.

Further, your comment brings to my mind that popular sociological concept of “the other”, and also past theories I think I’ve learned in grade school regarding “In-Groups” and “Out-Groups”.

7 years ago

It might be that even if there’s no scientific basis for race, there might be some scientific basis for racism.

Lawrence Hirschfeld has argued (“Race in the making”, 1998) that we might have an inherent (i.e. not learned) tendency to categorize people into different “kinds”, even if cultural factors decide whether those tendencies actually develop into humanism or racism or whatever ideology.

Just a quick thought.