Do you believe that racism is an inherent human trait or is it learned? Either way, are there actions that society can take to eliminate, or at least diminish, racism? Or will racism always exist no matter what we do?
What is racism? According to Google, Racism is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.
I believe that racism is a learned behavior because young kids won’t even think twice (remember this?) Same goes for classism, elitism, sexism — these are all learned behaviors! I believe that we were born an empty vessel – tabula rasa, gets filled with ideas, beliefs through time.
At this point, there are several ways to diminish racism. Spreading awareness through media — be it through Music, Poetry, TV, Movie, or PodCasts. Talking about it on Social Media i.e. Twitter, Reddit, Facebook or Instagram and stirring awareness through blogs and thread conversations just like what Fandango does — discussing about this creates awareness. From there, you will try to assess yourself, what is your stand on this matter? Are you helping to lessen it? Or do you contribute to its spread? You will start to become self-aware. There are some of us who had been racists indirectly. I was guilty of that. BUT I never meant it, but I have been. BECAUSE I lacked awareness. Now, I have become cautious about my actions, I began watching myself, my language, my behavior. Talking about this issue creates a lot of change in people.
Do you remember the time when colored people cannot enter facilities in America? YES, we do remember that! Thanks to the very elaborate history books and online media, awareness is now too accessible!
Thankfully, RACISM has been lessened over the years and with people continuously fighting against it, certainly, it will tone down even more. But did it really mellow down? OR HAVE PEOPLE JUST BECOME MORE ASSERTIVE OF THEIR RIGHTS? At this point, I feel that totally eliminating it is kind of impossible because there is an equal number of people campaigning for it. Unbelievably so, but yes, there are.
One funny story – FIVE YEARS AGO: I try to just treat it as funny but I kind of cried deep inside me when this happened. My husband and I were in a telecom office in Riyadh. We were in VIP section, indicating that our plan is VIP, equal to whoever is waiting with us in the same area. There is a family in front of us. They are not locals, but they are considered as an “elite” nationality in Riyadh, everyone treats them as higher class, even Saudis treat them differently, I mean, with heightened respect and admiration.
The youngest one in the family came to me, she must be 4. She was circling around me, as if wanting to ask something. She didn’t ask and went back to her family (they were just in front of us). Then she kept looking at me. She talked to her father and her father asked me,
“Excuse me, from where did you buy your Hello Kitty hair clip?”
I answered enthusiastically,
The kid kept sitting beside me (closer and closer) and finally asked if she can see it (my clip) and whether her dad can take a photo of it. I removed my hair clip and handed it to her. She seemed so happy and amazed, her dad took a photo of it and apologized sincerely, for the disruption perhaps?
My husband and I talked with our eyes and decided to give it to the kid, we don’t care what she’d do with it but she seemed to enjoy playing with it at that time. It was so easy to give such a tiny token for someone who would totally appreciate it. I kind of hesitated at first as they were known elites, I felt shy and a little inferior, but we broke out of that inferiority shell and offered especially since they were the ones who initiated the conversation and since we wanted to make the kid happy. INDEED, she was ecstatic when I told her she can have it! SHE LITERALLY JUMPED FOR JOY! Her father said thanks as he nodded with appreciation for what we’ve done for his kid.
The kid came back to their seat and I saw that her young adult sister (or mother?) who’s probably around 20-25 years old whispered something to her. It was not audible at all.
We let them be.
We carried on, I continued chatting with my husband as we wait for our turn. Little did we know, the kid is once again, trolling around us; she sat beside me and she asked,
“Did you take a shower? My sister said you did not take a shower so I shouldn’t touch Hello Kitty.”
I told her not to worry because I took a shower before I left my house (I can’t believe I was explaining that). His father looked so embarrassed but did not say a thing. I do understand. Because at that point? What can you say?
Part of me died of self-pity. I was only doing something nice for the kid. I can’t believe it could backfire that rapidly.
I began asking myself, was it my skin color? Was it because I am brown? Would I have been treated differently if I’d been whiter? Would I look cleaner? Would I not give an impression of being someone who doesn’t shower?
My husband and I didn’t speak about it at that time. Both of us were speechless. He just held my hand because he couldn’t hug me in public since it isn’t allowed. I know that he knew how my heart broke into pieces.
But what can we do?
Bless that kid, I hope she grows up like her father.