Essays and Theories

Evolutionary Psychology and the Origins of Racism, Prejudice, Bigotry, and Discrimination: an updated view
by
William A. Spriggs
August 14, 2001

Personal note: This essay is a re-write of my August 1995 essay titled: Evolutionary Psychology and the Origins of Bigotry and Prejudice: Perhaps, Evolutionary Psychology Unravels the Mystery. It has been so transformed that it requires a separate essay: Please note the transformation and growth from the original. As with all my work, this essay is speculative and requires the passage of time and debate.


In order to set the tone of this essay, let me begin by citing what I would consider to be some examples of prejudice that have been handed down to us through our western culture.

"From the fact that he was black, what he says could be known to be stupid."
Immanuel Kant: German Philosopher, 1724 - 1804.

Quote from Lecture 31, The Great Ideas of Philosophy, Dr. Daniel N. Robinson, The Teaching Company, 1997

In 1781 in Notes on the State of Virginia -- a small book analyzing the state's natural resources, Thomas Jefferson, (one of America's founding fathers who penned the immortal words --"all men are created equal,") wrote:

"It will probably be asked, Why not retain and incorporate the blacks into the state, and thus save the expense of supplying, by importation of white settlers, the vacancies they will leave?
" ...The first difference which strikes us is that of colour. Whether the black of the Negro resides in the reticular membrane between the skin and scarf-skin, or in the scarf-skin itself; whether it proceeds from the colour of the blood, the colour of the bile, or from that of some other secretion, the difference is fixed in nature, and is real as if its seat and cause were better known to us.
"...The circumstance of superior beauty, is thought worthy attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, and other domestic animals; why not in that of man? Besides those of colour, figure, and hair, there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of race. They have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidnies, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable ordour.
"...A Black, after a hard labour through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning.
"...They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation.
"...Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation then reflection.
"...I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind."

(Although I have only read reviews of the just published book by Roger Wilkins, Jefferson's Pillow: The Founding Fathers and the Dilemma of Black Patriotism, Beacon Press, it appears to cover what I discussed in this essay concerning thoughts on black slaves as a "natural part" of the hierarchical world in which America's founding fathers lived).

A Philadelphia doctor, named Charles Caldwell penned two lengthy essays on African inferiority. In his book, Thoughts on the Original Unity of the Human Race, (New York: E. Bliss, 1830): "To the Caucasian race is the world indebted for all the great and important discoveries, inventions and improvements, that have been made in science and the arts, [while the African has remained] Motionless; fixed to a spot, like the rocks and trees, in the midst of which they dwell; each generation pursuing the same time-beaten track ... Even century succeeds to century, and the last finds them the same degraded and unimproved beings with the former." Africans in America: America's Journey Through Slavery, p. 300.

Whites have clearly come out on top in the struggle for existence. Within the white race, the English speaking man has proved himself to be the most likely instrument of the divine plan to spread justice, liberty, and peace over the widest possible area of the planet. Therefore, I shall devote the rest of my life to God's purpose, and help him to make the world, English.
Cecil Rhodes, founder of the deBeers Consolidated Diamond Mines, c1890, from the PBS Home Video series, Queen Victoria's Empire, Part II, copyright 2001 Brook Lapping Productions, Ltd. 

It is the Germanic race in North Western Europe and in North America, which above all others, is in the present age spreading the network of it civilization over the whole globe, and laying the foundations for a new era of higher mental culture."  Ernst Haeckel, German biologist, c1900, as quoted in  Evolution, p. 316*     *    *    *

By reading the above quotes one would gather that I was attempting to set the tone that racism and prejudice only occur when Caucasians demean blacks, but that is not the case. Throughout recorded human history, examples of persecutions against groups considered minorities can be found in all societies by various dominate groups at their respective longitudes and latitudes. The most notable of the prejudices besides the native African appear to have been inflicted against native American Indians, Gypsies, and of course, members of the Jewish faith. What I am attempting to convey to you however, is that the views expressed from these highly placed individuals were part of the consensus or "facts" concerning all minorities. I also believe that these "facts," cascaded from a period of world historical time called "The Enlightenment"; a period in modernity where there was an explosion in social, economic, industrial, and intellectual exchanges that had its epicenter in Western Europe.

