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Why education won’t eliminate racism

Discussions on racism often focus on education as a tool in fighting and eliminating it. One of the most repeated explanations for the cause of racism is identified as the ‘lack of education’ and therefore the lack of ‘understanding’ by racists of why racism is such a bad thing.
 

 

Another widely used explanation for racism is that "there are ‘bad’ people who, for one reason or the other, happen to be racist".

Is racism really the result of lack of education or bad education?

Can racism - or the cause of it - be explained by the existence of 'bad' people?

Surely education is a good thing and surely in every society there are bad people...

Would you think that the British Home Secretary or any government minister in any country could actually be uneducated?

Would you consider  prominent, well-travelled and internationally known TV show hosts to be ignorant to what is happening around the world?

Could the CEO of a company be lacking intelligence?

Do the upper class people suffer from lack of educational resources and intellectual opportunities?

Would you think that the university professors are not knowledgeable?

Could a worker, capable of building the most complex things, be a genetically narrow minded person when it comes to race and nationality?

Could a successful sports person lack the ability to understand and interpret various issues in life?

If we explain racism by 'lack of education' and if the answers to the questions above are generally “no”, then how do we explain racist government ministers, high profile media personalities, business leaders, academics, skilful workers or popular sports people?

If we were talking about only a few racist people, maybe we could think of these individuals as odd cases, but they are not just a few and they seem to be coming out of the woodwork everywhere.
 

Finally, if we can’t explain these cases that easily, does it mean that racism has nothing to do with ones level of education and intelligence?

Ultimately, do all of these cases mean that the fight against racism has in fact little or nothing to do with ‘educating’ the people and raising the social awareness of society?

What is more, which social awareness are we talking about? Are the social and objective conditions of a rich person and a low paid worker or a poor person the same? Do millions of poor people and the rich minority elites of the world have the same problems and common ambitions for the future? Do they equally share the control, management and distribution of world resources? Do they have equal economic/political power in their hands?

And if not, how can we homogeneously deal with both realities (the objective conditions of masses and the minority rulers) using a common and single formula, called ‘education' for the purpose of eliminating racism? Would a rich man and a low paid worker have equality based social interactions in life outside of the economic-political relationship where one rules the other? Can we simply bring these two separate classes into a room and give them the 'education' against racism?

Can the people who control the borders and people who need to cross them ever have the same understanding of immigration control? Do borders mean the same thing to these different class of people?

Who starts wars? Who creates poverty, economic crises and misery? Who suffers from all of these?

If, despite all the educational projects to eliminate racism, we still have to deal with it today, does it mean we should abandon all educational activities on anti-racism? Have we been lied to by agencies, governments and various progressive organisations regarding what needs to happen to actually eliminate racism?

A lot of questions....

Sometimes the answers to complicated questions and the clarity on difficult issues are hidden in the questions themselves. When it comes to racism we need to stop repeating the well-known answers and start asking difficult and different questions, like the ones above.

One of the problems with discussions on racism is the blurred line between 'eliminating its symptoms' and 'eliminating its real causes'. Most of the time the discussions are held within the framework of getting rid of the symptoms of racism. This, on one hand may well produce practical action plans, state policies and a legal framework but on the other hand it creates a false sense of achievement. And next time when racism rears its ugly head in our society, we start discussing the issue all over again using the same analysis and we prescribe previously failed solutions.

It seems we simply can’t educate our society against racism, despite educating them in engineering, science, medicine and in all other disciplines.

It seems we simply can’t train our children against racism, despite training them in all sorts of sports…

"We'll just educate racism out of them" approach doesn't seem to work.

Could the national education policies of the states in fact be a part of the problem? Can a state that implements racial profiling and race based discrimination really deliver a totally anti-racist education system?

If the masters of societies benefit from a divided working class, can we educate them out of their political and economic interests and expect them to work on eliminating racism?

Despite the 'pessimistic' sounding questions above, huge majority of people on earth are not racist. If this wasn't the case, our world would have been an unbearable place to live in. People are not racist but they live in their objective conditions that create fear, anxiety and divisions among people. These conditions exist nationally and internationally. We live in a global village but it is only global in terms of conditions forced upon us, not because we can freely wander around in this village.

Education is indeed extremely important in the fight against racism but only as a tool to arm ourselves with the ability to understand the society, state and our conditions. However, this is a different kind of education. It won't be full of national heroes or heroins, fake, manufactured history lessons and it is not designed as a production line for creating the next generation of obedient workers...

Indeed, our children are educated in maths, science and all sorts of other disciplines. But anti-racism is not a skill or science. It is a political idea to fight the system. It is not useful in maintaining the current exploitive system of capitalism. No capitalist state wants children coming out of schools demanding the dismantling of borders. No state can afford young brains to challenge the role of state, nationalism and economic-political contradictions between rulers and masses of people.

To accept the system of capitalism and exploitation, and at the same time hoping to eliminate racism within the confines of this system is a hope that won't be realized. But this does not mean that the fight against racism is a wasted time. Absolutely not. It is that fight that takes us a step further in achieving a new life without capitalism and racism. In this fight we need less moralism but more political understanding and a stronger political fight...

To think that "we must rehabilitate masses and educate them to wipe racism off" is a commonly referred plan that has never worked. If you think of immigration control, you must think of racism. If you think of racism you must also think of nationalism and capitalism. While elimination of racism in a capitalist society is wishful thinking, the fight against it in the very same society is a necessary reality.

Racism is not a sickness of the brain or just an emotional reaction by mis-guided and uneducated people but the product of capitalist ideology. The emotional reactions and sick racist attitudes are just the symptoms.

Anti-racist activist sometimes ignore the cause and try to address the symptoms. Symptoms must be dealt with but let's not present this as the entire battle to get rid of the cause of racism.

The real battle has many more fronts...

 

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