You Might Be Racist If You Do These 3 Things
Chris Lowry, Guest Blogger
“Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”
Former US President George W. Bush recently spoke these truths as part of a memorial service speech honouring five fallen police officers in Dallas. While the quote itself has been shared countless times throughout the social media universe, there’s been a drought-like shortage of actual dialogue to support this statement.
We’re here to change that.
“Judging” groups of people by their worst examples can be considered by many to be the main qualifier of racism. You might say someone is “racist” simply because they call someone a derogatory term (even privately) or make fun of someone’s skin colour, social class, eating habits, or culture.
However, even with the best intentions, the heavily anchored roots of racism run much, much deeper than that.
Below, you’ll find three examples of what you might be doing right now that can make you a racist in the eyes of many, whether you believe it or not.
3. You Brag About Being Friends or Family With the Race You’re Discussing
How many times have you heard (or said), “I’m not racist. I have lots of (insert race here) friends!”
Or what about:
“My great-great-grandmother was (insert race here). How can I be racist?”
Ugh. It’s cringeworthy, to say the least.
Look, it’s great to have a wide variety of friends from every background. And yes, it’s definitely cool to celebrate your own culture, even if you’re generations removed from it.
However, if you have to justify your argument by “proving” beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re not racist, then you might actually be racist.
In other words, your guilty conscience is starting to show.
Obviously, many different groups of people have been persecuted at one point or another throughout history. From the brutal conquering of native lands, to the enslavement, killing, and/or torture of certain people groups and beyond, some of us have a twinge of guilt when it comes to these types of discussions, especially if our ancestors were the perpetrators of these awful deeds.
There's no doubt that these types of horrible acts are still happening in modern times, even if you don’t see it where you live (or if you refuse to see it). Learn from these experiences. Learn from those around you. Be a better person. Just don’t justify yourself by bragging about your diverse set of friends or your unique ancestry.
Stop. We get it.
2. You Favour One Group of People Over Another
This one is going to stir up controversy, but it has to be said. If you continue to support programmes like Affirmative Action and Employment Equity, you’re only adding fuel to the discrimination fire that’s been burning for years.
Now, before you scream at me to fall on my sword, I want to say one thing: I realise these programmes were designed with nothing but good intentions in mind. In fact, they were created to combat the very things that are being discussed here. And there’s no denying that they did help tremendously at a time when the hopes of countless minorities were silenced by hate groups and bigots in the workplace.
However, times have changed.
Don’t get me wrong, racism and discrimination are still dominating our society in every aspect of our lives. Government programmes and the little checkboxes next to “race/ethnicity” aren’t helping matters at all.
You see, the concept of these programmes has become racist and discriminatory in and of itself. If you admit a student into a university with lower grades and qualifications than another student (based on their colour), you are now discriminating against the student who was denied - even if they had higher qualifications.
The same thing applies to companies. If you hire an individual because you’re pressured to make your workplace more “diverse”, and that individual has less experience than another, more qualified candidate, you have just committed an act of racism against the more qualified person...regardless of their skin colour.
So, what’s the solution?
Treat everyone equally. It’s really that simple.
Judge a person by the content of their character, and not the colour of their skin. Sound familiar? Show others how to do that by setting a good example. You’d be surprised at just how far your example can help fight against racism in the workplace and beyond!
1. You Teach Your Kids How to be Racists
Most of us have no issues telling people we’re not racist. We simply wear our “get along with everyone” persona and go about our daily business. The real problems come from what happens in the privacy of our homes, or even when we’re out with our kids in public.
If you’ve carelessly used any derogatory term to describe a person or group of individuals in another race (even your own), you’re showing your kids the wrong example.
And you’re racist.
If you’ve favoured a particular cashier, bank teller, or food service employee because of their colour, you’re probably racist.
If you’ve considered attending services at a church or other religious institution because the members are the same colour as you...you might be a racist.
If you’ve scouted a neighbourhood and decided that you don’t want to buy a home there because the neighbourhood is predominantly white/black/Hispanic/Asian, etc., you might be racist.
If you lock the doors on your vehicle when a person of a different colour walks by, but don’t do the same for people who are the same race as you, you might be racist.
If you suspiciously keep an eye on someone on the same flight based on their skin colour, you’re a racist.
If you encourage your kids to be friends with children of the same colour as you, while looking down on children of another colour, you’re a racist.
If you’re part of a group that favours one race over another, you’re a racist.
If you’ve done any of the above in the presence of your children, not only are you racist, but you’re teaching your kids to be the same.
Are you offended? Good. These types of situations happen to many of us, even if we don’t realise it. If you find yourself doing these things, the best remedy is to simply teach your kids the right way to handle themselves by presenting unique scenarios that teach empathy and kindness. Start when they’re young and more impressionable. That way, you won’t have a hard time trying to “unteach” things that should have never been taught to begin with.
Remember, kids aren’t born with racism flowing through their veins. They learn it from the people they look up to the most - their parents.