The Aquinian – Shane Fowler
If you want to treat racism, stop focusing on race. That was the message York University’s Alejandro Campos Garcia brought to St. Thomas University last Wednesday.
In his lecture “Metaphors of Racism: Crime and Pathology as Metaphors in International Anti-Racist Discourse,” Garcia addressed the international interpretation of racism and analyzed the very basics that it’s built on. The result left two opposing trains of thought: racism as a disease of the body of society or as an inevitable part of mankind.
“If you treat racism as a disease in the body of society, then you must be able to pinpoint a time before that disease existed and work back to remove the sickness and restore the body,” he said.“This suggests a cure and one way you can cure the diseases is by avoiding any emphasis on differences.”
“These two different perceptions have two very different results,” Garcia said. “One states that racism can be ‘cured and eliminated,’ while the other maintains that we can only reduce it, that racism will always be there.”
Looking at racism from the second perspective makes it possible to consider it as a crime.
“In the criminal standpoint your going to find that humans naturally focus on differences” said Garcia. “That creates an imbalance between individuals.”
As individuals, Garcia said we then end up treating racism as a natural behaviour, meaning racism will always exist.
“You can reduce it, but you cannot eliminate it,” said Garcia. “Eliminating it is a novel lie, and it will always be there.”
In order to reduce racism in this model, one must promote the differences of race, something that is in direct conflict with the previous model of racism as a spreading disease.
Matthew Hayes, a sociology professor who introduced the lecture, said he took advantage of Garcia’s visit, inviting him to talk about a topic that interests many people.
“Anti-racism policies are very important at a variety of different levels,” said Hayes. “I suspect that a number of students and faculty would be interested in learning more about the subject.”
Zach Mills, a Fredericton resident present at the lecture, found the talk original and challenging.
“There was a lot of material to process here,” he said. “It’s a different way of looking at racism and a lot to wrap your head around.”
And Garcia understands that. While neither of his models of racism are ideal, he said both have real world applications.
“Neither epistemic standpoint is perfect, but they both have importance on understanding racism.”