On Racism

I read a very interesting post last week, written on Medium, by a white computer technician in the States. He had recently had an elderly client call him to assist with the installation of a new printer at the clients home.

They told him the reason they called him was because he was white and the old gentleman regaled him with tales of racism against pretty much anyone of colour they came into contact with.

The technician was so shocked by the overt racism of the white elderly gentleman that he was prompted to speak out, risking his livelihood and his client base.

At first glance I think I and many readers would see this as admirable, but for some reason the post has stuck with me over the last few days and on reflection I now think this was both an unwise and naive, reactive piece of writing.

Here’s why.

Our personal beliefs on racism are deeply ingrained in us from birth. Much like our religious and political views, they are often the product of the influence our parents and peers exert on us as we grow. 

My children were raised in a very liberal household and taught to value humans based on their individual traits, not their skin colour. The idea of racism is a foreign concept to them and you would not convince them otherwise. 

It’s not just politics and religion that are off limits for discussion over a polite dinner, racism is another topic that should be avoided. These deeply ingrained beliefs we hold make us what we are and also influence who we associate with. 

We tend to cloud the issue of racism with emotional overtones, more so than with politics and religion, possibly because we identify ourselves within our beliefs on colour. Any attack or criticism of your belief is thus perceived as a personal attack. We find it easy to befriend people with other political and religious viewpoints and yet, when racism enters the picture, different rules come into play. Why?

Had the computer technician encounteted a devout Satanist rather than a racist on his home call, would he still have written the post? I doubt it. His correct course of action would have been to refuse the work and to have left the premises, thereby taking a personal moral stand . 

It may seem a small and inconsequential act, but it would have been the right one. No action, however trivial, goes unnoticed and if you think you are to small for your actions to affect the course of anything, you obviously haven’t spent time in a room with a mosquito.

We CANNOT change the racist views of a seventy year old, nor should we try. He is as entitled to this viewpoint as he is free to follow any religion and political view he may hold. We may find his views abhorrent, but we still need to respect his right to hold them. Tolerance and respect are the keywords here,.from both sides of the fence.

We have to respect the rights of everyone to hold their own viewpoints, no matter how much we disagree with them. Respect tends to rub off, and the fact that I recognise your rights to hold your own beliefs, will eventually lead to mutual respect. It’s not an overnight process, by any means.

Whislt we wait and fight, in our opinions, the good fight, we are free to choose our churches, our political parties and like minded individuals to associate with. And more importantly, we have time to educate our youth. It should’t be about racism, this is a terrible word and needs to be expunged from our dictionaries.

Education should instead be about respect, teaching our youth to respect and value themselves as human beings, and then about respecting others. Make it about skin colour or race and you create racism.

I would love to hear your opinions on this topic. Mr. President, don’t bother posting, I think we know where you stand.


4 thoughts on “On Racism

  1. I agree up to a point Robert but would add it’s a question of degree. Clearly neither of us would support Hitler’s entitlement to voice his own viewpoint much like your point re Satanists. Also I feel sometimes that we may have reached a point in history where the constant reference to racism is having at times the opposite effect. Often the more you push the more folk dig in. I think as older generations die off……actually maybe not. Prejudice and racism are unfortunately hard wired into some folk/cultures. I remember a few years back having a chat with a Pakistani chap who I befriended whilst working in Bradford, about 50 y he once went on a rant about polish immigrants, completely unaware that he’d previously told me about his families journey from Punjab to Yorkshire and the racism they faced. Thanks for the post Robert.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It frustrates the hell out of me that the older generations voice the same bile as that which they fought against and can’t see the parallels between their current politics and that of 30’s Germany.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to partially disagree. It is possible for 70-year-olds to change their views. As with anyone else, they have to be willing to make the change. A person’s point of view is not going to change overnight. That said, an article shaming a person is not helpful. Articles like that will be taken as an attack and it will cause people to dig in and because, to them, they are being attacked.

    The root of the problem is not racism, sexism, … per se but bias. Bias is even worse because it is subtle and most people do not realize they have it. It takes quite a bit of introspection to free oneself from it and you can never completely escape from it.

    Liked by 1 person

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