PREFACE: The five steps below can (sadly) only be effectively implemented on an individual level. It is the individual in aggregate that influences the collective. The task of changing a nation is just like start of the ruin of a nation…
They both begin in the homes of its people.
I also must preface that racism and racial prejudice are two different things, though they are interrelated.
-Belief that race is equated with particular traits.
-Belief that some races are superior to others.
-Results in an unequal distribution of power on the basis of race.
-A preconceived opinion of another person (or group of people) not based on reason or experience.
-Can be positive or negative.
-Some (but not all) are racial in nature, and have racist outcomes.
-Unlikely to impact people as negatively as racism (Cole, June 2020).
(Source of racism vs prejudice information: https://www.thoughtco.com/racism-vs-prejudice-3026086)
Step 1: Ditch the stereotypes.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a stereotype is defined as “a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment”.
It is not logical or rational to subscribe to stereotypes about any group of people. Stereotypes are harmful regardless of whether or not the particular characteristic borne from the stereotype is positive.
Assuming a black person is inherently a good athlete, or an Asian person is inherently good at math and science, or a white person is more likely to be rich than poor without really knowing the individual is just as bad as prejudging them using negative stereotypes.
For example, it is just as absurd to assume that every black child from Florida will be a great NFL or NBA player as it is to assume that every Chinese child will excel at math. Many people of color are not athletes. It is important that children from all cultures and backgrounds feel free to pursue any field of study or activity they are drawn to without being pidgin-holed into a preconceived notion they will or will not be good at it based on their ethnicity. It is also vitally important that we, as a matter of good conscience, resist racial prejudice in our thinking.
Step 2: Stop defaulting to tribalism
I wrote about tribalism at length in the post at the link below, so I will not ruminate on tribalism in this post:
That said, tribalism is defined as “tribal consciousness or loyalty” with a secondary definition of the term being “strong in-group loyalty”.
Why so many Americans are loyal to people based on shared skin color, be they black, white, or other, is highly illogical. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, we should judge people based upon content of character, not color of skin.
Tribalism demands blind loyalty. We do not owe anyone our loyalty unless or until they earn it from us.
Step 3: Remember that racial color blindness is a myth
Racial color blindness is a concept that dictates that we should not see each other as “white”, or “black”, or any other skin color, but rather see each other simply as people.
That is a very nice platitude and seems wholly logical on the surface. However, platitudes are not how most human beings govern their behavior. The things that are unique to us, regardless if others share in that uniqueness or not, are important to us as individuals.
Racial color blindness is more often than not a rather insidious way of propagating white hegemony in American society. Considering most people in this country are white, seeing people who are not white through a color blind lens is a very effective way of minimizing racial minorities by psychologically pretending that color does not matter, despite the fact that it does. To everyone. Especially and including white Americans.
Being black is as important to black Americans as being white is to white Americans. Jane Elliott demonstrated this point on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1992.
Note: While the entire 20:46 video is worth watching, speed to the 9:27 mark to get to the color blindness point that Ms. Elliott makes.
In short, differences in skin color need not be seen as threatening. We are all on this Earth for a relatively short period of time. Pretending that our differences do not exist only serves the interests of those who are the most uncomfortable with those differences.
The diversity of our nation is one of the key ingredients that make us great. Differences are what make life interesting and fascinating.
Step 4: Only take pride in your own personal accomplishments
I cringe whenever someone says “I’m proud to be black” or “I’m proud to be white”. “Pride” is defined as “delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship”. When people say they are proud of something they were born into, and therefore had no hand in creating or choosing, it opens the door to malignant tribalism.
Malignant tribalism dictates that skin color makes some individuals better than anyone who is not of the same skin color. The malignant tribalist can only be proud of his/her tribe on the condition that others tribes are seen as wanting or lacking in comparison.
Recall the definition of pride above. Taking action, obtaining possessions, and cultivating relationships (even with family members) requires that you DO something. It requires that you make choices. Being proud of anything that does not require your active participation, such as your skin color, is nothing to be proud of. It likely means that you have no individual accomplishments to be proud of.
Step 5: Never subscribe to victimology
I wrote about victimology on this blog:
In short, individuals who see themselves as victims through the prism of collectivist thinking are the primary targets of the divide and conquer strategies often utilized by political charlatans and rabble rousers.
Unfortunately, most people are of the mindset that they have little to no control over their own lives. Modern society with all of its technological advances, resources, and conveniences only exacerbates this way of thinking.
Most successful people do not subscribe to victimology mindsets. Life is tough enough without self-imposed limitations.
I am not naive enough to think racial prejudice can be eradicated. However, its collective effects can be mitigated. Again, it is up to us as individuals to educate ourselves and recognize the racial prejudices we all carry on some level.
The most oppressed minority in the world is the individual. Protecting individual freedom is how collective freedoms are preserved.
-The Rational Ram