“The word race first appeared in the English language in 1508, when it was used to denote a category or class of persons. [In] the late eighteenth century race became invested with biological connotations, [and in] the early nineteenth century specific theories of racial types began to emerge in academic and other writings. Many of the ideas associated with genetics and racial differentiation were founded on pseudo-scientific theories that are now discredited.”
Whitehead, Talahite and Moodley, 2013. ‘Gender and Identity’
Some say, the concept of ‘race’ is a social invention. Designed to divide and conquer, a way to justify the exclusion of segments of society. In any case: an exact meaning of the concept ‘racism’ is hard to find. If we go with the above, we could say that even the term racism is racist in itself.
Because really, there is only one race.
The human race.
Hence why discussing racism is not leading up to something constructive. Whilst most of white people continue to argue ‘I’m not racist’, they overlook the problem of discrimination. Which in fact, is the real issue in the case. Here to be understood as the favouring of one group. Dividing people on grounds that have no relevance, whatsoever.
If you’re a white female you’d probably not be pulled over by the police much. Is that because you’re a white female? Probably. They’re not represented in criminal records as much as white guys. Let alone people with a non-western background. Meaning that the police don’t target them when they do random controls. Also meaning that they might get the benefit of the doubt easier than others.
Do statistics rectify ethnic profiling?
No, they don’t. Ethnic profiling is not virtuous whatsoever. A relatively high representation in criminal records is not reason enough, a gut feeling is not reason enough. It’s discrimination. Moreover: it’s not effective. Basically, it’s lazy police work.
It’s the police generating their own probability of detection. And that, of course, influences the same statistics as they started out with.
So, instead of carrying on defending how we [white people] are not the ones that are racist. We might be doing more good by just stating that we in fact, still, are the group that’s being favoured. There’s no denying. And as long as this is only communicated by the less favoured groups, nothing will ever change.
We need to change the we approach things. Generations of white people today didn’t take part in the piracy practices of France and its allies in the 15th century. However, we still benefit from the fact that we became rich developed societies in the 19th century. Leaving the oppressed regions to become the ‘third world’.
It’s this advantage we should speak up about. Because in most cases ethnic profiling is not based on any qualities apart from colour of skin, or estimated religion. It’s up to us to admit that we are privileged. Only then can we have a real discussion, on how this favouring can finally be part of our history as well.