Eradicating racism in our world is not a goal of fantasy

Progress can only be made if we accept that there is a problem

Image: Tim Dennell

In the course of this article, if you ever feel that I am talking of a perfect society, please know that I am not. I think I know that’s not possible. I have watched ‘Zeitgeist’, I quite like the different perspective presented in it of a crime-free society, but I just do not think it is possible. I think it is not possible because there will always be some lunatics willing to ruin people’s lives.

So having established that I am not talking of a perfect society, I am happy to acknowledge that there will always be things that we know we could improve. Is racism something we know we can improve? I think we know we can. The question is, why is it taking us so long to eliminate racism from our society. If you think it is idealistic, then you are essentially saying that we cannot eliminate racism from society?  If that is really what you believe, then just ask yourself: why not?

Are we saying that there will always be people who would make comments like “an average white person is smarter than an average black person,” or when hearing of someone committing a crime, the first thing we suspect is the skin colour of the criminal, or a black sport athlete should be penalised more for the same offence committed by a non-black athlete?

We need to realise that we are not born racist. Racism is a product of a lot of the things that are wrong with our society: exploitation of the weak; biased sugar-coated curricula; capitalist media, which tells what sells; lineage pride. So it is not just one thing that makes people racist, it is a combination of a lot of different things. Thus, it is also then a reflection of our society; the same society that we quite proudly and repeatedly say has become much more civilised in comparison to the past.

Let’s look at one of the more recent landmarks we have achieved, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which formed the basis for the human rights frameworks in most countries.

We need to understand that we did not just come up with the UDHR on its own. It was a six year long war, resulting in countless deaths and permanent damage, that compelled us to come up with a preventative measure to ensure that it would never happened again. Sixty or seventy years later, we still engage in unjustified wars, meddle in other countries’ affairs on the basis of hoax news yet keep quiet when we saw bodies falling in other countries.

Let’s face it, if we think we are any better than before, we are not. What has improved is our laws that we have created over time to keep us in check and, more recently, the media shaming that holds us accountable. I think we would really know how much we have improved if we removed our laws for just one day. The comparison of past to present would pretty much be the same as comparing a developing country to a developed country. I am from a developing country, and back home when we hear of incidents of theft, etc we compare ourselves with more developed countries. And you come to a developed country only to realise that the more developed you become the more sophisticated you become in your crime, for example the financial crisis of 2008. The culprits roam freely.

I am not trying to imply that we are not aware of racism’s existence. I fear that we do not do enough to eradicate it. We have lived with racism for far too long, it needs to stop. Governments need to do more to create a society that genuinely respects other people and not just because of the law . More importantly, we need to stand up and make sure that this is a priority for our governments. I know this is harsh, but we become accomplices to the wrongs in our society when we choose to stay silent when we are required to speak.

Please speak up. This is not even an alien issue for us in the sense that it is not an issue that exists only overseas. This is something people around us go through every day. Only two months ago, there was a video that went viral on the internet of a girl scared in her dormitory in Nottingham Trent University due to racist bigots shouting all sorts of nonsense outside her door. Since then, there have been too many incidents of this nature that have surfaced.

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