Ooh, we are talking about a sensitive topic. I think one of the reasons it is so hard to have a proper discussion about racism is that people’s initial reaction is of defensiveness. There are also anti-discrimination laws put into place (for good reason) and people fear losing their jobs. So, people will deny that their behavior was racist. However, the most important reason is that people think of racists as monsters.
But, nope that is not the reality. Most folks who say something prejudicial and discriminatory are your “average Joe”. They might even be “good people”. They are your neighbors, friends, and co-workers. Or it might be you. People get defensive when get called on their racial prejudice because they think we are comparing them to the most extreme, hateful segments of society. In their mind, they are not Nazis or part of KKK.
Guess what, when people call you out on your racism, they aren’t accusing you of being a Nazi. They are however stating that your remarks are wrong and very hurtful to that person. In fact, if you are called out on your racial prejudice, introspect on how your remark, behavior and action can affect a person negatively. You might just become a better person after it. Just apologize to the person who feels they have been made to feel inferior due to your careless remarks. Half the time, I see people say dumb things out of sheer ignorance. Refer to my first blog post. People say dumb things because they don’t know better.
Sometimes, people think they aren’t doing anything wrong because they might have a friend from that racial group. For example, I am not racist because I have a black friend. I am allowed to say the N word right? No, you are not. When my brother was in high school, I overheard him say the N word. I was appalled. His reasoning was all my black friends say I can use it. Nope, you still don’t have the right even if they give you “permission.” It is one thing for a young black man to reclaim a word that was historically used to dehumanize them. It is another thing for anyone else to use the word because rappers use it and it will make them seem cool. Guess what, N word isn’t cool. It has got such an appalling history to it. Why would you want to utter such a word? After I explained the racial history behind the word, my brother regretted his speech and has been more thoughtful about his behavior.
We all make mistakes. We all say something stupid out of ignorance. It happens quite frequently in Canada. We have people from all over the world. I have made the same mistake. Learn to accept your mistake and be more aware of your actions. Let’s not generalize or stereotype people. You might have a negative experience with a person from a particular cultural background. Understand this: there are good and bad people everywhere. That individual was negative. Let’s not make assumptions based on their skin color.
P.S: I don’t think I gave full justice to a topic like racism. It is such a complex issue. I didn’t talk about how racism is a social construct because I am not talking g about it in an academic way. I feel regardless of your race, you might have felt uncomfortable about someone’s remark or you might have been called out on a prejudicial remark. I just feel we shouldn’t demonize people but educate them and start an honest discussion about race.