Race And Racism

08/21/2022

What Can We Do To Ratchet Down The Threats Of Violence Based On Race?

I am so sick and tired of the need to discuss race in American and the world, but here I am doing it, again. I was curious about how the word race, which can also mean to run or drive competitively, and even a structure like a tray that holds electrical cable, usually overhead; that called a cable race or raceway. And, race ends up in many other words and meanings such as:

racing, arms race, foot-race, horse-race, mill-race, moonrace, race-course, race-horse, race-track, raceway, rat-race, race-riot, racial, raciation, racism, racist. racy, and Raza. So, why race in regard to nationality and skin color?

The origin of words is called etymology, and if you like words as I do, it is fun to understand where words originated. Here's what I found for "race" in terms of individuals as opposed to winning a competition. I have tried to simplify some of the text without losing meaning.

"1560s, "people descended from a common ancestor, class of persons allied by common ancestry," from French race, earlier razza "race, breed, lineage, family" (16c.), possibly from Italian razza, which is of unknown origin (cognate with Spanish raza, Portugueseraça). Etymologists say it has no connection with Latin radix "root," though they admit this might have influenced the "tribe, nation" sense, and race was a 15c. form of radix in Middle English (via Old French räiz, räis). Klein suggests the words derive from Arabic ra's "head, beginning, origin" (compare Hebrew rosh).

Original senses in English included "wines with characteristic flavor" (1520), "group of people with common occupation" (c. 1500), and "generation" (1540s). The meaning developed via the sense of "tribe, nation, or people regarded as of common stock" to "an ethnic stock, one of the great divisions of mankind having in common certain physical peculiarities" by 1774 (though as OED points out, even among anthropologists there never has been an accepted classification of these). In 19c. also "a group regarded as forming a distinctive ethnic stock" (German, Greeks, etc.).

In mid-20c. U.S. music catalogues, it means "Negro." Old English þeode (peode means origin) meant both "race, folk, nation" and "language;" as a verb, geþeodan meant "to unite, to join." Race-consciousness "social consciousness," whether in reference to the human race or one of the larger ethnic divisions, is attested by 1873; race-relations by 1897. Race theory "assertion that some racial groups are endowed with qualities deemed superior" is by 1894."

Remember, these people supposedly enlighten us on language; I might find cause to argue that point after reading the above quote. It would seem that as the Europeans, who were primarily white, began to sail the world in search of riches and the power of colonization and domination, they started encountering people from other parts of the world whose skin color, language, and cultural norms. These people seemed exotic and often disturbingly different from all they knew. They were determined to find a word that gave a strong sense of separation from their culture. The term race and all its derogatory synonyms became a thing.

I posted one of those panels on Facebook the other day, I believe they are called a "status" (I'm not sure why) that asked the question, "When you hear the word, American, do you see a Black, brown, or Asian person? This is what we have to fix."

I've said before, ad nauseum perhaps, there may have been a time in our history, thousands and thousands of years ago, when discriminating between our tribe and another tribe was important because; a) we had a limited supply of food and water for our tribe and b) we instinctively understood that we needed to occasionally marry (or mate) across tribes to insure the survival of our species. All of this neanderthalic thinking was due to an underdeveloped brain that couldn't understand any other way to deal with the challenges of surviving in those days. Today, we have no such excuse for the idiotic actions and words of racists.

We must take a hard line with racism and its proponents. If they can't or won't accept the unification of all human individuals, they must be isolated, just as we separate those with contagious diseases. To the greatest extent possible, they need to be rendered incommunicado so they cannot continue infecting others with racist rants.

This will be a challenge in a country like ours, where we place such importance on freedom of speech. That right is critical to our democracy and a free republic. But, we have to draw a line somewhere. We already have laws that say it's a crime to holler "fire" in a crowded theater. Much of what spews from the mouths of racists is the cultural equivalent of hollering "fire" in a crowded theater. In this case, the "theater" is society. Society, as with a theater, now that social media gives these cretins an audience of tens of thousands and millions, they can not be allowed to panic the audience or rouse some of them to violence against others. We must have carefully crafted laws that can lead to punishment for inciting hate, riots, and threats of harm against other people.