The Dangers of Divisiveness

In these volatile times, where more and more people of color say that there cannot be such a thing as a hate crime against white people, the issue continues to be hotly debated.  Perhaps the reason for the heated back-and-forth arguments has as much to do with assuming we know what the terms mean as with the situations themselves.

Definition of a hate crime

A hate crime is a crime motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, typically one involving violence.

Definition of race

When used as a social construct, race defines a group of people with similar and distinct physical characteristics.  The term was first used in the 17th century to identify organisms based on observable characteristics and traits, and then in the 19th century to identify human populations that were different from each other based on their observable characteristics and traits.

Definition of racism

There are two definitions of racism causing problems when discussing issues of what is and isn’t racism, and what does and doesn’t constitute a hate crime.

Racism as a racial prejudice means that all people can be racist.  Racism as social advantage means that those races not in a position of power cannot systematically benefit from racism.

Definition of reverse racism

Though some claim tat reverse racism is impossible, this is discrimination against a dominant or formerly dominant group that represents or used to represent a majority in society who are believed to have oppressed other groups.  For the most part, whites are considered to be the default race responsible for oppressing all other races.

What are the race categories

In the U.S., there are five race categories:  American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African-American; Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; and White (those with origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa).

That being said, anthropologists have identified four race categories with thirty subgroups within those categories.  The race categories are: Caucasian; Asian; Negroid; and Australoid.

The United Nations has used the term ethnic groups instead of race since 1950, and using their determinations, there are more than five thousand ethnic groups in the world based on a 1998 study published in the Scientific American.

Identifying genetic characteristics

When it comes to humans, there are no genetic characteristics that belong to one group and one group only.  No single gene or single gene cluster belongs to just one group of people.  What this means is that racial divisions based on genetic differences do not exist.

The implication of this statement is that racism can therefore only address social advantage.

Definition of social advantage

Social advantage encompasses the concepts in which society deals with the social divisions created by society, and taking into account income, finances, age, employment, education, religious/spiritual affiliations, ethnicity, family ideals/ethics, incidence of crime, and more.

The optimal blend of factors creates social advantage for the individual.  That being said, no one is bound by the factors that impact on his or her life, and one’s decisions determines the level of social advantage one enjoys.

The existence of racism

Racism exists.  No group of people can be excluded from potentially experiencing racism.  In other words, while it’s true that Asians and African Americans and Native American Indians can most assuredly be victims of hate crimes based on their race, the same can also be said for whites.

When the accepted definition of whites is that they are a race with origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa, violence against whites in the form of hate crimes absolutely do exist.

That arson attack on the only mosque in Peterborough (Ontario, Canada)? Hate crime.

Jesse Pelletier’s YouTube video where he threatened to kill one Arab a week in Quebec?  Hate crime.

The beating of white Matthew Boorujuy by two black men in Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada)? Hate crime.

Three white teens in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA) sitting at a table in a school cafeteria who were subjected to verbal assaults based on their ethnicity? Hate crime.

John King whose home in Clarksdale (Missouri, USA) was burned to the ground after it was graffiti’d with ‘Get Out Of Town Cracker’? Hate crime.

Most recently, the woman in Calgary (Alberta, Canada) who was punched in the face (knocking out a tooth) by an Indigenous woman who yelled, ‘I hate white people’?  Contrary to what Judge Harry Van Harten wrote, that was a hate crime as well.

Final note

Hate crimes are just that — crimes rooted in hatred for the person or persons targeted.  Anyone from any race can commit a hate crime against anyone else from any race.

By insisting that white people cannot be victims of hate crimes is to marginalize a group of people based solely on their skin tone and ethnicity.  Let’s not go down the road of discrimination and divisiveness that is so well-traveled by so many in this generation and all the generations before us.

It’s time to just stop hating each other, especially when we use race as the excuse for committing atrocities against each other.  Race doesn’t seem to be the problem.  Attitude is.  Instead of waiting for the other person to start doing the right thing, just do the right thing and steer the course.

As one very wise man once said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him … We need not wait to see what others do.”

That quote was from Mohandas Karamchand Mahatma Gandhi — the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India (someone who would be considered Asian if he was to be racially profiled).

Elyse Bruce


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