By GANJIKI D WAYNE
Many years ago the Western world—the Caucasian man—determined that the black man was not man at all. They believed that the darker race was not a race. The black man was a stage of evolution somewhere between the Apes and the Caucasian man. Therefore the black man, not being fully evolved, was not fully human. And therefore not entitled to the rights understood to be due to human beings. The black man was a different species.
And so they treated them as slaves. The black man was an animal, a living tool. They patronized them; not believing them capable of anything they themselves were capable of. Even of independent thought. And they could justify that perception with arguments both from science and religion. But whichever angle they spun it, they were wrong.
It is ironic that people who thought themselves the benchmark of the human race, allowed such fantasies in their minds. And they couldn't shake it off no matter how much reading and thinking they did, or how educated they got.
Ironic still, is the fact that even to this day some of them think that way. For people who believe in everything being explained by science, they failed to note that their theory of a non-human-savage was/is unsupported by science. Every indication—biologically, psychologically, emotionally, socially, existentially, and through history—shows that the "savage" is as every bit as human as the Caucasian man.
Racism is a natural outworking of belief in evolution. It is not only plausible, but justifiable if evolution is held as the process by which mankind is formed. Evolution espouses a stage-by-stage production process. And as in any production process, the final product is far more advanced than its preceding stages. As such it's logical to argue that a darker-skinned man has not yet reached the stage of production that the white man has, and is therefore less advanced than the white man. Therefore still, he is not entitled to “human rights” the way the white human is. It’s a bit difficult for those who believe in evolution to reject racism: yet they must import some idea (from the air) that all man are equal in order to be socially acceptable. Hitler developed his “perfect Aryan race” illusion based on Darwin’s concept of “natural selection”, and sought to eliminate a race that he thought was a threat to human civilisation. Racism is tenable with the theory of evolution.
But evolutionary theory isn't the only perspective responsible for racism. Religion and abusive interpretations of the Bible also promulgated beliefs that some humans were inferior to others. With a foolish and obnoxious interpretation of God's Word, racism was justified. The white Afrikaans of South Africa believed their superiority was an act of God. Dr. DF Malan, a former South African PM, even remarked that “Afrikanerdom [white South African political philosophy] is not the work of man, but the creation of God”. In America, though believing all man were created by God, some believed that in the Creator’s “series or progression from a lump of dirt to a perfect man” (Edward Long, 1774), the “negro” was inferior to human beings. These are but some of the perverted views of “enlightened” man. Even now some participants in the white supremacy movement believe that white is God's chosen race. Other racial supremacy groups (e.g. Black Supremacy) believe the opposite for the same reason. There is not a shred of biblical truth in these claims. So what is the truth?
“[A]ll man are created equal”, screams the American Declaration of Independence (1776). “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights” says the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens (1789). In recognition of the “inherent dignity” of the human race, “all human beings are born equal”, affirms the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). And long before these documents, King John’s Magna Carter (1215) afforded certain rights to his subjects within the context that all man are equal under God and no man is above the law. But is 1215 as far back as we can go in attributing equality of man?
Under God. This is a crucial point. No equality of worth can be legitimately claimed if man was formed any other way but by a Supreme Creator who creates and simultaneously stamps a value onto the creature. These above key world-impacting documents presuppose that man is created by God and is not the result of a timeless evolutionary process. Words such as “all man are created...endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” (US), “under the auspices of the Supreme Being the following rights of man and citizen” (French), and “inherent dignity...of the human family” (UN) speak of the origin of the human being: a being created by a creator and not evolved over millions of years from primordial organic soup. I can’t image anyone defending the American Constitution if it read “all man are evolved equal”.
To say all man have equal value is to determine that all man are worth something. To say we’re worth anything we would have to determine that such value came from somewhere. Such value would have to come from that which creates or forms us. Just like the money we print, being affixed a certain value that we its creators decide (all variables considered). We cannot be more valuable than that which gives us life—from which we have our existence. If that source is less valuable than our perceived worth, we would have to admit that we are less valuable than we currently think. And our real value will have to be pragmatic; that is, we would have to import value (e.g. usefulness to society) to give ourselves a sense of worth. But that will immediately separate our individual values and makes us not equal, thus justifying racism. On the other hand, if that which makes us has value far above us, then we indeed have equal value under a common standard. And we need not import some arbitrary rule for that purpose. The WORTH of man is directly attributed to the ORIGIN of man.
