Before starting digging deeper into the topic, I wanted to share that before writing this post I googled the phrase ¨how to be less racist¨, and I have found nothing relevant really. This means that this article is very needed, and most probably this will be just the first one, since we do believe we need to work more in this topic.
Other important thing is that the article has been written by white, female migrant, coming originally from central-eastern Europe. This needs to be clarified, since there is actually the discussion going on, on who has a right to talk about racism, but this will be covered later on. The objective of this article is not to make us feel good, that we will do 6 things and then we are sin free. The objective is to bring more awareness and to bring more people on board to the fight against racism.
So do you want to be less racist?
1. Recognize that you are racist
This is normally the most painful part, realizing and admitting that you are racist. All of us are because of the system that we are living it, and because we are being thought racism from all the sources around. What you can do is understand yourself, and understand racism inside you. What were the 10 last racist incidents with your participation, what have you done, and what could have you done differently etc. On the other side don´t become defensive when someone calls you racist, be grateful for the lesson.
2. Understand that you know little
One of the white male privilege does, is it makes people think that they know everything and that they have perfect solution for all the situations. It is not like this, not at all! It takes a lot of guts for the person from any minority who suffers discrimination to speak about their experiences, and therefore the majority don´t know the struggle they are going through. First of all, often even people who suffer they don´t know why, since the racism or any other incidents are so normalized and accepted. If the fat person is being called fat, or any other word that makes her suffer, she will probably not stand up and respond. She will try to hide it, cover, but probably she will not recognize that she was mistreated, and this kind of behavior cannot be accepted.
It is job of everybody to discover, learn as much as possible, ask questions, listen, listen and one more time listen. And let´s not assume that we know, since probably we really don´t know.
3. Accept that normalized does not mean not racist
There are many examples of racism, which can be called invisible, everyday or micro, and their main characteristic is that they are normalized. What does it mean? Well… that for many people it seems normal to tell racist jokes, to decide not to sit next to the black person in the bus, or keep asking a question ¨but where are you really from?¨, assuming that the person cannot the a national because of the way how she or he look like. Each of those small acts in the long term can be very harmful. For you it is one-time incident, and often you even believe that you did something very good, but for the people who are the subject of the comments or actions, and if they are happening on the daily basis, the consequences can be terrifying.
Conclusion, if someone tells you ¨it cannot be racism, because everyone does it, or because it was always like this, or because how one small joke can bring a harm, we don´t do anything¨, don´t believe them! Stand Against Racism!
4. Watch out what are you posting and linking
The first think you can do to be less racist is focus on not making more harm, and the easiest think is to focus on your communication. Is this what I am posting on social media stereotypes free? I am promoting diversity with what I am saying? Do I analyzed the hidden message of my posts and re-posts – is there fair representation of diversity, are people from minorities in the position of power, or reinforcing stereotypes? The only way to break a chain of stereotypes and prejudices that we have learnt from media in our lives is to remove them! But for this first you need to learn how to recognize them, secondly don´t share anything that can be harmful, and finally if you see something ¨offensive¨ try to report it.
5. Invest in human relationships
I hope I don´t have to tell you in this moment of this article that if you see a black person going into your direction, don´t go on the other side of the street. This is the assumption of criminality, and being dangerous. We highly recommend to interact. For example, try to get to know all your neighbors, in this way you are creating community, and depending on where you live the group can be diverse. Look around you, and if you see someone left over, alone, insecure, you can be the one who can actually become a friend. Having a nice chat with someone who understand and getting the support in this way, is actually one of the minimization strategies of coping with racial aggressions.
6. Fight for the real inclusion, not only inclusion for decoration
Whatever position you have, you can always check how inclusive are you – for example in your workplace, in school, in the chess club or fitness center you go to. First of all, think if you see the diversity, is the place is representative for all the people who live in your locality, if not, most probably there are some hidden rules in the places that makes some groups feel not welcome, of there are some institutional problems that makes the places not inclusive.
We want to see the real inclusion, when all the people feels welcome and treated well, and where all the places and services are accessible for everybody. And don´t be misled by those who are using the the diversity as decoration, and in reality no inclusion policies are being put in place.
So here are my first few thoughts. I hope that they served a purpose, and I really encourage you to share, comment and give us youth thoughts too. Because maybe together we can figurate out how to definitely eliminate racism from our lives.