Racism – an uncomfortable topic to discuss, yet I chose this
topic as it is one that is proving to be of huge concern for us as well as our
future generations. Racism is a highly sensitive and imperative topic in
today’s age for humanity. As a society, conversations about race and racism
have increased in volume and intensity. The young people want to be part of the
conversation as these provide opportunities for timely learning.
When we say ‘all humans are born equal’, it means that we
all have the same rights to the same opportunities in life, as well as equal right to
access facilities such as education and healthcare.
Let’s now define racism. Racism is the belief that a
particular race is inferior or superior to another; that a person’s moral
skills are predetermined by the race he’s born into. It implies that one person
is hated by another because of his qualities, skin color, his religion, his
place of birth, etc. Racism has managed to influence wars, slavery and formation
of nations, amongst many others incidents1.
It is crucial to understand how racism actually came about.
It has been affecting lives for many thousand years through human history. The most
infamous example of racism in history is the enslavement of Africans by the
western world. This came about by the unfounded, racist belief that the ‘black’
Africans were somehow less human than their ‘white’ counterparts. This belief didn’t come about automatically.
In fact, the Africans were initially considered to be competition by the early
Portuguese traders. But over time, the African nations were unable to cope up
with the Europeans who plundered their nations and forced them to be laborers
and slaves. The abuse of the African-Americans in the United States has been
going on since 1619, when African slaves were brought in to produce the lucrative
crop of tobacco2 .
And it continues to this day – there have been plenty of instances of
unprovoked police brutalities against the African Americans. Of curse the
powers that be have their own viewpoint and justify their stand, but what is
worrying is the path this trend is taking. Racism is an extremist movement –
threatening to haunt the present and future of modern society. It is a moral
disease not restricted to one country but spanning entire communities and
countries. Hence the urgent need to bring to bring the conversation out in the
open – even if it is uncomfortable.
The world woke up to the Charlottesville incident just
recently. Torch bearing white supremacists shouting slogans, colliding with
counter protestors, ensuing violence. Then, a car driven by a Nazi sympathizer,
randomly mows down activists. This, we are talking in the 21st century3.
Racism is a complex issue. People around the world all
belong to the same human race; they share the same tendencies to fear,
domination, and subjugation. Equality for all is a universal principle, as ratified
by the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Along with this, UNESCO also
contributes to create awareness against racism and discrimination through
various programs and projects. It has implemented human rights in education
globally so that all children, no matter their race are able to receive
education. They have also teamed up with sports clubs to educate people against
racism. YWCA USA is also entering the arena with a signature campaign titled
Stand Against Racism as part of their mission to eradicate racism.
Xenophobia, defined as an intense fear and
dislike of foreign people, or simply racial intolerance, is a disease reaching
Foremost comes to mind a growing fear of Muslims around the world which has
been given the name of Islamophobia. Ever since the election of US president
Donald Trump, Muslims and other minorities are facing waves of hate crimes.
They are considered as a threat and being stereotyped as terrorists. As a
result, they are being targeted by federal agencies and facing race-based
In Australia, the Aborigines have lost much
of their land and have been the victim of extreme prejudice. Not only has
Apartheid — legalized separation — been practiced in Australia, it has been a
well-publicized condition in South Africa. In Asia, Cambodians harbor extreme
prejudices against the Vietnamese, and Chinese students have been forbidden
access to higher education in Malaysia. In the Middle East, antagonism between
the Israelis and the Palestinians continues to exist. The refugee crisis
being faced by Europe – said to be the biggest influx of migrants since World
War II – has given rise to a worrying atmosphere of xenophobia.
Hence, using these evidences from around
the globe, we can conclude that racism is a world-wide issue. Mankind has been
unable to embrace and celebrate the uniqueness of the various ethnic groups.
Instead, fear has taken control. Racism cannot be justified as all human beings
are equal and deserve to be treated as one. Some may argue this by saying that
people from another race or economic background should be treated differently
as they “do not deserve” the same facilities.