So what is our origin? We would have to go to the beginning. Did we start of as primordial organic soup and evolve over millions of years to get here? Or did an infinitely powerful and creative God make us in His image and likeness? We would have to admit (at least I would) that it is only because “in the beginning God created” man in His image and likeness, that we even have a starting point of reference for the dignity of ALL human beings.
Racism is a belief in the superiority of the culture and community from which the racist hails. The Western man believed his style of living, his values, his way of life, was far more superior to others. And therefore by virtue of being born into or living up to those standards, he considered himself superior to others. Western society has indeed become the yardstick by which the world is measured. "Developed" and "Developing" are stages of nations’ progress—based on how "Western" a nation is. Western values of monetary and economic wealth, modern education, materialism, selfish indulgence in pleasure and eroticism, fame and fortune, have become the key values of the world. And if a nation is not giving the opportunity to its people to pursue these values, then it is a failing nation.
But cultures are diverse. They're diverse not because we evolved differently. They're diverse because God created man to be diverse. He made us to be different to magnify His own power of creativity and infinite ability to make countless kinds (variations) of the same thing. He never intended that one kind would consider itself better than the other. But all are of equal worth. And He does hope that all man would ultimately recognize and live up to His own ultimate "culture" within the context of theirs.
Indeed we are all different. And not all equal in ability. We are all gifted and equipped differently. From the Olympics we notice that the white man cannot run as fast as the black man. Some can sing, some run, some play basketball, some play guitars, some write, some paint, some speak, some listen. We are not all equal in our abilities. But we are all of equal worth: regardless of colour or race.
Our individual cultures have shaped us differently. In some countries they have thousands of high-rise buildings and thousands of homeless people on the streets. In others they have bush huts and everyone has a roof over his head. The urban man cannot handle the bush like the bush-man can. He can't utilize nature using the "primitive" technology of the bush man. And the bushman cannot drive a car, operate a train or fly a plane. But both can learn. And this is a vital point. Both can learn each other’s ways and do as well as the other within their physical capacities. That is one of God's greatest gifts to mankind: the gift of learning.
With intelligence that can only come from an intelligent Creator, man has been able to improve his lot in life. He could teach himself. He could learn. God intended that man could learn so that he could learn more about Him. Man could adapt to his surroundings. He could be sociable. Sadly some have not used that learning ability to recognise equality in our diversity.
Racism was concocted in the mind of man, just like countless other evils that can be concocted in our minds. Minds that God in His divine grace allowed to think freely, knowing that that freedom could lead us to deny His existence and cook up evil notions. We see a common thread in history: man, particularly the Western man, has denied God’s existence and attributed ours to a random process. That process could justify racism, and it cannot justify a moral scale by which we can tell if anything is right or wrong.
Now that same western man is trying to impose his amorality on the world. Racism (slavery its linchpin) has proven to be wrong, yet it thrives today in subtle ways such as unjustified visa restrictions and asylum arrangements, or coffee-making policies in mega-malls. Other ideas emerge from within that same Western man's mind. Such as the amorality of things before believed to be immoral: e.g. homosexuality. But if Western man was once wrong about the value of human beings, what makes him trust-worthy in his perspective of human sexuality and morality now? He may be proven in a few years to be wrong...again.
The world has adopted almost all Western values and perspectives as the yardstick for progress. As if the West created the world and bears witness to ultimate reality. Some of its beliefs are good because they correspond with reality, but many do not. The promulgation of the revelation of God may be one of the few great gifts that the West has brought to the rest of humanity. Ironically its promulgation of non-belief in that same God may be its worst “theft” to the world.
We need a standard of guidance beyond ourselves. Beyond the black man. Beyond the white man. Beyond ALL man. It would seem that God still is the best option for guidance of moral perceptions.
Because God is real, racism is wrong, homosexuality is wrong, and everything wrong is wrong. Indeed it is because He exists that we have a concept of "wrong" at all. Nothing else can explain such a deep recognition of a moral dilemma in mankind's hearts.