How we can play our part in curbing acts of racism and prejudice at work, our communities and the world at large.
The world is agitated. There is widespread anger and violent protest following the killings of people of colour in America. It is, however, worthy to note that racism is not only an American problem, it is a worldwide phenomenon.
The acts of racism have been carried out in the forms of holocaust, apartheid, xenophobianism, ethnic rivalry and religious wars. Every group wants to impose its concept of superiority over the other.
However, scientific findings have established that all humans are equal. As such, no race, tribe or group is superior to the other. Even if we have distinct physical features or different cultural and religious backgrounds, what makes us humans is basically the same.
Technology has made the world a global village. Our work life and personal relationships comprises of people from different cultures and background. Therefore, we must adopt a healthy way of relating with others who may be different from us.
We must play our part individually and collectively against acts of racism and prejudice in our world.
The following steps will be a good place to start.
Re-orientate the Mind: Thoughts precede action. Replace thoughts and beliefs that will fuel racism with those that accommodate others.
Racism is a belief system perpetuated by cultural and societal practices. It stems from the mind. It is about what you think of the person that is physically different from you.
The mind; the place where a belief system is first formed before being acted out, can be empowered to think differently and thus produce a more desirable outcome. The mind is the seat of any decision-making process. Before anyone can become filled with so much hate and indignation for people or persons physically different from him or her, it must have begun as a thought. As such, when you find yourself feeling indignant about someone, watch your thoughts early. Think about the positive sides of that person. Get to know that person really. Do not behave towards someone else based on a previously held notion. Doing so will only instigate actions that may lead to an unquenchable fire. This resource will help you overcome unconscious bias
Be more Tolerant: Tolerance is a great asset for everyone to have as we are all social beings. This is because many people you come across everyday will not act or think the same way as you do and that may make you feel uncomfortable. But when you are tolerant, even when you may not like the way a certain group of people behave, you will accept them for who they are. You will not want to impose who you are on them. And that leads to better human relations. Our society and the world will be better for it.
Spread Positivity: Studies have confirmed that emotions are contagious. People can transfer how they feel just the same way they can spread germs. Fill a place with hate and hate you will see. Fill an environment with love and love is what you will get. Promote acts of love, acceptance, friendship, and team spirit wherever you go. Bruce Kansanoff; a Forbes contributor in speaking against racism says, “We all need to be much more thoughtful about the moods and emotions we spread”. Always spread positivity.
Be a good Example: As a leader in my community, I am very careful about my actions. I have learnt over the years through observation and experience, that whether your level of influence is great or small, what you do matters. Do right and those you lead will be inspired to do the same. Do wrong and they may take advantage of that unguided moment. Does your voice say anti-racism but your actions do not measure up? For example, Brandi Riley; a Twitter user thanked and called out leaders speaking out and showing support online for “black lives matter”. She however demanded to see what efforts they are making internally on their company boards and teams. Your words will not count if your actions shows otherwise.
Speak Out: When we are silent in matters regarding prejudice, instead of speaking out, these acts of oppression will continue to have a negative impact in our communities and world. Not only that, “our silence also show that we are on the side of the oppressors”, says a Harvard Business Review article quoting the human rights activist Desmond Tutu.
Reinforce New Behaviors: When one is trying to learn a new thing or cultivating a new attitude, reinforcement is one sure way to have it deeply ingrained in you. Reinforcement has to do with continuous learning and re-learning about the particular subject until it becomes a part of you. As Ibrahim X. Kendi; an American University Professor and Author of “How to be Anti-racist” rightly said, “I think first and foremost, to be anti-racist is an ongoing journey.” Perhaps, you could read the stories of those who have been victims of racist acts to understand how they feel and what they are going through. This can help you in modifying your own behavior and attitude when in the midst of people different from who you are.
Celebrate our Diversity: Nutritionist advocate for eating a variety of diet. It is key to maintaining optimum health. In like manner, see our diversity as a plus to our society and world. I believe life and work will be bland, unexciting, even boring without a combination of our differences. There is richness in our diversity. So rather than try to treat others who do not have the same physical features as you as inferior, embrace our diversity. It makes work and life colorful and interesting.