These beliefs, transmitted trough the cultures of "educated and enlightened" leaders of society, industry, and education, were a matter of "natural" social norms that eventually spun out of control when allowed free reign. In Germany, which suffered defeat in WWI and was forced to make major reparations, thus making it impossible to rebuild its country, minor discrimination mechanisms that were already in place against the Jews were fueled by an exploding inflation rate that devastated the local economy. In this harsh environment, where a wheelbarrow full of money was needed to buy a loaf of bread, the leaders of the dominate culture denied and reflected responsibility by focusing blame on the Jews through a "dehumanizing" process. By the mid to late 1930s, these persecutions devolved into the worst atrocities ever recorded in modern history. And so, it is with these atrocities in mind that we revisit the need to locate the source of these behaviors buried in our ancestral brains in order to change them.

This Enlightenment period, or intellectual movement that originated in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries in Europe, generally has been considered one of the most important events in our short human history in terms of science, commercial, and political change; ideas flowed back and forth from the salons in France to the classrooms and lecture halls of Germany, Britain, and Scotland. Old ideas in science were being overturned, and the generations long tenure of Roman Catholic autocratic rule of dogma was being challenged by scientific experimentation and methodic reasoning. This time period is awash with such names as Francis Bacon, Nicolaus Copernicus, Rene Descartes, Galileo, David Hume, Thomas Hobbes, Henry James, Immanuel Kant, G.W. Leibniz, John Locke, Martin Luther, Pascal, Rousseau, Adam Smith, and in particular, Sir Isaac Newton, for advancing the scientific method.

In England, the birth mother of Americanism, profound social changes were brought about from 1760 to 1840 by the industrial revolution with inventions utilizing coal, steam, petroleum, and the internal combustion engine, which in turn, gave rise to the industrial concept of the factory system utilizing large numbers of people to manufacture goods. With the need for hands to work the machinery, farm families were lured to the big cities with the promise of work in these new factories; the agrarian way of life would no longer dominate European social and political life.

Unfortunately, this large migration shift of relatively uneducated and unskilled workers to cities that were unprepared for the influx created a concentration of poverty so intense that it gave rise to rampant diseases and social behavior considered "depraved" by the wealthy aristocrats who remained behind in their comfortable mansion farm complexes. In the spirit of "scientific" observations, and stirred by their paternal aristocratic "obligation" to look after and "improve" these poor, depraved humans as if they were farm animals in need of care, the standard view that educated and wealthy individuals were superior in every possible way emerged and became set in stone among the dominate culture. We must also remember that this large cultural time frame in our world history also gave rise to such names a Malthus, Sir Frances Galton, Charles Darwin, and my personal favorite, Charles Dickens.

Along with this social upheaval came another important development during this time period that helped to buttress this superiority self-view of European Caucasians, and that was the expansion of the British Empire. Think about this: Around 1820, at the birth of the industrial revolution, England was an agrarian society; by 1850, the country was to dominate the world stage militarily and commercially. I can not impress upon you the importance that this created a sense of superiority in the aristocrats who ruled England and that this sense of superiority was even felt by the common person in the street; nationality had a reason to be proud as there were benefits in cheap imports flooding local markets and the sense of expansive territorially. This conceptual internal extension from self to clan to tribe to village, continues naturally to include one's nation. This "extension" of the self merely represents our territorial sense of security in the area in which we physically occupy; comfort and a sense of security allow our brains to think, to process new information at maximum efficiency. Sitting under a shade tree in summer with a cooling breeze can be very pleasant. We can more readily focus on solving problems that advance our evolution within the sphere of a calm situation than we can while dodging bullets in a global war.

