Aussie Life

Language

2 July 2022

9:00 AM

2 July 2022

9:00 AM

Is it time to revisit how we define the word ‘racism’? Early in the 20th century the settled definition became something along the lines of ‘belief in the superiority of one race over others’.

This grew out of Darwinism and the (seemingly logical) conclusion from Darwinian theory that some races are more evolved (superior) and others less evolved (inferior). Those views still exist, of course, but I am proposing a larger, wider view that incorporates that, but goes further. I propose we re-define the word ‘racism’ as meaning ‘making judgements based on race’, whether those judgements are good or bad, positive or negative.


This definition is distilled from a reversal of Martin Luther King’s famous words: ‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.’

The opposite is, of course, basing judgements on ‘the colour of their skin’ on their race. When we decline to respect and judge people as individuals based on the content of their character, but instead judge them on the racial grouping they belong to that, I suggest, must be understood as racist. This is a hot topic in Australia at the moment because of the proposal that members of one race be granted, under our constitution, a vote and Voice denied to members of other races. It seems to me linguistically sound to call such a proposal ‘constitutionalised racism’.

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Contact Kel at ozwords.com.au

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