Colombo, Identity, Peace and Conflict, Religion and faith

How to Deal with Racism


Photo courtesy The Platform/Raashid Riza

The Lord Buddha once said “When someone fires an arrow into you, you don’t try and find out who fired the arrow and what they are all about. You concentrate on getting that arrow out.”

What do we do to combat against racism and stereotyping we see so much of in our society? We think that those who spew such hate are a minority and that their opinions and actions are not representative of the majority that wants to co-exist and live in peace. So do we let things be or fight back? What is the best way to deal with racism?

By thinking that we cannot change things, that certain situations in life are beyond us and that we must leave that to elected officials, we do what we unfortunately do best. We let people (usually with hidden interests) manipulate our emotions and pull wool over our eyes. So we react. Reacting requires less thinking and more importantly, less questioning.

Those that hold racist views say what they need to, those that don’t agree react and then our collective anger is used against us because we validate what they say. Anger is a weapon only to your opponent. It will be used against you. Anger makes us use more emotion and less logic.

If someone insults or ridicules you, your faith, your race or just about anything, don’t react, respond. You see, reacting is exactly what the other side wants you to do. By refusing to react, by being patient, by having a sense of humor, by trying to understand why the other side thinks that way and more than that, having an unfailing belief in god and karma, that is how one should respond to whomever attempts to hurt you. It takes two hands to clap and if one side doesn’t take the bait, you know which side has more character.

Speak up when you come across something that is blatantly racist. We often ignore or laugh off slurs because we don’t want to create a scene. What we should do is to calmly question that belief and take the opportunity to initiate discussion.

We sometimes forget that the most powerful tool of change in this world is our self. Be a role model to others. Treat everyone fairly and with respect – the exact same way you would want to be treated too.

Another thing we can proactively do is to create community dialogue on racism. If it’s an issue, gather people around you in any forum possible – be with through awareness programs through volunteering, using social media or even write about it. Volunteering and sport is a great way to bring people of all ages, races and gender together to work together for a greater cause. It not only builds camaderie and team spirit amongst individuals, you also have them work for something that goes beyond any stereotype.

We see stereotypes everyday in books, television, movies, teledrama’s, on social media platforms and we fail to understand how what we see and hear while growing up becomes something we believe in and carry with us through life. If you see a stereotype, address it, talk about it with your kids and if possible report it.

The most important lesson we all need to learn and teach our children is this: Respect.  While we should feel proud that we belong to a certain culture, it does not mean that we have the right to disrespect or feel superior to another group. We should share our food, culture, traditions and knowledge with all groups because we make our common heritage richer by doing so.

I read an interesting piece by William Saletan on The Slate and this struck me the most compelling and I will leave you with it: “Hatred and bloodshed will go on until you stop taking the bait. Lay down your stones and your anger. Go home and pray. God is too great to be troubled by the insults of fools. Follow Him”