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It is ironic that it required the unprecedented pandemic of COVID-19 to bring awareness to the festering pandemic of discrimination and prejudice against the Black community. As Frederick Douglass said, “Racism is a disease.” One that has occasional flare-ups from the immune system of society’s conscience. Starting from ending slavery and then patting our backs for allowing Blacks to be human but still not equal to Whites. Then ending segregation and assuming that we have done our part, neglecting the long term effects that continue to affect and kill black people to this day. Whether by the hands of the police or through societal and health chronic illnesses that disproportionately affect them. Like many diseases, racism has no magic pill, however, a combination of uncomfortable treatments has the best chance of success.
A major cause of racism is misinformation. Media has convinced people that a whole minority deserves mistreatment based on the actions of one of its individuals. It sounds unbelievable, but due to people’s lack of critical thinking and bias towards certain groups, events such as this occur daily. In fact, I experienced firsthand one of such incidents. Holding up a sign reading “I CAN’T BREATHE #JUSTICEFORGEROGEFLOYD” in a recent protest, my arms aching a little, I saw a white middle-aged man driving a truck. His eyes fixated above my head, reading my sign while in traffic. I was waiting for his reaction calmly when he raised his free arm abruptly, flipping me off. He rolled down his window and said angrily, taking offense to a poster demanding justice for an innocent man’s life, “F##k you!” This experience opened my eyes to the value of education. If that man had, for a moment, contemplated how America was built by the hands of multiple ethnicities and races, he wouldn’t have said what he said. If he was more educated about racism, knowing it’s a problem that needs to be fixed, he wouldn’t have gotten mad at a person using their first amendment right to oppose true evil.
That is why the first step to solve this complex problem is education. Being educated on racism and its history will decrease the amount of racial prejudice that occurs to many minorities and act as a vaccine to inoculate against future discrimination. Keeping up with credible news is the first step to end this grave situation. This can be implemented through community, school, and work seminars. It can also be alleviated through a short visit to a fact checking website prior to sharing information. We are all complicit in this issue and it is by no means a bigot-only characteristic. Like an invisible poisonous gas that has spread throughout our society we fail to realize the choking effects of fake news and hidden curriculums on freedom and true facts.
Although racism can be caused by many things, it can be lessened by education first and exposure second. Exposing oneself to various cultures and appreciating the differences through being friends with people from different ethnicities shields from racism. In a research done by Godsil, director of research at Perception Institute, it was found that increasing contact between people of different races, even something as small as knowing that your white neighbor is friends with a person of color, decreases prejudice (Lopez, 2016). This idea can be practiced through inviting interethnic guests to community dinners or fairs, making sure they are included and known.
After educating others and increasing one’s interactions between people of color, there is still one more step. The last step in the plan of ending racism efficiently is having conversations about it. Although conversations might sound too simple of a solution, it is the idea of sharing thoughts and listening to others that takes ending racism to the next level. The Neuroleadership Institute in New York (NLI) conducted research where it was found that people don’t want to be dismissed or attacked when they have a view that one might consider wrong. Instead when one listens to their ideas, allowing them to feel heard, they are more likely to listen to what one has to say (Lopez, 2016). The application of this method should be used when confronting racism by explaining how it puts minorities in dangerous, disadvantaged, and threatening situations.
Through education, exposure, and conversation, racism can be solved in a way where one wouldn’t just say, “You’re racist!” but instead enlighten the racist party about historical events, allow them to have interracial interactions, and proceed to speak about both beliefs. In a society where racists are overly so, being anti-racist is required. For as Edmund Burke states “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.
Hirsch, Arlene. “Taking Steps to Eliminate Racism in the Workplace.” SHRM, SHRM, 16 Aug. 2019, www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiv eness/pages/taking-steps-to-eliminate-racism-in-the-workplace.aspx.
Lopez, German. “Research Says There Are Ways to Reduce Racial Bias. Calling People Racist Isn’t One of Them.” Vox, Vox, 15 Nov. 2016, www.vox.com/identities/2016/11/15/13595508/racism-research-study-trump.