How Can We Personally Overcome Racism?
An Argumentative Writing Project at FFS
It is human nature to place objects into categories. It is our in our character to make a complex world simple. But many people convey that kind of thinking on people, especially on members of a particular racial group. On this background racial stereotypes were able to unfold and influence our thinking and behaviour towards people with different religious or ethnic heritages. Supported by the mass media these stereotypes deposit their negative, rigid view about various racial groups deep into our minds, often without us realizing it. So the question as to how we can personally overcome and challenge these racial stereotypes arises, which I want to show below.
Firstly, I think it is a good way to overcome racial stereotyping by having social relationships with people from another racial group. Thus you will gather information about the other culture, people and religion at first hand. It will help you to cultivate a personal view of your own of the people of another background and get away from the rigid views of racial stereotypes. I experience that phenomenon myself. I am friends with a boy from Syria who I got to know at school. Through this friendship I learned a lot about Syrian culture, for instance the food, the music or its impressive language. It offers me the possibility to develop my own views of the people and of their country and to judge in a sophisticated way what the media are broadcasting. So being open for socializing with people from foreign countries helps you to be an open- minded person.
Keeping an open mindset is one more step you can take to overcome racial stereotypes. Knowledge is everything. Learn a new language, occupy yourself with the history of foreign countries or read various literature. It will provide you with multilateral information which will not mislead you into believing in racial stereotypes. For example the stereotype of non-white people being criminal and violent, which is widespread in the USA, is a result of a one-sided provision of information based on crime rates and suchlike for this sector. The minority know about the admirable abilities of these people, for instance their appreciation for rhythm and singing or their incredible running skills.
But above all, I think in order to challenge racial stereotypes it is really important to reflect your own attitudes and thinking. So when you judge someone, first think about why you did it. To find that the source of your behaviour and feelings is due mostly to your thoughts is a prerequisite for changes. For instance, when I encounter someone who has not spoken a single word with me yet and I am already thinking badly about him or her I try to reflect my way of thinking and afterwards I often realize that my first thoughts, which are influenced by stereotypes, are absolutely false.
Summing up it is important to have social relationships, to keep a growing mindset and always to reflect your own attitudes and ways of thinking to overcome racial stereotypes. If you follow these steps you will get rid of a biased attitude towards people of other religious and ethnic backgrounds.
Sina Höhn, FS12a