Racial Attitudes during the Genocide

Racial prejucide in Rwanda arguably reached its height during the genocide, when Hutu leaders blasted radio broadcasts denouncing the “Tutsi cockroaches.” Hutu rhetoric cited the long history of Tutsi oppression to encourage Hutu group identity and evoke prejudice against Tutsis (Green, 2003).

Moreover, the threat from the Tutsi rebel group RPF was generalized to the entire Tutsi population. They convinced Hutus that if the RPF succeeded, Hutus would be landless and murdered. There is evidence that Hutus actually believed Tutsis wer evil (Adler, et al., 2008).

However, a recent study challenged the notion of widespread racial prejudice among Hutus during the genocide. Strauss shows that intra-group coercion, rather than ethnic hatred, was the driving force behind the massive mobilization of Hutus for genocidal acts (Strauss, 2006). Thus, Hutus might have participated in the genocide without a deep-sided hatred for the Tutsi race.

Modern Racial Attitudes

There is no denial, however, that with the collective memory of the genocide still fresh, and with victims and former killers living side by side, Rwanda is facing a problem of societal mistrust (Paluck, 2009). Although formal ethnic distinctions have disappeared in Rwandan society, the Hutu/Tutsi divide still exists. The two races hold two different versions of why and how the genocide happened, which has complicated reconciliation efforts (Amstutz, 2006).

Leave a Reply