A Guide on How to Identify and Deal with Racism – For Beginners

by Dec 26, 2023Observations0 comments

According to oxford advanced learner’s 6th edition dictionary, racism is 1. the unfair treatment of people who belong to a different race; violent behaviour towards them 2. The belief that some races of people are better than others this involves attacks, attitudes and remarks.

If you were to try to explain racism to a person who has never experience it, they would try to compare it to the unfair treatments they have experienced in their lives. I.e. tribalism or male chauvinism however, racism is like the bigger brother of tribalism and male chauvinism. To understand what tribalism is, one has to first of all understand what a tribe is. A tribe is a group of people of the same race and with the same customs, language religion, living in a particular area mostly being led by a chief. Therefore, tribalism is the behaviour or attitudes that are based on being loyal to a tribe and discriminating against other tribes. Tribalism is mostly experienced in political arenas or in search for job opportunities or contracts whereby, a manager would only hire or give contracts to his kinsmen and not better qualified employees from other tribes. An example of the effects of tribalism is the Rwandan genocide.

 On the other hand, male chauvinism is the belief held by some men that men are more important, intelligent than women. This is also most visible at the work place where a manager would only promote other male rather than women in the belief that they are capable to accomplish the tasks. An example of the effect of male chauvinism is the women’s suffrage movement.

To come back to the main topic, most people’s knowledge on the topic of racism is based on numerous Hollywood’s attempts to recount the American black history thereby, trying to explain the phenomenal of racism to a wide group of individuals who would go to the movies, feel bad about the main character being oppressed, shed a few tears while munching a bucket of popcorn and drinking a litre of coca cola. They would then throw in a comment or two on how phantastic the movie was, forget it in a few days and move on with their lives.

The thing about racism is that it can be experienced in the most unexpected place however, it does also take place in expected places where two or more races of people can be found. i.e. in homes, schools, shops, religious places, work places, recreational centres, parks, buses, trains, neighbourhoods, sport centres government offices, universities, kindergartens, gas stations and any other place where you can find humans.

In the few years that I have walked this earth, I have faced racism in different nuances and varieties and since it is in the minds of the individuals, talking screaming, heavy discussions, going on strike or showing it on movies hasn’t proven effective. Therefore, I have found it more effective to categorise the different kinds of racism so I would know to deal with the individuals.

1: Wolfs in Sheep’s Skin

These are the kind that are in search for public applause. Most of them have had grandparents or even parents who have had a proven record of racism. To clear their names, they would go the extra mile to prove that they are not as depicted by the media. However when tapped in their racism, they will say something like this. “We have implemented diversity equity and inclusion office at our company.” These are mostly high profile individuals mostly CEO’s who would speak against racism and add diversity inclusion and equity to their companies website just for the show. Sometimes it is individual who claim to fight against injustice by raising a shield in a BLM demonstration, posting the pictures on social media for the likes. these ones would say ” I have a lot of African Asian and Arab colleagues and neighbours and I have nothing against them, I even went to the BLM demonstrations”. Inwardly both parties would care less about the topic.

2: The Den-Racist

The den-racist are the denial racist. The word denial clearly describes this kind of individuals. They utterly refuse to accept that they are racist when their speech and conduct clearly indicates that they actually are. These are easily noticeable; at dinners or gatherings they would mostly start their sentence like this “I am not a racist but…” they do this to try and gain approval for racist remarks and comments without getting stamped as racists.

3: The HC- Racist

The HC- highly committed racist is my favourite kind of racist, they don’t try to backstab you or look for your approval or confirmations, they are straight up active racists. This can either be in behavioural form or in verbal form. In behavioural form it could be when you get in the pool, they hiss and get out of the pool, when you sit next to them in the bus, they quickly stand up and look for another seat. In schools it could be a teacher who gives you bad grades just because you are different or your classmates who do not want to do project work with you. At your work place, it could be a colleague who excludes you from important emails or the one who brings their own coffee cup so they don’t have to use the shared one with you. It could also be a bus driver who closes the bus door right in your face. At visits to your spouse’s relatives, it could be that you are the only one who not greeted or food and drinks are withheld from you just because you are not welcomed.
It could be at the bakery where the cashier purposefully skips you to serve others, or at the kindergarten where your child is not offered a place because they are different. It could also be at government administration office where they ask you to make an appointment and keep you waiting outside for hours. Racism is found in all areas of life and as a human you have an inbuild sense and you know when you are at a place where you are unwanted or when you are treated unfairly.

The verbal forms are comprised of either harmless statements or very personal insults. The harmless statements are mostly the same and you would hear them often. “You should go back to where you came from”, “these immigrants are only after our social welfare”. “They are taking our jobs away.” The verbal insults are personal and are aimed at you as a person, your colour, your eyes, your hair, your walking style, your age, your sexual orientation, your dressing, your habits, your pronunciation, your actions and anything about you that can be used against you.

For beginners both forms of active racism are a challenge as some are just shocked while others are provoked. After a while, the beginners are elevated to the intermediate level where it remains a challenge but one is not easily shocked or provoked. After a while and depending on the personality traits, the intermediate becomes wiser in their reaction and is not provoked at all. The advanced even find several advantages in the racism. They get their own sit on the bus, they have more space to swim, they don’t have to share the coffee cups with too many colleagues, they can report the professor to the deanery where they could get suspended for racism.

In general, active racism can easily dealt with. Using modern technology especially social media, the verbal form can be counteracted to one’s own advantage. The denials have to be shut down immediately, do not approve their racist comments or show any kind of sympathy. The wolfs in sheep`s skin are the most difficult kind to deal with a they are the most difficult to identify. The only solution is to trust your feelings and avoid their illusions.

P.S. Whatever kind of racism you are going through, it is important to remember that you are not defenceless. If you would like, please do share your stories and encounters with me.

Written by: Nessa

Photo by: Luca Bravo on unsplash


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