Racism and prejudice and their role in cross-cultural communication
Racism as an instrument of discrimination, as a cultural phenomenon, susceptible to cultural solutions: multicultural education and the promotion of ethnic identities. Addressing cultural inequalities through religion, literature, art and science.
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1. Definitions and types of a stereotype
2. Definition and types of prejudice
3. Definition and types of racism
4. Stereotypes in the intercultural communication
5. Prejudice in the intercultural communication
6. Racism in the intercultural communication
7. Tolerance as the result of the intercultural communication
Nowadays there are a lot of scientists in linguistics, psychology, sociology, ethnography who pay great attention to the phenomenon of intercultural perception. Among such scientists we can note W. Lippmann, J. Nachbar, K. Lause, F. E. Jandt, N. A. Cazenave and D. A. Maddern, U. Sorokin, N. Ufimtceva. Nations tend to collaborate with each other; globalization covers the world, that is why exploration in this field of human relationships has invaluable significance for everyone. But long-standing traditions, cultural and linguistic differences have a great influence on the relationships between people from other cultures and as follows on the efficiency of their collaboration and understanding.
This work is devoted to the problem of the peoples' relationships, misunderstanding and disrespect reflected in their stereotyped views and believes.
The sphere of intercultural communication is the most interesting and the most important field for uniting cultural and individual peculiarities. A plenty of information in the process of intercultural communication is got through summaries, based on researches, and through stereotyped views. People accept each other with the means of the initial stereotypes. However, stereotypes can be both true and false; it can bear as positive emotions as negative ones. Its sense is to express the attitude of a social group to a definite phenomenon.
Every nation form views about themselves, their behavior and traditions inside their cultural territory; as well as about other linguistic and cultural areas. Meeting other nations and cultures people usually have the tendency to accept their behavior from the point of view their culture. Very often misunderstanding about language, mimics and other things lead to distorted interpretation of actions that can bear negative feelings such as suspicion, neglect and hostility.
Unfortunately, today we have an amount of examples of intolerant behavior, based on prejudice. Prejudice is preconceived and hostile attitude to a thing or a human being without any grounded reasons or specific knowledge. Without taking into account prejudice and stereotypes it is impossible to observe communicational mechanisms and perception among individuals and social groups.
People pass judgment each time they communicate with others. Depending on that judgment, communicators would know if they can compete with other communicators in their environment. As two-step process is involved when people articulate their thoughts in two way communication processes. The first step involves individuals hearing or reading a message and immediately evaluating where the message falls within their own position. The second step involves individuals adjusting their particular attitude either toward or away from the message they heard.
Old or new forms, less alarming or more obvious, racism is dangerous to civil societies. There is no such thing as a less dangerous type of racism because all types of racism lead to discrimination and violation of international laws. Racial discrimination is the less favorable treatment of persons because they are thought to belong in particular racial groups. It is one of the forms of discrimination which are to be prohibited in fulfillment of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In this day and age where cultural boundaries are being dismantled by advances in technology and communication, racism can spread faster and wide. Victims can be hapless innocents that are being discriminated without their knowing it. New forms of racism and discrimination based on the idea of inequality among cultures threaten to emerge in the 21st century. These tacit forms of racism and racial discrimination are essentially structural.
1. Definitions and types of a stereotype
Racism, stereotypes and prejudice has been present in almost every civilization and society throughout history. Even though the world has progressed greatly in the last couple of decades, both socially and technologically, racism, hatred and prejudice still exists today, deeply embedded in old-fashioned, narrow-minded traditions and values. Both prejudice and stereotypes are cultural elements as they are generated socially but not biologically. They are permanent, wide-spread elements of our everyday life. They are transferred from generation to generation and preserved due to customs and norms. Carrying social experience and being suggested to an individual during education and communication a stereotype helps him or her to get adopted to the present life and guides their behavior. Mostly all the prejudices are represented in culture through normative commandments that is particular views and believes about the world and about the way one society should treat representatives of other ethnic and social groups.
