Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump (second right) leads the crowd in a chant while surrounded by George Floyd’s family members during a candlelight vigil at Jack Yates High School in Houston, Texas, on June 8. Floyd, a 46-year-old African American whose killing by a white police officer transformed him into a global icon of the struggle against racism, was being laid to rest on June 9 in Houston. (Photo: AFP)
The world is seeing once again the upsurge of a vicious virus that has spread to every corner of the world. This time the virus is that of social, cultural, economic, political, institutional, legal and religious discrimination against people of different skin color, social status and historical origins.Racism is everywhere and people around the world are on the streets once again protesting against this insidious discrimination following the murder of George Floyd by a United States police officer and systematic police brutality.Floyd’s cruel death is one of many in recent years where police and killers have seldom been held accountable. Three police officers accused of aiding and abetting the murder of George Floyd are walking free. A culture of invincibility and impunity pervades some police forces that are predominantly composed of white officers. This is common in many countries where the police and military are above the law and abuse authority and kill citizens as they please. It makes a sham of democracy and the judiciary. People of color in Europe are also discriminated against by racist people who wrongly believe that these “other” humans are inferior to them and who declare themselves to be superior human beings with a more exalted, dominating status and a desire to trample on others.These racist attitudes that wrongly brand others as having criminal minds have led to the greatest crime against humanity — genocide. The Holocaust, the Rwandan massacres, the Armenian genocide and many more in history happened because of racist attitudes with other causes.Migrants and refugees seeking shelter from the Syrian massacres and other social evils meet a wall of racial indifference fuelled by systematic racism in some European countries and the present administration of the United States. What the white-skinned racist person or government officials and racist police lack most of all is empathy, compassion and respect for other human beings. The racists are supremely arrogant, dominating, oppressive and selfish. They are greatly diminished as persons and have excluded themselves from the community of the good and caring people of the world who love their neighbours.The roots of racism run deep in history but in modern times ideologies like Nazism and forms of nationalism gave rise to it in Europe. Growing racist attitudes are present in European countries and the United States today. Under President Donald Trump, “Make America Great Again” means “Make America White Again.” Racism is not only about skin color but is also about power, control, exclusion and domination.However, the slogan “White is Might and Right” and promoting white people as celebrities and movie stars reinforces racism. The higher social status demanded by some white people can create self-loathing, lack of self-esteem and an inferiority complex among people of color. Some are persuaded to buy skin bleaching and whitening creams to try and lighten the color of their skin for greater acceptability. The racists have successfully planted their insidious racist ideology and unthinking people have fallen for it. Commercial corporations manufacture the racist creams and profit greatly without shame.More than 13 million Africans — men, women and children — were captured, enslaved and transported, chained in horrendous ships, in slavery that went on for 400 years in atrocious conditions. An estimated 1.2 million died at sea. Many were thrown overboard in a storm. The movie Amistad released in 1997 tells it well. They were auctioned as slave labor for the cotton and sugar cane fields, coffee and tobacco plantations, gold and silver mining and then for the industries of the new capitalist America in the making. Besides the Spanish and Portuguese, the British, French, Dutch, Belgian and Danish empire builders all participated in the slave trade.Racism and outright hatred and human rights violations were part of everyday life for the slaves. Today, after 400 years of oppression and suffering and no restitution, a just anger and hunger for justice and equality are in their genes. African-Americans are still considered by many Americans as repulsive and racially inferior. In the past, many were murdered and lynched by mobs on false charges.
Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sexual abuse. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.