Saturday, July 03, 2004
Hatred of One's Own Race
The tendency to hate one's own race is of course not restricted to whites, and a more general term might be useful. I have seen the word 'auto-racism' used in this connection, but it does not strike me as satisfactory. The usual dictionary definition of 'racism' is "the notion that one's own racial stock is superior" (The American Heritage Dictionary). Therefore 'auto-racism' is little more than a tautology, since the prefix 'auto' comes from the Greek pronoun 'autos,' meaning 'one's self,' and adds nothing to the meaning of 'racism.'
In attempting to coin a word meaning "hatred of one's own race," we might instead start out with the prefix 'miso,' from the Greek verb meaning 'hate.' English words incorporating this root are 'misogyny' (hatred of women), 'misanthropy' (hatred of humankind), 'misology' (hatred of reason), 'misogamy' (hatred of marriage), 'misoneism' (hatred of change or innovation), etc.
For 'one's own,' the root 'auto' is good. It appears in many English words, for example 'automobile,' which is a self-propelled vehicle.
Since 'miso' and 'auto' are Greek roots, let's pick another classical root meaning 'race.' Greek 'genos' and Latin 'gens' are related, and they are familiar to English speakers from their presence in words like 'genetics,' 'genotype,' 'progeny,' etc.
Putting these three roots all together, we arrive at the neologism 'misautogeny' as a possible word meaning "hatred of one's own race." I'm not entirely happy with it, because 'autogeny' is already a technical term in biology, but I offer it as one possibility. The phenomenon is a widespread one nowadays, and it calls for its own word.