More than a definition
You can find many definitions about racism. One I found on Dictionary.com states racism is…
…a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
As broad and technical this definition is, it cannot capture the emotional, psychological and spiritual breakdown when a person or group of people, experience racism. Where does racism originate?
- Ever witnessed a stranger or a friend being attacked by a racial slur? Did it leave you paralyzed with fear to say anything, or did you say something and did something about it? If you didn’t, did you know that you’re only adding to the problem?
- Ever had someone tell you that it’s alright to verbally demean a cultural group, because “everybody talks that way”? Did you say: “actually, NO, not everybody talks that way!”
- Ever had someone highlight the cultural background of the driver of the car who hit them? Why would the cultural background of the driver be of ANY significance to the cause of the accident?
Hate is the root of racism, and you can feel the hate in each of the above scenarios. How could you not? Until we acknowledge racism, talk about racism and do something about eradicating racism, hate will continue to breed hate simply because of the differences in the color of our skin. It’s not rocket science.
History is repeating itself
For those of you who were kicking around in the 1990’s, let’s not forget the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, or the Rodney King Riots. White police officers beat Mr. King mercilessly, and these officers were acquitted. Looting, assaults and murders followed in the days ahead in a burning Los Angeles, resulting in countless injuries and 53 deaths. You can read more about the 1992 Los Angeles Riots for more information. Does this scenario sound familiar? The Rodney King Riots happened over 20 years ago, and it’s still happening today involving the tragic and senseless deaths of African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York. History is repeating itself because we haven’t learned from our past.
It all started when two tribes, the Tutsis and Hutus, in Rwanda didn’t like each other. And for 100 nightmarish days in 1994, hate resulted in an estimate of 1 million Rwandan deaths. The Hutu-led government instigated genocidal mass slaughters and rapes against the Tutsis people. It wiped out 20% of the country’s total population, or 70% of the Tutsi population living in Rwanda at the time. You can read more about the Rwandan Genocide for more background information. It was a very politically charged execution, but the underlying component is hate. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, but one can see we haven’t learned from our past, as the Ethnic Violence in South Sudan continues to this day.
This infographic looks at some disturbing statistics and facts about racism. It by no means encapsulates everything about racism. The topic of racism is heavy material and not exactly party conversation material. I only hope this infographic on racism starts a conversation between neighbours, friends, in schools, in organizations, at work and within families. Acknowledging it, talking about it, and taking action against it may not guarantee the outcome we’ve been looking for, but it’s a desperately needed start. Too many lives have been lost around the world and too much pain has been inflicted against the innocent, because of the color of our skin.
Racism is the big elephant in the room, and we need to acknowledge this elephant and set it free. Otherwise it will continue to trample us, forever.
Say something and do something
Eradicating racism isn’t just talking about it. Do something about it too. Here are a few ideas:
- Speak up against racist or discriminatory comments and jokes in person AND online. If you don’t, who will?
- Examine your own attitudes and beliefs. It may highlight our own biases and stereotypes that we are unknowingly hurting others.
- Get to know your neighbors. Reach out and get to know others who are different from you.
- Join organizations which support human rights.
- Celebrate holidays, festivals and events that are not part of your cultural background.