Sunday, May 16, 2021

Race, Nationality and Religion

My nationality, race and religion has always been at the forefront of my "classification" within the society at home and abroad. With social media increasingly fueling people to be overly religious, xenophobic and racist, I feel that it is time to talk about these topics from a pseudo-scientific perspective without going down a slippery slope. So my dear readers, please try to read this blog post without any bias.

Nationality - By far, I think this is the easiest to identify and categorize human beings on. All you have to do is ask for their passport. But if it were that simple, then life would be easy. There are certain nations in the world that allow dual-citizenship. In that case you can have 2 nationalities (e.g. Swedish-French, American-Italian etc.). You are legally carrying 2 passports and both countries recognize you as their citizens. 

Then there are people who change their nationalities during their lifetime. For e.g. an Indian citizen can renounce their citizenship of India and become a citizen of USA etc. In that case, you have had one nationality for a few years of your life and you changed your nationality for the next few years of your life and so on.

Now, according to the very broad definition of xenophobia, it is the fear or hatred of foreigners (which would mean foreign nationals). If you decide to become a xenophobic and spew your hatred on someone, you have to make sure that they are really of a different nationality. For e.g. Anyone in the world can become an American or an Australian or a Canadian as long as they follow their immigration processes. I believe that's what the nations have been founded on. So you can't just look at a person and call them a "foreigner" and marginalize them.

This xenophobia gets even worst when people of the same nation discriminate amongst each other based on their "place of origin" in the same nation. (e.g. in India - discrimination based on the state that you "domiciled" in)

Religion - Coming from India, this is a very contentious topic. But I guess, again, religion is quite easy to understand and categorize. You follow a faith and you abide by the principles of that faith. So you could be a Catholic, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist etc. Your religious identity is very distinct from your nationality. While statistically speaking there is a higher probability of having someone from some religion coming from some nationality it is just a statistic. I mean, theoretically an entire population can decide to change their religion overnight and still maintain their nationality (in almost all countries). I do understand that some countries are formed on the basis of religion, and you are not allowed to "freely" practice another religion if you do not follow the state religion.

Race - This has been the most difficult to comprehend classification for me. As far as I have researched there is no solid-scientific basis on which to classify people into races. While we continue to desperately classify populations of people into races - this classification is inherently flawed and very difficult to prove. If you think I am wrong, I request you to comment and redirect me to credible sources on race. This classification  has caused innumerable conflicts, wars and genocides and we continue to fight amongst us on a classification that has no clear scientific basis.

The general arguments I see online sounds something like this - My ancestors came here before your ancestors, so this land belongs to me and you go "back". This argument only holds for "Nationalities". For e.g. An Indian passport holder can only live in the USA for the duration of the time that her "Visa" permits her to stay in that country. There is no argument there. And for any reason if the "relevant" authorities (The people in the immigration who determine if you are fit to stay in their country or not) decide that you have to pack your bags and go "back" (to your country of citizenship) - you have to.

Any other reason given for this argument is - xenophobic and/or racist. You can't discriminate people based on how they look, how they speak or how they dress. Human beings have existed on this planet for 150,000 years. I can confidently say that none of our 100K+ years of ancestors stayed in the same place as we stay now. You can potentially only trace back your ancestors to a few hundred years? Same goes with race. Whatever physical features of a person you see have come after 100K years of intermingling between homo-sapiens coming from around the world and evolution. Some blood-lines have had distinct features that have propagated to their off-springs, but that's about it (I am talking about skin color, eye color, shape of eyes, type of hair, height etc.)

It is time (I know this sounds so cliched) we keep these differences away and work together towards the greater good of humanity and the planet!

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