What does “being human” mean exactly?
Humanity is the quality or state of being humane, which means being marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for humans or animals. (merriam-webster.com)
Sadly, not all of us have these qualities. Albert Einstein said: “It is harder to crack prejudice than an atom”, he was obviously right. There are ideas that have been engrained in our society so deeply that it is impossible to change people’s opinion on the matter
Racism has been around forever. There has always been some people who have felt superior or more deserving than others just because of their skin color. There is a big chance that slavery is what started racism but contrary to conventional thought, all people have at one time or another been enslaved. Slavery was present in periods like Ancient Egypt (3000 BC), the Akkadian Empire (2300 BC), Ancient Greece (500 BC) or Rome. Of course, the one period of slavery we all know about is the one that started in the 15th century. The Transatlantic Slave Trade is what everyone learns about in school, they teach us about the millions of Africans that were enslaved or the horrible conditions they had to live in but no one tells us that after 600 years, we can still see the repercussions of this trade. The minorities are still persecuted and the white man still holds all the privileges. Slavery might not be legal anymore but that does not mean racism is a thing of the past. African Americans still have to deal with mass incarceration, gang violence, poverty, unemployment, police brutality and many other problems I have probably never encountered because, I am white. I will never understand why it is so hard for people to admit that their skin color does not make them superior to someone else. If we stick to the definition, the people that do not understand this concept are not compassionate or sympathetic, they might be humans but they are showing no humanity.
The same goes for sexism. Men are physically stronger than women, we get it. Society is built to serve biology and only women are capable of giving birth. If your only source of protein was a beast that could kill you faster than you can blink, who would you send to kill it? Not the child or the pregnant woman, that is for sure. Could you see a woman steelworker working within a week of her due date? Or maybe as a coal miner? Probably not but that does not mean that she is not capable of doing these things. However, it became normal for women to spend their days in their house, doing less complicated tasks like washing the laundry by hand, maintaining their own cow for milk or cleaning the soot on the walls that was caused by the fire. As history advanced, technologies that could take care of these tasks were created and when it became easier for women to have a normal life again, people had forgotten why they did not have one in the first place. The idea that women were inferior to men had grown on people and to think that a woman was capable of doing a man’s job was irrational. Of course, that is when the joys of sexism appeared, women were discriminated because of their sex that supposedly did not make them smart enough or strong enough. Women were not allowed to vote, to have a bank account or a credit card, they could not hold powerful positions or gained less than men. We are still facing some of these issues nowadays, on average, women earn less money than the usual man worker, in some countries they have very few rights or are not allowed to go to school… The list goes on and on but the problem here is that some people do not realize that no matter what our sex is, we are still human. What makes a person less human is the way they judge someone else. We do not chose how we are born. Excluding someone from a society, discriminating or mistreating them just because they are different makes us inhumane.
We are all born with the same rights. In the US, these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, we have this tendency to see ourselves either as an individual or as an individual that is part of a small community. We cannot think of ourselves as one individual because we are seven billion people on earth, we do not live alone so our own happiness should not be another person’s misery. We are all part of one community: the human one. We must learn to live in harmony with one another without disrespecting anyone because of their skin color, their race or their sex. There is one race and it is the human one. In order to be part of it, we must be humane which means we have to be compassionate, sympathetic and considerate for one another.