Can Education Eradicate Racism?

Zwart Piet Black Pete

If you haven’t heard, UN has come out strongly demanding that the dutch stop their age old tradition of painting themselves black right before Christmas, a tradition they call Zwarte Piet (Black Pete).

The Black Pete are like the elves who help Father Christmas. The whole event starts with a man (Nikolaus) coming in a steamboat from Spain together with the painted people, with black faces, red lips and curly hair. He comes bearing gifts and sweets for the kids. Many black people have condemned this practice for ages and now the UN has joined in the fight but the dutch aren’t willing to let go of their age old tradition so fast.

‘The working group does not understand why it is that people in the Netherlands cannot see that this is a throwback to slavery, and that in the 21st century this practice should stop,’ Verene Shepherd, chairwoman of a U.N. Human Rights Commission panel told television program EenVandaag.

I had a discussion today on racism and I think people tend to mix up what is racist and what isn’t due to lack of understand of what it is to begin with. From my understanding, and the basis of anything I term racist is: positive or negative judgement based on one’s colour. A person who is not racist can do something racist. An action can be racist. Just because you’re married to an African but look at Africans as dumb based on them being African and not due to their “dumb” behaviour, then that is racist. You might not be racist but that judgement right there was racist. Of course this includes loving people based on their colour and not their individual personality. This further subdivides into: discrimination based on tribe (tribalism); blood relations (nepotism); gender (sexism)….I think you get the drift.

Anyhu, some reporters from the ARD decided to check on whether education can be used as a weapon to eradicate racism. To their dismay it doesn’t. Apparently racism is perpetuated by learned friends just as much as it is by unlearned.

For those who might not understand German. The short documentary talks to two University Professors and a student at the University of Osnabrück where they had a survey on the students sentiments on foreigners.

The student in the video, who looks like he has Asian roots but was bred in Germany talks of how students treat him. Jerome argues that the professors never step up to stop the other students from discriminating against the foreigners in the classroom.

They share an example where two students handed in a report but the professor refused to correct it siting that the students must have copied the report because it contained foreign words, the two ladies were from Turkey.

The Professor in the video says that discrimination isn’t a University problem but a societal issue.

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