I have no doubts that with advances in mapping of the brain and philosophical approaches to evolutionary psychology, we will eventually come to the correct assumption about this time period: That it was a time that males thought that they were in their greatest glory; the greatest subspecies of hunter-gatherers yet evolved, building the most superior nest of all time for themselves and their genetic heritage. Imperialistic expansion and military domination over humans considered inferior only fed the flames of those beliefs, and it was a sense that victories of might and knowledge equaled good and right; it was a time when manifest destiny was the buzz word of the period. Despite the fact that a female queen was at the center of England's expansionist power in the early to mid -19th century, males with names like Prince Albert, Disraeli, Livingstone, and Rhodes, pulled the strings behind the throne. What I, and others, like Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, are trying to establish here is that because of a series of particular historical events, not individual superiority, is what created the appearance of dominance to a particular gender and race; and at the center this particular military, commercial, and political expansion in our evolutionary history, was the white male of European descent.

"The Enlightenment had its dark shadows and its implicit and very often explicit racist and imperialist attitudes so that when we revere, celebrate, and applaud the great philosophical and scientific achievements of that age we must remember these chaps were not angels. We must take the view of these great liberating chaps slogging through difficult subjects of their day and bringing their prejudices to the table."

Professor Daniel N. Robinson, Lecture 31, The Great Ideas of Philosophy. Copyright, The Teaching Company, 1997.

I firmly believe that science will one day establish that both males and females have equal ability to utilize self-worth to the maximum in opportunities presented before them. But, I also believe, that through entrenched gender roles and cultural importance at different times in our brief evolutionary history, the male, because of his past strong role of being warrior and protector, is also blessed (or cursed) with obvious differences in muscle mass needed for these strength and endurance requirements; and the hormone responsible for maintaining muscle mass and aggressive temperament, is testosterone. Modern males have about ten times as much as a woman and I can not quite explain in words how this hormone affects my male emotional state of being to women no more than I would expect a female explaining to me, as a male, how it feels emotionally to be pregnant. But we men do revel in the increased injection of testosterone through our bodies when events present themselves; its good to be King of the Hill; to defeat our enemies; to win an argument; to boast of past glories; to be in control; to have the remote. Studies have found that even the victory of one's home sport's team induces a 20% increase of testosterone in males who do not even participate in the event. (Mean Genes: From Sex to Money to Food: Taming our Primal Instincts), T. Burnham & J. Phelan, p. 216)

As I mentioned above, testosterone injection is activated by the brain's response to outside events that males participate in; victory over an enemy; capture of a large animal; getting that big promotion; winning an important debate, and most likely, these in turn, lead to rewards in our ancestral past of alliances and respect of other males, and most importantly of course, sex. This ultimate reward of sex on the return to camp has also prompted some scientists to even suggest that our ancestors evolved to bipedalism because they could carry more "goodies" back to camp and were rewarded with sex. (Time magazine, One Giant Step for Mankind, by M. Lemonick, & A. Dorfman, p. 59.). While the end reward of sexual activity for the male is very important in understanding male desires, one must look even deeper into the evolutionary force behind the mechanisms that drive those behaviors to achieve that goal: It is the wise woman who understands these behaviors and learns to drive the masculine vehicle of gene transmission. Once again, as I wrote in my first book, Man in the Mist, I have the opportunity to declare that women really are in control.

So we must look upon this period called the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution in England as a time when men shared the joy of each other's company, and took pride in their possessions and their accomplishments as being the result of their superiority; the female had yet to set foot upon the stage of social change. But science is a harsh task master; proof of the inferiority of others had to be justified as "proven fact" in order for it to be expressed openly. And as we look back into history at some of these methods science then declared as the ultimate wisdom, we must ask ourselves the question: Will the science we believe in today be viewed with equal respect as those presented in the past?