The term "stereotype" (Greek stereos - firm, typos - print) was introduced by the American sociologist W. Lippmann. In his book "Public opinion" (1922) he tried to define the place and the role of stereotypes in the system of the society. He used the word "stereotype", meaning a specific perception of the world, influencing on our feelings before the data gets our minds. According to Lippmann, trying to perceive the world with all the contradictory points a human being creates an image of the phenomena he has never experienced. Such images are formed due to the cultural environment: "For the most part we do not first see, and then define, we define first and then see. In the great blooming, buzzing confusion of the outer world we pick out what our culture has already defined for us, and we tend to perceive that which we have picked out in the form stereotyped for us by our culture."
If personal experience contradicts a stereotype there are two ways out: a person who lacks flexibility and is not interested in changing his or her views either doesn't notice this contradictory or considers it as an exception which confirms the rule, and forgets about it. A curious person facing this situation changes his or her attitude to the surrounding world. Stereotypes cannot be completely false. Lippmann says they can be true or at least partly true. "The systems of stereotypes may be the core of our personal tradition, the defenses of our position in society… they are a picture of a possible world to which we are adapted. In that world people and things have their well-known places, and do certain".
J. Nachbar and K. Lause in their book Popular Culture: An Introductory Text note that stereotypes constitute an important part of the mass culture. Different reasons form different types of stereotypes: age (Young people listen to the rock music), gender (Men want from women only one thing), race (Japanese are hard to be differentiated from one another), religion (Islam provokes terrorism), professions (All lawyers are bilkers), nationality (The Jews are greedy). There are also geographic stereotypes (It is much safer to live in small towns), stereotypes about things (The German cars are of the best quality).
Theoretically stereotypes are both natural and unnatural. Being cognitive products of the categorization process, stereotypes are natural. They are regarded as positive because stereotypes prepare participants of intercultural communication to contact between two cultures and lessen the culture shock. One more argument supports the positive aspect of stereotypes: the cognitive effort economy principle that facilitates perception of "other" cultures. On the other hand, stereotypes are unnatural because they are built on overgeneralization and simplification, which explains why they very often lead to conflicts.
There are a lot of different stereotypes to be defined: auto stereotypes which reflect peoples' views about themselves, and heterostereotypes which reveal attitude to other nations. For example, thrift being a sign of the auto stereotype can be considered as greed for heterostereotype. Such fixed models of behavior have a great influence on people, forming the traits of character which are reflected in the stereotype. N. Ufimtceva differentiates ethnic and cultural stereotypes. The first ones cannot be self reflected; they are the gist of behavior and of so called "collective unconscious". The second ones, on contrary, can be self reflected, they refer to our consciousness.
We can also distinguish deep and superficial stereotypes. Superficial stereotypes are views about a nation which are determined by the historical, international, political factors. They change depending on the situation in the world and society.
Unlike the superficial stereotypes the deep ones are constant, they do not change; they are the very source for exploration of the nation which is stereotyped.
Scientists also differentiate social, mental stereotypes, stereotypes of communication and behavior of an individual. Social as well as ethnic stereotypes are of the greatest importance. The notion of the social stereotype is a permanent image or a psychological perception appropriate for members of a definite social group about a phenomenon or a person. It is a simplified form of a thing or a human being with an emotive charge freely spread among representatives of a nation. Its most vivid features are integrity, presence of a so called faulty component, etc. Sometimes its dynamic characteristics are noticed: stability, rigidity and conservatism, which witness about an ability to resist any information that can change it. Social stereotype is considered to be a mirror distorting the social reality, a negative phenomenon as it prevents entire and appropriate mutual understanding.
Ethno cultural stereotypes are a specific kind of a social one which represents typical traits of any nation. For example, there are stereotypes about the reserve of the Englishmen, the punctuality of the Germans, the eccentrics of the Italians, the hardworking of the Japanese.
Stereotypes are widely used for estimation of a person according to his or her social, national or professional characteristics, they are tools of the preliminary recognition which allows a man to simplify a perception; every stereotype has its own scope.
