Racism is a disease of the heart that we all struggle with. It may take form in subtle and small ways in our everyday occurrences, but it is in these small act of discrimination that allows racism to take form in the worst way we can possibly imagine. Cases where racism take its extreme form like the South African Apartheid, Palestinian occupation, Jewish holocaust, Black Slavery in America, are all possible because of people allowing that seed of racial discrimination to keep growing. Mass murder occurs because we de-humanize an entire group of people, and that always start with small acts to separate people.
Growing up in a racially diverse country like Malaysia, I have witnessed myself how ugly we can get when it comes to drawing the line of us vs them. At times it is in our most “innocent comments” that we cause the most damage. A lot of times we don’t see this disease in ourselves because we tend to justify and create a logic in our head on why it is okay to think in such a way.
How many times have we made racial slurs in our life-time thinking that there is nothing wrong with them? That they are not racial slurs, they’re just facts being stated. Of course, the most common justification is also how it’s just a joke and we do not mean what we say.
Using humor to point out racial prejudice is definitely a powerful tool and I do enjoy shows by the likes of Hassan Minhaj, Russell Peters, Trevor Noah and the likes. However, there are those out there who have used “it’s just a joke” as a means for them to assert their prejudice without repercussions. It is such a thin line for us to thread upon.
It is scary to admit to ourselves that how such a small act could lead to something as crazy as genocide on a large population of people. It is scarier for us to admit to ourselves that we do it too, on a daily basis. However, it is even scarier for us to ignore this in us and allow it to grow, rather than admit such evil exists in us and we need to deal with it.
The solution to deal with racial bigotry is not as complicated as most would think. The first step is to admit to ourselves that the disease is very real in our hearts. The next step is to learn about people from different racial, religious, and cultural background. The more we know about each other the more love will grow in our hearts. The Quran stated that:
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you people and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (49:13)
The next step is that we must work with different people to build communities and create solutions to make the world a better place. It is only when we build together will we create a sense of brotherhood. As long as we find ourselves saying things like “I am so surprised that so and so from x group is such a nice person” we still have a long way to go as a society to be truly one in humanity. So, let us build a better future so that our children can see a future where Martin Luther King’s dreams come true.
“I have a dream that my four children little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” -Martin Luther King Jr-