Prejudices do not make us well

racial-equality-1

In this day and age, some people might argue that racism is dead. “We already freed the slaves,” or “The Civil Rights Movement ended years ago,” is what those people would argue. But with the election today, many of our votes are being cast based on this topic. Needless to say, racism is still a raging issue that affects us all whether we like or not.

In one of my classes today, we had a really long discussion about whether or not racism is reasonable and if it is reasonable to hope for a society someday that does not involve any form of these skin-based prejudices. In the end, we sadly had to come to the conclusion that aiming for a raceless world is a goal set way too high. Sadly. We argued that we could spend years rewiring the way people think or we could teach our kids to be more accepting. But in the end, if there is just one or two outliers, who have an opinion that someone of skin of a different color is less important, the whole ideology would be ruined. Humans are too flawed for a utopian civilization.

But we are not too flawed to be generally decent humans toward each other. And my arguments toward why you shouldn’t be racist might seem like no brainers, but prejudice truly affects us ALL. No matter what side of the story you’re on.

So I want to propose this. Racism does not make us well. It makes us close minded. And that just makes us dumber. It makes us unhappy and anxious, judging people all the time and worrying about being judged ourselves. It makes us struggle, whether we are part of the marginal or the center parts of society. Putting others down doesn’t lift you up, it makes you a lot scummier than the way that you view those you’re bashing. It promotes bullying among kids and hurts their chances of success later on in life. Supporting prejudices does not make you a victim to “oh, it’s just the way the world is,” it makes you a perpetrator too. As Desmond Tutu said, ” If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Even though I don’t think that a racistless society is a reasonable thing to ask for, it doesn’t meant that we can’t work toward being a more inclusive, kinder, better society. Well, duh, you’re probably thinking, but it is easier said than done. I want to therefore challenge you to think outside of your own box. Look at the situation of our planet. Then of our country. Now our city. Even down to our school. If we all took one extra step every day to shed a judgement that we have of someone else around us, how would that affect the world we live in? If we took the time to put ourselves in another person’s shoes, what would we notice that we wished could be changed? What odds are stacked against us? What do we have going for us? What can we do to help each other out through this crazy thing called life?

Well, I guess I don’t really have all the answers this time. I son’t have the magic key to a more equal community. But I have those questions for food for thought. I think that just thinking about this topic is possibly enough of a seed that could grow into a more accepting culture. And if we learn to accept others more openly, that could help us accept ourselves, too. And as you may remember, one of the first steps toward wellness is accepting yourself.

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