Our lives have been held captive by a hidden disease. Each day, seems to bring some terrible news into our lives. People are scared. Some people are afraid to leave their houses and walk down the street. Others avoid certain high trafficked areas. Those activities that normally bring us joy have been curtailed due to this disease. It is relentless, merciless and pervasive.
No, I am NOT talking about COVID-19. I am talking about Racism and Hate.
And I am also not just talking about the United States of America. The murder of George Floyd opened our eyes to the incidences of racial inequality around the world, Countries all over the globe are speaking out. Yes, they are mourning a life taken by force but they are also raising their own voices about the racism in their countries. Passive tolerance of discrimination can no longer be ignored.
Sadly, Racism lives, breathes and thrives wherever one population receives treatment different from the others. And, Racism leads to oppression. The target race may be different depending on the country, but the treatment of the oppressed remains the same. People are denied the same rights and privileges solely based solely on the color of their skin. People are targeted, profiled and dismissed based on assumptions made about their race. Much worse, racism unchecked breeds violence.
Hidden? You may ask? We know all of this. Racism is very evident in the world; how can it be hidden?
Racism is hidden, not in the fact that it is not seen, but in the fact that some actively hide their own racism deep within their heart, desperate to not be discovered. When you choose to hide racism in your heart, you become asymptomatic carriers. And like COVID, asymptomatic carriers can be the most dangerous.
I challenge us all to look deep within and see if there are any germinating weeds that need plucking. Do you laugh at an off-color joke even if you find it racially offensive? Do you preach tolerance and acceptance, yet limit your exposure to those of a certain race. Do you close your eyes to economic disparities and educational opportunity disparities between the minorities and the majorities? Have you watched the news as humans of a different race were being subjected to acts of racial violence and shake your head in quiet sadness for this world?
There are many reasons you may remain passive. You don’t want to make waves. You don’t want to lose friends. You don’t want to appear radical. I understand and those are very normal fears. But know this, by your very acts of silence, you are speaking volumes. Despite how passionately you feel about equality, those that perpetuate racism count on passivity and claim it as support for their actions.
Not everyone feels called to walk in protest marches. Not every person needs to take physical action. But every person should be known by their beliefs. There are ways to be transparent in without protesting in the street.
Be brave! Next time you hear a racist joke, simply letting the joker know that you do not appreciate humor that involves racism. If you see someone of a different race being treated differently at your workplace, speak up for them. None of this needs to involve argumentative rhetoric. Simply let it be known that you will not be a party to racism. Sure you may ruffle some feathers. But are those really the chickens you want to hang out with?