471-481. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40282573
The violent genocide which occurred in Rwanda was an 'ethnic cleansing' which only affected Africans. However, according to White (2009), racism was a primary motivator of the violence, even though the reasons for this might not be immediately discernable to outsiders looking in on the conflict. Racism is defined as the notion that one group of persons is innately superior to another group of persons, whether that is blacks vs. whites in the American south or Hutus over Tutsis (White 2009: 471). Initially, in the pre-colonial era, the Hutus and the Tutsis coexisted. The Hutus were mainly agrarian; the Tutsis were cattle breeders. There was a fluid economic and cultural exchange between them.
However, in the wake of German colonialism, a hierarchy was established between the two groups. The more European-featured Tutsi were favored over the shorter, darker-skinned Hutu. Under Belgian colonial rule, all of the best jobs were given to the Tutsis and a system of identity cards were used to keep the Hutu in check. With the overthrow of colonialism, the Hutu assumed power and kept all of the mechanisms of control in place, only replacing Tutsi governance with that of the Hutu. The apartheid system remained, only this time the Tutsi were deemed to be the enemy as a representation of the past, colonial legacy. The Hutu leaders became increasingly authoritarian and violence against the Tutsi increased as the civil conflict between the Hutu and the outside rebel Tutsi groups escalated. Government propaganda encouraged people to support the Hutu and violence and rape were encouraged as a justifiable response to the Tutsi -- all of whom, even civilians, were considered the enemy. In this article, White shows a definite link between colonialism and the ideology that was eventually used to justify genocide in the politically destabilized country.