Let’s suppose that you are asked to sit down on a bench with four seats. On the far left is someone of your race while on the far right is someone of a different race. Whom do you sit closer to? Most people, without thinking, will sit next to the person of their race. Does this make you a racist? Of course not! Most likely, you, without even thinking about it, chose to sit by the person who looked more like you. This preference of race doesn’t necessarily make you a terrible person, however, taken too far, it can lead to some unintended discrimination.
The word “Racism” is thrown around haphazardly in today’s society, so much so that many people don’t even know what the word means anymore. It seems that every time you go on to your social media feed, or turn on the news that someone, somewhere, is calling someone else a racist.
As a member of a minority, I’ve had my fair share of racist comments thrown my way. Now, I’m no martyr and there are tons of people who have had it much worse, but that doesn’t mean those kinds of comments don’t still hurt. The worst part about these comments is we don’t know how to fight back against this kind of discrimination.
It’s easy to point at a member of the KKK and brush them off as crazy, but you can’t do that with your friend, because you know that they aren’t trying to be racist. One reason I think it’s hard for people to even talk about racism, much less prevent it, is because there is this stigma against social justice and political correctness.
When most people hear the words “social justice” and “political correctness,” they usually think of them as a pain to deal with.
Many people think that political correctness is pointless and leads to the normalization of harmful ideas, and in some cases they aren’t wrong. When taken to the extreme, they do promote harmful ideologies, however, that doesn’t mean we should get rid of social justice and political correctness entirely.
If it wasn’t for political correctness, I would have been called a “Commie” my entire life just because I was born in China. Without political correctness, people could say whatever racist things they wanted and those being discriminated against would have no say in the matter. Without Social Justice, racial discrimination would go unchecked and those being attacked would feel pressured to stay silent because of society. It’s these things that make Social Justice and political correctness so important.
Now, as I said before, It’s common for people to say something that they didn’t intend to sound racist. I can’t tell you how many times someone has made a joke that was really offensive. I remember one time back in 10th grade, where I was at band practice.
We had some free time before we started, and I was talking to a group of people. Completely out of the blue, one of them said, “I don’t know if this will sound racist, but do you eat dogs, John?” I had to take a double take on that one. That was wildly inappropriate to say to anyone, much less to the only Chinese person. Hey, just a general tip, if you start off your comment with, “I don’t know if this is racist but…” chances are it’s gonna be racist. I couldn’t really blame the guy too much. I mean he was only a kid and probably didn’t know any better, but it’s those kinds of comments that people don’t realize how hurtful they are.
Before I wrap up, I want to give you guys some tips on how to not sound racist. Be aware that these are just my experiences and not all of these are going to apply to everyone.
If you start your sentence off with, “I don’t know if this is racist or not but,” there’s a good chance it’s gonna be racist.
This is a great example of “think before you speak.” Most of these questions stem from stereotypes. Stereotypes in themselves aren’t bad. They help us interact with people whether we know it or not. If you see that someone has a yamacha on, you probably make a mental note not to offer them beef. The problem comes in when you act on your impulses and blurt out a question about a stereotype.
Don’t ask what specific race a person is.
You have eyeballs, you can tell if they’re Asian, you don’t need to know if they’re Chinese or Japanese. I get this one a lot, and I really don’t like when people ask me this. It brings back some rather painful memories that I’d rather not remember. So don’t ask this guys, it’s really not that hard.
Don’t hide behind a racist comment with the excuse that it was a “joke.”
This one is really bad. I normally don’t get too angry, but anytime someone uses this lame excuse, it really makes my blood boil. I know that humor is subjective and that what is funny to one person is not to another. I personally have a rather dark sense of humor, and I know a lot of people find my jokes really morbid, but there are some things you just don’t joke about. It’s even worse when you hide behind the excuse of, “It’s just a joke” because the person is now shifting the blame from them, making the comment in the first place, to the other person for being overly sensitive and making a big deal out of nothing.
Don’t say racism is a two way street.
This one might cause some of you to get mad, but stay with me. The definition of racism according to Oxford is, “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.” By this definition, racism is discrimination of a MINORITY. By saying racism is a two way street, you unintentionally make it their fault. Whether you meant to or not, you are saying that all of the person’s feelings are null and void because they are a hypocrite. I’ve had this argument put against me in this exact way and that feeling that all of your legitimate concerns don’t matter because you’re the problem isn’t pleasant.
The last one and this is a biggie, R A C E I S T H E P R O B L E M .
Race is totally the problem and saying other wise is just dumb. Looking at the definition, it says the discrimination of a ETHNICAL group! You know, what race is. Seriously, this one really gets me going. By ignoring this or by saying otherwise just shows how little you know about the problem. If you think that I’m wrong, that’s your opinion, and you have a right to hold that. But I also have the right to hold the opinion that race is the problem
So what now? What can we do? Unfortunately, racism won’t ever go away no matter how much we wish it. It is something that any minority will face no matter what, but it doesn’t mean we still can’t strive to fight against it. So, next time one of your friends is getting bullied because of the color of their skin or, if you find yourself making an unintentionally racist comment, maybe you’ll stand up against it. But hey, this is all just my opinion.