2. Definition and types of prejudice
Images of typical traits of other nations depend on contact forms and their diversity. Such contacts result not only in stereotypes but in prejudice either. The word prejudice is most often used to refer to preconceived, usually unfavorable, judgments toward people or a person because of gender, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race or ethnicity, language, nationality or other personal characteristics. It can also refer to ungrounded beliefs and may include any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence. Prejudice is a stereotyped representation of a person, group or society. The specifics of prejudice lies in the fact that it forms, expresses and supports cynical, hostile and/or phobic attitude to any group or society.
It is worth mentioning that the gist of the prejudice is in its unreasonable negative perception of a group or its representatives. Its initial reprobation which instills us with prejudice about a man according to his or her belonging to a definite group. Being formed on the ground of an association, imagination or assumption, this setting with distorted information has a resistant influence of people to each other.
Any cognitive, communicational or labor act is preceded by a so called "setting", that is a tendency to an appropriate activity which is to satisfy a person's demands. Unlike a motive, a setting has no conscious basis. But a setting is the way to accept a subject; it defines the attitude to it. The problem arises only in case when real and virtual differences become a prevailing property and are modified into a hostile psychological setting. It separates nations and justifies discrimination from both psychological and theoretical points of view.
In the course of the intercultural communication a stereotype and a prejudice are considerably differentiated. As it already has been said stereotypes are features and traits of a definite group. It is a generalized image of representatives of an appropriate group. As a rule there is no vividly shown emotional value, that is why there is an opportunity for positive judgments about this or that group.
Scientists believe that there is a special mechanism for a prejudice to appear. Due to it one can direct his or her emotive reaction to a person who is not connected with this reaction. This mechanism is called the process of displacement. The essence of this process is to transit emotions on another situation with possible benefits. People use psychological displacement either unconsciously, as a protective psychological mechanism, or consciously to find a scapegoat to give vent to dissatisfaction about anything. This mechanism is used to transmit people's anger and hostility to a subject which is far away from the reasons of these emotions.
Rooting to partial or distorted knowledge prejudice can be felt towards a wide range of things: to animals, people, associations, ideas, etc. However, the most wide-spread prejudice is the ethnic one. Such prejudices are preserved and extended due to certain socio-political reasons resulting from socio-economic conditions of people. One of the reasons is in the fact that being on the bottom of the society representatives of a superior ethnic group try to find psychological satisfaction in this alleged superiority.
One can be prejudiced against, or have a preconceived notion about someone due to any characteristic they find to be unusual or undesirable. A few commonplace examples of prejudice are those based on someone's race, gender, nationality, social status, sexual orientation or religious affiliation, and controversies may arise from any given topic: sexism (is generally linked to negative female sentiments that derive from the belief that females are worth less or less capable than males), nationalism (a sentiment based on common cultural characteristics that binds a population and often produces a policy of national independence or separatism), classism (a biased or discriminatory attitude on distinctions made between social or economic classes), sexual discrimination (a "predilection for homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality), racism (the belief that races exist, that physical characteristics determine cultural traits, and that racial characteristics make some groups superior), etc.
Western scientists such as G. Stainer, B. Berelson, R. Crachfield, E. Ballaci, R. M. Williams consider the ethnic prejudice to be the eternal problem of our life, the universal socio-psychological phenomenon, formed on the inherent hostility of one group to others. There are three main aspects of the ethnic prejudice studies:
Cognitive (the content of judgments, beliefs, and stereotypes is explored)
Affective (emotional and value sides are explored)
Behavioristic (the connection between the ethnic prejudice and the real behavior is explored)
There are six main types of prejudice are distinguished:
1. Groundless prejudice which states openly that representatives of another group are worth according particular criteria
2. Nominal prejudice which is based on negative feelings to representatives of another group, and who seem to be a threat for own cultural values
3. The tokenism type of prejudice contains images of various forms of social superiority to show an illusion of justice: such prejudice presupposes negative feelings to another group but representatives of this "superior" group do not want to admit this prejudice
4. "A long arm" type presupposes positive behavior to another group only in particular situations (formal or occasional meetings), in other cases (neighborhood) hostility takes place
5. Favours and antipathies openly show negative attitude to another group in case if their behavior deviates from the behavior of the "superior" group
6. "Familiar and unfamiliar". This type presupposes isolation from other groups, as people in the group always experience discomfort within contacts with others; they communicate only with own representatives, as they do not feel emotional tension.
