The Paw Print
Race has been an issue highlighted, fought over and debated about since humans first met each other. From whites to the blacks, Asians to Africans, eastern Europeans to central Europeans, race has always been a catalyst for conflict over the course of history.
Why do we look at color before we look at equality? In Jeffery Kluggers’ article, “Race and the Raging Brain,” he explains why we categorize everyone. As children we learn different things. Many different factors come into play depending on what culture you grew up in and how you were raised. We all want to say that color isn’t a problem; yet, one of the first things children learn in school is their colors.
Not only do we divide each other by the color of our skin, we also create groups that divide us into certain neighborhoods, gangs and religious affiliations.
For example, you only have to look at the gang culture in America and other countries across the world. Racism is rife in gangs like MS13 and the Bloods and Crips. They are the same people from the same areas, all living the same lives; yet, hatred runs through their lives, demanding recognition.
We see the same pattern with Israel and Palestine. In Kluggers’ article, he explains a study done by a fellow named Dunham. He divided preschoolers into groups according to the color of the shirt they are wearing. Then he read them stories about each group explaining the positives in the group and the bad about the opposite group.
Dunham said “kids show these preferences right away, in the lab, on the spot.” At a young age we are already grouping ourselves into what we think right and wrong are.
We are automatically born into a race. Typically, we grow up with the same race and hang around the same race, adapting to that race alone. We form the us vs. them mentality; our group is better than yours. Harvard University created a study called the IAT, which stands for Implicit Association Test. The concept of the study was explore the instant connection the brain made between race and traits.
The subjects were asked to pair up positive and negative words with black and white faces with the quickest reaction. When the subjects were asked to link the desirable traits to whites and the undesirable to blacks, the fingers moved very quickly on the keys. When the task was switched and the whites being labeled failures and blacks labeled good, the fingers of the subjects moved slowly.
In the end they found that the white subjects shown pictures of black faces responded with greater activation of the amygdala, which causes fear, than when they were shown white faces. Despite our youthful programming to see color, we are all human beings. Still, while I would like to say that over time, inequality and judgement between races will be a thing of the past and the programming that causes us to segregate ourselves to our correct groups will be irrelevant.
Throughout history, we have had many leaders try to change this, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Bob Marley to Abraham Lincoln, and even Oskar Shindler. All have influenced our lives for the good, but, is it to any avail?
The progression of inequality between races has been a slow process, but I have hope it will be eradicated. John Lennon said it right in his song “Imagine”: I dream of a world at peace.