Race as it Relates to Your Community
Being a member of a diverse community enables a person to develop in a series of ways as he or she interacts with a large variety of people and as he or she both allows their influences to shape his or her personality and uses his or her personality as a tool to shape theirs. Although people have the tendency to come together in communities depending on common interests, one can also be part of a diverse community and still feel ‘at home’. Even with this, staying in a diverse community doesn’t come without discrimination. It would seem that individuals are inclined to use differences as a means to categorize others regardless of the environment they are in.
Stereotypes are one of the principal reasons why some people are perceived in a certain way. The fact that I am a member of a minority makes it somewhat difficult for me to overcome boundaries associated with people’s first impression when they interact with me. I really don’t blame them for taking on such an attitude — the reality is that society makes people adopt discriminatory types of thinking to a degree where such thoughts are considered normal.
Although I came across situations when people in my community tended to judge me depending on my race, I cannot say that I suffered as a consequence of this. As a part of a diverse community, a person learns to adapt and to accept the fact that individuals are probable to consider stereotypes when relating to him or her and that this is not necessarily because they want to harm him or her in any way. These people simply adopt such attitudes because they grew up in a society that promotes this type of thinking and that actually emphasizes the significance of stereotypes with every chance that it gets.
The media world is one of the primary sources responsible for upholding stereotypes. The local news team in my community is not necessarily supportive of discriminatory ideas, but it would be difficult and almost impossible to ignore the way that it sometimes relates to individuals belonging to particular races in ways that are certainly discriminatory. TV shows such as Bait Car place cars in neighborhoods with larger African-American or Hispanic populations as a means to get more ratings. These TV shows use bait cars with the purpose of influencing underprivileged individuals to steal them. While the financial condition in many of these neighborhoods is the reason why the media world wants to exploit them, the truth is that such shows are racist and they make it seem that particular minorities are more likely to engage in criminal activities.
Considering that TV shows aimed at discussing crime-related ideas prefer to choose underprivileged communities that are likely to have minorities belonging to particular groups proves that the media world can be biased when it comes to a community’s members. The fact that there is a white majority in the area where I live in means that there are also underprivileged neighborhoods inhabited by white people live. Placing a bait car in these respective areas would also trigger ‘positive’ results when regarding individuals inclined to steal it. However, the fact that bait car-like TV shows focus on minorities demonstrates that they simply want to fuel stereotypes pointing towards the belief that these people are actually more probable to commit illegal activities.
What most people fail to understand is that diversity does not necessarily remove racism from a community. I have observed numerous accounts of racism in my community, even with the fact that people are used to seeing a series of cultural ideas and that they have become accustomed to living in a place where they are very likely to come across individuals who put across different thinking.
Although it would be ignorant to consider that individuals belonging to a particular ethnicity also follow a certain religion, the truth is that people in my community seem to believe that these two elements are strongly connected. What’s especially intriguing about this topic is the fact that the local Muslim leader is white. I had the opportunity to sit down with him in order to talk about his purpose and about the community’s perspective toward Muslims.
“Many locals appear to think of me as being either a traitor or as being a person who is just doing this for the fun of it — like a hobby really. I have heard accounts from Muslims who originate in the Middle and Far East regarding how people treat them. These people often suffer as a result of their culture and as a consequence of the clothes they wear. The fact that Arabs and Muslims are associated with terrorists plays an important role in shaping people’s understanding of this culture. The masses are inclined to believe that individuals belonging to these groups are more likely to be terrorists and that they should thus be considered suspect.”
What people in my community seem to have trouble understanding is that religious preferences and any kind of preferences for that matter do not dictate the way that people behave. Conversely, I’ve learnt a lot while being a member of this community — I realized that discrimination can be both good and bad at the same time. When someone doesn’t like a person as a result of the fact that the respective individual enjoys harming animals, discrimination is perfectly acceptable. In contrast, when someone doesn’t like a person because of that person’s ethnicity or skin color, the individual judging is ignorant and unable to see beyond appearances.
The fact that I am the member of a minority and that I am thus more likely to be discriminated is actually a positive thing for me. It provides me with the opportunity to observe people’s first impression when they interact with me and it makes it possible for me to observe individuals who are inclined to discriminate me.
Another issue that I observed in the community regarding racism is the way that some companies have a tendency to hire people belonging to particular racial groups. For example, a lawyer’s company that is ran by white individuals has more than 40 employees and all of them are white. Similarly, a grocery store that has around 20 employees doesn’t have any white individuals working there. This is also intriguing when looking from an educational point-of-view — it points toward the fact that minorities still have limited access to education. With many minorities lacking the finances to study at prestigious universities or simply lacking the resources to attend educational institutes on a frequent basis, numerous individuals belonging to these respective groups end up working low-paid jobs and having little to no chances to achieve their goals. While this would create a much more complex discussion involving how the upper classes promote inequality, the truth is that people in power have a strong influence on how the members of a community perceive racism (Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Culture, Media and Sport Committee, p. 34).
From my perspective, in order for things in my community to improve (when looking at matters from a point-of-view regarding racism) the situation needs to take a political turn. As I previously mentioned, individuals in power are likely to shape the way that the masses think. As a consequence, by making it possible for these people to gain a better understanding of discrimination and the degree to which it can destroy a community, they would be more likely to want to raise public awareness concerning the matter (Ziff & Rao, p. 116) I’m not saying that change cannot occur at a micro-level, but I’m saying that by first addressing more visible cases of racism one can effectively have the masses interested in wanting to remove racism altogether.
In order for things to change people need to accept that discrimination exists and that it is bad. The reason why most individuals fail to do anything against discrimination is that they cannot believe that it is actually possible to remove discrimination from society. People are designed in ways that influence them to search for every possible method to differentiate others.
Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Culture, Media and Sport Committee, “Racism in Football: Second Report of Session 2012-13, Vol. 1: Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence, Volume 1,”
(The Stationery Office, 19 Sep 2012)
Ziff, B.H. & Rao, P.V. “Borrowed Power: Essays on Cultural Appropriation,” (Rutgers University Press, 1 Jan 1997)
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