Racists considered Blacks sub humans

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Advocates of racism against Blacks actually held the outrageous view that the Negro was sub human.
As Prof.
Robert Charvin of Nice University (France) explained at a symposium in Dakar last June, it was largely this mistaken view that justified the enslavement of the black man.
The understanding back then, Charvin noted, was that "to be a free [black] man required a long learning process from the slave master".
The trading in Black slaves gave rise to an ideological debate.
The question as to whether Blacks had a soul or otherwise was an empty one, History professor Joseph Ki-Zerbo of Burkinabe nationality, also pointed out at the Dakar forum that was organised ahead of the world conference on racism, scheduled to run from 31 August to 7 September in Durban, South Africa.
In his opinion, even converting slaves into Christianity - the passport slave traders subsequently used to reach black slaves - did not make things any better.
Ki-Zerbo contended that notwithstanding the admission of blacks in the community of Christians, their status as slaves "not only took them away from the leading group of the human caravan, but also relegated them to the sidelines of that caravan as a sub-species".
In reality, he explained, philosophers of The Enlightenment largely contributed to the development of that ideology "by attempting to make a big hypocritical difference between their principles and their interests".
Montesquieu, quoted by Pr Ki-Zerbo, wrote the following words about the Blacks: "One cannot possibly think that God, who is the embodiment of wisdom, has put a soul in a jet black body," Ki-Zerbo quoted Montesquieu as asserting, including "their nose is so flat that it is impossible to feel sorry for them".
For Montesquieu, "natural servitude should be limited to certain specific countries on earth," Prof.
Charvin recalled, alluding also to the Black Code proclaimed in 1685 by King Louis XIV to institutionalise slavery.
The Code turned the Black man into an object that could be owned like property, thus adding strength to the assumption according to which, "racism cannot explain domination but, on the contrary, it is the exploitation of the peoples of the South which vindicates racism".
Racism therefore appears as "the legitimisation" of the victory of the Whites".
According to experts, racism is a theory based on prejudice according to which different human races have biological differences that justify relations of domination between them, as well attitudes of rejection and aggression.
Racism, which is a feeling of hatred of one human group against another, is a pseudo-scientific belief in the supremacy of a human group, defined as a race, over others, they say.
It leads to the intolerance of other groups and is, more often than not, closer to xenophobia and racial segregation which are its manifestations.
A French NGO fighting the practice takes the view that the oldest known and documented facts of racism took place in France when the Duke of Brittany (now a French region) decided in 1240 to expel all Jews.
It points out that "racism, particularly the intolerance that inspires it, dates as far back as man's existence," taking its origin from the colour of the skin, religion, homosexuality, age, social class, sex, etc.
Anthropologists point out that the Inuits (inhabitants of the Antarctic) proclaimed themselves as the only men in the world.
Historians have written that the Greeks made a distinction between themselves and the "Barbarians," considering themselves as the only free men who could reduce other populations to slavery.
It is also a historical fact that the Romans felt they were superior to their neighbours and were entitled to invading their territories, while the Egyptians were opposed to all those who did not speak their language.
The Chinese asked themselves questions on the degree of intelligence of the navigators who reached their coasts and started "comparing" the peoples among themselves.
The colonisation of South America, of the Aborigines of Australia, of Korea by Japan, and of Africa by the West was an expression of racism.
At the Dakar forum on slavery, the consensus that the Slave Trade, slavery and colonisation must today be enlarged to include negations in globalisation that convey the same perverse structures of oppression and contempt.
"The international community must recognise that the slave trade and slavery, just like colonisation, are all crimes against mankind that only compound the globalisation phenomenon," the forum insisted.
It maintained that contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance are based, as in the past, on a racial and ethnic ideology.
In a 1998 report, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) noted that "the international community is today confronted with a rise in racism in the form of xenophobia, ethnic cleansing and aggression against migrant workers and minority groups".
The danger is real not only for direct victims, but also for society at large "for racism can engender a serious conflict and impinge on the freedom and prosperity of a group," the UNHCR report added.
It is perhaps more difficult to face up to contemporary forms of racism than to Apartheid? Whatever the case, urgent measures are badly needed, notes the UNHCR, which is the main organiser of the Durban conference against racism.
The conference is aimed at reviewing progress made in the fight against racism, studying ways to ensuring compliance with norms in force, sensitising world opinion on the dangers of racism and analysing the political, historical, economic, social, cultural and other factors that engender racism and racial discrimination.

20 august 2001 22:37:00




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