I can not recommend a more highly cited book for reference than Steven Jay Gould's, 1981 book, The Mismeasure of Man. Mr. Gould gives a brilliant performance in debunking scientific ranking methods used in the establishment of finding inferiorities in select individuals, while, with amassment, finding no fault with the white male of European extraction administrating the tests. The Harvard biologist takes us on a magical mystery tour of Craniometry, the measurement of heads; the assumption was that bumps, lumps, or indentations were a true judge of character. Darwin himself relates the tale of Captain Fiztroy, the captain of the famous H.M.S. Beagle, upon which Darwin set sail for five years to discover the natural mysteries of the earth. The captain said to Darwin that he would not have made a good naturalist because of the shape of his nose. From Cranimoetry, Gould then leads us to various body measuring techniques that attempted to determine similarity to apishness, which somehow in the minds of the late 19th century testers, led to criminality. From there he takes us to the hereditarian theories of IQs, and of course, the development of various IQ tests, inaugurated by the army mental tests for draftees of WWI.

In summation of his book, Gould attacks these test administrators by stating that in studying the results, the scientists were so caught up in the cultural beliefs of the day, which were so strong, that bits and pieces of information were somehow overlooked, realigned or just not included in some manner as to distort the final results. His belief, and mine, is that in their unconscious minds, researchers who devised these tests were so convinced that their studies would prove their cultural beliefs correct that somehow, some way, data was directed to the results that they wanted.

But isn't science supposed to be the ultimate truth? Well, of course it is. But let's also establish that science is a product that originates in the minds of humans that have an ancestral brain that evolved primarily in hunter-gatherer groups and has a long history of behavior meant to communicate appeasement, make appeals, and attempt to influence others within those groups. Manipulating data to assist in one's ambitions is the greatest moral crime that a scientist could perpetrate; but it may not seem like a lapse in moral behavior if the prevailing social norms of the day that surrounds one are considered "well-known assumptions" -- In the tone of this essay, the inferiority of non-white Europeans.

But, how and why did all this prevailing assumption and attitude begin and become part of the conventional wisdom landscape? Why do humans think the way they do about other humans? Why do humans, as Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1782 as he mused upon the beauty of whites: "...The circumstance of superior beauty, is thought worthy attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, and other domestic animals; why not in that of man?" How and why did these thoughts evolve?

Although prejudice and bigotry are conscious beliefs operating within the biocultural sphere of the sentient being, I speculate that these conscious beliefs may have sprung from the unconscious connection in the autonomic immune system. After all, what exactly is the function of the immune system? To quote Roger Booth and James Pennebaker, the immune system..."encompasses an aspect of what we observe as the body's relationship with the outside world in a purely physical sense. Although we often talk about the immune system as a defense of protection against potentially pathogenic or destructive organisms' impinging on us, the system is perhaps more broadly viewed as something maintaining an acceptable relationship between the structures that constitute physical self and those that are non-self." Handbook of Emotions, Chapter 35, Emotions and Immunity, p. 558.

So, with an innate "wariness" of diseases already in place in the brain, I believe our early ancestors knew the rudimentary negatives of being sick and not sick and began the search for the solution to avoid being in such a state. But as early physicians began to see the connection between people getting infectious illnesses, recovering, and then showing resistance to subsequent reoccurrence of the diseases, they also began to teach that (perhaps unfortunately) that certain uneducated populations in crowded inner-cities were more prone to infectious diseases than their wealthy country cousins, and therefore should be avoided. (I suggest reading Charles Dickens to get an excellent overview of the poor, the affluent, and the subsequent social ethos of the period regarding human conditions in Old London). Hence, cultural attitudes and "common sense" in pursuit of creating healthy environments most likely fed the flames of incorrect assumptions about groups of peoples lacking in resources to change their lives by a dominate group with resources able to foster change and impose restrictions.

