Hmmm…race and prejudice have been around as long as people have had eyes. I, unlike the PC generation, have no problem with distinguishing people–I have a problem with the stupidity behind the demarcations as well as the implied superiority or inferiority. Case in point: the concept of race makes no sense. We have blacks and whites (based off generic concepts of melanin), hispanics (based off of heritage and language), asians (based off of continental origin). Now you tell me if the very concept of race isn’t faulty. I mean, for real though, if we were going to do this thing right then we should have whites, blacks, browns, and yellows OR Africans, Asians, Americans, Europeans or, Hispanics, Frenchics, Hinduics, Twians etc. You feel me?
So racial prejudice/discrimination comes about when we ascribe certain stereotypical associations/notions with certain physical attributes. It’s okay if you’re Indian and I’m Ghanaian–that’s cool, we have unique cultural backgrounds that are similar in many ways. The problem comes when I say that all Indians are racist, prestige hungry isolationists who would as soon stab you in your back as smile in your face and you say that all Ghanaians are poor, uneducated backwards jungle people who run around naked and have no higher sense of order or morality. And humans are all about the versus.
We are all about distinguishing ourselves in ways that don’t uplift everyone. Again, there is nothing wrong with ambition to see yourself excel unless that ambition is coupled with condescension, back-stabbing and a need to put people down. And any socioeconomic paradigm will exploit that and I think that the caste system in India–which R so precisely pointed out is illegal but still pervasive within the collective Indian conscious –is a modern day extreme version of that need to delineate and discriminate.
I very much agree with your assessment R, that we strive to belong any way we know how including the creation of a class lesser than yourself (i.e further away from the mainstream). The ability to resist that intangible drive to dominate is built up through experiences. I mean, D described a scenario in which he had an unfortunate experience with a Jew and now that experience has colored his perception of Jews. Was it that the personalities collided? Was it that someone was having a bad day? Who knows, but now D is stuck (like we all are) with gut feelings that have to be worked out–like knotted threads ;^). We all have biases that we must face. I had mine early on with Indians, with whites and with African-Americans.
I find the problem is when the issues are not discussed–the pain propagates. And that is what it is…pain. At the end of the day my pain translates into your pain. I give only what I PERCEIVE to have been given, regardless of the truth of the situations in my life.