**** Race and Culture ****
The concept of race or racial difference is essentially an artificial one as all of humanity is actually the one race. In recent times, the concept of culture has been used to discriminate against groups of people when racial discrimination was officially outlawed.
Culture is essentially the way that different group of people acquire a particular world view, a way of making sense of the world from particular social, economic, environmental and demographic conditions. Cultures are not static, they change all the time in response to a wide variety of factors.
Racists sometimes argue I have nothing against Asians or Blacks as people, it's just that their culture is incompatible with the British/German/French way of life. This is a nonsense argument as all groups of people have a culture and their culture is an essential part of what they are as is their skin colour. Likewise, some anti-racist work especially in schools adopts a colour blind approach to the issue and introduce pupils to the more exotic and acceptable aspects of non-white culture while ignoring the materialist nature of racism. This is known as the saris and samosas style of anti-racist work and is obviously of very limited use.
Racism which is focused on a hatred of another groups culture, as it is in the case of Travellers and Gypsies, is sometimes harder to identify clearly as racism because the victims are sometimes white. However, the power relationship which is one of domination and oppression is the key to identifying the reality of racism in these situations.
Response and strategies for fighting racism
The strategies adopted to fight racism depend on the analysis. They basically break down into reformist strategies and revolutionary ones.
The American experience illustrates some of the strategies that have been used. Militant civil rights campaigns such as those which took place in the 1960's in America with leaders such as Martin Luther King succeeded in gaining basic civil rights for black and in forcing the dismantling of the worst forms of institutional racism. It involved mass civil disobedience and voter registration campaigns.
However, the leaders of the movement were middle class with no concept of the need for working class unity. Although many very worthwhile reforms were won, racism remained very mush part of American society. Another more radical strategy associated with Malcolm X was that of black nationalism and black separatism. Racism is defined as endemic to white so like that of the unemployed in the fifties. The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed is entirely dominated by Union hacks, poverty pimps, CV trippers and time servers.
We should not be entirely pessimistic. We know that things can change quick, fast and in a hurry. The massive mobilisation in the case of the attorney general Versus the X case and the climb down it caused is ample proof of this. We can't afford to throw up our hands and give up on activism. We must not retreat into the real roots of racism in this strategy.
As revolutionaries, we recognise the material basis of racism and its use under capitalism to divide workers, set foreign workers against natives and to provide convenient scapegoats for all the problems capitalism produces. It can only be defeated by a class based strategy which aims to unite non-white and white workers in a struggle for anarchism.
Finally, it is important for us to be aware of the devastating effects of racism at a personal and at a community level. To be black, Asian, a Traveller or a member of an ethnic or cultural minority in most Western countries is a debilitating experience.
Racism shatters individuals self confidence and self image and leads to poor mental and physical health. It can destroy communities subjected to it as it almost has done in the case of Native Americans and Australian Aborigines, for example.
For this reason, it is important to challenge individual acts of racism when we come across them as well as campaigning politically against it.
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