Although the immune system may contribute with its innate biological function of protecting the body, we now must enter an arena where conscious thought forms and is famous for rejection and selectivity: I am writing about the emotion of disgust. Darwin is one of the first to comment on this emotion in is 1872 book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals by telling us that disgust is, "...something revolting, primarily in relation to the sense of taste, as actually perceived or vividly imagined; and secondarily to anything which causes a similar feeling, through the sense of smell, touch and even of eyesight" p. 253.

Research throughout the ages has expanded this area to nine domains called "elicitors" as disgust is generally considered activated by outside events; however, it could also be present when one revisits and reviews those events mentally. These nine domains: food, body products, animals, sexual behaviors, contact with death or corpses, violations of the exterior envelope of the body (including gore and deformity), poor hygiene, interpersonal contamination (contact with unsavory human beings), and certain moral offenses. Rozin, P., Haidt, J., McCauley, C., Handbook of Emotion , 2nd Edition, p. 638. These researchers cited above argue that disgust originated, then evolved into a rejection of man as animal, known as "animal-nature disgust"; then evolved into interpersonal disgust, and finally encompassing moral disgust through religious influences. Hence, we see disgust as an umbrella emotion designed to protect the body, to a full range of elicitors designed to protect the soul. This is a perfect example of what this web site is attempting to bring to the common person: that nature and nurture combine in the human mind to create a view of the outside world through the complex mix of biology and culture increasingly called "the bioculture perspective."

We can not deny that we humans are also animals; we eat, defecate, and fornicate just like animals, but cultural norms place restrictions or put rules in place as guides for the proper way to go about these acts. People who ignore these social rules are then isolated, identified, and viewed as "disgusting" or "animal-like." When the laws that we as a society have established to maintain proper behavior are violated by deeds that we consider horrific, we "de-humanize" the doer of the act and call them "animals"; the lowering of the person to animal status that then makes the "punishment" handed down easier to justify or act upon. Also, people who fail to use proper hygiene are seen by many as being equated with animals, who by no fault of their own, are considered by these people as dirty and inattentive to cleanliness. Our human rejection of our animal origins continues when the body sac we occupy is violated and blood and soft viscera spill out and reveal our animal origins. Of course, the ultimate rejection of our animal origins is death: it reminds us again or our invincibility and frailty.

This distancing of ourselves from human "animals" and the avoidance of other people considered to be "disgusting" develops into the conscious thought that we could be contaminated, and thus possible victims of disease, and hence, contributes further to the distancing act. Darwin was the first to note this interpersonal disgust in 1872, followed by Angyal, A. (1941, Disgust and related aversions, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 36, 393 - 412). This conscious fear of contamination is so strong that even test subjects that were asked to use an object (such as a drinking class or piece of clothing) known to be sanitized, but also given the knowledge that the object was once used by strangers, people who have had a disease, or a misfortunate occurrence such as an amputated leg, or were considered to have a "lack of moral character," showed very strong aversion to using those products. (Rozin, Markwith, & McCauley, 1994). Handbook of Emotion, 2nd Edition., p.643.

The consensus developing among scientists is that disgust (MF desgouster, Fr. Des- dis- + goust taste) expanded from food items ingested through the mouth that evolved into conscious beliefs concerning a vast range of social norms and established institutional beliefs. A good example is the Jewish tradition of Kashrut: the biblical instructions for preparing food in an attempt to maintain holiness before their God which they call kosher food (Yiddish Kosher, Hebrew Kasher, meaning "fit" or "proper"). In Leviticus 11: 1-43 we are informed as to which animals, fish, and fowl may be regarded as kosher. In verse 20:25-26, it states: "So you shall set apart the clean beast from the unclean." Here the interpretation could be open to several avenues which could include people in the "fit" or "unfit" category; even though the spirit of the words about "unclean" mean spiritual vs. physical in the realm of how to "remain holy before God," there are no doubts that many followers of many faiths have come to literally observe the words to mean excluding "others" outside their religious and social sphere.

