The Root of Racism, A Personal Reflection

by Ulises Pabón


Racism is seated on a fundamental idea. A false and evil fundamental idea, but a fundamental idea nonetheless: the idea that a person’s essence is determined by his or her race. At its heart, racism ignores or dismisses a person’s values, ideas, actions, or contributions and uses membership as the sole criteria to determine a person’s essence and worth. This idea goes beyond skin color. For a racist, your membership to a race, to a country, to a community, to a family, or to a group determines who you are.


Racism is a fundamental attack against you, the individual. It denies the sovereignty of the individual.


If people harbor, explicitly or implicitly, this false and evil fundamental idea, the practice and the effects of racism will endure.


To be clear, no human is an island. Humanity’s greatest achievements have been fueled by cooperation and collaboration. Our capacity to come together to solve difficult problems is a magnificent force. Yet, let us not forget that the many is a creation of the one, not the other way around.


In systems theory, complexity describes the number of interdependent and intertwined elements a problem possesses. For sure, racism in America is a complex problem. I am no Alexander the Great; but I will argue that to untie the Gordian Knot of racism will require cutting into the fundamental idea that feeds it.


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