BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Talking Point  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Monday, 1 March, 1999, 23:13 GMT
Will we ever get rid of racism? Your reaction
Since time beagn different races have been fighting and destroying each other. This will never change. Racism cannot be destroyed but it can be taught to be controlled.
W Linton, UK

Unfortunately there will always be somebody full of unreasoning hate and/or fear towards those who are different.
Jon Ivars, Finland

No, we won't get rid of it. Discrimination is a function of life. We discriminate between family and non-family, club-members and non-members; colleagues and non-colleagues; countrymen and foreigners, and always have. Without discrimination we could not organise things, and our minds might have too much confusion to deal with. Discriminating protests us from too much confusion. The issue is not: Do we discriminate, but How do we discriminate.
Bert Napier, Holland

Racism will always be here as long as there is a north south divide - that's the third world and the west - the west is in the position it is in now because of nearly 600 years of slavery and racism and ignorance - racism can be got rid of by amending for the past.
Rizwan Ahmed, UK

Racism is an idea linked to a very fragile sense of superiority. This sense of superiority is based in hate and in ignorance. It is an easier way of living to stay ignorant towards the others - to think takes time and is a fantastic task (some people are unable to accomplish such task). This kind of people is too lazy to understand the world, its changes and its wonders such as cultural, racial and social diversities...What a pity for their poor lives.
Lucia, Brazil

Nope. We are separated more by our differences than united by our similarities. Racism, particularly based on colour is here to stay and may even get worse before it gets better.
Frank Day, USA

Sadly, most racism is passed along from generation to generation. There will always be racism around, both overt and covert.
Terry Wisland, USA

Until we start educating children earlier at pre school that blacks and whites and all parts of our community are equal yet have some cultural differences that should be celebrated not scorned, we can't get rid of racism. Jokes in the pubs should not go unchallenged. We are all to blame for these murders when we don't challenge these ideas and views that we hear from young children and peers. Racism is not just blatant hatred but subtle prejudice "he only got the job because he was black" etc when they are agreed with by bystanders and are not questioned. Or comments like "they're all the same" are accepted as fact.
Jennifer Henstridge, UK

Yes, racism is doomed in the long term. The illustration of this is Brazil: your average Brazilian has a mixture of European, Native American and African blood. This makes racism impossible, since they are all related in some way. And indeed, racism is extremely rare in Brazil. So the solution, as you have guessed, is to interbreed. We must get rid of this system of "communities" so common in the UK. The cause of racism in England is that the Indians live in their own community and inter marry, as do the Europeans, the Africans etc. What we need is to destroy this concept of communities and mix all these different people together. In one generation, racism would have evaporated.
Nicolas Jarraud, France/UK

I think that racism is inborn. From the day we were born, our parents have shown us that our race and culture are different from those of others.
Jenny Lam, Singapore

As an English woman who arrived in this country in 1958 and set up home in the deep South, I despaired of ever seeing an end to racism. I worked actively to bring about a change in the sad situation that I saw around me. With the integration of schools our children are learning to understand each other, and are becoming multi-culturists. It is normal for us as very visual beings to describe another's skin colour as an identifying mark, but of late it is easier to use 'Afro-American'. Intermarriage of cultures and ethnic individuals help us to cross old barriers. Still - when it comes to our hopes of complete acceptance of all people there will always be people who need to make themselves feel more important by using race, colour or even eye colour as a detrimental marker. Things have improved so much, laws can be made and rules 0r codes of conduct, but in the end we have to agree it takes longer to change ignorance for tolerance.
Jacqueline Johnson, USA

Racism is a long battle. No one should believe that it would be over in our lifetime. It is a war that we, as people, are winning. To see how far we have come, we only have to look back to slavery days, to Martin Luther King's work and his murder, to the injustices of anything up to 200 years ago and before. But now it is 'institutionally' harder for a black person to be successful. The order is still the same, only the gap is closing. People are still being killed in racially motivated violence around the world. There will always be twisted people filled with hatred. Their hatred is passed on from generation to generation. Love will break that transmission one day. One day, it won't make sense to hate someone because of their colour. But not in our lifetime.
Robert Bramble, UK