The most perfect example of a society that I can think of that has evolved from a biological perspective on the foundation of dietary purity and then conscious separation of peoples seeking that purity is found in India. There you will find a caste system that is rooted in ancient antiquity, which in turn, as some evolutionary psychologists speculate, cascaded from the hierarchical positioning of our humanoid ancestors. Caste, meaning "race," "breed," or "lineage" and given to Indian society by the Portuguese in the 16th century, sets forth social norms (rules) regarding body hygiene and dietary restrictions in order to obtain passage into the highest spiritual goal of "mosksha"; the final pinnacle of being one with their God and the end of their belief of the cycle of transmigration (rebirth; reincarnation). Being born into a caste is your fate; you are their to serve the next higher caste in their quest to higher attainment. What is so ironic to me personally, is that the attainment of "Moska," being one with their God, is the belief that in this enlightened stage, one will see the connection between all living things, great and small; but that somehow, the only ones that can obtain that enlightened stage are the Brahmans, while all other humans in their caste system are merely "assistants" in the quest.

Indian society is separated into four main hierarchical castes; at the top of the hill are the Brahmans, (holy men or scholars); followed by the Kshatriyas (professional military and political bureaucracy); the Vaisyas, (farmers, businessmen, and traders); and lastly the Sudas, (artisans, laborers, and servants). Before 1955, there was a fifth caste called the "untouchables" who did and still do the most vile of jobs which included cleaning up excrements from the holy cows that roam the streets. Even though laws have been passed to mitigate offenses against this caste, old ways die hard in the countryside, where the majority of the Indian population still lives.

Now, I want you to recall the nine domains of disgust that I cited above from Rozin, P., Haidt, J., McCauley, C., Handbook of Emotion, 2nd Edition, p. 638, and compare that with the list below by Hinduís considered "polluting" one's religious quest

"The most important determinants of caste pollution came to include (1) occupational association with the destruction of cows, typified by some leatherworkers and shoemakers; (2) occupational destruction of living things, typified by slaughterers; (3). occupational association with death and decay, typified by funeral officiators and scavengers; and (4). occupational association with human emissions, typified by barbers, washermen, midwives, and lavatory attendants. The participants in such occupations are deemed polluted in varying degrees, and physical contact with either their persons or their bodily emissions is thought to be contaminating." Britanica.com/social status/caste system.

By citing the Jewish and Hindu views of cleanliness, can you see how this desire for cleanliness, born from the desire to distance oneself from illness, can evolve from religious ritual and then into social norms of display that require people to behave in a certain manner or be forced to remain in their respective positions in life? Can you see how this "cleanliness is next to Godliness" perspective in the quest for perfection and holiness can lead to conscious human behavior that can lead to prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination to distance oneself from that which is not considered holy? This path is important to review because Hinduism spread to the west and influenced Grecian and Roman ethos; and the Greeks and Romans are considered the fountainhead of western political and social thought, including the Enlightenment where we focus our search.

(It is at this point where I can not fail to see the connection of the Indian Bramhan's quest for holiness by establishing castes of underlings in order to help them in their journey with those of America's pro-choice advocates who are motivated by their belief that saving unborn fetuses is the highest moral path one can follow. The anti-birth control advocates, in removing family planning funds in third world countries, can only lead to overpopulation, which in turn, leads to desperate families making survival choices that we, in the western developed countries, would deem horrific: some families sell their children to modern slave traders who, in turn, force these children into subservient occupations, including prostitution. I do not argue the validity of the quest for sanctity of human life in any form, but merely the narrow scope -- One must think beyond one's limited view born from the comfort of surrounding resources; welcome to globalization, people; welcome to God's planet where all people are Her/His domain and whose spirit flows through everyone and everything, not just the "chosen" few. Leaving no person behind takes on new meaning when your responsibility is the whole planet. I respectfully apologize to those I may have offended by this outburst, but my perspective is born from a global gene's eye view that flows through all humans and just had to be expressed).

