We return again to the New Zealand sea with Albert Wendt’s Sons for the Return Home which tells the story of a Samoan boy living in a predominantly Papalagi society. His black skin color is like a burn mark for all the world to see and he must face the hardships and ridicule that come from being born outside the norm. The idea of the inferior black skin is prevalent in a number of different cultures throughout the world. In my motherland of South America, the darker skinned people are holed up in mountains and small towns while the fairer skinned upperclass lives in the major cities. The black skin itself is a testament to the scorching heat our forefathers labored in for centuries, while the fair skin finds its pride in never having been blemished. Interestingly, this forms an interesting dynamic between the two: while the fair skin is superior to the dark in terms of status, the darker skinned people are strong after their many generations of laborers. They are physically stronger yet still lack the necessary power to meet their contemporaries as equals. It is a perpetuation of the class system that keeps the top on top despite their inadequacies.
Just as Wendt’s protagonist is aware of his being a minority, so too is the majority concerned with the racial implications of his character. Being black, he is seen as a well-endowed nymphomaniac and this is made clear when he confronts his girlfriend’s ex. This is but one example of the racial guidelines to which society adheres to. There are a million descriptions for the minority which can be made without even meeting them face-to-face. It is enough to be widely accepted by society, the people need nothing more than that.
What we can observe in any instance of systematic racism is a moving toward a cultural paradigm to which all functioning members of a society may subscribe to. By ostracizing a minority, the majority ensure their exclusivity and all of the benefits that come with it. But it is not in their ultimate interest to continue hating these people forever. Its really quite frightening, but these societies are heading towards a final solution just as Adolf Hitler did in Germany. Not to say that systematic racism will eventually evolve into genocide, but one must realize Hitler’s rationale. He was aware of the racial discrimination against jews but instead of going through the usual widespread racism, Hitler took his Germany and bypassed all of that. He began mass genocide in order to move his people into the cultural paradigm that could only exist by destruction of the minority.
It is interesting the way the minority interacts with the majority. Here in the United States, the minority forms the backbone of the American labor force. The laborers unseen by the people, but working tirelessly for an opportunity in this country. Yet we discriminate when an illegal migrant does not speak English. They are not the way we think they ought to be, they exist outside of our system and adhere to a different set of rules that we can only perceive as stereotypes. We try to be accepting of all cultures, but truly what we desire is a perfect American society. Racism is simply a response to what we perceive as an imperfect reality.