I don't think there are easy answers to that question. Human beings are very complex and I honestly don't think we will ever be able to completely overcome racism. It will require a complete transformation in our sense of self, in the way we create our identity. What we might attempt to do however is to educate people, create social spaces where people from different backgrounds may come and share experiences.
Umar Timol, Mauritius

I don't believe racism can ever be eliminated, unless one day we all interbreed to an extent that all people around the world would have the same skin colour and physical characteristics.
Tom Lau, Canada

As a sociologist I have studied numerous statistics that show that people of ethnic minorities within the UK do suffer racism in every aspect of social life, for example did you know that a black person on average will earn 77% of the average white person's salary, no matter what area, or level of education they have? The Stephen Lawrence murder is only one of many horrific crimes that black people have to endure; it is the police mis-handling of this case that has set it apart from the rest.
Sam Brown, UK

Racism is something that is taught through the family and as long as there are ignorant, narrow minded people in the world teaching their children that they are in some way superior to others we will have racism.
Katie Jones, USA

Things in this country will never change. There is an enormous amount of racism worldwide and if people haven't woken up by now they never will.
Michelle, UK

Racism will never be eradicated until we accept that all groups have racist elements, not just whites. Blacks, Asians and Whites all have their racist members and denying this will not make it go away.
Tom, UK

Racism, is already being eradicated, in the same way sexism (from both gender views) fascism, communism, and most other forms of oppression are. If you think that this is unrealistic then I suggest you look at history which up until now has not addressed this issue and then look at how far we have come in the last 100 years. Now is not the time for immediate feelings of need to get in the way of progress.
G.Williams, Wales

As long as there is ignorance there will be prejudice. Not knowing is fear and fear breeds prejudice.
Cora Cooper, USA

Until you admit that you have a problem, you can never overcome it. Maybe yesterday's events will be a turning point in the fight against racism. I truly hope so.
Vince Edge, England

I think everyone must surely agree that we have a serious problem in this country, not only with racism in the community, but also racism from people in positions of power. The police are the first port of call when it comes to law and order and to have the police chief admit to it being institutionally racist is a very scary thing. However, all the discussion at the moment is in the context of "black and white". As long as we find it acceptable to slag off other nationalities en masse (the Germans and the French, for example) we will always have a racially bigoted and prejudiced society. ?
Leanne Bentley, UK

The human race will always be "racist", it is part of our nature but most intelligent people do not turn to discrimination and violence to show it. I am white and I have been discriminated against over the years in many ways including i.e., race, class, religion, age, education etc, etc. I have had to get on with my life but I often dispair of the human race because if we are to survive we need to embrace diversity not try to destroy it.
Linda Walton, UK

No, because people just don't like each other.
Tori (age 6), USA

As much as we try to elevate ourselves above racism, the tribal instinct in all of us is there, one only has to look at the rivalry between Scots and English through the centuries, the Irish and the English today, to see that no matter where in the world you are, tribalism and therefore racism is just below the surface. Only education will eradicate this slur from our world, but it will take more than my lifetime and that of my children for men to be truly brothers, but then, do they really want to, or does everyone secretly want to feel superior?
Marilyn Penny, Canada

When Sir Paul Condon can be allowed to say in an interview yesterday that institutional racism is a NEW concept for him, and no-one questions that, we are all helping him off the hook. Institutional racism is and has been the biggest problem facing black and ethnic minority people in Britain. How can a man in Sir Paul's position be allowed to admit that he thinks this is "new"? Until we begin to challenge these comments or "lies" we are all part of the prevalent racist attitudes which exist. Neville and Doreen Lawrence did not ask to be put into this position, they are to be highly commended for their bravery in taking on the system that so badly let them down. Let's remember also that a number of people called the police with information regarding Stephen's murder. People who are just as horrified as I am that my society has allowed this to happen. Concentrating on our differences and not our similarities is what allows racist attitudes to exist. Multi-cultural education has failed in this country and it is time to start again with new ideas that allow children to feel self confidence and self worth regardless of ethnic origin, nationality, religion etc.
Angela, Scotland

I feel that the BBC should portray more multicultural television so that the stigma that 'black people' are different to others is no longer an issue in our society.
Mr Salim Meghani, UK.