Now we have reached the final stage in attempting to understand why people use various distancing mechanisms that we commonly called racism, prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination. I believe that the most fundamental reason seared into our ancient brains would be the retention of resources so vital to our individual survival. The basic survival mechanism that lies buried within us is the survival of the self; its my struggle, your struggle, their struggle. Before we as humans were aware of cultural norms that taught us to avoid some people due to their "association" with sickness and disease, and religious laws teaching us what to eat and how live our lives morally and socially, we were aware of primal hunger and fear. We keep hunger at bay by seeking those things that keep us alive, and we avoided those things that we feared; we raised to the level of violence only in rare circumstances; our innate brains, forged in the fire of evolution, sought those things that calmed our inner storm of emotions, not the other way around.

Since the struggle being waged was survival of the self, then the "opponent" became the non-self, the other. These others were not of your immediate genetic line and logic dictates that the easiest method of determining others from your kin was to see, to hear, and the smell them. After determining others, logic also dictates that we devised methods of keeping others away from those things that kept you and your genetic line alive; and here is a key point. I argue that the basis of all bigotries and prejudices evolved from this primary function: the defensive mechanisms designed keep others away from resources that help you and your genetic line to survive. I call this defensive behavior The Resource Retention Rule. I believe that it is so fundamental that it deserves its own Resource Retention module.

I believe that all the social norms and religious restrictive behaviors that I have discussed above are nothing more than mere conveniences to assist our evolved brains in the accomplishment of that survival goal. An important note however, is that the transition in human history from individuals living in small family clans to large group affiliations that established social norms to the exclusive advantage of those groups create distinctive advantages for those within those groups; how can we not believe otherwise

Now, I want you to return to the opening quotes I used to set the tone with white males giving comments about blacks in general. And below, I give you three cases where discrimination has been recorded of one group against another, and I want you to notice the similarities. Also note that none of them are about whites showing disrespect towards people with black skin.

  1. Black vs. Black. The first example is that of the history of Rwanda and Burundi in regards to the two dark-skinned Hutu and Tutsi clans. When the Belgians took control of the area in 1956, they picked one group to serve as their proxies. Even though the Tutsi clan was in the minority (14%), the Belgians picked them to run the governmental organizations based on the "pseudoscientific" studies in vogue at the time that led them to think that the Tutsi were biologically superior. Taking advantage of their dominate position, the Tutsi took all and gave little back to the Hutus. The result of this resource separation was dramatically played out with the 1994 holocaust between the two clans.
  2. Black vs. Brown. The second example that I want to cite are the April 1997 incidents in East Palo Alto California where the Hispanics went before the East Palo Alto California school board, which was then controlled by the African-Americans, and demanded better education for the children. In particular, the Latinos wanted better bilingual instruction and a greater say the school board. In 1985, East Palo Alto was 85% black, but in 1997 the city was 70% Latino. What basically transpired is that the African-Americans, by right of hard work and prior territorial positioning, became the dominate culture in the East Palo Alto school system. If the rule of Resource Retention holds, then the African-Americans will do all they can to maintain that resource advantage for their genetic advantage. But as demographics change their population into a majority, the Latinos press up against that dominate black culture and thus causes the increased ethnic and racial tension.
  3. White vs. White. In this example, we focus on the article that appeared in the Time magazine, June 15, 1998 issue, p. 34: Revolt of the Gentry, by Tamal M. Edwards, on the growing class war that was evolving over the efforts to equalize public school funding in Vermont. Under the planned Vermont Act 60, rich communities faced higher taxes and reduced school budgets, while working-class communities could expect the reverse; a complete reversal of resource retention. Crying the loudest was novelist John Irving, quoted as saying: "This is Marxism. It's leveling everything by decimating what works..." The Irving quote is very typical of wealthy conservatives who repeat over and over, that, what works well, (for the elite in a position of privilege) should not be penalized.
  4. Protestant vs. Catholic.  Perhaps the best example of religious prejudice is the conflict in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in which we find the Catholics (who are the minority, and thus the submissives) pitted against the Protestants (who are considered the majority, and thus the dominates). Although the conflict is over 30 years old, the most recent incident is centered around the Catholic residents of a local territory called Ardoyne attempting to place their female school-aged children, 4 to 11 years old, into a Catholic school, Holy Cross Primary School, that is located in the Protestant territory called Glenbryn. The Catholics were told that if they wanted to avoid any "trouble," then they should use a rear entrance. The Catholic's refused to bend to "inferior" and submissive behavior by using the back door; the Protestants responded to the Catholic's refusal by throwing rocks and verbal insults at the school aged children, culminating with the throwing of a pipe bomb on the third day that injured a Belfast police officer. One leader of a Catholic parents group said that "This looks like Alabama in the '60s." (A reference to when Blacks tried to integrate White schools in America during the 1960s).

