We have often deliberated, on the subject of the likely origin and fundamental dynamics, of the age-old, iniquitous practice of race prejudice and bias, in general. To be candid, we disclaim any special knowledge or formal study in this area. However, subject to possible critique by those more academically qualified in this discipline, we would humbly, express our resultant understanding of this difficult and sensitive subject, and would modestly, venture to suggest a possible (long term) resolution of the age-old travesty.
Let us assume, solely for the sake of academic examination, that the entire extant species of Homo sapiens, were somehow, rendered identical, in every conceivable characteristic, age, gender, and sexual persuasion, color, height, hair color, vocal tone, etc. We might then pose to the reader, the question as to whether he thought that personal bias, or racism under such circumstances, would be possible. It would be readily understandable if the response were in the negative.
However, those less optimistic, inalterably, believing in some innate and compulsive tendency, of Man to be selective in an eternal and natural perception of hierarchy, might pose some of the following possibilities: there is an innate inclination in man, to establish a “pecking order” and some manufactured rationalization would be created, to adjudge the necessary perceived differences; the human persona has the need for intimacy, and would create necessarily perceived, personal distinctions; the feeling of insecurity, responsive to complete uniformity, would tend to motivate the individual to subjectively, perceive nuance within the group; the emotional need or desire to bond with another person would, creatively, provide some criterion for his discreet selection, or a purported, natural drive for dominance, would find artificial criteria, for the determination of an imposed submission.
As the followers of this blogspace know, we are unwavering subscribers to the empirical school of epistemology, and of its renowned philosopher, John Locke. Locke declared that man is born with a clean slate (“tabula rasa”) and that (all) knowledge is acquired or learned, by man’s personal life experience. This proposition would lead to the ineluctable conclusion (the proposed theme of this writing), that racial and other biases are not the product of some innate inclination, or natural tendency attributable to the Homo sapiens, but, are instead, learned by means of human empirical experience. Such learning, like other experientially acquired knowledge, is, as a matter of course passed on to future generations. Our basic conclusion, if valid, is perforce, excellent news. What is learned, viz., racial prejudice and other biases, presumably, with appropriate method, can be altered, or unlearned?
It is relevant and necessary, in this context, to set forth the presumed circumstances and source of such presumed learning. As stated, above, we have no special training in cultural anthropology, but would, bravely venture, a possible (probable?) scenario, underlying the proposed early learning experience, leading to Man’s basic, development of prejudicial thought and consequent discriminatory action.
Our deliberations have resulted in the (hopefully, valid) conclusion, that this most serious, life and death, determinative problem, is but a disastrous old anachronism. It is our confident assumption that Early Man would experience defensive terror and repulsion, upon encountering another animal or living thing, unfamiliar or “different.” It would naturally, be perceived as a threat to his life; a life, which was otherwise, short and precarious, filled with danger, actual and perceived, and ultimate mortal threat. Unfamiliarity or exotic nuance could well spell big trouble.
We would propose, that this protective fear, of anything or anyone “different,” was, foundationally, a natural, prehistoric caution, or fear, and that this primeval discrimination, or mortal fear of physical difference, was the contemporary, anachronistic, cause of human discrimination, or differentiated treatment. Upon the assumption that our thoughts have validity, this instance would by far, be the most atavistic, and repulsive, of all anachronisms; but if learned, perhaps, could be fixed, or, unlearned.
We would earnestly, hope that some technique, psychological or educational, be soon devised, for its eternally long, disgraceful and belated, termination.