I live in Belgium, which is one of the most racist countries in Europe. Because of this, there is a strong anti-racist movement. Any anti-racist manifestation -- be it a concert or demonstration, whatever -- is strongly supported. Part of my job is a weekly translation of a "pop/rock song" for national radio. Next week, we're programming an Arab song translated into French. No doubt there'll be the few who ring up to complain, but I'll tell those people exactly what I think. And this is my point. If an increasing number of individuals speak out against racism (whether it's overt racism as here in Belgium, or insidious -- as in England), then brick by brick, we can build an anti-racist environment. You don't have to campaign the streets and join demonstrations, next time you hear a racist joke or comment, let the person know that you disapprove. If you see someone getting hassled because of their colour, report it to the race relations board or intervene if possible. Talk to your kids about racism, correct them if they come home having learnt some rather nasty stuff from their peers at school. Lastly, accept the fact that we are living in a multi-cultural world and learn from it. If enough individuals lay down one brick against racism, then there will be a very large wall, to stop intolerant, small-minded people getting away with action, words and criminal offences that break all human rights.
Marty Sparks, Belgium

When people stop pigeon holing themselves as black, white, etc then maybe. By sticking a label to yourself, or allowing a label to be stuck on you, you run the risk of being seen as different. Is that racism or tribalism? I work in a small company my MD is a woman, one of my other directors is Jewish, other colleagues are Iranian, Moroccan and Pakistani. I think of them as Cath, Simon, Kouros, Majid and Nathan. I seem to remember someone saying "Judged by the content of their character not the colour of their skin"
Chris Barlow-Smith, Britain

Racism can be dealt with if people can overcome their superiority complex. Countries like England and USA have minorities which are looked down upon. The education system must deal with this.
Cathal McManus, Ireland

I think racism can be eradicated, if one wishes it to be eradicated. In the US, there is hope and you can use the law to fight back, even against rednecks. TV has a major influence, and if it shows people of all types getting along at work, at love and at play, then it really moulds the mind of the children. I think that the Europeans would like to be more like Germans, really, really. Look at the reasons given for including Greece in the EEC but excluding Turkey (and these guys even look a lot like you!). In the US, we use laws, sometimes too often, to correct these things, but I fear that in Europe precedence and the excuse provided by an imagined history means more to you guys.
Atique Malik, USA

Racism is disgraceful and totally illogical. However the problem will probably never disappear so long as we live in a very unequal society. The gap between rich and poor is too wide.
Daniel Cole, UK

Racism is just one of many manifestations of the "them-and-us" syndrome. It is based on fear, which itself is based on ignorance. In my opinion it is just too much part of human nature to be able to overcome. I do believe, however, that it can be curtailed in society, if not in all the individuals that make up society.
Stephen Jones, Finland

Racism will never disappear while white people roam this earth -- this includes any light-skinned person from Asia, the Americas, Europe or anyone else where people who think that dark-skinned people have been tainted by the "tar brush" and are either "sub-human" or the antithesis of good. The most oppressive and exploitative ideologies (sub-consciously or otherwise) turn its most oppressed and exploited citizens against darker-skinned people. Racism is such an integral part of western society (especially after it ripped off, exploited and oppressed Africa, Asia and America) that it cannot exist without discriminating against what it deems the "inferior races".
Jacko, Australia

What's wrong with racism? It is a perfectly natural part of life. It is idiotic to try and legislate against it.
"Mad" Malc, UK

