Racism- an Origin Story

A cynic once said that racism makes no logical sense, that it wasn’t invented, it’s just a byproduct of fear, predating humanity, going back as far as tribalism, and that there are no separate races, just the human race; the homo sapien race.

From about the 18th century until the present the human family has been struggling with the baggage of racism. But at one point we were one big rainbow coalition right?

If we understand where racism comes from, historically, socially, functionally…we can trace it’s roots, and literally, as if a plant or weed in our collective garden, eradicate Racism.

So what’s the fundamental element of Racism?

-History of the Science of Racism-

Was it created in a lab? Is it a naturally occurring chemical in the brain? Can we send it into space?

Racism does have many of the characteristics of toxic waste….it could be an unstable substance.

What if racism is just a scientific experiment gone awry. The Frankenstein of ideas from a German anthropologist, Johann Friedrich Bluemenbach who inadvertently (or maybe maliciously, who knows) stumbled upon the secret formula to prolonged racism and bigotry.

Could a proclaimed man of science have been so savage, so desperate for fame and notoriety so as to not think of consequences? Thinking of consequence- or effect– is the very foundation of science, so I doubt any of those early thinkers crafted their work without it.

But then- where did racism come from? Maybe the history of science itself can give us some clues…

-the scientific destruction of Racism –

To figure it all out, once and for all we should go back one more century, to the Council of Trent

In that chunk of history, science was the equivalent of rebellion. So it’s entirely plausible that a little of the fervent blind faith, and a little of that post-Enlightenment superiority got into the formula for whatever Johann was really cooking up.

History is always written by the winners-who clumsily leave out the details of their triumphs. So in our eyes-in the present, racism is undefeatable, and Johann came out unscathed.

Without his original human categories we wouldn’t have had the classification systems needed to make racism.

But since science is a product of reason-not religion, and since racism is a product of science it lends that the scientific study of racism, can at least lead to definition, and maybe somewhere down the line….a cure.

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