There is only a hop and a step from ‘racialism’ to racism. Here I define ‘racialist’ thinking as the attribution of actions and words to racial motives and causes. For instance, one might think: “My boss hired that person because they have the same race. He got a raise, not because he did a better job, but because they are of the same race. My boss pays no attention to me because I’m not of the same race.”
Such statements frequently have at least an element of truth. However, we often jump to conclusions with insufficient evidence; or, we over-emphasize the importance of the racial component. When we think racially, we tend to provoke racially polarized responses in others, which reinforces our own racialist opinions. So we participate in a vicious downward cycle.
I once worked with a man whose manner was somewhat abrupt and abrasive. He interpreted others’ responses to him as racially motivated, because he was from an ethnic minority. He dwelt on these thoughts, and increasingly isolated himself. This caused even more misunderstanding and friction, which he felt confirmed his suspicions of racial bias. He soon left the company.
Those who have experienced prejudice and oppression are particularly prone to racialist thinking. As a result, they take a defensive and/or aggresive posture, separating themselves and congregating together to protect themselves -- leading to misunderstanding and prejudice on the part of others.
Racialist thoughts are inevitable, because one can’t help noticing the races of other individuals. However, you can identify and be wary of such thoughts, and not embrace them so readily. Do not impute racial motives to others unless you have absolutely certain evidence (i.e. their own word). Even if others’ negative actions are racially polarized, look for ways to respond non-racially.
Racial diversity can bring
cultural and intellectual enrichment, rather than resentment and isolation.
grant me a healthy attitude towards other races and cultures.
Teach me not to blame my difficulties in getting along with others on racial
and cultural differences. Rather, place within my heart an appreciation
of the richness and beauty of others’ heritages; strengthen my desire
to understand; and soften my heart that I might be sensitive and compassionate.
Copyright © 2002 CrossPollen
Last Revised: November 16, 2002
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