The reality of living in a perfect world is a statement that is far from the truth. Although many of us would like to believe that everyone lives equal lives, is treated respectfully, and has equal rights, it is clear that these aspects are not consistently present in today's society. We live in a diverse world that is separated by race, orientation and gender. A world where the media defines what makes a person “normal” and what types of people are secluded from society because of what they believe in and what they look like. In the eyes of God we are seen as a unique creature with our own individuality, however, to others, the sense of being different is often viewed in a negative way. Racism occurs everyday in school, workplaces and in the community through actions and voice, intentionally and unintentionally. It has the ability to lower a person's self esteem; often to the point where they may feel that life is no longer worth living. Racism could be eliminated if acceptance and equality were present and practiced in our world today.
Racism, which can be considered any action or attitude conscious or unconscious, that subordinates an individual or group based on skin colour, or race, (Human Rights Commission (HRC)) is an action that takes three steps to complete. A racist action consists of a prejudgment or negative opinion about a group or person. It is a stereotype or “set image” that is usually based on false information. The last step of racism is discrimination. Discrimination combines prejudice and stereotype together to create an offensive action that has the “effect of limiting opportunities of certain individuals or groups because of personal characteristics such as race or colour.” (HRC)
All humans belong to the same species, live in the same world and were created equally by God. We were all born with dignity and rights and “have the potential to attain a high level of intellectual, social, economic and cultural development.” (HRC) We are all unique individuals that contribute to the world that we live in. Unfortunately, culture, skin colour and beliefs have a way of breaking the knot that holds us as humans together. Even in the 21st century, where we have become much more sophisticated individuals, the word racism is not a new word in our vocabulary. Discrimination has been around forever. Historical evidence of discrimination dates back to the 1930's and 40's when Adolph Hitler was in power in Germany. Hitler was the leader of the Nazi party that exterminated thousands of Jewish people. During the years of the Holocaust, Jewish people were forced to wear arm bands so everyone new their beliefs. They were forced to work as slaves and were sent to concentration camps were they were shot or marched until they dropped dead. They were stripped of their dignity and rights and were viewed as “play” objects instead of human individuals. When looking back on the Holocaust today, some may find it hard to believe that prejudice and racism still exist despite the horrific impact that is had in the past.
Although no event as large as the Holocaust has occurred since 1946, racism is still seen in schools, workplaces, and communities today. It is important to understand that children are not born racist. They learn it through their parents, friends, and community. Children that are not exposed to racism throughout their childhood are less likely to become racist. (HRC) Although many parents strive to raise their children to respect others, this idea can be quickly broken while they are at school.
In Kitchener-Waterloo, most elementary school classrooms have an equal ratio of students from Canada, and those who have immigrated here. (City of Kitchener) Different skin colours, religions and nationalities are placed in a classroom to interact with each other and learn. Young children do not have the intellectuality to know or fully understand what racism is and what it can cause. Because of this, racial actions can start at a young age with children choosing not to let someone join in their recess game due to the colour of their skin. What seems like a minor action grows through elementary school and into high school. It creates a person who disrespects others because of their beliefs.
When walking through a high school cafeteria you can often see the division between ethnicity. There are Black people sitting at one table, Asians at another, Polish on one side, Spanish at the other with Caucasians in the middle. Why is it that we choose to sit with people are in our eyes are mostly like us? Why is it that we would most likely become friends with someone of our own race? Dependant upon the way you are raised, a Black person and a White person may have very compatible personalities, but since they look different from each other, they may never get the chance to figure that out. For example, an Asian girl was brought up in a home where it was she was only allowed to date people of her own ethnicity. Her parents, being racist believed that her boyfriend was “dirty” because he was Mexican. At first the racist views of her parents had no impact on her relationship, but after constant negative expressions were made by her parents, she felt as if she needed to end her relationship. (Cosmo Girl) In most cases, the Black and White person does not become friends not because they don't respect each other because of their colour differences. Instead, there is an unintentional force that keeps these two people from getting to know each other. Similarly, all schools have a unique mascot that is used to represent the school population. Have you ever taken a good look at a mascot's characteristic? One schools mascot, “Rodney the Raider” was drawn as an Aboriginal with a large nose and a big pot belly. (Logos for the Future) This is an example of unintentional racism. In no way did this school intend to be racist to Aboriginal people. This mascot was created years ago when people were oblivious to the effects of racism.
Racism also occurs in the workplace. Although that job selection process is supposed to be fair, some races often have an advantage over others. Eight out of ten times, a black person has to work harder to obtain a job. (Taking a Stand against Racism and Racial Discrimination) In addition, the workplace often closely resembles high school. It is not uncommon to hear co-workers make racial jokes without even considering the true meaning of what was said. “Other cases of workplace racism include unfair job requirements for the same amount of pay and unethical labor expectations.” (One Workplace Equal Rights) If the bible states that “access to employment and to professions must be open to all without unjust discriminations,” why is it that there us injustice in the workplace?