Racism is an issue so grave that it has
spread into multicultural, multiracial, tolerant nations such as Singapore as
well. Singapore enjoys a reputation worldwide as an unbiased and unprejudiced
meritocratic nation but it still suffers from undercurrents of racism. The last
presidential election was a reserved one for one particular community – just to
ensure that that particular race doesn’t feel marginalized and the nation is
strengthened as a multiracial society.
incident, someone put up a decoration with a young Malay girl’s picture on a
construction hoarding. It showed her wearing a traditional dress. Somebody went
and penciled “terrorist” on the picture.
Many individuals are being questioned and
searched at train stations unnecessarily just because of their physical
appearance. Some are even being stereotyped by their nationality and being
looked down due to this. Casual racism is very prevalent when one chances upon
real estate rental ads clarifying which nationalities are not considered. Many
Chinese are given priorities in Singapore while non-Chinese ethnicities are
considered to be a minority by many individuals5.
India has also suffered from racial crimes.
There was the incident of 5 Nigerian students who were brutally beaten up by
nearly 40 people armed with snooker cues, dustbins and even chairs outside a
mall. Their crime – they were suspected of dealing drugs to a 19-year-old who
had died of drug overdose. But no such evidence of their involvement was found.
Racialism in the United States has been a
major issue since the colonial era. Legally only ‘white’ Americans were
sanctioned with certain rights and privileges over African-Americans and Asians
including voting rights, immigration and even matters of education. These trends haven’t changed till date. There
have been many stories of police officers suspecting people of color or of a
certain race to have committed crimes. Not only police officers but even the
president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, is seen to be openly
racist. For example, the ban on immigration from Middle-Eastern nations in a
so-called effort to curb terrorism. This ban goes on to demonstrate certain
races are being neglected and accused for no reason at all6.
Again, I would like emphasize that an
entire race cannot be marginalized just because a few of them are rotten
apples. How can some people, just by looking at the crime statistics, assume that all Muslims are
terrorists? We need to deal this mindset and do it urgently.
Racism is one of the most consequential
issues the world is facing. We all have read (and maybe even been part ) of
people criticizing one particular race or religion and stereotyping their
qualities. We can either accept these
views and treat everyone unfairly or educate and reiterate what is right. I truly believe that people’s belief in
racism cannot be justified as every individual should have the same rights.
Intolerance is a worry in all societies. Waves of hate crimes against
minorities need to be put an end to. At
a personal level, I’ve noticed within the school, some children can be isolated
based on their family name or skin color. I find this tragic. We are supposed
to be the millennials, children of the 21st century, the future of the world.
If my peers can do this, then what can we expect of the millions of uneducated
masses? How can my peers be against multiculturalism?
Some might argue that racism can be justified
as according to psychologists, most people would prefer to mingle with people
from the same culture or background. They would prefer to back people from
their own race or religion. At times, few stereotypes may be right. For example,
statistically speaking, African-Americans do commit more crimes than the
‘whites’. But we cannot arrest or suspect all the African-Americans just
because the statistics say so. Thus, I
strongly believe that racism can never be justified as it is morally incorrect
to divide and stereotype people based on their race or religion.
If racism continues to progress like this
it could lead to political, social and economic issues.
The mounting tensions over racial injustice
in America are growing exponentially and are proving difficult to combat. The bias is hidden in the business
transactions of the U.S economy. It has been observed that temporary workers
are hired based on their race. If this were to continue unchecked, it would
definitely give way to racial riots – unemployment is a huge catalyst for
We still witness few politicians and
leaders giving hateful speeches – this kind of divisive rhetoric manages to
have the desired effect these politicians want. It gives rise to inter-communal
tensions, spoiling relations, bringing the economy to a halt and on the whole,
fragmenting the society.
