When you ask someone what is racism they will instantly tell you “A person differentiating another person on the basis of color.” This is the most common answer you will hear. And it is the correct answer. There is no denying that.
Over the years we have seen different instances of racism happening around us. We know what racism is, we have seen how racist people can be and we also know what adverse effects it can have on people. But have you ever wondered how are the seeds of racism sown? Have you thought about what leads people to become racists? If there is racism, there should be an origin to it too, right? And by origin, I don’t mean the origin hundreds of years back when people of one color had people of another color as slaves. I mean the origin in every generation of people which leads them to believe that they are superior to others.
Instances of racism are very common nowadays and every now and then we come across an incident, because of which we get into action and we try to solve the problem. We have always tried to solve the problem by the way, but we have always tried one single method — by telling people that they should not be racists and that racism is bad. When we try to solve the problem of racism, we only look at it from the perspective of a person having a different color and how not to differentiate because of it. That is why even after centuries we still haven’t been able to eradicate it from our world.
Can we eradicate racism the way we have always tried?
Most of the people will tell you that to stop racism people should be taught that every color is the same and that everyone is human. The general consensus is that we should tell it loud and clear that everyone is equal. These are 100% true words, except it mostly doesn’t seem to work on the people who are racists.
We have always tried to solve racism on the superficial level but we have never tried to get to the bottom of the problem and remove the very seed that leads someone to believe that they are better than someone else on the basis of something.
And that seed is a human feeling, because of which racism is still alive. Not only racism, it’s the reason why a bunch of other social evils like sexism, body shaming, communalism etc are also present in our society.
So what is this feeling? Do we unknowingly promote this feeling among people?
The seed of racism and other social evils is this human feeling that all of us possess.
This feeling that I am talking about is the feeling of “Being Proud.” And yes, we do promote this feeling among all people, through books, through movies, through slangs and through a lot of other mediums in our day to day lives.
“But what does being proud have to do with racism? Being proud is good and it creates dedicated people” you might like to ask. Well, it might sound strange, but this emotion of pride actually leads to social evils and it will continue to lead to all these things until we stop ourselves from having this very emotion for the wrong reasons. Let me explain it with a few examples.
I am from the most developed country on earth. I am the best in my class. I f*cking live in the best city in the world. I have the best car. I am way good looking than him. I am way thinner than that fatty out there. I am richer than him. My religion is the truest religion.
Can you tell me the one common thing in the above sentences? In all of them, you are trying to differentiate yourself from the rest and feel good about yourself. The parameters that you use to differentiate yourself in the above sentences are nationality, intellect, place of stay, car, looks, physique, money and religion.
In everyone’s mind, there is always something that one is good at. Something that one is always proud to be or have. Right from the time we are able to acknowledge and understand our individuality, we often try to look for things that make us unique and special. We try to find traits and characteristics that can separate us from the rest. Be it work friends or acquaintances from the weekly football game, most people look for differentiators which can place them above the rest. If you are not able to find these unique characteristics, you resort to things like color, physique, money, nationality, religion etc.
But the biggest question is why do people tend to find only these parameters and not characteristics like politeness, compassion, empathy etc to differentiate themselves from others.
The reason they don’t do that is because we live in a world where people do not value empathy, politeness and compassion as much as they value money, nationality or color. It is also true that the former is way harder to achieve and people often like to go for things that are simpler or are given to them, like nationality or color. But why so? Why is there a difference in value? Why do people prefer to be richer than being compassionate? What or who is to be blamed for this?
Who is to be blamed for the current situation? Yes, there is a person who is responsible.
All of us. Yes, all of us are to be blamed. When we raise our children, most of us will tell them that they need to work hard so that they can earn good money, or they need to work hard to become the biggest movie star, or to be the best bodybuilder and so on. We often read about the top fifty richest people in the world in magazines or the people with most Instagram followers. But how often do you come across an article that says ”Fifty most compassionate people in the world?” We hardly see it.
Even our movies and sitcoms are to be blamed. The short guy is always made fun of for his height, a girl is made fun of for her looks if she doesn’t appear pretty to someone, and a poor guy is shown as a loser. What do you think will happen when a child or a youngster sees these? When that kid goes to school, he will make fun of the short guy that he sees, he will think that being super rich is the one achievement that is bigger than all.
We like others who are similar to us and who do things that we do. And that is the problem.
It is common human nature that we like people who are like us. That is why a person who likes travelling often criticizes people who prefer to stay at home and vice versa. “You should see the world,” some would say while the other person would hit back with “I am content being where I am and you should stop travelling and try that.” So you see, our opinions are always from our own perspectives. Racism, communalism, sexism etc are the same. It uses the same feeling, just a bit magnified and the parameters are different. Instead of the parameters as cities traveled to, the parameters are color, religion, nationality and gender.
The bottom line is that as humans, we like to create differentiators and because of this very reason we are in the state that we are in today. If we want to root out the problem, we should remove this very feeling of being superior. And yes, you cannot say that someone making fun of someone for his height, or calling someone ugly, or showing disrespect towards a poor person has nothing to do with racism. It does. Today, that person is feeling superior because of his height or good looks or money, but tomorrow when he comes across another person with same height, same looks and same amount of money but different color, he will switch the parameter to color and try to feel superior because of that.
Today, that person is feeling superior because of his height or good looks or money, but tomorrow when he comes across another person with same height, same looks and same amount of money but different color, he will switch the parameter to color and try to feel superior because of that.
If we do not want others to identify ourselves by a particular color, we should not do that too. Because that would be hypocrisy. If we are calling another person by his color, we are doing the same thing and we might be able to solve the problem for our generation, but the problem of racism because of color, or physical traits will continue to exist. As a person who has faced racism himself, I know how it feels, but that doesn’t mean that I will generalize and do the very thing I am fighting against. It’s not about fighting for one particular color as some people are portraying it to be.
It’s about fighting against the feeling of being superior on the basis of any color, no matter what color it is.
It can be black, it can be white, it can be brown, it can be any damn color or characteristic. Because if we don’t stop doing it, we just might be the origin for another instance of racism centuries from now.
PS: I might be using he instead of he/she and that is only for the sake of brevity.