    Here is the crux of the problem: The Catholic area of Ardoyne is in a section of Belfast where row houses are filled by a young and growing population that would like to move to the Protestant area of Glenbryn, where the school is located. The area of Glenbryn tends to be aging or on the move to the suburbs often leaving public housing lying empty; however, the dominant Protestants who remain in Glenbryn "don't want to give up those houses to Catholics and see their territory gradually swallowed up." (quote from Time magazine, September 17, 2001, p. 38).

    So, once again people, we see that the bottom line here is territory that is under the 'control' of one dominate culture, refusing to surrender that territory to the submissive, or subordinate culture. Itís not about skin color or religion, but who controls resources, dominates the culture, and the methodology used in keeping the advantages gained from their use away from those considered "inferior" or in the minority.

    Related newswire articles: Belfast school clashes 'like Alabama in '60s.' The Associated Press, by Shawn Pogatchnik, as found in The Denver Post, Sept, 4, 2001, p. 8A.; Blast hurts Belfast cop, The Associated Press, by Chris Fontaine, as found in The Denver Post, Sept., 6 2001, p. 10A.

What are these four examples about? They are not about skin color but are about resources controlled by one dominate group attempting to keep others outside that dominate group from sharing or taking resources that the dominates control. Let me pound this into your heads until it sticks: bigotry, racism, and prejudice are only evolved religious and social norms. These behaviors also have their roots in our innate avoidance of illness connected to our primal immune system which is biased against illness inflicted on the body. When we take one more step backwards into our souls, we find at the core of all this multi-layered behavior is the self-centered survival needs of the self. It is greed in the simplest form.

let's sum up:

Some day soon, (in evolutionary timekeeping) when the educated elite who have deemed themselves our caretakers understand the basic behavior of our ancestral brain and how we use it in today's modern world, they will also realize the enormous potential all humans are capable of. They will also face a hard truth: that they have discriminated against the majority of the planet's population through beliefs of "limited expectations" in one form or another, or rejected them on false pseudo-science and social stereotypes. When these two thoughts collide, then perhaps the new hierarchies of this planet will let their guards down and share voluntarily the vast resources they have accumulated for themselves. Instead of hoarding those resources through past evolutionary mechanisms of favoring kin, those ethnically or racially similar, or those of one's nationality, they will come to realize that most of their fears just are primal manifestations of "starvation and self-preservation" and can be easily overcome in this world of overflowing bounty.

What I envision happening is that the new elite will begin to seek out and mine and then utilize the vast undeveloped capabilities of all humans. But, it can not be done without them, and in conclusion, I must make very clear to critics of globalization and corporate wealth: that storming the walls of the elite and taking their resources will not bring equality; it must happen by the eliteís choice and their leadership, for it is upon their shoulders that things truly happen. When the renaissance of the 21st century begins in earnest, and the new accomplishments begin to take recognizable shape, it will make the historical Enlightenment look like a delightful afternoon at the cinema.

Updated, Sept. 19, 2001

Copyright, Evolution's Voyage & William A. Spriggs, 1995 - 2011