The worst-case scenario would be wars due
to racial tensions amongst countries. Wars put an end to economic ties
which hinders the economic development of both countries. It has
the exact opposite effect of globalization.
Human progress is extremely crucial in this
world. Without development, we could have not achieved such levels of
technology that we are enjoying in this day and age.. Racism can inhibit this
development as people would not be able to express their ideas and creativity.
We all read about the 14-year old Muslim boy named Ahmed Mohammed, attending a
high school in Texas, who build a clock and proudly took it to school to show
his teacher. The teacher thought it was a bomb, only because he was a Muslim
and had him arrested. This bright young boy was unable to showcase his
creativity. More ideas like this thwarted and we face the regression of the
human race. From being lost and hence hindering human progress7.
POSSIBLE COURSE OF ACTION
What must we do to remove this ill from
spreading? Each and every one of us can and should stand up against racial
prejudice and intolerance. We all need to be human rights champions and stand
up for someone’s right. If one is a witness or victim of racism, it is
important for him/her to stand up to it. It is imperative to step up and
speak up as every little action can help bring about a change. It is
important to discuss one’s problems as it can help lighten one up even if they
may be unable to solve your problem. It also helps to confide one’s
distress to a friend. This can sometimes be challenging as people who are being
discriminated against may feel misunderstood or may even have the fear of being
offended by others. I believe that one of the most important method to end
racism is for us to educate the newer generations and teach them how to accept
others religion. Education can play a very crucial role in resolving this
issue of racialism. Being tolerant of and accommodating one another will
definitely lead us to a making this world a true global village. We must have
the courage and determination to take pragmatic steps to get to our goal of a
race-free world. This can be done by encouraging people to attend different
cultural events. This can make people accepting and more tolerant towards
Racism is an issue that is extremely
difficult to solve. We should accept the fact that it exists and we need to
deal with it. It will always exist in this world as It is the natural behavior
of human beings to group themselves based on some similarities, like caste or
religion and treat the others differently. I believe there is only one way to
solve this issue – every person must be able to change their way of thinking to
become more tolerant. Education can play a huge role in bringing about this
change of mindset. We should be able to stand up to people who are abusing the
so called minorities. Only if we all work together globally can we solve this
issue of racism. For example, in Take the case of Ahmed Mohammed – if
the teachers had not jumped to conclusions, he would have been able to pursue
his dreams of becoming an engineer. If people were not arrested of because basis their skin color,
there could would be peace and harmony in this world. But this can only
happen if people understand and accept others way of life and their culture.
To conclude, I would like to say that under
no circumstance can racism just cannot be justified in any situation
as each individual has been is born equal with the same rights,
and has equal be it education or access to health care. Though the reality is contradictory
to the ideal of fairness and justice. Humans are flawed; there are cultural,
historical and social influences that perpetuate segregation and inequality.
These are entrenched in society. But we must get rid of them. We need to stop
stereotyping people by their race and look at each individual separately as
they are all same yet different. The dictum – ‘all are born equal’ – is an
ideal we strive to achieve.
| Definition of racism in English by Oxford Dictionaries. (n.d.). Retrieved
September 22, 2016, from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/racism
2 History.com Staff. (2009). Slavery in America. Retrieved
July 14, 2016, from http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/slavery
3 Astor, M., Caron, C., & Victor, D. (2017, August 13).
A Guide to the Charlottesville Aftermath. Retrieved November 21, 2017, from
4 Xenophobia. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2017, from
5 Loh, A. (2017, May 31). Is “Chinese privilege”
at the root of racism in S’pore? Retrieved August 3, 2017, from
6 Clark Mindock New York. (2017, December 05). Travel Ban:
What is Trump’s major immigration policy, and why is it called a ‘Muslim ban’?
All you need to know. Retrieved January 20, 2018, from
7 Fantz, A., & Stapleton, A. (2015, September 16). Teen
Ahmed Mohamed brings clock to school, gets arrested. Retrieved July 16, 2016,