Prejudice can be also individual or institutional.
- Individual prejudice is focused on cultural out-groups, such as members of other races, religions or lifestyles.
- Institutional prejudice is imbedded in organizations. It may not be conscious, but it gives evidence of discrimination against members of cultural out-groups in situations such as university or hospital admission policies, hiring practices, housing, and transportation security screening.
3. Definition and types of racism
As it has been already said racism is defined as the belief that races exist, that physical characteristics determine cultural traits, and that racial characteristics make some groups superior. By separating people into hierarchies based upon their race, it has been argued that unequal treatment among the different groups of people is just and fair due to their genetic differences. Racism can occur amongst any group that can be identified based upon physical features or even characteristics of their culture. Though people may be lumped together and called a specific race, everyone does not fit neatly into such categories, making it hard to define and describe a race accurately.
Scientific racism began to flourish in the eighteenth century and was greatly influenced by Charles Darwin's evolutionary studies, as well as ideas taken from the writings of philosophers like Aristotle; for example, Aristotle believed in the concept of "natural slaves". This concept focuses on the necessity of hierarchies and how some people are bound to be on the bottom of the pyramid. Though racism has been a prominent topic in history, there is still debate over whether race actually exists, making the discussion of race a controversial topic. Even though the concept of race is still being debated, the effects of racism are apparent. Racism and other forms of prejudice can affect a person's behavior, thoughts and feelings, and social psychologists strive to study exactly that.
Racism is based on the belief that one's culture is superior to that of others, and this racial superiority provides justification for discrimination. Racism begins with categorizing by race, and therefore stereotyping particular cultures. A simple definition of prejudice given by St Thomas Aquinas states prejudice as "thinking ill of others without sufficient cause". Racism is a major issue in today's society, affecting a large number of the world's population and causing political and social turmoil. To evaluate the true meaning, effects and views concerning racism in today's world, a number of literature sources were researched including novel, films, short stories, poetry, song lyrics, textbooks and magazine articles.
According to "Declaration on race and racial prejudice" accepted 27 October 1978 by UNESCO's General Conference racism includes racial ideology, settings, based on racial prejudice, discrimination, activities provoking racial inequality, including an idea that discrimination can be justified from both moral and scientific points of view. It is also underlined that every racist theory is insolvent and goes in contradictory with human moral and ethnic principles. Racism separates nations, sets obstacles for international collaboration and aggravates political tension between nations; it contradicts with basic principles of the international rights, create a serious threat for the international peace and security. Racist theories are implemented in any sphere of social life: economic, politic and cultural.
Scientists differentiate four main types of racism:
1. Historical racism based on lineage and common decent; it identifies a population with a common origin in history, but not a population with a fixed biological character; used to define nation states in Europe; expressed through national symbols, such as Nazi eagle, Aryan cross; believed in superiority of some nations over others.
2. Scientific racism believes we can all be characterized by race with certain physical traits, such as brain size, sloping forehead; there is a hierarchy of races; biology determines intelligence; some races need to civilize others providing a justification for colonialism.
3. Institutional racism includes those activities which are intended to protect the advantages of a dominant group and/or maintain or widen the unequal position of a subordinate group; certain structures in society that systematically discriminate against certain groups, such as apartheid in South Africa, Jim Crow laws in southern U.S.
4. New Racism means no longer any biological notion to indicate cultural or other inferiorities; not necessarily an assumption of inferiority or superiority; new expressions, such as immigrants, integration, cultural values, hide the racist sub-text in our culture.
The Internet-journal "Danny's Corner" says that there are five types of racism exist:
1. Aware/Blatant Racism: Outright racists that, without apology or confusion, tell people of color, that because of their color, they "don't appeal to them."
2. Aware/Covert Racism: When racists are being racist but just not saying it. For instance, upon seeing that a potential tenant is Indian, rather than saying it directly, a landlord will pull the apartment "off the market" without providing an explanation.
3. Unaware/Unintentional Racism: "With the best of intentions, the best of educations, and the greatest generosity of heart, whites, operating on the misinformation fed to them from day one, will behave in ways that are racist, will perpetuate racism by being `nice' the way we're taught to be nice."
