Silent racism – Are you related?
Tamar Buachidze | 20 Jul 2017
Racism – “the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason”. (Abraham Joshua Heschel) There are hundreds of definitions of racism out of which the most widely accepted one focuses on its meaning as discrimination, prejudice and antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. Is it something new? Definitely not. Number of scholars consider that as long as human beings have been around, people have always hated or feared a different nation or skin colour. No matter how many regulations, laws and rules have been passed, it will always be there as part of human nature.
Distinctively from racism as a general term, I consider silent racism one of the most controversial to be handled as it relates to the negative thoughts and images in people’s mind regarding others’ skill colour, religion, sexual orientation etc. One of the most explicit and traditional example focuses on African Americans and the bundles of obstacles they have had to overcome. Silent racism could also be more dangerous than acts of blatant racism because it is insidious. However, we cannot deny the fact of its daily contribution to the institutional racism lowering the life chances of minorities. The fact of silent racism expanding is not a secret, but most of us don’t notice as because it turns out to be hidden within the terms of Racist/Not Racist. These categories are profoundly out-of-date. For instance, before the Civil Rights Movement, there were not as many people in the Not Racist category. They took a courageous stand against segregation and unfair voting practices. Today, Not Racist is a default category—people must perform hateful acts or make patently racist statements to lose Not Racist status and earn the label Racist. The rest of us consider ourselves in the Not Racist category claiming that we would never do or say anything racist which allows us to see ourselves as “innocent” and therefore not responsible for – or even connected to – institutional racism and the resulting racial inequality.
Silent racism is explicitly “sank topic” avoided to be discussed on the surface while it indirectly influences individual conversations, government decisions, diplomatic and cultural relations and results in wars, controversies and complications. If we want to address racism, first of all we need to start thinking about reducing the level of it in ourselves rather than assigning to Racist/Not Racist category.