When the first European settlers arrived on the shores of what is now America, culture played a part in how the native people and the newly arrived people related to each other. The imagrant European settlers brought with them their Western Culture.
The Europeans considered their culture to be more ‘advanced’. They also felt that their more advanced culture gave them the right to acquire the land and dominate the territory.
Even though most of the European settlers were indentured servants, they still considered the culture of the native people to be an inferior culture. Then, as Africans began to arrive as indentured servants, the African culture also seemed inferior to the more dominate Europeans.
History is an age-old chronicle of more advanced cultures conquering and doing the same thing to less advanced cultures. In some ways this is how civilization itself advances in the world
Rather than Racist, the more dominate Europeans were, in fact, Culturalist.
Race was not an issue at this early date since racial classifications had not been established. Rather, the Europeans saw the Native and African people as primitive with a lesser developed culture.
It actually would not have made sense for the European’s to abandon their cultural advantages and adopt the less civilized preliterate tribal cultures. In fact, it would have been impossible to make such a regression initially. Survival and cultural identity were the unifying and motivational factors that gave them the ability to establish themselves in the new land.
In fact, should an American with African ancestry return to Africa today. they might have a similar experience. Suppose the American “Black” person was required to live with an isolated primitive African “community” in the jungle. They well might consider the African tribal culture to be less civilized and developmentally behind what they are use to. Additionally, they might have difficulty adapting to the new cultural environment. Likely they would prefer to return to the culture of which they were accustomed. They would not be racist, but rather, culturally advanced.
This, then, is not to establish a right or wrong determination. Taking the land from the Native people and eventually making slaves of some of the African people was wrong in retrospect. However, how far do we go back in establishing blame and right and wrong? Humans had been taking territory and enslaving others since the beginning of recorded history. The Native people here, and the African people in their homeland, likely had participated in similar activity before the establishment of Colonial America.
Our objective here is to establish the fact that Racism is not now, nor has ever been, the issue with human relations in America. Culture, and the clash of cultures, is the issue and the problem we faced then, and face today.
People who try to make race an issue, such as the racial provocateurs of today, are simply mistaken in understanding what actually drives the attitudes and division of people from different cultures. They use the charge of “Racism” and blame for their own political and social purposed.
This is why we are unable to solve the, so called, problem of “Racism” in America today. A problem simply cannot be solved if the diagnosis of the problem is incorrect. Rather than “Racism” the problem has always been Culture. Before we seek to address the problem of “Culturalism” in America today, it might be beneficial to look at what constitutes “Culture”.
What is Culture?
Culture is the intellectual and physical achievements, knowledge, and characteristics of a social group of people, the primary factors of Culture include language, beliefs, music, arts and social values such as folkways and mores.
Folkways are the social norms for what is considered polite and rude. To violate cultural folkways may cause an individual to be shunned socially.
Mores are social norms for what is considered right and wrong in the society. Violating cultural mores is far more serious and often has very severe consequences that might lead to punishment, imprisonment, or banishment from the society. To violate social mores such as child molestation, rape, assault, robbery or general lawlessness is culturally and socially unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Therefore, individuals or groups within, or outside, a particular culture will be treated with equal and similar reactions to violations of cultural folkways by being scorned and rejected by the cultural mainstream.
Likewise, individuals or groups within, or outside, a particular culture will be treated with equal and similar reactions to violations of cultural mores in a far more harsh and extreme manner. Not only will they be socially ostracized, but will often be penalized severely.
Since individuals or groups that violate cultural social norms are treated the same, if within or not within the culture, it cannot be said that there are distinctions made based on skin color or territorial origin.
This cultural reaction to anti-social behavior is natural and essential for the preservation of the cultural social order and well-being. Even some animal groups establish social norms that are enforced to preserve the order of the animal group.
To call individuals within a culture “Racist” because they object to violations of their established cultural folkways and mores, along with laws and regulations, is not only inaccurate but also inflammatory. To consider simple people who hold to such cultural norms as ignorant is itself being misinformed of subject to ignorant elitism.
