Student - May 22, 2015

Blog: Do you have a racist gene?


‘Do you judge people by their colour, ethnicity or race?’ Without second thoughts everyone would answer: ‘No. Everybody is equal’. But in reality, I think this discrimination is encoded in our genes.

Let us imagine some situations:

Situation 1: You are in a train station and suddenly somebody shouts ‘Bomb!’ Wouldn’t your eyes unintentionally look for a person with a long beard? And still you call yourself non-racist.

Situation 2: It is night time, you are alone and walking back to your home while you notice that there is a black guy behind you. He is probably also just going towards his home, but wouldn’t you be less scared if it was a white man walking behind you? How would you feel? Your gene has encoded ‘black’ as danger. And still you call yourself non-racist.

Situation 3: You are searching a partner for your assignments with short deadline. There are three guys: from Asia, Africa and Europe. Wouldn’t you try to work with the European guy? Your gene has encoded white skin to be intelligent. And you call yourself non-racist.

No matter how hard we try to be non-racist, in the fight-or-flight-situation our genes make us racist.

All the white skinned people immigrating to Europe are termed expats, whereas brown and black skinned people are called immigrants. Isn’t that the height of racism?

Another example of racism can be found in the words used to describe the working people from different regions. They have invented different words: Expats (expatriates) and Immigrants. All the white skinned people immigrating to Europe are termed expats, whereas brown and black skinned people are called immigrants. Isn’t that the height of racism? To not sound racist, they have defined ‘expats’ as the ‘skilled persons immigrating’ and ‘immigrants’ as ‘non-skilled persons immigrating’. Now, the question arises what skill is and the obvious answer to this is ‘what white skinned people do’. Have you heard the highly skilled person from Africa and Asia being called expats? I believe these kinds of people with very good skills do exist in these developing worlds also. And no, these kinds of people have never heard somebody calling them an expat.

Today, we may be highly aware of the global issues, trying to save the world in our differentiated but collective efforts, but have we not made our different perceptions in treating someone different than the others who are actually similar? And who is to blame for encoding our genes with such bias? Media, our surroundings, the way we are brought up or the way we are made to think and believe? And how long will it take to delete such deleterious genes?

Re:actions 6

  • Phil

    Dear Mary,
    Please stop the effort to explain racism with genes.
    Racism is a cultural thing that is taught to you through your parents, friends, education, media and sometimes your own experience.
    The first two imagined situations are just perfect reflections of the media. The usual picture of the fanatic Muslim and the bad black guy. Good job media.
    The last one is funny though. Out of my own experiences I would say that European usually have better English skills compared to Asian or African. But does this make me racist? Or is it, like the article states, something me genes tell me?
    I hope you are not serious to compare language skills or work attitude with intelligence and relate it to skin color. Not to mention to excuse it with your genes.
    Besides, I disagree that everybody is equal. We are not. We are all completely different and have different properties. But isn't that just beautiful?
    Excusing racism with genes... that's the most racist thing I have ever heard.

  • WV

    Best pile of bullshit I've read on the resource site for a long time. Seriously, how can you make the claim that racism is genetic? A little baby is not afraid for bearded men, nor does he care for skin colour. In the discussion of nature vs. nurture racism fall in the latter category.

    Please Mary, return to your old style of writing. Or do you want to become the new Romy? Because that is the path your on now.

  • face reality

    Congratulations! Finally you got some comments by writing utter nonsense. (why? well RN pointed it out already)
    I thought your previous blogs were generally a good, interesting read.
    Now you seem to have chosen the path of a certain other blogger on this site. So sad.

    @ RJ

    " and yes western world treats Muslims as terrorists.. "

    Are you for real?
    #1: can you give me a rough estimation how many percent of nowadays terrorist attacks are conducted by muslims? Can we agree it's at the very least more than 50% (being very conservative here)
    #2: maybe you should do some research into Asian and African views of muslims. So lame you have to resort to blaming the obvious scapegoat.
    #3: why do you even bring this up? Religion IS NOT a race!

    • RJ

      Ok, lets discuss the word terrorist. Oxford dictionary defines it as "A person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims". If Muslims are terrorists, what about the drone attacks conducted in Pakistan and Afghanistan by west. Doesn't it include politics. I think these attacks roughly makes 95% of the attacks being happening. So, why to tag Muslims as terrorists?

      So, this our mentality, which is being shaped by the media (again western media). A life lost due to any reason by anyone is the great loss.

  • Dr FeelGood

    To be honest, I do not really like such articles, that are based on opinions mostly. There is already a huge crisis, in Europe and the world with issues regarding immigration/ rise of right wing/ ISIS and so on, to simply create overgeneralisations, and accuse people of racism.

    The fact that people might search for the 'terrorist figure' a bearded guy strapped with dynamite, is because a) there have been a lot of similar attacks in the past, and b) the media have created this portrayal of 'muslim bombers'. Of course it is wrong, but based on previous experiences, and media, you will instinctively look for the odd one out the crowd.

    About the black guy in the street, I think it merely has to do with the unknown. It could be the same for people from a far away place, walking in Utrecht at night, and a long hair, messy looking white guy following them. I believe 100% they would be equally afraid, even if it was a person from Africa.

    For the third one, I have no clear opinion. I think it is a matter of where the words were created and how they are used now.

  • RN

    Seriously those Resource blogs are getting worse every week. Those situations are so made up to make your point it is ridiculous. In situation 1 you don't even specify the race. How could you be racist if you judge a bearded men? Are beards are race? Is it forbidden to assess a situation?

    Situation 2 is the only one which makes a little bit of sense. But it strongly depends on gender. I don't have problems with black guys at night (I am a guy). Situation 3 is a personal matter. What if you know the Asian and African guy but not the European guy. It is definitely not encoded in our genes. This is an environmental/educational factor.

    For the expat thing I guess you should check the definition of an expat. They workers who were send away permamently or temporarily to another country than their citizenship (so they often have working visas). Immigrants are seeking permanent citizenship for various reasons. There is a distinct difference.

    Please stop talking about genes here. This is a matter of society and upbringing.

    • RJ

      I think by bearded men she meant Muslims... and yes western world treats Muslims as terrorists.. Nobody needs proof of it.

      Secondly, regarding expats vs immigrants, I do support Mary. This discussion has been featured in The Guardian also (

      Situation 3 sounds logical to me. If you have to go to the study groups (where you do not know the people), you would possibly not go to the ones having people of other races.

  • Hans

    I liked your statement "No matter how hard we try to be non-racist, in the fight-or-flight-situation our genes make us racist".


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  • Chris

    'our genes make us racist' - halelujah! I've found a fellow believer! Praise the Lord! Oh no, I forgot, I'm an agnostic. Anyway...I think you're probably right, Mary. See my blog post, 'Colour me racist - blame my genes':

    • start thinking

      to Chris,

      luckily you only found one person that has the same opinion.
      Opinions are like assholes... everybody has one...
      and luckily your link does not work - almost read your bullshit
      but seriously - "blame my genes" ?? the worst excuse ever for being racist!

  • W

    Racist gene? I find racism explained better through nurture and in some cases neophobia. Judging from your last three sentences i think you could use some more biology lessons..

    • Chris

      Sorry about the bad link. I accidentally changed the posts's date. It's now:

      There are many actual scientists checking out the idea that prejudice has evolved as hard-wired tendency. Please read my post, and see what you think.