There’s no denying the fact that racism is real. In the US, black folks keep getting shot by white police wantonly. It’s so bad that folks are beginning to wonder if a lion’s life isn’t worth more than a black person’s life. After all, shock waves were sent round the word when a lion named Cecil was killed in Africa last year. But when a white person kills a black person, nothing really happens. Racism is real.
In France, there are allegations of footballers getting discriminated against because they’re either blacks or Arabs. This even happened shortly before the start of the ongoing Euro 2016 tournament. And do we need to bother about racism nowadays when human history has been littered with the most inhumane acts of racism? What about whites and Arabs taking Africans as slaves? You don’t want to remind yourself of the horrors of slavery, do you? In so many parts of the world, a group of people moved somewhere, annihilated the original dwellers of the land, and made it theirs. The Jews of the Old Testament did this same thing, taking the land of the Canaanites for themselves. America and Australia are notable examples of this horrible behavior in more recent history. And the Holocaust? Don’t even go there. Racism is real.
Let me come back home to Africa. The Tutsis versus Hutus crisis of Rwanda in 1994 is a tragedy we can never forget. The Apartheid of South Africa. The Biafra war of Nigeria. We can keep elongating the list. If I don’t know about the aftermath of any of these, at least, I know of the Biafra. That’s the civil war that ended, but doesn’t appear to have ended more than four decades thereafter. Even in 2016, Nigeria is still immersed in catastrophic ethnic crisis. And there seems to be no way out. No ethnic group is ready to trust the other. Allegations and counter-allegations of ethnic cleansing keep flying around concerning our political appointments, job opportunities, fight against corruption, and even simple things like university admissions.
Nigeria has well over 200 ethnic groups and the country’s constitution seems not to be sufficient to handle this compositional chaos. Different ethnic pressure groups (violent and non-violent) rise up from different parts of the country from time to time. From MASSOB and IPOB to Fulani herdsmen and The Avengers, the country just can’t seem to rest from the effects of racism (call it tribalism if you feel it’s more appropriate). Every list of federal appointees gets everybody crying out. There was even a time folks used to cry out if their tribe seemed to have been left behind in the football team representing the country on the pitch. One way to keep everybody happy is to include every tribe in the grand scheme of things but how possible is it to include more than 200 ethnic groups in governance? So much for the federal character!
There are a few things that horribly divide humans. Religion does. Social status does. Politics does. But none of these is natural. They’re all artificial. All man-made. But when you talk about race/ethnicity as a dividing factor among humans, you’re talking about something that’s not man-made. We humans didn’t create races and tribes. You can switch your religion. Or your social status. Or political affiliation. You can even try to switch your gender nowadays. But can you switch your race? Can an African become an Asian? Can a white person become an Arab? Can an Igbo man become a Hausa man? An African can change his name or nationality to British but he’ll never be a white man.
Race is genetic. Certain genes differentiate between members of a race or tribe from others. That’s why the human genome project was able to trace Americans to the particular African tribes they came from. In other words, a Hausa man is genetically different from a Yoruba man. You can’t readily change your genes. That’s why you can’t change your race or tribe. We didn’t create these things.
So if we didn’t, who did? Where did they come from? Why do they exist? The answer depends on who you talk to.
The answer to the question is the solution to racism. Believing that God created the races and tribes won’t solve the problem. If you finish saying God created them, you’ll need to tell us why. The ‘why‘ is where the problem lies. If you believe in purposeful creation by a purposeful creator, then you will aid and abet racism. No wonder some people who believed similarly felt like it was their right to own other races as slaves. That was their own ‘why‘.
Leviticus 25:44-46 (RSV) As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are round about you.
You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property.
You may bequeath them to your sons after you, to inherit as a possession for ever; you may make slaves of them, but over your brethren the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another, with harshness.
When we were growing up, we grew up with the story of Genesis 11. The whole human race was allegedly united in one language and God didn’t like it. So he allegedly created the races. But ever since that alleged creation, humanity has not known peace. I personally do not believe that an all-good God would create these intractable, catastrophic divisions called ‘races’. No matter how much you tell us that God doesn’t like racism, I still will never understand why he would create something that could lead to another thing he wouldn’t like. It’s like I would plant a flower whose pollen I’m allergic to! He sure knew that racism would be the only result of creating humans into races (that’s what ‘all-knowing’ means). And it was possible for him to create us without the races (that’s what ‘all-powerful’ means). And he wouldn’t like us to do racism (that’s what ‘all-good’ means). So how do you look at racism and balance these three attributes of the creator?
So this is how I know that theology is not the solution to the racism problem. Religious explanations can’t do it. Sermonizing against it is internally inconsistent. We need to look further. We need a redefinition of humanity. We need to provide another explanation.
Science helps us here. With science, we know that a creator didn’t create human races. Evolution was responsible for the origin of humans and migrations out of Africa was responsible for the races. With genetics and other tools of enquiry, we now know that humanity as a whole and races were accidents of nature. No purpose to these things. This consciousness of purposelessness of our creation and racial variation will humble us in many ways. There’s no need for feeling of entitlement by any group.
And this scientific knowledge will also let us see this force of evolution working in us. This force is seen in all living species. It’s a force that pushes us to preserve our gene pool and ensure its survival into the next generation. That’s where nepotism comes from. Someone who shares a couple of genes with you will most likely get your protection against someone who doesn’t. And you will tend to eliminate the chances of survival of someone who doesn’t share your gene pool for the benefit of someone who does. It’s the same reason why members of an animal specie predate (prey) on others and why they protect themselves against predation from others. That’s the origin of the ‘us versus them’ mentality. This was beautifully expressed in the Richard Dawkins’ 1979 book titled the ‘Selfish Gene’. This point is for those who think that we humans were created differently from other animals.
Whether you think it was a purposeful creation by a purposeful creator or the accident of a mindless natural process, it’s an error we need to correct. As I said above, telling people that the purposeful creator that created these natural divisions doesn’t want us to work with them (i.e., practise racism) is like begging the question. A totally circular argument.
One, we need to accept the triviality of our racial difference. We need to accept that it doesn’t have a transcendental importance. There’s no need to take it seriously. This education is something that should start from childhood. Rather than indoctrinating our kids with divisive myths and delusions, this is what we should be teaching them from early on.
Two. Mixing races will solve the problem. As some futurists will suggest, this will be the ultimate end of racism in the world. The more we interbreed, the more our skin colours approximate and our language becomes one. And the more the genes mix and the phenotypical differences disappear. And the more we accept ourselves as a truly one human family that we were before God allegedly divided us into the different races and tribes. And the more developed the human civilization becomes. And the better a place the world becomes.
The solution to all human divisions is to take them as trivial and then work towards blurring the lines. It’s not by accident that children who are born to parents practising different religions are hardly religious bigots themselves. The same thing goes for ethnicity and race. That’s why we should pull down every barrier against interbreeding. Watch the following video to see how interbreeding solves the racism problem.