Racism no, violence I hope so. People like to pigeonhole to make things easier for themselves. It's when it spills over into something physical or mental that the problem starts. If I were to go into a room where I was in the minority I would feel nervous. If I then translated this fear into mental or physical cruelty, that's where it goes wrong. As clever as we think we become, some never get past their primitive self.
Richard, UK

We will not get rid of racism which is endemic in the UK and many other countries, including other so called liberal democracies, without starting to educate about the values and benefits of multi cultural society from primary school. Britain's roots include waves of emigration through history, each of which has made a contribution to our society. Parties that support racial prejudice and the media that includes racial comments must be made liable in law and if necessary their assets sequestered. Racism is totally unacceptable in the UK, so are other forms of prejudice and exploitation - against women, children etc.
Colin Barnes, UK

"New", "Precises", "Sophisticated" were the adjectives I heard used by Sir Paul Condon and his colleagues to describe the definition of Institutionalised Racism in the Lawrence Inquiry Report. I've just read those sections of the report, and I cannot see anything in them that is different from what the black community has been trying to get us to listen to for at least thirty years. The response they got was usually "over-reacting" or "chip on your shoulder". Now the same ideas are being put forward by a white, establishment judge, they suddenly become "New, precise and sophisticated" I think we have just witnessed Institutionalised Racism in action.
B L Potter, UK

I say yes, because any form of racism is wrong, and I refuse to accept this as part of our culture. We have to strive in society to embrace different cultures. I believe a lot of racism is based on very old prejudices and these are slowly dying out. I think the majority of people are comfortable living in a multi-cultural society. This is spoilt by the extreme and often violent minority. And for those 'idiots' who think they are the pure Anglo-Saxon, may I remind them, that they are a mixture of German, Nordic, French, Celtic, Italian and just about any other race that has invaded and settled in Britain over the last 2-3 thousand years.
Simon Clarke, UK

There seem to be some dangerously fuzzy ideas about what constitutes a definition of 'racism', which is apparently being confused with the concept of 'racial consciousness'. If you cannot allow people to acknowledge and celebrate those characteristics which give them cultural and/or biological distinctiveness; if you cannot allow them the choice of their own collective identity - to take pride in what makes them different from as well as similar to others, and, conversely, similar to some while different from others - then we can make a start right now by eradicating such outrageously high-profile displays of naked racism such as, let's say, the MOBO (Music of Black Origins) Awards ceremony. How about it?
Mark Powell, UK

I think large number of people don't even know what racism is. That is the PROBLEM.
Albert Martin, UK

Answer YES, However it must be accepted that racism is a two way problem. For example organisations such as the association of black lawyers is acceptable, However if this was white lawyers it would no doubt be branded racist. The fact that both white and black alike face racism cannot be ignored.
Jeff Jones, UK

As more people compete for few jobs, racism will be even more prevalent. One of the main causes for racism in my opinion is the fact that technology has replaced human labour in many fields, those low-skilled persons have to compete for those ever few jobs for unskilled labour. Unfortunately, minorities throughout the world are now competing with the local unskilled labour from the industrialised countries, i.e. Germany, UK, U.S., etc. causing resentment among the low-income nationals which translates into acts of violence including murder.
Luis Fernando Oneto, U.S.

Racism is inter-linked with so many other national problems, such as unemployment and it affects every country in the world. It is a rooted difficulty which can only be solved via education. Nevertheless it is in human nature to find scape-goats for our own misfortunes.
Alejandro, Brazil

Racism is based on fear which leads to hate. This hate leads to war. The cure is to understand one another. To realise that we all belong to the human race and share this planet as one.
Glen Mercier, Canada

I don't think racism can ever be totally eradicated. I think we can still do a lot to reduce racism but the way to approach it is not the confrontational approach that the media appears to be taking at present. If we are going to reduce racism we have to change people's mindset, make them understand why their behaviour and attitudes are wrong. Find out why they have prejudices. Telling someone they are wrong doesn't work, you have to make people understand why they are wrong, change the way they think. Start educating people.
Natasha Allan, Great Britain