When you walk down the street, do you ever catch yourself staring at people or watching your belongings more closely when a certain race walks by? For example, when a White man walks past a White woman on the street, she usually doesn't feel threatened. When a Black man walks past a White woman, they often walk faster, hold their purse tighter and grasp onto the man beside them. (Crash) The bible teaches us that “our relationship with our neighbors are recognized as personal in character, the neighbor is not a “unit” in the human collective; he is “someone” who by his known origin deserves particular attention.” (The Bible) If we were to practice the bibles lessons, this type of reaction to walking past a Black man would not be present. Moreover, racism in the community often leads to violence and “gang” fights. In today's society, it is not uncommon to hear about or see two groups of teenagers fighting in the streets. In addition to the physical part of the fight, you often hear racist remarks that are intended to anger and hurt others. Hate against races in communities is often sparked by the media. We live in a technological advanced era where the average person owns at least one TV and one computer and believes everything that they see and read on them. Many people use these resources as a source of information. Thus, when you see discrimination in movies, most accept that as being an unimportant reality, and that racism should just be accepted as something that occurs.
Being racist is an action that is often very easy to do. The most common type of racism is “racial name calling and put downs that are directed at a particular ethnic group.” (Taking a Stand against Racism and Racial Discrimination) Any type of racism can leave a person feeling pain, anger, shame, hostility, guilt and embarrassment. How does someone feel gratitude and pleasure from causing someone to go through racist tormenting? The saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me,” is a common phrase that is used by children. Children are taught at a young age to be unaffected from hurtful words that are directed towards them. The seriousness of racial words and phrases breaks the “sticks and stones” saying. Although they are just “words” the meaning behind them are hateful and destructive.
Racism can also occur through actions. “A Persian man was stereotyped for being Arab. He was called Osama and was kicked out of the store.” (Crash) Racial actions such as this one occur because of the ignorance that we as humans have. Today, most people are prejudice towards Muslims because of the actions that a group of Muslims decided to partake in. Ever since 9/11, anyone that looks Arab is stereotyped as a terrorist. Similarly, when a person walks down the street and sees someone with a bandana around their head and pants down by their knees they automatically assume that they are part of a gang and are out to cause trouble. This is the prejudice that society has because of the media and the actions that one person does which causes a generalization of everyone that looks and acts that way.
Many times a race is judged without a good reason. A Spanish locksmith was judged by a wealthy White woman who thought that he was going to sell her house key to his “gangster” friends. Meanwhile this man was just doing his job and trying to make a decent amount of money so his daughter could go through life with the same opportunities as every other child. (Crash) A situation such as this one shows us never to judge a person without getting to know them first.
Racism is also seen with the law and rights. If a White person and a Black person are caught at the scene of a crime, eight out of ten times the Black person will be questioned first.(Violence in Society) How does the colour of your skin have an impact of being more likely to commit a crime? There is no such thing as a criminology gene. Committing a crime is a decision that a person makes based on their morals and any person regardless of their race should be punished equally and accordingly to the severity of the crime.
Ending racism is not a simple task. You can see that just in this short essay, many unanswered questions have arose. It is very hard to stop racism when it is so hard to understand the rationality behind it. Racism takes the hard work and dedication of a person to take the stand and act out. One way to eliminate racism is to stop being a bystander. When someone is witnessing a person being discriminated against, their initial reaction is to stand on the side lines and watch. This action of being a bystander makes the situation worse. When a bully sees a crowd forming they get a sense of satisfaction and continue to insult their victim. By acting out and standing your ground you are showing the bully that he/she doesn't have authority. When people are with their friends they often use racist words and phrases that are meant to be humorous and descriptive about certain occurrences. Phrases such as “that's gay” are often said without realizing what the actual meaning is behind it. Avoiding using phrases like these could help stop racism amongst friends and in the community.
Sometimes speaking out against racism cannot be done because of fear. In some cases a person is not able to speak out because they may get harassed or killed. “The man watched as the White policeman sexually assaulted his wife. He stood there with his mouth shut and pain in his eyes, not being able to say a word because of the fear of been arrested.” (Crash) Since racism is often a common act, some people being to accept it. Racism is a crime that should not be tolerated under any circumstance. It is a form of abuse that can lower a person's confidence. If a person is exposed to racism for a long period of time, they may begin to feel that their life is no longer worth living.
Many of life's lessons are taught to us through the bible. One of the most important lessons that everyone should strive to live by is that the life and dignity of every human person is sacred and special. The bible tells us that “human beings are all made in the image if God and all he wants from his incarnations is love and the goodness for and from all.” (Living Justice and Peace) A racist act takes away the love that we as humans have; instead of love it shows hatred towards individuals. The dignity that a person is born with cannot physically be taken away, although sometimes a racist act can leave someone feeling empty and worthless. “The Black women stood there as the White police officer “felt her up” and sexually abused her, pretending that he was searching for weapons.” (Crash) This woman had no choice but to allow the police man to assault her. Once he finished she felt as though she was striped of her dignity and worthless because of what had just happened to her. God says to respect all human life. Respect is not judging others on their appearance, using offensive and “hate” language or abusing someone physically, mentally or emotionally. It is accepting others for who they are; standing up for someone when they are being picked on and being a voice for those who cant speak up.
With all of the negative impacts of racism, it is hard to understand why it has not been eliminated from our society. One person alone cannot put an end to racism; it would take the commitment of everyone in the world. Racism happens in many situations every day through actions and voice. A racist action has the ability of lowering a persons self esteem and making one feel as if they have been striped of their dignity. Putting an end to racism is like making soup. In order to make soup a variety of ingredients are needed. The ingredients, representing people, on their own would not be able to end racism or make a good pot of soup. Once all of the ingredients are put into the pot and have mixed together, a powerful and fulfilling bowl of soup can be enjoyed. This group of committed and dedicated people is large enough to stand up to racism. If we as humans could open our eyes to other races and see the person that they are on the inside and stop judging them on colour, our world would be one step closer to perfect.