THE BLOG

Racism: Is It Inherent or Learned?

16/02/2014 14:46 GMT | Updated 17/04/2014 10:59 BST

Woken up, sat up in bed, head placed on my lifeless hands. I heard an unpleasant conversation outside my window; I was alarmed and stood up in disbelief when I heard "I'm urinating on a Black C***'s window". I panicked and noted the footsteps draw further away from me. I say, racism is the canister whereby an individual replenishes it with his own substance...his canister certainly could not regulate any substance.

To reason that all beings are inherently racist is beyond the scope of credibility. Before the development of transportation, it was virtually impossible for different racial groups to have interacted. Thus it can be construed that it is not plausible that the human lineage, through evolution, acclimatised an intuitive and inherent response to individuals of different racial groups.

Nevertheless, individuals who choose to contest that racism is indeed inherent have made every effort to bolster their outlook with suggestions that racism is rather biological. For Instance: Phelps et al. (2000) found that when White Americans see black people there is an augmented activity in the amygdala (measured using fMRI), a brain structure correlated with sentiment and, particularly, with the recognition of threats.

Even so, the correlation between psychological responses and biological relations do not tell us whether the responses are categorically innate. In another study carried out by Eva Telzer of UCLA whereby amygdala studies were performed on children, there seemed to be an interesting revelation: the racial sensitivity of the amygdala does not take effect until the age of 15.

Furthermore, once it takes effect, it does not affect each individual congruently. It was discovered that the more diverse your peer group, the weaker the amygdala effect. In cases where diversity is prominent, the effect disappeared completely. The authors of the studies noted that ''these findings suggest that neural biases to race are not innate and that race is a social construction, learned over time.''

Of course it is imprudent to believe that we're all born innocent, though we're not inherently racist, it is somehow natural to us to 'select' and 'categorise'. It appears that evolution has inclined us to willingly identify entire groups of individuals as the nemesis. However, when defining this antagonist; classifying the 'outcast', some incline to be very compliant. The externalised group can be described and 'characterised' by its religion, language or skin colour. Clearly, it is all contingent on which group we contemplate to be ominous to our welfare and securities.

Race is a social paradigm. It does not intrinsically draw a parallel with our prototypes of anxiety or distrust or phobia, despite the fact that it can develop into one. Thus it is within our authority to foster a social order whereby race is not a profound construct.