Class vs… Tribalism / Racism

Continuing with the class-ism debate, I thought I explore how class relates to tribalism. I have always equated Kenya’s tribalism to racism in the US.

Fellow blogger JM, challenged my argument of classism as what I identified as divisions in Kenya’s society. Even though classism in its raw definition doesn’t explain societal divisions, how JM explains our seclusions as ‘a manifestation of inherent human traits’ would yield a class system regardless of whether our intention was not to discriminate or be prejudice.

Now we all saw or read about Katrina and how it for a second woke up Americans to the reality that this country is still divided along racial lines.

I maintain as I did when the post Katrina debate was going on, that class was the biggest determining factor that the Gulf was neglected during their time of need. We live in a world of have and have-nots and if you end up on the wrong side of the fence, it doesn’t matter whether you are yellow, grey or white. If you are poor, you are automatically disenfranchised in any society.

Take Kenya for example, its more likely to see well off families from different tribes mingling than it is to see poorer Kenyans interacting outside their tribal cocoons.

Political leaders in Kenya know this very well and that is why they subliminally sway their tribes to vote for ‘one of theirs’ while they do not hesitate to work with different tribes if that means they can achieve a desired result.

I believe that the first step in solving racism / tribalism is by creating institutions that will alleviate majority of society from poverty.

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4 thoughts on “Class vs… Tribalism / Racism

  1. “Take Kenya for example, its more likely to see well off families from different tribes mingling than it is to see poorer Kenyans interacting outside their tribal cocoons.”

    Naturally, well off families live in in their own areas, accessible to them, in spite bcoz of their wealth. Does it mean that these kids cannot hang out with poor kids? Nope … again transaction costs are high. It is not uncommon 4example when they meet in boarding school, for them 2 be very good friends – costs are extremely low !
    Same applies with poor kids. They are more likely to hang out with each other bcoz they live together.
    Now, conclusions as to how they would interact with each other, devoid of a social study, are pure conjecture.
    It is very tempting to assume that they would not get along …

  2. Society will ALWYAS be stratified and unlike what you are suggesting that it is possible to ‘eradicate poverty’, in the reality what is achievable is a “higher standard of poverty’. This is due to the fact that the state known as ‘poverty’ is a relativistic one. Human demographics will always follow the gaussian curve of distribution which means that some will always be at the top, some will be average and some will be “poor” no matter what standard of measure you use (height, weight, money, class etc). Fortunately it is possible to move across classes these days (poor people can move into higher social status by working hard and by good luck; and people of higher social status can also be displaced by misfortunes or bad habits). What is more practical is to foster an environment of tolerance such that there are is no overt aggression between these different strata of people.

  3. well put adhis-toto, in deed what we should hope for is a society where the gap between the rich and poor is not as big as we have today. However one definition of poverty that is not relative is a person’s ability to provide basic human needs for themselves. And that level is still prevalent in most places in the world.

  4. If it’s not absolute wealth that divides people something else will. For self esteem issues or whatever we always find ways to differentiate people.

    But definitely less poverty is a good thing and it does help blur economic class lines.

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