Racism stops with me

TODAY marks the start of Anti-Racism Week, an attempt to create dialogue on the matter with a view to eliminating this social scourge.

It’s easy to see why such a campaign was deemed necessary: hardly a day goes by without some or other racist incident or claim making the headlines.

Quite honestly, we were in two minds when asked by the Anti-Racism Network to participate by giving abundant exposure the topic – obviously with a view to creating enlightenment, education, action and speaking out against racism.

Nobody can deny blatant racism exists here as elsewhere in the world.

The dilemma is this: by devoting major attention to, and inviting comment on, the problem, are we not creating the opportunity – especially online – for bigots and racist ranting?

Will we not be creating a platform for reopening of wounds and repetition of arguments and debates that should long have been closed?

And after all the suggested sports games, sermons, pledges, posters, plays and workshops, what would have changed?

Nevertheless, we believe if the focus is on nation building, social cohesion and accentuating the positive relationships that can and do exist in our beloved country, such a campaign has relevance.

It is true that racist incidents dominate headlines, and the fact is: the many, many more harmonious daily dealings between people of all colours, faiths, languages and cultures are not particularly newsworthy – even though they are in the vast majority.

We are of the persuasion that while laws are necessary to ensure fairness and protection, you cannot cure racism by legislation.

And while education, public debate and workshops are necessary, it is very unlikely there will be ‘mass conversions’.

Racism is a learned evil.

Children are born with no such prejudice. In fact, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to show they are ‘colour blind’.

But they sit at kitchen tables where parents talk ill of others and where racial stereotypes are ingrained.

There is truly just one way to end racism, and that is on an individual basis.

The word ‘racism’ has an ‘I’ in the middle.

If ‘I’ treat my fellow man with dignity;

If I do not make disparaging marks about others, based on generalisations;

If I challenge and oppose those who make racist comments in my presence;

If I treat my work colleagues, especially those in positions below mine, with respect and fairness;

If I do not refer to groups of human beings as ‘they’ – as though ‘they’ are a race apart;

If I teach my children there are good and bad among all people, and that by far the vast majority are decent;

If I believe, teach and especially practise, that all are created equal in the sight of God;

If I greet all I meet with a friendly smile – then I can change my immediate circle.

I cannot change the world; but I can change my world and as I do that, it becomes reciprocal.

Hopefully this will have a domino effect.

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  AUTHOR
Dave Savides
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