I don't think racism is a part of human nature. A new-born child does not instinctively judge by skin colour. These attitudes are learned from the society that raises the child. Racism is borne of fear and ignorance, and it is only by combating fear and ignorance that we will ever achieve a truly multicultural society based on mutual respect. The situation has improved slightly in the last 20 years or so, but I still hear racism from people who should know better.
Sarah, UK

It's foolish and unrealistic to expect any society to eliminate racism completely. There is a slim chance that British society could reduce the cancer of racism, to the point where it has no negative impact on the quality of life of the majority of black people living in Britain, which is most certainly not the case at the moment. And the Macpherson enquiry should be the first step down this difficult road - but only if white society at large can be forced to face up to its own unwitting and subconscious racism. A subtle but devastating type of racism, which all black people suffer. Often from whites who would not regard themselves as racist, and indeed would be deeply offended by such an accusation.
S Ahmed, UK

Someone once said if the world woke up tomorrow and everyone had the same colour, creed and religion, man would have found some other reason for prejudice by lunchtime. We can only hope that the Stephen Lawrence affair will mark a watershed and cause everyone to challenge the irrationality behind their personal prejudices, and make those who persist in clinging to their evil ideals either too ashamed or too afraid of a chorus of disapproval to ever voice or act on them. Racism will never disappear, but it might at least be driven into the recesses of a few evil minds. The first moves toward this new dawn however, cannot be based on seeking scapegoats. The police chief - so long as he admits the problem of racism in the police and is willing to fight it, which Paul Condon clearly has and is - should not be held personally responsible for the evils of society at large.
Dave Rose, UK

Until people realise that Racism is a crime against race not only colour, there will be no change. All the time the media only spotlights the crime of white against black, they are condoning all other forms. Highlighting the Police is wrong, prejudice is taught from the cradle. We need to look to ourselves to instil in our youngsters a tolerance and respect for all human life. It is my belief that RACISM is very often cried by those who have something to fear from the law, thereby taking the sting out of their misdemeanour.
S Bray, UK

In my opinion much of the publicity generated by media about racism against blacks or anti-Semitism against Jews (after all, Arabs are Semites too) does not reflect the victimisation of whites and others shades, or the victims of ethnic conflicts of the Americas, Africa, south and south-east Asia or the charnel-house of the EU. You should give as much publicity about the immolation of a white missionary and his children in India (deliberately holding the doors shut as they desperately tried to claw out of the vehicle) or the televised killing of a white truck driver in L.A. during the mob riots of a few years ago. I find the deliberate playing of the racist card or the Holocaust blackmail by certain self-appointed ethnarchs for the benefit of some identifiable group wishing to gain an advantage, to be cynical and disgraceful. When media types do it as attention-getting devices to further enhance their own careers I find it despicable.
Anthony Chernushenko, Canada

Racism is not just a matter of the horrific extreme cases - it is also a matter of smaller, everyday actions - such as a look, a sneer, an unkind word, a decision regarding employment. These smaller actions also serve to spread hatred and should therefore be targeted and publicised as a problem deserving attention.
Tom Hegde, USA

I am afraid that no matter how hard people try that there will always be bigoted idiots that will pass on their racist views to new generations.
Paul Mullen, Scotland

I believe that in the next century we will have more important issues to argue over than the colour of our skin. People who do are sick and need serious help. I for one believe that no matter what anyone looks like we are all one and should unite as one to over come the immense global issues we see destroying us.
Claire Breeze, Canada

Racism is an odd thing. I always wonder why it is that in a country such as the UK, there should be so much public hand-wringing about race, when inter-community relations are generally peaceful, if often lukewarm. We certainly see racist violence and there is clearly resentment of the police in some quarters, but in general, there seems to be tolerance. Where you don't see many non-white faces is in government, civil and armed services, and that is rather strange. If you look at the USA, where race relations are far more violent than here, there are many black senior police, soldiers and politicians. Rather paradoxical, don't you think?
J.F. Munro, Scotland

Links to more Talking Point stories are at the foot of the page.

 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Talking Point stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |