What do Racism and a Cold have in Common?

I’ve always thought the best way to engage a reader was through humour. So, here’s a joke:

“What’s black, long and stinks?

The line at Centrelink”

If you laughed at that you’re a terrible person. Some might believe that to be an innocent joke, but when you break it down the joke implies that (as a generalisation) all ‘black people’ have bad odours and are unwealthy- depending on government money. If you still think the joke is harmless, leave my blog post.

Many people in society today don’t realise how much racism is around us. Racism is both as common and as contagious as the common flu/ cold. When people start to see racism in action and no one correcting it, they find it to be acceptable and ‘practise’ it themselves. This creates an endless change, like a domino effect. Monkey see, monkey do. 

These days racism comes in many proportions, from seeing it in stereotypes (for example; all African Americans like basketball) to racist attacks (like the recent attack in American on an African American boy, racially based). Racism isn’t solely based in one place, it’s worldwide. It happens to everyone of all races. From the White, Asian, Muslim and Black to many, many more. Just within Australia 1 in 5 people experience racism daily. Daily. Verbal abuse being the most common. 

Now that we’ve talked about what racism is and how it’s expressed, let’s discuss the effects it can have.

There are many psychological impacts of racism. This includes fear, hatred, low self-esteem and psychological pain. These are just a few. A social study by Fernandinho S. Int of Social Psychiatry stated that racism is proven to affect self- esteem, causes loss in a psychological sense and promotes a sense of helplessness. One of the major consequences from racism is depression. It can stem from a single comment about an accent or pronounciation, but it could grow to a suicide. Just past January, a 15 year old boy from Limburg committed suicide because of racist bullying. He was depressed and felt worthless, he was being bullied both in person and online. He was only 15. He’s not the only one.

The effects of racism on society are devastating. Think back to the peak of white supremacy in America, there being designated areas for ‘coloured’ people. Think back to World War 2, the Nazis murdering near 6 million innocent people (Jews) because of their religion. Think back to the colonisation of Australia, how the indigenous peoples were treated like animals. History does repeat itself, time and time again. Racism dehumanises people, it makes others feel inferior to another simply because of race or religion. This has created many debates and laws and morals based around equality. Wars have started because of racism. Is this still not enough to end it?

Martin Luther King once said, 

“I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls”.

This intrigued me because it reminded me of a racial incident that happened to me recently. A boy addressed me as his “nigga”. I didnt want to think too much about it. But I did. What made me think about it was just how random and wrong it was. Because 1.) I’m not African American  2.) It was uncalled for and totally irrelevant to the conversation we were having and 3.) I was only slightly ‘darker’ than said boy. But regardless he still felt the need to mention it. He felt comfortable enough to nickname me “nigga” because he thought it would be complimenting or acceptable. He didn’t see how it could be an insult or inappropriate. This is because society nowadays has appropriated the term “nigga” which stemmed from “nigger” which is a very offensive word used to refer to a darker skinned person. So why did he think it was a compliment? Society has made racism acceptable.

Racism is a disease and it’s spreading fast, it’s as contagious as a cold but also as common. Fortunately people agave begun to act, think back to when Martin Luther King achieved the passage of the Civil Rights act to end racial segregation and injustice. We need to educate society, discourage it from accepting racism as ‘casual banter’ and start respecting people for who they are. After all, in the end we are all human. 

-D.W

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