Human beings are part of a cooperative structure of societies. We are more connected than ever and have transformed the world into a global village through technology and communication. We have built cities, states, and countries that are connected with a nervous system of shipping lanes, roads, and trains. Every small thing, from a graphite pencil to an airplane, has been built in collaboration with people from different communities, countries, and religions.
Yet, despite how connected with are, humans as a society can be shockingly intolerant of the differences between them. If we were to be truly honest with ourselves, we all have a hint of racism, intolerance, and xenophobia within us. Casual acts of racism are so ingrained within us that we no longer notice their existence. However, any act of racism, no matter how subtle and common it is, can deeply impact those who experience it.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is aimed at sharpening our fight against racism and providing a platform for those dealing with it to get a safe and supportive space to share their struggles. First started by the United Nations General Assembly in solidarity with the 69 victims of police violence in Sharpville, South Africa, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is now a global practice. It aims to build a robust framework to fight racial laws in different parts of the world and spread awareness among people against racism.
This International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, let us dive deeper into some of the most practical and powerful ways to challenge racism at your level and be a part of the anti-racist movement.
How to fight racism this Internation Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination?
Racism is a systemic and deeply ingrained issue worldwide. It is defined as a specific form of hatred, discrimination, and violence directed toward people due to their racial identity. Racial discrimination can stem from racial supremacy, where members of a certain community feel their right to control and practice power over the rights of another community. It creates an environment of disadvantages and fears for one side and privileges and an undeserving sense of superiority and power for the other.
However, sometimes racism doesn’t even need people to believe in racial supremacy. Racism breathes life every day because of ignorance and cultural anxiety. It stems from the inability to grasp the concept of differences and variations.
While this is a long fight that needs systemic and institutional change, you can do your bit daily to fight racism. This Internation Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, here are the most efficient and useful ways to fight racism in your regular life.
1. Learn to understand and acknowledge your privilege.
One of the most important steps to fighting racial discrimination is to understand your personal privilege and biases. Your racial privilege plays out daily in different social, financial, and political situations. Keeping a check on your privilege and using it to destroy the existing systemic and structural forms of racism are the first steps you can take.
2. Call out any form of bigotry or hate speech.
Any form of stigmatization and racism is brutal and can deeply affect the person it is directed toward. The situation is so dire that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has labeled racism a significant public health concern. A widespread (unfortunately) form of racism is hate speech that often blames, criticizes, or abuses people of color, religious minorities, immigrants, ethnic minorities, or refugees. It is important to clearly call out and address these instances at every step of the way.
Therefore, the next time you hear someone make a racist joke, call them out. Speak up. Tell people that hurtful, intolerant, and unkind comments are not welcome. Let people know that targeting, discriminating, and stereotyping any community is simply not okay.
3. Stand up for those being harassed.
Silence is a powerful weapon of support for the perpetrators of racial discrimination. People affected by racial discrimination often find themselves alone in their battles. Therefore, when you stand in support and solidarity with them, the perpetrators lose power and control. If you see any form of violence or abuse happening, try to intervene safely whenever possible or call for help. If you can’t intervene, use your position as a witness to help people. Verbal and physical abuse is a crime and should be treated with seriousness.
4. Cultivate empathy.
It is imperative to cultivate a sense of empathy towards those marginalized by racial discrimination. The best way to do so is by sharing experiences and dissolving the boundaries created by narratives of us vs. them. It is this empathy that will motivate us to work for the well-being of other people. It will help us develop connection, courage, and compassion and eliminate fear, biases, and blames.
5. Embrace diversity.
It is normal for humans to be against things they don’t understand. Therefore, when you cannot understand the differences between you and people from other communities and religions, you are bound to act in a way that comes from a sense of bias and fear. This is why educating yourself about different races, communities, and religions is essential. Learn about the historical impact of racism and how it has ruined the lives of millions of people in the past. Read books, watch shows, and learn from people’s experiences. This will motivate you to look beyond people’s physical identities and identify them as fellow humans who are as deserving of their life as you are.
Internation Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an opportunity for us all to reflect on how racism in both systemic and casual racism affects people and communities. It is a time to come together and act directly at the grassroots level and aim to eliminate racism once and for all. We hope these practical ways will help you take small but potent steps toward fighting racism in your everyday lives.
Racism can have a deep impact on people’s mental health. If you or someone you know has been on the receiving end of racism, it is important that you find a safe space to address its impact. Therapy provides you with a safe space to deal with your issues. Access to therapy is now easier than ever with the advent of online therapy platforms. To learn more about them, click here.
To continue learning about mental health, subscribe to Your Mental Health Pal.