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Racism, A Form Of Dehumanization Essay

1473 words - 6 pages

In today’s modern society, we live in a world where racism amongst people of different races has the ability and potential to express itself in a variety of ways. This expression of racism could vary depending on geography, culture, time period, etc. Nevertheless, regardless of these possible factors, racism is likely taking shape in some way or form, whether one is cognizant of it or not. This racism that seems to be occurring throughout the world, has had and continues to have a profound effect on the way we live today, not only economically and politically, but socially as well. Many philosophers have studied racism, looking at the situation from various standpoints and perspectives. In an attempt to get a full understanding, racism is often studied by means of both white and black people, while being analyzed and critically evaluated from both such perspectives as well. In his piece “The Bad Faith of Whiteness,” Robert Birt is one such philosopher who elaborates and expands upon this term “bad faith” from which racism has the ability to stem. In Lewis Gordon’s book “Existencia Africana” he claims, “that racism is a form of dehumanization, and that dehumanization is a form of bad faith” (Gordon 85). Such a claim sums up the concept nicely, but as others have continued to write about in their works, there is more complexity to this issue, and that other racist ideas and explanations can further be connected back to this matter.
The argument made by Robert Birt starts off by explaining particularly what is occurring in this interaction between white and black people that leads to this idea of bad faith. The author claims, “the self-deceptions of bad faith often originate in a project of denying the freedom of others” (Birt 58). To further elaborate and put the situation into context, the author explains that when a black person communicates with a white person, the white views the black in such a way that makes them seem “un-human.” They become ignorant towards their opinions and values and tend to disregard their actions. Such an exchange is then what further leads the white to act upon their thoughts in regards to blacks. Because whites view blacks in such a “dehumanizing” way, this provokes that they will be treated in a way that corresponds with this idea. Thus, this is how such racial conflict has started to culminate and expand in society. Birt gives an example and explains this situation in terms “slavery” and how “the practice entailed reducing the enslaved Other to a subhuman status” (Birt 60). Therefore, such a time in our nation’s history when slavery was present, is indicative of the concept of bad faith.
Another important aspect, integral to this concept of bad faith, a Birt explains, is the idea of denial and ignorance of the situation that manifests itself as a result, claiming that, “the intent of bad faith is precisely to deceive oneself while also denying that intention” (Birt 56). Such an idea would indicate that whilst...

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