What’s this noise about Racism and why is it increasingly having its turn in political table talks across the globe? Could it be that the Black Lives Matter Movement is just politicking about thin air? The Jews; why did Hitler have to kill more than six million of them? Why is that Asian countries are said to be not so welcoming of foreigners?
How do you explain the irony of some Arabic women migrating from the UK to live in Syria of ISIS where angels fear to tread, raising middle fingers to the material comfort that they claim to repay in daily installments of prejudice and discrimination? What of some white farmers who were forced to give up land in some parts of Africa without any compensation whatsoever? Hells, we even screamed, “Racism!” about the issue of Ahmed and his atomic clock.
Now you’re probably thinking just how many components there is to this and you might have figured out that it’s an interminable list. Could it be that Racism is an inexorable part of human nature? Can Racism find justification in the Theory of Evolution that hinges so much of its weight on the idea of survival of the fittest in which case racists are just species dancing to their DNA?
What Is Racism Really?
Two school girls (11-12) whispering and laughing at another girl (12-13), focus on front girl
Bottom Left Pic: 1815 is a reference to Abolishment of the Slave Trade; 1945 the recognition of Jews
According to Oxford dictionary, Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
There are many classification criteria for Racism and I have chosen the simplest I could think of.
There’s a softer form of Racism which is often called Implicit Racism. This the equivalent of inactive prejudice. Usually, Implicit Racism occurs when one person is being overly nice to another of a different race and this is hard to detect partly because some people are naturally kind, welcoming, and well meaning in which case they’ll be just acting within their character. In this light Implicit Racism is when a person has made unfounded assumptions about another’s abilities and he feels compelled to be overly nice under the illusion of his integrity.
For other people, Implicit Racism may prompt the person to just chose not to associate with people of other races. Again, this is not necessarily always the case since there are good reasons for which this behavior can result.
Then there’s Explicit Racism which is the active form. Explicit Racism is incubated by envy, the need for superiority and dominance, misconceptions and stereotypes, mistrust etc. but goes further to inspire hate speech, murder, injustice and other ghastly acts. It is noteworthy that victims of Explicit Racism would often times turn into explicit racists themselves from the frustration.
Uniformity Vs Unity
You must have heard the saying, Ignore Your Differences And Celebrate Your Similarities, or a paraphrase of that. Now, there’s a challenge to this. Firstly, here is the difference: unity does not require that people do away with their idiosyncrasies or ignore their differences per say but uniformity somewhat demands that of us. Sadly, uniformity has been the common approach at tackling Racism. The problem is that there’s always a misfit in the uniformity criterion and his plight results in dissatisfaction and frustration and his endless war with the facts.
The Controversy About Stereotypes And Misconceptions About Racism
In social psychology, a stereotype is a thought that can be adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of doing things. These thoughts or beliefs may or may not accurately reflect reality.
People try to avoid the fact that some stereotypes are really based in truth and those who object most to the idea are usually the exception, not the rule. It’s like waving Bill Gates as a point that all of us can be billionaires. Surveys have been conducted about the strengths and weaknesses and general results have been documented but we’re hesitant to pull these out and place them on the round table because there’s always someone who will let emotions polarize his judgment and pull out the race card from his pocket back pocket in reflex.
All this is festered by the fact that we emphasize more on uniformity rather than unity. We emphasize more on acceptance rather than raising awareness on how each one of us has something beautiful and great to him and what we can learn to collectively rise up to our betterment.
Now, to curb the temptation to someone to just take this first idea and form a world view out of it, let me clarify that I’m not saying that the prowesses and weaknesses are intrinsic and innate within a race but that understanding and agreeing that we’re somewhat different would, in part, make us think of various specialized approaches we can use to boost the strengths and thwart our weaknesses.
Can We Learn From Racial Stereotypes?
Africans have been stereotyped as unsmart among other things. I’m from Zimbabwe and I couldn’t be any more euphemistic if I said that we could do better as a country, or a continent thereof, than what we’re doing. Considering the immaturity of the regional politics, just a half of the things that pass for logic, poor planning and lousy implementation processes I can’t say in all good conscience that I don’t see where the stereotype is stemming from.
The problem is that when these stereotypes get their wings in our skies we get into this defensive mode and we’re very quick to assume the victim role and often times pull out the Racism card when we could just see this for what it really is, or could be,- constructive criticism.
The challenge is that some of the things that pass for Racism are not really that. An African friend of mine studying in Kerela, India, recently posted this on Facebook,
I don’t really know what happened, I’m still to talk to him, and I trusted his judgment on calling it that, but just after I commented on his post it dawned on me that I might have been a little hasty so I started conducting a thought experiment. Before that, here’s what I said to him,
I started thinking about how it would have been different if it were a native student who had gone through this experience. I’d like to think that the other students would have reacted more or less the same.
Better yet, how would his reaction have been if this had happened in his own country with people like him? In this light, there is a chance that we hold Racism in misconception and some people are so hypersensitive and unnecessarily paranoid that they pick on every little thing and put a Racist label. This is cancerous if it comes from a place that is sensitive to the other person’s race and may be Implicit Racism.
I’d like to suggest that it’s only Racism when people act out of character. People should be taught to be sensitive and to be receptive of how someone is likely to feel or react to some norms that are foreign to him and there’s also a need to educate the potential victim to make allowances for mistakes and misunderstandings and to see things clearly, not rush to judge.
What Incubates Racism
Sometimes I even think that the challenge is as much to get races to accept their uniqueness as it is to get other races to shake off unfounded judgments about others.
Just recently I watched a YouTube video of an African guy who was arguing that he is not black, he is brown. I hit my head really hard at that and I remember quickly clicking on an Elon Musk documentary to save skin.
Moreover, I know an Indian girl who told me that she doesn’t think she’s pretty because she is not very fair in complexion and this is not very different with African girls who apply some cosmetic creams to make their complexions fairer. It’s hard to see the hatch of this problem since most of the guys generally think girls with a fair complexion look comparatively more beautiful.
Whilst all this is not racism, it sensitizes people to the differences and subconsciously establish a hierarchy of races.
Hypocrisy And Double Standard
A sad truth is that we often hold good thoughts in hypocrisy. We flaunt when stereotypes are on our side and we politic when someone rolls up an impossible category. A person who’ll go overboard with the penis size stereotype forfeits his right to murmur when the topic changes on him.
How Can We Communicate Stereotypes And Sensitive Opinions?
Is there any way by which a foreigner may tell his Indian friend that spitting in public is a bad habit or that asking a foreigner what his parents do is downright impolite and has some curious connotations? Of course! You just have to communicate with a pinch of love.
There is always a nice way to communicate sensitive opinions. This lessens the chances of someone bursting into a defensive mode and compels him to chew on the possibility of improvement and consideration.
We must understand that race is something sacred hence there is no shame that should either come with it or that should be imposed upon it.
We should accept that generally(meaning there are exceptions) we have different strengths and weaknesses that are intrinsic to our respective races and we must not have any shame in that. Instead we should acknowledge and celebrate both our similarities and differences.
We should detect and communicate stereotypes in maturity, and respond in good judgment with the best way possible to enhance the strengths and thwart the weaknesses intrinsic to a race. This stems from understanding that we can be bigger and better than we are.
We should be patient in curbing racism, being relentlessly forgiving but also expressive against it by teaching race desensitization especially to the new generation. After all, Racism is an existential subject hence the solution lies in good morality.
Here’s a pic of me and a friend of mine Yatique