4. Unaware/Self-Righteous Racism: "The `good white' racist attempts to shame Blacks into being blacker, scorns Japanese-Americans who don't speak Japanese, and knows more about the Chicano (a community than the folks who make up the community)."
5.Internalized Racism: stereotypes and attitudes of the white hegemonic system are internalized by members of oppressed groups and peoples and taken for truth or inform the ways they think about themselves and others from similar backgrounds or cultures.
4. Stereotypes in the intercultural communication
According to specialists stereotypes constitute about two thirds of our behavior. There such stereotypes among them which restrict our initiative impulses as well as our choice; however, there are stereotypes which make our perception and categorization of the things much easier. They say that stereotypes are peoples' exact beliefs, experienced knowledge about others' properties and traits of character, as well as of events, actions or phenomena. That is why people stereotypes are so widely spread.
People never tend to react to different events in various ways; they just classify them according to existing categories. A man is overloaded with different kinds and sources of information, thank for stereotypes he or she modifies this information into usual models. The process of cognition appears to be on the level of consciousness; it is restricted by everyday experience. Without stereotypes a person would have devoted all the life to solving endless chain of mistakes.
From the very first contact with another culture a man classifies new information and forms accurate model of the culture. On the basis of this diversity of impressions a man forms image of the culture, gives a characteristics to its representatives according to definite features. For example, stereotypes about German punctuality or Russian hospitality and habit for drinking alcohol are based on surveillance of their behavior.
S. R. Khan published an article in Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology where she says that it is very dangerous to trust stereotypes. They have both cognitive and motivational functions. On the first point of view, a stereotype gives information in a very easy form. However, it is far from the real facts and may disorient a person. On the second point of view, stereotypes are unreliable. Forming decisions on the general image but not on the real facts a man puts him/herself at a risk.
Stereotypes have a stable nature. Even in case when people take proves that a stereotype is far from the real life, they tend to think that it is just an exception. For example, if one sees a tall Chinese he or she acquires even harder belief that other Chinese are short. At the beginning of the twentieth century the Americans gave Jews a nickname "big noses". However, the life shows that not every Jew has such big part of face. Today such "epithet" is used sometimes to call the Arabian people.
Cultural background of a person and his or her stereotyped traits of character are never interconnected adequately. People accept and understand the world in different ways. This fact makes equally viewed communication impossible. Referring to own norms and values people decide what facts should be evaluated in this way and what facts in another one. It has a tremendous influence on the character of our communication with representatives of other cultures. For example, a German speaking with a heavily gesturing Italian may create a stereotype about the Italians as an expressive and poorly organized nation. The Italians think about the Germans as cold and reserved.
Stereotypes can be both useful and harmful for interpersonal communication. We can talk about the usage of a stereotype in the following situations:
- If a person keeps to a stereotype consciously. An individual should realize that a stereotype reflects norms, values and features of the whole group but not of an individual.
- If a stereotype bears a descriptive sense but not an evaluative one. That is stereotypes reflect only general features, but do not show them as the bad or the good.
- If a stereotype is accurate - it precisely depicts traits of a group
- If a stereotype is only a guess about a group but not the exact information, it is not the reliable information
- If a stereotype is modified, that is based on prolonged surveillance and experience.
Stereotypes become ineffective and make communication difficult if we by a mistake refer people to other groups, accept norms incorrectly, mix stereotypes with description of an individual.
There are some reasons which hamper the intercultural communication:
- One cannot separate individual peculiarities of people from stereotypes. Stereotype preserves on a person and the whole group, it changes only in the process of communication.
- Stereotypes repeat and reinforce some wrong beliefs until people take them as truth.
- Stereotypes are based on distortions and incomplete information. Preserving real characteristics of a group they give inaccurate images about people.
5. Prejudice in the intercultural communication
Prejudice, like stereotypes, can be either positive or negative although it is generally referred to as "the unfair, biased, or intolerant attitudes or opinions towards another person or group simply because they belong to a specific religion, race, nationality, or another group" (Samovar and Porter, 1991: 281). A person who thinks, "I don't want (name of group) living in my neighborhood," for example, is expressing a prejudice.
