Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Martin Jacques: Global Racism

Martin Jacques is an economist and writer whom I very much admire. I have used and introduced to many others an excellent article he wrote for the Guardian/UK, published on September 20,  2003, about global racism entitled "The Global Hierarchy of Race" with the subtitle "As the only racial group that never suffers systemic racism, whites are in denial about its impact." [See the article here.]

In a 21-minute TED talk in London in October, 2010, Jacques gives an excellent summary of the place of China and Asia in the world scheme of things to come. If you look at race, then, in a global context, you can see why it is more accurate to talk about racism in a multicultural context rather than merely looking at the issue from a Black-White American perspective. Jacques addresses the provincialism of the strictly American/Western perspective.

[A side note: Jacques' wife, Harinder Veriah, a Malay-Indian attorney, died in hospital in Hong Kong back in 2000, the victim of racism in the Chinese hospital where the dark-skinned non-Chinese were relegated to "the bottom of the pile," in Veriah's own words. Here is a link to an interview with Jacques, published on November 26, 2000, in the South China Morning Post, in which he talks about his wife's death and racism in Hong Kong and his actions to address racism to honor her memory. Here also is a link to a statement by Jacques, who with his 11-year old son, prevailed in a lawsuit against the hospital, thus engendering the beginning of legal changes in Hong Kong to protect racial minorities. So, one can see that racism is an issue that occurs elsewhere in the world and is not merely a Black-White problem in the U.S. One can also see that the resistance of those who have been victimized by racism, including filing lawsuits to force institutional change, is necessary everywhere that racism is encountered.]

[From the TED.com site] "Speaking at a TED Salon in London, economist Martin Jacques asks: How do we in the West make sense of China and its phenomenal rise? The author of "When China Rules the World," he examines why the West often puzzles over the growing power of the Chinese economy, and offers three building blocks for understanding what China is and will become."  Watch here >>

Here are the key elements of Jacques' thesis, as identified by him in his book and on his Web site.  Please go to Jacques' Web site to read the entire list of twelve key arguments. Here, I have only listed a few.

When China Rules the World
The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World
1- There is not simply one western modernity, instead we are witnessing the birth of multiple modernities
5 - China’s impact on the world will not simply be economic; it will also have profound political, cultural and ideological effects.
8 - At its core, China is a civilization-state rather than a nation-state, a fact which will become steadily more apparent
11- 92% of the Chinese believe that they are of one race, the Han Chinese, unlike the other most populous nations such as India, the United States, Brazil and Indonesia, which recognize themselves to be highly multi-racial and multi-cultural

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