Other Heightism Related Websites

Friday, 5 August 2016

The Rwandan Genocide: Links Between Racism and Heightism

I came across this and thought it was interesting:
"At the start of the 20th century, most of the Rwandan population belonged to the Hutu ethnic group, who were traditionally crop-growers. Over many centuries, Rwanda attracted another group, traditional herdsmen, the Tutsis, from northern Africa... It wasn’t until European colonists arrived during the 1950s, that a divide developed between the two groups. The Europeans saw the Tutsis, who were taller with European ‘aristocratic’ appearances and, as was the practice of the time, selected this group to be both privileged and educated." - Source
"The Hutu and Tutsi are two peoples who share a common past. When Rwanda was first settled, the people who lived there raised cattle. Soon, the people who owned the most cattle were called "Tutsi" and everyone else was called "Hutu." At this time, a person could easily change categories through marriage or cattle acquisition. It wasn't until Europeans came to colonize the area that the terms "Tutsi" and "Hutu" took on a racial role. The Germans were the first to colonize Rwanda in 1894. They looked at the Rwandan people and thought the Tutsi had more European characteristics, such as lighter skin and a taller build. Thus they put Tutsis in roles of responsibility. When RTLM (Radio Télévison des Milles Collines) began broadcasting on July 8, 1993... The RTLM called for the Tutsi to "cut down the tall trees," a code phrase which meant for the Hutu to start killing the Tutsi." - Source

I've always found the links between racism and heightism to be interesting. For example, even in Asia they value traits that are considered European. Paler skin, thin noses, blond hair/blue eyes, and of course taller height. They'll deny that this has anything to do with race, but fact of the matter is that tall stature has always been viewed as a typically European trait, such as here with the Rwandan genocide (Europeans are still statistically the tallest). White people also naturally have these traits more often.

In a world where the buildings, clothing, universal language, etc. are Western, I wonder if this has anything to do with heightism. For more examples, natives never treated the bottom of totem poles with contempt (quite the opposite), but in English we say "bottom of the totem pole" in a disparaging way. Filipinos were thought to be suited to “stoop labor” because of their youth and relatively shorter stature.

At the very least, this is something to think about for those who claim no one has ever been oppressed in part due to short stature.

No comments:

Post a Comment