I have watched the Racism debate and “tantrum” with keen interest, and have noted different people’s responses and reactions. I have also observed how Parliament, and thus, our social leaders reacted and responded to the pressure of this raging debate.
I am sharing my observation in three different angles:
- My understanding of what racism is
I have searched different sites, explanations and definitions of Diversity to reach the meaning of racism, and this explanation provides a layer towards getting to the meaning of racism:
“The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance & respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences”
The following definition of racism provides another layer:
Full Definition of racism. 1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. 2 : racial prejudice or discrimination.
This definition confirms how I have always understood Racism. It is prejudice against someone purely because of the race they “look like” they belong to. I consciously say “look like” because we really use looks to determine which race people belong to, and as a result then decide who they are, what they are worth, what they deserve, and sometimes in a very embarrassing way, we also know that they cannot not feel certain ways because their race could not possibly even conceptualise, let alone, experience certain feelings and understandings. The prejudice therefore gives us permission to discriminate against certain group of people with conviction.
Whichever way we define racism, and therefore discrimination of others because of race, what I know for sure is that anyone who truly believes that race can make one superior or inferior is truly narrow-minded, ignorant and myopic in their regard for a human being. I want to share cold facts about human beings:
- Race is used to differentiate people predominately according to the colour of their skin. So, race is skin-deep.
- The colour of one’s skin or race does not mitigate for physical pain. Fact is every human being feels physical pain exactly the same way.
- Race does not influence whether people believe in God or not. For that reason, we see people of different races believing in different Gods.
- Race has got nothing to do with whether people are able to read or not. Nor has it got anything to do with people’s ability to count. The sole determining factor is whether people are afforded a fair opportunity or not.
- Race does not determine whether people can play any sport or not. Opportunity and development and support determine the ability for people to play any sport.
- Race does not determine if people can lie or tell the truth. People’s morals and principles determine that.
- Race does not determine whether people kill others or not. Evil motives, arrogance and ignorance leads to people killing others.
Pain is pain. Fear is fear. Arrogance is arrogance. Ignorance is ignorance. Capability is capability.
- What all leaders (people who choose to influence others positively, irrespective of position) could do to create movement forward
We could challenge ourselves at an individual level, instead of joining a mob…a mob deprives us of authentic engagement in this debate. I believe that the most powerful shift will not come from a debate in parliament, legislation against racists, or retaliation. If each one of us were to honestly hold ourselves accountable, and asked ourselves whether we really believed that different races mean a difference in the humanness of people, the process of ignorance and narrow-mindedness would be replaced by a powerful acknowledgement of reality.
I invite anybody who stands for humanity to engage the questions below in their sequence. When you answer the questions, challenge your values and your level of maturity to live with the universal truth, and your personal, a truth imposed by society of history. Also, your honesty must be informed by what you would like people of a different race from you to see when they look at you, should they at any time find themselves in an advantaged position, where their decisions determine your chance to be respected and treated with the total regard that is afforded human beings.
Please do not move to the next question before you have fully and authentically answered each question:
- What would be the most scary life experience for you? Would it be the same for all of the people of your race?
- How different would it be for people of other races? Do you know so or is that your perception?
- What makes your race happy? Is it most noble compared to what makes other races happy?
- What is the worst thing that you have heard or seen done by a human being? Was it by someone from a superior race or inferior race? Could anybody from all the races do it? Is it possible that someone from your race has perpetrated that same worst thing?
- What is the best thing that you have heard or seen done by a human being? Was it by someone from a superior or inferior race? Could anybody from all races do it? Is it possible that someone from your race has achieved that same best thing?
- If you found yourself in danger, and the only person who could save you was from the other race, would you accept their help? Would you be receiving the help form a race or form a human being?
- I have a choice, and it is detached from the past
I know that most people are tired of racism. I am. My choice is to challenge myself and hold myself accountable to ensure that my history does not have a negative impact on my future. I therefore choose to self-correct each time I catch myself unfairly treating people of different races from how I would like to be treated. I say so because I do not for one second want to present that racism is not a challenge. I am choosing to manage racism instead of giving it free reign in my life, and wreaking havoc with results that I do not want. I promise myself to engage this process over and over again:
- Acknowledge my awareness of a difference (and this is relevant for all the other dimensions that differentiate me from others like religion, age, gender, ethnicity, educational level, occupation, social class, etc)
- Acknowledge how the difference makes me feel and own my own prejudice.
- Choose to contribute to harmony, still be treating the other person the way I would like to be treated, with respect and dignity.
- Refuse to be drawn into discrimination should it happen. Showcase respect for humanity. Thus, contribute to harmony and equitable co-existence.
I do not pretend that it will be easy, and I know that the more I relate this way with all people irrespective of how different they are to me, the closer humanity will move to the tipping point, where all races are equal and live together in harmony.