Einstein: The Negro Question (1946) | On Being

The ancient Greeks also had slaves. They were not Negroes but white men who had been taken captive in war. There could be no talk of racial differences. And yet Aristotle, one of the great Greek philosophers, declared slaves inferior beings who were justly subdued and deprived of their liberty. It is clear that he was enmeshed in a traditional prejudice from which, despite his extraordinary intellect, he could not free himself.

File:Albert Einstein Head.jpg

Portrait d’Albert Einstein – Wikipedia

A large part of our attitude toward things is conditioned by opinions and emotions which we unconsciously absorb as children from our environment. In other words, it is tradition—besides inherited aptitudes and qualities—which makes us what we are. We but rarely reflect how relatively small as compared with the powerful influence of tradition is the influence of our conscious thought upon our conduct and convictions.

It would be foolish to despise tradition. But with our growing self-consciousness and increasing intelligence we must begin to control tradition and assume a critical attitude toward it, if human relations are ever to change for the better. We must try to recognize what in our accepted tradition is damaging to our fate and dignity—and shape our lives accordingly.

I believe that whoever tries to think things through honestly will soon recognize how unworthy and even fatal is the traditional bias against Negroes.

What, however, can the man of good will do to combat this deeply rooted prejudice? He must have the courage to set an example by word and deed, and must watch lest his children become influenced by this racial bias.


via Einstein: The Negro Question (1946) | On Being.

One comment

  1. Reblogged this on Watch and Whirl and commented:
    This is Exactly what I have been saying. We can’t retrain cops to not be racist. We can’t change the way people think because it began in childhood. It’s engrained. It will only be changed when the parents teach their children differently. Is that being done? Not in big enough quantities to make any difference at this point. In fact it seems to be getting worse not better. I have written more on race and racsim on my other blog http://mynameisjamie.net because of the effect this all has had on our prisons.

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