I recently posted a question on my Instagram to find out what people’s opinions were on the definition of racism and what it means to be racist. The question was, ‘It isn’t what we do but how we think that makes us racist. Thoughts?’. I realised that I framed the question wrongly and sent the wrong message. Never the less, I was able to collect enough opinions on the issue. I however wish to clarify what I actually meant.
DISCLAIMER; You don’t have to agree with everything I say. This is just a normal persons opinion. If I’m wrong, be sure to correct me.
In my opinion, our thoughts are as much a determining factor as our actions in defining who we are. That doesn’t mean our actions don’t define us because truth be told, they really do. However, we often forget something even more important, our minds, thoughts, conscience etc. Doing “good things” for/with a person of a race different from ours doesn’t necessarily mean we are not racist! For as long as one considers another race inferior to their own, considers people of another race lesser men, that, my friends is the most dangerous type of racism. And that’s because it’s not open. Its closed off within. It’s a mentality. It’s the kind that can live through generations untouched!
When I started this blog, I promised I’d never write about race. That’s mostly because it’s a very sensitive topic and personally, I just hate controversy. But truth is, the issue does bother me a lot. I’ve been lucky to have travelled. I grew up in a small village in western Uganda, East Africa. I remember being told that whenever visitors came home, the good stuff( the god chairs, good plates and so on) always and always belonged to the visitor. And so one time my mother organised a Rotary club party where many guests were invited. Among them was this Caucasian man. I remember the special treatment he was given simply because he was a visitor in the country. And so, that’s how we’re brought up. A clean conscience that reflects itself through the actions however small.
I’ve lived in Belgium close to two years now. And when I look at how many people define racism today, I feel like we all miss the point. Everyone tends to think that by doing good things, you know, charity in poor Southern countries, donations and what note, then they’re not racist. Or for example, because I talk to so and so, and they’re not of my race, then I’m probably not racist. I’m not saying it’s wrong to do all that. It’s a very good thing to do. Its Humane! But if we are going to talk about race and racism, then we have to tackle it from its very roots. From within. One can be involved in all kinds of charities and donations and still be the biggest culprit there is. And that happens when one is doing all this from the ‘Superior-Inferior’ perspective. You know, “I’m helping you but I consider you an inferior version or our species” kind of mentality.
I once went to a market with a close family, and I happened to be checking out some books, novels actually. The guy at the stand stared at me for some time before he whispered to his colleague with whom they handled the book stand, “Kan hij lezen?”( which is dutch for, ‘ Can he read?’). I didn’t mind that at first because its only normal to assume that a foreigner may not speak the native language. So I wasn’t bothered, I simply acted like I heard nothing. It’s what they did immediately after that that shocked me. They giggled and chuckled softly! Well, I was shocked but simply acted like I heard nothing. The man then came out from the stand and started being very friendly, took me around the stand, told me about most of the books and we laughed over a few jokes. That night however, I kept thinking about it. The hypocrisy!
I think we all ought to look deep within ourselves and ask ourselves the big question as regards to race. “Am I racist?” And let’s not let our actions fool us because they don’t fully define us. It’s the inside that really does. And that’s something practically everyone already knows but simply overlooks. I enjoy taking walks in the evening. I was talking to a friend on one of these walks and somehow the conversation shifted to race. As we talked I asked her if she thought she was racist and to my surprise she said yes. She really said yes. To be honest I was impressed by the honesty. She didn’t look at her actions( talking part in charities and other such projects in the south) to defend herself! No! She simply looked within and said yes! I am! To put this in perspective, I am one of about 6 black students in my school. Of the 6, I happen to be the only immigrant. So when you factor in issues like language barrier, different cultural background and social life perspective, it’s really hard to make friends around here. So here I was, with probably one of the few people one may think isn’t “racial” given the fact that they willingly accepted to take a walk with me(by now you should have figured that I’m black<in case you missed that>), and yet they admitted to being you know, that word. I admired that kind of admission, because it shows there is hope. It really shows that one is well aware of what lies within them. Something, I seldom see.
Admitting to possessing a racial mind-set doesn’t mean that one is a very bad person. Nope. Not at all! In fact, it’s better that the racial hypocrisy. And it all comes down to one thing, each and every one of us should really look deep into ourselves. We have to challenge our mind set and set out to find out what truths really lie buried in there. We ought to broaden our definition of racism and to understand that definition if ever we expect to rid the world of such evil. But even evil is a worldly thing. Even in the Bible, humans did bad. So it’s silly to expect a world where things like that don’t happen. After all, we are free beings and we all make our choices. And I have no say in the choices you make. All I’m saying is search for a true understanding of yourself. Then search for knowledge. Travel and see things! Learn as much as you can! Then base your decision on what you’ve learnt!
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