So how do we deal with a nation that is Multi-Cultural and still have a cohesive society and single national identity as a nation?
The American Culture is a culture based on individual freedom.
While the American culture has evolved primarily from what is known as Western Culture, the freedom of the individual citizens is paramount. In America the individual citizen is protected with a Constitution and Bill or Rights that is the foundation of the Culture.
“The term “Western culture” has come to define the culture of European countries as well as those that have been heavily influenced by European immigration, such as the United States, according to Khan University. Western culture has its roots in the Classical Period of the Greco-Roman era and the rise of Christianity in the 14th century.”
“Other drivers of Western culture include Latin, Celtic, Germanic and Hellenic ethnic and linguistic groups. Today, the influences of Western culture can be seen in almost every country in the world.” (1)
The Native pre-American Culture (so called “Indians) had some minor influence on American Culture, however, mainstream American Culture today reflects influences, to some degree, from Africans, as well as many other cultures from all over the world.
However, mainstream American Culture, while multi-cultural, is driven today by the principles set forth in the United States Constitution, the Bill or Rights and the Laws and Regulations established by the nation. Any citizen that adheres to these principals and laws is protected even from some of the various cultural folkways, mores and social norms within any of the particular cultures that make up the mainstream American culture.
Individual citizens and social groups that set themselves apart from mainstream American Culture, therefore, are subject to the same social ostracization and cultural intolerance as in any other culture.
For example, considering women inferior and subordinate with limited rights is unacceptable, even if a religion or particular culture subscribes to such treatment. Forming into an unruly and lawless mob destroying private property and assaulting innocent victims is as offensive as it is unlawful. Implementing cultural or religious laws in conflict with United States Laws are not allowed. Imposing social or religious dominance that imposes limits on personal individual freedom of adult citizens is illegal and subject to penalty.
For this reason, calling a person a “Racist” and ascribing false reasoning and blame to citizens in good standing and adherence with the established social, legal and cultural norms of this nation is not only non-productive, but also detrimental to the cohesion of mainstream American Culture. This leads to social animosity and division within the social order along with serious deterioration of the culture.
Deviant social behavior, when it comes to established cultural mores, laws and regulations, is deplorable and should be identified for what it actually is. It should not be justified or condoned by charging other with “Racism”.
Likewise, placing general accusations of wrongs in the past by stereotyping people today using racalistic terms like “White”, “Black”, “Brown” or “Yellow is abhorrent behavior and should not be tolerated. Making such false charges by arbitrary grouping individuals by skin color alone without any factual reason is irresponsible, insulting and absurd.
Identifying the issue as Cultural differences, as opposed to Racism, is the only way we can address the actual problem, Only then can we begin to implement an effective solution to the issue. Being “politically correct” will not work. It is time for each individual to rid themselves of a racialist mindset and consider what they can do individually to stop the name calling and stereotypical accusations made toward fellow citizens.
It is time to analyze the problems associated with what we now refer to as “Racism” and dig down to the actual and factual root cause of the division. We need to face the truth without bias or equivocation. Behavior in conflict or violation of the National American culture should be identified for what it is and addressed in a social and legal manner. Otherwise, all citizens in good social standing within the Culture should be afforded all rights and privileges of a free people with liberty and justice for each and all.
Only then can we begin to resolve our disunion as a nation. Only then can we rid ourselves of the restrictive bonds of false and misleading causation and find effective remedy for the dissension and acrimony we experience today in America. Only then can we be truly free individual citizens without discord and resentment.
Let’s begin to identify “Racism” for the falsification it actually is, and admit that the social restraints, standards and laws of American Culture are necessary and beneficial to our national strength and well-being.
Let’s hold every individual American responsible for their behavior as citizens at the same time we afford them the benefits of citizenship in our wonderful nation along with the cultural advantages we all enjoy.
Written by Waylon Allen,
July 1, 2017