More subtle prejudiced communication can occur in various levels: interpersonal, institutional and mass.
- An example of prejudice in interpersonal communication situations is a family member who models prejudice against an out-group.
- The level of institutional/organizational communication becomes prejudices in situations such as with the requirement to use the language of the in-group.
- As the mass communication level, prejudice may be exhibited in the use of ethnic, racial or religious stereotypes in books and movies. People sometimes blame their prejudices on the media.
Again like stereotypes, prejudice involves the preconceptions of individuals or groups based on unfounded opinions, attitudes, or beliefs. Jandt's definition of prejudice further elaborates the damaging effect of prejudice as "persons within the group are not viewed in terms of their individual merit but according to the superficial characteristics that make them part of the group".
Everyone knows that for a long time in the USA there were prejudices against black people. We can see such examples in the mass media and literature of that time: "To kill a mocking bird" by N. H. Lee, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by H. Beecher-Stowe (Afro-Americans do not like the main character in this book). As following the struggle of Afro-Americans for their rights consisted in the overcoming stereotypes. We know that M. L. King clamoured against prejudices to his race.
In 2002 the Columbia University published results of their research devoted to world's serving on the death penalty. The rates revealed that judges are biased to definite groups of people. For example, death penalty sentence is served much more frequently in areas where a lot of black people live. A black man is likely to be judged for capital punishment than a white one being accused of the same crime. In the ground of such decisions lie racial prejudices.
People hold some prejudices because they help reinforce certain beliefs or values--the value-expressive function. For example, part of belonging to some religious groups might require holding certain prejudices against other religious groups. Let us try to imagine the following situation: a student's family belonges to an evangelical Protestant church. When he is growing up, his parents make disparaging remarks about the Catholic religion. In his family, part of being a good church member meant being prejudiced against Catholics.
Relationships between Japan and Korea depict deep-seated and long-standing prejudice. Historically, Korea had closer ties to China than Japan, and both Korea and China tended to view Japan as a "troublemaking" state. This view was reinforced time and again by Japanese incursions into Korean territory and 35 years of Japan's colonial rule. In an act of historic symbolism South Korea and Japan co-hosted the 2002World Cup soccer games. Despite economic ties, there remains a sense of bau, or bitter resentment, that many Koreans feel toward the Japanese.
Prejudice may also arise from a personal need to feel positive about one's own group and negative about others, or from perceived or real threats. For example, one student from a multicultural family tells about the prejudice that his mother experienced. His mother is a middle-aged White woman and his father is Latino. When his mom was running for superior court judge in a predominantly Hispanic county, she encountered much prejudice because the Latino population generally thinks that White officials are not sensitive to the needs of minority populations. They didn't want to vote for a White woman judge since they saw her as a source of the problems facing their people.
In addition, if someone has already had negative intercultural contact and is anxious about future contact, particularly if there are inequalities and perceived threats, prejudice likely will develop. This was probably true for the interactions between the residents of a small, largely White community of Lewiston, Maine, and the several thousand Somalis who moved there--for economic opportunities and to escape a brutal civil war in their home country. The influx of almost 2,000 Muslim Somalis into life in French Canadian Catholic Lewiston has not been easy. There have been culture clashes and economic challenges. Some of the White residents saw the Somalis as an economic threat (taking jobs in an already economically depressed area), and some saw the Muslim Somalis as presenting a symbolic threat to their Catholic values. These conditions, combined with the White residents' previously held prejudices and lack of experience with racial diversity, probably reinforced some prejudice toward the Somalis. As one Somali student said, "The Somalis are in the limelight in two ways. They're Muslim, and they're black, which is the hardest position for a person to be in the United States today."
6. Racism in the intercultural communication
Racism is the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people simply on the basis of their race and that some racial groups are superior to others. Racism and discrimination have been used as powerful weapons encouraging fear or hatred of others in times of conflict and war, and even during economic downturns.
One important feature of racism, especially toward blacks and immigrant groups, is clear in attitudes regarding slaves and slavery. Jews are usually seen by anti-Semites as subhuman but also superhuman: devilishly cunning, skilled, and powerful. Blacks and others are seen by racists as merely subhuman, more like beasts than men. If the focus of anti-Semitism is evil, the focus of racism is inferiority - directed toward those who have sometimes been considered to lack even the ability to be evil.
One group of people that often go unnoticed when it comes to racism and discrimination are Gypsies. In Europe they have been persecuted to a similar extent as the Jews throughout history, including World War II and even now they are largely mistreated or ignored.
"Europe has a regional human rights architecture which is unrivaled elsewhere in the world", Amnesty International notes in their 2010 report on the Europe and Central Asia region. But the human rights watchdog also adds that as well as guarding a proud reputation as a beacon of human rights, "it is sadly still the case, however, that the reality of protection from human rights abuses for many of those within its borders falls short of the rhetoric." In recent years, one of those forms of abuses has been in the area of race, often growing with changing economic circumstances and increased immigration to the region.
From the institutionalized racism especially in colonial times, when racial beliefs were not considered something wrong, to recent times where the effects of neo-Nazism is still felt, Europe is a complex area with many cultures in a relatively small area of land that has seen many conflicts throughout history. (Many of these conflicts have had trade, resources and commercial rivalry at their core, but national identities have often added fuel to some of these conflicts.)
A short review from the Inter Press Service highlights the rise of neo-Nazism in 2000 in Europe and suggests that "far from being a fringe activity, racism, violence and neo-nationalism have become normal in some communities. The problems need to be tackled much earlier, in schools and with social programmes."
Ethnic minorities and different cultures in one country can often be used as a scapegoat for the majority during times of economic crisis. That is one reason why Nazism became so popular.
In France, May 2002, the success of far right politician Le Pen in the run for leadership (though he lost out in the end) sent a huge shockwave throughout Europe, about how easy it was for far right parties to come close to getting power if there is complacency in the democratic processes and if participation is reduced.
In Italy, there are attempts to try and deal with the rise in undocumented immigrants from Tunisia. The reactions from the right wing have been labeled by some as being "openly racist". In 2010 problems of racism in Italy continue. For example, a wave of violence against African farm workers in southern Italy left some 70 people injured. This resulted in police having to evacuate over 300 workers from the region. The workers were easy targets being exploited as fruit pickers living in difficult conditions. They earn "starvation wages" according to a BBC reporter, doing "backbreaking work which Italians do not want" in a labor market controlled by the local mafia.
Spain has seen increased racial violence. The growing economy invites immigrants from North African countries such as Morocco. However, the poor conditions that immigrants have had to endure and the already racially charged region has led to friction and confrontations.
For over a decade, immigration issues have been headlines in the UK. The nature of the discussions bears a clear racial dimension as well as hostility to Eastern Europeans, such as those from Poland. Anti-immigrant rhetoric has also contributed to increasing interest in racist political parties such as the British National Party. This also, predictably, has increased as the global financial crisis impacts more of Britain's population.
In June 1998, One Nation, an Australian nationalist party won 25 percent of the votes with their main lines at fighting immigration by non-whites. This was made possible where unemployment was been high and where it was easy to convince the people that immigrants were taking their jobs, as it would serve to be a convenient excuse and avenue to vent frustration. Australia has also had a very racist past in which apartheid has been practiced and where indigenous Aboriginal people have lost almost all their land and suffered many prejudices. In the past, the notorious policy that led to the Stolen Generation was practiced. This was the institutionalized attempt to prevent Aboriginal children (and thus future generations) from being socialized into Aboriginal culture. (This also occurred in various parts of the Americas too.)
Inter Press Service (IPS) describes how Lebanon has these discrimination problems even though it is often considered relatively open. For example, people of color face discrimination at work and away from work, often not allowed at some beaches or clubs, or allowed with various restrictions. In addition, property rights are severely curtailed, even for Palestinians who are the same race, but not nationals.
"Brazil live with a prejudice that there are no prejudices," says sociologist F. Ferdinandes fifty years ago. Only fifteen years ago the F. E. Cardosu's government admitted officially that the country suffers from racism. There is a great amount of racist examples. Children of black people are rarely praised or spoken to at schools; they are much more frequently punished. According to sociologist and lawyer J. Vincente's personal experience, near expensive restaurants whites accept blacks as jockeys for their cars, in shopping centres they are attentively watched by security. When mother of one of the most famous and greatest football players Ronaldinio came to his place to see him the porter showed her the staff entrance.
All of these arguments and examples are based on a false understanding of race; in fact, contemporary scientists are not agreed on whether race is a valid way to classify people. What may seem to be significant "racial" differences to some people - skin color, hair, facial shape - are not of much scientific significance. In fact, genetic differences within a so-called race may be greater than those between races.
7. Tolerance as the result of the intercultural communication
Many scientists consider tolerance to be the feeling of respect for culture and ideas of other people, their conscious decision to accept others as they are, interact with them with no damage to their and own interests. Its ground is a positive image about a social group. As a wide notion tolerance is the feature for every culture, but it reveals with different power. The Russian "tolerance" is not a complete synonym, because it means to overcome difficulties. The Americans are much more tolerant. Their tolerance lies in their cultural peculiarities: immigrants from all over the world have to coexist peacefully. Tolerance is not an inherited trait of personality; it develops within communication and presupposes flexibility, readiness for dialogue, mutual respect and equality. It has a relative character. For example, it is hard for the Americans to understand why the Russians live in uncomfortable conditions or violations of consumer laws, violations in laws for debtors, vandalism, etc. The Russians, in their turn, do not understand why the Americans being so tolerant for sexual minorities and religious hostility in some cases cannot accept debatable questions about the role of women, politics and so on. Intolerance (when values and lifestyle of own group are at the first place) can be demonstrated through impoliteness, neglect to others or even genocide. Main forms of intolerance are: mockery, outrage, negative stereotypes, prejudices, ethnocentrism, discrimination, restriction of the human rights, etc.
Taking into account the diversity of cultures, ever raising number of contacts we should put at the first place the educating tolerance. The basic notion here is dialogue which allows to unite in our minds and actions completely different cultures, forms of behavior and values. One of the purposes of such education is to create suitable conditions for peoples' integration (students exchange) and to work out skills of effective communication with each other.
There are several stages to form tolerance:
I. Acquiring general knowledge about another culture
- To realize some peculiarities of cultures for effective communication
-To find ways to experience intercultural communication in neutral situations to feel these peculiarities
- To develop language skills through self-education (tapes, films, newspapers, magazines, live communication)
- To accumulate vocabulary for the stage I
- To use acquired skills and knowledge as much as possible
III. Acquiring profound knowledge about the culture
- To collect and research information about cultural diversity of the country
- To prepare oneself to the cultural shock
- To listen to the experience of other people who is in close touch with the culture
K. Sitaram and R. Ckogdell worked out practical recommendations to form tolerance:
- To respect another culture as much as one's own
- To try to understand religion of that culture
- To respect cuisine, dress traditions, avoiding demonstration of disgust to new smells
- Not to judge people by their accent or colour of their skin
- To try to understand that every culture has something to contribute to the world
racism discrimination cultural inequality
If our world were perfect there would be absolutely no intercultural barriers present. All people would give respect to their peers regardless of their race, religion, gender, culture, or size. However in the harsh reality of our world today, this is very unlikely to happen. The fear, hate, and ignorance that are associated with intercultural barriers could easily be done away with if we would implement intercultural communication strategies such as the ones previously mentioned.
Racism has always been both an instrument of discrimination and a tool of exploitation. But it manifests itself as a cultural phenomenon, susceptible to cultural solutions, such as multicultural education and the promotion of ethnic identities.
Tackling the problem of cultural inequality, however, does not by itself redress the problem of economic inequality. Racism is conditioned by economic imperatives, but negotiated through culture: religion, literature, art, science and the media.
1. W. Lippmann, "Public opinion", 1922
2. Danny's Corner, April 28, 2011
3. Martin J.N., & Nakayama T.K. Intercultural Communication, 2005
4. F. E. Jandt "An Introduction to Intercultural Communication: Identities in a Global Community"
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