‘Scientific’ Racism: What It Is and How to Fight It

BY VRIDDHI VINAY

Across the world, fascism has reared its ugly head in different institutions. From oil pipelines to school-to-prison pipelines, from native informants to Western-backed counter-revolutionaries in the Global South.

It’s unfortunate that colonization forces its victims to ask: “Who is smart enough? Who is worthy enough? Who is worth saving? Who is voiceless? Who is stratified? Who is disgusting? Who is hideous? Who is enchained?”

For decades, Western domestic and foreign policy has been plagued by “scientific” racism, a pseudoscience long debunked. “Intelligence politics,” formulated by the Nazis and upheld by right-wingers, maintains that whites are genetically superior to Third World-descended people. Though based on flawed “scientific evidence,” this idea has managed to spread across global institutions.

Growing up, for example, I attended one of the lower-income schools in my county. Each year, more Brown, Latinx and Black students were cut from the best-performing classes.

The effects of “intelligence politics” are also intergenerational. When my mother went to receive higher-level education, the hands of Eurocentrism, decades of British divide-and-rule education policies meant to devalue Indian scholarship and a patriarchal white supremacist global society tugged her back at the sleeves.

When women of color or women in the Third World exist between fluctuating dichotomies of hyper-sexualization and desexualization, it is the weaponization of intelligence politics. Through this dichotomy, racialized Brown and Black women are boxed into the sexless nanny or incapable vixen archetypes. Throughout the colonization of the Americas, Asia, the Caribbean, Oceania and Africa, sexual violence was used as a tactic to humiliate and “breed out” colonized women. In egalitarian societies where instances of a third gender or no masculine-feminine split existed, gender binarism was enforced.

Exploitation is seen to many white supremacists and those who quietly cater to the imperialist lens as a “natural” occurrence. From the Transatlantic Slave Trade to conditions where non-white women have limited access to vital resources. This includes nutritional food, clean drinking water, quality education and labor rights.

How can centuries of dehumanization, imposed poverty and liberal tokenization be accidental? Especially when the history of colonized women has been radical and resilient.

How is this not the assumption of a lack of capability on marginalized women’s part by assigning them responsibility for creating their own conditions? After all, Third World-descended women have long developed their own art, academic theories and revolutionary contributions.

Under capitalism, however, we are surrounded by eugenics — the idea that you can “improve” the genetic quality of humans by establishing a bigoted racial, economic and gender-based hierarchy.

There are slews of articles that blame universities in the Third World for failing to comply with European and U.S.-centric models. Most of the time, these articles fail to recognize the effects of brain drain on our homelands. They claim economic and political models drawn up by wealthy, white, Western men are superior. Meanwhile, they fail to understand why their so-called “superiority” is based on imperialist hegemony.

Bourgeois academics present the history of U.S. medical research solely as a series of “advances.” They almost never mention their dark past — like the fact that advances in gynecology, for example, were based on forced testing of enslaved Black people. Moreover, the racist cycle of institutionalized eugenics still leaves Black mothers in the United States with alarmingly high infant mortality rates.

Ultimately, white Western academics and their ideological sycophants have always considered marginalized, Third World-descended people as inhuman and easy to subjugate. Where do marginalized people like us — especially woman or trans-feminine Black and Brown people — go when we’re constantly under attack by the same systems that attacked our ancestors?

This is why independent art collectives, anthologies and decolonized research must not just be honored and cherished, but fiercely protected from theft and commodification. We must hold our communities and institutions accountable while fighting against racist, sexist, capitalist and ultra-right pseudosciences.

We must also understand the material conditions that colonization has left behind, such as the infection of white supremacy into most social, political, economic and ideological institutions in the Global South.

We are not homogenized, static bodies functioning as orientalist tools. We are human beings who are recognizing the hands that have dragged us backward and the revolutionary mechanisms are escalating us forward.

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